Why Breyers went gluten free

Breyers Breyers recently announced it would add a gluten-free label to 36 of its ice cream flavors, though the naturally gluten-free recipes remain unchanged. With this addition, Breyers joins a growing list of mainstream companies who have entered the gluten-free marketplace by calling out products that happen to be gluten free.

Over the past few years, Frito Lay chips (which includes Cheetos, Lay’s, Ruffles, Smartfood popcorn and Tostitos), Ore Ida potatoes, Heinz ketchup, Zatarain rice mixes and other large food manufacturers began adding a gluten-free label to many of their products.

Food companies have long said they would be more interested in gluten-free labeling once it was defined by the Food and Drug Administration and that’s what happened with proposed rules that were finalized last August. The FDA ruling says that a product with a gluten-free label must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, a standard considered safe by many celiac disease experts. Gluten from all sources, including cross-contamination, has to be taken into account.

Nick Soukas, director of ice cream for Unilever, Breyers’ parent company, says Breyers wanted to finalize and implement a validation program that ensured the gluten-free products were not at risk for cross-contamination. The validation process was in the works before the final FDA ruling.

“We’ve been planning to change the Breyers packaging for some time now to include the gluten-free claim on the label,” Soukas told Gluten-Free Living. “With more and more consumers adopting a gluten-free diet, Breyers wanted to help these consumers understand their options within our portfolio by clearly having gluten-free labels where this applies.”

Although Breyers uses its own gluten-free validation program, companies may also apply for a gluten-free certification seal from organizations like the Gluten Intolerance Group, through its Gluten-Free Certification Organization program. GFCO enforces stricter standards than the FDA, requiring products that use its seal to test to 10 ppm of gluten. The Celiac Support Association certifies products that contain less than 5 ppm of gluten for most products that use its seal. Third-party certification provides an extra level of assurance for consumers.

Some consumers think Breyers and other companies using gluten-free labels are only joining the “gluten-free bandwagon” that has evolved throughout the past few years. But as more mainstream companies adopt the gluten-free label, gluten-free consumers are seeing a wider range of options that fit into their lifestyles. And when the new labeling laws go into effect in August, companies that use the label will be held to federal standards.

Pillsbury Bake-Off will award top gluten-free recipe

bakeoffNow in its 47th year, the 2014 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest marks the first ever inclusion of Pillsbury’s gluten-free line of products. Judges will also give a special Pillsbury Gluten Free Award of $5,000 to the finalist with the best gluten-free recipe that does not win another prize in the competition.

To qualify for the award, home cooks must use only gluten-free ingredients and incorporate Pillsbury’s gluten-free cookie dough, pizza dough or pie crust into the recipe, along with another item from the list of eligible ingredients. Home chefs entered in any of the four categories are eligible for the Gluten Free Award: Simply Sweet Treats, Savory Snacks & Sides, Weekend Breakfast Wows or Amazing Doable Dinners. Recipes will be judged based on taste, appearance, creativity and crowd appeal. View the full list of contest rules here.

The top 100 finalists will travel to Nashville, Tenn., in November to battle it out for the $1 million grand prize. For the first time, America’s votes, combined with the judges’, will determine the grand prize winner.

Although the dessert and snack categories closed on March 27, there’s still time to enter your gluten-free breakfast or dinner creations. Submissions are open until May 8 at 11:59 a.m. CDT.

Top Allergy-Friendly Restaurants

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Bonefish Grill and Burton’s Grill were chosen by diners as the most allergen-friendly restaurant chains in their respective sizes in a list compiled by an online restaurant guide.

AllergyEats, a guide for food-allergic diners, named the three in 2014 list of the Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains across the U.S.

The list is based on user-generated feedback on the company’s free website and smartphone app. The restaurants, rated on a scale of 1 to 5, were judged on food allergy protocols, training and willingness to accommodate guests with food allergies. Food quality and service weren’t part of the ratings.

