Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passover—Gluten Free for Everyone

The Jewish holiday of Passover begins this Saturday, April 19 at sundown and continues until sundown on Sunday, April 27. The first two nights of Passover are traditionally the nights for seder: a large, multi-course meal that ranges from one to five hours depending on the thoroughness and adherence to the haggadah (a small book that contains the steps, prayers, songs and stories that shape the meal). While seeing family and singing festive songs are two of the highlights of Passover, the most significant and unique aspect of the holiday is keeping Kosher for Passover. There are varying levels of keeping kosher. Some Jews skip it all together, some stick to it for just the nights of the seder, many strive to maintain kashrut the entire holiday and the most religious and traditional will go to extreme measures; eliminating every box and crumb of chametz (food not Kosher for Passover) and using special sets of flatware, tableware and cookware for the entire holiday, so as not to contaminate themselves with chametz.

For those with Celiac disease, matzah is also a no-no. At this time most companies make matzah from some form of wheat. Rice is allowed by some Jewish groups and that makes following the Passover requirements easy enough. And, as always, the potato is acceptable for latkes, kugels, baked or roasted as a side dish. Potato starch can be used as a thickener in sauces and baking.

Here are a few of GF Passover recipes to serve at your own seder. They really can be enjoyed anytime. Happy Passover from

Pistachio Chicken with Blackberry Sauce
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped. (You can also use almonds or walnuts, if preferred.)

• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, salt and pepper to taste. Cut chicken breasts into three strips.
• 1 cup white wine. Place chicken in bowl and cover with 1 cup of white wine. Marinate for 1 hr.
• Remove chicken strips from wine, and press into nuts to cover.
• Bake on cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes and continue baking until done.

“Blackberry” Sauce

- One 15 oz. can blackberries, blueberries, or sweet pitted cherries ( Check for not fillers.) 2 T sugar, 1 tsp. potato starch.
• Drain liquid from fruit can. Mix with sugar and potato starch. Heat over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil for one minute until thickened and bubbly. Add in reserved fruit.

To serve lightly drizzle sauce over chicken and serve with remaining sauce on the side.

Passover Chocolate Nut Torte

• Serves 12-14
• Preheat oven 350 degrees
• Separate 10 eggs and beat the egg yolks until light and thick. Gradually add 1 Cup sugar.
• Add 2 cups finely chopped walnuts, ¼ tsp. salt.
• Melt 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, add to egg yolk/sugar mixture
• Beat 10 egg whites until they form peaks and fold into yolk mixture
• Pour into 10 in tube pan, greased on bottom
• Bake 1 hour, cool inverted before removing
Coconut Cake
• Serves 10-12
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees
• Separate 6 eggs, beat whites until frothy, gradually add ½ c sugar
• Divide beat egg whites into 2 parts, add 1 ¼ c shredded unsweetened coconut into one part
• Beat egg yolks until thick. Add 3 T. oil, ½ cup potato flour, ½ cup wine, 1/3 cup cocoa.
• Fold a little egg white into yolk mixture, layer both batters evenly in baking tin.
• Bake 45-50 min. Frost with chocolate icing.
Chocolate Icing
• Melt 4 oz chocolate and 2 T butter
• Add 1 tsp GF vanilla. (Optional: Add 1 T wine or liqueur)
• Spread while warm

Coconut Macaroons (For Passover or anytime!)
• Yields 36 macaroons
• Preheat oven to 325 degrees
• Beat 3 egg whites, 1 T lemon juice until frothy
• Gradually add ¼ cup sugar, 2 tsp GF vanilla to egg whites, beat until stiff
• Fold in 2 T honey, 2 T potato starch, and 2 ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut.
• Drop from tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet
• Bake for 20 min. Remove from baking sheet while still warm

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gluten Free Oats

There is continuing debate about oats and whether or not they should be included in the definition of gluten. As of now, there is no consensus amongst the leading health agencies and institutions on whether oats should be excluded from a gluten-intolerant person’s diet. Much research suggests that up to 50 grams of oats per day can be tolerated by people with Celiac or gluten intolerance. So, one argument is that including oats in the gluten definition would deprive people of products that contain oats and no other source of gluten. The flip side is that if oats are not included in the definition, people who cannot tolerate 50 grams of oats per day risk contamination by ingesting a product that is “gluten free”.

Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but the manufacturing process normally exposes them to it as they usually share manufacturing facilities with other grains such as wheat and rye. Thankfully, several companies have now started to successfully produce gluten free oats. Gluten Free Oats ( and Bob’s Red Mill ( are two of those companies.

Here is a delicious gluten free recipe for Oatmeal Chip Cookies:
• Heat oven to 450.
• In food processor, mix 1 egg, 4 T melted butter or oil (Peanut oil, Almond oil or Walnut oil work well,) 3/4 c brown sugar, 1 T. GF vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice
• Add and mix 1 ½ c GF oats, ½ c rice flour, 1 full tsp baking powder
• Add and mix to your taste ½ c (or more) chocolate chips, ½ c raisins, ½ c chopped walnuts
• Place heaping teaspoons of cookie dough on greased cookie sheet. You will have about 24 cookies
• Bake 350 degrees for 11 – 15 minutes. Check cookie color and smell after 11 minutes, and increase time as needed.

Enjoy from!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

FALCPA and Gluten: How Labeling Laws Effect You

FALCPA, the Food Allergy Labeling Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2004 and went into effect on January 1, 2006. It requires that companies list any and all of the eight top food allergens present in each of its products in clear language in the ingredients section of the product’s label. The eight allergens are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy. Wheat makes up a large portion of the gluten in gluten-containing foods, but unfortunately, under FALCPA, rye and barley (and sometimes oats), which are the other gluten-containing grains, do not have to be disclosed. So, while FALCPA certainly helps those with Celiac disease and gluten allergies in determining which products to avoid based on the presence of wheat, there is still no such assistance for products that contain barley or rye or ingredients derived from these two grains.

In response to FALCPA, the FDA has been working on a definition of “gluten” and regulations that will dictate a company’s right to voluntarily label their products “gluten free.” A summary of the key points of the current proposal can be read here. The full proposal can be read here and a final ruling is required this coming August; so stay tuned. The ongoing discussion is very detailed and would be impossible to layout in a concise blog posting, so I just want to discuss a few concerns I have after reading through the very dense proposal.

First, according to the current proposal, the FDA is considering allowing companies to voluntarily label any product that contains fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten “gluten free.” This will certainly help gluten intolerant shoppers in determining which products have little to no gluten, but what about those people who cannot tolerate even 19 ppm of gluten? Another concern is that someone consuming several products in the course of a day, week, or month containing fewer than 20 ppm of gluten could inadvertently accumulate a substantial (and harmful) amount of ingested gluten and therefore experience adverse effects. By the way, 20 ppm has been chosen because that is the minimum level at which the FDA believes gluten can be consistently and accurately detected by current analytic processes.

Second, the FDA is debating whether or not to allow companies to label naturally gluten free foods such as rice “gluten free” by including a label that says “All rice is gluten free” (so as not to mislead consumers to believe that rice Brand X is gluten free while rice Brand Y is not, simply because Brand X chose to include the “gluten free” labeling, while Brand Y did not). But, with this labeling, what if rice Brand Z’s processing plant is a not a gluten free dedicated facility? This labeling seems dangerous because a consumer may now incorrectly assume, based on the FDA’s labeling laws, that all rice is gluten free, while in reality the production process of each brand may not uphold the gluten free integrity of the product.

For a continuing discussion on gluten labeling laws, check frequently. We will update you with any new regulations as they are enacted.