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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Gluten-Free Muffins at Muffin Break
I was first made aware of Muffin Break when Tinctory posted a picture in the Gluten-Free Goodness flickr group I moderate.

gluten free from Muffin Break
© All rights reserved. Picture by Tinctory.

Muffin Break provides customers with an irresistible combination of baked products and a distinctive blend of espresso coffee. In addition to this you can have a Muffin Break experience in various locations throughout the world. With locations in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Dubai, Muffin Break is surely spreading the word about gluten-free baking to an international market. It is very exciting to know there is an international bakery chain that actually caters to the gluten-free community. It is almost unheard of in the US to find a bakery that sells both gluten-free and non-gluten free products side by side. I hope the Muffin Break franchises catch on in the United States.

Muffin Break clearly states their gluten-free operational procedures on their website. Here are a few of the steps Muffin Break takes to ensure that their products are gluten-free and that their products avoid cross-contamination:

  • The Gluten Free muffin pre-mix is produced at only one mill in Ballarat.

  • The ingredients are made specifically for each batch. Once each batch is completed, samples of the mix are sent to two different laboratories to be tested. When they are returned meeting the standards of “gluten free” the mix is then bagged and transported to Muffin Break stores.

  • At a store level, all equipment used to prepare the gluten free muffins are washed separately.

  • Gluten free muffins are the first product baked on the day and are baked above any other product that may also be in the oven.

  • The gluten free muffins are displayed in the top row of the display cabinet to reduce the possibility of contamination with other products.

  • Gluten free muffins are always handled using specified tongs. These tongs are only used on these muffins and not on any other product.

I love how much attention Muffin Break gives to the detail including preparation of the mixes to presentation in the display case. I also love that they list 68 possible gluten-free flavors. That is so awesome and I am so jealous. There is one location in California, but the rest of the locations are outside of the US. If you are ever in Cali, the UK, New Zealand, Australia or Dubai DEFINITELY check out Muffin Break.

Muffin Break Oakridge
Foodcourt Suite 1663
Westfield Oakridge
925 Blossum Hill Road
SAN JOSE CA 95123 USA

Please visit the Muffin Break website for more information.
http://www.muffinbreak.co.uk

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Friday, July 27, 2007
Trendy Celiac
I guess Celiac Disease has now made it big since we got a shout-out in a posting on Gawker yesterday. Of course, Gawker being Gawker, was using Celiac Disease in a snarky manner but we did get a mention nonetheless.

The posting "The Fats: Why There Are No Fat People at Wesleyan" specifically said:
Since most Wesleyan feeder schools are either private or one of those rich suburban high schools where the girls all happen to have celiac disease, and the fat girls are treated like Martha Dumptruck, it's not surprising that the campus would look like an Undereaters Anonymous retreat. Skinny jeans, people! There's a reason they don't come in big sizes!


Now I know plenty of Celiacs and trust me, we ain't all wearing skinny jeans. I just find it irritating and irresponsible that they are equating Celiac Disease to a rich-girl eating disorder, which clearly it is NOT!!

Then again, Celiac is getting mentioned; should I complain?? And if Celiac Disease is truly the next big thing, then I am light years ahead of my time. Being diagnosed and gluten-free since 1981, I am clearly the Queen of this trend!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Celiac Disease article in today's NY Times
This is a very exciting article, especially since I love Risotteria and think Joe Pace is a great and progressive restaurant owner in New York City. And my fellow NYC bloggers David, of Gluten Free NYC, and Catherine, of Gluten Free Guide, both got awesome shout-outs!!

Here is the text and link for the article



http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/25/dining/25glut.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1


For the Gluten-Averse, a Menu That Works
By JENNIFER ROMOLINI


Evan Sung for The New York Time

JOSEPH PACE’S rice-centered Risotteria, in Greenwich Village, was never what would be called an experimental restaurant, until he began developing a special gluten-free menu.

It started with a gluten-free cookie. A simple step, it might seem, but gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye, gives baked goods elasticity. Without it, cakes, breads and pastries can be leaden, dry and crumbly.

“It took more than 40 dozen batches,” he said. “My background in organic chemistry definitely helped.”

The work paid off. Risotteria is a nationally known hub for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting about 1 in 100 Americans that can cause serious problems if even a bit of gluten is ingested.

