Gluten Free Fitness

nutrition

Zing Bars: Gluten Free Protein Bar Review

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Shockingly, the time has come…

There is actually a nutrition bar that has a quality ingredient list, positive nutritional profile, and really good taste. Did I mention how good they taste?

It’s AmaZing! (That’s actually part of the compant tagline, I can’t take credit for being that creative.)

Zing bars were created by a team of nutritionists who were unable to find a bar they liked enough to recommend to their patients. So, they created their own. I am so glad they did that!

From the Zing Bar website

We could create our own all-natural nutrition bar. Our take on the perfect snack. A bar with everything we wanted it to have, and nothing we didn’t. A healthy balance of carbs, protein and beneficial fats, but no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. No trans fats, synthetic vitamins, or allergy-aggravating gluten, wheat or soy protein.

The Zing Bars come in 5 flavors: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cranberry Orange, Almond Blueberry, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. All flavors are gluten free, and the peanut butter chocolate chip and cranberry orange flavors are also dairy free.

Nutrition

Protein sources in the bars are rice protein, whey (in the bars which contain dairy) and a bit from nut butters and nuts.

The fats come primarily from the aforementioned nuts and nut butters. Carbohydrate sources (dependent on flavor) are from fruits (blueberry, cranberry, apples,) brown rice crisps, gluten free oats, Fruitrim, and agave or brown rice syrup.

Fruitrim (R) is a liquid, carbohydrate-based ingredient formed from fruit juice and dextrin is helps the bars retain moisture and extends shelf life. The bars also contain inulin/chicory root for a bit of added fiber.

The nutritional profile is similar for all flavors, but does vary a bit, so here’s a basic idea:

1 bar contains:

  • 210 calories
  • 25 grams of carbohydrate which includes 4 grams of fiber
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 11 grams of protein
The taste

I was admittedly floored when I tasted these. They are moist, have chunks of whatever is appropriate to the flavor (blueberries, almonds, chocolate, etc.) and are plenty sweet without being overly sweet. The Chocolate peanut butter flavor has a chocolate coating, which was a pleasant surprise. Given that, this is the one flavor that has melting potential, so keep that in mind if you leave one or two in your glove box for “emergencies.” (Yes, I do that. I get really irritated when I get hungry, and having something available is best for everyone in the state.)

I didn’t get to try the Cranberry Orange-I handed it to Jeff, because he’s big fan of that flavor combo. He tried it, said “Wow. This is really good.” And ate the whole thing. His feedback was-“really moist, and lots of flavor, lots of cranberries.” This is from a gluten-eater. I am a chocolate hound, as you guys have heard me say before, and the Almond Blueberry I liked just as much as the chocolate flavors. They are that good.

This would make a good between meal snack, something convenient to keep in a purse or backpack in case hunger strikes. (I also give some other ideas in my Top 10 portable gluten free snacks post.) It would even make for a good pre or post workout snack, although the fat is a tad high for that purpose. These would be perfect to keep on hand for your kids-a much healthier choice than a couple of cookies. I will be taking them on our road trip to Tennessee, and out with us when we go hiking-the mix of protein, carbs and fat is perfect for giving some sustained release of nutrition.

These are a great option. Thank you to Stacey for sending me each flavor to sample.

Let me know your thoughts on the bars in the comments below. Have you tried them? Favorite flavor?

Gluten Free “Healthy” Treats

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I’ve mentioned before my love for chocolate. I really, really like chocolate. To the point where I don’t think I’ve ever even had a flavor of ice cream that wasn’t some kind of a riff on chocolate. Really.

When I plan on having a splurge, it always involves chocolate. I follow the 90/10 rule for the most part-if I eat well 90% of the time, the other 10% I can have whatever I want and it won’t have negative repercussions on my health or physique.

Many people will do just fine taking this to 80/20.

On that splurge, I don’t worry about calories. Many times a small amount of “real” ice cream is much more satisfying than a larger amount of “fake” ice cream. And to me, a bit of really dark chocolate is a square of heaven.

But sometimes you want something sweet, but maybe you don’t want to have a full-on splurge. You may want to keep it somewhat “healthy” and yet still quench the sweet tooth.

For that, I have some answers.

