The following guest post was written by National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer Alex Shimalla of Healthy Food for a Healthy You.
A few months ago, my mom sent me a care package at college. In this box was a package of kale chips. This snack has now become one of my favorite (healthy) potato chip alternatives ever!
The kale has been baked so each piece is nice and crispy. In just the first bite, you’re hit with the flavor of (surprisingly) a slight cheesy note. I couldn’t imagine kale could taste so good. So, of course, I went for another bite. After I put the second few chips into my mouth, I discovered the habanero.
The heat is definitely there, but—luckily for those who aren’t the biggest fans of hot foods—the heat and flavor are not overwhelming. All in all, the flavors complement each other nicely.
These chips are addictive actually…I ended up eating the entire bag (which is two servings) in a single sitting.
Rhythm Superfood has truly outdone itself. Their kale chips are certified gluten-free and organic. Not to mention, their products are made with minimal ingredients, so you can feel good about eating a “chip” from a bag (nothing processed or filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce).
The highlight and star of this snack is obviously kale. This vegetable is amazing! Part of the cabbage family, kale is rich in antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, and carotenoids. PLUS, it’s a great source of Vitamin A, C, K, B6, calcium, manganese, iron, potassium, and fiber. So many nutritional benefits in a single vegetable!
The kale in these chips is picked fresh and tossed with dressings made from organic vegetables, seeds, juices, herbs, and spices. Then it is crisped at a low temperature, instead of baking or frying. This method of cooking keeps the raw living enzymes in the kale, which maximizes the nutritional benefits of this dark, leafy green.
In addition to their Mango Habanero flavor, Rhythm Superfood also has Zesty Nacho, Bombay Curry, Kool Ranch, Texas BBQ, Pineapple Coconut, and Honey Mustard. (I really wish I had a bag of any of these flavors right now!)
Now that you’ve discovered the wonderful snack of kale chips, you’re probably wondering how soon you can get your hands on a bag of these bad boys? You’re in luck. These chips are sold at most health stores. But, if you can’t find them (or you want to buy multiple flavors), just check out their website.
With so many gluten-free apps on the market, it can be hard to find one that does it all. Karen Broussard of the GlutenFreeTravelSite has made the app-choosing process easier with the Dine Gluten Free app, available on both iOS and Android.
This free app is simple to use and has a nice, clean look to it. I had no issues with navigation and found it to be very user-friendly. You can easily search for gluten-free-friendly restaurants within a mile radius of your choice. Simply enter a town/city or zip code in the box on the search page. You can even search for places outside the US by choosing that option from the home screen of the app. Once you find a restaurant you’d consider visiting, you can read user-submitted reviews with just the touch of your screen. The app doesn’t stop at restaurants; you can find out the gluten-free status of restaurants, bakeries, markets, hotels, resorts and bed and breakfasts.
I found the “Chains” section of Dine Gluten Free to be particularly interesting. To use this section, simply click the “Chains” icon, allow Dine Gluten Free to know your location and a list of chain restaurants across the country will appear in alphabetical order. Once you make your chain restaurant selection, you’ll see a brief description of the restaurant, its location and a link to the gluten-free menu. I can see this making dining out easier when you aren’t in control of the restaurant selection. After visiting a restaurant location, you can even submit a review and share your gluten-free dining experience directly from the app.
Along with the reviews and locations feature, Dine Gluten Free also has sections dedicated to restaurant coupons, a calendar with upcoming events and expos as well as blog posts from the GlutenFreeTravelSite. Pretty convenient, right?
This following guest post was written by Annsley Klehr, NFCA volunteer, blogger, and owner of Gluten Freedoms, LLC
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I found myself craving oatmeal. I mean, the cravings were so bad that I started dreaming about it, too! I had been to afraid to try oats once I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I didn’t trust that they could really be safe. So, I did a good deal of research and came across the GF Harvest Company. Honestly, it sounded too good to be true. Of course I called them up to legitimize my cravings. Not only did they kindly sent me samples of Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, and Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola, but they also provided lots of useful information. (They also carry gluten-free groats and gluten-free oat flour.) I was overjoyed to have satisfied my craving, with the knowledge that these were gluten-free right down to the ground.
It turned out that Seaton Smith, the owner of this small, Celiac disease-family run company, was tickled pink to talk and tell me all about their oats while assuaging my fears and anxieties. And, in 2013 they were even awarded the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics. I learned so much about the processing of their oats and the scrutiny his oats go through to make sure there is no cross-contamination. Here are a few things I learned and why I am now GF Harvest’s biggest fan:
1. It’s Owned & Operated by a Celiac Family: The GF Harvest company began when Forrest Smith (son of Seaton Smith) became determined as a teenager to develop uncontaminated gluten-free oats for him and the three generations of his family diagnosed with celiac disease. His desire led to an FFA entrepreneur project, which became Gluten Free Oats, LLC.
