Is Vital Wheat Gluten a Risk Factor for Coeliac Disease?

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The initiator of celiac disease?

The initiator of celiac disease?

Before going to my doctor and (by surprise) getting diagnosed with coeliac / celiac disease, I loved my bread, cakes, croissants, danishes, beer and all things glutenous. Now a days if even the slightest trace of wheat, rye, barley or oats touches my lips I am sooooooo doomed! :(

Not only do I have to avoid the foods I loved the most, I also live under worry and fear about what will happen to me as a result of having this dreaded disease. Even if I do follow a strict gluten free diet, my risk of developing other autoimmune diseases is still higher than the average person.

Now add avoiding soy to the mix and many gluten free breads and biscuits are out of the question. I sometimes see my soy allergy as a blessing in disguise as it keeps me away from so many crap-tasting, poor quality gluten free baked goods that would otherwise rip me off. I can live without soy. It doesn’t need to be there for my favourite baked goods to tantalise my taste buds.

Chocolate Croissant

But wheat, on the other hand, does!

So much so that, to this day, if I can help spare some child (or adult) of having to live without such a beautiful ingredient (i.e. wheat) I would like to think I’d do all I could…

Which leads me on to an interesting video that came out this time last year from the Mayo Clinic. It discusses and speculates on the possibility that vital gluten (i.e. wheat gluten) may be at least partly responsible for the increase in celiac disease within the last 50 years.

Here’s the clip:

Back in my gluten eating days, I would consume large amounts of store-bought bread, all of which had some wheat gluten and soy flour in it. Although not mentioned in the video, I sometimes wonder whether soy flour may play an indirect role as well…

Rich Chocolate CakeIn my youth I always felt slightly unwell after eating store bought bread but not from cakes or biscuits. It was only when I developed a parasitic infection from drinking recycled water at a camp site that my problem with gluten really became exacerbated that I developed coeliac disease.

Interesting food for thought. If I could do it over, knowing what I do now, I would definitely avoid breads with “wheat gluten” in them. It’s not that hard to do, far easier than having to avoid all things gluten!

Now, you tell me… Do you believe your gluten/food issues were caused by eating too much of said item? Let me know of your thoughts below.

Undeclared soy in Crisco vegetable oil? Beware!

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Soy is everywhere. I think that’s pretty well known by just about everyone reading reading this…

Today I went to the supermarket (Woolworths) and was about to buy some Crisco sunflower oil. I was intending to do some shallow frying with it, but before going with the sunflower kind I examined which would be best for this purpose.

It appeared that the Vegetable oil would be a good pick.

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But wait a minute! Doesn’t generic “Vegetable oil” normally include soybean oil?

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Based on the ingredients, it appeared not so. However, I remained suspicious that something strange was up. After all, it did seem too good to be true.

So without further adieu, I called the Goodman Fielder (the company in charge of Country Life Bakery, which last year added soy flour to their gluten free bread, ugh…) customer service line.

Upon enquiring about the oil’s soy content, I was advised that what is used in the makeup of the vegetable oil is proprietary. They did mention that the oil in bottle I was looking at may include soy oil and then hung up on me when I questioned the integrity of their product and labelling compliance.

I don’t know what it is. I really don’t. What gets into the minds of these corporations is beyond my understanding. As frustrating as it is, if GF wants to load up all their gluten free and regular breads with soy flour (ironically making soy free bread harder to locate than gf bread), then so be it. But after today’s falling out over a potentially serious possible mislabelling, my respect for this company has diminished like nothing before. :(

So to all of my fellow soy avoiders, stay away from the Crisco Vegetable Oil or better yet… Maybe consider boycotting Goodman Fielder altogether because to me they seem far more hooked on soy than customer service and more importantly customer safety.

Helga’s now makes Gluten Free bread, with Soy Flour of course!

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small_mixedgrain

I did something very irresponsible yesterday. I bought a Helga’s loaf. And no it was not one of their new loaves (I think most gluten free people here in Australia know what I’m talking about now… ;) ). It was one of their regular gluten and soy containing mixed grain loaves.

But boy did I pay for it, or what?!

Now, to the new loaves.

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They are gluten free, Australian made (and therefore contain soy flour, duh!) and look nothing like Helga’s as we remembered it in our pre coeliac/soyfree days.

