Thursday, June 24, 2010

You're Celiac or have Food Allergies. Are you prepared for a natural disaster?

People seeking shelter in the Superdome before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. credit:

With hurricane season upon us, floods and tornadoes in the news, and a 5.0 earthquake rattling southeastern Canada just yesterday, it seems the perfect time to offer a few pointers to the gluten-free and food allergy community on how best to prepare for a natural disaster.

A few basic facts: research shows that 72 hours is the average time it takes for grocery store shelves to be cleared in the wake of a disaster, and 14 days is typically how long it takes to restore regular food shipments. It is also important to remember that emergency aid groups like the Red Cross or government run shelters or evacuation centers will be unlikely able to accommodate any type of specialty diet. You and your GF or food allergic family members may have very little to eat if you are unprepared and find yourself in the midst of a disaster area. Yet all it takes is a few minutes of planning to ensure your family – whether following a GF diet or not – will have enough to eat and drink should the emergency last days or even weeks.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit: (adapted from
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle, unbreakable mirror to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes,  hand sanitizer, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener & utensils for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone and chargers
  • Water proof matches or lighter
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Needless to say, if an emergency strikes and you have someone in the house with Celiac Disease or food allergies, it’s essential you have appropriate foods in storage to consume on-site or take with you to a shelter.

As someone with special dietary needs, we need to do a bit more planning than for a normal supply kit. However, packing for an emergency is not all that different than packing for camping or backpacking. In fact, keeping your emergency supplies in a backpack or duffel is a good idea because it is easy to grab and its portability can be very important if you have to walk any distance to safety or a shelter.

The Basics
  • Dehydrated or freeze dried food is best because it is light and easy to pack however finding dehydrated food that is gluten free can be challenging. Dehydrating your own food is not difficult and can be much cheaper. Most home dehydrators come with recipe books on how to dehydrate just about anything.
  • Where dehydrated foods are not available, canned meats, fish & beans are a good option. Avoid prepared, canned meals as they are often mostly water and less nutrient-dense. You must be aware that all canned foods are heavy and bulky and you might have to carry them for some distance.
  • Boil in bag meals and meal replacement beverages can also be an option if they are available. Again you’ll want to watch the weight.
  • Dried meats and fruit (jerky, fruit leather etc) are an essential for any kit. They are lightweight, last a long time and have excellent nutritional value. Get low sodium meats if possible. Make your own beef jerky and fruit leathers to save money and ensure they are gluten free.Jerky Tips & Recipes
  • Gluten free energy/protein bars are quite widely available and make a great addition to your kit.
  • GF dry soup or bouillon cubes can be a good way to add flavor to your emergency meals.
  • Rice is often suggested as a good staple for a gluten free emergency kit. I prefer Quinoa as it is far better for you from a nutrient standpoint, it cooks quickly (saving your limited fuel) and can be used for all meals (cinnamon & sugar quinoa for breakfast, cayenne, garlic & beef jerky quinoa for supper). If you want to use rice, get the quick cooking kind. Boil in bag rice is available which is very convenient. Brown rice is better nutritionally, but takes a lot of time and fuel to cook.
  • suggests packing a small 3 cup rice cooker but you may be without power so I would suggest a small single burner camp stove or sterno stove with extra fuel. You can even make your own sterno stove. Always make sure you have adequate ventilation when cooking with any kind of combustible fuel.
  • Pepper, salt, sugar, other spices such as garlic, cayenne, chili, cinnamon. While you don’t need these, they can help make your rations taste a whole lot better. When backpacking, I store these in empty 35mm film canisters. They’re light, durable and water tight. They aren’t easy to find these days but you might be able to still get them. Ask at your local photography store.
  • Coffee, tea, chocolate mix, powdered milk. Again not, essential (and some may argue that coffee is) but can make your time waiting in a shelter pass a bit more pleasantly.

Keep all of your supplies in heavy duty, re-sealable plastic bags to keep them dry. Store your entire kit several feet off the floor so it won’t be damaged by flooding but not so high that it is difficult to get to. Check your kit every 3-4 months, check expiry dates and replenish with fresh supplies where needed.

Obviously, what emergency items you’re most likely to need should be based on what type of emergency you’re most likely to face (flooding, quakes, and so on). But there’s one item none of us can do without – preparation – so do your homework, know your options, involve your family, conduct practice drills and, most of all, stay safe!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kinnikinnick Chocolate Dipped Donuts Reviewed by Phil Lempert "The Supermarket Guru"

We were really pleased to see our Chocolate Dipped Donuts Reviewed by Phil Lempert "The Supermarket Guru" this week.

In the review New Food Product Hits & Misses 23 June 2010, Phil gives us an 80

Taste-27 90.00%

An 80 is pretty good but he really hammered us for our ingredients. He says: concern that I have is just reading these ingredients things like fructooligosaccharide and sodium acid pyrophosphate are sure to make moms concerned about ingredients; even if you do have a gluten allergy! While you certainly have to give up certain ingredients to follow a gluten-free diet I think that this product asks a bit too much.

