Posts Tagged ‘Ask Shelley Case’

Ask Shelley Case: Eating Out – Resources & Tips

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Question: I just got diagnosed with celiac disease and my two children also have food allergies. Can you give me any tips on eating out safely… and easily?

Answer: Eating out can be a real challenge, especially when you are first learning about the gluten-free diet, so I recommend mastering the basics of the diet before venturing out to eat in restaurants. But once you’re ready to eat, there are a growing number of restaurants that are gluten-free (GF) friendly. Many have a GF menu or they’re willing to make adaptations and substitutions in order to meet the needs of the GF customer. Also it’s exciting to see initiatives like the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) from the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) that includes educational and training materials for restaurants and their staff. Once they meet specific criteria they are listed on the GFRAP website so that individuals can search participating restaurants in North America by restaurant name or city and type of cuisine. Check out

There are many other great resources to help you eat out and travel safely:

1. The Celiac Scene™ features a free database and downloadable maps of restaurants that locals with celiac disease trust in cities across the USA and Canada. Owned and updated by an individual with celiac disease. Many restaurants bear the special symbol of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program.

2. is another free online global directory of over 6000 GF listings of restaurants, bakeries, hotels, resorts, spas, cruises and more. Recommendations are submitted by individuals with celiac disease or others following a GFD, as well as individual GF eating establishments.

3. has a variety of resources on safe GF travel and dining. One is a great book called Let’s Eat Out with Celiac and Food Allergies that provides practical information on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants. It includes 7 international cuisines with hundreds of menus items showcasing common ingredients, hidden allergens and food preparation techniques used by chefs and restaurants. In addition they have cuisine specific pocket size guides that include sample menus, menu dish descriptions, preparation techniques, quick reference guides and questions to ask to ensure safe meals. Another handy resource is the multi-lingual phrase pocket guide that has over 1200 translations from English to French, Spanish, German and Italian. The phrases include dining requests, ingredients, specific preparation requests, sample menus and over 300 health phrases in 4 languages. They have also just released new iPhone/iPod touch applications for some of their resources.

Listen to my podcast (scroll down to podcast #3) with Kim Koeller, co-author of “Let’s Eat Out: Your Passport to Living Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free.” It features an informative discussion on Kim’s newly released revised edition on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants around the world and tips to eat out safely.

4. Triumph Dining has an Essential GF Restaurant Guide that features over 5000 restaurants across the US listed in a state by state directory and every listing is verified and updated each year by an individual with celiac disease. And the Guide has 80 GF lists from various chain restaurants. Triumph Dining also has laminated wallet sized dining cards for 10 different cuisines. One side of the card is in English and the other side in the foreign language.

5. Bob and Ruth’s Gluten-Free Dining and Travel Club is a company specializing in assisting individuals on a GFD. They offer escorted GF getaways to resorts, on cruises and tours of exotic places all over the world. All the arrangements are taken care of and you can eat safely in these various locations with fellow gluten-free travelers while enjoying a wonderful vacation. My husband and I booked a one week trip with Bob and Ruth a few years ago to the Caribbean. We stayed at the Club Med and not only was the food fantastic and safe, but we met so many nice people.


Here are a few tips for a safe and successful dining experience for those with celiac disease, as well as any intolerance or dietary restriction:

1. Call the restaurant the day before or earlier in the day and ask to speak to the chef or manager to discuss meal options. They can often substitute other ingredients or create an alternative menu or menu item.

2. If possible try to avoid peak meal times. Dining early or late will allow more time and easier access to the staff that can answer questions and usually accommodate special needs.

3. Explain your dietary restrictions briefly. The terms celiac disease is still often unfamiliar to many to those in the food service industry. So I often find it easier to explain that you have a serious food allergy and will get very sick if your order is not handled properly. Indicate that you must not have any  foods or ingredients containing gluten which means no items made with wheat flour, breading, croutons, etc. It often helps to ask to speak to the manager or chef to make sure the order gets placed properly and prepared safely.

