Gluten-Free Simplicity

Useful Info, Tasty Anecdotes and Simple Recipes for Attaining Gluten-Free Simplicity

Archive for December, 2008

Way #35: Gluten-Free Tax Breaks on the Way to Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 31, 2008

Way #35: Gluten-Free Tax Breaks on the Way to Gluten-Free Simplicity.

  I am not a tax professional, but basically, there are at least 3 places where Gluten-Free Issues cross Tax Breaks and they are the possibility of using ones Flexible Spending Account when buying certain items, Tax Deductions for the extra costs of eating Gluten-Free, and Tax Deductions for Medical Expenses.

  Celiacs.com has  some articles regarding Tax issues and being Gluten-Free. 

  Another article, “How To Get Tax Deductions for Food” states, “If you have celiac disease where you must avoid eating gluten, you may be able to claim the expense of gluten free foods on your tax return. ”   And still there are more articles on this issue. 

  With all this talk about tax breaks, I want to be clear that I do not mean to neglect those of us who don’t really earn enough to where tax breaks are meaningful.  For these people there are other ways to save money and be Gluten-Free according to some authors.

  Either way, living Gluten-Free is VERY expensive and I have never heard otherwise.  So good luck this year with your taxes and/or your ways of saving on expenses in the first place.

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Gluten-Free New Year’s Resolution

Posted by nepeht on December 31, 2008

My Gluten-Free New Year’s Resolution?

  Sure…. No gluten in 2009.

  Got it?

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Three-Cheese Hash Brown Casserole with Sirloin

Posted by nepeht on December 31, 2008

Three-Cheese Hash Brown Casserole with Sirloin

(Serves 4 Really Hungry People)

Ingredients:

  • Slightly less than 1/4 cup diced onion
  • Slightly less than 1/4 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienne matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 lb of lean ground sirloin
  • 3 oz grated mozzarella *
  • 3 oz grated Cheddar *
  • 3 oz crumbled Oaxaca cheese *
  • 8 Hash Browns (frozen/thawed) *
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons of Ketchup *

 The Process:

  1. Cut all of the vegetables and slice or grate the cheeses.
  2. Lightly saute the onion, pepper, carrots and sirloin in a saute pan.
  3. Thaw the Hash Browns.
  4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  5. Lightly butter a small loaf pan.
  6. Place 3 and 1/2 Hash Browns flatly across the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add half of the sauteed ingredients on top of the bottom layer of Hash Browns.
  8. Cover with the Mozzarella Cheese.
  9. Add another layer of 3 and 1/2 Hash Browns.
  10. Add the rest of the sauteed ingredients.
  11. Cover with the Cheddar Cheese and the Oaxaca cheese.
  12. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes.
  13. Serve with about a tablespoon of ketchup underneath each serving.

* Be sure to use Gluten-Free versions of these ingredients.

** This dish would probably also be wonderful with a light herb and/or with other cheeses, other meats, and/or mushrooms or other vegetables.

Posted in G-F Recipes | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Way #34: Remember, It is OK to Politely Ask A Vendor or Manufacturer About the Ingredients of Her/His Product When One Is Trying to Attain Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 30, 2008

Way #34: Remember, It is OK to Politely Ask A Vendor or Manufacturer About the Ingredients of Her/His Product while one is choosing whether or not to buy.

  Since the Gluten-Free Labelling issue is NOT yet resolved with real power by U.S. A. policymakers, it is up to consumers to defend themselves and their loved ones from hidden sources of gluten in otherwise desirable products.  There have been international Standards since “In July 2008, the Codex Alimentarius Commission” made its decision.  The U.S.D.A. and the other agencies have made proposals and clearly struggled with these issues.  It can be confusing as this Wikipedia entry demonstrates:

“Requirements for proper labelling are being formulated by the USDA. It is currently up to the manufacturers of “gluten free” food items to guarantee such a claim. “A final rule that defines the term gluten-free and identifies the criteria that would enable the food industry to use that term” is scheduled to be released by the FDA on August 2nd, 2008. Many so-called gluten free products have been found to have been contaminated with gluten (such as chicken bouillon, corn cereal, caramel ice cream topping.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet

And still there are concerns, and more concerns from may concerned advocates.  As we are finding thanks to folks like Celiac Chicks, Gluten-Free Fraud is still possible and some are watching carefully.  As absurd as it may seem, some even feel that Gluten-Free Labelling Laws could cause a rise in Gluten-Free food prices.

