Digital Kitchen Scales & Gluten Free Baking + Escali review

When you bake gluten free do you find that your recipes don’t turn out quite as good as you’d hoped? Why did your cookies spread out more than the ones in the picture? Why does your bread taste so dense? You might be missing a simple tool that could help take your baking to the next level – a digital food scale.

In my gluten free baking adventures, I’ve realized that it can be notoriously difficult to measure gluten free flour with a regular measuring cup. You’d be surprised at how often you might be packing in much more flour than your recipe calls for, creating overly starchy baked goods. And don’t get me started on teaspoons – when I got my first super precise scale I was shocked at how off I was when measuring small amounts of ingredients like baking soda.

I’ve also found that we generally overestimate portion sizes. Using a digital scale is a great way to become more aware of exactly how much we’re eating. You’d be surprised – that dollop of peanut butter that you thought was one serving might actually be three. For those who are trying to lose weight, simply become more mindful of their eating habits, or are following plans like the low FODMAP diet where portion size is critical, a food scale again is a very important tool.

My digital food scale is the most-used device in my kitchen. Unfortunately, I have gone through four food scales in the past five years, and darn it I’m ready for one that works and works well!

That is when I found the Escali L600 High Precision Digital Scale.

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Pros:

  • I measure mostly using grams. Most scales have a 1g or even 2g increment, which can seriously mess up a recipe, especially when measuring small amounts of things like baking soda or baking powder. This scale measures in 0.1g increments. Perfect!
  • It also measures in ounces (great, because I measure protein portions this way) and several other units including grains, pennyweights, troy ounces, and carats. Anyone have a diamond they need measuring?
  • A tare feature that allows you to reset back to zero. This allows you to subtract the weight of a container or measure multiple items in one go.
  • It also has a few features that I haven’t fully explored yet including item counting and cumulative memory.
  • It uses 4 AA batteries, which is great because they are easy to find. You can also purchase an optional power adapter for this model.
  • Automatic shut off after four minutes of non-use to help preserve the battery. One of my old scales used to turn off randomly in the middle of using it, which seriously messed up several batches of pancakes.
  • The platform rotates which makes it very easy to clean!
  • A backlight option for the digital display.
  • So far they seem to have good customer service. The last scale I had – I had no way of contacting the company when it broke.

Cons:

  • Honestly I don’t have any complaints so far. I think the scale is top notch. The only thing I felt I missed was that I couldn’t find instructions for setting the platform on the scale, but it wasn’t a problem in the end.

Not a con, but something to be aware of – the scale has a capacity of 600g (roughly 21oz), which (depending on your flour blend) is about 3.5-4.5 cups of gluten free flour, not including a measuring bowl. A sure way to kill your food scale is to put too much weight on it. I’m choosing to use a very small, lightweight measuring bowl (seen in the photo) and only measuring a few items at a time before transferring them to a bigger mixing bowl. Keeping my scale happy and healthy!

Note: This scale has a one year warranty and a two year professional guarantee in case a defect is discovered. I got the scale in July 2017 and will update this post in the future to let you know how it’s holding up compared to my other scales.

Overall, I am thrilled with this scale. It is precise, extremely sensitive, and just what I was looking for to make my gluten free baking creations the best they can be.

The Escali L600 High Precision Digital Scale retails for $84.95. Their other scales range from $35-$100. And they have free shipping!

For more information visit www.escali.com/scales/kitchen-scales

 

Disclaimer I received samples of these products, but I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love. 

Team Celiac at the NYC Marathon!

Exciting news from The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University – there will now be a Team Celiac at the New York City Marathon!

From their website

“Team Celiac is the principal community fundraising program for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. All funds raised from Team Celiac Teammates and Friends go directly toward the Center’s research program.”

“Train with Us and Gain access to professional support via

  • The Center’s Clinical team
  • The Center’s Nutritional Counselors
  • A Physical Training Program customized for Marathon Training
  • Pre-race gluten-free dinner
  • Custom two-piece uniform and race day gear.”

