Friday, February 27, 2009

Interview: Lee Tobin & The Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse

I recently had the privilege of meeting and interviewing a Gluten Free Pioneer - Lee Tobin from the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse.

Lee's Story
Lee Tobin was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1996 while he was working as a baker (of all things) for Whole Foods (formerly Wellspring) in Chapel Hill. Fortunately for all of us, his employer decided to let Lee tinker with creating and baking some Gluten Free baked goods. This process began in the Chapel Hill store as a Tuesday 4 hour baking shift with just Lee, his separate Gluten Free equipment and ingredients. The first product was cream biscuits and eventually Lee developed recipes for scones, muffins and sandwich bread. The products became very popular in the Chapel Hill store - Wednesday mornings were flooded with GF shoppers looking for Lee's creations. Eventually, the shifts and products expanded as well as the distribution to Whole Foods Raleigh, Cary and Durham stores.

As the word around North Carolina spread, other Gluten Free consumers began to wonder why they couldn't have Gluten Free items in their stores like those of us in the Triangle were lucky enough to have. The Winston-Salem GIG support group worked with the national GIG organization to bring the annual conference to Winston-Salem, NC in 2002. Lee Tobin was featured at that conference for what he was doing with Whole Foods and as they say "The rest is history".

Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse
Before long, Lee Tobin was granted his dream - a completely Gluten Free dedicated facility to make his Gluten Free baked items full time. Whole Foods opened the Gluten Free Bakehouse in 2004 in Morrisville, NC - just a short drive from Raleigh. The facility is an 8,000 square foot Gluten Free baked-good-making-machine which now employs nearly 30 people and makes 30 different products including pizza crust, bread, muffins, cookies, cupcakes, pies, scones, biscuits, brownies, and much more.

-Click here for the WF GF Bakehouse Web site.
-Click here for a list of products made at the WF GF Bakehouse.
-Click here for the ingredient listing for each product.

I had the opportunity to tour the WF GF Bakehouse with Lee Tobin. I was amazed at the operation underway at the Bakehouse - the day I visited they were making about 3,200 loaves of bread along with numerous other items. Lee also walked me through the Gluten testing done at the facility which has an on site testing lab which is staffed with a full-time Lab Technician and several Lab Assistants. The thorough process included not only testing the finished product using ELISA (5 Parts per Million) but also testing of the ingredients brought into the facility by outside suppliers. Every ingredient is sampled and tested for Gluten (5 PPM) before it is ever considered for use in a product at the facility. You should feel very safe consuming these products.

The Whole Foods Bakehouse is currently supplying the entire Whole Foods chain (about 280 stores) with their Gluten Free products. Amazing to think about if you consider the roots of the operation. Products are shipped to the stores daily and can be found in the store's frozen foods section. I have tried several of their items over the past few months including the bread, pie crusts, pizza crust, scones, muffins, cookies and cupcakes and have never been disappointed.

As a Gluten Free consumer, I give a ton of credit to Lee Tobin and to Whole Foods for branching out into the market and really giving Gluten Free products some serious momentum. We should all thank both Lee and WF for legitimizing the Gluten Free industry and successfully creating excellent tasting safe products for all of us.

A special thanks to Lee Tobin and the staff at the facility for taking the time to meet with me and show me around. I look forward to working with Lee in the future!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview: Bard's Tale Gluten Free Beer Company

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the fine folks at Bard's Tale Beer Company. I am very interested in Gluten Free products, especially beer and pizza (if you have not noticed). Since no local brewers in North Carolina have yet to take on the Gluten Free Beer challenge (I've asked - believe me), I thought I would reach out to those brewers who were already out there making great GF Beer and talk with them about their company and products.

Over the past few weeks, I have been conversing with Tasha Kardaris who is the VP of Marketing for Bard's. I was surprised to find out she had been looking at my blog before I contacted her. Gluten Free consumers find themselves in a unique situation - the majority of companies catering to us are VERY interested in our feedback and are willing to make changes to their products based on that feedback. Tasha has been very gracious in taking the time to talk with me and answer some of the questions I posed about their business. Below is a question and answer session I had with Tasha over the last few weeks.

Bard's Beer Company Interview
How did Bard's Beer get it's start?
Bard's was founded by Celiacs, Kevin Seplowitz and Craig Belser. They were diagnosed with Celiac disease in their late 20s and had known what “real” craft brewed beer tasted like. They were quite “bummed out” to discover that traditional barley and wheat-based beers were not on their list of items that they could enjoy on a gluten-free diet. The GF “beer” options they tried were in their opinions, undrinkable. And sipping wine during a football game didn’t quite cut it. They missed a full bodied, craft brewed beer. Since both were home brewers before being diagnosed, they started experimenting with various GF grains until they came up with the formula for Bard’s which tastes like a traditional craft-brewed beer. In this case, necessity WAS the mother of invention. We officially started selling the beer in 2004 in 8 states. Both are still involved in the company and still are part-owners of Bard’s Tale Beer.
Tell me a little bit about your CEO?
Our current CEO is Brian Kovalchuk, who used to be the CEO of Pabst Brewing Company, among other companies. He was at the helm at Pabst and turned it around into the cool-hip brand it’s now become. We are thrilled to have him run the day-to-day operations at Bard’s because he is helping us navigate the “beer world” and expand our distribution in leaps and bounds. It’s helped us reach more of our celiac and GF friends who previously haven’t been able to get Bard’s Beer. Brian also oversaw our package redesign and our re-vamped, more customer-friendly website.
Tell me a little bit about the products at Bard's Beer.
It’s really the best tasting GF beer out there and not just because we think so. We have lots of fans who write into our website, who’ve tried the other GF beers and tell us that our beer tastes more like the beer they remember before being diagnosed and before going gluten-free. Bard’s Beer has a traditional craft-brewed taste because we malt our sorghum. No other GF beer (that we are aware of) uses this process which we hold proprietary. And in NC, last year we participated in Raleigh’s World Beer Festival, put on by All About Beer Magazine. Even though we are gluten-free and 99% of the beers there are not, we think our beer is good enough to measure up to other craft brews. We had a lot of exposure to non-celiacs at this event which hosts over 7,000 people.
Do you have any involvement with Celiac associations?
Craig often represents Bard’s at various Celiac-sponsored meetings throughout the US. Most recently, he attended the Celiac Sprue Association’s annual meeting, host the Bard’s Beer table where participants got to sample our beer. We’ve been involved with and participated in all of the national Celiac organization’s events for CDF, GIG and CSA in addition to becoming involved with local organizations like in GA with the Atlanta Metro-Celiac organization and with the Gluten-free Culinary Summit out of Denver. We’ve even been invited to speak and sample to future chefs at the nation’s top culinary school, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) during their gluten-free baking day.
Where is Bard's brewed and what processes are in place to ensure Gluten Free status?
Bard’s is contract-brewed in Utica, New York. We only use 4 ingredients in making Bard’s Beer: water, yeast, hops and malted sorghum. All of those ingredients are naturally gluten-free. We test every batch of Bard’s during the process and before it goes out to the public to ensure that there is NO gluten in the beer. Since we’ve been brewing Bard’s, we’ve never tested positive for gluten. Our founders are celiacs too so we don’t want to put anything out there that we wouldn’t drink ourselves. It’s also important to note we don’t use soy, corn or rice in our beer ingredients. A lot of Celiacs have cross-allergies and those who are allergic to rice or corn can’t drink some of the other GF beers out there because they contain these ingredients.
How much Bard's is sold in North Carolina? How about Raleigh?
Because we are privately held, we don’t release sales figures to the public. I do know NC was one of the first states we came to when we first started the business.
Any future plans on other GF beer varieties?
We are looking into other varieties of Bard’s but currently our focus is on broadening our distribution with our main brand.
How about kegging or canning the beer? Plastic bottles? Anything other than 6 packs?
We get asked the keg question a lot. We don’t keg our beer. Specifically because we don’t want to risk the possibility of cross-contamination. We can’t be 100% sure that a tap line has been cleaned properly if previously connected to a barley or wheat beer. With bottles, we don’t have that risk. We always are open to the possibility of coming up with alternative packaging like cans and 12 packs but I don’t have any information that I can release to the public at this time. We sell our product to the distributors by the case. If you would like a case of Bard’s, most of the time, your local beer store/package store can accommodate your request if you ask in advance.
Where is Bard's currently available in the US and what are your plans for expansion?
We are currently available in 32 states. Our plans for the future include expanding our distribution within the US and also expanding our reach in Canada (we are currently available in British Columbia) and if it makes sense to other countries if feasible. Because we don’t have the established distribution network that Redbridge (which as you know is an AB product), it is harder to find our beer. We have to secure licenses and distributors in every state individually. But we are working very hard to become available in all 50 states.
Where can one find Bard's Beer in Raleigh?
Bard's can be found at Whole Foods and Earth Fare locations throughout the Triangle.
How do I go about getting Bard's into my favorite establishment?
The best way to get Bard’s Beer into your local pub/restaurant/retailer is to ask the store buyer to order it for you. In the state of NC, our distributor is Millennium Beverage our of Charlotte. Their phone number is 704-342-1494. If you give this info to the owner of the liquor/beer store, they should be able to order it for you. On our website, we have a section which lists our distributors and also has letters that customers can download and give to their local store to ask to carry Bard’s.
Have you ever had any negative feedback about your products? How do you handle that?
For consumer feedback (negative or positive), we get emails from our customers every day. Our policy is to answer these within 24 hours.
A special thanks to Tasha and Bard's Beer Company for taking the time to answer my questions. Feel free to try out their products if you have not already and check out their Web site here.

