6 New Pumpkin-Inspired Foods Hitting Stores This Fall

A welcomed crispness is in the air and the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of gold – fall is announcing its presence. It is my favorite time of the year because PUMPKIN. Why do we only focus on pumpkin around the holidays? Pumpkin, a seasonal squash, is a tasty source of vitamin A and its high fiber content has been known to aid digestion. We keep canned pumpkin in the pantry year round and use it whenever the craving hits.

But I digress. Pumpkin and pumpkin spice everything is taking over store shelves around the country and I say bring it on! Here are some of our favorite and new pumpkin-flavored products launched this year. 

1. Cali’flour Foods Pumpkin Pie & Cinnamon Spice cauliflower crust


Got to hand it to Cali’flour Foods for creating aseasonal Pumpkin Pie & Cinnamon Spice cauliflower crust. With eight grams of protein and only four carbs, the crust is a grain-free alternative to traditional ones, and it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients and only the necessary ingredients, so you get all the flavor without any nasty fillers. I can only imagine how insanely delicious my homemade pumpkin pie filling is going to taste in this crust!


2.  JJ’s Sweets Pumpkin Spice Cocomels®

Vegan caramels have gotten an epic seasonal makeover with the launch of JJ’s Sweets Pumpkin Spice Cocomels®. Available in single serve packs, their creamy coconut milk caramel is blended with an organic pumpkin spice mix with cinnamon and nutmeg. Designed to illicit all the fall feels, this seasonal treat has only two grams of sugar per piece, so indulge and embrace the flavors of autumn.


3. Pumpkin Pie Perfect Bar

All hail the return of the Pumpkin Pie Perfect Bar. With a taste and texture that is akin to eating a slice of pumpkin pie, the popularity of this season-inspired refrigerated protein bar caused it to sell out in three days in 2018, according to “Eat This, Not That.” Crafted with freshly-ground organic peanut butter and honey, along with organic dried pumpkin and cinnamon and nutmeg, it has 14 grams of protein and contains 20 superfoods like spinach and kelp. One bite and you will be exclaiming “oh my gourd.” This bar is a perfect example of why pumpkin should be on your radar and store shelves all year long!


4. Raised Gluten Free’s pumpkin pie

A slice of Raised Gluten Free’s pumpkin pie is a must. Their transformation of a traditionally gluten and butter-based crust with dairy-full filling into a classic holiday favorite, free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts is a revelation. Tofu is combined with pumpkin puree, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon creating a pie that will satisfy and fool anyone. Each bite of the flaky crust and its smooth pumpkin filling will have you double checking the ingredients to ensure it is indeed gluten free and vegan.


5.  Pumpkin Spice RX Nut Butter


RX Bar had to get in on the seasonal fun with the introduction of its Pumpkin Spice RX Nut Butter. Peanuts are blended with egg whites, dates, coconut oil, pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice creating a protein-filled squeezable and spreadable snack with all the comforts of fall. And yes, it tastes as good as it sounds.


6. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Bagels 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Bagels


Trader Joe’s has done it again with the introduction of Pumpkin Spice Bagels. Yes, they are real and rolling out to stores nationwide in September. At $4.49 per package they are bound to be popular, so grab ‘em while you can.




What are your favorite gluten-free pumpkin products? Will any of our suggestions make their way to your holiday table?

Gluten-Free Snacks for Busy Kids

“Mom, I’m hungry” are the first words out of my daughter’s mouth after a busy summer day of swimming, playing with friends, riding her bike and more. She normally heads right to the pantry, but if I have something hot waiting, she will devour it, no questions asked. The trick to filling up a teenager, I think, is to get it right the first time, or they will be right back at the refrigerator eating you out of house and home.

Here are some kid-approved, protein-filled snacks that only take minutes to prepare, taste fabulous, and will fill them up until it’s dinner time.

Brazi Bites has expanded its line of Latin-inspired cheese bread to include empanadas in four flavors (chicken and cheese, beef and bean) with two vegetarian options (black bean and cheddar and chickpea veggie). Set out a plate of these savory treats wrapped in a light, flaky dough, and watch them disappear. Hopefully the 7 grams of protein per serving will keep your kids full for a while. Add in some of the company’s new cinnamon churros to end snack time on a sweet note.

After school is a great time to chow down on ramen, and Pamela’s Products has outdone itself with its spicy beef, savory chicken and very veggie selection of ramen. Such an effortless solution to satisfying teenage hunger, these meals in a cup are ready in just minutes with a flavor guaranteed to impress “difficult-to-please” beings.

Impress the teenagers with a trip to Switzerland (without the jet lag) by serving Swiss Rosti’s stuffed potato snacks. Savory fillings are enrobed in a blend of potatoes, sweet potatoes and root vegetables and bake up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Each bite is filled with veggies, but your kids will be too busy licking the cheesy goodness off their fingers to notice. Choose from swiss raclette, chili cheese, baked potato, fig and goat cheese, and curry lentil. New flavors bacon jalapeno poppers, all American (bacon cheeseburger) and croque monsieur (black forest ham with gruyere cheese) are launching soon!

The globally inspired Tribali Foods mini sliders and patties made with whole ingredients create a satisfying snack, even for teenagers. Using only grass-fed, humanely raised, free-range, wild-caught, and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats combined with fresh herbs, spices and vegetables, they offer a full-flavored protein-packed snack. The pork and sage and chicken and apple mini patties are most popular, followed closely by the Mediterranean-style beef, chipotle chicken and umami beef patties. Serve a variety with a side of hummus (or your children’s favorite sauce) for dipping, and they won’t miss a carb-laden bun.  

Dos and Don’ts of a Gluten-Free Menu

Advice to establishments for creating a safe, no-fuss gluten-free menu.

Whether it is by choice or for medical reasons, the number of people dining gluten free continues to grow. Those with a wheat allergy, celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity will be dining this way for life, so care should be taken to not only accommodate but also make these diners feel included and welcomed. When it comes to communicating your gluten-free options, there are two paths to consider: offering a separate gluten-free menu or “marking up” the regular menu.

I am a fan of creating a separate gluten-free menu for several reasons. A dedicated menu instills a level of confidence that no amount of lip-service can establish. This dedicated menu says “these are the gluten-free options we prepare consistently and safely, so order away.” Having a dedicated menu allows the back of the house to get familiar by preparing these dishes following a set of established safe-handling procedures. It also speeds up the ordering process considerably, which is paramount in any restaurant.

Marking up a menu can lead to confusion during ordering. I have seen menus marked with “GFA” for gluten-free available and “MFG,” meaning an item can be prepared gluten friendly with modification. Well, what does that mean? What changes are you making and/or what ingredients are being substituted? These designations are confusing and require further explanation, which slows down ordering.  

Once you decide what type of gluten-free menu works for your business, you also need to know what information should be included on it.

Here are my top tips for creating a separate gluten-free menu.

  • Only include items made by following safe-handling procedures: Seasonal dishes or specials can be addressed separately, but the core items on the menu should always be gluten free without any replacements necessary.
  • Provide item descriptions: I can’t tell you how many times I have run across a gluten-free menu that only lists dish names, omitting a thorough description of what is included with the dish. This omission forces customers to cross-reference the regular menu, which prolongs the decision-making process.
  • Include pricing: Include pricing for each item so customers don’t have to cross-reference the regular menu. And include upcharges for gluten-free bread, bun, pizza crust, pasta, etc.
  • Include the manufacturer of gluten-free substitute products: If you are providing gluten-free buns for burgers, list the name of the manufacturer on the menu. People who avoid gluten often avoid other allergens like dairy and soy. If you list the name of the manufacturer, such as Udi’s Gluten Free, that consumer now knows the buns are free of dairy, soy and nuts.
  • Include a disclaimer: Unless you have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, a disclaimer needs to inform the diner that their gluten-free meal is prepared in a shared kitchen and cross-contact with gluten-containing ingredients can occur.
  • Post the menu online: Diners with food allergies/intolerance research a restaurant before deciding to head over for a meal. Why? Because they need to see what gluten-free options are available. Simplify the process by showing them what you can safely provide.

Here are some do’s/don’ts for marking up the regular menu.

  • Don’t use a wheat shaft to denote gluten-free items: Using a wheat shaft is like saying these dishes contain wheat, instead of saying these dishes are gluten free.
  • Do use a “gf” or “GF” symbol next to each qualifying dish: These symbols are commonly used by many restaurants and help guide consumers through the menu quickly.
  • Don’t include fried items unless they are prepared in a dedicated fryer: Residue from the wheat-based products can attach to gluten-free ingredients cooked in a shared fryer, rendering them unsafe.
  • Do including ordering instructions if any part of the dish needs to be modified: List ordering instructions in parentheses next to an item (i.e., “vegetables should be ordered without seasoning”).
  • Do include upcharges: If you are providing gluten-free bread, bun or pizza crust, then disclose the upcharge next to the item (i.e., “gluten-free hamburger bun $1.50 extra”).
  • Don’t be vague: If an item can be modified to be gluten free, then tell the diner how this will occur. If the dish is normally served over pasta, indicate if it will come with gluten-free pasta, or if you are substituting another grain (i.e., “gluten-free pasta, or substitute rice”).
  • Do include a disclaimer: The disclaimer should inform the diner that their gluten-free meal is prepared in a shared kitchen and cross-contamination could occur despite following safe handling protocols.

Creating gluten-free menus by following a process that includes the needs of gluten-free diners will keep the ordering process seamless and ensure them that gluten-free orders are taken seriously and prepared safely.

Speedy, Satisfying Gluten-Free Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Busy summer mornings can leave little time for preparing a home-cooked breakfast. But fear not, because we are sharing some new breakfast options that embody convenience at its finest. Not only are they ready in minutes, but also they contain enough whole grains and protein to get kids through the morning and keep them energized until lunch.

Take a bite out of breakfast with these creations

Gluten-free breakfastSay hello to Amy’s Kitchen’s new Classic Breakfast Burritos made with organic and vegan ingredients. Inspired by recipes from Amy’s Drive Thru, the plant-based burrito stuffs a gluten-free tortilla full of spinach, mushrooms, red potatoes, tomatoes, tofu and housemade salsa. And there are organic vegan sour cream and vegan “cheese” in it, too. This breakfast burrito is a great source of protein and fiber, and in just minutes it goes from freezer to microwave to stomach.

Gluten-free breakfast

Made with purity protocol oats, the new fruit and oat breakfast ovals from Enjoy Life Foods pairwhole grains with traditional breakfast fruits and spices to create a wholesome, portable and craveable breakfast. Soft and tender, these nut-free and vegan ovals are available in Apple Cinnamon, Berry Medley, Chocolate Chip Banana and Maple Fig. And it doesn’t hurt that they taste just like cookies. Seriously. Just. Like. Cookies.

Gluten-free breakfastThank you, Mikey’s, for adding breakfast varieties to your line of delicious hot pockets. Available in three flavor combinations—egg, cheeze and ham; egg, cheeze and bacon; and egg and cheeze—they have all the taste and nutrition they need wrapped in a savory Paleo crust. Breakfast on the go is only a delicious snap away.

Cauliflower has made its way to breakfast with the introduction of Purely Elizabeth’s new Cauli Hot Cereal. Made with a base of diced and freeze-dried cauliflower, it is prepared just like instant oatmeal and is ready in under two minutes. Available in Cinnamon Almond and Strawberry Hazelnut, a serving contains around 8 grams of protein, includes almond protein powder, and is sweetened with coconut sugar. Move over, oatmeal!

The new plant-based Fiesta and Breakfast burritos from Udi’s Gluten Free combine their proprietary egg-style scramble with vegan beef crumbles or black beans, potatoes and cheddar-style shreds for a sweet or savory way to start the day. With just the right touch of Canadian maple syrup, the Breakfast burrito is sweet and savory. We love the heat of the jalapeno peppers, sautéed onion and poblano salsa in the Fiesta burrito. Just heat and eat on the way out.

5 Tips to Save Time and Money With a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

If you have aspirations to save time and money on the gluten-free diet, making the lifestyle easier for you and your wallet, check out these tried and true tips.

1. Comparison shop

Driving to multiple stores to shop for groceries takes up too much time. I comparison shop—just like my mom used to do—before leaving the house. Now that gluten-free products are available at all major grocery stores, check out the sale ads to determine which ones are offering the best deals. Then create a list—Stick. To. The. List.

2 . Print coupons

The Sunday paper is full of coupons, but not many for gluten-free products. Instead, head to the web and print them off before heading out. Many manufacturers offer coupons that you can print multiple times.

3  Save on pantry staples

Head to Trader Joe’s and ALDI to stock up on pantry staples that sell for dollars less than at traditional grocery stores.

Trader Joe’s treats consumers to a brand-less shopping experience by repackaging and rebranding other manufacturers’ products. This strategy keeps prices low, giving customers more bang for their buck on a wide selection of gluten-free items. And new products are continually being added. Though original manufacturers are not allowed to confirm whether their product is gracing a shelf at Trader Joe’s, we have our suspicions:

  • A bag of marshmallows we believe are made by Dandies costs $2.99 for a 10-ounce bag verses $3.99+ elsewhere.
  • Do you love Tate’s Bake Shop’s thin crispy cookies? Pick up a bag of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or ginger chunk for $3.99, saving at least a dollar per bag.
  • Believed to be made by Udi’s Gluten Free, the hamburger and hot dog buns, sliced breads and bagels go for $3.49 (buns) and $4.49 (bread and bagels) versus an average cost of $5.79+ per bag at traditional grocery stores.
  • The 3 Seed Beet and Sweet Potato Crackers are probably made by RW Garcia and go for only $1.99 per box compared to $5.99–$6.49.
  • An 8-ounce bag of pretzel twists that are probably made by Glutino costs $2.99 versus $4.50–$5.39 elsewhere.
  • A 9-ounce container of fresh fettuccine pasta believed to be made by Taste Republic is $3.99 while retailing elsewhere for $4.99–$5.99.

ALDI offers some of the best prices around on gluten-free products. Their LiveGfree product selection includes large wraps we believe are made by Toufayan ($3.99 vs. $4.99), an array of mixes ($1.99 each), brown rice pasta ($1.89), macaroni and cheese kits ($1.99), and canned and frozen veggies for a under a dollar per bag or can. They also carry pizza, chicken nuggets and so much more, with expanded offerings during the holidays and in May to celebrate Celiac Awareness Month.

4. Order online

No time to shop? Let your fingers do the shopping on Brandless.com. The website aims to make better-for-you products more accessible and affordable for everyone. It offers a carefully curated selection of gluten-free products, including baking mixes, chips, candy, grains, sauces, almond butter, supplements and healthy, cruelty-free beauty products. More than half of the gluten-free products are certified, and everything on the site is $3 or less, including kitchen utensils, linens, toilet paper and so much more. Oh, and there is usually a free shipping offer, too.

5. Order prepared meals

With a goal of taking the excuses—and the guesswork—out of healthy eating, Model Meals fit the bill for those resolving to start a fresh, gluten-free year in 2019. Danika Brysha’s range of meals was created for anyone who doesn’t like to cook, doesn’t know how to cook or is looking for meal inspiration. And the company does all the shopping and prep work, making the meals a real timesaver.

Meals arrive in eco-friendly packaging ready to serve after heating. Everything can be ordered al la carte with no subscription required. Meals are not only gluten free but also dairy free, sugar free, Whole30-approved and Paleo-compliant. Based in a commercial kitchen in Santa Ana, California, the company currently serves the Southern California area from Santa Barbara to San Diego, the San Francisco Bay area and Phoenix, Arizona, with plans to expand soon.

Gluten-free Food Trucks, Cideries and Breweries to Visit

As the number of dedicated gluten-free bakeries, cafes and restaurants continues to grow, so do the number of food trucks, cideries and breweries. By our count, there are 16 dedicated gluten-free food trucks and 17 breweries and cideries in the United States, for a total of 33 establishments serving up inspired cuisine and tasty beverages worthy of a leisurely visit. 

Schedule time to go on a tour of a gluten-free brewery or cidery to learn all about the production process, how cider gets its flavor (it isn’t from the fruit), where they source raw ingredients, how they come up with their flavors, and more. Take a seat in their tasting rooms to enjoy a flight of core and seasonal offerings. And some places offer a menu of lite bites or gourmet cuisine and desserts designed to pair with the cidery or brewery creations. Keep in mind that not all the menus feature dedicated gluten-free cuisine, but they have plenty of gluten-free options.

It takes a special breed of individual to run a food truck. Seriously! These culinary rock stars must like working in confined spaces and sweating their butts off to deliver gluten-free cuisine and a big ole’ smile with every order. They create an experience where it is normal to drool over the aromas wafting from within while standing in line with complete and oddly festive strangers. Struggling to eat and keep your clothing clean is par for the course. And there are never enough napkins.

If your travels take you to any of these 19 states, consider checking out their dedicated cideries, breweries and food trucks.

Happy and safe travels!

Gluten-free food trucks, cideries and breweries to visit on vacation

5 Reasons Not to Cheat on the Gluten-Free Diet

In the moment, it may seem tempting to have a few gluten-free cheat days and just have a bite of a donut or accept a meal someone else made to be polite. However, when you have celiac disease, cheating on the gluten-free diet can have serious consequences that are not worth the risk.

A gluten-free diet wasn’t trendy when I was diagnosed in 1997. Gluten wasn’t a buzzword, grocery stores had few, if any, options, and what they did have was unaffordable and inedible. Not many knew what gluten was, including dietitians, so I was left to fend for myself.

I was alone, depressed and pissed off, cheating whenever the depression took hold. I punished my body for not allowing me to eat what I wanted. Maybe I wanted to prove that my diagnosis was wrong. Maybe I couldn’t let go of all the memories evoked from now-“prohibited” foods. I only know I couldn’t control the intense cravings for my favorite comfort foods and simply gave in. I rationalized that a little gluten wouldn’t hurt and would binge for a week until my body couldn’t take it anymore.

Why did I put myself through the pain? Because I couldn’t come to terms with my disease. The pain seemed a small price to pay for the pleasure of eating whatever I wanted. I desperately needed to take back the control celiac disease robbed me of by eating powdered sugar donuts, cookie dough ice cream, Wheat Thins, bagels, anything fried, etc.

Learn about the basic gluten-free diet here.

I didn’t take my disease seriously until I found a support group and realized there were so many people in the same boat. And suddenly a lightbulb went off. I had to reinvent myself and accept the limitations imposed on me through genetics and accept that this was my life from now on and looking back would only cause pain. And I haven’t looked back.

To learn more about living a happy, healthy gluten-free life, subscribe to our weekly enewsletter.

Seven years of cheating took a toll on my body, to put it mildly. I work every day to take care of myself now and feel my plight is a cautionary tale that may sound all too familiar. So, I put together my top five deterrents for cheating on a gluten-free diet.

You won’t feel well

The cramping, bloating, multiple trips to the bathroom, sleeping on the cold bathroom floor to combat the flop sweats, migraines, mood swings, back pain and dehydration are no pleasure cruise. Keeping your immune system in a constant state of battle takes its toll on digestion and your emotional wellbeing.

You set off inflammation throughout the body

Inflammation just doesn’t affect the gut; it affects the whole body. The eyes, joints and brain will feel the pain. My eyesight is genetically predisposed to not functioning correctly, so contributing to the problem seems foolish. And prolonged inflammation can lead to a condition called leaky gut that allows ingested things that should come out the other end to enter your bloodstream.

You prolong gut recovery

Beyond Celiac says that eating any amount of gluten, no matter how tiny it is, can cause damage to the villi of the small intestine and prevent patients from absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.  These damaged villi can heal only when you aren’t bombarding them with gluten. Since 70 percent of the immune system lies in your digestive tract, gut health needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.

You will lose support

Friends and family are less likely to support you if they see you cheating. Why should they bother preparing gluten-free food or frequent restaurants with gluten-free menus if, in the end, you are going to eat whatever you want? A support system is vital to your success, so don’t let them watch you fail.

You could develop cancer

According to a 2013 study conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, noncompliant celiac sufferers (cheaters) with unhealed small intestines have a higher risk of developing lymphoma (a type of blood cancer). “Celiac patients with persistent villous atrophy—as seen on follow-up biopsy—have an increased risk of lymphoma, while those with healed intestines have a risk that is significantly lower, approaching that of the general population,” said Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS.

The bottom line is, it’s up to you. You are the only one who can take the necessary steps to prioritize your health by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. There is no cure for celiac disease, so it will be with you for life. Isn’t your life worth more than a jelly donut?

Learn how to eat out safely while avoiding accidental gluten exposure from cross-contamination.

A Lack of Transparency: Where Are All These Oats Coming From?

One of the top trends noted at Expo West this year was an exponential increase in oat-based products. Companies are adding whole grain oats to their products looking to create a more wholesome experience. These same products are being labeled ‘gluten free’ without an awareness or understanding of the oat controversy in the celiac community.

Oats have surpassed the breakfast category showing up in dessert mixes, ice cream, powdered drink mixes, and hot side dishes. These oat-based products could contain either mechanically sorted or purity protocol oats, but the type can’t be determined from the label.

Based on the current supply of purity protocol oats, it seems many of the new oat-based products are being made with mechanically sorted oats grown in fields with wheat containing grains without considering the valid safety concerns surrounding a ‘gluten free’ label.

Where does this leave the people with celiac disease who can tolerate only gluten-free oats? How does one find out where these oats are being sourced when the information isn’t being openly shared? Where is the accountability and testing results? Where is the transparency?

As an Expo West attendee for the past 15 years, registered dietitian Shelley Case has seen a huge growth in the number and variety of gluten-free products, especially in the oat category. “Oat-based beverages and creamers were definitely a hot trend this year” said Case. “I spent a lot of time asking each company about the source of their oats – whether from a purity protocol producer or one that did mechanically/optically sorted oats as well as what their testing protocols were.”

By now, people following a gluten-free diet are adept at label reading, but oats require another level of research due to the optical sorting machines begin used by large manufacturers. These machines are expected to remove wheat and barley seeds from oat seeds based on color, size and shape. But these sorted oats are processed and packaged on shared lines with wheat, one of the main reasons why the process is controversial and isn’t believed to be accurate by the celiac community. Furthermore, sorted oats are grown in fields with wheat-based grains, not in dedicated fields with oats only.

The new fruit and oat breakfast ovals from Enjoy Life Foods are a shining exception. They fully understand the oat controversy and proudly denote the use of purity protocol oats on their packaging. And if you head over to their website, they further disclose that they use organic, certified gluten-free rolled oats grown and manufactured using purity protocols for gluten-free foods.

The experience with Enjoy Life Foods isn’t the standard because many companies either don’t know where the oats come from or know that they test under 20 ppm of gluten and aren’t required to disclose the source of the oats. Processing oats in a dedicated mill is a great first step but knowing and sharing where were the oats were grown and sorted should be the next one. The source of these oats and the testing protocols should also available on the website.   

Because products containing oats can be labeled gluten free and certified by third party organization, gluten-free consumers need to be more diligent than ever to determine the source of the oats for a whole variety of new products.

Gluten-Free Packing Tips for the 21st Century

When it’s time to board a flight to a much-needed vacation destination, a gluten-free packing strategy for packing the right foods and tools goes a long way to relieving anxiety.

A trip to the store solely for snack foods and ready-to-eat meals that will keep hunger away during the flight and once you arrive is paramount. No need to be caught off guard and unnecessarily hungry if your flight gets delayed or for a layover.

Here are our best tips for enjoying a safe and tasty flight full of gluten-free food and relaxation. 


If possible, ask to pre-board the flight and use antibacterial wipes to clean the seat, seatbelt, armrests and tray table. Germs are everywhere, but so are crumbs from whatever the person before you consumed, which may have contained gluten. Start the flight free from the anxiety of transferring gluten to your hands and the gluten-free food you have packed.

Research it: Airport restaurants, grab-and-go food and snacks

A quick search for gluten-free options at the airport is a must. You might be surprised what you find and can nosh on before your flight. Depending on the length of the flight, it may be a good idea to eat a full meal, and it can’t hurt to grab an extra snack or two before boarding.

Pack it: Foods and tools to pack in your carry-on

I pack a full meal in my carry-on complete with dessert to keep me full during the flight. I keep it fresh by packing a sandwich, hard boiled eggs, fruit, pretzels and a homemade muffin. Delta Airlines offers gluten-free snack mix from Pretzel Perfection and Kind Bars, but not all airlines are as accommodating. Make sure to also pack reusable utensils, napkins, condiments and a reusable water bottle that gets filled before boarding, because it can take a while before beverage service begins. 

Pack it: Foods to pack in your suitcase

Packing isn’t just about what foods to pack and eat during the flight; it also is about what you are going to eat once you land. Pack foods that travel well and can tide you over until you get to the hotel. Start with shelf-stable options like cereal, nuts (I put these in my suitcase because the chances of a passenger being allergic to nuts is high), protein bars, jerky and dried fruit. Packing instant soup cups, ready-to-eat-meals, snack packs, instant oatmeal and a loaf of your favorite bread along with nut butter and jelly packs equals perfection when you must eat in the hotel room because jet lag has taken you down and you aren’t up to going out to eat. Also remember to pack resealable bags and bag clips to keep food from going stale or spilling.

Pack it: Over-the-counter medicine

It is easy to get caught up with food packing and forget to pack those needed over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your carry-on includes pain relievers, eye drops, inhalers, sinus pills, anti-nausea medicine, motion sickness medicine, cough drops, etc. Traveling to another time zone and climate can trigger an allergy or asthma attack with coughing or itchy eyes. And, if the flight has been turbulent, motion sickness medicine can save the day. Wearing a pair of acupressure wrist bands can also alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness. Those resealable bags also come in handy to create an ice pack if motion sickness medicine fails. Put an ice pack on the back of your neck, recline, turn up the air and relax as the nausea fades away.

My carry-on also includes a sleep mask, soft jacket, ear buds, phone charger and a book in case I can’t find a movie to watch or, gasp, the flight doesn’t have movies. Coming prepared to the airport starts the trip out on the right foot and ensures you arrive relaxed and ready to create memories.

Common Causes and Treatments of Dysbiosis

It was standing room only at Dr. Gaetano Morello’s Gut Health 3.0: Clinical Insights into the Development of Dysbiosis & Integrative Strategies lecture at Expo West 2019. In his presentation he covered many topics surrounding the gut, and I managed to learn a thing or two about the gut and its influence on disease in the body and our overall health.

Morello is regarded as an authority on natural medicine and is a naturopathic physician treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia ME, and Lyme disease at the Complex Chronic Diseases Program at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver.

I learned that the human body has an estimated 100 trillion bacteria, so there are more bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract than there are cells in the entire body! These ‘good’ bacteria colonies in the stomach and small intestines co-exist to prevent any one specific strain from taking over. They form the body’s microbiome and keep our immune systems in top fighting shape.

We inherit our gut flora from our mothers at birth swallowing them as we exit the birth canal and breastfeeding continues the transfer process. On averages it takes three years for a baby’s immune system to fully develop.

What is dysbiosis?

