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!!

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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!