Posted in The Basics

Gluten Free Shopping

We all know that shopping for gluten free items can really be a time consuming task.  I usually start out in the gluten free aisle, but then venture into the other areas to read labels and determine what else I can add to my cart.

In the Midwest, we have a grocery store called Piggly Wiggly.  There is one right around the corner from my office that I often go into in the morning and pick up a few things for lunch.  When I was there the other day I ran into the owner of the store.  He happily showed me the gluten free product I was looking for and proceeded to tell me that his daughter is gluten intolerant and they had several things in the store that would make shopping easier.  He took me to an aisle to show me how they tag all of the items in he store.  Let me tell you………these are awesome and REALLY help with shopping.  I have actually started doing more of my regular grocery shopping there.

Check out this label in the Antioch,IL store that makes shopping SO much easier.  This shows two different dry taco mixes that are in the regular aisle.  Normally I would read the label for any odd ingredients, scan the label with one of the apps on my phone and possible call the company to see if I could actually use that product.

20131016_125614

Well, lets take a closer look at the Ortega price tag:

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See the GLUTEN FREE logo just above the price?  Piggly Wiggly has their distribution location check to see if the manufacturer has indicated that the products is gluten free.  If they have, the “gluten free” logo is added to the sticker.  The items in the store without this logo on the sticker either are not gluten free OR there is no information from the manufacturer specifically about allergens.

I am sure you can imagine how this can speed up shopping!  I do not know if this is something that all of the Piggly Wiggly’s have done, but the three locations in my neck of the woods (Antioch, IL, Zion, IL and Lake Geneva, WI) all have these tags – if you have a Pig by you, I’d go check it out!!

Live and LOVE Gluten Free!!

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Posted in The Basics

Help! I Don’t Know How To Start A Gluten Free Diet!

Ask questionsYou can do this.  It seems a little overwhelming at first, but don’t think about what you cannot have!  Think about all of the wonderful foods you CAN have and it will be much easier.

To do a gluten free trial or to start eating gluten free you need to start with basics.  Do not overwhelm yourself with all of the “possibilities” that there are.  This is where my blog will come in handy.  I’ve tried to put together what I wish I had known when I first started out, that would have made the process SO much easier.

Please realize that this is a guide, there is so much information, I couldn’t possibly begin to list it all here.  So – I’ve picked out what I think is the important stuff you need to know to do a trial or get started.  As you check labels and become more aware of hidden glutens, the easier it will become!

If you find that a gluten free life IS for you, you can start adding more and more items, especially as you know what ingredients to look for on labels.

If you read my story, I started out with a trial where I would go gluten free for three weeks, note my symptoms and then try to eat something with gluten to see if I would have a reaction.   After seeing a difference in the first week alone and then the disappearance of so many more symptoms in the next two weeks I decided that I would not try to eat gluten again.  Ever.  For me, I knew this was the solution.

Eventually you will find that checking labels will become second nature!  Check all labels, all the time.   What a pain!  I know, but sometimes manufacturers change their recipe and something you bought a couple months ago might now be made with gluten!  😦

What is Gluten?  Gluten is the protein part of the grains: wheat, barley, rye, durum, spelt, farro, graham, kamut, and semolina.  Anything product that has any of these ingredients are no no’s.  Labels can be tricky because when you are checking them they will not say “gluten” as an ingredient.  Look for the grains listed above or malt, malt vinegar, brewers yeast, tricticum, bran, or farina, or any variation of those words.

Words like additives, fillers, spices, caramel color, natural flavors and emulsifier should trigger suspicion.  If the packaging does not say gluten free, then take the time to call the company or check their website to confirm before you try it.  Please see my previous post on how to read food labels.  

Many food labels are now clearly marked on the front as “gluten free”, others have allergy warnings listed by the ingredients.  Many labels have the mandated CONTAINS with a listing of potential allergens.  If you see this type marking and it says CONTAINS:  WHEAT then stay away.  If you see this marking and it does not list wheat you might be ok to eat this product….check the rest of the label for the other grains or suspicious words!

I will repeat that each and EVERY label will need to be checked before you purchase something and consume it.  Better safe than sorry.

Lets start with what you have in your cabinet.  This might take a couple hours, but if you do this it will make things easier.  Have a shelf that is designated GLUTEN FREE ONLY.  Go through all of your foods AND spices in your cabinets and refridgerator.  Check all of the labels, if you can’t tell from the label, check online.  GF OVERFLOW is a great website where you can type in the product name and it will tell you if it is or is not gluten free, when they last checked it AND the link or phone number to the manufacturer.

