Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free’

I love me some fried chicken. So I decided to do a food experiment to see which one of the locally available gluten-free chicken-nugget varieties tasted best and was the best value. I found the following products at Target.

In the arena, we have:

  • Tyson gluten-free chicken strips, 14 oz, $5.99
  • Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets, 18 oz, $5.99
  • Applegate gluten-free chicken nuggets, 16 oz, $8.99
  • Nature Raised Farm gluten-free chicken nuggets, 12 oz, 2 for $10 ($5.00/bag)

Opening the bags, we note that we receive:

  • 5 Tyson strips, $1.19ea, $0.42/oz
  • 24 Tyson nuggets, $0.24ea, $0.33/oz
  • 45 Applegate nuggets, $0.18ea, $0.35/oz
  • 16 Nature Raised nuggets, $0.31ea, $0.41/oz

I should also note that each of these products are packaged in resealable bags, but also contain a separate internal heatsealed plastic bag inside which contains the food. Double packaging. And, in the case of the Tyson strips, all 5 of them, why even have a resealable bag? You’re going to use them all in one cooking session.

I baked them all in a glass dish according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. All came out fully cooked (they are pre-cooked anyways). I served them with a small variety of condiments (mustard, ranch dressing, sriracha, and Cholula hot sauce) taking the time to try them all with each sauce. Seen in the following photo, beginning in upper right, going clockwise: Tyson GF strips, Tyson GF nuggets, Applegate GF nuggets, Nature Raised GF nuggets.

GF Chicken Olympics

GF Chicken Olympics

Regarding value for weight, it’s easy to figure. Gold Medal goes to Tyson nuggets, Silver to Applegate nuggets, Bronze to Nature Raised nuggets, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

At first impression, they all have appealing smell. So all receive Gold Medals for that.

Appearance-wise, the color on the Applegate nuggets wasn’t as vibrant as the others, which colorwise were all equal. So Gold Medal for appearance goes to both Tyson products and NatureRaised. Silver goes to Applegate.

Now taste-wise, all three had that deepfried umami to them, and all were good, however the flavor of the Applegate nuggets fell short, probably because due to their smaller size they have a higher breading-to-chicken ratio, and the chicken got lost under the taste of all the breading. That’s not to say they tasted bad, quite the opposite. Just not as chicken-y as the others. The nuggets from both Tyson and Nature Raised tasted nearly identical, maybe a tiny bit more pepper in the Tyson breading. The taste of the Tyson strips was good but they were heavily breaded, and, like the Applegate nuggets, the taste of the chicken started to get lost under the deepfried flavor of the breading. So… Taste Gold Medal goes to nuggets by Tyson and Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson strips, and Bronze to Applegate.

Texture is where they differentiated themselves and a winner for the whole lot came out. By far the best texture of all is the Nature Raised nuggets, which, defying all history of chicken nuggets in the oven, actually retained a crispy component to the breading. The breading on the Tyson nuggets was a close second but it felt more oily and saturated than the Nature Raised. The overdone breading on the Tyson Strips made them not so enticing after a while, which brought them in worse place than the Applegate nuggets, whose heavy breading wasn’t quite so bad after all compared to the Tyson ones. So… Texture Gold Medal goes to Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson nuggets, Bronze to Applegate, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

And, for overall performance and foodie joy brought to me by these gluten-free chicken products…

Gold Medal: Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets.
Slightly more expensive than the cheapest option, but worth it for the better texture and experience.

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Silver Medal: Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets
Better value but not as good texture.

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Bronze Medal: Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets
Good value, decent product.

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

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Pasta is one of those easy meals that I had fully given up on with my gluten-free diet, and one that I missed. Boil for 10 minutes, throw in the sauce, and eat. Cheap, filling, fast, easy. But the gluten in the pasta would cause me problems, and so the pasta had to go. At the time I started gluten-free eating, there wasn’t much on the market that was any good, so I just cut pasta completely from my pantry and did without.

I went to the store yesterday to see if there was any gluten-free bread-like product I could use to make BLT sandwiches with, but finding none, I saw the pasta instead. So I decided to give it a try.

