Thinking of going on a gluten free diet? Take a blood test for Celiac first!

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A co-worker came up to me the other day to ask me about 'how easy' is it to maintain a gluten free diet.  A fitness centre she is a member of is having a two month challenge to go on a Paleolithic Diet.  I can't say I know too much about it except that part of it is cutting off gluten grains.

The first thing out of my mouth was, get a blood test for Celiac first!  It was explained to us during the initial diagnosis that if you cut out gluten before you are officially diagnosed, you will have a false negative result because the damage won't be there.

She tried to explain to me that her stomach feels fine, but I explained that it is a good idea, especially since this is a two month diet, and when and if she decides to bring gluten back into her diet, it is going to hurt like heck! So it's better knowing beforehand, just in case.  My co-worker is a fitness fiend (and she may be reading this because I gave her the link to this site), so I hope she did take the test, because it is important for her body if she decides to do the diet challenge.

Have you had friends and family take the proper blood tests for Celiac?

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Gluten Free Pizzas now Available at Boston Pizza in Edmonton - Great news for Ceilac's

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Boston Pizza still serves it's gluten free pizza, but no longer has a gluten free menu.  Please read this post about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and their thoughts on gluten free menu's in Restaurants


Details confirmed by Matthew Hoag, Boston Pizza Corporate Chef (Phone: 604-270-1108)
Boston Pizza South Commons

Currently South Edmonton Common location of Boston Pizza is piloting an individual-sized square-crust pizza dough. It's most likely the Kinnikinnick gluten free crust.

The following are details collected by speaking with staff at the Terwillegar Boston Pizza and confirmed by Matthew Hoag, Boston Pizza Corporate Chef:
  • Boston Pizza's South Common location is piloting the new products with a full rollout across Edmonton expected on June 6, 2010
  • NO surcharge for ordering gluten free crust!
  • only individual-sized square pizza will be available
  • maximum 4 topping
  • gluten free toppings will be indicated by an asterisk
  • no gluten free pastas are available
  • location managers have been trained by executive teams about processes and understanding of the meaning of gluten free
  • the staff seemed informed of the situation and of the new menu item
Were so good, we ate half the order before I remembered to take a picture
Updated April 2011

Boston Pizza's chicken wings are gluten free. The deep fried version share same fryer as breaded items, however, you can order the oven baked wings.

Not all sauces have been confirmed gluten free by Boston Pizza, however these are the gluten free chicken wing sauces:
  • Naked
  • s & p
  • 3 hot sauces
The chipolte BBQ and teriyaki are NOT gluten free. All other sauces have not been confirmed.
Pepperoni, Mushroom and Tomato for under $10


Concerning the steps to limit cross contamination process:

The following quote is direct from Matthew Hoag, and coincides with the picture I took of a wait staff kiosk "We are treating orders for gluten free pizza the same as allergies and is included in our allergy aware manual. There is a note sent to the kitchen when an order is place for any allergy or gluten free dough request and there is training that requires staff to wash hands, use clean cutting board and utensil and knives, etc. A fresh piece of parchment paper is used to line the pizza pan for each gluten free crust that is ordered."

You can also contact Boston Pizza Head Office for more information at 604-270-1108.

Wait staff Kiosk with Allergy Notifications
Most chain restaurants do take allergies quite seriously, and I believe Boston Pizza will be equally professional. When ordering the pizza, be sure to mention you have Celiac's and have a wheat and gluten allergy. Wait staff's comptuers can let the kitchen know of an allergy so all necessary precautions are taken, including clean cutting boards, utensils etc.

Always ask questions, and in any situation do not order if you are skeptic and think there is not enough understanding of your needs.

 Please contact us and let us know about your gluten free Boston Pizza experience: info@glutenfreeedmonton.com

Gluten Free Edmonton - A guide and resource for people with a gluten or wheat allergy

Boston Pizza (33 St/118 Ave) on Urbanspoon

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Gluten Free Snack from Italian Centre: Galbusera - Zero Grano - wafer con cioccolato (aka Chocolate wafer)

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Full pack of wafer
You never know what you'll find when your out and about shopping.  I recently visited the Italian Centre (south side), and stumbled upon a display that had cookies with no sugar, low cal and gluten free.  It took me a while to figure out the packaging, but eventually with the help of the store manager, I learned that Senza Gluntine in Italian, translates to Gluten Free in English.  With further digging, I determined that the sign meant that there was one cookie with no sugar, one that was gluten free etc...

