Category Archives: Labeling

Gluten Free Vermont goes to Los Angeles!

Highlights of gluten-free life in LA:

LYFELove Your Food Everyday (Culver City and other locations) : Order at the counter and sit down for a lovely dining experience! The counter staff know every ingredient in every item on the menu. Great for gluten, nut, rice, egg, and “you name it!” allergies. Also a great choice for vegan and children. Seriously, a menu that can accommodate everyone and that focuses on healthy food and cooking. When’s the last time you had air-baked, gluten-free, sweet potato fries?!

Factors Deli (Beverly Hills) : I stuck with huevos rancheros, but they also offer gluten-free waffles, pancakes and more!  Great service and I felt very safe in their hands.

California Pizza KitchenCapture2 (Beverly Hills): I stuck with the grilled peach spinach salad with grilled chicken… but CPK has upped the ante with their gluten free offerings. They received a lot of criticism for contamination issues when they first issued gluten-free pizza options. Now they have teamed up with the Gluten Intolerance Group to guarantee better efforts at avoiding cross-contamination. I was game to try it out but the crust has rice flour (I’m allergic) so I skipped it. Anyone out there tried their pizza recently?

Besides all these, I had a great time visiting my friends and family… They stocked the house with lots of fruit, yogurt and chips/salsa for me to snack on. I travel with GF instant oatmeal, so with all of this, I was pretty much ready to go. At the wedding they labeled all the food gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or such and there were tons of great options! [all of it was nut-free!] So wonderful of them to make the wedding safe for their friends with food allergies. Plus, fresh lemons for lemonade and cooking!

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Trader Joe’s underway in South Burlington, VT!

If you’ve been down Dorset street lately, you’ve seen a big change. Today, bare ground lays at the future site of Vermont’s first Trader Joe’s. Located next to Healthy Living, this will be a great boon for gluten-free residents. Why, you ask?

Perhaps you’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s. Let me give you a tour, from the perspective of a Celiac.

First, if you stop by the manager’s counter, you can pick up the “No gluten ingredients used” list.

Second, many of these “no gluten ingredient” products are also marked with a cute little symbol:

to make your shopping easier. Always read the fine print though– some items are manufactured in facilities that also use wheat so you may want to avoid them if you have sensitivities like that. And not all items have the symbol (depends when the packing was last re-designed, I suppose).

Next, my personal recommendations– skip the produce section. You can do much better at the farmer’s market or some of our supermarkets that do direct purchases from local farmers. It’s just much fresher food.

My favorites at TJ’s– because they are excellent quality and cheaper than anywhere else– almond butter, blue corn tortilla chips, various salsas, frozen organic fruit (smoothies!), frozen taquitos (ok, I don’t buy these elsewhere but they’re a fun treat!), GF toaster waffles, greek yogurt, goat cheese, pasta sauce and much more. It’s a great place to stock-up on nuts and dried fruit. Their GF beef jerky makes a great trail snack and is nitrate free! I’m sure the list goes on but I’ll leave it to you to figure out your favorite GF foods when Trader Joes opens. (hint: chocolate…)

According to WCAX, Trader Joe’s will open next Spring. 

Welcome to Vermont, TJ’s!




Summer is here! Gluten-free sunscreen #glutenfree #sunscreen

It’s time to get out on the lake, hike in the Greens or tune up your bike. Summer is here! Us pasty-white northerners need to take extra care with our skin in early summer when we’re most likely to burn.

Information on gluten in lotions and sunscreens can be contradictory. Technically, you cannot have a Celiac reaction in your small intestine due to gluten absorbed through your skin. That said, many (most?) of us have dermatitis-type skin reactions to gluten– itching, burning, etc. There’s also the worry that some of that sunscreen could get ingested accidentally. So, why not just stay away from it? Ok– then which sunscreens are “safe” for a Celiac? Here’s a list of gluten-free sunscreens:

Sunscreen (Stars* by my favorites):

Alba Botanica*

Margaritaville Floridays Sunscreen*– smells delish!

Kiss My Face Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Sunscreen

Solar RX Sunscreen

California Baby Sunscreen

Badger Sunscreen

Dessert Essence Sunscreen

Coppertone (all products, includes Coppertone Sport line and Water Babies)

Neutrogena (certain sunscreens – Spectrum+, Oil Free Moisturizer with SPF, Healthy Defense Moisturizer with SPF) Note: Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch line and Pure and Free Baby products contain Oat Kernel Extract.

