Product REVIEW: Red Apple Lipstick and Eyeshadow and FLASH GIVEAWAY!

Gluten in Makeup- it’s a hot topic these days. I’ve seen a few articles in magazines and online. Some people insisting gluten is important to remove, while gastrointerolgoists still state that they haven’t seen enough evidence to recommend that makeup could affect the gluten intolerant and specifically the celiac population. Of course they are basing that statement on the fact that they don’t see more damage in the small intestine. Nonetheless, celiac disease is an AUTOIMMUNE disease that attacks the small intestine…..and as we see that with diseases like Graves, the autoimmune factor can still play a roll even if there is no thyroid to attack, it makes sense that keeping your immune system happy and not exposing it to gluten is crucial, especially since makeup or lotion covers lymph nodes and is near mucus membranes, which are parts of the immune system. (The skin itself is actually part of the immune system as well!) In addition, there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence and enough “common sense” information that women ingest their lipstick (think lip lickers, eating, etc.) that I still believe it’s crucial to have gluten-free makeup and cosmetics. Two year ago, I wrote an article on this blog, Are Your Lipstick, Conditioner, or Lotion making you sick? and I still stand by that.

In fact, just today, Elana Amsterdam posted an article about gluten in lipstick. She mentions a few lines I’ve tried. Mineral Fusion has some lovely, earthy colors, but is drying. Zuzu Luxe has an add on gluten-free sticker for their display in the store, but when you look on their site, they have a gluten-free symbol for all the cosmetics, but seem to only claim the lipstick as “gluten free.” So at this point, I personally don’t trust the purity and I’ve had problems with that line. There are several other lines that claim gluten-free but use ingredients such as Oats. I saw one line try to claim gluten-free with “barley” clearly listed in the ingredients. The bottom line is that the cosmetic industry is even less educated about gluten than the food industry. I picked up a “Cosmetic Dictionary” once only to see it define “gluten: a protein found in wheat flour.” Yikes! So, you (the celiac or gluten intolerant consumer) have to know exactly what you are buying when you buy a Gluten-free claimed cosmetic or body care because cosmetic claims are even more unregulated than food claims. And that’s a challenge because of the chemical names and herbal names (Latin??) That most of us don’t understand. Thus,
Companies that put on their websites and on the product, “TESTED free of Gluten” are by far my first choice.

Another point to realize is that most people are starting to worry about the lipstick because most people lick their lips and ingest the lipstick specifically. However, I’m a firm believer that if your body doesn’t like gluten, you’re not doing your largest organ (your skin) any favor by smothering gluten all over it. Besides, how many times do you run your hands through your hair typing or looking at something only to put your fingers to those lips? How many of us kiss a loved one on the cheek or the tops of our sweet children’s hair? I get sick with gluten in my body care. End of story. My son breaks out in bloody, oozy scales even with a small amount of oat in any body care. I hope the doctors will catch up with their understanding how much the exterior of our bodies matter, but in the meantime, there are some great products paving the way despite the lack of research.

Good gluten-free lipstick is difficult to find, partly because it’s difficult to know which ones to trust. It turns out, one company gets it. Red Apple Lipstick. They not only realize what Gluten is, but they take huge precautions to ensure their cosmetics are gluten-free. Red Apple Lipstick guarantees a 100% gluten-free, paraben free, vegan and a toxin free lip and eyeshadow line. In fact, while some companies “claim” gluten free, Red Apple certifies and lab tests their gluten-free cosmetics. Their FAQ page states: (safe for celiac) 100%. You should never have to worry about any Red Apple cosmetics. They are all lab tested to include spot testing, batch testing and rigorous procedures to keep cross contamination out.”

The product line is also soy free. Apparently they do have some regular lip pencils that contain soy, but the rest of the line is soy free. I’m beginning to look for Soy Free makeup, lotion, and hair care not only because of the GMO usage of soy, but because soy is a phytoestrogen which can disrupt hormone balance. As I said earlier, makeup coats or is near your lymph nodes and mucus membranes, so it makes sense to me to keep toxic ingredients, such as parabens and soy away from these important parts of your immune system. Soy is also one of the big 8 allergens and is in so many products, that I prefer to avoid it as much as possible in order to keep my exposure down.

Back in August, Red Apple debuted eye shadows. I’ve been using loose mineral eye shadows for a few years, that while pretty tend to put dust in my eyes and cause irritation. I actually had to stop wearing contacts if I wanted to wear eyeshadow. So, I was excited to see a pressed eye shadow finally available. I purchased one of the Smokey Magic Foreshadow pallettes, a Ruby Slippers lipstick, Firestorm lipgloss, and the sale included a Ralleybalm and wet-dry eye shadow brush for free.

