Friday, September 30, 2016

Bake a Better Biscuit, Gluten-Free

Crumbly cookies may well be a thing of the past when it comes to purchasing
your next packet of Gluten-Free biscuits.
By: Paige Taylor
Recent research results from the Department of Food and Technology of the University of Madrid reveal that flour made of the Teff seed could be the answer to every Celiac sufferer’s prayers. Teff flour is made from the seed of a grass called ‘eragrostis tef’ or commonly called, ‘Teff’. It is a grass grown in Northeast Africa, in particular the northern Ethiopian Highlands. It is a small seed used in a similar fashion as quinoa. In Ethiopia, Teff is a chief food source and is commonly milled into flour and used to make a variation of flat bread.

Teff has an attractive nutritional profile which has researchers excited about its potential use. Teff is a high source of carbohydrates and fiber. The grain has a naturally low glycemic index. It is high in iron, protein and calcium and contains significant levels of essential minerals such as barium, boron, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin and zinc. Teff is also extremely rich amino acids and is much higher in lysine than wheat or barley. The grain is ideal for celiac sufferers as the gluten in Teff does not contain the protein ‘gliadin’, which is what causes the immunological reaction in Celiac Disease.
The most pressing concern for the manufactures of Gluten-Free food is the arduous task of trying to imitate the elastic properties of wheat flour. The gluten proteins in wheat varieties allow for a light, fluffy and supple texture. Most Gluten-Free flours are heavier, dry and even brittle in comparison.  Developments show that Teff has the ability to absorb water more readily and bind better as a dough; making it a much better alternative for those wanting to avoid gluten products.
Teff contains a higher amount of fat than regular grains, so no added fats are necessary when creating the Teff variety of Gluten-Free flour. This instantly reduces the calorie count and limits the need to incorporate artificial additives. Additionally, the flour appears to hold up to the current manufacturing processes employed by cookie companies. This allows Gluten-Free alternatives to be mass-produced in similar circumstances, providing a cheap, competitive product.

The developers of Teff flour have applied for a patent on their highly guarded method for making this new flour. They hope to have it available to manufactures soon so others can benefit from this new discovery. Teff flour will be an appealing alternative for people requiring a specialized diet or wanting to explore healthier alternatives.
Written By: Paige Taylor,
Paige writes for A Forever Recovery to help people struggling with addiction

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Cookie Momsters, Gluten-Free Bakery

All of our baked goods are Gluten-Free (GF), Casein-Free (CF) and TreeNut-Free (NF).
We also have Soy-Free (SF) items and will do special orders for Egg-Free (EF) items.

My youngest daughter recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida and of course the first thing I did was Google "Gluten-Free Jacksonville" for my next visit.  Imagine my delight when I discovered Cookie Momsters, a dedicated Gluten-Free Bakery, right in Jacksonville.  I couldn't wait to go check them out.  I was so excited that I totally neglected to check their open hours.  Imagine my dismay when I arrived at the Bakery nearly two whole hours after they had closed!!  I was heartbroken...standing there in the sweltering Florida heat with my nose literally pressed against the window...and one hand on the door handle.  And the door opened!! OMG!!  I wasted no time in putting my head inside to find someone still there.  "Are you still open??"  She must have heard the yearning in my voice because she smiled, put her purse and keys back onto the counter and told me that as long as she was there...they were open. 

I wasted no time going inside...explaining to her that I lived four hours away and I was sooooo grateful she would let me in.  Everything had been put away...but she wasted no time in pulling everything back out again!!  Now that's Customer Service!!  I pulled out my wallet and proceeded to shop to my hearts content :-) 

Cupcakes, Muffins, Cookies, Bread - Oh My!!  I got some brand new, never been tried before, seeded rolls...Yum!!  Those were incredible.  Beautiful, light, fluffy Hamburger Rolls...and I had mine with nothing but fresh butter.  Oh My!!  Frosted Cupcakes, light and airy with an extra dollop of frosting inside.  My favorite was the Lemon w/Lemon Frosting.  Wonderful moist Carrot Cake w/Frosting...just melt in your mouth deliciousness!!  Chocolate Chip cookies for the long drive home.  I can't wait to go back to visit my daughter again...with a side trip to Cookie Momsters along the way.  Sooooooo worth the four hour drive.  I just want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to Cookie Momsters for their wonderful Gluten-Free Bakery and their great Customer Service.

