Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A burst of Gluten-Free Liquid-Gushers

Gushers, Fruit Roll-ups, Gummy Candies, Licorice, Sour Straws, Gummy snacks.  Ahh, those days... Those days I didn't worry about the ingredients or the calorie intake.  I could sit home watching TV and eat an entire box of Fruit Roll-ups and never feel sick (whether it be gluten induced or junk food crap stomach-ache induced).  I could eat candy, chocolate and ice cream for eternity.  I used to dream candy and processed junk food like it was my job.  The only thing I needed to worry about was cavities.  As a kid and a teen I seemed to have a very fast metabolism, and never had to worry about gaining weight.  I somehow just lost it.  So it was cavities.  

As a child my mom did the grocery shopping so I didn't need to worry about reading labels, decoding ingredients and sounding out the gluten from the side ingredient list on the box.  Does this have gluten? Is this an additive? a thickener? hidden gluten? aye aye!.  But like I said, I didn't have to worry, or think to worry that what I was eating was destroying me.  Not yet at least.  I hadn't been diagnosed.

Fast forward...

In 2006 I embarked on my Gluten-Free journey.  Buzz Kill much?! Ugh.  Not that I would sit and eat barrels of fruit roll-ups like I did when I was a kid, but what if I wanted licorice or gummy's?  I was forever banished from my favorite junk food candy.  Oh well, can't win that battle.  I moved on.

Fast Foward...

In the last year "labeling" has reached a whole other level.  I am noticing that many labels are identifying more information.  If it says Modified Starch, it will indicate whether it is wheat or corn derived.  Labels have more details.  More packaging actually says "gluten-free".  Some labels even promote it with fancy lettering or oversize colorful lettering with squiggly marks and such!  It's great to finally see some recognition.

Speaking of info, I was hanging out at my parents house and my 15 year old brother (such a knowledgeable boy)! advised me that Gushers Fruit crap candy that all kids love is in fact GLUTEN FREE.  Yippie Yi Ya!  In Lieu of this news I celebrated by consuming an entire box : 6 packages by the way of gusher sour gummy goodness just because I finally found out I could have it.  I had felt deprived and needed not just one package but the entire box.  I can tell you  now? Never again!  Sick to my stomach.  No gluten, just processed crap.  (Well over 800 calories in snacks).  I guess my 34 year old stomach cannot handle what my 15 year old stomach could.  LOL.

          Check out those magic words highlighted in purple!! 

To those kiddies and parents out there-Even though this is not the healthiest snack, and has lots of sugar, it is gluten-free!

Happy Gluten-Freeing!

xoxo Julie

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Original Fudgsicle Mishap

                             My Grocery Cart

About 3 months ago I was in the market as usual,  doing my weekly grocery shopping, in the second to last row: the freezer section.  I wanted my weekly fudge pop indulgence.  I grabbed the package in the backity back!! The most frozen one I could find, and decided to blog this wonderful gluten free treat.  I realized I had never blogged about this fudge pop being gluten-free, and how silly of me to keep this tid bit to myself.  So I grabbed my phone to take a picture of the front and back of the box.  I gasped! omg, omg, omg.  I starred at the ingredients.  MALT FLOUR.  Yikes!  No way!  It can't be.  How come I never noticed this before?  Did the ingredients change?  Was it always like this?  Something had to have changed and then to top it off I noticed at the bottom of the ingredients list: CARAMEL COLORING (yes, sometimes derived from corn, and yes always check, but I have a serious reaction to Caramel coloring, and many other Celiac's do as well)...I never had any symptoms.  But then I stopped there, dead in my tracks.  I recalled having mysterious symptoms, figuring it was gluten, but unable to figure out from where...I always check the ingredients....

As it turns out, I had neglected to check the ingredients.  I want to assume, that I must have assumed they were fine and gluten-free.  For the life of me I cannot figure out why I made such a stupid move.  Never assume.

I can't even tell you how many months with even the possibility of years on and off!! did I eat The Original Fudgsicle 40 calorie pops.  It was the best evening snack ever!  And I used to eat 2.  Forever I promoted The Fudgsicle to friends and family.  And here all this time I thought it was Gluten-free.  Always.  Never a doubt in my mind.

Once I saw the word Malt, I googled it.  Malt Powder, and does it have gluten like I think it does?  It does.  I actually found a few blog posts where other Celiac's experienced this same incident.  There were even posts dated back to 2009.  So it looks like in this case I am the fool, because clearly Malt powder has been in these babies for quite a while.

The moral of the story?  Check.  Always CHECK.  Even if you are an expert, a Doctor, A beginner, A friend, A family member, A boyfriend who knows everything or a fellow Celiac.  Check.  There are times when we experience Cross Contamination or what I like to call Slippage.  There are going to be times that you slip, completely unintentional.  Mystery symptoms are a constant and consistent reminder to get yourself in CHECK.  If you are having symptoms and are on the gluten-free diet, re-check what you are eating.  

Happy Gluten-Freeing!

xoxo Julie

Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

**found in April 2011, Food And Wine Magazine
Total Prep: 25 minutes

This is the perfect salad for those who LOVE Blue Cheese: wisk some cheese into the vinaigrette, then sprinkle more on top of the salad before serving.

1/2 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp. very finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
2 romaine hearts, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Fuji apple, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tbsp. thinly shredded basil leaves

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast them for about 10 minutes, until they are golden.  Let cool, then coarsely chop.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the shallot with the Dijon mustard and cider vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil and whisk until smooth.  Add half of the blue cheese and whisk until the dressing is creamy.  Add the lettuce, fennel, carrots, cucumber, apple, avocado, basil and walnuts and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the salad well to coat with the dressing.  Top with the remaining blue cheese and serve right away.

Enjoy! xoxo Julie