I had no idea what to expect with this makeup. The colors were some of the prettiest I’ve seen in a gluten-free line. When I opened the Ruby Slippers, I was amazed. This lipstick glides on silky and smells luscious. My lips stay silky for several hours, and keep a lovely color. It’s a beautiful, red-tinged color with a shimmer that brightens up my entire face. When I tried the firestorm lipgloss, I felt sassy. It has a pop that you rarely get in a lipgloss. Left to right- Firestorm lipgloss, Firestorm Lipgloss and Ruby Slippers, Ruby Slippers 2 swipes, Ruby Slippers several swipes. (Please click on the link in the previous paragraph above to see what a beautiful color it is!) It’s a fun color which is more solid than most lipglosses, but has a huge gloss and shimmer factor. It has plenty of color to be worn alone. Here are the colors on my arm so you can see the comparisons. However, the RAL picture on the site provides a much prettier picture.

One of the things I love about the RAL eyeshadows is that they are fantastic quality, seem to be lasting, and when you purchase a foreshadow it comes with application instructions.

I’ve always prefered pressed shadow over loose, so it’s nice to get a mineral pressed shadow. These colors can be as subtle or bright as you want. They mix well with water to create a quick dramatic look, or use without to create a much more subtle look. I’ve found that even if I wish to apply the gray and blue dry, I prefer to use water to apply the buttercream.  I’ve had this Buttercream for ButterCreamalmost 2 months now, and it looks barely touched even though I use it every day. I also think using water allows for a more precise application.



Here are some swatch samples from the foreshadow- Smokey Magic. The first picture is shadows swiped several times without water.


In this second picture, shadows are swiped once or twice with a wet brush. You’ll notice a line of black as well. I took an angled brush and used the black with water to create a quick eyeliner. I love multipurpose makeup!

RAL’s Ralleye Balm is also lovely. I have the tub because that’s what came with my order, but I’ll probably eventually grab a stick for more control. Regardless if you prefer a tub or stick, it’s a great product to have on hand. I’m waiting for the new fall colors to come out to send in my drying lipsticks for RALs LipStick Exchange, but the Ralleye balm actually helped me to use the other products with much more comfort.

One of the things that must be a priority when switching from gluten containing makeup to gluten-free is to change out your brushes….all of them. Unfortunately, that does add up quite a bit. The problem is, you don’t want to contaminate your pure, tested gluten-free makeup with gluten all over again. Ulta has some brushes on sale at the moment if you need to make that leap. I use EcoTools for most of my makeup brushes, which aren’t on sale from what I can tell. I think Walgreens also sells the EcoTools. They are reasonably priced and last well. However, RAL carries a fantastic wet-dry eyeshadow brush. If it doesn’t end up in their sale tomorrow as a free gift, make sure to add one to your basket. It’s multipurpose and allows me to use quite a few techniques with this one brush depending if I add water or not. It’s one of my favorite brushes and I can use it in many ways.

It’s crucial to let go of those favorites and embrace all new, pure, clean product. Don’t mix your old brushes that contain gluten with your lovely new makep. And don’t mix gluten makeup with gluten-free. You contaminate your gluten-free makeup when you use the brush over your face that has the gluten makeup on it. (In other words, new foundation, new blush, new brushes too.)

One more important hint I want include: speaking of contamination, with the wet-dry, I personally do not use tap water. Our water is horrible in my city; I frequently find lots of floaties in my cups as well as mold and white rings in left out glass from watering the plants. I do not want to use regular tap water because I’m concerned my products will become contaminated with ickys and mold from our water. So, to keep my shadows safer, I use a 16 oz bottled water. I keep the water on my counter and then use the cap. It seems to provide the perfect amount of water and you can tap the side. At one point I had tried to use a shot glass with purified water and was losing a lot of eyeshadow. I’ve found I waste less shadow by limiting how wet my brush gets. Keeping a paper towel close by to help wipe off remainder of the shadow and to clean the brush is helpful as well.

Since I follow RAL on Facebook, I know they are releasing some new lipsticks and eye colors for the fall on Friday. I believe they will also be offering some fantastic discounts. I wanted to make sure to get the review of the products up before the sale because I enjoy the products, I believe it’s incredibly important to get gluten out of your body care and cosmetics and I love helping small companies. This was an unsolicited review I personally wanted to time with the sale. The products reviewed are from my personal purchase.

