Review: GF Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

I went to the Spinney’s store today while I was at the mall with a friend and picked up a box of this gluten free, vegan snack: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. Pretty tasty! It was nice to have something to snack on. I really miss the luxury of just hopping into the store and coming out with a packet of crisps or biscuits, maybe chocolate, and washing it down with a carton of flavoured milk. I want my childhood back!

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Anyway, have a look at the nutrition information.

9g per packet. Quite a fair bit of sugar, right? It actually was very sweet. Because of the cover image on the box, I assumed that each packet would have 2 rice cakes. When I opened up a packet, I was so surprised to find 5 in there! Holy Jalapeno! FIVE cakes?! WOW! Talk about value for money! The box cost 9.75 AED ($2.65) for 4 packets of 5 cakes each.

I found an offer on Amazon for Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. 6 packs for $21.60. That’s $3.60 per box. Cheapest I’ve seen online so far! Click on the image below to know more.

Click on image: Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes - $21.60 for 6 boxes

Click on image: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes – $21.60 for 6 boxes

There was another brand of rice cakes there called Kallo. I avoided that one though because on the label, it said that it was manufactured in a facility that also handles dairy products.

Mrs Crimble’s Rice Cakes were quite nice. Tastes so much like apples. It’s quite nice to pack with you on the go since they come in little packets. Drop one into your purse or keep some in the car and have a cake every now and then – travelling and working gets hard with gluten intolerance since snacks aren’t readily available when you’ve got the munchies. Long gone are the days of glorious Nature Valley and Alpen cereal bars! This is a good alternative for when you’re wandering on the city streets and there isn’t a gluten free restaurant in sight and your stomach starts making noises you didn’t think your body was capable of. I found it far too sweet though. By the time I reached the 3rd or 4th cake, I was starting to feel like I had just gulped down spoonfuls of sugar. It was like that sick feeling you get after eating too many chocolates. I would suggest eating it with something else to sort of lessen the sweet taste. I’m thinking of having it with a glass of almond milk, kind of like having cereal. Except I might have to mix it in my mouth. OR I could break it into smaller chunks and drop it in a bowl of almond milk. Yes, that makes so much more sense than mixing it in my mouth.

Review: Essie Nail Polish

After having heard so much about Essie nail polishes on several fashion blogs, I decided to finally try one. I’ve got several bottles of Essie but had never tried them. I looked into my nail polish box and found a colour I liked.

image

It’s called Fifth Avenue. The colour is darling! I was shying away from my dark reds and cherry reds because I wanted something bright and summery. This shade is a nice bright red that really pops. I thought it was going to be a coral colour that leans towards red but it turned out to be good old pure red. It was easy to apply. I applied 2 coats. It wasn’t thick and goopy like some nail polishes are. But this nail polish chips fast. And I mean really fast.

After a day or two of applying it, I started to notice that the nail polish was chipping! I was sorely disappointed. I had heard so many people praise Essie nail polishes and I thought they’d at least last a week without chipping! It wasn’t just chipping at the tips of my nails, mind. It was chipping at the sides and the base as well.

My suggestion would be to use Essie with an anti-chip coat on top. The colours are adorable but I’m not impressed with how quickly it chips. Might as well buy a cheaper brand that lasts just as long.

Glutened by Makeup?

I love my makeup. I just wish manufacturers would stop using allergens in it!

For a couple of (horrifying) weeks, I went barefaced. No makeup, whatsoever. This was because I was feeling really ill for some reason. Normally, if I get glutened, I recover in about 3-4 days. In May, it seemed like I kept getting glutened somehow. I was sick almost everyday for more than a month. I noticed that everytime I did my eye makeup and wore my red lipstick, I would feel ill.

I stopped wearing my red lipstick. But I was still feeling sick. I have no idea why. In fact, I still don’t know. I have about 4 lipsticks which I use frequently. All of which have tocopheryl acetate listed as an ingredient. This ingredient can be derived from wheat sources. I have written to the companies (Flormar and L’Oreal Paris) to ask about this but there has been no response. So I just gave up on wearing lipstick for a while.

