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This post, Target these 6 Germ Hot Spots in Your Home for a Healthy Edge All Year, is sponsored by GOJO, the maker of PURELL® products. These are products my family uses regularly, and all opinions are my own.

A few months ago, I shared my top Summer Travel Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Illness. Of course, summer travel time isn’t the only time we concern ourselves with staying well. We want to feel our best all year round so that we can make the most of our daily life.

While certain times, like when we travel or during peak cold and flu season deserve special attention in the wellness department, it’s also a good idea to create a routine for boosting wellness year-round at home.

Here are some practical steps that I take in my home to give my family an edge when it comes to wellness. Getting into healthy habits like these is so easy and before you know it, they are an integral part of your overall daily wellness routine.

Here’s to a healthy edge every day!

Target these 6 Germ Hot Spots in Your Home for a Healthy Edge All Year

In 1997, PURELL® Hand Sanitizer was made available in retail stores, forever helping the world stay well. Today, the brand includes soap, surface disinfecting products and more! Two of the products I use to reduce germs in my home year-round are PURELL® brand HEALTHY SOAP® Products and PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant.

Just like every product in the PURELL® family of products, these two must-haves deliver no-trade-off protection, and always-there peace of mind. Let me show you how I use them around my home to target some of the germiest areas.

1 – Hands

We put them just about everywhere, sometimes mindlessly. From cleaning to touching pets to grabbing doorknobs, our hands are germ magnets! A great hand soap is a must in every home.

I’ve been buying liquid hand soap for years because a pump bottle is so convenient, and I feel it makes handwashing easier than using bar soap, especially in the kitchen.

Earlier this year when I tried PURELL® brand HEALTHY SOAP® Products for the first time, I knew this was my new go-to hand soap. I keep a bottle by the kitchen sink and one by each bathroom sink in my home.

PURELL® brand HEALTHY SOAP® gently removes dirt and germs and is enriched with natural moisturizers to nourish the skin. I love all three scents (Clean and Fresh, Fresh Botanicals and Soothing Cucumber) but if I had to choose, I’d say Soothing Cucumber is my favorite. Each scent is delicate and not overpowering or “perfume-y”, which I appreciate. These products are also free of Triclosan, Parabens and Phthalates.

For these next five germ hot spots, I rely on PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant. If you’re wondering how one product can tackle all these areas, read on. I’ll share a bit about this powerhouse disinfectant spray with each one.

2 – Faucets

Speaking of washing our hands, the kitchen and bath faucets we touch in the process are germ harbingers. In the kitchen, splatters from foods we wash or rinse contaminate the faucet.

Raw meat, poultry and seafood are particularly concerning. Fortunately, PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant works on food-contact surfaces, so it’s completely fine to use in the kitchen where food is prepared.

3 – Doorknobs

Because PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant is formulated with no harsh chemicals or irritating fumes and relies on an alcohol-based formula, it is even safe to use where small hands can reach.

That includes doorknobs, which we touch all the time, and so often without washing our hands before and after. It’s second nature – we come home, put our coat in the coat closet, put our shoes in the bedroom closet, use the bathroom. All the germs on our hands when we enter our home transfer to those doorknobs and beyond.

Ideally, I would wash doorknobs in my home daily, but I must be honest with you – I do it twice each week on Monday and Friday. It’s a task I have incorporated into my cleaning routine and it only take a few paper towels, my PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant spray and a few minutes to do!

4 – Appliance handles

Just like doorknobs, we grab those appliance handles without thinking. The microwave handle is a top appliance hot spot for germs!

Just like when tackling those doorknobs, I arm myself with paper towels and PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant spray and wipe down handles on the microwave, fridge, stove, dishwasher and I even get the kitchen cabinet handles, too!

I do this every evening after dinner during my kitchen cleanup. It’s quick, easy and I know it goes a long way in keeping my family healthy all year!

5 – Computer mouse & keyboard

Because PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant spray is free from harmful chemicals, there’s no need to rinse a surface or object you clean with it. That means it’s great for wiping the computer mouse and keyboard. I give mine a wipe down every afternoon when I’m finished with work at my desk.

Do not spray the product directly on my mouse or keyboard; instead, spray it onto clean paper towels and wipe with those. I go over my entire desk to keep it fresh and to reduce the germs in the area.

6 – Remote controls and alarm clocks

PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant spray kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria in 30 seconds, including cold and flu and norovirus. Devices like remote controls and alarm clocks that we touch often are germ magnets!

Fortunately, those devices are easy to wipe down and disinfect quickly and easily. I try to make wiping the remote control a daily task and I wipe the alarm clock at least once each week.

All the areas you can use PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant!

One of the key attributes of PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant is that it is designed to use in areas where you would not use a conventional cleaner to disinfect.

These areas include:

  • Cutting boards
  • Counter tops
  • High chairs
  • Kitchen islands
  • Refrigerator (in/out)
  • Microwave (in/out)
  • Toaster oven
  • Coffee maker
  • Lunch bags
  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Dish brush/sponge
  • Food bowl (pets)
  • Litter box area (pets)

I mention this above, but I really like to use paper towels when wiping surfaces so that I’m not spreading germs via a sponge or towel.

I hope these tips help you keep germs reduced in your home throughout the year! I’d love to learn about your best tips, too! Leave them in the comments below.

The post Target these 6 Germ Hot Spots in Your Home for a Healthy Edge All Year appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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This article is to raise awareness of wheat-derived ingredients in foods labeled “gluten-free”, especially for individuals with wheat allergy. For more information about wheat allergy and how that differs from celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and other gluten-related health issues, please read “What You Need to Know about Wheat Allergy”.

When Gluten-Free Foods Contain Wheat

A friend with wheat allergy became ill on two occasions recently after eating products marked gluten-free. She found out later those products contained wheat-derived ingredients. She does not have celiac disease. It is only wheat she must avoid. Both products were labeled gluten-free. She assumed they were safe for her. Again, in her case, “safe” means wheat-free.

When diagnosed with wheat allergy, she was told to choose foods marked “gluten-free”. The idea is that wheat contains gluten and if a product is marked gluten-free, it would also be wheat-free. That does seem logical, but sadly, it is not necessarily true.

How do wheat-based ingredients end up in foods labeled “gluten-free”?

According to the FDA gluten-free labeling ruling, foods labeled “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten. I explain 20 ppm in this article.