I hope this is a helpful review, especially for anyone who recently went gluten-free. I’m hoping RAL will eventually add blush and foundations. However, if you need something, in order to take your makeup line completely gluten-free, I’d suggest Afterglow Cosmetics or Mineral Fusion for the foundation and blushes. If you need to go inexpensive, you might try the Mineral fusion. They seem to have lovely brushes. Vitamin Cottage, and Sprouts sell them as well as Whole Foods. All three are pretty good about accepting returns if you don’t like them and not badly priced. They are probably most reasonable at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers. Until RAL introduces a complete line, I use Afterglow and it compliments nicely with the RAL eyeshadows and lipsticks. I’ve used the Afterglow eyeshadows and lipsticks. While they are okay, I have decided to make the switch to RAL for my lip and eye needs. The products feel better on my face, RAL has more color in their lipsticks, and I think the quality of those lines are better from RAL. I’m looking forward to see what else they put out.

AND A SURPRISE- I contacted Red Apple Lipstick while I was writing the review to see if they’d be interested in sponsoring a giveaway in time for their sale. That means this giveaway is a flash giveaway so that the winners can get the best bang for their prize. Red Apple is going to give TWO $25 gift certificates to two separate winners- I will pick the winner TOMORROW Friday Evening, Sept 28, 12 about 7pm MST, so the winners have have time to shop and everyone else can still get the best of the sale. That means, I need help getting this giveaway and review posted on facebook and tweeted like wildfire. (To be able to access the sale, you need to join their VIP list which is on their site and they also have it listed how on their page. I joined last month and they are great about not sending you a lot of email. The only email I’ve gotten is info on the VIP sale and a coupon for this month!)
edit: Giveaway is closed. Thanks for entering.
So, to enter-
Required Enter a comment below telling me if you’ve gone gluten-free in your cosmetics and if not, why?
Bonus go to RedApple Lipstick and tell me which colors you’d want to try or which products
bonus Share on facebook, come back and tell me in the comments that you did
bonus Like RAL on Facebook and let me know you did
bonus tweet this giveaway link on twitter, and add @GfAdvocate and @RedAppleLipstic- then add a comment that you did

The rules are simple- You must comment for each entry on this page because I’m picking from this post and the comments only. I’ll use a random generator to pick the winners. Only one household per winner. Gift certificate is subject to RAL’s use and terms for their gift certificates, as well as geographic terms for RAL. I believe they only ship to the U.S. However, if I misunderstood, I will open the contest to wherever they ship.

disclaimer: The products reviewed were purchased at my expense. I’m incredibly impressed with the product and happy to help promote a company that cares about it’s customers and that’s made in the US. I approached RAL to see if they’d be interested in gifting my readers, and they accepted. I created the terms of the giveaway. I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look at their site and their products.
Thanks as always for reading.


A Glutenfree Christmas Wish List for those who waited till the last minute

I should know better.  Christmas season is no surprise….it comes the same date every year.  So, I really should not be getting gifts at the very last minute (and maybe even a few after the fact), but I do.  And I CAN do the budget thing; I’ve tried a few times to do the save a bit every month so you can have a great Christmas.  But in the end, I still end up shuffling things around and stressing on the Dec 15 pay day to try to do Christmas on that pay check and still pay my bills.  This year, I’m particularly bad, but by the looks of the lines in the stores, I’m not the only one.  So, for those of you just like me, who have a gluten-free spouse or friend….here is my *WISH* list and a few other things that I’d recommend to help  inspire you.

My Wish List– feel inspired to run with it and adapt for your friends!