   So it is still largely up to consumers such as you and me to handle this on our own. 

  As was noted in another set of suggestions, there are ingredients to watch out for that may indicate that the product contains Gluten.

  But what about at restaurants and places where there is no list of ingredients to read as one chooses?

  One can always ask prior to making each purchase.  But there are likely to be many many times when the server simply cannot tell you. Also, though this may be necessary at times, this can get very old.

  Another method is to watch for certain characteristics in the product that may indicate that it has gluten in it. This may not always work, but it can help to some degree.
  Things to watch for:

  • Soup and Sauce thickeners
  • Liquids of colors other than their natural color or clear
  • Fancy Vinegars and Salad Dressings containing Vinegar, Tomato or Mayonaise 
  • Liquors and Beers
  • Stuffed Items
  • MSG, Soy Sauce, Tenderizers, and Condiments
  • Crusts on anything

  Certainly there are versions (some popular) of each of the above items that are made without Gluten. If that is the case, then simply ask the server, “What type of soy sauce do you use?” or whatever the product is. Then if it matches those you know to be gluten-free you are home free.

  Meantime, remember, it is perfectly fine to politely ask questions about that which you are about to put into your mouth and body. Isn’t it?

  There are some really super wonderful things about a Free-Market Economic System as is ideally found throughout the U.S.A.:

  1. I can choose NOT to buy from certain vendors, and
  2. A vendor can choose NOT to sell to me.

    Therefore, it is perfectly OK to Politely Ask A Vendor or Manufacturer About the Ingredients of Her/His Product When One Is Trying to Attain Gluten-Free Simplicity.

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Way #33: Memorize Basic Word Clues that Indicate Gluten is Hidden in Food Ingredients in order to Get Closer to Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 29, 2008

Way #33: Memorize Basic Word Clues that Indicate Gluten is Hidden in Food Ingredients in order to Get Closer to Gluten-Free Simplicity.

  There are a few basic words that one might run into on a U.S. food label that indicate that Gluten is probably hidden in the ingredients.  If one memorizes these few words, one can probably avoid a lot of unnecessary gluten exposure.

  One might benefit however, from a little simplification of these words and this concept in order to more readily apply it to every day life in the supermarket.

  According to a website by Jackson / Siegelbaum Gastroenterology   there are a few words on food labels that may indicate gluten is in the product.  These are:

  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) , unless made from soy or corn
  • Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour
  • Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn
  • Malt or Malt Flavoring unless derived from corn
  • Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used
  • Vegetable Gum unlessvegetable gums are carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xanthan gum, or vegetable starch
  • Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids unless you know they do not contain wheat” from http://gicare.com/Diets/Gluten-Free.aspx.
  • There has been some concern over the term “Emulsifiers”  but I have yet to see a “for sure” that this is a sure indication of gluten.
  • Other words to watch for that may or may not indicate Gluten content are “Stabilizers” and “Thickeners“.  Just remember that NOT all of these contain Gluten.
  • There is also a great list of “Unsafe Foods” prepared by Scott Adams and published on Celiac.com.

Try and follow these steps in order to readily apply this information to a shopping trip.

  1. Notice the 10 words in red (above).  These are the major buzzer words that should make you pause as you read the food label.
  2. In order to memorize these 10 major buzzer words.  Consider constructing a word-tree or some sort of memory-bulding device such as this regarding a Grocery List from OneSmartClick.com.   Also, here are some tips from MSNBC and from the Brain Fitness Channel on memory tests and maintenance.
  3. Next, notice that following each of the first seven major buzzer ingredients in red above there is the word “unless“, which is underlined and in italics. 
  4. Note that the ingredients listed after each “unless” are anything BUT wheat
  5. So, from here it is easy.  When reading food labels, let the words you have memorized in RED be your buzzer, then simply read along after each is noted on an ingredient panel to determine whether or not this time, it contains Wheat, Rye, Barley or Oats.  