When a bacteria imbalance develops, called dysbiosis, both the good and the bad bacteria are compromised leading to a whole host of issues. Our diet and environment affect our microbiome as does stress, poor dental hygiene and antibiotics. Fortunately for some, the body can correct the imbalance on its own with a simple change in diet, but for others, medical intervention may be necessary.

Common causes of dysbiosis

One of the most common causes of dysbiosis is overuse of antibiotics. Many people are over-prescribed antibiotics during their journey of a gluten intolerance/sensitivity diagnosis, which can take seven to 11 years on average.

Antibiotics are introduced to kill off the bad bacteria, but they end up killing off the good ones too and weaken the immune system and its capacity to fight off infection leading to an increased recovery time from a common cold or sinus infection. 

Before I learned about probiotics my gut was in a sad state of disrepair due to overuse of antibiotics. I had this sinus infection that never went away because half way through my antibiotics both my stomach and gut went on strike. I was exhausted, nauseated and wondering why I couldn’t kick a simple sinus infection. Neither my doctor nor my dietitian had a clue.

Around this same time, I attended a lecture where local gastroenterologist Dr. Cynthia Rudert talked about the importance of taking probiotics in conjunction with an antibiotic (and after) keeps the good bacteria alive. Imagine that. All I had to do was take a probiotic and I could finish my medicine and finally get rid of a sinus infection that had kept me down for more than six months.

Other causes of dysbiosis can be attributed to an overgrowth of yeast, chronic stress, an increase in hormone levels and leaky gut.


A doctor may prescribe medicines to control the bacteria overgrowth depending on its severity. But a change in diet that includes enough nutrients to keep the bacteria in balance may just do the trick. Dr. Morello recommended adding several supplements into the diet, such as GarlicRich, WellBetX Berberine, and Organic Oil of Oregano and prokinetics like chewable ginger promote mobility.  Be sure to take a strong probiotic and increase vitamin B12 and iron intake as well.

Morello also shared a fact I had long suspected: that over time, the body develops an immune response to probiotics and makes antibodies that get rid of it while also getting rid of the bad bacteria. This is why I switch up probiotics every other month, to keep my gut on its toes and my immune system fully functioning.

5 Naturally Flavored Candies for Easter Baskets

The search for dye-free candies to fill Easter baskets is upon us, and I am so thankful for the brightly colored delights created by caring companies for children and adults alike. With sweet and sour, hard and chewy, and eye-catching creations, these companies have replaced the artificial candies of the past with healthful versions that taste even better. 

Here are our top picks (in no order) for companies producing product lines with only natural ingredients, so everyone can enjoy Easter (and every day) in sweet sugary goodness!

1. The Lovely Candy Company

The Lovely Candy Company only uses non-GMO and natural ingredients to create its vast line of sweets that deliver on taste and texture. Choose from: caramels, sweet and sour gummies, fruit chews, hard candy, lollipops and juicy chews in tropical and traditional flavors like cherry, apple and mango. And their chocolate offerings are equally intriguing with honey patties, dark and milk chocolate pretzel balls, and dark chocolate-covered almonds and espresso beans.

2. SmartSweets

There is no added sugar, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners in SmartSweets plant-based candy. Swedish fish, sour gummy bears, fruity gummy bears and sour blast buddies boast vibrant colors and flavors from only natural sources and are produced on lines free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk and wheat.

3. Surf Sweets

The jelly beans from Surf Sweets and its naturally flavored candies, including gummy bears, gummy worms and watermelon rings, are a fabulous treat any time of year but especially during the holidays. These allergen-friendly treats are made with organic fruit juices and organic sugar and are free of the top 10 most common food allergens, artificial colors and corn syrup. Produced in a nut-free facility, the candy offers traditional flavors choices of cherry, lemon, strawberry, grape, orange and grapefruit to delight the young and old.

4. Wholesome

Celebrate the spring season with Wholesome’s adorable bunny-shaped lollipops in lemon, strawberry and watermelon. And while you’re at it, its cinnamon gummy bears, DelishFish, and fruit chews are perfect for rounding out that Easter basket. Made with organic cane sugar, they have bright flavors and colors derived from vegetable juices. They’re also free from gluten, dairy, nuts and high-fructose corn syrup. Clean treats at their finest!

5. YumEarth

What started with lollipops has expanded into a natural and organic empire of hard candies, bite-size licorice, gummy bears and worms, chewy fruit snacks, and sour twists and beans. Using the simplest ingredients, flavors and colors, YumEarth has created a line of candy that tastes like it should.

10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Expo West

Whether this is your first time attending Natural Products Expo West or your tenth, here are some tips we’ve compiled to make the trade show an enjoyable and productive experience. Start by reading What is Expo West? for an introduction to the event, then dive into these suggestions to optimize your time there this March.

1. Research

Use the tools provided by Expo West to research vendors and plan out each day. Research the hashtag #ExpoWest to see what products other bloggers are reviewing and find those vendors who are active on social media. When you arrive, block off time to check out the New Products Pavilion in the lobby. You just may find more booths to visit.

2. Make Yourself Known

Interact with vendors on social media now. Ask for press releases/promotional material and put together questions to ask them at the show. It is great to walk up to a booth and have them not only recognize you but also recall your interest in their product.

3. Exercise

Exercising in the weeks leading up to the event is highly recommended. Start with weights to get arms/back in shape for carrying around bags full of product samples. Start walking more and stand at your desk to get those calf muscles in shape.

4. Packing – Footwear

Remember you will be walking miles each day so be kind to your feet. Bring two pairs of comfortable running shoes (rubber soul) and switch off each day to keep your feet from getting too fatigued. Make sure to pack bandages and first aid ointment for blisters. 

5. Packing – Wardrobe

It gets hot in the exhibit halls, so wear loose fitting comfortable clothing and bring a light jacket. Don’t over pack – reserve that space for product samples, an extra carry on, and an umbrella. The extra carry on will come in handy when you fill up your suit case and don’t want to leave anything behind.

6. Packing – Medicine

Bring anything and everything needed to adjust to the climate/weather and any digestive problems eating way too many samples can bring, such as: allergy medicine, sinus pills, digestive enzymes, eye drops, nose spray, medicinal teas, pain relievers, etc.

7. Packing – Supplies

Don’t leave the hotel without a fully charged phone and phone charger, pen, paper, hand sanitizer and a large supply of business cards (bring more than you think you will need because you go through them fast). Find a lightweight bag to wear across the body to keep your hands free and use it to store more business cards, pens, driver’s license and cash.

8. Hydrate

Bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up frequently. Each hall has a water fountain by the bathrooms, so take advantage. You will be talking all day and the palate needs to be cleansed between samples.

9. Sampling

Samples will be everywhere but don’t try to sample everything or you could feel bloated and tired. One or two bites is enough to form an opinion of the product’s taste/texture. Also, germs are everywhere, so avoid taking samples from large bowls with tongs because not everyone will use them. Instead, ask for a snack size bag to try later. Be aware that many vendors heat/prepare/cut gluten-free products on the same surface as wheat-based ones to save table space. Just say no to cross contamination.

10. Socialize

Post your product finds to all social media accounts and shoot videos to post to your Instagram Stories. Your readers want to see what walking the show floor is all about. Share what you have been eating, what trends you are spotting, and any photos taken with celebrities (yes, they will be there) and/or bloggers.

Have fun at the largest natural products expo in the United States and enjoy your time there because it will fly by.

An ode to Expo West, Jeff Foxworthy Style:

You might be at Expo West…

  • …if you start exercising in February to build up the strength needed to walk the show floors.
  • …if you pack almost no clothing to reserve space for food samples.
  • …if you wake up with food and empty wrappers in your bed.
  • …if after a long day of sampling, you are starving and crave red meat, veggies and salad.
  • …if you just can’t eat another bite, well, maybe you can.
  • …if your phone charger needs a charger, needs a charger.
  • …if you lose your voice from networking.
  • …if you arrive at the airport only to realize your luggage is embarrassingly overweight.
  • …if you leave 5 to 10 pounds heavier than when you arrived.
  • …if you wouldn’t change this experience for the world!

Made-Without-Gluten Bread A Success at Subway

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Since the successful addition of Made Without Gluten sub bread to menus in just 24 locations this past December 2018, Subway has informed us that it is currently available in 300 Fresh Forward restaurants throughout the United States.

Because the bread has been well received by guests, Subway is looking to broaden its made-without-gluten offerings even more. They are currently testing a made-without-gluten wrap and we will share more details as soon as we can.

“Subway is innovating like never before and that work will soon positively impact our made without gluten offerings,” said Andy Dismore, North American Director of Menu Management and Innovation. “We are actively listening to guest feedback and exploring many improvements so we can incorporate made without gluten options as part of our future offerings.”

If your local Subway isn’t offering the made-without-gluten bread, make sure the franchise owner knows that it is available for order nationwide, making it a quick and versatile menu addition.

Are you ready for more good news? Subway has partnered with DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats, to offer delivery from nearly 9,000 of its restaurants. A lovely example of the brand using technology to give guests more of what they want while also making it one of the first quick-food restaurants to partner with four of the largest third-party delivery providers.

Cross-contamination safeguards 

Realizing that Subway restaurants can’t offer a cross-contact free environment, the made-without-gluten bread is kept frozen in its individually wrapper. The pre-sliced sub bread, which is the size of a six-inch sub and costs an extra $1, is thawed in the cooler for 12 hours before serving. The only option for heating is toasting on shared equipment, which would put it in direct contact with wheat, so instead it is served room temperature.

When making sandwiches on made-without-gluten sub bread, each Subway sandwich artist follows these safe handling procedures:

  • Put on new gloves after washing their hands
  • Keep the bread in its wrapping until the sandwich is being prepared
  • Use clean baskets and clean scoops/utensils for all products
  • Build the sandwich from start to finish by only one sandwich artist
  • Bread is not toasted

About the bread

The made-without-gluten bread contains egg whites, cornstarch, modified cornstarch, tapioca starch, palm oil, sugar, distilled monoglycerides, and less than 2% of the following: yeast, rice bran and germ, salt, natural flavor, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), pectin, xanthan gum, carbohydrate gum, guar gum and enzyme.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

What is Expo West? An introduction to the natural, healthy products convention

Natural Products Expo West, the largest natural, organic and healthy products event in the United States, takes place every March at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Produced by New Hope Network, the show brings together innovative products that emphasize sustainability, lifestyle, nutrition and health, transparency and convenience. Record numbers of attendees converge upon the annual event, which has exhibits in every nook and cranny of the convention center and in the Hilton Hotel next door. 

Read on to find out what to expect at Expo West, and stay tuned for coverage from Gluten-Free Living on top product picks, educational events, product launches and more!

What is Expo West?

Expo West is THE event to discover the product trends that will rule 2109 and the newest products designed to keep you healthy, fit and on your game are on display and waiting to be sampled.

The 38th annual event experienced another record‐setting year hosting more than 85,000 attendees in 2018 ensuring that more than 90,000 people will be making their way West. Last year, the industry-only show brought together 3,521 exhibiting companies, including more than 600 first‐time exhibitors. That’s a lot of ground to cover in four days, but I have been tackling this challenge for 10 years and it is so much fun, grueling fun.

The other component of the event is the education program filled with lectures delivered by industry greats covering everything from issues facing the natural products industry, consumer purchasing habits, climate change tools, product trends and innovation, farming and agriculture and so much more.

The event also offers opportunities to socialize after a long day on the show floor with daily yoga and morning meditation, concerts at the arena plaza, happy hours and networking events. It is one big natural products party full of education, too many product samples and a ton of walking. But the experience is like none other and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Who Attends?

Everyone from the media to bloggers to ingredient suppliers and retailers attend the event looking for new products, connecting with company owners and discovering brand spanking new companies looking to shape the future of healthy products. These young companies attend the event hoping to create product buzz and consumer demand that leads to much-needed distribution deals and product placement in stores.

Exhibitors are trying to keep up with ever-changing consumer demand by showcasing new flavors, introducing updated packaging and educating consumers.

Why Attend?

Two words — trend spotting. The event is a picture of what to expect from the natural products industry in 2019 and an insight into what products will grace store shelves, be highlighted in magazines and on blogs. And the trends for 2019 are sure to include hemp-derived CBD-infused products, cauliflower, mushrooms and a continued move away from unnecessary additives and fillers.

5 Ways to Color it Red for Valentine’s Day— Naturally

Red velvet cake, sprinkles and food coloring—oh my. Valentine’s Day isn’t the best holiday for anyone who is intolerant to artificial red color and dye, like my daughter. When she was 4, we discovered she is intolerant to Red Dye #40 after she consumed all the red goodies at a school party. The next two hours were a series of violent mood swings, aggressive behavior that turned into hysterical laughter and boomeranged back again, and a complete loss of coordination that ended with a mighty sugar crash that left her listless, groggy and with gastrointestinal issues. Our quest for products free from artificial colors and dyes started the next day.

The search was difficult because Red Dye #40 is everywhere. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly used dyes in the U.S. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cosmetics, drugs and food, so you often will see it in the ingredients list of soft drinks, cherry-flavored products and children’s medications.

The deep hue that red velvet cake takes its name from was originally achieved with cocoa. More specifically, anthocyanin-rich cocoa that wasn’t treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color. It was actually the reaction of the vinegar and buttermilk that revealed the red anthocyanin in cocoa.

Companies like Glee Gum, Lovely Candy Company, Smart Sweets, Surf Sweets, TruJoy Sweets, Wholesome and YumEarth are answering the call for dye-free candy with eye-catching lollipops, jelly beans, fruity hearts, gummy treats, licorice, gum, hard candy and much more.

Here are our top picks for companies that produce vibrant baked goods and frosting naturally so everyone can celebrate Valentine’s Day—and every day—in living color!

1. Add natural back to your baking with Color Garden’s plant-based food dyes and sugar crystals. Buy a box of red food dye made with beet juice, annatto and turmeric for Valentine’s Day, or decorate year-round with pastels for Easter, a Halloween pack of black, yellow, orange and purple, or the holiday pack of red and green. And use its red, orange, yellow, green and blue sugar crystal shakers to add sparkle to baked goods.

2. Made from beets, spirulina and turmeric, Color Kitchen’s vibrant rainbow of plant-based food colors, sprinkles and cake mixes delight the eye and feed that dye-free sweet tooth. The company offers fun holiday options. Sprinkle choices include colorful hearts and holiday trees with a coordinating color packet of frosting. Other offerings include Easter egg coloring kits and a red velvet color pack made with vegetable juice powder and turmeric. And the red velvet and confetti vanilla cake mixes are naturally sourced with gorgeous results.

3. Gluten-Free Heaven’s red velvet cake mix doesn’t rely on food coloring because its color comes from cocoa powder. The dairy-free mix contains a sour milk mixture in place of buttermilk. If it isn’t red enough for you, add some natural food color to pump up the hue! Each bag makes two 8-inch round layers or 24 cupcakes and delivers an authentic southern taste everyone will enjoy.

4. The Nature’s Colors line from India Tree includes decorating sugars, sprinkles, decoratifs and food colorings. The most unique products—the decoratifs, or themed sprinkles—are perfect for topping any masterpiece. With mother of pearl round sprinkles, snowflake-shaped sprinkles, peppermint-crunch sprinkles, My Party Funfetti sequins and funny Valentine’s heart-shaped sprinkles, the options are limitless. Their TrueRed color can be purchased individually or as part of the decorating set with yellow and blue.

5. Supernatural Kitchen’s plant-based food colors are free of artificial junk, soy and palm oil with four single-use packets per kit in yellow, orange, pomegranate red and magic color-changing blackberry. The company also offers gorgeous rainbow Starfetti sprinkles, white sequins and Girl Pow! sprinkles featuring boxing gloves, primary colors and Pow! stars for baking and decorating.

Color your baking world naturally!

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies to Send This Valentine’s Day

The talented pastry chefs at the more than 200 dedicated gluten-free bakeries in the U.S. create Instagram-worthy gluten-free cookies daily. Enlist their services this Valentine’s Day, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the glory—or send it to your loved ones.

It took some detective work to find five bakeries that make—and ship!—gorgeously decorated sugar cookies. We found that some bakeries use a traditional sugar cookie base while others think shortbread cookies make a better base for decorating. Once you taste these heavenly bites, you won’t care what they include—as long as there’s no gluten! Here are our top five picks:

1. Dempsey Bakery

The pastry masters at Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, Arkansas, can create cookies in just about any shape imaginable topped with royal frosting or colored sugar and a sweet message. The bakery’s shortbread sugar cookies are made in a certified gluten-, soy- and nut-free (except coconut) bakery. Its Valentine’s Day Iced Shortbread Kits include nine unfrosted cookies and white, red and pink icing for personalizing at home. Orders need a week lead time.

Cookies contain eggs and dairy but can be prepared without.

2. Epiphany Bakery

The decorated sugar cookies and sugar cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting from Epiphany Bakery in Naples, Florida, are topped with royal icing and a choice of regular or natural food coloring, colored sugar and sprinkles. This versatile bakery can customize cookies to suit most dietary needs, including Paleo, Keto, vegan and even sugar free. Order by phone two to four days ahead of time.

Cookies contain eggs, cornstarch (baking powder) and almond meal. Peanut butter is on the premises.

3. Gluten Free Gloriously

Sprinkles, colorful sugar or royal icing adorns the heart- and flower-shaped shortbread sugar cookies at Gluten Free Gloriously in Stirling, New Jersey. This certified gluten- and peanut-free bakery also makes sugar cookie pops and bouquets. Other options include vegan and dairy-free sugar cookies. Allow a week lead time for orders.

Cookies contain eggs, dairy and cornstarch (baking powder).

4. Sweet Cake Bake Shop

Sweet Cake Bake Shop in Kaysville and Salt Lake City, Utah, stands out in the sugar cookie arena with its cream cheese and lemon cream cheese beauties topped with a choice of almond glaze or cream cheese frosting. Both locations only accept phone orders.

Cookies contain eggs, dairy, almond meal and cornstarch (baking powder).

5. Gluuteny Gluten Free & Dairy Free Goodies

Say “I love you” with a bouquet of rose cookies on lollipop sticks from Gluuteny Gluten Free & Dairy Free Goodies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Or go traditional and dress up sugar cookie hearts with dairy-free royal icing or buttercream frosting and colored sugar. Everything prepared here is dairy free. Place orders two to four days ahead of time.

Cookies contain eggs and cornstarch (baking powder).

Of course, many other gluten-free bakeries offer gorgeous sugar cookies. Unfortunately, these establishments don’t ship their wares. However, we still wanted to give them a shout-out for all the hard work they put into making sensational gluten-free treats: Kyra’s Bake Shop (Oregon), Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery (California) and The Baked Bee (Arizona). I only wish I lived closer!

Members of the Gluten-Free Community: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Kindness seems to be a hard sell these days, and it isn’t any different in the gluten-free blogging community. For years, I have said if people knew what goes on behind the scenes, they would be shocked—maybe even horrified. Many in the community believe everyone should be of one mind and anyone who disagrees or states a different opinion is subject to attack and ridicule. Why?

Having become a member of the gluten-free community more than 20 years ago, I believe in educating readers and coming together to bring about positive change. We have seen this happen with the Gluten Free Food-Labeling Summit in 2011, when a ginormous gluten-free cake was erected to draw attention to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s inaction on finalizing standards for gluten-free labeling. As a result, the Gluten Free Food Labeling Regulations went into effect on Aug. 5, 2014, which shows we can put aside our differences and work together to achieve positive results.

There isn’t any room in our community for those who are all about name calling and finger pointing. This type of behavior has a negative impact and translates to the further spread of misinformation by the media and our community’s concerns not being taken seriously.

We need to support one another. Supporting those who cater to our needs is vital to our survival. Sharing medical information and updates on products, events and restaurants is how we assist one another, and it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.

The fact is, people follow our blogs and social media accounts who don’t have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. They may have rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or another reason for avoiding gluten. I have heard from followers with celiac who consume beer they know isn’t gluten free, eat “gluten-free” pizza even though they know it isn’t prepared safely or allow themselves cheat days without worrying about the effects.

Choosing what to put in our bodies is always a personal decision, and no matter what information we share about the harm that unsafe foods can cause, people may ultimately make decisions that we wouldn’t. It really isn’t our place to judge; we can only do our best to keep them informed. The same can be said about manufacturers of gluten-free products. Make quality products we can support, or we will take our money elsewhere.

So, what are we as a community to do? It’s important to identify “bully” activity and take one simple—although sometimes difficult—course of action: Ignore it because nothing positive will come from any interaction with someone participating in such behavior.

Let’s all step down from our soapboxes and learn how to work together.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Gluten-Free Eateries: Which States Have the Most?

Since we started building our lists of gluten-free bakeries, cafés and restaurants in 2017, we have been astounded watching the number grow. We wondered, though—which states have the most dedicated establishments?

By our count, there are 234 dedicated gluten-free restaurants and 215 bakeries in the United States for a total of 449. Only five states—Alaska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming—have no dedicated offerings.

It was surprising to find that almost three-quarters of these restaurants and bakeries are in just 15 states. Adding to the gluten-free fun, out of the eight dedicated food trucks found, all except one reside in these same states.

Which state do you think has the most gluten-free bakeries? Or restaurants? My first guess was totally wrong—I thought it was New York, only to see that California has it beat with five more restaurants and a whopping 19 more bakeries.

Are you surprised by the totals?

Did we miss any? If we’ve missed a dedicated eatery in our searches, please let us know. Find us on Facebook at @gflivingmag or Twitter @gfliving.

Please note: Only bakeries with brick and mortar locations are included. Bakeries and restaurants with more than one location are counted individually. Grabbagreen restaurants have been removed due to the use of a wheat tortilla at some of the independently owned franchise locations. 

Top 5: Innovative Products We Can’t Wait to Buy

The natural foods industry is bursting with new products. One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to travel to natural products shows to taste them all. I love meeting the manufacturers and hearing how their product came to be. Their excitement is palpable and contagious.

We are always on the search for innovative products that are completely new to the marketplace, reimagine childhood favorites with clean ingredients, or are made from whole and fiber-full foods. There seems to be no limit to how an ingredient can be used, as evidenced by that mighty vegetable cauliflower that continues to show its versatility, making every product show an adventure.

It was difficult to create this list because there are so many outstanding contenders. But when it came down to it, these are the top five products that will consistently appear on our shopping list:

1. Against the Grain Gourmet’s Veggie Vegan Pizza goes in a new direction for the brand. Not only is the crust free of cheese, a departure from its signature cheese-filled dough, but it is also topped with dairy-free cheese sauce developed in house. The company decided to make a dairy-free cheddar cheese sauce over using any shredded cheeses currently available. It made this move to control the ingredient list and because it was unable to find a product that lives up to its high standards for taste. The abundant fire-roasted veggies bake up crunchy and blend nicely with the creamy cheese sauce on a chewy crust that bakes to a gorgeous golden brown.

2. Even carnivores are lining up to buy the new line of plant-based sausages from Beyond Meat. Why? Because they taste even better than a traditional meat sausage. And they sizzle when cooking, just like a traditional sausage. Available in bratwurst, sweet Italian and hot Italian, each sausage uses peas along with fava and rice proteins as its base. Of course, they are lower in fat than traditional sausage and free of hormones, nitrites, nitrates and soy, and all their ingredients are non-GMO. An extra bonus is they are easier to digest than meat, so they don’t leave you feeling too full or bloated.

3. Setting a new standard for healthy, Mikey’s pizza pockets have turned portable snacking into a hot and delicious reality. Available in five flavors and made with good-for-you (and pronounceable) ingredients, each box contains two pockets filled with meat or vegetables wrapped in a Paleo crust. As with all of Mikey’s products, they are grain free, dairy free, soy free and certified Paleo friendly. The cauliflower curry with butternut squash and spinach and the sausage and peppers pockets are calling my name.

4. The new puff pastry dough from Schär is insane. Each box contains two rolls of premade dough with baking paper, making it easy to roll out and manipulate. It bakes up golden brown with tall flaky layers that have that great tug and pull, like wheat-y pastries. The sky’s the limit when using the dough because it works with sweet and savory creations. Unfortunately, it is having a hard time finding a home in the freezer set of grocery stores, so until it lands at a store near you, order it online.

5. Gluten-free and vegan food company Bobo’s has launched a healthy take on vegan pop tarts called Toast’r Pastries. Made with a dough that bakes up nice and crusty, each pastry is filled with all-natural fruit fillings, such as strawberry jam and blueberry lemon poppyseed, or nut-butter fillings of chocolate peanut butter and chocolate almond butter. Known for its oat bars, Bobo’s has taken a childhood favorite and turned it into a better-for-you breakfast treat using whole and natural ingredients. What a great way to start the morning!

Gluten-Reduced Wafers Can be Used for Eucharist

Gluten-Free Communion Wafer

Even the most progressive pope in recent history has declared that the Roman Catholic Church will not allow its congregation to receive gluten-free communion wafers (or “hosts”) during Mass. This posed a problem for Catholics following a strict gluten-free diet—until the gluten-reduced (or low-gluten) hosts made by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration received Vatican approval.

Communion wafers must contain wheat to be valid as a sacrament. Why? Because the Vatican has decreed that the wafers should closely replicate the bread Jesus served during The Last Supper, which means it can’t be altered with foreign materials, like rice flour.

According to a statement, “The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were the first U.S. low-gluten altar bread producers approved by the Vatican. As early as the 1990s, the Benedictine Sisters started receiving requests for gluten-free hosts. With support from the Office of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Benedictine Sisters produced a host compliant with the requirements of Canon Law and suitable for thousands of low-gluten customers around the world.

“The Benedictine Sisters are the largest religious producers of altar breads in the United States, making almost 9 million hosts each month. The low-gluten breads are produced in a separate facility in order to prevent cross-contamination. The low-gluten breads are made from water and wheat starch that has had most of the gluten removed.”

Thirty-packs of the hosts can be purchased from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, for $5.50. Approved for use in all dioceses by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the wafers are tested to be less than .001 percent gluten, or 10 parts per million. And you can order a free sample pack to try before going to church.

For those who are gluten free and Catholic, when it is your turn to take the Eucharist, ask for a gluten-reduced wafer knowing that the church—at least in the U.S.—approves.

Cauliflower Crusts Exclusive Gluten-Free Offering at California Pizza Kitchen

Margherita on Cauliflower Crust

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) made the switch from offering two gluten-free pizza crusts to only offering its low-carb cauliflower crusts nationwide as of October 2018.

Since its introduction to the gluten-free menu in January 2018, their gluten-free cauliflower pizza crust has become a favorite, leading the restaurant chain to make the switch.  At a $2.50 upcharge per pie, CPK’s cauliflower pizza crust is made from a custom blend of mozzarella cheese, rice flour, herbs and spices in a certified gluten-free facility.

“We are now offering our popular cauliflower crust as our exclusive gluten-free pizza crust offering,”said Brian Sullivan senior vice president of culinary innovation. “The pizza varieties offered on our certified gluten-free pizza menu are now made on our GIG-certified gluten-free cauliflower crust. As always, we recommend that guests discuss any food allergies and ingredient preferences with their servers.”

