Thursday, July 30, 2009

Campbell's Gluten Free Update

Last year, I blogged about Campbell's gluten free list. This week, I received a letter from them in the mail explaining that due to the FDA's proposed regulations some items were removed from their approved gluten free list for further evaluation. They have since updated their list, and created the Campbells Without Gluten website to provide gluten free information to consumers.

The page redirects to a general FAQ page, but they have indeed added a "Gluten Free" tab to their FAQ. It gives a brief overview of gluten and celiac disease, assures customers of Campbell's gluten free commitment and practices, and a link to their list of gluten free products.

Rather than type the information -- which can change -- in this blog entry, I'll provide the link that Campbell's provides to their gluten free list. As you can see the major change from last November is the addition of several varieties of Prego sauce. It's nice to see Prego back on the list of safe foods! It's also nice to see the company becoming more pro-active about informing consumers about gluten free products!

The page is new, so please cut it some slack, but a couple of minor nitpicks and an atta-boy:
  • Nitpick #1: I realize that the site is new, but I'd have thought it would come up in Google search results for "Campbell's gluten free" or at the very least the awkward "Campbells without gluten" query. If you're an SEO guy from Campbell's and reading this blog, I think you have some work to do.
  • Nitpick #2: While it's great that Campbell's provides a blurb assuring customers that they're taking all precautions to ensure their gluten free products are indeed gluten free, please either tell us exactly what your practices are (testing batches for gluten, dedicated facilities, washing lines, etc.), what your definition (ppm) of gluten free is, or just leave the screen real-estate for something else.
  • Nitpick #3: Seriously, none of your soups are on the "safe" list? Why is that?
  • Atta-boy: I love the fact that I received a letter with this list at home without contacting the company for follow-up information. Campbell's customer service really impressed me. :-) Thanks (and now I can buy Prego again!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trader Joe's Crunchy Green Beans

Earlier this week I was in Boston for a work-related conference. Since I was already in Massachusetts, I packed a cooler in the backseat of my car and couldn't resist a pit stop to stretch my legs - and load up on some Trader Joe's goodies - in Hadley.

Unfortunately, they were out of the gluten free English Muffins that we've discovered (yum! - fortunately I still have a package in the freezer) but I was able to pick up frozen pancakes and toaster waffles, brown rice marshmallow treats, rice mac and cheese, mini tacos, taquitos, and a whole bunch of other yummy snacks. By this time it was already 5:00, lunch was a distant memory and I was anticipating worse-than-usual traffic so I picked up some things to munch on during the remainder of the ride home. Enter: Lightly Salted, Crunch Green Beans.

The back of the package has their "no gluten ingredients used" icon, and while I figured they weren't likely to be my husband's cup of tea, I shrugged and threw them in my basket along with dried, unsweetened mango slices. They're fried in canola oil, and while it seems a uniquely American pastime to make a serving of green beans 140 calories, I've got to say: they're gluten free crack. They're crunchy, salty, and have just enough sweetness to make them a completely addictive snack. I'm embarrassed to admit that I bought them yesterday and have already polished off the bag, and grateful that I only bought one bag to try out!

They're definitely on my list of must-have guilty pleasures for my next Trader Joe's visit - which, due to school starting up late next month, probably won't be for a while.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kix Cereal

Yesterday, hubby and I were doing the weekly grocery store run when we hit up the cereal aisle (we needed to pick up some stuff at the Green Grocer, so this happened to be at the Clifton Park Walmart). He was out of cereal for the week and I had a coupon off three boxes of General Mills cereals. I figured we could load up on various versions of gluten free Chex cereals - however, we checked out the Kix cereal.

It turns out that the cereal (which previously contained oats and was off-limits) has been reformulated to contain mostly corn ingredients. Since General Mills will clearly list any ingredients that contain gluten, this looks like a safe bet. We picked up a box but haven't tried the new formulation yet -- however, it's nice to have yet another mainstream option and we're looking forward to trying them this week!

Note: Unlike the various Chex cereals, Kix does not say that it's gluten free. It's probably not made in a dedicated gluten free facility -- however, we've had pretty good luck with other General Mills cereals, namely Trix, that are gluten free but not labelled so.

The box for Honey Nut Kix also looked safe - no oats. I didn't check the box for Berry Berry Kix, but browsing around some blogs that one also appears to be reformulated.

NOW - We need corn-based Honey Nut and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. ;-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Fourth of July and Saratoga

First I'd like to wish all my readers a belated Happy Fourth of July! I hope you spent it with family and/or friends with a ton of gluten free goodies!

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to decompress from all the Fourth of July weekend festivities – and enjoy the warm, sunny weather that’s been absent for the bulk of this summer – by heading up to Saratoga, eating lunch and walking around Congress Park and some of the shops on Broadway. I’d been told by a few friends that the Circus Café was decent and had a gluten free menu and it was on our list of places to check out, so we headed up there and asked for a gluten free menu.

If only we’d done research beforehand – their gluten free menu is available online here – we probably wouldn’t have bothered.

Chicken wings – fried in a community frier and therefore, NOT gluten free. Fries, same thing. Sandwiches and burgers with no bread. My absolute favorite, though, was the quesadillas – melted cheese, onions, tomatoes, and salsa with no tortilla. Are you supposed to pick up the melted cheese with your hands!? They had no business being on a gluten free menu. At the very least, offer a corn or brown rice tortilla or corn chips if you’re going to advertise that they’re gluten free.

They did have salads that were safe, but we wanted something special. Everywhere we go lately, the only good options are a steak or a salad, and I usually make amazing salads at home that don’t compare. We briefly debated splitting the mozzarella, tomato and basil salad with a shrimp cocktail, but decided not to. The only other options were pricey and way-too-heavy dinner options (that, admittedly, did look good, but not for lunch on an 80 degree day!). So, we abandoned the Circus Café and headed to Cold Stone where we made the best of it and ate decadent ice cream for lunch instead. :-) (For reference, Cold Stone’s allergen list is available here).

Overall though we still did have a great day, and enjoyed Congress Park!