Gluten Free Fitness

celiac disease

Gratitude, Awareness and Prevention: Living a Healthy Gluten Free Bountiful Life

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This is going to be a bit of a one-off blog post: consider this my “op-ed” section. We all as individuals have developed our own opinions and outlooks that are shaped by our own unique experiences. I hope some of you will share your outlook in the comments.

Attitude of gratitude

I like to think I live my life, for the most part, with an “attitude of gratitude.” Just like everyone else, I certainly have my fair share of days where I forget my overall outlook and succumb to a “poor me” day, or get annoyed with things that I really shouldn’t let bother me. In general though, I try to take just a few minutes each day to mentally review all of the wonderful things in my life. (Usually in the shower. Seriously. It’s a guaranteed 10 minutes of quiet time daily.)

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

As some of you may have read in my previous post, I consider the fact that I have celiac disease to be a blessing in disguise. I work in health care, which is a very stable line of work even in an uncertain economy. I have a family that loves me with all my imperfections. I have a very cool dog. And I have my health. And this is where I hope to share a bit of awareness and hopefully, a bit of prevention.

Metabolic syndrome

In 2007, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a paper showing that at that point in time, 47 million Americans (25%) had metabolic syndrome, and I’m quite certain the numbers have grown since that date.

Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe a collection of health problems that linked with higher incidences of heart disease and other medical problems such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

It’s preventable

For the most part, the causes of metabolic syndrome are PREVENTABLE. Some are not, such as genetics, and aging. However, the preventable causes are a large waist circumference, which goes hand in hand with another risk factor, being overweight/obese. Lack of physical activity is another preventable risk factor.

Now before you tune me out, remember that I am not here to preach or judge. I am simply providing information for you to then go and make your independent informed choices. At the end of this article I am going to provide you with some links you can visit for additional information on metabolic syndrome.

Making changes

So what can we do to reverse or prevent metabolic syndrome? (Which will then lower our chances of developing one of these preventable diseases.) Well, it’s simple, but it’s not easy. It will take perhaps a change of perspective, and definitely a change in habit. But it is certainly achievable, and within everyone’s reach.

  1. Weight loss. As little as a 7-10% reduction of body weight will help-I’m not saying you have to be a bikini model. (Although you can certainly do that of you wish!) This will take a combination of eating less, easting smarter, and moving more. It does not mean deprivation or hours upon hours of exercise. What it does take it time, dedication, and consistency. One of my favorite quotes from Lyle McDonald is “Time+consistency+ass busting work=results.” It’s that simple. (not easy-simple.)
  2. A healthy eating plan. This will help with weight loss! And frankly, celiacs have an advantage here as far as I’m concerned. As I mentioned in the “blessing in disguise” post, we already have to be hyper-aware of what goes into our mouths. Naturally gluten free foods can be very nutrient rich and satiating given the right choices. So take it a step further, and use that as a springboard to a weight loss plan. For more specifics on this, please sign up to download the nutrition guide which you will see at the end of this post.
  3. Increase physical activity. Again-will help with weight loss. It doesn’t take hours of extremely intense activity. Start by walking more. As much as possible more. Start with down to the corner if you have to, and gradually progress. Remember, the road to health is not a sprint-this sucker is an ultra-marathon. Start with some, and increase to more, and your progress stalls-increase again. Don’t over complicate it. Walk if you can stand, stand instead of sit, you get the idea.
  4. Quit smoking. Just do it. That’s all I can really say about that. (channeling Forrest Gump.)
Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, you may be wondering why I am choosing to make this post today-to make you feel guilty about eating some goodies tomorrow?

Absolutely not. A handful of holidays a year is not going to make or break your health. It’s the other 359 days that you need to be concerned about.

So go ahead and eat mindfully and with joy. Make smart choices as I mentioned in my holiday season post. But remember this is about the long haul-not one meal. I am writing
because upon reflecting on my gratitude-I am thankful that I have this platform to assist in educating others, and hopefully making their lives better and healthier.

I am very fortunate to have learned about living healthfully and fully early in my life, and sometimes I know I may skip over stuff because it is second nature to me. So call me on it. Ask me to explain something if I’m not clear. My goal is to make information about living well easy to understand and implement. In the words of Jerry Maguire-“help me help you!”

Have a fabulous holiday!


