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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Glutenfree Health Drink Alert

Health Drinks labelled Glutenfree

I just spent three days at this amazing eco farm called Lodestar in Arizona, visiting friends. The hostess had been giving her aging mother this wonderful health drink filled with nearly all the nutrients a human body needs to thrive.   And…the mother’s health was responding beautifully.

Of course, when she offered me some, I responded with my usual, “Could I see the container, please?”  In big, bold letters on the outside label were the words, VEGAN, GLUTENFREE.

“Cool!” I carefully dipped a teaspoon into an already made shake to try the flavor. After all my years as a health food nut, I have ingested some foul tasting health drinks, trying to increase my stamina and immune system health. Thus, the teaspoon sized taste.  Crazy what you will swallow to heal yourself!

“Hmmm! This tastes really good.” I have also learned to suspect good tasting health drinks, because they usually have too much sugar or something not necessarily “good” for a body.   I like to read the label to ferret out the unhealthy ingredients that are making it taste so good.

Surprisingly, about halfway down a monstrously long list of ingredients, I see the words “barley” and “wheat.”

“WHAT? No. That can’t be right!” I read it again. “Barley and Wheat” were definitely still in the list of ingredients. I flipped the jar over to make sure I saw the big bold GLUTENFREE  tag on the bottom of the label. Yes.  It was still there.  GLUTENFREE.

“Crazy,” I’m thinking. “Who wrote this label? How could this be marketed as glutenfree, when it clearly was not?” I had no answers to this. However, I now know that even if a product says Glutenfree on the label, I need to ALWAYS read the actual ingredient list. We, Celiacs, can never get a rest from ingredient scrutiny, can we?

NEWSFLASH– READ THE WHOLE  “INGREDIENT LIST” EVEN IF A BIG, BOLD GLUTENFREE IS WRITTEN ON THE LABEL!

As a disclaimer, the drink did have wonderful, nourishing ingredients for any body not plagued with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance.  The good taste was not caused by any non healthy ingredients that I could see.  There was a bit of stevia powder as a sweetener.  However, that is good in my mind, because it does not set off any insulin reactions.

I cannot stress enough the shock I had over this inaccurate label. Even with today’s better GF labelling overall, buying products is still a land mine.  Beware!

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Cosmetics Too?

Cosmetics Too?

Don’t even talk to me about cosmetics! Just when I finally felt I’d mastered the intricacies of hidden glutens…purged the kitchen of all things wheat and gluten…just when I’d achieved a fair level of confidence converting regular recipes to gluten free, I happened to look at the ingredients in my lip gloss.

“Oh brother!” There it was. Wheat germ oil. “I never dreamed I’d have to check cosmetics!”

I had spent months putting out heroic effort to convert the kitchen, my diet, family recipes into safe foods. “There’s more?” When will this conversion be done? The pervasiveness of wheat in our lives is simply unbelievable!” I railed, running down the hallway to our bathroom medicine cabinet. There ensued a morning of ripping one bottle after another off the shelves, out of the shower stall cubby…reading ingredient lists. “Wheat germ oil is in everything,” I mused as I dropped yet another bottle in the almost full, black plastic trash can. “I need a bigger trash can! This is crazy!” Shampoos, conditioner, bar soap, bath gel, shaving cream, lip sticks, toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion, self tanning lotion, toner, face powder, liquid make-up, mascara, eye shadow. “How harmful can a bit of absorption through the skin be?” I wondered. “Clearly, mouth items are dangerous: toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. But skin products? I better not chance it. I have come too far to muck up my recovery now.”

Of course, after the product purge, came the necessary trip to the store to replace my toiletries. Thirteen years ago, gluten was not the buzz word it is now. Consequently, I spent three hours in the nearest Whole Foods (a 45 minute drive from my house) reading cosmetic labels and scouring the shelves for safe products without successfully replacing all I needed. “Now what I am supposed to do?” I wondered about the irreplaceable items.

Luckily, in the coursework for my Master’s Degree in Natural Healing, I had to take a class on natural cosmetics. I had a textbook on how to make all kinds of skin care products from common household ingredients. After the Whole Foods cosmetics shopping disaster, I went home and started creating my own lotions, lip glosses, toners, etc. The problem with homemade lotions and skin care products, I soon found out, was not the effectiveness and luxuriousness of the products on the skin, but the spoilage. Most of the products only kept a maximum of two weeks and putting them in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life sometimes changed the consistency of the product or made the product ingredients separate. At the time, there were no gluten free products on the market for some skin care items, so… I was working hard every two weeks turning my kitchen into a cosmetic laboratory. Even though there are lots of companies making gluten free skin care products now, I still make my lip gloss…simply because I like it better than anything on the market. Plus, it is so easy to make. I have included the recipe at the end of today’s blog.

