Gluten Free Foods and Taxes

February 15, 2012
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

Did you know that if you have celiac disease your trip to the grocery store may actually be tax deductible? Here are some basic instructions to get you started:

  • Obtain an official diagnosis from your doctor in writing that you have celiac disease. Without that you cannot claim a tax deduction
  • Save all your records of gluten free purchases, including grocery receipts and canceled checks. Then compile a list of the regular cost of all the gluten free items you’ve bought. For example, if regular wheat flour costs $1.99 and your gluten free flour costs $3.99, then you can only claim the difference of $2.00 between the two prices.
  • Note that in order to claim a tax deduction for medical expenses (including any gluten-free food purchases), your expenditures must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, minus any insurance reimbursements. For example, if you have an adjusted gross income of $50,000 a year, then your total medical expenditures must exceed $3,750 in order to claim a tax deduction and use the gluten-free food expenses.
  • Try using your insurance’s flexible spending account. If you have medical coverage and likely cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost of your gluten free food, your employer’s Flexible Spending Plan may allow reimbursement for the cost of gluten free food.
  • Be persistent if you’re researching whether your Flexible Spending Plan will cover the cost of gluten free foods. Your human resources department may not know if the expenses are covered. Contact the provider if necessary until you get a definite answer from someone whether you can get reimbursed for your gluten-free food.

This will take some effort to accomplish. In case you are audited, you will have to keep very detailed records of what you have purchased.

I am not a licensed accountant, so please talk to your accountant or tax professional to verify the information listed here before submitting any tax deductions to the IRS.

Enjoy Tortillas Again

February 1, 2012
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

I have some good news if you like tortillas. Did you know that all of Mission’s corn tortilla products are gluten free? So, if you have missed quesadillas, burritos, or enchiladas, you can now enjoy them again. Most Mission packages I have looked at do not say gluten free on their label, but their website states, “We make our fresh corn tortillas for imaginative people dedicated to bringing together incredible flavors and ingredients from around the world. Made with 100% Whole Grain corn and deliver superior taste and texture. Available in popular weights (ounces per dozen) and four colors. All Mission® corn tortilla products are Gluten-Free, 0 grams trans-fat per serving and shelf stable.”[1] For more information and some great recipes visit http://www.missionfoodsfsc.com/ or their Frequently Asked Questions page for gluten free and other nutritional information.

What is celiac disease?

January 18, 2012

Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food they eat.

Currently the only treatment for celiac disease is to avoid the gluten. For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvement begins within days of starting the diet. The small intestine usually heals in 3 to 6 months in children but may take several years in adults. A healed intestine means a person now has villi that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream. Celiac disease is both a disease of malabsorption—meaning nutrients are not absorbed properly—and an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is genetic, meaning it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered—or becomes active for the first time—after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress. Continue Reading »

Don’t be hungry, be prepared

December 21, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

It’s hard to believe that another year is almost over, and Christmas is just a few days away.  With that said, this is the time of year that most of us celebrate with food and that can be tricky for someone with gluten issues. Most people who do not have to avoid certain food groups don’t give a second thought to what ingredients are going into their holiday dinner. So as hard and uncomfortable as it may be, you have to take responsibility for your health and plan ahead. The worst thing you can do is show up for your holiday dinner unprepared and hungry. I know from personal experience if I am hungry I am much more likely to take risks on foods that I am unsure of than I otherwise would. I know I have said it before, but always have a plan B. It can be a dish that you have brought to share with everyone, or some snacks stashed in the car. It also never hurts to call ahead and find out what is being served. If it makes you uncomfortable you can always say that you would like to bring a dish that compliments the main course. I hope these suggestions help, and wish you a happy holiday season

Plan ahead to stay safe this season

December 7, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

Well we have made it through Thanksgiving, hopefully unscathed. Now we must look forward with Christmas looming and a veritable pitfall of yummy gluten containing treats to tempt us at every corner. With that said, however, I must say that no treat no matter how good, is worth damaging your body over. We unfortunately are only given one so it is paramount that we do as much right for that one as we possibly can. So to avoid those temptations with which you may be presented, I would say be proactive and plan ahead. Thanks to many great manufacturers like Betty Crocker, King Arthur flower, and Bob’s Red Mill to name a few, it has become so much easier to do so. With my family I like to keep boxes of cookie, brownie, and cake mix on hand so that we can whip up some treats if the occasion arises that we need to take some treats to a last minute party or event. As an adult and having lived gluten free for three plus years now, it is fairly easy for me to stay away from, besides the occasional misguided mess ups. But for my kids it is a whole different story. It is much harder for them to turn down a cookie or a cupcake, especially when their friends are all enjoying them. So with all that said, to stay safe this holiday season try giving a little forethought to what lies ahead, and if you find yourself in a situation where there is simply no time to plan try to be ready with a plan B of sorts at home. Hope you have a happy holiday season.