The cauliflower crust is quite delicious offering a uniquely crunchy base for one of their signature gluten-free pizzas. The crust has that great tug and pull attributed to wheat-based crusts and makes a healthier base to pile on the cheese and toppings.

Five years have passed since CPK first added gluten-free pizza crusts and four pizzas made using the safe handling procedures created by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) to its offerings nationwide. Those pizzas (original, barbecue chicken, pepperoni, mushroom pepperoni sausage, and Margherita) made with verified gluten-free ingredients represent a haven for gluten-free diners looking for delicious pizza prepared safely from start to finish.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Dining out with family and friends is such a central part of living a happy, healthy, gluten-free life that you should not let the challenges it presents stop you from enjoying a meal outside your home. Find tips and advice for safe restaurant visits and recommendations on places to enjoy a fantastic gluten-free meal, visit our Eating Out section.

For those times when you’d rather stay in and prepare your own gluten-free meal, check out our collection of delicious gluten-free recipes.

Your 2018 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide

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It is never too early to make that list and check it twice when it comes to shopping and holiday gift giving. While it may seem difficult to come up with a good gift for your friend or loved one following a gluten-free diet, the possibilities are limitless. Here are our top six ideas for gluten-free gift giving.

1. Meal-delivery subscription

For those of us who don’t like or have the time to cook, these meal-delivery services provide delicious and convenient certified gluten-free meals:

  • Freshly is certified gluten free by the Gluten-Free Food Services (GFFS) Certification Program. This subscription service delivers healthful and fully prepared meals directly to customers’ doors, each ready to eat in only three minutes.
  • Green Chef’s meal kits are certified gluten free with Paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian and carnivore meals. Signing up is easy. Choose either a two-person or family plan and specify protein choices and delivery time. All ingredients are premeasured and largely prepped to keep time in the kitchen to 30 minutes or less. And there is no commitment, so you can skip weeks or cancel at any time.
  • Paleo On The Go’s certified Paleo, dairy-free, non-GMO meals are made in a certified gluten-free kitchen and include autoimmune protocol (AIP), keto and Strict30 meals. Buy that special someone a gift certificate to pick out whatever tickles his or her fancy.

2. Drinks

Celebrate the gluten-free way with a bottle of wine or champagne…and maybe one of these recommendations.

  • Founder Peter Smith spent two years in Spain developing a vegan and nut-free liqueur that blends Spanish brandy and tiger nut milk-based horchata. Available in two flavors, Besos de Oro and Besos de Chocolate, this cruelty-free liqueur delivers a rich and smooth flavor that the owner says rivals Baileys Irish Cream.
  • Created by bartenders from a short list of ingredients, these cocktail mixers from Barcoop Bevy can turn anyone into a cocktail champion. Available in refreshing flavors like piña colada, Ginger Smash, cucumber mojito, Spicy Strawberry and grapefruit margarita, they require you to simply add a spirit of choice and ice to mix your way to the perfect cocktail.
  • Bom Bom’s approach to blending Caribbean rum with chocolate, cookies and brownies takes adult beverages to a deliciously creamy level. Consumers can “have your cake and drink it too” with the Coco Mochanut coffee liqueur, Nilli Vanilli almond milk liqueur and Fully Baked hemp milk liqueur creations. All are low in calories with no artificial flavors or preservatives. Can you say boozy sweet tooth?

3. Gift cards

They are not lame and really are your best friend. Here are some of the best ways to approach a gift certificate purchase:

  • Buy one to a chain restaurant with a gluten-free menu, such as Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Wildfire Restaurant, Legal Sea Foods and Maggiano’s.
  • Most dedicated restaurants and bakeries sell them because they allow the receiver to pick out their favorites.
  • Another option is picking up gift cards for a favorite grocery or health food store. Your loved one might be more likely to splurge on something he or she otherwise wouldn’t when shopping on a budget.

4. Send sweets

There isn’t always enough time for holiday baking, so why not take advantage of these options:

  • The gorgeous gift towers from Cheryl’s Cookies are filled with their signature gluten-free brownies and soft cookies. Their snickerdoodle and frosted sugar cookies are sinfully delicious and can push away all that holiday stress. We promise!
  • Choose from more than just fruit and cheese at Harry & David. This well-known brand has added prepared gluten-free cookies, muffins, cakes and pies to its selection that are sure to impress.
  • Cookies and brownies and blondies, oh my! Let Tate’s Bake Shop craft a gift tower full of tasty goodness. With five flavors of buttery crunchy thin cookies, customize a sweet gift tower that no one will suspect is gluten free.

5. Gadgets

A new kitchen gadget or a good knife with a cutting board makes a great fit. Some of the more interesting gadgets we have seen are:

  • The Whisk Wiper can be used on a standard whisk or an electric mixer to save 95 percent of the batter. It doubles as a bowl scraper and whisk holder to keep it off the counter, making clean up a breeze.
  • Eco-friendly reusable straws are not just trendy but also a nod to ridding the environment of single-use plastic that won’t decompose in our lifetimes and harms the environment. The FinalStraw, available in November, is the first collapsible straw that comes with a compact carrying case and a tiny squeegee for cleaning. It is dishwasher safe and BPA free.
  • Reusable cutlery isn’t just for camping anymore. Made from bamboo or stainless steel, it is great for everyday use, sturdy, dishwasher safe and available in a variety of colors. Some even come with their own carrying case. Preserve On The Go’s 24-piece cutlery set is made from recycled plastic and includes eight knives, eight forks and eight spoons.

6. A tax-deductible donation

Make a donation to a national organization in the name of your favorite person with celiac. There are several organizations raising awareness and research funds, including Beyond Celiac, Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts, and each of these ideas shows how much thought and care you put into finding something special for your loved one.

Hot Product Picks at Expo East 2018

The 33rd annual Natural Products Expo East show, held September 12-15 in Baltimore, hosted more than 1,500 brands, including 244 first-time exhibitors.

Always on the lookout for innovative products, I traveled to Baltimore to try all the gluten-free (and dairy and soy free) products at this industry-only natural product show. Eating and sharing show finds is a tough job, but I am always up to the challenge.

In no particular order, here are our 20 hot product picks.

Top 5: Tips to teach gluten-free baking

We have all been in this situation at one point or another: You arrive at a get-together where the host has baked something special just for you. Your host is excited to surprise you with the treat, not realizing the thoughts about ingredients and cross-contamination racing through your mind. Anxiety sets in, and you wonder how you can avoid eating the dish.

To prevent this and similar situations, talk with your loved ones about gluten-free baking, including the safest utensils and your top brand picks. Jump-start the conversation with these five tips:

1. Be polite.

In cases like the one above, a caring person has purchased or prepared something special to keep you from feeling left out. Even if you are concerned, thank your host for thinking of and including you.

2. Shop together.

Show those who want to learn how to spot gluten-free items and read labels in the grocery store. Point out some mixes and flour blends that you recommend for the most impressive baked goods.

3. Share recipes.

Prepare one of your favorite gluten-free recipes together. Start with a simple one that you have a lot of experience baking.

4. Gift new kitchen tools.

To show how much you appreciate the effort, deliver a basket of new baking gear, such as a spatula, rolling pin, whisk, oven mitts, cake or pie pans, to be used exclusively for gluten-free baking.

5. Bake it a team effort.

Prepare the dish together so that you can show your baking buddy how to handle any issues that may arise. This will help build his or her confidence in gluten-free baking while illustrating just how scrumptious it can be.

Have the sudden urge to stretch your gluten-free baking muscles? Check out some of our most popular dessert recipes:



Pumpkin Coffee Cake





One-Bowl Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting





Skillet Apple Custard




Four-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies




Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake



Shake Shack Lands at Atlanta Airport

Shake Shack’s newest location has touched down in one of the busiest airports in the U.S., Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Stop by Concourse A near Gate A28 to sample the new Rise and Shack! fare plus classic Shack offerings. Even better—everything can be served on one of their soft and delicious gluten-free buns!

The bold move of adding gluten-free burger buns to the menus at all 67 of its U.S. locations (not stadiums or ballparks) in 2016 expanded their ability to serve gluten-free patrons a hearty burger and, now, breakfast sandwiches too!

The Atlanta Airport Shack’s breakfast menu features Shake Shack’s signature breakfast sandwiches: Sausage, Egg N’ Cheese ($5.25), Bacon, Egg N’ Cheese ($5.25) and Egg N’ Cheese ($4.15). All three sandwiches consist of griddled-fresh cage-free eggs, served with American cheese on a toasted potato bun. The sausage breakfast sandwich is topped with all-natural Shack pork sausage and the bacon sandwich is topped with all-natural Applewood smoked bacon. Along with the breakfast sandwiches, a selection of hot and cold brew coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters is offered.

Bellyrite Foods, Inc., supplies the burger buns to Shake Shack, which are available for a dollar up-charge—a small price to pay for a convenient and scrumptious breakfast sammie with a cup of joe before hopping on a flight. Now, if we could just get them to use gluten-free breadcrumbs on the ‘Shroom Burger.

This is Shake Shack’s third location in Atlanta, with the first opening in Buckhead in 2014 and the second in Perimeter Mall in 2016. And plans are underway to open a fourth location in the Old Fourth Ward in 2019.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Check out our blog for gluten-free news, product roundups, recipe ideas and more!

Learn more about recent headlines and research in This Week in Gluten-Free News!


Three Cheers for Award-Winning Gluten-Free Beer

In less than a year in business, Güten Beer has taken the gluten-free beer industry by storm after winning top honors in its first-ever World Beer Cup in May at Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The veteran-owned and -operated company uses 100 percent gluten-free ingredients to create a complex and rich flavored lager that is light and refreshing.

Not all beers created for the gluten-free community are gluten free. Some are made with gluten-containing ingredients and use enzymes to remove gluten, with the label marked accordingly. These beers can contain gluten, which is why drinking beer made with gluten-free ingredients is highly recommended.

It took Güten Beer years to perfect the recipe for its full-bodied lager and succeed where other companies, despite being in business for years, have failed. How did the company do it? We sat down with Chris Schneider, one of the managing members of Güten Brands LLC, to learn more about this award-winning brand.

Gluten-Free Living: What is the inspiration behind this world-class beer?

Chris Schneider: The inspiration came from founder Todd Ehrlich, who is a very successful entrepreneur with multiple businesses. He founded the recovery drink Kill Cliff, which is also gluten free, and Güten Brands LLC, owner of Güten Beer. He thought it would be cool to start a beer company that produced gluten-free—not gluten-removed—beer that tasted amazingly refreshing.

GFL: Did the World Beer Cup win come as a shock? How many other gluten-free beers were you up against?

CS: I would say the actual award came to us not as a shock but more of an awakening that we do in fact have an amazing beer. We all knew through the trial process that once we dialed in the right formula, we had an amazing gluten-free beer on our hands. There were, I believe, 28 entries from around the world in our category. We were going up against others who have been doing this for years, and it was a great feeling to learn that our beer won gold having been in the market for less than seven months.

GFL: What ingredients are used? 

CS: The main flavor profile you or anyone is tasting are the actual base ingredients that we use in the brewing process, which are all 100 percent gluten-free grains. We use millet, buckwheat and sorghum in its unique proprietary formula to dial in the flavor. We aren’t starting with grains that contain gluten then reducing the amount of gluten traces in our final product.

GFL: Why a lager and not an ale or an IPA?

CS: We at Güten Brands LLC set out to create a beer that was light, easy to drink and something that was cooler/fridge/party ready.

GFL: Güten Beer is made by Sleeping Giant Brewing Company in the Rocky Mountains, but distributed only in Georgia—why?

CS: We established our company in Georgia and wanted to bring our product to our backyard after our first production run. We brew through a contract brewery that was specifically capable to handle our needs of producing a 100 percent gluten-free beer.

GFL: When will you expand beyond Georgia?

CS: Since we won the gold award for best gluten-free beer in the world, we are taking a hard look at expanding our operations and distribution. The exposure is great, and it’s awesome to see where this brand can and will go, but we will need to ensure we take the necessary steps to best grow the brand and the business.

GFL: Are there any new flavors on the way?

CS: We are looking to grow Güten Beer’s lineup moving forward but don’t have any details to share at this point.

GFL: The beer is currently only available in cans. Are you considering kegs for serving in bars and restaurants?

CS: We have discussed the idea of kegging Güten Beer, which would be sweet! Who knows, that’s part of our short- and long-term plans as we continue to ride this gold award and look to expand the brand.


Looking for more gluten-free beer suggestions? Download our FREE 7-page book filled with flavor profile, food pairing and distribution information for more than 65 gluten-free brews!

Top 10: Gluten-Free, Vegan Products at Trader Joe’s

Yes, we usually stick to the top five, but there are so many fabulous gluten-free, vegan products at Trader Joe’s (and the selection keeps growing) that it made sense to boost the list to 10!

Trader Joe’s has succeeded in bringing consumers its own in-house brand of grocery store items that are often produced by big-name companies. This smart move allows them to keep prices down, selection up and more money in our pockets. Here are the top 10 gluten-free, vegan products at Trader Joe’s that don’t sacrifice flavor in order to save you some scratch:


1. Cauliflower Gnocchi

The newest cauliflower product at Trader Joe’s has taken the internet by storm, which is totally understandable. This innovative gnocchi blends cauliflower with potato, instead of flour, creating a vegan alternative to traditional gnocchi. Top it with your favorite sauces and mix-ins to create the perfect plate of veggie goodness. If it is in stock, you’ll find 12-ounce bags of cauliflower gnocchi in the freezer for $2.69 each.

Top 5: Must-Have Gluten-Free Vegan Lunch Box Items

Something crunchy, something salty and something sweet—the three rules of lunch packing haven’t changed much since I was a kid, but the options have drastically improved in flavor, protein and appeal.

Since it is time to stretch those lunch-packing muscles, we thought a little inspiration was in order and put together our top picks. All these products are school safe—meaning nut free—as well as flavor forward and protein packed. Kids won’t need to trade them because they taste great. And no one would guess they are gluten free and vegan.

1. The new snack cups from Wholly Guacamole pair guacamole with just the right amount of crunchy tortilla rounds. Made from hand-scooped Hass avocados, this guacamole comes in three varieties—Classic (mild), Homestyle (medium) and Spicy (hot). The snack cups are available at Walmart stores in the produce section and select convenience stores nationwide.


Check the price on Amazon!

Our Picks for Dairy-Free Milks

Tiger nuts, macadamia nuts and cashes—these rock star snacks are transforming into plant-based, dairy-free milks. Nuts, seeds, pea protein and vegetable milks continue to exceed expectations in taste, variety and nutrition, making the transition to a moo-free milk less of a struggle.

Here are a handful of the companies blazing a nut- and plant-based trail with protein- and fiber-filled gluten-free milks made from almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pea protein, pecans, pistachios, tiger nuts, walnuts, seeds and vegetables.

CALIFIA FARMS sets itself apart from competitors with gorgeous packaging, creamy flavors, attention to detail and high-quality ingredients. It started with almond milk and has expanded to include a coconut/almond milk blend, horchata, flavored creamers and coffee drinks. Café latte, mocha, double espresso and the seasonal pumpkin spice latte delight coffee enthusiasts. Concentrated cold brew coffee, the newest addition to its coffee line, is tailor-made for serious coffee addicts. califiafarms.com

Each of the varieties in the line of nut milks from ELMHURST MILKED is made with six ingredients or fewer and contains no gums, emulsifiers or thickeners. All the protein, fat and micronutrients are extracted from the nut via a special cold milling technique that yields a milk that doesn’t need to be fortified. Available in walnut, cashew, almond, hazelnut, peanut and peanut with chocolate, these milks also tell you just how many nuts are in each glass. Sweetened with a touch of cane sugar, these milks let the main ingredient (nuts) sing. elmhurst1925.com

FORAGER PROJECT’S nut milks are made from cashews in sweetened, unsweetened and vanilla. Each nut milk blend offers a different flavor experience when used in smoothies and shakes. Simple and organic ingredients go into each bottle. foragerproject.com

Made with cold-pressed flaxseed oil, GOOD KARMA FOODS’ cultured flax milk contains 1,200 milligrams of healthy omega-3 fats per serving. Free of major allergens and available in five flavors—including two with eight grams of plant-based protein—this dairy-free milk is creamy and delicious yet not chock full of calories. goodkarmafoods.com

The lineup of “malks” from MALK ORGANICS includes maple pecan, chocolate and cold brew coffee. Made with organic sprouted nuts and cold pressed for maximum freshness, more than one cup of nuts goes into each bottle. Simple, clean ingredients create a creamy experience that lends itself to cooking, baking or drinking straight from the bottle. malkorganics.com

MILKADAMIA’S original and unsweetened macadamia milks come from macadamia groves on the eastern coast of Australia. The milk, which contains 50 percent more calcium than dairy milk, is an excellent source of vitamin D and vitamin B12. The popular Latte Da flavor is designed to deliver a subtle and creamy—not overpowering—flavor. milkadamia.com

REBEL KITCHEN’S creamy “mylk” is made from a blend of coconut milk and coconut cream. Its sweetness is derived from date nectar. Available in coffee, chocolate and chai, the individual serving sizes make it the perfect on-the-go refresher. rebel-kitchen.com

RIPPLE FOODS has succeeded in making milk from pea protein that contains 50 percent more bioavailable calcium than milk. Lower in calories than milk, it is also low in sugar and high in plant-based protein while serving as a good source of omega-3s. Available in original, unsweetened, vanilla, unsweetened vanilla and chocolate, it contains 8 grams of protein per serving. ripplefoods.com

SUNCOAST GOLD’S macadamia nut milks come straight from an Australian macadamia farm, offering creamy, rich, slightly buttery and totally drinkable milks. Try it straight out of the carton, or use it to make smoothies, ice cream, baked goods and more. suncoastgoldmac.com

SO DELICIOUS’ unsweetened and vanilla unsweetened cashew milks are the newest additions to its line of dairy-free milks. Lower in fat than other nuts, cashews are also high in magnesium and produce a creamy, rich flavor perfect for drinking, cooking and baking. So Delicious also released a line of cashew ice cream that are knock-your-socks-off delicious. sodeliciousdairyfree.com

The first moo-free milk made from veggies is called VEGGEMO. Relying on peas for protein, Veggemo derives its creamy texture from tapioca and its color from potatoes. It contains the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as dairy milk and is shelf stable, a real feat. Available in original, unsweetened and vanilla, these milks are rich and creamy, with 6 grams of protein per serving. veggemo.com

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

5 Tips for Hosting a Safe and Satisfying Barbecue for All

Time to fire up the grill and fill the air with the familiar scents of barbecue season. But beware: Even a cookout you are hosting can pose risks because of our mortal enemy, gluten.

And before you ask, yes, you should make wheat buns available to your guests. Why? Because gluten-free buns are expensive, and wheat buns are cheap. However, if guests want their wheat buns heated, offer to toast them in the oven or in a pan on the stove. Just keep them off the grill to avoid crumbs contaminating the grilling surface or falling on the meats while they are cooking.

Now that this major concern is settled, time to move on to other areas where gluten can drop in to ruin the fun, like condiments and marinades. Wheat should be prominently listed on the labels, so double check before using. Condiments can become contaminated by uninformed guests dragging a utensil used to dole out the condiment across their wheat-y buns and putting it back in the bottle. Chances are high there are wheat particles left behind.

Here are some tips and product suggestions to create the perfect summer barbecue for everyone.

Can we deactivate celiac disease?

It’s a strange question to ask, I know, but new research suggests the possibility exists. Scientists at Stanford University have set out to prove that blocking the enzyme transglutaminase 2 (TG2) can create a switch to essentially “turn off” or deactivate celiac.

Celiac is a genetic autoimmune disease that affects roughly 1 percent of the population. People with the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 gene are genetically predisposed to develop the condition. Once such a person ingests gluten, celiac can be unlocked at any time. And once it is unlocked, the symptoms start, and there is no going back.

There currently is no cure for celiac. Once diagnosed, the only treatment is following a strict and lifelong gluten-free diet to keep symptoms at bay. However, the Stanford University scientists believe that a poor understanding of TG2 may be the reason there is no cure—yet.

A malfunctioning TG2 enzyme causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine. This mistaken immune response leads to a host of issues as the body attempts to rid itself of what it considers a poison—gluten.

Stanford University professor Chaitan Khosla and his team have already discovered how to activate TG2, and now they are releasing their findings on how to deactivate it. Deactivate celiac disease—can you imagine?!

Say hello to the ERp57 enzyme, the solution to deactivating TG2—and, possibly, celiac. Medical News Today reports that “…the research team is looking into existing drugs that may be able to target this newly discovered switch.” That’s right—an actual cure that stops the immune response in celiac patients for good may be in the works.

How exciting.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Learn more about recent headlines and research in This Week in Gluten-Free News and past editions of Research Roundup!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Snacks for Hiking

Hiking is a great way to exercise while taking the time to breathe and enjoy time with family and friends.

It is also the perfect excuse to shop for energizing snacks that taste great on or off the trail. When it’s time to load up the old backpack, fill it with these healthful vegan and gluten-free hiking snacks.


  • Tosi Cashew SuperBites are unique, addictive and unlike your typical nut-based bar. They contain only six ingredients: chia, flax, sesame seeds, cashews, cane sugar and sea salt. That’s it. They are clean, simple, healthful and crunch like nut brittle. And they are free of unnecessary additives and low in sugar. Tosi launched convenient single-serve packaging earlier this year.
  • Kombucha isn’t for everyone, so a big thank-you to Vegan Rob’s for bringing its probiotic goodness to a shelf-stable bar. Providing 13 percent of the recommended daily fiber and 6 percent of daily B12 intake, Kombuchabars contain a dialed-back dose of kombucha that doesn’t overwhelm. Its base is a mix of quinoa, cashews and almonds in four flavors: banana, blueberry, cranberry and dark cacao.

Crunchy munchies

  • With 4 grams of protein and only 4 grams of sugar, Puffworks’ line of peanut butter puffs takes peanut butter to a new crunchy level. Made with whole-grain cornmeal and organic dry roasted peanuts, these puffs are light, airy and just crunchy enough. All three flavors—original, honey and dark chocolate—provide a deliciously satisfying snack.
  • Crunchmaster’s new innovative Protein Brownie Thins is a better-for-you indulgent snack available in three yummy flavors: Homestyle Milk Chocolate, dark chocokate and Chocolate Hint of Cherry. These guilt-free, delicious crunchy thins combine the taste of decadent baked brownies with the protein and great nutrition of wholesome ingredients. Protein Brownie Thins contain 8 grams of plant-based protein per serving and are made with real ingredients like cocoa. In addition to being gluten free, they are non-GMO, free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and cholesterol, and are Kosher. And when you’re in the mood for something a little more exotic, grab Crunchmaster’s new Toasted Coconut Protein Snack Crackers, made with real coconut and 5 grams of plant-based protein per serving. Light, crunchy, low in sugar, and full of serious nutrition, they are perfect for taking along on a hike. The Protein Snack Crackers are also available in roasted garlic, sea salt and barbeque.
  • If you’re missing the crunch of regular potato chips but not all the carbs, then say hello to JicaChips. With only 100 calories per bag, JicaChips are made from baked jicama (a root vegetable) and lightly seasoned for a crunchy and fiberful snack. The chili lime and smoked BBQ are personal favs.


  • Power up with N.B.T.F. Fruit Jerky. With the rip and chew of traditional jerky, this sweet, spicy or tangy fruity snack is full of plant-based protein and superfoods but no added sugar. Toss in 12 grams of plant-based protein and a dash of exotic flavor for an unexpected treat.
  • By choosing a great-tasting and texture-pleasing replacement for meat, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky uses a natural source of protein, fiber and antioxidants to create meat-free jerky. Made with shiitake mushrooms and a short list of ingredients, it is sweetened with coconut sugar and available in zesty Thai, Applewood BBQ, original, and sea salt and pepper.

Nut Butter

  • It’s hard to believe there are only 3 grams of sugar in Wild Friends Chocolate Almond Butter because it basically tastes like candy. Each squeeze pack is loaded with enough protein to keep you energized for hours.
  • Justin’s just added a new nut to its portfolio—cashew. Available in original and maple, both are made from four or fewer high-quality ingredients, with the maple variety deriving its sweetness from pure maple sugar. Go ahead, squeeze away and marvel at the lip-smacking mix of sweet maple and savory cashews.


  • The fruit rolls from Bear Yoyos are made from a combo of fruits, vegetables and nothing else. There is no added sugar or artificial colors/flavors. With two rolls in each pack and a collectible card with historical facts for kids (or adults), they are just fun to eat. Trust me, you will quickly become addicted.
  • Hail Merry’s new Bar Bites are designed to deliver sustained energy—what a perfect hiking snack, right? Made with sunflower seed protein powder, they have 25 percent more protein than chia in every chewy and satisfying bite. Available in salted brownie and cranberry almond, they register a whopping 10 grams of protein per pack (three bites per pack).
  • Rule Breaker’s new birthday cake blondie is topped with white chocolate and sprinkles on a cookie made with chickpeas as the main ingredient. Beans…really? Yes, these bean-based cookies are sinfully delicious and loaded with enough fiber and protein to get you up this hill and the next.

Packing something to drink that will replenish your electrolytes and quench your thirst is paramount. WTRMLN WTR’s refreshing watermelon drinks contain more electrolytes, antioxidants and L-citrulline than your typical sports drink, plus they have no added sugar or water. Maybe one of Zola’s organic sparkling energy waters is more your speed? With no added sugar and only 10 calories per can, its plant-powered caffeine comes from green coffee, green tea and yerba mate extracts. Coconut water is always my choice for hydration, and Taste Nirvana’s line comes the closest to drinking it straight from the coconut. Plain, flavored, with or without pulp, its coconuts are minimally processed and bottled within hours of harvest.

Now, dust off your hiking boots and get outside!

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

For more vegan, gluten-free goodness, check out these recipes and our roundup of cookbooks!


Top 5: Tips for Successful Gluten-Free Pasta Salad

Is it really a barbecue if there is no pasta salad? When I grew up in the Midwest, pasta salad was a fixture at every gathering. It was usually topped with Italian dressing and vegetables—and quickly devoured. Making it was easy, so I took over the task in my teens.

My love for pasta salad has only grown, but now I face other decisions. Like, which gluten-free pasta will hold up the best and not tear when adding ingredients? Can I make it the night before?

To help get you in the pasta salad spirit, here are my top five tips for preparing a version that will make your guests do a double take.

California Pizza Kitchen’s Cauliflower Crust

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) introduced a cauliflower crust made with gluten-free ingredients to its menu in January. Eager to explore dishes that put vegetables at the center of the plate, CPK makes its cauliflower pizza crust in a certified gluten-free facility with a custom blend of mozzarella cheese, rice flour, herbs and spices.

The new cauliflower crust provides a lower-carb alternative to its traditional gluten-free crust, which was added to the menu in 2013.

“Putting our spin on a cauliflower-based crust seemed like a natural, and exciting, next step,” says Brian Sullivan, senior vice president of culinary innovation. “Now, we are proud to offer our guests a new, uniquely delicious way to enjoy their CPK pizza, with a vegetable-centric, cauliflower-based crust that’s made with high-quality, gluten-free ingredients.”