2. The Oats Go Through Intense and Thorough Screening for Cross-Contamination: Seaton Smith, the owner and president, makes sure that there is mandatory family activity in the growing fields. Since the fields rotate crops, all fields must lie fallow of any gluten grains for 2 full years before use. Once the oats are grown, the GF Harvest inspection team walks every field, in addition to a QC (quality control) inspection by the University of Wyoming Seed Certification Service. By doing an inspection of the whole field, GF Harvest tests a much larger percentage of their oats. After the field passes inspection by the University, the product can only then come into contact with grain bins, augers, and combines that are certified by the University to prevent cross-contamination as well. When it is time to harvest the grain, the farm trucks harvest the raw oats, and each truck batch is tested before it is allowed to unload at the mill. (Farm trucks are smaller than industrial size trucks, carrying only 16-25 thousand pounds of grain, which means a larger percentage of their grain is tested compared to larger operations). Once the oats are rolled, they are tested again in GF Harvest’s own lab in addition to a preset regiment of 3rd party inspections by the University of Nebraska and GFCO (which is the GF certifying organization under the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)).
3. A Quick Cook: Their old-fashioned rolled oats are super fast to cook over the stovetop, which amounts to about 5 minutes.
The Taste Test
Did I keep you in suspense long enough? So, not only are their oats safe to eat, they are incredibly delicious. I have been cooking with them in every way that I can. My favorite is their Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, but you can’t go wrong with the Steel Cut ones, too. The steel cut oats take quite a bit longer to cook, but equally delicious. Regardless of which ones you try, the texture is rich and creamy, and slightly sweet by itself. The flakes melted in my mouth, but held their texture and didn’t turn to mush. I could taste the quality in every bite! Every morning my daughter begs for oatmeal, and often it’s gone before I can get my own spoon in it. Needless to say, it’s a big hit around here.
The Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola was a perfect addition to my yogurt. It’s sweet and slightly crunchy with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla.
To date I have made:
- oatmeal – using blueberries, strawberries, or peaches and cream; maple syrup, cinnamon, and black strap molasses
- apple crisp
- peach and blueberry crumble
- oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
- oatmeal cream pies
I even gave some oats to my gluten eating friend who made me gluten-free oatmeal cookies and without prompting told me they were the best she’d ever had!
In my book, GF Harvest gets a 5 star review. If you are interested in ordering from them, check out their website: www.glutenfreeoats.com
Their oats are slightly higher priced than other companies’, but well worth the difference.
A special thank you goes out to Seaton Smith and his GF Harvest team for providing me lots of information about oats and for the samples they sent me!
Looking for more information on celiac disease and gluten-free oats? Download NFCA’s Getting Started Guide and head to page 15 for more details.
Are you always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cracker? Finding them too bland, tasting like cardboard, or flimsy? Well, I definitely am! Every time I go to the grocery store, I’m always scanning the cracker aisle, looking for a suitable gluten-free cracker to replace all those buttery, flaky, gluten ones, and yet, I’ve been hard pressed to find a replacement . . . until today!
So, you can imagine my surprise when I ventured to try Crunchmaster’s certified gluten-free Cheezy Crisps and Grammy Crisps and was wowed to the max! By blending traditions from both the East and the West, Crunchmaster has created rice crackers in the “Usuyaki” style, which is Japanese for thin and flat.
Not only are the crackers legitimately thin and flat, but they are also made right here in the USA. Both the Grammy and Cheezy Crisps’ first ingredient is brown rice flour, followed by another whole grain below it. That’s more whole grain than what’s in most products on the cracker shelf. The rice itself is grown in California and the ingredients are GMO-free.
Well, what’s a tasting party without tasters? So I invited two gluten eaters to come join me. The box of Cheezy Crisps was our first stop. Upon review of the box, the images of the Cheezy Crisps made us believe the triangular crackers were white cheddar all the way, and about the size of a box of raisins. We got our first surprise when we opened the box and found the Cheezy Crisps to be about the size of a quarter and their color being that of orange cheddar. Once we got over our initial shock, the powerful crunch and flavor in each bite made us feel like we were eating the entire box in one mouthful. Needless to say, it was a powerful punch. The Crisps were airy, crunchy and packed full of flavor. I believe the word “addictive” was used, and lines from the gluten eaters like, “I would buy this,” were tossed about.
