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I nervously answered my cell phone. The call was from our local neighborhood security company, and my husband and I were away on vacation.
“Ma’am, there are a lot of boxes on your doorstep . . . they appear to be . . . ugh, corn dogs.”
I let out a sigh. I’d forgotten Foster Farms had offered to send me their new gluten free corn dogs to review. I explained to the baffled officer that I was a food blogger and I’d have my neighbor put them in our freezer.
That was last October. Those corn dogs sat in my basement freezer until the College Celiac came home for his winter break a few weeks ago. Because they contain soy, corn and egg which I’m allergic to, I couldn’t taste them myself. Which was really frustrating because I once liked corn dogs–before allergies and celiac disease–and the photo on the box taunted me every time I opened the freezer door.
As soon as College Celiac dropped his backpack on the kitchen floor, I said, “Wanna corn dog?” I really needed that freezer space for the Christmas ham.
College Celiac was more than willing to oblige. Corn dogs were always one of his childhood favs.
He quickly microwaved two. After I took the obligatory blog photos, he microwaved the corn dogs again because they got cold.
College Celiac’s review of Foster Farms Gluten Free Corn Dogs: Two Thumbs Up!
My college boy was happy the breading didn’t crumble like a lot of gluten-free breading–even after microwaving two times–and he said they were tasty. Well, what he said was: “They taste like the corn dogs I used to eat.” This is high praise coming from a guy who hasn’t eaten gluten in three years. Of course, he added a little Cholula sauce–he and his brother eat everything with Cholula sauce!
So here’s the lowdown on these dogs. They are certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group, which requires foods to have less than 10 ppm of gluten per serving; a serving is one dog. GIG also evaluates every ingredient for cross contamination. A press release from Foster Farms says, “All ingredients are required to be gluten free and are labeled, stored and processed separately from other ingredients. Foster Farms Gluten Free products are manufactured separately from all other normal finished products. Analytical verification testing measures and sanitation practices are instituted, documented and confirmed with every production run.”
Kudos to Foster Farms for their gluten-free practices and their transparency. Wish more companies would publish statements about what they do to keep those of us with celiac disease and food allergies safe.
You should be able to find Foster Farm Gluten Free Corn Dogs, as well as gluten free breast strips and nuggets, at your local grocery store. If not, call Foster Farms at 800-255-7227 for help finding a retailer. Even better, tweet this post with #FFGlutenFree, like this post and/or write a comment below, or like my Facebook page and you can win a voucher for a free box of Foster Farms Gluten Free Corn Dogs.
The Udi’s Gluten Free “care packages” arrived just in time for the College Celiac’s Christmas Break. It’s been a rough four years, trying to adapt to life with celiac disease while being away from home. Okay, truth be told, it’s been harder on me than him. I worried if he was eating enough nutritious foods.
So I was thrilled to introduce my son to new foods from a company I trust. These burritos were a hit. He added Cholula Hot Sauce. What is it with college boys and Cholula?
Based on the dirty dishes I woke up to on several mornings, the Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas were also quite good.
For those of you who are regular readers, you know I’m not much of a baker. Thankfully, Udi’s provided the College Celiac with treats this holiday: Snicker Doodle Cookies and Dark Chocolate Brown Bites (both soy and nut free). I have no photos because they disappeared so quickly. And someone only left one Double Vanilla Muffin.
My plan was to add berries on top of the muffins with some whipped cream. In fact, I’d planned on creating several of the terrific ideas Udi’s Gluten Free pinned on Pinterest, but then the other hungry son with food allergies came home.
For Christmas dinner, I served Udi’s Classic French Dinner Rolls. Even my husband–the Eater of Everything–said they were delicious.
Udi’s also has a new French Baguette that I’m planning to serve with split pea soup this evening. The boys are rallying for baguette pizza.
When I post Instagram photos of my meals using Udi’s foods, I’m often asked where followers can buy Udi’s. Udi’s started in Colorado and I live in Colorado, yet many of my stores don’t carry the foods Udi’s offers. If you go to their website catalog, there is a link to either order the products or find a store near you that carry the items. I suggest you ask the manager at your favorite grocery store to start carrying Udi’s; sometimes there is a form you can fill out.
Okay, so now that I have your mouth watering, I bet you’re wondering how you can enter to win one of Udi’s holiday prize packs or coupons for free product. It’s quite easy–just click here.
Good luck. And may you have a happy, healthy gluten-free New Year.
