Category Archives: General

Gluten-free takes the cake in snack food products

An interesting article from Drug Store News:

Gluten-free takes the cake in snack food products

(Sep. 14) The market for gluten-free snacks is exploding. Once the exclusive arena of niche brands, now even mainstream manufacturers are getting on board. This summer, General Mills rolled out a line of gluten-free cookie, brownie and cake mixes under its Betty Crocker brand. In 2006, the company converted its Rice Chex cereal to a gluten-free product.

General Mills research showed that 12% of U.S. households want to eliminate or reduce their gluten intake. Part of the increased interest in gluten-free products is a spike in the number of patients diagnosed with Celiac disease. Incidence of the immune system disorder has increased dramatically in the last half century. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggested that young people today are 4.5 times as likely to have Celiac disease as were young people in the 1950s.

Even consumers without wheat allergies are showing an interest in eliminating or reducing the amount of wheat in their bodies. “We’re seeing a lot more interest from consumers who are opting to reduce their wheat intake,” said Christine Brown, marketing manager at Addison, Ill.-based Natural Snacks.

Nature’s Path Foods’ EnviroKidz line of crispy rice bars and animal cookies has performed well in the grocery channel.
Kari Ramsey, a spokeswoman for Nature’s Path Foods, agreed that the appeal of gluten-free foods isn’t limited to consumers with Celiac disease. Nature’s Path is one of the largest players in the category—the company’s EnviroKidz line of crispy rice bars and animal cookies has performed well in the grocery channel. “For some people, opting for gluten-free foods is a lifestyle choice rather than a health-motivated choice,” Ramsey said.

Consumers should have no problem finding an array of foods to fit their needs. More than 1,000 new gluten-free products were launched in 2008, according to Mintel Global New Products Database. Another 552 products were introduced through July 20. Cereal bars, snacks and sweets saw the most new product introductions.

Gluten-free cereals are one of the most rapidly growing segments in the health-and-wellness cereal category, according to Kent Spaulding, VP marketing for San Francisco-based Barbara’s Bakery. Spaulding said his company’s gluten-free products are growing at a rate of more than 30% annually.

A recent report from Packaged Facts estimated that gluten-free products had a compound annual growth of 28% between 2004 and 2008, with sales reaching $1.56 billion. Supermarkets accounted for 30% of sales, and health food and specialty stores accounted for another 30% of sales. Drug stores largely have stayed away from the business, but maybe it’s time to rethink the strategy. “Consumers go to a drug store for products that make them feel healthier,” Brown said. Gluten-free snacks certainly fit that profile for a growing number of customers. Natural Snacks’ gluten-free business grew 78% last year, according to Brown.

Natural Snacks, which is expanding its offerings, is adding single-serves of its most popular baked flavors to its lineup. The 100-calorie, .75-oz. bags will retail for 99 cents.


Change in Focus

Originally I had wanted to start a blog about the world of personal cheffing (as you can see from my one and only post in February 2008). Obviously I never got around to that. I wanted to start a more personal blog, my other blog is by choice informational only. But after reading so many incredible blogs out there, I felt inspired. I am not insinuating that my blog will be inspiring; I am just inspired to do more.

The last few years have been both exciting and exhausting. When I decided to start my own business, I had no idea how much work and energy it would take. Being a personal chef is so much more than cooking for clients. It includes marketing, networking, bookkeeping along with the menu planning and general office work, grocery shopping and schlepping food and equipment. Needless to say, I don’t take enough time for myself and have had periods of exhaustion.

Being around food and working with clients who have food allergies and insensitivities, I have often wondered about how my diet plays into my physically well being. I have however, never taken the time to experiment with how specific food effects how I feel and my general energy level. I want to also add that I suffer regular headaches (I don’t think actual migraines although they can be very severe) and keeping a journal of food and activities is another one of those items on my to-do list that I never quite get around to doing. The headaches are Riebow things – most with the Riebow bloodline get them. We all have varying degrees of them and my sister spent several years with doctors and neurologists trying to find a cause – they never did. I find that overcast days are my worst, but have always wondering if food doesn’t play a role as well.

The last year has been a roller coaster for me. Last summer (actually 1 year and 5 days ago) I got married. We were engaged in the spring and planned an August wedding, so last year was a blur of planning and parties. I worked out to be in the best shape I could be for the big day. It was honestly the best day of my life (so far) but afterward I was beat! I didn’t have the energy to workout, I didn’t have the energy to care what I ate (and it didn’t matter since I wasn’t trying to squeeze into a dress – ha ha).

By spring, I had gained back the 15 pounds I had lost and my poor body ached. My bones ached every day and I would come home at the end of the day too exhausted to make dinner or care about it. Thank goodness my husband is a saint and he takes great care of me! Also for the last year or so, I have been looking for a general care practitioner who I liked, who had similar wellness philosophies as I did and who didn’t wipe out the prescription paid within 2 minutes of seeing me and offer me a pill to cure my ailments.

Early this summer, I finally found a Nurse Practitioner that I love!  She is amazing and exactly what I have been looking for. She ran lots of tests and I am fit as a fiddle. She did recommend I cut gluten and sugar from my diet for one month. She explained that these can be stressful on our adrenal glands and that when the glands are stressed, it can cause fatigue. It was early July when we had this discussion and with my birthday two short weeks away, I decided to wait until after my birthday to start a gluten-free and sugar-free ride.

And so I am changing the focus of this blog to reflect on what it is like for me to be gluten-free, my day-to-day struggles and triumphs.

Hello world!

Welcome to Jen’s second blog. People are always asking me if I enjoy what I do. Each day offers a new set of challenges, whether it is planning meals for a family with special dietary needs or planning meals with in-season produce, no two days are the same. I love cooking and really enjoy sharing what I do with others. I am hoping to share what my days are like and what it is like to be a personal chef. I hope to bring my camera with me on occasion to give some visual representation of my day as well. I welcome any questions and/or suggestions.