Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Milk Free Bookstore Big Update

Books as presents? What a wonderful idea! Easy to shop for, easy to send, easy to keep for yourself if you decide they're too good to give away to your lowlife relatives.

Here's the deal. I finally, after much too long, got around to updating my Milk Free Bookstore in my website, Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse.

I first put the bookstore together almost ten years ago, when I discovered and its crazy, quirky, utterly frustrating search engine. Trying to find books on lactose intolerance, on lactose-free, dairy-free, or milk-free cooking, on dairy or milk allergies required a million searches on a variety of keywords.

I knew that you out there didn't have the time to slog through all that, so I did it for you.

At the time I found around 50 titles that would qualify as of interest. I've expanded that list over the years to over 220. They now sorted into ten categories:











I went through my blog for all the cookbooks I mentioned so far in 2008. With a couple of exceptions that either did not show up or were too peripheral to count, I've made sure there's a link to each of them in the Milk Free Bookstore.

You can link directly to Amazon by clicking on the picture of the book cover.

Of course, I'm just pointing out the availability of these titles. This is not an endorsement of the books, the authors, the publishers, or Amazon. I'll endorse good old fashioned hardcopy print books, though. Those are great.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Digestive Advantage Muffins?

I've been writing for the past couple of years about functional foods, foods that have probiotics - beneficial bacteria - added to them in order to create supposedly healthier foods.

And I've been writing for years about Ganeden, the maker of Digestive Advantage, a probiotic pill taken by many of us who are lactose intolerant.

I suppose I should have foreseen that the two would intersect at some point.

Still, it took me by surprise when I saw this article by Mary Vanac of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

A company in Mayfield Heights is marketing a probiotic that might help the health trend already accepted in Europe and Asia catch on in America.

It's selling its healthy bacteria as a food ingredient -- one that unlike most other probiotics remains effective even when it's baked, boiled, frozen or squeezed.

The company, Ganeden Biotech, has teamed with two dozen food companies since January to incorporate its probiotic in everything from muffins to health bars to energy drinks -- even ice cream.

Main Street Gourmet in Akron recently began adding GanedenBC30 to the raisin bran muffins in its Isabella's Healthy Bakery line under the label Activate: Probiotic Enriched Muffins.

You can't buy these muffins in Ohio yet. But foods with the GanedenBC30 logo could start hitting the shelves of local grocery and drug stores by early next year. ...

That's where Ganeden may have a leg up on many of its competitors. The company's patented strain of Bacillus Coagulans -- GanedenBC30 -- generally survives processing and digestion, and is stable in items on store shelves for up to two years.

So instead of drinking a few ounces of probiotic-rich Yakult dairy beverage every morning like Japanese people do, Americans soon may be able to get their daily dose of probiotics in breakfast cereal.

Yes, the not being available yet in stores part is disappointing. I'll keep following the story and let you know when and where they do appear.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Arla Lactose-Free Yogurts

Arla, the British company that makes the Lactofree line of lactose-free milks, has added some new lactose-free yogurts to its product list.

A press release announced that:

The flavoured yoghurts are available in raspberry, strawberry and a natural variety, and have been developed for consumers that are lactose intolerant, the company said today (27 November).

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Good Intentions May Still Hide Allergens

I've posted twice this week on a major investigative report run by the Chicago Tribune, the original story in Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled and a pat-oneself-on-the-back press release, Enjoy Life Comments on Hidden Allergens.

Here's a self-congratulatory statement very much like that from Earth Life, this one from the renowned upscale grocery chain Whole Foods:

"Good manufacturing practices," the labels stated, were "used to segregate" potential allergens such as tree nuts, soy or milk.

They tried. Yet:
In 2007, a year after the "good manufacturing" label was put on the bars, a child with food allergies had a reaction after eating the candy, which contained tree nuts. Two recalls followed and the label was changed earlier this year.

That's from another piece of the multipart series, in which the Tribune details how difficult it is for any company not using its own private dedicated plants to make such a statement. Whole Foods relied on contractors to make its products, in this case a Swiss chocolate company. That company continued to make different products on the same line, a violation of the claims Whole Foods made.

Earth Life does use dedicated bakeries. Yet it must reply on suppliers for its ingredients. Those suppliers must guarantee their compliance with cross-contamination standards.

That sounds good and is, in fact, as reliable as reasonably possible. No company can both grow all its own ingredients, as well as bake, package, and ship the final products. There are always potential weak links in the chain.

The final line of the Tribune article reads:
Asked why such scrutiny did not catch fundamental problems at the Swiss candy factory, [Whole Foods' director of private brand development, Nona Evans] said, "It's a continual education."

It is. Companies get smarter and better all the time. Consumers know more about what to look for and what questions to ask. The number of children affected by cross-contamination continues to fall.

I'm sure that would be no consolation if it were your child who fell ill. All you as a parent can do is to be glad that the risks are getting smaller. And to ensure that you stay as watchful as need be and as informed as you must be.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Healthiest Airport Food

I'm not a big fan of the The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). They're a fanatical anti-milk and anti-animal-as-food organization.

Because they're militantly vegan, though, they can occasionally be of help to those who are looking for healthy dairy-free food, as long as you remember to read their findings through the lens of their bias.

They just published their eighth annual PCRM Airport Food Review, perfect timing for those about to embark on airline travel this holiday season. You can find the full report on this page. It's not very long.

