Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review: Enjoy Life Sunbutter Crunch Snack Bars

Well, for a while our main computer was on the fritz and I had to blog using my husband's laptop. However with the purchase of two nice, widescreen LCD monitors from Dell, we're back in business - and that makes posting with pictures that much easier! So here goes.

Back in August I wrote an unfavorable review of Enjoy Life's cinnamon raisin bagels. Well, they were kind enough to send some samples of their products that I might enjoy, so the next few blog posts will be reviews (with pictures, finally!) of some of their other products.

The first product we tried is the sunbutter crunch snack bars. Now we've had some pretty bad experiences with gluten free snack bars in the past so we weren't optimistic about these bars to begin with. Still, it never hurts to keep an open mind and try something, right?

Well, I opened the package and they weren't that impressive to look at. I broke a piece off, though, and it wasn't that bad for a gluten free snack bar. Vince had already written them off in his mind, so in order to get an honest opinion from him I broke another piece off and told him to try it. Suspicious, he asked if it was chocolate (no), and then took a bite. He had the same reaction that I did - it's not something we'd go out of our way to eat, and you can tell it's "gluten free," but it's convenient to stick one in your desk drawer or purse and will do the trick in a pinch. I have to say that it's the best gluten free bar we've found so far - Vince tried the cherry Larabar and was not impressed at all.

In the interest of science (and the fact that she's been doing better about exercising) we gave the puggle a piece of it - who gave it two paws out of four.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Celiac Drug Fast-Tracked by FDA

I have Google alerts set up for celiac disease, and the other day I was checking out an interesting press release: Alba Therapeutics Presents New Data for Larazotide Acetate at the 2008 American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting.

Now, if you have celiac disease you may have heard about Alba Therapeutics. They've been sponsoring clinical trials of a drug to treat the symptoms of celiac disease. Now, I'm a computer geek and not a doctor, but I thought the following exerpts were extremely promising:

  • "...The first Phase IIa trial conducted in celiac disease... showed that larazotide acetate (AT-1001) successfully demonstrated prevention of gluten-induced immunologic changes in celiac patients."
  • "Larazotide acetate has the potential to become the first approved medicine to treat celiac disease and has been granted "Fast Track" designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this indication."
  • "This study showed that larazotide acetate prevented immunologic changes induced by gluten in patients with celiac disease."

The full paper is available via Wiley. I look forward to hearing more about the AT-1001 drug!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gluten Free at Bomber's

October 4th (yes, yes, I know I'm behind on my posting) was my girl Sammy's birthday. We wanted to go out to celebrate, so first we hit up Koto for a nice (gluten free) sushi dinner, and later on headed to Bomber's for the oblivatory obligatory birthday fishbowl margarita.

Now, I like to occasionally go out - especially to a place like Jillian's where there might be dancing - but my husband has never been a big fan of bars. I can usually drag him out about twice a year. He's been pretty good about replacing his Bud with a Captain and Coke, but his torture is intensified when he sees all sorts of horrible-for-you bar food that he can't eat.

Well, I figured that it never hurts to ask, so while we were at Bomber's waiting for our drinks and Sam's free margarita, I asked about allergen-friendly foods. Well, the bouncer and host were extremely helpful, and the host went over the menu with me. I didn't expect that Vince could eat the tacos and burritos, and he can't, but there are filling platters that are safe, and the wings are safe.

Wings, you might ask? Yes, wings - they have a dedicated fryer for their meat (wings) and it is not cooked in the same oil as their other fried foods. Gluten free wings, yay! And good wings, at that!

Something tells me that we'll be seeing a lot more of Bomber's. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gluten free sausage!

When my hubby and I started de-glutening our household, one of the first casualties was sausage - breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, you name it. I'd read online that sausage often contains gluten, and called local supermarkets inquiring about gluten free meats only to talk to clueless deli workers who couldn't answer my questions or just said in a blanket statement "all of our sausages contain gluten." Helpful, thanks buddies.