Ten days ago I posted a photo on Instagram of an awesome gluten-free pizza using Udi’s Gluten-Free crust that I enjoyed at Flatiron’s American Bar and Grill in Colorado Springs. I hadn’t eaten at this restaurant for over six months because all I could ever order was salad. You all know what that’s like.
So imagine my surprise when I learned Flatiron’s now had a huge gluten-free menu that could also accommodate my dairy and soy and corn allergies. We’d just picked the College Celiac up from the airport and I was thrilled we went to Flatiron’s because he could eat safely. I even tweeted my appreciation. The restaurant is locally owned and I like to support neighborhood businesses.
— An Allergic Foodie (@anallergicfoodi) August 6, 2014
Last night I was craving that pizza. So my husband and I went to Flatiron’s and I ordered the exact pizza I ordered ten days earlier: Veggie pizza but substitute the poblano peppers and garlic for pepperoni. I clearly stated that I was celiac and needed the pizza to be as clean as possible.
The pizza arrives with cheese, which was entirely my fault. I sometimes forget pizza typically comes with cheese! I send the pizza back and the next one arrives with no cheese and no pepperoni. Overcooked, barely any sauce, it tastes awful. And I know that Udi’s Gluten-Free pizza crust tastes good when cooked correctly.
I whip out my camera and show the ten-day-old Instagram pizza photo to the manager who says matter-of-factly, “That doesn’t look like our gluten-free crust, it looks like our regular crust.”
Here’s a photo of the one I got last night. The only difference I see is this one is overcooked and lacking sauce and pepperoni.
I turn to my husband. “So I guess I can eat gluten now.” I was being sarcastic. It was late and I was hungry.
The manager says, “Maybe you’re not allergic anymore, I’ve heard that can happen.”
I just stared at my husband with my mouth wide open. Here is a manager of a restaurant with a huge gluten-free menu–they even advertise 20 percent off gluten-free items on Thursdays–who clearly has no understanding of celiac disease or a wheat allergy.
I should have said something like, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease with over 300 symptoms and it is not reversible. The only cure is to not eat gluten.” But at that point, I just wanted to go home and get in my jammies and heat up a can of soup. We left cash to cover our wines and bolted out the door.
Of course, as soon as I got home I tweeted about my bad experience.
— An Allergic Foodie (@anallergicfoodi) August 16, 2014
People jumped to my defense and were appalled by the manager’s ignorance. I just love my Twitter friends.
So here is what I woke up this morning thinking: If a restaurant is going to offer a gluten-free menu, every single employee must be educated and trained. They must understand what celiac disease and food allergies are, and why preventing cross-contamination is so important. They must understand that one wrong ingredient can be life-threatening. They must take their customers’ health concerns seriously.
Otherwise, don’t even bother offering a gluten-free or allergy-friendly menu.
I’d rather order that boring old salad than risk getting sick. I certainly don’t want my youngest son with celiac disease and my oldest with dairy and egg allergies to think they are ordering safely when they aren’t.
Ten days ago, I thought I’d re-discovered a restaurant I could eat in. Obviously I was wrong. Just because a restaurant has an extensive gluten-free menu doesn’t mean you should eat there. I’m pretty sure this restaurant, like so many others, jumped on the gluten-free diet movement to make a profit. If they are serious about serving their celiac and allergic customers, they’ll immediately remove the gluten-free menu while they get proper training for the waitstaff and the chefs and the managers. This experience makes me question every restaurant’s reason for offering gluten-free choices–unless I see a certification from a third-party or talk to a manager who clearly “gets it,” I won’t feel safe dining out.
Here’s the other thing that bothers me about this whole experience. As a blogger and social media guru, I recommended this restaurant to my celiac and food-allergic brothers and sisters. Less than two weeks after doing so, I realized this is not a safe restaurant to eat in. So should I stop reviewing restaurants and posting food photos on Instagram? I’m still trying to figure this one out.
Oh, and by the way, I did get sick the next morning–even after eating one small piece of the pizza.
I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while growing up so I wasn’t much of a cook when I left home. My husband will attest to that. Most of what we ate came out of a cardboard box, the freezer aisle of the grocery store, or Pizza Hut. Then there was that year, two kids still in diapers, when I got most of our food from the Schwan’s delivery guy. When my husband couldn’t button his pants and I hadn’t lost any post-pregnancy weight, I decided I needed to learn to cook.
