Celiac sufferers adapt to gluten-free diet
08/04/2009 05:48:54 PM EDT
com">Hersheypark.com Web site lists all the foods available for this and other allergy conditions. Burrows mentioned that parents of autistic children have also asked about gluten-free foods.
Joyce and Barney Hopkins of Fredericksburg display some of the gluten-free products Joyce has made, including cheese crackers, peanut-butter cookies and bread. Joyce makes the food in her bread machine at home. (YDR -- ALLETTA SCHADLER)
About 15 years ago Barney Hopkins of Fredericksburg was told that he had celiac disease, a genetic digestive disease that interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.
Those with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. As a result, the diagnosis caused a major shift in the foods Hopkins could eat and a major change in the way his wife Joyce prepared meals. The condition afflicts both children and adults, often after a long period of searching for the cause of diverse symptoms. More than 2 million Americans live with this challenging dietary requirement.
I first learned about this disease about 15 years ago as I tried to help families figure out how to bake without using wheat, barley or rye flour and how to prepare a near-normal diet for the rest of a patient's life. There was little information and few sources for gluten-free food. Often, the food that was available was very expensive and tasted badly.
Times have surely changed. For example, I learned recently that families visiting Hersheypark and requiring gluten-free (GF) foods will find burgers in gluten-free buns at 13 different locations (spotted on a map) in the park, in addition to GF chicken tenders, pizza, wraps, muffins, brownies and caramel corn.
Kathy Burrows, public-relations manager for Hersheypark, told me that these new items were added to park menus as a result of requests from guests. And before deciding on what to offer this season, they researched a wide variety of foods. The
Tony Tinsley, one of the concession-area managers, explained that food workers receive training on the importance of handling gluten-free foods in ways that keep it safe from gluten. I sampled the pizza and chicken and found them to be really tasty. Guests can reach park staff through the Web site in advance of a visit with questions about food availability.
When I spoke with Joyce Hopkins about the difficulty of finding the ingredients she needs to prepare gluten-free foods, she reported being able to find ingredients and prepared foods locally. She mentioned Mast Bulk Foods in Myerstown and Annville Natural Food Market as local sources for ingredients, as well as mainstream stores such as Giant Foods and Dutch-Way Farm Market.
I visited Mast's and found foods as diverse as GF pretzels, cereals, crackers, pasta, salad dressings, mixes, ice-cream cones, animal crackers, and frozen breads and breaded products. There was also an assortment of cookbooks for preparing GF foods.
Joyce makes bread using a GF bread mix and a bread machine. She used to make rolls for Barney's daily sandwich that he took to work for lunch. Now retired, both Joyce and Barney are enthusiastic about the much-improved quality of GF foods as well as the variety of products available. There is even GF Red Bridge Beer made by Budweiser.
As I researched local product availability, I learned about a new local business dedicated to GF foods. Tonya Bernard of Rexmont began her Tonya's Gluten Free Kitchen in November.
Tonya and her 3-year-old daughter were both diagnosed with celiac disease seven years ago.
As Tonya tried and discarded GF foods through the years, she developed a group of high-quality baked products that she now markets through sources such as Annville Natural Food Market, Queen's Natural Market, Stauffer's of Kissel Hill and The Gluten Free Source in Dillsburg, York County, a store with more than 700 GF items.
Baker Tonya Bernard of Tonya s Gluten Free Kitchen in Rexmont inspects a batch of freshly baked, gluten-free white sandwich bread. After being diagnosed with celiac disease seven years ago, Bernard began to develop baked products made without wheat, barley or rye flour. Today, her bakery sells gluten-free soft pretzels, whoopie pies and white bread, among other items. (YDR -- ALLETTA SCHADLER)
Her specialties are GF soft pretzels, white sandwich bread and whoopie pies with white or peanut-butter filling. I tasted all of them, and they are amazing.
She can be reached at email@example.com.
Another local GF connection is Bell & Evans in Fredericksburg. The company markets more than 10 different frozen-chicken items, including chicken tenders, nuggets, breaded patties with mozzarella and Chicken Alfredo, among others. All are gluten-free. They are available at the retail store in Fredericksburg, and also in the freezer cases of mainstream supermarkets.
Want to eat out? The Piazza Sorrento Restaurant and Bar at Briarcrest Square in Hershey serves GF pasta and pizza. Good Eatz Green Café in West Reading features a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also includes a bakery.
