Chips – the savior carbohydrate for some people embarking on a gluten free diet.  They aren’t made with wheat flour … or are they?

Most chips are made with corn or potatoes – all with different sorts of flavors such as nacho cheese, ranch style, sea salt, Maui sweet onion, etc.

A little bit of my food sensitivity history here, when I found out I was gluten intolerant, I also found out 13 other foods that I was highly sensitive to – two of them being potatoes and corn.  Corn was by far the 2nd worst after gluten so I also gave up eating corn.  Every time I ate corn, I felt nauseous.  So corn tortilla chips were out for me.  Potatoes I had also given up (except on rare occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas or the occasional time when I see my husband eating them and they just look so good – still not very often).

Well, one night, my husband and I were watching TV and he grabbed some of the Maui sweet onion potato chips.  I thought, well, I’ll just have a couple because they are just so good.  I thought they were safe from gluten being that they were just potato chips, right?  Wrong!  And boy was I wrong!  Looking at the ingredients list I discovered that they contained wheat flour!  What the heck is wheat flour doing in potato chips?!?  I mean, really.  Wheat is in so many things – and also in places it shouldn’t be.

Sweet potato fries saved me when I first went gluten free.  They are very tasty and are also very healthy for you.  But they are very plain.

Good news!  Recently I’ve discovered some chips that are both gluten free and corn free!  Yay for me!  These chips are manufactured by a company called, Beanfield’s.  They are made from black beans and they are delicious!  They come in five different flavors and are also vegan (in case some of you wondered about that).  Even my husband likes them!  My favorite flavor is the salt and pepper chips – very yummy!  So enjoy gluten free chips that are really good for you!


Christmas – a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate the birth of Christ.  It’s also time to hold up certain traditions like decorating a Christmas tree, putting up Christmas lights on the house, and baking Christmas cookies.  For the people that have to avoid gluten, whether they are celiac or gluten intolerant, it’s a fearful time when visiting family and friends.   And it could possibly be scary at home too.

It’s the time of year that I make my traditional Christmas cookies.  I have experimented with different sugar cookie recipes and have come up with a pretty good recipe.  I’ve included it at the end of the blog.  It’s basically a modified sugar cookie recipe using white rice flour and some other ingredients.  I make my own royal icing, tinting it with food coloring to decorate my cookies.  I also use cake-mate frosting in a tube for some of the decorations.

So this year, when I went to the store to get more Cake-Mate frosting in a tube, I discovered that they were out of it so I bought Wilton’s white frosting in the tube instead.  As I was decorating the cookies, I just so happened to check the ingredients list on the tube.  And to my surprise I saw wheat starch on the list.  And it didn’t even state anywhere on the tube that the product contained wheat.  It does say, however, that it was made in a facility that processes egg products, but no wheat.

Just goes to show you that even though your friends or family say that the things they specifically make for you are gluten free, you have to check the labels on everything yourself and ask about every single ingredient.

Enjoy the recipe!


Gluten Free Christmas Sugar Cookies

3 C white rice flour (Bob’s Red Mill) (gluten free)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar (gluten free)

3 teaspoons xanthan gum (Bob’s Red Mill) (gluten free)

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 C butter (room temperature but not melted)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (gluten free)

1 C sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Once this is mixed well, add the butter and mix together until ingredients become crumbly.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg, vanilla, and sugar – use a whisk to combine.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients.  Mix it all until it recedes from the sides.  Split the dough into two equal sections.  Shape each section of dough by making it a circle that is flat, then let set in the refrigerator for about an hour.

After you let the dough set in the refrigerator for an hour, put the dough on freezer paper that has gluten free flour sprinkled on it.  Or, if you choose, you can substitute the flour for powered sugar to give it an even better taste.  Roll out to ¼ inch thickness then use a cookie cutter and cut out approximately 20 cookies.

Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven when done and cool on a rack.  Repeat with the second circle of dough.

Serving size – approximately 40 cookies

Turkey, stuffing, pie

Thanksgiving – the traditional dinner that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked yams, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce.  And we can’t forget those pies – pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, etc.  They are all definitely described as comfort food.  But will it leave you comfortable or not?

