Health Canada Labeling Regulations for Allergens including Gluten

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In February 2011, Health Canada implemented new stronger labeling restrictions that "...require clearer language and the declaration of otherwise "hidden" allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites".

This is a big win for the Celiac's in Edmonton as well as Canada.  It is sometimes tough to determine by looking at those long winded terms in the ingredients and determine if there is wheat or gluten in it.  Especially since those labels never explicitly said wheat or gluten, but some sort of convoluted term.

There is all sorts of information about the new labeling regulations on Health Canada's website that will explain it in more detail, and some of the exemptions like Alcoholic Beverages.  This brief outline is straight from the Health Canada website:
These regulatory amendments will require that the source of a food allergen or gluten be shown on the label of most prepackaged products when the food allergen or gluten is present in the prepackaged product. The food allergen or gluten source will be required to be shown on the product label in consistent and easy to understand terminology. For example, if casein is present in a prepackaged product, the word "milk" will be shown on the product label. The source of the food allergen or gluten will be shown either in the list of ingredients or in a "Contains" statement.
Unfortunately there is no regulation for cross contamination, so it is still up to the manufacturer to place the label "Produced in a facility that has processed wheat/gluten"

Health Canada has given industry 18 months to implement these new labeling regulations.

Click here for the Government of Canada news release about the new allergen labeling regulations.

Click here for detailed regulatory impact statement about the allergen labeling regulations including gluten and sulphites.

Click here for a video explaining these labeling regulations or watch the Health Canada video below:



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Udi's Gluten Free Products in Edmonton

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Udi's Gluten Free White Bread and Gluten Free Bagels
We first tried Udi's Gluten Free Foods from Ed's Gluten Free Store in Edmonton's South end and immediately fell in love with their bagels.  Yes!, Bagels!!!  We have seen other gluten free bagels before from other popular gluten free brands but have found them to be too dense.  An Udi's bagel is so good, and thaws out great from the freezer.

We have since tried out Udi's white bread, and although Amanda still prefers Kinnikinnick's Flax Seed bread for sandwich's, the Udi's bread works out great for deli sandwich's and french toast.  Udi's is popping up in more stores across Edmonton, including Save-on-Foods (or was it Safeway?) which is carrying it unfrozen in the bakery.

I don't think many people will be disappointed with gluten free products from Udi's, so its not surprised that more and more places are beginning to carry Udi's.

You can follow Udi's on Facebook and Twitter.

What Udi's products have you tried out?

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Gluten Free Information for CongraFoods (Manwich, Hunt's, Libby's Etc.)

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I recently went out and bought some Manwich, because, well, I hadn't had a sloppy Joe in ages!  And I saw someone at work have one for lunch.  So I grabbed a can, didn't really read over the label too well, but seemed fine.  When I got home, I noticed that one of the ingredients simply said Flavours.  I remember from when Amanda was first diagnosed, that general terms like that should be flagged.

So off to the internet I went find out if Manwich is actually gluten free or not.  Manwich is manufactured by CongraFoods which has many brands under it's belt including Hunt's, Libby's, Chef Boyardee to name a few.  I searched their website for a bit and quickly came across a nutritional information page that answered my question:
Which of your products contain gluten?
We are sorry to inform you that we do not have a source that lists the gluten content of our products. However, our product labels list common allergens, such as wheat, for those allergic to wheat gluten.
Click here to see the FAQ for CongraFoods nutritional information.

So woo hoo! Sloppy Joe's for us!

Here is a quick list of some of the CongraFoods Brands that can be found in Edmonton and around Canada:
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Hunt's
  • Orville Redenbacher
  • Pam
  • Crunch n Munch
  • Libby's
  • Jiffy Pop
  • Manwich
  • Parkay
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Gluten Free Side Dish: Sesame Parmesan Zucchini from Allrecipes.com

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By Amanda S., Gluten Free Edmonton

We are always looking for unique and tasty gluten free side dishes to accompany our meals. While we do eat a lot of salad, I find sometimes it’s good to change it up a little bit and add in some other vegetables and flavour combinations.