Jules Shepard / Earth Fare Event SOLD OUT!

Good news (unless you didn't get a ticket to the event) - the Jules Shepard / Earth Fare Gluten Free Event has now sold out!

There was room for 30 participants and all 30 places have been taken.

Early estimates indicate that this event will raise over $300 (after expenses) for a donation to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)!

Thanks for all that have purchased tickets and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday at Earth Fare.

Stay tuned for more Gluten Free Raleigh Special Events in the near future!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GFRB Health Network Welcomes Wake Dermatology

Allow me to welcome the first Dermatology practice to the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog (GFRB) Health Network. Wake Dermatology in Raleigh is familiar with Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) a.k.a. "Celiac Disease of the skin" and sees many DH patients including the author of this blog. See my recent post on DH here. Most of us with DH or suspected DH fall under the care of a Dermatologist during our life with the disease.

Wake Dermatology is a multiple doctor practice located in Raleigh near Rex Hospital. The practice includes Dr. Anne Tuveson who received her MD PhD degree from Georgetown University, School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She also completed her internship at UNC Chapel Hill and completed three years of Dermatology residency at Duke University. During her time at Duke, she worked closely with Russell P Hall, M.D. Dr. Hall is a leader in the field on autoimmune blistering skin diseases including DH. He has conducted much research on this disease and treats numerous DH patients.

Welcome aboard Wake Dermatology - and thanks for being a great resource for Dermatitis Herpetiformis in Raleigh!

Wake Dermatology
Appointments - (919) 781-1001

Medical Plaza at Rex Hospital
4414 Lake Boone Trail
Suite 408
Raleigh, NC 27607


FYI - The Gluten Free Raleigh Blog does not benefit in any way by sharing this information with others. The GFRB Health Network is simply meant to be a useful tool in helping others with their Celiac Disease, DH or GF Diet. If you have any questions or if you have any suggestions about potential members for this network, please email me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Restaurant Review: Sitti - Downtown Raleigh

I recently had lunch at a brand new restaurant in Downtown Raleigh called Sitti. Sitti is an "Authentic Lebanese Restaurant" which opened a few weeks ago as a joint collaboration of Empire Eats (think Duck 'n Dumpling, Raleigh Times, The Pit, etc...) and Neomonde Baking Company which has served the Raleigh area for 30 years. Unfortunately, Neomonde is a bakery and does not have any Gluten Free items itself.

I had not previously been to Sitti and really didn't have the chance to preview their menu or call ahead like I normally do. I was under the assumption that we were going somewhere else for lunch - oh well. Regardless, upon entering, I did my normal routine of asking the hostess for a manager and/or chef to speak with about my Gluten Free requirements. Within a few minutes, I met with Todd Henderson - Sitti's General Manager.

Todd kindly walked me through what was safe for me on their regular menu. A few minor modifications had to be made but overall the process was a lot easier than other places I have been. He knew every ingredient on the menu which really put me at ease. I ended up with the following for lunch...

Chicken Kabob – tender pieces of marinated chicken grilled on skewers served with garlic whip. Served with Sitti rice, sumac, onion and grilled tomato. $7.99

I immediately questioned the "marinated" part of the description in which Todd then explained the ingredients - all GF. I also asked about the garlic whip - again everything GF. I mentioned to Todd that I was not comfortable with the meal being prepared on a shared grill - he indicated that the meal would be sauteed in a fresh pan by itself - excellent! He then brought up the fact that their Sitti rice indeed had wheat noodles in it. He suggested substituting the Sitti House Salad – romaine, cucumber, tomato, red onion, mint, parsley with olive oil and lemon juice - instead.

Todd also went on to say that he would prepare the kitchen staff on the Gluten Free requirement of my meal and personally check it on as it made it's way through the kitchen. These gestures definitely made me more relaxed about my meal. My meal came out and no mistakes were made - everything just as we had agreed. Others around me ordered the same dish and I could definitely tell my chicken was not cooked on the grill like theirs.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal at Sitti. It basically turned into a kind of Chicken Kabob salad but the taste was excellent. After the meal, I again approached Todd to thank him for his efforts and to let him know I was pleased with my Gluten Free dining experience. I went on to mention who I was and what I did (this blog) and he became very interested in learning more about Celiac Disease and the Gluten Free Diet. Apparently, Sitti has had quite a few Gluten Free requests and have had to learn quickly about the meal preparation. Sitti seems very open to working with me to create a Gluten Free menu and to get more information about the NFCA's GREAT program. Read this post to learn more about the GREAT program and this post about me becoming a GREAT Guide.

Sitti Lebanese Restaurant
Downtown Raleigh
137 S. Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Phone: 919.239.4070
Web site

View Larger Map

Rosie's Plate - Grab & Go - Feb 23 - Feb 27

See below (click image to enlarge) for Rosie's Plate Grab & Go options for Feb 23 - Feb 27.

NEW - Grab & Go now Delivers! Call Rosie's Plate at 833-0505 before noon - they will grab your choices and deliver to you TODAY! Click here for more details.

Bella Monica Flatbread Company Update - Earth Fare

More exciting news for Bella Monica Flatbread Company and their fans...

I wrote previously about Bella Monica pizzas being available in the Raleigh and Cary Whole Foods store in addition to Harmony Farms.

I have just received word that their Gluten Free Pizzas are also now available in all Earth Fare stores in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Earth Fare has one Raleigh location in Brier Creek in NW Raleigh. The other NC locations are Asheville, Charlotte, Boone and Greensboro.

Thanks to Trevor and his company for getting this product out there for us to enjoy.

