Friday, February 29, 2008


At Gothamist, Danielle Sucher offers a simple dairy-free gluten-free chocolate mousse recipe, along with a tip: "it is best to substitute water for cream when making your emulsion."

For contrast, here's a heavy chocolate mousse.

Source (00:48)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Ready for a sequel to my recent posts Meet the Parents and Diets and Relationships?

Food writer Jean Stevens of New Jersey's Herald News starts her article "Navigating the gluten mine field" (February 27, 2008) by showing how well Jane Grubin accommodates the gluten-free diet of her son-in-law, Ben Cappel. The article covers a lot of gluten-free ground and ends with a glimpse of pizza envy between a Passaic educator and his wife, who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

They might pick up some pointers about coping from this accompanying slide show

Stevens also has an overview of "Gluten-free local businesses" and a blog post entitled "Gluten-free in Passaic, Fair Lawn, and beyond!"

Monday, February 25, 2008


I first heard about the glories of Conte's Gluten-Free Pasta some months ago, then finally found some at Get Healthy America in Plainview, Long Island. I especially enjoyed the stuffed shells and the plump pasta pillows that are Conte's ravioli, and wondered when, if ever, I'd find them in New York City.

Well, I found them—at the Westerly Natural Market in Midtown West!

Here's what Conte's director Judy A. Sabella wrote to me about the safety of Conte's gluten-free products:
We are a USDA/FDA-approved facility, USDA est. #18969. Although we also process wheat, we take very seriously our responsibility to use good manufacturing practices to segregate materials and production to avoid cross-contamination.

As a USDA facility our machines, mixers, packers, etc are broken down at the end of each day, thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. The production room itself is washed down and cleaned.

On gf production days all equipment is cleaned a second time in the morning before production begins. During gf production ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER PRODUCT is introduced into the production area. If we are not running a full day of gf production we will do the gf first, empty the production room and then begin "regular" production. At no time do we have both items in the production area.

As I mentioned before our complete gf line is All-Natural, Wheat-Free, Soy-Free, non-GMO, and contain NO WBRO. I also want to mention that we have been manufacturing our gf line for close to ten years and I have never heard from anyone who has had a problem with any of them.

In case I didn't tell you before, here's some more good news. We are currently working on a variety of wheat-free/gluten-free microwave meals including things like Cheese Lasagna, Meat Lasagna, Vegetable Lasagna, Stuffed Shells w/Tomato Sauce, Cheese Manicotti w/Tomato Sauce, and, Spaghetti & Meatballs w/Tomato Sauce, as well as several others. We use our own gf Tomato Sauce and gf Meatballs. I anticipate these items becoming available some time in February.
Here's a picture of the pasta at Westerly; it's true that it's on the pricey side, but I assure you that the 191.84/lb. unit price is a complete error.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Here, from a med student blog called Annals of Medical School is a talk entitled Battles With Gluten: Celiac Disease. It's practically a very special episode of Scrubs!

They should just get more up-to-date on the gluten-free beer front. That might put a big smile on Kris's face!

Source (3:44)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


So now you've learned valuable lessons about diets and relationships, and, after three years of togetherness, you figure it's finally time to introduce the parents to each other. But here's the thing: One of you is gluten-free, one parent has to avoid nuts and alcohol, and all of the parents avoid spicy food.

What to do? Well, if you're Adam Streisfeld, you contact the Washington Post's Chef on Call, who gets DC chef Janis McLean to prepare a banquet of tea-smoked trout and spinach salad; lemon-scented roasted chicken garnished with baby turnips, sauteed kale and roasted carrots; quinoa pilaf; and citrus-roasted pineapple with mango sorbet and toasted coconut. You can read about this fantastic family feast in the February 20, 2008 article "A Comfortable Introduction, Gluten-Free."

