Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Charcoal: Is it Gluten-Free?

I thought BBQ-ing was challenging because so many BBQ sauces have gluten in them. Most of the sauces that are gluten-free are just okay. BUT today I was reminded that if you are using an old fashion charcoal BBQ then you are probably being exposed to gluten. There are claims that wheat is used in the making of charcoal briquettes. Wheat and/or cornstarch are used as a binder.

Charcoal Briquettes May Contain Gluten!

Are you are wondering what the difference is between charcoal and briquettes is? Well, Bon Appetti answers the question in the article by Sam Dean  called: Everything You Need to Know About Charcoal, from Briquettes to Binchotan.

I emailed various companies to ask about wheat being used in charcoal briquettes. Here is the responses:

Texas Wheat Producer Board and Association:
It is our understanding that wheat is used as a binder in charcoal briquettes but that plain lump charcoal does not contain wheat.

Charcoal Briquette Companies:
90% of charcoal briquettes are made of hard wood and coal. 10% are made of binders. Those binders are either corn starch or wheat starch. Can  this small amount of wheat starch and the smoke charcoal produces from these briquettes cause any harm? NO ONE KNOWS for sure.  

Kingsford: Now uses corn starch as a binder in their briquettes.

Lump Coal Companies:

Thank you for your inquiry. Lump charcoal is a gluten-free product. It is 
made from natural hardwoods, and does not come in contact with wheat, 
barley, or rye products when it is made. It is made from predominately oak 
wood, although hickory and mesquite woods are also used. Pine is not used 
to make our lump charcoal.
Cowboy distributes All Natural Hardwood Briquets under the Stubb's® brand*
*All Natural with 95% hardwood charcoal fines combined with a vegetable starch binder


Creating lump charcoal is a result of burning oak, hickory and other hardwoods purchased primarily from sawmills. The wood is converted to charcoal by burning in a concrete and steel kiln. The burning process is stopped before the burning wood turns to ash--the result being charred wood, which is charcoal. There are no additives or other items used in the burning process. “

Primo Grill and Smokers: Product Primo Natural Lump Coal
It’s also lump coal.

This company is known for it's quality products and is gluten-free.

Please know that none of our products carry gluten. All come from 100%
HARDWOODS, harvested in accordance with FSC Our Briquette carries only

hardwood char and yucca or corn starch as a binder, no fillers of any kind.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gluten-Free Living 101: A Step by Step Guide is Here!

Four and a half years ago I started to do research about gluten. After I learned the basics, I continued to research every aspect of gluten I could. Though the conversation about gluten was limited to Celiac disease and a few other disorders, I could sense the movement towards understanding the far range connections to gluten and illness.
Gluten-Free Living 101: A Step by Step Guide

As I became well versed in how to live a gluten-free lifestyle, Dr. Cynthia Costa, D.C. suggested I take all this knowledge and  write a book. Who know it would take 2 1/2 years to complete that task. 

The original version of the book was an accumulation of all I had learned about gluten and was 100's of pages long. As I stared down at the first draft of the book, I knew I did not want to  publish another lengthy book that would take weeks to read and longer to digest. 

Dr. Costa had also suggested I become a gluten-free consultant (coach), which I did. Working with my clients and blogging with other gluten-free people, I began to understand the difficulties people faced when trying to learn how to live a gluten-free lifestyle. 

I set out to create a way to streamline the process. My new book, Gluten-Free Living 101: A Step by Step Guide, makes the process of learning how to live gluten-free simple. 

Gluten-Free Living 101: A Step by Step Guide covers all the things you need to know about living gluten-free:
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Educating Yourself

CHAPTER 2: Gluten-Related Medical Information

CHAPTER 3: The Emotional Journey

CHAPTER 4: Living Gluten-Free

CHAPTER 5: Cross Contamination

CHAPTER 6: Eating Out

CHAPTER 7: Baking Basics

CHAPTER 8: Recipes

CHAPTER 9: My Favorite Things

Thank you all for being a part of my  journey!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Favorite Summer Quinoa Recipe

I got such a great response to the quinoa recipe I posted on Facebook last week that I thought you might like to have my favorite quinoa recipe. Though I did not create this recipe, I have made it many times, each time with slight variations depending on my mood. 

The recipe was first featured March 2012 in Delicious Living magazine, by Lisa Turner.

Lemony Quinoa Tabbouleh
eZ Gluten-Free Life in the Kitchen

1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Juice 1/2 lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)
1 large garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cayenne pepper to taste

I add salt and pepper to taste. I have added Greek olives, carrots, raisins, etc. to enhance the experience. 


Quinoa Tabbouleh: Lemon & Mandarin Oranges

1. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. 
    Cook over medium-low for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.             2. Transfer quinoa to a plate or cookie sheet to cool.
3. Combine parsley, scallions, tomatoes, and mint i n a medium bowl; stir in cooled quinoa.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and garlic. Add in olive oil, and season to taste. 
5. Pour dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss well. 

This recipe stores well in the refrigerator and is great for picnics and potlucks.   
I now use the 1 1/2 cups water/ 1 cup quinoa ratio whenever I cook quinoa because of the light, fluffy results.

