Rice Is Nice

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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A bunch of you guys have asked me how my digestive system deals with gluten, and, unfortunately, I don’t have a straight answer to share. The jury’s still out! During a flare, gluten (and wheat) definitely upset my stomach. (TMI: They make me gassy and it sounds like a pack of wolves is running through my intestines!) When I’m feeling better, however, gluten is totally fine with me, especially if it is eaten in moderation. This past weekend, for example, I felt a lot better, so I pretty much ate and drank what I wanted (in moderation, of course), and I didn’t experience a single digestive issue. (Since the beginning of the year, I’ve pretty much had non-stop cramping 24/7, but this weekend was the first time in over two months, I didn’t feel a single cramp. I honestly don’t understand it all. Good drugs, I guess?)

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting as many meals on CNC as I normally do, and it’s only because my meals have gotten really boring lately””lots of rice, chicken, sausage, spinach and green juice (I’m constantly battling anemia because of my bleeding insides). My meals are starting to bore me, so I know they would bore you, too. Long story short, I’ve started to experiment with gluten-free products as a way to spice up my meals. I am seriously so sick of eating the same things over and over again, so I am trying out some new foods.

Awhile back, my dad sent me an email with all sorts of suggestions for helping my colitis. I don’t talk about my dad much on CNC, but I do have a father and he’s alive and well. In a nutshell: he’s an interesting and intelligent man, who loves the Internet. (I guess it runs in the family! Ha!) My dad is also really interested in food, food politics, production, and where our food comes from, so he’s sent me a few emails with his recommendations for what I should and should not eat to help my digestive system. One thing he wrote was “rice is nice,” which encouraged me to start eating rice on a more regular basis. Since then, rice has been a godsend for me, and it’s totally a food I can count on when my intestines get wonky.

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[image source]

Ok, where am I going with all of this? Oh, yea, I’ve started to buy more gluten-free (often rice-based) products to liven up my meals. Some of them are okay, but most of them are terrible. These products are often pretty pricey, so I hate feeling like I wasted my money when I buy a crappy product, so I’m going to start highlighting some of the gluten-free products I try on CNC, so you guys don’t end up wasting your money too.

Just quick note so the food police aren’t after me: I’m not going gluten-free. I’m simply exploring what’s out there on the market as gluten-free options since I’m incredibly bored with my current eats and they seem to better jive with my digestive system than the gluten-filled stuff. Eating these kinds of foods are working for me right now.

The first product I’m going to review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free, Dairy Free English Muffins. As a gluten-free option, these babies are pretty good. They definitely need to be toasted to get the right texture, but even a regular English muffin needs some toasting, right? When toasted, the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free, Dairy Free English Muffins are soft, spongy, and a little crumbly, so I could tell they weren’t a “real” English muffin, but they’re a great alternative. The flavor isn’t exactly like an English muffin, but with a good, solid toast and little melted butter, it was pretty darn close. I will definitely buy these again.

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Breakfast

This morning’s breakfast was a toasted Trader Joe’s Gluten Free, Dairy Free English Muffin with two wedges of Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread with sliced strawberries. Delish!

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The Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread is from my friends at The Laughing Cow. I actually have a really exciting announcement about my new role with them coming soon. I’m pumped!

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Health News & Views

If you’re avoiding gluten in your diet, but don’t want to miss out on fun and good taste when it comes to dessert, here’s a sweet recipe for you!

These cookies combine dark chocolate with dried cherries and coconut flour for a delicious cookie-firm on the outside and oh-so-soft on the inside. You won’t even know it’s gluten-free!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

The Paleo Slow Cooker Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a copy of The Paleo Slow Cooker! Here’s your winner:

Haley @ fullnfit

My fave paleo AND slow-cooker recipe is simple”¦ Chicken, chicken broth, salsa, cumin, cayenne, garlic.. YUM!!! It is great on top of a salad or as a lettuce wrap. :)

Congrats, Haley! Please email me at tina@carrotsncake.com with your full name and mailing address to claim your prize.

Question of the Day

What are your favorite gluten-free products?

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96 Comments

  1. My best friend has celiac, and is therefore forced gluten free. We have found the best gluten free mixes are from the gluten free pantry. Sooo good. The bread is soft and fluffy, and freezes well. Brownies? Yum too

  2. I have similar issues with my stomach. I get terrible cramps and bloating and my stomach sounds just as u described. I have tried no dairy and no wheat, but neither seem to help. I’ve also had tests done, but nothing showed up. how were u diagnosed with this?

