Archive for July, 2009

WIN-It-Wednesday: Shabtai Gourmet Bakery Sweets

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

This weeks WIN-It-Wednesday’s sponsor is Shabtai Gourmet. If you haven’t tried these bakery items yet – you MUST! Shabtai Gourmet bakery makes being gluten and allergen free so much easier!

These products are D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. When I first tried the Shabtai items at a Trade show last October, I had to ask them (O.K. – I admit it, I asked several times) if they were absolutely positively certain the item I was eating was gluten free. They are just THAT good! 

Plus… All of the ingredients that pass through their doors are gluten, casein, lactose, soy and dairy free. Pretty sweet, huh?

Shabtai Gourmet’s bakery is also a designated peanut-free and gluten-free zone. They are also certified Kosher for Passover and Kosher Parve – otherwise known as Dairy Free – by the OK Kosher Supervision.

BeFreeForMe also featured a great Tiramasu recipe a while back, made with Shabtai Lady Fingers.


The sweet WIN-It-Wednesday prize that Shabtai is offering to THREE (3) randomly selected LUCKY BeFreeForMe MEMBERS is a free box of sweets, which includes all of the following yummy items:

One (1) Devil Foods Seven Layer Cake: The description says this chocolate cake smothered with dark chocolate and sandwiched in crème, is fancy enough for company. (So why can’t I stop picturing myself standing solo at the counter, fork-in-hand, digging right in?)

One (1) box of Italian Tricolor Rainbow Squares: Light spongy layers, separated by raspberry jam, and covered in rich dark chocolate. My Italian grandparents would have loved these!

One (1) box of Black & White Cookies: The famous double-dipped Black & Whites are a classic New York treat (And who said doubling-dipping was bad?)


How can you Win?

Reply to this blog and tell us what makes your world so much sweeter since being gluten or allergen free. (Me? Sharing recipes and meals (which equates to spending time!) with my celiac-sister; and really appreciating a big piece of juicy, sweet, super-ripe fruit on a summer day).

The contest ends on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 12:00 midnight EST.


Even if you don’t win, there is FREE SHIPPING on ALL Shabtai Gourmet products until Labor Day (09-07-09). Make sure you mention you saw this deal on BeFreeForMe when ordering! Stock up now for back to school lunch boxes!

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. 

My Job as a “Lobster Flight Attendant”

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

While eating a lobster dinner on vacation last week, my friends were in awe and amazement of my lobster eating aptitude while they wrestled with claws, and legs and tails.

Bib in place, wet-nap by my side and nut-crackers in hand, I broke through my lobster’s shell and had the meat removed and ready to be eaten with the skill and grace of a surgeon performing intricate surgery. Not an ounce of lobster meat was left behind, hidden in some crevice, knuckle or leg. Like a true professional I jumped in and assisted my dining companions step-by-step, while reciting the story on how I developed the status of a professional lobster eater.

The tale starts during a job I had in high school at a lobster shack on a pier in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was there that I learned my lobster eating skills and became the unofficial Lobster Attendant that showed tourists from around the globe how to eat a lobster.

We’ve all had odd jobs in our lives, but by far this has been the most memorable, crazy and maybe even the most challenging job I have ever had. Standing in front of a hundred tourists, many non-English speaking, I ended up depending on very animated and charade-like actions to demonstrate what words sometimes could not.

Dressed in crisp khaki shorts and the official lobster shack polo, each day I grabbed the largest boiled lobster I could find to assist me with the instructional demonstration.  I was like the flight attendant for lobster eaters. I gave directions and was there to guide during the tourists crazy ride of eating their very first lobster.

My spiel, said in the most animated sing-song stewardess-like voice I could muster, went something along these lines:

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentleman. My name is Kathleen and I will be your Lobster Attendant this afternoon. It’s a pleasure to have you eating with us today.

Shortly I will be giving a safety & eating demonstration highlighting the features of this 1 and ¼ pound lobster. On the table in front of you there are instructions printed on the placemat showing graphics and instructions on how to eat a lobster. Please remove the placemat from the setting in front of you, and follow-along to further understand the instructions on eating this 1 and ¼ pound lobster.

Please note if you are sitting in a picnic seat row and next to someone also eating a lobster, you may be subject to splattering. If you are unable or unwilling to have this splattering, please contact me at the conclusion of this announcement.  

Before eating, please fasten your lobster bib, high and tight around your neck. Remove the two plastic straps from the bib, by pulling the loose end of the strap. Tie the straps tightly around your neck. To remove the bib, pull on the straps firmly to release. Please leave your bib on at all times to protect yourself from unexpected splatters.

There are four shell pails located on each picnic table, two on each side of the table. Please look around you at this time and locate the two closest shell pails nearest to your seat, keeping in mind that the closest shell pail may be located behind you.  

Each seat is provided with wet-nap cleaning devices in the event of needing a quick and easy water-free cleansing. To use the wet-nap pull the cloth from the packaging, and wipe to the face and hands, as shown on the placemat instructions. For sanitary reasons, please use your own wet-nap before helping clean others.

Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentleman. I will now be coming through the dining room to make my final lobster eating check before dining. If you have any further questions regarding lobster eating, please ask your questions at this time.

And lastly, and most importantly… thank you for eating from the friendly seas.

Friday Favorite: Hormel Turkey Pepperoni

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

This week’s Friday Favorite is an old stand-by for me. Hormel Turkey Pepperoni are a staple on my shopping list since they are so versatile, and unlimited when it comes to adding flavor to any recipe or quick snack.

