Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pizza Revisited

Introducing my favorite Maxie's Pizza: Idiot's Delight, regular crust. This is not the pizza I ate last night; it has gluten; it would make my tummy hurt very badly.

Next slide: This is the salad I built for myself at the salad bar. Salad bars are always a risky proposition for the gluten endangered; someone might have dropped crouton crumbs in the gluten-free ranch dressing you drizzle over your garbanzo beans. I usually try to stay away from the crouton area of the bar, but this is a small one. The world doesn't worry about cross contamination, because food is not, by nature, poison to them. But I wasn't always gluten endangered and I can't possibly count the times I had a crouton roll off of my plate while I was making my salad (I have been a salad bar frequenter since they first came on the scene back when I was in high school...we are talking a looooonnnnnggggggg time. My favorite salad bar was at a now long-gone pizza place called Grizzly Bear Pizza. I was in high school and I would use cucumber slices to build up the sides of the little wooden bowl so I could get more stuff in there. It was a once through bar and I wanted my money's worth. I dropped a lot of croutons in the Grizzly Bear Pizza salad bar. Their croutons were aweso...sorry, I digress).

My buddy, Betty, got the veggie pizza. Doesn't it look wonderful? I think that Betty had the advantage, because she had never eaten a Maxie's Pizza Idiot's Delight with glutenized crust; she seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps she would have more if it weren't for my initial lament that what I was eating was not even close to what I had eaten the last time I was there. Sigh...

The next picture is of my Hawaiian pizza. The price of admission allowed for three toppings, but I haven't found another ingredient on the planet that enhances the flavors Canadian bacon and pineapple afford the palate. Allow me tell try to convey to you (who don't writhe in pain over wheat, rye, oats or barley) what it is like to bite into gluten-free, pizza dough for the first time. It turns out that gluten is an important part of your favorite pizza dough. It doesn't just hold it together and give it that wonderful texture you have grown up knowing and loving, it also adds amazing flavor (or maybe that is just the nature of the grain). The gluten-free crust beneath my Canadian bacon and my pineapple and my tomato sauce and my cheese was crumbly and cake-ish and somewhat sweet. It literally shocked my mouth. Silly me.

I was well into my second piece when I finally had to reconcile with the reality that I couldn't expect this pizza to taste like it was supposed to taste. (Like poor Pip in Great Expectations, my own expectations went unrealized. The Maxie's Idiot's Delight Pizza I remember will just have to sit in my mind's dining hall, gathering dust and cobwebs, molding and turning gray like poor, altar-abandoned Miss Havisham's wedding cake.) I had to come to terms with the fact that this mound of calories was what it was, a gluten free pizza. After reaching this philosophical point in the meal, I actually enjoyed it; I embraced the dough; I looked at it in that new light and accepted it on its own terms; I ate a third piece and I may not eat again until lunch time today.

My pizza box (no toxic Styrofoam for me!) Notice the territorial signs.

And speaking of Italian food: Earlier in the week, I made some homemade Ratatouille. It isn't quite as exciting as making it with eggplant, green peppers, tomatoes and onions freshly nabbed from the back yard, but it was still delicious. Eggplant Ratatouille Pie is a friend to the gluten intolerant; it is naturally gluten free, so there is no need for tastebudinal adjustments.
Tweaked Ratatouille Pie
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

a couple of eggplants, sliced paper thin (maybe cardboard thin)
some onions, chopped till you weep
a green pepper or so, cut up however you want
3 or 4 tomatoes, slice, dice, whatever
a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
shredded Italian blend cheese (as much as you like)

Drizzle part of the oil over the bottom of a 9x13 glass casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with half of the oregano and basil and a little salt. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over that layer. Make a second layer with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining oregano, basil, salt and this time, the garlic. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and the wine vinegar. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, spread remaining cheese over the top, put back in oven for another 10, or until the cheese is nicely browned.

Winterized: I used S&W diced, canned tomatoes instead of fresh. They worked out pretty well.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I had one food moment this past summer that was truly the first time I had been really, really tempted to eat gluten on purpose. My mom and my daughter had gone out to eat at Maxie's Pizza, a restaurant I have been frequenting since I was a teenager. They make awesome pizza and it has always been a favorite of mine.

So, the ladies went there and I stayed home. No problem. I don't mind if others go out to eat, or even eat glutenized food in front of far, so good. They came home; they had leftovers in little toxic Styrofoam boxes; I am okay with that. Mom put hers in the fridge; my daughter left hers on the counter. I walked into the kitchen and saw the offending box sitting in there...I wondered why. I thought, perhaps it is empty. I opened the box to see...and there, staring at me with you-know-you-want-me olive eyes...the pizza!!!

I closed the box and put it in the fridge; but it was the toughest gluten encounter I have faced (the close encounters don't count because I really didn't want to do any of that-especially the toothbrush!)

