Gluten Free at Costco

For some time now I have been a Costco member, and since going gluten free have been happy to see Costco carrying more and more items that are labeled, "gluten free".

Since friends keep asking me, what specifically I am buying at Costco, I thought that I'd just post here all the great, gluten-free bargains I am finding there.

FYI -- I will only be listing products that I would be willing to buy for my family.  So if it comes from a company that I will not do business with (like White Wave -- whose ethics I find disturbing) then I won't be telling you about it here. Also if the product uses ingredients that have a high probability of being genetically modified and I either don't know or haven't had the time to get confirmation that nothing in it is genetically engineered, I will not be mentioning it either. Ditto for things that contain high fructose corn syrup, artifical colors and flavors, MSG, trans fats, cottonseed oil, potassium sorbate or related compounds, casein, whey, or animal protein, or if it was grown or packaged in China.

I like shopping at Costco. They are one of the better "big-box" stores, paying a living wage to employees. In general, the produce they offer is some of the best that I can find -- and there are lots of organic things too. Furthermore, when I have called them with technical questions, they have gone to great lengths to provide me answers, and in one case providing me documentation that I requested. (The case in point was when I wanted to find out if their Kirkland (store brand) marinated artichoke hearts were packaged in canola oil that was NOT genetically engineered. It took a few days for someone to get to back to me with the answer I was hoping for -- but in fact they said the canola oil was sourced from suppliers who assured them that it was non GMO canola. I was still skeptical and asked if the producer of the artichoke hearts could provide me something in writing to this effect and they DID. I was impressed.)

For those of you not familiar with Costco, be forewarned -- while there are some things that they tend to carry regularly, (I think if it carries their "Kirkland" label you can depend upon it being in stock) there is much that they get one time -- have available for several months until it runs out and then never have it again. So my advice, if you see something there that you like, that is non-perishable, at a good price -- stock up!

Here is what I found at Costco in November of 2011

Wyman's Frozen Wild Blueberries  4 lb bag 8.79

Raw Walnuts 4 lb bag  13.99

Almonds (supposedly raw) 3# 9.79 (Due to regulations of the california almond board, virtually all almonds grown in california must be treated with either steam or chemicals to pasteurize them, while still being labled, "raw")

quart of real maple syrup 12.69

Volcanic organic lemon juice (product of Italy) quart  7.59

Organic carrots 10# bag 6.49

Seeds of Change  4/8.5 oz pouches Organic quinoa and rice 5.99 (These are a  great travel food for meals on the road)

Lundbert Organic long grain brown rice 5# bag 12.99

Minnesota Wild Rice 3# bag 8.99

Dried Shitake Mushrooms  (From the US) 6 oz (about quart sized container) 6.99

Frozen organic greenbeens 5# bag 6.49

Fresh pineapples (HUGE!) 2.79

Avocados 5 large for 6.99 (Costco generally has THE best tasting avocados I can find anywhere!)

Heart of Palm 2 jars 25 oz each from Costa Rica 8.59 for the pair.

Here is what I found at Costco on Thursday April 30, 2010:

Pink Lady Apples -- these come 12 wrapped in hard plastic for 6.99. (this comes to about 1.27 per pound) These apples are delicious! They also had some other varieties for around this price, (Galas were 7.99) but I think these are by far the tastiest. They are not organic, so we peel them before eating them. Save the plastic containers -- they are great for starting seedlings indoors in them, and I am still trying to figure out how to use the plastic to build some sort of large structure to insulate garden beds in the cooler weather.

Pink Grapefruits. A ten pound bag is 6.49. Grown in the USA. Very sweet.

Broccoli florrets. a 3 pound bag ready to stirfry or steam is just 4.29. They store great in the fridge for a week too.

Organic carrots. This is a ten pound bag by Earthbound Farms for 5.99. Stores forever in the fridge. VERY sweet, make great juice, can be grated into salads, or cooked into soup, stir frys, roasted with other veggies or just snacked on raw.

Organic Baby spinach by Earthbound Farms. Spinach is one of the foods that you should only get the organic, because it tends to have so much pesticide on it. (Which I totally don't understand -- in my garden it is virtually untouched by insects.) a one pound box is 3.99, and just the amount you will need to make my cheezy spinach triangles.

Organic spring mix (baby salad greens) by Taylor Fresh, comes in a 1 pound plastic box and and sells for 4.29. Save the plastic boxes these come in too -- they are sooooo handy. I can put them over garden transplants to protect them for the first few days or from a light frost, they are great for bringing food like cookies and other baked goods to friends, my daughter can sort and store legos and other toys into them and they also hold a dozen or more small plant pots during the days that they have to be moved in and out of the house -- and watered inside without getting my floor wet.

Sugar Snap peas -- two pound bag of these raw is 5.49

Clementines -- grown in the USA , a five pound bag is 6.99.

California Naval oranges come in a 13 pound bag for 8.99 (.69 per pound)

Avocados -- Costco always has the best ones I can find anywhere! They come 5 to a bag -- fairly large too, for 4.99.

Sweet onions from Texas, come in a ten pound bag and sell for 6.99.