Links for more information on metabolic syndrome

6 Tips for a Healthy Gluten Free Holiday Season

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Yes, here it is, the top five six tips for having a healthy gluten free holiday season. Enjoy!

1. If attending a party or gathering with food, ask the host if you can bring something.

Choose to bring something that is both healthful and gluten free so you are guaranteed an excellent eating option. My fail-safe is a veggie crudite platter
with a dip. Blend a gluten free powdered seasoning/dressing mix like an italian or ranch with fat free ricotta or greek yogurt and a bit of low fat sour cream, and you have a tasty and reasonably healthy dip. With a little more work you could throw a can of rinsed white beans, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and sea salt into the food processor and have a great bean dip. Roasted chickpeas are a also a big hit. You could go as simple or as complicated as you have time for, just make sure you make a good option for yourself and others.

2. Prior to attending said party/gathering, if it is a sit-down affair, alert the host to your intolerance to gluten/celiac disease and ask if there is anything you should avoid.

I never ask someone to alter their plans, but it’s fair enough to know ingredients to keep yourself safe. I had an experience last Thanksgiving that will keep me always mindful of this. Usually I host and cook for Thanksgiving. Last year, Jeff was working, so I went to the fire station with the rest of the
families for dinner. I violated my own rules by NOT bringing something I could eat-I took 2 glutinous Key Lime pies (which I was told were very good.)

The turkey came out on platters, sliced and looking delicious. I had turkey breast, sweet potato, roasted vegetables, and cranberry sauce. I started feeling sick while sitting at the table. I made it home before the glutening hit with full force. Glutened for sure, and it sucked. I could not figure out what it was-there was no gluten in anything! (Aha-grasshopper-I was wrong.) My Dad actually thought of it a few days later when I was feeling better. “Was the turkey stuffed when it was cooking?” Jeff asked the guy who cooked-and sure enough-that was it.
Stuffing in the bird, dangit. So always, always-if you are in doubt, ask. It’s just not worth it.

3. If you know you will be indulging, don’t be afraid to cut back calories that day.

I’m not saying don’t eat ANYTHING so you’re starving and eat the entire table including the candles. Just try to keep it to small portions of vegetables and lean proteins, like chicken breast, low fat dairy, lean red meats, tuna, etc. This will keep you from being starving, but will also keep your calories lower to allow more space to eat before you start going over your maintenance calorie intake.

4. Choose your weapon wisely.

There will be lots of higher calorie options available. It’s not necessary to eat all of them-at least not a lot of all of them. If you must have multiple higher calorie options, (And I’m not saying don’t do it -the holidays are once a year-enjoy the foods you don’t ordinarily eat) try to have smaller portions of them. Sit for a while before going back for seconds. Something I always do subconsciously is ask myself-“Is this worth it?” Meaning-is the calorie cost worth the taste. My friend Jay at the Gluten Free Post tweeted (twitted? whatever) the other day that he was eating greasy Five Guys fries. (I think I am his food confessional somehow) And I asked-“were they worth it?” His answer was no. So I thank him for that, and I will continue with my occasional calorie splurges on items that ARE worth it-like dark chocolate peanut M&M’s and chocolate ice cream.

5. Exercise.

Try to exercise regularly, but especially on the days you’ll be having a food-fest. If you train with weights, a great time to train your weakest bodypart is before the food influx. You can take advantage of some of the positive partitioning that weight training gives. Am I saying all the food will be magically converted to muscle? Nope. Maybe in the land of unicorns it might, and I want to go there. But, it can’t hurt, might help, so why not.

Why is it when I intend to make a list of 5 I end up with 6?

6. Just move.

Outside of organized exercise, move around more. Get the family out for a walk after the meal, clean with house with vim and vigor before company comes over, play tag, play catch, chase the dog out of the kitchen, fight the crowds for sales-the list is endless. I bet Black Friday shopping could burn a ton of calories if it’s full contact shopping! 😉 Allow no one to collapse on the couch instead of helping clean up.

It’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that you must be a weight-gaining machine for the next month.

Give yourself the gift of taking care of yourself-and doing it well.

Happy Holiday Eating!

Eating Healthfully and Flavorfully (is that a word?) Gluten Free

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There are many wonderful gluten free food and recipe blogs that you can take a look at for ideas, and I’m going to list a few for you at the end of this post. But barring a specific recipe-what if you just want to cook, not follow a recipe per se? Here are 6 tips (I wanted to do a top 5 list-but ended up with 6) to help make your meals flavorful, healthful, and keep them gluten free.