See my previous posts about their GF Pizzas here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jules Shepard/Earth Fare Event Update

This is supposed to be the last day to register for the upcoming Jules Shepard Gluten Free Event at Earth Fare on 2/28. I have decided to extend the deadline to sign-up until this Friday 2/27.

There are only 4 spaces left for the event and I'd love to fill them all. At this point, all costs associated with the event have been covered, so 100% of your registration fee will be donated to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Click the following link to see more information about the event and to sign-up!

Twins Kitchen Update

It's been awhile since I've written anything about Twins Kitchen/Twin Cakes Bakery. As you may recall, this is an allergen free company here in Raleigh which has numerous Gluten Free food items. See my previous posts about Twins Kitchen here.

I wrote last week about the upcoming Raleigh Cel-Kids Support Group meeting and that Twins Kitchen would be there to allow the children and their families to sample some of their wonderful food.

Here is a blog post from Twins Daily about the meeting held over the weekend. Check out the pictures and you'll probably want to order something!

New Gluten Free Wristbands

I have previously written about Celiac Disease wristbands but I've never seen Gluten Free wristbands - until now.

Check out the Switch 2 Gluten Free blog for more information about these brand new Gluten Free LIVESTRONG-like wristbands. A great way to raise awareness.

Jules Shepard Update - Jules Gluten Free

I recently received word from Jules Shepard about the re-branding of her company and Web site, formally known as Nearly Normal Cooking. Jules has received a lot of comments that the company's name doesn't do justice to her Gluten Free flour or products it yields. Allow me to introduce, Jules Gluten Free. The patent-pending all purpose Gluten Free flour has not changed - it is still a great performing cup-for-cup replacement in nearly any recipe.

Some other changes...
  • Jules Gluten Free has reduced the price on the 5lb bags of flour to $19.95.
  • Flat-rate shipping has been introduced - up to five 5lb bags for $12.
  • Bulk pricing - buy a case of six 5 lb bags at $19.95 and shipping is free.
  • New 50lb bags are now available.
  • New 3/4 cup sample packets are now available (including recipe card) for $2.95 plus $2 shipping.
The new Web site can be found here with fresh new graphics, stunning photos of yummy GF food, a new shopping cart experience, convincing testimonials and a new online product catalog.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Useful Resources: Wake County Library - Gluten Free Books

For those of you out there who like to read about Celiac Disease or Gluten Free Living but are not sure what books are worth spending money on, you'll be interested to know that the Wake County Public Library has a pretty good collection of books available.

A quick search on their Web site reveals 22 books containing the keyword "Gluten Free" and another 7 books containing the keyword "Celiac". Just as a comparison, Barnes & Noble bookstore has 49 books about Celiac and 241 about Gluten Free. So the Wake County Library isn't exactly as good as BN but it's a start.

There are 19 library locations throughout Wake County so one should be accessible to you no matter where you live.

If you are a member of the library system, you can use their online search to actually request the books of your choice to be sent to your local branch for your pickup. If you are not a member, see the following page for more information on how to join.

Rosie's Plate - Gluten Free Pizza Review

About 2 weeks ago I sat down with the folks over at Rosie's Plate to taste test their brand new Gluten Free Pizza offerings. I have previously written about Rosie's Plate and their brand new menu which now includes pizza here. I was really excited to try their pizza because I knew that they would include superb ingredients, the risk of cross contamination would be zero and that they had been working to perfect the pizza for quite some time.

Rosie's Plate offers several different pizza choices as you can see below.
Click here for the full menu.
Click here for the pizza menu.
  • Take & Bake Thick Crust Cheese Pizza - $15.50
  • Take & Bake Thick Crust Greek Chicken Pizza - $22.50
  • Take & Bake Thick Crust Pepperoni Pizza - $17.50
  • Take & Bake Thick Pizza Crust Only- $9.50
  • Take & Bake Thin Crust Cheese Pizza - $15.50
  • Take & Bake Thin Crust Greek Chicken Pizza - $22.50
  • Take & Bake Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza - $17.50
  • Take & Bake Thin Pizza Crust Only - $9.50
Basically, the pizza comes in either thin or thick crust and you can either purchase a take & bake package of sauce, cheese and toppings or just buy the crust separately and top it yourself. Their are 3 varieties if you want the take & bake package which include cheese, pepperoni or Greek chicken. The thick crust comes in a 9 inch x 12 inch rectangle shape while the thin crust is a 12 inch round pizza. Most other pizzas I've seen are 10" in size so it's nice to have some leftovers!

I had the pleasure of trying a thin crust cheese pizza fresh from the Rosie's Plate oven for lunch and also took home a thick crust cheese pizza as well for dinner that evening. During my taste test, I got the opportunity to discuss the new pizza with the creators and learn everything about the new product. I got the impression that the creators had put a lot of effort into the new pizza and were extremely happy with the outcome. They were very excited to add this offering to their already large menu. It's my experience that when people create things with a passion that it really shows through in their products.

I personally really enjoyed the thin crust pizza the most. The crust is not super thin like a cracker and it actually does have some nice thickness to it. The thin crust was not doughy or crumbly and held the toppings well. The thick crust is just that, THICK - I'd guess it's about 2 inches thick. If you enjoy that much crust then this pie is for you. I really enjoyed the overall taste of all the pizza I sampled at Rosie's Plate. You can count on Rosie's for quality ingredients and that really shows in the taste and consistency of their products - not just pizza. My favorite part of the pizza was actually the sauce - which has a sort of sweet taste to it. I reminds me of pizza I used to eat where I grew up which was a nice touch for me - made the pizza seem a lot more like regular pizza.

I will definitely purchase pizza from Rosie's Plate again in the future. Hopefully they can toss in a few of the take & bake pizzas to their ever-growing selection of Grab & Go choices.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dermatitis Herpetiformis - a.k.a. DH

The CSA defines Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) as an important associated disorder or complication of Celiac Disease which is manifested in the form of a skin rash. There is strong evidence that the changes in the intestinal mucosa and the immunologic findings in the majority of patients diagnosed with DH are identical with those found in Celiac Disease. Gluten has been found to have a close relationship with this skin rash. DH is often referred to as "Celiac Disease of the skin" while CD is referred to as "Celiac Disease of the gut." Click here for more information about the symptoms of DH (including pictures).

Typically, DH can be characterized as an intensely itchy skin eruption distinguished by the formation of small papules or vesicles. The patient may perceive having red bumps and blisters. The symptoms of intense burning, stinging and itching cannot be overemphasized. It is common for DH lesions to be symmetrically distributed on the extensor surfaces of the body: over the elbows, knees, buttocks, scalp, posterior, neck, sacral (lower end of the spinal column) and shoulder areas. The face and facial hairline are occasionally affected. And rarely, the lesions occur within the mouth. Although its severity may vary, it persists indefinitely and is a lifelong condition. There are only a few patients in whom the disease remits for long periods of time.

DH was formerly described in literature as Duhring's Disease. It has a typical onset in the teenage years or in the third or fourth decades of life. In the U.S., the presence of diagnosed cases is estimated to be about 1 in 10,000 with a male/female ratio of 2:1. It is more common in whites and rare in people of African or Asian descent.

I was already "lucky" enough to be 1 out of 133 to have Celiac Disease. Now I am even more "lucky" - 1 out of 10,000! From what I have read, it is pretty rare to have both CD and DH - somewhere around 20% of CD patients also have DH. I was officially diagnosed with DH on Wednesday by a Dermatologist although I had suspected my elbow/knee skin rash was DH for many months now. The included picture is what my elbows look like about a week after eating Gluten. Same thing on my knees. In another week, the small blisters (which are extremely itchy) will turn to scabs and then eventually fade away. Why can't my luck translate into winning the powerball lottery which has a 1 in about 200 million occurrence? Guess I am not that lucky.