The other day when I tried the zucchini crust pizza I was unsure about how much zucchini to buy, so I sorta over bought and now I’m trying to find new and interesting ways to use up the leftover zucchini. There’s the ole faithful, grilled zucchini or chocolate zucchini bread, but I was looking for something easy, quick and different today. This is what I found (courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Gluten Free Zucchini Side Dish 
Sesame Parmesan Zucchini

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch slices 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil 
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds 
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  2. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with the olive oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, and garlic salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. 
  3. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned

(INSERT PICTURE HERE)

Mmm mmm mmm. That’s all I can say. It was a great way for us to use up some of the zucchini I bought with limited effort required. To me it is always a plus if you already have all of the ingredients in the cupboard anyways. Pure and simple!


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Rachael Ray - Tastes-Like-Spaghetti Mini Meatball Risotto

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I have always been a huge Rachael Ray fan. I especially enjoyed her 30 minute meals show on the food network. I do enjoy her daytime talk show, but I must admit my favorite part is still the food prep part. To me the rest of the show is somewhat redundant and has a "been there seen that" feel to me. In my opinion she should stick with what she's great at (cooking) or at least showcase it more than the other stuff.

Here is one of my favorite of Rachael Ray's recipes from her daytime talk show. Although when the show aired she did not boast the fact that it is naturally gluten free, but here I am to share one of my favorite recipes from Rachael Ray, with the gluten free world.

I hope that others, like myself, will go ahead and give this one a try. It is a favorite in our gluten free household in Edmonton, that's forsure. So good that we jumped right in to eating and forgot to take a picture to show it off to our loyal readers. My appologies. Guess we'll just have to make it again. I did however snag a picture from Rachael's website for you to see, thank you Rachael Ray!

Tastes –like-Spaghetti Mini Meatball Risotto
Yields 4 servings
Ingredients
1 28oz can of tomato sauce or puree (I use my own tomato sauce)
1 box of chicken stock
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus some for liberal drizzling
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio Rice (naturally gluten free)
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp butter
¾ cup grated Parmigano-Reggiano cheese, divided (you can also use regular Parmesan cheese)
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (we use Kinnickinnick Panko-style breadcrumbs)
¼ cup milk
1 egg
¾ pound of ground beef, pork or veal mix
3 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley, a small handful
Preparation
**Here is where Rachael Ray & I differ- She follows this order and I do the reverse. I found that if I do the meatballs first and then work on the risotto, I can have better control of my timing. I’ve written it as Rachael Ray  does it and it’s up to you how you prefer to prepare this dish.
Preheat oven to 400 F
Place the tomato sauce and the stock in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat. Keep warm.
Place a medium-sized pot with rounded sides over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add onions and 2 cloves of garlic and sauté a couple of minutes to soften. Add rice and turn to coat. Toast for about 1 minute then add tomato paste and stir a minute more, stir in wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Begin adding a couple of ladles of the tomato-chicken stock at a time. Each time you add the liquid stir the risotto vigorously to develop the starches. Rice will cook 18 minutes total. (If the rice is al dente and creamy, yet you still have a ladle or 2 of liquid left, do not feel forced to use it.)
In the last minute or so of cooking time, stir in butter until it melts and add ½ cup of cheese, a couple handfuls. Turn off heat and stir in basil.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, moisten the breadcrumbs with milk. Add egg, meat, parsley, ¼ cup cheese, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix to combine. Score meat into 4 sections and form 8 small balls from each section, the size of marbles. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and coat them with a liberal drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Bake 5 minutes until cooked through and golden.
Serve risotto in shallow individual bowls topped with 8 mini-meatballs per serving.


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Gourmet Specialty Foods Prepares Quality Gluten Free Foods in Edmonton

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Courtesy of Gourmet Specialty Foods
Gourmet Specialty Foods is a family run business that sells its gluten free products at Edmonton's Strathcona Market.  Funny enough, Gourmet Specialty Foods made one of the first gluten free pies that we tried at the Strathcona Market when Amanda was first diagnosed.