6 tips for flavorful, healthful, gluten free meals

1. Get the best ingredients possible.
Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby

If you have the ability to obtain locally grown food in season-use it! It will be fresher and hold more natural flavor than a food that has had to travel, or is being produced out of season. Generally it will be less expensive as well. If that’s not an option, frozen veggies are generally more flavorful than canned.

Keep an eye out for ingredients-believe it or not. I almost fell over the other day when “sugar” was the third ingredient on a box of frozen snap peas. Exceptions to the frozen general rule would be canned beans-which are way more convienent than dried beans, and personally I like canned artichokes.

2. Don’t be afraid to use spices.

How many of the spices in your rack have you actually used? Give them a shot! Take a look in the spice aisle at the grocery store-there are so many options out there. If you choose a spice blend, make sure to check the label for hidden gluten. I tend to use these quite a bit:

  • Lemon Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Grill Seasining
  • Lime Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Creole Seasoning
3. Citrus is your friend.

lime

Lime and lemon juices and zests can add a ton of flavor with little to no caloric impact. You can use them in a marinade, a rub, a garnish, in a sauce-however you’d like.

My favorite marinade for flank steak is fresh squeezed lime juice, grill seasoning, chopped garlic, and a bit of olive oil. Easy and very good.

I made chicken breasts the other night-the go to food in my house.

  1. Some fresh lemon zest, some chopped garlic, sea salt, and some fresh rosemary went into the Magic Bullet.
  2. Process until reasonably chopped up.
  3. Press mixture into chicken breasts, add to preheated skillet or grill pan, and cook.
  4. Add in the juice from the lemons you zested.
  5. Viola. Very flavorful, lemon herbed chicken.

Easy. (This is why I don’t post a lot of specific recipes-I cook fairly simply like this all the time.)

4. Mustards are fabulous!

There are so many different varieties of mustard out there, and mustards are naturally very low in calories and sugar, and fat free. Some of the fancy mustards may have added ingredients, so always check labels for hidden gluten or sugars.

There is a mustard called Vivi’s Carnival Mustard that I love to straight up dip veggies in. It’s a bit spicy, but it’s very good. They also provide a bunch of recipes for the mustard and different uses.

Don’t give up on the grocery though-dijon mustard is great for kicking up flavor in homemade salad dressings without adding a lot of fat, and is great mixed with tuna. (I promise-give it a try!) Straight up yellow can be useful in making a BBQ sauce of sorts, and is really good when mixed with pork rub seasoning and rubbed onto a pork tenderloin. A lot a flavor for the calorie buck.

5. Fresh herbs are always a great bet.

parsley

I wish I could grow my own herbs. I have a black thumb. My fiance is a wonderful gardener, and all of our plants owe their lives to him. I couldn’t even grow the Chia Herb Garden. No lie.

I am fortunate though, that the food market I frequent has a fairly large selection of reasonably proced fresh herbs. I get cilantro for fresh salsa, rosemary and thyme for chicken and pork, basil for tomato, and mint for mojitos.

Make sure to add your fresh herbs toward the end of cooking, or use a quicker cooking method with them. In other words-they don’t hold up too well in a crockpot, and their great fresh flavor is lost.

6. Explore the world of vinegars.

There are way more varieties of vinegar than I was aware of a few years ago. Now, I always have on hand a balsamic vinegar (I use the most), a red wine vinegar, an apple cider vinegar, and a white wine vinegar. Usually rice vinegar.

You can make an awesome salad dressing very easily with dijon mustard, balsamic or red wine vinegar, a little EVOO/Enova oil and spice you like. Shake and serve. If you have fresh herbs, add in some basil and you can’t get any fresher, you know?

Apple cider vinegar mixed with Dijonnaise, nonfat greek yogurt and celery salt makes a great lower fat coleslaw.

Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom is going to do a balsamic reduction (which gets very sweet and awesome) over her brussel sprouts. They also make great marinades, and great sauces.

Experiment-I find that no sugar added preserves with a vinegar and some Dijon mustard make a lovely sauce, especially if you have a pan that needs deglazing.