We'd tried Applegate Farm's apple/chicken sausage, but... yuck. We couldn't even bring ourselves to give those leftovers to the puggle. We figured that sausage was off-limits for a while, but at least my skinny jeans were thankful!

Well, fast forward to a couple of weekends ago, I spent a lazy weekend morning surrounded by the weekly newspaper advertisements and a laptop trying to figure out what dinners I wanted to make that week. We were stuck in a little bit of a food rut, and I saw that Italian sausage was on sale. Mmm, sausage and peppers, spaghetti with Italian sausage... it had been a while, and those were some of Vince's favorites!

Well, it turns out that Premio makes gluten free Italian sausage! Their website didn't specify this, but I went on some forums and found references to the fact that their sausages were gluten free. I made a mental note to call their company, but when I went grocery shopping that day I saw the words "gluten free" right on the package. Yay! I picked up two packs of sausages - a hot Italian sausage that I used to make sausage-and-pepper sandwiches (using freshly baked brown-rice flour bread using this recipe), and stuck some in the freezer for use with pasta (incidentally, last night's dinner).

But - that's not all! Boldened by my good luck and Google, I even found breakfast sausages that are gluten free as well - Johnsonville breakfast sausages (all varieties except brown sugar and and honey). The best part - their website specifies wheat/gluten free, making it that much easier to plan our grocery lists! So, we made a nice Sunday breakfast this weekend of eggs over-easy, breakfast sausage, and hash browns.

Okay, I'll admit - we probably overdid it and might be sick of sausage for a month or so. But it's so wonderful to have more options to vary our meals!

Does anyone else know of mainstream sausage brands that are gluten free?

Monday, October 20, 2008

BeFreeForMe - new allergen free site

BeFreeForMe is a new site - and a promising resource for the gluten-free community. As family, friends and frequent readers of this blog are all well aware, purchasing gluten free foods can be extremely frustrating - we're lucky enough to have a decent number of stores carrying gluten free products in the Albany area, but it's very disheartening to spend several dollars on a gluten free food product only to find that it's unpalatable.

BeFreeForMe will be offering free samples and coupons for allergen-free foods - I've signed up (membership is free) and am looking forward to my first newsletter. It'll be interesting to see how this new site turns out!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: Bionaturae Pasta

First of all, my apologies for the sporadic posting over the past week or so. A busy work and school schedule meant a lot of "easy" meals for our household this week - and not a lot of time for experimenting with recipes!

However, my mother's friend introduced me to a pasta I'd never heard of before, Bionaturae. They produce both wheat and gluten-free pastas - of course we tried the gluten-free penne. It's made in Italy (promising for Italian food!), out of rice, potato and soy, and the packaging said it was a "no rinse" pasta. So far, so good!

We cooked the pasta according to the directions on the package, and we were pleasantly surprised by the color, texture and taste. (I am a fan of Tinkyada pasta, but I'll be the first to admit that it needs sauce in order to taste good). I couldn't tell the difference between the Bionaturae gluten free pasta and, say, Barilla pasta.

According to their website's purchasing page, Bionaturae pasta is available at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op and Dean's Natural Foods in Westgate Plaza - as well as other locations in Ballston Spa and Massachussetts.

We completed our meal with Bertolli pasta sauce (what, I'm not Italian), and it was very good. We'll definitely be buying more of this pasta.

Phoebe the puggle is unfortunately on a diet and could not assist in reviewing this product for us - though I am sure she would have rated it four paws out of four. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hannaford Healthy Living Class

If you're new to the gluten-free diet and lifestyle and would like more information, the Clifton Park Hannaford is hosting another Healthy Living class on the gluten free diet. I attended their last class, and it's really geared toward someone who's newly diagnosed and trying to understand what's allowed in the diet, or friends/family members who are trying to better understand the diet.

From their e-mail:

Gluten Free Diet!
(Includes Halloween Candy List)
Tuesday October 28 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Clifton Park Hannaford, 9 Clifton Country Road
Call to register at (518) 383-4136

You can find more information on Hannaford's free healthy living classes at

If anyone does go, I'd love a copy of the gluten free candy list - you never know what you'll find! :)