Nature’s Gate

What others do you like? I used to love Banana Boat Sport (gluten-free) but it has other ingredients in it that bother my skin.

Enjoy your time outdoors!


Gluten-free Vermont


Beauty and the Celiac (or why I keep changing shampoo)

When I as first diagnosed, I never believed that I would be *that* sensitive, whatever that meant. A friend warned me stuff like ibuprofen could have gluten and make me sick. I scoffed, believing I could handle little bits of gluten. Six months later, I came to realise that I couldn’t handle ibuprofen (I now use Aleve or Advil liquid caps, which are gluten-free and easier on your tummy than the generic tablets).

I’d always noticed that my favorite conditioner, Aveda Camomille, made my scalp burn. BURN. As in, I dared not touch it to my head but would use it on the ends of my hair. About the same time I noticed I was reacting to small exposure of gluten in ibuprofen, I realized other gluten-containing body products were irritating my skin. Oatmeal soap. Shampoo and Conditioner with wheat or wheat protein. Aveno face wash (actually that always bothered my skin and I didn’t use it). So, over the years, I gave up a lot of natural products– even though I believed in less chemicals, more plant products– because so many had wheat or oats in them. Remember, oats are naturally gluten-free but always contaminated unless certified gluten-free. My fine hair hated natural products without wheat, it would get so dry and tangled.

Our family stylist slyly whispered to me one day that if I were going to use cheap shampoos without gluten that Pantene would be the best for my hair. Since then, I’ve found that I love the Pantene highlighting conditioner a few times a weeks and the super moisturizing conditioner for fine hair. Problem solved.

I think this is an important point to clarify for friends, family, hair stylists, massage therapists or anyone who might give you or apply skin care products to you– just because we’re not eating shampoo [conditioner, lotion, make-up, etc] doesn’t mean that you may not be sensitive to it. If you have a skin sensitivity to products with gluten, let people know and they are usually so happy to accommodate you. I mean, who wants a burning scalp when they walk out of the hair salon?

Fast-forward a few years to this week. I’ve had some dermatitis on-and-off for the last few years… in hind sight, about as long as I have been avoiding wheat in shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap. The friendly folks over at Dorset St. Dermatology decided it was time to test me for skin allergies. Fun times. The panel showed I’m allergic (as in, contact reaction that gives me a little dermatitis) to methylisothiazolinone. What the heck??? Yeah, well it turns out that its a preservative often found in… (you guessed it)… shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc etc etc. So now I was back to square one, as Pantene uses it! So, I did some research. Remember, check your labels for your self and re-check as ingredients can change over time!

Here’s the beauty products I tried and liked so far that are: 1) gluten-free and 2) free of methylisothiazolinone.  What are your favorite products? Leave us a note in the comments section


Mango Body Builder by Alba Botanica (Hannaford’s)

Momo Shampoo by Davines (note: it does have parabens…) buy online through Davines or Amazon or your favorite stylist. I found it through Lara at Rock Paper Scissors. I will say that I like the Davines website as it is quite easy to determine which products have gluten in them (and other common plant allergens). I just wish they had more GF styling products.

Aveda Rosemary Mint (but note the conditioner has barley extract!)

Nature’s Gate  makes some delicious natural shampoos (organic too!) that leave your hair smelling great. I don’t prefer their conditioners– just not sufficient for my long, thick, fine hair but great for others– give it a try.


Momo Conditioner by Davines. I’ve only used this a few days so far but I am loving it!
Aveda Scalp Benefits (both shampoo and conditioner are gluten free. They are also sulfate-free. Find them at Stephens and Burns on Church St!).


Threw out my old Dove body wash because of the methylisothiazoline, but have replaced it with Dove bar soap for now.

Face wash & lotion

Both Cetaphil and CeraVe have been recommended to me by dermatologists and both are on my personal “safe” list. CeraVe is incredibly moisturizing (look for the big pot of lotion you can use on your face and your whole body) but it does contain parabens that turn-off some folks. Cetaphil doesn’t contain parabens and doesn’t make your face quite as soft and you might buy their regular lotion for the rest of your body. Cetaphil does make a gentle skin cleanser that is easy to splash off with warm water if you’re in a hurry. Both make chemical sunscreen versions of their lotion.

Burt’s Bee’s products are great for their natural ingredients.

