Category Archives: Gluten-Free Blogfriends and Resources

Not in order of importance

  • Wish I lived in Minneapolis!  Well, not really, but if I did, I would DEFINITELY be going to this:  A Procraftinator’s Delight, hosted by one of my favorite bloggers.
  • When I was in the process of choosing which college to attend, I automatically disqualified any whose promotional literature had misspellings, glaring grammatical errors, sloppy art layout, etc.  With that in mind, one might be leery of a website called The Best Colleges when it publishes articles rife with the same.  Still.  This article, The World’s 15 Most Extraordinary Homeschoolers, is well worth a read.  Tim Tebow?  Who DOESN’T know he was homeschooled?  The Jonas Brothers?  Knew that, too.  But Condoleezza Rice?  Francis Collins (the evangelical Christian and renowned scientist, appointed by Obama, no less, to be director of the NIH)?  The list is inspiring and profoundly interesting.
  • The lift pin assembly

    Weird things make me feel old.  Yesterday, it was the fact that my pressure cooker apparently needs some parts replaced, the gasket and lift pin assembly.  Why does this make me feel ancient?  Because these parts are made of rubber, which becomes brittle (and ineffective) with AGE.  ~sigh~  Finding out that these parts would cost me $21 plus shipping made me a wee bit upset.  Doing some searching to find out that

    • a) a replacement pressure cooker would run me upwards of $50, and
    • b) doing some price comparisons online would save me $10 or so (from here) made me feel slightly better about my purchase.  I still feel old, though.
  • I am THRILLED to report that Fiala is doing much better. The infection on her face is gone, though it’s having a hard time clearing up, as she keeps scratching the still-healing spots.  The bed situation that I wrote about a week ago or so finally came to pass;  I set up both girls in their new beds yesterday — Audrey in her new-to-us twin bed, and Fiala in the toddler bed that used to be Audrey’s.  Fiala fell out of bed once last night, in spite of a guard rail, and she did not nap well — well, didn’t nap at ALL — in her new bed yesterday, but that was really due to the visit of our beloved nephew Nick and his darling girlfriend PLUS it being a new bed PLUS us working on potty-training PLUS her having diarrhea every 10-15 minutes because of horrid Augmentin due to her ear infection.  I don’t think I wrote about that.  Her eardrum burst on Friday.  Apparently, the bacteria which caused it were not covered by the antibiotics that she’d already been on for more than two weeks.  In spite of the fact that the Solaray BabyLife probiotics that we have for her contain rice maltodextrin, and she’s previously demonstrated that rice is an allergy problem for her wee body, I had decided that an eczema outbreak from the maltodextrin was the lesser of two evils, even though her skin is finally starting to clear up from the six weeks?  two months? of outbreak that she’s suffered through.  ANYWAY.  I was remarking to a friend that the “good news” from her having diarrhea is that it seemed to be giving her a greater awareness of her… elimination process, of which she was blissfully unaware, which made potty-training heretofore impossible.  We’re not all the way there yet with toilet adeptness, but we’re getting there.  I have hope.
  • Having local gluten-free friends ROCKS.  These may seem minor to most of you, but I am so thankful for:
    • a neighbor, whom I “met” through the Phoenix Celiac Yahoo group (and subsequently discovered we live a couple of streets away from each other), dropped off a darling little box of goodies:  three truffles, some oat-almond candy crunch, a mini pumpkin pie, and a mini cheesecake.  Usually, treats received from loving friends and well-meaning neighbors receive wistful glances from me, as I give them to my two gluten-eating children, Ethan and Grant.  I can’t recall ever having something dropped off to our home where I could eat every single thing.  I meant to only sample the goodies, but, I confess, I schnarfed down ALL of them.
    • Last night, at the grocery store, I called my friend Kim.  We live across town from each other, but she feels closer.  😀  Even though she was sick, the poor raspy-voiced thing, we chatted about teff and millet, and grinding our own grain, and what grain works well in which application, etc.  She looked up some stuff online for me, as I shopped.  I had a goofy grin the whole time, because it is SO NICE to be able to just pick up the phone and talk with someone about things that are akin to a foreign language to most people…
  • I am thankful for:  At least $300 in new or nearly-new jeans, given to me by my sweet friend, Brenda, who had been given them by her sister.  Her sister had recently lost a lot of weight, and now, two pairs of Lucky jeans, a pair of Guess jeans, and five or six other pair, are now nestled happily in my drawer.  🙂  I’m set.  That’s a good thing for me, because I wear jeans virtually every day of my life.  I have to lose more weight for some of them to fit better, but that’s a good thing, right?  Motivation.
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GFCF Wholegrain Sandwich Bread

Click here for a simpler breadmaker wholegrain GFCF bread recipe.