For the Superbowl this past weekend I made two items that fit that bill to perfection.

Flourless oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I was inspired by Shirley at Gluten Free Easily and her recipe for Flourless Oatmeal Cookies. I actually stayed very close to the original recipe. The only substitutions I made was that I subbed out a bit of nonfat Greek yogurt for half of the butter, and used egg beaters. This recipe for flourless oatmeal chocolate chip cookies does not use much sugar, but you could also use stevia-I did not this go round.

Recipe: Flourless oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

 

These were awesome. I admit I did taste the batter, but for the most part they made it into the oven and to the party.
They were a huge hit-they were crunchy and wonderful. I was the only gluten free person in attendance, and everyone loved them. Given that they are treats, they are relatively healthful as well.

Black bean brownies

The second treat I made was Black Bean brownies. Various versions of this recipe have been floating around for a while now, but I saw this one at Lean Bodies Fitness, which is a community I am a part of. If you’ve never tried these, I highly recommend. I didn’t tell anyone the “secret ingredient” until after they tried, and raved about, the brownies. They couldn’t believe it. These make a very dense, fudgy brownie. Not a cake-like brownie. The next time I make these, I am going to substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for the bananas. Banana flavor is good, but I’d like to see what they are like without it. Made with this current recipe they are actually vegan.

Recipe: Black bean brownies

 

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Baked Chicken ideas

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We eat a lot of poultry. I’ve mentioned before my fear of sprouting feathers and clucking.

There was recently a Twitter discussion about eating chicken-and Sandra of the Gluten Free Optimist (aka Maryland Celiac) mentioned her need for more ideas for baked chicken. And a dislike of Italian Dressing, BBQ, sour cream, and mushrooms. (Did I get them all? I hope so!)

So consider this the baked-chicken-with-none-of-those-ingredients “not really a recipe.”

Baked chicken

When it comes to baking (or roasting) chicken, there are 3 basic methods I use. The first is marinades, the second rubs, and the third just seasoning prior to tossing them in the oven. I generally use boneless skinless chicken breast, as I enjoy the lean protein and ease. I am also very fortunate to have a local market where I can get boneless skinless chicken breasts in a family pack size for $1.49/lb. You could of course always use skinless boneless chicken thighs as well, and I have a suggestion for bone-in and skin on chicken breast at the end of this post.

Marinades

Marinades are time intensive, but not labor intensive. It does require a bit of pre-planning to allow to meat enough time to sit in the marinade, get tenderized and absorb all that flavor. Allow at least an hour to marinade, several hours would be better. I have even (accidentally) allowed chicken to marinade for almost 24 hours, and it was OK. I would not recommend that though, as the chicken can get very mushy and kind of gross as the acids in the marinade break it down more than you want it to. I tend to use zip-top plastic bags to make the marinade, then add the chicken and squish it all around so it is evenly distributed. Toss it back in the fridge and let it do it’s thing!

Ideas for marinades

(For all of these, you can add about 1/4 cup of olive or canola oil to the below combinations)

  • Lemon or lime juice, fresh peeled and cracked garlic cloves, cracked black pepper, sea salt
  • Red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, sea salt
  • Apple cider vinegar, fresh chopped garlic, sea salt

You get the basic idea. You want something acidic (citrus juice, vinegar), some herbs/spices, and then a bit of oil. The only vinegar I don’t use with chicken is regular balsamic-because it makes the chicken an unappealing brown color. (although it tastes great.) I have used white balsamic which is very tasty. You can see that you can mix and match these to fit whatever you have on hand. If you have fresh herbs you can use those also. My favorite is lemon juice, garlic, salt/pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. Very often I don’t have rosemary and thyme fresh, so I’ll use dried.

Rubs

Rubs are exactly as it sounds-a spice mixture that you rub onto the chicken and let it infuse flavor. You can take any of
the ingredients you would use in a marinade (just use a tiny bit of the acid and the oil-just enough to make a paste) and chop/process the solids very small, and use that as a rub. If you can, allow these to sit about 10-15 minutes prior to cooking. Not as time intensive as a marinade.