Visitors frequently arrive at the restaurant straight from the airport, suitcases in tow, and dinner can seem like a celiac support group as regulars swivel in their chairs to talk about their hunt for food they can eat.

On a recent Tuesday night at Mr. Pace’s restaurant a preppy couple asked the people at the next table about the Sicilian pizza they were trying from the specials list. Farther down the packed, narrow space, diners exchanged guidebooks to gluten-free restaurants, and compliments flew around the room about the breadsticks; the light beer, made from sorghum instead of malted barley; and the rich brownies and cookies.

At the door a leather-jacketed couple discussed menu options and waited impatiently to get in.

“Are you going to get the gluten-free pizza?” the woman asked.

“Of course,” her companion replied. “You have to understand, this is like a chance of a lifetime for me.”

Like Mr. Pace, a growing number of restaurateurs have decided it’s worth catering to the gluten-free crowd. Chains like Outback Steakhouse and P. F. Chang’s now offer dishes without gluten.

New bakeries and pizzerias have popped up all over New York City, and restaurants that were already celiac-friendly have expanded their menus. There’s vegan at Candle 79, fusion food at Asia de Cuba, Italian at Sambuca, Greek at Gus’ Place and comfort food at Peters’ Gourmet Diner — all gluten-free.

Gluten-averse diners avidly track such sympathetic places with online help from glutenfreerestaurants.org and the tribe of celiac blogs that include, in New York, Gluten-free NYC (glutenfreenyc.blogspot.com), Gluten Free Guide (glutenguide.blogspot.com) and Please Don’t Pass the Nuts (allergicgirl.blogspot.com). Aside from safe food, they can find a camaraderie that’s unusual on New York’s jaded dining scene.

The pleasures of dining out are often denied people who avoid gluten because they are sensitive to it or have celiac disease. Menus are a source of anxiety and self-consciousness because — besides its presence in obvious culprits like bread, sauce thickeners, pasta and desserts — gluten also lurks in soy sauce, brewer’s yeast, bourbon, vegetable starch, vinegars, salad dressings, processed cheeses and some spices.

Creating a gluten-free menu is more difficult than, say, offering vegetarian options at a steakhouse. Chefs have to master special techniques and follow stringent regulations. Mr. Pace said each menu item — pizza, focaccia, breadsticks, cakes — took six months to develop, with the ingredients costing nearly five times as much as conventional ones.

Baking can be tricky without gluten, which creates a lattice of air pockets that binds doughs and batters while giving a moist, supple texture. To overcome the challenge, chefs turn to additives like xanthan gum to bind the flour together, guar gum to thicken and stabilize doughs and batters, and gelatin powder to moisten them. Breads are baked at very high temperatures to keep crusts crisp and insides soft.

While gluten-free dining is spreading in the United States, Dr. Peter H. R. Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, said it is more common elsewhere in the world.

“In Buenos Aires,” Dr. Green said, “you’d have little trouble getting a gluten-free ice cream cone. In Helsinki you can order a gluten-free Big Mac at McDonald’s. In Dublin most menus are clearly marked ‘Safe for celiacs.’ This is the way to live a normal existence with this disease. In a city as big as New York, for there to be so few safe restaurants, that’s just really bad.”

Cooking gluten-free isn’t an entirely altruistic act by chefs. A new base of customers can attract big business to a fledging location or revive an established spot.

“I’ve definitely seen a spike in business,” said Anthony Avellino, owner of Bistango, a 16-year-old Italian restaurant in Murray Hill. Mr. Avellino recently added dishes made with Tinkyada brown rice pasta, and dishes from Everybody Eats bakery in Brooklyn like celiac-safe bruschetta, served on gluten-free bread, and after-dinner biscotti. “When you’re a neighborhood place like we are, it’s always nice to see new customers and fresh faces,” he said.

In February Gourmet Land, a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side, opened with a menu including a separate 50-item gluten-free listing with items like soy sauce and other sauces made without wheat, crisp cheng du chicken breaded with cornstarch instead of flour, and gluten-free egg rolls rolled in ... well, egg. The place has been packed nearly every night since its opening, no small feat for a neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. Many customers, of course, have celiac disease.

“They’ve had meet-ups here, and honestly, some nights every table in the restaurant is someone who’s celiac,” said the manager, Laura DeAngelis.

