Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gluten-free Twinkies?

Now that Hostess Brands is back in business under new ownership, several media reports indicate the company might start offering a gluten-free Twinkie.

Here's one report from

I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's another reminder to those who don't understand the gluten-free diet that gluten-free is not necessarily a healthy choice -- it's a medical necessity for us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gluten-free Goldfish made in certified facility

Here's some more good news about Pepperidge Farm's new gluten-free version of Goldfish crackers: according to a press release from the company last week, the new snacks are made in a certified gluten-free facility.

The packaging for the product, called Goldfish Puffs, says that they are gluten free but doesn't have a gluten-free certification mark. I'm sure that makes some people nervous, but at least the company says now that they are made in a certified facility.

Pepperidge Farms isn't really pushing Goldfish Puffs to the gluten-free crowd. The press release indicates the company is marketing this to teens as a "fun reinvention of one of their favorite childhood snacks."

As I said in my previous post, I think Goldfish are a great snack for any age. I was eating the original Goldfish for about 40 years before I was diagnosed with celiac.

The company is also marketing Goldfish Puffs as healthy because they are "baked, with no artificial preservatives and offer 10g whole grains per serving."

Goldfish Puffs come in three flavors. I had already tried the Mega Cheese variety after finding it in my local Target (the only store where I've seen them) and really liked them. But the company was kind enough to send me packages of all three varieties along with the press release, so now I've tried all of them.

I have to say I liked the Cheddar Bacon flavor even more than the Mega Cheese. I'll definitely be buying more of those.

The other flavor, Buffalo Wing, is okay, but I like the other two more.

Goldfish Puffs are sold in 7-ounce packages for a suggested retail price of $2.99. The company says 2-ounce bags will also be available in convenience stores for 99 cents.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gluten-free pancakes even I can make

One of the drawbacks to my gluten-free diet is my lack of cooking skills. I have a feeling I'd have it a lot easier time if I was just a better cook.

So I appreciate products that make things easy for me, like Glutino's instant gluten-free pancake mix. The company sent me a sample this week and I found that, yes, even I could make them very quickly and easy.

The mix comes in a plastic carton with instructions to just add a cup of water and shake it. Suddenly, you have instant pancake batter.

The carton says you can make 10 to 12 pancakes but, I just made one big pancake with some batter left over.

It cooked quickly and easily and tasted like, well, a regular pancake. I was pleased.

I haven't seen this in local stores but Glutino said is available nationwide. The suggested retail price for the 6.67-ounce carton is $5.29.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bonefish bread gone forever

Bonefish Grill in Mandarin has been one of my favorite gluten-free spots. Not only are they attentive to people with celiac or other gluten intolerances and have a good selection of meal options, but they used to also offer gluten-free bread!

This was not a regular feature of the Bonefish chain -- this was just something special offered by the Mandarin location and it made it worth the trip. However, the gluten-free bread is gone forever.

There was no bread available on my last trip there several months ago, and I was told the restaurant was having some kind of supply issue. On my latest visit last night, I asked about the bread and the waiter went to check on the situation. He came back with the disappointing news that they are not going to be getting the gluten-free bread back.

Oh well. You can still get a good, apparently safe, gluten-free meal at Bonefish. But the bread made the trip special, and I'll miss that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville meets Tuesday

After some searching for a new venue, it looks like the Celiac Support Group of Jacksonville has a new place and will hold its regular monthly meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.

To make a long story short, group founder Kristin changed jobs, which necessitated finding a new venue. Now we're going to meet at Kristin's new office at The Windsor Assisted Living and Memory Care Welcome Center at 6331 Roosevelt Blvd., in the Target shopping center.

The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month. If you've never been, it's a good, generally informal, gathering of fellow celiacs to share ideas and just commiserate about our issues.

If you're interested in more information, send me an e-mail.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gluten-free cronut recipe

I've mentioned many times that I don't really cook, so I'm not going to try this. However, in response to my Florida Times-Union column yesterday pining for doughnuts, Glutino sent me this recipe for gluten-free cronuts.

Cronuts, if you don't know, are a combination of croissant and doughnut and are apparently insanely popular. I don't know why they're considered better than a regular doughnut, but whatever.

So anyway, here's the recipe:

By Beth Hillson on behalf of Glutino

2  1/3  cups Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix
¾ cup sorghum flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1cup milk
½ cup half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter Square
20 tablespoons (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix

Additional Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix for rolling out the dough

Grape seed oil or safflower oil for frying

Glaze (combine and mix until smooth)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half cream

To Start:
In a large bowl, combine Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk for 1 minute.  Add the sugar and whisk to combine.   Add the yeast and whisk again for about 30 seconds.  Set aside. 