Any CPK pizza can be prepared on one of the gluten-free crusts for an additional charge of $2.50. CPK’s gluten-free offerings comprise four pizzas: barbeque chicken; pepperoni; mushroom, pepperoni and sausage; and Margherita. Each pie is prepared using the safe-handling procedures created and approved by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG). Due to kitchen space limitations, only the four varieties listed above adhere to GIG’s certified procedures. All other pizzas are made in a shared cooking area, putting them at risk of cross-contamination with wheat.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Dining out with family and friends is such a central part of living a happy, healthy, gluten-free life that you should not let the challenges it presents stop you from enjoying a meal outside your home. Find tips and advice for safe restaurant visits and recommendations on places to enjoy a fantastic gluten-free meal, visit our Eating Out section!

And for those times when you’d rather stay in and prepare your own gluten-free meal, check out our collection of delicious gluten-free recipes!

Gluten-Free Bakeries Across the U.S.

We originally published a map of dedicated gluten-free bakeries across the country in a print issue of Gluten-Free Living. But we couldn’t fit all of them—and wanted to keep the list as updated as possible—so below please find even more places for you to visit when you’re craving something sweet. And check out our map of dedicated gluten-free restaurants for the next time you want to try a new gluten-free option!

Want more ideas, tips and destinations for gluten-free travel? Check out our Travel section!

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Gluten-Free Restaurants Across the U.S.

Traveling away from home can be stressful for those on the gluten-free diet. To help ease your mind, we’ve compiled a list of dedicated gluten-free restaurants across the country. And if you’re craving a sweet treat, check out our map of dedicated gluten-free bakeries!

Want more information, tips and destinations for gluten-free travel? Check out our Travel section!

Gearing up for a gluten-free vacation?

Use the practical tips, helpful advice and on-the-go snack recipes in this download to make traveling gluten free this summer easy, fun and delicious!

Click here to receive our FREE 14-page guide to getting away gluten free.





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Eat Up: Gluten-Free, Dairy-free On-the-Go Options

Dairy-free product manufacturers are forging a new path that allows consumers to take their products “to go.” A wide variety of items, including milk, smoothies, sweets, cheese, pudding and yogurt, are available in on-the-go formulations—and their improved texture, taste and nutrition really resonate.

Who has the time to sit and eat in these days? While convenient on-the-go options are not especially noteworthy, portable nosh-worthy snacks or thirst-quenching beverages made from nutritious ingredients are a bit harder to come by. To help you satisfy your cravings, here are some of our favorite portable health-forward dairy-free products:


  • Avonut smoothies are made from a blend of avocados, coconuts and tropical fruit. Sweetened with coconut nectar and available in guava and dragon fruit flavors, they provide a creamy and nutritious alternative to typical dairy-based smoothies.
  • Odwalla’s rich almond milk protein shakes made with pea protein and sweetened with cane sugar come in three indulgent flavors: mocha latte, snickerdoodle and spiced pumpkin (seasonal).
  • Remedy Organics’ superfood fuel beverages are designed by a nutritional health counselor to go beyond hydration and nutrition. The plant-based drinks blend nut milks with superfoods, ayurvedics, herbs and probiotics to help with inflammation, digestion and gut health.
  • Ripple Foods’ Milk Kids Packs are shelf-stable pea milk singles free of the top allergens, including dairy, gluten, nuts and soy. Available in original, vanilla and chocolate flavors, they are perfect for lunchboxes and drinking on the go. And they contain more calcium and iron than dairy milk.

No Diagnosis Needed: How Restaurants Can Welcome Gluten-Free Diners

In an informative lecture, part of the Addressing Allergies in Food Service event organized by the Allergy & Asthma Network at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama, Michael Pistiner, MD, insisted that restaurants need to stop diagnosing customers who disclose a food allergy or intolerance.  Not only should staff not ask patrons such as gluten-free diners if they are avoiding allergens by choice or out of medical necessity, but also they should not inquire as to the severity of an allergy. Simply serve a meal free of the stipulated allergen(s) and assume that strict avoidance is required.

Such music to my ears. It is annoying to get asked why I am avoiding gluten (or any other ingredient), and it makes me think two things: 1. The staff doesn’t believe me, and 2. The kitchen has two different ways of preparing a gluten-free meal, depending on the reason for the request. It also puts me on the defensive, a horrible start to a dining experience.

One set of rules

Regardless of the reason behind it, a gluten-free meal request should alert the kitchen to follow a set of safe-handling procedures to prevent cross-contamination with wheat, rye, barley and oats. No second set of instructions should even exist. Yes, some people choose to eat gluten free, but there is no need to treat their orders differently. Why add confusion to the mix when it can only lead to mistakes by the kitchen staff?

Implementing a GF menu

For restaurants undertaking the process of creating a menu for gluten-free diners, make sure it is accurate. As a consumer and consultant, I know the work it takes to create a gluten-free menu, and I applaud all restaurants going that extra mile to make dining out a relaxing and safe experience. Just please do it right.

Label reading is key, along with understanding the labeling law and its limitations. Only wheat is included in the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act—not barley, rye or oats. Barley and rye can hide in malt, dextrin, flavors and seasoning, and only certified gluten-free oats are acceptable.

Some rookie mistakes made on gluten-free menus stem from incorrectly thinking that gluten is a type of bacterium, not a sticky protein that can burn off at high heat. Fryers and utensils need to be dedicated and pizza cannot come into direct contact with a pizza stone—plus, a dedicated cutter needs to be used. When baking in a shared oven, gluten-free food needs to go on the top rack to prevent anything from falling onto it.

So, if you don’t have a dedicated fryer, then all fried foods are off limits. Gluten-free pasta must be cooked in fresh water (not shared) using a clean strainer and utensils. Cook pizzas on a small baking rack on top of a pizza stone. And use dedicated ingredients to prevent crumbs transferring from gloved hands.

Setting up for success

Gluten-free diners, too, bear a responsibility when eating out. Visiting a restaurant for the first time at 7 p.m. on a Friday isn’t ideal because it will be busy; dealing with special requests may be difficult. Call in advance and respect the restaurant’s limitations. Support those restaurants doing it right, and offer guidance to those who aren’t there yet.

Dining out should be a fun and enjoyable experience—working together, we can ensure a success.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

For more information and advice on eating gluten free away from home, visit our Eating Out section!

5 Gluten-Free Travel Tips for the 21st Century

When you are gluten free, researching vacation destinations takes on a whole new level of importance and precision. Whether you are traveling in the United States or abroad, a little planning and research goes a long way toward ensuring the entire family has a great time.

Here are our best tips for enjoying a safe and tasty vacation free of gluten and full of memories.

1. Book it: Find a room with a kitchen

If possible, look for a hotel room with a kitchenette, or stay at a bed and breakfast. A kitchenette allows you the flexibility to prepare meals in your room. I like to find a grocery store and pick up eggs, breakfast meat, cereal and milk, and frozen gluten-free meals just for that comfort of being able to prepare a safe meal if needed. A room with a refrigerator and microwave also equals leftovers when dining out. Bed and breakfasts can adhere to your dietary needs and prepare a filling breakfast that sets you up for a productive day of fun.

2. Research it: Look to local resources

A quick search for local bloggers and support groups will save you hours of research. These are the best-tapped resource when it comes to dining out and shopping. And their websites usually offer lists of their favorite restaurants and dishes. Many are more than happy to put together a list of recommendations based on the type of cuisine you want to eat. And they can point you in the direction of dedicated bakeries, food tours, cidery tours and the best places to dabble in dessert.

3. Pack it: Foods and tools to tote

Packing isn’t just about what foods to pack. Remember to bring reusable utensils, condiments, salt and pepper, wet wipes, bag clips and resealable bags for leftovers. Refrain from packing your whole kitchen, but do pack foods that travel well and will fill you up when hunger hits. Start with shelf-stable options like cereal, nuts, protein bars, nut butter, jerky, dried fruit, pretzels and crackers. If space allows, include instant soup cups, ready-to-eat meals, snack packs, instant oatmeal and a loaf of your favorite bread.

4. Apps: Let your fingers do the walking

There are several apps designed to assist travelers looking for places to eat and places to shop when they are home or away. Free apps from Find Me Gluten Free, AllergyEats Mobile and Dine Gluten Free include user reviews, consumer ratings, links to menus and customizable search features. The Gluten-Free Scanner and ShopWell apps scan barcodes, read the ingredients for you, and let you know immediately if an item is gluten free. The Is That Gluten Free? app offers a searchable database full of manufacturer-verified gluten-free products from more than 500 brands.

5. Test it: Nima Sensor’s mobile testing

A mobile testing device from Nima Sensor allows users to test their food while dining out. Nima uses antibody-based chemistry to test samples of food for gluten. Place a small amount of food in one of the disposable test capsules, insert the capsule into the sensor, push a button and wait three minutes for the results to appear on the screen. If Nima detects gluten at any level, even below 20 parts per million, the screen will read “Gluten Found.” If it is gluten free, a smiley face will light up the screen.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Want more information, tips and destinations for gluten-free travel? Check out our Travel section!

5 Steps To Going Gluten Free

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Being newly diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is overwhelming, entailing one to adopt considerable lifestyle changes. While it is a relief to finally learn the cause of the symptoms that have plagued you for years, now comes the hard part—the research. Following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these autoimmune disorders because there is no cure; food—the right food—is the only medicine.

Learning about gluten is the first of many steps on the road to transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle. Not diet, lifestyle. This process takes time and patience because the answers are sometimes complicated. Anything that touches your lips or goes in your mouth must be gluten free, including over-the-counter medicine, makeup (lip gloss, lipstick, etc.), mouthwash, toothpaste, alcohol and, of course, food.

There is no magic formula for transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle, but there are a number of ways to tackle it head on and put you in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered and in control. Here are five tips:

  1. Consult with a knowledgeable dietitian to address vitamin deficiencies, learn about nutritious gluten-free grains and ingredients, and find out how to maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Learn about gluten, how to read labels and shop, and how to communicate your dietary needs to servers, co-workers, friends and family.
  3. Adhere to a strict gluten-free diet—without cheating—or risk more medical issues down the road.
  4. Join a local support group, because socializing with others who have the same or similar issues allows you to feel included and less isolated. It is also a great way to make new friends, learn about gluten-free-friendly restaurants and get the scoop on the best places to grocery shop.
  5. Follow up annually with a gastroenterologist and dietitian to keep your health on track. Vitamin deficiencies need to be monitored, and any other health issues should be addressed.

National support groups host the best websites for research. These sites work to bring timely and accurate information to the gluten-free community, and they don’t perpetuate myths and misinformation. They work with the medical community to address new research, trends and advocate for the gluten-free community.

·      Canadian Celiac Association (celiac.ca) is dedicated to providing services and support to those with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis through awareness, advocacy and educational programs.

·      Celiac Disease Foundation (celiac.org) drives diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease through advocacy, education and advancing research to improve the quality of life for all people affected by gluten-related disorders.

·      Beyond Celiac (beyondceliac.org) has community outreach programs that aim to educate individuals, doctors and food service professionals while improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

·      Gluten Intolerance Group, also known as GIG (gluten.org), provides support to those with gluten-related disorders through innovative industry, service, social and awareness programs.

You will come out of this transition a new person—one who is in control of your health for the first time in a long time. Things are looking up!

Want to learn more about celiac and following a gluten-free diet? Read “What is Celiac Disease?” and “The Basic Gluten-Free Diet.”

Recovering After Eating Gluten

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No matter how careful we are when researching and asking questions at restaurants, the possibility that food will come into contact with gluten while being prepared always exists.

Getting exposed to gluten causes both physical and emotional pain, and although symptoms may change over time, a familiar trigger will typically let you know it is time to get home or to a bathroom immediately.

Click here for our most recent article on hastening recovery after gluten exposure.

Symptoms from gluten exposure vary widely from one person to the next, but can include brain fog, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, depression or anxiety, headaches or migraines, inflammation, joint pain and irritability.

While no magic remedy can halt a reaction, you can take steps to speed up the healing process.


  • Water helps flush out the system.
  • Coconut water starts the hydration process and naturally replaces electrolytes.
  • Hot tea, bone broth and broth all nourish the body.


  • Sleep as much as possible to give the body time to rest and heal.


  • Keep comfort foods in the house at all times in case of an emergency. Start out with clear liquids like broth and ginger ale then progress to full liquids. When your body properly digests these foods, move on to toast, a plain pieces of gluten-free bread or crackers.
  • Ginger settles the stomach and can help with cramping.
  • Pineapple has its own enzymes that aid digestion.
  • Stay away from dairy during recovery because the villi are in no shape to digest it yet.


  • Taking an increased dose of probiotics after symptoms have eased will promote the growth of good gut bacteria to restore what gluten has washed away.
  • Digestive enzymes naturally speed up digestion and push the gluten through the system quicker.
  • GlutenEase is a digestive enzyme designed to be taken after accidental gluten exposure. People report success in alleviating symptoms and speeding up the healing process. It helps normalize the body’s inflammatory response to the gluten peptide.
  • Charcoal pills bind up and usher out gluten and reduce excess gas in the gut. They sometimes are used to reduce diarrhea because the charcoal neutralizes and absorbs methane or sulfide intestinal gases.
  • Our bodies cannot produce glutamine when we are stressed or our systems are compromised. L-glutamine, a powerhouse amino acid, can heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation, which in turn can treat depression or anxiety brought on by gluten.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to treat headaches, inflammation or joint swelling.


  • After a couple of days, add light exercise to the recovery process. The endorphins it produces can reduce anxiety.

If ever you are in doubt on the gluten-free status of a product, drug, over-the-counter medicine, lipstick or food, you are better off avoiding it. Taking a chance now could result in you paying the price later. It is your body, so choose wisely.

Want to learn more about celiac and following a gluten-free diet? Read “What is Celiac Disease?” and “The Basic Gluten-Free Diet.”

If you have to omit dairy from your diet in addition to gluten because of its effects on your stomach, check out “Our Picks for Dairy-Free Milks.”

Probiotic-Rich Foods for Cooking and Snacking

By now, most of us know how good probiotics are for our bodies. Yes, they help maintain gut health, but they also promote clear skin, boost the immune system, and can reduce anxiety and stress. While it is common to take probiotics in the form of a pill, they do exist naturally in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, tempeh and kombucha tea. Restoring your digestive system’s function with probiotic-rich foods has never been tastier than it is now with a wealth of delicious products created just for this purpose. Here are some easy ways to work probiotics into your diet:

  • Marinate in miso. Use a blend of miso paste, honey and gluten-free soy sauce to create a marinade for salmon, tilapia or tuna. Marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Make a sandwich. Layer pickles and spread fermented mustard on your favorite sandwich. While you are at it, swap in Farmhouse Culture’s kraut chips for a tangy and crunchy probiotic punch. Wildbrine’s coleslaw and salsas make great additions to sandwiches—and snacks.
  • Eat kombucha. Thank you, Vegan Rob’s, for creating a way to eat (not drink) kombucha. Its new line of shelf-stable grain-free Kombuchabars come in four flavors (banana, cranberry, cacao and cranberry) that aren’t overwhelmed by the taste of kombucha.
  • Make hash out of sauerkraut. Sauté onions, garlic and bacon until tender, then add in wildbrine’s raw sauerkraut and simmer. I like to add in a splash or two of apple cider vinegar to mask the bitter flavor of sauerkraut, but the onions, garlic and bacon accomplish that task nicely.
  • Make a smoothie with kefir. Use kefir as a base for smoothies. Add in fruits like bananas and strawberries, and sweeten with honey.

Go ahead and try one of these ingredient swap outs for a new way of consuming gut-healing probiotics. Your taste buds won’t be disappointed—and your body will thank you.

Meet Taylor Miller: Gluten-Free Blogger, Entrepreneur, Life Changer

It isn’t often you meet someone so driven to support the gluten-free community—a person who not only understands how isolating it is to have celiac disease, but realizes there are more ways to help people with celiac or those transitioning to the gluten-free diet and works to create new ways to connect people with gluten-free products. Taylor Miller, 20, owner of GlutenAway, is just that person. He has been blogging for only five years, but thanks to his passion and creativity, he has become an entrepreneur and his blog has morphed into a marketing company.

Miller pioneered online and local hands-on events targeted at those who cannot afford to travel to gluten-free events. In July 2014, he launched themed sample kits that can be ordered online for a small fee and began offering online expos that can be attended from home for free. He began conducting monthly live events, called Sample Saturdays, in 2016, where attendees try new products and learn how to work with them. These services were simply not offered until he came along.

The GlutenAway blog has transformed into a company providing event staffing, demo services, marketing campaign fulfillment and social media management for gluten-free companies. He has succeeded where many bloggers fail—turning his blog into a soul-fulfilling career that actually pays the bills.

But how did it all start?

GFL: When were you diagnosed with celiac?

TM: I was fortunate to be diagnosed with celiac disease at 13. Many people go years undiagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so I was one of the lucky ones to be diagnosed so young. It was tough at that age, but I know it would have been much tougher if I went on undiagnosed any longer.

GFL: When did you start blogging?

TM: I started blogging at the age of 15, just five years ago. It began as a passion project. I realized that no one else around me understood celiac disease and many kids and teens seemed upset about being gluten free, having no role model to look to. I wanted to be that role model as a teen and a soon-to-be young adult. What was stopping me? Nothing! This is when GlutenAway was born and it’s been the best decision I ever made.


GFL: How and when did the blog evolve into the sample kits and online expos?

TM: Blogging was only the beginning of the GlutenAway journey. For the first three years, it was all about writing and creating recipes as much as I could. But once I turned 18 and graduated high school, I had to decide, “Do I want to go to college like everyone else? Or do I want to follow my dreams and make a career out of doing what I love?” Since then, the sample kits and online expo [were] born. I found a way to promote the products I love, work with the companies I love and help the people I so dearly want to help—all this while learning to grow a business, make a living for myself and, most importantly, helping others. We started creating sample kits and shipping them right out of our house. Our home became our business center full of boxes and samples. The longer we did it, the more it caught on and grew.


GFL: How did you get the idea for the online expos?

TM: The idea came when I began to travel to gluten-free expos. I would constantly hear, “I wish they were closer to me!” This got me thinking, why not try to create a virtual version of these expos where anyone around the U.S. can attend for free? The idea built until it officially hit the market in July 2015. Now, there is an online expo people [can] attend from home!


GFL: When did you start the consulting arm and how many clients do you represent?

TM: The consulting and representation of companies came soon after the online expo began. We began to develop relationships with the companies that participated in the online expos. They saw the value and customer reach our services could provide and it grew from there. I’ve been fortunate enough to consult for companies like Sonoma Flatbreads, Enjoy Life Foods, Canyon Bakehouse and many more. Since the beginning, I’ve worked with more than 75 gluten-free companies, big and small.


GFL: Where does event marketing fit in?

TM: Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to partner with Gluten Free & More, [which] puts on the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fests around the U.S. One of the biggest needs we found for companies is good representation at these events. It’s hard for brands to find people that they trust to represent them at these events—this is where we come in. We’ve worked hard at building close, personal relationships with these companies who now trust us to manage their booth, hire staff and even lead cooking demos.


GFL: The Sample Saturday Events are such a unique creation—how did it come about?

TM: Sample Saturday events started in September 2016 at our office space in Florida. In the space, we set up sampling stations, conduct live cooking demos, and send attendees home with each recipe and sample bags full of products from each station. Companies sponsor these events by sending products for the staff to sample and recipes to prepare.

The idea came from attending expos and noticing there was something missing. As great as the expos are, they lack the close, intimate, social element that many people want when it comes to gluten free. People want to learn how to use products in recipes, not just taste them. We found that people want to build relationships and socialize with others who know first-hand what it’s like to live gluten free.

Now, we hold monthly gluten-free events with recipes to try and a very close, social element. These events are held once a month and have around 150 people attend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You could compare it to a wine tasting, but with gluten-free products and food! They’ve gone great so far and are exactly what has been missing from the gluten-free community over the years.


GFL: When did your mom, Laura McCutcheon, get involved in the business and how does she impact its growth?

TM: My mom became involved once the online expo and sampling program began. I didn’t have much marketing experience at all. Writing, blogging and using social media were always my strong points. Since she’s come on, she’s managed a lot of the business development and behind-the-scenes marketing. She’s allowed me to become a lot better at my job and, honestly, GlutenAway wouldn’t be where it is today without her. She makes an amazing business partner, but she will always be my mom first.


GFL: Was it your plan all along to grow GlutenAway into a marketing company?

TM: It was never my plan to do marketing as a job. I always focused on blogging but I obviously couldn’t write forever if I wanted to make a living. Since I started so young, I didn’t know what I wanted for myself and that’s honestly been the exciting part about the entire process. Along this journey, I’ve figured out what about my jobs make me happy. I am still figuring out what I want to do. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to help people be gluten free along the way.


GFL: What makes you want to continue GlutenAway?

TM: Turning my hobby into my career has been the biggest blessing I could ever ask for. Dealing with my illnesses as a teen has been hard. Trying to start a business at the age of 18 has been hard. But truly nothing is more rewarding than knowing that I can make the lives of those in a similar situation, health wise, a little bit easier. I love getting to use my own hardships to help others. I love feeling that I can make a difference in someone’s life just by sharing what I’ve been through or what products I enjoy. Sure, GlutenAway used to be a hobby, but now it’s my job and, honestly, it’s the best job I could ever ask for and one that I hope to keep doing as long as I live. If I can spend my career helping those who are gluten free, nothing could be better.


GFL: What’s next for GlutenAway?

TM: There is much to come for GlutenAway! I will always be the person handling the social media and interacting with those who are gluten free. It’s what I love most! But as the business grows more, I will find many more opportunities presenting [themselves] as well. We’ll have a very cool online program coming out by the end of the year. I can’t say much now, but I promise you it will be something that will make cooking gluten free much easier—and all from the comfort of home.


Related articles

Top 10 Ingredients You Really Don’t Need to Worry About

Your Guide to Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Tips to Recover From Gluten Exposure

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The possibility of accidental gluten exposure always exists, no matter how careful we are when researching and asking questions at restaurants.

Click here for our most recent article on hastening recovery after gluten exposure.

Getting exposed to gluten causes both physical and emotional pain, and although symptoms may change over time, a familiar trigger will typically let you know it is time to get home or to a bathroom immediately. Symptoms from gluten exposure vary widely from one person to the next, but can include brain fog, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, depression or anxiety, headaches or migraines, inflammation, joint pain and irritability.

While no magic remedy can halt a reaction, you can take steps to speed up the healing process.


  • Water helps flush out the system.
  • Coconut water starts the hydration process and naturally replaces electrolytes.
  • Hot tea, bone broth and broth all nourish the body.


  • Sleep as much as possible to give the body time to rest and heal.


  • Keep comfort foods in the house at all times in case of an emergency. Start out with clear liquids like broth and ginger ale then progress to full liquids. When your body properly digests these foods, move on to toast, a plain piece of gluten-free bread or crackers.
  • Ginger settles the stomach and can help with cramping.
  • Pineapple has its own enzymes that aid digestion.
  • Stay away from dairy during recovery because the villi are in no shape to digest it yet.


  • Taking an increased dose of probiotics after symptoms have eased will promote the growth of good gut bacteria to restore what gluten has washed away.
  • Digestive enzymes naturally speed up digestion and push the gluten through the system quicker.
  • GlutenEase is a digestive enzyme designed to be taken after accidental gluten exposure. People report success in alleviating symptoms and speeding up the healing process. It helps normalize the body’s inflammatory response to the gluten peptide.
  • Charcoal pills bind up and usher out gluten and reduce excess gas in the gut. They sometimes are used to reduce diarrhea because the charcoal neutralizes and absorbs methane or sulfide intestinal gases.
  • Our bodies cannot produce glutamine when we are stressed or our systems are compromised. L-glutamine, a powerhouse amino acid, can heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation, which in turn can treat depression or anxiety brought on by gluten.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to treat headaches, inflammation or joint swelling.


  • After a couple of days, add light exercise to the recovery process. The endorphins it produces can reduce anxiety.

If ever you are in doubt on the gluten-free status of a product, drug, over-the-counter medicine, lipstick or food, you are better off avoiding it. Taking a chance now could result in you paying the price later. It is your body, so choose wisely.

5 Tips: Rolling With Sugar Cookies

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Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate—but it isn’t all about chocolate, right? Sugar cookies shaped like hearts dusted with colored sugar, dipped in chocolate or covered with frosting are a big draw at my house. Making them with my daughter has become a treasured family tradition. We have learned from our failures and adjusted to perfect our roll-out and cut cookie game over the years. If we can do it, so can you. To help get you in the roll-and-bake spirit, here are my top five tips for rolling out gluten-free sugar cookies.

  1. Pick a mix. Yes, making sugar cookies from scratch is preferable, but time is fleeting these days, so don’t feel guilty about buying a mix. Some of our favorite mixes are King Arthur Flour, Lindsay’s Lipsmackin’ Roll-Out & Cut Sugar Cookies from 1-2-3 Gluten Free and Pamela’s Products. These mixes produce doughs that are easy to work with and won’t fall apart while you’re rolling and cutting. And the finished cookies won’t crumble, either.
  2. Refrigerate. Once the dough is prepared, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate according to the instructions or until the dough is cold. Refrigeration is key to achieving a texture that allows for easy rolling and cutting. Also, be sure to put the dough back in the refrigerator between batches. If the dough gets too warm, it will become soft and sticky, making it impossible to work with.
  3. Prepare the rolling surface. Do yourself a favor and go buy a large Silpat mat that covers the entirety of your rolling area. This mat creates the perfect surface for cutting and transferring cookies to the baking sheet with minimal sticking. And cleanup is a snap.
  4. Get out the cornstarch. I know this may sound strange, but we have found that cornstarch is preferable to use when rolling out dough. Adding rice flour or a flour blend to the dough tends to toughen it and dry out the cookies. Cornstarch has the right texture to prevent sticking and keeps the dough moist without affecting the flavor. Apply cornstarch to your rolling pin and cookie cutters, too.
  5. Roll with it. Roll out the cookies to be ¼- to ½-inch thick—not too thick nor too thin. We use a stainless steel flexible turner to transfer them to the baking sheet. It does a miraculous job of keeping the shape intact without cracking, OXO’s flexible turners come in regular and large sizes. They are inexpensive and a welcome addition to any baker’s kitchen tool set.

Follow these steps and get ready for beautiful sugar cookies that are crunchy on the edges and and soft in the middle. Make a double batch, because they will quickly become a family favorite and disappear in a flash.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

2017 in Review: Gluten-Free News Roundup

We just had a banner year for gluten-free products and the gluten-free diet. Here are some of the most notable gluten-free news items and developments that occurred in 2017.