For example-I sear a pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet, which then goes into the oven to finish cooking. When it’s done, I remove the pork and let it rest, then add the no sugar added preserves (my favorites are cherry and apricot), deglaze the pan with vinegar (balsamic+cherry, apple cider+apricot), add dijon, let come to a bubble and keep stirring. A flavorful easy sauce.

Let me know how it goes!

I hope this helps! It’s my belief that is you have a few go-to techniques, you don’t always have to follow a recipe. But when you do want to follow a recipe, you can check out these lovely folks for ideas. These are only a few of the great gluten free food blogs that are out there.

Happy Eating!

Nutrient deficiencies in the gluten free diet: Research review by Peter Bronski

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As we all have heard, having celiac disease can cause some problems with absorbing key nutrients from foods. I wrote a post on it which you can find here. Adding to this problem is the fact that many engineered-to-be gluten free foods are highly processed, which can lower the nutritional value. (Nutritional bang for your caloric buck.)

Peter Bronksi (who was a featured gluten free athlete-you can read his profile here has written a great 2 part blog post which reviews a report that was published on celiac individuals and the lack of nutrients in processed gluten free foods. He brings up some very good points. All in all-I recommend you take the time to read the information and as always, make an independent informed decision. But-I have to say it-whole, naturally gluten free foods for the win!

To read Peter’s posts, click on the parts below:

You can also check out Peter’s cookbook: Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

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Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

The Purely Elizabeth baking mix line was recently launched, and offers a healthier choice for individuals with food intolerances including celiac disease. The mixes are free of sugar, dairy, wheat and gluten. Eizabeth Stein is a holistic nutrition counselor. She was very kind and had sent me the Apple Spice muffin mix which you can find the review here, the cacao muffin mix, and the pancake mix which is calling my name from the cabinet, but I have not yet tried.

I made these this morning as a kickoff to what should be a fun weekend. Chocolate on A Saturday morning-can life get any better?

Still no nutritional info on the package

As I mentioned in my previous review, it would be my preference to have the nutrition facts printed on the package instead of having to go to the site. Also, the nutrition facts given are for the mix only, not the muffin as prepared, so be aware. I believe the labeling may be addressed in the future as this is only the beginning of what I think is a company with great potential in the future.

Ingredients

The ingredients in the mix are:

Millet Flour, Corn Flour, Almond Flour, Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Flax Seed, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Chia Seed, Aluminum Free Baking Powder, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt.

So far, so good. Stuff you can recognize as actual food, and pronounce.

The instructions recommend adding agave syrup, rice milk, one egg, olive oil and vanilla.

Here I took a few liberties. I added 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips (had to be done,), used moo juice instead of rice milk (no dairy probelms here and didn’t have rice milk,) substituted 1.5 TBSP coconut oil and 1/2 cup applesauce for the olive oil (personal preference,) cut the agave syrup amount in half and added a bit of stevia (personal preference again to keep caloried slightly lower, especially since I was adding in the chocolate chips-you have to give a little to get a little, you get me? Make the calories even out.)

I also kept the baking time slightly lower to 18 minutes as I have a convection oven. The smell while they were baking was absolutely heavenly.

Verdict

These ROCK!!!

I am a chocolate freak, I admit that. When it comes to ice cream, I always will have chocolate or a variation thereof. So I am biased toward anything chocolate. These were very good-lots of chocolate flavor. The hemp, flax and chia seeds add a nice crunch to counter the sweetness. They are sweet without being overly sweet, really a nice balance. Taste I give these a 9/10.

Nutritionally, far better than any other chocolate muffin you may find. Ingredient list is great. As I prepared them, here is the nutritional breakdown per muffin (makes 12.)

  • 137 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 23 grams of carbohydrate, 4 from fiber
  • 3 grams of protein.
For breakfast or a snack

The Purely Elizabeth Cacao muffins would be great to have along with a protein source for breakfast or a snack. You could have some greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs or egg white omelette. (For more information about setting up a healthy nutrition plan, sign up for the free guideline at the end of this post or the top right hand part of the page.)

The trick is eating just one. I may freeze them individually and remove one at a time. Otherwise I could easily eat them all, like now.

For more information on Purely Elizabeth and to order click here.

All in all, highly recommended. Give them a shot! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Kimberly Bouldin

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I originally “found” Kim through her blog-she has some great stuff so make sure to check her out. Then she “twitted”-or whatever-“tweeted?” about going running and I said to myself-“Self-check this lady out!” Here she is!