Zupa Soup

November 10, 2011

Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

Now that the weather outside has turned a bit colder, I wanted to share with you one of my family’s favorite soup recipes. Zupa soup is a creamy hearty soup that is sure to warm you up when temperatures plummet. If you need this to be dairy free as well you can substitute soy milk for half and half, just make sure the soy milk is unsweetened. As always, please read all ingredient labels carefully because our customers continued health and well-being is of utmost importance to us.

You will need:

1lb ground spicy Italian sausage

1 ½ tsp crushed red pepper

1 large diced white onion

½lb Hormel thick sliced bacon chopped into small pieces

2tsp Christopher ranch garlic puree

2 boxes kitchen basics chicken stock

2 cups half and half

4 large potatoes sliced

½ of a bunch of fresh kale

In your soup pot sauté the spicy Italian sausage and crushed red pepper. Drain excess fat, remove the sausage from the pot and refrigerate it while you prepare the other ingredients. In the same pot sauté bacon, onions, and garlic together until onions are soft should take roughly 15 minutes. Once your onions are soft add your chicken stock.  Bring it to a boil then add your potatoes, cook until soft usually takes about half an hour. Add your half and half and cook until heated all the way through. Stir in your pre cooked sausage. Add your kale moments before you serve the soup (don’t add it too soon or it will become soggy). Hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!

Safe Halloween Treats

October 24, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

Halloween can be a scary time if you have children who are on the gluten free diet, I have been trying to navigate the major candy companies websites looking for information about which if any of their products are gluten free and all you get is a basic description of what you cannot eat such as wheat, barley, rye, etc… Hershey’s for instance does not have a gluten free candy list, they simply say that they will list any gluten containing ingredients, or possible cross contamination on their label. Mars Chocolate makes M&M’s, Dove, Snickers and other products. The company urges gluten-free consumers to check labels, even if a product normally is gluten-free; in busy times of year (such as Halloween), Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy, and some of those may introduce cross-contamination risks. The company says it will label any gluten ingredients or cross-contamination. Nestle USA considers “gluten-free” to mean “no gluten ingredients are in the product, whether directly added, or potentially present due to cross-contact. If a product label has an allergen advisory statement such as ‘made on equipment’ or ‘facility that also processes wheat etc.,’ we do not consider that product to be gluten-free. So in short the theme seems to be always read the label weather you have bought the product before or not. Here is a list of products that are said to be safe by their manufacturers. Continue Reading »

Gluten Free Item List Online

October 12, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

This week I wanted to let you all know what a great job our dieticians, Jessica and Jonnell are doing to make shopping for gluten free items less of a hassle. They have compiled a list of several hundred gluten free items (only those that state gluten free on their label) and posted it on our website. When on our home page, highlight the Great Health tab towards the top, click on Complete Nutrition, scroll down to Celiac Disease and then gluten free store item list link is right there. Here is the link to go directly there as well http://www.harmonsgrocery.com/images/pdfs/GlutenFreeList.pdf. Also look for the tags on the shelves that identify gluten free items.

Make a great gluten free sandwich

September 28, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

A few days ago I had a very nice customer ask me if any of our delicatessens’ deli meats are gluten free, and frankly I am embarrassed to say that I was not sure. Obviously I am not sure is definitely not the right answer, so I did the thing I do best, research. I found out that not only are all of Boars Head® meats, cheeses, and condiments of the highest quality, they are also gluten free, we carry a large variety of Boars Head® products so please come by our delicatessen and pick some up today! For those watching your sodium, there is also a good selection of low sodium options. If you want to make a sandwich with your new found delicious deli meat, try Udi’s white sandwich bread. You can find it in the healthy living section in our frozen department.

Whole Grain Rice Krispies Treats

September 15, 2011
Dave for Gluten Free

Dave, Gluten Free Advocate

I just happened to walk down our cereal isle the other day and noticed that Kellog’s is now making a gluten free version of their rice krispies cereal. To be honest, as weird as it may sound I was excited to see them, if for no other reason than having a real homemade rice krispie treat. The pre-packaged gluten free versions that are on the market today are just lacking the taste and texture that you get from the ones that you make at home. So I bought a box and went home to make my family a batch. I have to say they were everything that I had hoped for, they tasted exactly how I remembered them tasting, and the texture was crispy, not mushy like the others that I had tried recently. To ensure the safety of this cereal they have eliminated the barley that the original recipe contains, and it is being produced in a separate facility with batches being tested regularly for gluten. So buy a box and treat yourself. If you do not remember how to make them, the recipe is on the box.