Snack size insert with wafer
The gluten free selection was a set of chocolate wafers. The brand is Galbursera, and the food line is called Zero Grano - Wafer con Cioccolato.

I picked up a pack to try and I do not regret my under $4 purchase of wafers at all!  This package was called a snack pack, but it is large. Within the larger pack are several smaller packs, which each have 6 mini chocolate wafers inside. Because this gluten free product is an import from Italy, we get the great taste or European chocolate! It is so good, and I do recommend this snack as long as they are selling it.  The wafers were priced the same as all their other regular cookies, and taste just as great.

Have you seen these in the Italian Centre?  Let us know if you liked them or if you have seen them anywhere else.

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Gluten Free Shopping at Safeway in Edmonton

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Click here for full view of cover
At a recent visit to a west end Safeway in Edmonton, we noticed a huge banner promoting Safeway's commitment to gluten free foods and a pamphlet with more information.

Click here for full view of inside
This is a great step towards accomodating Celiac's in Edmonton. The brochure is short and sweet and is informative to everyone. The first section answers the question, what is Celiac Disease? This is great for the average person who is unfamiliar with the condition.

The next section, where at Safeway can I find gluten free products?, explains where to find gluten free products in stores and what gluten free brands are carried, including Glutino, Bob's Red Mill, Kinnikinnick, Envirokids, and Tinkyada.

The back of the brochure lists all Safeway locations carrying gluten free products, surprising because it only lists FOUR locations Edmonton:

1.  Heritage Safeway
2304 - 109 St.

2.  Oliver Square Safeway
11410 - 104 Ave.

3.  Northgate Safeway
200, 9399 - 137 Ave

4.  Grange Safeway
2534 Guardian Rd.

As common as gluten free products are now, it is surprising that Safeway would limit the placement of gluten free products to only four locations in the city. I guess the next step would be to expand the number of stores carrying gluten free products.

For more information you can visit www.safeway.ca/glutenfree

Which Safeway do you do your gluten free shopping at?

Gluten Free Edmonton - A guide and resource for people with Celiac a gluten or wheat sensitivity

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Gluten free snacks: Glutino Pretzels

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Glutino Pretzels
Glutino has a great selection of snack products, however, one of my favourite (and surprisingly very versitile) is their pretzels. This gluten free product can be used straight up snacking out of the bag, crushed for a nice breading, or placed into a nut mix to watch the game.

We always have a bag on hand, and typically the big bag.

Glutino Pretzels can be found at the Kinnikinnick Store, Superstore, and Planet Organic

How do you use your glutino Pretzels?

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Gluten Free Recipe: Sheppard's Pie

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Sheppard's Pie

This recipe is easy to make with minimal preparation.  Serves a lot and freezes well.  Not to mention it tastes great!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt and ground pepper
2tbsp Bob's Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour
1 cup beef stock (Knorr OXO Brand)
1/2 ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Heinz brand does not contain malt)
  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. Add remaining oil to pan. Add beef and onion to cook, breaking up the beef until  is no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes. Drain off fat.
  4. Return pan to element and add garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add gluten free flout and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, 3 minutes. Stir in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and return to a boil.
  5. Pour mixture into a pie plate. Spread mashed potatoes over top. Bake until mixture is hot and bubbling, about 10 minutes.
Try out this recipe and let us know how it worked out for you!

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Not in pain? Doesn't mean its still gluten free, or that its okay to eat!

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One of our readers left a comment on post about Swiss Chalet that got me thinking!  I had mentioned that the Swiss Chalet fries do not bother my Celiac wife when she eats them, but the user 'grandpa' commented that even though the fries did not bother her, it still does not mean they are safe to eat.

Because I am certainly not a doctor, or have enough knowledge about the human body, I did some research to find the experts and credible sources! (And I certainly encourage everyone to research anything I say!).

I found a page on the Government of Ontario's site called Healthy Ontario that helped confirm what this this gentlemen said.  Even if contaminated food doesn't hurt you, it still damages your lower intestine! (look under the heading Treatment).

It was quite disappointing, but still good to know.  This is why the gluten free tip of avoiding cross-contamination becomes important!

Let us know what you have to say about this!

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What aisle do you go down to find your gluten free products when shopping in Edmonton??

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Now that we have been gluten free for over 6 months, we have gotten used to shopping for gluten free products at stores.

Typically we knew to go into any grocery store, and find the 'organic' aisle and presto! all gluten free products found in one aisle. Alternatively, you could walk into Planet Organic and find gluten free items spread out through the store, or Kinnikinnick, where you can shop like normal and just pick anything you want off the shelf.