Naturally gluten-free foods like fruit cups or foods free from gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley can be labeled gluten-free. However, further reading of the gluten-free labeling guidelines reveals frightening news for those with wheat allergy.

The FDA guidelines state a food labeled gluten-free:

  • cannot come from a gluten grain that hasn’t been processed to remove gluten.
  • cannot contain a gluten grain that has been processed to remove the gluten if the result is greater than 20 parts per million gluten in the finished product.

The second point above means a product can contain a gluten-containing grain like wheat if the finished product tests less than 20ppm gluten. For those of us with celiac disease, even 20ppm is concerning. The gluten content could be anything from zero to 19ppm. However, the focus of this article is on wheat-derived ingredients in foods labeled gluten-free.

For individuals with wheat allergy assuming gluten-free will automatically mean wheat-free, this can be devastating.

If you have wheat allergy, here are a few examples of ingredients derived from wheat that are allowed in a product labeled gluten-free if the less than 20ppm criteria is met:
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Glucose syrup derived from wheat
  • Food starch derived from wheat
  • Wheat grass
  • Ceramides with wheat extract

Again, a gluten-free label doesn’t necessarily mean no wheat-derived ingredients. It simply means the level of gluten tested was less than 20ppm. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004, all top eight major allergens must be noted in a “contains” or “allergens” statement on the food label. This includes wheat. Knowing wheat-derived ingredients are allowed in products labeled gluten-free, individuals with wheat allergy must read every label, every time. (Yes, those of us with celiac disease or any food-related health issue or food allergy must also do this, but again, here, our focus is on wheat allergy.)

For more on how frightening the FDA gluten-free labeling rule is to those of us with celiac disease and other gluten-related health issues, be sure to read this post.

If you have wheat allergy, have you experienced a situation where you relied on gluten-free labeling to also mean wheat-free?

The post When Gluten-Free Foods Contain Wheat appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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So far, this summer is marked by two things for me: One, it’s been relentlessly hot here in my beloved South, and two, it is the first summer in four that I can eat watermelon.

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a fickle issue. It renders foods we think of as healthy, like watermelon, off-limits at times. Every year I try to see if I can eat it by touching a cube of ripe red melon to my tongue. For the past several years, that has caused the stinging, prickly feeling that certain foods elicit for those who suffer with OAS. But this year, just a few weeks ago, the tongue touch test caused no issues. So, I ate a cube. Then another. Before I knew it, I had enjoyed over a cup of sweet melon standing over the kitchen sink.

Since that day, I’ve lost count of the number of seedless melons I’ve bought, but no one at my house is complaining. I love to see everyone turning to nutritious, hydrating foods like watermelon as a treat when the temps are hovering in the 90s most days.

You can bet I’m incorporating watermelon into as many dishes as possible, too! I mean, it’s been four years! That’s a lot of catching up to do. This Naturally Gluten-Free Watermelon Salad with Lime, Fresh Mint & Feta is one of our favorites lately. I serve it as a side dish with veggie burgers for Meatless Monday, as an after-dinner treat, or even an appetizer with cocktails. Versatile, delicious and no cooking – what could be better?!

Speaking of Meatless Monday, there’s another great watermelon salad recipe in the Meatless Monday Summertime Dishes roundup, so be sure to check it out. Most of those recipes are gluten-free, and for the few that are not, they are easily transformed to gluten-free by subbing gluten-free soy sauce, omitting miso or using a great gluten-free flour blend for regular flour.

If you’re feeling crafty, get inspired by these watermelon carving ideas. There’s a watermelon keg in my future.

But for now, it’s hot and I’m eating all the chilled melon to keep cool and hydrated, most recently, in the form of this naturally gluten-free Watermelon Salad with Lime, Fresh Mint & Feta.

Here are a few tips for making and storing it:
  • The salad (without feta added) keeps well up to two days.
  • Do not add feta until you’re ready to serve.
  • For added sweetness, whisk 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey or pure maple syrup into the lime juice before drizzling it over the melon.
  • For a spicier salad, add up to 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper to the lime juice before drizzling over the melon.
  • If you’re dairy-free like me, omit the feta and add a pinch or two of sea salt to the salad. It’s still so refreshing!
Naturally Gluten-Free Watermelon Salad with Lime, Fresh Mint & Feta Ingredients

4 cups cubed watermelon

Juice from 1 lime

½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese


1 – Place watermelon cubes in a large serving bowl.

2 – Drizzle lime juice over and add mint. Toss gently to coat melon cubes. Cover and chill at least one hour, but up to overnight.

3 – Toss melon with feta just before serving.

Serves 6 – 8.

The post Naturally Gluten-Free Watermelon Salad with Lime, Fresh Mint & Feta appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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This Gluten-Free Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad for Meatless Monday is a copycat of Whole Foods Market’s smoked mozzarella pasta salad and my pasta-loving daughters say it’s even better than the original! It’s more affordable to make your own, too, even considering the price of gluten-free pasta. In addition to being a terrific meatless meal (with some crusty gluten-free bread, of course), leftovers make a delicious next-day lunch. The recipe makes a generous amount, so it’s a perfect dish for those summer barbecues and picnics, too! 

My preference for gluten-free pasta is Jovial brand. Their pasta holds up to every preparation method, and I promise, I put it to the test developing recipes for my upcoming cookbook (The Big Book of Gluten Free Cooking, Rockridge Press, August 2018). I use bow tie pasta for this salad, but penne or another similar shape will work.

I cook the pasta first, then when it is cooling, I whisk the dressing together in a large serving bowl. Once the pasta is completely cooled, I add all the ingredients to the dressing and toss it together. That way, everything comes together in one bowl. You can make this dish up to a day ahead, so it’s great for summer picnics and barbecues. Before serving, give the salad a stir. The pasta will absorb some of the dressing when it is in the refrigerator, especially if making this dish a day ahead, so if it seems a bit dry, stir in a tablespoon of milk to moisten.

Gluten-Free Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad for Meatless Monday

This recipe is free from: gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts and tree nuts. I use soy-free, vegan mayonnaise to make it egg-free, too.


9-ounce box Jovial gluten-free bow tie pasta


½ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Several grinds fresh ground black pepper

Additional ingredients:

½ pound smoked mozzarella cheese, cubed

½ cup diced red pepper

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn

1 – Prepare pasta according to package directions. Pour pasta into a colander to drain, then rinse under cold running water several minutes to cool the pasta. While the pasta continues to cool, prepare the remaining ingredients.