A while back, I blogged about my lack of success in making gluten-free sandwich bread.  It seemed like no recipe I tried or created was successful, especially after our family also became casein (dairy) free, and double-especially, since I was looking for a recipe that uses a lot of whole grains.  A fellow gluten-free blogger, Carrie, at Ginger Lemon Girl, read of my plight, and referred me to a recipe she had recently created.  As I read her highly-detailed post, my hopes rose.

Carrie, like me, is the sort of cook (and baker) who would rather use a LOT of ingredients to get a perfect result, instead of trying to use the fewest, resulting in a product that is simply edible.  Though her recipe used a host of ingredients, I had all but one (millet flour) in my pantry.  I quickly bought some millet, and set to work.

The only problem was that Carrie doesn’t need to avoid dairy, and her recipe contains nonfat powdered milk.  I thought, “Well, I’ll just substitute rice milk powder!”  I tried that.  The results:  Beautifully crusty, tasty bread with marvelous texture that absolutely caved in the middle upon baking.  The loaves simply imploded.

But, even with its sunken center, the bread itself was by far the best-tasting GFCF bread that I’d ever tried.  So, I thought I’d tinker with it until I could get bread that stayed “puffy” as it baked.

You should see my printed copy of Carrie’s recipe.  It is covered with pencilled notes that are variously crossed out or circled.  After about TWELVE attempts over six weeks, slightly modifying ingredients and/or procedure each time, with varying degrees of success, I finally hit upon the right combination!!  I cannot express how absolutely thrilled I was.

Here’s a rundown of what I changed:

  • First, in order to make two large loaves, I multiplied Carrie’s recipe by one-and-a-half times.
  • In lieu of the dairy milk powder, I use a smaller amount of rice milk powder PLUS a bit of rice protein powder.
  • I increased the amount of yeast used.
  • I decreased the amount of brown sugar.
  • I decreased the amount of water.
  • In lieu of Smart Balance margarine, I use Butter Flavored Crisco (which IS casein-free).
  • In lieu of Bob’s Red Mill (yellow) millet flour, I’m using dark/”black” millet flour, also called bajri flour.  I’m certain that the recipe would be successful with either choice.

Why those changes?  Well, taking out the dairy milk powder decreases the protein.  Adding plain rice milk powder adds too much sugar.  And, for whatever reason, if I used Carrie’s amount of liquids, the end result would be tasty bread whose top caved.  Also, Butter Crisco has no actual liquid (unlike most other margarines), and baked goods made with Butter Crisco tend not to spread as much.

So…  Though the resulting loaves, using my modified recipe, are slightly gnarly on top, they work.  Also, the resulting bread slices aren’t quite as pliable as Carrie’s bread, both likely due to the lower moisture content.  But, the bread still browns beautifully, is wonderfully crusty, slices as thick or as thin as you please, tastes AWESOME (even on day 2 or 3), makes great sandwiches, toast, french toast, and whatever else you’d like to do/make with the bread.  It is pliable, tender — not soggy — and filled with beautiful air-pockets.  It is simply the best GFCF bread I’ve ever had, and lemme tell you, I’ve tried a LOT of recipes.

After you’ve tried the recipe and fallen in love with it, as I’m sure you will, consider doing what I’ve done:  Get out some quart-sized freezer bags, and while you measure the dry ingredients into your bowl for baking, measure all the dry ingredients into your freezer bags as well.  That way, you’ll be able to simply pull a bag of dry ingredient “mix” from the freezer, add in the leavening and wet ingredients, and within 20 minutes, you’ll have your loaves rising in the oven.  The last batch I did, I filled seven quart freezer bags.  Since five of the six of our family members eat gluten-free and/or casein free, I EASILY go through four loaves in a week.  Most every week, I make two batches, and it saves a ton of time by simply pulling out a bag from the freezer.

I also highly recommend that you view Carrie’s original recipe post, which has more pics, and a description of why some of the more unusual ingredients are necessary.