Out came the wedding gift crockpot. We ate a lot of beef stew and chicken with potatoes for a long, long time.
No one in our young family had food allergies (that we knew of). While my kids grew into young adults, we blissfully ate all types of foods without any worries—-until yours truly developed multiple food allergies and celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic esophagus).
That was the game changer.
Suddenly I had to eliminate gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt), dairy (no more cheese!), soy, eggs (are there eggless cookies?), and more foods. It was hard. Really, really hard. What I struggled with most was finding the staples I relied on for decades . . . salad dressing, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, and marinades, to name a few. Even the staples that were supposed to be “allergy-friendly” contained at least one of my allergens or were not certified gluten-free.
I was still struggling with my new way of eating and cooking when I met Colette Martin on the shuttle bus heading to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas. Because I knew Colette was the author of a well-respected cookbook on allergen-free baking and because she was pretty much captive on the bus, I complained to her about how I couldn’t find any decent allergy-free mayo.
Turned out she was in the middle of writing her next cookbook and she was working on a mayonnaise recipe! (I didn’t admit this at the time, but I ‘d never even considered making my own mayo from scratch! Who does that?).
Fast forward eight months. A reader’s copy of The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts (The Experiment, September 2014) by Colette Martin arrives in the mail! Of course, I immediately flip to the mayo recipe.
Oh-oh. Sounds kind of complicated for a novice like me. First, I have to make “eggs” using flaxseed, which I just so happen to have in my pantry because I buy all the food-allergy cooking ingredients but never actually cook with them. I add water to the flaxseed and make the “eggs.”
I follow the steps to make the mayo using a hand-mixer that I’ve moved into three houses but have never plugged in.
Hmmm, not so difficult after all.
Wait! This mixture is actually starting to look like mayo! Using my finger, I put a little on my tongue. It tastes like mayo. Maybe even a little better than what I remember mayo tasting.
I decide to make Colette’s potato salad. Did I mention I have really missed potato salad since becoming allergic to eggs/mayo?
I serve the allergy-free potato salad and short ribs to my family. I don’t tell them about the flaxseed, which might turn them off. No one notices the mayo is eggless or made with flaxseed–they all help themselves to seconds.
Since that fateful day of making mayo, The Allergy-Free Pantry hasn’t left my kitchen island. Using this book, I now make my own allergen-free ketchup and mustard and barbecue sauce. I’m planning to branch out to crackers in a few weeks. For anyone with food restrictions, this cookbook will become your most-used kitchen tool. You can pre-order a copy today at Powell’s, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Thank you to Colette Martin for writing this book and for sharing her flaxseed mayo and potato salad recipes (below).
Makes 10 to 12 servings
Friends and neighbors will have no idea that this allergen-free version of potato salad was made without traditional mayonnaise or off-the-shelf salad dressings. Instead, Flaxseed Mayonnaise (page 99) is used to make a salad with added fiber and essential fatty acids—and that tastes marvelous! Add some blue potatoes, if you can find them.
Even though this potato salad contains no eggs or dairy, be careful not to let it sit out longer than an hour; it’s the potatoes, not the mayonnaise, that contain the bacteria that can make you sick.
10 to 12 medium Yukon Gold and Red Gold potatoes, with skins, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
About 5 cups (1200 ml) water
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tablespoons diced Dill Pickles, optional
½ cup (120 ml) Flaxseed Mayonnaise (see below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Place the potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender but not falling apart.
- Place the potatoes in a strainer and run cold water over them for 30 seconds to halt the cooking. Drain the potatoes well.
- Combine the onion, pickles (if desired), flaxseed mayonnaise, herbs, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and stir to coat.
- Cover and chill the potato salad for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.
Makes 1¼ cups (300 ml)
Because this mayonnaise starts with flaxseeds rather than eggs, it has the benefit of being both healthier and tastier than traditional mayonnaise. Even if you aren’t allergic to eggs, this might just be the best sandwich topping you have ever tried!
Use measuring cups with a spout to measure the oil; this will allow you to pour the oil directly into the container for your blender when making mayonnaise.
2 Flaxseed Eggs
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (measured after grinding) or flaxseed meal
6 tablespoons warm water
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Mustard, or ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
½ cup (60 ml) light olive oil
- Combine the flaxseed eggs, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass or the container for your immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Pulse four or five times to combine the ingredients.