Last week, I did my makeup as usual but skipped the lipstick. A few hours later, I started feeling a bit weird. My stomach started feeling very stuffy, if that even makes sense. I was so confused. What could possibly be glutening me now? I wasn’t wearing any lipstick at all!

With horror, I realized it could be my eyeliner. According to what I’ve read on some gluten free websites, eyeliner can get on the waterline and gluten can get into your body that way. I swapped my daily Lakme eyeliner for my special-occasion Chanel one. I also avoided using a rouge that I have always associated with zit breakouts. I felt somewhat better that day. But still not quite there.

Wearing my favourite red lipstick - Flormar Pretty Cream & Glaze Lipstick P324

Wearing my favourite red lipstick – Flormar Pretty Cream & Glaze Lipstick P324

Yesterday, I reached into a different eyeshadow palette, and along with the eyeliner, I swapped my daily Flormar mascara for my Armani one. Used only my bronzer and shimmer. I was going out for dinner so I had to be a little dressed up – I could absolutely NOT skip wearing lipstick. I wore the same red lipstick I had abandoned a couple months ago. Funnily enough, no symptoms this time! I cannot help but think that there is some gluten lurking in some of my makeup items. I just don’t know which ones they are! I am absolutely thrilled that my red lipstick is not causing symptoms this time. I LOVE that lipstick. It’s the perfect shade for me! I will use it sparingly though, because I’m not sure if it’s gluten free since the manufacturers won’t respond to my queries. I’ve ordered some lipsticks that are guaranteed to be safe and not only gluten free but also allergy friendly from Red Apple Lipstick. At least this way, I’ll have one makeup item that I won’t have to worry about!

Now along with food, I have to do a trial-and-error of my makeup items. Boohoo. A lot of people say we don’t need to worry about makeup being gluten free but ask the hundreds of us who get glutened by makeup and feel sick later. I don’t react as severely to gluten in my makeup as I do to food, but there are still some symptoms present. More than that, I’m worried about how it might be damaging my body internally. I’d just rather not take the risk. I’m going crazy looking for some gluten free eyeliner and mascara now. I’ve contacted Boots with a list of products that I want to know about. Still waiting for their reply! What’s worse is that some companies claim to be gluten free, but some of their products list wheat as an ingredient! What the heck, guys?! Grr! If you have any recommendations for gluten free makeup, do let me know! I’m losing my mind looking for some! 

Review: Gluten free, vegetarian pasta at Carluccio’s, MCC

I ate a meal outside today after what seems like years! Going gluten free meant no eating out at all! But today was a pleasant little treat. For a birthday dinner, my friends decided to go to Carluccio’s at Mirdiff City Center. I had never bothered suggesting Carluccio’s before despite knowing about their gluten free menu because I read on their website that the gluten free pasta was made of rice and corn. I’m sensitive to corn as well. Darn it – one good gluten free restaurant in Dubai and I STILL can’t eat there, I thought.

As the waiter was handing out menus, I asked for the gluten free menu which was promptly whipped up. I was quite tempted with a couple dishes I thought would be safe for me. Mashed potatoes, but without dairy, was one option. A bowl of olives was another. Before you say that that’s weird, let me just tell you that in my defense, I love olives. I was thinking that if they couldn’t provide a pasta that was safe for me to eat, I’d just eat dairy free mashed potatoes with olives! Sounds yummy to me!

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Everyone at my table ordered their food and I waited because I had a hundred questions to ask the waitress, Jen. Jen confirmed with the chef and assured me that they could use a gluten free pasta made of just rice. NO WAY! I was doing all I could to contain my excitement. I asked her about the tomato and basil sauce. I think I asked her about 15 times whether the dish would be prepared with any butter or cheese or dairy. She patiently answered my questions. I asked her about the oil. She said they would use olive oil. I told her I was sensitive to gluten, corn and dairy, and that I am also a vegetarian. By the way, I absolutely hate going to restaurants because I have to list all the 253462781 things I’m sensitive to. I usually have a small card-sized printout with me that lists all the food items that I cannot have but at the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have a card on me. Anyway, she assured me that the meal would be safe for me: no corn, no gluten and no dairy. I even apologized to Jen because I was repeatedly asking her the same questions again and again! But she was very helpful and very patient.