Looking for a support group to share resources? There is a chapter of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America in Harrisburg (520-9817). There is also a celiac support group in the Lancaster area: Lancaster Area Celiacs (www.lancasterareaceliacs.org).
In addition, the Internet is an invaluable resource for locating information, sources of food and support. Search words include celiac, gluten intolerance or gluten-free food. And, visit your local public library for more information. Gluten-free help is on the way.
Joyce Hopkins shared the following recipes for GF cheese crackers and peanut-butter cookies.
Gluten-free cheese crackers
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (purchased grated)
1 cup gluten-free flour mix
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Cream butter and cheese in food processor until smooth. Add flour and salt, and mix until dough forms a ball. Shape crackers with a cookie press or roll into a log and cut with a very sharp knife into slices.
Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cook's note: GF flour mix can be purchased or made by combining 2 parts white rice flour, 2/3 part potato starch flour and 1/3 part tapioca flour. The mixture can be stored at room temperature in a jar.
Gluten-free peanut butter cookies
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
Beat peanut butter and sugar until well mixed. Beat in egg and soda. Roll level teaspoons of dough into balls. Arrange one inch apart on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven on center rack until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.
Utz Potato Chips in Hanover is one of the few mainstream snack manufacturers that make it quick and easy for her to see what products people with celiac disease can eat.
Gary Laabs, vice president of human resources at Utz, said that, as different allergies and food issues have developed, questions have been raised about nutrition. "We are very careful to listen to what our customers are asking about," Laabs said.
While the recipe hasn't changed, the Utz Web site outlines all of the products that people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can eat without them having to sift through all the ingredients.
The list includes Grandma Utz Kettle Cooked, Natural White Cheddar Cheese Curls and White Corn Tortilla Chips. For a complete listing, visit www.utzsnacks.com and click on "nutrition info" and "Celiac Sprue Disease." Here are a few other snack food companies that make it quick and easy to find the right products.
Herr's at www.herrs.com under "allergy information."
Frito-Lay at www.fritolay.com under "ingredient concerns."
Hershey's at www.thehersheycompany.com under "general allergens information" gives ingredients to look for in their products for people allergic to wheat
About Gluten-Free Source
Location: 20 S. Baltimore St., Dillsburg
Contact: 432-5100 or www.glutenfreesource.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Details: All the products in the store are gluten-free. Fresh-baked goodies are sold three out of four weekends a month. Call or visit the Web site for specific dates. Inventory includes everything from cereal to cake mix.
On the Web
On the shelf
· "Living Gluten Free for Dummies" (For Dummies 2006) by Danna Korn
· "Gluten Free Bible" (Owl Books 2005) by Jack Peters Lowell
About celiac disease
What is it? Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that affects children and adults. A person with celiac disease is unable to eat foods that contain gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. The gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction that causes the destruction of the villi in the small intestine. People with celiac disease produce antibodies that attack the intestine, causing damage and illness.
Diagnosis: Celiac disease diagnosis is done with a blood test and a biopsy of the small intestine. Treatment: There is no cure, but many people diagnosed with celiac disease can lead healthy, normal lives by following a gluten-free diet, which means no products that come from wheat, rye or barley.
What to watch for
While grains such as wheat, barley and rye contain gluten, other products such as oats are a concern for many people with celiac disease because they are processed in the same equipment.
Rachel Fleming said to also look for words such as Monosodium glutamate (MSG), caramel coloring, modified food starch and artificial flavoring. These products might or might not contain gluten. You have to ask specific questions to the manufacturer. In July 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.
The legislation required the top eight food allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy) to be listed on food labels by Jan. 1, 2006. By January of 2008, the FDA is required to develop rules for the use of the term "gluten free."
One out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease, according to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.
Two to 3 million Americans have celiac disease, according to Dr. Stephen Wangen, founder of the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle
Ten to 20 million Americans are gluten intolerant, most of which are undiagnosed, according to Dr. Wangen.
Gluten intolerance is different than celiac disease. You can be allergic to gluten and not have celiac disease.
Dr. Stephen Wangen of Seattle-based IBS Treatment Center said the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance can vary tremendously but can include:
Sense of malnutrition
Skin problems such as itchy skin, acne and eczema
Emotional and psychological problems