Gourmet Specialty Foods has a wide variety of gluten free products that can be ordered off their website, or picked up at the Market.  They even told me that the Melting Pot has been known to buy some of their gluten breads for their Celiac customers that want bread with fondue.

Beyond the basic pastries and breads, here are some of the unique items that Gourmet Specialty Foods makes:
  • Gluten free meat pies
  • Gluten free fruit pies
  • Gluten free perogies
  • Gluten free lasagne
  • Wedding cakes
  • Cupcakes
Visit their website for more information on their products:
www.g-s-fglutenfree.ca

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Gluten Free Products at Sweet Tweet in Edmonton's South Side

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http://www.sweettweet.ca
Although we have not visited Sweet Tweet yet, a lot of people from the Celiac Community in Edmonton have written in to us about Sweet Tweet's gluten free selection for shopping.

I checked out their website and it looks pretty good.  Sweet Tweet has a large selection of sugar free products along with gluten free products.  I think Amanda and I will have to plan a trip there because as Amanda has mentioned in the past, she has both Celiac and Type 1 diabetes.  So a gluten free treat that also is sugar free or is low in carbs is a great find!

Sweet Tweet has an arrangement of gluten free pasta's, gluten free crackers, gluten free baked goods, candies and so on.  Definately check out this place!

Sweet Tweet Inc.
4345-50th St. NW
(780) 462-2010
http://www.sweettweet.ca/


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Potluck gluten free style: Curry, Not in a Hurry (The Free Free Free Free meal)

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Curry, not in a hurry
Since Abisaac & I got married and definitely since we moved into our house, I'd say that the idea of entertaining has become less cumbersome and therefore more enjoyable. We've got way more space, we've got ample (and free) parking, and we don't really need to be concerned about the neighbours getting upset that we've got company over too late or that we're being too loud. All in all it has been a pleasure being able to entertain our friends and loved ones whenever we feel the urge.

Now comes the fun (slight sarcasm) part...the menu! I am always a bit hesitant when inviting people over to the house for meals, especially when there's a larger crowd. I often wonder what can I serve that will meet all of the necessary dietary restrictions (gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian or at least fish). Sounds like a lot of restrictions. Yet somehow we manage to find awesome tasting foods to serve and thankfully without breaking the bank.

In the past we've served mustard and brown sugar salmon or we've hosted a backyard winter BBQ and many other meals. This time we're trying something new. Well, I shouldn't really call it new since I adamantly refuse to serve anything brand new to guests. I always have to test try it on Abisaac or my family first, just in case it's terrible. Call me crazy, but that is just a rule I have about serving food to guests. I am however willing to try serving a new store bought dessert without trying it beforehand, but not if I've made it myself.  It's a pride thing I guess.

Here's what we served most recently:
Slow Cooker Curry (not in a hurry)
Adapted from Women's Day - Comfort Foods Magazine 2010

Ingredients 

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All purpose gluten free flour blend)
  • 1 ½ tsp curry paste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 small Yukon gold potatoes (halved)
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 red pepper, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 handful of raisins (my addition)
Instructions
1)   Whisk the coconut milk, flour and curry paste together in the slow cooker. Stir in all vegetables (and raisins) except the frozen peas. Mix well.
2)  Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours until vegetables are tender. Turn off slow cooker and add in frozen peas, let sit for 5 minutes.
This recipe makes A LOT of food, therefore it is perfect for a potluck meal - gluten free style. I call it my free free super easy potluck dinner to cover all of the major food allergen and dietary restrictions that my friends and I need. It's gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, vegetarian and even kosher. I hope you all enjoy it.

