Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: IRON

One of the most common symptoms of Celiac Disease is low iron or even anemia (dangerously low iron deficiency). This is caused by the mal-absorption of nutrients in the lower digestive tract of those with CD. And even once you are diagnosed and healthy again, you still may not be getting adequate levels of iron. This is partially due to the fact that the general public often receives daily doses of iron through wheat-based prepared foods (cereals, breads, pastas) that are enhanced with vitamins and minerals. Most gluten-free products are not enriched with vitamins and minerals.

So make sure your iron levels are tested, especially women who are even more susceptible to low iron. If you do have borderline low iron, you may choose to take iron supplements (if anemic you almost certainly have to take manufactured iron). But if you find iron capsules rough on your system (as many people do) bulk up on iron-rich foods:

"Iron is not automatically absorbed by the body and its availability depends on whether the iron is found in the form of HEME or NON-HEME iron. HEME iron is found only in meat, fish and poultry and is absorbed much more easily than NON-HEME iron, which is found mostly in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and grain products.

HEME FOODS include: Liver, Beef, Chicken, Shrimp, Cod, Flounder, Pork, Salmon, Tuna, and Turkey

NON-HEME FOODS include: Almonds, apricots, baked beans, broccoli, dates, kidney beans, lima beans, chick peas, seaweed, peas, prune juice, raisins, rice, and cooked spinach

Increase iron absorption from non-heme foods:
1. Eat a good source of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) such as oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries with a Non-Heme food.
2. Eat a Heme Food with a Non-Heme food.
3. Cook Non-Heme foods in iron pots, such as a cast iron skillet. "

(Source: “Anemic? Increase Your Intake of Iron-Rich Foods” by Paula Upton, May 31, 2007)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: BEST Restaurant Guide

Many excellent gluten-free restaurant guides exist online, but I recently discovered a web source I like in particular:
Not only do they thoroughly cover the US but this website also offers an international list of dining venues. In fact, their entire website is very current with Upcoming GF Events as well as a well-stocked GF Bookstore. The format is basic but well thought-out and they are more than willing to answer your questions!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: GF Food on iTunes!

Clan Thompson - an excellent online CD resource - has a new 2009 gluten-free food SmartList available to download to your iPhone through iTunes! If you own an iPhone it's such a handy way to access a full, current, accurate GF list whenever you're out grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant. Go to the iTunes store and search "Celiac SmartList," or you can access the link directly from Clan Thompson's website ( under "software". According to Clan Thompson, "The new SmartList contains verified gluten info on approximately 18,983 products, including products for celiac vegetarians." Many other downloads also available!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: KISSING

If you’re dating someone who eats gluten, think before you kiss. While it is generally okay to receive a peck on the cheek from wheat-eaters (except from my slobbery great-aunt in France), mouth-to-mouth contact is a different story. Ask your partner to rinse out his/her mouth after eating anything with gluten before kissing you (brushing teeth is preferable).

What about being spontaneous with someone you just met? It’s not a bad idea to somehow encourage (lure?) that person to drink some water or non-gluten liquid (i.e. most sodas, pure juice, etc.) before making-out. Order or offer drinks and sip frequently to subliminally get the point across. However, if the person you’re flirting with is munching away on restaurant/party appetizers you should bring up your gluten-intolerance. It will break the ice before you get any more intimate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: CANDY BARS

Many mainstream candy bars (and popular candies) are gluten-free. While most GF candy bars are not produced in dedicated facilities, the manufacturers do follow regulated standards for cleaning the equipment between products. Below are a few of the popular candy bars (and candies)* that do not contain gluten:

3 Musketeers
Almond Joy
Clark Bar
Heath Bar
Junior Mints
M&Ms (plain and peanut)
Nestles Milk Chocolate
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Snickers (plain)

*For a complete candy list, see Clan Thompson Gluten-Free Food “SmartList 2008” (CANDY):

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: TAKE A CRUISE

If you want to travel but worry about the gluten-free issues, consider taking a cruise. All the major cruise lines – Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean – all claim to accommodate the GF diet. However, you must notify them in writing up to four weeks in advance of the cruise (contact individual cruise lines for their specific guidelines). It is also recommended that you bring your own GF snacks on board for between meals (as the on-going buffets will most likely not accommodate the GF diner). And lastly, introduce yourself to the dining room hostess or maitre d at your first meal to make sure everything goes smoothly. From quick weekend getaway specials to luxurious excursions, many online GF bloggers boast of wonderful stress-free experiences on cruises (including homemade GF breads, pastries, and desserts). One last tip – in case of some mix-up, don’t forget to bring copies aboard of your pre-boarding correspondence with the cruise line office, as well as a letter from your doctor verifying your gluten-free requirement. Bon Voyage!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gluten-Free Tip: CORNSTARCH

Cornstarch can almost always replace wheat flour in a recipe that uses flour to thicken. For example, if you’re making homemade mac and cheese (with GF pasta), substitute cornstarch for flour in the cheese sauce. Same thing for white sauces, roux or gravies. However, a cornstarch mixture will thicken much more quickly than a flour-based mixture so keep the temperature low and keep a close eye on the stove.

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch = 2 Tablespoons Wheat Flour

Thursday, January 1, 2009


As you know, people constantly want to know what CD is or what gluten is or what your problem is . . . You may even find people challenging you, as if the condition is in your head. This is especially true for young adults who eat socially everyday in high school or college cafeterias (where you usually require special meals or must brown bag your own food). It can be difficult to be patient, but think of it as a chance to educate others. Develop a quick answer or explanation that works for you - keep your answer short and simple, then change the subject!

EX: What is Celiac Disease? It’s a condition that makes me unable to digest gluten.
EX: Is it a food allergy? No, my body literally can’t digest gluten which is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and hidden in lots of food.
EX: What happens if you eat it? It makes me physically sick for at least a day, but it also damages my intestine every time I eat it.
HAPPY 2009!!