But here's an alternative approach to such gatherings: Just meet for tea and coffee! And dessert!! Simple, yes? You can avoid exhausting yourselves cooking, keep the focus on getting to know one another, and (perhaps) avoid spending too much of your time talking about your diets. Not that there's anything wrong with that—it's just an option to keep in mind, especially if Janis McLean happens to be busy..

That way you have more time for laughs and looking through the old photo albums.

Source (00:57)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Food served to hospital patients ought to be safe and nutritious and compatible with medical diets, including gluten-free diets. That isn't always the case, to say the least—but now there's a high-profile advocate for better hospital food: Prince Charles!

Here is a portion of "See food as a medicine, says Prince," a February 5, 2008 article from The Press Association.
The Prince of Wales has urged hospital trust bosses to see food as a "medicine" in itself as he highlighted the importance of nutritional meals being served to patients.

Charles made the comments at the Royal Brompton Hospital where around 20 chief executives and senior managers had gathered to hear about the institution's pioneering catering initiative.

The Royal Brompton in Chelsea, West London serves its patients freshly made meals created from produce 20% of which is either sourced locally or is organic.

It also offers a range of foods which are free from additives, gluten, dairy or genetically modified produce and low in fat.

The Prince said to the hospital chief executives: "We need to see food as a medicine in itself."

He also told them: "At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious people largely go to hospital to get well and obviously the food we eat does make a difference to our general health even when we are not ill.

"So it does seem even more crucial the food hospital patients are given helps rather than risks hindering the process of recovery."
Hear, hear!

Source (00:37)

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Enjoy Life's Snickerdoodles will be featured on the Rachael Ray Show (Monday, February 18, 2008), as noted by Erin at Gluten-Free Fun. Airtime on New York City's ABC-TV is 10 am; check here for other times.

Previously, Rachael Ray shined her spotlight on gluten-free 100% Parmesan Gourmet Wafer Crisps.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Check out the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique for stickers...

...and shirts...

...and more!

Designs by Debbie Glasserman Design

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This is for the sweethearts—past, present, future—who love and support those of us on gluten-free diets. Thank you—you're special!

The song kicks in eventually.

Source (3:31)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Sometimes dietary differences can become a relationship issue—and now you can find articles on the subject in two major newspapers.

In The New York Times, Kate Murphy's article "I Love You, but You Love Meat" initially seems like it should have been called "I Love You, but You Love Wheat." It starts with a case study of none other but Shauna "Gluten-Free Girl" Ahern:
"I went out with one guy who said I seemed really great but he liked bread too much to date me," said Ms. James, 41, a writer in Seattle who cannot eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
As you might know, Ahern eventually met and married a chef who was more open-minded and positive about the diet.
"As a chef, it has given me the opportunity to experiment with new ingredients to create things she can eat," said Mr. Ahern, 39, who works at Impromptu Wine Bar Cafe in Seattle. Ms. James said she fell in love with him after he made her a gluten-free salad of frisée, poached egg and bacon. They married in September.

Since then, Mr. Ahern has given up eating bread at home, though he still eats it when he goes out. For her part, Ms. James has begun eating offal and foie gras, which were once anathema. "We’ve changed each other," she said.
The article also offers anecdotes about varied relationships between vegans and meat-eaters, vegetarians and meat-eaters, a vegetarian and someone who keeps kosher, and an omnivore and an extremely picky eater.

The article quotes psychiatrists Susan Jaffe and Kathryn Zerbe.
"There’s this feeling that if we eat the same thing then we are the same thing, and if we don’t, we’re no longer unified," Dr. Zerbe said. She and Dr. Jaffe said sharing food is an important ritual that enhances relationships. They advise interdietary couples to find meals they can both enjoy. "Or at least a side dish," Dr. Zerbe said.
In The San Francisco Chronicle, Stacy Finz offers the article "Odd couples: Culinarily mismatched mates achieve harmony in the kitchen." One of the case studies has to do with Elaine and Barry Taylor (pictured), founders of the Taylor Family Foundation who learned that Elaine had celiac disease 14 years into their marriage.
"I was so depressed when I got the diagnosis," recalled the 54-year-old. "I could never have another bagel. I could never have another beer. And I was pretty sure I could never eat out again."