If you are interested in running with Team Celiac, donating, or have questions please visit www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/teamceliac

Cheers!

Jessica

Opinion – Not a fan of the Nima Sensor

I am not a fan of the Nima Sensor, and I’m going to tell you why.

Disclaimer – Several of my readers wrote to me expressing their own doubts and concerns about Nima and asking for my opinion. The following opinions are my own. This is meant to be a discussion, so please feel free to contribute. I own a Nima Sensor (which I paid for myself), and these are my experiences. It is not my intention to sway readers for or against Nima. I am simply discussing my opinions. Many of you know of my hero, Gluten Free Watchdog, an invaluable expert in the gluten free community. I will be referencing several of her articles about the Nima Sensor. Please also keep in mind that the FDA has defined gluten free as less than 20ppm. Some GF certification organizations require a food to be less than this. I am aware that some extremely sensitive Celiacs react to 20ppm. Nima’s chemistry is optimized for 20ppm.

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I was among a group of gluten free bloggers invited to informational events with the Nima team before the product was released. If you remember my post from two years ago – “The Nima Sensor – A Game Changer” – you’ll remember that I was incredibly excited about this product, so much so that I preordered my sensor the second it went on sale. I also loved the Nima team. The creators were kind and seemed to really want to do some good in the world.

Some facts:

The cost – $279. The capsules cost about $4.87 – $6.08 each and are not reusable. And they expire within about six months.

Nima doesn’t work on:

  • Fermented foods
  • Soy sauce
  • Pure vinegar
  • Beer
  • Alcohol
  • Xanthan and guar gum in their pure form
  • Bright colored food
  • Hard food such as uncooked pasta and dry beans
  • Nima has not been validated to test for gluten in medication or non-food products such as makeup. If tested, the Nima team cannot make claims about the accuracy of test results.

Problems with the sample size

Watch Nima not pick up cross contamination in GF crackers that came in contact with wheat

When using Nima, you only test a pea-sized sample of food. This means that if you have multiple items or components on one plate, it may be hard to get all of those into one capsule, and you’ll end up having to use multiple ones. If you use three capsules for one meal, that’s about $15-$18.

Also, because you are only testing a small amount, Nima may not find the gluten in food that has been contaminated. Remember, cross contamination is not necessarily evenly spread out throughout a dish. The Nima team recommends testing likely areas such as grill marks on a piece of chicken, but there is no guarantee that it will find a hot spot of contamination.

Example – you order a gluten free pizza and test 1/2 pea-size of crust and the other 1/2 pea-size of cheese. The Nima results in a happy face – no gluten found. Is your pizza gluten free? Who knows. All you know is that the pea-size sample you tested is.

A false sense of security 

Watch Nima test non-GF oats and a recalled box of Cherrios and result in a

happy face/”no gluten found”.

Gluten Free Watchdog also describes spotty cross contamination in gluten free oats.

I’m worried that the device is giving the community a false sense of security. Celiac Disease is highly emotional, and many of my followers have expressed that the hardest part is the social aspect. I’ve had too many occasions where I sipped water at a restaurant while everyone else ate pizza. We all want to believe (myself included) that this device will give us comfort and allow us to regain control. We want to fit in. We don’t want there to be any problems. We WANT this device to work. 

The Nima team emphasizes that it’s important to still ask questions about how food was made and where it was prepared. But will consumers end up relying too much on the device itself? 

Several people I know tested Cheerios (click here to read more about Cheerios’ questionable gluten free status). When I explained to them how spotty cross contamination can be, particularly when it comes to gluten free oats, they all replied that they would continue to eat Cheerios anyway because Nima gave them the answer they wanted to hear.

