February 29, 2008

Congratulations Nick & Erin

This blog isn’t just about gluten free food. It’s about living and enjoying life too, my life happens to be gluten free. There are few things that make me happier than creating beautiful objects. Specifically, jewelry that brings joy to others as well.

I recently had the privilege to do this for one of my very good friends. After much work on my part, a young gentleman I know, Nick, ended or successful conspiracy by proposing to my friend, Erin, with a (gluten free) ring that I designed and made just for her.

She was so thrilled that I got such a wonderful, incoherent call at the gym that others around my stopped to see what was going on. If I may paraphrase, it went something like this: “I love it! It’s perfect! Oh my God! I love him! I love you! It’s perfect!”

As an artist, I can’t ask for anything more than that! Please join me in wishing Nick and Erin all the happiness they can handle.

Pershing Square Diner, New York, NY

The Pershing Square Diner is located on 42nd street, just across from the south exit of Grand Central Station. I went there once with my mother, and it was so good that I took a friend back a few days later. The main menu and bar menu are not especially gluten free, but the wait staff were very helpful and accommodating.

The tortilla chips that go along the guacamole are corn. Just avoiding the breadbasket and pasta dishes isn’t too hard. Both times I ordered a hamburger without bun, explaining to the waiter that I couldn’t eat the bun. On my second visit I had to send the burger back because it did come out with a bun.

The salads and vegetable were also good. We never ordered from the grill but the selections looked good, and judging by the hamburger, I expect that it would be delicious.

You have to be careful, as in any non-gluten free restaurant, but if you have picky friends, or you’re by Grand Central and you want a guaranteed good meal, you could do much worse. As always, the best bet is to carefully explain you condition and restrictions to the wait staff before the meal.

February 28, 2008

Genisoy Soy Protein Shake

With such a busy schedule I used to find myself skipping meals. In an effort to avoid that I started looking for balanced, healthy protein drinks. The more I looked, the more powders I found that contained gluten. The first one that I found to be gluten free was this Genisoy Soy Protein Shake.

The chocolate flavor is still the best the shake I’ve found. It’s not too sweet and really does taste good, both with milk or water. It has 14g of soy protein per serving and is more filling than some others. And at about $13 it’s very economical. Genisoy is available in many small local stores as well as larger health food joints like Whole Foods.

February 27, 2008

Nutritious Creations, Carrot Cake Cookie

This Nutritious Creation isn’t quite what I would call carrot cake. It was spicy, more like a spice cake than a carrot cake, with small pieces of walnut. The one I had was overly sweet, and addictive because of it. I had planned to eat half of the cookie, which is considered one serving, but I ended up eating the whole things when it crumbled to pieces. I ate the whole cookie, drank a whole glass of water, and ended up not being satisfied.

Organic Forever, Forrest HIlls, NY

Tucked away in Forrest Hills near the 71st St stop on the F and E trains, east of the main shopping and Barnes & Noble, located at 69-12 Austin Street, you’ll find Organic Forever. A small cozy store run by kind people they stock organic and specialty products.

In the front of the store there are vitamins, herbal supplements, and personal care products. The counter by the register has a very respectable selection of organic and free trade chocolate and energy bars. The cereal section has Perky’s, Erewhon, Glutino and Nature's Path.

There is a small prepared foods counter and juice bar where they also have a selection of raw goodies from Blessings Alive and Radiant, Lydia’s Organics and Nutritious Creations. In the back of the store there are freezers and bulk foods. Everything from nuts, flours, sugars, dried fruits and other bulk delicacies; most of these seem safe, but not everything has a full list of ingredients. It seems safe to stick to things like roasted nuts and dried fruit and stay away from more prepared things like yogurt covered raisins or peanuts.

The freezer section is well stocked with a wide variety of frozen gluten free breads, including Food For Life, Kinnikinnick, Enjoy Life and Glutino. The selection includes bread, English Muffins, Bagels and even one type of gluten free tortilla.

Across from the freezer are the baking supplies, dried grains, legumes and rice. Gluten free flours and mixes include Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten Free Pantry, Arrowhead Mills and Ener-G products.