During this season of increased air travel, where can a hungry traveler find a healthful meal? Nutritionists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) surveyed meals in 15 of the nation’s busiest airports and found that 80 percent of airport restaurants now offer at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian option. ...

A restaurant was rated as healthful if it served at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free breakfast, lunch, or dinner option. Healthful options at airports covered in this report include the Mediterranean platter at La Tapenade Mediterranean Café at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the vegan stromboli at French Meadow Bakery & Café at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and the roasted veggie ciabatta at Brioche Dorée at Los Angeles International Airport.

(Note: Where menu items include cheese or other dairy products, to ensure a healthful meal, travelers should request that these meals be prepared dairy free.)

Here's the summary report on the top two airports, a tie, to show you what you might find if you check the rest.
1. (tie) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (95 percent): DFW increased its score by one point and remains in first place this year. Health-conscious travelers will find nearly 40 restaurants that offer at least one low-fat, zero-cholesterol meal. Healthful offerings include the vegan smoked tofu, broccoli, and mushroom burrito at 360 Gourmet Burrito, the portable portobello wrap (hold the feta) at UFood Grill, the Sonoma veggie wrap (minus the cheese) at Camille’s Sidewalk Café, and the guiltless black bean burger at Chili’s Too.

1. (tie) Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (95 percent): After two years in second place, Detroit increased its score by two points and tied with Dallas for first place. The addition of new low-fat menu items—like the vegetarian pita at National Coney Island Express—drives the Motor City into the number one spot. Zero-cholesterol items with an international flair include the tabouleh, hummus, and veggie burger at Online Café Bar and Grill, veggie and tofu rolls at Sora Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, and the fattoush (a salad made from vegetables and pita bread) or the veggie wrap at Waterworks Bar and Grill.

Anyone who flies and has tried to find reasonably healthy food at an airport knows that the choices are often limited, although far better today than in the past. The report gives scores for the previous years of the survey. As recently as 2001, four of the ten airports surveyed had scores of 50% or below.

This report seems like reasonable advice, which is why I'm passing it on despite the source.

Just a quick dig I can't resist slipping in. When you have two items tied for number one, what comes next? That's right, number three. Except for the geniuses at the PCRM. Chicago O'Hare ranked just below Dallas and Detroit. It's ranked number two.

Where's the slap your head smiley?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Enjoy Life Comments on Hidden Allergens

Boy, that didn't take long. Hardly did the big Chicago Tribune expose of hidden allergens I posted about yesterday hit the newsstands than Enjoy Life sent out a press release to proclaim how wonderfully careful they are.

According to [Scott Mandell, President, CEO and Founder of Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods], that's why Enjoy Life Foods has invested in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free bakery, requires all ingredient suppliers to complete extensive cross-contamination statements, assigns a risk rating to all incoming ingredients based on suppliers' statements, and further tests specific ingredients to ensure strict allergen control standards are met. Additionally, all Enjoy Life products are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), a third-party certification group. The GFCO follows a 10 parts per million (ppm) standard for gluten, which is lower than the proposed FDA standard of 20 ppm.

Complete and accurate product labeling is also an extremely important safety factor for Enjoy Life Foods. "We know it's hard for people with dietary restrictions to find foods that they can safely eat. Food labels and allergen advisory warnings can be confusing and ingredient statements don't always contain all the information they need," Mandell says. "That's why we go out of our way to make sure Enjoy Life Foods' product labels are clear and provide the information our food-sensitive consumers need to make informed decisions about what they can and cannot eat."

That all sounds good, and I'm not denigrating Enjoy Life products in any way. I simply have a feeling that the CEOs of most of the companies affected by recalls could have written similar statements. Most reputable firms today try very hard to ensure that their products are not subject to costly, embarrassing, and public recalls. They happen anyway.

To keep an eye out for recalls, the government has a handy site,, that lists all products that the FDA and USDA have jurisdiction over. If you are allergic or are the parent of an allergic child, be sure to bookmark the page.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled

In the last few weeks Vegan Rella Cheddar Block, Wegmans Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce, and muffin tops from Seattle's Favorite Gourmet Cookies & Dessert Co. have all been recalled by the FDA because they turned out to contain undeclared milk products.

They're small pieces of a bigger problem. Many products marketed and targeted at children, including big names like Oreos, Pop-Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Jello-O and Campbell's SpaghettiOs, have been recalled for hidden allergens in recent years.

The Chicago Tribune did a major investigative piece on this issue, titled "Children at risk in food roulette." They found that an average of five products a week are recalled because of hidden allergens. And the government does not take action even against repeat offenders.

Nor do a significant number of parental complaints result in recalls:

The Tribune examined 260 complaints to the FDA since 2001 where people with known food allergies--many of them children who had to be treated at hospitals--reported a reaction from products they claimed were mislabeled. Yet just 7 percent resulted in recalls.

Even when authorities concluded a product was at fault, the regulatory wheels moved slowly. On average, it took 32 days to issue a recall.

The article is worth reading in full.

In addition:
To determine the full scope of the problem, the Tribune created an unprecedented computer database of 2,800 recalls related to food allergies over the last 10 years.

You can search the database by clicking here.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Amazake Brown Rice Drink

The SF Foodie column at reminded that I haven't written about Amazake, one of the oldest and most widely distributed rice-based milk alternatives.
Brown rice is a delight in the clutches of Emeryville's Grainaissance, which makes 14 different versions of its naturally sweetened, dairy-free and gluten-free Amazake Rice Shake.