I found several varieties of Tinkyada’s gluten-free pasta at Publix supermarket in their “green” section. I tried the rotini/spirals first. The label’s statement of “not mushy” and “perfect al dente texture” had me skeptical, but the claims turned out to be honest. It came out with excellent texture and consistency, it tasted like pasta, held together like pasta, chewed like pasta, and worked nicely with the sauce actually better than pasta (it was slightly more absorbent). It did tend to stick together more than wheat pasta once it cooled off in the colander; future tests with butter or olive oil will need to be done, to see if I can get it to stick less. It wasn’t a problem, though, as the stuck-together portions came apart again once I mixed in the sauce.

The instructions to boil for 14-15 minutes I found to be a bit excessive; I found 13 minutes to be more than adequate for my preferences.

Ultimately, it is an excellent product and I am overjoyed that I can eat pasta again.

Tinkyada pasta’s website is here, at www.ricepasta.com

This is an excerpt from my book (see links for editions in print and Kindle, in English and Spanish). Studying the search-terms that bring traffic to the blog, I thought it might be a good idea to post this information to the general public.

The Coeliac Connection

Coeliac Disease (spelled Celiac in the USA) is an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat. The reaction causes inflammation of the small intestine, which leads to atrophy of the vilii (surface cells), which then causes malabsorption of nutrients. Coeliac Disease is not a symptom of gall bladder dysfunction, but it can definitely be a cause. If you are suffering from gall bladder problems you should definitely be screened for Coeliac Disease. It affects about 1% of the population in the USA.

Coeliac Disease gets in the way of proper gall bladder function by dampening or canceling out the Cholecystokinin (CCK) signal sent from the duodenum. If the duodenum can’t sense fat content because its lining is inflamed or atrophied, it doesn’t know to send the CCK and call the gall bladder to action.

The gall bladder, not getting the proper signal, either sits idle waiting or does an inadequate job and doesn’t give 100% effort. Therefore bile doesn’t circulate properly, it has a greater opportunity to settle and crystallize, and the chance of gallstone formation is greatly increased.

Not only does Coeliac Disease cause malabsorption of nutrients in general due to its inflammatory nature, but its problems are further compounded by a double dose of malabsorption caused by reduced bile output from a lazy or unresponsive gall bladder. As the atrophy of the intestinal lining worsens over time, more symptoms and digestive disorders can result (such as lactose intolerance).

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease:

  • Diarrhea: often pale and foul-smelling

  • Abdominal pain and cramping

  • Bloating

  • Often misdiagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

  • Vitamin A, D, E, and K deficiencies

  • Calcium malabsorption/deficiency

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the bowels

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), an itchy skin rash

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Iron deficiency

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Osteoporosis

  • Intestinal cancer

  • Sterility

Getting tested for Coeliac Disease:

Blood tests are the fastest way to screen for Coeliac Disease. The tests you should get are as follows:

  • IgA or tTG antibodies: Sensitivity 90%, Specificity 99%. IgA means anti-transglutamase antibodies. These antibodies are very specific, occurring 100% in people with Coeliac Disease, and 80% in people with DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis). IgA is also called tTG (tissue trans-glutamase). If your test comes back IgA positive, there is a 97% chance that you have Coeliac Disease. This test does give occasional false-negatives; if you test negative, there is only a 71% chance that the negative result is accurate.

  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies: Sensitivity 87%, Specificity 91%. This test shows positive results more readily but does not have as strong a correlation to proving Coeliac Disease. For ecample, IgG-positive results show up in 21% of people suffering from non-Coeliac digestive disorders. This test may not provide as good a test-positive result as the IgA/tTG but it provides less false-negatives, and therefore should be done at the same time.

Other testing methods:

  • Endoscopy with biopsy of duodenum or jejunum. Most Coeliac sufferers have a bowel that appears normal through the endoscope but inspection of a tissue sample viewed through a microscope reveals proof of the disease.

What to do if you have Coeliac Disease:

Presently, the only cure is to go on a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. There are no miracle medications. Fortunately the solution requires only willpower, and costs nothing extra. In time, the intestinal walls will heal and the symptoms will abate or disappear completely.

