Gluten Free Labeling Information for Small Businesses

Do you have a small business or cottage industry? The FDA has guidelines for labeling your product “Gluten Free”. Here’s what you need to know. Continue reading

your favorite gluten free bloggers share tips for dining out safely on knowgluten.me

Your Favorite Gluten Free Bloggers Share – Tips for Dining Out Safely

Dining out while gluten free can be very stressful. At least it’s stressful for me. Scouring the internet for gluten-friendly restaurants, grilling the waitress when ordering, inspecting the plate for any signs of crumbs or stray noodles (it’s happened!) and still getting sick from something that happened in the kitchen that I had no control over. Stressful.
Is it stressful for you? Thankfully, there are quite a few of us traveling on this gluten free road and the load gets a little lighter when we can share information. Here are some of my tips and some tips and posts from other gluten free friends that you’ll find helpful when eating out. Continue reading

Gluten Free Resource: The Gluten Freedom Project

Update: Greg from the Gluten Freedom Project contacted me to let me know that the entire program is now COMPLETELY FREE! If you need help planning meals, especially if you’re dealing with more that one food restriction, please check them out. My review is below: Continue reading

top ten worst things about being gluten free

Top 10 Worst Things About Being Gluten Free

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A list of gluten free foods you can eat from know gluten. me

A List of Gluten Free Foods You Can Eat

Before we get started with this list, a little disclaimer. Always, always, always, always, always read the label on any processed or packaged food. Always. Even food that you are sure is gluten free. Too often I’ve bought something while being distracted by little people and gotten it home and discovered that the company had changed the formula and it now contained something with gluten. If you aren’t sure what to look for, stick with brands that clearly label their products with “gluten free” or click here to check out a list of ingredients that contain gluten.

The list below consists mostly of naturally gluten free foods.

A list of gluten free foods you can eat from know gluten. me Follow Me on Pinterest

A List of Gluten Free Foods YOU Can Eat Continue reading

Go Gluten Free in 8 Easy Steps Tips from Knowgluten

Go Gluten Free in 8 Easy Steps

Going Gluten Free can seem intimidating. It’s really not as hard as you think. I’ve set up 8 easy steps for going gluten free that I hope will help you on your journey. Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments! Continue reading

warning, your gluten free food might not be celiac safe

Warning, Your Gluten Free Food Might NOT Be Celiac Safe

warning, your gluten free food might not be celiac safe Follow Me on Pinterest

Not Just A Fad

More people are realizing that they have a problem with gluten in food. As more consumers become more gluten conscious, the Gluten Free Food market has become very profitable. Lots of companies are taking advantage of what is sometimes considered a fad by including the words Gluten Free on their product labels even when they can’t guarantee that the product is 100% gluten free. No problem if you are just eating Gluten Free because it’s a fad. Not so great if you have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition that is triggered by gluten, or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, both which cause debilitating reactions if even the tiniest amount of gluten is consumed. 
For a perfect example of a company that was actively advertising Gluten Free despite gluten in the product, check out My Gluten Free Girlfriend’s post: Celiac Alert Sprouted Wheat in Athena Gluten Free Greek Yogurt Bars. Because of pressure from her and others in the Gluten Free Community, the gluten fee labeling is being changed. Yay for not lying to people!

Labels Can Be Misleading, Three Things to Look For:

When buying prepackaged products, you need to pay attention to three parts of the label; the Ingredients, the Allergy Information, and finally any sort of Gluten Free certification or the words GLUTEN FREE on the label.

1. The Ingredients:

Look for words that you recognize as real food, for example carrots, beets, potatoes or beef.  Make sure those food are gluten free. If you’re not sure, here’s a list of Gluten Free Foods, and here’s a list of the Other Names For Gluten. Occasionally, you’ll run into very vague words like:  “Natural Flavors”.  These can sometimes be from gluten containing sources, like barley. Some companies, like Kraft Foods, will list any allergens in brackets on their labels, like this:  Natural Flavors (wheat), some companies won’t.

2. The Allergy Information:

The allergy information lets you know if the product contains any allergens. If you want more information on the laws governing food allergy labeling check out this handy pamphlet from the USDA.

The following label is an example of a common gluten free labeling practice.
Notice the GLUTEN FREE in large letters? I sure did, when I was shopping, quickly, with a preschooler and a ten year old along for the trip, distracted, and trying to remember to finally pick up toilet paper. In fact GLUTEN FREE was the only thing I noticed about this label. I totally missed the Allergy information that states:
Made in a facility that may also process dairy, egg, tree nuts, WHEAT, peanuts, soybeans, fish and shellfish.
Not cool. This means that the manufacturers of this product can NOT guarantee that this product is gluten free because it could be contaminated by gluten in the factory. This means that it is NOT CELIAC SAFE. 

3. Gluten Free Information:

The example above says Gluten Free on the label. In this case it means that none of the ingredients contain gluten. It does not mean that they guarantee that there’s absolutely no gluten in the product or that the product is Celiac Safe.