4. No matter whether the restaurant has a special GF menu or some GF items on the menu, it is still essential to ask specific questions. You need to inquire about cooking methods, specific ingredients that are in the item and how it is served.

5. Request that your food be prepared on a clean grill or in a clean pan. If this is a problem, suggest cooking it on clean aluminum foil.

6. When they bring your meal make sure you ask again if this is the special meal and were your instructions followed.

7. Don’t forget to thank the server, chef and manager. Leave a generous tip for good service and patronize the restaurant again.

Tips adapted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case and Restaurant Dining by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Ask Shelley Case: Quick & Nutritious Snack Ideas

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Question: I’m always on the run and often end up grabbing chips or a chocolate bar for a snack. Can you help with some quick and nutritious gluten-free snack ideas?


When eating on the run it’s not always easy to find safe and healthy gluten-free options. But if you follow the Girl Scout motto – “Be Prepared” and plan ahead, healthy snacking is possible. Make sure your kitchen, car, workplace, briefcase, gym bag or back pack is always stocked with a variety of gluten-free items. With the growing number of gluten-free products on the market today, as well as many naturally gluten-free foods, snacking on the go can be both healthy and enjoyable. Remember to choose snacks from the different food groups- fruits and vegetables; grain products; meat and alternatives; and milk and milk products. Also many snacks can be a combination of several food groups. Here are some ideas…

Fruits and Vegetables

– Fresh or canned fruit (packed in water or fruit juice)
– Dried fruits (apricots, blueberries, cranberries, figs, raisins)
– Fruit or vegetable juices
– Frozen fruit juice bars (store-bought or homemade)
– Veggies and dip (made with yogurt/herbs or low fat GF salad dressing)
– Edamame beans (microwavable single serve)

Grain Products

– GF cereal (e.g., GF Chex, Enjoy Life Perky O’s, Glutino Cereal O’s) in zip lock bags
– GF muffin (use a GF mix or make from scratch made with a combination of nutritious flours such as almond, bean, brown rice, Montina ™, mesquite, quinoa, sorghum, teff. Include banana, pumpkin, pineapple, carrot, dried fruits and/or nuts)
– Air popped or low fat microwave popcorn
– GF granola (homemade or store bought – e.g., Bakery On Main, Enjoy Life)

Meat and Alternatives

– Nuts
– Cheese string
– Hard boiled egg
– Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
– GF deli meat

Milk and Milk Products

– Yogurt (plain or fruit flavored)
– Low fat milk
– Chocolate milk or hot chocolate (check to make sure there is no wheat starch or barley malt flavoring)
– Yogurt drinks
– String cheese or hard cheese
– GF puddings

Food Group Combinations

– Fruit smoothie (fresh, frozen or canned fruit; yogurt, milk or dried milk powder; crushed ice; optional – honey, sugar, or sugar substitute)
– Chex Almond Apple Bars
– Hummus and GF crackers (e.g., Blue Diamond Nut Thins, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Edward and Son’s Exotic Rice Toast, Glutino Crackers, Ener-G Crackers)
– Low fat cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit
– GF trail mix (e.g., GF Chex cereal, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, GF pretzels)
– GF crackers and nut/seed butters (e.g., almond, cashew, peanut butter, sesame seed, sunflower)
– GF corn tortilla chips, grated low fat cheddar cheese and salsa
– Ants on a log (nut or seed butter on celery with raisins)
– GF snack bars (dried fruits, nuts, seeds, GF cereals) e.g.,  Bumble Bar, Enjoy Life, EnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bars, Glutino, Kind Bars, Larabar, Orgran, PurFit.
– Avocado and Bean Dip with veggies or GF crackers
– GF soups (e.g.,Amy’s Kitchen, Health Valley, Imagine, Kettle Cuisine[frozen, microwavable single serve], Orgran soup for cups, Pacific Foods, Taste Adventure)
– GoPicnic shelf stable snack boxes (contain a variety of single serve snacks)


Many of the above ideas are 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.