Grainaissance, despite the labored pun, is a major player in the field.

Since 1979, we at Grainaissance have been dedicated to making great-tasting, nutritious products from brown rice. Starting with organic, whole-grain brown rice (we do not used milled rice), we add almonds, raisins, non-dutched cocoa, cinnamon and an abundance of other whole foods to create our distinctive flavors. We never use oils or animal products; we keep salt and even natural flavor concentrates to a minimum. Also, all of our products are certified kosher. We think eating should be fun, and we're proud to say that our products are not only healthy and delicious, but are entertaining as well! Our products stem from a long line of traditional Japanese foods, and we employ time-honored Japanese methods to produce them.

And Amazake comes in fifteen flavors.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Ecological Ain't the Same As Good for You

I found this bizarre press release today.

When leaders of the 21 economies that comprise the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum formally launch their annual meeting Saturday, their greatest temptation might well be "Divine Sin." The "Divine Sin" in question is actually a cocktail that Peruvian expert Eladio Espinoza has created from two products that Peru is most proud of: Pisco, a liquor and chirimoya, a type of custard apple.

APEC leaders were to be offered the treat at lunch and dinner.

"All its ingredients are ecological, with a low content of alcohol, sugars and lactose, so that they can be taken by people who suffer from intolerance to lactose or diabetes," Espinoza said.

Peru, whose prestige in gastronomy is on a remarkable rise, sees the APEC summit as a chance to further enhance its reputation.

First, notice the claim that it's low in lactose. It's nice that people are thinking of us. That's a huge change from earlier years. But for Pete's sake. This is a cocktail. It contains liquor and fruit. Of course it doesn't have lactose. Neither does a martini or a daiquiri or a margarita. Or a hurricane or a screwdriver or a Long Island Iced Tea.

It's true that some liqueurs - not liquors - contain real cream. Irish Cream in all its variations is the prime example. And some cocktails are made with liqueurs added. A screaming orgasm is made with kahlua, amaretto, vodka, and Irish Cream. You can even find mixed drinks - I hope that not even the most rabid Sex and the City fan would dare call them cocktails - that have ice cream at their base.

Creme, it needs to be said, is not real cream. Creme de cassis, Creme de Noyaux, Crème de cacao, Creme de violette, and Creme de Menthe all do not contain any real cream. I can't guarantee whether all concoctions named creme are truly cream free, though. The site lists abominations like Creme De Cachaca, made with Irish Cream; Creme de Cafe, made with light cream; and Ponche De Creme, made with condensed milk.

Even so, liquor is milk-free and fruit is milk-free. I'm not sure who you think you're enticing.

My other peeve is calling a Divine Sin ecological. Perhaps the word is the victim of a bad translation from the Spanish. But remember folks, we're talking about a cocktail here. Liquor and fruit. I'd drink it. I'm not condemning the concept of a cocktail, though I don't drink many. Ecological may be many things to many people, but you're simply perverting the notion when you apply the term to a cocktail. With fruit or pure Pesco.

And where did this bizarre perversion of the Earth movement appear?

On The Earth Times Online Newspaper. The Earth Times, a environmental legend that has for years preached about ecology, sustainability, the green movement, organic products, and all the things that might cause some to label them as archetypal treehuggers. Pushing ecological Peruvian cocktails doesn't seem to fit in their mission statement.

We all make compromises for our causes. Some are subtle; others are all too obvious. I don't raise my drink in salute.

UPDATE: I thought the original article was bizarre. The follow-up is ten times so.

As I was writing this posting, President George W. Bush was in Peru for the 2008 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Here's an official picture of him from the festivities sounding the event.

That's pisco that he's drinking.

An amusing coicindence except for the fact that pisco is an alcoholic beverage. This has caused a huge flurry by the punditry and in the blogosphere.
With the cares of office soon to be behind him, has George Bush started drinking again? The US President, who gave up alcohol 22 years ago, has been dogged by a recent spate of rumours that he has gone back on the sauce, and while attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Peruvian capital Lima at the weekend he was photographed downing a glass of Pisco Sour (pictured), a brandy-like alcoholic drink.

It could be that Bush was unaware that Pisco Sour was alcoholic, or that he merely took a sip so as not offend his hosts – the beverage is the country's national drink – but drink it he did.

Anyone who has sampled a Pisco Sour will know it needs to be approached with extreme caution. It was invented in the 1920s as a variation of the whiskey sour by an American expatriate called Victor V. ‘Gringo’ Morris at the Morris Bar in Lima, and packs quite a punch.

It can't be satire. Satire is obsolete before it gets written these days.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Casein Not in All Sodium

I received this email the other day.

Concerning pre-packaged luncheon meats. I was told, maybe incorrectly, that "salts or sodium can have hidden Casein in them." I can't find an answer so far on the internet. I hope you can help me.

Here is a list from one package: sodium phosphates, sodium ascorbate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, potassium lactate, sodium diacetate.

I replied:
The answer to your question is that casein salts will always be listed that way, as sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate or even, though rarely, potassium caseinate. The sodium part doesn't matter for dairy allergies. (It does if you have high blood pressure and need to avoid sodium, but that's a different issue.)

Caseinate will always be listed. And modern labeling laws require that any product that uses casein say it is a milk product or a milk derivative. Caseinate can't be hidden.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kosher Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

I wasn't familiar with the Boulevards brand of hot chocolate mixes, but that's what a press release is for.

