A new restaurant in town is pretty exciting, especially when the owners are from one of your favorite restaurants. Soon, Burlington will have Lucky Next Door, a sister restaurant to the ever-so-popular Penny Cluse. Lucky should pick up some of the overflow from crowded hours at Penny Cluse, as well as offer evening hours and a cozy place for a drink. Awesome! However… first reports of their menu don’t look that great for Celiacs— pressed sandwiches, quesadillas (wheat), banana bread, home-made croutons. Hmmmm. I will still give it a try, if nothing else, they have local ciders! Penny Cluse is very good at gluten-free preparation so I will be cautiously optimistic that Lucky would hold something fun for us Celiacs to eat!
In a long-overdue move, the FDA today released their definition for gluten-free foods. No longer will you wonder, it has no gluten ingredients but is it really free of gluten?
While labeling remains voluntary, it provides a uniform standard definition of “gluten-free” to aid the 3 million Americans with Celiac Disease.
The definition “gluten-free” requires that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Anyone using the labels “no gluten,” “free of gluten” and “without gluten” must meet these same standards.
Manufacturers have one year to bring their products into compliance.
This move by the FDA was triggered by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which requires that the FDA set guidelines for the use of the term “gluten free” to help people with Celiac disease maintain a gluten-free diet.
Not mentioned in the FDA announcement is the controversy over what level of gluten-exposure is safe for Celiac’s. Recommendations are often less than 5 ppm gluten. Most tests are sensitive to only 10 ppm gluten (hence the controversy over Omission beer, which removes gluten from beer to below 10 ppm but some report still triggers Celiac symptoms). Is 20 ppm really a safe definition for Celiac’s?
Well, good news for those of us who were really questioning Dunkin’ Donuts GF products. They are using a dedicated facility and individually wrapping each item so there’s less worry about contamination in the retail outlets. The company explained this necessary protection in a Bloomberg Business article today. Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts GF products are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Their key to longevity and tastiness is rice flour and tapioca and potato starches (I mean, we didn’t expect them to be health food did we?! ;).
Navigating a new city and country is always tough when you’re Gluten-free. It’s outside your comfort zone, big time. Last week, I spent a few days exploring Montreal with my family. Saturday night we realized that Cavalia was showing Odyesso in near-by Laval. We decided to catch the show and grab dinner beforehand. So, how do you find a place that will handle your gluten-free needs?
I’ve increasingly had good luck with UrbanSpoon.com. A quick search of Montreal shows 243 gluten-free friendly restaurants. You can also view the results on a map to find places near you. I’ve found that restaurants rated with “$” are better for breakfast or lunch. Restaurants with “$$” or higher tend to have table service and a wider range of menu items. I also judge a restaurant based on user reviews. A place with 70% or higher seems like a decent place. Next, I also consider what types of food they offer and check out their menu online. From this, you can get a sense of what types of gluten-free foods you might be able to order. For me, I avoid seafood restaurants because I’m allergic to fish! Once you’ve picked a place, you might want to note a back-up place or two in case you get a bad vibe at the first one or its closed or such.
Another way to feel safer about eating gluten-free in a “foreign” place (even some US towns feel foreign to me!) is to take a card that explains your needs. My personal favorite has been CeliacTravel.com, which offers explanations regarding Celiac Disease to chefs and waiters in 54 languages! I kept a few of these in my purse when I was in Croatia and never had a problem! In hindsight, I wished I brought one with me to Montreal in French. I didn’t have any problems in Montreal but had a few uncertain interactions with wait staff.
A small, unassuming tea house in Multnomah Village holds a big surprise inside… All sorts of gluten-free options! We had our annual ladies brucheon there. Two of us were shocked and delighted to find that they will mix waffles or crepes up fresh using Bob’s Red Mills GF flour. We were there close to opening so they crepe plate/cooker/thingy hadn’t been used since being thoroughly cleaned the night before. When’s the last time I had a GF crepe? Hmmm… NEVER!!! It was a true delight. So scrumptious I didn’t even think about taking a picture until after it was gone. Support this new, independent restaurant in a cozy nook of town– and be assured you’ll have a great GF experience while also having a lovely tea. Check them out here: http://www.medleytea.com/
Menu and (formerly) crepes at Medly Tea House in Portland, OR
This letter was circulated by our local Celiac group. See below for more info:
From: Linda Pickett <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:15 PM Subject: Hurricane Sandy and CSA Region 3
Hi, all Region 3 Support group leaders.
I sincerely hope that this note finds you and your support group members well, and not seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy this past week in the Northeast. Here at the Jersey Shore the devastation is tremendous but each new day brings a resolve and perseverance to move onward and upward.
In my local role as the leader of the Seashore Celiacs CSA#96 support group, even before my own electricity was restored I have been in contact with some of the local support groups and CSA President Carolyn McKinley, gathering ideas for how we can live up to the “Celiacs Helping Celiacs” motto.
Today I met with the Food Bank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties to discuss how we can work with them to provide appropriate gluten free foods to the many celiacs who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. We discussed the possibility of coordinating with the gluten free food vendors for donations of their products to the Food Bank where it will be marked appropriately and provided to locations where there are requests for gluten free items or where we as an organization can direct those in need. Depending on the amount of products promised by vendors the Food Bank can also coordinate with their partners to spread the donations across the areas damaged by the storm. We may need some help from other support groups to accomplish this however. Whether it is helping with reaching out to the various vendor contacts you may have for donations, or if close enough perhaps folks from your groups being able to spend some time as a volunteer to help the food kitchens learn how to prepare and keep our foods separate, safe from cross contamination, available to any celiacs or gluten intolerant people in need We are certainly open to suggestions and any help that you or your groups might be able to provide.
Feel free contact me with any ideas, help, or also if there are members in your local areas who may need assistance during this critical time.
As you also may be aware, on a national level CSA has initiated a fundraising effort to establish a disaster relief fund for the needs of celiacs affected by Sandy . Information and a link for online donations which you should share with your members can be found on the website: http://www.csaceliacs.info/preparing_for_disaster.jsp Any funds received online through November 15th will be directed to the Sandy Fund. For anyone wishing to donate by mail, checks with a notation of “Sandy Relief” can be sent to: CSA, PO Box 31700 , Omaha NE 68131-0700 .
Nothing new for most Vermonters or tourists, Vermont Peanut Butter is an instant win with any nut-butter lover.
So many choices of what to have in your nut butter. For those of you out of state, check out their website or make sure to try their wares on your next trip to Vermont! http://vtpeanutbutter.com/index.php