We sent Phil a note basically saying that while we absolutely agree that just because a consumer is avoiding gluten doesn’t mean they should eat packaged foods with unhealthy or unnecessary additions, these “scary” ingredients in Kinnikinnick’s donuts (and all our products that use them) are actually intended to make the product healthier.

The ingredients he's referenced are fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP ). We want to clarify for our customers what these ingredients are and why we use them.

Sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) is used in baking powders to react with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to provide leavening in baked goods. Many commercial baking powders contain sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS). Some studies have shown a link between aluminum and organ toxicity and even Alzheimer's Disease. We make our own corn & aluminum free baking powder called KinnActive Baking Powder, which we sell and also use in many of our baked products. SAPP is used in KinnActive, making it a healthier and functional addition.

Fructooligosaccharide (FOS) & Inulin are most commonly made from chicory, and are soluble fibers. Both are naturally occurring in many common fruits and vegetable including Asparagus, Banana, Chicory, Garlic, Leek, Jerusalem Artichoke and Onions. They have been clinically shown to have many health benefits:

  1. Studies have shown that FOS & Inulin help Calcium absorption. * Calcium deficiency is a major problem for those with Celiac Disease.*
  2. They are prebiotic and help maintain intestinal health.*
  3. They help regulate Triglycerides, Glucose and Insulin response in Diabetics (and Celiac Diabetics).*
  4. They help reduce the amount of sugar required in a product, keeping calories lower.*

Phil's reply was:

As you know we base the reviews solely on what a shopper sees on pack - without explanation on the package its too confusing to make the purchase decision.Our policy is not to do follow up or clarification unless there was an error

We do understand the reasoning behind basing a review of ingredients solely upon what a person can read on the package but we also can't list what every ingredient does and why we use on the packaging either. Fortunately, we have the web and this blog and I hope this clears up a few things.

As always, we are more than happy to answer most any questions you have about our ingredients or procedures either publicly on this blog or by email to

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie with Graham Style Crust

Hosts Chef Lori and Kim will cover issues that often come up in Gluten Free baking & cooking and they'll show you just how easy it is to make "Great Food, Gluten Free" To launch the new Kinnikinnick Graham Style Crumbs, Lori and Kim prepare: Lemon Meringue Pie. Great Food, Gluten Free is produced by Kinnikinnick Foods as a free service to consumers interested in gluten free cooking and baking.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Helping Find The Hidden Gluten That’s All Around Us

Editor's note: This is the first in a series we're calling GF101. Over the coming months we'll be posting some short articles with basic tips on being gluten free and living in a gluten filled world. I hope they are useful, especially to newly diagnosed celiacs.

Transitioning to a gluten-free diet certainly can be a challenge, which is why all of us at Kinnikinnick have made it our mission to make that transition as easy – and tasty – as possible. But although you can rest assured all of our products are completely gluten-free, there are many food and non-food products out there which you might think are safe, but which actually have gluten "hidden" within them. Here is a quick rundown of what to look out for:

  • Reduced-fat products: meats and dairy often use starches to make products gel better. Be certain the starch is from a safe source like potato, corn or tapioca.
  • Ready-made meals and fast foods: these also contain gluten because of the starches used.
  • Ice cream: wheat is often added to prevent ice crystals from forming.
  • Soy Sauce: often 40% to 60% wheat!
  • Salad Dressings: gluten often is used as a thickener.
  • Gravies, Sauces and Marinades
  • Processed Foods: rice or corn cereals, soups, yogurt, snack foods, ground beef, cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages and shortening (which may contain vitamin E processed from wheat germ).
In short, always read labels. And read them every time. Manufacturers may change ingredients without notice and what was ok last week might not be this week. We also recommend you get one of the various gluten free product & ingredient guides that are available from the major support groups. These are extensive listings of what is safe and what to avoid.

If you are unsure, especially since labels can be so confusing, always call a product’s manufacturer and get the gluten-related low-down. And that means asking not only what’s in the product itself, but what standards the manufacturing facility follows to prevent cross-contamination. Here at Kinnikinnick, we make all our own products and operate the largest dedicated gluten-free bakery in North America and possibly the world.

Remember that most non food items are not required to list ingredients. 
  • Watch out for lickable envelops & stamps Most if not all postage stamp & letter glue in North America is made from corn but fun stickers and other lickable labels made elsewhere may not be.
  • Use caution with paints, clay, play dough and glue
  • Mouthwash, toothpaste, shampoos, soaps, lipstick, lip balm, sunscreen, cosmetics, lotions and cleaning solutions

Living the gluten-free life isn’t always easy, but thanks to heightened consumer demand, improved manufacturing and labeling standards and the wide array of surprisingly delicious foods (including, if we can be immodest for a moment, ours), it’s getting easier every day. So warm up a few Kinnikinnick donuts, take a few long, slow bites, sit back and indulge yourself!

Further Reading