NOTE:  Today (07/16/08), I made this bread again…  I recently read on a “regular” bread-making site that if bread rises, then falls during baking that it is often from rising too quickly, at too high of a temp.  So, today, I had the bread rise at room temp.  While the tops didn’t cave, it took 1 hr 20 min just to rise to the tops of the pans, and overall, just didn’t seem to rise as much as using the rising in an oven that’s been heated to 170*, as described below.

If you make this bread, PLEASE comment and let me know of your results.  If you modify the recipe in any way — especially if your modifications are successful — please comment on that, too.

Printer-Friendly PDF Version (This is a bare-bones, printable version, no pics or graphics.)

GFCF Wholegrain Sandwich Bread

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/8 cup millet flour, black or yellow (3/8 cup is is the same as 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 3/8 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 + 2 Tbsp rice milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp rice protein powder
  • 4 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 4 1/2 tsp Sure Jell (pectin)
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Leavening Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 + 2 Tbsp warm water (105* – 110* F)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Butter Crisco  (Butter-flavored Crisco IS GFCF)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105* – 110* F)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 170* and turn off immediately, keeping the door closed.
  2. Prepare pans: 2 large (5″ x 9″) bread pans, or two small (4″ x 8″) bread pans PLUS six muffin cups or 16 mini muffin cups (for dinner rolls). Spray with oil or line breadpans with nonstick aluminum foil.
  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), thoroughly whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. Proof the yeast: Mix together the leavening ingredients, set aside. It should become aromatic and bubbly.
  5. In a medium bowl, microwave the Butter Crisco until just melted (appx. 25 seconds in the microwave). To the melted Butter Crisco, add the 3 Tbsp brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, eggs and egg whites. Whisk to mix well. Mix in the 1 1/2 cups warm water and all of the leavening ingredients.
  6. Gently pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. For a stand mixer: Mix dough with paddle attachment for 5-8 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with rubber spatula occasionally. By hand: With a sturdy wooden spoon, mix dough at least 100 strokes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with rubber spatuala 2-3 times. Dough will be quite thick.  (If mixed in a stand mixer, the dough and resulting loaves might be smoother than mine;  I mix by hand.  I’m asking for a Kitchen-Aid for Christmas!!)
  7. For large loaves: Spoon as evenly as possible into prepared large loaf pans. Smooth top with rubber spatula, and firmly tap breadpans on countertop to settle the dough. Spray two pieces of plastic wrap with oil, and place atop the pans, oil-side down. Set in oven to rise for 1 hour.
  8. For small loaves and dinner rolls: Into a pastry bag with no tip, place about 1 1/2 cups of dough. Pipe into prepared muffin tins, filling level with the top of tins. (A pastry bag isn’t required, but rolls will look quite gnarled if you choose not to use a pastry bag.) Spoon rest of dough into the small loaf pans. Pans will be just shy of half-full. Smooth tops of loaves with rubber spatula, and firmly tap breadpans on countertop to settle the dough. Optional: Brush tops of dinner rolls and small loaves with one beaten egg. (NOTE: Since large loaves get quite brown upon baking, you don’t want to do this for the large loaves, which bake longer.) Spray two pieces of plastic wrap with oil, and place atop the pans, oil-side down. (No need to cover the muffin tins.) Place in oven to rise. Let the dinner rolls rise 25 minutes. Let the small loaves rise 45 minutes. (After the dinner rolls rise completely, you can remove all the pans from the oven, and proceed to step 9, baking the rolls as the small loaves rise for an additional 20 minutes atop the oven.)
  9. Remove pans from oven. Gently remove plastic wrap from loaves. The loaves will have risen just over the top edge. Heat oven to 350* F. For large loaves, bake 45 minutes. For small loaves, bake 35 minutes. For dinner rolls, bake 20 minutes. Bread/rolls will not rise further upon baking. After baking, turn out, and cool on racks.
  10. Bread slices more cleanly when loaves are completely cooled. For best results, use a serrated bread knife.
  11. Store lightly covered on countertop, for up to three days.  If it takes you longer than that to go through a couple of loaves, consider freezing one loaf right away, then thawing it at room temp.  After three days, place remaining bread in fridge, though the bread loses some of its pliability after refrigeration.
Small loaves, before rising

Small loaves, after rising

Dinner rolls, after rising.  Three piped, and one "gnarled"

Dinner rolls, done baking.