Boulevards LLC announces availability of two new certified organic, kosher hot chocolate mixes: a dairy-free mix and a sugar-free/dairy-free mix. "Our delicious sweet-dark instant mix is now available to consumers in a dairy-free version. Plus we now have a smooth, chocolaty mix that is both sugar-free and dairy-free," says Boulevards founder Don Meyers.


Neither of the two new products contain milk powder, so they are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. The consumer can use fresh milk, soy milk, rice milk, or coffee to enjoy these new mixes. The sugar-free version uses the organic sweetener erythritol. This sweetener is found naturally in several kinds of food and is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. "Erythritol is much better than other sugar substitutes", says Don Meyers, "compared to the others there's very little risk of digestive problems."

On the Boulevards website I found descriptions of the two products.

Our dairy-free sweet-dark hot chocolate removes the milk from our original mix, providing more options for you and your family.

Enjoy the rich full flavor with milk, soy milk or rice milk. Add 2 tablespoons of mix to 8 oz hot milk.

This hot chocolate is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Certified organic and kosher.

10 servings per can.

Sugar-Free & Dairy-Free

Our sugar-free & dairy-free hot chocolate cuts out the sugar and calories. Lightly sweetened with organic erythritol (fermented glucose).

Enjoy the rich full flavor with milk, soy milk or rice milk. Add 1 tablespoon of mix to 8 oz hot milk.

This hot chocolate is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Certified organic and kosher. Its also low in calories. Only 20 Calories per serving.

20 servings per can.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Better Lactose Makes Better Lactose-Free Milk

I've found that few people with lactose intolerance know much of the history of lactose intolerance. For example, except for those few who read every word of my book, Milk Is Not for Every Body, even the best-informed American doesn't know the name Maxilact, although Maxilact was the first lactase product to be put on the market.

Maxilact is still being made, though now by a company that took over the firm Gist-Brocades mentioned in my book, the Dutch food ingredients manufacturer DSM.

And they're still working to improve lactase, judging by this press release.

Maxilact LGX is the new, breakthrough pure lactase enzyme from DSM Food Specialties. Created to reduce the off notes that can develop at the end of a lactose free product’s shelf life, Maxilact LGX also guarantees an even higher quality and clean flavour throughout the product’s lifespan than any other lactase on the market today. The first ingredient of its kind to deliver these benefits, Maxilact LGX is a pure and consistent lactase which offers the potential to extend the shelf life of premium low lactose milk products.

The latest addition to the Maxilact range of neutral lactase preparations, Maxilact LGX is isolated from the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis. It hydrolyses lactose into two monosaccharides – glucose and galactose – and yields a naturally sweet, low lactose milk product. The product is developed in such a way that no detectable side activity is present to cause off flavour formation in lactose free milk. Using Maxilact LGX simply ensures an even cleaner taste – especially at the end of a product’s shelf life.

Ardy van Erp, Product Manager Dairy Enzymes, DSM Food Specialties, commented: "An increasingly broad consumer base is looking for low lactose and lactose-free products. Many people are adapting their diet with a view to improving their health and wellbeing. Individuals looking for ease of digestion and those with a lactose intolerance are embracing the low lactose trend – resulting in a growing market."

This sounds like very good news for those who drink lactose-free milks. Let's hope it's adopted by many milk processors soon.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Anti-Milk Moron

I found this article reprinted on News Blaze, whatever that might be.

It's an unfortunately standard food nonsense diatribe. Here's the nuttiest piece, from our point of view.

Ron McCormick, a native of Oregon, was raised on a 22,000-acre ranch. McCormick was used to eating what he calls "the all-American diet" - steaks, milk, cheese and bread. ...

"Milk is full of sugar and lactose from the cow. It's full of impurities and antibiotics. Babies who are breastfeed are in a much better situation because the mother's milk is in an alkaline state," said McCormick.

Sugar and lactose? No. There is only one sugar in cow's milk, just as there is only one sugar in mother's milk. And that's lactose. Sugar always means sucrose, at least on all ingredients lists in the U.S. There is no sucrose in any milk, unless it is added after the fact.

And mother's milk? Mother's milk has the highest lactose content of any known mammal's milk. If lactose in milk is bad for you, the absolute last thing you would want to do is recommend mother's milk.

If you have a stomach strong enough to read further in the article, which appears to be more of an infomercial, you'll find to no surprise at all that McCormick is pushing his own line of quack products.

Don't buy them. Ignore him and everything he says. Do it for your sake and your children's sakes.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yogen Früz Comes to Rochester - and Lots of Other Places

Yogen Früz may be the largest chain of yogurt franchises in the world, with over 1100 stores in 20 countries. And they're expanding like mad.

From their press release:

The Yogen Früz menu is comprised of its signature "Blend It" frozen yogurt offering a combination of low-fat, non-fat or no-sugar-added frozen yogurt with an extensive variety of flash-frozen fresh fruit custom blended for each customer. Yogen Früz also offers their Tart "Top It" soft serve frozen yogurt, a refreshing yogurt with the customers' choice of a wide range of delicious fresh fruit and dry toppings. Other menu selections include yogurt and non-dairy smoothies, as well as a variety of healthy additions and beverages. This contemporary menu design and packaging subtly reinforce the healthy snack brand positioning and point of difference.