But has anyone noticed the changes being made in some of the grocery stores? Because Celiac disease and gluten free is more common knowledge now, grocery stores are integrated gluten free products into all aisles.

We don't know what to think of that. On one hand, we loved being able to find all our gluten free brands and products down one aisle. On the other hand, its great to shop "normally" down the pasta aisle or the snack aisle, and not have to go down a "special aisle".

Take note, currently Safeway (Callingwood), Sobey's (Lessard), and Save-on-Foods (Hampton's), spread the gluten free products down all aisles, while Superstores west and south; Safeway (Oliver square) and Save-on-Foods (Jasper & 109 st.) have kept the 'special' organic aisle for gluten free products.

So how would you prefer to shop? Do you want to walk down the one 'special' organic aisle, or walk through all the aisles to find your gluten free products.

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My Celiac Story - Did you know?

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Did you know that there is an increased chance of developing celiac disease if you are a type 1 diabetic, particularly in your adult years? No? Me neither, but apparently it's quite common.  I've been a type 1 diabetic since I was 11 yrs old (1989 to be exact) and now that I’m in my 30s (eek!) and I have been officially diagnosed with celiac disease since August 2009.

My celiac story is sort of unique (or maybe not). I spent the past 10+ years fighting unsuccessfully with significantly low iron levels. I always felt sluggish and I couldn't get enough sleep, no matter what I did. I ate red meat even though I really didn't enjoy it and I took daily iron supplements even though they upset my stomach. This went on for years. I had been to my family doctor numerous times and there was no logical explanation to be found. I had had many various blood tests run over the years, including a yearly thyroid test, all tests showed no reason for concern.

It took until I spoke with a Hematologist (blood specialist) whom I work with at the hospital before celiac disease was even a consideration. I simply wanted to get some IV iron supplemented in hopes of maintaining an appropriate iron level in my blood. The hematologist opted to check my blood test records and then she requested a panel of other blood tests, one of which was the test for celiac disease.

After my positive blood test result for celiac a referral was made to see a Gastroenterologist (GI specialist) for a gastrointestinal scope. This scope was completed to determine the level of damage in my small intestine and to rule out anything more major.

When I mentioned to my endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) that I had been newly diagnosed with Celiac disease, to my surprise, he wasn’t at all surprised. He actually said “yes it is very common for type 1 diabetics to become celiac at around age 30.” What? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this? If this is common, why would none of my doctors think to suggest we run the blood test for celiac disease? Why didn't anyone think of celiac as a reason for my ongoing struggle with low iron levels? How did so many years go by and so many horrible stomach aches continue with no resolve?

I have since learned that the reason that type 1 diabetics have an increased chance of developing celiac disease: because both diseases are auto-immune diseases and “auto-immune diseases travel in packs,” at least this is how it was explained to me.

There is no point in laying blame or pointing fingers at anyone for missing this diagnosis, however I can recommend that other people request their doctor run the blood test if they think they might be celiac. It's a simple blood test and the results can not only make your stomach aches go away, but increase your body's ability to absorb the necessary nutrients (in my case iron) it needs to function at top level.

The following website is a useful tool in understanding the tests and findings that lead to a celiac diagnosis. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/

Contributed by Amanda

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Earth's General Store and their Gluten Free Products!

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I recently heard about a store called Earth's General Store that carries gluten free products amongst its large range of Vegan and Vegetarian products.  I was curious to learn more so I asked Michael Kalmanovitch of Earth's General Store to write a bit about his store and what they represent to the Celiac community.  I really appreciated Michael's passion for his work and would like to share this with you:


Earth's General Store has recently expanded to include food products. Our focus is on organic, local and sustainable foods which is quite in line with the philosophy of the store which is to offer people better options/choices.

We have always been an excellent source for information and books regarding plant based diets - vegetarian, vegan, raw. Several years ago I started to bring in books about vegetarian and vegan gluten free cookbooks and I realized that there were several people that came to the store that were very hungry for this type of information. Over the years we have greatly expanded the offering of gluten-free books and since we moved to our new store we now offer products that support those people that have celiac.

Recently a customer asked me why I carry celiac products and my response was: people that have allergic reactions or celiac disease don't have a choice of what they eat. I wish to offer the people with celiac products and information that will help them live with their disease. I am attempting to offer celiacs as much gluten free/wheat free that is also certified organic - since this is one of my personal passions. Vegetarians or vegans can make a choice about what they eat whereas celiacs or people with allergies don't have a choice.