    1. @alli:
      I had problems much like you described when I was on the birth control pill. Once I stopped my stomach pain/bloating subsided after a few months and now I have little to no pain.
      Are you on anything?

      1. @Stacey: nope, im not on anything. my sister actually tried birth control and she experienced the same issues both on and off. is there anything you suggest i try?

        1. @alli:
          Things I noticed with me personally were if I have too much zinc it causes stomach issues and constipation. Also too much calcium has the same effect. I take a magnesium supplement daily to offset these as it helps prevent constipation. These facts are weird to know (I admit) but hopefully it shows how closely I have monitored my intake over the years.
          Another thing I found is high fiberous foods really trigger the bloating – too much spinach, carrots, etc. I also seem to have a hard time processing roughage so I only eat salads once a week or so.
          I try to never eliminate anything that I truely love and only eat it in moderation. Somehow over the years this has worked for me… At one point I swore the end would never be in sight. I wish you luck!

          1. @Stacey: yeah, I’m getting pretty agitated by it because it has been happening for a few years now and those who i have told are convinced I’m being to sensitive about it. ok, ill try some of that, thank you for the tips!

  3. I used to eat a bagel thin toasted with that cinnamon cream cheese and banana every single morning. It’s amazing! I’ve actually been cutting a lot of gluten out of our diet. Well my husband and I are pretty strict on paleo but I’ve almost got my kids on a gluten free diet. Maybe it’s all in my head but they seem happier with minimal dairy and no wheat.

  4. Agree on previous comment on Glutino pretzels – fantastic. For bread, I am a huge fan of the new Rudi’s Soft & Fluffy bread – it’s true to its name! Also very partial to Blue Diamond Nut Thins crackers and Crunchmaster crackers – since GF bread is expensive, I save it for an occasional treat and often do crackers, deli meat and cheese with a side salad as a quick lunch instead of a sandwich. Best part of all of these products? I can find them in my local supermarket!

  5. Thanks for all of the (future) GF recommendations! I am not personally GF but I have a lot of friends who follow a strict GF diet and I am always nervous to provide food or cook for them. I’ll be interested to see what else you find 🙂

  6. Udi’s bread is by FAR my favorite GF bread, I also really like the Rudi’s new tortillas/wraps, they’re much less likely to break like other brown rice tortillas I’ve tried. Other than that, I just buy things from the Whole Foods bulk section, like oat bran or corn meal. I also use Trader Joe’s gluten free oats and Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour and coconut flour.

  7. I’ve been GF for 4 years now. I have Celiac so it’s not a choice for me. My favorite GF English Muffins are Food for Life Multi Seed. Quite good. I’ll have to try the TJ ones next time I’m in Kansas City.

  8. Gluten free products usually contain more sugar and sometimes still contain wheat…they also tend to have potato or cornstarch added which reek havoc with blood sugar levels. You should read “Wheat Belly” by Robert Lustig! Amazing book, really interesting insight in to the impact of wheat and gluten beyond even digestive issues…crazy stuff but it explains so much.

      1. @Danielle @ Food-Dee.com: Wheat Belly was written by William Davis. Dr. Lustig recently wrote Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease. I have read Fat Chance and agree that is a great book!

  9. I’m gluten-free because of wheat and rye allergies, but also free of grains too because those all bother me as well.

    However, for a short period of time I was on the gluten-free bandwagon with all of those awesome products, and here are my favorites! Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free bread mix, all Enjoy Life foods, Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes instead of cream of wheat (because that is almost ALWAYS contaminated with gluten), brown rice protein powder from Jarrow–awesome for microwave protein breads.

    Here are a few gluten-free and grain-free recipes that I’ve made recently as far as breads go: Apple Crumbly Bread- http://eating4balance.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/just-what-i-needed-mimm/ And Coconut Flour Bread- http://eating4balance.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/my-life-in-ecards/

    I hope to see some awesome gluten-free products on here now. Excited for the reviews!

    1. I just bought those the other day, and they actually inspired these posts because they were so awful. Mine totally fell apart. Does this happen when you buy them? Maybe I got a bad batch?

      1. @Tina:

        They can be a bit crumbly! The trick is to microwave them for about 15 seconds before doing anything with them. That way they are much more foldable. Otherwise they totally fall apart. I like to use them as a base for “pizza” actually because then I don’t need to fold them and them make a nice thin crust pizza base!

  10. I’m pretty sure that I have sensitivities to wheat, so I’ve been trying not to eat it as well. Favorite finds of late (both found at Whole Foods): Almond Dream yogurt and Sesmark sesame rice thins.

