‘Gluten-free’ food labeling finally has some teeth

Gluten Free Labels

^^ Any of these look familiar?

Earlier this summer, the FDA issued new rules and regulations on gluten-free food labeling. Prior to this, there wasn’t a real, industry-wide standard to define what “gluten free”  meant. When you saw those labels above, it was hard to tell exactly what you were getting…

Now, under the federal definition, a food product can only contain 20 parts per million (or fewer) of gluten to carry a “gluten-free” label. The FDA has been working on these regulations since 2007, and it’s a real win for the gluten free-community!

Check out the article that I found on USA Today:

‘Gluten-free’ food labeling finally has some teeth

By Jane Lerner, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News

New law makes it easier for those with celiac disease to shop, cope.

SOURCE: USA TODAY

Sometimes Maria Roglieri feels like a sleuth when she sets out to shop.

She carefully analyzes labels, looking for any sign that a food is not as gluten-free as it appears.

Barley? Forbidden. Rye? Forget about it. Soy sauce? Maybe.

“You have to be very, very careful,” said Roglieri, who, along with her teenage daughter, has celiac disease, a serious digestive disorder triggered by gluten. “Even the smallest amount can make you sick.”

The explosive rise in people who eat gluten-free food as a dietary preference has been a mixed blessing for those who suffer from celiac disease, which can only be treated through total abstinence from gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains.

The popularity of such a diet added more and more products to the market labeled “gluten-free.” But it also created uncertainty about what “gluten-free” really meant, since there was no uniform standard applied to the term.

That’s why patients like Roglieri are pleased with long-awaited Food and Drug Administration regulations announced earlier this month that now require foods labeled “gluten free” to have only trace amounts of the protein. For them, the new regulations will make buying food safer and less complicated.

“It allows us to breathe a little easier,” said Gabrielle Simon, founder of a support group at Nyack Hospital for families of children with celiac disease.

For those with the condition, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients.

As more people follow a gluten-free diet by choice or necessity, food manufacturers are adding more products to meet the demand. Last year, sales of gluten-free products hit $4.2 billion, nearly triple what they were in 2008. Sales are expected to rise to $6.2 billion by 2018, according to industry predictions.

“A lot more foods are available, but you have no idea if they are really safe or not,” said Chris Spreitzer of Croton-on-Hudson, who leads the Westchester Celiac Sprue support group. “If you have celiac, you really need to know.”

The new FDA regulation has been in the works for a long time, starting with a proposal sponsored by U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., in 1999.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act became law in 2004.

It required food packaging to clearly list the top eight ingredients that cause allergic reactions, including milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. It also required the FDA to issue standards for the term “gluten-free” — a task that took nearly 10 years to accomplish.

Under the new guidelines, only foods containing 20 parts per million of gluten or less can be labeled and marketed as gluten-free. Experts generally agree that it is not possible to remove all trace of gluten and the standard is small enough not to provoke a reaction in most people.

Food manufacturers have a year to comply.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” said Roglieri, an Italian professor at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill and the author of travel guides for people who avoid gluten.

Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Hemp Hearts

Hemp Hearts

This bag of Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Harvest was included in my Best of Box from KLUTCH Club.

Now, it’s featured on this week’s grocery list.

I had seen a lot of use of chia seeds on health blogs recently, but I was unfamiliar with the taste or texture hemp seeds and what they could be used in/what health benefits they possessed. I was pretty excited to try them!

Hemp hearts are the inner kernel of the hemp seed (sans the hard outer shell). They have add an interesting texture and a distinctly nutty flavor to whatever they are added to.

The hearts are rich in omegas, protein & fiber. Nuts.com even refers to hemp hears as “one of the world’s most nutritious seeds.” The bag suggests to “Sprinkle hemp hearts on salads, or add to cereal, yogurt, in baking or even into smoothies!” I loved mixing it into my Greek yogurt for breakfast.

hemp heart nutritional information

 

 

Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

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I was recently lucky enough to spend some quality time with two of my favorite people on Earth: my grandparents.

They’re both incredibly special people, and in the past few years, they have taught me important lessons about love, loyalty, family and thoughtfulness.

One of the ways that I’ve noticed them actively display their thoughtfulness is through food. It means a lot to remember someone’s favorite things, food or otherwise, and it’s pretty simple to make that person’s day with the knowledge. (I’ve felt this time and time again.)

Every time I visit my grandparents, they have my favorite meal simmering on the stove , a bottle of my favorite wine open, and favorite snack laid out in the family room to get my through the 30 minutes before dinner is ready. It makes me feel so special.

This time, my Grandma really out did herself by making on of my favorite deserts, angel food cake, GLUTEN FREE!

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The mix is make by Kinnikinnick Foods, and it tastes exactly like its gluten-y counterpart! It was fluffy, light and absolutely delectable. It’s sold at under $4 a box, and extremely easy to make! All you need are 12 large egg whites, your mix  and some vanilla extract. Add on from fresh berries and you have a perfect summer treat!

I’m already planning to make this treat for my mom (whose favorite dessert also happens be Angel Food Cake) next time I see her. Thanks, Grandma Jean for introducing my to this wonderful desert. You can count on me passing on the foodie-love!

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

There is no sincerer love than the love of food - George Bernard

I mean, really.

Food is pretty amazing, and I’m not shy about saying that I love it, deeply and sincerely.