Get yourself a sharpie or permanent marker.  On the label of the items you determine to be gluten free, mark a big GF or NOT GF.  This way when you go into the cabinet (or someone in your home does), you can be sure that the item is gluten free.  For me this process advanced into stickers………..I printed avery address labels on my color printer with big bold GLUTEN FREE in green or NOT GLUTEN FREE in red on them.  Now when my husband or son is making food for me, they don’t have to worry or second guess their label checking skills!!

The following are basic ideas to get you through the first few weeks.  Don’t worry!  Once you get the hang of this you will be able to add many, many more foods.

No fast food.  There is basically nothing that you can eat at McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC or Pizza Hut – they have gluten in their meats, coating on fries, and in various other places you would not expect.  Stay away! If you can, for a couple of weeks try not to eat out until you are more familiar with what you can and cannot have.

What Can I Have?

All fresh, basic meat that has not been processed – beef, pork, chicken, fish, shellfish. Get good meat from the fresh meat section or butcher – not frozen stuff or stuff that has been prepared with seasonings or preservatives.  Watch out for “fake” fishes – like “crab sticks” – they are made with wheat.

All fresh fruits and fresh veggies are gluten-free. If you can, for the first few weeks stick to fresh.  Frozen fruits & veggies or canned should not have additives; but the labels will need to be checked to be sure.  Stay away from pie filling for now, often these have flour added.

Rice is gluten free. For now stay away from the boxed, flavored ones.  Get regular white rice or brown rice and flavor it yourself!  Check the label of wild rice carefully before using.

Most dairy products are gluten free (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, good sour cream, cheese) – Always check the labels of your dairy products because sometimes they have additives.  For example cheap sour cream has wheat!  But Daisy or Dean brands do not.  Do not assume that ice cream and sherbert are gluten free!  You will need to check the labels carefully to be sure they are OK.  Obviously any ice cream with cookie dough, brownies, cake etc…..will be off the menu!

Eggs are gluten free.

Corn tortillas are gluten free.

Use butter and olive oil (or corn or veggie) to cook in. NO margarine.

Most bacon is gluten free. Some will actually say gluten free.  The problem with bacon is usually MSG and nitrates – both of these ingredients are gluten free, but can cause other problems.

Speaking of breakfast……frozen hash brown patties (those oval ones) usually are NOT gluten-free.  However, Ore Ida has a bunch of their potatoes that ARE gluten free and are clearly marked.  If you are not sure, make them from scratch, potatoes are naturally gluten free.

Majority of cereals are NOT gluten-free.  Luckily there are several flavors of Chex that are gluten free – rice, corn, honey nut, chocolate, cinnamon and apple cinnamon.  Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles (not Puffs) are gluten free.  There are also gluten free Rice Krispies – but you will need find the ones that are marked gluten free, not all stores carry gluten free Rice Krispies.

If you need pancakes (and who doesn’t?!), check out Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix (pretty bag with sunset) is a VERY good mix.  Bob’s Red Mill makes a gluten free all purpose baking mix that makes great pancakes or waffles too.  There is a gluten free Bisquick mix also, but in my opinion not as good as the two I have mentioned.

Syrup – 100% maple syrup is naturally gluten free.  The labels of other syrups will need to be checked carefully.

For now, stay away from lunch meat and processed foods, sausage, hot dogs, wieners, kielbasa etc…. until you have a handle on how processed foods will affect you and you get better used to finding gluten in the labels.

Most regular, no flavor added, corn tortilla chips or potato chips have no gluten.  Watch out when they add flavors – like most of the BBQ or Sour Cream & Onion flavors have wheat in the seasoning – the wheat makes the seasoning go further like beans in chili…..

Check your seasonings in your cabinet for WHEAT, BARLEY or RYE.

Single seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder etc are usually ok. Lawry’s season salt is gluten free – generic brands of season salt you will have to check.

Seasoning blends – check the label.  A red flag is if you see “spices” with no specific listing.  If it does not have an allergy label (bold words that say contains or allergens) call the company or check the website.

Salad dressing………..gotta read the labels! Start with the Paul Newman ones…….MOST of them are gluten free and very good. They don’t usually say gluten-free, but on the label after the ingredients it usually will say CONTAINS: Soy, dairy, nuts…….if wheat is not listed you are probably OK to eat that item, check the rest of the ingredients first.  Hidden Valley Ranch and Wishbone Italian dressings are gluten free at the time of my writing this – but check the label.  Both companies will clearly state allergens.

If you are a chocolate fiend like me……you can have M&M’s, Hershey bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups (not the minis), York peppermint patties, Hershey kisses, Dove, 3 Musketeers, Snickers…… just to name a few, so YAY!  If you have a favorite candy go on GF OVERFLOW to see if yours is listed.  Sadly, Twizzlers are NOT gluten free, but Skittles and Starburst are!

Nuts are naturally gluten free……….BUT you have to watch out because the seasonings/coatings often contain gluten. For the time being, I would stay away from nuts.  Add them later if you continue with gluten free – but do your research.