2 – In a large glass bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth. Add additional ingredients and stir. Add drained, cooled pasta to the bowl and gently stir until all pasta is coated with dressing.

3 – Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving. Can be made a day in advance. Stir before serving.

The post Gluten-Free Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad for Meatless Monday appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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Hamilton Beach provided product in exchange for this review; however, all opinions are my own.

Have you ever had rice from one of those large rice steamers you see in restaurants or at some food bars in large grocery stores? It’s the fluffiest rice ever! I always claim to make fluffy rice, but when I tried the Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker, I realized there’s a level of fluffy you can’t get without a proper rice cooker. Of course, Hamilton Beach knows no one wants a single-purpose kitchen appliance, so they created a rice cooker that does so much more and helps us bring mouthwatering meals to the table with ease.  

Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker {Giveaway}

From breakfast to dinner, the Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker makes cooking a variety of foods effortless.

It’s easy to cook:
  • Various grains – My favorite is quinoa.
  • Hot cereals – I love making purity protocol gluten-free oats with the delay setting!
  • Rice mix – If you have a favorite seasoned rice mix, you can use it, too.
  • White Rice, Quick Rice and Whole Grain – there’s a separate setting for each one for perfectly cooked rice and grains every time.

It’s so easy – no boiling water, no setting a timer!

Just a few simple steps:
  • Measure ingredients using the included measuring cup.
  • Use the included 2-in-1 basket to rinse rice or grains ahead of cooking.
  • Place the ingredients in the nonstick pot.
  • Turn it on and select the appropriate setting.
  • Wait while everything cooks to perfection.
Cooking features:
  • Delay Start lets you plan and have your meal ready when you want it. I use this feature to make baked oatmeal (gluten-free and dairy-free).
  • The cooker automatically shifts to the Warm setting once the cooking cycle is complete, so there’s no worry about over-cooking.
  • Six Preprogrammed Settings take the guesswork out of cooking. There are six settings for rice, grains, hot cereal, steam cook, warm and simmer.
2-in-1 Rice Rinser/Steam Basket

The 2-in-1 Rice Rinser/Steam Basket comes in handy for rinsing rice before cooking. Rinsing the rice helps prevent clumping by removing some of the starch prior to cooking. The 2-in-1 basket is also used as a steam basket for everything from salmon to zucchini!

One Pot Cooking

I love to make a full dinner in one pot! That is totally possible with the Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker. In one cooking cycle, you can steam seafood, poultry, vegetables or whatever you like in the steam basket while rice or grains cook below. Look at this gorgeous one-pot meal I made!

You can even use the Heat/Simmer setting to make soup, beans or pasta. With a 4 to 20 cup capacity, you can feed a family or a crowd!

Hamilton Beach is giving one of you the opportunity to enter to win a Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker!

Details: One (1) reader will win a Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker. Prize provided by Hamilton Beach and shipped direct from them to winner.

To enter: Comment below and tell me what you’d like to cook in the Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker.

For additional entries, use the Rafflecopter entry box below. You can also share this post on your social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram) and tag me wherever you share it so I can see.

Giveaway begins June 20, 2018 and ends Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 11:59PM Easter Daylight Time. 

One (1) winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries and contacted via email.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Hamilton Beach Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker {Giveaway} appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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An Instagram follower reminded me with this comment that my work sharing my signature Smart Nutrition Backed by Science™ is far from done: “I always carry gluten pills in my bag just in case.” 

By “gluten pills” that individual was referring to gluten-degrading enzyme tablets. Please save your money. As scientists at Berkeley Wellness, University of California, put it, “avoiding gluten is the only option”. The Celiac Disease Foundation concurs, calling such products “ineffective” for celiac disease. But I want to do more than simply tell you these products are ineffective. As always, I want to provide you with science-backed facts.

There are more than a dozen gluten enzyme products on the market. Some examples are GlutenEase, Gluten Digest, Gluten Cutter, and Gluten Guard. I am not singling out any brand. These are examples to give you an idea of the products I’m talking about.

Science-Backed Facts about Gluten-Degrading Enzyme Pills

Let’s start with general concerns.

Concerns with So-Called Gluten-Degrading Enzymes
  • These products are dietary supplements. Independent bodies do not evaluate these products for safety and efficacy.
  • There is no peer-reviewed scientific research supporting the validity and effectiveness of these products.
  • Products like these may give some individuals with celiac disease a false sense of security that it is possible to safely consume gluten.
  • Individuals with celiac disease may feel it is possible to be less diligent about gluten cross-contamination if taking these enzymes.
Dietary Supplement Regulation

In the United States, the FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market.

Because manufacturers are responsible for testing their products for safety, consumers must be skeptical and armed with knowledge.

This is not to say that quality vitamins or supplements are nonexistent. It does not mean all manufacturers do a poor job testing their products. But in the case of gluten-degrading enzyme tablets, there is no clinical testing regarding the safety or efficacy of the products for humans. No independent peer-reviewed research supports their efficacy. That is an automatic red flag. Further, there is research that shows these products are not effective at degrading gluten.

Unfounded claims can look official and convincing.

As an extension of my work in neuroscience and natural products research, I advocated for standardized evaluation and validation of claims made by manufacturers of dietary supplements. That’s because unfounded claims on products can look official and convincing. That misleads consumers. For example, endorsements made by a “Dr.” may lead consumers to believe that person is a medical doctor who has evaluated the safety of the product in question.

But We Must Consider the Source

There is liberal use of “Dr.” these days. Individuals who earn M.D., D.D.S, and D.V.M. degrees are doctors. Individuals who attain the academic PhD also use Dr. to indicate the Doctor of Philosophy degree in their field. However, practitioners in the wellness arena who do not hold medical degrees use “Dr.”, too. Always verify credentials and affiliations if you aren’t sure about a source’s background. As consumers, we must be aware of the background and expertise of the individuals we choose to trust for health information.

Even with the facts above, some individuals believe in the efficacy of these bogus products.