Dinner rolls, done baking, one non-piped gnarled roll in lower RH corner.

Small loaves, done baking

Small loaves, done baking

Small loaf, sliced open

Small loaf, sliced open

Enjoy!!

GFCF Thai Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe, and my first trip to an Asian grocery store

There is an Asian grocery store* about 10 miles from my house that I’ve been meaning to go to for… well, at least two years.  Apparently, due to a rebellious streak, I have avoided going, even though I know that rice-filled Asian groceries are a haven for those on a gluten-free diet.  See, my Dad is near-obsessed with Asian groceries, and will regularly hunt down those available in any city he visits, making an afternoon of Asian grocery-hopping.  On one visit, Dad dragged along my then-7yo son on one of his lengthy excursions, not understanding why Ethan wasn’t as gleeful about the trip as he thought he should be.  Upon return, Ethan had a bit of a shell-shock look about him, and confided tearfully to me that he didn’t understand why Grandpa was taking him to all these stores.  On subsequent visits, Grandpa has not attempted this again.  However, my kids now expect him to come bearing Chinese “jelly” cup treats, and indeed, upon hearing of my own trip to the Asian grocery store, cared only that I bring some home.  I dutifully brought home a bucket of mango-coconut.

I filled my cart with a massive assortment of rice, rice noodles, and rice flours.  I did get a few other things, including some baby bok choy, simply because it was cute.  I spent a very interested hour perusing the aisles, mostly feeling out of place, but intriguingly so.  In the refrigerated section, there was a good 20 ft + section of daikon.  I didn’t realize it was such a staple.  It took me 90% of the way through the store to realize that each aisle represented a different Asian region:  Japanese, several aisles of Chinese, Thai, Indian, etc.  There was a wide variety of amusing signs in Engrish.  I will be sure to be back, maybe next time remembering to covertly snap a few pics with my phone.

The next day, I pulled out a beautiful Thai cookbook that I scored from Costco for only $5.99 a few years ago.  All I knew was that I wanted to make a main dish that used both the baby bok choy and some rice noodles.  I didn’t find an exact recipe, but I modified one quite a bit, turning a noodle-less vegetarian soup into, basically, a glorified chicken noodle soup.  It turned out very tasty.  After my carnivorous husband had scoured the bottom of the pan for all the remaining chicken, the remaining broth, with its bit of spice and floating bits of baby bok choy, remained tasty as ever.

GFCF Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 6

About 20 minutes prep time and 20 minutes cooking time

  • 12 cups chicken stock (I made mine with Chicken Better Than Bouillon)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 tsp green curry paste (a little goes a long way!)
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 eggs
  • a bit of cooking oil (I used rice bran oil)
  • 6 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, cut into 1/2″ shred (kale or Savoy cabbage would make an acceptable substitute)
  • 1/3 cup g.f. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp raw sugar (or any sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. asian rice noodles of your choice — I suggest a long, thicker “rice stick” like tung kow or sen lek — prepared according to package directions (for most rice noodles, just bring adequate water to boil, add noodles, bring back to boil, turn off heat, soak noodles until done — firm, but not hard or crunchy — and drain.)
  • Optional:  sweet chili sauce
  1. In a large stock pot, combine green curry paste with a bit of water or chicken stock.  Add rest of water and stock, ginger and garlic.  Bring to boil.
  2. Oil the bottom of a small skillet, and heat over medium-high flame.  Lightly beat one egg, and pour into pan.  Swirl pan so egg coats bottom, cook until set, like a very thin, small omelette.  Remove omelette with spatula, and roll it up, then slice crosswise into 1/4″ rounds, leaving nice little swirls of egg.  Repeat for remaining two eggs.  Set aside.
  3. Slice chicken breast thinly.  Add to stock, and bring it back to boil.  Add carrot and bok choy and return again to boil.  Within another 2 minutes or less, the chicken should be cooked through, and the veggies tender.  Turn off heat, add soy sauce, sugar and pepper, stirring to combine.
  4. Into shallow soup bowls, place a portion of cooked rice noodles.  Ladle soup on top, letting the chicken and veggies stay as a mound in the middle of the bowl.  Top each bowl with coiled bits of omelette.
  5. Serve with sweet chili sauce to drizzle on, as desired.
  6. Enjoy!