Coffee is naturally gluten free, so you are good to go with any brewed coffee.  I am not sure about the “cappuccino powder” that they sell in the gas station. You would need to ask them to look at the label.

Tea is also naturally gluten free – be aware that the bags that are stapled are no problem, BUT some of the tea bags are glued together with stuff that has gluten. Most tea will say right on it “gluten free”.  Celestial Seasonings and Stash tea use no gluten in the bags or sealing of them.  Be careful of Lipton tea – they have not made a statement saying they are gluten free and suggest you read all labels carefully.

Flavored liquid creamers like coffee-mate or International house are both gluten free.

Most of the liquid flavors like Torani or DaVinci French vanilla…….are gluten free as well, but you will need to check for your favorite flavor.  Look on their website – Torani shows that French Vanilla is gluten free but the Sugar Free French Vanilla is NOT.  They have a couple others listed too.  For the DaVinci they show all flavors are gluten free except for Dulce de Leche Sugar Free Syrup.

This leads me to one more point to make – the Dulce de Leche is basically caramel.  ANYTHING that is caramel or caramel flavored you need to thoroughly check the label.  If it does not say gluten free CALL.  Caramel is often made using BARLEY for flavor!  So this can be a huge problem. If you want that caramel flavor, go with liquid creamer.

Basic booze – gin, vodka, rum, brandy etc…..all gluten-free! Holla!! Wine too. Be sure to check labels on flavored liquors. Lately there are a lot of flavored vodkas – steer clear of this for now, most of the companies I have contacted so far say the flavoring added may not be gluten free…..so they may no claims on those. You cannot have Malt beverages, so no beer or those Smirnoff cooler things.  There are quite a few brands of gluten-free beer out there.  As far as coolers go, you will have to read labels, for instance Mikes Hard Lemonade is NOT gluten-free………but their light version is and should say gluten free on the label.  Check into Ciders…….most are gluten free and should be marked.  

Most sodas are gluten free.  Double check your favorite.

I have found it a bit easier to make a batch of food I can eat (for example soup, stew, chili or enchiladas) and then freeze single serving sizes for later.  This works out great for me during the week for lunch, I don’t have to spend a lot of time making things each day and I can rest assured that I am eating gluten free.

There……….whew………that wasn’t so bad!  I think I have provided a decent list of items to get you through a couple of weeks eating.  Remember to keep your focus on all of the great things that you CAN have! Good luck!  You can do this!!

Live and LOVE gluten free!!

Posted in Just Plain Good Info......., The Basics

Label Reading 101: How The Heck Do I Find Gluten On Labels?

Head scratcher…………. hmmm, I know I can’t have gluten, so how do I figure out what’s in this?

There are several ways to find out if a product has gluten in it.  Look at the label, check the manufacturer website or call the manufacturer directly.  This post will deal with checking labels.  Many food labels are now clearly marked on the front “gluten free” while others have allergy warnings listed by the ingredients. 

Effective January 1, 2006, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) mandates that the labels of foods containing major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy) declare the allergen in plain language, either in the ingredient list or via:

  • the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen – for example, “Contains milk, wheat” – or
  • a parenthetical statement in the list of ingredients – for example, “albumin (egg)”

Such ingredients must be listed if they are present in any amount, even in colors, flavors, or spice blends. Additionally, manufacturers must list the specific nut (e.g., almond, walnut, cashew) or seafood (e.g., tuna, salmon, shrimp, lobster) that is used.

Please note that the allergen label law does not cover rye and barley. Fortunately, rye is not used that often in foods, and when it is the label usually says so.  A more common problem is barley and it can be more difficult to recognize on a food label. Sometimes it is listed as barley, barley malt or just malt.  So when checking your labels, make sure you are looking for not only wheat, but rye and barley as well.

Many labels have the mandated CONTAINS with a listing of potential allergens.  If you see CONTAINS:  WHEAT, RYE, BARLEY or GLUTEN then do not eat/use this product.  If you see CONTAINS and it does not list wheat, rye, barley or gluten it is usually ok to eat this product, but check the ingredients to be sure.

Check out this clearly marked label.  The ingredients section says Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat flour…….) then below it also says in bold CONTAINS:  WHEAT, SOY.

It is very clear that you should NOT eat this product if you are gluten free…. it sure would be nice if all products were labeled this way!!

Here are a couple more to give you an idea of what some ingredient labels look like. On the last label  the first obvious allergen is wheat flour, but take a look at the second to the last ingredient – Malted Barley Flour – this is gluten even thought it does not mention it on the CONTAINS marking.

          

The next two show you what a label might look like that does not have the CONTAINS marking.  You can see that there are no specific allergens indicated, both have wheat flour. therefore you cannot have either.