Beating out more than 650,000 restaurants on the website, the following 15 restaurant chains, which earned very close rankings, were shining stars in the industry:

Large (over 200 restaurants)

  1. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.45 rating)
  2. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.43 rating)
  3. Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
  4. Outback Steakhouse (4.35 rating)
  5. Romano’s Macaroni Grill (4.20 rating)

Medium (50-200 restaurants)

  1. Bonefish Grill (4.43 rating)
  2. Ninety Nine Restaurant (4.28 rating)
  3. Mellow Mushroom (4.26 rating)
  4. Uno Chicago Grill (4.24 rating)
  5. Bertucci’s Brick Oven Restaurant (4.17 rating)

Small (under 50 restaurants)

  1. Burtons Grill (4.90 rating)
  2. Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.73 rating)
  3. Papa Razzi (4.68 rating)
  4. Legal Sea Foods (4.67 rating)
  5. Not Your Average Joe’s (4.66 rating)

For more information, visit AllergyEats.com.

Gluten-free athlete to carry American flag in Olympic ceremony

Todd Lodwick, a pioneer in Nordic combined skiing, will compete at his sixth Olympic games this year.

Todd Lodwick, a gluten-free Nordic combined skier, has been chosen to carry the American flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The first American Olympian to participate in six Winter Games, he will lead 229 athletes from the United States when they enter the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

“Being nominated to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony is one of the greatest honors that has ever been bestowed upon me…” Lodwick told reporters in Sochi. “Going into my sixth Olympic Games, it feels like I have already won a medal, and to cap off my career by representing the United States of America and Team USA is truly a privilege.”

As the first U.S. Nordic combined skier to win a World Cup, Lodwick helped pioneer the sport, which combines ski jumping with a cross-country race, in the United States. His impressive résumé includes six World Cup gold medals, five Grand Prix wins and a silver medal from the 2010 Olympics, where he helped propel his 4×5 kilometer team to the podium.

Lodwick experienced significant health improvements after becoming gluten-free.Through a series of food elimination diets in 2011, the Olympian discovered he had a wheat allergy when medication no longer controlled his asthma. The change required him to sacrifice some of his favorite traditions, like sharing donuts with his two children at his favorite bakery. Switching to the gluten-free diet took “a lot of self-control,” Lodwick says.

“One of the biggest challenges is staying healthy and being on top of my game,” he explains. “Going gluten free was probably the biggest change in my skiing career.”

A true veteran of the sport, 37-year-old Lodwick joins an elite group of six-time international Olympians. He credits his gluten-free diet for continuing to bolster his performance.

“Being gluten free is something I believe in, and making that choice has extended my career,” Lodwick says. “It has improved my skiing in a huge way, and it has enabled me to continue in an endurance sport that is demanding and that I truly love.”

Looking Toward Sochi

chris creveling
Gluten-free Olympic speed skater Chris Creveling

Chris Creveling, a gluten-free short track speed skater, will also compete at the Olympics for the first time this year.

Like Lodwick, Creveling is a born athlete. By the time he reached his 20s, he was a world champion inline speed skater and was taking his skills to the ice as a member of the U.S. National Short Track Speed Skating team.

Yet when fatigue and back pain began to interfere with his performance in 2012, he knew he needed to make a drastic change. With the guidance of a nutritionist, he eliminated gluten from his diet that spring.

“I was sort of in a rut. My energy levels weren’t high, I felt like the training was getting to me,” Creveling says. He found his body responded well to the gluten-free diet and that enabled him to train as hard as needed. “It really did help inside and out.”

Creveling says the results were nearly instantaneous. A few months later, he beat out former Olympians to win both the 1,000 and 400 meter World Cup team time trials.

Competing While GF

Both Olympic hopefuls express passion for their sports despite the physical challenges of being gluten-free athletes. With high speeds and crashes the norm, speed skating can become “NASCAR on ice,” Creveling jokes, and focus is essential. The skater practices a grueling six to eight hours a day, six days a week in Salt Lake City.

“We have such high-intensity training every day,” the 28-year-old says. “It’s really important what you put in your body.”