IT'S HERE!

IT’S HERE!

Jen kindly informed me that my meal would take a few more minutes since it takes longer to prepare. It came a LOT sooner than I expected! Oh mon dieu, it looked delicious! It had been SO long since I ate pasta with real pasta sauce, since I last ate in a restaurant, since I last ate with my friends! My friends were thrilled that I was finally eating a meal with them! They would often feel bad every time we went out for dinner because I wouldn’t get to eat anything. Usually, I just sit with an empty plate in front of me while everyone else eats. Then I go home and cry.

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

I took a bite. Was there some kind of mistake? For a good 5 minutes, I kept thinking what if they mixed up my order and gave me wheat pasta instead. I couldn’t tell the difference! It tasted so much like normal pasta! My friend even tried some and said it tasted better than the meal he had ordered! I had to call Jen back because I saw tiny black flakes on my pasta and I wondered if it was black pepper. (I’m sensitive to black pepper.) Jen assured me that there was no black pepper – she is the one who garnishes pasta with black pepper and/or parmesan and she had skipped my dish for that. Relief! I dug in. I dug myself into a pasta-filled abyss.

The chefs at Carluccio's, Mirdiff City Center

The chefs at Carluccio’s, Mirdiff City Center

The portion was very generous! I was so full! After the meal, I thought I’d meet the chef and thank him. Our server, Raju, took me to the kitchen counter where he introduced me to Chef Joel (2nd from the left). I told him the meal was great! I told him that I had finally eaten out after ages, and that I avoid most restaurants because they mix other ingredients that I’m sensitive to and the ingredients aren’t disclosed. Joel seemed pleased to hear that I had had a wonderful experience.

Before leaving, I thanked our server Raju, and hostess Jen. I told Jen she had been extremely helpful. It was great, really. I wanted to ask whether the pasta contained anything other than rice (if at all), and whether the chef was also handling other wheat items and if was there a separate cooking station for gluten free meals in order to avoid cross contamination, but I felt like I had asked them enough questions for the day! Perhaps next time!

And now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for: Did I have any reactions?

As of right now, about 3 hours after the meal, I am feeling fine. In fact, I’m feeling really good because I just drank some 7up, something I have been avoiding for months. I was feeling slightly bloated after the meal, but that’s probably due to the FODMAP content of the tomato sauce. No fault of the dish or the restaurant – simply the way my body handles fructose. Although however, it was such a mild symptom. I barely even feel any discomfort. I’m going to lay low on FODMAP foods for a couple days. My symptoms usually become highly apparent the following day, so the next 24 hours will answer whether I have any further reactions to the food. I doubt it, but I’ll keep you posted anyway!

UPDATE: 24 hours have passed. I am still alive. My stomach was slightly bloated and a little uncomfortable today after dinner. It has also been making odd noises, like those that a machine that needs to be greased makes. That might be due to the fact that there was about 7+ hours in between my meals. I was starving and that’s what might have led to the discomfort. Other than that, I feel perfectly fine. I was half afraid I’d  wake up feeling anxious and with brain fog. But I woke up thinking clearly and felt good all day. No back aches, no bloat, no brain fog, no stomach cramps. Carluccio’s, I approve!

All in all, I highly recommend Carluccio’s. The staff is friendly and receptive, and the ambiance is great. It kind of feels like you’re dining al fresco, because it’s so spacious and relaxed in there! I usually hate crowded, cramped places but I felt very comfortable here. The food is excellent too. My friends loved their meals. The only complaint I heard from my friends about their meals was about the steak which was a bit too hard; and that one of the pasta dishes turned out to be very spicy. Even so, majority of the dishes turned out great and this was actually the first time my friends were somewhat dissatisfied with meals from Carluccio’s. They’ve been to the restaurant several times and have loved the food. The restaurant even has some items customers can purchase, like their pastas and sauces. It’s all stacked up on shelves on the walls. Nifty! Visit the restaurant and try it out if you like. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going there again to indulge in gluten free delights!