  • waffle iron –  yes, usually these are one of those appliances that get pulled out once a year….Maybe Christmas.  However, I miss grilled cheese.  This wish insipired when I visited a little tiny cafe, called The Mouse Pad in Johnstown, CO last summer.  She made these incredible waffle sandwiches. If you use Pamela’s Waffle and baking mix, plus some fresh herbs, you have the finest Panani bread you can possibly imagine.  You can make any of those delicous sandwiches in the William’s & Sonoma Fall catalog.  Bring back the Ham and Cheese or a grilled cheese.  Make sure to include a big bag of Pamela’s baking mix.  (When it comes to Gluten free- it’s so HELPFUL to get the flour or baking mix, etc.!)
  • griddle and panini press- this would round out the waffle iron gift.  make the waffles, then set them on the griddle and press down the cheese and oooy goodness.  I’m drooling already! Plus, I can make my own corn tortillas since I have a press and love making the tortillas, but have a too small comal.
  • TOP WISH!    Chef’s quality Anti-fatigue Mats- anyone new to glutenfree baking or who bakes a lot would deeply appreciate these.  I’m on my feet so much more since going glutenfree and double that now for dd who is in kindergarten and we are doing so many cupcakes, etc.  My feet hurt.  This would be one of those wonderful gifts and you would bless anyone with these.
  • Harry and David Fruit of the Month club – I don’t know why, but I have always wanted one of  their fruit of the month clubs.  Considering fruit is glutenfree, this would be a treat.  Those pears are incredible and the other fruits sound so divine.
  • Crockpot and Stephanie O-Dea’s Make it Fast, Cook it Slow crock pot cook book.  My crockpot broke this fall….and for people who are super busy and need to learn gluten free, this might be a fantastic gift.
  • Cake Pop and Caramel Apple Kits from Chocoley Chocolate.  You’ve missed the shipping window for those to arrive by christmas, but they’d be a very welcome gift to people if anyone is trying to actually learn how to do cake pops.
  • New Laptop- That would be why you haven’t seen me post much lately.  System issues. However, for friends who blog or are glutenfree (ok, this is probabably a spouse gift!)  a new system that plays nice with the blogging programs (forgive any mis-spellings in this post; the new wordpress isn’t playing nice with my browser!   You could make blogger very happy.
  • 2nd TOP WISH!  Website customization- if your friend or spouse blogs and they are on a account, or blogger, etc….what a neat gift if you help upgrade their blog.  That is sort of my next step, and another reason I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I’m trying to figure out how to move mine over to my own domain.  Blogging is one of those things that helps people get through the glutenfree transition.
  • A gift certificate to an e-course called Inside Out– I did a write up of this class for the fall course and it’s something special. Right now they she is offering an amazing 2-fer deal that people might want to take advantage of.
  • Jules Shepard from Jules GlutenFree Flour – Free for ALL Cooking Book  (if you go this route for a friend, be sure to check out her new Daily Deals and grab some gluten-free flour to go with he book).  It’s so much easier to do something glutenfree with the tools, or the special flour!  Jules also has an article on her blog with lots of fantastic ideas from tools to books.  Of course, her blog is a wealth of information. So, make sure to check out her latest review of a few new cookbooks and her picks for Great GlutenFree Gifts for more ideas!  You can also see her list of Recommended Products.
  • A cake decorating class- somewhere that would be willing to work with someone glutenfree.  I want to learn how to decorate the cupcakes for my kids since I will be doing most their cakes and cupcakes for the next 18 years!
  • Non-food related things such as some canvas prints for some photos I took during the Balloon Fiesta this fall.  I actually won 2nd place in their contest and I think I’ve found a new hobby!
  • Mommy What is Celiac Disease– by katie Chalmers
  • Subscriptions to Living Without, Delight GlutenFree, and/or Glutenfree Living
  • Gift Certificate to AfterGlow Cosmetics – I love this company and their makeup!   Other mineral makups make me feel like I want sandpaper for a washcloth.    These are just lovely and luscious.   There are FINALLY some articles coming out about how lipstick and makeup can affect us.  I’ve known it the hard way for over a year, but research always has to catch up with what people figure out.  It’s very expensive to replace ALL your makeup because it’s everything and at once.  So, this could really help someone if they have decided to transition over to glutenfree makeup.  If you buy a gift certificte for someone to help them change out their makeup,  if you can afford it consider also buying some nice brushes for them too.  I’m so thankful my makeup advisor reminded me of that.   They will need to replace ALL their brushes, otherwise, they just contaminate their new glutenfree makeup.

Other things I suggest, but am already blessed with

  • The Almond Flour Cookbook and the Almond Flour Cupcake books by Elana Amsterdam.  Make sure to include a bag of Almond flour for them!   If you have Prime, You can still get both these in time!
  • Heidi Kelly over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted on Facebook the other day that Santa came early with Adobe Lightroom and a macro lens for her!   That is a FOOD bloggers’ dream…..Lightroom makes things so much easier to work with.  A macro, so much fun.  I’d love to get a 105 Nikon, so that should be up top.  We do already have Lightroom and love it.
  • Pampered Chef tools- some of them are very helpful for glutenfree cooking.  I use the taco meat turner for just about anything else including separating my almond flour if it clumps and it worked really well to break up the cake for my first attempt at cake balls.
  • Asian Cooking sauces that are naturally gluten free- I haven’t written up much on these yet, but check out Meals-in-a-Minute for some amazing sauces to help eat healthy at the beginning of the year!
  • Wow, I can’t believe I almost forgot a Kitchen-Aid Stand mixer.  I didn’t use mine when I first went glutenfree, but as I began to experiment it has become an essential tool.  Love it.

