Category Archives: Culture

Fresh Air Does Gluten Free

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For those of us that listen to Fresh Air on NPR, it was a joy to hear Terri Gross interview food experts about gluten-free cooking and baking.

Terri interviewed Jack Bishop and Julia Collin Davison of America’s Test Kitchen. They spent the last few years testing recipes and brands to find the best. It’s a great, informative show.
Click here to listen to the full story. 

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On common problems with gluten-free foods

Collin Davison: Gluten is kind of magical, and so when you take it out of the equation, you’re left with flours that can’t absorb liquid as well, they can’t absorb fat as well and they can’t trap those air bubbles that are really crucial for baked goods. So you wind up with things that are … very dense and squat; they’re often greasy and they crumble apart. They don’t have the binding structure of gluten.

On the best store-bought gluten-free flour

Collin Davison: The one that we found worked best universally — and that means in cookies, in bread dough, in biscuits, in muffins — was King Arthur Flour gluten-free blend. And it is very much like, actually, our recipe for gluten-free flour blend in that it uses two types of rice flours — white and brown — and it also uses two types of starches, which is potato and tapioca. And those four ingredients, we found, were really the magic key to finding a blend that worked almost as good as a wheat flour.

Here is one of the recipes from the book, for classic chocolate chip cookies.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 8 ounces (13/4 cups) ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 1/2 ounces (11/4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Whisk flour blend, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in large bowl until well combined and smooth. Whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture with rubber spatula and mix until soft, homogeneous dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 30 minutes. (Dough will be sticky and soft.)

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 2 soupspoons and working with about 11/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, portion dough and space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

3. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cookies are best eaten on day they are baked, but they can be cooled and placed immediately in airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Did JFK Have Celiac?

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Via Irish Central, an article that talks about what we’ve suspected for years. That President John F. Kennedy most likely had undiagnosed Celiac disease.

Green wrote, “John F. Kennedy’s long-standing medical problems started in childhood. In Kennedy’s adolescence, gastrointestinal symptoms, weight and growth problems as well as fatigue were described. Later in life, he suffered from abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, osteoporosis, migraine and Addison’s disease. Chronic back problems, due to osteoporosis, resulted in several operations and required medications for chronic pain.

Green says that by the standards of the time Kennedy was extensively assessed. ”He was extensively evaluated in major medical centers including the Mayo Clinic and hospitals in Boston, New Haven and New York. Among the multiple diagnoses were ulcers, colitis, spastic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and food allergies. His medications included corticosteroids, antispasmotics, Metamucil and Lomotil.

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While there are many medical records on JFK’s many health ailments, he was never put on a strict food elimination diet, something that might have shown that he suffered from a food-related illness.

It’s very interesting to consider the President of the United States having an undiagnosed health condition, considering he received the best medical care in the world at the time. But it shows the relative ignorance toward Celiac disease at the time.

Omission’s Roots

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It’s no surprise that we’re fond of Omission beer, Portland’s own gluten-free beer.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes video that shows a bit about the making of the beer, the story behind it, and the process. This video was made before the addition of their awesome IPA. I love the fact that the Widmer CEO has Celiac.

What’s Your Favorite Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipe?

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With Thanksgiving fast upon us, we’re sure many of you are readying your menus, and every year we see people being super creative in their gluten-free cooking. This year, we’d love to hear what you’re cooking for your family! Whether it’s an old family recipe that you’ve tweaked to make GF, or a brand new invention, we look forward to hearing what you have in store.

We’d love to feature some of the best recipes on our blog, so send over your ideas this week!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Thanksgiving!

-GlutenFreePDX

FDA FINALLY Rules on Gluten Free Labeling

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Call it bureaucracy in action, but a mere nine years after they were told to rule, the FDA finally laid down some rules on gluten-free labeling.  Officially, 20 parts per million and under of gluten will be allowed to be labeled as “gluten-free”. Up until now, it has been entirely voluntary and left to marketers to spin as they see fit.

Via National Geographic:

The regulation comes almost a decade after the FDA began requiring food packaging to list wheat and other major allergens under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.

“Many people think that developing a labeling rule is an easy thing to do, but a lot goes into it,” says Felicia Billingslea, the FDA’s director of food labeling and standards. Years were devoted to researching a safe threshold for consumers with celiac disease. “We have a standard definition now, and it’s consistent internationally with Canada and the E.U.”

The rules also ensure that companies can’t label products “gluten-free” if they could be cross-contaminated by other foods processed at the same facility. Manufacturers have until August 5, 2014, to comply.

Sprouted wheat, as seen by a scanning-electron microscope

Sprouted wheat, as seen by a scanning-electron microscope

Some terms on food packaging may still confuse consumers—”organic” versus “all-natural,” “cage-free” versus “free-range.” But the “gluten-free” label now stands to ease the minds of millions suffering from serious food allergies.

“My son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, and now I can feed him and not worry about it. It’s something every mother would hope for,” says Geller.

Top Cities for Gluten Free Diets

A cool graphic produced by Huffington Post and GrubHub has a listing of cities that cater best to gluten-free diets. While in no way an authority on the issue, it’s a neat breakdown.
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We were a little surprised to see Detroit at the top of the list for cities, but perhaps it speaks to use of GrubHub, the source used in the study. Of course, good ‘ol Portland is near the top of the list for cities ordering gluten-free options, and we’re proud of it! And with more and more people joining the gluten-free ranks everyday, we’re sure to see options continue to grow.