Regardless, the treatment for Celiac and DH are the same - lifelong Gluten Free Diet - so really nothing new for me.

Some questions I asked my Dermatologist...

Why do I have the DH rash after being Gluten Free for 8 months? - The skin can take up to 2 years or more to recover from Gluten ingestion after going Gluten Free. The intestines recover much faster.

Are there any medications to assist with DH? - Dapsone can be taken for this disease but has serious side-effects and you must be closely monitored while taking it. Taking a super potent steroid ointment like Clobetasol for about 2 weeks seems a little safer and should help clear up the rash and prevent the itching and burning but following a GF diet is the recommended approach for treating DH.

Are there any related diseases to DH? - Thyroid disease is most commonly associated with DH. Other autoimmune disorders that people with CD are at greater risk to develop include Addison' s disease, autoimmune chronic active hepatitis, Alopecia Areata, Graves' disease, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 1), myasthenia gravis, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and thyroid disease. This is not a complete list. Thyroid diseases and diabetes are the two most commonly associated diseases. It is not uncommon to have other skin conditions as well.

Anybody out there have DH and want to share their experiences?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reminder - Greater North Raleigh Celiac Support Group Meeting

Just a friendly reminder about this month's Greater North Raleigh Celiac Support Group meeting. The meeting is Thursday, February 19th at 7pm at Rex Hospital. Representatives from Bella Monica Italian Restaurant and Bella Monica Flatbread Company will be at the meeting with Gluten Free samples of their products. In addition, the marketing manager for Harmony Farms Natural Food Store will also be at the meeting.

Please email Pat Berger to request more information about the group or if you are interested in attending this month's meeting.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gluten Free North Carolina City Guide Launched

If you like the Gluten Free City Guide map I created earlier this year, then this will be right up your alley. It's a similar concept but this time the focus is on North Carolina cities only. FYI - the Gluten Free City Guide map now has about 160 cities on it with blogs or web sites dedicated to Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Free living. You can use this resource when you are traveling to unfamiliar cities across the USA & Canada.

Check out the brand new Gluten Free North Carolina City Guide by clicking here. The link has also been added to the top of this blog.

As you can see, I have set up blogs all across North Carolina like I did for Cary/Apex, Chapel Hill and Durham. Now the hunt begins to find dedicated folks in these new cities like Debbie in Durham, Sarah in Cary and Lauren in Chapel Hill. The goal is to expand the concept used for Raleigh area cities all over NC!

Please contact me if you live in one of the following cities and are either a Celiac or are living the Gluten Free lifestyle and you are interested in helping others by adding content to the blogs. Please also let me know if your city is not listed below and you would like a blog created for you!

Rocky Mount, NC
Greenville, NC
High Point, NC
Fayetteville, NC
Winston-Salem, NC
Asheville, NC
Greensboro, NC
Charlotte, NC
Wilmington, NC

Thanks and here's to making North Carolina more Gluten Free Friendly!

Rosie's Plate - Grab & Go - Feb 16 - Feb 20

See below for Rosie's Plate Grab & Go options for Feb 16 - Feb 20.

Monday, February 16, 2009

GIG's Chef to Plate National Awareness Campaign

Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 3rd, 2009. The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) recently announced this day as the day of the Chef to Plate National Awareness Campaign - Celebrating Restaurants Serving Up Gluten Free Awareness. The Gluten Free Raleigh Blog plans on becoming a campaign leader and is looking for a restaurant in Raleigh with a Gluten Free menu to participate. Please let me know if you have a restaurant you would like to participate.
Chef to Plate National Awareness Campaign

Celebrating Restaurants Serving Up Gluten-Free Awareness
May 3, 2009

Endorsed by:
GlutenFree Passport
Gluten-Free on the Go

Participating Restaurants – Watch for listing

GIG launches a national awareness campaign for gluten-free living,
through the restaurants that support persons living with gluten intolerances.

Why: To provide support of those restaurants with gluten-free menus and spread awareness of Celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerances, the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America celebrate those restaurants and spread awareness of gluten-free living through the national awareness program “Chef to Plate – Celebrating Restaurants Serving Up Gluten-Free Awareness”

“Helping Hands to Provide Peace of Mind” is a grass roots effort to support persons living with gluten intolerances through GIG’s various programs and activities. Grassroots efforts to spread awareness can accomplish a lot with minimal financial resources.

Campaign Goals:
-Spread national awareness of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance conditions during May, Celiac Awareness Month
-Spread recognition and awareness of restaurants with gluten-free menu options
-Bring Peace of Mind to persons with gluten intolerances when dining out
-Joining of restaurants across the country in a day of awareness

Who: Restaurants with gluten-free menus will be able to participate.

How: For information on how to participate as a restaurant or a campaign leader, contact the GIG using the following email.
Check out the following GIG Web site for more information.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jules Shepard/Earth Fare Event Update

Just wanted to toss out some quick updates about the upcoming Jules Shepard/Earth Fare Gluten Free Raleigh Event.

  • There are 11 days remaining until the registration cutoff date on 2/23
  • There are only 8 spaces remaining out of 30
  • Trevor from the Bella Monica Flatbread Company will be at Earth Fare around lunch time with samples of their new Gluten Free Pizzas. The guided Gluten Free Earth Fare tour which begins at 11:30 AM will make a stop where Trevor is set up so we all can have some yummy pizza.
Spaces are going fast so if you want to sign up, please do so now!

Petition to the FDA about Gluten Free Drugs

We are all pretty aware of the fact that drug manufacturers in the USA frequently use gluten in their products. We also know that the FDA, who regulates the industry, allows for these companies to add gluten to their products even though it is toxic to approximately 1% of the US population. Thanks again FDA!

Luckily for us, a man named Michael Weber of NY has officially petitioned the FDA to ban gluten from all medications regulated by the FDA in the US.

Want to sign the petition? Below is an snippet of an article written by Michael and published on
Time to Take Action!
There is, however, something you can do. I petitioned the FDA to get gluten gone for good. I asked my congresswoman to write a letter to the FDA highlighting her concern about my petition. And any citizen can comment to the FDA about my petition, for or against. You can ask your congressman to pay attention to the decision, which the FDA is about to make.

Now that I’ve wound you all up, here is how to contact the FDA. Go on the internet and surf to and enter the Docket number of my petition, 2008-P-0333, which you might enjoy reading. My petition is called Michael Weber of New York State. Highlight the line for comments of submissions, and then tell them what you think and who you are. Tell the FDA why you think there shouldn’t be any gluten in your medicine—please do it now!
Please help take action today!

Bella Monica Flatbread Company Update - Whole Foods Raleigh

More exciting news for Bella Monica Flatbread Company and their fans...

I wrote on Tuesday about Bella Monica pizzas being available in the Cary Whole Foods store.

I have just received word that their Gluten Free Pizzas are also now available in the Raleigh Whole Foods location on Wade Avenue in West Raleigh! The pizzas will also be sold for $10.99 at both locations which is a little less than the price at Harmony Farms.

Looks like the pizzas will also be making their way onto shelves at the Earth Fare Brier Creek location later this month. Stay tuned for those release dates! Thanks to Trevor and his company for getting this product out there for us to enjoy.

See my previous posts about their GF Pizzas here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raleigh Cel-Kids Support Group Update

I mentioned in a previous post about the Raleigh Cel-Kids Support Group. The group is newly formed and currently has around 15 families. They have quarterly meetings which usually involve some Gluten Free samples and fun activities for kids.

