What is it: Extract, Flavor, and “Type” Flavor

We commonly see extracts in baking, like vanilla extract and almond extract. I always check the label very carefully to see what exactly the extract is made of, and I’ve been extremely disappointed with some of them, especially coconut extract. I’ve found gluten free vanilla and almond extracts from McCormick and Simply Organic (respectively) with only two to three ingredients, but coconut extract still evades me because it always has at least one strange ingredient that is either a preservative or something seemingly unnecessary that I really don’t want to ingest.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot at a local grocery store when I saw this:

 

wall of flavors and extracts

 

I was sure there would be a coconut extract I could have in this large assortment. Well, I didn’t find what I wanted, but I did discover a whole new frightening distinction in baking flavorings that I never knew existed: extracts, flavors, and “type” flavors. Examples: vanilla extract, butter flavor, and açai type flavor.

butter flavor

 

So what do these distinctions mean?

Extract: Merriam-Webster defines flavor extracts like vanilla and almond as, “a product (as an essence or concentrate) prepared by extracting; especially: a solution (as in alcohol) of essential constituents of a complex material (as meat or an aromatic plant)”. In other words, you take real vanilla and take the flavor right out of it through a process. The point here is that you’re using the real thing: vanilla bean.

Flavor: This is something that needs extra help to taste like whatever flavor is chosen and cannot just be extracted, which is why most flavors have “natural flavor” as an ingredient. In other words, flavors depend heavily on additives, artificial flavors, and natural flavors (watch out, these can all have gluten) to taste like what their labels suggest. However, they do include the ingredient itself in some form most of the time. For example, butter flavor has “butter oil clarified” in it.

“Type” Flavor: This is a completely artificial substance that doesn’t include any of the ingredient itself but rather is “characteristic” of the flavor. For example, açai type flavor is a berry type of taste as opposed to something that actually tastes of açai berries themselves. “Type” flavors are more like things that are reminiscent of or similar to the flavor of something natural.

Here’s a final example to connect all these definitions. Coconut extract has actual coconut milk in it. Coconut flavor has no coconut, but it does specifically have natural flavor that includes coconut in it, meaning not any part of the physical coconut itself but flavoring of it. Coconut type flavor has no coconut and won’t taste exactly like coconut. Instead, it’s generally similar to coconut or has a coconutty sort of flavor.

Although the differences may seem negligible between these three flavorings, there is a huge difference not only in the flavor itself but in the ingredients used to produce that flavor. The most important thing to realize is the more fake something is, the more likely it is to have trace amounts of gluten, if not full on gluten (or any allergen, for that matter). This happens because the further something is processed and the fewer whole and natural ingredients there are, the easier it is for companies to not really know what exactly is in their own product. Such is the case with lactic acid. Some lactic acid has no dairy in it while some does. It completely depends on what the original bacteria feeds on to become lactic acid, but companies are just now realizing they may need to look that far into lactic acid to find out if it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to it.

Always check the ingredients, and a good rule of thumb is if you can’t identify an ingredient, don’t eat it. It could be anything and could have come from anywhere – almost literally anything from anywhere. So be careful out there. Food shopping is an art form, and if you learn and stay consistent with positive habits, your body will benefit greatly.

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Food Allergy Safe Trick or Treating

If your child (or you!) have food allergies, trick or treating is hard. Almost all candy has gluten or dairy, and if your child can’t have preservatives, dyes, or artificial/natural flavor, forget it. So how can you and your kid go trick or treating and still have fun?

The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either. A friend passed along the information, which I found really clear and useful. The basic idea is to put out a sign with a teal pumpkin to indicate that you have non-candy treats for children with food allergies. The site even suggests some food alternatives to hand out like bracelets, vampire fangs, and glow sticks. I, for one, am absolutely going to get a pumpkin, paint it teal, and get some fun non-food things to hand out!

Pass the word on through your blog, social media, and word of mouth. Help kids suffering from allergies enjoy Halloween too!

The-Teal-Pumpkin-Project-2

Keep on living the wheat free life!

