Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tonic Water and corn syrup??

And this uses....wait for it....sweetener! Dammit!

I was going to make a homemade soda for the kids the other day - tonic water and homemade prickly pear syrup that I picked from the cactus and washed and juiced and made with my own little thorn prickled hands. (Go, me! Another point for Yuppie House on the Prairie!)

My husband asks if I can have it, and I'm not sure, but he's already looking at the label to see and let's out a 'You've got to be kidding me.' Or something cooler and geekier, but essentially the same.

Turns out, our Tonic Water has corn syrup.

WTH? Seriously? How did I not know this had a sweetener of any kind? And it always has, far as I can tell.

Definition of Tonic Water: a carbonated beverage that derives its somewhat bitter taste from the addition of quinine. It is usually flavored with lemon or lime, lots of sugar, and often contains caffeine. (

Guess this is my 'learn something new everyday' moment. Just kind of blows my mind. So, what do the brands that we used to buy have as their sweetener? Corn syrup, of course. Sigh.

Canada Dry Tonic water: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Quinine, Natural Flavors.

Schweppes Tonic Water: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)Quinine.

This (more expensive, of course) Tonic water doesn't use corn syrup, however!
Q Tonic: Triple-purified water, Organic agave (sweetener), Peruvian quinine (hand-picked in
the Andes Mountains)[as opposed to elbow-picked like we poor schlubs usually get), Lemon juice extract [woo hoo, no citric acid!], Natural Flavors [Aaaaand, have to go and research the gluten and corn part again now. The fun never ends, LOL. I think I may just stick with the juice!]

But for those avoiding corn, beware with any of the mixed drink with tonic water, eh? Be safe!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Glutened - what a surprise

Two weeks ago, I believe I had what I can really described as my first experience getting 'glutened.' For those who are reading this but aren't Celiacs, getting glutened is just an easy way of saying I ingested gluten. Yes, I am a hip part of the Celiac in-crowd, using the lingo and everything. Look at me go. Yee ha.

Before this? There's been the possibility that I accidentally got gluten contamination in tiny amounts, but nothing that stuck out as a definitive 'gluten reaction.' And for the record? It sucks. It sucks long and hard, like a broken, whirring hoover.

I couldn't say for sure that eating gluten is what happened, considering that this reaction hasn't happened before,'s the best I can come up with, and it matches the reactions of other celiacs, so I'll assume this is it. Otherwise, it's just another wacked out thing going on with my body, and I'd rather like those to stop some time soon. I'd prefer to assume this is something already known.

And what, you might ask, happened?

I ate some pistachios. Who would think this would be an issue? They were mixed in with newer nuts that I know are gluten free, and I forgot there might be other brands of nuts in our container (processed in a facility that contains wheat, the bastards). My daughter had some, and 15 minutes later her stomach was hurting something fierce. Five minutes after that, I attempted to stand up from the couch bed and had such horrible vertigo that I fell back down onto it. Couldn't get up the next two tries, either. Started having horrible nausea, then vomiting and the shakes and the sweats.

The vertigo wasn't enough to keep me down after that as long as I walked and moved very slowly for the next 4-6 hours. Vomiting died down to mere nausea. And a few days later, the dizziness was finally starting to fade completely away.

I haven't cheated on my gluten part of the diet over the last year. Been really, really good on that front, which I'm a little proud of, actually. I'm as human as the next guy, possibly a bit more lazy than some and clumsier than many, and I tend to obsess and screw up a lot, but at least on that one tiny slice of my life's pie, I did good. I didn't try to cheat and sneak gluten.

Go, me.

However, at this moment, I am amazingly even more motivated to avoid gluten. That reaction was truly nasty and very unexpected. I never HAD reactions to gluten, that I recognized, before all this started. I knew I'd been getting more sensitive to foods as time has gone on, and I have felt very bad eating many foods this last year, but this? Nope, that's new. Guess now I know what most Celiacs mean when they report that they are more sensitive to gluten after they avoid it for a while.

Let me just say, my fellow Celiacs, that I am right there with you in the nauseating trenches, dodging gluten bullets and hoping like hell I don't get hit with one again. Once was quite enough, thank you very much. Too bad gluten isn't looking like it's up for peace talks any time soon so I could stop ducking. I'd be all for that.

So, Gluten Free Tip for the day!
1. Watch out for plain, unflavored nuts. They may look safe, but many of them are processed in facilities with wheat.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tea Bags - urban legend?

Now if you're gluten free like I am, you've probably come across safe tea as well as the evil unsafe tea that contained barley or oat products or, every once in a while, wheat products as well. If you've been gluten free for some time, you've probably also heard about tea bags as a potential gluten contamination issue.

Some tea bags are sealed with gluten (wheat paste) - at least, that's what I've read, on multiple sites. But I started getting suspicious about this when I noticed that of all the tea companies I've checked with, none of them used gluten. They used heat crimping to seal their bags. All of them.

And I called a lot of tea companies, let me tell you. I was the tea company calling dervish of doom. Telemarketers would have wept at not having me on their team.

So I queried the folks at and no one else had actually come across a tea bag that had been sealed with gluten, either. In fact, I got the following reply from one David, a fellow forum member:
[Gluten sealed tea bags are a] Myth!

The tea bag fabric is crimped under extreme pressure causing it to bond.

My father was a production manager in Allied Suppliers (Liptons) and installed and set-up the first tea bagging machine in Ireland 40 + yrs ago.

Very interesting answer. I must admit, though, I am more cynical these days if I don't have the information straight from the horse's mouth. So I believe the first tea bagging machines in Ireland didn't use wheat paste, but part of me wonders if some modern, super-organic, back-to-nature company might think it was more 'natural' to seal their bags with wheat paste.

Weirder things have happened.

Still, the non-existence of gluten-sealed-tea-bags jives with what I've managed to research, so I'm slowly but surely beginning to lean in the direction of 'urban legend' for a wheat paste sealed tea bag. I know I'll still be calling tea companies and asking periodically; a bit more work is very much worth avoiding the reaction I'll get if I get gluten. But for those of you who have been worrying about this, maybe this information may be of some comfort.

However, if anyone knows of ANY tea bags that actually seal with gluten? Please, let me know! I'd like to put this legend to bed.