  • Shake Shack began offering Bellyrite Foods, Inc., hamburger buns for a $1 upcharge nationwide (except in stadiums) toward the end of December 2016. We include the news here because the buns were hard to find until 2017.
  • Cornell University formally launched a gluten-free dining hall, Risley Dining Room, in January. Cornell brought in alumna Amy Fothergill to train the kitchen staff and develop a grand-opening menu comprised of gluten-free recipes from her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen. Risley’s official changeover to its dedicated gluten-free status coincided with a formal certification from Kitchens With Confidence. The dining hall is also entirely peanut and tree-nut free.
  • Canyon Bakehouse introduced gluten-free Heritage loaves in two flavors (honey white and whole grain). These wide loaves are the width of an average hand, making them large enough to create a filling sandwich on their whole-grain goodness.


  • Nima Sensor’s portable gluten sensor became available for purchase at the end of January. The pocket-sized device allows people to test their food for gluten in a few minutes. Simply place the food into a one-time-use capsule and screw on the cap, insert the capsule into the device, and press the power button. In minutes, Nima will display the results—a wheat symbol if gluten is detected or a smile emoticon if the sample has fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten.
  • A University of Illinois study found people following a gluten-free diet had almost twice the concentration of arsenic in their urine and 70 percent higher mercury levels in their blood compared to people who were not gluten free. Unfortunately, the study size was small and did not address whether rice was the main source of the metals in people’s diets. There is no need to panic, however, because the amounts of arsenic and mercury found were much lower than those associated with arsenic toxicity or mercury poisoning. (For more on heavy metals and the gluten-free diet, see Study Sessions, page 60.)


  • Starbucks added gluten-free items to its menu. Goodie Girl Cookies’ mint slims in new grab-and-go packaging, Country Archer Jerky’s Hickory Smoke Turkey Jerky and Original Beef Jerky, and Bissinger’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Mini Chocolates became available at 7,900 stores nationwide. The coffee chain also added gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon breakfast sandwiches to its offerings nationwide on March 21. The sandwich features cherrywood-smoked Canadian bacon, a peppered egg patty and reduced-fat white cheddar cheese on a gluten-free roll. It is prepared in a certified gluten-free environment and
    sealed in an oven-safe parchment bag for heating.


  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began allowing direct marketing of 23andMe Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) tests to consumers. These are the first direct-to-consumer tests authorized by the FDA that provide information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases. The 23andMe GHR tests work by isolating DNA from a saliva sample, which is then tested for more than 500,000 genetic variants. The presence or absence of some of these variants is associated with an increased risk for developing one of 10 diseases or conditions, including celiac.


  • Gluten Free, a documentary by Bailey Pryor, aired on Public Broadcasting System with the goal of changing public perception of those who need to omit gluten from their diet for the better. The documentary gives much-needed credibility to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, addresses the importance of preventing cross-contamination at home and in restaurants, discusses medical advances on the horizon and delves into some good old-fashioned myth-busting.
  • Julia König, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Medical Sciences at University of Örebro, Sweden, studied a gluten-destroying enzyme known as AN-PEP. In a study, 18 participants with gluten sensitivities ate a meal of porridge and other foods, including gluten-containing wheat cookies. Participants took either AN-PEP or a placebo. Researchers then examined the gluten levels in the participants’ bodies over a three-hour span. The enzyme broke down gluten in the stomach and the first section of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. Gluten levels in the stomachs of patients who took AN-PEP were 85 percent lower than in those who took a placebo. However, no research was done on patients with celiac.


  • After successful tests in Washington, Idaho and Mississippi in 2016, Chick-fil-A added gluten-free buns to its menu nationwide on June 19. Made with a blend of ancient grains like quinoa, sorghum, amaranth, millet and teff, the certified gluten-free bun costs an additional $1.15 and is enriched with vitamins and minerals. The buns are individually wrapped and stored frozen. Once thawed, each bun is served sealed alongside a container with grilled chicken and condiments for guests to assemble.
  • Delta Air Lines added three new gluten-free snack options: Squirrel Brand almonds, Pretzel Perfection olive oil and sea salt pretzels, and Kind Healthy Grains oats and honey with toasted coconut bars.
  • Pope Frances reminded bishops and priests that the wafers Catholics consume as the Body of Christ must contain at least some gluten. He added that low-gluten hosts can be used, “provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.” This thinking isn’t helpful for Catholics who follow a strict gluten-free diet and can’t tolerate even small amounts of gluten, nor is it the first time the pope has come down against low-gluten wafers.


  • Johnny Rockets started serving its certified Angus beef burgers on Udi’s Gluten Free hamburger buns.
  • Papa John’s added gluten-free crust made with ancient grains to its menu but warns it isn’t safe for those with celiac because of cross-contamination with wheat during preparation.
  • Subway added made-without-gluten bread to 12 pilot locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The bread is roughly the size of a 6-inch sub, costs an extra $1 and tests below 20 parts per million of gluten. It arrives frozen, pre-sliced and individually wrapped. It goes into the freezer and is thawed in the cooler for 12 hours before serving. However, shared ingredients are used to prepare sandwiches, making cross-contamination a possibility.


  • Research to develop a gluten-free children’s snack made of sprouted millet and quinoa earned doctoral student Gabriela John Swamy the Gerber Endowment in Pediatric Nutrition Graduate Scholarship. Out of a group of 500 applicants, Swamy won by determining the optimum sprouting time for millet and quinoa. She then ground them into flour to produce a protein-rich and easier-to-digest puffed cereal without added sugar.
  • ImmusanT was nominated for a BIO Buzz award as a Late Stage Leader. It is developing a peptide-based vaccine for the treatment of celiac and the first personalized diagnostic toolkit for celiac. Clinical data in over 150 celiac patients have been positive—relevant bioactivity and target engagement was seen in three separate phase 1b studies. Its diagnostic/therapeutic platform is being leveraged for related autoimmune indications, such as type 1 diabetes.


  • Canyon Bakehouse’s new blueberry and cinnamon raisin bagels rolled out to retailers nationwide. The blueberry bagel is a first for national distribution, making this gluten-free bakehouse’s second hit of notable developments for 2017.
  • Enjoy Life Foods announced a rebrand of its entire product portfolio to eye-catching teal, the color associated with food allergy awareness and free-from products.
  • The Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in Cordoba, Spain, began making genetically modified wheat sans 90 percent of the gliadins traditionally found in wheat. It is attempting to prevent the gliadin genes from reproducing, but because they remain intact, the wheat could start producing the proteins again. Small trials of the genetically modified wheat involving 10 and 20 people with celiac are being conducted in Mexico and Spain.


  • Actress Mandy Moore was diagnosed with celiac and shared her upper endoscopy journey on social media. “Just had an upper endoscopy to officially see whether or not I have celiac (only way to diagnose) …things are looking (good),” said Moore.

  • Enjoy Life Foods debuted mini versions of its vegan dark chocolate bars in Halloween-themed bags of rice milk minis, dark chocolate minis, rice milk crunch minis and a variety pack.
  • The scientific journal Gastroenterology published the results of an international study coordinated by the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany. This study showed that more than 50 percent of affected children can be diagnosed with celiac without an endoscopy. This could mean that the risk and cost associated with an endoscopy aren’t necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton hotels began offering Homefree Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies at guest check-in as a nut-free alternative to its iconic chocolate chip cookies. Homefree’s cookies are free from peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat and gluten.

  • The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America sued celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for “federal certification mark infringement, counterfeiting and unfair competition under federal statutes, with pendent claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition” because of his use of a gluten-free symbol that is similar to the group’s signature gluten-free certification label (the letters “GF” in a circle with the phrase “Certified Gluten Free”).


  • Grain & Seed bars from Enjoy Life Foods debuted in stores in four sweet flavors: banana caramel, cranberry orange, chocolate marshmallow and maple sweet potato. Made with three types of sorghum, including popped, and gluten-free oats, the bars are free from 14 allergens and produced in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free facility.
  • Canyon Bakehouse’s new stay-fresh packaging first appeared on three new products available at Walmart nationwide: Ancient Grain and Country White loaves as well as Deli White Bagels. The stay-fresh packaging is airtight and keeps goods fresh for up to 90 days. Once the package is opened, the bread needs to be consumed within five days.


  • After receiving encouraging reviews in test markets in California, Colorado and Florida, sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s Subs planned to introduce gluten-free sub rolls at all 1,300-plus U.S. locations beginning Dec. 4 (see page 9). The individually wrapped rolls arrive at each store fully baked. Employees use new gloves and clean utensils when assembling sandwiches on fresh parchment paper instead of the counter to avoid cross-contamination.

I wonder what 2018 holds for the gluten-free community…


News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Photos credits: Shake Shack: DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock.com; Starbucks: Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com; Pope Francis: giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com; Subway: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com; Doubletree: 8th.creator / Shutterstock.com; Mandy Moore: Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com


The Gluten Free Documentary

“Incurable,” “autoimmune,” “disease,” “genetic,” “treatment”—these are not the words the media or many consumers associate with a gluten-free diet, but they should. A documentary by Bailey Pryor that is airing on Public Broadcasting System over the next two years aims to change public perception for the better. With a long career producing award-winning long-form documentaries through Telemark Films, Pryor chose to tackle the misunderstood topic of gluten and gluten-related illnesses (celiac, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy). The Gluten Free documentary gives much-needed credibility to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, delves into the importance of preventing cross-contamination at home and in restaurants, highlights medical advances on the horizon, and provides some old-fashioned myth-busting.

Pryor interviews the food and medical industry’s top experts as well as people diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, celiac and wheat allergy to uncover what mainstream media and fad dieters can’t seem to grasp: a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these conditions. There is no medical cure—eliminating gluten from the diet is the only way to heal the body (and mind) after it has been ravaged by gluten.

While a gluten-free diet is being used as a fad diet trend by the misinformed, to the more than 3 million people diagnosed with celiac and 18 million diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, it is a lifelong commitment not to be taken lightly. Millions are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed gluten-related illnesses, taking an average of six to 10 years to receive a proper diagnosis.

Common questions (such as whether gluten is harmful or not, is it a fad diet or can gluten actually kill people, and why is everyone going gluten free) are answered with accuracy by industry experts in a relatable and understandable manner. I recently spoke with Pryor about the documentary and what he hopes it accomplishes for the gluten-free community.

Gluten-Free Living: What made you decide to tackle this topic?

Bailey Pryor: Gluten-related illnesses are widely misunderstood in the United States. My goal is to provide accurate information about these illnesses, allowing viewers to understand what they can do to help their friends and loved ones who suffer from gluten.

gluten-free-expertsGFL: How did you choose the experts interviewed in the film?

BP: Considerable research led me to the experts and individuals who appear in the film. I chose a wide range of individuals who had differing experiences with gluten, both personally and through scientific research. Their stories help to clarify the full spectrum of information relating to the current science and actual experiences that are common to people suffering from gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

GFL: The research and production of the documentary took four years. Can you describe your creative process?

BP: I initially develop my films through actual comments from individuals who appear on camera. This means that once I complete the initial research required to identify the experts, I interview all the experts, then review the comments they made on camera. This stimulates additional research and more interviews as the process matures, often taking me several years to complete a film. This protracted timeline also allows for word to get out among my subject community, thus allowing people I didn’t find through my research to make themselves known to me. Having an unrestricted amount of time to produce my films is a luxury in the film industry, and in the end, I believe it results in a far superior film.

GFL: What do you hope viewers take away from the information on einkorn, beer and pizza in the documentary?

BP: The idea with all of them is to investigate how individuals who suffer from gluten have taken matters into their own hands and created steps to rectify the problem. One individual figured out how to implement a bulletproof gluten-free program in his small pizzeria, another individual produced a gluten-free beer from a radical new idea using sorghum extract and a small processed-food manufacturer turned to an ancient grain in hopes of finding a better form of wheat. All are interesting and innovative ways of dealing with a common problem.

GFL: What do you hope people will take away from this documentary:

BP: I hope people learn about the complexity of gluten-related illnesses, the misinformation about fad diets and how to care for your loved ones by preventing cross-contamination.

GFL: What did you learn about gluten that you didn’t know prior to starting your research?

BP: I didn’t realize the extent of damage the human body will inflict upon itself. Celiac disease is a serious illness that has eluded medical professionals for decades. I am hopeful that they can decode this illness soon and commence a more accurate form of detection, treatment and prevention.

GFL: Thank you for shining a light on cross-contamination, which is largely ignored by mainstream media. What made you zero in on this issue?

BP: It seemed to be the obvious discussion point for my film. Others are not discussing it, yet it is such a simple and empowering thing to have this knowledge and then be able to act to help friends who suffer from gluten-related illnesses.

GFL: What else would you like to add?

BP: I love that this disease is not solely subject to medical treatment, as in surgery or lifelong medicine dependence. As soon as you find out you have celiac disease, you can take action yourself to cure yourself…to help others. As difficult as celiac disease is, it allows for you to be in control.

PBS plans to stream Gluten Free over the next two years. Check your local listings.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant.

Top 5: Dining Out Gluten Free

What you should ask

Most people enjoy dining out without really having to think about it, but someone following a gluten-free diet has to research and ask many questions before ordering with any level of confidence.

Restaurants have clued in to the demand for gluten-free offerings by adding replacement products and taking steps to keep gluten out of their dishes. Some have even created gluten-free menus or indicated gluten-free items on their regular menus. Unfortunately, not all restaurants are created equally, so determining what is and isn’t safe to order still requires a bit of work.

Asking these five questions at the restaurant will help you figure out which items you can safely and confidently order.

Do you accommodate gluten-free diners? This is a great starting question because it forces the restaurant to define what “gluten free” means to the staff as it relates to safe handling. The restaurant will usually highlight popular gluten-free items, which tend to include replacement products, such as bread, pasta and pizza. Unless the kitchen handles only gluten-free products, cross-contamination is always a possibility, but probe further to learn how the servers and kitchen staff handle gluten-free orders.

Do you have a gluten-free menu? This is an easy question because the answer is either “yes” or “no,” but it also lets the diner know how experienced the restaurant is at serving gluten-free diners.

Do you treat all gluten-free orders the same? People who order gluten free are commonly asked whether they are doing it by choice or for an allergy, which usually means all gluten-free orders aren’t treated the same and cross-contamination can occur. Be sure to answer “allergy” when asked so the staff takes all necessary precautions when preparing your order. Of course, allergy is the wrong term, but this is how the restaurant industry perceives gluten free.

How do you handle gluten-free replacement
Replacement products include bread, pasta and pizza. Find out how the breads are heated, the pasta is cooked and the pizza is made to learn whether it is safe to consume. Not all restaurants follow safe handling procedures to prevent cross-contamination, and often heat and cook gluten-free items with wheat-based ones, on the same surface, without using dedicated utensils and equipment.

Do you have a dedicated fryer? Many restaurants don’t understand that gluten-free items prepared in a shared fryer can become contaminated by the wheat-y bits left behind by gluten-containing food. Fried foods such as chips, fries and onion rings are often marked ‘gluten free’ on menus when they really aren’t. It takes more than just gluten-free ingredients to render prepared food gluten free. Safe handling procedures have to be followed to keep food gluten free from start to finish.

What you should do

You have your questions prepared for the restaurant staff once you arrive, but before you even leave home you can use these tips for a stress-free and satisfying gluten-free dining experience.

Plan ahead by calling the restaurant and making a reservation that specifies your dietary needs. It is also a good idea to check out the menu online, but keep in mind that not all restaurants have current menus available on their website.

Avoid dining during peak hours, which will allow the staff to pay more attention to your needs and answer any questions you may have regarding safe choices. This is especially true when visiting a restaurant for the first time.

Know what to avoid when dining at a restaurant. Suspect items include sauces and gravies, breaded and fried foods, soups and salad dressing. Eating foods as close to their natural, unaltered state as possible is the best way to keep gluten out of a meal. Highly processed foods are more likely to contain gluten.

Use gluten-free apps to read reviews of the cuisine and service. A number of free apps on the market can help you not only avoid an unpleasant or even dangerous experience but lead you to a fabulous one as well. The Find Me Gluten Free, Gluten Free Passport and YoDish apps contain reviews and photos from restaurants with gluten-free offerings.

Take a gluten-free dining card and present it to the server to ensure there is no miscommunication.

—Jennifer Harris

Top 5: Dairy- and soy-free substitutes for holiday meals

Maybe your family has mastered gluten-free cooking and baking, but could they accommodate a gluten- and dairy-free meal? What about soy free? Luckily, a selection of dairy-, gluten- and soy-free products are readily available at grocery stores, making their procurement and use hassle free. And trust me, no one will know the difference. Here are some of my favorite dairy- and soy-free substitutes for holiday and everyday cooking and baking.

1. Butter

Earth Balance natural spread comes in a soy-free version that can be used to make buttery mashed potatoes, when sautéing vegetables for stuffing, or for sweet potato casserole crumble topping or cobbler, and it spreads fabulously. Buy it in a tub or baking sticks.

2. Cream

So Delicious’ line of coconut creamers is ideal for baking and cooking. There is no coconut flavor, so use them in place of cream and half and half. The original is the best bet when making creamy mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or casseroles. The flavored creamers give coffee and tea a sweet, smooth kick.

3. Condensed and evaporated milk

Nature’s Charm has just about cornered the market on coconut-based condensed and evaporated milk. Made from plant-based ingredients, it tastes better than whatever dairy-based version you may have used.

4. Whipped cream

Available in regular and lite, the CocoWhip! from So Delicious is perfect for topping ice cream or pie, or eating straight from the container by the spoonful. It is light and creamy with a coconut flavor. Sorry, but Cool Whip isn’t dairy free, and the ingredients aren’t very clean, either.

5. Dessert

This category needs to be broken down because dessert is important and means something different to everyone. For me, it means ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate chip cookies.

  • Chocolate. Hands-down, my favorite dairy-free chocolate comes from Enjoy Life Foods. Its mini and mega chunks and dark chocolate morsels are perfect for baking because they are delicious and melt wonderfully. Free of the top eight common allergens, they are made with clean ingredients and taste great straight from the bag.
  • Ice cream. What is a holiday meal without ice cream for dessert? There are so many options to choose from, but my favorites are Sprouts Farmers Market‘s and NadaMoo‘s coconut milk and So Delicious‘ cashew milk ice creams. Sprouts’ chocolate coconut ice cream is wonderfully decadent and creamy. NadaMoo’s ice cream is made with coconut milk and sweetened with agave nectar. The cookies and cream (real cookies) and birthday cake (with real cake) varieties are personal favorites. So Delicious’ cashew milk ice cream is sweetened with cane syrup, and is creamier and a little saltier than its almond- or coconut-based versions. The creamy cashew and the salted caramel cluster are insanely delicious.

Happy holidays!

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.


Gluten-Free Vegan Breads On the Rise

Whether by necessity or by choice, people are transitioning to a gluten-free/vegan lifestyle at increasing rates, leaving companies scrambling to meet demand for basics such as bread. Made without any dairy, eggs, cheese, butter or other animal byproducts, these breads are getting their much-deserved time in the spotlight as part of this rapidly growing segment in the natural foods industry. Here are nine companies creating gluten-free vegan breads full of flavor, fiber and protein.

Luce’s Artisan Gluten Free Bread mixes require 15 minutes of work and only one added ingredient to produce a rustic loaf of bread that is crusty on the outside yet soft in the middle. Combine the mix with water, mold it and bake it in the bag included with the mix. Words cannot properly express how incredibly easy these mixes are to prepare. Each one is also free of nuts, soy, added sugar and oils. Consumers can purchase the sourdough, Really “Rye,” Italian and Bold Buckwheat bread mixes online. Not third-party certified.

BFree’s range of loaves, pita bread, rolls, bagels and wraps are high in fiber, low in fat and low in calories. Made with allergen-friendly ingredients, these breads get their protein and fiber from whole peas, apples and potatoes, and use a blend of buckwheat and corn flours to create a structure reminiscent of wheat-based breads. Certified gluten free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.

Bloomfield Farms has joined the prepared foods category with its new vegan bread that is free of the top eight allergens. Produced in a dedicated gluten-free and peanut-free facility, this sandwich bread gets its soft, fluffy texture from a rice, sorghum and millet flour base. The bread contains both guar and xanthan gums. Certified gluten free by Celiac Support Association.

Bread SRSLY’s sourdough bread is an industry breakthrough—one without any dairy, eggs, soy or nuts. The company was born out of a college student’s unrequited love for a guy with gluten sensitivity, which led to the discovery of her own gluten sensitivity and an understanding of gluten-free ingredients. Available in classic, seeded, kale, sandwich and dinner rolls, these breads can be purchased online. Happily, that student—Bread SRSLY’s owner—won over the guy in the end. Certified gluten free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.

The new Follow Your Heart vegan bread line includes three types of bread and two types of tortillas. The brioche, millet and oat breads and classic and chia & flax tortillas are all made with plant-based, non-GMO and hearty whole grain ingredients. In addition to being vegan, these breads are also free of nuts and soy. Certified gluten free by Celiac Support Association.

Food for Life has added a line of vegan breads, called Sprouted for Life, to its offerings. Made from sprouted quinoa, millet and chia seeds, these breads are reported to have a soft and chewy texture reminiscent of wheat bread. Available in four flavors—Original 3 Seed, flax, almond and cinnamon raisin—these new protein- and fiber-packed breads are formulated to maximize nutrition and aid digestion. Not third-party certified.

The new line of “free from” breads from Happy Campers comprises groundbreaking allergen-free creations made from a nutritious mix of millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and sorghum flours. Available in five flavors and hamburger buns, they are free of eggs and dairy, potato and common allergens such as soy, rice, corn and nuts. And the ingredients are organic and non-GMO. The breads are hearty with a soft middle and chewy crust. Choose from Classy Slice, Super Bread, Hemp Hemp Hooray, Stompin’ Good Seedy Buckwheat Molasses, Cravin’ Raisin Cinnamon Spice and Wild Buns. Certified gluten free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.

Little Northern Bakehouse’s line of vegan breads is also free of soy and nuts and has expanded to include hamburger and hot dog buns. The sandwich bread comes in three flavors: Cinnamon & Raisin, Seeds & Grains, and Millet & Chia. Made from only non-GMO ingredients, the breads’ taste and texture reportedly rivals wheat bread. Certified gluten free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.

O’Doughs’ new line of sandwich thins and flatbreads are vegan; however, they run on the same lines with other breads that contain eggs. The sandwich thins come in original and multigrain and are free of nuts but do contain soy flour. Use these sandwich thins in a panini press to create a sandwich that is sure to impress. Certified gluten free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Eating In Italy Gluten Free

My family and I planned to visit Italy ever since we hosted a celiac exchange student from Rome, Giorgia (Jojo for short), for a school year. You wouldn’t think a country known for staples like fresh pasta, pizza and bread would be knowledgeable and accommodating when it comes to gluten-free cuisine. But you would be mistaken. Italy is a gluten-free haven, rich in phenomenal cuisine with a side of culture and history.

Celiac disease has been diagnosed far longer in Europe than in the United States. Associazione Italiana Celiachia, Italy’s celiac support group, was founded in 1979. Dr. Alessio Fasano, responsible for increasing the diagnosis rate in the United States, is Italian and one of the world’s leading experts on celiac disease. Jojo was diagnosed with celiac disease as a child and grew up with her father and grandmother preparing fresh gluten-free pasta, bread, pizza and cookies.

After hearing just how easy it is to find gluten-free cuisine in Italy, we crossed the ocean with visions of large plates of pasta layered with fresh basil, tomatoes and olive oil so flavorful you want to drink it from the bottle. Knowing that language wouldn’t be a barrier because Jojo speaks English, her lovely family welcomed us into their home and treated us to home-cooked meals I still dream about. They proved to be the perfect guides as we ventured in and around the gorgeous country with its long, rich history.

speak the language

Learning how to ask if something is gluten free in Italian is necessary and will make you feel more comfortable during the trip. Asking if something is “senza glutine” is met with not just understanding but concern. They will usually follow up by asking if you have celiac disease—something I wish happened more in the U.S.—instead of asking “allergy” or “by choice.” Being intolerant to gluten is not an inconvenience or a diet fad to Italians; it is a medical condition that gets their full attention.

It is no surprise that the quality of gluten-free food in Italy is exceptional because Italians are very particular about ingredients. They also are very well informed on the ingredients in prepared dishes when dining out. Servers really know what they are talking about and will make recommendations based upon your preferences.

Just as it does in the United States, food brings friends and family together, especially in a country where the family unit is close knit and children often live at home after finishing school.

when in rome

Visiting Rome isn’t all about the food—well, not completely. Taking a walk through the cobblestone streets is like stepping back in time. Everywhere you look there is a piece of history waiting to be discovered. Notable sights include the Pantheon, a former Roman temple that is now a church, and Trevi Fountain. The Trevi is one of the most famous fountains in the world, serving as a gorgeous display of Baroque art celebrating the sheer force of water—I can still hear the roar. Make time to experience the Colosseum, Rome’s largest amphitheater and most popular attraction; Circus Maximum, where the Roman chariot races took place; and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museum—a long wait to get in if you don’t take advantage of any skipping-the-line opportunity by planning ahead, but totally worth it.

Because I wanted to eat a gluten-free cheeseburger at McDonald’s (not available in the U.S.), we skipped Mama Frites and its gluten-free sandwiches, lasagna and tiramisu. I sprinted—OK, walked really fast—to McDonald’s to enjoy one of my favorite foods and places to indulge as a child. Orders are placed on touchscreens and picked up at the counter. The cheeseburger is premade, stored frozen, and heated and served in a sealed wrapper. It sits in a Schär gluten-free bun and, if heated properly, is beyond delicious—nostalgia at its finest.

After lunch, head over to Pandali, Rome’s gluten-free bakery offering a selection of sweet and savory freshly baked goods. We opted for doughnuts filled with Nutella and fruit, but there were also hand pies, cookies, biscotti, brownies and an Italian version of a pop tart called rombo frutti. The baked goods are light and flaky like puff pastry and taste sinfully buttery. A selection of premade pizzas, sandwiches and flatbreads awaited those wanting to dine al fresco.

Dinner that night was at Terra, a pizzeria with a separate room for preparing not one or two, but three types of gluten-free pizza crust from a combination of corn, rice, buckwheat and hemp flours. We ordered two different types of crust—bruschetta for an antipasto platter piled high with buffalo mozzarella, fresh meats and olive oil, and another for a pizza topped with thinly sliced potatoes, zucchini and fontina cheese. Salmon, pumpkin flowers, mushrooms, olives and prosciutto are among the popular pizza toppings available. Light and pliable, the crust can fold in half without cracking or crumbling. I was moved to happy tears, but somehow managed to save room for dessert—gelato at a local gelateria on a gluten-free cone.

all gelato is not created equal
Dark chocolate gelato on a gluten-free cone at GROM

I am going to digress for just a minute to talk about gelato. It is not just a combination of milk and eggs; no, Italians have elevated gelato to an art form that should be enjoyed at least twice a day. Sample the flavors until you find one that intrigues you: Nutella (hazelnuts), pistachio, cream, coffee, dark chocolate, an array of fruity varieties and even vegan. Gelato should be made fresh daily and stored in metal tins, not white plastic ones, so don’t be fooled.