The Celiac kid focused group will be conducting their next meeting on February 21, 2009 from 1pm - 3pm at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest, NC. The address is 520 W. Holding Avenue. Plans include some events and activities for the children, in addition to time for the parents to sit and discuss what they are doing to help their children succeed. Twins Kitchen will be generously donating Gluten Free samples and snacks for the meeting.

Questions can be directed to the Cel-Kids Group email address.

Useful Resources:

I've read about many times but would like to share it with the rest of you in case you have not. It is a listing of medications that are Gluten Free and is the best resource I've seen to date on the Internet.

The site contains the following lists which are maintained by a clinical pharmacist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

Check out for more information.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza Update - ZPizza

I have previously written about a pizza place called Z Pizza which was rolling out Gluten Free Pizza choices. I have spent the past few weeks working with the franchisee of the ZPizza locations in Raleigh and Cary to further discuss their GF Pizza offerings. I met with the owner recently and was walked through the entire process of making a GF Pizza and would like to share the details with all of you. After reading this, I hope you'll feel safe about eating at ZPizza. They have taken some extra steps to get it right that some other local places have not yet taken. Let's hope ZPizza can be an inspiration to them and a safe place for us.

ZPizza is a California based franchise with over 100 locations in the US. They have been in the Raleigh market for about 3 years.

From the time you order at the counter until the time you are delivered your GF Pizza, meticulous attention is paid by the staff at ZPizza. Their Point of Sale computer system has a special marking for Gluten Free which causes your order ticket to be printed with a Gluten Free label. The cashier then goes to the kitchen staff area and highlights the Gluten Free label on the ticket to make it stand out further. They then notify the manager (or owner if he is present) about the Gluten Free order. The manager/owner will either make your pizza or directly supervise the entire process.

Gluten Free Crusts
Gluten Free crusts are pre-made using all GF ingredients (including Damato Living Flour) and are sent to the store and kept frozen on site. No GF dough is mixed or made at ZPizza. In addition, to reduce cross-contamination issues when regular wheat pizza is prepared, all wheat flour in the restaurant has been replaced with rice flour. When wheat pizzas are pressed/tossed and prepared, it is using rice flour. This eliminates wheat flour from entering the air and eventually landing on your GF pizza and making you sick. Also, the dough for the wheat pizzas is not made on site further reducing the risks. Wheat flour was replaced with rice flour for about a month before any GF Pizzas were made in the restaurants. The kitchens were also thoroughly cleaned after the switch.

Cooks are instructed to wash their hands and put on brand new latex gloves before beginning the preparation. Then a special sealed box is retrieved from the cooler which contains all the necessary tools for making the GF Pizza. It contains pizza pans, cutters, tongs, GF Cheese and GF tomato sauce (along with some other ingredients). Next, your GF crust is taken from the freezer and placed into the GF pan. GF Ingredients are added (they have many choices for pizza - not just cheese!) and the pan is placed in the oven in a dedicated area to the side. A separate paddle is used to place and remove the pizza from the oven. All kitchen staff are notified when a GF pizza is placed in the oven so they do not place wheat pizzas near it. When cooking is finished, the pan is removed and the pizza served.

ZPizza Corporate has thoroughly analyzed all their ingredients and know which are GF and which are not. Any veggies you would like on your pizza are kept in the cooler area and not pulled from the main area where wheat pizzas are topped. ZPizza has a large list of GF ingredients/toppings at the store so please ask when you arrive. Toppings include pepperoni, sausage, cheese and numerous veggies. They also can offer tomato sauce, pesto sauce or chipotle pesto sauce. They are currently working on developing a GF Menu which will be available both online and in the store.

Other items of note
The GF pizzas only come in 10" sizes at this time and cost about $3 more than their wheat pizza counterparts. ZPizza is also looking to add other GF items to their choices including salads, desserts from the Whole Foods Bakehouse and Gluten Free Beer like RedBridge. Please provide feedback to the staff when you visit about what other options you would like to see offered.

My experience
During my tour of ZPizza, the owner made me the following pizzas - Pepperoni with Peppers and Mushrooms, Chipotle Pesto Sauce with tomatoes, corn and roasted red peppers and finally a pesto sauce and cheese pizza. All 3 pizzas were excellent. ZPizza uses high quality ingredients which taste great. For the GF crust, it was very thin and crispy but had a nice flaky, buttery taste to it. Overall, it was a great pizza and I would dine at ZPizza again.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness - GREAT program
Please see my earlier post about the NFCA's GREAT program here. ZPizza as a franchise has gone through the GREAT training program and has been verified by the NFCA. Look for the window decal when entering the store. See my previous post for all that is included in this verification/certification process.

ZPizza Information
Web site -

Raleigh location
9630 Fall of the Neuse Road
Falls Pointe Shopping Center
(Next to Starbucks)
Phone - 919.844.0065

Cary location
96 Cornerstone Drive
Stone Creek Village
(Corner Davis and High House)
Phone - 919.465.9009

Bella Monica Flatbread Company Update - Whole Foods Cary

Exciting news for Bella Monica Flatbread Company and their fans... I have just received word that their Gluten Free Pizzas are now available in the Cary Whole Foods location on Waverly Place in Cary! This is good news that they are expanding and will become more widely available to Raleigh area consumers. This is a sign of a successful product! Looks like they will also be moving into the other Raleigh area locations very soon - Stay tuned for those release dates!

See my previous posts about their GF Pizzas here.

Rosie's Plate - Grab & Go - Feb 9 - Feb 13

Here is the Grab & Go selection at Rosie's Plate for Feb 9 - Feb 13, 2009

For a quick Rosie's take-out, we are stocking these special selections made fresh daily...
including special items * not found on our regular monthly menu.
Feel free to call ahead (833.0505) to make sure that your choices are available.
We'll gladly reserve them for you!
Available every weekday 10:00-6:30 pm.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Useful Resources: Delight Gluten Free Magazine

I have been hearing about this new Gluten Free magazine for awhile now called Delight Gluten Free. There was a lot of blogging over the weekend about it so I guess it has officially launched. There is a lot of content already up on their new Web site and the February issue is available now. You can get the February issue for free (1st 200 subscribers) when you subscribe to the magazine or you can take a sneak peak here using an interactive magazine viewer. I'll see if I can get a copy and let you know more ASAP.

About Delight GF
From this page, you can tell that the magazine's creator Julie Ann Luse is really passionate about making the often difficult Gluten Free Lifestyle easier for those who follow it.
In our issues you will find gourmet, scrumptious, easy Semi-Homemade, GF on a budget, Healthy and Fresh, fully illustrated recipes that will suite the gluten-free, casein-free dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free and rice-free diets. I hope you enjoy!
The magazine's staff also includes Food & Lifestyle Editor Vanessa Maltin. Vanessa is the author of the Beyond Rice Cakes blog and a former member of the NFCA team. Check out her post about the new magazine here. Also on staff is Food & Lifestyle Contributor Tiffany Jakubowski who is the author of the Gluten Free Tiffany blog and volunteer for the Boulder County Celiac group. Both are bloggers I read often.

Where to find the Magazine in hard-copy form
Delight GF can be found nearly nation-wide through a network of Celiac Support Groups or grocery stores. Unfortunately for those of us here in Raleigh, the only NC location is through the Western NC Celiac Support Group in Granite Falls, NC (out west). I'll see what I can do about this!

Subscription Information - Delivery to your house
The magazine is a quarterly publication and a year's subscription runs only $14.
Click here to subscribe.