 

Seapoint Farms Gluten Free Dry Roasted Edamame – Spicy Wasabi

Health Values: Gluten free, wheat free, no GMOs

I like edamame. A lot. But it’s usually relatively expensive both in grocery stores and restaurants. It never feels worth it to me because it’s always served plain or lightly salted. So when I saw Seapoint Farms’ Gluten Free Dry Roasted Edamame in my goodie bag after the Seashore Celiacs’ picnic this summer, I was excited. A free edamame snack I could try? I’m in.

Dry Roasted Spicy Wasabi Edamame

Seapoint Farms has a few kinds of dry roasted edamame. The one I got was Spicy Wasabi, something I rarely eat but do enjoy. The ingredients were few with only one thing I normally wouldn’t eat: dextrin. It’s a thickening agent, but it can be made from a lot of different things like corn or tapioca, so you never know if you could be allergic or sensitive to what it’s made from. I gave it a shot anyway just for the sake of this review.

Dry Roasted Wasabi Edamame Ingredients

I really liked this snack because it was crunchy and tasted great. When the wasabi was present, it was REALLY present, very spicy and enjoyable. But it was not evenly coated, and while that would have been okay, I got some pieces that seemed to have nothing on them at all. Just plain edamame. So that was disappointing. If that doesn’t bother you, then this is a great snack for you to try. If, however, you like consistency in your spicy snacks, this one’s not for you.

In terms of what other Seapoint Farms products are gluten/wheat free, they say on their website: “All of our Frozen and Dry Roasted Edamame product lines are wheat free and gluten free.” I looked at how to buy their snacks and found out that some of their products are sold in regular supermarkets and natural food stores while others are sold in bulk on Amazon.

4-okays

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Two Moms in the Raw Gluten Free Goji Berry Nut Bar

Health Values: Gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, refined sugar free, no added oils, raw, vegan, organic

Have you ever heard of the brand Two Moms in the Raw? I hadn’t until I got a sample of their Goji Berry Nut Bar from the Seashore Celiacs’ Gluten Free Picnic.

Two Moms in the Raw Gluten Free Goji Berry Bar

Although it’s called a bar, it’s actually broken down pieces of what were probably multiple bars made of just nuts, goji berries, agave, spices, and sea salt. And it’s all organic!

Gogji Nut Bar Ingredients

I really like anything high on protein that I can snack on, something that can help fill me up and give me energy but also tastes good. It’s hard for me to find pre-made food like that because I have so many other allergies and intolerances other than gluten and dairy. If it doesn’t have gluten and dairy, it has tapioca. If it doesn’t have tapioca, it has sesame seeds. You know how it goes.

I was so happy to see a nut bar I could have – and it’s really good!

Goji Nut Bar

 

The agave and sea salt don’t overpower the nuts – it wasn’t too sweet or too salty. Instead, both ingredients balance the flavors to give it a taste that appeals to all your cravings: sweet, salty, and nutty. The goji berries are a little sweet, but not overly so, which I like. I could really eat half a bag of these at a time, even though I’d be overly full – that’s how good they are! They’re extremely snackable, so take them on your next road trip or even to the mall for a power snack. You can find them at Whole Foods. That’s the only place I’ve seen them so far.

5-okays

Keep on living the wheat free life!

 

Worst, Better, Best Hot Apple Ciders!

Continuing on our spice binge for fall, let’s talk about good and bad hot apple ciders. Most people seem to opt for instant, but how many ingredients can you even understand on the box? I’m taking the liberty of comparing not only the ingredients, but the amount of work involved in making three kinds of apple cider.

Three types of hot apple cider

On the left is Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider in Red Delicious (as in the apple). Mott’s has a collection of instant hot spiced ciders, and each one is inspired by a different kind of apple – Red Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc. But the ultimate flavor, the one that used to be my favorite – was Hot Apple Pie. YUM. That was the first one of the collection to disappear. You can find these at Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Shoprite, and similar places.

In the center is a spiced cider mix you’d most likely find in country shops that sell handmade Christmas ornaments (I know we’re not up to that holiday yet!) and always have that lovely spiced candle scent. Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix is actually a spice bag that you would steep in heated apple juice, so it’s not really an instant “mix” as it might sound.