Other ideas for rubs
  • Cumin, cayenne, and 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (these are found canned, usually in the ethnic food section-a great smoky flavor)
  • Cinnamon and cayenne. Sounds bizarre, I know-but it’s really, really good. You can also add a tiny bit of brown sugar.
  • Onion and garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper
  • Tarragon, garlic, lemon zest
Easy seasonings

This is the simplest-just pull out the jar/can, sprinkle, flip, sprinkle, and put into the oven. Here are a few I like:
(Remember-always check labels for hidden gluten in case a manufacturer changes their formula.)

  • Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • Lime pepper
  • Creole seasoning
  • Greek seasoning
  • Old Bay
  • Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce-not quite a seasoning, but just as easy. Cover the chicken with sauce before cooking-viola! Healthier not-wings 🙂

If you are using skin-on versions, just make a slit in the skin, and put the rub mixture/seasonings inside the skin as well as on the outside. Really rub it in well, and make sure to cover as much surface area as you can. It gives a really nice flavor.

Hopefully this helped give you a few ideas for chicken.

Share your favorite way to prepare the bird of honor in the comments below! You can never have too many ways to cook chicken….

Supplements for the Gluten Free Athlete: Glutamine

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Here’s a shocker-I have a fitness background. In the fitness world, there is something that is affectionately referred to as “bro-science.”

Interestingly enough, there is actually a definition for “bro-science” at urbandictionary.com:

Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.

There has been much debate surrounding glutamine in the weight training world. It was touted as a recovery booster/fat mobilizer/muscle sparing/ all that and a bag o’ chips for many moons, and turns out that the research doesn’t support that position. (Gleeson, M. Dosing and efficacy of glutamine supplementation in human exercise and sport training J Nutr. 2008 Oct;138(10):2045S-2049S among others.)

Fight bro science

There are many good bros and female bros (bras?) out there fighting the good fight and protecting the world against the proliferation of bro-science. A few are Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Leigh Peele, and Cassandra Forsythe, as well as my buddy JC Deen. There are many others of course-but these are a few I reference regularly and have in my Google Reader.

Ok, so what does this have to do with celiac disease, living gluten free, or glutamine supplementation?

Glutamine and gut health

Although glutamine may have limited benefit from a sports performance/physique enhancement perspective, it may be much more useful for gut health.

First of all, what is glutamine? Glutamine is an amino acid. It is considered conditionally essential (meaning there may be times when the body cannot produce enough, and it must be ingested through the diet.) The gut tissue has been found to absorb up to 65-76% of ingested glutamine.

Also, glutamine is used for fuel by the cells in your body that fight disease and infection. When plasma glutamine levels are lowered, this can contribute to suppresion of the immune system. In short, glutamine helps reduce inflammation, improve immunity, promote repair, and assist in production of other important factors in the gut.

I have to note that in looking through the scientific research, I have found studies that support these statements, and other studies where no significant difference has been shown. As always, this is a case of buyer beware-educate yourself, discuss it with your doctor or health care practitioner, and make an informed decision. It will not hurt you, but it may not help either. There has been quite a bit of supporting evidence that it is beneficial for gut health.

Some of you may be thinking:

But glutamine is an amino acid found in gliadin-and a reaction to gliadin is what is examined when gluten intolerance is being tested.

Dr. Stephen Wangen in his book Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance clarifies

Do not be confused by the fact that gliadins contain glutamine. This does not mean that glutamine is a problem for people who are gluten intolerant, nor does it mean that glutamine should be avoided. In fact the opposite is true…

Two forms of glutamine

Note: Glutamine can be found in two forms, and this is particulary important to note if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. There is L-glutamine, which is the free form amino acid, and glutamine peptides. Glutamine peptides are often sourced from wheat, and can cause a reaction in those with sensitivity. Avoid glutamine peptides, and if you choose to supplement look for L-glutamine.

Dr. Wangen states that due to the fact that the small intestine uses glutamine as a primary energy source, providing extra L-glutamine can assist in speeding the healing of the digestive tract. He recommends a dose of 3 grams (3,000 mg) split into 3 doses throughout the day.

Shari Lieberman also discussed L-glutamine supplementation in her book The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health–And What You Can Do to Take Control Now. She recommended 500 mg-3 grams of L-glutamine.