Why Some People Believe these Products are Effective
  • Some of the products contain probiotics, which promote a healthy gut environment. That could make some folks feel better in terms of gastrointestinal health.  I recommend taking a daily probiotic; however, probiotics do not degrade gluten protein.
  • Some products contain various vitamins and minerals. While those do not degrade gluten, they could provide nutritional supplementation where an individual is deficient. That could improve how one feels overall. Address suspected nutrient deficiency with your health care provider. For example, iron deficiency anemia is common in individuals with celiac disease.
  • Some products include ingredients that alleviate bloating and gas.
  • Placebo effect. You know, you take something you believe will work, so you feel that it works. It happens. No shame. For example, taking ibuprofen for a headache and feeling better in five minutes. The ibuprofen is not responsible. The onset of action for an oral dose of ibuprofen tablets is about 25 minutes. But some people instantly “feel” better simply because they medicated. (This is where my pharmacokinetics background comes in handy.)


While I do not recommend taking any product in hopes it will degrade gluten, there is one enzyme worth mention.

Let’s discuss AN-PEP

If you’re in the know when it comes to gluten-degrading products and research, you’ve likely heard of AN-PEP. If not, no problem. You’ll be up to speed in less than two minutes.

AN-PEP stands for Aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease. As the name reveals, this is a prolyl endoprotease (in very basic terms, this indicates an enzyme that acts on a particular amino acid) derived from A. niger. If you are unfamiliar with A. niger, it is a fungus that presents as black mold.

Again, AN-PEP is derived from A. niger. While many useful drugs are derived from mold, the best example being penicillin, I will point out that in its natural state (not yet processed to make AN-PEP), A. niger contains toxins that are dangerous to individuals with compromised immune systems. This caught my eye because celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.

Research indicates AN-PEP may degrade gluten in the stomach before it reaches the small intestine in some cases. In fact, there is a product on the market, GliadinX, that contains AN-PEP. The product claim is that it degrades gliadin, one of the two primary proteins in true gluten. You can read about these proteins and what I mean by “true” gluten in What You Need to Know about Gluten.

I hesitate to name the product because it is not something I recommend, but I knew you would ask and I don’t want you in the dark about any of this. Now, let me use science to explain why I do not recommend that product.

Let’s look at two key studies evaluating AN-PEP. Study 1: Evaluates AN-PEP in self-reporting gluten sensitive individuals.

In a 2017 study, AN-PEP was shown to degrade most gluten in the stomach before it entered the upper region of the small intestine in 18 self-reporting gluten-sensitive individuals.

Study details:

  • Individuals were divided into three groups. Each group was fed porridge containing 0.5 grams of gluten. In addition to their porridge: Group 1 received a high dose of AN-PEP, Group 2 received a low dose of AN-PEP, and Group 3 received a placebo.
  • According to researchers, the amount of gluten fed to participants was small and intended to simulate the amount that might be consumed accidentally/unknowingly by a gluten intolerant individual.
  • Celiac patients were not included according to study authors because “even a small amount of gluten can cause long-term harm” to individuals with celiac disease.
  • Success in the study was defined as at least 50% gluten degradation in the stomach before food entered the small intestine.
Study 2: Evaluates AN-PEP in patients confirmed to have celiac disease.

A 2013 study evaluated AN-PEP in 16 patients with celiac disease. Celiac disease was confirmed with blood work and small intestine biopsy. Study results showed no differences between groups consuming a placebo and gluten versus those consuming the AN-PEP enzyme and gluten. Antibody tests showed no difference between the groups.

Study details:

  • Participants were divided into two groups. Each group consumed 7 grams of gluten daily in the form of toast for two weeks. Group 1 also had AN-PEP and Group 2 had a placebo. Both groups continued their gluten-free diet besides the daily toast consumption.
  • Blood samples were evaluated periodically during the study.
  • Duodenal biopsies were taken before and after the study.

Again, no differences were detected between groups. If AN-PEP did degrade gluten in participants with celiac disease, the expectation is that antibodies would be higher in celiac individuals in the placebo group, i.e., those eating gluten but not receiving the AN-PEP enzyme.

Comparing the studies

Participants: It is important to note that while these studies evaluate the same digestive enzyme, AN-PEP, the study participants are different. Comparing confirmed celiac disease patients and self-reported gluten sensitive individuals is like comparing apples and oranges.

Amount of gluten consumed: Another significant difference between the studies is the amount of gluten consumed. Individuals with self-reported gluten sensitivity were fed a very low dose of gluten compared to a much higher dose that was fed to celiac disease patients. Again, a comparison simply cannot be drawn between the studies.

Inconclusive results: Based on the study results, the participants’ differences and different amount of gluten consumed, AN-PEP’s effectiveness in degrading gluten in individuals with celiac disease is inconclusive. Clearly, we need more studies with larger participant pools and comparable methods.

Caution from the researchers and challenges
  • In the 2017 study researchers caution that AN-PEP is not for individuals with celiac disease.
  • Supplements are not regulated for safety or efficacy by independent bodies.
  • Dosing guidelines are not available.
  • Long-term use information is not available.
  • Self-dosing presents a challenge because it is impossible to know how much enzyme it takes to degrade a specific amount of gluten.
  • Even if the amount of enzyme to degrade a certain amount of gluten is known, individuals cannot accurately measure gluten consumption in a scientific way.
A note about research shared by the manufacturers of the product containing AN-PEP

There are nine articles on the manufacturer’s Publications page. The intent is to support the product’s efficacy. The links are a prime example of how brands assume consumers are ignorant. They believe we are unable to comprehend research articles or that we will not take time to verify the research they share. Maybe they weren’t expecting me? ;-)

I know this is a long article, but I want to show you how merely listing articles does not validate a company, their claims, or their product. The research shared should relate directly to, and support, the product claims. In this case, the article links shared are shocking and insulting to our intelligence.