What Glutenfree Goodies am I missing that you want for Christmas or that would be a great gift for someone?

Make sure to check out the Home for the Holidays Blogging Event- these giveaways are inspiring and have great gift ideas!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!   Or Happy Hanakkah and definitely a Happy New Year!

How Gluten Ends up in your Latte!

I love my coffee, as do most Americans. Of course, my favorite treat is a coffee shop latte with yummy flavor combinations such as hazelnut, Vanilla, chocolate etc. I don’t care if it has caffeine or decaf. I just love a good strong latte. So, of course this spring, when I started noticing that I felt crummy when I ordered coffee drinks at some of my favorite places – sometimes incredibly tired, sluggish or achy, other times migraines again, I started investigating.

I’ve had adrenal fatigue, so i thought perhaps too much caffeine and I moved to half-caf or decaf. Sometimes it worked better, but not always. Finally I started seeing trends, I’d feel yucky usually after white chocolate drink or caramel. So recently, I sat down and started going to websites of the main manufacturers of syrups. I found my problem. SOME of the coffee houses have flavor syrups that contain gluten. Of course when you ask, they don’t know. They can offer the gluten-free muffin at $4 a muffin, but they don’t know their syrups.

Here is a quick rundown of what I’ve found so far. Although your best bet is to find a coffee shop that has syrups for sale so you can look at them before ordering, In the meantime, I can give you information about four of the products to help you make better decisions. I’m ranking them by what I’d feel the most safe ordering.

I like these syrups best because they use cane syrup or sugar rather than HCFS. I don’t care about the debate on HCFS, I don’t like it because things taste too sweet. Monin Syrups also taste the most natural and authentic to me.

Monin Syrups at my local Bad Ass Coffee shop in Bernalillo, NM

Monin syrups don’t contain gluten. I emailed the company and they responded promptly (within 30 minutes!) stating their facilities don’t use gluten so there is no issue of cross-content either. The email exchange went as follows:

Good Afternoon Jennifer,

Thank you for your interest in Monin. All of our products are Gluten-Free. I have attached above a statement from our Quality Department for you to view. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Thanks and have a great weekend

Upon Further question about the facility they answered:

Our products, nor our facilities, contain any gluten. We are a gluten-free atmosphere.
Thanks again!
Ryan Niemann
Manager of First Impressions

They also provided me with a quality assurance statement

I feel very confident ordering from a coffee shop that uses Monin Syrups, (I also appreciate the shops that use the Monin chocolate and white chocolate sauces) Since finding a shop here in Rio Rancho that uses strictly Monin Brands, I’ve felt great after having a lovely latte. For those in the Abq or Rio Rancho Area, you can find Monin Syrups at Bad Ass Coffee at 965 F Highway 550 Bernalillo, NM 87004

This is one awesome iced latte! (yeah, it's big, I know. I got a half-caf, does that count?)

off 550 or Satellite Coffee throughout Abq. Bad Ass Coffee is actually a franchise and I’ve included a link so you can where you can find your local shop. Always check with your local shop to find out what they choose to carry though. Always, always check. However, I’d stay away from the frozen drinks from Satellite. Those are very iffy; they don’t know and I can’t remember if they use the Monin sauces or other brands for the chocolate. I didn’t feel well when I ordered one.

One thing to be wary of with coffee shops anywhere, even if they use Monin are that some shops use powder in their drinks, especially the blended ones, so you’ll need to ask about any powder they use or things they use other than a syrup and the espresso beans. (Also make sure they don’t add Malted Milk Powder)

I see this company and the next I’ll mention the most in coffee houses. They are easily available in stores and a great price at Sams Club (or at least used to be, my membership has expired). DaVinci’s FAQ states: Do DaVinci Gourmet products contain gluten? Most DaVinci products are gluten-free. The only product that currently contains gluten is Dulce de Leche Sugar Free Syrup. When I emailed the company to confirm this is the only syrup that contains gluten, they assured me that it is and they “”follow and adhere to strict practices and policies which absolutely prevent any chance of cross contamination.” This might be trusted simply because they also product nut flavored syrups do contain trace amounts of allergens (also on that statement.) However, personally, I’ve found I don’t feel as well when I have their sugar caramel syrups. Caramel is one of those that is touch and go anyway because some use barley to get the flavor. So, I’m going to stay away from any caramel flavor from DiVinci, but that is my personal experience.

The next two companies I will no longer buy based upon their website statements. I will not frequent coffee houses that use the next two syrups, nor purchase the syrups based upon the information.