There also have been studies of non-celiac endurance athletes which have shown protective immune system qualities when the training load is high. (L. Castell, The effects of oral glutamine supplementation on athletes after prolonged, exhaustive exercise. Nutrition Volume 13, Issues 7-8, July-August 1997, Pages 738-742 )

So what does this mean to the celiac or gluten intolerant athlete?

It means that supplementing with L-glutamine may be a worthwhile expense. If you are training hard, your immune system and gut can use all the help it can get with recovery. It can help with antioxidant control of free radicals produced in exercise. By maximizing your gut health, you are maximizing absorption and therefore fuel.

What’s your opinion? Have you taken L-glutamine? Leave your feedback in the comments!


Resources

Gluten Free “Diet” vs. Gluten free Lifestyle

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Living gluten free has received quite a bit of mainstream press lately. The Dr. Oz feature of course comes to mind, and there was a 12 page special report in USA today in November, and numerous other articles in publications including the NY Times.

With the rising awareness of a gluten free “diet” comes increased numbers of people trying the “diet.” Here’s the reason I am adding quotations every time I use the word diet here. There’s a method to the madness, I promise.

“Diet” as per Dictionary.com has several different meanings and uses. It can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective:

  1. Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health
  2. A particular selection of food, esp. as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease
  3. Such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight
  4. To select or limit the food one eats to improve one’s physical condition or to lose weight

This is only a small selection of the 10 potential meanings.

Gluten free and weight loss?

You can see how this one little word has multiple conotations associated with it. Most people associate the word “diet” with the 3rd definition, from my experience. A lifestyle approach to diet would be definition #1. With the media exposure of the gluten free diet, there are some who are associating the gluten free diet with a weight loss diet.

Not so fast, buttercup. This is not necessarily the case. Any method of eating can be a weight/fat loss diet. It depends on activity level, what you eat, but most importantly how much you eat. Can you gain weight on a gluten free diet? Hells yeah. You can lose it too. You can gain/lose weight eating anything. The laws of thermodynamics do not change.

Popular diets

Let’s take a very quick and admittedly non-complete look at some popular “diets.”

  • Atkins: Taken in it’s purest form, the idea of eating meats and vegetables, and fats only. Excludes a complete food group.
  • South Beach: A balanced diet including all food groups eventually, but in their whole forms.

At their inception, people by and large did quite well using these methods of eating, provided their daily caloric intake was less than their daily expenditure. Then, there was the advent of the Atkins bars, and pancakes, and the South Beach cereal, and more bars, etc and so on. These foods made it easier for people to consume more calories. It’s much easier and quicker to eat several to many hundred calories worth of a nutrition bar than of chicken and broccoli. The satiety (fullness) factor is less, so more is eaten. And guess what? No more fat/weight loss.

The gluten free “diet” in it’s purest form is a very healthful diet, and can certainly aid in controlling calorie intake.

Peter Bronski just did a blog post (here is his Gluten Free Athlete profile) on a brochure he found at his local market.

Check this out:

  • Eat more non-processed foods.
  • Eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit.
  • Eat a serving of beans or legumes and nuts daily.
  • Eat fish twice a week, especially wild salmon.
  • Pay attention to your calcium and vitamin D intake to maintain healthy bones.
  • Choose lean poultry and meats as well as low-fat dairy products.
  • Balance the food that you eat with daily physical activity.

Sounds like an awfully nutritious way to live to me.

Getting into trouble

Where we can get into trouble is just like in any other “diet.” The gluten free cookies, candies, cereals-these are items where it is very easy to overeat calorie wise.

So when people ask me if they can lose weight on a gluten free diet, the answer is yes. It’s not rocket surgery. You can lose weight eating Burger King if you keep your calories where they need to be. (I DO NOT recommend that-it’s just an illustration.)

Does this mean that everyone should go on a gluten free diet?

Heck no. For those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, living gluten free is not an option, it’s a necessity. And you can choose to eat gluten free in whatever manner you wish. For those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, this is not just a “diet.”

It’s a lifestyle, and a medical necessity. It’s a way of life and a way of living. It’s extremely important that manufacturers and restaurants understand the medical implications of the gluten free distinction and follow good practices, not just jump on the gluten free bandwagon.