Some articles are unrelated:
  • One article has nothing to do with AN-PEP. The “study” is a review that states the gluten-free diet is hard to follow and discusses how that is particularly true for adolescents. Absolutely nothing to do with the efficacy of AN-PEP. Nothing. Feeling insulted?
  • Another article (2006) is not research, but instead simply states that gluten-degrading enzymes may be nearing clinical research trials. The article is over a decade old. Plus, being near the clinical trial stage and in clinical trials is far from the same.
  • A 2014 study discusses degrading wheat bran protein. <smh>
One is misleading and provides false hope to celiac patients:
  • One shows AN-PEP degrades gluten in the stomach of healthy individuals. The research we need is in individuals with diagnosed celiac disease and separate research in those with diagnosed gluten sensitivity. After all, that is the target market, right?
Some articles indicate AN-PEP isn’t effective for celiac patients:
  • Another is not a research study, but an article that indicates AN-PEP is not acceptable for celiac patients and states what I state above about the research.
  • Another study is a review of gluten therapies, including wheat alternatives, altering wheat. The review does discuss oral enzyme therapy and states the “road blocks and limitations” in such a treatment are “the tests to measure their safety and efficacy”. Basically, what I am saying in this article. Seems counter to their product claims, right?
  • And finally, one study that I cite in my references (second reference under “References” at the end) shows the efficacy of AN-PEP inconclusive in celiac patients. Do you think the manufacturer read the research they share?
Some research hinges on models of the GI tract :

It is not uncommon to conduct preliminary research on animals, animal tissues, or even on models of a body system; however, in medicine, whether over-the-counter or prescription, do not rely on non-human models alone. You must know the clinical implications of any substance you put into your body. That knowledge comes from human clinical trials and long-term studies. Those do not exist for this product.

  • A 2006 study does indicate AN-PEP degrades gluten protein; however, it is using guinea pig tissue and is a very preliminary study and calls for future studies to evaluation efficacy in humans. OK, this is about as close as they get to having anything, but still, not enough to make the claims valid.
  • Another study uses a model of the digestive tract – not human, not animal, but a compartmentalized model. This is acceptable as very preliminary research, but not sufficient to make a claim about efficacy in humans. The manufacturer clearly hopes you won’t click and read the linked articles.

Now you see why I don’t like naming names. It’s not my style to embarrass anyone by calling them out. In this case, they embarrass themselves. They deserve to be called out because this is an issue of consumer health. ALWAYS review research cited by manufacturers before you buy their products! Do not take medications, supplements or any other product blindly.

Keep this in mind

If the gluten-degrading enzyme supplements mentioned at the beginning of this article, and the AN-PEP containing supplement mentioned above, really did break down gluten protein as the people selling those products claim, don’t you think the pharmaceutical industry would have this locked down, backed with research, validated by clinical trials and be eager to show the efficacy of such a product? Yes, of course they would!

But that’s not the case. While Big Pharma is working on drugs targeting celiac patients, at this point, none are approved.

As for these supplements, they are merely that, supplements that may contain some vitamins or minerals that may or may not be something your body needs in addition to enzymes. There is no sufficient valid research that suggests any of the products mentioned here or others like them can break down gluten or rid your body of gluten.

Don’t Be Discouraged

I understand what it is like to be sick and have doctors say there is nothing wrong with you. That was my life before 2007. None of the specialists I visited prior to that time even mentioned celiac disease. I was tested for Lyme Disease, Lupus, Thyroid disease and various other autoimmune diseases. My diagnosis changed almost daily: fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia. I had 15 strokes in a six-month period. My survival chance was 10%. For 25 years, I lived with chronic pain that, at times, was debilitating. I know what it is like when there seem to be no answers. It feels desperate.

I also understand a diagnosis of celiac disease and multiple food allergies. I get what it means that some foods are forever off limits. For me, because of my long battle with illness and some close calls where I was told I might not survive, I see The Bright Side of Celiac Disease.

But I understand the diagnosis doesn’t feel bright for everyone. Grieving gluten is a very real process for some individuals. Research shows us that there is a link between celiac disease and clinical depression. Sometimes, in desperation, it is tempting to look past the facts and the science. If you have celiac disease, please do not. Use this Celiac Disease Resource Page linking dozens of fact-based articles to help you navigate your gluten-free life. And feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment below.

It is, and has always been, my mission to help others live their best life with celiac disease and food allergies. That is the intent of articles like this one. I hope it helps you navigate your gluten-free life.

Reducing Symptoms after Accidentally Ingesting Gluten

As for what to do when you accidentally ingest gluten, my approach is to address the symptoms. That is all we can do. I share 6 Steps to Easy Symptoms When You Get Glutened and 5 Foods that Speed Recovery When You Get Glutened on the site. These are ways to help us feel better after accidentally eating gluten. No product rids the body of gluten.

Celiac Disease Treatment: A Gluten-Free Diet

Regardless of OTC supplements and potential drugs in the pipeline, right now the only effective TREATMENT for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Please don’t cheat on your gluten-free diet and don’t pop an enzyme tablet thinking you are safe. Both put your health at risk.

Be a Savvy Supplement Shopper

As for supplements in general, keep in mind that if claims made by a product manufacturer sound too good to be true, they probably are. Remember, natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe for you. Speak to your qualified medical doctor before taking any supplements.


Janssen, et al. (2015). Ineffective degradation of immunogenic gluten epitopes by currently available digestive ensyme supplements. Plos One 10.1371: CrossMark.

Tack, Greetje et al. (2013). Consumption of gluten with gluten-degrading enzyme by celiac patients: A pilot-study. World Journal of Gastroenterology 19.35: 5837-847.

Julia König et al. (2017). Randomized clinical trial: Effective gluten degradation by Aspergillus niger-derived enzyme in a complex meal setting. Scientific Reports, 7:13100.

Krishnareddy, S. et al. (2017). Commercially available glutenases: a potential hazard in coeliac disease. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 10: 6, 473-481.

Additional references linked in the body of the article. 

Share your thoughts and comments below.

The post Science-Backed Facts about Gluten-Degrading Enzyme Pills appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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On June 11, 2018, IHOP rolled out the new name, IHOb, to shine the limelight on their burgers. It’s a temporary marketing scheme, and quite frankly, a brilliant one in my opinion. Any time you get the whole internet buzzing about your product, it’s a good thing. You can read more about the change here. Meanwhile, I looked into the possible gluten-free options with the burgers that the Pancake House claims are so rave-worthy.

Of course, anything with a traditional bun is going to be off-limits for those of us who are gluten-free, but a look at the allergen information on the IHOP (IHOb) website holds some good news (if you’re up for a burger from a pancake house).

Gluten-Free Options at IHOb – Burgers

The burger patty, bacon and fries do not contain any of the top 8 allergens according to the information page. (I asked about how the French Fries and Hashbrowns are fried. When I hear, I will update this page.) That means you could order a bun-less burger or ask for a “burger salad” plate. Of course, regardless of what you order from any restaurant, be sure to speak to a chef and get the details of how they will handle your gluten-free / allergen-free meal. Here are some tips on Dining Out Gluten-Free.