Creveling consumes about 5,000 calories each day, sticking to nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables as well as meats, dairy and gluten-free pastas. “I attribute a lot of my performance to my diet,” he says. “Not only eating healthy, but being conscious of everything that I eat.”

Both Lodwick and Creveling emphasize the importance of having team support for their gluten-free lifestyles, especially when traveling for competition. Although international travel is one of Lodwick’s favorite aspects of the sport, he says finding gluten-free foods can be a challenge on the road. He often brings granola bars for emergency backup when traveling overseas.

Todd Lodwick

Creveling faces similar problems during international competitions and takes along a “suitcase full of food” to ensure he gets the right fuel for race time and between meets. The extra preparation paid off this past September in Shanghai, where he helped his team clinch a relay gold medal in the Short Track World Cup.

One place where the athletes won’t have to worry about gluten-free dining is the Olympic Village. The dining hall is equipped with free 24-hour options and a wide selection of cuisines. Nutrition and allergen information is provided next to each dish, and staff members are well informed about allergens during food preparation. A nutritional kiosk will direct the athletes to the gluten-free dishes in each area.

“They do such a great job, providing and catering to the needs of athletes and staff from around the world,” Lodwick says.

Although Creveling has not yet experienced the Olympics firsthand, he is confident that switching to gluten free will fuel him in Sochi.

“With my diet and everything I’ve constantly worked on over this past year, there’s a huge chance that I will be even better going into the Olympic Games,” he says.

Lodwick is equally optimistic for the 2014 Olympics, and adds that skiing helps him maintain a healthy, fulfilled life.

“Flying through the air when you let go of the bar, it’s 10 seconds of my life that everything disappears,” Lodwick says. “It forces you to live in the now. It forces you to live in this exact moment and not think about anything outside of that or the past. It takes all the stresses of the world away.”

Living gluten free is simply part of his commitment to the sport. “It’s what I’ve been trained to do,” he explains.

This article has been updated from its original version in the January/February 2014 issue. Visit the Gluten-Free Living blog for the latest news on these Olympians.

Todd Lodwick’s Favorite Fuel

  • MuscleMilk
  • Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oatmeal, mixed with cinnamon, almond milk, blueberry Kind granola and agave nectar
  • Gluten-free toast with peanut butter and agave nectar
  • Chicken and rice without sauce
  • Epic Brewing Company’s Glutenator beer

Chris Creveling’s Go-To Eats

  • Salads with kale and beets
  • Corn-, quinoa- or rice-based pasta
  • Corn tortillas with rice and beans
  • KIND bars
  • LÄRABAR products
  • Greek yogurt

Hillary Casavant is the editorial assistant for Gluten-Free Living and a writer in the Boston area.


Valentine’s Day menu from Chef Cat Cora

Cat Cora with PizzettasWhether you’re celebrating with the love of your life or friends and family, Valentine’s Day should include a delicious, feel-good meal and indulgent desserts. We talked to celebrity chef Cat Cora for her tips on creating an unforgettable Valentine’s Day menu.

Cora was the first female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America as well as the first woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame. She has written three cookbooks, owns several restaurants across the U.S., and has appeared in many television shows including Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates. Cora also founded Chefs for Humanity, a nonprofit organization which strives to reduce world hunger through humanitarian relief and nutrition education.

Cora first began creating gluten-free dishes when some of her close friends were diagnosed with gluten sensitivity.  Before hitting the kitchen, she asked herself, “What do [gluten-free] people want every day but miss out on?” Her mission was to “craft recipes for a variety of different palettes and dietary concerns.”

Inspired by Pillsbury’s new Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza Dough, and Gluten-Free Pie and Pastry Dough, Cora created simple “comfort food” recipes. All of her gluten-free recipes promote “inclusivity” at the dinner table, with dishes that the whole family can enjoy whether or not they are gluten free. Cora’s four children, who are not gluten free, were happy to act as taste testers.

The chef has adapted beloved homemade recipes like pizzas, cookies and cupcakes, as well as culturally diverse dishes such as empanadas and samosas. In the future, she hopes to develop gluten-free recipes for more “savory” dishes and main-meal staples.

