Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

WIN-It-Wednesday: Attune Probiotic Chocolate Bars

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I’m super excited about Attune Probiotic Chocolate Bars being this week’s sponsor of BeFreeForMe WIN-It-Wednesday.  I’m excited because these bars not only taste good… but they are good for you too!

After getting diagnosed with celiac disease I have become extra diligent about my overall health. The day after my diagnosis I decided to embrace the gluten-free diet and use it as a starting point of living a healthier and happier life. This is why I love finding products that are a healthier alternative to foods I enjoy the most…  and chocolate is at the top of this list!

The secret behind the rich, chocolaty Attune bars is that they are packed with probiotics. And in case you’re wondering, probiotics protects our bodies from harmful bacteria, strengthens our intestinal walls and helps digest fiber in our diets, so that we are able to absorb the nutrients in the foods that we eat. So, basically, these are chocolate bars that are good for you… Yes, a dream comes true!

The gluten-free Attune bars come in four different flavors: Dark Chocolate (which is my favorite), Milk Chocolate Crisp, Mint Chocolate and Blueberry Vanilla. 

Attune bars are a perfect snack to get your digestive tract on the right track – especially for those folks, like celiacs, that are concerned about overall digestive health. Plus, Attune Foods is a proud sponsor of The Celiac Disease Foundation and is committed to educating consumers & raising awareness about celiac disease and how it affects overall digestive health. Attune Bars are not only good for celiacs, but they are doing good for us too.

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and fit (did I mention these bars are only 80 to 90 calories each?), Attune Foods is offering FIVE (yes, 5!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members a month’s supply of Attune gluten-free probiotic bars!

How can you WIN?


Reply to this blog and tell us what you are doing to keep healthy in this New Year (Me? I have made a commitment to do more strength-training exercises this year… and yes… my arms and legs are feeling it!) 

You must reply to this blog by Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by 12 midnight (EST) for a chance to win.


Good Luck, Stay Healthy… and as always,

Be Free!

P.S. For a limited time, Attune Foods is offering $2.00 OFF a box of the gluten-free probiotic bars too! You Can Download the Coupon Here!

Ask Shelley Case: How to Make the Gluten-Free Diet More Nutritious!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Q. I am eating a gluten-free diet, but also want to make sure that I am choosing the most nutritious food choices too. Can you help?

Answer: In the quest to eliminate gluten from the diet, many people forget about the importance of good nutrition! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) MyPyramid and Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating are practical tools to help individuals make healthy food choices. These tools differ somewhat with regard to the types of foods that are in specific groups, their serving size and recommended number of servings per day for each food group. The total amount per day for each group is based on factors such as age, body size, activity level and sex. The following chart has incorporated many of the key components of these tools with adaptations for the gluten-free diet. The symbol GF denotes gluten-free.







Grain Products








GF grain alternatives [e.g., amaranth, buckwheat, cornmeal, millet, Montina ™, oats (GF pure, uncontaminated), quinoa, rice (black, brown, red, white, wild), sorghum, teff]


GF breads, rolls, bagels, muffins


GF ready-to-eat cold cereals


GF hot cereals – e.g., amaranth; cornmeal; cream of buckwheat or brown rice or white rice; rolled oats (GF pure, uncontaminated), hominy or soy grits; rice flakes; soy flakes)


GF pasta -e.g., bean, 100% buckwheat, corn, pea, potato, quinoa/corn, quinoa/rice, soy, rice (brown, white, wild)


GF corn or rice tortillas


GF pancake and waffles





1.        Choose GF whole grains* more often  e.g., amaranth, buckwheat, cornmeal (whole grain- not degermed), millet, oats (GF pure, uncontaminated), quinoa, rice (black, brown, red, wild), sorghum, teff


2.       Choose enriched GF products more often. Not all GF breads, flours, cereals and pastas are enriched with iron and B vitamins and are often lower in fiber as many are made from refined flours and starches.


3.       Choose breads, rolls, bagels, muffins, cereals and pastas from flours and starches that are higher in fiber, protein and vitamins and minerals  e.g., amaranth, buckwheat, flax, legumes, mesquite, millet, Montina™, oats (GF pure, uncontaminated), quinoa, rice (brown), sorghum, teff



* Whole grains contain the entire grain seed (usually called the kernel) and consist of three parts- the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains have most of the bran and some of the germ removed which results in the loss of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components.





