  

Now for the next confusing part to reading labels……what ingredient you are actually looking for.  Not everything will be easily identified as wheat, rye, barley or gluten.  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network has a great chart I am sharing with you on how to read a label for a Wheat-Free Diet:

Some of the ingredients are obvious to look for but others are a little trickier.  The above chart is for a wheat-free diet.  Don’t forget that gluten free is more than just wheat free!  You should also look for barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley), oats, rye and triticale which is a cross between wheat and rye.  For anything that is caramel or caramel flavored, check ingredients very carefully as many of these items use barley for flavor.

The lower section of the chart lists items that wheat is sometimes found in.  These items should be triggers for you to look further into the ingredients to be certain it is gluten free.  For instance, just about anything you find that has soy sauce as an ingredient will NOT be gluten free unless it is specifically marked GLUTEN FREE.  Why?  Because regular soy sauce is made with wheat.  Many products list starch, but don’t list what kind of starch, it could be corn, rice, wheat or something else.  As a rule of thumb, if the product has one of these trigger ingredients – CALL THE COMPANY TO VERIFY.

Another trigger is natural flavor.  This needs to be explained, call the company to verify that one of these natural flavors does not come from wheat, barley or rye.

This brings me to another point.  When calling companies for gluten free information you will often come upon a person who has no clue as to what they are talking about.  You can quickly tell that they are not at all familiar with allergens, in specific gluten.  Thank them and hang up.  Call back and try to get someone else that is a little more knowledgeable about allergens.  If this happens to you, I would do a little more research on the product before you actually eat it.  

When checking online for gluten information, make sure you look at the date it was updated.  If it is an old date, you might want to call the company instead of relying on just that information so you can be positive the product is gluten free, manufacturers are always changing formulas!  Have the product with you when you call because they might ask for the UPC code.  Sometimes I actually call from the store before I buy certain items.

Instead of going directly to the manufacturer’s site, you can check different online gluten free product searches.  There are a few out there, but here are a few to try:

Gluten Free Overflow has an extensive product listing (over 9,000) and is easy to use.

Celiaccess has a nice search with the ability for people to add notes.

Celiac Society had a good search and a neat bonus – it will show you what is safe and/or forbidden in one list.

I will repeat that each and EVERY label will need to be checked before you purchase something and consume it!  When in doubt, do without.  Better safe than sorry.

Live and Love Gluten Free!!

Posted in The Basics

Gluten Intolerant? – A Self Test

Going gluten free is not a trend!  It is a permanent lifestyle where even small amounts of gluten exposure can cause problems, so it should be taken very seriously.

Some basic info:
The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) explains that there is a difference between Celiac Disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance/sensitivity and that all three are “treated similarly, in that patients with these conditions must remove wheat from their diet. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between these three medical problems. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue, such as intestinal tissue, in response to eating gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food, which cause nutritional deficiencies and may result in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.  Persons with a wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually do not have severe intestinal damage, and therefore are not at risk for these nutritional deficiencies.  They also are not at increased risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.”

The ACDA also explains a bit about the potential risks with Celiac vs. allergy or intolerance/sensitivity “celiac disease involves the activation of a particular type of white blood cell, the T lymphocyte, as well as other parts of the immune system, which may increase the risk of developing GI cancers, in particular lymphomas, in persons with celiac disease.  Since food allergies and intolerances do not involve this particular immune system pathway, these patients are not at increased risk for these cancers.”

Keep in mind that unlike a food allergy or food intolerance, celiac disease is an inherited condition.  This means family members may have it, too.  If someone in your family is diagnosed, ACDA recommends that first degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are screened as well.

Have you ever wondered if you were gluten intolerant?
If you think you might have Ceiliac Disease, have a wheat allergy or have gluten sensitivity/intolerance you need to go to a specialist.  However, if you can’t afford it at this time, you can try a quick self test that could help determine if gluten could be your problem.

This is a simple test that I have adapted from one found at Glutenology.net.

Sensitivity to Gluten Self Test 
Check the symptoms you are experiencing that you can’t attribute to legitimate conditions.

For example: if you have asthma that you developed from working with chemicals or in a mine, do not check it as that can be clearly attributed to that environment.  However, if you have asthma and have not been exposed to anything where you would develop it, check it.

One more example, if you have diarrhea because you have a virus or ate sushi out of a vendors trunk, do not check it.  However, if you have diarrhea often and can’t attribute it to anything else then check it.