To summarize:

THE GOOD

  • Quick service
  • Staff was friendly and helpful
  • Staff had good knowledge about gluten intolerance and food sensitives
  • Good ambiance
  • Good food
  • GLUTEN FREE FOOD!

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

  • 2 out of around 7 or 8 meals were dissatisfactory (the steak was too hard and one pasta dish was too spicy)
  • They should advertise their gluten free menu more. I remember a couple months ago, when I had heard in passing that they had gluten free food. I didn’t want to go in to ask so I just looked at their menu from outside. I didn’t see any sign of gluten free foods so I never bothered stepping in. The only reason I knew they had a GF menu was by googling GF restaurants in Dubai.

WILL I BE GOING THERE AGAIN? 

  • Yes!

Gluten free, vegan, low FODMAP pasta

This is one of those recipes you turn to on your “off days.” You know, when you’ve just been glutened or something, and you’re trying to heal and want your digestive system to rest for a couple days so you eat plain and simple foods. Since I found out (the hard way) that too much tomato sauce/paste isn’t good on a low FODMAP diet, I’ve been looking high and low for a pasta recipe that would still have some flavour. For a long time, I was just eating pasta noodles topped with olives and lettuce because I was so afraid I would end up getting sick from eating a more complex meal. Yeah, that was awful. There was barely any taste and I was too afraid to even add any seasoning. Mind, this isn’t one of those extravagant, restaurant style pastas. It’s a simple home cooked meal with simple flavours. A bit bland for some perhaps, but a welcome change from eating only rice and potatoes on “off days.” I browsed recipe after recipe and finally ended up with the recipe below. I just wing it for the quantities. You can add how much ever you like!

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta (I use Peacock’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Green onions sliced into small pieces (ONLY the green part if you’re on a low FODMAP diet)
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Dried oregano according to preference
  • Olives
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Any other herbs or toppings you like!

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook pasta according to directions on the packet
  • In a saucepan, pour some olive oil and let it heat up a bit
  • Add the coriander powder, coriander leaves, green onions and oregano. Saute until fragrant. You can also choose to add things like parsley, basil, celery, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Add tomatoes and stir it around a bit. Do this for a few minutes. I usually cook mine until it is a bit mushy but not like pulp or puree.
  • Add the pasta to the saucepan, mix it all up and cook for a few minutes so everything is nice and heated
  • Top with olives, broccoli, anything you like! I usually add black and green olives on top, and serve with a side of fresh lettuce

Sorghum Flour and Amaranth Flour from Al Adil Trading – Is it gluten free?

Al Adil is a nifty little store that’s been around for ages. I’ve been buying my gluten free flours and Indian specialty foods from there for a long, long time. Only recently did it occur to me, after a few mild reactions from the gluten free flours, that they might have been cross contaminated. I called them up today and spoke to Customer Care. I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager who would know about the allergen status of the products. I was transferred several times and finally reached someone who was very, very helpful.

The person I spoke to said that if the flours are milled on the spot in the store, they are milled on the same machine as wheat. However, the prepackaged flours come from the warehouse where they are milled separately, on dedicated machines, but they are milled in the same facility as wheat. So there might be a chance of gluten in the atmosphere. The rep said that the chances of this type of cross-contamination happening was very slim as the area is a very large area but he could not guarantee it. He suggested buying whole Sorghum and whole Amaranth and milling them at home as that would be the safest option.

I really wish they’d have separate facilities for gluten free products. It would make life so much easier! But this is still a pretty good alternative compared to a lot of other companies out there.

Just so you know, Al Adil also has gluten-free flour. I’ve tried it before and had a reaction, but that’s probably because I have multiple food allergies. But you could try it out and see if it works for you. Ain’t this gluten free life of trial and error just grand? Meh.

But oh well, I was really pleased with how helpful Al Adil was. To be honest, I’ve been so fed up with companies! They just don’t bother to take the time to reply back, or they don’t answer well enough. It all just makes it so hard. But the Al Adil rep was really patient and helpful and I was expecting a response somewhere along the lines of “if you think your food is contaminated with wheat flying in the air, you must be crazy” but he actually agreed with me! That surprised me the most! He actually said, “Yes, you’re right. Wheat in the air could be a problem for you if you’re very sensitive.”