The biggest test was from my 4 ½ year old daughter who was as thrilled to come home to a special afternoon snack as she was to be a part of the taste testing. She described them as “triangles, [tasting] just like cheese, yummy and crunchy.” At which point she begged for more, and that’s when she got to try the Grammy Crisps.
The Grammy Crisps box depiction appeared to be more true to size. From eating the Cheezy ones first, we expected a powerful crunch, and that was exactly what we got. The crispiness was mixed with the sweet tooth satisfaction of both cinnamon and sugar. They were not overly sweet, which we preferred. My daughter’s first word was “delicious,” followed by “yummy, a bit juicy, and square.” And of course, she begged for seconds.
I believe these are both crackers with which I must stock my shelves! We felt that the though both crackers were perfect for snacking on, the Grammy Crisps could also be enjoyed:
- Crushed and sprinkled over plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream
- Crushed to make a pie crust
If you’re interested in trying out Crunchmaster’s other gluten-free products, they make Baked Rice Crackers, Multi-grain Crisps, Ancient Grain Crackers, Multi-Seed Crackers, and Popped Edamame. You can find them online at the Crunchmaster Store, or at some Target locations, Fresh Markets, and other natural food markets. Looking for a coupon? You can get $1 off coupon on their website here.
Many thanks to Jen Novotny at Crunchmaster for providing us with these unexpected treats and allowing us to review their products!
A few weeks ago, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) posted a question to our Facebook page: “What’s the biggest barrier you face in maintaining your gluten-free diet at home?” As you might have guessed, cross-contact from family members who are not gluten-free was a top barrier. Others, though, noted that finding time to prepare meals at home every day is a struggle and they feel there are not many gluten-free “grab-n-go” or “heat-n-eat” options on the market.
Around the same time this conversation was happening on Facebook, I was contacted by the folks at NuLife for a product review. Those of you who share the feelings of NFCA’s online community will be happy to know NuLife is offering frozen, microwaveable gluten-free options.
I opted to try the gluten-free macaroni and cheese. I was happy to see that they used gluten-free pasta shells instead of the thin, short noodles commonly used in gluten-containing alternatives. I accidentally microwaved the pasta too long and I hit a few chewy shells in the bunch, so be sure to pay close attention to the recommended microwave times. Otherwise, the shells had a good texture – not mushy or rubbery at all. The cheese was perfect and had a really good consistency that wasn’t overly runny or too thick. The portion was just enough for lunch and I wasn’t left still feeling hungry after eating the microwaved dish. In short, this option is definitely comparable to its gluten-containing counterparts.
NuLife doesn’t just cover your mid-day meal; they also have breakfast and dinner options. The NFCA team enjoyed the gluten-free Cinnamon French Toast and the gluten-free Penne Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce. Meals have been disappearing from the NFCA freezer – fast! In our office, that’s always a sign of a tasty product. NuLife’s other options include Cornmeal Breaded Tilapia with Red Pepper Coulis, Oatmeal with Peach Compote, Meatloaf with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Carrots and Chicken Tikka. You can view and purchase products here.
If you are looking for easy, ready-made dishes, then I highly recommend giving NuLife a try. The products are certified gluten-free and tested to contain 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten or less. If you’re watching your figure, you’ll be happy to know Weight Watchers points values are included in the product descriptions online.
Win a $50 NuLife Gift Certificate
4 lucky readers will win a $50 gift certificate so you can try NuLife products for yourself. All you have to do is fill out this form. We’ll randomly select the winners and notify you via email if you’ve won.
NuLife is also offering another way to win big! Head over to the Dinewise Facebook page (Dinewise is the company behind NuLife) and learn how you can win a $200 gift certificate.
I am not one who typically buys into “As Seen on TV” products, but the Perfect Taco Bowl recently caught my eye. It’s a pan that turns flat wraps into a star-shaped bowl. A friend bought it for me as a gift and I’ve been using it constantly…but I have been stumped for what to do with the taco bowls. The obvious choice is to make a salad and since I can’t think of other ways to use the bowl, I’ve been trying to shake up what I put in the salad instead.
My favorite way to use gluten-free crackers is as a crouton alternative. So naturally, when I received a shipment of samples from Blue Diamond, I did my first taste test with the taco bowl salad. I opted for the Asiago Cheese Artisan Nut Thins. The crackers added just the right flair of flavor to the taco bowl. I didn’t have many ingredients in the house, so they added crunch and that little something extra to my otherwise slightly boring lettuce, tuna and tomato salad.