This little store is a gem. The prices are a bit more expensive than you would expect to find in the grocery store but it’s worth it to find a store that has all these things in one place, and closer to my home an the subway than others. The staff and owner are very helpful, although I’m not sure how much of a language barrier there is they are always open to questions.

February 26, 2008

Organic Food Bar, Belgium Chocolate Chip

Around about three o'clock I was really dragging. Lunch was behind me, dinner was at home, I was running an errand in the cold rain. I wanted a sweet pick-me-up. There are mini Snickers in my desk, but I took the high road and went for the Organic Food Bar instead.

The label read Belgium Chocolate chip, and I can taste a little chocolate. But frankly, this is so gooey good that it doesn't have to be chocolatey. Sweet and soft it has bit of nuts and little bits of chocolate. I can most definitely distinguish the dates and almonds, the first two ingredients on the label. It has a hint of wheat germ in the aftertaste. Somehow, this bar manages to taste both healthy and like desert.

These bars are certified organic, cold processed, non-GMO and 100% vegetarian. And it's delicious! None of the ingredients contain gluten, although that particular statement is not printed on the label. You could definitely eat this one for lunch, or a snack, but it sure tastes like dessert.

February 24, 2008

Low-fat, Gluten Free Cheesecake

Despite the name of this recipe it's really very good. I'm used to modifying recipes to meet my needs and I found the base of this one in a women's magazine. I tweaked around so that one 1/12th of a cake slice is only about 200 calories. It's perfect for my end of the day, after my workout sweet craving. I'm putting down the basic recipe, but lately I've been preoccupied with jalapeno jelly, and I found a gluten free variety at the Union Square Greenmarket from Beth's Farm Kitchen. Both the Mighty Hot Pepper Jelly and the Habenero Jelly are gluten free. This cake is great with just a little bit of the jelly on top.

Note: To see the entire ordeal of making the first cake check out my LiveJournal post

1/4 cup chopped pecans and walnuts
dash cinnamon
dash salt

15 oz part-skim ricotta
8 oz 1% fat Whipped Cottage Cheese
1 cup sugar, more or less
½ cup fat free sour cream
4.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder
3 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract (or more)
2 tsp Bob's Red Mill GF all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt

Heat oven to 350. Toast nuts with a little salt and cinnamon in the bottom of an 8" spring form pan for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; reduce heat to 325. Wrap outside of pan in foil to prevent seepage. Filling; puree ricotta in a food processor until smooth, about 1 min. Add cottage cheese, sugar, sour cream, egg replacer, water, almond extract, flour and salt; puree until smooth. Pour filling into pan. Add 1-inch hot water to a shallow baking pan; place spring form pan in baking pan. Bake until cheesecake is firm around the edge and slightly soft in the center, 45-50 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan. Remove foil; let cool on rack. Chill 6 hours or overnight before removing sides of pan.

If you want experiment with marbling the cake mix 1 cup of plain filling with your additional ingredients and drizzle it on top.

The 'Itchies'

So I'm laying here in bed pondering what I ate today that could have been contaminated with gluten. I have the itchies, so I know it was something. My best guess is that the food that my future mother-in-law cooked must have been contaminated in some way. It's the only food I didn't prepare myself.

Raise your hands if you have dermatitis herpetiformis too! In my case, my first symptom to manifest, before the systemic and emotional symptoms. My whole life I had itchy dry patches of skin that wouldn't heal for months at a time. My mother was always told that it was eczema, but none of the treatments helped for long if at all. It was this that ultimately led me to a gluten free diet and later diagnosis of celiac disease.

I'm sure everybody's symptoms are slightly different, but I get little pustules that itch and pop and create a rash that won't heal. And, more distressing, the skin on and around my nipples flakes of and bleeds. I have had open wounds on various parts of my body that have lasted anywhere from 4 to 8 months without healing.