By the way, if you do happen to visit Al Adil, just TRUST ME and buy this soft drink called Limca. It’s lemony and fresh and SO SO GOOD! It’s very popular in India but hasn’t had it’s time to shine here. It’s best served chilled!

Limca

 

AL ADIL TRADING COMPANY INFORMATION

Website: http://www.adildubai.com/ad/index.php

Number: 043973318

Location: Al Nahda, Karama (somewhere around Al Reef Lebanese Bakery), Bur Dubai (again, somewhere around Musalla Post Office), Deira (in Al Mateena around 4-Point Sheraton Hotel and Marco Polo Hotel)

Obviously, as you might have noticed, I have amazing skills when it comes to giving directions. Those are just a few locations. There are many more stores but I don’t know their locations as well as the ones listed above.

Cosmetics Companies on their Gluten Free Status

I’ve been emailing cosmetics companies to find out about how allergy friendly they are. I am on a mad hunt for safe, gluten free cosmetics. I just can’t find any in Dubai! So far, I have received responses from Annabelle/Marcelle, Avon, Beiersdorf, Boots, Ecco Bella, MaxFactor (P&G), Prestige, and Sephora.

  • ANNABELLE/MARCELLE COSMETICS
  • [22-07-2013]

“We acknowledge receipt of your email and would like to thank you again for your interest in Marcelle®and Annabelle®Cosmetics.

Further to your last email, we are pleased to inform you that the vast majority of Marcelle® products and Annabelle®Cosmetics do not contain any gluten or gluten-derived ingredients.  This should make your next purchases easier.

The products which do contain gluten and/or gluten derivatives and those you should avoid are as follows: (correction from the first email)

Gene Youth Regenerating Eye Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Day Care, Gene Youth Regenerating Night Care, Gene Youth Generating Serum Concentrate,  New.Age Comforting Foaming Cleanser, First Wrinkle Eye Contour Cream, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Eye Contour Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Day Care, Revival Intense Anti-Aging Night Care, Roll-On Deodorant and our I-Bronze Self Tanning Cloths.

**Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we received confirmation that are not derived from wheat.

One issue remains: because we do manufacture products which contain gluten and its derivatives, we are unable to claim our facility a gluten-free plant.

For anyone with a known allergy or with sensitive skin, we strongly recommend always performing a patch test before using any new skin care product of any brand.

The patch test is helps determine if one may have allergic sensitivity to a product.  It is best performed by first applying the product on the inside of the wrist or elbow and wait 24 hours to observe any skin reactions or irritations.  If the skin does not present any abnormalities following the first application on the inside of the elbow, then the product may be applied on the neck.   Once again, it is best to keep the product on the skin for a minimum of 24 hours and evaluate how the skin reacts to it.  If there are no reactions on the neck, it is highly unlikely that the product would cause a reaction on facial skin.

All Content within this email is provided for informational purposes only; is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, you should contact your professional healthcare provider through appropriate means.

We take your inquiry very seriously and hope that everything is to your satisfaction. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance to you or should you require additional information.”

UPDATED TO ADD:  “Regarding the tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate information ; we can also say that it’s  dairy, soy and corn free.”

  • AVON
  • [23-07-2013]

“We have been looking at your enquiry and unfortunately we could not find any official report about Gluten. Although Avon sells very high quality products, there is always possibility of contamination during manufacturing or changes/substitutions of ingredients. As with everything related to Celiac Disease, Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten Intolerance, products, ingredients and preparation may change over time; your reactions to a specific product, ingredient may be different from the reactions of others. Like eating at a restaurant, you have to make a choice whether to consume/use a product. This means that I cannot guarantee that a product is 100% free of gluten as I have not any official report.”

  • BEIERSDORF [Labello, Nivea]
  • [18-07-2013]

“Please be informed that Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and tocopheryl acetate are widely used as antioxidants in personal care products as well as in foodstuff and in pharmaceuticals. Tocopheryl Acetate we use in our products is derived from chemical synthesis. It is therefore an inorganic ingredient and shouldn’t bear any risk for the consumer.