A unique ingredient to all Yogen Früz low-fat and non-fat yogurt products as well as the dairy smoothies is that all are packed with Probiotic cultures. Probiotic cultures have been shown to promote a healthy digestive system, improve mineral absorption, fortify the immune system, manage lactose intolerance and even help lower cholesterol. Yogen Früz has more than 17 million live Probiotic cultures per gram compared to as few as 69,000 for other brands, making their great tasting healthy snack alternatives even healthier. In a further market innovation, Yogen Früz maintains an industry leadership position by proudly placing key nutritional information on its menu for everyone to see (calorie and fat content).

Where will you see these new stores?
Yogen Früz plans to open stores in Hawaii, Orange County, Los Angeles, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Upstate New York.

Did you catch that Upstate New York bit? For a rare change, Upstate New York means Rochester. Why do I care? I live here. I've been watching the revived yogurt craze from a distance, wistfully. And now I get to take part.

The first Yogen Früz store in the area will open in Eastview Mall on November 28. Plans are for 15 additional stores to be built in the area.

Fifteen? Fifteen new yogurt stores in Rochester? And 100 in upstate over the next five years? That's what the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Yogen Früz must think that it's the best and most addictive yogurt in the universe to support that many stores. Admittedly, the chain started in Canada and so they must know the part about the six-month long winters. I'm still flabbergasted.

Check back in five years to see how they do.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Interactive Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Meal Planning Website

Just announced via press release, an interactive website that promises those with our special diet needs not just menus that they can use, but complete grocery lists and shopping plans.

Preparing allergy-friendly meals that are healthy and well balanced is quick and simple thanks to from Seattle entrepreneur NJ Shelsby. The interactive website takes the stress out of planning, shopping, and cooking wheat free, gluten free and dairy free dinners. With flexibility to fit everyone's unique needs, users can plan meals for the week in 15 minutes, shop once a week, and cook great tasting specialty dinners in about 30 minutes.

"NJ has created one of the most useful websites around," says Angela Pifer, Creator and Owner, Nutrition Northwest, Corp. "I regularly refer my patients to her website for easy to follow healthy recipes. They always return from their experience with glowing reviews."

Meal plan options include:

• Allergy-Friendly - Free of common allergens, such as wheat, dairy, corn, and soy. Most recipes are also gluten free.
• Lighter Fare - Less filling, focuses on veggies, seafood & chicken.
• Healthy Balance - Based on the American Heart Association's® Heart-Healthy Diet guidelines, incorporating lots of whole grains and portion sizing.

Users logging in to are presented with five completely customizable suggestions for the week. Nights may be switched around, dishes replaced with personal favorites, and portion sizes changed. After tailor fitting the menu to meet each user’s schedule and needs, recipes and shopping lists are automatically updated.

Merging recipe directions into one easy-to-follow set of instructions ensures that a healthy dinner makes it onto the table as quickly as possible. Most dinners are designed to be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Of course there's a catch. costs money.
For only $24.95 a month, you get a meal plan every week featuring naturally healthy meals comprised of fresh vegetables and herbs, whole foods, and unrefined grains like millet and quinoa.

There are also allergy-friendly options with recipes that are wheat free and dairy free. Use the plans “as-is” or change them easily to fit your family: move dinners around, pick other dishes from our recipe database, or change serving sizes.

Still, the convenience and guidance might be worth the cost to you. Let me know what you think.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Those with celiac disease often become lactose intolerant because the disease affects the inner lining of the intestine where lactase is made. Gluten-free dinners usually are good for both groups, therefore, although they might take just a bit of extra attention and planning.

Wendy Cohen takes these issues into account with her article on planning a a full gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner at She's an RN who:

helps others as a Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance Educator. I work one on one with people on meal planning, shopping, cooking and dining out gluten-free. I will also work with children who have behavioral issues related to gluten or other food sensitivities. My book "Gluten-Free PORTLAND" is a comprehensive resource guide to the gluten-free diet and is available on my website My other website is:

Here are a selection of tips from that article. Go to the link given above for the complete set of advice along with recipes for gluten-free pie crust.
• Most commercially produced turkeys contain gluten in the broth used to inject them full of flavorings, salt, and fat. It is important to avoid eating gluten with your conscientiously prepared meal by choosing a gluten-free turkey as your centerpiece. Check the label and it should say no MSG and no gluten on the front or under the nutrition label on the back.

• Gluten-free stuffing is easy, just buy or make the best gluten-free bread, cube it and dry in a low temperature oven. ... You can also make a wild rice/brown rice and dried cranberry pilaf style stuffing, which can be cooked separately, or used to stuff the bird.

• Use sweet rice flour to replace the traditional wheat flour in thickening gravy. If it's not quite thick enough you can add a little tapioca or potato starch.

• For pumpkin pie, all you really need to do is make a killer pie crust and make sure your filling is dairy free if necessary. You can substitute Earth Balance for regular margarine—it's gluten-free and dairy-free, or if you tolerate dairy products, use butter. Or, you can use oil to make pie crust. ... To replace milk in your pumpkin custard for the pie, there are many options to choose from: rice, soy, almond, hazelnut, or hemp, but for extra richness, try coconut milk—it has a very mild taste and won't overwhelm the pumpkin flavor.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Vegan Store

An astounding assortment of vegan products of all sorts - not just foods but clothing, cosmetics, gifts, books, and more - can be found at Pangea's Vegan Store.