  11. I relate to you 100% Tina! When things are bad with flares for me, I try to avoid gluten as much as I can. When things are good, I still try to watch my gluten consumption but I can usually manage small amounts at a time. Hope you feel better! I know how rough these flares can be. 🙁

  12. Rice is my savior when my stomach goes off! Plain chicken and rice. I’m the same as you, not gluten free but it does help my stomach to limit my gluten intake, particularly when my stomach is upset. Good luck figuring out what works best for you!

  13. Your posts always make me smile. I especially enjoy the reference to all of the food police out there. Quite frankly, you should eat what you want gosh darnit and not give a damn what others say or think. That is their problem. Make yourself (and your tummy) happy. 🙂

    As an RD to be, we had to follow a sample 7day diet for any disease state that we wanted to. I picked UC. After much research & reading, their really is NO ONE SET DIET for UC, but a list of suggestions and foods which may cause irritation (caffeine, sparkling beverages, alcohol, to name a few). This has to be extremely frustrating for patients like yourself who are living with it. Foods you eat are also different whether your are in a flare-up or maintenance.
    In the end, what it boils down to is keeping a food diary, tracking the foods that you can tolerate vs upset your bowels, and continue to rotate and/or eliminate until you find what works best for you. It is usually the disease itself that causes the flare ups (your own body attacking itself) rather than a specific food making you bleed, other TMI symptoms, etc. Some patients with UC can tolerate gluten & dairy, while it sends others running to the bathroom!

    Ah, sorry for the book of a reply. 😉 It’s only b/c I have spent the past week in UC mode at my house. GF products you might try: knick knick frozen gf pizza crust, Food for Life brand products, TJ’s brown rice tortilla wraps, this bread: http://www.againstallgrain.com/2012/05/21/grain-free-white-bread-paleo-and-scd/ , these paleo bars:http://paleomg.com/nikkis-macadamia-nut-banana-bread-squares/ , shirataki noodles, and Eden Foods Mung Bean pasta (SUPER HIGH PROTEIN).

  14. “My dad is also really interested in food, food politics, production, and where our food comes from, so he’s sent me a few emails with his recommendations for what I should and should not eat to help my digestive system.” I’m actually really interested in this as well, especially as my time as a vegetarian has progressed. In the 4 years since I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve explored food production more and more. Is there anyway (or would you even be interested) in passing that information along?

    I honestly don’t know if I could name a product that I have bought/tried that is GF, although I have had GF cupcakes before. They were slightly denser and more dry than cupcakes with gluten, but they still tasted good!

  15. Hi Tina,
    New reader, so I don’t know if you’ve covered this before. But I also have ulcerative colitis and thought gluten was a problem, only later to self- diagnose that I really had a problem with dietary yeast (so gluten free products that included yeast were still upsetting)! Just curious if you ever explored that route, because I’ve been symptom free (no gas or bloating) for at least 10 years and feel great.
    Also, just to be the opposite voice for the comment above, I might be the only one in the world who thinks this, but thought the book Wheat Belly was poorly written with conclusions drawn from the studies he sited that I didn’t agree with at all. Anyway, Just my opinion. 🙂

  16. not sure if anyone, doctors or otherwise, have suggested, but have you gone completely gluten and dairy free? Just a thought… 🙂 good luck!

  17. I do not have to worry about gluten, but I LOVE Blue Diamond Nut-Thins Crackers! There are many flavors but I eat the ones with a hint of Sea Salt.They taste so good—I could eat them all day! And at least I think they are healthier than eating chips!

  18. I have tried three grocery stores and SuperTarget now trying to find that Laughing Cow cream cheese and I haven’t been able to find it!!

  19. Happy to see the gluten-free love on CNC! Pick up a copy of Wheat Belly STAT – you will be shocked at how wheat gluten affects your body. 1 in 133 people have either an intolerance, Celiac or allergy and most don’t even know it.

    As far as products, be careful of the nutritional value in each, too. I try to use only almond and rice flour (chestnut flour, too, but it’s so dang expensive) and steer clear of corn.

    Glutino pretzels are delicious!!! Annie’s rice pasta and cheese is also a good boxed mac n cheese (makes me feel like a kid again….)

  20. I’m not a fan of most gf products….even if they taste fine, they often still make my digestive system feel weird. I usually opt for just the basics- quinoa, rice, sweet potato, etc and skip bread, cereal, etc and eat a ton of rice cakes in lieu of toast

  21. It may not be the same issue, but a friend of mine battled with anemia constantly- testing every week, eating spinach and steak non-stop, and it still dropped consistently. Finally, a doctor told her to try not eating gluten for a week and it completely solved the problem. Just interesting.