Chocolate Chip Raspberry White TrifleFor Valentine’s Day, Cora says the main course should be romantic, light and fresh, with foods that won’t put diners to sleep once the meal is over.

“The best policy is to do farm to table as much as possible,” she advises.

Cora uses organic, sustainable ingredients at her restaurants and home kitchen, while creating unique and exciting dishes for the menu.

“Let ingredients stand on their own,” she says.

And no Valentine’s Day meal would be complete without dessert. The chef’s menu, made with Pillsbury’s gluten-free cookie dough, adds the perfect finishing touch. Can’t decide between cookies and cupcakes? These Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes give you the best of both worlds. Cora’s Chocolate Chip, Raspberry and White Chocolate Trifle is simple yet decadent, and you’ll simply fall in love with these Chocolate Chip Peanutter Whoopie Pies.

Visit the Gluten-Free Living Pinterest board for even more Valentine’s Day ideas.

Gluten-free Super Bowl menu

Gluten-free, Asian-inspired meatballs

When it’s time for kickoff this Sunday, make sure your Super Bowl party is fueled with eats that will keep you healthy, happy and geared to go.

Dr. Keith Kantor, an advocate of natural food and healthy living, gave us his favorite gluten-free dishes for the Super Bowl. Kantor is a leading nutritionist, author of What Matters: Leadership Values That Just Might Save America, and the CEO of Service Foods, Inc., which provides all-natural foods and nutrition resources to clients across the U.S.

For an easy appetizer, he suggested Asian-inspired meatballs made with fresh ginger and tamari. Swap a fattening dip for this simple guacamole recipe paired with fresh-cut veggies. Chili is rich with spice and protein, the perfect complement to gluten-free corn tortilla chips. And for the main dish, sauté all-natural steak or chicken with chopped onions, peppers and baby tomatoes and serve on skewers for fork-free kabobs.

But before you dig in, keep in mind Kantor’s top tips for staying healthy on game day.

1. Stay active the day of the big game. “Football players on the field are the only ones who are active during the game,” Kantor says. “Grab a workout in the morning, play with your kids outside, walk your dog around your neighborhood, deep clean part of your house and avoid sitting around before the game.  The extra activity will keep your metabolic rate higher than normal.”

2. Don’t skip a meal. “Showing up to a party starving is only asking for trouble. You will end up eating double or triple the amount of snacks that you would if you were not starving,” Kantor says. Opt to bring a healthy dish to the party, like the veggie and guacamole tray above. Which brings us to…

3. Go for the veggies. If you find yourself grazing out of boredom, veggies are the perfect solution. “Veggies take a longer time to eat and chew, and will not break the bank in terms of calories, fat or processed ingredients,” Kantor says. “The extra water and fiber in the veggies can also keep you feeling fuller, giving you more self-control with the not-so-healthy items at the party.”

4. Avoid excessive alcohol. “Alternate alcoholic drinks with a large glass of water and commit to stopping after one or two drinks. Alcohol in general can promote increased appetite and release inhibition, causing you to eat excessively.  If you do drink, go for a low-sugar drink like a spritzer, wine or light gluten-free beer,” Kantor advises.

5. Ditch the processed starches. Packaged and fried foods will likely “send your energy and blood sugars on a wild roller coaster,” Kantor says, often leading to “excessive consumption of calories” that will ultimately turn to fat. Instead, load up on vegetables, high-protein foods and healthy fats like nuts, cheese and guacamole.

6. Avoid the peer pressure to finish everything. “It’s OK to throw away the remainder of the chips or potato skins,” he says. “The ‘clean up call’ by the host is not great for the waistline, [and] you could consume upwards of 1,000 calories by finishing up the snacks.”

Check out our Super Bowl Pinterest board for more delicious (and admittedly more indulgent) ideas.

Young entrepreneur develops a phone app for gluten-free cooking

iStock_000019777742SmallAlex Hutchinson, a 21-year-old college senior, has a prizewinning idea for a smartphone app that transforms most regular recipes into gluten-free dishes.