———-

* Not too surprisingly, the place does not have a website.  It’s called Asiana Grocery Store, and it’s on the NW corner of 43rd Ave. and Union Hills Dr. in Glendale.

Gluten-free Starbucks??!!?? Could it be true??

I got a forwarded e-mail from my gluten-free friend, Shellie, saying that Starbucks was testing the market to see if it would be worthwhile for them to carry gluten-free desserts.

I called their 1-800 number, and it IS true. The girl I spoke with did mention that they have received a lot of calls in favor of this, and that they would love to hear from as many people as possible.

The phone number is 1-800-235-2883, press “0”.

I don’t go to Starbucks a whole lot… well, unless you consider 1-2x/month ” a whole lot.”  And whenever I do go, the only dessert that is gluten-free would either be chocolate, or they have a fresh fruit bowl with a sweet vanilla dip.  While both of those are tasty, it would be absolutely fabulous to have a baked-good like a brownie to enjoy with my cappuccino.  🙂

Here is a post from a lady who lives in NYC, where the brownie was being test-marketed, who had the very good fortune to try it.  (They actually pulled the brownie from the stores, and are now tabulating the information received in the test-run, so from what I understand, it is not currently availabe.  But, if Starbucks gets a lot of interest in and support of such a product, surely they’d bring it back!!  And not just in Manhattan!) 

Confusion about the gluten-free-ness of Ore Ida’s Tater Tots

I was alarmed when I recently saw that on its online page of its gluten-free foods that Ore-Ida/Heinz no longer listed Tater Tots — often a staple of those on a gluten-free diet — as gluten-free.

Indeed, from the web page, here are the list of gluten-free foods:

GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS
If you suffer from celiac disease (gluten intolerance) you will be pleased to know that the Ore-Ida® Brand offers a wide variety of products that are gluten-free.
Hash Browns UPC CODE:

Ore-Ida® Southern Style Hash Browns (32 oz.)

1312000392

Ore-Ida® Potatoes O’Brien (28 oz.)

1312000469

Ore-Ida® Country Style Hashbrowns (30 oz.)

1312000833

Ore-Ida® Country Style Hashbrowns (6 lb.)

1312000862

Ore-Ida® 9 count Golden Patties® (20.25 oz.)

1312000080
The Classics

Ore-Ida® Golden Fries® (32 oz.)

1312000258

Ore-Ida® Golden Fries® (5 lb.)

1312000278

Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (32 oz.)

1312000286

Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (5 lb.)

1312000291

Ore-Ida® Potato Wedges with Skins (24 oz.)

1312001012

Ore-Ida® Shoestrings® (28 oz.)

1312000828

Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (8 lb.) (Costco only)

1312008564

Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (8 lb.) (Sam’s only)

1312008572
Extra Crispy  

Ore-Ida® Extra Crispy Fast Food FriesTM (26 oz.)

1312001417
Fun Shapes  

Ore-Ida® Pixie Crinkles® (26 oz.)

1312000296

Ore-Ida® Cottage Fries (32 oz.)

1312000377
Seasoned  

Ore-Ida® French Fries (8 lb.) (Sam’s Club only)

1312000647
* Please note that recipes and processes can change from time to time. Therefore, we recommend that you always check the ingredient statement on the label

Unless I’m blind, Tater Tots are not on that list.  (For the record, Ore Ida considers Tater Tots to be in its “Fun Shapes” category.)

It was my theory that since Ore Ida is now making an “extra crispy” line of potato goods, most of which contain actual pure wheat gluten, that perhaps there was some cross-contamination going on in the manufacturing process, leading them to remove Tater Tots from the list.

So, I submitted a question to the website, even though I had to give up practically all of my private information to do so, asking for clarity in the matter.  They were kind enough to respond in about 24 hours with this statement:

Thank you for your interest in Heinz Products. We certainly understand how difficult it can be to find foods that meet the requirements of a restricted diet.

As you requested, the following is a listing of all of our products that do NOT have gluten containing ingredients. If the product you asked about is not on this list, then it does have gluten containing ingredients.