She and her husband created separate cupboards for all their dry foods, marked their jams and butters so not to mix up hers with his (to prevent her from ingesting any lingering bread crumbs) and kept their newly remodeled kitchen as sterile as an operating room.

Barry Taylor, 69, lived in fear that he would somehow contaminate his wife's food. So they put red dots on all of Elaine's jars and packages and moved Barry's toaster into the butler's pantry. One Thanksgiving he accidentally stuffed her turkey with the regular dressing and felt like he had ruined the holiday.

But he was determined to make things work. To show support, he ate her gluten-free food.

"It took a lot of acting, because most of it didn't taste very good," he says.

The new diet was taking a toll on their love life to be sure.

"Food is in our top five loves," he says. "We really do live to eat. And a lot of what we were eating was truly awful."

"For awhile I felt extremely guilty," she says. "It came to the point where I'd have to tell him to take someone else to dinner."

But Elaine decided to take control of the situation. She got in the kitchen, rolled up her sleeves and experimented. She befriended gluten-free cooks and bakers, including Jacqueline Mallorca, San Francisco author of several cookbooks, including "The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone" (William Morrow, 2007) and learned tricks for altering her favorite dishes without detracting from their flavor.

She also learned which restaurants could accommodate her diet, and frequents them often. Barry Taylor says he has become very assertive about explaining to servers how important it is that they avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Oddly enough, he says, the disease has brought them even closer together.

"It feels more like a partnership," he says.

"He really looks out for me," she adds.

Apparently the old adage holds true: Love means never having to say you're sorry - at least about the foods you eat.
And the quality of gluten-free foods continues to improve. That's a help, too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Due to technical difficulties* as well as my wild and unpredictable social calendar, I missed Martha Stewart's announcement regarding her Big Idea contest, but it looks like the two top finishers were the publication related to food allergies and sensitivities and the publication related to pets.

CeliacChick Kelly posts about it here; Allergy Moms posts about it here; Go Dairy Free covers it here.

If it turns out that there won't be a regularly published Martha Stewart magazine related to food allergies and sensitivities, try not to be too disappointed. Not being a fly on the wall at Martha Stewart Inc., I can only imagine the in-house chatter about projected advertising revenue, subscriber base, and the very mainstream Martha Stewart brand. I figured that the best one could realistically hope for would be one or more special issues or supplements.

So I'll be interested to see what Martha Stewart does with the knowledge that people are really hungering for material related to their special diets, and I'll continue to take an interest in Gluten-Free Living, look forward to the new version of Living Without, and even enjoy reading the informative newsletter of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG).

* me being stupid

Monday, February 11, 2008


When the Tuesday, May 9, 2006 episode of the US medical drama House featured a person with celiac disease, the patient was an infanticidal madwoman. When the Thursday, February 7, 2008 episode of the UK medical drama The Royal Today featured a person with coeliac disease, the patient was a stripper in a rubber nurse's outfit. What are the odds, I ask you?

Here's the pertinent info about the Royal Today story (Season 1, Episode 24), from a synopsis:
Vijay is stumped when he presents the staff with a photo of Gemma pole dancing and she declares that she loves the picture and unashamedly admits that she did it to make money at college.

On the female ward, an exotic dancer called Alison (Hayley Tamaddon) has arrived dressed in a sexy rubber nurses outfit. Her stomach has swollen up mid act so she’s stuck in her costume and when Sarah (Kirsty Mitchell) confirms that she has Coeliac Disease and needs to have a bowel biopsy, Alison’s adamant that the nurses don’t cut the expensive costume off her. However, when Matron reveals that Alison’s husband is on his way she’s desperate to get out of the PVC suit as he doesn’t know how she’s been earning her money.