  22. I went GF a couple years ago when my body suddenly decided it could no longer tolerate it. Definitely took some trial and error to learn which products are good (TJ’s corn pasta is the best out there) and which are terrible (vacuum sealed “rice” bread sold in GF sections of the grocery store). I buy Udi’s whole grain bread as a staple that’s good when toasted. TJ’s wheat free waffles are pretty close to the real thing too. Oh and I’ve found that Udi plain bagels are kinda gross and don’t taste like bagels but the cinnamon raisin ones are good!

  23. I think looking at the gluten/wheat might be a too narrow view. Other aspects like stress can also be a culprit of flares, and it looks like living life like it is forever stay at a 5 star spa is the way to go for you 🙂

    Did you have issues before you started being a freelancer?

    The subconscious stress and uncertainty of such a job could also contribute to your condition.

  24. I am an RD and love to cook and also am gluten-intolerant (luckily not celiac) I like Udi’s bread/ granola, Canyon Bakehouse Breads, Trader joes GF Ginger cookies, Glutino cereals and most of all- GF oats (from TJs or Bob’s) But mostly I love to make my own GF stuff like muffins, baked oatmeal and protein bars- there are some recipes for the bars on my site and I think they would be right up your alley 🙂
    http://enourishment.blogspot.com/search/label/protein%20bars

    Will have to look for the english muffins you posted about too!

  25. My brother has celiac disease and I have gluten sensitivity as well, due to the fact that I have three Autoimmune Diseases including Ulcerative Colitis. I have researched and tried Alot of different g-free products and a few brands I like and trust are “Pamela’s Bakery”, “Annie’s” mac and cheese, “Coconut Secret”, “Udi’s”, “Rudy’s” and “Quest” Bars to name just a few. Also most Kale chips, flax crackers, freeze dried veggie/ fruit snacks, and popcorn are gluten free. An important thing to remember is that many things that are naturally g-free get a price markup by manufacturers noticing the gluten free trend and labeling their products as such. Do your homework and be wary of naturally G-free products such as Rice stamped with the “gluten free” seal 😉

  26. My cousin is gluten intolerant so when she comes to dinner I make GF brownies. I’ve since fallen in love and am convinced that they are the best brownies on the planet.

  27. I just bought the rice is nice shirt off of etsy after seeing your blog post. I’m asian and my friends make fun of me because i eat rice almost daily :-). wish you could get a commission lol.

  28. I’m not sure if its ever been mentioned, but acupuncture has been known to help digestive issues. My husband had UC and went to an acupuncturist who focused on the 8 Constitutions or 8 body types. After about a month of sessions, he has healed his stomach, and focuses on the diet that is appropriate for his body type. May be worth looking into.

  29. Glad to hear your update. My doctor and I recently talked about my avoiding gluten to see if it will help my stomach problems. I love breads, pastas and cookies so learning to make things fluten free is going to be a chalenge. I will have to look for these english muffins at TJ’s

    1. @Nicole @ Fruit ‘N’ Fitness:

      If you are lokoing to bake and need a good flour try Better Batter. It’s almost a 1-1 ratio to a regualr all purpose flour, you usually just have to add a touch more liquid. It’s on the cheaper end of the gluten free flour spectrum, but still quality. Plus it already includes xanthum gum.

  30. Hi Tina – FYI – If you and Mal want gluten-free pizza, the restaurant Wicked at Legacy Place in Dedham makes the best gluten-free pizza! You can ask for any pizza on their menu to be made gluten free and they do it form scratch (they don’t use a pre-made base). Hope you try it!! (I eat gluten-free because I’m intolerant of it – and really liked their pizza!)

  31. My brother is gluten-free so when I go home the GF lifestyle is my way too! The best pasta we have found is Tinkyada, it has a very good consistency compared to a lot of grainy GF pastas. As for my favorite recipe, the easiest cookie recipe just happens to be gluten-free…

    Peanut Butter Cookies
    Ingredients
    1 cup natural peanut butter
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp baking soda
    Coarse sea salt

    Directions
    Preheat the oven to 350.

    In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients (except salt) until well combined. Spoon tablespoon-size balls of the mixture an 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with a fork (crosshatch pattern). Sprinkle the salt on top of the cookies and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

    So easy and gluten-free!

  32. You’ve probably already been asked this, but could it be that it is yeast & not gluten that is causing issues? I’ve heard & read that people often assume the two are the same, & that yeast or an abundance of it in the “gut” can have “toxic” affects.
    Lisa

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