Contact Information
Feel free to contact Delight GF Magazine using the information below.

Julie Luse
Editor and Publisher
Delight gluten free Magazine
PO Box 20428
Boulder, CO 80308

Poll Results tallied - New Polls added

Here are the results of the set of Poll questions that have been on Gluten Free Raleigh since 1-6-09. I try to put up new poll questions every 30 days or so. I use this information to decide what to research and write about so please vote and let me know what you are interested in!

Looks like most of you who cheat on your GF Diet do so because you miss old glutenous foods too much. Also, I was a little surprised to see that the majority of people lived closed to a Harris Teeter.

Why do you cheat on your GF Diet?
Difficulty of finding GF food 2 (11%)
GF food too expensive 0 (0%)
GF food doesn't taste good 1 (5%)
Don't understand the GF diet 0 (0%)
Difficulty of understanding food labeling 3 (17%)
Asymptomatic (no side effects from cheating) 1 (5%)
Don't understand implications of cheating 0 (0%)
Don't understand cross-contamination 0 (0%)
Miss old glutenous foods 9 (52%)
Will power problem 1 (5%)

Votes so far: 17

What is the closest Grocery store to your house?
Whole Foods 1 (2%)
Trader Joes 2 (4%)
Earth Fare 0 (0%)
Harmony Farms 0 (0%)
Kroger 10 (20%)
Lowes Foods 7 (14%)
Food Lion 12 (24%)
Harris Teeter 17 (34%)

Votes so far: 49

I have also added some new Poll Questions to the right side bar. I will continue to put up new Polls often to try to get a better understanding of what readers of this blog would like me to focus on.

Please vote!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Becoming a NFCA GREAT Guide

I wrote earlier about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) GREAT Program. The Gluten-Free Resource Education Awareness Training (GREAT) program is a comprehensive tool offered by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to educate chefs, dietitians, cafeteria workers and other hospitality industry professionals about Celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

Yours truly has been invited to become a GREAT Guide and will be going through the official process and training over the next few weeks. From what I understand there are only a dozen or so GREAT Guides in the entire nation so I am proud to become part of this small but effective group. After completing this process, I will be able to better assist restaurants, chefs, dietitians, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.. in the area in safely providing meals and services for Gluten Free consumers. You, as the GF consumer, will be better served and feel more confident about living Gluten Free in Raleigh.

Stay tuned for more information. I have a few places already lined up to go through the certification process and hope to get more in the coming months. The goal is that eventually Raleigh will become one of the most Gluten Free aware cities in the nation. Please email me if you know of any places you'd like to go through the process or if you own a business that is interested in becoming certified by the NFCA.

Rosie's Plate Valentine Treats

Check out the following Valentine's Day menu just released by the folks at Rosie's Plate.

Chocolate Truffles
Nothing says "I love you" more.

Cinnamon Heart Lollipops
A lickin' sweet treat perfect for your kids and their classmates.

Pomegranate Jellies
These tangy sweet jiggles are sure to make them giggle : )

Double Chocolate Cheesecake
A delectable dessert the whole family will LUV!

Valentine's X & O Cupcakes
eXXtra sweet gOOdness!
Check out the full Valentine's Day menu here.

Reminder: Celiac University Seminar

I wrote about a month ago about a special Celiac University Seminar being offered in Raleigh by a Celiac Dietitian and member of the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog Health Network - Leslie Gaillard.

Here's a friendly reminder about Leslie's upcoming Seminar on Thursday, February 12 2009 7-8:30pm. There are a few spaces remaining for this seminar.
Announcing the first Celiac University Seminar – Introduction to Celiac Disease & the Gluten Free Diet. If you or a family member is new to the gluten free diet or just needs a comprehensive education, then this is the class for you. Learn all the basics you need to know to be happy and healthy on the gluten free diet. Benefit from the instructor's professional knowledge and personal experience. This seminar is taught by Leslie Gaillard, MPH RD LDN who is a registered dietitian and a fellow celiac. Light, gluten free refreshments provided.

Event details
Thursday, February 12 2009 7-8:30pm
State Employees Association of North Carolina
1621 Midtown Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Conference room A
Tickets: $50 per person

Space is limited! Reserve your space today by purchasing your ticket at the following Paypal link:

Questions? Contact Leslie via email or call 919-374-2972 for more information.

Celiac Disease and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

I've written in the past about the associated diseases and symptoms of Celiac Disease. Some of you may have already seen the following but I wanted to get it out there anyway. Celiac patients have a 5.35-fold increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer).

Researchers at the( National Cancer Institute) in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden conducted a study of more than 60,000 patients with lymphomas diagnosed in Sweden between 1965 and 2004. The following is the results of that study.
"Overall, we found persons with a hospital discharge diagnosis of celiac disease to have a 5.35-fold increased nonHodgkin's lymphoma risk," the team reports in the medical journal Gastroenterology. The risk of Hodgkin's lymphoma was "borderline increased" and there was no increased risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in celiac disease patients.

The risk of nonHodgkin's lymphoma in patients with celiac disease was increased 13.2-fold between 1975-1984, 7.90-fold between 1985-1994, and 3.84-fold between 1995-2004.

Individuals with a sibling affected with celiac disease also had a 2.03-fold increased risk of nonHodgkin's lymphoma.
Click here for the full article.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

GFRB Health Network Welcomes Digestive Healthcare Raleigh

Allow me to welcome another Gastroenterology practice to the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog (GFRB) Health Network. Digestive Healthcare in Raleigh is familiar with Celiac Disease and sees many Celiac patients including the author of this blog. Most of us with Celiac Disease fall under the care of a GI doctor during our life with the disease (if you are not - shame on you). Digestive Healthcare is yet another valuable resource to Celiac's or suspected Celiac's in this area.

I happen to have a bit of a warm spot in my heart for Digestive Healthcare. I visited them after having gut symptoms (enough said) for several months and losing 25 pounds. Celiac Disease was mentioned among a list of conditions I could have (including cancer) during my first office visit. My doctor ordered a Celiac Blood Test and I was diagnosed in under 1 month. Not everyone should have to suffer for 10 years and go through several doctors before getting the diagnosis correct. Digestive Healthcare is one GI practice getting it right.

Digestive Healthcare is a 9 doctor practice with 2 locations in Raleigh. The practice includes Dr. Colm J. O'Loughlin who was previously Director of the Celiac Disease Clinic at the Medical College of Wisconsin prior to moving to Raleigh where he joined Digestive Healthcare in June 2007. Digestive Healthcare also offers endoscopy services on site at their Atrium Drive location in Raleigh. If you're a medically diagnosed Celiac patient, you've had a small bowel endoscopy.

Welcome aboard Digestive Healthcare - and thanks for being a great resource for Celiac Disease in Raleigh!

Digestive Healthcare
Hours - 8AM to 5PM Monday - Thursday. 8AM to 1:30PM Friday.
Appointments - (919) 791-2040

Web site

New Patient Forms

2 Raleigh locations - click here for directions.

Digestive Healthcare (MAIN)
2417 Atrium Drive
Suite 150
Raleigh, NC 27607

Digestive Healthcare (NORTH)
Suite 209
American Institute of Health and Fitness
8300 Health Park
Raleigh, NC 27613

FYI - The Gluten Free Raleigh Blog does not benefit in any way by sharing this information with others. The GFRB Health Network is simply meant to be a useful tool in helping others with their Celiac Disease or GF Diet. If you have any questions or if you have any suggestions about potential members for this network, please email me.