When John (Samuel James Hudson) arrives he’s stunned to find Alison fully clad as a stripper and tries to control his temper as he tells the embarrassed nurses to throw the costume in the bin. She’d told him she was temping but seeing as he’s a stripper too, she claims she’s done nothing wrong. Later, when John overhears Vijay commenting on Gemma’s stripper past, he assumes he’s talking about Alison and attacks him. He eventually calms down enough to speak to his wife and is pleased to learn that she can’t stand the idea of women gawping at him. It’s a happy ending as the couple agree that they’ll both stop stripping but don’t need to throw away their costumes.
I'd like to share video of that, but so far I've only found these files, which aren't supposed to be viewable in the United States. In the meantime, here's an article with a photo.

The unlikelihood of these TV medical situations reminds me of a certain Seinfeld episode. (Warning: This video may contain wheat pasta.)

Source (1:57)

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Curious about the magazine Gluten-Free Living? Editor/Publisher Ann Whelan is offering free sample issues while supplies last. Here's the offer as posted at the international celiac disease mailing list:
The messages about Martha Stewart Living expanding into a specialized area, including food allergies, have been interesting. I've been in the magazine business for much of my career and have the greatest respect for Martha Stewart as a magazine editor and publisher.

I did want to make sure people know that my publication, Gluten-Free Living, is out there and has been for quite some time. We are the only publication that concentrates specifically on, as our name says, Gluten-Free Living. We have built our reputation covering every aspect of the gluten-free life, and we plan to continue doing just that.

Those of you who have subscribed for a while know we started many years ago as an eight-page black and white newsletter and now publish a four-color, national magazine. You also know we have been instrumental in correcting a lot of the misinformation that surrounds the gluten-free diet.

We have done this by seeking information the way a journalist would. We take nothing for granted. There is a saying in the journalism world that goes like this: "If your mother tells you, check it out!" And that's what we have been doing, checking things out relentlessly until we get to the bottom of the issues. Then we explain them to the best of our ability so readers, who still have to make their own decisions, make them with reliable information.

It has been an interesting journey and my primarily gluten-free staff and I have learned a lot along the way. We plan to continue on this specialized road and we are in the process of growing and expanding.

It sounds as if some of you are not familiar with Gluten-Free Living. To correct that, we'd like to offer a free sample issue to those who do not currently subscribe -- as long as supplies last. Send your mailing address to [gfliving2003 at yahoo dot com] and please indicate that you are responding to this message. We will get your sample copy into the mail as quickly as possible.

Best wishes,

Ann Whelan
Gluten-Free Living


This Parents TV segment includes an interview with Dr. Peter Green and a look at a Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU) cooking event at Cooking by the Book. Dr. Green says that it's important for newly diagnosed children to have an accurate idea of what a gluten-free diet is, and he also notes that children who are diagnosed early tend to be the best when it comes to staying on the diet. The video also includes comments from CDCCU nutritionist Anne Roland Lee.

Source (6:21)

Thursday, February 07, 2008


As you might already know, the Asian restaurant Lilli and Loo recently joined the roster of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) on the advanced level, which means that the restaurant receives "intensive assistance in menu review by qualified nutrition experts" along with GFRAP's basic "complete packet of education and training materials, a review of the restaurant’s GF menus, and the assistance of a Resource Person to answer questions." So far Lilli and Loo is the only non-chain restaurant in Manhattan on that level, and I can say from my own experience that this eaterie is worth multiple visits.

When the restaurant first came up with its gluten-free menu, Maggie and her associates offered a banquet's share of diverse options, but since then the menu has expanded to include even more choices, including one of my favorite types of Asian cuisine.

