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August/September 2013 Newsletter

Gluten Free -- what's it all about?

Have you noticed how "gluten free" has become the biggest idea in food -- from church social to farm-to-table dinner, everybody's falling all over themselves to declare their freedom from the Evil Gluten Monster.

If you're like me, and your preference runs to raw vegan food, gluten shouldn't worry you. But with cooked vegan dishes, gluten can be an issue. Personally, a principal consideration in the food I choose is how it makes me feel -- that's what this whole raw / living food thing is about, for me -- and I always avoid gluten because I know how I feel when I eat it in any form.

Do I have celiac disease? I don't think so. I don't know much about the science associated with gluten, but I know what I like!

Store shelves and restaurant menus have more gluten free products than ever, and the marketing gurus expect the market to explode in the next few years. Now we can find whole sections at the store and special menu offerings at restaurants. Just this month a local magazine devoted their entire issue to Gluten Free items and restaurant offerings in our community.

Salute Santé Grapeseed Flour -- click for the website
Thank you to Salute Santé for this photo
of their lovely grapeseed flour!

To my surprise and delight, I found a new flour! In the raw world we use nut and seed flours so I thought I'd heard everything. Here in the wine country, we have been living next door to grapeseed flour and never thought about it. I'm thrilled to give it a try. For years, Salute Santé has been making grape seed oil by pressing the grape pumice (seeds and skins) after the crush. Grapeseed oil isn't very interesting in the living food kitchen, because it's tasteless and used principally for high-temperature frying, as it has a very high smoke point.

As you might imagine, there is a LOT of grape pumice here in the Napa Valley, and now Salute Santé has taken pumice one step further by milling 'cakes' left after the grapeseed oil is pressed. Grapeseed flour has the same nutty flavor we enjoy in seed flours, is gluten and sodium free, and is packed with antioxidants, calcium, potassium and is very high in dietary fiber. It shares wine's high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, a health metric that has been attributed to red wine.

The Salute Santé website suggests sprinkling it on yogurt, or adding it to baked goods. I'm off to the kitchen with my exciting bagful of grapeseed flour, and plan to adapt the scone recipe from the More Than a Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection. If my experiments turn out well, you'll read about it right here in the newsletter!

Many health problems are associated with gluten. Research points to gluten as the cause of many american maladies, but the problem is rife in the UK and prevalent elsewhere in the world. Some people have become intolerant to even the smallest amount. Others, like tennis phenomenon Novak Jokavic, report a complete revolution in their health when they forswear gluten. Some folks with celiac disease are truly allergic. Others are simply 'gluten intolerant.' I put myself in this last category and know from several years of close attention to my diet and reactions that gluten is indeed problematic for me. Many find that reducing gluten helps build resistance to colds, sensitivity to pollen and environmental chemicals, and general good vigor. You might be surprised. Some cynics claim that the sudden increase in gluten sensitivity is due to the proliferation of gluten in the Standard American Diet and, by extension, the food we export to the rest of the world.

If you'd like to monitor your gluten intake, here's a quick list of grains which contain gluten. It's shorter than you think and only takes a minute to memorize.

To remember what grains contain gluten, I use an acronym. (I love acronyms. Don't you?) You might remember my PEEETS story? (Prioritize, Educate, Eat, Exercise, Take action, seek Self-mastery.) These word plays always help me commit things to memory so it's easier when I'm out and about shopping.

Here's my mnemonic for remembering the gluten containing grains:
B-WORKS Barley-Wheat-Oats*-Rye-Kamut-Spelt

* There's quite a bit of controversy including oats in this list of gluten containing grains and you can find discussions on both sides of the issue. My research suggests that oats do not inherently contain gluten, but they are often processed in facilities and with equipment that is also used to process gluten grains.

Keep in mind that these grains have many different names. Here are a few I have collected: flour, bulgur, semolina, frumento, durum (also spelled duram), kamut, graham, einkorn, farina, couscous, seitan, matzoh, matzah, matzo or tritical.

When beginning any new food challenge I'm all about baby steps -- see the PEEETS article. You can ease into gluten elimination from your daily diet and seek replacements that offer you similar flavor, texture and appearance to those items you love. Stepwise refinement can accomplish a big change in easy steps over time. If you find out you are gluten tolerant, no harm done.

As an example, you wouldn't think something as simple (and enjoyable) as Soy Sauce could contain gluten when in fact it does. Always seeking to replace problematic dietary components with healthy alternatives I began using Tamari as my 'soy sauce' in recipes and Asian cuisine a few years ago. Tamari comes from fermented soy beans (like soy sauce) with premium brands containing 100% soy beans (no wheat) and as long as you're buying organic tamari you'll be certain those soy beans are GMO free.

For me, enjoying a raw vegan diet simplifies the gluten issue, and many, many others. Reducing the amount of packaged and processed food in our diets is good for us for lots of reasons. Whenever I turn my attention to an issue like gluten, I end up concluding that sticking with those fresh fruits and veggies, and supplement with a few carefully chosen processed and packaged items is the surest way to healthy eating.

More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection & bags from Rawsome Creations
Around the world

Our More than a Nut Milk Bags continue their trek around the world, and we couldn't be more proud. In Belgium, Julie Van den Kerchove, a dear friend and former student, purchases the bags for her classes, and plans to use them in her cafe, opening soon. She recently featured the bags and recipe collection in her lifestyle blog. Thank you, Julie, for the wonderful mention of our products to your readers. I particularly enjoy the Dutch version (scroll down) this part makes me smile every time I see it.