If you’re more adventurous in the kitchen than me, I bet you can come up with even better ways to use Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins, the way a few of our gluten-free blogger friends did last summer. From Garlic Buffalo Chicken Nuggets and Baked Mac & with Cracker Topping to Stuffed Tomatoes and Eggplant Parmesan, the possibilities are endless. If you want to keep it simple, serve the Artisan Nut Thins up with your favorite dip. These are sturdy crackers, so you can definitely serve them with a thick dip or other topping of your choice without them breaking under the weight. There are lots of flavors and styles to choose from, like Sesame, Flax Seed and Multi-Seed, so you’re bound to find options to please every palate.
While I am a fan of the Artisan Nut Thins, my favorites are the original gluten-free Blue Diamond Nut Thins (I am snacking on the Cheddar Cheese flavor as I write this review…). They are thinner than the Artisan Nut Thins, but they still pack a crunch and a ton of flavor. I like them just as they are, without dips or topping. The Nut Thins make for a great after school snack or as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling sluggish at 3 p.m. at the office.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Blue Diamond teamed up this month on the Take the Pledge campaign, which encourages people to become active participants in the celiac disease and gluten sensitive communities. When you Take the Pledge, you receive a free gluten-free eCookbook featuring Blue Diamond recipes and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a gluten-free prize pack from Blue Diamond. You’ll also be given private access to a page of other free resources to help you maintain your Pledge promise. Learn all about the Take the Pledge campaign at www.CeliacCentral.org/TakeThePledge. Or, you can Take the Pledge on Facebook, too. Be sure to check out all of Blue Diamond’s gluten-free options!
What’s your favorite way to use Blue Diamond Nut Thins in your gluten-free recipes? I’d love to hear some of your ideas!
The wait is over; gluten-free Girl Scout cookies have arrived!
The Girl Scouts are pilot testing their first-ever gluten-free cookie in select areas across the U.S. Luckily, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is located in one of the pilot test areas and we were able to get our hands on the new bite-size Chocolate Chip Shortbread.
The cookies are certified gluten-free and have the perfect amount of chocolate chips – not too many, but not too few. The texture is comparable to some other gluten-free cookies on the market, but these do crumble a bit. While these cookies are considered bite-size, I think they’re actually the perfect size. Four of the shortbread cookies are 150 calories – not bad for cookies at all. They’re a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth!
If you’re in one of the test areas, I highly recommend giving these cookies a try. (You can locate troops selling the gluten-free cookies here.) According to the Girl Scouts’ website, ABC Cookies (the makers of the gluten-free cookie) will conduct research following the cookie sale season to determine if they’ll roll the products out nationwide.
Which type of gluten-free Girl Scout cookie would you most like to see? If you’ve tried the Chocolate Chip Shortbread, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!
Michael Savett of the popular blog “Gluten Free Philly” has outdone himself with his new app. This is one of the simplest, most intuitive apps I have found recently. Want to find a gluten-free sandwich in the Philly area? Just type “sandwich” into the convenient search bar and you’ll have a list of restaurants, including their phone numbers, addresses, websites and special notes, at your fingertips. Not sure what you’re in the mood to eat? Just click the “Near Me” button and the Gluten Free Philly app will pull up local restaurants with notes on which type of food they serve. There’s a convenient link at the bottom of the app to take you directly to the Gluten Free Philly blog and you can even email Michael if you have questions. While you should still be diligent about asking questions about the food preparation process and ingredients at every restaurant, your search for a good place to eat will be much easier with this new iPhone app! You can find it in the app store.
Restaurant-goers will be interested in reading this book by Kim Koeller and Robert La France, including a foreword from Alessio Fasano, MD, Director, Center for Celiac Research, Massachusetts General Hospital and member of NFCA’s Scientific/Medical Advisory Council. The book breaks down different cuisines with helpful tips, such as commonly used ingredients and preparation practices. This way, you’ll know what sources of gluten to be on the lookout for and where. Learn more about the book and the authors at www.GlutenFreePassport.com.
Saffron Road offers a variety of gluten-free simmer sauces. I tried the Thai Red Curry (which is certified gluten-free) on top of white rice, shrimp and veggies. It certainly had curry’s infamous kick, but I did think it was missing just a little something when it came to the flavor. Overall, I think it was good for a fast and easy dinner and I would probably give it another try, possibly adding a few of my own spices. These simmer sauces come in single-use pouches, making them great cabinet space savers and incredibly easy to prepare. You can find the sauces at www.SaffronRoad.com. Just be sure you’re shopping in the “gluten-free” section, as not all of Saffron Road’s products are gluten-free.