Testing under 20ppm & damaging reputations of truly gluten free businesses

Nima once said that foods under 20ppm occasionally may test positive for gluten, but that is rare. Now Nima publicly admits on their site, “For foods containing below 2ppm, Nima reported ‘gluten found’ 7.8% of the time.”

This is highly concerning to me and brings up some other important questions – What is the percentage for under 10ppm? And under 20ppm? Even though the device is “optimized for 20ppm”, logic shows that greater than 7.8% of food under 10 or 20ppm will test positive. 

Click here to see five foods that Nima detected gluten in, yet tested below the limit of detection of 1ppm when tested with the R5 ELISA method.

I worry that restaurants and companies that are doing an excellent job may have their reputations unfairly tarnished.

Imagine this – you go to your favorite restaurant and test a dish. It comes back positive for gluten. You question the manager and the chef. They swear that all of their ingredients were gluten free and they took their normal steps to prevent cross contamination. What do you do? Do you eat the dish? Do you stop going to your favorite restaurant? Did your food have 2ppm in it? 10ppm? 100ppm? There is no way of knowing because Nima cannot tell you.

And then that information gets logged into the Nima app. Other Nima-owners can see your test results, and perhaps they will start avoiding that restaurant.

I refused to bring my Nima with me to restaurants. I thought it would be irresponsible of me to potentially tarnish the reputation of a restaurant that is doing a great job because the device that I was using had no way of telling me how much gluten was actually in their food. 

Now before you say, “Any amount of gluten that it detects is too much”, let me ask you – is less than 1ppm too much gluten?

And before you say, “But so-and-so said that their Nima saved them from eating unsafe food at a restaurant,” let me also ask – did that person also send their dish to a lab to have it verify that the dish contained over 20ppm? Maybe it was gluten free and maybe it wasn’t.

And of course, I am certain that Nima has saved people from ingesting gluten – if a sample has over 20ppm Nima will most likely find it (unless it is a food that Nima cannot test for like soy sauce) – but how many times has it prevented someone from eating food that was totally safe? How many times has it damaged the reputation of an excellent company? It is a question of consistency. 

I also see a lot of social media posts of people testing certified gluten free food and getting upset when Nima says “gluten found.” Do you disregard the testing requirements of the certification bodies?

Testing a food multiple times

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At the request of other Celiacs, I tested quite a few foods including this bag of gluten free potato chips – labeled GF (company tests ingredients and finished products), the bag was new/unopened, samples gathered with a new plastic spoon that had been sealed in plastic. Nima came back with a “high gluten” result (likely over 100ppm). I tested a second sample from the same bag with a new spoon – happy face/ “no gluten found”.

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We also tested this gluten free brownie twice with the same precautions. The first test came back “low gluten”, the second test came back “no gluten found.”

What do you do? Do you eat these foods? Or do you stop trusting the companies? How many times should you test a product with Nima to feel satisfied with its answer?

So Jessica, what are you currently doing with your Nima? 

Remember I wanted Nima to be our community’s savior. However, mine is currently collecting dust in my cabinet, and I don’t plan on ordering any more capsules. My personal opinion – a costly gadget that makes my gluten free dining experience even more expensive yet still leaves me unsure as to my food’s actual gluten free status is not a gadget that is useful to me. For my needs, I don’t think the technology is there yet.

The way I see it:

“No gluten found” – No gluten was found in your pea-size sample. Is the entire dish gluten free? Nima doesn’t know.

“Gluten found” – Nima found gluten in the sample, but it might be less than 2ppm. How much gluten is in it? Nima can’t tell you.

Sure, the Nima team will emphasize that the device is another tool for your toolbox. I ask – is it a consistent/accurate tool? And does it leave you with more answers or more questions?

Click here to read more concerns from Gluten Free Watchdog.

 I know others out there may disagree with my feelings about Nima. Again I will stress that these are my opinions based on information provided by both Nima and Gluten Free Watchdog. This is meant to be a discussion, so please feel free to leave a comment – what is your opinion of Nima?