Moreover, The Lipcare Angel Star does not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, rye, corn, oat (containing gluten) or soy. However, it can never be excluded that small traces may be found for production reasons as our raw materials are not investigated for traces of gluten or soy.

Beiersdorf cosmetics are not specially developed for people with celiac disease. The consumer should consult a physician which cosmetics are suited. In cases of severe allergies, new cosmetic products should be tested at the treating dermatologist.”

  • BOOTS NO7 COSMETICS
  • [02-08-2013]

“Further to my colleague Kirsty’s earlier email, please find below the answers you require.

No7 Stay Precise Liquid Eyeliner – Gluten free
No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Lift and Luminate Foundation ? This product contains oats and soy and tocopheryl acetate
No7 Stay Perfect Blemish Cover – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Natural Blush Tint Powder ? contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Intense Volume Waterproof Mascara ? Gluten free
No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder – contains tocopheryl acetate
No7 Sheer Temptation Lipstick Cuckoo Coral – Gluten free

Can you please confirm if these products are free from gluten, wheat, corn, rye, barley, oat, soy and dairy?
Are they manufactured in a gluten free facility? We cannot guarantee that our manufacturing facilities are gluten free

Do you have a list of gluten free, soy free, corn free cosmetics products available in Boots? ? No This is an ongoing piece of work we are building, however this means contacting and reviewing every raw material from every supplier which will take some time

Also, a lot of your products contain tocopheryl acetate/tocopherol/vitamin E. Where is this derived from? Can you please confirm whether the source is from gluten, soy, or corn? Yes almost all of our mascara?s and foundations contain tocopheryl acetate as it has wide spread benefits. The source that we use is synthetic”

  • ECCO BELLA
  • [19-07-2013]

“Regarding your product questions, all Ecco Bella products are 100% gluten-free, wheat, rye and barley-free and dairy-free. We do use organic extract of oat in the leave-on invisible exfoliant/blemish remedy. There is organic grain alcohol used in the parfums is derived from corn. Our vitamin e tocopherol is derived from soy and the vitamin e tocotrienol is from palm.”

  • MAXFACTOR (P&G)
  • [04-08-2013]

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

If we add gluten, wheat or wheat extract to a product, it will be listed in the ingredients on the label. The only exception in which it won’t be listed in the ingredients on the label is if wheat or wheat extract is added to the perfume at a very low level.
If you are concerned about using a product with a perfume, we recommend you use fragrance-free products, not unscented products. Unscented products may contain a fragrance to mask the smell of the ingredients.
As our products are used on the hair and skin, it would be very unlikely that a person with a wheat intolerance or celiac disease would have a reaction from trace amounts of gluten.

If you are not sure, speak to your doctor.

Thank you again for contacting us.”

I wrote back to P&G asking if they could confirm the source of tocopherol/tocopheryl acetate in their products. This was the reply I received:

“Hello and thanks for taking the time to write to us.

All the information regarding the ingredients of our products are available at http://www.P&G.com

Thank you again for contacting us.”

  • PRESTIGE COSMETICS
  • [30-07-2013]

“We apologize for the delay in answering your request as we only just received your e-mail due to a ‘computer’ glitch.

Gluten free products are not necessarily produced in a Gluten free factory.

However, all equipment prior to manufacturing is cleaned and sterilized to prevent cross contamination.

Tocopheryl Acetate and Tocopherol used in our formulas are synthetically produced.”

  • SEPHORA
  • [31-07-2013]

“Thank you for contacting Sephora.com regarding our gluten free products.

To view a list of brands that we carry that are gluten free, please visit this Sephora Advice page:

http://community.sephora.com/t5/Products/Gluten-Free-Products/td-p/142507”

Quinoa

Quin-wha?

Quinoa

Quinoa

Glorious, wonderful quinoa! I had never heard of it. I never would have either, if gluten hadn’t decided to forsake me. I’m so glad I now know what quinoa is. And it is amazing.

Quinoa is a seed that behaves like a grain. It was the food of the Incan warriors, known for replenishing strength and building stamina. 1 cup of cooked quinoa has about 8g of protein, 3g of fat, and 5g of fibre. Wonderfood? I think so!

