The ups, downs, and runarounds of Celiac Disease and food sensitivities

Archive for the tag “Whole Foods”

Nifty Thrifty

If you are fortunate enough to have the income and time to purchase organic versions of all of your food and the latest and greatest appliances, as well as test-run an assortment of gluten-free bread recipes, I congratulate and envy you. That said, I’ve been astounded at the many time- and $$-saving food and appliance options out there. In my previous post I poo-pooed the Ninja food processor, but I think it’s  only fair that I reevaluate the appliance for what it REALLY is: a blender. The Ninja brand is somewhat odd in that they market their blenders functioning triply as food processors and juicers. Now, this is really a silly sales ploy on their end, because anyone who makes most food from scratch knows that no one machine both juices and blends- DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS! Similarly, I will now relegate the Ninja to more blending jobs rather than treating it as a food processor. It is great for BLENDING a dip, but not for PROCESSING grains into flour. I am also attempting to restore any modicum of faith in the brand by trialing the paddle dough option it came with, as this would be much cheaper than purchasing a KitchenAid mixer (I keep thinking I need to get fake-engaged and plan a fake-wedding so I can have an appliance registry!).

As for food, at least in the U.S., I cannot sing (we could just leave it at that, ha!) high enough praises for the wonderful, ever-generous Vitacost.com. Significantly lower prices on certified gluten-free staple brands e.g. Bob’s Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills. Free shipping with orders over $49. Sturdily-packaged goods (each item comes in it’s own Ziploc bag, which might sound wasteful, but it prevents mishaps such as my coconut flour Amazon experience, and I wash all of the bags and reuse them for freezer food). I even put some nut butters from Vitacost (sugar and salt free!) and more expensive items (oh, elusive amaranth!) on my Amazon Wish List (to supply family with food gift ideas to replace traditional candy stocking stuffer smorgasbord).

They call it Whole Paycheck, but Whole Foods deserves recognition for it’s gluten-free offerings (I mean, 4 kinds of gf chicken nuggets??? I don’t even crave them but just knowing they are there makes me happy), helpful staff, clear demarcation of gluten-free foods, and [SHOCKER] affordable items. Ok, ok, not everything is affordable… In fact, I generally leave with no more than 5 items. BUT. Compared to general grocery stores (Martins, Food Lion, and Kroger are my local options), Food for Life bread is much cheaper (on sale for FOUR WHOPPING BUCKEROOS this time around!), as are Applegate Farms various meat products. I do have to say that it’s a bummer the WF Bakehouse options are so intensely calorically dense (and contain dairy/eggs), but on very rare occasion I will buy almond scones or vanilla cupcakes, even though they are so daggone fatty/sugary, even though they have ingredients I know will ignite the digestive rumbles. I have only been to Trader Joe’s once since my diagnosis (8 months ago), and I had a hard time locating their gluten-free items. Now that I’ve had the chance to read a few reviews online, I’m actually glad I was overwhelmed, because it sounds like they are knowingly not very careful of cross-contamination with their house brand ‘gluten-free” goods. I understand that it is a huge task to add a gluten-free processing line or facility, but it does seem a bit odd that their labeled gluten-free foods are commonly processed on the same line as wheat and other allergens (at least they disclose this!). That said, I am going this weekend, for some of the obviously gluten-free items (I have read of coconut milk with NO gums!) and familiar gf brands.

By the way, have YOU signed the gluten-free labeling petition??

Lastly, I would like to recognize a less-hip, not-necessarily-health-foods-oriented chain for its gluten-free efforts. COSTCO! They do a wonderful job of including allergen statements (not just ingredients, but also factory exposure) on all of the Kirkland brand goods. In addition, many of the items actually say “GLUTEN-FREE” on the packaging. Now I’m not talking gf bread/pasta/cake/etc., but that’s ok. I wouldn’t expect it of them. I’m talking the oft-overlooked vitamins, supplements, and medication. I always have a bag of Kirkland lean turkey burgers in my freezer (ingredients: turkey, salt, pepper, rosemary. Labeled “gluten-free.”) Some may be disgusted, but I do buy their produce. Many items are the same brands offered in grocery stores, just in bulk size. I bought a huge pack of pre-washed spinach, and with the low price I didn’t mind giving some away so as to prevent spoiled leftover. I regularly purchase Maranatha almond butter in double-size containers for less than a small container at a regular store. Mary’s Gone Crackers recently appeared at $5.44 for a twin-pack container (I’d estimate 5x more product than a regular box). I also purchased a 32-pack (ridiculous, I know) of Apple & Eve Fruitables; I typically eat rather than drink my minimal daily fruit intake, but these juices are relatively low in sugar and calories and also contain vegetable juice. Finally, a packaged, portable, non-grain-based snack to keep in my desk for emergencies! Also quite necessary for the liquid diet I’ll need to adopt prior to upcoming medical procedures.