Many items on the restaurant's evolving gluten-free menu have already been favorably received by A Gluten-Free Guide, CeliacChicks, Gluten-Free Fun, and Allergic Girl. Probably the stand-out item has been the cool and refreshing Saigon Spring Roll appetizer. A fun new addition is the Rock Shrimp Tempura. Not to be confused with classic tempura, which is known for the lightness of its batter, this appetizer is more like an outstanding version of popcorn shrimp, presenting the restaurant's whole tasty shrimp within a thick, crunchy coating enlivened by a drizzled mayonnaise sauce. Filling out the appetizer options are edamame (steamed salted soy beans) and Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, which involve wrapping lettuce around a mix of chicken, pineapple, and vegetables.

In the early online coverage of Lilli and Loo, the glazed Borneo Orange Chicken came across as a favorite—and I like it too. But oh, how excited I was to find crispy Thai Fish added to the menu! As a longtime fan of various versions of Asian whole fish, I'm especially fond of the crispy variations. At Lilli and Loo, it's served in a two-way style, with numerous separated and boneless chunks atop the rest of the fish, which is still on the bone. So, if you're not used to eating this dish, you can enjoy the separated pieces and also learn to pull the rest of the tasty, moist meat away while leaving most or all of the bones behind. And don't be afraid to poke around the cheeks in the fish head for the tiny, subtly flavorful morsels you might find there. (Note that when ordering this type of dish, it can be helpful to talk with the waitperson about how many of you intend to share it, to make sure that you'll get the right size of fish.)

I'm still exploring the other items on the menu, looking for ways to mix-and-match cuisines or just commit to one type throughout. I've been pleased by the mild Asian Chicken Curry and Masaman Chicken Curry as well as the Pomegranate Teriyaki Grilled Chicken, although I was sorry to find that it wasn't glazed in the way I associate with teriyaki cooking. I also enjoyed the change-of-pace represented by the sweet Shrimp with Fresh Mango (again with tasty shrimp, right), which could function almost like a dessert in a meal shared by several people (an ideal way to enjoy the fare at Lilli and Loo).

And then there are the Happy Hours. It's been tough work, but for your sake, dear reader, I've been making my way through the Lilli and Loo cocktail menu. My favorite so far is the lychee martini.

As CeliacChick Kelly and Allergic Girl Sloane have noted, Maggie and the rest of the gang at Lilli and Loo are eager to please and willing to accommodate other dietary requests. Just try to give them a "heads up" to ease matters for everyone concerned. And, speaking of heads, I agree with Kelly that the loo at Lilli and Loo is worth a visit, too. (Thanks to Ben Cappel for coming up with the "loo" angle.)

Something else that's exciting about Lilli and Loo is that it is just one of the restaurants and food enterprises in which Vanessa Phillips and her family have a hand. From talking with Vanessa's father, I understand that the family hopes to serve gluten-free customers in various NYC locations, including the Upper West Side. Having GFRAP restaurants there would certainly help to complement the string along the Upper East Side. CeliacChick Kelly has been covering some of the most recent developments.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Many recent articles about being gluten-free revolve around the diet being a medical necessity; other recent articles treat the diet as a fad. Today's Newsday picked up a Chicago Tribune article by Janet Helm entitled "The challenge of giving up gluten."—a well-sourced item that addresses both the medical issues and the possible trendiness related to the diet.

Some highlights:
Most definitely, people with celiac disease need to avoid gluten. Otherwise, this autoimmune disorder can damage the small intestine and interfere with the absorption of nutrients. For celiac sufferers, a gluten-free diet is far from a fad - it is the only treatment.

What appears less clear is whether gluten can be blamed for other problems such as autism. Carol Fenster has been gluten-free for 20 years even though she does not have celiac disease. She's part of a growing group who say they simply feel better avoiding gluten.

Experts say that the growing attention on gluten is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it may encourage more people to get tested for celiac - which still remains undiagnosed in about 97 percent of the people who have it in this country. A typical diagnosis often takes 10 years because the symptoms are mistaken for other conditions. But, ironically, the current fervor over gluten may be making a proper diagnosis even trickier.