This company’s information is interesting and extremely concerning to me. When you go to the FAQ page you get the following under the Gluten question:

Which syrups contain Gluten?

At this time, we only have five syrups, Bacon, Classic Caramel, Sugar Free Classic Caramel, Toasted Marshmallow and Sugar Free French Vanilla which is known to contain a small amount of barley which does contain gluten. We are unaware of any gluten in our other syrups.

They are unaware of any other products that contain gluten? Further down in the FAQ you see why they are “unaware” under the questions about “allergens.”

Do your syrups contain any allergens?

To the best of our knowledge, no allergenic substances* are used in the manufacturer of our syrup base (regular or sugar-free). However, the individual natural flavorings which are added to this base may have been derived from or contain derivatives of allergenic substances. Whenever possible, we have asked our suppliers to remove unnecessary allergens but we are still left with nut flavors which have been extracted from tree nuts and contain an oil derived from peanuts, and a few flavors which have a creamy note that has been derived from a dairy source. It is a difficult balance to flavor with natural products but limit the natural compounds that may be included in the finished product. * We ask our suppliers to inform us if their products contain any of the ‘Big 8’ allergens: Peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish, shellfish, soy, eggs or wheat. These allergens were chosen because they are responsible for over 90% of all food allergies. View the full list

Torani Sauces

From what I could gather, Monin knows their raw materials and suppliers. However, Torani, doesn’t manufacture everything in-house and they don’t know their raw materials. They don’t manufacture their syrup base and if you read carefully, they only ask their suppliers to note the big 8 allergens, which means that other syrups besides the ones they noted *could* contain barley, rye, etc and not be noted. (Another crucial reason the 1in133 movement is so crucial!) Again, Torani is only *aware* of the 5 syrups that contain the allergens and they only given information about the syrups that contain *the Big 8.* Gluten is not part of the big 8, so these syrups *may* contain gluten without Torani’s knowledge since they are not asking that gluten be removed from the supply chain. I refuse to purchase Torani or frequent coffee houses that use Torani syrups because they don’t even know what their product actually contains. And in fact, the coffee houses I’ve felt most ill from serve the Torani Syrups. This is where the term natural flavors can get you sick. I’m just thankful Torani is honest.

The last company that we need to be extremely careful and who I refuse to buy from anymore is Starbucks
Unlike Torani, which has decided to be unaware of the ingredients in their products, Starbucks refuses to disclose the information. Jules Shepard, a wonderful advocate for the celiac community, co-founder of the 1in133 project, and fantastic gluten-free flour creator, posted in her blog last year about problems with Starbucks drinks. You can read her post It’s a Bummer about Starbucks here. Last year, Starbucks refused to guarantee products could be gluten-free or even create precautions in their shops that would ensure prevention of cross-contamination. I think the issue started when they introduced their “light” Frappachino drink and some of the new syrups contained barley as a thickener. Unfortunately, in the last nine-months since Jules’ post, Starbucks seems to have gotten even worse with their disclosures. A company that seems so eco-conscious, fair trade minded, and world sustainable minded refuses to take the safety of their customers into account. Now, on their site under their Allergen FAQ they state:

Where can I find allergen information?

Allergen information is currently unavailable online for our beverage selections. We are actively working to bring that information to you. If you have an allergen concern, please feel free to ask our baristas to check the ingredient labels or click on our Customer Service page. We cannot guarantee that any of our beverages are allergen free because we use shared equipment and handle allergens throughout the store

In another spot Starbucks website states:
*Allergen info is not available for our drinks because of the many customization options we offer.

When I saw this, I cringed in disgust and anger. Starbucks have an entire tab about “responsiblity” that includes “local responsiblity” but they refuse to provide allergen information and blame it on the fact that they customize their drinks. Plenty of companies provide information on each of their ingredients. Mind you, you end up with grids that you have to piece your meal together, but at resturants like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebees or Chili’s, when you ask for a “gluten Free” menu, the hostess hands you Xeroxed copies of grids that have all the allergens listed. While it’s a hassle, at least they provide the information. Starbucks refuses to even offer that. A grid with all the syrups and sauces and whether they contain gluten or other allergens would allow a customer to “customize” their drink. As it stands, asking the barista if you can see the bottle and read the ingredients doesn’t work. I’ve done that and I’ve gotten sick! The syrups list “natural flavors.” And sadly, I’ve discovered i feel incredibly ill when I have something with the caramel syrup. I’m guessing that “natural flavor” contains some “natural” barley.