On the right, last and far from least, is R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices. This is also a teabag of mulling spices you’d steep in hot apple juice.

So which would you pick? Well, of course the instant Mott’s would be easiest. Just add hot water and voila! But the other two aren’t much more difficult. Just heat up your favorite apple juice and steep. Picking one of these three based on how long they take to make isn’t the best way to go. Let’s check out the ingredients.

apple cider ingredients

On the left is Mott’s instant hot cider. As you can see, there’s very little you can feel good about in there. It starts with sugar, which isn’t a great sign – usually that means the flavor relies on sweetness rather than…well…flavor. We actually don’t get to any kind of apple ingredient until we get to the 5th ingredient on the list! The apple puree powder (powder…ugh) is surrounded by artificial flavors and malic acid, not to mention the twice occurring maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, and caramel coloring among other things. I don’t even see any spices on the list of ingredients, which means the spice flavor is coming from the artificial flavors ingredient. Judging by the lack of real, clean ingredients, this is not something I would buy anymore.

On the right is Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider. Again, the ingredients start with sugar, which means that if your apple juice already has sugar, you are increasing that amount by 10g per serving. After the sugar, there are a bunch of real spices, which is great. The last ingredient, however, would keep me from drinking this: calcium silicate. What is calcium silicate? Well, for one, it’s used in a product called Pro Silicate, which is a solution used on plants to alter their pH level. I can’t say I want to put that into my body. The second thing to note is that it’s listed on the CDC’s site as something to watch out for because it targets your eyes, skin, and respiratory system.  To me, that’s just frightening. There’s no way I’m ingesting something the CDC says you should immediately wash off your skin or eyes OR BREATHE FRESH AIR IF YOU’VE INHALED IT. Very frightening.

R.W. Knudsen's mulling spices

Finally, we’ve made it to something human body-friendly! All organic spices with not a single preservative. Whew! This is the only thing I trust when it comes to drinking apple cider. I get myself my favorite apple juice – 365 brand organic Honeycrisp apple juice (no preservatives, no sugar, just organic Honeycrisp apples) – heat it up and steep the spice bag in it. It taste SO good. You may feel like you’ve never tasted real apple cider until you have this. And believe me, once you have this, you won’t be able to drink Mott’s mix without tasting the sugar and the chemicals. At least that was my experience.

There you have it! In order of worst ingredients to best ingredients: Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider, Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix, and, taking #1, R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices.

What is your favorite apple cider mix/mulling spice mix? What do you think of the ingredients we talked about?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

 

From BLT to BLA (and it’s not boring)

Who doesn’t love a good BLT? Of course the classic is AMAZING – I’m not contesting that! But I don’t always want to use tomato because nightshades cause inflammation in  your body. Also, tomatoes can be pretty flavorless if they’re not in season. So instead, I have the perfect replacement: BLA. And it’s anything but blah. Bacon-Lettuce-and-Apple! For my own diet, here’s how I make it:

Bacon: Applegate Organic Turkey Bacon

Lettuce: organic green or red leaf lettuce

Apple: a sweet, crisp organic apple contrasts the salty bacon, typically Pink Lady, Jazz, Gala

Mayo: my favorite dairy-free mayo is Organic Vegenaise, and they have a couple of different options to suit your dietary needs including soy free

Bread: homemade buckwheat bread recipe or Udi’s White Sandwich Bread (when I was still eating it)

BLA - bacon, lettuce, apple

And there you have it. An easy organic, anti-inflammatory, gluten free, dairy free, and optional soy free BLT variation, especially perfect for fall, when apples are in their prime! What kinds of variations have you made either to accommodate your diet or just to spice it up?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

