Thursday, September 1, 2011

Product Review: Rudi's Gluten Free

Since S. was diagnosed with celiac disease almost a year ago, we have become familiar with many of the gluten free bread products available. I have also gone gluten free, and have responded well to the diet with a reduction in my level of anti-thyroid antibodies. Since J. is on the autistic spectrum, we thought it might be beneficial to do a trial of the GFCF diet so we went casein free a few months after I started cooking gluten free for S. So my husband is the only member of the family that isn't gluten free, although for the most part he eats GFCF at him like the rest of us.

A few months ago, in my quest for GF bread with full sized slices, I found Rudi's gluten free bread at a local healthfood store. Some brands of GF bread contain milk or milk powder, so I was pleased to find that Rudi's was casein free. When I first tried it, I thought it tasted so close to regular white bread that I panicked and ran to check the label on the bag, thinking I might have bought the wrong product and we were all eating wheat bread. It was that good. So I followed @rudisglutenfree on Twitter, and let them know how much I liked it. Recently they asked me if I would like to write a review on their products, and I was happy to give it a go.

So I received Rudi's gluten free multigrain bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger rolls. Now, as an aside, I realized after receiving the products that I really prefer their original gluten free bread to the multigrain version. It's not that I don't like whole grain gluten free breads, I generally do, but for whatever reason I really prefer original from Rudi's. Others might have a different opinion, just depends of your personal preferences.

When purchasing gluten free breads, I do prefer to start out with the bread frozen. When I buy breads in the store that are not frozen, I squeeze them a little to see if they are still soft, and look for a softer package if they aren't. In this case I believe the breads were shipped fresh. I'm not sure how long it took for the box to ship but I felt that the bread was not as soft as what I usually purchase, but they weren't stale either.

We tried the hot dog rolls first. They come uncut so you have to slice open one side with a bread knife to get the hot dog in. Not a problem, especially since the other brand I buy come cut but they often cut them too far and they fall apart into two halves. My youngest son does not appreciate when his bun does not stay together so I'm happy to slice them myself if it means I can avoid hearing him whine. I liked the fact that the buns were thinner than the other brand I use. I don't like a lot of bread with my hot dog. They are also easier for my younger son to take a bite of. The hamburger rolls are also thinner than the other brand I buy and this is a good thing in my opinion. S. also likes thinner hamburger buns, as it is hard for him to bite into thick ones.

My main criticism of the bread and rolls is based on my preference for original. The multigrain is a little heavier in texture, and there are some seeds. I think the seeds we noticed were sunflower, millet, and flaxseed, based on the ingredient list. It also contains cornmeal, but it doesn't seem as noticeable as some of the seeds. S. said he liked the seeds. J. said he did not.

In conclusion, we enjoyed the bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger rolls. But I would personally choose the original gluten free bread over the multigrain. And I would love to see the hot dog and hamburger buns in the original GF bread recipe.

Thanks to Rudi's Gluten Free for sending us the samples to try!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fukushima and Radioactive Fallout

I'm writing this to share some of the information that I have been reading on the topic of exposure to low level fallout from sources such as nuclear accidents like the current situation at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. I do not consider myself an expert on this topic, but I believe it is something that is important for us all to educate ourselves about. I believe that we should not rely exclusively on government statements or mainstream media reports, but dig deeper to be sure that we are fully informed.

I subscribe to the free email newsletter from Natural News which I have been receiving for a while. When the crisis at Fukushima first began, Natural News covered the topic and has been posting frequent updates ever since. Some might say that this source is sensationalistic, or seeking to profit from the disaster. However, I have always found Natural News to be good at providing links to the original sources, and I often click through and read these. They come from a variety of sources, and many of them are mainstream sources. So Natural News, regardless of your opinion of them in general, does provide a good jumping off point to gather more information.

As an example, today's Natural News update was, among other things, about radiation being detected in rainwater in Massachusetts. Yes, Mike Adams does go off into a bit of a rant about big government and industry, but even if this is less than appealing to you, there is still valuable information to glean here, IMO. Now, if you follow the link for the source you will find this: This does not provide additional information about the rainwater in Massachusetts, but it does list this finding near the top and there is other information about the Fukushima crisis. A quick google search turns up an article from the NY Post, which I would consider a mainstream source, and this provides more detail. So, in this way we can dig for more information and find additional verification.