  OK, I know this may not be as easy as I made it seem just now.  But if you try it, you will find out just how easy it was for you.

  I did and it has helped a lot.  It helped simplify my Gluten-Free Life Quest.

Posted in 100 Ways to G-F Simplicity | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Gluten Cravings When Maybe All I Really Need is Some Serotonin

Posted by nepeht on December 27, 2008

  XX Days now and no pizza. But then I ask, Why do I want that stuff so badly? It’s the cheese that I think of most. Then that sizzling pepperoni. I know… just like an addict. A Gluten Addict.

  Food cravings have lots of alleged causes.  According to one source, these can include shortages of various things from certain vitamins to even a shortage in friends or exercise.  This article is very interesting in that it discusses cravings on several levels (i.e., physical, social, psychological, sensory etc…).

 Perhaps it would be smart to try and better understand the connection between serotonin and Gluten-Sensitivity.  What is serotonin?  Serotonin is:

“Serotonin (pronounced [s to n n]) (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract of animals including humans. Serotonin is also found in many mushrooms and plants, including fruits and vegetables.” From Dogpile Websource.

They go on to explain: “In the central nervous system, serotonin is believed to play an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin may be associated with several disorders, namely increase in aggressive and angry behaviors, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders[citation needed] and intense religious experiences[1].”

The Unknown Zone (c.2008, WTB)

The Unknown Zone (c.2008, WTB)

  So perhaps I can hazard a guess here:  People with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Sensitivity may experience diet-induced inconsistencies in their levels of Serotonin thus possibly effecting and/or exaggerating various symptoms of CD or Gluten-Sensitivity and this might also include cravings.

  Wow!! That’s a head-full.  It might not make any sense.  But then again, perhaps it does.  I just need to read more and perhaps I will be able to either confirm or dismantle this guess / hypothesis.

  A WebMD author notes that there is particular sensitivity for those of us who are allergic to Gluten.   Serotonin deficiency is discussed and accompanied with a list of recommendations which some of us are all too familiar:

  • “Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, and amphetamines.
  • Increase your exposure to bright light or sunlight to 1-2 hours a day.
  • Get 60 minutes of moderate or moderately intense exercise every day.
  • Make sure you get enough deep, restful sleep every night” from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/snack-attack-coping-with-cravings.

  Naturally, some of these things are related to each other and problems with one might make another recommendation difficult.  I would be dishonest if I said all of these things were a breeze for me.

  If we look at cravings and snacking behaviors as being related as well as food addiction, then we can also possibly apply some of the information we find about food addiction and serotonin.  For example, it seems that certain foods, like those with high carbohydrates can act like serotonin boosters in the blood stream and thus possibly influence the mood of the muncher.  This blog goes on to state,

“The serotonin-boosting effects of carbohydrates may explain why addicts in recovery, as well as carbohydrate cravers and PMS sufferers, show a tendency to binge on sugar foods. Abstaining addicts apparently turned to the over consumption of carbohydrates as a means of attempting to redress the neurotransmitter imbalances at the heart of their disorder. Perhaps some addicts discover early in life that carbohydrate-rich foods are their drug of choice” http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2007/11/food-addiction.html.

According to GoAskAlice.Columbia.edu,

“Certain foods that increase serotonin levels aren’t the healthiest choices either. Believe it or not, candy and sweets, which are simple carbohydrates, have the greatest impact, but the effect will only last 1 – 2 hours. Complex carbohydrates (rice, potato, pasta) may increase serotonin levels, but not to the same extent because the protein content of these foods might actually inhibit serotonin production” http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/0515.html.

   It is not necessarily so that we are addicted to Gluten, or that I am craving that pizza dough.  Moreso, I may be instead craving that mood altering feeling I get with a surge a sarotonin just after I binge-out on some heavy carbs after a good long while’s craving for it. 