There are those have not been diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease who choose to live gluten free. They may be part of the many who are undiagnosed. It may be a personal decision. Honestly, the description provided by the brochure above would be a beneficial way for most people to eat.

Bottom line-there is no “magic” in a gluten free diet. If by going gluten free you cut out processed carbs, then by default your calorie intake may drop, which will cause weight loss if your activity stays the same. It’s not magic. It’s math.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced people asking you about a gluten free diet? Speak your mind in the comments below!

Excuse me sir, there’s sugar in my…..

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In the past two days, two things happened that really lit a fire under my butt.

The first-well, let me set the stage for you. I love vegetables. Really and truly, I’m a freak that way. I don’t like okra. Too slimy. Aside from that, I love me some veggies. I eat a lot of frozen vegetables in addition to a metric ton of salad greenery. The other day I pulled out a box of Sugar Snap peas from the freezer. For my frozen veggies I buy whatever is on sale/cheapest. Usually I buy the store brand, but Publix doesn’t have their own snap peas. (Why is that, Publix? Enlighten me.) So, I get whatever is on sale. This past week the Green Giant boxed veggies were on sale for $1 each.

Score!

Looks fairly harmless...

Looks fairly harmless…

I grabbed a bunch of the Sugar Snaps that I love so, after checking out the boxes and finding the “Simply Steam” snap peas.

It states on the box: “Picked at the peak of perfection. Simply Steam in the bag! No sauce, just enough liquid to cook.”

Sounds good, and off I go.

The time comes, and I toss a bag into the microwave. As it’s cooking I am reading the label as I always do. These are simply steam, no sauce, right? Right. But guess what is in the ingredients. There’s 2 ingredients. The first is, thankfully, sugar snap peas. Guess what the second is?

No, it’s not gluten, thank heavens.

SUGAR!!!!

What the *$(*#^@!!!

They went and added sugar to sugar snap peas!

Now I’m ticked. If I’m going to eat sugar, I want to be in control of when, and how much. And quite frankly, it’s going to be some sort of chocolate. It’s sure as anything not going to be in my SIMPLY STEAM veggies!! I ranted about this to my fiance, who smiled and nodded. He’s seen this enough over the past 7 years to know not to say anything when I get going.

I can’t for the life of me imagine why adding sugar would be necessary. I checked the bag of sugar snap peas that I had bought previously (the 365 brand from Whole Foods) and there was 1 ingredient. Sugar Snap Peas. So apparently adding sugar is not necessary for the freezing process, and I can’t imagine why it would be.

So there was that.

Would you like some spaghetti with your sugar?

Then, yesterday I stop at the store to pick up some spaghetti. Jeff had asked for spaghetti for dinner, and I don’t keep it in the house, so I stop to pick some up. (On the rare occasions when he asks for spaghetti I make spaghetti squash for myself) I’m feeling a bit strapped for time, so I start looking at the jarred marinara. Guess what’s in them-SUGAR!! A lot of sugar. Seriously.

I didn’t look at every single one, (although I was so ticked off I almost did) but for the ones I did check out, sugar was usually the third ingredient. A serving of spaghetti sauce contained about 13-14 grams of sugar. For reference, that’s approximately equivalent to 4 ounces of Coke. Regular, full on sugar Coke. How crazy is that?

I realize that a small amount of sweetness may be needed to cut the acidity of tomatoes. I learned from my Mom how to make tomato sauce from scratch, and I was taught to add a spoonful of sugar. Not several cups of sugar.

Always read the label

Here’s what I learned from these experiences. Always, always read your ingredients and labels. Not just for gluten, but everything. Cook from scratch whenever possible to control quality as well as quantity of ingredients. And if you must use jarred sauce, read the label. I’m sure that there are sauces that exist that are lower in sugar, we just have to look for them.

You read about the obesity epidemic, about soaring health care costs, about the evils of high fructose corn syrup, about this generation of kids dying before their parents. I like to think with a little awareness and education we can make a difference in these sobering statistics.

Is it the HFCS? Or is it simply the large portions of all sweeteners-in items where they are neither needed or expected?

Be aware. Read your labels. Be an educated consumer. If you feel so inclined, patronize manufacturers that do not practice random adding of sugar or various forms of sugar.