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review, and I did not receive any product samples. All opinions are my own.

Call to Action from Gluten Free Watchdog

Gluten in gluten free food??? The FDA appears to be doing a less-than-stellar job at holding companies accountable for complying with their regulations concerning gluten. For the safety of the Celiac and gluten free community, this needs to be taken seriously.

Many of you know about Gluten Free Watchdog, aka Tricia Thompson. GFW is an incredible resource to the gluten free community, and she believes that we all need to come together to encourage the FDA to do their job. In the link below she explains the situation and outlines her action plan.

https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/encouraging-the-fda-to-investigate-when-products-labeled-gluten-free-appear-misbranded/

They need to hear our voices! Share – retweet – make your voice heard!

To stay informed I encourage you to follow Gluten Free Watchdog on Facebook and Twitter. Also, subscribing to the valuable resources on her website is only $7/month – I’m a subscriber myself. I’ll be sharing on Facebook and retweeting articles as GFW Action Alerts are released to the public.

GFW’s first Action Alert was just posted. It describes several instances where regular wheat-containing soy sauce is stated in the ingredients list of products that were labeled gluten free. FDA – are you going to investigate???

THIS IS SO DANGEROUS. We trust the FDA to make sure that our food is safe. When they do not enforce their rules, it is our lives at stake. 

Please join me in encouraging the FDA to investigate when products labeled gluten free appear misbranded.

Red Apple Lipstick Lip Gloss Review & Summer Sale

Red Apple Lipstick has released new products! This is not a drill! My favorite gluten free lipstick/cosmetic company has released a new set of stunning glosses that are perfect for summer – and they are on sale through July 7th! AND I’m going to share with you some secret tips to help you take advantage of this sale to the fullest.

RAL gloss 1

The three colors (from top to bottom) are Gemazing, Tangomint, and Razzberry. I’m LOVING these glosses. I’ve always loved Red Apple Lipstick’s commitment to their gluten free customers, and I use their lipstick exclusively. The glosses are very fun and vibrant in color. The color might change slightly depending on what lipstick you’re wearing as a base, but they can be used on their own for a delightful pop of color. They are incredibly smooth. I normally don’t use lip gloss because of how sticky most brands are – not Red Apple Lipstick! I’ll use these glosses again and again. They also include gluten free Vitamin E to help combat chapped lips. Tangomint is part of the “Mint to Be” lip gloss line and offers a lovely hint of mint as you apply.

RAL gloss 2

(Me rocking Tangomint with no base color underneath)

Fast facts about Red Apple Lipstick:

  • Gluten free
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan
  • Soy free (except retractable lip pencils) 
  • Corn free
  • Dairy free
  • Contains no GMO’s 
  • Preservative free
  • Toxin & chemical free
  • Petroleum free
  • Mercury free
  • Lead & talc free
  • Made in the USA
  • Free shipping in continental US when you buy $50+

Here are the secrets to getting an awesome discount this week:

  • Visit Red Apple Lipstick’s website  (affiliate link) and click “Shop the Summer Sale Now Through July 7th”
  • Use code “TastyMeditation” for 22% off orders of 50+
  • Get free shipping in the continental US on orders $50+
  • And buy 2 lipsticks get the 3rd 1/2 off OR buy 4 lipsticks get the 5th free!

With all that savings you could….buy more lipstick! Let me know how you like their new colors!

 

Disclaimer I received samples of these products, but I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love. This post includes an affiliate link. As an affiliate I get a small kickback if you make a purchase. This comes at no extra cost to you, and it helps me fund this website. 

Everybody Eats Review & Giveaway

There is a gluten free bakery that is all the rage in NYC, and their bread seems to be everywhere. The next time you visit a gluten free restaurant in NYC and are presented with a fluffy plate of delicious gluten free baguette, ask for the name of the bakery – it might just be bread from Everybody Eats.