9 Reasons Why You Might Feel Lightheaded

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a health professional – the below are just ideas as to why you may have lightheadedness at various times, based on my own experience, other people’s experiences, and research. Nothing can replace your own knowledge of your body or your health professional. Just take these suggestions as what they are: suggestions!

~~~

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get spells of lightheadedness, sometimes straight up dizziness. Nothing debilitating, but here and there the dizziness makes it difficult for me to turn my head around to, for example, check the other lane on a highway when I’m merging. That’s dangerous. But I’ve had blood tests and nothing is wrong with me to cause this. So what could it be? Consider these things:

- Have you had enough protein today? My most common problem is not having enough protein because I (1) skipped breakfast (2) had a salad with no protein for lunch (3) have done numbers 1 and 2 for a long period of time. Protein doesn’t have to mean meat. If you’re a vegetarian, you can use beans, fish (if your diet allows it), eggs (if your diet allows it), legumes (some can be hard for your stomach to digest), nuts, etc.

- You haven’t eaten at all today/low blood sugar. Don’t just go shoving food in your stomach if it’s dinner time and you haven’t eaten – you can make yourself sick that way. Instead, have something with protein, but nothing heavy. Fish, rice, and veggies would be a good meal in this case.

- Lack of sleep. If you’re low on z’s, your head could get funky in multiple ways including lightheadedness. Caffeine is only a temporary way to wake you up. Catching up on your sleep is the only way to fix this problem.

- Stress. You’ve probably heard before that stress can cause a multitude of physical reactions, and lightheadedness is one of them. If this happens, it’s important that you take a moment to calm down and relax – you don’t want to make yourself pass out. Sit back in a chair and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and figure out what’s stressing you out. Now write it down. This is SO important. Don’t be shy – no one will see this but you. Writing down your stresses can help relieve them because you’re no longer holding them inside. If your stress is caused by having too much to do, make a list of things you need to do to help take off the stress of remembering all your tasks. And make it a detailed list. The less you have to remember, the better you’ll feel.

- Physical overexertion. Did you just finish up at the gym after some heavy lifting or running? You may have overdone it, in which case it’s best to sit down and drink some water. If you’re in a place where you can safely fall asleep, let yourself AFTER you’ve taken in some water. Your body needs to recover, so let it.

- You’ve started a new pill or supplement. STOP. If it’s making you dizzy or lightheaded, DON’T CONTINUE TAKING IT. Check online if this is a common side affect, and if it’s not, call your doctor immediately to make sure nothing is serious is happening to you.

Intolerance to seaweed is more common than you think!

Intolerance to seaweed is more common than you think!

If it’s a common side affect, you still may want to inform your doctor, but also make sure to flush your system – DETOX! Get some green tea down, then follow up with lemon water. If you’ve already got a digestive enzyme that you know works for your body, take it. The faster you get whatever is affecting you out of your system, the better.

- If you have lightheadedness or dizziness directly after eating something, it may have been bad or you may have eaten something you have an allergy/intolerance to. This commonly happens with sushi. Go to Google and look up “sushi lightheadedness” and you’ll find a ton of complaints about this because many people have an allergy/intolerance to seaweed and don’t know it! Then when they eat or overeat sushi (this includes non-raw rolls), they get lightheaded. If it’s an intolerance, it may pass. If you’ve eaten an allergen and something bad could happen beyond lightheadedness, take proper precautions (any pills or patches you might already have) or seek medical attention right away. If you think it’s possible that you’ve eaten slightly off or straight up bad meat or fish and your symptoms get worse, get to a doctor ASAP. You don’t want to mess with food poisoning. While waiting it out can sometimes work, sometimes it doesn’t. Err on the side of caution and listen to your body.

- If you’ve just reintroduced a food back into your body, you may need to take it slower. You could be reacting to it because your body is no longer used to it or because your body is overwhelmed with something it no longer recognizes. When you reintroduce a food you’ve stayed off of for a long period of time, eat a very small amount at a time at first. This is crucial to your body not fighting the food, thereby possibly avoiding a bad reaction.

- Last but not least, it could be that time of the month. Lightheadedness and dizziness can happen as part of PMS. Remember, your body is going into a sort of overdrive to get your reproductive system into gear for your period, and the stress of that on your body can sap some of your energy, making you feel lightheaded. Be careful driving in these cases as exerting yourself can make it worse.

What else have you experienced that made you feel lightheaded or dizzy? Sharing your experiences is extremely welcome so we can all help each other.

Keep on living the wheat free life!

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