Food nourishes my body. It has the ability to act as my medicine. It brings me closer to those I love, whether through sharing a meal or swapping foodie tips and tricks. It provides venues to mix with diverse groups of people and an accessible way to share one’s culture. Yeah, I’m a big fan of food.

Food is wonderful in another way, that I would be remiss if I weren’t to mention: Food provides comfort, which I am often happy to accept.

Yes, I am a self-proclaimed comfort (emotional) eater, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. When I return home after a particularly challenging day, I wash my face, put on a pair of comfy sweats, and head to the kitchen to start cooking.

Like most emotional eaters (EEs), I have an arsenal of comfort foods for any given day. One of my favorite savory go-to’s is the cheesy, delicious, loaded quesadilla.
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Here’s how I like to prepare mine.

What you’ll need:

  • Tortilla (I use a gluten-free version)
  • 1 thawed chicken breast
  • seasoning (garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 cup of white rice
  • 1/4 cup of Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/3 avocado
  • lime
  • Fresh Salsa (homemade or store-bought)

How to Make My Quesadilla

After thawing my chicken breast, I usually brush on some light olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper. I throw my black beans on the stove to cook and usually add some garlic, onion and jalapeno if I have it lying around.

While heating up my pan, I dice the chicken and check that there is enough seasoning. (I prefer cooking diced chicken in general because it’s so easy to gauge how quickly it’s cooking and avoid drying it out.)

As the beans simmer and the chicken cooks, I move to assemble the quesadilla.

I start by spearing on some lightly seasoned rice (I’ve been in an instant rice kick) and then sprinkle about half a serving of cheese on top. I slice my avocado, add some lime and garlic salt, and place it on top of the cheese and rice. When the chicken is ready, I put that on top, then take a helping of beans and spread it across the other side of the tortilla. This way, I can trap the “top layer” of cheese and avoid some mess!

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I think you all can imagine the rest, but make sure to spray your pan and flip the quesadilla a few times until each side is a warm, golden brown and CRUNCHY!

Then, dig in and enjoy! I know I did!

Alright, I shared one of mine! What’s your favorite comfort food?!

Like what you see? Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Beer, beer, every where, Nor any drop to drink…. Hard Cider: a Gluten-Free Beer Alternative

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The beer section at Constantino’s Market in Cleveland, Ohio.

I think most  of my gluten-free friends would agree, beer to someone who is gluten intolerant (has celiac, or is GF by choice) is like ice-cream to someone who is lactose intolerant. You know, you know, you shouldn’t have it, but when your group of friends invite you out for some, you feel yourself start to waiver… It sounds so good and refreshing, doesn’t it?

Well, no fear! Increasingly bars, brew houses, liquor stores and local grocers are starting to carry gluten-free beer alternatives, including a wide variety of delicious hard ciders.

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Hard ciders have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and breweries across the country seem to be taking notice. Sales increased an average of 27.5 percent annually during the last five years (according to an estimate by IBISWorld), and I can only imagine a good chunk of this can be attributed to the growing gluten-free population! With the growth in demand has come and influx of choices, so how does one navigate the cider section? Below, I’ve created a little reference chart of some of the most popular cider brands (and included my own description of each)!

Cider Brand Alc Content Calories per serving Description
Hornsby’s 5.5% 200 has a bright, sweet apple flavor
Redds 5% 150 has good balance to the apple’s sweetness, more of a beer-like experience
Angry Orchard 5.5% 190 literally tastes like alcoholic apple juice
Original Sin 6% 143 very light in color, almost a champagne-like taste
Ace 8% 135 golden color, more on the tart side of the cider family
Strongbow Cider 5% 140 a very dry cider, a wine-like experience
Crispin 6.9% 140 has a bold and fresh apple taste
Woodchuck (Amber) 5% 154 smooth, sweet and crisp–a very popular choice

Hopefully this helps give you a starting point to base your upcoming cider purchase upon! Happy tasting! (And let me know what you think!)

Lo

For more fun facts about hard cider, check out this article from Food Republic!

Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean “no bread”

Gluten-free french toast made with Udi’s Whole Grain Bread and topped with greek yogurt and GF blueberry granola

When I tell people that I’m gluten-free, I usually get the following response:

“So you can’t eat bread?” (…of course, that’s only in lieu of the alternate response, “What in the world does that mean?!”)

If you are gluten-free, you avoid products with wheat and gluten. Luckily, that doesn’t eliminate all grains and starches (and this carb-o-holic thanks the universe for that)!

Here is a list of some of the grains that even the gluten-free can enjoy:

  • Buckwheat
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Flax
  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Tapioca

But GF’s beware, make sure to read the labels for hidden gluten-y compounds. If you don’t feel like taking the chance, check the packaging for the the GF stamp. Some of my personal favorite brands include Udi’s, Red Mill, Tinkyada (for pasta!), and Glutino.

About Alternative Eating

Welcome to my new blog, Alternative Eating!

If there’s one thing that my finicky stomach has taught me, it’s that not all foods work for all people. I’ve learned that by adopting a specialized diet, a person can experience significantly positive side effects–from weight loss to increased energy and improved mental health. I tried out the gluten-free lifestyle and I’ve (almost) never looked back!

Here’s my theory:

Happy tummies lead to happier lives!

If your diet isn’t working for you, try something new! Explore different diets and ingredients to find the foods and flavors that work best for you. That’s what this blog is all about. Exploratory eating. Alternative Eating.

Here’s to eating, drinking & loving life,

Lo