If you happen upon a Grom, you have hit the gelato jackpot. Grom is an entirely gluten-free gelateria serving cones, plain and with chocolate, nuts and sprinkles, cookies made from corn flour, popsicles and a rainbow of gelato goodness, all free from contamination.

However, the best gelato we had during our time in Italy was at Vivoli, one of the oldest gelaterias in Florence. To find this little gem tucked away off the beaten path where the locals indulge, we had to ask for directions. Vivoli makes the most amazing decadently creamy gelato—and believe it or not, the very same treat also is available stateside at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida. Finding real gelato in the States is more difficult than you think, so take advantage of this rare find next time you are in Orlando.

do some shopping. Food shopping.

Pop into a local pharmacy or grocery and marvel at entire walls full of gluten-free goods. In Italy, those diagnosed with celiac disease receive a monthly allotment to purchase food. Italy’s national health system recognizes that gluten-free food is incrementally more expensive and supplements the income of families with diagnosed celiac disease. Jojo’s family receives 90 Euros a month (roughly $95), and she says the money doesn’t stretch as far as you might think. Prices for gluten-free goods are surprisingly similar to those in the U.S.

L’Is La Celiaca, outside of Rome, is a gluten-free store where Jojo and her family shop. The rows upon rows of pasta left me feeling overwhelmed and annoyed by all of the pasta shapes—like bowtie, cappelletti and tortellini—that aren’t available in the U.S. And the freezers were overflowing with puff pastry sheets, tortellini and ravioli, breaded chicken, chicken pockets with prosciutto and cheese, pizza rolls, fruit tarts and so many types of bread. They even have a bakery where they make pizza and an array of traditional pastries.

You may have heard of or even been to the store Eataly in the U.S., which has locations in Boston, Chicago and New York as well as one soon to open in Los Angeles. We visited one while in Italy, which offered everything needed to transform a run-of-the-mill kitchen to a typical Italian one—olive oil, pasta, pasta sauce, tomatoes and anything else you might think of. Get a scoop of gelato or a house-made coffee while waiting for an order of freshly sliced salami or prosciutto; sadly, there is no fresh gluten-free bread.

hop a train

To get a firsthand look at all Italy has to offer, hop a train and visit one of the many cities just hours outside of Rome. We scheduled time to visit Florence and Venice.

Our favorite destination was Florence, where we saw the statue of David by Michelangelo at Accademia di Belle Arti. Purchase tickets in advance, unless you want to wait an hour or more in line. The Duomo, the main church of Florence, occupies the heart of the city and is breathtaking from any angle. If you are game, climb the Duomo’s more than 500 stairs to the top of its famous dome. Across from the Duomo you’ll find the Baptistery of St. John, where Dante and others were baptized.

A trip to Florence’s dedicated gluten-free bakery Starbene is a must. It is a small family-owned shop with a display case lined with the most gorgeous pastries I have ever tasted. After gobbling down the black and white cookies and some pizza rolls, I really wished we had bought more to snack on the next day. The croissants filled with Nutella or fruit and topped with powdered sugar are sheer perfection. They also sell savory breads, calzones, sandwiches, whole cakes and some shelf-stable products such as cereal, pasta and crackers—and their prices are very reasonable.

We grabbed a quick lunch at Mister Pizza in the Piazza del Duomo, where special attention is paid to preparing gluten-free pizzas. Choose your favorite toppings and in less than 15 minutes a freshly baked pie will arrive with a crust so light and pliable that you will be tempted to double-check its gluten-free status. Florence has a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, Quinoa, but we dined on pasta with lamb Bolognese, dinner rolls and tuna tartare on a bed of avocado with citrus glaze at the Golden View Open Bar just across the Ponte Vecchio bridge that spans the Arno River. Be sure to stroll along this historic bridge noted for the shops built right along it, where merchants display their wares, street musicians perform and time seems to stand still.

Duck ragu with citrus and a Schär rosette dinner roll at Antico Martini, Venice

For all of its scenery, Venice was less about food and more about the art. Upon arrival, splurge on a private water taxi; it is the best way to experience the Grand Canal for the first time. We first stopped in Saint Mark’s Square, where a trip to the top of its bell tower offers a spectacular view of the city. Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is located in the square and serves as the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. When it came to choosing a museum, we opted for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is displayed in the art patron and gallery owner’s former home. It features varied pieces, including handmade jewelry, wooden and metal sculptures, and paintings by Salvador Dali and Jackson Pollock.

We headed to Antico Martini, one of the oldest restaurants in Venice, for dinner. I chose the duck ragu with citrus served with Schär’s rosette dinner rolls. Although the food was excellent and the restaurant creates the perfect romantic setting, we had the worst service and at one point almost left. This is the only hiccup we had the entire trip, so I am chalking it up to not having a reservation.

Italy is a fantastic destination for those dining gluten free. Whether or not you speak the language, there are many English-speaking Italians happy to ensure your gluten-free needs are met and exceeded. So what are you waiting for? Book the trip you have been dying to take and mangia, mangia!

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Then and Now: How Being Newly Diagnosed with Celiac Has Changed Since 1997


I can hardly believe it has been 20 years since my celiac disease diagnosis. If you had told me then that I would turn that life-altering diagnosis into a career as a writer, consultant and natural foods buyer, as well as an advocate for the gluten-free community, I would have laughed. But somehow it happened. I managed to go from a state of feeling alone, overwhelmed and hungry to one of belonging, achievement and satisfaction, including a job that gives me as much joy today as it did back then.

After the initial shock subsided of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease almost no one had ever heard of, I learned how to feed myself safely—a journey filled with mistakes, inedible food and plenty of tears.

Things were different back then

Perhaps the most notable difference is that the medical community as a whole did not have much knowledge about celiac disease 20 years ago. It took an average of seven to 11 years to receive a celiac diagnosis. A great deal of uncertainty led to ingredient misinformation. For example, at the time, vinegar-based products were considered unsafe, so I didn’t eat pickles, salad dressing or ketchup for five years. The myth that envelope glue and stamps contained gluten was alive and well, and even most dietitians weren’t particularly helpful.

In 1997, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was still seven years away from being enacted. This act guarantees that if food contains wheat in any form—including any ingredient like modified food starch or hydrolyzed vegetable protein—the word “wheat” will appear on the label. No certification system such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization existed, and very few items were labeled gluten free. Safeguards to hold manufacturers accountable for the allergen status of products didn’t exist, either. For example, labels didn’t list the source of food starch, cereals didn’t identify barley as a byproduct of wheat, and there was no information about what was kept in the manufacturing facility or whether products were run on shared lines. One could only contact the manufacturer to obtain these answers. And no one was talking about the risk of cross-contamination.

Grocery stores offered, at best, a quarter of the gluten-free products on shelves today, and many of those products were subpar, to put it as diplomatically as possible. The selection of gluten-free products at health food stores was also limited because they didn’t carry a lot of products with sugar or additives. Online shopping wasn’t centralized, meaning gluten-free items had to be ordered directly from manufacturers, and typically that dictated paying exorbitant shipping costs for food that tasted only slightly better than cardboard.

Gluten-free bakeries were about as common as a purple unicorn, so baking had to be done at home. Gluten-free flour blends didn’t exist, but rice flour was prevalent. My boyfriend (now husband) had a terrible time trying to bake me a cake doing a one-to-one flour substitution. No one knew how to use xanthan gum, making us dependent on the few available gluten-free cookbooks to figure out how much to use. Add too much xanthan, and the cookies wouldn’t even spread when baking; too little, and they would disintegrate after just one bite.

 After recognizing that I really didn’t know how to cook, just how to boil and heat, I spent Saturdays going from health food store to health food store for ingredients, then home to cook and pack lunches for the week. I got very cozy with my George Foreman grill and learned how to make cheese sauce, chop vegetables and prepare meals.

What I ate

I had a very regimented diet that consisted of key products like macaroni and cheese mix with the starchiest rice pasta ever, flimsy and tasteless brown-rice crackers, Lundberg rice cakes, lots of Amy’s Kitchen’s enchiladas, and Food For Life rice bread toasted and topped with peanut butter. Pamela’s Products’ chocolate chip and shortbread cookies were a bright spot in my day and remain a trusted brand. Fresh fruit, vegetables, rice and meat rounded out my daily caloric intake. Boring, but safe.

It wasn’t until I found Kinnikinnick Foods, which only charged—and still charges—a flat $10 shipping rate, that I discovered gluten-free bread could taste good without toasting. The company also offered waffles, doughnuts and many other tasty treats made in a dedicated facility for people with celiac. 

What has changed

If you had told me in 1997 that following a gluten-free diet would become a trend, I would have laughed in your face. But that is just what happened when celebrities began recommending that people try the gluten-free diet to lose weight, sleep better and feel more energized. Why anyone would choose to pay two to three times as much for a loaf of bread is beyond me.

Now, too, people who don’t have celiac but benefit from a gluten-free diet are diagnosed with the relatively new condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Of course, as you probably know, in spite of all the progress that has been made, misinformation abounds. People still mix up the terms “gluten intolerant” and “gluten sensitive,” which describe two entirely different ailments. And while often referred to as an “allergen,” gluten in fact triggers an autoimmune reaction, not the histamine response characteristic of allergies.

As a result of this “trendy fad diet” nonsense, servers at restaurants ask diners if they are gluten free by choice or for medical reasons. And manufacturers slap a gluten-free label on pretty much everything that is made with gluten-free ingredients, like canned corn and ketchup. Times are better, and yet somehow there is still much confusion.

FALCPA is in full effect, with manufacturers practically overcommunicating the allergen status of products. We are even seeing a return to natural products made without additives, artificial colors and flavors, and unnecessary fillers. And with the priority placed on gut health, products are now often fortified with nutrients such as protein, fiber and probiotics.

it’s a lifestyle, not a diet

Pretty much any food product you can think of is probably available in a gluten-free version at any health food or grocery store in town—or ordered from online retailers like Amazon. In stark contrast to 1997, Atlanta alone boasts six gluten-free bakeries, four dedicated gluten-free restaurants and a slew of places to dine on gluten-free fare. Health food stores and even mainstream grocery stores label their gluten-free products with shelf tags, making it easier to quickly identify suitable items. That’s right—for those of you who remember what it was like back then, today there is no need to shop only the perimeter of the store because aisles contain gluten-free products made by both start-ups and established companies. And believe it or not, prices have stayed about the same, but are beginning to increase as manufacturers search for organic sources of raw ingredients.

Product certification is at an all-time high, with national support groups leading the charge. The Gluten Intolerance Group and Beyond Celiac both offer product and restaurant certification programs with steadily growing clientele.

I dine out more now than I did before my diagnosis, and I have traveled across the states and abroad enjoying the most gorgeous and readily available gluten-free cuisine. The natural products industry is exploding with innovation that can be seen in categories across the board. Twenty years ago, the idea of a portable device that can identify gluten in food sounded like something from science fiction—and today, the first of its kind is making headlines for its impact on gluten-free living.

Celiac awareness is at an all-time high and diagnosis times have decreased. While it’s not perfect, I will take an eye roll from a server about my gluten-free status any day over the blank stares of 20 years ago. However, the stigma attached to the gluten-free diet needs to fade away pronto.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Meet Gary Jones—Disney’s Man with the Food-Allergy Plan

Why does visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, give me all the feels? Is it because Mickey is there? Is it because I get to spend time with my family acting like a kid? Or is it because I don’t have to worry about food? Yes, that’s it. I can go almost anywhere on the property, including the hotels’ restaurants, and dine on gluten-free options like waffles, pancakes, beignets, French fries, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese and even lamb shank with house-made naan and a bevy of dipping sauces. The attention paid to not just offering but preparing allergen-free cuisine is exemplary, leaving you free to relax and enjoy time at the parks—all thanks to the direction of one man, Gary Jones.

Disney treats you as a “Guest” with a capital “G” rather than a customer. It truly wants everyone to have a magical experience—including dining—which sets it apart from other theme parks. Another aspect that sets Disney apart is the attention to food allergies. Stepping foot on Disney property is like hitting the food-allergy jackpot because the chefs there can prepare meals for those allergic or intolerant to wheat, gluten, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, eggs, corn, dairy and lactose, shellfish and fish. All top eight allergens are covered, and the menus also feature items that satisfy multiple allergens, like gluten- and dairy-free, etc.

Disney breaks down dining into groups: table service, quick service and carts/kiosks. Each of these food and beverage locations is equipped with allergy-friendly menus and a knowledgeable chef. When ordering, simply inform the server that someone in your party has a food allergy, and a chef will appear armed with a book of menus and a wealth of knowledge. Ponder the options—which are plenty—place an order, and it will be prepared by said chef from start to finish. The same is true when attending a buffet, where chefs will point out safe options, then offer to prepare a plate in the back to avoid any possible cross-contamination issues.

The culinary dietary specialist for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Gary Jones, has been manning the helm of its Special Diets Department since 2011. Working to meet the food allergy needs of guests is his No. 1 priority. Gary oversees the special diets menus for the Orlando, Florida, location, created and maintains the list of approved allergen-friendly products for both coasts as well as Disney Cruise Line, and contributes to many cross-functional teams assisting chefs with guests who require additional “pixie dust.”

I recently spoke with Gary about the evolution and responsibility of the Special Diets Department, and here is what I learned.

Jennifer Harris: When did Disney establish its Special Diets Department?

Gary Jones: There was no clearly defined date. The process of taking care of our guests’ needs through phone calls and online has evolved and expanded over the years to meet demand and guest needs. There are many people in different departments that play invaluable roles to manage this process on a daily basis. The Special Diets team and my role are the result of feedback from chefs and guests to establish a central point of contact for both coasts to provide accurate information and navigation assistance for their food and beverage experiences.

Harris: Do you handle all of the food allergy needs for both Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California? 

Jones: The chefs in the locations ultimately handle our guests’ food allergy needs at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. I am responsible for providing availability to best-in-class products and as the subject matter expert within Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Harris: Did you hold another job with Disney prior to heading the Special Diets Department?

Jones: I have been in operations, from quick service to multi-unit hotels, for much of my Walt Disney World Resort career. Within that, however, there were other interesting career builders. I was on the opening training team for Disneyland Paris, worked as a recruiter hiring cooks and chefs domestically, as well as interns for Epcot internationally, and as managing chef instructor for The Disney Institute.

Harris: What drew you to your current position? 

Jones: I generally lead a healthy lifestyle as a marathoner and Ironman triathlete. When a discussion was held to create a role incorporating health and wellness and special dietary needs, I applied.

Harris: How many special diet menus do you have? Of this number, how many are gluten free?

Jones: We have over 120 allergy-friendly menus at table-service restaurants and major quick-service locations at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Gluten-free options are available on all of them.

Harris: How many restaurants are there at Walt Disney World Resort that can accommodate those with food allergies or intolerance?

Jones: We have more than 500 food and beverage locations, including carts and kiosks, at Walt Disney World Resort. All table-service locations and most quick-service locations can accommodate food allergies and intolerances.

Harris: For which special diet do you have the most requests?

Jones: Guests requesting gluten-free accommodations are the majority of the requests.

Harris: Have you seen an increase in requests?

Jones: Yes, the numbers continue to increase every year, exceeding 775,000 in 2016, which includes requests at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Harris: Do you find that you are accommodating more children than adults?

Jones: Anecdotally, yes, but that’s not a metric we have available.

Harris: What is the most-requested Disney gluten-free item?

Jones: Mickey waffles!*

Harris: How often do the special diet menus get updated?

Jones: We consistently review our menus to ensure we are meeting the needs of our guests.

Harris: What are the newest gluten-free offerings when it comes to snacks and dining?

Jones: The allergy-friendly menus offer gluten-intolerant guests greater variety. One of the popular items is the gluten-free naan bread served at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Harris: How many different premade products do you use?

Jones: This depends on the location and menu needs. While we do have premade baked goods, pastas and mixes, many of our gluten-free menu items are made using minimally processed ingredients.

Harris: How many gluten-free products do you make fresh?

Jones: Given that we have allergy-friendly menus in over 120 locations, outside of baked goods, the majority of products made for gluten-intolerant guests are freshly made.

Harris: What does meeting the food allergy needs of guests mean to you?

Jones: Keeping this simple, a guest with food allergy needs should be able to have the same dining choices as everyone else visiting Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Helping the operations teams deliver that safe experience with knowledge, food products and processes is my daily magic.

The needs of Disney’s food allergy guests are always changing, leaving room for growth and an increase in demand for allergen-friendly products. The gluten-free community is lucky to have a man like Jones looking out for and serving our needs.

-Jennifer Harris

5 Steps to Go Gluten Free

For those who need to go gluten free after being diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it can be overwhelming. After all, it entails one to adopt considerable lifestyle changes. While it is a relief to finally learn the cause of the symptoms that have plagued you for years, now comes the hard part—the research. Following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these autoimmune disorders because there is no cure; food—the right food—is the only medicine.

Learning about gluten is the first of many steps as you go gluten free. This process takes time and patience because the answers are sometimes complicated. Anything that touches your lips or goes in your mouth must be gluten free, including medicine, makeup (lip gloss, lipstick, etc.), mouthwash, toothpaste, alcohol and, of course, food.

There is no magic formula for transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle, but there are a number of ways to tackle it head on and put you in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered and in control. Here are five tips to help you go gluten free:

  1. Consult with a knowledgeable dietitian to address vitamin deficiencies, learn about nutritious gluten-free
    grains and ingredients, and find out how to maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Learn about gluten, how to read labels and shop, and how to communicate your dietary needs to servers,
    co-workers, friends and family.
  3. Adhere to a strict gluten-free diet—without cheating—or risk more medical issues down the road.
  4. Join a local support group, because socializing with others who have the same or similar issues allows you
    to feel included and less isolated. It is also a great way to make friends, learn about gluten-free-friendly restaurants and get the scoop on the best places to grocery shop.
  5. Follow up annually with a gastroenterologist and dietitian to keep your health on track. Vitamin deficiencies need to be monitored, and any other health issues should be addressed.

Reliable Resources

National support groups host the best websites for research. These sites work to bring timely and accurate information to the gluten-free community, and they don’t perpetuate myths and misinformation. They work with the medical community to address new research and trends as well as advocate for the gluten-free community.

  • Canadian Celiac Association (celiac.ca) is dedicated to providing services and support to those with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis through awareness, advocacy and educational programs.
  • Celiac Disease Foundation (celiac.org) drives diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease through advocacy, education and advancing research to improve the quality of life for all people affected by gluten-related disorders.
  • Beyond Celiac (beyondceliac.org) has community outreach programs that aim to educate individuals, doctors and food service professionals while improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.
  • Gluten Intolerance Group, also known as GIG (gluten.org), provides support to those with gluten-related disorders through innovative industry, service, social and awareness programs.

You will come out of this transition a new person—one who is in control of your health for the first time in a long time. Things are looking up!

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Innovative Products Bridging the ‘Dairy’ Gap

The past year has been big for innovation in the gluten-free and dairy-free category, with new products appearing across multiple segments. Leave it to these innovators to find new ways to use nuts, pea protein and seeds to create products layered with flavor, rich in texture and loaded with nutrient-dense ingredients—all without any gluten or dairy. 

Gone are the days of chalky and just plain weird textures made with a long list of artificial ingredients. The new products comprised of easy-to-digest, fiber-ful ingredients succeed in breaking the “dairy” craving and leave you feeling anything but left out. 

Here are just some of the dairy- and gluten-free products making their way onto store shelves:


The vanilla spice protein drink from Rebbl® blends coconut milk with healing herbs (maca, reishi, and ashwagandha) to create a delicious drink that can double as a meal replacement. Made with only organic ingredients, the smooth, almost velvety beverage tastes just as good as it is for you.


Grab a Cave Shake and indulge in a ready-to-eat coconut shake loaded with healthy fat designed to satisfy that sweet craving in a healthful way. These shakes are sugar free, Keto, Paleo, vegan and low in carbohydrates. Available in vanilla, chocolate and coffee, Cave Shakes can also serve as a meal replacement and not just a tasty dessert.


Butter Substitutes

Miyoko’s Kitchen won a Nexty Award for its European Style Cultured VeganButter that melts, cooks, bakes, spreads and tastes just like butter. Made with organic coconut oil and organic cashews, it is also free of palm oil and non-GMO ingredients. Spread it on a slice of gluten-free toast and enjoy every buttery bite!


Made from butter beans, coconut
oil and safflower oil, WayFare Foods’ dairy-free salted whipped butter promises it tastes better than real butter. Also available in garlic and Sweet Cinnamony, these butter substitutes are light, airy and spreadable straight
from the container.



Free2B chocolate cups contain dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, making them completely allergen free. All of the flavors—sun butter, caramel and mint—come in single-serve packaging perfect for on-the-go snacking and lunch packing.


Eating Evolved’s coconut butter cups are made with fair trade certified cocoa and are free of soy and cane sugar. Banana cream is the newest flavor of the adult-targeted candy made with clean and very few ingredients.

→ eatingevolved.com


Rule Breaker (formerly Pure Genius) has taken dessert to a whole new level with its fudgy deep chocolate brownies and chocolate chunk blondies that taste sinful but are made with “good-for-you” ingredients. The main ingredient in these desserts is—wait for it—chickpeas. Packed with fiber, protein and just 11 grams of sugar, these desserts are a rich, satisfying and delicious way to add fiber to your daily calorie intake.



Kite Hill’s plant-based ricotta cheese turns cultured almond milk into a creamy delight that is light, flavorful and would easily fool any cheese eater. Although your first instinct may be to use it to make lasagna, this cheese can be eaten straight from the package and pairs nicely with crackers and vegetables.


Miyoko’s Kitchen added Fresh VeganMozz cheese to its line of artisan creamy plant-based cheeses. Delicious hot or cold, it is made from cashews and tastes just like traditional mozzarella. It melts and browns, so use it to make pizza, Caprese salad or grilled cheese, or slice off hunks and enjoy it straight from the package.


Even the Italians are getting in on the vegan cheese trend with Mozzarisella, made from sprouted brown rice grown in Italy. It contains carrube flour (high in vitamins A, D, B1, B2, B3), coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, xanthan gum, agar agar and nothing artificial.



The vegan gelato from Vixen Kitchen is made from organic raw cashews and sweetened with organic maple syrup. Choose from a variety of flavors, such as Chai & I, Blue Dream, Coffee Cream Dream, Midnight Mint, Naked Vanilla and Naked Chocolate, and marvel at this creamy treat that tastes like it’s made with cream but doesn’t contain an ounce of dairy.


Millie’s Organic Vegan Gelato is made with a combination of homemade sprouted almond milk and cashew cream, making it an entirely plant-based creation. It has a rich, velvety texture designed to be enjoyed by all gelato lovers. Sweetened with organic blue agave, coconut palm sugar and dates, it comes in a variety of flavors that dazzle the taste buds without any “moo.”


Ice Cream

Available this spring, Luna & Larry’s entry in the ice cream sandwich category comprises two hemp seed chocolate chip cookies filled with organic dark chocolate coconut ice cream. Made with sprouted flour, the chocolate chip cookies are also soy free and pair nicely with its ice cream sweetened with agave.


VanLeeuwen ice cream launched a line of vegan ice cream in nine flavors (chocolate chip cookie dough is not gluten free) made with cashews and coconut cream at the end of 2016. By taking its most popular flavors and combining them with a new vegan “ice cream” base, the company found itself in a position to service previously neglected segments of potential customers.



Good Karma is entering the yogurt category with a first-to-market line of flax milk-based yogurts. With seven live and active cultures, these dairy-free yogurts contain a healthy serving of omega-3 healthy fats. Available in five flavors, each serving delivers five to six grams of plant-based protein that is free of gluten, dairy, soy and nuts.


Yogurt made from cashew milk is now a reality thanks to Forager Project’s cashew milk yogurts. Available in five flavors, the tasty treat has a creamy texture from cashews and is cultured just like dairy yogurt, so you get all the probiotic benefits without any dairy. These yogurts are low in sugar and high in protein. Additionally, they are certified organic and kosher, don’t contain any non-GMO ingredients, and are free of soy.


Jennifer Harris

Gluten-free travel: Asheville, N.C.

Looking for a new gluten-free travel destination? Asheville, N.C., nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a picturesque small town that puts a capital ‘S’ in Support. Visionaries and artists are drawn to this environment—not just the town, where community is king and small businesses rule the roost. This robust town of entrepreneurs is dedicated to supporting one another and giving back to the community as well as the region. The eateries incorporate sustainability practices, forge lasting relationships with patrons and farmers, and work to become certified green. They love what they do and it shows at every restaurant, shop and café.

Where to stay in Asheville

I highly recommend staying at a bread and breakfast (B&B) when visiting Asheville. Yes, there are many hotels from which to choose, but you don’t get the hands-on service or Southern hospitality offered at a B&B. I stayed at the Sweet Biscuit Inn, owned and operated by Claudia and Christian Hickl, which is known for its three-course French breakfasts (including dessert) prepared by Claudia. At just over a mile out of downtown Asheville, it has seven spacious rooms, an ample front porch and a separate Carriage House.

To say the cuisine is delicious severely understates it. Each breakfast started promptly at 8:30 and took a full hour to enjoy. My meals were modified to gluten-free versions of what everyone else was eating, so no missing out for me! Highlights included the egg basket with ham, wine and grain mustard sauce, raspberries topped with whipped white chocolate, and a smoked salmon, asparagus and goat cheese frittata with a side of puréed asparagus, lime and Parmesan. The cherry clafoutis—fruit covered with a thick flan-like batter and topped with powdered sugar—and the crêpes prepared tableside were simply fantastic.



Do some shopping

If you like honey, make sure to visit to the Asheville Bee Charmer and allow yourself time to peruse all the offerings. The owners, Jillian and Kim, truly love bees, honey and the natural benefits they yield simply by doing what comes naturally. The store pays homage to local and regional honey and also imports from all around the world. You’ll find a variety of products made from honey, including health and beauty products and candles, and honey-themed T-shirts. Don’t leave without saddling up to the honey-tasting bar to let the staff introduce you to a new blend.

Take a tour

Get a firsthand look at one of Asheville’s craft cideries by scheduling a tasting at Urban Orchard Cider Co. and Bar in West Asheville. This family-owned and operated business gets its apples from Hendersville, N.C., and makes its cider onsite using a variety of yeasts to give each one a unique flavor profile. The cider ages for eight months to one year, which allows the flavors just enough time to combine and renders filtration unnecessary. After touring the cider production area, I bellied up to the bar to try a “flight” of dry to semi-sweet ciders. The semi-sweet were my favorite, but the real fun part was mixing them together. The menu features a creative take on bar food with meat and cheese plates, salads and sandwiches on gluten-free bread.


Breakfast all day

Hit up Tupelo Honey Café or King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffle for breakfast any time. Tupelo offers Udi’s Gluten Free bread for its fried egg sandwiches topped with smoky apple cider bacon. Or perhaps the Southern Belle grilled cheese with brie, gorgonzola and house-made pear and onion marmalade is more your speed. The corn soufflé, cider pork black-eyed peas and goat cheese grits should also be on your hit list.