I started a new job in August and qualified for health insurance in December. As soon as I was able I started looking for a dermatologist who was in my network, and could see me quickly because my skin was really starting to bother me. Somehow I got lucky enough to find one who had actually heard of celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis and was able to prescribe something that helped. So for all of you that are looking for a solution in addition to a gluten free diet, I highly recommend this new solution. For the itch he gave me a hand full of samples of a new antihistamine called Xyzal. To help with the external manifestation I gave me a 2% topical steroid, Mupirocin, to be mixed with an antibiotic, Fluocinonide, mixed together and applied over affected areas twice daily.

Using this treatment all of my open sores, including those that were at least 4 months old, healed with in the two weeks till my next visit. Since my living arrangement makes it all too easy for me to eat slightly contaminated foods, having a solution like this is crucial. For the first time in my life I am open sore-free, and I'm actually beginning to get vain about all the scars I have from the past. (Whenever I go to get a pedicure I hear "ah, you go camping? Have mosquitoes?")

It's nice not to suffer from itching, open sores, since these easily start to send me into the gluten-induced emotional downward spiral. Knowing that I can head it off at the start helps enormously.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

It's not actually my birthday, that was in September, but I really wanted to post my mom's carrot cake recipe. When I went home to visit for my birthday, my mom tweaked our family's old standby carrot cake-cum-birthday cake recipe (my dad won't touch chocolate with a ten foot pole, don't ask) to be gluten free for me, and heart healthy for my dad, who had open heart surgery in May. It turned out great! Here's the recipe:

Vegetable Nut Torte aka Carrot Cake
Modification for gluten free, low fat

3 c gluten free flour (we like Bob's Red Mill)
1.5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1.5 c sugar

egg replacer for 4 eggs (Ener-G)
1.5 c apple sauce (no additives) in place of oil
1.5 c grated carrots
0.5 c finely chopped celery
1.0 c finely chopped rhubarb
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
0.5 c chopped pecans

(apple sauce, carrots, celery could have been increased from her original recipe to provide more

Sift dry ingredients. Beat or mix eggs, add applesauce, veggies, then
dry ingredients. (When using Ener-G egg replacer, I usually just use the powder with out additional water)

Bake in a greased and floured spring form pan (or other of your choice)
at 350 for 45-50 min or until tooth pick comes out clean.

When fully cooled frost

Modified cream cheese frosting:
8 oz rice cream cheese
0.5 c sifted powdered sugar (could use less)
2-3 oz Smart Balance spread
1 tsp almond extract


Seco de Chivo (Peruvian Lamb Stew)

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to our favorite Peruvian restaurant for dinner. As we looked over the menu we decided that we wanted to try something different from our usual grilled fish. We settled on lamb stew. The stew arrived, and was quite tasty. Since we always share our meal, I didn't eat to much of it, we had beans, rice, and salad as well. By the time we got home, my skin was starting to feel a little funny. His mother asked us what we had, and when we told her "seco" she told us that, in Ecuador, they use beer in seco. Now, what with the language barrier and all, I don't know how much she understands about my celiac disease, but she does know that I can't eat anything prepared with beer.

Now, she's a good cook, as far as the things she knows how to cook goes, but she said she didn't know how to make seco and I managed to ascertain that she wanted me to make seco if I could. Feverish internet research ensued. I discovered that all the seco recipes did indeed use beer. Not to be deterred I set about finding gluten free beer. The Whole Foods in the Bowery happens to have a beer room which carries several brands on gluten free beer, including at least one that can be purchased individually.

This recipe is tasty, great for cold winter days, and I'm sure can be made with any type of meat of your choice. It got rave reviews from my future in-laws, so it's authentic. It's also fairly fool-proof as far as I can tell.

8 large Garlic cloves
2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp ground Cumin
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
5-7 lbs lamb, cut in 2 1/2 inch chunks
3 tbsp Olive Oil
4 med Onions finely chopped
1 1/2 cup GF Beer
4-6 cup GF Beef stock or broth
1 bunch Cilantro, leaves only chopped

Mix the garlic, salt, cumin and black pepper with the vinegar in a large non-reactive dish. Place the lamb in the marinade, evenly coating the chunks. Marinate at room temperature for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible.