Heck, even the Genius Gluten Free loaves (which are also soy free and so good) introduced to Australia earlier this year seem to bare more resemblance to the traditional loaves of Helga’s than any of their new gluten free stuff that seems similar to that of both Country Life Bakery and Burgen’s gluten free range of breads. Something fishy must be going on. Given how basic and unpalatable the new Helga’s gluten free breads look in comparison to their wheaten counterparts, I really have no desire to try these loaves for my self, given the soy content and my reactions to soy as well as the high likelihood that it won’t taste good enough for my standards.

I’ll stick with Genius and Pure Bred. Although (sadly :( ) neither are Australian made, both brands’ loaves are soy free and taste delicious.

Domino’s in Australia introduces a Soy Free, Gluten Free Pizza Base

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Previously I talked about gluten free pizza here in Australia and how most of the gluten free bases we have here contain soy flour.

In August last year I became very upset about the fact that soy seemed to be getting added to more and more gluten free foods that I previously bought all the time. My post on Country Life Bakery introducing soy flour to their gluten free breads generated an interesting discussion, which continues to this day!

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It may well be by chance, but as of the beginning of the year, the recipe of Domino’s gluten free pizza bases in Australia has changed and they no longer contain soy! They have also changed their logo in the past year so perhaps this is the beginning of a new time… :/

Their most recent allergen listing (March 2013) details which allergens are present in the different pizza bases.

This is good news for those avoiding soy as well as gluten. Unfortunately they still use soybean oil in a number of recipes including their pizza sauce so their selections are still not soy free.

But, as I said, it’s a start!

Soy Free Belgian Chocolate Seashells at Kmart Australia

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Kmart EntranceI just realised that it has been ages since I last posted on here. I always plan on doing something for Christmas and the New Year but just about never get around to it – perhaps it’s (hopefully) a sign that I’m having a good time.

Most (if not all) of my readers would know by now that I’m a *strict* soy avoider. I strive to avoid all derivatives of soy including soy lecithin. If a product “may contain traces of soy” I generally ignore the warnings. Even so, remaining on a soy free diet is tremendously difficult in the 21st century.

So, like most years, on Christmas Day, I received a box of chocolates from a friend who I only just got to know a month or two ago.

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells

At first I thanked her, sighed (while she wasn’t looking), and put them to the side. I never said anything about my gluten and soy sensitivities. After the crowd was gone (and just before I threw them in the bin) I checked the ingredient list. I was sure they would definitely be unsafe as belgian (and just about all other) chocolate has soy lecithin in it.

But… I stood corrected.

Ingredients: Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Hazelnuts (7.8%), Dextrose, Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin (E322), Natural Flavouring.

Allergen Advice: Contains Tree Nuts (Hazelnuts) and Milk.
May Contain traces of other Nuts, Peanuts, Soy and Gluten.

As printed on the back of the box:

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells Ingredient Listing

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells Ingredient Listing

Manufacturer unknown…

I was ecstatic. With this information, I decided to dive in head first and try the chocolates. I took one of each variety of seashell and indulged myself. I suffered no ill effects. The chocolates were delicious (just like the Guylian Seashells I used to eat when I was so little, which do contain soy lecithin) and others who tried them couldn’t tell the difference. It was so good to finally have discovered a soy free chocolate that might just be within easy reach for a while. I’ll be stocking up for sure.

For everyone here, we have an affordable soy free chocolate gift available to us in Australia at Kmart. Get in quick while stocks last!

Country Life Bakery introduces Soy Flour to their Gluten Free Bread!

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As many gluten free shoppers in Australia would have recently noticed, many changes within the gluten free marketplace have occurred. From product reformulations (we’ll discuss this more, below) to rearrangements of the gluten free aisles in our supermarkets, our gluten free lifestyles are in the midst of a change in just about every possible manner.

Country Life Bakery, the largest supplier of gluten free bread in Australia is no exception.

Pictured below is an example of their old packaging along with it’s ingredient listing:

Ingredients: Contains almond, egg and sulphites as indicated in bold type. Water, Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Almond Meal, Eggs, Yeast, Vegetable Oil, (Antioxidant 320), Sugar, Linseed Meal, Vegetable Gum (415, 412), Rice Bran, Psyllium Husks, Vinegar, Iodised Salt, Emulsifiers (471,481), Food Acid (260), Preservative (220, Sulphites) Vitamin (Thiamin).

Note: There is no dairy in our recipe, but traces of dairy may be found as our bakery machine also makes breads containing dairy.