I have used Clinque for awhile– good quality, gluten-free… It just feels like a low-risk solution to me. Some other options are mineral make-up, such as Bare Minerals or Everyday Minerals. The dermotologist also recommended La Bella Donna, although that takes you into a whole other price category 😉 Eos makes a great lip balm that is also soy-free.

Hair products
It’s little things… like realizing you didn’t read the ingredients on the hair spray can before the stylist sprays you down (shoot, what if I inhale that!?). “Paranoid as you wanna be” runs through my head. Well, at home where things are in my control, I use products I know are gluten-free “just in case.”

Sojourn Firm Hold Working Spray: does the trick on holding my bangs out of my eyes all day. Buy it online or Styles Stowe

Mantra Om Foam: for those nights when I need a little body (does contain almond). It may have been discontinued?

Aveda Phomollient adds texture and volume at the ends of hair


If you want to learn more about how gluten may affect you through beauty products, I recommend the following articles and sites:

Does it really matter if your make-up is gluten-free (Allure Magazine)

Now that your beauty products are all healthy, get out there and enjoy your self!


Gluten-free Vermont

It’s about awareness

If you could change 5 things in the world to make life better for GF folks, what would they be?

Gluten-free Living provides a few great ways that the GF “movement” can move forward.

Read the full article here:

The summary:

1. FDA clearly defining “gluten” free

2. Restaurants taking gluten contamination as seriously as sanitation

3. Increase the availability of healthy gluten-free items

4. Remove trace ingredients from common foods (following after Chex cereals)

5. Rule-out Celiac’s before going GF, as it can impact your long-term health and management

So, what’s on your list?

The Traveling Celiac takes to the skies — the start of a long trip or what to snack?

Everytime I get ready for a long trip, I have a few piles while packing– clothing/toiletries, work stuff (computer, notes, etc), and food. When it comes to traveling GF, I think I have pack-rat syndrome (PRS). PRS involved packing more food than you will need and acting like you might be starving for the next two days to two weeks. In my carry-on, I have enough GF instant oatmeal to last me two weeks of breakfasts, some peanut butter, GF pretzels, kinda bars and numerous other granola-like bars (some which have weathered more than 1 trip in my backpack, I figured they’re squished but still good, right?).  I’m now at the airport and just ate some popcorn and drink a vitamin water. Ok, I was a little thirsty but PRS added an urgency to having something to eat while I could, god forbid I might not find food again for hours or days. It’s the YOU NEVER KNOW factor that leads to the compulsion of PRS. I’ve done all I can to provision for my self (requested a GFML– that’s airline code for a gluten free meal; CONFIRMED the airline has my GFML on file) so now its time to sit back and enjoy the flight(s). This trip I’m flying international on American Airlines and I’ve never had their GFML so I will be sure to post my reviews here later. In past travels, my general rule of thumb is outbound flights from the USA have sucky GFMLs and the inbound flights to the USA (aka someone in another country made the meals) are fantastic (once I had a passionfruit mousse!  Dare I get my hopes up?).

Sunday Bloody Sunday (@FHTGburlington)– Review

Well, nothing to report but bad news here [spoiler alert– Farmhouse bloodies are NOT GF). Last weekend I had a Bloody at Farmhouse in Burlington, after the bartender “checking” and telling me all the ingredients were in fact gluten free. That evening I had, um, a little distress. I chalked it up to the brownie I ate the day before, as I’m mildly allergic to chocolate and figured I’d overdone it.

Fast forward to the following Sunday, when I go back for another Bloody. The waitress almost ripped it out of my hands (I’d ordered at the bar and brought it to the table) after hearing I am a Celiac– turns out she is too. in addition to some ambiguity (See aforementioned “Kate’s Rule” that states “Paranoid as you wanna be”) about gluten in hard alcohol (I can see this needs to be addressed in another post), the waitress informed me they use Worchester sauce that IS NOT gluten free. The tomato juice and some other ingredients were questionable in her mind. So, the upset stomach the previous week is making more sense.

[Note: other than this, I have only had very positive experiences eating GF at Farmhouse and love it there!]

What a disappointment. Farmhouse– any chance you’ll be mixing GF Bloodies any time soon?

NOT GLUTEN FREE Bloody Marys at Farmhouse. But aren’t they pretty?