Reviewing the updated allergen list on the IHOP website, I saw several items that contain gluten and/or an allergen some may find unexpected, so I want to point those out. Again this is for IHOP (IHOb) and comes from their current allergen information. You can find the allergen information PDF download by going to the IHOP site, scrolling to the bottom and clicking “Allergens”. Again, this is a download, so check your download folder for the file.

Foods with Surprising Allergens / Ingredients on the IHOP Allergen Information Page:
  • Vanilla Ice Cream contains gluten/wheat. (Listed under “Top it Off” as a possible pancake topping.)
  • All syrups – gluten-free; Butter Pecan Syrup contains milk.
  • Corn Tortillas – gluten-free and allergen-free.
  • Hashbrowns – gluten-free; contain soy.
  • Fried Egg – contains soy.
  • Egg White Vegetable Omelet – gluten-free; contains soy and milk.
  • French Fries – gluten-free and allergen-free.
  • Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken – gluten-free; contains milk and eggs.
  • Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette contains gluten and milk.
  • Rustic Cheesy Tomato Soup – gluten-free; contains milk.
Several Entrées Listed Gluten-Free:
  • Bacon Crusted Chicken with Red Potato Hash (contains milk, soy, eggs and fish??)
  • Savory Pork Chops (contains milk & soy)
  • Sirloin Steak (contains milk & soy)
  • Sirloin Steak Tips (contains milk & soy)
  • Smoked Sausage (contains milk & soy)
  • T-Bone Steak (contains milk & soy)
  • Tilapia Florentine (contains milk & soy)

Baked Potatoes (plain) – gluten-free and allergen-free.

Now, back to the original article on breakfast at IHOP and how they add (gluten-filled) pancake batter to their eggs.

Original article, below, shared in 2012 and updated in 2017. 

If you’re wondering How to Eat Gluten-Free at IHOP, you definitely want to know about the omelets. On the IHOP website the chain reveals their omelets are made with “a splash of our famous buttermilk and wheat pancake batter”.


I’m sure IHOP sees this as a bonus (fluffy omelets), but for those of us with celiac disease or another health-related reason that we must eat gluten-free, it is downright scary.

I admit, I do not frequent IHOP. If you don’t either, I encourage you to read this article anyway. This story shows you how to investigate when it comes to eating gluten-free at any restaurant. Plus, if you do know someone who eats at IHOP and needs to be gluten-free, you’d be doing them a huge favor by passing this along to them.

I leaned about IHOP omelets from a reader, Betty, who wrote:

“Have you seen the new IHOP commercial? The customers are saying how light and fluffy the egg dishes are, and the waitress responds by saying it’s because they add a “splash” of pancake batter to the eggs!! Wow, that could really wreck someone’s day if they thought they were safe, ordering an egg dish [at IHOP]!!”

When I overcame my initial feelings of disgust over that tactic to add cheapo filler to a great source of naturally gluten-free protein (wheat-based pancake batter is much less expensive than real eggs), I decided I should alert you, too. Of course, I can’t share this type info and send you on your way. I did a little research for you.

I looked around online, and then made some calls to get information straight from IHOP headquarters in Glendale, California.

Here’s what I discovered, and the way this ends up may not be what you expect!

The IHOP folks are a friendly bunch. I’ve never been so accommodated when asking my long list of questions about a restaurant chain’s menu offerings.

The representative at IHOP HQ I initially spoke to provided some basic answers:

  • Yes, IHOP’s omelets contain wheat– and dairy-based pancake batter. Turns out, they’ve done this for years, but are only recently promoting it as a benefit.
  • The addition of pancake batter to their omelets is noted at the top of the menu: “Made with a splash of our famous buttermilk & wheat pancake batter.”
  • The only omelet at IHOP that doesn’t contain gluten, according to IHOP’s website nutrition and allergen page is the Egg White Vegetable Omelet. However, it does contain dairy and soy ingredients. (UPDATED 2017)

I had more questions, and although the first rep was unable to answer them all she connected me with someone in management who did have the answers we need. The second representative was well-informed about special diets and gluten. He even knew about celiac disease.

Here’s what I learned about what we can expect from IHOP and how they will accommodate gluten-free diners:
  • As a gluten-free alternative to their traditional omelets, we can have our omelet prepared with any of the following: pure egg whites, pasteurized Egg Beaters®, or “shell” eggs. Shell eggs is the term IHOP uses to make clear a dish is prepared with real eggs that are cracked just for that dish.

UPDATE 2017: IHOP is using the term “Crack Eggs” on their menu for shell eggs now. They will understand either term.

  • IHOP is happy to use a clean, unused separate bowl to whip eggs in for a gluten-free omelet or other dish like scrambled eggs.
  • They are also happy to use a clean, unused pan to cook a special omelet or other egg dish.
For these, or any other special requests, the IHOP rep told me:
  • We should make our server aware and a manager will visit our table to be clear about our special dietary needs.
  • The manager is then responsible for conveying those needs to the kitchen staff and to see them through.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what I was wondering

Since 99% of IHOP restaurants are franchised, how does that work? It’s easy for a representative at HQ in sunny California to say we’ll be taken care of, but what about individual locations nationwide? I asked and he assured me IHOP restaurants nationwide will indeed take care of our special dietary needs.

To begin putting this to the test, I phoned six IHOP restaurants in the greater Atlanta area. I asked how I could expect to be accommodated if I wanted to order an omelet, but needed it to be completely gluten-free for medical reasons. I was astounded! Six out of six times, I received answers that mirrored those of the rep I spoke to on the phone. I didn’t even have to speak to a manager. Great job, IHOP! From the looks of it, IHOP, at least at the corporate level and here in metro Atlanta, can take care of our gluten-free needs when asked.

The IHOP Allergen and Nutrition Information

2018 Update: Since I first shared this article in 2012, IHOP has updated their allergen and nutrition info on their website. Be sure to scroll ALL the way down until you see Allergens in the red area at the very bottom of the page, then click for a PDF download.

Most of their offerings do contain gluten and there is the risk of cross-contamination in a facility that uses so many gluten ingredients. For these reasons, I caution you to do your due diligence before dining at IHOP. I’m not telling you not to dine there, I’m just pointing out there are quite a few reasons to have reservations.

A Note about Dairy

Oh, one more thing I learned. If you’re dairy free like me, you need to know all eggs, regardless of the type or the specific dish, are ordinarily cooked in real butter. The only alternative the six locations in greater Atlanta offer is Pam® spray.