If your local store doesn't have celiac products talk to the store manager and ask them to carry more. This shows them that there is a demand. Also there are several store around Edmonton that have good offerings of products for celiacs - Ed's Gluten Free Store, Planet Organic, and I understand Save On in Millwoods has a good selection.

Good luck!

Michael Kalmanovitch
Earth's General Store
9605 - 82nd Avenue
Edmonton, AB T6C 0Z9
780-439-8725
www.egs.ca

Consume Less! Consume Wisely! Consume Locally! and Love Lots More!

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A Gfree Story Shared From Our Readers: "My Gluten Free Gnocchi from Toronto Gone Bad"

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Gluten Free Gnocchi from Toronto
I recently purchased a package of frozen Gluten Free Potato Gnocchi made by Pasta Co from Whole Foods in Toronto.  I love finding new and interesting gluten free pastas and I was eager to try this one as it satisfied my vegan dietary needs as well.

Cooking instructions were as follows: 
"Drop frozen Gnocchi into boiling water and stir for 2-3 minutes."

I did as instructed.  To my dismay all the gnocchi seemed to fall apart and turn to mush!  It looked like a pot of wet mushy mashed potatoes and resembled something I might use for paper mache.  I thought "what the heck, I might as well taste it and see if I could salvage part of it and turn it into something else." 

I tried draining the mush and tasted it.  BLECH.  It was horrible!  I have no words to describe it.  Needless to say, I will not be purchasing this product again.  I would be curious to know if anyone has had success with this gnocchi.  I know there are some decent Gluten free gnocchi products available from the Italian Market in Edmonton.  I cannot wait to try!

Guest gluten free blog post by RL

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Gluten Free Menu at OPM Asian Bistro and Lounge in Edmonton's South Commons

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OPM IS NOW CLOSED.  NEW CONCEPT COMING SOON

OPM is great Asian Bistro with a gluten free menu.  Try some apps such as lettuce wraps or chicken wings. Excellent Curry, Noodle and Rice dishes such as Singapore Street Noodle and Bangkok Chicken Curry.  Also try a wide selection of other Chicken, Seafood, Beef, or Pork dishes all off a special gluten free menu!

Click here to check out OPM's gluten free menu.

My favourite gluten free menu item is the Singapore Street Noodle!  Whats your favourite gluten free OPM dish?

OPM is located in South edmonton Commons:
1820 99 St.
Edmonton AB
http://www.opm.ca/

Click here to check out other gluten free friendly restaurants.

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Gluten Free Product Found at Italian Centre: Aurora Rice Gnocchi

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Aurora Rice Gnocchi
Simply put, this gluten free product is gnocchi for Celiac'sAurora is a popular italian foods brand that makes a wide variety of noodles and sauces.  I was pleased to find this rice gnocchi in the pasta noodle aisle at the South Side Italian Centre in Edmonton.

I have had it once, and it is no different then regular Gnocchi.  Just look out for the carb content, as rice tends to have more carbs, so this can add up quickly for any diabetics.

Share your favour gnocchi recipe with us and we will post it to the recipes!

NOTE:  As per Aurora foods comment below, the Rice Gnocchi is made in a facility that contains gluten.

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Visiting the University of Alberta Hospital? You can eat Gluten Free there too!

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If you are ever visiting the University of Alberta Hospital, do not count out a gluten free meal!  The University of Alberta Hospital is committed to healthy eating and are able to accommodate several dietary restrictions such as gluten free for Celiac's.

The University of Alberta Hospital cafeteria is able to make an amazing personal size gluten free pizza.  After several servings, we just had to ask how they made their crust.  To our delight we found out they used a Kinnikinnick pizza crust and showed us the box.  We obviously ran directly to the Kinnikinnick store here in Edmonton and purchased personal sized pizza crusts.

They had the pizza crust with care, and put the pizza through the over will added layers of protection under the pizza to avoid contamination.

I think this pizza is only available during the day and you may have to speak with the catering manager to order it.  It is priced the same as a gourmet pizza.  If you know you will be visiting the hospital, it is recommended ordering 24 hours in advance!  If you are visiting and have not ordered in advance, and are informed that they are not able to accomodate, I would recommend speaking with the on duty catering manager.

University of Alberta Contact information:
Information for all departments
Phone: 780-407-8822

Administration
Phone: 780-407-8888
Fax: 780-407-7418
Room 1F1.06
Let us know if you have tried the pizza here and what you thought of their combinations!

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