Monday, June 28, 2010

Surprise! You've been Glutened!

Even when you are as careful as Shawn & I are, sometimes you can get glutened.  We cook in a dedicated gluten free kitchen, in a dedicated gluten free household, with dedicated gluten free ingredients that are processed in a dedicated gluten free facility..

We rarely eat out.

and still.......

Shawn had an "attack" and has been sick for nearly 4 days now.  We rack our brains thinking of everything eaten in the past 5 days and come up with nothing out of the ordinary.

Going over everything eaten, every detail of our lives over the past few days as detailed as a Detective in a dime store mystery novel.  Still no clue.

I went over grocery lists and things that I had bought, label for label, ingredient for ingredient....

I think I have found the culprit.  The only "questionable" item was a new brand (for us) of pure vanilla extract.
I always buy "pure vanilla extract" from the health food section near all the organic, and gluten free items at HyVee grocery stores.  The last trip there, they were out of my regular brand, which ingredients read simply "pure vanilla extract".  I grabbed the only other bottle in that area of the grocery store.  It was labeled "Natural Organic Pure Vanilla Extract", and I thought nothing of it.


I assumed that the only 2 brands of pure vanilla extract in the health foods section were the same, both gluten free.  I was WRONG.

I write and preach about the importance of reading labels, and here I went and "assumed" the ingredients were the same.  The ingredient list of the "organic" pure vanilla extract are...water, organic alcohol, extractives of organic Uganda vanilla beans.

The concern here is "organic alcohol".  I know that some research says that gluten (the gliadin protein) does not survive the distillation process of making alcohol out of a grain.  I also know that gluten can be added back in after the distillation process.

I am not a scientist, chemist, moonshiner, or doctor.

I am not here to debate gliadin proteins and distillation.

What I do know is that Shawn had an attack, and has been ill for days.

I do know that the only questionable item that he has eaten is foods I made him with this new brand of pure vanilla extract.

The Moral.....

1. - Always, always read the labels.

2. - If you buy "pure vanilla extract", make sure the ingredients are simply "pure vanilla extract".

3. - When in Doubt...Leave it out!!!!


  1. We are getting the questionable item tested for gluten at the University of Nebraska Food Allergy Research & Resource Department.

  2. Hi Shawn,

    Just reading this for the first time and want to share with you that instead of using "extracts" I use alcohol free "flavors" by Frontier. So their vanilla flavor is vanilla, glycerine, and water. You might want to check out their website if you haven't already. I find many of their products at Whole Foods but you can order directly from them. Thank you for all you do and share. It make this gluten free life a lot more pleasant. Blessings and gratitude.

  3. Thank you for the comment and advice. I will definitely look into those, they sound wonderful. I really want to get some vanilla beans and try making my own extract also. I love that there are so many new things to try, and i love that readers like you suggest things to try. We are all in this together.