The good news? It turns out that the mother of the owner of said pizza parlor has celiac disease! I am not happy about this, but it has brought about an interesting turn of events. This coming Tuesday evening, my husband and I are joining a number of people from our local support group for pizza! We bring in our own, store-bought crusts, and they will cook them up with whatever toppings we want (the gluten tolerant will be having normal crusts)! They also welcome us to bring our crusts and come in any time; they will clean up the oven and bake us safe pizzas and we don't have to call ahead. I am very excited about this. One shouldn't be so excited about food. I will try to remember to take my camera and take some shots of the pizza (maybe some people too) to share with you later.

See Dan, I have a Christmas pizza story too!

Friday, December 26, 2008


The place to find out if a company had gluten free products is in the FAQ section of their website. Not all companies have this feature, but often times the gluten question is answered there.

Here is a list of FAQ pages I have found. I will add to this as I find more, so check back; I will keep them in alphabetical order. I am labeling this Company FAQ's, so you can easily get back here. My labels are listed in the side column.

Again: ALWAYS CHECK LABELS; my mom can't have soy and though Newman's Own lists some products soy free, we looked on the label and soy was listed. BE CAREFUL; you are the one who will suffer if you get gluten, not the companies.

Again and again: If you have sites you have discovered, please either list them in a comment to this post, or email me at glutenfreesleuth at gmail dot com

B&G Foods (Ac' cent®, B&G®, B&M® Baked Beans, Brer Rabbit®, Emeril's®, Grandmas®, Las Palmas®, Polaner®, Regina®, Underwood® Spreads, Vermont Maid®, Wright's®)

Bob's Red Mill (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for several gf questions.)

Del Monte

Frito Lay (click on FAQ's at top; then click on Most Common Questions)




Lee & Perrins

Lighthouse Foods

Lundberg Family Farms


Newman's Own

Pamela's (This is not an FAQ page; it is their allergen list.)

Reser's (I won't eat their products.)


True North

V8 (The FAQ link is at the bottom of the page; the gluten question is the second one from the bottom.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I received this email from my friend Sarah. And then the next week she brought each of us who are glutenly challenged in our church a sample of her handiwork. These are delicious and have a wonderful texture; thanks Sarah!

"I just had a GF baking success!!!! This is my first try at making GF sugar cookies. I must say I was a little skeptical at the prospect of rolling a GF dough, but was pleasantly surprised at the results. I do not recall which website I got this from last year (too busy then to try it!). The cookies did spread a little while baking, (maybe try a little more flour next time??) and the recipe really means 9 minutes for baking time. GF SUGAR COOKIES 3 C. GF flour mix* 1 t. soda 1 t. cream of tartar 1 C. butter (softened worked fine) 2 eggs 1 C. white sugar 1 t. flavoring (vanilla, almond,etc.) Sift dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Beat eggs; add sugar and flavoring. Pour egg mixture into dry; mix well by hand. Chill at least 15 min. up to a few days (1 1/2 hours was good.) Roll on floured surface, cut. Bake 350 for 9 minutes - NO LONGER! Remove immediately from baking sheet. *I used Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose flour. The recipe lists this GF flour mix. Bette Hagman is the author of GF cookbooks. Bette Hagman's flour mix: 2/3 part Garfava bean flour 1/3 part Sorghum flour 1 part Cornstarch 1 part Tapioca flour

Have a yummy and Merry Christmas!

Artichoke Dip

Costco carries the nicest Artichoke Jalapeno dip, but it contains gluten. Last year, during the holidays, I decided I was going to make my own, so I did a search on the web for recipes. As I looked over the many varieties, I realized that none of them seemed to be quite complete. I read through, chose ingredients that I thought would blend well, added some of my own and the result is decadent, fattening, unhealthy and delicious. I don't recommend it for daily consumption, but if you serve this at that special party, you won't have any leftovers.

Delicious Artichoke Pepper Dip

2 - 8 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped up
2 - 4 oz cans of green chili peppers (mild, medium, or hot according to your preference)
4 oz jar of pimento peppers, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups gluten-free mayonnaise
2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded white cheese (Romano, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

In a mixing bowl, stir together mayo, all cheeses, and sour cream. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients and spread into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until light brown on top.

Yummy stuff.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Close Encounters

Sigh...I haven't purposefully eaten gluten for almost 2 years, so what is up with this?

Close Encounter A
Recently we had some left over roast beef and I was heading towards the kitchen and thought I would fix myself a roast beef sandwich. My mind imagined me taking a bite of it and I was actually reaching for the wheat bread when I stopped myself. I haven't had a decent sandwich since I went gluten free. You would think it wouldn't come so naturally. So, what is up with that?

Close Encounter B
My husband teaches a men's Bible study on Tuesday nights. I figured out I can provide fresh-baked cookies, without worrying about that dangerous glutenful flour in the air, if I just buy the sugary chemical-filled Toll House cookie dough and bake it up before the guys arrive. I did that tonight: gooey peanut butter cookies. I was moving them from the bar pan to the plate. I got some of that ooey gooey stuff on my finger. I put my finger in my mouth. It tasted soooo good! I didn't swallow; I realized right off how stupid I was and went to the sink and spit and washed my mouth out. What is up with that?!?