Now, as for determining whether radioactive fallout in rainwater is or is not harmful to humans, whether immediately or over time, I found the book Secret Fallout, Low Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island, by Ernest J. Sternglass, to be a helpful resource. You can read this book online, for free. The first chapter, Thunderstorm at Troy, gives an example of how substantial amounts of radioactive material can be deposited on the ground by the rain a considerable distance from where they originated. The results of the fallout in upstate New York are described in the chapters to follow, but to give a few quick references, childhood leukemia is discussed in chapter 5, fetal deaths in chapter 6, and infant mortality in chapter 7. Chapter 18 discusses the effects of the radioactive material released from Three Mile Island, and how delayed evacuation played into the severity of these effects.

You might argue that since the cause was nuclear testing, detonating the bomb in Nevada brought it into higher levels of the atmosphere, allowing it to travel a greater distance before being deposited in upstate New York by heavy rainfall. However, fallout from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was detected in fresh cow's milk in the New York metro area within about 2 weeks. According to this article, the fallout arrived in the NY area on May 9, 1986. (One caveat, I'm not too sure about the map of Fukushima fallout shown at the top of the article. I have seen this before. I don't doubt that the radioactive fallout spread in this manner over approximately specified time, but I do find the number of RADS shown to be a bit suspect.) However, I was able to glean some useful tidbits from the article despite this. One of the items that was very striking was this chart, showing the concentration of Iodine-131 in fresh farm milk, May-June 1986, in the NY metropolitan area. If you continue to scroll down in the article, you will also see bar graphs demonstrating changes in the monthly totals for infant mortality and numbers of live births during the same time period. I will admit that I haven't read that entire article, and I am not necessarily saying that I agree with everything in it, but I find the charts helpful. I lived within 100 miles of the NY metro area during the aftermath of Chernobyl, and I can't help but wonder if the thyroid condition which my doctors diagnosed in the spring of 1987 was related to the fallout.

The biggest question for me has been, "Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves and our children?" I think there are some steps we can take but I'm not sure what degree of protection is possible. There has been a rush, especially on the west coast of the United States, to buy potassium iodide as a result of this crisis. But I fear that some people are taking, or giving their children large doses, such as would be recommended for people within the immediate vicinity of a nuclear accident. I don't believe this is necessary or safe, from what I have read. However, I do believe that iodine deficiency puts us at greater risk for harm from the radioactive fallout. And I also believe that iodine deficiency is common, as Dr. Al Sears explains here. Dr. David Brownstein has been discussing the topic of iodine deficiency and exposure to radioactive fallout on his blog. Dr. Isaac Eliaz wrote an article on how to protect yourself from the risk of radioactive fallout. Finally, here is a detailed discussion on nutritional supplementation to protect against exposure to radioactive fallout. Now, I cannot verify that everything various sources recommend is safe and proven to be effective. You will have to do your own research. My general thoughts are "First, do no harm" when choosing supplements and that you should consider the relative risk of using the supplements vs the risk of other choices, some of which I might not be aware, and the risk of doing nothing.

I think in the coming days, weeks, and months, we should be as informed as possible about the status of the crisis at Fukushima. I believe that it is very important to know where your food is coming from and to consider whether it is more or less likely to be contaminated with radioactive material than the food available locally. For example, I live on the east coast of the United States, and in my case, I would expect local food to be lower in radioactive contaminates than food grown in California. If you buy food that is imported, consider whether it was grown or raised closer to Fukushima than food from other locations. In my opinion, it will travel to every country in the world, but you have to look at where the wind and weather will carry it first. This is probably the only year that I would actually consider praying for drought in my region, thinking of Troy.

If you have anything thoughtful or informative to add, I appreciate your input, especially any additional links. I'm not looking for arguments though, so please keep that in mind. This is me simply sharing my personal research and thoughts, I'm not putting this out with an agenda.