OK, stepping off my soapbox. For the moment.

What are your thoughts? Have you run into this before? Where have you seen sugar unexpectedly? Share ’em, peeps-shoot up a comment below!

True Protein Gemma and Rice Protein Powders: Review

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Ah, protein powder. The words that polarize, the food product that can be a sweet treat, or a necessary evil. I have used many different brands and flavors of protein powder over the years, with varying results. Some have been great, others have had me struggling to reach the bottom of the canister. (Yet I refuse to throw it away. The stuff can be expensive!)

Dairy issues

Personally, I am a celiac without dairy issues. So I have used whey and casein protein powders. Whey is generally considered the standard as far as peri-workout nutrition. It is quickly digested and has a high level of amino acids which assist in the recovery process. Casein is used as a slower digesting protein that can be used in conjunction with whey, or by itself, many times prior to bed (think cottage cheese.)

However, I know many of you cannot tolerate dairy, or choose to follow a vegan diet. And off I went in an attempt to find some protein powders that fit the bill.

5 types of non-dairy protein powder

There are 5 main types of non-dairy protein powder options that I am aware of. Egg/egg white, soy, hemp, rice, and gemma (pea.) In my previous post Gluten Free Dairy Free Protein Powders 101, I covered some of the characteristics of each of these.

True protein

When I last ordered from True Protein, I ordered tubs of rice protein and gemma to try. There are several companies that produce these protein powders. Jay Robb seems to be a popular maker of rice and egg protein, Sunwarrior makes a sprouted rice protein powder, Nutribiotics, Olympian Labs makes a pea protein, and Nutiva a hemp. This is just a sampling, I am sure there are more-if you are aware or have a favorite, shoot a comment below.

True Protein is a company that allows you to create custom protein mixes, and they also sell pre-made protein mixes,and various vitamins and supplements. From their website:

Our Goal… To create a following and customer base in the athletic, fitness, bodybuilding and health world not on fancy marketing schemes but purely on a reputation as the company to go to, to find the highest quality nutritional supplements known to the public.

I have ordered from True Protein for several years and have been very pleased with their products and services in the past. They do not have fancy labels or packaging, everything is very simply marked with black and white labels, and minimally packaged. In fact you can have your powders sent in a food grade bag if you already have a canister to put it in. (Although transferring the powder can be a bit of a nightmare-but that’s another story for another day.) When it came time to try these new proteins (new to me) I chose to purchase them from True Protein. They also do carry the egg white, soy, and hemp protein powder. The rice and gemma powders that I tried are non-GMO.

From the True Protein FAQ:

Q. I am allergic to Wheat Gluten. Which of your products contain Wheat or Wheat Gluten?

A. None of our protein, carbohydrate, or flavoring materials will contain any form of wheat or wheat gluten. The only product that contains wheat gluten will be our Glutamine Peptides, which is maintained in an isolated storage unit within our clean oom facility to remove any risk of cross-contamination. Wheat gluten products are manufactured within our facility.

Just to be certain, I contacted Carl at True Protein. This was his response (within 24 hours of when the email was sent):

The only item we carry that will contain even trace elements of Gluten will be the Glutamine Peptides and any custom product selected using that ingredient. We follow strict GMPs that have been designed using ISO9001 guidelines, with 0% chance for cross contamination within our facility. Thanks again and please dont hesitate to contact us with any additional questions or requests. (Erin’s note: GMP=good manufacturing practices)

OK, on to the taste review!

I bought the premium dutch chocolate fudge flavor in both the rice and gemma, as I have had this flavor in whey isolate and thus a baseline for comparison. I mixed just with cold water in a shaker bottle. Keeping in mind that everyone’s tastes a bit different-here are my thoughts:

Gemma

  • Mixes easily
  • Thicker in consistency-you may need to use a bit more water. I liked it, because making protein powder into a pudding” is a favorite way of mine to combat the sweet tooth. Especially at night time. Blending half a scoop of this with some cottage cheese, stevia and cacao powder gives me my “chocolate pudding” fix
  • Slight nutty flavor, not unpleasant at all

Rice

  • Slightly tougher to mix, takes some vigorous shaking
  • A bit chalky in texture-feels like it coats your teeth a bit
  • Thinner consistency, more like whey isolate

One comment about the appearance of both-the brown is kind of a light brownish, not terrible visually appealing. Don’t let that fool you though, the chocolate flavor is definitely there.