If you have a soy allergy, be aware Pam® contains soy lecithin. For most of us with a soy allergy, that’s not a problem. You can read more about why in my article “The Facts about Soy Lecithin in a Soy Free Special Diet“.

If you’re concerned about cooking spray in general, read “Evaluating Standard Ingredients in Non-Stick Cooking Spray“.

I hope this information makes it easier for you to navigate your gluten-free life! If you’ve had an experience with IHOP, leave a comment below and share it with our community here.

The post How to Eat Gluten-Free at IHOP appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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Remember when bacon was just bacon?

Now bacon is bacon with adjectives. It must be:

  • nitrate-free
  • nitrite-free
  • uncured
  • all-natural

Some folks want to see “paleo” or “Whole30 approved” on the label, too.

I get it. I admit, being the health-conscious savvy shopper that I am, I flip those bacon packages over to read the ingredients, too. Just like you, I only want to see a few basic ingredients.

Usually, what we see on the “natural” bacon ingredient list is pork, water, salt and some celery derivative (juice, powder or extract). You might see cherry juice powder as an ingredient, too. (That’s in place of ascorbic acid.)

Who can argue with that? It’s totally natural and we avoid nitrate and its wicked cousin, nitrite, right? Wrong.

Is “Nitrate-Free” Bacon Fooling You? Facts about Celery and Its Derivatives

Celery is naturally high in nitrate. So, paying more at the checkout for “nitrate-free” and “no added nitrate” bacon doesn’t mean you avoid nitrate. It means you avoid added synthetic nitrate. Manufacturers are technically and legally able to label their products nitrate-free; however, the finished product contains nitrate and (after some chemical reactions upon consumption) sodium nitrite from the celery.

But isn’t nitrate from celery all-natural and better than added nitrate?

No one can argue with celery and its derivatives in terms of being “natural”. But, in terms of nitrate levels, be aware that products with celery derivatives do contain nitrate and may contain higher nitrate levels than traditional cured meats.

That’s because the nitrate content of “no nitrate added” products is difficult to calculate. The nitrate levels in any batch of celery differs according to where and how it is grown (soil, air, nitrogen-based fertilizer, etc.) and a host of other factors. That applies to all plants.

But here’s the kicker: our bodies can’t tell the difference between nitrate from celery juice or nitrate that is added as a preservative. So, should we be worried?

What are nitrates and nitrites?

Instead of worried let’s be aware.

Nitrates added to foods like deli meat, cured meat and hot dogs help those foods retain their color and prevent harmful bacterial growth.

Nitrates are nitrogen-based compounds. I’ll spare you the chemistry, but basically, nitrates are harmless.

So, added nitrates aren’t a big deal after all, right?

Not so fast. When we consume nitrates, a chemical reaction occurs and converts them to nitrites. (Side note: the celery derivative used in “natural” preserved meats is treated with bacteria to convert it to nitrite.)

While this is great in terms of preventing bacterial growth on certain foods, it can sometimes be problematic for our health. Nitrite can go on to form nitrosamines, which has been linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer, albeit inconclusively.

However, preserved or cured meats aren’t necessarily our greatest nitrate/nitrite issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that those products account for only 6% of our dietary intake of nitrate.

We get most nitrates from fruits, vegetables, grains and drinking water. All plants contain some nitrate. Veggies like celery, leafy greens, fennel, cabbage, leeks and beets have higher (but generally acceptable) levels.

But before you panic, you should know the whole story.

We need nitrates. In fact, our bodies make them! Doctors even prescribe nitrates to individuals with certain cardiac conditions. That’s because nitrates relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.

So, nitrates and nitrites – good or bad? Avoid or eat?

You can see there’s no clear answer. There is no doubt we should all eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.

A good approach to overall health – nitrate intake issue aside –  is to limit the amount of processed and preserved foods we eat. Sure, everything in moderation, but don’t go overboard with the cold cuts and hot dogs. Enjoy them on occasion, keep the dietary balance and always follow your individual needs in terms of health, diet and what your doctor recommends for your unique situation.

The post Is “Nitrate-Free” Bacon Fooling You? appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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This post is sponsored by GOJO brands, the maker of PURELL® products. These are products my family uses regularly and all opinions are my own.

The perfect summer getaway means something different to everyone. Whether you prefer sunshine and sandy beaches or jet-setting around the globe, one thing none of us wants is to be sick while enjoying our much-needed time away.

Even with my family’s frequent travel, I can’t help but think “germs” with every flight I book. It’s not unfounded paranoia, either. Did you know research shows the cold virus is more than 100 times more likely to be spread on a plane? Couple that with the low cabin humidity that dries out our body’s first line of defense (mucous barriers in the nose) and there’s good reason to take extra precaution against germs when we fly.

We can’t eliminate the chance of illness entirely, but there are steps we can take to significantly reduce our risk of getting sick while traveling.

Summer Travel Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Illness Hydrate

First, be extra-vigilant about drinking enough water in the days leading up to flying, as well as when you’re in flight. I know, you drink less on the plane so that you don’t need to use the lavatory. I get it, I’m not a fan of tiny stainless-steel potties, either, but let me remind you of your dehydrated mucous membranes due to low cabin pressure. Being well-hydrated gives you an edge in that department because it keeps those membranes moist.


Next, get a good night’s sleep the night before you travel. Adequate sleep supports immune health and we want our immune system to be in tip-top shape when we fly.


My third line of defense involves taking along a couple of key products. Because washing hands with soap and water isn’t always possible when traveling, I pack two travel essentials:

  • PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  • PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes

For air travel, PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes are a must-have to wipe hands:

  • after stowing your carryon (think of how many people touch those bins!)
  • before and after eating, even after washing in the lavatory
  • after touching tray tables, in-flight entertainment controls, seat belt releases and arm rests

And if that lavatory line is too long, you can break out the PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer, which is also great:

  • on a long car trip with distance between rest areas, if you’re driving or doing a little of both
  • when exploring somewhere in nature with no soap and water in sight

Whether you’re in the car, in the air or in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be glad you brought them along!