Gut:

    • Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies)
    • Craving high sugar foods
    • Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
    • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
    • Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
    • Indigestion
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Frequent nausea and or vomiting
    • Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
    • Iron deficiency anemia

Head &Nervous System:

    • Frequent headaches
    • Sinus congestion
    • Migraine Headaches
    • Poor memory
    • Vertigo
    • Difficulty recalling words
    • Brain fog
    • Poor concentration
    • Been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
    • Suffer with frequent vertigo (dizziness)
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Neuropathy
    • Irrational irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Restless leg syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s

Muscle and Joint:

    • Frequent joint pains with or without activity
    • Chronic muscle aches
    • Migrating joint pain (without injury)
    • Frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
    • Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
    • Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s)
    • Bone pain
    • Growing pains
    • Osteoporosis or osteopenia

Hormonal:

    • Fatigue
    • Inability to lose weight
    • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
    • Infertility
    • History of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
    • Menstrual problems – PMS
    • Thyroid disease
    • Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
    • Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
    • Hypoglycemia
    • PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
    • Endometriosis

Immune:

    • Chronic urinary tract infections
    • Chronic respiratory infections
    • Asthma
    • Vaginal, oral, or nail bed yeast infections

Skin:

    • Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
    • Skin rash
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis**
    • Vitiligo

Other Internal Diseases/Problems:

    • Gall bladder problems
    • Elevated liver enzymes
    • Non alcoholic fatty liver
    • Autoimmune hepatitis
    • Lymphoma
    • Platelet disorders

RESULTS
The results are pretty simple.  If you have checked more than 8 of these problems, you may want to consider that you have gluten intolerance, especially if you have checked several of the problems listed in red.  In particular, dermatitis herpetiformis which is a skin condition known to be caused by gluten.

The above list is only some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance/sensitivity.  There are 200-300 symptoms.  From this list, the symptoms listed in black can be caused by gluten intolerance.  The symptoms in red are often mis-diagnosed conditions that could be caused by gluten intolerance.

When I did this test myself, I checked off TWENTY FOUR of the symptoms listed above, many of which were red.  I had been mis-diagnosed with several different things and was frustrated as to why the medicines they were giving me were not working (in addition to causing other problems).  Once I went gluten free, I eliminated about 18 of these symptoms. Eighteen!  I feel better than I have in years.  True story.

Keep in mind I am not a doctor and am not dispensing medical advise.  I am a self-diagnosed, gluten-intolerant woman who has happily experienced the benefit of going gluten free.  To read more about my story click HERE.  If you have checked off a whole bunch of symptoms and are willing to consider that you may have an issue with gluten, please get to a doctor (one who is experienced with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity/intolerance) soon and get yourself checked out.

If you, for whatever reason, are unable to get to a doctor at this time and think you may have a problem with gluten – do a gluten-free trial to see if it makes a difference.  Check out other areas of my website for more information, or do a search online to get more information about how to start a trial.  Then get yourself to a specialist as soon as you can. The key to your feeling better may be as simple as eliminating this from your diet!!

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in Just Plain Good Info.......

A Bazillion Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar has been around for hundreds of years and there are a bazillion uses for it.  OK, so I am exaggerating a little, but there sure are a lot of ways to use it.  One of the most obvious is cooking! This is good for us since most vinegar is naturally gluten-free except for malt vinegar which is made from barley.

What you may not realize is that white distilled vinegar can be used hundreds of other ways that can be ecologically friendly and economical too! My mom always used it for so many things and I have followed in her footsteps!

COOKING

  • Tenderize meat by using marinades made from vinegar.
  • When poaching eggs, a little white distilled vinegar in the water will help the whites stay better formed.
  • Freshen wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water containing a spoonful or two of white distilled vinegar.
  • A teaspoon or two of white distilled vinegar when boiling or steaming cauliflower, beets or other vegetables, will help them keep their color, improve their taste, and reduce gassy effects.
  • A dash of white distilled vinegar to water as pasta cooks will make it less sticky.
  • Make onion odors disappear from your hands by rubbing with white distilled vinegar.
  • A spoonful of white distilled vinegar to any chocolate cake (box or homemade) will add moistness and taste.
  • A drop of white distilled vinegar added to frosting will keep it white and shiny and keep it from sugaring.
  • Add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every 3 to 4 egg whites used in meringue. It will be perfect and fluffy.
  • To keep olives or pimentos indefinitely, cover with white distilled vinegar and refrigerate.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of white distilled vinegar to water when boiling eggs to keep them from cracking.