Everyone knows that gravy is made with flour to thicken it – usually wheat flour of some sort.  So that’s an easy one to skip or make your own gravy with gluten-free flour.  Mashed potatoes are pretty safe too if you make them from scratch.  Homemade cranberry sauce is safe.  The stuffing is usually made with bread, so unless you make your own stuffing from scratch or purchase a packaged stuffing mix that is gluten-free, you’ll have to skip that too.  You would think that the turkey would be safe, right?  Well, don’t eat that turkey just yet.   I’ve heard about food providers injecting their turkeys with broth and other “natural” ingredients.  These turkeys are pre-basted with broth, water, flavor enhancers and natural flavors.  This always raises a red flag with me because some of these ingredients may contain gluten.  So unless your turkey says that it’s gluten free right on the label or you can identify all of the ingredients and know for sure that they don’t contain gluten, you can’t be safe.

Here’s a website that lists a lot of different turkey companies such as Butterball, Foster Farms, Jennie-O, etc., and their turkey’s gluten status.

And, remember, any turkey that is stuffed is not gluten free either!

Now, on to those pies!  Of course, all pies that are made with wheat flour in the crust are off limits.  If you really want pie, I would suggest either making your own or buying a gluten free pie at your local Whole Foods Grocery store or any other store that sells gluten free items.  I’ve had pumpkin pie made with brown rice flour before and it’s actually quite yummy.  And with whipped cream, who can go wrong?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Shelley on September 17th, 2012

I was diagnosed with an extreme sensitivity or intolerance to gluten but was never tested for celiac.  I immediately eliminated gluten from my diet.  My path leading up to the test for gluten sensitivity was not one of the typical sickness and malaise some people experience but more along the lines of inflammation markers that were flagged in my blood tests.  One of the markers was the HS-CRP or High-sensitive Cardio reactive protein test.  It had been elevated several years ago (I’m still pretty young for this to come back elevated) so I thought to myself that the results must not be true.  HS-CRP indicates inflammation in the body.  My regular physician at the time even said not to worry about the elevated number.  The next year I had it tested again and had gone up.  Then I also was experiencing some other weird pains and finally got some tests run that would show nutritional value of my system.  It turned out that, although I ate very fresh, clean, and healthy foods, my test results indicated malnutrition.  I thought to myself – how could that be?  I haven’t eaten any processed foods since my early 20’s.  I was eating whole grains, fresh foods, all of the healthy foods you would think of.  And then the doctor tells me that I was not absorbing all of those nutrients?  Wow!  It was then that my doctor suggested food allergy testing.  I was tested for 15 common food items (beef, chicken, oranges, bananas, almonds, soy, wheat, rice, tomato, egg, cow dairy, yeast, potato, oats, and corn).  I was absolutely shocked when the test results showed that I was sensitive to 14 of the 15 food items.  And of those 14, I was extremely sensitive to 7 of them.  Corn, cow dairy, and wheat were among the worst.  So after I had eliminated wheat and gluten from my diet (it’s been a few years now), I was wondering, does it really matter if I never got tested for celiac?  I have completely eliminated gluten from my diet and am very careful about cross contamination.  Your thoughts?  Oh, and by the way, the next time I was tested for HS-CRP, it was down to normal!

Shelley on July 14th, 2012

A different take on providing gluten free food suggestions to friends that are having a party with a guest who has celiac …

So I have a friend who was throwing a party and it turns out that one of his friends has celiac.  He asked me for some suggestions on some of my favorite gluten free side dishes.  I thought, oh boy, I need to be very careful here, remembering that I would need to either be very specific on the ingredients or just tell him to provide something like fresh fruit.

Anyway, I started off letting my friend know not to be surprised if his friend, the one with celiac, brings his own food to the party.  I also advised him not to be surprised if his friend asks him about the specific ingredients used in the food provided at the party.   I also advised him not to use any packaged mixes like salad dressings, etc., just to be on the safe side.

I recalled the times when I would arrive at a party – what can I eat?  I usually would eat something prior to the party or bring a side dish that I could eat.  Some of my friends might say, “I made you something that’s gluten free.”  Not that they don’t have good intentions but I usually would ask about the ingredients just in case they weren’t as diligent about those hidden gluten items as I am.  Plus, I don’t expect my friends to be an expert of everything gluten.

Back to my friend who has a friend with celiac – I went ahead and sent him a recipe for a fabulous quinoa salad with mango and curry and also suggested making a guacamole from scratch.  He asked me about dessert – well, that’s a different story.  I don’t really eat a lot of desserts so I suggested fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) with fresh whipped cream – he liked that idea.