Since 1995, Pangea Vegan Products has been the premier source of hard-to-find alternatives for vegans and vegetarians. Whether you're a hard-core animal rights activist or a potential new vegetarian, you're sure to find tons of great cruelty-free, animal-friendly choices here. Thanks for stopping by -- shop vegan, buy vegan!

Their dairy alternatives page has a variety of vegan cheeses and even a vegan heavy cream substitute, something I get asked about often and used to be impossible to find.

The Los Angeles Times just featured the store in its pre-holiday gift buying hints, by Lindsey Barrett.
Our favorite item at the Vegan Store (and believe us, we've tried a lot of them) is, without a doubt, the Premium Belgian Chocolates box. This little piece of dairy-free heaven contains a pound of fondant creams, hazelnut truffles, crisped rice pralines and dark chocolate medallions — and we guarantee you, your vegan friends will thank you!

The premium box (shown here) will set you back $31.95 (although Pangea recommends shipping on ice, an added charge); smaller boxes are available starting at $13.95. And if fancy concoctions with the word "fondant" in them don't ring your bell, the Vegan Store also offers truffles, caramels and chocolate-covered cherries.

Shipping is apparently available worldwide but with some conditions:
What about orders outside the USA and Canada? These orders are shipped by the US Postal Service and will take longer to arrive. The shipping cost is based on the package weight and destination. We will email you with shipping costs, and we need approval back from you before we can process and ship out your order. Please note that we are unable to track orders shipped outside the United States. Therefore, although we do keep records of these orders and guarantee that they will be shipped by US Airmail, we cannot accept responsibility for the safe delivery of such orders.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Muscle Milk

Muscle Milk is a high protein drink that comes in powdered and ready-to-drink forms. Even though the ready-to-drink forms and some of its other products are lactose-free, it's called muscle milk because it relies upon a selection of proteins also found in milk, including alpha and beta micellar caseins, alpha-lactalbumin, and lactoferrin.

They issued a press release with details of a reformulation.

Muscle Milk Light Offers Trans-Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, and Lactose-Free Nutrition in a New 100-Calorie Shake

The industry’s premier protein-enhanced beverage slims down! Muscle Milk Light gets even lighter with 100-Calorie Shakes in a new sugar-free, lower in fat formula than original Muscle Milk Light. The new Muscle Milk Light 100-Calorie Shakes provide an excellent source of protein and nutrition making it ideal for convenient on-the-go nutrition.


Muscle Milk Light is designed to promote lean muscle growth, fast recovery from exercise and healthy, sustained energy. Lactose-Free, Muscle Milk Light 100-Calorie shakes are available in Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Mocha Latte, Strawberries ‘n Crème, and Vanilla Crème flavors, and retail for $7.99 per 4 pack at grocery and specialty retailers nationwide.

You can check out their complete range of products at their website.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Lactose-Free Victoria’s Double Pound Cake

Chef Lindsey Williams, the author of NEO SOUL: Taking Soul Food to a Whole 'Nutha Level, lost over 200 pounds after deciding to start eating healthily. He's also taken steps to adapt heirloom recipes from Victoria Rowell for the lactose intolerant.

I've found this recipe on several sites, all of them making a big point of using Lactaid brand lactose-free milk, so I'm presuming it's a promotional recipe that free to disseminate.

Victoria Double Pound Cake
Makes 36 servings

Preparation Time: 15 min.
Bake time: 1 hr to 1 hr 10 min.


• 1 cup unsalted margarine
• 1/3 cup canola Oil
• 2 1/2 cups sugar
• 4 large eggs
• 1 cup LACTAID® Fat Free Milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 tsp. lemon extract
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• Non-stick cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat margarine and oil until well blended in a large bowl. Gradually, add sugar and beat until blended.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add LACTAID® Fat Free Milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and blend.
5. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
6. Pour into two 9x5-inch loaf pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
7. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool on rack 5 minutes, then un-mold and cool on racks for 2 hours.

Nutrition Information per Serving
Serving size: 1/2-inch slice

Total Calories - 160
Calories from Fat - 70
Total Fat - 8g
Saturated Fat - 1.5g
Cholesterol - 25mg
Sodium - 65mg
Total Carbohydrate - 22g
Dietary Fiber - 0g
Sugars - 15g
Protein - 2g
Calcium - 25mg

Exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 Starch, 1 Fat

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gradual Doses of Protein Can Reduce Allergies

Another study has been released with the intriguing finding that exposing children to extremely tiny amounts of milk protein and then gradually increasing the amounts given can result in a better toleration of the protein.

The study, "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of milk oral immunotherapy for cow's milk allergy," by Justin M. Skripak et al. appeared in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 28 October 2008 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.09.030

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (2008, October 31). Drinking Milk To Ease Milk Allergy? Oral Immunotherapy Study Shows Promise -- But Do Not Try This At Home. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/10/081030192851.htm

Giving children with milk allergies increasingly higher doses of milk over time may ease, and even help them completely overcome, their allergic reactions, according to the results of a study led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and conducted jointly with Duke University.

Despite the small number of patients in the trial – 19 – the findings are illuminating and encouraging, investigators say, because this is the first-ever double-blinded and placebo-controlled study of milk immunotherapy.