Pictured below is an example of their new packaging.

Ingredients: Contains almond, soy and egg as indicated in bold type. Water, modified tapioca starch (1442), rice flour, maize starch almond meal, vegetable oil, linseed, soy flour, egg white, sugar, rice bran, iodised salt, psyllium flour, yeast, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (464), preservative (282), vegetable gum (412), vitamin (thiamin).

I took a picture on the back of the loaf as well as the front (pictured above), which is pictured below:

Before I rant on, I thought I would include their boasting (albeit ridiculous IMO) quote:

Making great quality gluten free bread isn’t easy. At Country Life Bakery we’ve been baking gluten free bread since 1984 & we’ve learnt a lot along the way. We want our gluten free bread to be the closest to regular bread you can find. Our new formulation is our best work yet. Soft, light & delicious – you won’t believe it’s gluten free. Bigger, better & now also dairy free.

*   *   *   *   *   *

So, it seems that Country Life Bakery has now joined the food industry in reformulating their gluten free loaves.

And, surprise surprise! Guess what they added to it that I have feared all along??

SOY!

Should I have been surprised? Probably not (as I had strong suspicions that it would eventually happen), but as you can probably tell I am now overwhelmed in total, complete and utter frustration at what I am to do!

Unlike the United States, the UK and New Zealand it seems like every gluten free bread (and just about every last loaf of regular bread too) here in Australia now contains one common ingredient: SOY FLOUR!

I can no longer find a bread without this WRETCHED ingredient.

Have the manufacturers here not a clue as to the dangers of soy? What is their purpose in adding it to so many of our gluten free foods.

A couple of months ago I ranted on about how the Patties Gluten Free range of foods now contains soy. Uncle Rick (the man who developed the original recipes for their range which were free of as many allergens as possible (including soy)) graciously dropped me a line saying that since he left the company he has not been happy with what he as seen.

AND I’M NOT ONE BIT HAPPY EITHER!!!

I will no longer be supporting Country Life Bakery. My non-coeliac family members who used to purchase their regular loaves will no longer be giving them their business either.

Did you know that SOY FLOUR is now the most common ingredient in bread in Australia?

It STINKS that something that traditionally was NEVER in bread is now in virtually EVERY loaf around!!!

What are your thoughts? Tell me below.

Gluten and Soy Free fare at Grill’d

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As many of my readers would know, I often get frustrated by the littlest things in life – especially when it comes to the soy-free side of things. While more and more gluten free foods have become available on the supermarket shelves over the last 3-4 years, many of the bread/cake mixes and cookies are loaded with soy flour (at least here in Australia). Getting any sort of ready-meal which is gluten and soy free is always a challenge.

Eating out is also a challenge. Again it’s not so much due to gluten, but mostly soy! Restaurants are often thoughtless of the soy-allergic population and use cooking sprays and generic vegetable oils (which (for those who don’t know), by the way do contain soy (read the ingredients if you aren’t aware, and you’ll see what I’m talking about)) thus rendering well-prepared, naturally soy-free meals inedible for those of us who must avoid this wretched ingredient in all its forms.

Thankfully, some franchises still cook and bake in a more traditional manner. Grill’d in Australia is one such company with lots of locations here in Sydney and other capital cities around the country.

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A couple of hours ago, I went for a Saturday lunch at one of their outlets and (after double checking my options with the staff) ordered a Simply Grill’d burger along with their world-renowned herbed chips and herbed mayo. The oil Grill’d uses in their recipes and for cooking with did not contain any soy at all. The chips are also the only item that is deep fried, so seeing as though nothing else with gluten or soy is cooked in the vats they too were safe. The gluten free buns supplied were really nice in texture and were allergen free although I think they had yeast in them.

There is also a slight gluten cross-contamination risk, as they tend to toast the gluten free buns in the same toaster as everything else (though they did brush off the conveyor belt before laying down my gluten free buns). The assembly line was also a cause of concern. Thankfully my gluten reactions generally aren’t as bad as my soy ones and seeing as though virtually all items made and used on premises are soy-free I made an allowance for it.

Their beef patties were also to die for. I loved their chips as well. My only complaint was the high price tag but, believe me, when you’re seeking something to eat when out in town with such enormous food restrictions, I’ll pay just about anything to keep myself well-fed, especially when what I get is sooo delicious!!!

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