So even though I’m really careful about the food choices I make, offering suggestions to a friend with a friend with celiac was still a little scary for me.

Shelley on May 27th, 2012

Who would have thought?  More on hidden ingredients …

So yesterday my husband and I were thinking about dinner and what we were going to make.  I said, “Let’s make enchiladas with that chicken we cooked up last night.  And can we use the green enchilada sauce like we did last time instead of using the red enchilada sauce?”  He agreed and off to the store to get my gluten free brown rice tortillas and some green enchilada sauce.  I couldn’t remember the brand I had purchased the last time so we picked up some other brand.

Once we got home, my husband (the ones who cooks most of the dinners around here) starting prepping for the construction of the enchiladas.  He started with mine (because he decided to prepare his with corn tortillas and I can’t eat corn either!)  So the assembly line starts – he puts a little brown fry on the brown rice tortillas, spreads some enchilada sauce on them, puts in the chicken, cheese, cilantro and rolls them up.  He is making a couple extra for me so that I can have an enchilada for lunch a couple of days at work – so sweet.  I place each of the extra enchiladas in their own freezer bag, label each as g-f enchiladas along with the calorie count (400 each) and place them in the freezer.

I don’t know why I did what I did next but I picked up the can of green enchilada sauce and checked the ingredients.  OMG!  It had MSG in it!  I know, you’re saying to yourself, “That’s not an issue – it doesn’t contain gluten!”  And you’re right but I try to stay away from MSG anyway.  Then I looked further down the label and it said “Contains soy and wheat.”  Who would have thought that a green chile sauce would contain wheat?!?  Now we can panic – although not too much because I haven’t eaten any yet – phew!  But I still felt kind of bad – in the sense that my husband has just prepared all of these enchiladas and I can’t eat any of them.  Well, I said to him, “Now you have some lunches already prepared!”  And I pull the enchiladas out of the freezer, scribble out the “g-f” that I had written on the bags, and replace them in the freezer.  Oh, and the offensive enchilada sauce?  It was Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce.  And what, you may ask was the offensive ingredient??  It was “Modified Food Starch.”  From the research I’ve done on and a few other searches usually modified food starch is OK for gluten intolerance because it is usually made from corn and most of the product made in the U.S. is made from corn unless it states on the can that it contains wheat – like this can does.

Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce back label

Well, I still wanted green chili enchilada sauce so off to Whole Foods Market for some more chicken, cheese, and green Chile enchilada sauce.  We looked at a different brand, Hatch, and it contained wheat also.  Then we spotted the Rick Bayless green Chile sauce in a pouch on the very top shelf.  Ahhh, no wheat – and what also was nice to see was a short list of ingredients.  We bought it.

Fast forward to eating – wow, this tastes great!  I’m so glad I read that label!  It really does pay to scrutinize those labels.  But now I’m nervous about eating at friends houses again.  But that’s another blog for another day.

Shelley on April 24th, 2012

So I went to a restaurant last week with a friend and ordered a Caesar salad with chicken.  I advised them that I was gluten intolerant so no croutons.  I also asked if the chicken was marinated in anything and they told me that it was just plain chicken cooked on the grill.  So far so good.

Then they came back and said that they were cooking me a new piece of chicken because it had some Italian dressing on it.  I asked why they felt that the Italian dressing was suspect and they told me that it contained yeast extract.  I thought to myself, I don’t think yeast extract contains gluten but I had that hint of doubt so I let them cook me a new piece of chicken.  Again, ok so far I guess.

Then they came back out again to tell me something.  Now, remember, I ordered a chicken Caesar salad.  They came out to tell me that, just to be safe, and out of a concern for my health, they will not be serving me my Caesar salad with Caesar dressing because it too contained yeast extract.  Now the Caesar salad is something I’ve had many, many times.  I’ve even looked into the ingredients of a lot of Caesar dressings like Marzetti’s Original Caesar dressing as well as their light version and their website indicates that they are gluten free.   Just as a side note, all of their dressings listed are gluten free except the Asian Sesame dressing.  And, additionally, the light Caesar dressing does contain yeast extract in the ingredients.

I still was thinking that yeast extract was ok but I couldn’t remember for sure.  They offered me some balsamic vinegar and olive oil as a safe substitute for the Caesar dressing.

