Gluten Free Fitness

Nutrition

Follow up on Nutrient Absorption and Importance of Vitamins in Celiacs

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You may have read my previous post on common nutritional deficiencies found in individuals with celiac disease. If not, go read it here.

Today I read a post by Mike at the Gluten Free Blog about the positive benefits of supplementing with the nutrients that are commonly lacking-Vitamin B6, B12 and folate. Specifically what they examined was the effect of these nutrients on homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine are correlated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Regular B Vitamin supplementation appeared to have a positive effect. It certainly appears to be something worth looking into.

To read the full post on the Gluten Free Blog, click here.

Gluten Free Sports Supplement Review-Think Thin™ Bars

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Yes, I know these aren’t really sports supplements per se. They are more like a meal replacement or snack bar. I’ve had quite a few people ask me about gluten free protein bars, so this will be the first in a series of reviews. Keep in mind as with any review, the taste bit is obviously my opinion only, so your opinion may be different. I will do my best as be as descriptive as possible. The label/nutrition facts part will be much more objective.

So off we go!

According to an email response I received from Diane Hammer at thinkproducts, Inc:

All of our nutrtion bars are certified wheat & gluten free and are processed in a wheat free facility.

They are also labeled as gluten free. We’re off to a good start.

Think! Products have several different varieties of nutrition bars, I will be focusing on the Think Thin bars.

First impressions

At first inspection the Think Thin nutrition facts look pretty good. It’s labeled as sugar free, has about 240 calories give or take depending on the flavor, 20 grams of protein, 7-8 grams of fat, and 26 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which is fiber. However, it also has 10-13 grams of sugar alcohols. This is where it gets interesting.

Sugar alcohols – strike 1

A quick primer on sugar alcohols. Some of you may already be uncomfortably familiar with sugar alcohols. I know I am. Sugar alcohols, commonly seen as malitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and lactitol, are frequently used in items marketed as “sugar free.” They are sweeteners, and not fully absorbed into the small intestine. (Alert!Alert!) What is not absorbed by the small intestine is converted into a short chained fatty acid in the large intestine.

Sugar alcohols DO HAVE CALORIES! Approximately 2-3 calories per gram, whereas a “regular” carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram. So when you see labels that subtract out sugar alcohols from carbohydrate grams to give you a “net carb” count-that’s not strictly true.

Sugar alcohols do tend to not affect blood sugar as much as glucose, or sugar. So they’re not a “free food.” OK, now here’s the bad part. Sugar alcohols, due to the whole absorption thing, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and gas. Our celiac tummies seem to be a bit more susceptible than your average Joe or Jane. I know mine is. Strike 1.

Soy protein – strike 2

So now a closer look at the rest of the ingredients. First ingredient is a protein blend, OK great, but wait. It has soy protein as a second ingredient in the blend. Strike 2 for me. I can tolerate some natural soy foods, like edamame, but not concentrated into supplements. Then the sugar alcohols next. More soy in “crisps.” The rest of the ingredients appear “mostly harmless” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference ) and vary dependent on the flavor. They contain 25% of RDA for calcium and Vitamin C, A, B12, B6, and thiamin, 30% for iron, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Nothing crazy, nice to have those in there though.

Flavor review – strike 3?

  • Brownie Crunch-tied as my favorite flavor with Chunky Peanut Butter. Had a good chocolate flavor with the “soy crisps” providing the crunch. A little aftertaste. Pretty dry.
  • Chunky Peanut Butter-ties with the above. Strong peanut flavor, which to me was good. Also dry.
  • Chocolate Mudslide-a “mocha-esque” flavor. If you don’t like coffee you won’t like it. Dry-see a pattern?
  • White Chocolate Chip-this was just flat out bad. The others had a fake milk chocolate coating, this one had a fake white chocolate coating that was way too sweet. The bar itself had no good flavor and was like cardboard. ‘Nuff said.

After I ate the first one I only had bites of the others, because my stomach was NOT happy. I do get the side effects of sugar alcohols, so for the sake of myself, my dog, my fiance and anyone else I may come in contact with I minimized the intake.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, and only you know how you respond. Quite frankly, the macronutrient profile (protein/carb/fat) is good, I’m just not crazy about the ingredients. If you are OK with sugar alcohols and soy, this would be a good, portable option to have for a safe snack or small meal replacement.

As far as cost, I got them at Whole Foods for $1.25 each on sale, and Amazon carries thinkThin™

Have you tried these? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

Preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success

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You’ve probably heard it before, and deep down you know it’s true.