Also, since it swells up when it’s cooked, 1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa is equal to about a 1 whole cup when cooked!

I was at first terrified of having quinoa. Because I have lots of food sensitivities, I was worried it would make me ill. Quite a few people reported feeling sick after quinoa. I finally mustered up the courage to try it out. I felt fine. Hooray!

Then I tried eating soaked and uncooked quinoa by baking/frying it into tortillas and pancakes. I also kind of overdosed on it and had about 1-1.5 cups of soaked quinoa in less than 24 hours. Tummy no happy!

(To make things easier for reference, cooked quinoa is quinoa that has been rinsed, soaked and cooked. Soaked quinoa is uncooked yet, just soaked.)

So my advice to those of you who want to try quinoa is:

  • RINSE IT! There is no way I would ever eat it without rinsing and soaking it first. Quinoa is coated in saponins that appear soapy when rinsed. It can cause stomach aches. Most packaged quinoa comes pre-rinsed but you should always rinse it again to be on the safe side. Rinse it well for a couple of minutes in a mesh sieve and scrub with your fingers, moving the seeds around.
  • Soak it. I’m a little paranoid that I’ll get sick so I always like to take extra precautions. Some websites suggest soaking it for a few hours, but I soak it overnight in a bowl full of water and 1 tbsp lemon juice in it.
  • Then drain the water and rinse it thoroughly again till the water runs clear.
  • There are many ways to cook quinoa. I usually just cook it like rice. Put it in a pot of water, bring it to boil, cover the pot, and simmer until the water dries up. There are other ways of preparing quinoa but I haven’t tried them.
  • I would suggest not overdosing on it like I did. In my defense, I couldn’t help it – it’s so good! Like I mentioned above, a cup of quinoa contains about 5g of fiber. Also, I don’t know if this is crazy, but when I was cooking with only soaked quinoa (I added water and blended it to make a batter to cook with), the batter kind of reminded me of tahini which is made with sesame seeds. Too much of that upsets my tummy as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if too much soaked quinoa leads to an upset tummy. I remember I made tortillas out of them. After the second tortilla, I started feeling stomach cramps. I made quinoa pancakes the next morning and felt the cramps again. I felt ill for a few days after that, similar to how I react when I have too much tahini. Has that happened to any of you? Cooked quinoa suits just fine though. Maybe I just had too much. So yeah, I’d suggest start off with small servings and see how much your body can handle.

Mmm, delicious quinoa. Can’t wait to prepare it again in all it’s gluten free glory! It is also so versatile. You can have it like porridge, in pancakes, with potatoes, add it to your burger patties, BAKE CAKES with it, in smoothies, as a substitute for rice or pasta, as a dosa, as a tortilla… Sacre bleu, Quinoa, I think I love you.

P.S. Saw this AMAZING offer on Amazon for quinoa! Great if you’re like me and prefer to shop in bulk, especially quinoa which tends to be expensive. 12 packs for $38.05. That’s only $3.17 per pack! WOW! Click on the image below to purchase.

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

My Glutenscapades – Going gluten free

2 AM.

Late night munchies. Cookies? Gluten intolerant. Chocolate? Lactose intolerant. Air? Sounds delicious… meh.

Ripe banana with spots

Ripe banana with spots

So here I am, snacking on a banana, ready to tell you about why I am gluten free.

By the way, did you know that the black spots on bananas are a good thing? That’s when the bananas are ripe and sweet and less starchy – perfect to eat. Also, eat them in between meals – at least an hour before and an hour after.

In 2011, a few months after I graduated from University, I started experiencing anxiety, brain fog, and gastrointestinal symptoms which included stomach cramps and bloating. I also suffered from horrible back aches. Imagine being 21 years old and groaning every time you sit down or get up because of a swelling ache in your back. Or not being able to hang out with a couple friends because your tummy wasn’t feeling too good.

Oh yeah, and imagine things like that happening almost every single day.

I had no idea what was going on. I was feeling so sick all the time, wouldn’t go out, and I was feeling so out of it.