Fresh, frozen or canned fruits and fruit juices


Dried fruits



1.       To get more fiber, choose fruit instead of juice.


2.       Choose unsweetened frozen fruit or canned fruit in 100% fruit juice or water.


3.       Choose orange-colored fruits (e.g., apricot, cantaloupe, orange, mango, nectarine, peach, red or pink grapefruit) more often as they are high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (naturally occurring health compounds)


4.       Choose 100% fruit juice rather than fruit beverages which contain less juice and more added sugar.


5.       Some juices (e.g., orange) are enriched with calcium and/or vitamin D.











Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and vegetable juices


Dried fruits



1.       Choose dark green and yellow/orange vegetables (e.g., broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, romaine lettuce, squash, sweet potato) more often as they are high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.




Milk Products








Milk (fluid and dried powdered)


Milk (lactose-free, lactose-reduced)




Yogurt and yogurt-based beverages


Milk-based desserts (e.g., puddings made with milk, ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice milk)



1.       Choose lower-fat milk products more often.


2.       Milk and some yogurt products are enriched with vitamin D which is a key nutrient that aids in the absorption of calcium. Cheese, ice cream, commercial pudding cups and some yogurts are not enriched with vitamin D)


3.       Many brands of non-dairy beverages (e.g., nut, potato, rice, soy) and some orange/other fruit juices may be enriched with calcium and/or vitamin D but may not provide the other nutrients found in milk products.


Meats, Beans and Alternatives








Meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs


Legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils)


Nuts and seeds


GF tofu, GF tempeh, GF texturized vegetable protein, GF veggie burgers



1.       Choose leaner meats and poultry as well as legumes more often.


2.       Flax seeds and walnuts. Along with some fish (e.g., herring, salmon, trout) are high in omega-3 fatty acids which play a positive role in heart health.


3.       Some seeds and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower) are good sources of vitamin E.






















* This group is in MyPyramid. Canada’s Food Guide does not specifically include this group.



Oils (e.g., canola, coconut, corn, cottonseed, olive, palm kernel, peanut, safflower, sesame seed, walnut)


Foods naturally high in oils (e.g., avocado, flax, nuts, olives, some fish)


Solid fat (butter, beef fat [tallow, suet], pork fat [lard], stick margarine, shortening)


Foods high in solid fats (e.g., many cheese, cream, well-marbled cuts of meat, regular ground beef, bacon, poultry skin)



1.        All oils and fats are a mixture of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids.


2.        Most oils( except coconut and palm kernel) contain more monounstarurated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.


3.        Solid fats and coconut and palm kernel oils contain more saturated fatty acids and/or trans fats than unsaturated oils.


4.        Limit solid fats and coconut and palm kernel oils as saturated fats and trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood which are a factor in coronary heart disease.




From: Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide 2008 by Shelley Case, RD. Case Nutrition Consulting Inc. Publisher.

“The Gluten-free Diet: What Everyone Needs to Know” Handouts & Audio Link

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

For those of you who did not have a chance to tune into riceworks teleseminar with dieticians Shelley Case & Tricia Ryan, here’s your chance to check out all of the tremendous wealth of information that was shared!

The teleseminar, “The Gluten-free Diet: What Everyone Needs to Know”, answered questions that were submitted via email. It was a great source of information for gluten-free newbies and old-pros alike. Some of the questions answered included clarifying the difference between an allergy, intolerance and celiac disease; discussing whether oats are off-limits on a gluten-free diet; explanations about gluten-free labeling; as well as sharing many great gluten-free / celiac disease resources.

The teleseminar was so popular that they are planning many more in the near future. I can’t wait to see what ricework’s lines up for the next teleseminar!

To check out the information featured in “The Gluten-free Diet: What Everyone Needs to Know” teleseminar check-out the links below:

Medical Facts
Contains a definition on celiac disease; the prevalence, symptoms, associated conditions and treatment.

Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet
Discusses gluten-free food labeling, nutritional concerns and a listing of gluten-free resources.

Gluten-Free Guidelines
Includes the concerns of cross-contamination, and listing of foods that are safe to eat and not safe to eat while on a gluten-free diet.

Also, if you want to listen to the actual audio of the program a link has been added to the and websites.