Researchers followed allergic reactions over four months among 19 children with severe and persistent milk allergy, 6 to 17 years of age. Of the 19 patients, 12 received progressively higher doses of milk protein, and seven received placebo. At the beginning of the study, the children were able to tolerate on average only 40 mg (.04 ounces or a quarter of a teaspoon) of milk.

At the end of the four-month study, both groups were given milk powder as a "challenge" to see what dose would cause reaction after the treatment. The children who had been receiving increasingly higher doses of milk protein over a few months were able to tolerate a median dose of 5, 140 mg (over 5 ounces) of milk without having any allergic reaction or with mild symptoms, such as mouth itching and minor abdominal discomfort. Those who had been getting the placebo remained unable to tolerate doses higher than the 40 mg of milk powder without having an allergic reaction. In the group receiving milk protein, the lowest tolerance dose was 2, 540 mg (2.5 ounces) and the highest was 8,140 mg (8 ounces). Lab tests showed the children who regularly drank or ate milk had more antibodies to milk in their blood, yet were able to better tolerate milk than those who took the placebo. Researchers say, tolerance in children treated with milk continued to build over time, and recommend that these children continue to consume milk daily.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Galaxy Rice Cheese Is Lactose-Free

Sometimes I wonder about reporters. Yes, as I say repeatedly, they have to learn a new field every day in order to write articles about it and that's extremely tough to do and get perfect. But when the information is right in front of their eyes, there's no excuse for getting it 100% wrong.

The website reprinted an article by Ellen Kanner of the McClatchy Newspapers on rice-based foods. In it, she said:

Galaxy rice cheese ($3.99, 8 ounces), made with rice flour and rice bran oil, has true cheddar taste but a texture closer to a T-shirt.

If it doesn't have dairy cheese's unctuousness, neither does it have its dietary impact — 70 calories and 4 fat grams vs. 110/9 for dairy cheese. Galaxy rice cheese, it should be noted, is not lactose-free.

How much effort would it have taken to go to the Galaxy website?
Our Rice Brand is an excellent source of calcium without cholesterol, trans fat or lactose. These rice-based products offer delicious cheese flavor in slices, shreds, blocks and more.

Galaxy Rice Brand products have the milk protein casein, which makes them melt and otherwise act like real cow's milk cheese products. That's perfectly safe for those with lactose intolerance. It's those with milk protein allergies who can't have it.

In other words, Kanner mixed up the two main groups of dairy-free consumers and warned off the wrong one. This is a huge mistake.

I know you can't doublecheck everything you read, but a bit of basic research on what newspaper articles say can save you a lot of heartache later on.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Parents Need to be Cautious About CFGF Diet

There is still no new news on the medical front about the effectiveness of using a casein-free, gluten-free (CFGF) diet to help children with autism. The big report that is scheduled to be released by the University of Rochester Medical School has not yet appeared.

The CFGF diet, though, continues to receive more than its share of attention in the popular press, mostly due to the widely publicized efforts of actress Jenny McCarthy, who has published books on helping her children with the diet. See my post Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet for Autistic Children Still Controversial for more details.

Doctors are having to respond to parents' questions and demands because of this, no matter how little they may think of the diet from a medical perspective. Tralee Pearce wrote a fascinating article on this issue for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

A few years ago, when Vancouver autism specialist Vikram Dua faced a parent's query about a trendy alternative therapy for a child, he wasn't the best listener.

"I used to rail against it or argue with parents," he recalls of the discussions about restricted diets or the use of supplements.

The result: He tended not to see those families again. "And it didn't help the kids very much."

Now, Dr. Dua is less combative. He explains that of the more than 1,000 treatments out there, one or two might, indeed, work. He just doesn't know which ones work and for which kids.


In her practice, [Wendy Roberts, a developmental pediatrician who specializes in autism at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and at Bloorview Kids Rehab] warns parents that she's never seen diet make a difference in a child who is not among the 20 per cent of autistic children with stomach and digestion issues. And she says the link between these issues and brain function remains unknown.

If parents do want to forge ahead, she advises a very gradual approach, with a huge amount of documentation to chart any changes. And, like most doctors in the field, Dr. Roberts says, she will also emphasize continuing with behavioural therapy.

Some doctors embrace alternative medicine more than others, of course. And these doctors are encouraging the GFCF diet. Even here, though, the good ones use a very careful and cautious approach, with lots of caveats.
Chatham, Ont., pediatrician Wendy Edwards, who has experienced some success with a gluten- and dairy-free diet for her 8-year-old son, says parents considering the diet seek her out or are referred by other doctors who are open to the idea. "Doctors are starting to realize this is becoming huge and you can't just brush it off any more."

But she finds herself managing the expectations of parents thrilled to have found an ally. She is careful to tell parents that their child may not improve on the diet. And like her more conservative peers, she is a firm opponent of chelation therapy (a metal-detoxification process) and oxygen chambers.

And Dr. Edwards warns that temporary improvement doesn't mean a cure. The next developmental stage may trigger a new round of symptoms.

I strongly advise any parents who are considering the GFCF diet to work very closely with their doctors, to chart symptoms and behaviors before as well as after the start of the diet, to be as objective as possible and not see any change as a potential cure, and to expect that time will be needed before any positive effect can be said to be lasting, assuming any appear.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kishk: A Nondairy "Cheese"

Have you ever heard of kishk? I haven't. But food travel writers stumble upon regional delicacies that in the old days never traveled beyond their regions. With the net, we're all one huge region of interchangeable foods and recipes. That's one for us.