They also asked if I could eat dairy and I said that I could.  But the salad came out (after quite a bit of time) looking a bit lacking.  It turns out it was just a whole bunch of lettuce and 4 tiny strips of plain chicken breast – no cheese.  I wanted to eat and I didn’t want to bother with the elusive waitress so I went ahead and put some balsamic vinegar and olive oil on it and proceeded to eat it without the cheese.

Needless to say I was a bit disappointed with the salad.  But as soon as I got home I looked up yeast extract to see what the story was there.  Someone must have told the management staff that yeast extract contained gluten, right?  Well, according to the website, yeast was on the OK list – no mention of yeast extract though so on with my search.  When I searched for yeast extract to see if it was gluten free, the moderator of the website,, said that both yeast and yeast extract were gluten free.

It also states that autolyzed yeast extract is also gluten free.

I guess in this instance I was better off eliminating it because I wasn’t 100% certain but it just goes to show you that you really have to be a detective with some food items and ingredients.  When I go back to the restaurant I will bring this to their attention.  I missed you, Caesar salad!  I think I’ll have one tonight!

Shelley on April 3rd, 2012

Pancakes for breakfast

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day.  While certainly some breakfasts are healthier than others, sometimes you, your spouse, the kids, guests will want pancakes.  Who doesn’t like pancakes?!  Those steaming stacks of fluffy pancakes with butter, syrup, or whatever your favorite topping may be.  But when you are gluten free, it may seem a bit difficult to think of what flour to use when making gluten free pancakes.  Will they taste the same?  Well, I’ve experimented with a few different flours and have come up with the best, in my opinion but, more importantly, in my husband’s opinion.  And he’s not even gluten free!

I started my gluten-free pancake quest by using a buttermilk recipe for buckwheat pancakes.  Buckwheat flour – despite the common name and the grain-like use of the crop, buckwheat is not a cereal or grass. The grain is called a pseudocereal to emphasize that the plant is not related to wheat and it’s completely gluten free.  And who hasn’t heard of the famous buckwheat pancakes?  Yummy, right?  Well, I made them and, while they turned out to be edible, something just didn’t taste quite right.  I was also using buttermilk in the mix but I didn’t think that was the reason for the off-taste.  So I tried some of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour.  Nope, not quite right either.  Just didn’t have the right taste or texture.

Then I thought I would try some of the gluten free oat flour I had ordered online from Montana Monster Munchies.  While I was mixing up the ingredients, the batter was getting fluffy – a good sign.  Next, I tried a test pancake.  After it was cooked to the golden brown I prefer, I put some butter on it and popped it in my mouth.  Wow!  Fluffy and very tasty.  I made a stack for my husband and got the same reaction from him.  We have found the perfect pancake recipe and I’ve included it below – it calls for sugar but I leave it out because it doesn’t need it.  Yields about 7 pancakes so double it up for more!


1 C gluten free oat flour

1 ¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1 C buttermilk

1 large egg

Vegetable oil for griddle

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened (there may be lumps).  Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle.

Heat the griddle or a large skillet over medium heat (or set an electric griddle to 375 degrees) until drops of water briefly dance on the surface before evaporating.  Lightly oil the griddle.  Spoon batter in griddle for each pancake spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Let cook undisturbed until bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look dry.  Check underside of each pancake to make sure it’s nicely browned, then flip.  Cook until the second side is nicely browned.  Serve hot with butter and either maple syrup or agave.

Cooked pancakes will keep, sealed in freezer bags, for up to 2 days in the refrigerator and up to 1 month in the freezer.  I sometimes take the frozen pancakes to work and heat them up in the microwave with butter.  Enjoy!

When I first embarked on my gluten free diet, I was already used to reading food labels, but I was always scanning for healthy ingredients, not necessarily for hidden or masked items.  Nor was I trying to determine if what was listed on the label was something I had to question as to its truthfulness.  I believed the label – if it stated that it didn’t have GMO’s or was MSG-free, I believed them.  Also, if I see a label now that states that it’s gluten free, then I believe it as well.  Well, there’s been evidence that some companies have stated that their products are gluten free when they really weren’t.

In late 2008, an investigation revealed that certain gluten free products manufactured by Wellshire Farms (and specifically marketed to children) were mislabeled.  A couple of children even developed anaphylaxis after they ate the mislabeled food and required hospitalization.  Additionally, many children with celiac disease were sickened.  So can we trust the labels when they say that they are gluten free?