Useful Resources: Gluten Intolerance Group's Hospital Stays Made Safe

The Gluten Intolerance Group has a whole series of useful publications on it's Web site. The latest addition is titled Hospital Stays Made Safe and features a lot of tips on how to safely navigate a hospital stay as a Celiac. It also contains sample letters from the GIG Executive Director which you can give to various members of the hospital staff including doctors, nurses, pharmacy staff, hospital dietitian and cafeteria workers., I've heard many complaints about this topic in the Raleigh area and intend to drive some change in this area. Until then, you can use this guide to assist you.
Being admitted to the hospital can be a frightening experience, especially those with Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances. Whether you are there for a day-surgery or for three weeks in rehabilitation, the hospital should be doing everything they can to meet the needs of your specific gluten-free diet. Share this information with your family and your health care providers (Dietitian, Pharmacist, Physicians) to ensure the best possible care while you are staying at the hospital.
Click here for the publication.

Gluten Free Chapel Hill Blog Update

Over the past few weeks, I've have been working on getting blogs up and going for the surrounding cities of Raleigh. Specifically, Cary/Apex, Durham and Chapel Hill.

The Durham blog is being filled with valuable content by Debbie Jongkind.

The Cary/Apex blog is also being updated with great Gluten Free stuff by Sarah Egan Warren.

I'm pleased to announce that Lauren Rouse has agreed to come aboard for the Chapel Hill blog. Lauren spends a lot of time in Chapel Hill and UNC and has some great experiences to share with those of you living Gluten Free there. She's had Celiac for 3 years and her Mom and Sister also suffer from the disease. She is very well versed in living Gluten Free and will be bringing a lot of valuation Chapel Hill information to all of us.

Welcome aboard Lauren and thanks for all your efforts!

Please check out the Chapel Hill, Durham and Cary blogs (links can be found at the top of the page) and let me know if you have any ideas/questions/thoughts!

Useful Resources - Price Reduction

I have previously written about several allergy-free menu planning Web sites - including

Here is an update I received about and their new pricing model., the premiere interactive meal planning web site for people with restricted diets, has cut its subscription price in half in recognition of the troubled economic situation we are all facing, the company announced today. “We understand that times are tough,” said NJ Shelsby, founder of MealPlansWithout. “We want to make it even easier for people to ‘eat right, feel great, and live well’ – by avoiding gluten and dairy in their diets while enjoying the delicious recipes and easy-to-follow cooking instructions that we offer. Our lower pricing applies for new customers and also our growing base of loyal existing customers.”Now for only $11.95 per month, MealPlansWithout subscribers get suggested gluten free and dairy free meal plans every week that are fully interactive and customizable, featuring naturally healthy meals comprised of fresh vegetables and herbs, proteins, whole foods, and unrefined grains like millet and quinoa. Subscribers can search for and select alternate dishes from an extensive database of kitchen-tested healthy recipes that have minimal prep time. Serving sizes can be easily changed, and categorized grocery lists are automatically generated to make shopping as quick and easy as possible.“We’re helping people tighten their belts – in more ways than one – by offering cost-effective options for gluten free and dairy free eating, using fresh ingredients in healthy recipes that don’t bust budgets with specialty-priced ‘convenience’ products,” said Shelsby. “It’s hard enough for people on restricted diets to avoid gluten and dairy in their meals – it shouldn’t also cost an arm and a leg.”

Gluten Free Diet Not Working? Refractory Celiac Disease

So what happens if you have Celiac Disease but the Gluten Free Diet does not improve your condition? You could have Refractory Celiac Disease which is a very serious and rare condition that occurs when going off Gluten does not stop symptoms or intestinal damage in the Celiac patient.

According to a recent article from, researchers are now proposing a new Staging model (similar to cancer stages) for Refractory Celiac patients which provides greater accuracy of prognosis. The new model looks at various prognostic factors and places patients into one of three stages at the time of diagnosis. Keep reading if you want the bad news for Refractory Celiac Disease (RCD).
  • Stage One - Patients' 5-year survival rates of between 93% and 100%.
  • Stage Two - Patients' 5-year survival rates of between 80% and 65%.
  • Stage Three - Patients' 5-year cumulative survival rates of between 25% and 0%.
The study to drive out the new Staging scale followed 57 RCD patients over the course of a 5 year period. Fifteen of the 57 patients died within 2 years of being diagnosed with RCD. Most deaths were a result of refractory celiac disease, or to enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL). I think it is safe to say that the longer you have RCD the higher you will move through the Stages until your eventual death.

For those of you out there with Celiac but not with RCD, here is yet another warning to strictly follow your Gluten Free Diet for life. To me, RCD is what life would be like for the Celiac patient who decided to not follow a Gluten Free Diet. Either would result in the same high rate of mortality.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bella Monica - New Gluten Free Menu Now Available

I am very excited to share with you some more great Gluten Free dining options from Bella Monica. I mentioned in a previous post about the new pizza choices from The Bella Monica Flatbread Company, that the affiliated Bella Monica restaurant was working on a brand new Gluten Free menu. The menu is now available!

Please see the following link to view the menu. You'll be surprised how much is being offered! FYI - I have been granted special access during the creation of this menu and helped advise Bella Monica on how to safely prepare these items for folks dining GF. Special consideration has been taken in preparation and cooking of the items on this menu. If you have any questions, please email me or go directly to the source, Corbett Monica the Bella Monica chef/owner.

Where to start... how about those wonderful pizzas! Yes, all 3 varieties will be available in the restaurant as well. The pizzas served will be the exact ones you can buy now at Harmony Farms (Whole Foods coming soon). FYI - if you have not yet tried these pizzas and would like to, please contact Harmony Farms before going to make sure they are in stock (they have been flying off the shelves). The pizzas are intentionally not made at Bella Monica to prevent cross-contamination with the wheat pizzas which are made at the restaurant. The good news is these taste like fresh pizza anyway so no big deal there. The pizzas are cooked in an oven on wire screens which are dedicated to GF Pizzas to also prevent cross-contamination issues during cooking.

In addition to the pizzas, Bella Monica will also have a wide variety of entree dishes they normally serve which can be modified to be Gluten Free. For example - Eggplant, Portobello, Chicken or Sausage Parmigiana can be modified to replace wheat pasta with either spinach or Gluten Free Linguine. All GF pasta will be cooked in separate cookware with separate utensils to ensure no cross-contamination occurs.

Other items like Shrimp Scampi and Shrimp & Grits will use Polenta as a substitute. There are two additional items, Pork Piccatta and Chicken Balsamico which need no substitutes at all. Another item (which I was lucky enough to taste test while Bella Monica was creating this menu) is the Gluten Free Stuffed Shells. If you are familiar with Conte's Pasta then you'll be excited that these are available on the menu. Both the stuffed shells and the GF Linguine are from Conte's. The GF Stuffed Shells are baked in an oven (top rack) and covered with foil to prevent splatter from other items.

In addition to these wonderful entrees and pizzas, Bella Monica can also offer several appetizers and salads for your GF dining pleasure. Garlic Soup sans croutons, an antipasta plate with gluten free "crostini" (toasts), Portabello with cheese and tomato plate, Polenta, Fresh Mozzarella plate and Chicken Breast skewers are the great sounding appetizers. Salads include House, Caeser, Spinach, Chopped, Arugula and Pear/Goat Cheese salads all served with no croutons.

In additional to everything above, Bella Monica will also have RedBridge Gluten Free Beer in stock for your beer drinking pleasure. They also have a huge wine selection available if beer is not your thing. I myself prefer Chianti when dining Italian.