Unfortunately, this means that you will have to stop ingesting anything containing gluten. The list of forbidden ingredients containing gluten is as follows:

  • Wheat

  • Spelt

  • Kamut

  • Rye

  • Barley

  • Triticale

  • Oats (if your oats are pure, you may not need to exclude them; normally they do not contain gluten but the machines that process oats are also used to process the other grains and may be cross-contaminated. There are also studies that show oats contain peptide sequences very similar to gluten which can cause problems in 10% of Coeliac patients)

The list does not stop there; all things derived from the above products must be avoided as well:

  • Bread and flour products of all kinds, with exception to pure corn bread.

  • Beer (Rest In Peace!)

  • Most types of Whiskey

  • Malts

A general list of things that are gluten-free:

  • Corn

  • Potatoes

  • Rice

  • Cassava

  • Yams

  • Chickpeas/garbanzo

  • Meats (be careful of sausages, as some use ingredients containing gluten as filler or flavor enhancers)

  • Wine, rum, brandy, sake, vodka, and other spirits derived from fruit, honey, sugar, rice, potatoes, or corn.

The particulars of following a gluten-free diet could easily fill their own book. There are a wealth of gluten-free diet books on the market. It is such a common problem that there is even a “Celiac Disease for Dummies” book in addition to a “Living Gluten-free for Dummies” and a “Gluten-free Cooking for Dummies.” All three are quite informative, and rated 4 stars or higher on that online bookstore everyone knows. Fortunately, many product manufacturers are more aware of dietary gluten problems, and label their ingredient list clearly as either containing gluten or being gluten-free.

I first read about Cholestyramine during my research into Habba Syndrome. Dr. Habba has been successfully treating some of his patients with it, so I decided to give it a try.

Long story short: My results were excellent, to the point where I no longer need to take it.

That said, I did not exactly do a controlled experiment. I coupled my taking of Cholestyramine in combination with a gluten-free diet. Anyhow, my experience is as follows…

In order to bypass the absurd process of getting a Cholestyramine prescription through standard channels by seeing a doctor (who knows nothing about gall bladders nor nutrition) who may or may not agree with my dietary experiment, I enlisted the help of a friend of mine who is a naturepathic doctor. He wrote me the scrip and I went to get it filled at the local pharmacy (in this case I was in Portland, OR).

I had a choice of foil envelopes with individual doses, or a big can of powder with a scoop. I chose half envelopes and half self-serve scoop can. The sugar-free formula, which I would have preferred, was unavailable.

As it is, the sugar formula still tastes bad but not horrible, orangelike, reminiscent of a vitamin-C tablet but not as sweet. It would be passable if it was sweeter. Why bother putting sugar in it at all if you aren’t going to use it enough to make it palatable? One could possibly benefit by adding some sugar-free sweetener to your mix, but when it’s all said and done, it’s not bad enough to warrant the extra attention: you just chug your glass of yuck-tasting stuff and get on with your life.

Within a few hours, after my first dose, I was already cured of my instant-run-to-the-toilet problems. It worked so well that I did not need to defecate for a full 24 hours. When I did, it was more solid than I had seen in months, and it was a strange grey color.

I also found that I was much less hungry, and got fuller faster from smaller meals. Obviously I had more time to absorb those calories and nutrients. It makes me wonder how many wasted calories I was taking in that just flew through me.

I continued to take the Cholestyramine twice a day for the next month. The grey color eventually went away, and I ended up becoming so constipated that I had to reduce the dose by half after a week, and then to 1/2 dose once per day (1/4) after 2 weeks. I achieved a state of normalcy after that, and continued to take the Cholestyramine until it ran out 3 months later.

I would have continued to take it but I was then in Uruguay and it was not available there, nor could I find it in neighboring Argentina. Knowing full well the disaster that befalls anyone who ships in “drugs” or even vitamins to these countries, I opted to simply stop taking the Cholestyramine.

Fortunately, I found that I no longer needed it. The results of my digestion showed no difference after removing it from my daily routine. I assume what happened was that the Cholestyramine provided me with the break I needed for my bowels to heal up in the absence of gluten. I know, I should have done a more scientific study but I was tired of crapping my guts out every 20 minutes.

If you are one who suffers from diarrhea as a symptom of having your gall bladder removed, I highly recommend you give Cholestyramine a try. Cholestyramine is also sold under the name Questran, Questran Light (sugar-free), and Cholybar. Other bile acid sequestrants that do the same job are sold under the names Cholesevelam, Cholestagel, Welchol, Colestipol, and Colestid.