YOUR CAR

  • Your windows frosted? Coat them with a solution of 3 parts white distilled vinegar to 1 part water overnight in winter for frost-free windows!
  • Full-strength white distilled vinegar on a soft cloth will polish car chrome.
  • Want to remove unwanted decals and bumper stickers? Cover them with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar and they should peel off in a couple hours. You can also repeatedly spray them with full-strength white distilled vinegar.
  • Road grime comes off windshield wipers by wiping them with a white distilled vinegar-soaked cloth.
  • A rinse made from 3 parts soft water to one part white distilled vinegar will get rid of hard water stains.
  • Spray and wipe inside windows with white distilled vinegar will remove the hazy film that builds up.
  • A mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water will remove dirt and stains from car carpeting.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Dabbing insect stings and bites with a cotton ball saturated with undiluted white distilled vinegar will stop them from itching.
  • Sunburn!! Spray skin with white distilled vinegar (ice-cold will feel even better), repeating as often as you like. This will sooth your sunburn and may prevent blistering and peeling.
  • White distilled vinegar is an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes.
  • Washing feet well with antiseptic soap daily, then soaking them in undiluted cider vinegar for 10 minutes or so will help to get rid of foot odor. Also – cotton socks aid odor control more effectively than wool ones.
  • Equal parts white distilled vinegar and water make a great facial toner.
  • Undiluted white distilled vinegar can be used as aftershave.
  • Rubbing on full-strength white distilled vinegar will lighten body freckles (not facial freckles).
  • Brushing your teeth once or twice a week with white distilled vinegar will help to eliminate bad breath and whiten them too!
  • Wipe fingernails with cotton balls dipped in white distilled vinegar before putting on nail polish will help to make nail polish last longer.

LAUNDRY

  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar in the wash cycle will prevent lint from clinging to clothes.
  • To remove soap residue that makes black clothes look dull use white distilled vinegar in your final rinse.
  • Add 1 cup white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water, bring it to a rolling boil and drop in stained white socks and dingy dishcloths. Let soak overnight to get them white and bright again.
  • Spray a white distilled vinegar and water solution on food stains like spaghetti, barbecue, mustard or ketchup before washing.
  • Spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on underarm and collar areas before tossing them into the washing machine to remove perspiration odor and stains on clothing, as well as those left by deodorants.
  • Pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine with moldy smelly laundry and wash in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent.
  • Get rid of mineral deposits in steam vents and spray nozzles on your steam iron by filling the water chamber with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and distilled water. Let it set in an upright position (steaming) for about 5 minutes. After it is cool, rinse the tank with water, refill and shake water through the vents onto an old cloth. Test before using.
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar in the last rinse of your laundry will get your laundry cleaner. It will dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents removing the residue from your clothes. It also prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

YOUR PETS

  • Wiping a dogs ears out regularly with a soft cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar should keep it from scratching them.
  • Wiping down the animal with a 50-50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water, followed by a plain-water rinse will help remove skunk odors. If necessary, repeat.
  • Cats do not like the smell of vinegar. Spraying white distilled vinegar on a windowsill (or other surface) or even upholstery will discourage a cat from scratching or going there. Be sure to test this on an unnoticeable area first to make sure there won’t be any discoloration. You can also spray areas outside of your home the rinse with hose to deter them from going or marking certain areas.  Try placing paper, a cloth, or sponge that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar in your garden!
  • Pour ½ inch of white distilled vinegar in an empty litter box and let stand for 20 minutes, swish it around, and then rinse with cold water. This will remove cat litter odor.
  • Adding a little white distilled vinegar to your dog or cat’s drinking water to kill fleas.

CLEANING

  • Use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar to shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup.
  • Scouring cleanser:  1/4 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent – add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.
  • To clean and deodorize a drain or garbage disposal: pour 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar down drain or disposal. Let this sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the drain.
  • Place 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl in your microwave. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Wipe clean! Your baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear.
  • Clean your refrigerator shelves and walls with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.
  • You know that grime you get on the top of the refrigerator? A paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar will clean it off.
  • Saturate your grease splattered oven door window with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes and then wipe down with a sponge.
  • Pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle will remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher.
  • White distilled vinegar will remove mineral deposits from coffee makers. Add 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar to the water reservoir and run it through a whole cycle. Run it a couple times more with plain water to rinse clean. (You should check the owners’ manual first.)
  • Narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles that have that yucky film can be cleaned by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. To loosen stubborn stains add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously. If necessary repeat.
  • Clean your mini blinds easily by wearing pair of white cotton gloves. Run your fingers across both sides of each blind after having dipped the gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm tap water.
  • Spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances will discourage ants and pests from coming in.
  • Set out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar to get rid of fruit flies.
  • Bathroom germs can be killed with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar follow up by wiping clean with a damp cloth.
  • Grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, can be cleaned by wiping with undiluted white distilled vinegar and then rinsing with water.
  • Get rid of the hard water deposits on shower doors by spraying them with full-strength white distilled vinegar. The tracks can be cleaned by filling them with white distilled vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into them and wash and scrub away the scum with a toothbrush.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water makes an inexpensive tile cleaner.
  • A scummy showerhead can be cleaned by pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let it set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped then remove the bag and turn on the water.
  • Cleaning your no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water will give it a shining finish. For tough stains, apply full strength and let sit for 10-15 minutes before cleaning.
  • A great economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner can be made by mixing a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. For fast clean up spray sparingly and mop.
  • Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to reduce soap bubbles in a steam cleaner. To remove detergent residue and make carpets stay fresh longer, use the same amount in the rinse water.
  • Window cleaning solution: 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.
  • Wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop will get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors.
  • To remove wallpaper: Use a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water.
  • Dead mouse or other rodent smells (after removing all animal remnants) can be removed by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar and then placing a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.