Don’t Judge a Veggie by It’s Cover… New Study Reports that Vegetables are not as Nutritious as they were in the 1950’s

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

They may look a whole lot shiner, blemish-free and prettier, but the USDA says the vegetables of today are packed with far less nutrients than their counterparts 50 years ago. Yup – according to the Natural Food Merchandiser – the USDA reports that store-bought vegetables are not as good for you as they were 40-50 years ago, which were packed with far more nutrients back then than they are now.

Why? The crops of today are often bred for size and color, and not nutrients. It seems that crops today are designed to survive 1,000 mile road trips and as a result, their nutritional value has sacrificed.

Is this a reason to start planning your Spring 2010 garden? Or a reason to stake out claims in community garden initiatives or co-ops? More important, do we all need to start taking vitamin supplements to stave off flu symptoms this coming winter?

Being allergen and gluten-free I eat tons of vegetables.

I don’t know about you all, but give me back the dings, blemishes and scars of my veggies – and while you’re at it, give me back the nutrients too.

Ask Shelley Case: Hidden Gluten in Foods

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Q: I know that I need to avoid most breads and baked goods on a gluten-free diet, but I hear that gluten can be “hidden”  in other food products! If so, can you give me some guidelines on what I should be looking for on food labels to discover these “hidden sources” of gluten? Help!

A. Gluten is the general name for the specific proteins in the grains wheat, rye and barley. As you mentioned, most breads, bagels, muffins, cereals, pasta, crackers, cakes and cookies are sources of gluten. However, there is a wide variety of not-so-obvious food and beverages that contain gluten (see chart below). Also in order to address the issue of “hidden” gluten you need to know about labeling regulations in the USA and Canada.

The Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires the eight major food allergens (including wheat) that are used as ingredients to be declared in plain English terms on the label of all prepackaged foods under the FDA’s jurisdiction. This includes all conventional foods, dietary supplements, infant formulas and medical foods. Major food allergens used as ingredients in flavorings, colorings, seasoning mixtures and incidental additives must also be listed. For example, if a snack food included seasonings containing wheat flour or wheat starch, it must be included on the label. However, distilled vinegar derived from wheat would not have to declare wheat on the label, as the distillation process removes the wheat protein and is not in the final product.  FALCPA does not require barley or rye to be declared on the food label. The good news is that rye is not frequently used as an ingredient other than in rye bread or crackers, and barley is usually declared as barley malt, barley malt extract or barley malt flavoring.

The USDA regulates meat, poultry and processed egg products (including mixed food products containing more than 3% raw meat, 2% cooked meat or poultry). Unfortunately the USDA does not have mandatory food allergen labeling, so it is possible that wheat could be in a USDA regulated product and not included on the label. The good news is that the USDA does encourage manufacturers to voluntarily declare the food allergens on the label and many companies are complying with this recommendation.

Current Canadian labeling regulations do not require manufacturers to declare all the components of ingredients on the food label (e.g., seasonings, modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein). This can be problematic as these ingredients may be derived from gluten-containing grains.

Health Canada (HC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have recently developed proposed regulatory amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations called “Enhanced Labelling of Food Allergen and Gluten Sources and Added Sulphites”.  Unlike the FALCPA in the US, the proposed Canadian amendments would require all gluten sources to be declared on the food label. These proposed amendments were published on July 26, 2008 and included a 90 day comment period. Health Canada is reviewing these submissions and preparing the final version of amendments. Until these regulations are published and become law, HC and CIFA strongly urge manufacturers to declare on the label the major food allergens and gluten sources, and their protein derivatives, and sulphites > 10 ppm when added as ingredients or components of ingredients. Many manufacturers are voluntarily declaring these ingredients on the food label in response to these proposed regulations. However, consumers will still need to call manufacturers about the source of the hydrolyzed protein, modified food starch and seasonings if it is not declared on the label.

Oats and oat products contain varying levels of gluten due to cross-contamination with wheat, barley and/or rye during growing, harvesting, transporting and processing. These oats must be avoided on a gluten-free diet. However, there are now specialty, pure and uncontaminated oats and oat products available from five North American companies (Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gifts of Nature and Gluten-Free Oats). These pure oats are grown on dedicated fields, and harvested, transported and processed with dedicated equipment. Before adding pure oats to the gluten-free diet, it is recommended that your celiac disease be well-controlled and to check with your physician and dietitian for specific guidelines. For more information about oats see


Examples of Food & Beverages That May Contain Gluten

Food Category

Food Products


Meats & Alternatives

Deli/luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages, imitation seafood  (e.g., Surimi)

May contain fillers made from wheat. Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.