Serves 4/ Gluten-Free/ Vegan/ Simple

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New California Water Regulations with Big Fines Attached

As storms bombarded the East Coast yesterday,  California legislation came down with new drought laws. California is in the midst of severe drought conditions and things do not appear to be getting any better. 
California Drought 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 the State Water Resources Control Board passed emergency regulations to make sure that water agencies and residents of California expand water conservation. The goal is to reduce the urban water use since more water is used outdoors than indoors in many California homes. Depending on the location, more than 50% more water is used for lawns and outdoor gardening needs than indoors.

1. NO washing down driveways and sidewalks
2. NO watering outdoor landscape that causes excess runoff
3. NO washing cars unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle
4. NO using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature UNLESS the water is recirculated. 

The State Water Board went so far as to suggest neighbors report each other if they are seen breaking the new regulations. If the act is caught on video or photo then the person could be given a fine for over using water.  


1. Are required to begin their Water Shortage Contingency Plan or create one if they do not already have it in place.
2. Water suppliers must report water usage every month so that it can be tracked.

In addition to the new regulations, the State Water Board asked water suppliers, communities, and businesses to fix leaks and other things that create water loss, to use recycled water, to try to capture rain water, and find ways to pass incentives for reducing water use to their customers.

Desert Plant Stock Photo by James Barker. published on August 31, 2008, Stock Photo- image ID: 100331
California Water Boards: Media Release
Sacramento Today, California Drought:  Emergency Regulations Approved  posted July 16, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Preventive Medical Procedures Are Being Stripped Away!

 "Since when is mortality the criterion for medical intervention? "Dr. Bernstein, MD

Preventive Medicine in Question
I can not help but question the motives behind suggesting that annual exams such as mammograms, pelvic exams, and prostate testing are unnecessary. Then we have the dreaded colonoscopy whose guidelines were recently changed from 7 years to 10 years. Is it the medical community or the insurance companies that are pushing these new guidelines. It sure appears that the insurance companies benefit from these questionable decisions. 

Oh,  did I mention that none of these tests are recommended as screening tests for people over 74 - 75 depending on the test. . Why bother checking to see if older people have cancer!      

I know of several situations when regular testing has detected cancers when there were no obvious symptoms.
  • I personally know 2 woman who found out they had breast cancer because of an annual mammogram. 
  • I personally know 3 men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer because of an annual exam. 
  • During a routine colonoscopy, they found cancer in  my step-mom. She was immediately rushed into surgery to have the cancer removed. She is alive and well today, because she did a routine colonoscopy.
  • I had a breast tumor found during a mammogram. Thankfully it was benign.  

It is time for us to stand up and fight for our medical rights. It is time for the medical community to stop taking away preventive medicine. If you agree, please contact your Congress person. senator, governor etc.
I did some RESEARCH

In 2012. the MAMMOGRAM Guideline were changed. The suggested age for starting to do base line mammograms jumped from 40 to 50 (for people without known risks), as the below suggest.
According to the breast cancer site, as of July 2014: 

"The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released a recommendation that all American women without a family history of breast cancer receive a mammogram every two years between the ages of 50 and 74. The report does not recommend routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. And that the test go from annual to every 2 years.
Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society continue to recommend screenings for women 40 years of age and older. "Mayo Clinic will continue to evaluate new data on mammography and breast cancer detection as information is made available. But at this time...Mayo Clinic physicians feel it is in the best interests of their patients to offer routine screening mammography..."

COLONOSCOPY Guidelines.  
In 2011, guidelines changed from every 7 years to every 10 years (for people without known risks) - ages 50 to 75. 
See Center for Disease Control and Prevention for details. 

PROSTATE Guidelines:  The research is far more controversial then the other issues discussed in this post. According to the Cancer Prevention &Treatment Fund, prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in men. Please read the article at the above link. The summary is that since prostate cancer is a slow moving cancer, most men will die of other causes before the cancer kills them - so why test for it. 
It suggests that the digital rectal exam is not necessary and neither is the PSA test. Some of the sites suggest there is more harm than good when doing a PSA test. I do not get it, a PSA test is a blood test, so where is the harm?

PELVIC EXAMS are now being reviewed:
Sunday, July 6, 2104 in the L.A. Times, article called Pelvic exams still serve a purpose, written by Paula Bernstein M.D, PhD. Dr. Bernstein is an  Associate Clinical Chief of Gynecology & Attending Physician Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedar-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Dr. Bernstein discusses that the American College of Physicians is suggesting that, "annual pelvic exams are unnecessary because they do not save lives. "  Dr Bernstein states that the pelvic exam can and does uncover a myriad of medical issues that can lead to serious medical issues. Without the annual pelvic exam these medical issues may go undetected. 

Just to be clear, the American College of Physicians is recommending that the guidelines for Pap Smears remain the same. 

Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School; posted  an article on July 2, 2014, Expert panel says healthy women don’t need yearly pelvic exam. This article reviews the American College of Physicians decision and details the new suggested procedures. The article also states: "It’s also important to note that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still recommends a yearly pelvic exam for women, even though it acknowledges that the evidence does not support or refute its value." 

I feel very angry that the medical community making these decisions appears to be against the patient and for those who benefit most - the insurance companies. 

Photo by:,3219

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July

                    HAPPY 4TH OF JULY EVERYONE!