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A Gluten Free Menu Can be Found at Old Spaghetti Factory, Downtown Edmonton #celiac #yegfood

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Source: http://www.oldspaghettifactory.ca/
Tera wrote in about a visit to the downtown location of Old Spaghetti Factory where they experienced the gluten free menu.  Here is what they had to say about their gluten free friendly restaurant experience for their daughter that has Celiac:
My husband and I went to the Old Spaghetti Factory downtown yesterday. While we did not order anything GF we did ask the waiter about their GF items. He was very helpful and knowledgeable. They have a separate GF menu with about 5 items on it. Different sauces to chose from, the option of adding plain steak or chicken with your dish, cheese on top etc. They have GF salad dressings as well. He told me all of their items (including the salad dressings) are made in the restaurant so they know all of the ingredients. He also told me that they add pasta to their soup while warming it up. Therefore if someone wanted a GF soup they would get a brand new batch of soup and serve them from that batch prior to adding any pasta. I was very happy with everything he told me. He was aware of the need for GF and knew the menu/items inside and out. I would definitely return and order a GF meal for my daughter :)
Click here to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory's allergy menu page to view their gluten free menu online.

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What is Celiac Disease, from Global TV Edmonton

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A segment called Ask The Doctor, from Global TV's morning show in Edmonton talks about Celiac Disease, symptoms and the raised awareness of it along with the gluten free lifestylte:



This was shared by Jen Crosby of Global TV Edmonton.  You can follow Jen Crosby on twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/JenCrosby

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Nature’s Path Buckwheat Waffles (Wildberry flavour)

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By Amanda S., Gluten Free Edmonton

I am a person who often eats the same thing for breakfast every day during the week. I am also very fortunate to have a husband who enjoys cooking and trying new things. He often takes advantage of my desire (aka: need) to sleep in late on weekends and puts on his adventurous meal prep hat (not really) to whip up something different and exciting for breakfast on weekends.

While today is a weekend, I pressed for the so-called “regular” breakfast. While I did not have my standard toast breakfast I did still have a slight variation. I tried the Nature’s Path Buckwheat waffles, in wild berry flavour for the first time. I realize I was not really allowing for any adventurous eating to occur this particular weekend, but c’mon a girl can choose to change her mind can’t she?

These waffles are by no way a new product, but they were new to me. Nature’s Path is a company based out of Richmond, BC (go Canada!) They have 3 different facilities where they make their products, one in Delta, BC, Blaine, WA and Sussex, WI. Nature’s path started in 1949, when Gwen and Rupert Stephen’s purchased their organic berry farm. Check out the nature’s path website to see the full story of this company.

I really enjoyed these gluten free waffles. They were flavourful and not loaded with sugar. They were light and super easy of course to prepare. All you do is pop them in the toaster oven, can’t get much easier than that. If you haven’t tried them yet I would recommend you give them a try and let us know what you think.

They come in other flavours as well, such as regular and mesa sunrise which for anyone who does not know is also one of the Nature’s Path popular gluten free cereals.


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Do you keep Gluten Free Toaster Bags handy?

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We've seen a variety of types and a variety of prices for gluten free toaster bags.  If you haven't heard about these yet, they are bags that you can put toast in to toast in a toaster (say that five times fast).

You can pick them up at Kinnikinnick, Ed's Gluten Free Store or Nutters in Leduc.  We use these life saving bags for two ways.  We keep one bag at home for when my parents come to visit from Toronto so they can still put their whole wheat bread in our toaster and ensure that no cross contamination occurs.  We also keep a separate bag for when Amanda wants toast when we go out or when we travel.

They are pretty handy.  I'd say they have helped us out a lot. No one wants to risk cross contamination when visiting family (or vice versa) and no one wants to make a big deal about the possibility either. These trusty little toaster bags cost around $10 for a pair. Just be careful how long you use them as they do have a life span.
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How far do you go gluten free?

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I can now say that I have been Celiac for over a year and while at times it still feels new to me,  I also feel much more comfortable with what it truly is like to live gluten free. I remember when I was first diagnosed I was told that I could not eat any of the items on this seemingly large (aka massive) list of foods. It was explained to me that there are possible contaminants everywhere you look. I was told that something I do weekly (aka eating dinner at my parents house) would require me to bring my own food.

Umm, are you kidding me? Do you know how improtant family dinners are to me? Obviously not!