HEINZ PRODUCTS:       
Heinz Ketchup  (All Varieties)
Heinz Organic Ketchup
Heinz One Carb Ketchup 
Heinz No Sodium Added Ketchup
Heinz Hot & Spicy Kick’rs

Lea & Perrins Products– All Varieties
Jack Daniel’s EZ Marinader — Teriyaki Variety
Jack Daniel’s EZ Marinader — Garlic & Herb Variety
Distilled White Vinegar       
Red Wine Vinegar       
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Flavored Vinegar

CLASSICO PASTA SAUCES:       
All Classico Pasta Sauces   

TGI FRIDAY’S SALSA:
Both Mild and Medium Salsa in 16-ounce jar
       
DELIMEX PRODUCTS:       
UPC CODE:       PRODUCT NAME:       
1769600012        Taquitos, 36 ct. Delimex Chicken        
1769600018        Tamales, 12 ct. Delimex Beef       
1769600019        Tamales, 12 ct. Delimex Chicken & Cheese        
1769600020        Taquitos, 24 ct. Smart & Final Beef       
1769600024        Tamales, 6 ct. Delimex Beef        
1769600028        Taquitos, 25 ct. Delimex Beef        
1769600029        Taquitos, 25 ct. Delimex Chicken       
1769600048        Taquitos, 36 ct. Delimex Beef       
1769600095        Taquitos, 12 ct. Delimex Beef       
1769600096        Taquitos, 12 ct. Delimex Chicken        
1769600133        Taquitos, 22 ct. Schwan’s Beef w/ Salsa       
1769600155        Tamales, 15 ct. Costco Beef        
1769600159        Tamales, 20 ct. Delimex Beef, Costco        
1769600180        Taquitos, 60 ct. Delimex Beef        
1769600186        Taquitos, 60 ct. Sam’s Club Beef  
1769600206        Tamales, 2 ct. Trader Joe’s Beef        
1769600207        Tamales, 2 ct. Trader Joe’s Chicken & Cheese       
1769600214        Taquitos, 25 ct. Delimex 3-Cheese       
1769600222        Tamales, 6 ct. Schwan’s Beef        
1769600481        Taquitos, 36 ct. Delimex Beef (Mexico Import)       
1769600500        Taquitos, Delimex Beef / Deli-Pak       
1769600505        Taquitos, Mini, 40 ct. Beef, Snacker Tray w/ salsa       
1769600554        Tamales, Cheese Deli Bulk Pack       
1769600555        Tamales, Chicken Deli Bulk Pack       
1769600556        Tamales, Beef Deli Bulk Pack       
1769600565        Tamales, 20 ct.Beef, Sams Club       
1769600684        Taquitos, 66 ct. Costco Beef       
1769600685        Taquitos, 66 ct. Costco Chicken       
1769601208        Tamales, 2 ct. Trader Joe’s Cheese & Green Chiles       
       
ORE-IDA PRODUCTS: 
UPC CODE:           PRODUCT NAME:        
13120XXXXX-        ALL VARIETIES of Ore-Ida® Tater Tots®
1312000080         Ore-Ida Golden Patties® (9 ct.)       
1312000198         Ore-Ida® Snackin’ Fries ™ (10.5 oz.)       
1312000258         Ore-Ida® Golden Fries® (32 oz.)       
1312000278         Ore-Ida® Golden Fries®  (5 lb.)       
1312000286         Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (32 oz.)       
1312000291         Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (5 lb.)       
1312000296         Ore-Ida® Pixie Crinkles (26 oz.)       
1312000377         Ore-Ida® Cottage Fries (32 oz.)       
1312000392         Ore-Ida® Southern Style Hash Browns (32 oz.)      
1312001417         Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food Fries (26 oz.)
1312000469         Ore-Ida® Potatoes O’Brien (28 oz.)       
1312000647         Ore-Ida® French Fries (8 lb.)       
1312000654         Ore-Ida® Country Style Hashbrowns (6 lb.)       
1312000801         Ore-Ida® Shoestrings® (5 lb)       
1312000809         Ore-Ida® Crunch Time Classics Straight Cut (24 oz.)       
1312000810         Ore-Ida® Crunch Time Classics Crinkle Cut (24 oz.)       
1312000828         Ore-Ida® Shoestrings® (28 oz.)       
1312000829         Ore-Ida® Shoestrings® (40 oz.)       
1312000833         Ore-Ida® Country Style Hashbrowns (30 oz.)       
1312000845         Ore-Ida® Deep Fries Crinkle Cuts (24 oz.)       
1312000854         Ore-Ida® Hash Browns (5 lb.)       
1312000862         Ore-Ida® Country Style Hashbrowns (6 lb.)       
1312001012         Ore-Ida® Potato Wedges with Skins (24 oz.)       
1312001190         Ore-Ida® Steak Fries (3.75 lb.)       
1312008564         Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles®  (8 lb.)       
1312008565         Ore-Ida® Golden Fries®  (8 lb.)       
1312008572         Ore-Ida® Golden Crinkles® (8 lb.)       
                          