Just the right amount of spiciness and tons of flavor, the Hormel Turkey Pepperoni is gluten free and has 70%  less fat than the Hormel original pepperoni – so dig in!

Some of the ways I like to enjoy the turkey pepperoni is in omelets, topped on a salad or pizza, with cheese and gluten free crackers, and as a quick “there’s nothing to eat in the house” dinner by slicing the pepperoni thin and tossing them with gluten free pasta, fresh veggies,  herbs and olive oil.

Another bonus with the Hormel turkey pepperoni is that they are packaged in a keep-it-fresh 8-ounce “Pillow Pack” – which has a convenient resealable zipper. This makes the pepperoni easy to transport to picnics or the beach.

Hormel Turkey Pepperoni has made me think beyond the pizza crust, and discover many ways of enjoying pepperoni! Mangia!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Indigo Rabbit Cookies

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Win-It-Wednesday is back after a hiatus for the Fourth of July holiday week. As mentioned in earlier posts, I hope to host the Win-It-Wednesday feature as many weeks as possible. So keep checking back each Wednesday for your chance to WIN!

This weeks WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor is Indigo Rabbit Cookies. These cookies are like garanimals for those with food allergies. Need a cookie that is gluten, lactose and soy free? No problem… check out the Indigo Rabbit allergen chart and discover that the Seriously Cinnamon Almond or Perfectly Peanut Butter cookies are the right fit for you! Need a peanut, egg and soy free cookie that will knock your socks off? Consult the Indigo Rabbit chart and you’ll find the Luscious Lemon Chewies are just your style. 

Let’s face it. Reading labels when you have food allergies can be a challenge. But Indigo Rabbit makes it easy. 

Every package has a straightforward and uncomplicated symbol that denotes allergen ingredients. It’s simple. Easy. Carefree. Just the way cookies are meant to be.

Another plus is that these delicious, soft and chewy cookies are… dare I say it, good for you! Made with ingredients such as yellow squash, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, and not with any additives or preservatives, and definitely no trans fats or hydrogenated oils – you can feel doubly confident bundling up a Grab n’ Go Indigo Rabbit pack in your child’s camp lunchbox or even having one (or two!) yourself! (Note: They’re so good for you, there is no sneaking involved – so have two!)

Indigo Rabbit wants to give away a FREE box of cookies (of the winners choice) to 3 (Yes – three!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe MEMBERS!

How can you win?


Indigo Rabbits Tagline is “Secretly Healthy, Uncommonly Good”.
Reply back to this post and tell us what type of cookie you would like to win (Make sure you check out the allergen chart since not all cookies are free of gluten or other allergens!)
Also, if you would like,  let us know what you do to be secretly healthy (Me? I make sure I eat veggies at each & every meal) or uncommonly good (Me? I make it a point to smile and say a big “Good Morning” to at least one person during my morning walk).

Good Luck and, as always…
Be Free!

NOTE: This contest ends Sunday, July 12 at 12:00 midnight EST

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!

Friday Favorite: Against the Grain Baguettes

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

This week’s Friday Favorite is also a family favorite! My sister (the super-awesome birthday girl!) is the one that actually turned me on to the Against the Grain Baguettes. The flavor I tried was the Fresh Rosemary, and they smelled just as good as they tasted.

This baguette was the way a baguette should be: crusty and flaky on the outside, and soft and airy in the inside. Deliciously yummy. After the first bite I knew why my sister raved about these baguettes.

These baguettes were served by my sister at a dinner to both gluten-free and glutenous family members. They were a huge, huge hit with everyone.

Against The Grain manufactures their products in a 100% gluten-free, peanut and tree-nut free, 7,200 square foot facility located in Brattleboro, Vermont. They also use local eggs and milk from nearby farmers in all their products. Their products also contain no yeast, corn, soy, rice or sugar. As well as the baguettes, they also make bagels, rolls, and pizza shells. They are all sold frozen. 

I haven’t tried the rolls yet, but my sister tells me that turkey burgers are awesome on the rosemary rolls. I can’t wait to try them for myself. Look forward to a recipe coming soon!

Against The Grain also just recently won the Vermont Grilled Cheese Cook-Off. Their winning sandwich called the “South-of-the Border Grilled Flatbread, Vermont Style,” also has Cabot Cheese as an ingredient, which is another one of BeFreeForMe Friday Favorites! The gluten free recipe is as follows:


A gluten free sandwich


1 Gluten Free 12-inch, 3-Cheese Pizza Shell (Against The Grain Gourmet)
4 oz Chipotle Cheddar Cheese (Neighborly Farms of Vermont,) grated
2 Tbsp refried black beans
4 Slices bacon (Vermont Smoke and Cure, Thick Sliced,) cooked and crumbled
2-3 Tbsp Cilantro Vinaigrette (1Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, 2 parts oil, 1 part white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste)


1.) Prepare cilantro vinaigrette ahead of time for optimum flavor.
2.) Cut pizza shell into halves.  Brush the top surface of each half liberally with cilantro vinaigrette.
3.) Spread a thin layer of refried black beans on the bottom surface of one half, and top with grated cheese and bacon crumbles.
4.) Close the flatbread sandwich and place on grill.  Grill for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the shell is toasted with golden grill marks.
5.) Cut into 4ths with pizza cutter to serve.

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