His “Gluten Free Converter” app grabbed the judges’ attention at the Elevator Pitch Competition at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference in Chicago last month. Aspiring college innovators each have 90 seconds – the approximate length of an elevator ride – to pitch their business proposal.

Though the app is still in design stages, once completed it will automatically substitute ingredients and adjust cooking procedures to make gluten-free cooking much easier.

Hutchinson received an honorable mention for his idea, beating out more than 100 other young entrepreneurs and earning a $500 cash prize to patent Gluten Free Converter.

He says the app will alleviate “doubt and insecurity” for those cooking gluten free. It’s the perfect tool for those who have been recently diagnosed, family members who need to change their cooking habits and anyone following the diet, according to Hutchinson. He notes that home cooking is the best way to guarantee a contamination-free environment.

“Many recently diagnosed with celiac disease [think] that this lifestyle change means the elimination of many foods that they enjoy,” Hutchinson says. “However this app will let them keep all the meals in their diet, just converted into a safe, gluten-free alternative.”

Alex Hutchinson
Gluten-free entrepreneur Alex Hutchinson

As more young people turn to technology in the kitchen, smartphone cooking is a rising trend among gluten-free diners of all ages.

“The great thing about the app is its universal appeal,” Hutchinson says. “It is for anyone who wants to start cooking gluten free for any reason. However, the popularity of smart phones with younger people makes them more adventurous in trying new things with apps. So I believe the exposure to this demographic will be especially appealing.”

A marketing major at Southern Illinois University, Hutchinson knows the challenge of gluten-free cooking first hand. He was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 4 along with his father and brother. He’s no stranger to entrepreneurship either. Four years ago he founded a landscape construction company and plans to use the profits to attend law school.

The judges praised the idea and emphasized the importance of this emerging industry. They also suggested that Hutchinson market toward gluten-free companies for sponsors and advertising.

Since placing in the competition Hutchinson has contacted several app software developers and marketing agents to make the smartphone app a reality. He hopes to offer the product across all digital platforms in the mainstream market.

“I plan to revolutionize the gluten-free dining experience for anyone looking to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, entertain for others or simply try [living] gluten free,” he says. “I hope to change the perspective that gluten-free cooking is a difficult routine for a niche market, but rather a new trend of eating that can appeal to anyone.”

New Gluten-Free Pastas Flood Grocery Shelves

Three mainstream pasta companies, Ronzoni, Barilla and Mueller’s, each added gluten-free pastas to their lineups this summer. The products were launched just as the Food and Drug Administration approved a new standard for gluten-free labeling.

Ronzoni set the wheels in motion with its four-ingredient blend of white rice, brown rice, corn and quinoa. Its gluten-free spaghetti, penne rigate and rotini each contain 19 grams of whole grain and 200 calories per serving. The pasta is low in fat and sodium- and cholesterol-free. It’s produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and is available at select U.S. grocery stores. Check out the Ronzoni pasta locator online to find a distributor near you.

Mueller’s followed close behind with its gluten-free pasta blend of corn and rice, now available in select grocery stores. The sodium-free spaghetti, penne and fusilli are 200 calories per serving. Although the company does not use separate equipment to produce gluten-free products, its website says that Mueller’s has “a very detailed protocol in place to prevent cross-contamination and ensure safety for consumption. The gluten level of the product is verified to ensure that it does not exceed 20 parts per million.” The new gluten-free standard is less than 20 ppm.

Barilla’s gluten-free line launches in select U.S. grocery stores in September, with national availability starting in 2014. Barilla offers the most gluten-free options of the three brands: spaghetti, penne, rotini and elbows. Made with a combination of non-GMO corn and rice, the pastas are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility in Italy.

“We felt it was important to invest in developing a pasta line for the ever-increasing number of people who are adopting gluten-free lifestyles, ensuring that it delivers the taste and texture pasta lovers expect from Barilla,” Claudio Colzani, Barilla’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The three pasta brands expand gluten-free consumer choice, and that’s worth celebrating with a glass of Italian wine and a healthy helping of spaghetti. Buon appetito!

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 tubsofpizza, 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.