Again, we appreciate you taking the time to contact us.   If you need further information, feel free to call us at this toll-free number (1-800-255-5750).  Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 6:00 PM, Eastern Time.

That list does show that Tater Tots are gluten-free!!

I did just call the toll-free number listed, and the customer service rep told me that the website does not have up-to-date information, but that the list above is the current authority.  Hm.  That’s a little confusing;  it’d be great if they were consistently providing identical information to all consumers.  BUT, I am glad that they are gluten-free.

Sheesh.

I also find it very interesting that Lea & Perrins is now listed as gluten-free.  It at least used to be made with malt vinegar, which is not g.f.  Recently, I checked a label at the store, and it just listed “vinegar.”  Maybe they’re using distilled now.

Also of note is the fact that many Delimex products are gluten-free, as are Costco Taquito items, and the fact that, apparently, Heinz makes the tamales sold at Trader Joe’s.  I thought virtually all of T.J.’s stuff came from small producers.  I guess not.

Anyways.  I guess all of we Tater Tot eaters who must maintain a g.f. diet can breathe a sigh of relief.

How to find out if a food is gluten-free

10/02/07  UPDATE:  Tater Tots DO appear to be gluten-free.  You can read more about that in this post:  https://onlysometimesclever.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/confusion-about-the-gluten-free-ness-of-ore-idas-tater-tots/ )

I get lots of searchers who stumble upon this blog trying to find out if oranges or sugar or Trix or Tater Tots or whatever is gluten-free.

Some foods, specially those that are single ingredients, should be easy to tell.  Corn, rice, potatoes, dairy, meat, fruits, veggies and many alternative grains are all g.f.  But, when you start talking about foods that are made of several ingredients, it gets iffy.  And, it can be terribly brand-specific.  For instance, your store brand to “tater nuggets” very well may be gluten-free, while the Tater Tots name brand, made by Ore-Ida, is not!  Some taco seasoning is gluten free, like McCormick, but others, like Lawry’s, are not (McCormick, unfortunately, is not dairy/casein free, though… but that’s a whole ‘nother topic).  So, just to ask, “Are Tater Tots gluten free?” or, “Is taco seasoning gluten-free?” isn’t enough.  You have to know which Tater Tots you’re talking about, and which taco seasoning.  It’s all very complex and can be extremely confusing.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. You must read labels.  Lots and lots and lots of labels.  All the time.  Even for foods which you regularly purchase.  Ingredient lists can change, production processes can change, company policies can change….  You must be a regular reader of ingredient labels. 
  2. Arm yourself with lists of gluten-free and NON-gluten-free ingredients, so you know what to look for on those labels.  Five years ago, when I first started on a g.f. diet, I printed these lists out, carried them everywhere, and reviewed them frequently.
  3. Call manufacturers’ toll-free phone numbers, usually listed on the back of a product.  Visit their websites and look for a “special diets” section, or the like.  MANY food manufacturers now have a list on their website of foods that are gluten-free.  Five years ago, I used to pray that the customer service rep on the other end of the phone had heard of gluten;  it used to not be well-known.  But in the last year or two, I can’t remember coming across any ignorance;  most phone reps are extrordinarily helpful.
  4. Become acquainted with companies that are special-diet-friendly.  For instance, both Kraft and General Mills are very helpful to those on gluten-free diets.  Kellogg’s and Campbell’s are NOT.  (General Mills doesn’t have info on their website, but I have found both their phone and e-mail reps to be very helpful and knowledgable.  Campbell’s doesn’t have info on gluten on its website, either, though you can request a list of g.f. products, which they will send, snailmail.  However, they list foods containing MSG as “gluten-free.”  MSG often does contain gluten due to the manufacturing process.  Also, for special-diet questions, Campbell’s basic stance is for consumers to educate themselves, sending questioners offsite to a food allergen website.  IOW, they are not going to make it easy for consumers by providing information, or developing products that accomodates those on special diets.)  Smaller companies vary widely.  You will find some (like Lundberg Farms) which are hyper-aware of gluten issues, prominently label their packages, and educate their employees.  On the other end of the spectrum, some small companies seem rather offended when one inquires about gluten issues, and have obviously no idea if their ingredients and products are g.f..
  5. Purchase magazines (like Living Without) or books that help you both discover new g.f. products, and avoid gluten-containing ones.  All the g.f. cookbooks I’ve seen have some tips and instruction about gluten-free foods, and many of them have extensive glossaries with info on websites and addresses of useful resources. 
  6. Get used to cooking and baking for yourself, or your family member who has celiac disease.  Simple foods, made from scratch at home are your best bet to keep your diet gluten-free. 
  7. Be aware that the food labelling standards vary GREATLY from country to country.  So, if you’re travelling outside of the U.S., do your best to educate yourself in advance about how friendly the country is to g.f. issues.  Generally, though, most countries, world-wide, are much more aware of celiac disease and gluten than the U.S. is, and it’s quite easy to travel to the U.K. and Europe and maintain a g.f. diet.  For instance, I didn’t find out until I’d ordered some odd-tasting sausage at the airport in Inverness, Scotland, that the British government typically only requires sausage to be around 7-10% meat.  The rest of the sausage typically comes from oats and bread.  However, even out in the remotest of countryside villages, the gluten-free section of the Scottish grocery stores typically have more product than large, American city grocery stores. 
  8. If you’re really scared, consider ordering from a website that features gluten-free or allergy/intolerance-friendly foods, like Gluten Free Mall.  Or, find a local natural foods store, if you have one in your area.  Many carry extensive g.f. offerings, and many times the staff can help guide you, or at least refer you to someone who might be able to help.
  9. Find a gluten-free friend, ideally one IRL, and one who has been g.f.  for a while.  I think I’ve shown my pantry to 3-4 people over the years who have been recently dx’ed with celiac disease and feel like they can’t eat anything.  It’s really helpful to have someone show you the g.f. ropes, and who can alert you to local products you may not have known even existed! 
  10. If all else fails, read the label again.  😛