  Perhaps this is why I recall hearing of some anti-depressents (aka Serotonin influencers) being prescribed for cravings of various types.

  Interesting.

Posted in G-F PsychoBabble, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Gluten Free Lipstick??? Don’t Be A CHICKEN!!!

Posted by nepeht on December 26, 2008

  Ok.. so how do you tell her nicely… and without future consequences,

I was downright Chicken!!! (c.2008, WTB)

I was downright Chicken!!! (c.2008, WTB)

  “Hey… don’t kiss me with that Lipstick on?”   Wow… could this lead you into trouble or what??? 
  Good question? I think so…
  Anyway, this is for real. Some cosmetics are chock-full of Gluten. There has been a great discussion about this on the Celiac Forum Blog. They even published a list of some of the cosmetic ingredients which contain hidden gluten. http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/lofiversion/index.php/t34.html .
  Check it out.

  I had to walk around like a chicken for days and weeks trying to think up a way to tell her….

  Don’t Be A CHICKEN!!!  Just give her the list and go from there…. Good luck!!!

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Way #22: Recognizing Gluten Relapses as They Happen Might Help as One Attains Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 26, 2008

22. Recognizing Gluten Relapses as They Happen Might Help as One Attains Gluten-Free Simplicity.

  Face it, Relapse happens.  I would even go as far as to say that Relapse is often a part of Recovery.  Just because a person relapses, does not mean that she/he is giving up on recovery.

  It is difficult to be completely free of Gluten in the U.S. today.  Even if one wants to and tries their best, there seem to be all those hidden sources of Gluten that can sneak up from behind us and put us down for a while.

  The point is, the sooner one recognizes Gluten intake as a “relapse”; the sooner that person can try and get back on the wagon of Gluten-Freedom.

  One topic that we could talk about all day would be the idea of how Gluten exposure can cause a relapse of symptoms and pathologies of other diseases such as Celiac Disease.  http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=13417930.  Granted, this can be awful and even dangerous.

  But the topic for this post is the idea of relapsing with the Gluten itself.  Yes, as if it were a drug or a substance that one might be addicted to.  This is in no way a comment on ones character.  More so, this is a simple acknowledgement of how powerful Gluten can be in our lives in the U.S.  Particularly if we NEED to NOT have Gluten in our bodies.

  Think about it.

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Way #32: Gracefully Accept the Shortcomings of Others Regarding Gluten Sensitivity and/or Celiac Disease on the Way to Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 25, 2008

Way #32: Gracefully Accept the Shortcomings of Others Regarding Gluten Sensitivity and/or Celiac Disease on the Way to Gluten-Free Simplicity.

  Going through life with any illness, much less one as unpopular as Gluten-Sensitivity or Celiac Disease can be difficult.  One is bound to run into people who are either ignorant and mean no harm or are insensitive and mean no harm by the things they do (or do not do) and say regarding such maladies.  Hopefully, one will only encounter very few who actually mean harm.

  Unfortunately, with a disease such as Celiac or something else that includes Gluten-Sensitivity, people doing things that some consider “normal” can produce results that are simply unbearable.  And this can come through 100% innocent intentions and effort.

  Consider these examples of innocent, but unfortunate actions:

  1. The doctor prescribes a medication for you that contains gluten.
  2. A friend or family member surprises you with a wheat-filled birthday cake.
  3. The Boss orders pizza for the entire staff as a way of showing appreciation.
  4. A fast-food service person cannot figure out how one would possibly serve a hamburger without the bun.
  5. As guests at a friend’s house, the main dish and others are filled with gluten.
  6. Asking a bartender to give you a gluten-free beer, she/he laughs and poors freely regardless of gluten contents.
  7. An ultra religious person of the pre-enlightenment persuasion proclaims confidently that your Gluten-Allergy is God’s way of righting the wrongs you have done in your life but you thought would never be found out.
  8. The manager at your favorite store is either unable or unwilling to stock more Gluten-Free products.
  9. A well-meaning manufacturer of a Cross-Contaminated product takes considerable time to retool and the provide rice wihtout Gluten, but at a significantly higher price.
  10. A sibling proclaims that the Gluten allergy problem is a matter of choice for people who never grew up and are still choosy eaters.
  11. A stranger standing in line near you makes a seemingly disparaging and discriminatory remark about people with chronic health problems.
  12. A well-meaning friend outs you to others by telling them all about the Gluten-Issue.
  13. A progressive restaurant that everyone really loves has not even a clue of a Gluten-Free Menu.
  14. Your partner makes you a special Gluten-Free dish but unknowingly cross-contaminates it with Gluten.
  15. A busy cook in one of her/his moods at your favorite diner cannot do a special meal for you by simply leaving off Gluten-Containing items.

