Monday, October 30, 2006


Do you remember my March post about Lieber's Knaidel Mix--said to be the best for making gf matzoh balls?

I finally tried the mix this year. Basically, we're talking potato dumplings. At first I wasn't thrilled but then I became addicted, adding them to my soup (or maybe adding my soup to them) on a daily basis. I think that seasoning (for example, adding parsley flakes) may be the key to making the most of the balls.

You may wonder: Why is today different from all other days? Why wouldn't you post about this matzoh ball mix next year, closer to Passover?

Well, here's the skinny: I understand that now could be the ideal time to request it from your local grocer so that you'll get it in time for next Passover.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Last June's celiac vendor fair on Long Island was a great success--and Suffolk County Celiacs has already scheduled a follow-up for 2007--to be held at SUNY Farmingdale on Sunday, April 29, from 11 am to 5 pm.

Dr. Peter Green is the scheduled speaker, with some proceeds to go to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Mark your calendars!

Friday, October 20, 2006


The good news about the 2007 Zagat restaurant survey for New York City is that the reviewer comments actually acknowledge the existence of gluten-free food. Risotteria "sets the standard for gluten-free dining" and Sambuca "also offers a gluten-free menu - 'is that an oxymoron for Italian?'"

It's too bad, though, that the guide doesn't acknowledge gluten-free food in its Cuisines and Special Features sections. The book subdivides restaurants into dozens of Cuisines, including many (from Afghan, African, Australian to Tibetan, Tunisian, Ukrainian, and Yemenite) that are represented by only one restaurant. Yet there's no Gluten-Free category even though the guide has six listings associated with GFRAP/GIG.

Here they are, ranked by food (and, coincidentally, service) rating. As you probably know, a 30 is the highest possible score. (A 28 is the highest given in this year's edition.) The cost estimates at Zagat have been questioned recently, but--for what it's worth--the average dinner-for-one cost of all the Zagat restaurants came to $37.61. The average tip is, reportedly, 18.9%. The upper-case letters for Asia de Cuba indicates that it is a Zagat "top spot" due to its popularity and importance as well as its high rating; it's kind of weird that the often-busy vegan restaurant Candle 79, which had the best food and service ratings in the pack, didn't make that cut.
Candle 79
Food: 24
Service: 23
Decor: 21
Estimated dinner for one: $40

Food: 23
Service: 20
Decor: 25
Estimated dinner for one: $56

Food: 21
Service: 19
Decor: 18
Estimated dinner for one: $49

Food: 21
Service: 18
Decor: 10
Estimated dinner for one: $23
Sample comment: "sets the standard for gluten-free dining"

Food: 19
Service: 18
Decor: 15
Estimated dinner for one: $36
Sample comment: "P.S. it also offers a gluten-free menu - 'is that an oxymoron for Italian?'"

Outback Steakhouse
Food: 15
Service: 16
Decor: 13
Estimated dinner for one: $32
All the restaurants earned outstanding or at least respectable ratings with the exception of Outback--and I think that might be somewhat unfair. It could reflect a survey prejudice against chain restaurants. Or perhaps the limited options available to gluten-free patrons keep me from even trying some of Outback's less impressive dishes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Let's give a warm welcome to the first imported gluten-free beer to be sold in the Big Apple (at least as far as I can tell): Toleration, brewed by Nick Stafford's Hambleton Ales in North Yorkshire, England.

Made from sugars without malt, Toleration is a sweet and lightly carbonated brown beer. I actually hesitate to call it a beer because its taste is so unusual. So far the brew hasn't gone over very well at ratebeer and Beer Advocate, but that's no reason not to give it a try--especially if you're not married to conventional beer flavors. The brew reminds me of the old-style Ramapo Valley Honey Lager with its sweetness, but it's smoother. I welcome the variety!

Available in Hell's Kitchen at the Ninth Avenue Vintner's beer and cheese annex (671 Ninth Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets), Toleration is a little pricey at $10 (plus tax), but at least the bottle is somewhat oversized--1 pint .9 fl.oz.