So there you have it.  OH and one other thing, if you are worried about that smell…….relax! Once dried, it has no smell!

There are a ton more way you can use vinegar but hopefully this will be enough to get you started!

Posted in The Basics

OMG! I’ve Been Glutened!! Now What?

It’s gonna happen, no matter how safe you’ve tried to be.  You have accidentally ingested something with hidden gluten or has been cross contaminated and now you are sick.  Ugggh!  Woulda, coulda, shoulda……………yeah………we know……..but it’s done…….now what?

We all have different rituals to heal and feel better and you will have to figure out what works best for you.  Also, don’t forget everyone is different as to how long it takes to get back up and running.  One time I was been better after a day of yuck, another time it took me more than a week!  Depending on what your symptoms are, here are a few ideas to help deal until you can get back to “normal”:

First off, don’t beat yourself up about this.  It happens to all of us and probably won’t be the last time.  It is important to figure out where the gluten came from and make a mental note so that you can steer clear of whatever it is in the future.

Drink lots of water.   It is important to stay hydrated.

Sooth your tummy with some tea.  Pick one or a combo of:  Ginger, peppermint, fennel or chamomile.  Fresh is great, if not dried/teabags will work too.  All of these are great for calming the tummy, relaxing you and helping to relieve spasms, aches and gas.

Ginger – I keep candied ginger around just because and just in case.  Ginger is a wonderful little root that has all sorts of benefits like relief from inflammation, heart burn, nausea, stomach spasms and aids in digestion. Of course if you have fresh ginger and want to use that for your tea or in your food that is even better! 

Eat less and be bland! Sick to foods that are easy to digest, mashed potatoes, rice, soup, smoothies…….  Your tummy is already fighting the gluten, don’t make it work harder by trying to digest dairy, spicy or high fiber foods too.  Give it a day or three of feeling good before you start your regular eating again.

Get in a little exercise.  Key word here…….a little.  Don’t go crazy, but do some stretching or yoga.  Exercise will give you a little more energy and actually helps to detoxify your body.

Activated charcoal can help to alleviate diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.  When ingested, the activated charcoal adsorbs toxins and takes them out of the body before they can be absorbed.  Keep in mind that charcoal will absorb EVERYTHING, including medicines and vitamins you take and move it out before it gets a chance to absorb.  So you do not want to take this for days on end because while you are eliminating the toxins you are also eliminating all of the good stuff too!

Probiotics.  If you are not taking them already, now is the time to take some.  You gut is out of balance.  The “good bacteria” will help to get things back in order.  If you are not on them regularly, then take them till you feel better and keep them on hand.  If you are already taking them, up your dose for a few days.  Personally, I use FLORAJEN which for me works much better than the other ones I’ve tried.

Bentyl.  Before I realized that I was gluten intolerant, Bentyl was prescribed to me for stomach spasms.  Since being gluten free, I keep it on hand and take it when I’ve been glutened and my tummy is not cooperating.  It does not take away spasms 100%, but makes them MUCH more tolerable.

GlutenAid – This is a product at CVS that claims “CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid is specially formulated for individuals who feel unwell after eating wheat or grain and thus may have an intolerance to gluten.”  I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS.  But if you CLICK HERE there is another gluten free blogger that tried it and you can read what she experienced.  Please know that there is no cure for celiac or gluten intolerance.  The only way you can be symptom free is to completely avoid gluten.  This pill may or may not help with symptoms if you’ve been accidentally glutened and is absolutely NOT a pill to take so that you can purposely ingest gluten.  You will need to determine for yourself if you think this is worth it.

Digestive enzymes.  These help to breakdown different foods so that they can be absorbed/processed by the body.  Different enzymes help with different foods.  Some people have found this helps when they have been glutened.  Personally I have not tried this so I cannot say yay or nay.  But I will say again – if you are celiac or even gluten intolerant, this is not something that will “allow” you to eat gluten.

Ibuprofen. This can help to reduce the inflammation.  Please be sure that your brand of ibuprofen is gluten free!

I hope something in this list will help you!  Keep in mind, this too shall pass…….

Live and LOVE Gluten Free!!

Posted in The Basics

What Does Gluten DO to me?