Remove the lamb from the marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving marinade. In a large heavy casserole, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Brown the lamb, turning with tongs to sear all sides evenly. This will take about 20 minutes (if the lamb does not fit all in one layer, brown in 2 batches, otherwise the meat will steam rather than sear). Transfer the lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and add onions and salt. Saute, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden. Add the beer and lower the heat so that the liquid is simmering. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until all of the beer has evaporated. Return the browned lamb, along with the accumulated juices from the plate, to the pan. Add the stock and stir to mix. Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the dish, covered, for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the meat is tender.

Add the reserved marinade and the cilantro, stir to mix, and cook for 1 minute more. Serve from the casserole.

To serve in a traditional manner have rice or boiled potatoes on the side. You could also add precooked peas or carrots at the end.

This is really tasty!

Life in the Land of Gluten

I've been feeling poorly lately. Itchy skin, bloating, feelings of despair and self-loathing.

Not to hard to pick up that these are symptoms of gluten exposure for me. Work is stressful, but that doesn’t explain why I’m so exhausted. Why I gained 5 pounds in three days. Why my skin is breaking out in a rash.

It’s time to take stock of my surroundings again. I moved into my current apartment in August, living with my boyfriend and his parents and two brothers (gotta love New York life!). Everyday when I get home from work his mom has food on the stove waiting for all of us. After a long day at work and the gym I usually stuff whatever’s on the stove right into my mouth.

Now, everybody here except me is ‘normal’. They eat bread all the time and there is often soup with pasts for dinner. My boyfriend’s mother doesn’t speak English, and I’m not sure she understands that I can’t digest gluten, but she knows I don’t eat bread or pasta or anything with beer is it. I know that she is as conscientious as she can be.

I never put my food on the table, which must be coated in gluten from all the bread they eat here, but somehow I ate something contaminated.

I was in the kitchen playing with my gerbils and I saw my boyfriend’s brother serve himself soup with noodles, and then use the same spoon to serve himself chicken. I had an ‘aha’ moment. His family doesn’t, or won’t, understand how serious this is for me. Even my boyfriend double dips in the peanut butter and cottage cheese. Every time I remind him he looks at the knife, looks at me, holds it up and says “look, no crumbs” and I have to remind him that you can’t see gluten, even if it’s there.

I’m always telling myself that I shouldn’t be eating the food that’s on the stove. Even though it tastes SO good, I know how it’s made. It’s chuck full of oil and fat. I am reminded again that I shouldn’t be eating anything that I don’t prepare myself. I simply can’t live like this.


On Saturday last I went to a Chipotle restaurant with one of my good friends (see Gluten-Free Girl's Day) and although I felt very confident about the status of the food I visited their website and submitted an inquiry as to the GF nature of the food.

Here is the response I received:

Dear Vittoria:

Thanks for writing to us; we're glad that you enjoy our Food with Integrity. Regarding Gluten, you can eat anything we serve except for our large burrito tortillas, our small soft taco tortillas, and possibly our hot red tomatillo salsa (there is a small amount of distilled vinegar in it which some celiac websites still say might be problematic, although most don't).

Everything else is fine for you to eat including our crispy corn tacos, our corn chips, and our burrito bowls (no tortilla).

If you are highly sensitive, you can always ask our staff to change their gloves and they would be happy to do that at your request. Additionally, since there is always the slight possibility of cross-contamination in our restaurants because our folks work with wheat tortillas all day long, we encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices.

You can find this and other Allergen and Nutrition information on our website at www.chipotle.com/faq.

George Seno
Department of Gripes and Happiness

Kudos to Chipotle, and to George Seno, for the (mostly) gluten free menu and for this thoughtful reply. He obviously did some research and I really appreciate that. Chipotle gets my vote for being (mostly) gluten free as well as being environmentally responsible.

Chipotle believes in doing only one thing, and doing it well. You can choose a burrito, taco, burrito bowl or salad. The staff makes your meal right in front of you. You can choose your meat, your type of beans, rice and toppings, all as they prepare it for you. Watching someone prepare my food tends to give me a greater sense of security, but there's always a little nagging thought that tells me I don't know what happened in the back.