What I find the most interesting about Starbuck’s is that about three or four years ago, they were actually one of the first companies to offer “gluten free’ pastries. They had an amazing glutenfree almond orange cake. It disappeared and along with it, any concern for people with gluten intolerance, celiac or it seems other allergens. Sorry Starbuck’s, but while you might give people job across the globe jobs, you aren’t keeping me or my family safe. I’ll buy my coffee elsewhere.

Please remember, this is just research on 4 companies. Double check the websites frequently for yourself, especially if you have a drink and feel “off.” Suppliers change all the time in the food industry. Also remember that the individual coffee shop can still add things that might contain gluten. I know of one juice company (Inta-Juice) that uses malted milk powder in their drinks. Luckily, I found out by watching the girl dump some into a customer’s drink ahead of us. We walked out.

Take time to get to know your local coffee shop. If you can, try to arrange a time to go in when they aren’t busy and ask more about their practices. Inform them about it for their other customers. So many shops are starting to carry the “gluten-free” baked goods, but even the owners are unaware of their drinks might contain ingredients we can’t have. Most people don’t know what gluten is! If we do it in a way that is kind and educating, and shows you wish to continue to be a loyal customer, that will help.

A few more words of caution: with the summer, blended drinks are super popular. Many companies use a powder instead of brewed espresso. Sometime when they aren’t busy, talk to them about the powder and request the information on it. Explain the situation. Just don’t do it during the 8 am or 1130 rush. A second thing to keep in mind is some companies use different brands for things like sauces. I’ve learned to be careful with sauces (chocolate, white chocolate, caramel), and there are many brands of sauces. That will be part 2. Monin’s sauces do not contain gluten. There are several other companies we’ll need to investigate for the chocolate, white chocolate and caramel sauces. In the meantime, I highly recommend finding a coffee shop that uses the Monin flavors. Those seem to be the most safe and give the most information about their products. I personally think they are the best tasting and highest quality too, so it’s a win for my tastebuds and my body.

Thanks as always for reading. Please remember the Katz Giveaway. The big giveaway has come and gone, but I still have 5 products I get to give one lucky winner, so check out that article HERE and remember to comment to be entered!

Disclaimer: Please, Please remember that manufacturers change things all the time. So continue to check websites regularly. Also remember companies might use other chocolate sauces even if they use Monin upfront. And don’t blindly take my research and what I say. Keep checking out for yourself as well. These are starting points for you so you can be educated and know where gluten might be hiding in your food or drinks. Check with your coffee shop and mention the need for GF. The more patrons they see that want it, hopefully the more they will start to think it’s worth their time and effort to accomodate! Thank you!

The Hidden Danger of GREEN for Celiacs

Yesterday afternoon, someone tweeted about hydrolyzed wheat in dish soap with a big “WHY???” and reminded me of a long overdue post. Celiac and gluten intolerance do not mix well with the “Green Movement.” In fact, the more products that come out, the more I see “green” products are very dangerous for us.

There are several problems and reasons why. First, “Green Companies” like Seventh Generation, ECover, Green Works, and so many more derive their agents from “plant-based materials” and or “plant cellulose.” Sounds harmless enough to the general population, but when it comes down to it, some of the best sources, from what I can gather are products celiacs and the Gluten Intolerant avoid. When people think “wheat” in food, they even make the mistake originally thinking oh, just “wheat bread.” My sweet brother is always offering me cookies, pasta, cake because it’s made from “bleached flour” and he doesn’t make the connection. A lot of people don’t.

In the same way, the gluten-free keep our eye out for “wheat, barley, rye, spelt, oats” and rarely think about products that we don’t ingest. (That is another upcoming post). We forget that wheat, oats, rye (and yes, I’m using oats here b/c in the general population and in products they are not certified GF) are PLANTS. In fact, they have straw which produces very good plant cellulose. Corn is also used often, and many of my twitter followers must avoid corn.

Sadly, I pieced this together through the blood and tears of my three-year old son. He’s always had severe problems with chlorine. So, we had to be careful with diapers because many are bleached for them to look better. Finally, when Pampers changed their formula to their core and he started having blisters on his bum, I tried “HUGGIES NATURAL.” Those created the worst “rash” we’ve ever seen to the point where his skin peeled off and was bleeding. It was more like a chemical burn. Huggies couldn’t figure it out; their diapers are “plant-based.” At that point, I didn’t understand the “plant” issue. We found a temporary solution until another company changed their diaper core and he started having problems. It wasn’t until months later when I tried Seventh generation wipes that I got it. By then I’d learned a little more about celiac and gluten reactions. The Seventh Generation wipes would cause him to bleed as did the diapers. However, he’d react to the wipes immediately. When I’d wipe him, he’s squeal in pain and they’d leave behind red skin. Upon sitting in the diaper, the combination would make the skin on his bum peel and bleed. “These are NATURAL” wipes with NO cholorine, what is going on!?” Eventually, I noticed marketing sticker: “Cleaning agents derived from plants.” Hmmmm, what kind of plants?