Sandor Ellix Katz wrote Sandorkraut Reports from Terra Madre on Terra Madre is "a four-day gathering of 7,000 farmers, fermenters, other food transformers, cooks, and food researchers, teachers, and writers from 154 countries."

Quick bio:

Sandor Ellix Katz, a self-taught fermentation experimentalist, wrote Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods in order to spread the fermentation wisdom he had learned, and demystify home fermentation. Katz has taught hundreds of hands-on fermentation workshops around the U.S. and Australia. He is also the author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements from Chelsea Green, 2006. For more information visit,

Now, what is kishk?
Beyond milk, I even encountered a gorgeous example of a dairy-free "cheese," Keckek el Fouqara from Lebanon. In Wild Fermentation I included a recipe for kishk, a Lebanese ferment I had read about and learned to make, combining bulgar wheat with yogurt to ferment. But of course no cultural tradition is singular. Keckek el Fouqara is known as "poor man's kishk," and it is an adaptation of the kishk method by those without access to milk. The bulgar is mixed with water and salt and formed into small balls to ferment; the balls are then stored in spiced olive oil for a rich taste sensation far cheesier in flavor than any other vegan cheese I've tried.

Let me know if you try the recipe.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Probiotics Can Help - Sometimes

Probiotics, helpful bacteria added to foods or taken in pill form, are one of the hottest trends in the food world. Of course, like most things in this world that sound good in concept, the reality of the helpfulness of probiotics depend on a million factors.

Eliza Zied, a registered dietitian, is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and co-author of Feed Your Family Right! and So What Can I Eat?! She wrote an article on probiotics for trying to separate out hype from reality.

While you don't need probiotics in your diet to be healthy, people with mild digestive concerns, who are taking antibiotics or those who are lactose intolerant might benefit from certain probiotics, studies suggest.

Probiotics can be helpful for specific conditions such as diarrhea, lactose intolerance or Crohn's disease. ...

While studies have shown that doses between approximately 100 million and 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs) are effective for enhancing immune function, decreasing intestinal infections, and improving digestion and bowel function, the amount of probiotics you’ll need to consume to see a real effect will vary among strains. You need to consume a probiotic food every day to get the desired effect and it may take a week or two to experience specific results — such as a decrease in gas or bloating, or a higher tolerance to dairy foods. If after a few weeks you don’t feel results, try another similar product to see if it works any better.

However, probiotics don’t work the same in everyone. Probiotics may be more effective in older people than in younger ones since more mature bellies may have fewer good bacteria. There’s also some evidence that genetic factors — that is, how much good and bad bacteria you have in your gut — can affect your reaction to probiotics.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Only Half of Suspected Food Allergies Real

A fascinating and unusually readable article on food allergies was recently published in the German journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. "Food Allergy in Adults: An Over- or Underrated Problem?" by C. S. Seitz, P. Pfeuffer, P. Raith, E. Bröcker, and A. Trautmann, Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105(42): 715-23
DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2008.0715.

An English translation of the article can be found on the journal's website.

They tested 419 patients sent to a clinic because their symptoms indicated a food allergy. However, after extensive testing, only 214 tested positive for an IgE-mediated true allergy.

10% to 20% of the population sees itself as suffering from food allergy, yet genuine, immune-mediated food allergy is suspected by patients and their physicians far more often than it is actually shown to be present. The unfounded suspicion of an IgE-mediated food allergy can substantially impair a patient's quality of life through needless dietary restriction and the accompanying anxiety. On the other hand, an IgE-mediated food allergy that has gone undiagnosed or that has not been taken seriously can manifest suddenly with anaphylaxis, which may be life-threatening. The present study, carried out on a large cohort of patients, underscores the importance of differentiating IgE-mediated food allergy from other, non-allergic types of food reaction.

419 patients that had been referred to our outpatient allergy clinic for suspected food allergies underwent a standardized allergologic diagnostic evaluation, including thorough allergologic history-taking, IgE serology, and challenge tests when indicated.

214 patients (51.1%) were found to have an IgE-mediated food allergy. Almost half of these patients (24.3% of the overall group) had previously experienced food-induced anaphylaxis. In 205 patients (48.9%), however, an IgE-mediated food allergy was ruled out as far as possible.

Only a comprehensive allergologic evaluation performed by an experienced allergologist in accordance with current guidelines can protect patients from the negative consequences of excessive concern about a non-existent food allergy (e.g., needless dietary restriction) or, on the other hand, the negative consequences of inadequate attention to a genuine food allergy (anaphylaxis). A proper evaluation consists of detailed allergologic history-taking, skin tests, and challenge tests when indicated.

Other interesting findings not included in the abstract were that a full 97.6% of symptoms manifested within four (4) hours and that positive skin-prick tests had little predictive ability, but negative ones did.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

10 of Britain's Best Vegetarian Restaurants

The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom has picked 10 vegetarian restaurants as its award winners for 2008. The Times of London has more info on each restaurant in an article on its website, but here's the listing.

Joint winner: Dandelion & Burdock, Sowerby Bridge
Joint winner: The Waiting Room, Stockton on Tees

The Red Lion, Suffolk, Winner of Best Pub Award
Canteen, Cardiff
Demuths, Bath
Relish, Hebden Bridge
The George, Brighton
The 78, Glasgow
InSpiral Lounge, London
The Bean Inn, Cornwall

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