I had a salad with the chicken, black beans, cheese and corn salsa. I watched how they served it and all the staff were
conscientious about not mixing spoons, or even touching the food with their hands. I am extremely sensitive and I had no problems.

The 42nd Street location was reasonably busy for a Saturday afternoon, but it both the dinning area and the staff were neat and clean and the staff were considerate.

*as a side note, notice how they have a little tree and a 'green' request not to print the email. More Kudos.

Sunset Grille, White Plains NY

Spending time with my extended family can be difficult, especially when it comes to meals. But my great aunt is nearing the end of her days and my mother came out to visit and spend the weekend with our cousins in White Plains. When I heard that my cousin had made dinner reservations I prepared myself for a salad and deprivation. We are an Italian family, and we gravitate towards Italian restaurants. Hard on me.

Walking into Sunset Grille I was surprised. I was not expecting Mexican, and I immediately saw danger. On every table and on the bar counter were baskets of delicious looking tortilla chips. As we hung up our jackets and took our seats I asked the hostess if the chips were flour or corn. Her English was not quite up to the task and she flagged our waiter. He assured me that they were all corn, homemade and fresh. I grabbed one as I headed to the bathroom.

The first hurdle navigated successfully I stopped to look around. The setting was quaint, with several separate rooms of tables, each room was cozy and didn’t reveal how large the restaurant really is. Most of the staff are Hispanic, and the support staff seemed to have limited English, but our waiter was very helpful. After I explained to him my restrictions he pointed out which dishes he was sure had no flour.

The menu has some of the typical Mexican fare including tacos, guacamole, enchiladas as well as grilled fish, chicken and beef. My mother and I shared a chopped vegetable salad and we had guacamole for the table. Both were delicious. For our entrée we had roasted chicken that came with sautéed spinach and potatoes with cheese. The other dishes that were ordered included pork shoulder and steak tacos. All looked great and they were much more cuisine than I had expected from a Mexican restaurant, and I couldn’t keep the tortilla chips out of my mouth.

I experienced no ill effects from the food, except for a marked tightening around the waist of my pants from eating so much good food.

Ener-G Egg Replacer

The Ener-G brand is the only vegan egg replacement I have ever tried, and I have found no reason to try any other. I first tried it when I wanted to make vegan Christmas cookies that all my friends could share. The more I use it, the more versatile I find it to be. I prefer to use it in all my baking now, I get the binding of natural eggs and I control the amount of liquid that gets added to the recipe. The instructions recommend mixing the powder with warm water, but in most cases I simply mix the powder with my dry ingredients before mixing up cookies or breads.

Lifeway Probiotic Kefir

This Lifeway probiotic yogurt smoothie is a family favorite. Unlike some of the more mass-produced yogurts this one does not contain any ingredients that I flag as no-nos although it is not certified gluten free I have had no problems with it.

They come in a number of delicious flavors including cherry, blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate, strawberry and plain. They taste like fruit and yogurt, rather then sugar like some other brands. It has the bite of a natural yogurt, not the processed yogurts that are full of sugar that are so prevalent in most grocery stores.

I have not tasted a commercial yogurt smoothie that tastes more like the ones my boyfriend makes with the yogurt his mother cultures on our kitchen table. Coming in 12oz bottles they’re not as portable as smaller versions, but it fits well in the door of the refrigerator and makes a great on the go snack or late night sweet cravings.

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix

I love chocolate. Nothing draws me to a potluc table faster than heaping plate of moist brownies. I’ve never been too successful with making brownies from scratch, and before I was diagnosed Duncan Heinz was my got to mix.

Bob’s Red Mill has such a wide selection of Gluten free mixes that it’s no surprise that they have a brownie mix as well. I’ve had such success with their other mixes, and that Bob looks like such an honest guy, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

The mix stayed on my shelf as was waiting for a good chance to use it so it moved with me when I moved in with my boyfriend and his family. Living in this new space with these Ecuadorian immigrants there were some things to get used to, one of them being that they keep the gas stove unplugged to save electricity and use a lighter to start the burners. For the longest time I thought that the oven simply didn’t work, because his mother stored all her pots in it.