Preparing your own food is generally less expensive and can be more healthful that eating out or buying prepared food.

And for celiacs, it’s safer too. No risk for cross-contamination, no worries.

Some people think they don’t have the time to cook for themselves, or that they just are incapable of cooking.

I can assure you, I am not a chef.

An example of what I take to work for a day

An example of what I take to work for a day

I have learned a lot from watching the Food Network, but you’ll see the recipes I post are not gourmet by a long shot. There are other gluten free bloggers out there who are extremely talented. (like Karina the gluten free goddess, Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, or Elana’s Pantry, to name just a couple of the many very talented cooks out there.

My recipes are easy, straightforward, and healthy. Because quite frankly, these are my priorities and what I am capable of. I am a big fan of cooking in bulk-cook once, eat multiple times. If you have to heat up the oven, you may as well cook a metric ton (otherwise known as several pounds-I tend to exaggerate) of chicken breasts, your eggy breakfast casserole, some fish and some veggies at the same time.

This helps save time in the long run. Spend an hour or two a couple times a week, and save time, money, energy, and calories all week long. You will probably need some food storage containers for all your stuff, so make sure you’re prepared with those.

Sunday: Shop, cook and Prepare Day

Really, this could be any day, but if you work a regular work week you may find it easiest to get a large amount done on the weekend. When you go to the grocery/market, choose items in large quantities if possible. I am fortunate enough to have a food market nearby where I can buy boneless skinless, antibiotic free chicken breast for $1.79/lb.

A large turkey breast can be thrown in the crock-pot, or a couple whole chickens. A couple pork tenderloin, a big top round beef roast-you get the idea. Take advantage of what is in season and what’s on sale to stretch your grocery dollar. And it may mean buying something you’re not familiar with. Take a chance! Google it up and try it out-a little variety is good for the soul, and the body.

Some veggies that are great for roasting are brussel sprouts, (give ’em a shot-they’re better than you remember I’ll bet) fennel, asparagus. Root veggies like potaties, sweet potatoes, tunips and rutabaga are wonderful roasted, along with squashes. Summertime zucchini roasts awesomely well. I mention roasting because for now we’re addressing stuff can can cook in the oven all at once. When you get home, clean up your veggies.

Snacks

I’ll buy some bell peppers and slice them up to keep in the fridge when the snackies hit, and they are great in salads. Jicama is terribly ugly in it’s natural state, all brown and furry, but when you peel it and slice it it is a lovely white sweet-ish crunch. Broccoli can go on sale and be very inexpensive when you buy the whole head, same with cauliflower. Cut ’em up. They roast really well too. I was shocked how sweet broccoli got when roasted, not bitter at all.

So here’s an example. Clean and trim up your chicken breasts, and line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Give it a little mist (LOVE the Misto) and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon pepper. One layer only, please. Combine your ingredients for the eggy breakfast casserole and get that ready. Peel some root veggies and cube ’em up. For this time of year, you can go for some butternut squash too. Or halve an acorn squash and place it cut side up. Then, put your ovenat 400 and let everything cook for 30 minutes. I use a convection oven, so that does it for me, but adjust as necessary. Toss in some scrubbed whole potatoes if you’ve got room.

Multitasking to save time

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

While that’s cooking, you can use your stovetop to boil some water and cook some gluten free oats, some quinoa, or some rice. Hard boil some eggs while your at it. Blanch some green beans. You can get the majority of your breakfast foods, side dishes for grains, done now. If you want to check and see how long things will keep if you pre-pare them (for lack of a better word) check out Still Tasty. Great resource, beats the smell test by a mile. At the end of this hour or so, you’ll have enough food for at least a couple days. The “bones” of your meal are there, just fill in with fresh/frozen veggies or salads, or fruit.

Cook up some more bulk protein foods such as a big turkey breast or pork loin in the Crock Pot while you’re at work on
Tuesday/Wednesday. Good for another couple days.Buy in bulk and divide into single servings almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.

Now that you have everything cooked, you can divide up for storage

Generally I’ll keep all the chicken in one container, rice in another, etc. Then, the night before I divide up enough meals for my next day. Because I eat every few hours, I take several food containers to work. I’ll put my protein, carb, veggie portion into a container so in the morning I grab my stack and go. During the day, I pull out my dish and I’m ready to eat.

You can do this! It’s easy when you plan. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

I’d love to hear your suggestions-please post up in the comments!