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. 

Ask Shelley Case: Quick & Healthy Breakfast Ideas!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Question: I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I’m always in a hurry and need some quick and healthy gluten-free / allergen-free ideas. Help!

Eating on the run in the morning is a challenge for many of us. It’s tempting to skip breakfast and just grab a coffee but you need to fuel your body with healthier choices to stay energized and alert. Here are a few ideas…

• GF toasted bagel, bread or English muffin with nut butter (almond, cashew or peanut) with sliced banana and glass of milk or 100% fruit juice

• Smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt or milk*, spoonful of ground flax, crushed ice and sweetener (honey, sugar, agave or sugar substitute) and a gluten-free muffin or energy bar (see recipe below)

• Frozen GF waffles (e.g., Van’s or Nature’s Path) with cottage cheese, peaches and sprinkled with cinnamon and a dash of syrup

• GF cereal or granola with yogurt or milk* and fresh fruit

• GF hot cereal (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal or GF oats** and a spoonful of ground flax) made with water or milk* prepared in the microwave and served with fresh or dried fruit (e.g., raisins, apricots, mangoes)

• Leftover GF pizza warmed in the microwave or eaten cold and a glass of 100% fruit juice


* GF Milk substitutes (almond, potato, rice or soy beverages) can replace milk for those with
   lactose intolerance.

** GF oats available from Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gifts of Nature, Gluten-Free Oats). For more information about GF oats see


There are a number of granola, muffin and portable fruit bar recipes that can be pre-made. Here is one of my favorite healthy energy bar recipe detailed below. These energy bars can be stored for a week in an air tight container and can also be individually wrapped and frozen for up to one month.  You can also find more recipes, tips and substitutions along with the nutrition content of the recipes in the Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.


Carrot Apple Energy Bars

1 ¼ cups sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup rice bran
¼ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup non-fat (skim) milk powder
1½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups grated carrots
¾ cup dried fruit mix
½ cup chopped walnuts
Line 13 X 9 inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.

In a large bowl or plastic bag. Combine sorghum flour, amaranth flour, rice bran, ground flaxseed, milk powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Mix well and set a side.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, applesauce and brown sugar until combined.

Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in carrots, dried fruit and nuts.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan; spread to edges with a moist rubber spatula and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 325° F oven for 30—35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack and cut into bars.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or individually wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Yield 18 bars

From Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and reprinted with permission from: The Best Gluten-Free Family Cookbook by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, Robert Rose Inc., Publisher, 2005;

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

New Featured Column on BeFreeForMe: ASK SHELLEY CASE!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I am so excited to announce that and Shelley Case, a registered dietician and leading international expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, are teaming up to offer BeFreeForMe members a monthly column, “Ask Shelley Case”.

The segment will feature candid and everyday questions, asked by BeFreeForMe members that will be answered by Shelley. Shelley has tons of experience with the gluten-free lifestyle and community, and I am thrilled that BeFreeForMe is partnering with her on this column!

Shelley is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group in the United States and the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association. As well as partnering with, Shelley is a frequent guest on TV and radio, including the NBC Today Show!

Shelley is also the author of the National Best Seller, “Gluten-free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide” , which has recently come out in a revised and expanded edition! It is jammed packed with resources, info and ideas; and is a “must read and revisit” for everyone following a gluten-free diet.

I am so thrilled that we have Shelley on-board so we can pick her brain and ask her questions about our special dietary needs. If you have any questions, please ask her through this email link:

The “Ask Shelley Case” featured column (and email) will be showcased / sent the second Tuesday of every month. The first column will run this Tuesday, May 12. Keep your eye out for it!

Welcome, Shelley!

Be Free!

Kathleen Reale

Founder /

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