By the time I learned that I could in fact use the oven, once all the other hardware was removed I had become impatient and caved in to my chocolate cravings. Every now and again I poured out s portion of the brownie mix, mixed it with a little milk until it was the right consistency, and satisfied myself with batter instead. I once attempted to make a brownie pancake on the stove but that just doesn’t work, don’t try it, it’ll burn and stink up the house.

Eating the batter on the sly worked out just fine, because nobody had to know about it, and I didn’t have to share. As a connoisseur of all things brownie, this batter is fantastic. It has the right flavor and consistency to make a great brownie. The next potluc I attend, I will be weighted down with these brownies, I may even share them.

Arrowhead Mills Blue Corn Meal

I found Arrowhead Mills Blue Corn Meal at a local grocery when I was living in Brooklyn Heights. I was looking for a mix to make my own corn bread for stuffing. I love blue corn chips, and there was a cornbread recipe on the back of the bag, so into my cart it went.

Thanksgiving of ’06 was a number of firsts; my first time preparing a gluten free Thanksgiving meal, my first time preparing a Thanksgiving meal solo, and my Ecuadorian boyfriends first turkey. I wanted everything to be perfect so I started prepping early. A few days before T-day I made a pan of cornbread following the recipe on the bag. After it was cooled I sliced it and set it on plate to get stale for the stuffing.

It tasted just like a regular corn bread; only it was a very intriguing shade of blue green, quite pretty actually. The recipe on the bag is for a real, dry, crumbly Southern corn bread, not the Northern version that is more appropriate to being a dessert.

The evening before Thanksgiving I set about chopping the vegetable and mixing up my stuffing. Reaching for the cornbread I found the plate bare, with the exception of a few wayward blue crumbs. Upon questioning, the elderly gentleman I was living with as a companion ‘fessed up to eating all of it, since it “was just so good. I couldn’t stop myself”. The second batch was just as good as the first, and even though it didn’t have a chance to get stale it still made an excellent stuffing. The one pan that I made was just enough to stuff the smallest turkey I could fins.

The recipe on the package was easy to make, and turned out just fine even though I have no idea how accurate the thermostat was on the ancient oven I was using. I’m sure that the Blue Corn Meal could be used as a substitute for yellow cornmeal in any recipe with colorful results. Arrowhead Mills offers other gluten free flours and mixes and processes the Blue Corn Meal in their gluten free facility.

February 23, 2008

Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix

I was never a fan of pancakes growing up, so I never really missed them when I went gluten free. However, my boyfriend likes to have bread and cottage cheese for breakfast, and I wouldn’t allow gluten containing bread in my house. To settle this dispute I decided to try making gluten free pancakes for us to share one Saturday morning.

I had previously experimented with making them from scratch and had decide that a mix was the way to go. I picked up Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix at my local organic store and decided to give it a try.

This mix is so easy that anyone, except maybe my boyfriend can make it. I just put an egg, some milk and the pancake mix into the blender and let her rip. I get four nice sized pancakes out of one batch and everybody loves them. My boyfriends family is from Ecuador, and had never had pancakes before, and now they wait expectantly every Saturday morning for me to get up and make them. Even our two gerbils love them.

I can say that these are better than the ones I had as a child, and they have awakened in me a new appreciation of pancakes. We like to have them with cottage cheese and maple syrup, but the few times I’ve made them with blueberries they’ve been just as good. The recipe thins out just as a regular pancake batter would and this summer I plan on experimenting with crepes to go with some of the great fresh fruit.

The mix itself is not only gluten free but egg and dairy free as well. It can be made with soymilk or water and the egg replacement of your choice.

Maca Bars

As a busy girl in the city who chooses to ‘brown bag it’ I’m always on the lookout for tasty gluten free protein/energy bar to keep in purse/desk/gym bag. As I was perusing the labels of the energy bars at Whole Foods I found the Maca Bar. Maca is from the Andes and was a staple of the Inca diet. It is supposed to be great for all sorts of things. All the nutrition can be found on the Potent Foods website. The label claims that it is gluten free but the fine print notes that gluten is processed in the same facility. I made an inquiry to the company and received this reply:

Hi Vittoria,

I just got back from a trip.