Anne Roland Lee, the nutritionist at the Columbia Celiac Disease Center, said that finding gluten-free menus can be a great relief. “I’ve had patients go to some of the city’s most famous restaurants,” she said, “only to leave after being told they could only safely have a Coke.”

Catherine Oddenino, a 29-year-old Manhattan marketing manager with celiac disease, which can cause serious digestive problems, anemia and nutritional deficiencies, knows the frustration.

“I’ve been to so many places where the managers and waiters have been irritated and annoyed,” Ms. Oddenino said. “Too often, they don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Last year I had to go to a work holiday dinner at an upscale restaurant. I called ahead and triple-checked what I could and couldn’t eat with the management and still wound up with a huge crouton at the bottom of my salad. It’s extremely frustrating.”

For those who don’t have celiac disease, though, the gluten-free restaurant experience can be a bit odd.

“It felt a little cultish,” said Ridge Carpenter, a Manhattan waiter and student who worked at Risotteria briefly in 2005. “And as a server, there was so much pressure to get everything right. In a regular restaurant you’d get the occasional allergy you had to be careful about, but this was around 75 percent of my customers. It was really stressful.”

The experience can also be a strain on celiac-nonceliac relationships.

Kelly Courson, 36, a receptionist at an investment firm in Midtown and a founder of a popular blog, celiacchicks.com, dines exclusively gluten-free, sometimes to the chagrin of her boyfriend, John Mountain.

“He’s always rolling his eyes when I talk to the other tables,” Ms. Courson said. “But I can understand how it can be a little annoying: we’ll have dinner at Sambuca on Thursday night and see the same people at brunch at Peters’ Gourmet Diner on Sunday.”

But Ms. Lee called gluten-free restaurants “a surrogate support group.”

“When everyone is on the same page, and you know you’re going to eat a meal safely,” she said, “you can finally relax and just be social.”

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Thursday, July 19, 2007
Gluten-Free Girl wedding cake
I am a huge fan of the now Mrs. Shauna James Ahern, aka Gluten-Free Girl. I want to use this blog posting to congratulate her and wish her and "The Chef" many more years of happiness and love. Her blog is inspiring and beautiful. So is her gluten-free chocolate banana wedding cake.


Picture taken by Shauna James Ahern. © All rights reserved.

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Celiac Disease & Gluten-Free Diet Survival Guide
From the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) website

NFCA Celiac Survival Guide

When you have celiac disease – you know you must abolish gluten from your diet. It may seem hard at first, but foods containing wheat, rye or barley can be replaced with safe, gluten-free alternatives. However, since many processed foods contain gluten in a variety of forms, some detective work is needed to avoid problem foods and find the ones you like. These links and menus are provided to make the transition to a gluten-free life easier for you and your family. This is a resource that will help you get started.

The guide provides suggestions for food during the early healing process and while exploring this fast-expanding marketplace. Yes, there is even beer and pizza! Most foods containing gluten have a gluten-free equivalent. The menus are not individualized to meet daily calorie, protein, mineral and vitamin needs. Work with a dietitian as well as your physician to determine individual nutrition needs.

Click here to download now!

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Monday, July 9, 2007
Celiac Listserv
I belong to almost every Celiac e-newsletter under the sun. I recently changed my preferences for the Celiac Listserv to "daily digest" and I find it much more manageable to read now. Here is some information about this listserv

The CELIAC (Gluten & Wheat Intolerance) mailing List an open,
unmoderated discussion list for those interested in celiac (coeliac)
disease, sprue, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten intolerance, wheat
allergy, and coincident Intolerances, such as casein or lactose
intolerance. The discussions include the latest scientific research
(written for the layperson); information on what food is gluten free and
what is not; tips on how to eat out of the house; strategies for coping
with the various aspects of celiac disease, including the developmental
delays and behavioral changes sometimes brought on or aggravated by
gluten (Autism, Asperger's, Attention Deficit, etc.); recipes and tips
on how to cook; and where to find gluten free food by mail-order. This
international List acts both as a support group and an information
exchange forum.


Please visit http://listserv.icors.org/SCRIPTS/WA-ICORS.EXE?A0=CELIAC for more information including how to subscribe to this email mailing list.

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