  Any one of these situations could make a person with Gluten-Sensitivity frustrated.  And I would be less than truthful if I said I had never (over)reacted to such.  I cannot blame them for that.But in the long run from a larger perspective, it is clear that much of this type of behavior — while often harmful to self and/or others — comes from an innocent place.  

  Many of these things happen simply due to otherwise benevolent others simply NOT knowing. 

  In no way could I begin to agree with some of the false logic, the insensitivity, or the ignorance that underlies some of these items.  But we are to some extent, a product of our environment .  In many cases we can provide some information which might help enlighten them.  In other cases, we have to just move on with Grace.

Posted in 100 Ways to G-F Simplicity, G-F PsychoBabble | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Way #30: Avoid Unnecessary Temptations as you Move Toward Your Version of Gluten-Free Simplicity

Posted by nepeht on December 23, 2008

Way #30: Avoid Unnecessary Temptations as you Move Toward Your Version of Gluten-Free Simplicity.

  Remember that saying, “Out of sight; out of mind”?  Of course you do. 

  This posting is about things like that which one can use to help simplify their Gluten-Free Life.  Here are some ideas to try:

  1. Store Breads and other obvious Gluten-Containing Items out of direct sight.
  2. Do not stock Gluten-Containing Items in your home unless absolutely necessary for a cohabitant.
  3. Make a list of favorite and healthy G-F snacks.
  4. Be sure to have lots of easy-to-grab snacks like fruits, cheeses, and G-F popcorn. 
  5. If your kitchen has Gluten-Containing Items, segregate your kitchen according to Gluten Content.
  6. Stock your kitchen with plenty of Gluten-Free foods (but only the ones you know you like). 
  7. If eating out, politely ask servers to leave Gluten-Containing items off of your plate when you are served.  “Save it for someone else.”
  8. If you are really hungry, politely ask servers to substitute your Gluten-Containing Item for another item that is both health y and Gluten-Free.  Exchange your piece of cake for a piece of fruit or ask for more Grits in place of the toast.
  9. Avoid hanging out in Bakeries, Sandwich Shops, Bars and other places where Gluten tends to be in like 90% of the products served or sold.
  10. Frequently carry a G-F snack (like hidden in a brief case or backpack) so that you can enjoy that quickly rather than choosing something else (possibly G-Contaminated) in a hurry later.
  11. Avoid shopping when you are really really hungry.  There is probably a higher tendency toward snacking in the store and what with availability of G-Items, that could be a problem or at best an invitation to Relapse.
  12. Avoid Group-Level Peer Attention Sessions where your Gluten-Related Situation/Needs/Uniqueness is the major topic.  You might try it a few times and if it feels comfortable, go for it.  But do not be afraid to change the subject if you feel uncomfortable.  Remember, there is no real need to explain in depth when politely turning down food or beverage.
  13. If you run into a situation and have a relapse that seems to be closely related to being in that particular situation, then beware the next time you are heading into that situation.  Plan ahead to avoid it next time.
  14. When preparing for spending time in a setting where you are not sure about availability of G-F products, go ahead and take some things along in order to insure you will have some safe resources on-hand.
  15. If something looks really good but you are not sure if it has Gluten, read the label, ask someone, look it up on the Internet.

  Surely there are many other ways to avoid temptation.  Send me a few if you think of them.

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