The gluten that is done in the plant is mostly oats. It is made in a totally separate area. The line that we make the bars on is totally spotless, having undergone a kosher inspection with the Rabbi.

We have many celiac patients that eat the Organic Maca Bar on a regular basis. There have never been any reports of problems.

That said, as a doctor, I have to advise you do what you feel comfortable with.

Please let me know, if you do try the bars, how you like them.

Best regards,

Dr. BJ Adrezin
5835 SW Corbett Avenue
Portland, OR 97239
Phone: (503) 367-6763
Fax: (503) 961-9700

I tried all three flavors and found them to be very satisfactory. Not your average energy bar, soft and moist with tart and not too sweet. There are little bits of fruit and chocolate mixed in. The Maple Chunk Fudge had bits of raw maple sugar. The label notes that there might be little bits of shell, and I did find a tiny piece. I can’t say that it increased my endurance or that felt any different after eating it, but it tasted great and satisfied my hunger AND sweet tooth.


Pinkberry yogurt joint is the new celebrity craze. We see stars toting their Pinkberry cups all over the tabloids. And now we see regular New Yorkers with them as well. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

The store on 32nd Street in Manhattan is a cute little japanismo affair with little chairs, tables and do-dads for sale. There are three flavor choices, regular, coffee and green tea. You order your size, flavor and number of toppings. Toppings include the usual sprinkles and chocolate chips as well as non-gluten free granola, cocoa and fruity pebbles and Cap’n Crunch. They also have an admirable selection of fresh fruit: berries, banana, kiwi, etc.

The list of ingredients, posted conspicuously along with the nutrition information lists natural flavoring as one of the ingredients. I inquired about this and this was the response I got:

Dear Vittoria,

Thank you for choosing pinkberry, correct our product is gluten free please visit our website www.pinkberry.com and go to FAQ and you’ll see that our product does not contain gluten.


I tried the green tea without any toppings, my wallet isn’t quite robust enough to support that. It’s no wonder that all the celebs are eating it, it’s low cal, low fat, low sugar and it tastes really good. Mine actually tasted like green tea and yogurt, rather than iced sugar. I definite hot day treat. Or a long day at work treat. Or an any day of the week treat for that matter.

Chocolate Coconut Raw Organic Food Bar

When I picked up this Organic Food Bar I was a little dubious. Organic is great, and in most cases raw is pretty good too. Famished and exhausted after a hard workout and a long week I knew I needed something that wasn’t a candy bar. When I open the package I wasn’t quite expecting the soft brown bar inside. This surprised me. Soft and moist and not to sweet, eating this was a trip back in time when I used to snitch oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough.

It was so good that I reflexively checked the label again. Sure enough, along with the organic, raw, no dairy, and no GMO certifications was gluten free. With those cute little chocolate chips and noticeable pieces of cashew, this out to hold me over till diner.

I am definitely going back to try more flavors, and to stock up for my gym bag.

NutriBiotic Vegan Rice Protein Powder

As I was trolling the shelves at Whole Foods for a protein shake mix that didn’t contain oat bran I found this NutiriBiotic vegan rice protein powder. It clearly says on the label that it doesn’t contain and wheat, gluten or animal products. It’s hard enough to find a shake mix that is gluten free I decided to try it. Whole Foods has a return policy on this type of product, so I knew that if I really couldn’t stand it I could bring it back.

This stuff is packed with protein; in 1 tablespoon it has 12g of protein and 2.4g of carbohydrates. Now, it’s nutritional value saved it from being returned right away. I always choose chocolate flavor of anything to begin with and this reminded me of my torturous days in the summer camp wood shop. When mixed with water it didn’t taste like much, palatable but not anything to look forward to.

The label suggests that this powder can be added to any of your cooking, that it will mix right in and add a dose of protein. When I mix 1 scoop of this with my usual protein shake I barely notice the difference and get more protein into my stripped down diet. I expect that the plain or vanilla flavors would be especially easy to hide in other foods to add protein.