Here’s what I love about PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer:

  • kills 99.99% of illness-causing germs on hands
  • comes in 1-ounce bottles that fit in a quart-size liquids bag for carry-on air travel
  • easily clips onto backpacks or purses with a colorful JELLY WRAP™ Carrier (this is a great feature for outdoor activities like hiking and for theme parks!)
And just in case you’re wondering, here’s how we should wash and sanitize our hands:
  • Hand washing: The entire hand washing process should take at least 20 seconds. A good procedure is to wet hands with water, apply enough soap to create a lather to cover all hand surfaces, rub hands palm to palm and carefully scrub fingers, back and front of hands and each thumb. Rinse hands with water and gently dry hands with a clean paper towel.
  • Hand Sanitizing: The entire hand sanitizing process should take approximately 15 seconds. Apply a dime-sized amount of hand sanitizer, enough to cover all surfaces of your hands, rub the sanitizer into the palms of your hands, fingers, back and front of hands and thumbs. Continue rubbing hands together until hands are dry.
More Tips!

In addition to the tips above here are a few additional tips I use in airports and on airplanes to reduce the risk of illness while traveling:

  • Pack short socks to slip on during the security check if you’re not wearing any to the airport. Floors are a germ-haven and if you step on the floor, you expose yourself to whatever is on everyone’s shoes that walks through the area.
  • Don’t touch lavatory door handle (use a paper towel or a PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipe)
  • Eat nourishing whole foods. Avoid salty, sugary, fatty snacks, alcohol and caffeine when flying.
  • Choose a window or middle seat if possible. Research shows the risk of contracting a cold virus goes from 80% for aisle seat passengers to 30% for middle and window seat passengers.
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes or mouth when you’re making your way through the airport.

Once I arrive at my destination, I wipe down room remotes, switches and bathroom fixtures. It’s not as excessive as it sounds, and it only takes a few minutes to give those areas a once-over. When we return home, I also wipe down luggage handles and toiletries bottles. A bit of advance preparation, attention to your surroundings and the right products go a long way in reducing our risk of getting sick when we travel.

I hope these tips help you have more worry-free travel this summer!


Hertzberg, V., et al. (2018) Behaviors, movements, and transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases during transcontinental airline flights. PNAS, April 3, 2018. 115 (14) 3623-3627.

The post Summer Travel Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Illness appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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Indian, Persian and African cuisines are my favorites. Their tantalizing spice combinations create magic from everyday ingredients like rice, beans and vegetables. So many of my meatless meals are inspired by dishes from distant lands I hope to some day visit. Today, I want to share my version of kitchari. This is one of my favorite go-to Meatless Monday main dishes. If you’re not part of the Meatless Monday movement yet, be sure to check it out. And if you’re wondering about getting enough protein in your meatless meals, get the facts about Plant Protein Power! One of my favorite meatless sources of protein are mung beans. Their flavor is mild, and they are easy on the digestive tract, even for those of us who don’t tolerate beans well.

If you’re familiar with Ayurveda, you have likely heard of mung beans and kitcahri, which you may see as kichidee, kithchiree, or a number of other spellings. It is a traditional dish known for its cleansing effects. Kitchari is considered tri-doshic, balancing for all dosha types. If you’re not familiar with the term dosha, simply put, it is your mind-body type. If you’re curious to discover your dosha, you can take a dosha quiz here. Also, be sure to read my article about satisfying the six taste groups of Ayurveda. It gives insight into the flavor combinations in many Indian dishes like kitchari.

There are many versions of kitchari and I am no authority on Indian cooking. This is my version based on a version given to me by a friend from India. As she tells me, there are as many variations of this dish as there are cooks.

I keep mostly to the original recipe; however, I sometimes omit asafetida (also spelled asafoetida), also called hing, if I have trouble finding a gluten-free form.

Asafetida comes from a variety of fennel. It is naturally gluten-free but often compounded with wheat flour. Look for varieties that are either not compounded or those compounded with rice flour. You might also beware the smell if you’ve never tried it. It can be overpowering, or even off-putting, to some due to the sulfur smell. I encourage you to try it if you have the chance, and to be sure to add just a pinch to your kitchari. You might like this article on hing, for an explanation of its taste and uses.

Asafetida aside, kitchari is comprised of basmati rice and mung beans. I buy organic basmatic rice that is certified gluten-free and I use sprouted organic mung beans that are also certified gluten-free. Of course, rice and beans are naturally gluten-free, but as you know, cross-contamination can occur in processing (depending on the processing setup and other foods processed in the area), so better safe than sorry for those of us with celiac disease. And if you are up on your Indian cuisine, you may be wondering why I’m using sprouted mung beans and not mung dal (or moong dal), which is the split mung bean with the skin removed and traditionally used in this dish. It’s all about that certified gluten-free business. I have an Indian market near my home where I can find wonderful ingredients, but not a guaranteed gluten-free mung dal, so I go with the next best ingredient.

Here are a few tips before you get started on your kitchari:

  • Always rinse your rice to remove excess starch. I rinse mine under warm water in a wire mesh sieve until the water runs clear, which takes about a minute.
  • Mung beans should also be rinsed and picked through to make sure there are no pieces of debris in them. I use sprouted beans, which require no prior soaking. If you do not used sprouted beans, you will need to soak the mung beans several hours to overnight in water to soften them.
  • If the six cups of liquid sounds like a lot, I totally understand, but trust me you need it. Consider how much water it takes to cook rice and beans and then it makes sense. The finished dish is like a thick stew.
  • The coconut does not add a coconut flavor, but it balances the spices. The type coconut used is important – it should be very fine shredded and unsweetened. This is the coconut I use. (affiliate link)
Meatless Monday: Pressure Cooker Kitchari Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed

1 cup organic sprouted mung beans, rinsed

6 cups liquid (water or vegetable stock)

3 tablespoons very finely shredded organic dried coconut

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root (peeled)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin

½ tablespoon organic unrefined virgin coconut oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch of hing

For serving:

Lime wedges

Sliced avocado

Fresh cilantro leaves

Toasted fennel seeds

  • Place kitchari ingredients in your pressure cooker (multi-cooker/Instant Pot®) and set on high pressure.
  • I set my cooker to the soup setting for 20 minutes of cooking.
  • Allow pressure to release naturally before opening cooker.
  • Stir kitchari and spoon into serving bowls.
  • Top with a sprinkling of toasted fennel seeds, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and a lime wedge. Adjust toppings to your personal preference.

The post Meatless Monday: Pressure Cooker Kitchari appeared first on Gigi Stewart.

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