King Daddy’s is the place to go for a plate of gluten-free and vegan fried chicken and waffles. The restaurant is a local favorite where the eclectic staff works nonstop to serve a crowd of hungry diners. The menu is full of gluten-free options, including two types of waffles (regular and cornmeal) cooked in a separate, dedicated waffle iron until golden brown. You also can’t go wrong with the tender and juicy fried chicken highlighted by a crisp peppery skin that is raised humanely and cooked separately.

Grab a snack or sweet treat

A trip to Asheville isn’t complete without standing in line to snag a seat and chocolate treat at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge owned by Dan and Jael Rattigan. French Board prides itself on being a bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer. The lounge offers a little something for everyone, with an array of artisan truffles, dairy-free drinking chocolate, pot de crème, crème brûlée and a peanut butter cookie that was designed specifically for Jael when she was avoiding gluten. The chocolate is rich, creamy and slightly sweet with coconut milk serving as the dairy-free alternative. The drinking chocolate is intense, so don’t forget to order a glass of water.

A quick lunch at Cúrate, known for its Spanish tapas, should be on your agenda. The menu indicates all of the gluten-free options, which include salads, cheeses, meats, small plates and entrées. I noshed on the sautéed spinach, apples, pine nuts, and raisins and a light and flavorful sashimi trout atop tomato fresco, olives, sliced onion and lemon.

The Rhu, owned by chef John Fleer, is a café, bakery and pantry serving breakfast and lunch. It is an ideal place to enjoy a meal or cup of coffee, or pick up local pantry staples, artisanal products and housewares. The Rhu makes its own gluten-free bread using mainly sunflower seed flour that can be bought by the loaf or serve as the vehicle for a sandwich. I found the best way to enjoy it is on the Ploughman’s Platter, topped with Hickory Nut Gap salami, Benton’s prosciutto, Spinning Spider Creamery gabriel, Looking Glass Creamery chèvre, Lusty Monk mustard and house-pickled vegetables.

Dinner is served

For dinner, I visited Buffalo Nickel in West Asheville. Diners can choose between the formal dining area downstairs  or the laidback atmosphere of the second-level tavern, which features pool tables as well as a separate bar and menu. Opting to dine downstairs, my meal of comfort food with flair consisted of Brussels sprouts with maple, nuts and cranberries, a duck confit with white bean and carrot ragout, and a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate peanut butter sauce. The food isn’t fussy, but is prepared with a distinct finesse.




A trip to Posana Restaurant is mandatory if you have celiac. This restaurant boasts a dedicated gluten-free kitchen and is accredited through the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. Everything from bread through dessert is made from scratch with fresh ingredients, including some from their own urban garden in West Asheville. I started with the homemade fettuccini topped with squash purée, spicy Italian meatballs and goat cheese. Bread service featured toasted rosemary sesame breadsticks with olive oil and butter. And the stars of the night were the perfectly seared scallops with roasted cauliflower over a hearty but light purée. I couldn’t pass up the carrot cake topped with a full inch of cream cheese frosting and cake crumbs. This decadent dessert was completely unrecognizable as gluten free—as was all the Posana cuisine.


Always more to do…and eat

Asheville offers a fantastic destination for those dining gluten free. The restaurants and cafés work to incorporate local and regional ingredients whenever possible to create cuisine that is fresh and made from scratch—a perfect environment for modifying dishes due to food allergies or intolerance.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit Asheville’s ever-growing art scene, the iconic Biltmore Estate or the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway on this trip. Whether you are there for a short visit or an extended stay (totally recommended!), the town has its arms open wide to ensure your gluten-free needs are not only met but exceeded.

Gluten-Free Living News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Clafoutis photo courtesy of Sweet Biscuit Inn. All other photos by Jennifer Harris.


The Power of #Hashtags

According to Wikipedia, a hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash character (or pound symbol or number sign), #, to form a label. Hashtags are a search tool used to find “like” content when using Twitter and other social media platforms.

When it comes to those following a gluten-free diet, the list of hashtags started small and has evolved into more than just a means of sharing photos. It has become a tool to combat negative publicity and to encourage action.

Here are some of the most commonly used and recognizable hashtags:

#GF, #glutenfree and #gluten

#CD and #celiacdisease in the U.S.

#Celiac or #coeliac in Europe

#Whatceliacseat to share food photos

#GS and #glutensensitive for those not diagnosed with celiac but with non-celiac gluten sensitivity

#Blackceliac and #celiacsofcolor are relatively new and signify a much-needed recognition of diversity in the community

Now here is where it gets more interesting. Hashtags can be credited to specific events: #GFNotaFad, #GFisNOTaFad, #CeliacisReal, and #GlutenIsntAPunchline can all be linked to “calls to action” to combat negative publicity and other situations.

The interview with Joy Behar on “Morning Joe” in January 2015 is credited with sparking #CeliacisReal after she chose to call the disease baloney, which it most certainly is not. Many people took to social media sharing pictures of themselves using this hashtag.

The 2015 NASCAR Super Bowl ad prompted the #GlutenIsntAPunchline hashtag because of the offending line from the commercial, “When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there’s trouble afoot. Yes, we the people have gotten soft.” According to a spokesman for NBC Sports, the line in question did not appear in the 60-second version of the spot that ran during the Super Bowl. The line was only featured in the online version of the commercial.

Do you think hashtags have the power to bring about change and/or motivate people to take action? I think we are at the tip of the hashtag iceberg and will see its use become inseparable from online petitions and calls to action as time moves on.

What hashtags do you use?

—Jennifer Harris

Where to Find Your Gluten-Free Probiotics

Probiotics constitute a growing trend in the natural products industry, showing up in everything from baking mixes to flavored waters and granola. Gut health has become a focus, with consumers looking for ways to get probiotic benefits from foods that are already part of their daily lifestyle.

Many gluten-free companies are meeting consumer demand by adding GanedenBC30® (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086), an allergen-free, vegan, kosher, halal and non-GMO-certified probiotic strain made by Ganeden Biotech, Inc., to their products. GanedenBC30, a shelf-stable probiotic, remains viable through manufacturing processes like baking, freezing, boiling and squeezing, giving manufacturers the ability to add it to products that previously couldn’t contain probiotics.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria that can help establish a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut. Your gut already contains these “good” microorganisms. Though more scientific research is needed, consuming probiotics via supplements or food is thought to help replace any “good” bacteria your body loses and maintain balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut.

Those following a gluten-free diet know how crucial a role bacteria play in maintaining normal gastrointestinal functions and protecting the body from infection. People with weakened immune systems from celiac disease or non celiac gluten sensitivity have been advised for years to take probiotics, but there wasn’t any medical research to back up the claims that they actually work…until now.

Ganeden cites 24 peer-reviewed and published studies on this probiotic strain that have been evaluated by leading authorities in probiotics, microbiology, and digestive and immune health. The strain was recently discovered to enhance protein utilization and help with muscle recovery. In a study from the University of Tampa and Increnovo LLC, participants reported decreased muscle soreness and increased recovery after exercise.

What is GanedenBC30?

“It is a live spore-forming bacteria, meaning a natural protective spore protects the genetic core and allows it to stay dormant until it reaches the digestive tract,” says Mike Bush, president of Ganeden. “GanedenBC30 spores wait to germinate and grow until they reach the intestines and make their journey through the digestive system. And because GanedenBC30 is dormant until it gets to the gut, it never imparts any changes in taste or texture to the product.”

GanedenBC30® can be added to virtually any food or beverage because it is a sporeformer, which makes it highly stable and allows it to survive processing without losing its effectiveness. Consumers can now eat their daily probiotics from a growing variety of products instead of having to take them strictly as supplements. Gluten-free food and beverage companies have used the ingredient, which is listed on applicable product labels, since 2007.

How does it work?

Pages from GFL 1701_spreads_hrGaneden provides GanedenBC30 directly to food and beverage companies for use in finished products. Its science team works closely with the company’s product development team to ensure proper formulation with the probiotic strain. Testing confirms inclusion rates, efficacy and survivability through the time of consumption.

More than 500 leading food, beverage and sports nutrition products around the world contain GanedenBC30. According to Bush, 80 percent of products using GanedenBC30 are gluten free, including Forager Purely Elizabeth Probiotic Granola, Glutino Foods breakfast bars, Enjoy Life Foods baking mixes, FlapJacked mighty muffins, Little Duck Organics tiny gummies and Yumbutter Plant Protein + Probiotic nut butter.

Why choose GanedenBC30?

Enjoy Life Foods is one of many allergen-friendly companies adding this probiotic to one of its product lines, specifically the new range of baking mixes. When the company initially decided to enter the saturated baking mix category, it needed to set itself apart from competitors by introducing innovative products that speak to its consumers’ needs. Today’s consumers are concerned with maintaining digestive and immune health, which is where GanedenBC30 comes into play, with its added health attributes augmenting a growing stable of products.

According to Joel Warady, chief marketing and innovation officer for Enjoy Life Foods, “We chose the GanedenBC30 probiotic due to the clinical and scientific work they performed on the ingredient. We needed to make certain that any claims we make on a product can stand up to scientific scrutiny, and this probiotic ingredient met that requirement for us.” The company ensures that each of their baking mixes receives an equal amount of GanedenBC30 through its proprietary process.

“Ganeden has been great in providing us with all of the clinical and scientific data upon request,” says Warady. “As one of the leaders in this area, they are constantly working on new data and new applications. We are fortunate to have them as a partner as we look to develop great new products for our community.”

With Ganeden bridging the probiotic gap and expanding the choices for consumers to consume probiotics, gut health never tasted this good.


Kitchen Gadgets for the Holidays

These kitchen gadgets are designed to make prep easier, freeing up more time to spend with loved ones.

Being diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity usually means spending more time in the kitchen preparing meals. Whether you are an experienced cook or just learning, many gadgets are designed to make your time spent in the kitchen easier. Thanks to our friends at The Cook’s Warehouse, here are some of the new and exciting kitchen gadgets that are sure to be a hit this season.


Gadgets Apple SplitterApple splitters are standard tools in most kitchens, but the new Apple Splitter from Prepara produces thin slices perfect for baking and snacking. No more large hunks of apples with this splitter, which slices and cores apples at the same time. Made out of BPA-free plastic, it utilizes stainless steel blades and is dishwasher safe. prepara.com/products/apple-splitter




Gadgets Grate Ginger ToolThe Grate Ginger Tool from KitchenIQ peels, grates, slices and extracts juice from ginger in a snap. Easily cut through the root while creating ginger paste or thin slices for steeping in tea, adding to drinks, creating salad dressing and more. It works with garlic, too! kitcheniq.com/product/the_grate_ginger_tool



Gadgets Decorating PenUse the Trudeau Decorating Pen to turn home-baked goods into works of art. Load the pen with frosting and decorate with a fine or thick tip. It also comes with a stand to prevent messy counters and is easy to use with just one hand. Take it apart and throw it in the dishwasher for easy clean up. trudeaucorp.com





Gadgets Butter MillThe Butter Mill from Cooks Innovations turns cold butter into soft butter with a few twists. Simply load the butter mill, give it a few twists and use the grated butter on bread, veggies and corn on the cob. Ever forget to soften butter for a recipe or have a hard time incorporating butter into a flour mixture? This hand device will do all the work in half the time. cooksinnovations.com/product/butter-mill




Gadgets Joseph JosephM-Cuisine, the new stackable cooking set from Joseph Joseph, takes microwave cooking to a whole new level. The set has a 2-liter main cooking pot for preparing rice, pasta, potatoes and more; a steamer basket for vegetables, fish or meat; a griddle; and a reversible lid that doubles as a base for the griddle and steamer or as a standalone microwave plate. josephjoseph.com/en-us/collections/m-cuisine




Gadgets Bees WrapBee’s Wrap is a sustainable natural alternative to plastic wrap that uses the warmth of your hands to create a seal. This versatile wrap is flexible, washable, reusable and compostable. Made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin, it can cover a bowl and wrap up leftovers like sandwiches, cheese, sliced fruit and vegetables. beeswrap.com



Gadgets CoravinEnjoy a glass of wine without popping the cork or committing to the entire bottle with the Coravin Model Two Wine Access System. The device may just revolutionize the way people drink and age wine. The system uses a needle to pierce the cork, pressurize the wine with argon gas, and dispense it through the needle. Once the needle is retracted, the cork reforms and airtight seal, preserving the bottle and allowing the wine to continue to age. coravin.com



Gadgets SpiralizerSpiralize vegetables like a boss with the Paderno 4-Blade Spiralizer. This compact kitchen tool takes up little counter space and is designed to house the extra blades when not in use. Create slices, chips, angel hair spirals and shredded veggies in a variety of thicknesses in just minutes. padernousa.com/4-blade-spiralizer





Gadgets KitchenAidKitchenAid Artisan Mini Mixer is a game changer for those who thought they didn’t have the counter space for one. This mini mixer packs all the power of a large stand mixer (it has the same motor as the larger version) and works with existing KitchenAid mixer attachments. KitchenAid has also partnered with Franzese to produce a gluten-free pasta mix designed to work with KitchenAid stand mixers to make authentic Italian-style pasta dough in 11 minutes. kitchenaid.com/brand_small-appliances_artisanmini.content.html



Gadgets Vita JuicerWhile a bit of a splurge, the gorgeous and super easy-to-use Novis Vita Juicer is worth every penny because it is also a puree press, citrus press and centrifuge—four functions in one device. The citrus press extracts juice with pulp from citrus fruits with little effort. The juice is smooth and allows for maximum extraction from all types of fruits and veggies, including soft and hard, with little waste. The adjustable spout stops the flow of juice and prevents it from dripping on the counter. vitajuicer.com


Gluten-Free Pie Options

Don’t have time to bake a pie from scratch for your holiday gatherings?
Try one of these convenient gluten-free options.

Apple Pie


Enjoying gluten-free pie no longer requires you to start from scratch. Grocery store shelves and online retailers offer a selection of premade pies, pie crusts and crust mixes that will make your gluten-free holiday baking easy as pie.


For those who don’t like or don’t have the time to bake, pick up a frozen premade pie. Simply thaw according to the instructions and serve.

Katz Gluten Free produces its 6-inch and 8-inch apple, blueberry, cherry and pumpkin pies in a gluten-, dairy- and nut-free environment. Loaded with fruit in a flaky crust, these pies taste just as good as the ones you remember from childhood without being overly sweet. katzglutenfree.com

Whole Foods’
fully baked apple and cherry pies are available
year-round while pecan and pumpkin make their seasonal
appearances in the fall and winter. Thaw in the refrigerator
overnight to serve the next day. Once ready, heat them up
and top with ice cream (dairy optional) for a classic à la mode



The Maine Pie Company has the most extensive selection of gluten-free pies on the market with 10 flavors to choose from, including chocolate,
Threeberry, apple, lemon curd, peach-raspberry, pecan (seasonal),
pumpkin (seasonal), wild blueberry, apple crumb and strawberry rhubarb. A wheat-based pie baker by trade, the company developed a gluten-free crust that is just as moist, flaky and buttery as its wheat-y counterpart. Made in a dedicated gluten-free bakery, the pies are full of fresh fruit, nothing artificial, and are almost too beautiful to eat with their crisscross tops. themainepieco.com/gluten-free-desserts


Gillian’s Foods’ fruit pies in apple crisp, blueberry and pumpkin
sit atop a crust made from brown rice flour and are produced
in a gluten-, wheat-, tree nut- and peanut-free environment.



Natural Decadence slice framedAll Natural Decadence gluten-free pies are free of eggs, dairy and peanuts, and feature a homemade crust. In addition to its Humboldt Mud Pie on a double fudge cookie crust and pumpkin pie on a graham cracker crust, traditionally dairy-filled pies are reconfigured here, so anyone can enjoy the chocolate cream-less and lemon meringue-less varieties. The chocolate cream-less and mud pie fillings are crafted with coconut milk, while tofu is used to create the creamy center for the lemon meringue-less and pumpkin pies. Natural Decadence has also started making berry and apple pies that are sold fresh in the bakery section. raisedglutenfree.com



Premade pie shells take the hassle out of preparing a crust and allow the baker to concentrate on the most important part—the filling. If the pie shell is broken, you can put it back together. Just thaw it, dampen the crack with water, and pinch and press the dough with your fingers to seal the split. Now you’re ready to get creative with holiday-inspired fillings and bake up a semi-homemade masterpiece.

Kinnikinnick crust framedKinnikinnick Foods’ unbaked pie crusts come in packs of two and need only be thawed before you add the filling. Made without gluten, dairy or nuts, these standard pie crusts are sturdy and bake up light and flaky. kinnikinnick.com/index.cfm




Midel pie crust framedMi-Del Cookies is one of the only companies that produces gluten-free shelf-stable crusts, available in three flavors: chocolate snap, ginger snap and graham style. Sold individually, the flavor and texture combinations deliver a distinctive pie-baking experience. They do tend to be a bit crumbly, so tread lightly. midelcookies.com/products/gluten-free




Whole Foods crust framedWhole Foods’ pie shells come in two-packs and make pie baking a snap. Use the second shell to add a crispy, crusty pie top. After filling the first crust, remove the other one from the tin, roll it out and place it on top of the filled pie. Want to create a beautiful centerpiece for the holiday dessert table? Use a cookie cutter to put a couple of festive designs in the second crust to adorn the top of your pie.




Wholly Wholesome pie crust framed

The allergen-friendly pie shells from Wholly Wholesome are free of the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and soy) as well as corn. These ready-to-bake vegan pie shells are made with brown rice flour and offer a sturdier, less flaky base for fillings. whollywholesome.com







Pie crust mixes framed

Don’t want to go the premade crust route? Get out a bowl and mix up your own in minutes. Smash up graham crackers, ginger snaps and cookies, then combine with butter. You could also opt for an easy-to-use pie crust mix from manufacturers such as Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour and Pamela’s Products.


Whipped pie toppings framedTOP IT OFF

Once it’s ready, top your pie with a rice- or soy-based whipped topping such as truwhip, CocoWhip or Soyatoo. Adding a scoop of vegan or regular ice cream can also add to the pie’s texture and flavor.



Eyes on the (Gluten-Free) Pies

Enjoying gluten-free pie no longer requires you to start from scratch. Grocery store shelves and online retailers offer a selection of pre-made pies, pie crusts and crust mixes that will make your gluten-free baking easy as pie.


Slice it up

For those who don’t like or don’t have the time to bake, pick up a frozen pre-made pie. Simply thaw according to the instructions and serve.

Whole Foods’ fully baked apple and cherry pies are available year-round while pecan and pumpkin make their seasonal appearances in the fall and winter. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight to serve the next day. Once ready, heat them up and top with ice cream (dairy optional) for a classic à la mode experience.

Katz Gluten Free produces its 6-inch and 8-inch apple, blueberry, cherry and pumpkin pies in a gluten-, dairy- and nut-free environment. Loaded with fruit in a flaky crust, these pies taste just as good as the ones you remember from childhood without being overly sweet.

> katzglutenfree.com 

The Maine Pie Company has the most extensive selection of gluten-free pies on the market with 10 flavors to choose from, including chocolate, Threeberry, apple, lemon curd, peach-raspberry, pecan (seasonal), pumpkin (seasonal), wild blueberry, apple crumb and strawberry rhubarb. A wheat-based pie baker by trade, the company developed a gluten-free crust that is just as moist, flaky and buttery as its wheat-y counterpart. Made in a dedicated gluten-free bakery, the pies are full of fresh fruit, nothing artificial, and are almost too beautiful to eat with their crisscross tops.


Gillian’s Foods’ fruit pies in apple crisp, blueberry and pumpkin sit atop a crust made from brown rice flour and are produced in a gluten-, wheat-, tree nut- and peanut-free environment.


All Natural Decadence gluten-free pies are free of eggs, dairy and peanuts, and feature a homemade crust. In addition to its Humboldt Mud Pie on a double fudge cookie crust and pumpkin pie on a graham cracker crust, traditionally dairy-filled pies are reconfigured here, so anyone can enjoy the chocolate cream-less and lemon meringue-less varieties. The chocolate cream-less and mud pie fillings are crafted with coconut milk, while tofu is used to create the creamy center for the lemon meringue-less and pumpkin pies. Natural Decadence has also started making berry and apple pies that are sold fresh in the bakery section. >naturaldecadence.com/natural-decadence-pies 

The shell game

Pre-made pie shells take the hassle out of preparing a crust and allow the baker to concentrate on the most important part—the filling. If the pie shell is broken, you can put it back together. Just thaw it, dampen the crack with water, and pinch and press the dough with your fingers to seal the split. Now you’re ready to get creative with holiday-inspired fillings and bake up a semi-homemade masterpiece.

Kinnikinnick Foods’ unbaked pie crusts come in packs of two and need only be thawed before you add the filling. Made without gluten, dairy or nuts, these standard pie crusts are sturdy and bake up light and flaky.


Mi-Del Cookies is one of the only companies that produces gluten-free shelf-stable crusts, available in three flavors: chocolate snap, ginger snap and graham style. Sold individually, the flavor and texture combinations deliver a distinctive pie-baking experience. They do tend to be a bit crumbly, so tread lightly.


Whole Foods’ pie shells come in two-packs and make pie baking a snap. Use the second shell to add a crispy, crusty pie top. After filling the first crust, remove the other one from the tin, roll it out and place it on top of the filled pie. Want to create a beautiful centerpiece for the holiday dessert table? Use a cookie cutter to put a couple of festive designs in the second crust to adorn the top of your pie.

The allergen-friendly pie shells from Wholly Wholesome are free of the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and soy) as well as corn. These ready-to-bake vegan pie shells are made with brown rice flour and offer a sturdier, less flaky base for fillings.


Mix it up

Don’t want to go the pre-made crust route? Get out a bowl and mix up your own in minutes. Smash up graham crackers, ginger snaps and cookies, then combine with butter. You could also opt for an easy-to-use pie crust mix from manufacturers such as Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour and Pamela’s Products.

Top it off

Once it’s ready, top your pie with a rice- or soy-based whipped topping such as truwhip, CocoWhip or Soyatoo. Adding a scoop of vegan or regular ice cream can also add to the pie’s texture and flavor.

Chick-fil-A Tests Gluten-Free Bun

Gluten Free Bun 2

Chick-fil-A restaurants are not gluten-free environments, but they have offered several gluten-free options for some time. The grilled chicken and chicken nuggets are prepared separately from the fried chicken. The waffle fries are cooked in canola oil while the fried chicken is cooked in peanut oil. That’s right—the French fries are safe at a fast-food restaurant! Freshly prepared salads with or without chicken, freshly cut fruit cups and yogurt parfaits are also gluten free.

Because so many items are made from scratch, diners can easily customize their orders to exclude ingredients, such as cheese from a salad. The same is true when it comes to ordering ingredients separately from their wheat counterparts, like bacon or sausage sans the biscuit and hash browns prepared in a dedicated fryer.

All that had been missing from the menu is a gluten-free bun, but the wait for that item is finally over. Chick-fil-A has been testing a gluten-free bun since April 2016 in Washington, Idaho and Mississippi. The company says it decided to add it to the menu because customers should not have to sacrifice taste due to dietary limitations.

If the test markets go well, the bun will be rolled out nationwide, making Chick-fil-A one of the first fast-food restaurant chains in the United States to offer a gluten-free bun to its guests.


It took about three years and 30 bakeries before Chick-fil-A settled on its gluten-free bun supplier. Food safety and allergen certifications were required just to be considered for the test market. The bakery, whose name hasn’t been released, custom manufactured the bun to complement the grilled chicken breast, and it looks almost identical to its wheat-bun counterpart.

Independent, third-party testing was conducted to ensure the bun is free from cross-contamination and truly gluten free. The bun costs an additional $1.15 and is enriched with vitamins and minerals. While the ingredients haven’t been released yet, we have learned it is made from a blend of chia seeds, amaranth and quinoa, and is lightly sweetened with molasses and raisins.

The buns are freshly baked, individually wrapped and stored frozen. Once thawed, the bun is served sealed alongside the grilled chicken and condiments so the customer actually assembles the sandwich. Guests can request the bun be toasted, but there is only one shared toaster, leaving the bun subject to cross-contamination with wheat.


I had the chance to try the bun at a small test market here in Georgia. One of the largest foodservice buns I’ve ever seen, it’s soft right out of the package with a slightly sweet smell and hearty flavor. The bun holds up well to Chick-fil-A’s large grilled breast piled with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise without any crumbling or breaking.


While it is too soon to tell how the test markets are going because sales of the bun vary per day and per restaurant, the company is pleased with the results thus far. If the sales results of the test market and the feedback from customers are positive, Chick-fil-A will decide whether the bun is a good fit for the menu. If so, it will garner marketing support both inside and outside of the restaurant prior to its rollout. Chick-fil-A’s famous cows may soon be telling the audience to “eat more chikin” with a gluten-free bun.

Related articles

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Trend Spotting at Expo West

Expo West 2016 halls

Expo West, the largest natural products trade show in the United States, takes place annually at the Anaheim Convention Center, and 2016 marked its biggest year of growth yet, with 3,000 exhibiting companies (including more than 600 first-time exhibitors) and 77,000 attendees. The massive, sprawling event has grown so large it encompasses the entire convention center and has now spilled over into the adjacent Hilton and Marriott hotels.

The natural products industry is currently exploding with innovative products that emphasize sustainability, lifestyle, nutrition, transparency and convenience. Products that use simple ingredients, whole and sprouted grains, dye-free colors and flavors, and “natural” forms of ingredients (cane sugar or honey in place of refined sugar, etc.) were prevalent at the show, as was a continued move away from fillers, stabilizers and preservatives.

Walking the Expo West floors, you’ll see a mix of everything from small mom-and-pop startups to massive industry players such as Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour. Young companies use Expo West as a launching pad for their businesses while more established companies strive to keep up with ever-changing consumer demand.

The overall industry has seen a shift in consumer opinion in which food is judged not only on its flavor, but also as something that contributes directly to our health and well-being. Many consumers now look for organic products with short ingredient lists, and knowing the story behind each product’s creation is becoming very important to them.

Our favorite part of Expo West is that it provides a “sneak peek” of what to expect from the natural products industry. This year’s event introduced a number of interesting trends we saw repeatedly throughout the show.

dailya blue cheeze

One particularly hot trend was innovative vegan and gluten-free products. For the second year in a row, these products continue to expand and push boundaries in terms of taste and texture. Miyoko’s Kitchen introduced vegan butter made from coconut oil and cashews as well as a cashew-based “mozzarella” that puts regular milk-based cheeses to shame. Vegan dressings from Daiya Foods in blue “cheeze,” Caesar and ranch were exceptional in both flavor and dairy-like creaminess. Amy’s Kitchen, known for its vegetarian products, introduced a cheese and black bean enchilada meal made with plant-based vegan cheese.

Desserts made with a focus on healthful ingredients are on an upward trend. Standouts included Cookie Dough’s grab-and-go raw brownie dessert, which is made with whole grains and has the added benefit of being low glycemic. Enjoy Life Foods’ ProBurst Bites™ are protein-packed vegan truffles that are also free of the top eight allergens. Dark chocolate spreads from Freedom Foods, Pascha Chocolate and Nutiva offered a healthful, creamy spin on Nutella. Vegan premade frostings from Miss Jones Baking Co. and Wholesome were so unbelievably creamy they made us double-check the ingredient list.

