Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Salads…

Deck Garden

Summer has instantly arrived over the past couple of days in the northeast!  The past two days have been a triple H kind of a day, hazy, hot and humid.  Which makes the article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal so perfect, Sarabeth Levine described her ideal summer salads.

I love salads and all the different dressings available to me on a gluten-free diet!  But, what I love most of all is growing my own salad.  The sunniest spot in my yard happens to be my deck and this is where I have all of my containers.  I planted the lettuce and cherry tomatoes last weekend.  These are both low risk, high yielding options for a brown thumb gardener like me.  I even bought a couple of strawberry plants for fun because they grow like absolute weeds and figure I would have a really difficult time killing them.

oregano, tarragon, thyme on 3/30
Last year I bought a bunch of herbs and just kept them in their little starter pots.  I did not know that most herbs were perennials until a summer dinner party when the hostess showed me her herb garden and said she had planted it six years ago.  She advised me to throw the herbs into a real pot with some good soil and then see what happened in the spring.

At the end of March, when we started doing some spring cleaning, I grabbed the pots that I had put on the side of the house and lifted the collection of dead leaves that had gathered on top to throw into the green waste bags.   I was so surprised to see all of these little green leaves pushing up through the soil!

Mint 3/30
Mint, tarragon, thyme, oregano and rosemary had all started growing anew!  Two months later, the herbs are absolutely flourishing.   As I wait for my lettuce and tomatoes to grow, the Wall Street Journal Summer Salad article had some great dressing ideas using these herbs.  One was to make a blender dressing using fresh tarragon is you are adding salmon or chicken to the salad.  For a basic oil and vinegar, throw some basil, parsley and oregano into the blender.  I just planted the parsley and basil so I will have to wait a week or two for that dressing.

For bitter greens, like arugula, lemon juice and a lighter oil such as canola oil, whisked together with a little salt and pepper is a nice combination.
My biggest problem with salads is that only one of four of my kids would be happy to see a big chopped salad with some chicken or fish on top.  For that solution, I will turn to other articles on advice for getting picky tweens and teens to eat vegetables.

Kendall Egan

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shopping at HomeGoods

What do you do when the weather is murky on the weekend? If you can’t hit the beach, you may as well hit the stores. 

I have my “go-to” place when I don’t really want to spend a lot of money, but I want a little pick me up purchase and that place is HomeGoods.  At the very minimum, I am going to come away with a gluten-free mix from a company that I might have seen at a food show or discover something new all together.

But, this weekend, the item that had me swooning with happiness was a lime green ceramic fry pan for $14.99.  Actually, it is more avocado than lime…I swear my parents had a refrigerator the exact same color.  It doesn’t matter, I have used it twice since I purchased it and I love it.
In my line of work, I read many health and wellness or nutrition and cooking publications just to know what people are studying, or curious about, and non-stick Teflon pans seem to come up in a lot of forums.  The ceramic pan is typically offered up as a non-stick alternative so I have wanted to try one!

I made gluten-free pancakes and sautéed mushrooms this weekend, both came out perfectly.  While my bill was slightly larger than the $14.99 due to a selection of really great gluten-free mixes, I am still really pleased with my pick me up purchase.  Nothing chases rain and clouds away, like opening up a cupboard and seeing a pop of green among the jumbled pots and pans.  If I have to cook, I may as well have a pot that makes me smile.

Kendall Egan

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pillsbury introduces gluten-free pizza, pie & cookie dough

If you haven’t been feeling friendly toward the Pillsbury Doughboy since going gluten free, it might be time to re-think your relationship.

Pillsbury, a bastion of gluten-filled refrigerated tubes of bread, biscuits and cookies, has moved into the gluten-free market.

The brand, which is owned by General Mills, recently announced a new line of gluten-free products featuring tubs of pizza, pastry and chocolate chip cookie dough. The products will be available nationwide this summer and in most major supermarkets by August. You’ll be able to find the dough tubs in the refrigerated aisle alongside other Pillsbury products.

“Several members of the General Mills family either have celiac disease themselves or have a close friend or relative who does,” said Rachel Dickens, Pillsbury media relations representative. “Hearing our employees’ and consumers’ stories brought to life an untapped need for delicious gluten-free products and prompted us to find a solution.”

The pie and pastry dough is made with gluten-free starches and rice and sorghum flours and is egg and dairy free. One serving contains 250 calories.

The thin crust pizza dough, made with tapioca starch, whole sorghum, whole millet and rice flours, contains egg but is dairy-free and 170 calories per serving.

The chocolate chip cookie dough is made with a brown sugar and rice flour base and contains eggs, soy and dairy. One cookie is 110 calories.

Get the full ingredient list and nutrition information on the General Mills website.

General Mills uses “stringent” programs to prevent the risk of cross-contamination, and has taken “specific steps to ensure that the process and equipment used does not provide any opportunity for gluten or gluten-containing ingredients to get into its products,” according to a Pillsbury spokesperson.


Hillary Casavant

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The top 5 gluten-free changes I'd like to see

As Celiac Disease Awareness Month started yesterday, I asked Gluten-Free Living's  Facebook and Twitter followers to name the one thing they'd like to see change as a result of growing awareness of everything gluten free.

Today, I'm sharing a list of my top five changes.

1. FDA approval of a real definition for the gluten-free label. Gluten-Free Living has been covering this topic for so long my children have graduated from high school, college and law school since it all started. We keep hearing approval is just around the corner. It's time to just get it done.

2. A commitment by restaurants to take gluten cross-contamination issues as seriously as they are supposed to take sanitary requirements in their kitchens. We all know this can be complicated, but there are ways to do it properly and celiac disease support groups with programs to help. Gluten-free customers would have a lot more faith in gluten-free menus if they did not have to grill their server about cross-contamination.

3. A push for healthier gluten-free specialty items. Gluten-Free Living started writing about this topic a number of years ago with a story about gluten-free whole grains, and we've been following it since. Some gluten-free companies deserve credit for choosing healthier ingredients, but we still see a lot of nutritionally devoid starches as the main ingredient.

4. A choice by mainstream food companies to switch to gluten-free ingredients in foods that contain one small thing that is not gluten free. I am thinking of foods that we could all eat if it weren't for some minute amount of malt flavoring or soy sauce made with wheat. It makes business sense because gluten-free consumers are a growing group. If General Mills can do it with most varieties of Chex cereal other companies of all types should be able to do it too.

5. A move to convince everyone that they should rule out celiac disease before going on a gluten-free diet. I know physicians don't always cooperate, but it's your health and you should insist on testing if you have celiac disease symptoms. Some people question why a diagnosis is necessary if going gluten-free on your own makes you feel better. There are two reasons, one more altruistic than the other.

We'll always struggle to improve rates of diagnosis of celiac disease as long as there are those who've misdiagnosed themselves as gluten intolerant. That number matters when it comes to the four points above. It also influences how much research goes into better understanding of both celiac disease and gluten intolerance, including the important studies looking for the bio-markers for gluten intolerance. We are all in the gluten-free diet together even if it's for different reasons.

On an individual level, there are some real differences between the two conditions, and you can best manage your health if you know where you really fall on the spectrum of conditions triggered by gluten. If it turns out you don't have celiac disease and you feel better on the gluten-free diet, no one can quarrel with your decision to follow it. Gluten intolerance is now a recognized medical condition and should be respected as such. But the first step is ruling out celiac disease.

So that's my list. Feel free to share yours.

Amy Ratner