Currently in the United States, there is no definition for the use of the term “gluten-free” with regard to food labeling.  It comes down to how many parts per million of gluten can reside in a food product.  The FDA regulation to define “gluten-free” for volunteer labeling of foods is expected to be published in the third quarter of 2012.  Still haven’t heard the latest on this one.  The regulation states that a food product with less than 20 parts per million (ppm) can be labeled as gluten-free.  The proposal, which can be found here,

states that a gluten-free label would mean a food does not contain:

  • Any ingredient that is a prohibited grain, such as wheat, rye, barley, or their derivatives.
  • Any ingredient derived from a prohibited grain that has not been processed to remove gluten, such as barley malt extract or malt vinegar.
  • Any ingredient derived from a prohibited grain that has been processed to remove gluten if 20 ppm or more gluten remains in the food, such as wheat starch or modified food starch.
  • 20 ppm or more of gluten.

Many celiac organizations generally agree that 20 ppm is a safe threshold for people with celiac disease; many countries have adopted gluten-free standards at or below 20 ppm.

The bottom line is you need to keep reading the labels.  Keep looking for items that you aren’t sure of and contact the company before you eat their product.  Ask the company in question about how they prevent cross contamination.  Ask them if they process their food in dedicated gluten-free facilities.  It still takes a lot of diligence but hopefully there will be a time when there’s accountability behind every gluten free claim.


Here’s my take on this controversial topic.

Let’s get one thing straight – if you have celiac disease or have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, you absolutely need to eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet.  This means ALL gluten – even the hidden gluten.  But there are some people that do not have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease but think that by eliminating gluten they will lose weight.  There’s a lot of controversy around this notion.  Let’s examine some of the differing opinions.

There are, of course, some people that absolutely do lose weight by eliminating gluten.  But why do they?  Is it because they are actually eating fewer calories than before?  This is definitely true in some cases, mine for one.  When I cut out gluten from my diet, I drastically cut down on how much bread and flour tortillas I used to eat, thereby cutting down calories.  But could the reduction in calories also be because my body was now able to absorb the appropriate nutrients from the food I was eating and therefore I wasn’t as hungry as I had been before?  I do remember before always feeling hungry and after I went gluten free, I didn’t have that “starving” feeling anymore.  So I lost weight.  But what was the real reason?  I think there is more research to be done in this area.

So on the one hand, eating fewer calories certainly will help in weight loss.  For me, this occurred because I wasn’t eating near the amount of bread that I used to.  You know the story – you go out to a restaurant and what do they bring you to eat first?  That’s right, bread.  And usually it’s the really fresh, steaming hot sourdough French bread.  And you can’t just have one piece of that!  And with the butter, yum!  So that was out.  I used to also eat turkey sandwiches on a regular basis as well as toast with breakfast.  And, of course it would be the whole wheat kind for good health.  And who could forget flour tortillas?  I used to eat those too.  Quesadillas, burritos (both breakfast burritos and regular burritos), etc., were a favorite.  So as you can see, by cutting out all that would bring the calories down.  One thing to note though, I didn’t substitute with gluten free breads and brown rice tortillas – I just cut them out.

On the other hand, if you go gluten free and substitute what you used to eat with the gluten free options, you will still be eating a lot of calories.  “Some people who go gluten-free seek out specialized baked goods, crackers and other products to replace the ones containing gluten. Although fine in moderation, these foods contain significant calories. In fact, some gluten free products are even more calorie-dense than their counterparts with gluten because of added sugars and the presence of white rice flour and potato starch. “Gluten-free” on the label does not mean a product is low calorie or healthful.” Read more:

“Although significant, unexplained weight loss is often a symptom of celiac disease–some who are intolerant of gluten actually suffer from bloating, stomach distension and weight gain. These individuals usually do see a decrease in these symptoms when eating a gluten-free diet and may automatically lose weight. A gluten-free diet that eliminates refined flour and simple sugars–such as those found in packaged cookies and snacks–will improve health and help with weight loss. Many people report feeling better and more energized after giving up gluten.”  Read more:

So if you are a person who loves to eat breads and desserts but want to try going gluten free to lose weight and are not celiac or gluten intolerant, you may have to watch those calories.  Or maybe you should get checked to see if you are gluten intolerant.