Frozen burgers (meat, poultry and fish); Meatloaf

May contain fillers (wheat flour, wheat starch, bread crumbs) or seasonings (see above).


Meat substitutes (e.g., vegetarian burgers, sausages, nuggets)

Often contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat gluten, wheat starch or barley malt.


Baked beans

Some are thickened with wheat flour.



A meat substitute made from fermented soybeans and millet or rice. Often seasoned with soy sauce (made from wheat).

Grains & Starches

Rice and corn cereals

May contain barley malt extract or barley malt flavoring.


Buckwheat flour

Pure buckwheat flour is gluten-free; however, some buckwheat flour may be mixed with wheat flour.


Buckwheat pasta (Soba noodles)

Some Soba noodles may be a combination of buckwheat flour and wheat flour.


Seasoned or flavored rice mixes

Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch or have added soy sauce derived from wheat

Milk & Dairy

Cheese spreads, cheese sauces (e.g., Nacho), seasoned flavored shredded cheese

May be thickened with wheat flour or wheat starch. Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.

Snack Foods

Seasoned potato chips, taco (corn) chips, nuts, soy nuts

Some brands of plain potato chips contain wheat starch/wheat flour (e.g. Pringles). Seasoning mixes may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.


Chocolates, chocolate bars

May contain wheat flour or barley malt flavoring.



Regular brands of licorice contain wheat flour. Some brands of  gluten-free licorice are available.

Condiments & Sauces

Soy sauce

Many brands are a combination of wheat and soy.


Malt vinegar

Made from malted barley. As this vinegar is only fermented and not distilled, it contains varying levels of gluten.


Salad dressings

May contain wheat flour, malt vinegar or soy sauce (made from wheat). Seasonings may contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat starch.


Specialty prepared mustards


Some brands may contain wheat flour.


Cake icing and frostings

May contain wheat flour or wheat starch.


Baking powder

Most brands contain cornstarch which is gluten-free. However, some brands may contain wheat starch.


Cooking sprays

Baking cooking spray may contain wheat flour or wheat starch.


Flavored or herbal teas, flavored coffees

May contain barley malt flavoring. Some specialty coffees may be prepared with a chocolate-chip-like product that contains cookie crumbs.


Beer, ale and lager

Made from malted barley. Some brands of gluten-free beer are now available


Alcoholic cooler beverages

May contain barley malt.

 Excerpts and adapted from:

Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide- Revised and Expanded Edition, Shelley Case, RD, Case Nutrition Consulting Inc, 2008

Note: Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. 

Another symptom of celiac disease

Monday, July 6th, 2009

According to an article in, recurrent mouth ulcers, like canker sores, may suggest celiac disease. Even more surprisingly, in 5% of celiacs it may be the only symptom that occurs. For these celiacs that suffer from canker sores, they tend to reappear in times of stress and are associated with viral infections, food allergies and other conditions.

In the study, the celiac patients did not respond well to conventional mouth ulcer meds. However, those that started a strict gluten-free diet showed significant improvement within 2-6 months.

This breakthrough is important because it may assist medical doctors, including dentists, in recognizing celiac disease in more patients.

 On a mission to spread celiac awareness & diagnosis, I am going to make sure that I mention this finding to my dentist during my next visit.  Please join me!

Ask Shelley Case: How to Get More Fiber In Your Diet!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

How can I get more fiber in my diet? I was used to eating high fiber cereals/breads/crackers etc. before being diagnosed with celiac disease. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables but I know I am not getting 20-30 grams of fiber a day.

Dietary fiber is the part of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), nuts and seeds that cannot be broken down by the human digestive system.  Although fiber is not readily digested, it plays an important role in the body, particularly through its effects on the digestive system.  Fiber helps to maintain regular bowel movements.  A high fiber diet can also play a role in the prevention of certain chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, colon cancer and diverticular disease.

Consuming adequate amounts of fiber is especially important for people with celiac disease.  Many newly diagnosed individuals may have symptoms of diarrhea due to malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the absorptive surface of the small intestine.  However, once a gluten-free diet is initiated, the intestinal tract begins to heal and the malabsorption and diarrhea eventually resolve.  Some may then have problems with constipation. It should also be noted that many individuals with celiac disease actually present with constipation prior to their diagnosis which may get worse on the gluten-free diet. 