Kimberly Bouldin

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Hi, I am Kim. I live in central Ohio, right outside of Columbus with my husband and 2 kids. My current sport is running. I am training for a half-marathon on October 18th. I hope to train for a full marathon next May! I just ran my first race ever in July, a 10K (ran it in 53:22). I finished 2nd in my age group & 25th overall (out of 75). (Editor note: Whoohoo! Way to go! I was a gymnast growing up. I started at age 5 until I was 13 or 14.

As far as celiac and diagnosis, I had suffered on & off since I was a teen with anorexia. I had a recurrence as an adult, after the birth of my daughter. It wasn’t nearly as severe as the first time, but still, something that needed addressed. I began to see a dietician. The dietician is the one who suggested I get tested for Celiac disease after my telling her about all the foods that bothered me when I ate them. I had previously been told that I had IBS (editor note:see-the garbage can diagnosis strikes again!). My bloodwork was positive and I was instructed to go gluten-free. It was only after I went gluten-free that I saw a GI doctor, who wanted me to go back on gluten to confirm the diagnosis with an endoscopy/biopsy. I declined because I felt so much better off of gluten….it was night & day.

That was enough for me. I went on to have my kids tested and my son was diagnosed at the age of 10 with Celiac disease. He did have the endoscopy/biopsy done. I knew better by the time he was tested. He is a thriving, happy 13 year old hockey player now. 😉

I am not positive what my trigger was, but I suspect it was the birth of my first child in 1996. I started
having stomach issues after having him. They got much worse after the birth of my 2nd child in 2002.

Training

Right now my training consists of lots of running. LOL! I run 5 days/week and my max was 35 mpw-miles per week (editor note-I hardly even drive 35 miles per week). I also try to incoprorate strength training, but that has gotten tough as my mileage increased. I am now in the tapering stage of my training, so I am working back in some crosstraining & strength training.

Nutrition

My nutritional philosophy is pretty simple: I strive to eat mainly whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. I do enjoy the occasional treat (dark chocolate is my best friend), but I feel best eating little to no processed foods. I also stay clear of artifical sweetners as much as I can. They really seem to irritate my stomach. If I need to sweeten food or baked goods, I use sugar or agave nectar.

Favorite pre-post workout foods are plain & simple – bananas before. Afterwards…egg white omelet w/spinach & tomatoes, waffles or brown rice cakes with almond butter and fruit spread and fresh fruit.

Favorite sports supplements

Long runs over 8 miles require fueling mid-run & drinking gatorade (powdered & diluted) to keep me from getting dehydrated. For my mid-run fuel, I rely on Clif Shots or Shot Bloks for the most part. They are caffeine free (I don’t drink caffeine) and don’t bother my stomach.

Upcoming competitions

Half Marathon on 10/18/2009 and full marathon in May 2010

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Make sure to treat your body right. Make sure to properly fuel your body for the best performance possible.

You can find out more about Kim at her blog Gluten Free is Life

Thanks for sharing, Kim, and best wishes on your upcoming races!

Purely Elizabeth Apple Spice Muffin Mix: Gluten Free Product Review

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Purely Elizabeth Apple Spice Muffin Mix

Purely Elizabeth Apple Spice Muffin Mix

I was very pleased when I read about this new line of gluten free baking mixes. They are dairy, sugar and gluten free. Rejoice! They also are made with nutrition in mind-incorporating whole grains instead of highly processed rice flour, which is very common in gluten free mixes. Also included are omega 3 containing flax, hemp and chia seeds.

Elizabeth was kind enough to send me samples of the apple spice muffin mix, the cacao muffin mix, and the pancake mix. I tried the apple muffin mix today.

No nutritional info on the packet

One thing I noticed immediately, that personally I would like to see as far as packaging goes: The nutrition facts are not printed on the mix package itself. You can find the nutrition facts (which are for the non-prepared dry mix only) on the website. I would like to see that on the actual package as well. I realize that it is a nit-picky detail though.

Substitutions

I also have to say I did not prepare the mix exactly as directed, so I violated a cardinal rule. I made two substitutions. I have nothing against healthy fats, but today I wanted to keep my fat intake lower and carbohydrates higher. Instead of 1/2 cup of olive oil, I used 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce plus 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. I also used 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1/4 cup of sugar free pancake syrup (which was sweetened with Splenda.)