- With the blender running continuously, pour a few drops of canola oil into the container. The slower you pour, the better. The mixture will start to become creamy as emulsification occurs.
- Continue blending and adding oil in a slow trickle until all of the oil is incorporated; add all of the canola oil first and then the olive oil. If the oil starts to pool on top of the mixture, slide your immersion blender up and down ½ inch, or stop pouring until the oil combines.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The mixture will set further as it chills.
A single oil or any combination of oils (up to ¾ cup/180 ml total) can be used to make this mayonnaise, with the exception of coconut oil or palm fruit oil (which behave differently). Use less oil for a thinner spread.
Make Chia Seed Mayonnaise by substituting 2 Chia Seed Eggs for the Flaxseed Eggs.
I’ve been a big fan of grass-fed meat since developing multiple food allergies and celiac disease. After all, why would I want to eat meat from an animal that’s grazed on wheat, soy and corn–all three of which I’m allergic to. And with a sensitive stomach, I surely don’t want to eat meat from any animal that’s been given supplements, hormones and antibiotics.
Over the last six years I’ve noticed more and more “grass-fed” beef hitting the supermarket shelves. While almost always more expensive than the grain-fed brands, I figure my health is worth the added cost.
Then this week I was strolling though our local farmer’s market and came across Sangres Best Grass-Finished beef from a Colorado Ranch.
I wondered what is the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished. Turns out not all grass-fed beef is created equal. If you think about it all cows can be called “grass-fed” as they all start out eating grass on a pasture. That’s how some brands can label their meats “grass-fed” even though they are finished on a diet of grains. Sneaky, huh?
Grass-finished beef means the cow has never eaten a grain of grain. You can also look for “100 Percent Grass-Fed or “USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef.” A stamp of approval from a third party, such as the American Grassfed Association, can also guarantee the grass-fed beef you are buying is the real thing. The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at labels on beef.
Here’s something else I learned this week: Not all bison is grass-fed. Since food allergies, I’ve often chosen bison over beef thinking all bison roam the range freely nibbling on grass. Wrong.
This package of ground bison from Great Range, which I bought this week at Costco, is finished with natural grains and hay. According to their website, “environmental variations on the high plains, coupled with changing market conditions, make supplemental feeding necessary to produce fresh, premium quality Bison year round.” When in doubt, check the company website.
So where can you find true grass-fed beef?
Much of the 100-percent grass-fed beef in North America is produced on small farms and sold directly to consumers at such places as farmers’ markets, natural food stores, and specialty meat markets. These online directories can also help you locate grass-fed beef in your area:
I came back from the 2014 Food Allergy and Research Conference armed with so many blog topics. I even started a post on the airplane ride home. I just couldn’t wait to share all the information from the presentations and the new products and resources from the vendors.
Then I got sick.
But not from food! Just a summer cold. But one that knocked me off my feet for three days. Have you noticed since food allergies/celiac disease that your autoimmune system doesn’t fight those germs off the way it used to?
It’s so hard to find cold medicine without gluten, dairy, egg, soy and corn, too.
Because I strive to be a helpful blogger and not just a whiner, here are two helpful websites for allergy-friendly medicine:
The problem I have, like many of you reading this, is I have other allergies–soy, dairy, and egg–too. Couldn’t find lists for those; if you know of any, add them to the comments below. I have to read the tiny labels on the back of the bottles–and when your head’s pounding like a Congo drum reading 4-pt type is impossible. The clerk at Natural Grocers was helpful at first, but then she kept backing away every time I sneezed.
I came home with some weird sounding “meds” with even weirder sounding ingredients. I was so loopy from my cold that I drove into the garage door (don’t tell my husband). Guess I can get “brain fog” without ingesting gluten.
Anyway, the weird herbal stuff upset my stomach. So I sipped my Ginger tea with honey and that seemed to help.
And I slept and slept and slept. In between napping, I caught up on Orange Is the New Black, so my time wasn’t completely wasted. I can now admit I love Orange Is the New Black because Katie Couric says it’s one of her favorite shows, too.
My mom kept telling me to eat chicken soup–but our refrigerator was empty because I’d been at a conference all weekend! Where’s Mom when you need her? In Vermont, thousands of miles away.
I’m feeling much better today. So don’t give up on me–I’ll be sharing all that great info in the days to come.
I just needed a few sick days. Plus, as my husband likes to remind me, a few days off isn’t going to impact my paycheck. What a funny guy.