Even better than Gluten Free on the label, is an endorsement from the Celiac Disease Foundation, the words, “Processed in a Gluten Free Facility”, or a product from a respected Gluten Free manufacturer like Bob’s Red Mill or Glutino. A good example is Gluten Free Bisquick, shown below:

gluten free bisquick label Follow Me on Pinterest

Look for these things: Gluten Free, Made in a Gluten Free Processing Facility and as a bonus, they sponsor the Celiac Disease Foundation

Final Thoughts:

If you have Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, your Gluten Free product might not be safe for you to eat. To completely avoid gluten, stick with non-processed foods that are naturally gluten free. If you are buying  processed foods, (because, hey, they’re so much more convenient, and we don’t all have time or desire to make our soda crackers from scratch, right?) be sure to Check the labels, stick with respected brands, look for products that have been manufactured in gluten free facilities.

Are you new to a gluten free diet or just thinking of getting started? Check out my handy guide: Go Gluten Free in 8 Easy Steps

Gluten Free Road Trip

I love traveling, new places, new people. But I’m not so crazy about the new food and the same old gluten reactions. Finding things to eat,especially on the road, can be challenging, especially for “live to eat” type of person. Road trips for me can be an “eat to live” ordeal but I’ve found a few things to eat that makes them a bit more bearable.

Here’s my list. I’d love to hear if you have any other suggestions 🙂

Gluten Free Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter
These are best if you remember to pack a knife. I think this is my favorite road trip meal, especially if we’re stopping at roadside picnic areas and everyone else is having a pb and j sandwich. Use your own clearly marked jar (I write MOM on the lid in blue nail polish) to avoid cross-contamination.

A Can of Tuna and Salad Greens
Okay, some good things about this one, it will help you stick to your diet, you can buy it at any exit Walmart, and, um, that’s it. This was my lunch on my most recent road trip. Dry crumbly tuna on limp greens. Yeah, try to do better.

Nuts
Great snack, and a small pack will provide you with the calories to last you all day. This one is great for people who need the food energy but don’t need to eat alot.

Fresh Fruit
Most truck stops have apples and bananas. If you’re traveling in the summer, or in a tropical country, you may have a wider roadside selection. I think fruit, when I can get it in the summer or in a tropical country, is my favorite road trip meal. Makes me really feel like I’m on a holiday.

Gluten Free Chocolate
Yup. Avoid Barley or Malt or cookie pieces. Rice crisps are usually a problem as well. Cadbury has a great service on their website where you can search whether a treat is suitable for Celiacs. My favorite, Cadbury Cream Eggs, is good to go.

Ice Cream
Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Everyone around you is scarfing down a McDonald’s meal with supersized fries and the ONE THING on the menu you can eat is a plain salad. No chicken. Darn you McDonald’s. The ice cream at McDonald’s actually contains glucose which can be made from wheat or corn, but is said to contain no gluten. Some people who are sensitive to wheat, not just the gluten, can have some trouble with it. Because you want to be a safe as possible, opt for a glucose free ice cream like Haagen Dazs Cherry Vanilla. Dairy Free too? They make a lovely selection of Sorbets. When someone questions your choice of meal, you can explain you’re on a restrictive diet for medical reasons.

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It’s for medical reasons

How to make Polenta

We started eating polenta when we moved back to the United States from Malawi, Africa. In Malawi we ate a corn mush called Nsima with a sauce made of fresh tomatoes and onions. Nsima flour is hard (but not impossible) to find in North America, but Polenta is in almost every grocery store. Even though polenta has a grainier texture than nsima it is an excellent taste substitute.

Polenta is also a great pasta substitute, especially if you use pasta simply as a vessel to transport sauce to your mouth. It’s amazingly easy to make, keeps well, and is even better fried in oil the next day.

click here to pin this guide for later

How to make Polenta, a step by step guide from knowgluten.me Follow Me on Pinterest

Basic Polenta

Click HERE for a printable recipe: Basic Polenta

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and whisk in polenta
  3. Continue stirring with the whisk until polenta thickens (this takes about 5 minutes)
  4. Pour into greased or Pam-sprayed 9″ round cake pan or pie plate
  5. Let set 10 minutes, polenta will become firm enough to cut slices
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta sauce or as a side to fried eggs
1 cup dry polenta Follow Me on Pinterest

1 cup dry polenta

Reduce heat and whisk in polenta Follow Me on Pinterest

Reduce heat and whisk in polenta

It's not quite thick enough Follow Me on Pinterest

Polenta, starting to thicken. Not quite ready.

that's the ticket Follow Me on Pinterest

Polenta, finally thick enough!

Polenta in a pie plate Follow Me on Pinterest

Pour polenta into a cake pan. Let it sit at least 10 minutes. It will set as it sits.

Polenta, all that's missing is your favorite sauce. Follow Me on Pinterest

The polenta is set, serve and enjoy! I like mine in a bowl so I can spoon on LOTS of sauce.

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