I lost a LOT of weight. I used to weigh around 50-51 kgs on average. I was down to 46 kgs. I went to see a nutritionist, gained all the weight back, but I was still feeling sick.

A friend suggested I take a closer look at my diet. 3451 google searches later, I began to wonder if I was lactose intolerant.

Farewell, dear dairy, since I must needs be gone. 

That’s what Shakespeare would have said if he were talking to dairy.

Symptoms got better but I still wasn’t feeling that great. It’s like when you’re running a temperature of 103 and it comes down to 102.

I kept a food diary recording everything I ate, the times I ate them, and the symptoms that followed. 2065 more google searches and I found a post by someone who was experiencing similar symptoms say it had reduced by going gluten free.

Exit gluten stage left.

It was so hard. But it was worth it. It was then that I realized…

Gluten is my nemesis.

Barely 2-3 days had passed since having cut out the obvious gluten from my diet and my symptoms were starting to go away. I thought what if I was just gluten intolerant but able to have lactose? I brought the lactose back in. Bad move. Symptoms returned but they weren’t as bad as the symptoms gluten brought on.

A few gluten/lactose free months passed and I wasn’t feeling perfect, but I definitely was feeling better. Then I thought let me try having some gluten and dairy again. I re-introduced the foods. Felt okay for the first couple days. I thought maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I’m not intolerant to these foods. Fast forward 2-3 weeks and I was cancelling plans again, staying home all the time because I was feeling sick, and the anxiety returned. It all happened in such subtle ways that I didn’t even realize I was slowly getting sicker and sicker day by day. By the end of the month, I decided I just didn’t want to eat gluten and dairy anymore. I just couldn’t deal with how sick it was making me feel.

I didn’t know back then that I should have gotten tested for Celiac Disease first to get that ruled out. So I’d encourage you to get tested before you decide to eliminate gluten completely.

I’m still not feeling completely better. Does that happen to the rest of you who are gluten intolerant? I don’t feel as good as I used to before I ever started experiencing these symptoms. I definitely feel better off gluten/dairy but is it normal to not feel as good as I did maybe 5 years ago?  I still feel sick and also suffer from brain fog from time to time. The FODMAPs diet has been really helping me out with minimizing that. Look into that if you’re dealing with any tummy troubles. It’s worth a shot!

I met a doctor here in Dubai who didn’t seem convinced that my problems were food related. I told him I’m pretty certain it has something to do with gluten and dairy but he didn’t seem to believe me. He just prescribed some Fybogel. That was pretty helpful actually, but I don’t know why it was so hard for him to believe it was a food issue. On a holiday to India earlier this year, a family friend recommended an allergist in Mumbai. After the intraderm testing process, where they basically inject you to test your sensitivity to food items, I discovered that I was sensitive to the following:

  • Bengal gram
  • Black pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Red lentils/Masoor dal
  • Garlic
  • Green Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Dairy
  • Gluten

FINALLY I HAD A DOCTOR’S REPORT SAYING I WAS SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN! For the longest time, no one believed me! Everyone kept saying it was in my head, and to slowly eat a little gluten/wheat every day and build up tolerance and I was just all NOOOOOOOOOOO!

The test results made so much sense. I realized that I had already eliminated almost all the foods on the list because I always had stomach aches after eating them. To be on the safe side, I have also eliminated corn and soy from my diet.

So what do I eat, you ask? Every day is a challenge really. On days I’m feeling off, I tend to stick to eating ‘safe’ foods. Yes I get bored doing that. But it’s just not worth risking the possibility of feeling sick. I eat rice, potatoes, rice pasta, quinoa, beans, vegetables, lentils and fruit. You’d be surprised at how versatile some of these items are!

Anyway, that’s about it for my glutenscapades. Cutting out gluten and dairy has been difficult, especially considering the fact that im a vegetarian. It’s been worth it though. As parting advice, I’d say just listen to your body. It always pays. If you’ve been feeling ill and can’t figure out why, it’s worth looking at your diet and changing things around a bit. If you suspect you might have some food sensitivities, it’s worth going spending some time trying to figure it out. You’ll just be so glad that you did!