Overall, both of these are very pleasant and will be in my protein powder rotation.

If you would like to order from True Protein, feel free to get 5% off using coupon code ENE038. If you buy using this code, it also adds points to my account and eventually I can earn free protein. Of course you can also order without using that code.

Have you tried any of these proteins? What has been your experience, good or bad? Specific brands and/or flavors you like? Share ’em!! Leave a comment below!

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101: Sports Nutrition for Celiacs

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I’ve heard this question several (OK, many) times in the past year.

What gluten and dairy free protein supplement do you recommend?

And quite honestly, I was flummoxed.

Although I have celiac disease, I have not had to contend with dairy sensitivity. I have always used whey or casein proteins, which are milk-based. Whey protein isolate has had the lactose removed, and so many with a lactose intolerance can tolerate a straight whey isolate. However, some with a dairy sensitivity cannot tolerate even a whey isolate.

"Just Say No" if you're dairy intolerant

“Just Say No” if you’re dairy intolerant

I am the first to tell you when there is something I am unfamiliar with. In these cases, I usually run around in a fairly obsessive state of learning until I have found an answer. My friends, I am here to share my new found knowledge of the dairy and gluten free protein powder world.

There are 5 basic types of gluten and dairy free protein powders. (This is what I am aware of as being fairly common and easy to find. I believe there may be more (spirulina?), so if you know of some please share in the comments!

The five I will be addressing here are egg white protein, gemma (pea) protein, rice protein, soy protein, and hemp protein.

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein is created by seperating the yolk and converting the white to powder. It tends to be a bit high when it comes to creating sulfur with digestion. (The polite way of saying it can give you WAY smelly gas.) Upon mixing it is a thinner consistency. In my opinion best when mixed with other types of protein, for both the taste, texture, and certainly for the gas factor.

Gemma (Pea) Protein

This is fairly new to the scene, becoming more popular when whey protein prices went up a couple years back. It is, just as it sounds, derived from peas, making it a vegan-friendly option. Gemma mixes into a thick consistency and has a slightly nutty flavor. The Gemma that I have tested is also non-GMO. Gemma can be used on its own or mixed with another type of protein such as…..

Rice Protein

Also a vegan friendly option. The rice protein I tested is also non GMO and derived from brown rice. Rice protein mixes
to a thinner consistency and has a gritty texture, but a “cleaner” flavor.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is derived from defatted soybean flakes. There has been much media controversy and conflicting research about the use of soy supplements in the diet, as well as the GMO situation (GMO=genetically modified organism.) That discussion could fill several books, and is far too much for the scope of this article, but be aware that it exists. You can find research and articles to back up both sides of the story, from the “soy is evil!” camp to the “soy is the best food ever!” camp. Make an educated and independent decision, whatever your decision may be. It is a vegan friendly option.

Hemp Protein

Despite some individuals wishing otherwise, this hemp does not make you high. Sorry, folks, it would be a lot more expensive if it did. Hemp protein does have a couple of unique characteristics though. Hemp protein contains essential fatty acids and fiber! In a 30 gram serving you would get 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat along with your 15 grams of protein. The others contain a bit more protein per serving, averaging 24-25 grams, and little to no fat and fiber. I have not tasted hemp yet. (And I know some of you have, so pipe up in the comments!) Hemp is a vegan friendly option.

As always, check your labels and with the manufacturer if needed to verify gluten free status. I have used rice and gemma from True Protein, and I will be posting my review next week. Stay tuned!

Check out the Gluten Free and Fit 101 page if you’re looking for a place to start here in the gluten free and fit community.

Have you used a gluten free and dairy free protein powder? What did you use and what did you think? Let me know in the comments!


 

References

Gluten Free Food: Does it Have to be Expensive?

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Yesterday I was in the supermarket with my Mom, and I was pointing out the section they had devoted to gluten free food. She said:

It’s so expensive!