Will I ever escape the evil Glutenator?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Products you might use: no longer gluten free

This information was in an email that was forwarded to me about several products which were listed as gluten free, but are no longer considered to be so. Grateful to have this information! Note the website link where more updates are posted.

Original source:

Swanson - All Swanson Broths (12/9/08)
Old El Paso - Cheesy Mexican Rice (12/9/08); Spanish Rice (12/9/08)
Pace - All salsas (12/9/08)
Prego - All Prego Sauces (12/9/08)
Campbells - All Campbell's soups (12/9/08)
Hersheys - Good & Plenty (5/8/08)
Emerald - Tropical Blend Trail Mix (7/1/08)
Bob's Red Mill - Corn Grits (10/30/08)

Sorry if any of these are staples for you. Lesson: take nothing for granted; always read the labels.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Genetic Testing

I received an email through the support group I am a part of and one of our members sent a link to an article on genetic testing. This is a PDF file. It has convinced me that I want to have the test. I will not be doing that till the spring, but it is my desire to do so.

Here is the first paragraph, to wet your whistle:

When an individual is diagnosed with celiac disease, the entire family learns that they must be tested on a regular basis for the condition, for they are now at risk. First degree relatives (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 22 chance of developing celiac disease in their lifetimes; in second degree relatives, (aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent) the risk is 1 in 39. Only lifetime screening can help family members reduce the long term impact of celiac disease and facilitate a quick diagnosis. They learn that regular antibody testing is necessary because celiac disease is a genetic condition and could appear again in the family at any time.

I am wanting to do more research on the phrase long term impact, my understanding is that once you stop eating gluten, the small intestines heal up. I need to know what to expect.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dear Santa,

I have been a good girl this year and I would like a subscription to Living Without Magazine...

Merry Christmas!
The Gluten Free Sleuth

I have been attending a Celiac support group for three months now. As I have shared with friends, I was hesitant to attend because I expected it to be some sort of, "Hi, my name is Becky and I am a Celiac*". It is not like that at all. I am getting to know some great people and I am learning a lot (some of which I would rather not know, but need to know).

One thing that I have been introduced to is the Living Without Magazine. It addresses food allergies--soy, milk, nuts, etc.--but for our purposes, it is full of gluten-free recipes and resources. It is one periodical where you will pay attention to the advertizements!

They have a website and this link takes you to the page where you can prescribe to the magazine and/or sign up for regular emailings of gf recipes.
*For the record: I have not been diagnosed, so I am not sure if I am merely gluten intolerant or have Celiac's disease...but the pain's the same either way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crock Pot Recipes

My friend, Sarah (whose daughter has celiac) told me about this blog.

She said that many of the recipes there are gluten free and she likes it because they have already been tested on the Crockpot Lady's family. Sarah hasn't tried the recipes yet, but plans to. If you try any of them and they are gluten-free recipes and your family likes them, you should comment on this post to let us know. [Or email me at glutenfreesleuth at gmail dot com (replacing the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with ".") if commenting is too freaky for you.]

Monday, December 1, 2008

Celiacs and Autism

From what I understand, there are many children with autism who are having marked improvement on gluten-free diets. This is not saying that they have celiacs, just that the diet helps them. According to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, 1 in 133 people in the US have Celiacs. At Autism Speaks they say that 1 in 150 people are diagnosed with that disease. I find the similarity in the stats interesting. Not drawing any conclusions or implying anything; I just find them interesting.

Other things we must watch out for

I appreciate it when companies bother to post whether (and which) products are gluten free. At a recent Celiac support group meeting, I was told that, besides the foods we eat, other products we use must be gluten free. This has sent me sleuthing for a variety of things. I recently did a search at Burt's Bees. I have their Baby Bee Buttermilk Lotion and am wondering if it is safe. They have a PDF page listing the products that are gluten free. On the list they only list Baby Bee Lotion, but Buttermilk is not there. I searched their products and found that they only have the Buttermilk Lotion, so I suspect it is fine, but I sent an email to be sure. When I get the answer, I will add an update to this post.
I also want to add that not all companies who post info about gluten content on their websites make that information easy to find. With some, if you can find a link to FAQ's, you will find the gluten question and answer there, but with many sites you have to search forever to find it. Lots of companies don't bother, so you have to contact them direct. Most I have contacted have responded, but some never do. As awareness and understanding increases, perhaps companies will be more open about this.

Dear Becky:

Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry, the Baby Bee Buttermilk lotion is an approved item and is Gluten free. [Sleuth note: The attachment was the same as the PDF list I linked to above.]

I hope that this information helps, if you have any additional questions and or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Best Regards,

Tiffany K.

Consumer Care
Burt's Bees Inc.
1-800-849-7112 option 4
Mon-Fri 10am-4:30pm EST