The Cookie Momsters

5041 SanJose Blvd
Jacksonville, FL   32207

Located just north of University Blvd in the
SanJose Square Shopping Center,
at the corner of SanJose Blvd and Flanders.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dining out Gluten-Free in Florida

This list is updated let me know if you have additions or changes you'd like to see.  These are simply a few recommendations of places available in Pinellas County...along Florida's West Coast.  I've not had the opportunity to visit all of these locations.  As always when eating out...take responsibility for your own health.  Remember when dealing with Restaurant staff that you represent the entire Gluten-Free Community.

** the ones that have been recommended by our members.

**BJ's   (727) 525-4640
 3800 Park Blvd
 Pinellas Park, FL 33781

**CentralCafe and Organics   (727) 824-0881
 Organic, Vegetarian and Smoothies
 243 Central Avenue
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

**JimmyJohn's   (727) 894-3300
 750 4th Street N
 St Petersburg, FL 33704

**LeafyGreens Cafe   (727) 289-7087
 Organic, Smoothies and Vegetarian
 1431 Central Avenue
 St Petersburg, FL 33705

**LeeRoy Selmon's   (727) 347-5774
 2424Tyrone Blvd
 St Petersburg, FL 33710

**OutbackSteakhouse   (727) 898-2016
 1900 4th Street N
 St Petersburg, FL 33704

**ParkShore Grill      (727) 896-9463
 300 Beach Drive N E
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

**400Beach Seafood   (727) 896-2400
 400 Beach Drive N E
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

Rollin’Oats Market & Cafe   (727) 821-6825
2842 Dr ML King Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33704

Rollin’Oats Market & Cafe   (813) 873-7428
1021 N MacDill Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607

BellaBrava    (727) 895-5515
Italian, Seafood and Pizza
204 Beach Drive N E
St Petersburg, FL 33701

CafeAlma    (727) 502-5002
Mediterranean, Seafood and Tapas
260 1st Avenue S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

CafeLuna    (727) 360-7500
6700 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706

Crowley'sDowntown    (727) 821-1111
269 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Fresco'sWaterfront Bistro    (727) 894-4429
300 2nd Avenue N E
St Petersburg, FL 33701

GratzziItalian Grille    (727) 623-9037
211 Second Street S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Meze119    (727) 498-8627
119 2nd Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33701

PrimiUrban Cafe    (727) 895-4909
27 4th Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Frenchy'sRockaway Grill    (727) 446-4844
7 Rockaway Street
Clearwater, FL 33767

GourmetPizza Company    (813) 258-1999
610 S Armenia Avenue
Tampa, FL 33609

**MellowMushroom    (813) 685-1122
10959 Causeway Blvd
Brandon, FL 33511

**P.F.Chang's China Bistro    (813) 289-8400
219 Westshore Plaza
Tampa, FL 33609

664 Main Street
Dunedin, FL 34698

TerraSur Cafe    (813) 269-2694
5358 W Village Drive
Tampa, FL 33624

ThaiIsland    (813) 251-9111
210 E Davis Blvd
Tampa, FL 33606

TheLiving Room    (727) 736-5202
487 Main St
Dunedin, FL 34698

Carolanne Le Blanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, September 9, 2016

Making bread safe for celiacs

By Alix Stuart, Boston Globe Correspondent
March 11, 2013
(Reprinted without permission)

When Leslie Williams, a former pharmaceutical executive, agreed to meet a visiting professor from Australia in Boston for a lecture, she thought it would be a routine lunch in her role as a business mentor.  But the meeting, three years ago at the Boston Cambridge Marriott, turned into an intense five-hour discussion as Dr. Robert Anderson explained how his research into celiac disease promised to render the destructive disorder obsolete.

An autoimmune disease triggered by gluten proteins in wheat, barley, and rye, celiac disease affects­ some 3 million Americans. Untreated, it can destroy digestive tract tissue and can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological dysfunction, or even cancer.

Currently, the only solution is to avoid gluten altogether. That means not eating standard versions of bread, pasta, and pizza, or anything else that contains even traces of wheat, including soy sauce and some candy, such as Twizzlers.  Dr. Robert Anderson’s research is zeroing in on a potential vaccine against celiac disease.

But as Anderson explained that afternoon to Williams, his research was zeroing in on a vaccine to cure celiac disease.  
The science “struck me as quite special and possibly­ game-changing,” Williams recalled.

She agreed to work with Anderson, and in short order Williams lined up seed capital from an angel investor and then went to Australia to unravel legal­ agreements around Anderson’s research and his company. Within the year, ImmusanT was formed, with Williams as chief executive and Anderson­ as chief scientific officer. By its first ­anniversary, the firm had $20 million in venture funding.

ImmusanT is headquartered in the biotech boomtown of Kendall Square in Cambridge and is conducting clinical trials for its vaccine, NexVax2, under “fast-track” designation from the Food and Drug Administration for diseases for which no comparable therapies exist.