Ingredients

The ingredients in the mix are:

  • Millet Flour
  • Corn flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Organic Coconut Flour
  • Flax Seed
  • Organic Hemp Seed
  • Organic Chia Seed
  • Aluminum Free Baking Powder
  • Organic Cinnamon
  • Organic Nutmeg
  • Sea Salt

I like that. A lot. Nothing that is not real food, unpronouncable, or has more that 4 syllables.

Directions are to add 1/2 maple syrup, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup of diced baking apple (I shredded mine with a grater instead of chopping,) 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 egg. Also easy to pronounce. NICE!

The smell of the mix was quite strongly spicy, in a good cinnamin-y way. The smell in the house when they were baking was really wonderful.

With the substitutions I mentioned above, here is the nutrition (macronutrient-see definition here) breakdown per muffin, with making 12 muffins.

Nutritional info
  • 110 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 16 grams of carbs (4 of which are fiber)
  • 2 grams of protein
Results

The muffins came out with a nice crusty muffin top, but the inside was moist.

The seeds in the mix add a nice little crunch which I liked. We had 3 testers in the house. Myself, my non-celiac Dunkin-Donut muffin loving fiance, and our dog Tess.

Reviews

Nice crunch on the top, good texture with the seeds and apple, good level of moisture. Not terribly sweet. (a good thing.) 1 muffin left me wanting a second. Not so good for me, but a good reflection on the product.

My fiance liked the crunchy top and the flavor. Thought the texture was a bit off-probably tasted too healthy to him, since it wasn’t bleached white flour 😉

Tess the dog didn’t eat her piece. She likes glutinous pizzza crusts though, so her taste is suspect.

Conclusion

Overall, I give the entire product a 6-7/10. I think for celiacs this is a wonderful option. For non-celiacs they may still notice the different texture. The nutritional profile is quite stellar for a baked good which is really a treat. Since I did not prepare it exactly as directed, it may be slightly different. Bottom line is that this is a great addition to the gluten free baking mix fray, with quality ingredients and nutrition.

Give them a try yourself and post your experience below! You can find more information at Purely Elizabeth.

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Caitlin Burman

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Caitlin is here in my neck of the woods in South Florida. It was a pleasure to learn her story!

Caitlin Burman

Caitlin Burman Gluten Free Triathlete

Caitlin Burman: Gluten free triathlete

Age: 21
Location: I’m currently at school at the University of Miami, Florida and live in Coral Gables. Originally from Severna Park, Maryland. I have competed in 10 triathlons, including two Collegiate National Championships.

I was diagnosed in March 2009. I was in the process of being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and was having unbearable stomach pains, headaches, and was always fatigued. After being told everything from it was stress to IBS, I did some research and found celiac. I insisted on being tested. My results were negative, but because my symptoms persisted, I insisted on being tested again. My results were still negative, but my stomach was bloated and I was still having pain. I decided to go gluten free anyway. Within 24 hours, all of my symptoms disappeared. I do not know my trigger, and in hindsight, I have probably been dealing with this most of my life.

Caitlin’s training schedule:
I swim four times per week, cycle twice per week, teach a Spin class twice per week, and run three times per week.

Nutritional philosophy:
I believe we are what we eat. If you eat large heavy meals, you will be large and heavy! I don’t believe in eating processed foods. I don’t think humans were meant to consume chemicals. I eat a balance of lean meat, fruits and vegetables, with very few grains. I prefer to eat locally grown organic foods, to help contribute to a sustainable earth.

Her favorite pre and post workout foods:
My favorite pre workout food is a Lemon LaraBar. After a hard workout, I like a guava smoothie.

Her favorite sports supplements are:
Orange GU chomps. They even guarantee gluten free on the box!

Caitlin’s current plans:
I’m currently training for USAT’s Collegiate National Championship in April. To prep, I’m racing Escape to Miami, Suncoast
Sprint, Miami Man, and Miami International Triathlon.

Advice to pass along to other gluten free athletes:
Get out there and compete! You’ve already gone gluten free, which requires the same type of diligence and commitment that athletics does.

Thanks for sharing you story Caitlin and best wishes on your upcoming races!

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!