Well lets start with the fact that gluten has NO nutritional benefits.  So by removing gluten from your diet, you will not be missing out on something important.  There are many people who have no issues at all with gluten and this post is NOT about them.  This post is for the 15% of U.S. population who have gluten sensitivity in some form.

Those with some form of gluten sensitivity can experience many problems such as hives, difficulty breathing, and digestive issues; in serious cases, a person can experience anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction that can be life-threatening.  Gluten can also cause damage and inflammation in the small intestine, bloating, weight loss, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue and headaches.

For those of you who might like a little more detailed description of what it does in your body: you have small hair-like projections on the intestinal wall which are called villi.  Their function is to absorb the nutrients and vitamins as food passes through the intestines and help break it down. Gluten attacks the villi, wearing them down so that they can no longer function as they should (no longer absorbs nutrients and vitamins) which leaves you malnourished.

Sometimes, tiny holes are created in the intestinal lining, which lets food particles leak into your bloodstream rather than being broken down and absorbed normally. Your body’s natural defense system will fight these “foreign invaders” and attack the body.  You may see symptoms like skin rashes, eczema, bloating, mouth sores, and headaches and more.

Both Celiac disease and gluten intolerance create inflammation throughout the body, with 200-300 possible effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.”

Re-read that part……….TWO to THREE HUNDRED possible symptoms!  That is crazy! No wonder why it is so often mis-diagnosed.  Different organs can be affected by different types of gluten sensitivity and it can affect more than one area, again complicating diagnosis.  

When damage takes place in the cerebellum, the balance center of the brain that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing.   This is called Gluten Ataxia and is a neurologic condition characterized by the loss of balance and coordination. However it can also affect fingers, hands, arms, legs, speech and even eye movements. Typical symptoms include difficulty walking or walking with a wide gait, frequent falls, difficulty judging distances or position, visual disturbances and tremor.

When it affects your skin it is dermatitis herpetiformis.   This is a chronic blistering skin condition, characterized by blisters filled with a watery fluid.

When gluten affects the small bowel, this is celiac disease.  

The Gluten Free Network had some interesting points on Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance:

Celiac disease is an immune reaction, a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, to the protein called gluten. While celiac disease is initially an auto-immune disorder, it is also a disease of malabsorption, because essential nutrients are not absorbed.  If you imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms, celiac disease is usually at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions.

Gluten intolerance often has a slower onset than celiac disease, and may be hard to diagnose due to the broad range of symptoms and causes.  Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerance have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

A partial list from Celiac.com shows signs and symptoms of malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies associated with Celiac Disease to be:

Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating; Anemia; Diarrhea; Easy bruising; Epistaxis (nose bleeding); Fatigue or general weakness; Flatulence; Fluid retention; Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage; Infertility; Iron deficiency anemia; lymphocytic gastritis; Muscle weakness; Muscle wasting; Nausea; Panic Attacks; Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage); Stunted growth in children; Vertigo; Vitamin B12 deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency; Vitamin K deficiency; Vomiting; Voracious appetite; Weight loss or Obesity.

Celiac.com also shares a list of disorders and conditions that may have a connection to gluten intolerance:

Addison’s Disease; Anemia; Arthritis; Ataxia, Nerve Disease, Neuropathy, Brain Damage; Attention Deficit Disorder; Autism; Bacterial Overgrowth; Casein / Cows Milk Intolerance; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Cognitive Impairment; Crohn’s Disease; Depression; Diabetes; Down Syndrome; Dyspepsia, Acid Reflux; Epilepsy; Fertility, Pregnancy, Miscarriage; Fibromyalgia; Flatulence (Gas); Gall Bladder Disease; Gastrointestinal Bleeding; Infertility, Impotency; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Intestinal Permeability; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Kidney Disease; Liver Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple Sclerosis; Obesity, Overweight & Celiac Disease; Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Bone Density; Psoriasis; Refractory Celiac Disease & Collagenous Sprue; Sarcoidosis; Schizophrenia / Mental Problems; Sepsis; Sjogrens Syndrome; Skin Problems and Thyroid & Pancreatic Disorders.

THIS IS NO JOKE PEOPLE!

I would like to be clear here………….this does NOT mean that everyone with depression or an autoimmune disease or any of the above mentioned symptoms/disorders/conditions has gluten sensitivity.

What it DOES mean is that if you have any chronic illness, or one or more of the above listed issues and do not seem to experience relief from what the doctor prescribed, perhaps you should consider the cause could be gluten sensitivity.

How can you correct this?  You need to treat the cause not just the symptoms.

Eliminate gluten-from their diet – not just “cut back” on it.

This information only scratches the surface of what is available. Please check WebMd, Celiac.org, Celiac.com and many other sites for more detailed info.  I hope that this has given you a little insight as to the seriousness of gluten intolerance.

Live and LOVE gluten free!