In other news, I set up a Pinterest board to more efficiently store and view recipes, and I’ve posted the link to the right of my main blog page. It’s a bit silly I hadn’t thought to create an account until this point, as I can access it from anywhere and share it with anyone. My main problem is how to get the recipes into the kitchen. Printing each one out is a waste of ink and paper, but I’d rather not carry my laptop to the kitchen (aka WARZONE), so instead I end up handwriting recipes into a little notebook, which is now falling apart.

Recent successfully trialed recipes: dairy-free “cheese” sauce and nut-free avocado pesto (I added in fresh spinach and kale).


Review of Whole Foods Gluten-Free Day

I arrived a bit late to Whole Foods’ Gluten-Free Day, so I missed the talk about gluten-free baking. I wasn’t all that concerned, as one quickly becomes acquainted with flour and baking substitutions, brands, and the major recipe websites from necessity. I was, however, excited to sample some of the speaker’s baked treats spread out on the table. I thank stars that I thought to verify that they were prepared in a designated kitchen, which I thought would be an obvious “yes”. HA! They answer was a resounding “no”- the speaker bakes both gluten and gluten-free goods in the same kitchen, with the same equipment, without waiting for flour to settle. So that meant I saved my treats for my friends who were on their way… I know it’s a common mistake to think that baking with gluten-free flours is all that’s required for a Celiac to eat safely, but I was taken aback that a schedule speaker at an organized event would get it so wrong, particularly as Whole Foods themselves have a designated factory for gluten-free food production (FYI in case you hadn’t heard or dealt with it yourself, gluten-containing flour takes 24 hours to settle. Aluminum bakeware is nearly impossible to cleanse of gluten residue. Mixers harbor flour in their vents. Oven mitts hang on to crumbs unless washed. And the list goes on…)

Next up was sampling, which I knew was perhaps not the best of ideas coming off of a failed elimination diet, but shoot some days my taste buds want gratification regardless of my gut. I tried some chicken nuggets, deliciously moist baked goods, animal crackers, ginger snaps, and damn good beer. I also enjoyed some Whole Foods brand cupcakes and almond scones. I consider these things to be treats ONLY, never regular fare. They contain too many gums and starches and things that land me in the even muckier mess I’m in today. But ahh the taste…

The last portion of the “day” (or 4 hours) was a strange talk by an ayurvedic practitioner. He kept having to refer to a piece of paper to list gluten-free protein sources (and never mentioned quinoa- shocking!) and made claims about the high protein content of seaweed. He did present a compelling argument for healing the inflammation that remains after removing gluten, and treating the whole person. I was a sucker for this sort of talk because I’m in that exact boat of persistent, life-meddling symptoms. After the talk, I spoke with him individually, but he never quite gave me a definitive run-down of what I could do or what exactly he would recommend (“it’s so complicated”). He did recommend gargantuan levels of D3 and neem (which is a little riskier than he made it out to be). I wanted to be sold and hand over $150 for a consultation, but then again I just felt a little doubtful about the whole thing- having my face and tongue “read”, figuring out my dominant energy (I did it online, and the recommendations include wheat and dairy HA!), and talking the nebulous feel-good talk. I looked him up online, and his website lists people he was studied under, but does not list affiliations or specific training. I spoke at length with an acquaintance about seeing a chiropractor/ND who tests for candida overgrowth (she eats only meat and non-starchy vegetables to keep yeast at bay- exciting diet prospect…), but I’m also wary of this because we ALL have yeast in us, tests may not discriminate between good and bad yeast, and the practitioner in question has marketed a dietary supplement which I’m guessing he pushes on all patients. I am, however, seriously considering an integrative medicine clinic with practitioners who are registered dieticians and doctors. Clearly allopathic medicine hasn’t helped me, but I’m not quite ready to fork over big bucks to someone who doesn’t have a certificate or proof of training and who’s just as biased towards supplements as doctors are towards medications of their choosing.

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