Enjoy Life’s Gluten-free products still….

…mostly get the thumbs-down.

After writing a bad review a while back on my blog, the company contacted me and sent me five coupons for free product. 

I tried Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Cookies.  These were actually really good.  They were really small, and an odd mini-hockey-puck shape, but tasty and chewy.  Still, at $4ish for a box of 12 eensy-weensy cookies, I probably won’t buy them again.

I also tried the really cinnamonny Cinnamon Crunch Granola.  ~sigh~  It’s just bad.  The actual flavor was good.  But the texture and the size of the chunks just makes it really difficult to eat.

We also got another box of Very Berry Crunch Granola.  My five year old said, “It’s a little bit not as bad as the last box!”  My 9yo said, “Maybe they took a picture of some different granola for the picture on the box.  I’m serious!  Maybe they did!”  It was still bad.  The chunk are too dense, and too large for actual granola.  It doesn’t really taste like berry, either.  There are berry seeds in the granola, and berries in the ingredient list, but doesn’t taste “very berry.”  But, at least I didn’t have to chuck this box in the trash.  I ate the big chunks dry, as a snack from the bag, and ate the smaller bits as cereal.  I will definitely NOT buy this again.  Ever.  Even with a free coupon.

We also have tried all three varieties of their “snack bars,” which are sort of like cookies.  The only one I may buy again is the chocolate variety.  However,  I think Enjoy Life needs to remove the inedible bits of brown rice flakes from the ingredient list.  They’re probably trying to add texture, but the flakes are hard, get stuck in the teeth, and generally detract from the overall result.

We have tried both varieties of their bagels.  Ugh.  The best that can be said of them is that the cinnamon ones have a nice, strong cinnamon taste.  Otherwise, their greatest use were as teething biscuits for my baby daughter.

So.  I’ve obviously given Enjoy Life’s products a good shot.  I think they’ve got a great marketing company, blitzing grocery stores and convincing them to sell their attractively-packaged items.  However, it’s my guess that unless Enjoy Life dramatically improves the taste of their products, or cuts the line down to what they do well, and not try to be so far-reaching, they’re going to tank, as a company.

I just wish that Kinnikinnick would hire Enjoy Life’s marketing company.  Kinnikinnick has such tasty, reliable food — but it’s plainly packaged, and rarely advertised, so they don’t get the props they deserve.      

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