Today, with readily available online research, I found that the current AMA physician opinion on the safety of gluten in skin absorbed products is that it is most likely, safe. Their logic is that gluten intolerance involves the digestive tract, so anything absorbed through the skin, bypassing the digestion, should be okay.
However, I still do not buy any product containing gluten that either goes into or touches my body. I figure with my ultra sensitive system this practice is just safer for me. I may be overly careful, but until the gluten skin rash and its relationship to the blood stream and a possible adverse immune system reaction is addressed in more detail, I am going to continue to use only gluten free products. I do not want to be a casualty of further research. Until more in depth research is completed, I will be using gluten free skin care products.

Kitchen Kosmetic’s Lip Gloss
1 part beeswax
1 part olive oil
1-3 drops of GF vanilla extract or GF flavoring of choice

I melt the beeswax in a non stick pan. Turn off the heat. Add the olive oil and flavoring. (I do not heat the olive oil with the beeswax, because heated olive oil loses some of its healing properties. If heated to too high a temperature, the oil can be a bit toxic to your system, as I understand.)

Then I quickly pour the mixture carefully into lip gloss tubes. Although you can buy empty, new lip gloss tubes online in bulk, I just buy regular lip gloss at the store, scrape out the product, sterilize the empty container in boiling water, and then refill with my simple concoction. I only need a few containers, so doing it this way is easier for me than ordering bulk items online.

As the mixture cools in the tube, sometimes it settles, and I have to top it off a bit before putting on the lid.

Voila! A creamy lip gloss.

This mixture seems to keep much longer than two weeks. I have kept it up to two months. If it ever starts to smell like rancid oil, it has spoiled. Empty your tubes and make a fresh batch.

Safety of oaked wine

Wine too?

These last fourteen GF years, I reveled in the knowledge that I still had the joy of wine and chocolate in my diet. Then, the whole controversy about the safety of oak aged wine surfaced and made me howl to the moon, “Noooooooo!”

And yet when I think back, every time my husband and I grilled some grass fed steak and opened a bottle of red wine to go with it, I had wondered why I got a gluten reaction about two am the following morning. I thought maybe the particular grass the beef grazed on was the culprit. Could it have been the wine? Either way, I can tell you it was frustrating to get a gluten reaction from my own meal preparation!

After some research calling actual coopers in the Napa area, I found out they do use wheat paste to seal the barrel lids to the staves and have been doing so for over 100 years. They all assured me that after the wheat paste dried, they thoroughly washed the inside of the barrels. However, none of the coopers using this practice would guarantee that the wine made in these barrels would be completely gluten free. Theoretically, there should be no wheat molecules left in the barrels after the cleaning. “Cool!” I thought. That next Saturday night I retested the theory by having the grass fed steak dinner with a great red wine. Again, the two am reaction woke me from a sound sleep. “Oh, no! Please don’t let this be true! Red wine is one of the joys left to me on this crazy diet!”

More research ensued. Some coopers admitted to spraying the whole inside of the barrel with wheat dust to help seal the staves. This allows the wine maker to use the barrels immediately without having to worry about leakage. The vintners, in this case, save time, because they don’t have to soak the barrels, which swells the wood and prevents leakage. “Okay, that would definitely be a problem for all gluten intolerants.”

When I talked to other gluten intolerants about their reaction to oak aged wine, some had reactions and some didn’t. For those not experiencing adverse reactions, I wondered if there was, in fact, some damage happening to their systems on such a minute level that their sensitivity was simply not picking it up. No answers to that one, yet.

Because I live in the SF Bay Area where wine tasting and wine drinking is nearly an art form and have grown up surrounded by the viticulture industry, the possibility of having to eliminate oak aged wine from my diet seemed particularly unbearable. Of course, I made it my mission to test and retest the steak dinner/red wine theory. Eventually, I had to concede defeat. My ultra sensitive body had a wild gluten reaction every single time I drank any oak aged wine. When I had the same dinner with no oaked wine…Voila, no two am misery!

This is my reward for being as faithful as possible to a GF diet for fourteen years. Over time, my body has gotten cleaner and purer. The result has been that I have become more and more sensitive to hidden glutens. Any molecule that accidentally enters my system gives me a reaction. “Great!”

Mystery solved? According to my research and my body’s reaction, oak aged wine is definitely and sadly a new forbidden item for me.

The good news…I am having fun exploring champagnes, unoaked chardonays, dry rieslings, and sauvignon blancs!