And the Ninth Avenue Vintner's a nice little wine shop, too.

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Did you catch the CBS coverage of celiac disease last Friday? I was impressed! Here, from the CBS Evening News website, are some of the major points:
"Celiac is one of the most common of diseases — in fact, one out of every 100 Americans has it — yet many don’t know they have it. Only 5 percent of cases are diagnosed properly.

"Detection is important because, left untreated, celiac can lead to a variety of health problems...."

"The reason so many people — close to 3 million — have no idea they have the disease is because celiac disease has not been on doctors’ radars for very long. The screening blood tests have only been around for 10 to 15 years.

"Doctors used to be taught that celiac disease was a very rare condition and caused severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Now doctors know that it’s somewhat common and can cause all sorts of subtle symptoms that don’t even involve the belly.

"Although 99 percent of Americans don’t have the disease, a person shouldn’t be afraid to raise the possibility with a doctor and consider testing if there are unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, if there is already a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, or if the person has any of the nongastrointestinal symptoms associated with celiac disease, which include not only migraines, infertility and osteoporosis, but also short stature, and even recurrent miscarriages."
The CBS Evening News website includes video of the news segment, plus many links.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Monday, October 09, 2006


Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic is one of the leading celiac specialists in North America. Yet, despite his considerable knowledge and experience, Murray was surprised by a recent Mayo Clinic case study analysis that considered 13 patients with celiac disease and found a possible link to their cognitive decline.

In the case study analysis, the most common neurological symptoms were amnesia, acalculia (the inability to perform basic calculations), confusion, and personality changes; of the 10 patients with ataxia, 4 also had peripheral neuropathy.

This news release from the Mayo Clinic quotes Murray as follows:
"There has been a fair amount written before about celiac disease and neurological issues like peripheral neuropathy (nerve problems causing numbness or pain) or balance problems, but this degree of brain problem -- the cognitive decline we've found here -- has not been recognized before. I was not expecting there would be so many celiac disease patients with cognitive decline."
Murray theorizes that the correlation between cognitive decline and worsening celiac symptoms could be attributed to nutritional deficiency, inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers of inflammation that could contribute to problems in the brain), and/or an immune attack on the brain.

The median age at the onset of cognitive impairment was 64 years (range, 45-79 years). In 3 of the 13 cases, the cognitive decline reversed or stabilized after the patients committed themselves to a gluten-free diet. Five of the patients received a brain autopsy or biopsy that revealed no Alzheimer's disease or any other well-known cause of dementia.

Dr. Murray does not recommend that people with cognitive decline go on gluten-free diets unless they have received a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease. The standard diagnosis involves a series of blood tests and, if necessary, an endoscopic biopsy.

Dr. William Hu of the Mayo Clinic suggests that, "For patients who come in with atypical forms of dementia, we need to consider checking for celiac disease, especially if the patients have diarrhea, weight loss or a younger age of onset -- under age 70."

The case study analysis
appears in October's Archives of Neurology.

Friday, October 06, 2006


As you might already know from the celiac mailing list, Dr. Peter Green is scheduled to appear on a CBS Evening News segment tonight. On the East Coast, the show starts at 6:30 pm.

This could be the first time in recent years that CBS Evening News covers celiac disease. I can find at least two examples of previous CBS network coverage--on The Early Show. Here they are:
Gluten Allergy Widespread (February 19, 2003)
"Although it's common in Europe, the perception has always been that celiac disease is a rare disorder in the United States. But a new study suggests that it's much more common than we thought. Researchers looked at more than 13,000 adults and children.

"They found that more than 1.5 million Americans may be affected. The disease was present in one out of 22 people who had a close relative with celiac disease and in one out of a 133 people who were not at risk...."

Communion Mom Looks To Vatican (August 19, 2004)
"An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot consume wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained none, violating Catholic doctrine...."

Photo: David Marc Fischer