Gluten free options @LeunigsBistro (shout out to @VTSmoke too)

A friend was visiting and wanted to try someplace I’d never been before (keep in mind I’ve only lived in VT 2 months so everything is new and great!). We headed to Leunigs and expected a wait (turned out to be 45 minutes, reasonable for a Saturday night), so went upstairs for a drink and an app. It was easy to get seated there and there were plenty of GF items on that menu– cheeses and meats, etc. [Note, I already knew the Vermont Smoke and Cure products they featured were GF].

While enjoying our apps and a glass of wine, a near-by customer was discussing GF options with the waitress (I mean, really? Small world!). It sounded like some of the GF options on the main menu aren’t available in the 2nd floor bar– something about the GF rolls being in the basement freeze and having to be retrieved by the kitchen staff– all too complicated for them  to execute on a crowded Saturday night. Personally, I’d rather they say they can’t handle it than, say, pop a roll in a wheat-filled oven to thaw and serve me something contaminated. Or have them piss off the kitchen staff who spit in my food.

Anyways, I was surprised to find this notice on their main menu:

Leunig’s Bistro offers a gluten free menu

The gluten-free menu was a subset of the full menu and didn’t contain many or any specialty items that I noticed (such as a gluten-free bun– maybe the lady upstairs was just trying to convince them to carry them in the future?). It did have a wide range of options– you could have handed anyone that and they’d believe it was a full menu, that’s how many items were on it. One point of caution is that their frialator is used for things that contain wheat so if you are Celiac or truly very sensitive, you will want to avoid those items. For me, they substituted fries for garlicy kale (tres Vermont!).

So, Leunig’s, way to go. Let’s see you continue to expand your GF services.

Arsenic in rice– reviewing what’s safe

Most of us who are gluten free consume a lot of rice. It’s a staple, whether you eat it cooked plain or hidden in your cereal. Most of the baked goods I eat have “rice flour” somewhere on the ingredients  My favorite cheap/low sugar cereal is Rice Chex. The new health scare is that rice may contain dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic.

The fact is, arsenic is heavily regulated by the EPA when it comes to water. None of us are at risk of arsenic poisoning from our drinking water. However, arsenic in food is not [yet] regulated by the FDA. I hope that will change. New research shows that significant levels of inorganic arsenic are taken into the rice grains when grown in sites where arsenic was applied to the soils, deposited from industrial air pollution or gas combustion. In the southern USA, arsenic-containing pesticides were once heavily used on cotton fields that today may grown organic brown rice– so even your “healthy” choices may not be so great for you.

So, how much rice can you safely eat? Are there any other ways to minimize exposure? The Huffington Post put together a good report on how much and which rice products children and adults can safely eat. They also explain how cooking rice with excess water that you discard could limit arsenic intake. I, for one, have been sticking to Perky’s to cut out the rice cereal [note: Perky’s is much cheaper if you buy it via Amazon, although it takes me forever to get through 10 boxes].

Similar, but less specific, recommendations have been voiced by the Environmental Working Group. A lot of detail on arsenic, how it gets in rice and why its dangerous is also provided in this article.

Never fear, the US government is hot on the case. They’re now documenting arsenic levels in various rice products and from different regions. One should hope that this will lead to regulation of arsenic in food, labeling or some other means of monitoring and controlling our exposure. A reassuring shout-out to Celiacs from the FDA:

“Rice comes from all over the world and is grown very differently from region to region, which may greatly vary the levels of arsenic within the same kind of product. The larger sample that FDA is taking will cover the wide variety of rice types, geographical regions where rice is grown, and the wide range of foods that contain rice as an ingredient. 

FDA expects to complete the additional collection and analysis of samples by the end of the year. The agency is paying particular attention to rice and rice products consumed by children, as well as consumers like Asian-Americans and those with celiac disease who may consumer higher levels of rice.”

Personally, I will try not to eat rice at every meal, every day… but as Kate always said about gluten contamination “paranoid as you want to be.” Decide what you think is reasonable. Take these reports with a grain of …. rice? And hope the FDA will get a handle on the science soon.

Finalize standards for Gluten Free labeling

Great update on the status of the Gluten-free labeling law:

Did you know in Brazil, everything is labeled “contains gluten” or “does not contain gluten”?!?! Come on USA, get with it!

If 25,000 signatures are collected by the White House by Nov. 1, President Obama will review this legislation and has the chance to finalize it! Make your voice heard– sign the petition to let him know how important this is to us. Get your friends and family to make their voices heard too!!!