I remember feeling like I was expected to now live in this bubble of safe eating and that I could not even consider the idea of eating at someones house, eating in a restaurant or eating unless I personally prepared the food myself. If you know me, and I feel you must by now, you are well aware that I do eat at other peoples homes, I do eat at restaurants, I do eat food prepared by people other than myself.  And you know what? I plan to continue to do so. Of course I also plan to continue to ask questions about food prep and teach others about my gluten free needs and ensure that I maintain a contamination free food zone to the best of my ability.

How far will you go?
I am not saying that we should all run out and eat some big fat sandwich on whole wheat bread ladden with guarenteed gluten and massive amounts of contaminated items. No way! I am however saying that it is (to me) important to be able to live. I am very thankful for the resources and knowledge available out there in restaurants and from food companies. I am also very thankful that the internet is around and becuase of this we are easily able to find out answers, access information and gain a sense of comfort when we consider eating different products.

I know that for whatever reason, some food items are more difficult for some people to understand. Meaning they struggle for some reason to know if the items are gluten free or  not. For example, my mother-inlaw seems to have trouble remembering that yes I can eat white vinegar, red wine vinegar and other vinegars but not malt vinegar. We don't even use malt vinegar in our homes or cooking, but somehow this is the item that she gets stuck on. Another example, my friend from work always thinks that I can eat teriaky sauce and wonders why I refuse to eat the ginger beef in the cafeteria at work. I have to remind her all the time that not only does the teriaky sauce they use contain Kikkoman brand soy sauce (which in particular is not gluten free), but the beef is breaded (which is also not gluten free).

The point I am trying to make here is that both of these people love me dearly and would never want me to be harmed, sick or feel pain, but they still stuggle to remember what is and is not gluten free. At times the can be challenging for me, but I have to remember that I live this every day and they do not. As well, I am fully aware that it gets easier when you get used to reading lables and contacting companies to ensure the foods you eat are gluten free. However, I am also aware that life happens whether we're in a bubble or out in the world.

My question to you is....how far do you go gluten free?

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta


*Image by jscreationzs

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Easy sweet gluten free Valentine's treats!

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As I've mentioned in the past I love to bake. Not always so easy when dietary restrictions are at play. Throw in type 1 diabetes and baking can be a bit of a nightmare. Needless to say when Valentine's day comes along, I feel the extra need to try new recipes for sweet treats that are as well gluten free, now if I could only make them low in carbohydrates as well that would be perfect...well two out of three aint bad.

Based on my dietary restrictions I am understandably not in the crowd of people rushing out to purchase chocolates in big red heart shaped boxes. Actually, to be honest, I never really was interested in that kind of stuff anyway. But, who doesn't like chocolate? Seriously!

So here's an idea that fullfills both my desire to bake (word used loosely here) something gluten free AND to include chocolate (for Valentine's Day of course). While Abisaac sometimes makes fun of me, especially since I am not known for being particularly adventureous when it comes to cooking, I like to check out magazines (at the spa, in the doctors waiting room, at the hair dresser etc) for new receipes. For whatever reason I seem to have found myself waiting especially long in some of those places. As I am not someone who sits still and waits well, I have taken to typing out the entire receipe on my BlackBerry from various magazines and then trying them at home when I get an urge to try something new.

The receipes vary tremendously in both their origin and their level of difficultly. This one is particularly easy, but oh so tasty and gluten free. Check it out.

White Chunky Chocolate(makes approximately 25 pieces)

12 ounces white chocolate pieces (make sure they are gluten free of course)
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/2 cup roasted salted cashew pieces

Melt white chocolate pieces in microwave for about 45 -60 seconds. Stir in the raisins, cranberries, peanuts and cashews. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into flexible ice cube trays (we got ours at IKEA) and tap the tray on the countertop to remove any air bubbles in chocolate mixture. Refridgerate until set, about 30 minutes.
Remove from ice cube tray and enjoy!

*I appologize, but I cannot remember which magazine I stole this receipe from, will have to be more attentive next time*

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