Gluten Free in the Wilderness

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The time for hiking, backpacking and camping is here. Yay! I try to spend as many days in my tent each summer as I can, and my friends and I have competitions to see who can spend the most time outdoors. When it comes to eating on camping trips, fast and convenient often wins out over carefully crafted meals. And many of us have experienced group camping situations where the gluten-free options are slim to none. That’s never fun. Luckily, gluten-free options are ever-expanding, and it’s not hard to pack delicious and fun meals and snacks for that weekend in the woods. I always bring corn tortillas along for the trip, they are versatile. You can make simple wraps that are tasty, and an egg-bacon-tortilla wrap in the morning is an excellent camping breakfast.

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Trail mix is an obvious choice for hiking and backpacking, as all the ingredients are easy to see. If your trail mix includes fancy stuff like yogurt-covered raisins/chocolate, make sure to check the ingredients. Trader Joe’s has a ton of trail mix options that are gluten-free, and tasty!

Backpacking meals often aren’t gluten-free, even if they claim to be a rice dish. Many of the easily-found freeze-dried meals are pretty oldschool, in terms of ingredients. Steer clear of most of them, unless you’re careful to read all ingredients. Backpacker’s Pantry does have a number of gluten-free choices, and REI’s website has a pretty comprehensive listing.

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And how about the good old fashioned S’more? For years I was the one at the campsite who had to have just a marshmallow, and skip the graham cracker. Luckily Kinnikinnick sells S’moreables brand graham crackers that are gluten free. Yes!

What other gluten-free foods do you like bringing to the woods?

Bizarre Foods America – Portland!

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I’ve always been a fan of Andrew Zimmern, he has a supreme likability, even when he’s digging into something we’d rather not eat.

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He came through Portland last summer to shoot an episode for his series Bizarre Foods America, and it recently aired on the Travel Channel.

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It was cool to see him visit some of the best (and gluten-free) restaurants in the city and share in his experiences. Some of the spots included Salt & Straw, Olympic Provisions, Lincoln, Laurelhurst Market and Le Pigeon.

You can find a link to the Portland episode here, and below is a video countdown of his Portland Top Five.

Bizarre Foods Video

Omission Launching an IPA!

Omission beer is out of Portland, and we’re proud of that. Its regularly called the best gluten-free beer in the nation, if not the world. We drink it often, and even many of our gluten-drinking friends have a six pack of it in their fridges. So it’s with excitement that Omission announces their third style, an IPA. Whoo!

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Their official press release:

Omission Brewing introduces GLuten-Free IPA in Oregon

India Pale Ale marks brewery’s 3rd gluten-free craft beer brewed with malted barley

PORTLAND, Ore. – March 26, 2013 – Omission Brewing Company today announced it is adding Omission India Pale Ale (Omission IPA) to its gluten-free beer lineup in Oregon. Omission Brewing is the first craft beer brand in the United States focused exclusively on brewing great-tasting craft beers with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, specially crafted to be gluten-free. Omission IPA hits shelves in Oregon on April 1.

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“Omission IPA is the first authentic gluten-free IPA brewed with malted barley to hit the market,” said Joe Casey, Widmer Brothers Brewmaster. “This IPA is brewed in the traditional Northwest IPA style, yet is specially crafted to be gluten-free. The beer uses a generous amount of Summit and Cascade hops giving it a beautiful citrus flavor and aroma.”

“At Omission, we’re constantly innovating, and exploring new opportunities to share our love of craft beer with anyone of legal drinking age, including those with gluten sensitivities,” said Terry Michaelson, CEO, Craft Brew Alliance, and longtime celiac. “Part of that is experimenting with different beer styles that meet our rigorous gluten-free standards while staying true to our commitment to high-quality craft brewing. Omission IPA hits the mark, and we can’t wait to get it into the hands of our customers in Oregon this spring.”

Omission beers are brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., using an innovative brewing program to ensure that gluten levels in every batch measure well below the widely accepted CODEX gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million (ppm) for food and beverages. Every batch of Omission beer is tested by the brewery and by an independent lab, and all test results are available to consumers at http://www.omissiontests.com. Fan stories of when they first discovered Omission beers, or what they like to call their “O” Moments, are available at http://www.omissionbeer.com/o-moments.

Gluten-free Omission IPA:

Omission IPA is a bright, hop forward Northwest Style IPA produced in the spirit of the original IPAs shipped from the UK to India in the late 1800s. The heavy-handed use of Cascade and Summit hops give it notable pine, citrus, and grapefruit aromas and flavors. The bitterness is what you would expect of a NW IPA but this beer is balanced and smooth due to the perfect level of malt sweetness. The finish is crisp, clean, and refreshing – it’s a true IPA lover’s IPA.

About Omission IPA

Ingredients

  • Malts: Pale, Carmel 10°L
  • Hops: Cascade, Summit

Profile

  • IBU: 65
  • ABV: 6.7%

Omission IPA has a suggested retail price of $9.99 per six-pack and will be available in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles at the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub in Portland, Ore., and at retailers, restaurants and bars throughout the state.

Gluten Free Labeling Standards Finally Arriving?

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Since 2005, the FDA has been tasked with coming up with nationally-recognized, across-the-board food labeling standards for gluten-free foods. To say they’ve taken their time would be an understatement. Eight years later, the issue is finally heading to the White House for approval, according to The Hill, a Washington D.C. political blog.

Via the FDA:“Establishing a definition of the term ‘gluten-free’ and uniform conditions for its use in the labeling of foods is necessary to ensure that individuals with celiac disease are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information with respect to foods so labeled,”

The issue is considered “economically significant”, which denotes that it has an impact of over $100 million on the nationwide economy.

The White House has a limit of 90 days to consider the FDA’s recommendation.