MOVIES THAT MATTER: Genetic Roulette
Genetic Roulette -- the Gamble of our Lives -- click for the website

You know my feelings when it comes to tampering with our food supply in particular the GMO issue. We discussed in depth with news last year the why's, wherefores and dangers of GMO proliferation here in the US. In California our ballot measure, Proposition 37, failed by the slimmest of margins when Big Brother threw tons of money at the issues working tirelessly to confuse the public. Although the ballot measured didn't pass here in California, it wasn't a failure at all. Everyone involved learned a lot, gained thousands of friends, educated millions of consumers and my friend Pamm Larry, founder of and the spearhead behind the creation of the ballot initiative has never been busier. Traveling all over the country she's been consulting with states who are putting ballot measures forward to their consumers. Maine and Connecticut passed legislation this year and 19 states have begun the process to label GMO's. The tipping point is upon us and gaining strength each day.

Recently I attended a screening of the film Genetic Roulette -- the Gamble of our Lives. Produced and directed by Jeffrey Smith one of my heroes, the film is winning awards for it's candid look at Genetic Modification. Well researched and detailed, with plenty of expert 'talking heads,' the film brings forth new data and shares study results showing the link between disease proliferation and the consumption of GMOs in the food chain here in the US. The worldwide consequences of the US's rush to GMOs will impact future generations, this film makes a strong case and provides detailed information I think everyone should hear.

Genetically Engineered (GE) Salmon is on the verge of approval in the US. This will be the first GE animal in our food supply. Surveys show that 99% of the public want the 'right to know' what is in their food.

NON-GMO Shopping Guide -- click for the website

What can you do?

1. Get a copy of the NON-GMO Shopping Guide

2. With summer in full swing and veggies all around us, we're always reminded. First, grow your own. Second, go to your local farmers market and/or join a CSA. Third, go to an independent grocer and BUY ORGANIC whenever you can.

Here's the rogue's gallery of genetically engineered foods currently approved "as essentially identical" to traditional crops, widely planted, and beginning to dominate the market:
Sugar beets (95% of US crops are GE), soy (94%), canola (90%), cotton (90%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (over 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres). Avoid these crops or buy certified organic only. There are many packaged products that feature GE component ingredients; assume that if it doesn't say they are NOT GE, they are. Avoid them when possible and buy local fresh organic fruits and veggies.

Ask yourself: do you want to eat food sourced from a pesticide making company?

Vote with your dollars by not buying GM foods.

Stay current on the issues
by subscribing to these:
Here's an alarming little YouTube clip you might enjoy (in a scary way).

3. Watch out for propaganda

The industry is engaging in The Big Lie by using disingenuous words to mask their greedy intentions. For example, the newly launched GMO Answers website is funded by the biotech industry, and sticks to the party line that GMO crops are identical to non-GMO crops. The truth isn't part of their story. The recently formed Alliance to Feed the Future -- aren't they clever, the way they bend the language? -- is made up of 50 multinational food, agribusiness and biotech companies. Both tell consumers in their promotional material "we want to talk" and give you the "real scoop" on our food system. You be the judge!


If you read our Summer newsletter we were so happy to announce that Chipotle Restaurants began offering a vegan option at their salad / burrito bars. Featuring Hodo Soy's Sofritos (a spiced tofu mix) as an addition to any order it has become quite a hit in all the California stores. Chipotle was in the news again becoming the first US restaurant chain to voluntarily label gmos. YAY !! One step at a time and individually we can make a difference by voting with our dollars. If we don't buy GMO products the manufacturers will begin to change their offerings.

Baby Zephyr Squash -- photo by Sienna M Potts

My garden is awash with yellow zucchini right now and it seems I'm always in the kitchen creating some sort of squash recipe. In an effort to use squash wherever I can, I often create salad dressings or sauces with these seasonal favorites. My Creamy Zucchini Dressing is this season's hit recipe. Low in fat, with no added oil, it gets its body and texture from the zucchini. Change the herbs to suit your fancy. I used my Italian herb blend, but try it with Greek, Herbs de Provence, or whatever blend you like best.

More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection -- click for the Online Recipes

For those readers of our More Than a Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection, the end of summer wouldn't be complete without Ice Cream for everyone. The basics for our nut milk based Maple Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Creams are offered in the Online Readers Library of full page PDFs that you can print for your binder or load onto your tablet. (Remember to look on page 102 of the Collection for your access key.)

And we don't want to forget all that wonderful fresh fruit this time of year. Strawberry Ice Cream is an easily adaptable recipe for whatever summer fruits you have on hand. Peaches in any form are my all time favorites, and I'll be whipping up my version of Homemade Peach Ice Cream this weekend.

Thanks for reading and joining me in my continual search for food with SOUL. (Look out! Another acronym!)
Food with S.O.U.L. -- Food that is
S -- Seasonal
O -- Organic
U -- Unprocessed, Unpackaged
L -- Local.

Eat your veggies! If you have too many, share with your neighbors, friends, and family. They will love the bounty as much as you do.

(Wouldn't it be a lovely idea if there was a local group you could take your bounty to and trade for something else. Hmm, hasn't someone done this somewhere? I've got nectarines and strawberries (almost finished), peaches, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, peppers and almost pears. You?)


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