Starting a gluten-free diet before being tested for celiac may cause the gut to heal temporarily and an accurate diagnosis will be missed, said Dr. Joseph A. Murray, a celiac disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"If you're concerned about celiac, you should be tested before treating yourself," he said.

Self-diagnosis is rampant, probably due to the increased awareness of the disease. People are more likely to know someone with celiac now, and they relate to the diverse and often vague symptoms associated with the disease, Murray said.

If celiac is ruled out, Murray said there is little or no evidence to support a connection between gluten and other ailments, including autism. Even so, he said there is nothing wrong with cutting out gluten as long as your diet is nutritionally complete.
Lately I've been wondering about a possible contributor to the trendiness of gluten-free diets that Helm's article doesn't mention. With the food industry's bullishness about gluten-free products, it seems that more and more products show up with "gluten-free" labels but no explanation that the labels are pertinent for people on medical diets. Consumers who see the labels possibly associate the labels as something generally positive (like "vitamin packed") rather than of most relevance to people with celiac disease and/or wheat allergies. Perhaps increased awareness of celiac disease causes people to go on the diet, but perhaps increased awareness of the "gluten-free" label—without increased awareness of celiac disease—might come into play, too.

Just musing, is all. I'd be interested in seeing studies of the phenomena discussed in the article. And I'm looking forward to seeing studies about possible relations between gluten and symptoms associated with autism. I think there are some coming.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


As WNYC promised, allergy specialist Dr. Hugh Sampson got a chance to talk on The Leonard Lopate Show on Thursday.

WNYC decided to give Sampson airtime following protests against the show for giving Meredith Broussard an uncritical platform for her weak allegations that food allergy support groups such as FAAN (where Sampson serves on the Medical Advisory Board) exaggerate the dangers of food allergies. (I've covered the background at great length here.)

Sampson came across as completely sober and sensible, which is consistent with FAAN's reputation as a responsible organization that helps families and communities cope with food allergy issues.

So I still see FAAN as a target of ungrounded criticism from Broussard that reached masses of people via Harper's as well as WNYC. There are indeed concerns about the general public's understanding of food allergies, but Broussard's type of coverage is part of the problem—because FAAN is actually part of the solution.

I remain curious as to whether Harper's and/or Broussard will offer any kind of retraction or correction.

Friday, February 01, 2008


As you might have learned from a comment in the previous post, Martha Stewart has invited the public to consider seven staff ideas on what new direction Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia might take—and one of those ideas, from her deputy editor Alexis, is a "Special publication catering to those with food allergies and sensitivities that would include recipes."

That's "catering" in the figurative sense. As Alexis puts it:
To publish a special magazine that offers delicious allergy-friendly recipes, making life for people with food allergies and sensitivities easier and more delicious. Millions of people, including myself, can't eat nuts, dairy, wheat or gluten, and I’d like to empower people to make great recipes even if they can't use all the standard ingredients.
Right now this idea is neck-and-neck with an idea about launching a publication or a line of products for pet lovers. You can vote for your preference once a day here through Thursday, February 7, 2008.

It's exciting to see such an idea being considered by such a big name. But while the world awaits the results of the vote, I figured I'd mention two existing publications of interest to people with food allergies and sensitivities.

Of particular interest in these parts is Gluten-Free Living, which is entirely devoted to, um, living gluten-free. Published by Ann Whelan, this magazine continues to make a very significant contribution in terms of researching and clarifying many issues including food labeling and ingredients. It has really helped me navigate the diet over the years.

The magazine Living Without, founded by Peggy Wagener, aims at a somewhat more general audience, like the one described in the Martha Stewart proposal. Publication was temporarily suspended in recent months, but the magazine is due to reappear come spring as part of the Connecticut-based Belvoir Media Group, with Wagener staying on as publisher.

Have you noticed how all of these ventures share the word living?