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Pedro Arroba (diagnosed with Celiac Disease in his twenties) and Bruce Bassman launched Everybody Eats in 2004 in hopes of bringing delicious gluten free baked goods to the Celiac community across the country. Pablo Arroba, Pedro’s son, has since joined the family business. Focusing on taste and texture, Pedro and Bruce worked tirelessly on their technique to create some of the best gluten free breads on the market.

Fast facts:

  • Gluten free facility
  • Nut free facility
  • Dairy free & vegan options
  • Soy free (except for soy lecithin in chocolate items)
  • Made by hand
  • Ships nationwide & available for pickup in Brooklyn
  • Find at restaurants across NYC, Brooklyn & Long Island

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Everybody Eats offers:

  • Dairy free ciabatta bread
  • Cinnamon Sticky Buns
  • Dairy free hot dog buns
  • Pumpernickel loaf
  • Vegan/dairy free challah
  • Old fashioned bagels
  • Dairy free deli rolls
  • Dairy free banana bread
  • Dairy free hamburger buns
  • Pizza crust
  • Panini rolls
  • Multi-grain loaf
  • Dairy free white bread
  • Baguette
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Sugar cookies
  • Specialty cakes and cupcakes made to order

Having met the Everybody Eats family on multiple occasions, I can personally say that they are some of the most wonderful and delightful people in the world. If you ever have the good fortune to meet Pedro, you’ll note the kindness in his eyes, the passion in his voice, and you’ll get a sense of how much he loves both his work and the Celiac/gluten free community. An example of their kindness – they recently hosted a free Gluten Free Panini Party with the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group, and all of the bread sales during the party were donated to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. They are a company that cares about people.

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As for the bread itself – the moment you taste their baguette, you’ll be a fan of Everybody Eats for life. My mother and I first sampled their bread at Bistango (a favorite restaurant in NYC), and we fell in love with the taste and soft texture. Every time she visits NYC, her goal is to visit Bistango multiple times and eat as much baguette as possible. I’ll happily join every time.

Everybody Eats ships nationwide. If you are in the NYC area, their items are available for pickup at their bakery in Brooklyn (no traditional storefront). For more information and to order visit www.everybodyeats-inc.com

GIVEAWAY! Two winners will receive an Everybody Eats Backyard Grill Pack containing 2 bags of hot dog buns and 1 bag of hamburger buns. Enter via the rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to residents of NY, NJ, and CT only. Giveaway ends Thursday July 6th, 11:59 EST.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit my Instagram for another chance to win – two more winners will be chosen there!

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

Thank you & American Gluten Free Giveaway

Thank you for spending your Celiac Awareness Month with me! Remember that spreading awareness happens all year round – so keep up the good work and feel free to reach out to me if you have specific questions or are looking for resources.

To finish off this year’s Celiac Awareness Month, we’ve got a bonus giveaway with American Gluten Free! An extra look at some of their fabulous gluten free, dairy free subscription boxes (not pictured below are their new vegan and kids boxes – all are available on their website):

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(Snack Boxes – includes 8-10 snacks from small businesses across the US)

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(Foodie Boxes – There’s a different theme every month! Includes 7-9 mostly full size ingredients perfect for baking/cooking projects. You’ll also find great recipes and the occasional fun cooking tool like the Loch Ness Soup Ladle!)

Remember to use code “Tasty10” to get 10% off ANY subscription for LIFE – every box, every month, for as long as you are a customer. 

For more info visit www.americanglutenfree.com (affiliate link)

GIVEAWAY! One winner will receive a special surprise box from American Gluten Free. Enter via the rafflecopter link below. Continental US only. Giveaway ends Friday June 16th 11:59pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclaimer: I received samples of these products, but I was not paid to write this. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love. This post includes an affiliate link. As an affiliate I get a small kickback if you make a purchase. This comes at no extra cost to you, and it helps me fund this website.