As many gluten-free foods are made with starches and/or refined flours which are lower in fiber, it can be a challenge getting enough fiber in the diet. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for fiber varies for different age groups and sex. The DRI for females and males ages 19-50 is 25 and 38 grams per day respectively. For ages 51-70 it is 21grams (females) and 30 grams (males).

Here are some tips to increase your fiber intake…

* Gradually increase fiber in the diet (start with a small amount) along with an increased fluid intake, especially water

* Choose a variety of high-fiber gluten-free foods on a regular basis

* Mix it up.  Add ground flax, mesquite flour, rice bran or rice polish to pancakes, hot cereals or baked products. Extend hamburger patties or meat loaf with ground flax, cooked brown rice or oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated gluten-free). Add cooked amaranth, quinoa or teff to puddings. Use quinoa or brown rice flakes, oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free) or gluten-free granola as a topping for fruit crisp

* Toss it up. Use brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff or wild rice in salads

* Use your bean. Add chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans and other bean varieties to salads, casseroles and soups

* Soups on. Make soups with lentils or split peas

* Pilaf Ideas. Add cooked buckwheat, oat groats or steel cut oats (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free)quinoa, sorghum or wild rice to a rice pilaf recipe

* Use high-fiber gluten-free mixes (homemade or from gluten-free companies) containing amaranth flour, bean flours, brown rice flour, ground flax,  mesquite flour, Montina™, oat flour   (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free), quinoa flour, sorghum flour, teff flour or a combination of some of  these flours in baked products

* Try hot cereals for breakfast such as Altiplano Gold Instant Hot Quinoa Cereal, Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes, Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal, The Birkett Mill Pocono Cream of Buckwheat Hot Cereal, Cream Hill Estates Lara’s Rolled Oats, Holly’s Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cereal Porridge with Cranberries, Gluten-Free Oats® Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

* Flax it up. Sprinkle ground flax on yogurt or add to fruit smoothies

* Snack right. Consume high-fiber snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds and popcorn. Choose high-fiber snack bars with dried fruits, nuts and/or seeds (e.g., Bumble Bar,  Larabar, Mrs. May’s Naturals, Perfect 10)

* Eat, rather than drink. Eat whole fruits and vegetables rather than drinking juice

Choose right.  Choose breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving such as Ener G Seattle Brown, Kinnikinnick Brown Sandwich or Schar Multigrain. Choose higher fiber pastas such as brown rice, lentil, quinoa, soy or wild rice instead of white rice. Try high-fiber crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers or Crunchmaster Baked Multigrain Crackers


* NOTE ABOUT OATS: Must be pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free oats. Some available resources are from Bobs’ Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gluten-Free Oats, Gifts of Nature. For more information about the safety of oats in the gluten-free diet see:

Here are a few examples comparing the fiber content of seeds and grains:

Seeds & Grains (1 cup raw)

Fiber ( grams)

Flax seed




Sesame seeds (kernels, dried decorticated)




Buckwheat Groats (roasted, dry)


Oat Groats (pure uncontaminated, GF)


Sunflower Seeds (hulled kernels, dry roasted)






Wild Rice


Brown Rice (long grain)


White Rice (long grain, parboiled, enriched)



A comprehensive list of foods and their fiber content can be found in The Gluten-Free Diet

Note: Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

NY Times Report: Misdiagnosed Food Allergies are Far to Common

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

A recent article in the New York Times states that misdiagnosed food allergies are on the rise and many of the 11 million people, including 3 million children, are needlessly avoiding certain foods and spending hundreds of dollars more on non-allergenic supplements.   

Ouch… for many peoples health and pocketbook.

The article states that many of these misdiagnoses are occurring because of the widespread use of a quick, convenient, and often unreliable, simple blood test for antibodies that could signal a reaction to food, rather than having the painful skin testing and time consuming “food challenge” testing.

My first thought after reading this article was “better safe than sorry”, but further reading explained that avoiding certain foods in the mistaken fear of an allergy may be making many children at risk of malnutrition and more sensitive to certain foods when they finally do eat them (Which brings up a whole different issue: What happens to siblings that don’t eat peanuts, wheat or another foods, because another sibling is allergic to them? Does that MAKE the non-allergic one eventually sensitive to that food?). 

Any thoughts? How were you (or your child) diagnosed with your food allergy or celiac disease (blood work? Skin testing? Bioposy? Food challenge?) ? Do you feel it was accurate or the best way to determine a food allergy / celiac diagnosis in your case?

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