“If it works, you’ll see the entire paradigm of treatment for celiac changed,” said Sundar Kodiyalam, managing director for the venture investor Vatera Healthcare and an ImmusanT board member. His firm was so enamored of the science that it invested before the company had persuasive clinical data.

Beyond ImmusanT, Boston has become a locus for research into celiac disease. Massachusetts General Hospital scored a coup when it recently convinced a leading researcher, Dr. Alessio Fasano, to head its new celiac treatment and research center. “Our mission is to make life normal for people with celiac disease,” Fasano said at a ceremony marking the opening of the Mass. General center in February.

With similar research units at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Boston, the city now has “a critical mass of expertise” in celiac disease, said Dr. Ronald Kleinman, physician in chief of Mass. General’s pediatric unit.

“I’m not sure that I see miracles happening” with the research underway now, said Lee Graham, chairwoman of Healthy Villi, a 900-member support group for celiac sufferers in New England. “But the gathering that’s happening in Boston is terrific, and tremendously encouraging to us.”  Formerly at the University of Maryland, Fasano in 2003 published a landmark analysis in which he determined that celiac disease affects many more people than previously thought: about 1 out of 100 people. Up to that point, the scientific wisdom was that celiac was relatively rare, and that a gluten-free diet worked as a sufficient “cure.”

But Fasano and others have since shown that some patients who avoid gluten continue to suffer gastric distress, leading to the conclusion that diet alone is not enough.  Not surprisingly, with the market for gluten-free foods at $4.2 billion, ImmunsanT has some company in the race for a solution.   One rival is Alba Therapeutics, a Maryland company that Fasano helped start in 2005. (He is no longer involved in the company, though he owns some stock.) The other is Alvine Pharmaceuticals, of San Carlos, Calif., spawned from research at Stanford University.

Both companies are working on pill-based therapies to counteract the unintentional consumption of small amounts of gluten; complements to the gluten-free diet rather than replacements. And both are preparing for Phase 2b clinical trials to determine if their medicines work, and at what doses.  Alba’s compound targets zonulin, a protein that is believed to contribute to “leaks” in the gut that allow gluten to infiltrate the digestive system. Cephalon Inc., now owned by Teva Pharmaceuticals, has a $7 million option to buy Alba if its drug proves effective.

Alvine’s therapy involves an enzyme that decomposes gluten into harmless particles before it reaches the gut. Patients in its most recent trials who consumed gluten for six weeks while taking the Alvine compound showed little or no damage to their intestines, with some even showing improved conditions.  
ImmusanT’s drug is at a much earlier stage of development. At the time he lunched with Williams, Anderson was a professor at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He had a start-up, Nexpep Pty Ltd., and was in need of funding to continue developing a celiac vaccine.

Anderson said he was struck by how many patients struggled with a gluten-free diet, which can be less healthy than typical diets.   “Having a treatment that would allow full recovery and return to normal diet would be life-changing for patients, and may motivate more patients to be checked for celiac disease,” he said.

Williams, meanwhile, had worked at Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and other drug makers and was chief executive of Ventaira Pharmaceuticals when it was sold to Battelle in 2007.

In his research, Anderson had latched on to a key catalyst: the three gluten peptides that are believed to be at root of the reaction patients suffer from gluten. NexVax2 essentially tries to reeducate the immune system to tolerate those peptides. Initial study results indicate that ImmunsanT has identified the correct peptides, and that Nexvax2 is safe to take — two important steps.

Still, there are many questions. For one thing, ImmunsanT’s early volunteers maintained gluten-free diets during the study, so its not clear how well the vaccine works in the presence of gluten. And it will work only for an as-yet undefined subset of celiac sufferers.  Even so, Fasano, who has no connection to the company, calls the concept behind the ImmunsanT’s vaccine “the holy grail” that would allow patients to eat regular bread, pasta, and other gluten-rich foods.

Though ImmusanT and the other firms are small, Williams and others in the field said the pharmaceutical industry has a keen interest in their research.   Moreover, because celiac disease is currently the most well understood autoimmune disorder, many scientists believe the research could serve as a springboard to drugs for larger markets.  “It’s not just about curing celiac,” Fasano said. “It’s about treating MS and diabetes, and all these other autoimmune conditions, and that is where industry really takes an interest.”

Carolanne Le Blanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, September 2, 2016

Celiac & Gluten-Intolerance to be considered Disabilities??