Warm the milk with the cream until it reaches about 100 degrees F.  Add the vanilla.   In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour and sugar mixture.  On low speed, add the warm milk.  Beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes. The dough will be smooth.  Transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature preferably in a warm, draft-free area for 30 minutes.

Spray a large sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable spray.  Turn the dough out onto the wrap and press gently into a rectangle, about 1 ½ inches thick.  Shape, but don’t press too hard.  Cover well and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  This can also sit overnight.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Place in the bowl of a standing mixer and add the 3 tablespoons of Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Mix.  Using the paddle attachment, on low speed blend the butter and flour until smooth and blended.  Depending on how warm your kitchen is, this can take 30 to 90 seconds.  

Turn onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 9×9-inch square. The butter should still be cool but workable.  If it’s too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes while rolling out the dough. 
Take the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a 12.5 x 12.5 inch square. Place the butter square in the center of the dough.  Roll the sides of dough over to meet in the center on top of the butter so that this becomes a 9-x- 12.5 inch rectangle, and roll out just enough to blend the folded edges of the dough into the butter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, place the dough so that the seam is horizontal and roll it out to about 15 x 9 inches.  Brush excess flour from the dough’s surface and fold it in thirds, like the shape of a  business envelope.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set on a tray or baking sheet.  Let rest in the refrigerator for 40 minutes. That’s one turn.

You’ll want to do this twice more.  Be sure the dough is well-chilled between turns.
The rectangle might get larger each time you roll it out.  That’s okay. Just remember to fold it in thirds each time.

Once you have completed your last turn, chill the dough again for 30 to 40 minutes.

Dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour blend.  Set the dough on the paper and cover with a second sheet.  Roll the dough out to about 2 inches thick (the depth of your donut cutter).  Use a donut or biscuit cutter to cut the dough.  Or cut out 2 ½ to 3-inch rounds, then cut out the centers.  Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. 

Heat 2 inches of grape seed or safflower oil in a fryer or deep frying pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees.  Add two G-Fronuts at a time and fry until golden brown.  They brown quickly so don’t take your eyes off these.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Repeat, frying two at a time, until all the G-Fronuts have been fried. 

Call in all your friends.  Drizzle G-Fronuts with glaze and eat while they are warm. 

Beth Hillson is the author of Gluten-Free Makeovers and created this recipe on behalf of Glutino.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gluten-free goldfish!

For most of my life, my favorite snack was cheddar cheese Goldfish crackers. I know I was eating them for about 40 years because I remember feeding them to my dog when I was a kid (they seemed to be her favorite snack too).

Of course, that all ended when I went gluten free. Just another favorite food I missed.

So I was very excited a few days ago to read that Pepperidge Farm is producing a gluten-free variety of Goldfish!

The gluten-free Goldfish are actually called Goldfish Puffs and come in three flavors: mega cheese, cheddar bacon and buffalo wing.

At first I couldn't find them in stores but after reading a post about them on Facebook's celiac disease group, I learned that some people were buying them at Target. So I went to my local Target and did find them. I bought a bag of mega cheese Goldfish Puffs.

The verdict: they are, of course not the same as traditional Goldfish but compared with other gluten-free crackers, these are really good. I have a feeling I'm going to be eating a lot of these.

The back of the package says Goldfish Puffs are gluten free, but there is no indication that they are certified as gluten free. I did read concerns from some people about that in the Facebook group. As I've said before, I don't have the same gluten sensitivity as some other celiacs but if you are sensitive, I can't say for sure if I could recommend these. But I have no reason to think they are dangerous for celiacs either, other than the lack of certification. So you'll have to decide for yourself.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mid-year gluten-free tax deduction update

Since we've hit the midway point of the year, I thought it would be a good time to review my progress in trying to take the gluten-free tax deduction on my federal income taxes.

If you were unaware, the government allows those of us with celiac disease to take a deduction for the increased cost of gluten-free foods. Basically, you have to calculate the difference between what you pay for  gluten-free items and what it would cost for the equivalent normal food item.

There are two drawbacks to this. One is that it's a very tedious deduction to calculate. I've been keeping a spreadsheet recording all of my gluten-free purchases and trying to find equivalent items to compare them with. That hasn't been a lot of fun.

The second drawback is that this gluten-free deduction is considered a medical expense. You are only allowed to deduct medical expenses if they total more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

If you don't have major medical expenses (I haven't had any so far and I don't anticipate any this year), it's unlikely that your expenses will reach the 7.5 percent threshold.

Sure enough, I've added up all of my excess gluten-free costs for the six months of the year and it comes to a grand total of about $250.

So for all the work I've put into calculating this, I'm probably not going to get any benefit. And I'm still stuck paying for all those gluten-free extras.

Oh well.