Bella Monica will be serving GF food on special Green plates. The plates will serve as a constant reminder to all kitchen staff and wait staff to take special consideration while preparing your meal. Bella Monica also has a computerized ordering system in which the Gluten Free Diet can be noted. A ticket with this designation will follow your food throughout the preparation and cooking process.

I dined at Bella Monica recently for my birthday and ordered the GF Stuffed Shells and a Spinach and Tomato GF Flatbread pizza. Both were excellent in taste and I pretty much demolished the entire meal by myself. It was very exciting to be able to dine out on my birthday - something which I didnt really think I could do again (without extreme stress).

Bella Monica Italian Restaurant
3121 Edwards Mill Rd Ste 103
Raleigh, NC 27612

Note - Please call ahead for reservations and indicate you will be dining Gluten Free to allow the staff at Bella Monica to prepare for your GF meal.

Phone: 881-9778

Monday - Friday - Lunch: 11- 2:30pm
Saturday - Lunch: 12- 5pm
Monday - Thursday - Dinner: 5- 10pm
Friday and Saturday - Dinner: 5- 11pm

Web site
Gluten Free menu

View Larger Map

Monday, February 2, 2009

Special Event - Jules Shepard Cooking Demo at Earth Fare



In coordination with Earth Fare Healthy Supermarket, the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog is proud to announce a special Gluten Free Raleigh Event featuring Celiac author and Gluten Free expert, Jules Shepard. The event will feature a unique blend of Gluten Free Lifestyle topics to promote awareness of Celiac Disease and the Gluten Free Diet.

Event Details
When - Saturday, February 28th, 2009
Time - 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Location - Earth Fare - Brier Creek location. (click for map)
Cost - $20 per person*

This special Gluten Free Raleigh Event will feature three segments as outlined below.

  • Jules Shepard Gluten Free Cooking Demonstration (10 AM - 11:30 AM)- Jules Shepard will be on site conducting a cooking demonstration/class for participants featuring baked good items utilizing her own GF flour mix - a product line called Nearly Normal All Purpose Flour and Baking Mixes. The line includes a Muffin/Scone mix, a Cookie mix and a Graham Cracker/Gingerbread mix. This portion of the event will feature an interactive opportunity to learn Gluten Free cooking tips and tricks from an expert in the field.]

  • Earth Fare Guided Gluten Free Tour (11:30 AM - 12 PM) - A representative from Earth Fare will be taking participants through a guided tour of the store showcasing Earth Fare's Gluten Free products and their placement in the store.
Event Sign up & Payment- SOLD OUT

About Jules Shepard
See my previous post about Jules here.

About Earth Fare
Earth Fare is a healthy foods supermarket which began in Asheville, North Carolina in 1975. An expansion, which began in the late 1990's, has brought the grocery store to Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina, Greensboro, Boone, Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, Athens and Augusta, Georgia, and Knoxville and Johnson City, Tennessee. Earth Fare states on it's Web site the following about the products it chooses to carry -

We sell foods as close to the ground as it gets. Products with these ingredients/processes WILL NOT BE SOLD at Earth Fare :

  • NO hydrogenated or partially- hydrogenated oils added trans-fats
  • NO high fructose corn syrup
  • NO artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners & preservatives
  • NO antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or animal by-products in the feed (fresh meats & milk)
  • NO bleached or bromated flour
  • NO irradiated single source spices, produce or meat
  • NO animal by-products in pet foods
  • NO inhumane treatment of the animals providing us with dairy, meat and eggs
You can tell that Earth Fare takes a lot of pride in the products they carry. Earth Fare also makes it easy for gluten intolerant customers to find foods they can stomach – pun intended. With over 1000 gluten-free items to choose from and clearly marked “gluten-free sets” within the store, shoppers don’t have to guess about where to find gluten-free products anymore.

Special Notes
I'd like to personally thank Earth Fare for donating ingredients/supplies for the cooking demonstration and being extremely helpful in organizing this event.

Also, a very special thank you to Jules Shepard for traveling to Raleigh to take part in this event.

*Proceeds from this event will benefit both the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.

NFCA's GREAT Program - Gluten-Free Resource Education Awareness Training

I recently wrote about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness here. I mentioned in that post that I would be going into more detail about the GREAT program. The GREAT program offers a certification/validation program for restaurants and dietitians so that they can safely deal with Celiac Disease patients. Gluten Free consumers can easily recognize GREAT program participants and feel comfortable utilizing these resources knowing the NFCA has had a hand in their training.

GREAT Program Description
The Gluten-Free Resource Education Awareness Training (GREAT) program is a comprehensive tool offered by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to educate chefs, dietitians, cafeteria workers and other hospitality industry professionals about Celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

GREAT offers a systematic approach to using gluten-free ingredients and preventing cross contamination. Through a few simple lessons, GREAT provides professionals with a protocol that can be applied to any kitchen or gluten-free meal plan. GREAT addresses the entire spectrum of preparing and serving gluten-free foods by simply looking at ABC. Awareness, Bringing in Supplies and Cross Contamination Caution. The training includes a manual, online lessons and a web-based examination.

In addition, the NFCA's team of GREAT Guides can aid in every detail of the implementation of a gluten-free protocol from staff training and logistics consultation to menu creation and product referrals. GREAT is a full service program created by a multidisciplinary team - all dedicated to getting a gluten-free process into the hands of those intending to serve gluten-free products.

There are 2 distinct areas to the GREAT program - one for Kitchens and another for Dietitians.

GREAT Kitchens
The GREAT Kitchens program will equip restaurants with the knowledge to safely provide customers with gluten-free meal options, as well as to create a gluten-free menu. Your kitchen will receive long-term support from the NFCA staff to help with menu updates or with training your entire staff. Upon completion of program, your kitchen will be added to a public registry of gluten-free certified establishments and members of the American Culinary Federation are eligible to for up to 6.0 continuing education hours. This program can be used for Chefs, Restaurants and Cafeterias.
Cost per kitchen: $150 (Sliding scale for chains)

GREAT for Dietitians
GREAT for Dietitians will prepare registered dietitians and dietetic technicians to help patients manage a gluten-free diet in the home, at work and in all other places someone might encounter food. Dietitians will learn how to find gluten-free food items, how to properly read ingredient labels and how to adjust recipes to be gluten-free. GREAT for Dietitians is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
Cost per dietitian: $100

GREAT Guides
GREAT Guides are hand-selected leaders in the gluten-free community who are cooperating with the NFCA to provide widespread, consistent and supported educational materials to the public. Guides are professional consultants that can aid kitchens to implement gluten-free protocols. There are currently only a dozen or so GREAT Guides in the entire US.

For more information, please see the GREAT Program Web site.

NFCA - Gluten-Free Lifestyle Webinar Series

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has announced the second Webinar in the new Gluten Free Lifestyle Webinar program. See my previous post about the first Webinar here.
Gluten-Free Lifestyle Webinar Series -Parenting the Gluten-free Child

February 27, 2009 at 12pm EST *Only 200 seats available*

Elaine Monarch, Executive Director
Celiac Disease Foundation
Effective child programming and support groups for kids.

Nancy Baker, MEd
NFCA: Director of Education
Using the school curriculum to empower your child.

Loretta Jay, MA
NFCA : Director of Program Development
Emotional support for Children.

Nancy Patin Falini,MA,RD,LDN
Author: Gluten-free Friends: An Activity Book for Kids
Social skill sets for kids

Margaret Masiello RD
Kogan Celiac Center, St. Barnabas Health Care System
Menus that work and school lunch.

Jessica Hale
Kid Friendly Recipes
Click the following link to register (Click the Upcoming Tab).