Finally, I got on their website and started looking into the products. While I did find out they DO put wheat in their feminine pads, the diapers don’t contain it, nor the wipes. However, the diapers and the wipes are made with plant-based materials. It suddenly made sense- he’s so sensitive and severely reacts to oat and other grains. Until he was two, he also reacted to most of the cross-reactive foods research is are starting to discover, including corn. Seventh Generation will not guarantee their products are gluten-free, and moreover, they do not disclose which other materials they might use for their plant derived or cellulose based products. Many companies use corn as well.

In poking around on the internet for this post, I found out why we can’t get the information. The Simple Green company gives a great clue as to why we need to be extremely careful to the products we buy. In the FAQ Section on their website is the answer for so many questions:

Ingredients – Why aren´t the ingredients listed on the label? Simple Green® is non-toxic. Sunshine Makers, Inc. has had the required independent laboratory tests conducted to verify this. Therefore, it is not required by law to list the ingredients on the label. Simple Green´s unique formula is protected under the US Trade Secrecy Act. Simple Green complies with all current labeling laws for ingredient disclosure on cleaning products. Some disclosure of ingredients will be given on a case by case basis as required by physicians, veterinarians, or highway safety agents. If you want to inquire about what ingredients are or are not found in our products, please contact the Simple Green Technical Department at 800-228-0709.

Of course the plenty of people tweet and ask: “What about the big 8, Shouldn’t those be listed?” Nope. Guess what, FDA does not regulate these products because they are not food or drugs. So, these companies are not bound by the same FDA regulations to list those ingredients! That means we are still being exposed even when we are label reading every food item we buy at the store.

I’ve seen a few people with celiac disease post that “as long as you don’t ingest something, you’ll be safe.” While I have an entire article to write on this, it’s sadly a myth and like playing with fire. Here’s the problem with soaps, etc. Many soaps, lotions etc contain penetrating ingredients to get INTO the skin, especially moisturizer ones. And, the “moisturizing” ones, I’ve found are fantastic at containing wheat protein because it moisturizes. While I’m not a lab to do studies to prove just how much gets left behind, I’m guessing some of these wheat proteins will be left on the skin and when you go eat that fantastic juicy peach or strawberries with your hands, you’ll ingest some of it. (Because that’s the point, for them to remain on your skin and moisturize you.) I haven’t even gotten into the details that our skin is our largest organ and is capable of ingesting things, which means over time you get these products into your system.

With dish soap etc that contains wheat or even plant derived ingredients, you are still putting yourself at risk. I’ve heard of people throwing out their pans when they are diagnosed with celiac because many believe the gluten can harbor in non-stick material. While this is a controversy, however, we know that gluten is harder to just wash away. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be demanding gluten-free facilities for our food. We’d be happy to let companies simply wash and sanitize a machine and produce on the same line as products made with gluten. So, do we really want to wash our dishes with wheat or “plant materials” that might contain gluten ingredients?

Finally, after looking over several websites, product listings and then going into the MSDS of several products, I don’t believe most of them are any more safe for anyone or the environment. Many ingredients are still carcinogenic and I’ve found more harsh than their non-green counterparts. I’ve personally found when I’ve used brands like ECover, Simple Green, Seventh Generation, and the “green label” Windex or other main brands, I and my son are more prone to an asthma attack or breathing issues. Most still have excessive packaging. It might be more biodegradable, but in the end, we usually pay more for less product, plenty of packaging and sometimes less safe. Because we already pay two-to-five times what most people pay in our food budget, we should seriously re-examine if these green products are worth it. For now, I stick with some of the main brands without “naturally derived” or “plant based” materials and eventually plan to move to making some of my own products. I’ve already started experimenting with making my own lotion, and it’s fantastic! In the end, the most economical and environmental friendly is making our own anyway. Check out a group on Facebook called: Recipes For Natural Living. The moderator posts recipes to help make your own cleaners and even other things like brandy! Plenty of sites provide this information too. Google “How to Make household cleaners.”

Although “plant based materials” might not always contain wheat, oats etc, again, i’m grouping oats on purpose) because the companies don’t disclose which plants they use, these green products provide real dangers to celiacs and the gluten intolerant. If a company says “plant based” cleaning agents, or “plant based _________” you might consider buying something else unless you can confirm what “plants” they use.