Companies are looking beyond almonds to make nondairy milk products, using cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and even vegetables to create creamy milks. Notable entries from Nutraw Foods and NüMoo Foods (pistachio milk), Malk Organics (pecan milk), Milkadamia and Suncoast Gold (macadamia  nut milk), and Veggemo (pea protein milk) are blazing new nut- and plant-based trails.

HailMerryNuts also invaded the snack aisle in unique ways thanks to several companies that introduced nutrient-rich nut-based dips and spreads. Examples included a probiotic cashew spread from Leaf Cuisine, almond spreads from La Onda and a cashew hummus from Hail Merry.

Oats were another notable ingredient at the show. We saw protein-packed oat-based meals and sides from Grainful, while portable oatmeal cups were on hand from Modern Oats and Bob’s Red Mill. GF Harvest’s new GoPacks make office oatmeal a real possibility. They’re designed for use with a Keurig machine: Simply tear open the top, fill with hot water (4 ounces), stir and enjoy. These packs are six inches wide and 1 inch thick and fold flat for easy transportation.

Hilarys bites Expo West 2016Vegetable-based products were another hot trend at the show. Jica Chips, made from jicama, serve as a new alternative to potato chips. Packing that same satisfactory crunch, they contain more fiber than oatmeal, as much potassium as bananas and are also low glycemic. Belicious combines fruits, grains and veggies to create nutritional on-the-go pouches loaded with fiber and protein. Hilary’s Eat Well introduced new veggie bites—available in Mediterranean, broccoli casserole and spicy mesquite—provide quick, healthy snacks for busy individuals. Veggie Fries, which combine carrots, broccoli, chickpeas and beans, were another notable contender.

Probiotics had a huge showing at Expo West, showing up in everything from flavored waters to granola. “Gut health shots” from Farmhouse Culture and kimchi shots from Wildbrine put consumers in control to make gut health a priority. Eat Pops showcased a line of “good for you” fruit- and vegetable-based frozen popsicles that are designed to nourish the body and maintain gut health.

The natural products industry continues to surprise and inspire with its creative spirit to keep reaching higher.

Creamy Dreamy Treats

Not All Gluten-Free Oat Products Are Equal: Pure vs. Sorted Oats

The issue of oats being allowed on the gluten-free diet has long been a topic of conversation and controversy in the gluten-free community. In the 1990s, oats weren’t allowed on the diet because they were grown and processed with wheat and, therefore, could contain gluten. It wasn’t until 2008 that growers created the first line of “pure” gluten-free oats following a purity protocol. Now that companies are using sorted oats, consumers are faced with an important decision.

A purity protocol is a series of steps growers must follow if they want their oats to be considered “pure”—safe for those following a strict gluten-free diet. These steps ensure fields stay free of wheat and barley, and year-to-year crop rotation includes only gluten-free grains. Fields are inspected by the company and a third party during planting and prior to harvesting. Harvested seed is processed and packaged using a dedicated and certified gluten-free packaging line. The end product is tested using the R5 Eliza test (an industry standard) and must meet the FDA’s standard of containing less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

Gluten-Free OatsManufacturing is trying to automate the process by using machines to sort oat seeds by color, size and shape. These machines are expected to remove wheat and barley seeds from oat seeds during processing. But the sorted oats are processed and packaged on shared lines, one of the reasons the sorting process is controversial. The sorted oats aren’t grown or harvested in dedicated fields but with wheat-based grains. The sorting process isn’t believed to be 100% accurate, because it fails to remove any contaminating dust from the seeds.

Another twist: Gluten-free products containing oats can be labeled gluten free and certified by a third-party organization, but that doesn’t mean the oats were grown following a purity protocol. These oat-based products could contain sorted oats, because manufacturers are not obligated to disclose their oat suppliers.

Now that you know the difference between pure and mechanically separated oats, it is important to know which companies are using which type.  Freedom Foods, GF Harvest, Glutenfreeda, Gluten-Free Prairie, Nairn’s and Trader Joe’s use pure, gluten-free oats to ensure their products are safe from seed to shelf.

Bob’s Red Mill uses both types of oats, while Cheerios and Quaker Oats have opted to use sorted oats in part because supply can’t keep up with demand. These products are processed and packaged on shared lines but meet the under-20 ppm requirement. Still, many people don’t consider sorted oats as “gluten free” as pure oats, and some have reported becoming sick after eating them.

In the end, it is up to the consumer to make an informed decision based on the available research.

—Jennifer Harris

A Q&A Primer On Gluten-Free Bread

Bread 2   Bread 1

A decade ago gluten-free breads were made by only a few companies and consisted mainly of starchy and fiber-less ingredients. The bread had a reputation for being heavy and dry. Most loaves were not edible right out of the package and had to be toasted. Consumers usually discovered this fact on their own, after trial and error that was time consuming and costly.
Although packaged gluten-free bread has improved dramatically, it still doesn’t behave exactly like gluten-containing bread. Generally preservatives aren’t used, which explains why most gluten-free bread available in supermarkets is either frozen or vacuum packed. Here are answers to questions that often come up regarding gluten-free bread.
Q: Can it sit on the counter like wheat bread?
A: Generally gluten-free bread does not last on the counter and will quickly become moldy. Some bread makers are attempting to address this problem with newer products, but in most cases you need to take the slices you are planning to use from the loaf and freeze the rest. Most bread can be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months.
Q: Should it be stored in the refrigerator?
A: No, storing gluten-free bread in the refrigerator can lead to dry and stale bread.
Q: How do you get the slices apart?
A: Some gluten-free bread freezes hard, making it difficult to separate the slices. If you let the bread sit on the counter for a short time, though, you can usually get the slices apart. Return the rest of the bread to the freezer.


Q: Can you eat it from the bag?
A: Many gluten-free breads taste much better toasted. This is another issue bread companies are beginning to address. Kinnikinnick, Glutino and Schär all have products that either the company or consumers say don’t need to be toasted.


American Girl Bistros Embrace Gluten-Free Options


American Girl stores are synonymous with dolls and accessories created in perfect miniature, hair salon treatments and excited children trailed by exhausted parents or grandparents. But dining is also part of the experience, and the American Girl Bistro includes a variety of gluten-free options. Pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, fries, cake and more are available in gluten-free versions. Restaurant teams work individually with each guest to craft a meal that meets dietary needs. The bistros serve brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert.

American Girl bistros can also accommodate allergies to eggs and dairy and offer vegan and vegetarian meals. Joshua Engel, American Girl’s regional manager of restaurants, estimates American Girl bistros serve between 350 and 400 gluten-free meals per week across all 25 locations. More store openings are in the planning stages.

American Girl gets its gluten- and allergen-free products from companies including Gluten Free Nation, Udi’s Gluten Free and Rich’s.“The landscape of gluten-free products is constantly evolving, and we work with our distributors and manufacturers directly to be current on the trends,” says Engel.

When a gluten-free order is requested, a manager comes to the table to go over the guest’s needs before communicating the order directly to the kitchen. The chef, who puts on clean gloves, has been trained to use dedicated utensils, plates and cookware when preparing the meal. Items including French fries and chicken  fingers are baked to minimize the risk for cross contact.

Dessert, one of the best items on the menu, is always available for gluten-free
diners, and the bistros don’t just offer ice cream. For example gluten-free lemon
pound cake is available daily at the Alpharetta, Georgia, location.

After the shopping trip in the American Girl store, the bistro serves as an oasis,
offering children and their guests a spot to relax and refuel or celebrate a birthday or other special occasion. Visitors’ dolls get a prominent seat at the table, complete with a mini place setting. The menu, which rotates three to four times a year, offers tea service, starters, main course and desserts served in precious dishes, such as flower pots complete with plastic flowers each doll can hold.

Reservations are highly recommended, and reservation agents will inquire about
food allergies/intolerance while booking. The menu’s disclaimer reminds guests to inform their server if anyone in their party has a food allergy.

What Is Tigernut Flour?

What is tigernut flour
Tigernut Flour


If you’ve been on the gluten-free diet for any length of time you know there are all what is tigernut floutkinds of flour. Maybe you’ve even felt a little more flour sophisticated than your friends who automatically think wheat.

But tigernut flour is probably new, even to you.

This gluten-free, grain-free flour is considered a natural foods hot trend and is beginning to make its way onto store shelves around the country.

What is a tigernut? Well, it isn’t a nut, as the name might imply. It is a small root vegetable that grows in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. Tigernut flour is naturally gluten free and Paleo. And it offers those allergic to nuts an option for adding protein when baking and cooking.

High in fiber, iron, potassium, protein, magnesium, zinc and vitamins E and C, tiger nuts were the primary food of our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, according to a 2014 Oxford University study. One ounce of these crunchy root vegetables contains 40 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake.

Tigernuts contain natural sugar, healthy fats and have a high level of resistant starch, which reaches the colon intact. Resistant starch promotes prebiotic growth and supports a healthy immune and digestive track. It can also lower blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

Because tigernut flour is light and has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, it allows bakers to cut back on added sugar. It tends to work well in combination with other flours and starches such as coconut flour, almond flour, gluten-free oats and arrowroot or potato starch.

You can use it to add a sweet crunchy texture to baked goods such as  biscotti, cookies and pie crusts. Add Tigernut flour to brownies, pancakes, and pudding for a sweet protein punch. Its nutty flavor also works well when added to black bean or veggie burgers.

Tigernut flour is available at from companies that process it, such as Organic Gemini and Tigernuts.com. You can also buy it at Whole Foods and health foods stores or on Amazon.com.

The world of gluten-free flours continues to surprise consumers with its shift towards healthful and tasty options.

Jennifer Harris is a frequent contributor to Gluten-Free Living. She is gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

Something to Chew On: Gum-Free Flour Blends

Gluten-free flour blends have come a long way in the last decade.

Originally they consisted of a combination of flours from refined gluten-free grains and starches, and you had to add xanthan or guar gum to get an edible baked good. Recipe developers came up with charts to tell you how much gum to add. Too much and you’d have a rubbery mess. Too little led to a crumbly disaster.

Then, as packaged blends grew in number and variety, baking mix companies started to include the gum right in the mix to make gluten-free baking easier.

When a flour blend is made from certain types of gluten-free flours and starches, xanthan or guar gum is often used to build the structure that would usually be created in baked goods by the gluten in wheat flour.

Now more flour blends that don’t contain gums are being offered, driven by demand from those who want to avoid additives in their food and those who have sensitivities to xanthan gum in particular. Cookbooks and blogs devoted to gum-free, gluten-free baking are also becoming more common.

“If a recipe is well constructed, it doesn’t necessarily need gums to hold it together. Gum-free, gluten-free recipes can be just as wonderful as their gluten-loaded counterparts,” says Elizabeth Barbone, author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking and How to Cook Gluten-Free.

Nancy Cain, founder and co-owner of Against the Grain Gourmet, just published a cookbook filled with gum-free recipes. She says that in the food manufacturing world, there is a move toward clean labels.

“Consumers want to know what’s in their food and are seeking whole or minimally processed foods. Gums are industrial food additives used as binding and stabilizing agents to give structure to baked goods,” she says. “Gums have never been necessary because there are many natural ingredients that perform the same function. Fundamentally the way you use starches and proteins can give you all the structure you need naturally.”

Against the Grain products and recipes in the cookbook use a combination of tapioca starch and buckwheat.

Allergic Solution, which specializes in flour blends free of the top 10 allergens, created a gum-free flour blend in response to consumer requests. “More and more people were asking us to do a blend that did not require any gums because they were developing sensitivities to them, specifically xanthan gum,” says Tammie Sarra, company president.

Sarra relied on her chemistry background throughout the 18 months it took to develop Allergic Solutions blends.

“I first researched all the chemical properties of each of the flours I was experimenting with,” she explains. “I discovered the amount of gum used in most recipes is small, so you only need to have the flours you are using possess a small portion of their properties to mimic the structure created by gums.”

The flour blend Sarra settled on is made with fiber-rich sorghum and navy bean flours.

Steven Rice, founder and president of Authentic Foods, says understanding the properties of the fiber found in plants is the key to creating a gum-free flour blend is. “I was able to create a great-tasting flour combination that supplied its own natural structure,” he says. In addition to being free of binders and common allergens, Authentic Foods’ new gum-free flour has an improved nutritional profile and flavor, Rice says.

Even with some movement toward gum-free, gluten-free baking, the majority of packaged gluten-free mixes do contain xanthan or guar gum.


Here’s a list of companies that make gum-free flour blends.


Allergic Solution’s all-purpose mix contains sorghum flour, tapioca flour and navy bean flour. The mix is designed as a one-for-one substitute for wheat flour in recipes. It contains 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving.



Authentic Foods just released Steve’s GF Flour Blend, made with rice, tapioca and millet flours, plus a fiber blend. It has 5 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein per quarter cup. The company says the blend will create pliable dough instead of the more-typical batter-like consistency that results from gluten-free mixes.



Gluten Free Girl, founded by cookbook author and blogger Shauna Ahern and her husband, Chef Danny Ahern, has two new gum-free flour blends poised to hit the market: Grain-Free Flour Blend, made with almond and buckwheat flours and arrowroot starch, and All-Purpose Flour Blend, made with millet and sweet rice flours and potato starch. The all-purpose blend is 40 percent whole grain. The Aherns, who publish gluten-free recipes on their blog and have written two cookbooks, stopped using gums in their baking four years ago. Their new mixes will also be free of the top eight allergens.



Gluten Free Mama offers two all-purpose flours free of gums: Coconut Blend and Almond Blend. The Coconut Blend flour contains white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, coconut flour and sweet rice flour. The Almond Blend is made from white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch flour, almond meal flour and sweet rice flour. Both mixes average 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving and are designed to be used as a one-for-one substitute for wheat flour in recipes.



King Arthur Flour has two contenders: Whole Grain Flour Blend and Multi-Use Flour Blend. The whole-grain blend is made with sorghum, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff and tapioca flours with 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein per quarter cup. The multi-use flour contains rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, whole-grain brown rice flour, calcium carbonate, Vitamin B3, reduced iron, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B2. On its website, King Arthur says the company’s mixes do not contain gums to enable consumers to pick xanthan or guar gum in recipes rather than to promote gum-free baking. Still the mixes are good options for those looking for gum-free blends to use in recipes that use psyllium husk or other gum substitutes.



Miss Roben’s allergen-friendly mixes are back after a long hiatus. The company’s flour blend is made from white rice flour, potato and tapioca starches and contains 1 gram of protein per one-eighth cup. Package labeling details the absence of gums but notes that one may be needed with some recipes.



Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery’s flour mix contains brown rice flour, potato starch, white rice flour, tapioca starch and sweet rice flour, with more than 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per cup of mix. The mix was created by Ali Graeme, who runs the dedicated gluten-free bakery in Hinsdale, Illinois, and sells her baked goods in numerous locations in the Chicago area.



Trader Joe’s Baker Josef’s All Purpose Flour contains whole-grain brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour and tapioca flour, with 1 gram of protein per quarter cup.



Jennifer Harris, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1997, is a gluten-free consultant and product specialist. A gluten-free blogger, she also founded the Gluten-Free Go-To Guide, gfgotoguide.com. 


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Gluten Free in Nantucket

Nantucket is my favorite place to vacation. The cobblestone streets, spring-like weather in summer, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, homage to history and the laid back vibe make this an idyllic vacation spot.

You won’t find Starbucks or McDonalds on the island, which is how it sets itself apart from other tourist destinations. And the fact that it so accommodating to people on a gluten-free diet makes it jump right to the top of my list.

Dining gluten free in Nantucket is a breeze and offers many opportunities to eat fresh seafood (lobster all day), vegetables and produce. Local restaurants offer casual, family and fine dining, grab and go and catering, too. Gluten-free diners can find bread and buns, burritos, baked goods, pizza, pasta and macaroni & cheese on restaurant menus. A number of restaurants on Nantucket understand the importance of preventing cross contact and observe strict protocols.
Grocery shopping is easy because of the abundance of gluten-free products offered at local stores. The two Stop and Shops on the island have stepped up their game by offering entire sections of gluten-free products, both shelf stable and frozen.


Annye’s Whole Foods has a great selection of gluten-free products. If you give them a call before you arrive they will customize an order.

Bartlett’s Farm, a small store on the south wharf, offers farm-fresh produce and many gluten-free products.

Stop and Shop has a smaller store in town and a larger one a mile outside of town. The in-town location has a decent selection, but you’ll find more than twice the choices if you make the trip to the bigger store. Breads from Udi’s Gluten Free, Schar and Glutino and pretzels, pasta, cereal, cookies, cones, crackers, breadcrumbs, baking mixes, tortillas, pita bread and more line the shelves.

Where to go for breakfast

Black-Eyed Susan’s is an institution on Nantucket, which makes it one of the hardest places to get a table. This historic spot is quite small and features first-come-first-served counter and table seating. The menu offers traditional breakfast items such as cheese grits, sausage and eggs. Try the homemade corned beef hash topped with eggs-over-easy for a real treat.

The Green is hands down my favorite place to go for breakfast. Breakfast burritos are made with brown rice wraps and can be stuffed with eggs, zucchini, goat cheese, salsa and the list goes on. The restaurant offers a selection of sweet and savory baked goods that change daily. While I was there, gluten-free peanut

gluten-free dining
A burrito from The Green

butter chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped scones, herbed scones, coffee cake and sweet breads filled the display case. All the baked goods were exceptional.

Where to go for lunch

NIXS Brewpub has a selection of hot and cold sandwiches and burgers that can be served on gluten-free buns. Order a NIXS pork belly burger topped with Swiss cheese and a sunny side up egg or a lobster roll with citrus-chive mayo. The fries are made in a dedicated fryer, too.

Sea Grille’s lunch menu includes lobster rolls and lobster salad. Bring in your own bun (hot dog buns work the best) and assemble a lobster roll at the table. Since hot dog and hamburger rolls aren’t available in the grocery stores, this is one item you’ll want to bring from home.

Something Natural is ‘the’ place to go on the island for sandwiches. While the restaurant doesn’t offer gluten-free bread, customers are encouraged to bring their own and prepare sandwiches on a separate tray with dedicated utensils and ingredients. Get there before the lunch rush to dine outside at picnic tables among the trees and flowers.

Where to go for dinner

American Seasons offers a fine dining experience with imaginative dishes. We started with the Terrine of rabbit and foie gras with yellow tomato jam and radish salad. It is important to me to eat as much lobster as possible when on the island,

gluten-free dinining
A lobster salad from American Seasons

so the salad of lobster, poached asparagus, herbs, avocado and lobster vinaigrette served as dinner. The salad was surprisingly light and rich with the avocado adding an unexpected creamy texture to contrast the crunch of the veggies.

B-ack Yard BBQ is a top notch barbeque restaurant offering a full menu of smoked meats, sides and sandwiches. All but a few items on the menu are gluten free with highlights including gluten-free buns for sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and fries. Wash it all down with a cold glass of cider.

Millie’s is one of the newer restaurants on the west side of the island offering a menu full of Mexican cuisine with seafood influences. Tacos are served on corn tortillas and quesadillas can be, too. The salads are layered with fresh seafood, bright vegetables and other flavorful ingredients. The Gibbs Pond salad has mixed greens, roasted tomato and corn salad, fingerling potatoes and a ton of lobster all dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette. The mix of textures and flavors combine for the perfect bite. Time it just right and you have the perfect view to watch the sun set.

Slip 14, located right on the wharf, offers diners a mix of seafood and meat. One of the hostesses follows a gluten-free diet and she readily pointed out safe dishes. The night we were there the restaurant featured a generous portion of local fluke over greens and sweet corn puree. The fluke was cooked two ways, crunchy and traditional, adding an unexpected texture to the dish.
The Nantucket Lobster Trap is a great casual place to get reasonably priced and delicious boiled lobster, clams, oysters and sides. Sit down, strap on a bib, decide how many pounds of lobster to order and indulge. All the sides are all gluten free except the fries, and cider is available.

Where to go for dessert

Restaurants offer a selection of gluten-free desserts, but the best and most popular place to get dessert is at The Juice Bar in town.

The Juice Bar is a funny name for this must-visit spot known for its homemade ice cream.
Yes, juices and smoothies are available, but it is the ice cream that has customers lined down the block and around the corner. Visit The Juice Bar during the day and there is no wait, but come after dinner and you could be standing in line anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll have to bring your own gluten-free cone if you don’t want the ice cream in a cup, but you can buy a box of cones at Stop and Shop. Ask your server to change gloves prior to making your order. The ice cream is rich, flavorful, and definitely worth the wait and the calories.

Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.


Jennifer Harris from Gluten Free Go-To Guide Says the Restaurant Industry Has Come a Long Way

expo-westEvery Tuesday and Wednesday during the month of May, we’ll be hosting a gluten-free guest blogger from around the web in honor of Celiac Awareness Month. Today we’re pleased to welcome Jennifer Harris from Gluten Free Go-To Guide, who celebrates how far the restaurant industry has come since her diagnosis in 1997.

This year I celebrated the 18th anniversary of my celiac disease diagnosis. I am thankful to be a fully functioning human being who works year-round to advocate for those following a gluten-free diet. It took hard work and copious amounts of research to follow a gluten-free diet in 1997, so it is more than satisfying to see the increase of gluten-free options in stores and online.

In the last few years, I have noticed an increase in restaurants embracing the gluten-free diet and working to provide options that remain safe from start to finish. This process now takes cross contact and ingredient sourcing into consideration.  The restaurant industry realizes that the gluten-free diet, while some treat it like a fad diet, is the only treatment for those diagnosed with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Restaurants are taking the time and spending money to work with consultants and/or third party agencies for menu and ingredient reviews and to develop safe handling procedures.

Unlike when I was diagnosed in 1997, gluten-free options are now marked on menus, or a separate menu exists to make ordering easier. Restaurants are training their staff to know all of the ingredients in a dish and how it is prepared.  We no longer have to wait to speak with the chef prior to ordering for fear that our dietary needs will be lost in translation. Gluten-free food isn’t available only at sit down restaurants, now it can be delivered, purchased through a drive through and from food trucks.

Chefs don’t see us as a nuisance; rather they accept the challenge to provide a higher level of quality. Gone are the days of being limited to salads, vegetables, and potatoes because restaurants are filling their menus with gluten-free substitutes for pasta, bread and buns, pizza, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, fried foods like chips for nachos, fried chicken, and French fries are made in dedicated fryers, and real desserts (not crème bruele and ice cream) are becoming more common. Restaurants feel a sense of pride at being able to safely serve gluten-free diners and they strive to add even more selections.

We can now enjoy a complete dining experience with appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees options proudly featured in each category.  Gluten-free beer, gluten-removed beer, and cider can be found on bar menus by the bottle and on tap.

The best news is the rise in dedicated gluten-free bakeries, cafes, and restaurants as more people are getting diagnosed and demand is on the rise. Communities are coming together to support and not shun those following a gluten-free diet.

Thank you to all restaurants making dining a fun and anxiety-free experience. Keep up the good work and know that if you take the time to build it, the gluten-free community will come out and support it!

Note: The views, opinions and positions expressed by our Celiac Awareness Month guest posters are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Gluten-Free Living or its staff.


Don’t forget about our special month-long subscription offer, where you can receive a one-year subscription to Gluten-Free Living for just $20 — $5 of which will be donated to support celiac research. You’ll also be entered to win a 10-piece cookware set with bonus tools from Swiss Diamond. Subscribe today.

Save Other Gluten-Free Diners a Headache by Helping Restaurants Get Things Right

Illustration by Daniel Vasconcellos, vasky.com.

Since being diagnosed with celiac disease 17 years ago, I eat out more now than I ever have, and I wouldn’t dream of letting my dietary restriction get in the way.

Of course, only a handful of restaurants have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, so cross-contact is a real possibility. This can be true even if the restaurant has been through gluten-free training because of the high turnover rate in the restaurant industry.

Restaurants don’t set out to intentionally contaminate food, but do they really know what they are doing when they are preparing a gluten-free meal?

If you eat out, it’s likely you will eventually run into cross-contact even if you’ve done your research in advance and asked all of the right questions at the table.

What now?

Your reaction might be to vow never to eat at the restaurant again and to spread the word to help prevent others who are gluten free from having a similar problem. But a better, more productive alternative is to turn this negative experience into a positive one. By doing so, you could save others from suffering the same consequences and enable the restaurant to better serve its gluten-free customers.

Here are some steps you can take.

Contact the restaurant

Reporting the incident is the first step, and it is a powerful one. Too many times, someone who has had a bad experience decides to boycott the restaurant and doesn’t report the incident. Restaurants need to know about the problem so they can review their procedures, find the error and take steps to prevent it from happening again. If you don’t tell them, then they might think everything is fine and never know they are unintentionally making people ill.

Determine what happened

Not every restaurant fully understands what it means to offer a gluten-free meal, so ask the staff to walk you through the preparation, including all ingredients, utensils and surfaces used, to determine where something went wrong. This includes condiments, sauces, grill sprays, oil and butter, too.

Propose a course of action

After you have learned what happened, work with management to prevent this situation from occurring again by suggesting a course of action. If you find the restaurant used shared butter to sauté vegetables, then explain to them why that isn’t safe, etc.

Suggest the restaurant seek further help

If the restaurant is dedicated to providing safe gluten-free meals but needs help beyond your scope, then suggest it reach out to a gluten-free consultant who can get to the core of the problem who can quickly get. A consultant can also help the restaurant implement safe handling procedures to prevent the error from happening again. Several celiac disease advocacy groups also have programs that can help.

Follow up

A few weeks later, touch base with the restaurant to see how it has resolved the situation and consider giving the restaurant a second chance. This is obviously a hard step to take but one that will instill a sense of confidence that the restaurant’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed or unsupported.

Promote their efforts

If you go return and everything goes well, consider showing the restaurant some love by recommending it to your friends and family. Highlight the restaurant’s gluten-free cuisine and be sure to point out your favorites.

Report the incident to the gluten-free community

If all else fails and the restaurant is unwilling to address the issue or make changes to their procedures, then spread the word. A little properly placed word of mouth can have a negative impact on a restaurant’s reputation in the gluten-free community, so please only do this if you can’t gain any headway with the restaurant.

It all boils down to respecting the restaurant’s limitations when it comes to handling food intolerances. If the restaurant is hesitant to meet your needs due to the limitations of its kitchen or staff, then accept it and go somewhere else to eat.

Of course, it takes a lot more effort to work to improve a restaurant’s gluten-free approach than walking out. But it may be worth it when you and others have one more place to go that meets your needs.


Jennifer D. Harris is an Atlanta-based gluten-free consultant and product specialist. After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 1997, she began educating businesses and consumers about the gluten-free lifestyle. In addition to reviewing gluten-free products, Harris founded the Gluten-Free Go-To Guide, gfgotoguide.com, to help equip businesses to meet the needs of gluten-free consumers.