We were looking at the baking mixes, and gluten free pasta. And I agree, a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookie mix was $4.99. The glutinous regular mix was $1.99. Big difference, without a doubt. I explained to her that buying specialty items like the cookie mix was a rarity though, and for the most part I eat naturally gluten free foods, which don’t cost any more than regular groceries.

Let’s take a look at 2 sample menus. The first menu is composed of foods that are primarily naturally gluten free, and the second composed more of food that is engineered to be gluten free. These are of course approximate, as actual costs may vary dependent on location.

Sample grocery list 1
  • Bobs Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal 24 oz package = 16 servings$4.49
  • Shop Rite brand frozen unsweetened blueberries 12 oz = 2.5 servings $1.99
  • Shop Rite Walnuts Chopped 6 oz = 6 servings $2.00
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast= about 3 servings $3.99/lb
  • Sweet potato = depends but about 3 servings $1.99/lb
  • Shop Rite 16 oz frozen broccoli = 5 servings $1.99
  • Chicken of the Sea Albacore Tuna 5 oz can = 1 serving $1.59
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Minute Rice Instant Brown Rice= 14 oz = 9 servings$2.49
  • Chobani Greek Yogurt Non Fat Blueberry 1 container @ 6 oz $1.25

Grand Total: $25.27 | Total servings: 49

Sample grocery list 2
  • Van’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles 9 oz (this is 6 waffles=3 servings) $2.79
  • Pamela’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies 7.25 oz 9 cookies=9 servings (in a perfect world) $4.49
  • Ener-G foods Light Brown Rice Bread 12 slices = 6 servings = $4.99
  • Deli turkey slices approximately 4-5 servings =$5.99/lb
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Glutino Gluten Free personal pizza 1 serving $4.99

Grand Total: $26.24 | Total Servings: 25

I will be the first to admit that this is far from scientific. The serving amounts I used are based on the product packaging, or in the case of chicken breast/sweet potato=stuff without packaging, I just used common serving sizes. To get the total servings I simply added them all, so it is not necessarily representative of a specific meal plan.

Get more bang for your buck

What I hope it illustrates is that by choosing more foods that a naturally gluten free, you get more bang for your buck. And not just from a financial perspective, either. As a general rule, you will receive more nutrition for the calorie as well-so nutritional bang for your caloric buck as I am fond of saying. You also will be getting some key nutrients that we may be deficient in, as I talked about in my common nutrient absorption issues article.

My friend Kim posts her weekly menu plan over at Gluten Free is Life, and I think she does a great job of incorporating mostly naturally gluten free foods with a few other fun items thrown in. She cooks for her kids, and her menus are very kid friendly, but still very health aware. Check them out for some good ideas. Also, my article on cooking healthfully and flavorfully gluten free may give some inspiration too.

As this year progresses, I will be continuing my not really a recipe cooking article series. I’ve gotten some feedback that cooking with methods instead of complicated recipes may be a helpful and less intimidating way for people to feel more comfortable cooking-so that’s what we shall do! (And since that’s how I cook anyway-works out well all around!)

So what do you think? How do you handle the financial impact of living gluten free?

Food, Power, Guilt, and Control

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How many times have you or someone around you said “I was bad-I had ice cream” or “I was so good at that party I didn’t eat anything bad.”

Does food have the power to make us “good” or “bad?” Does food have the power to define you?

Food and control

Many, many times I have explained to people that food doesn’t have to inherently control who they are. In my humble opinion, people have given food far too much power-to control their moods, lives and experiences. Food is certainly an integral part of life, and an enjoyable one at that. It has it’s place at celebrations and with family. But by no means does any eating or not eating a given food make you a good or bad person. And really-there’s no “good” or “bad” foods.

With the exception of trans fats, and possibly high fructose corn syrup. It’s tough to find any redeeming qualities for those.

There may be more or less than optimal items to eat at certain times depending on your goals. Absolutely this is true. But to look at foods so black and white as good or bad can be very limiting-and ultimately can wreak havoc with your psyche.

Guilt is associated with food on a regular basis. There are so many emotions tied into food and it’s consumption that I cannot even begin to touch on them here. My point is that you ultimately control your thoughts. Not your food.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced feeling good or bad as a result of what you’ve eaten?