Food Service Vulnerable to Food Allergy Lawsuits
People with severe food allergies have a new tool in their attempt to find menus that fit their diet: federal disabilities law. And that could leave schools, restaurants and anyplace else that serves food more vulnerable to legal challenges over food sensitivities. A settlement stemming from a lack of gluten-free foods available to students at a Massachusetts university could serve as a precedent for people with other allergies or conditions, including peanut sensitivities or diabetes. Institutions and businesses subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act could be open to lawsuits if they fail to honor requests for accommodations by people with food allergies. Colleges and universities are especially vulnerable because they know their students and often require them to eat on campus, Eve Hill of the Justice Department's civil rights division says. But a restaurant also could be liable if it blatantly ignored a customer's request for certain foods and caused that person to become ill, though that case might be harder to argue if the customer had just walked in off the street, Hill says. The settlement with Lesley University, reached last month but drawing little attention will require the Cambridge, Mass., institution to serve gluten-free foods and make other accommodations for students who have celiac disease. At least one student complained to the federal government after the school would not exempt the student from a meal plan even though the student couldn't eat the food. "All colleges should heed this settlement and take steps to make accommodations," says Alice Bast, president and founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. "To our community this is definitely a precedent."
People who suffer from celiac disease don't absorb nutrients well and can get sick from the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. The illness, which affects around 2 million Americans, causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea, and people who have it can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes and other problems. Celiac is a diagnosed illness that is more severe than gluten sensitivity, which some people self-diagnose. Ten years ago, most people had never heard of celiac disease. But awareness has exploded in recent years, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Some researchers say it was under-diagnosed, others say it's because people eat more processed wheat products like pastas and baked goods than in past decades, and those items use types of wheat that have a higher gluten content. Gluten-free diets have expanded beyond those with celiac disease. Millions of people are buying gluten-free foods because they say they make them feel better, even if they don't have a wheat allergy. Americans were expected to spend $7 billion on gluten-free foods last year. With so many people suddenly concerned with gluten content, colleges and universities have had to make accommodations. Some will allow students to be exempted from meal plans, while others will work with students individually. They may need to do even more now as the federal government is watching. "These kids don't want to be isolated," Bast says. "Part of the college experience is being social. If you can't even eat in the school cafeteria then you are missing out on a big part of college life." Under the Justice Department agreement, Lesley University says it will not only provide gluten-free options in its dining hall but also allow students to pre-order, provide a dedicated space for storage and preparation to avoid cross-contamination, train staff about food allergies and pay a $50,000 cash settlement to the affected students. "We are not saying what the general meal plan has to serve or not," Hill says. "We are saying that when a college has a mandatory meal plan they have to be prepared to make reasonable modifications to that meal plan to accommodate students with disabilities."
The agreement says that food allergies may constitute a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, if they are severe enough. The definition was made possible under 2009 amendments to the disability law that allowed for episodic impairments that substantially limit activity. "By preventing people from eating, they are really preventing them from accessing their educational program," Hill says of the school and its students. Mary Pat Lohse, the chief of staff and senior adviser to Lesley University's president, says the school has been working with the Justice Department for more than three years to address students' complaints. She says the school has already implemented most parts of the settlement and will continue to update policies to serve students who need gluten-free foods. "The settlement agreement provides a positive road map for other colleges and universities to follow," Lohse says. Joan Rector McGlockton of the National Restaurant Association says that restaurants have taken notice of an increasing demand for gluten free options, "drawing attention to the importance of providing these options as well as the preparation methods involved in serving these options." The group has a training program for restaurants so they will know what to do when food allergy issues arise. Some say the Justice Department decision goes too far. Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, says food allergies shouldn't apply under the disability act. He adds that the costs could be substantial when schools are already battling backlash from high tuition costs. "I certainly encourage colleges and universities to work with students on this issue, but the fact that this is a federal case and the Justice Department is going to be deciding what kind of meals could be served in a dining hall is just absurd," he says.

Whether the government is involved or not, schools and other food service establishments are likely to hear from those who want more gluten-free foods. Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, says she decided to speak up when she arrived at school and lost weight because there were too few gluten-free options available. Like Lesley University, the University of Pittsburgh requires that on-campus students participate in a meal plan. Thiyagarajan eventually moved off campus so she could cook her own food, but not before starting an organization of students who suffer from wheat allergies like hers. She says she is now working with food service at the school and they have made a lot of progress, though not enough for her to move back on campus. L. Scott Lissner, the disability coordinator at Ohio State University, says he has seen similar situations at his school, though people with food allergies have not traditionally thought of themselves as disabled. He says schools will eventually have to do more than just exempt students from a meal plan. "This is an early decision on a growing wave of needs that universities are going to have to address," he says of the Lesley University agreement.
Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771