Garlic A three pound bag, grown in the USA is 5.49.

Beefstake (greenhouse grown) tomatoes by Clifford are a great bargain at 5 pounds for 6.49. They are from... get this CANADA!!, so you don't have to worry that your tomato purchase is hurting exploited mexican workers.

Roma tomatoes  the one's I just bought --  at a slightly higher price (but they taste a little better and work well on salads. A 2 pound box is 3.99 They say "grown in the USA" and "pesticide free"

Volcanic Lemon Juice -- Organic, from Italy and comes in glass bottles. 1 liter size is 3.89 each. It makes great lemonaide -- I sweeten it with liquid stevia extract (use Stevia Clear by Wisdom Herbs -- it tastes better then any others I've tried) for a sugar free and low calorie and delicious drink. Once opened the bottles keep well in the fridge for over a month.

Kirkland Vanilla Extact, the real thing -- unfortunately it is packaged in plastic and does have sugar in it...but because such small amounts are generally used and this is a such a good price, I do buy this. It comes in a pint size and sells for 6.39.

Kirkland (supposedly) raw almonds (Thanks to the California Almond Board, almonds are now pasturized but can still be labled raw....) These come in a 3 pound bag, taste great and sell for 9.39, They make great almond milk (easy recipe for almond milk is in my book -- but in the mean time, before you have a copy you can use them in my fabulous low fat dolma recipe.)

Kirkland Raw Walnuts also in a 3 pound bag and sell for 11.97. These make a terrific oil-free pesto, and are also a key ingredient in my new recipe in my lettuce lentil pate wraps.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Although not organic, I don't think that is such a big deal with olive oil -- it is important to only get extra virgin though -- which means it is the first pressing, and has not been chemically extracted. It comes in a 1 liter bottle. tastes great and sells for 11.99.

Wholesome Organic Blue Agave nectar. Although I have been hearing some things lately that are making me not use agave so much any more (turns out most Agaves are highly processed) I do still use this in a few recipes. It comes two 23.5 oz bottles for 7.69.

Dried mushrooms from Manitou Trading Compnay (via Woodland Farms) come in a 5 oz container (about half gallon size) and are labeled "gourmet mushroom blend" They are grown in the USA, and sell for 14.99. Make a great mushroom gravy.

Japanese Green Tea, in these lovely little fabric-like tea bags. 100 bags for 12.99
Maple Syrup. Kirkland brand. Now this is the sweetener I use most -- along with whole dates and stevia. This is a better price then I have found anywhere else. 32 oz for 12.99. (in plastic unfortunately though) But it does taste great in Chocolate Chip flax cookies. (A must try recipe in my book -- half the mass in these cookies is from ground flax seeds -- and everyone just loves them!

Kirkland Brand Organic Strawberry spread. In a 42 oz GLASS jar. for 6.49. Made in the USA. A great deal. It tastes great. Too good in fact for me to buy it very often. My family inhales the stuff and it is sweetened with organic sugar. But it does taste great on my sourdough bread. (Not like I need to encourage them to eat more of that either.)

Earthly Delights had some sort of pomegranite juice (with other fruits mixed in) on sale that they were sampling. I didn't buy it -- mainly because it was in plastic and I have noticed a plastic taste in juices before, but it did have a great ingredient list -- no added sugar, sweetened with stevia, It came 4/32 oz bottles for 7.99.

Classico Tomato and Basil Sauce, labled gluten free, in glass jars was selling for 6.89 for THREE 32 oz jars. We love this stuff -- so much that we were actually grabbing spoonfuls to eat while cooking pasta. This will store in the pantry for a long time and can be used to make my mini pizzas (in my book) in less then ten minutes time.

Contadina Tomato Products in very large cans. These are the industrial sized cans -- which I love more then those dinky little cans, because I can use them in my garden (remove both ends and put them around tender plants, small trees -- or cover one end with screen to keep the caterpillers off your broccoli) Ok but that's not the only reason I buy them -- they are cheep and tasty too. And except for Eden Foods canned products, all cans are lined with a plastic coating that contains the nasty stuff -- Bisphenol A . (which acts like estrogen in our bodies) A real concern, but I can't resist the price on these. Diced tomatos 102 oz is 2.82, Tomato sauce in 105 oz is 2.24. and crushed tomatoes come 106 oz for 2.69. I prefer the diced and use them in everything (when my own tomatoes are out of season.) I simply store the remainder that I don't use in the fridge -- and use it up during the next few days in my lentil soup, layered eggplant and zucchini bake, to make marinara sauce, with chili....

Kirkland Marinated artichoke hearts. I do wish they would leave off the oil -- I'd much prefer these in water. But no point putting all that oil in my body (which Costco has assured me is from NON-GMO canola). I pour off the oil/vinegar mix, soak the hearts in more water and rinse them very well. Then I collect all the oil and water and freeze it -- the non-oil parts freeze solid and I scrape off the oil and save it. I now have several gallons saved in the garage -- makes great oil candles (just add a wick) These come 65 oz in a glass jar for 8.49.

Organicville vinaigrettes. These come 2/24 oz bottles for 7.79. (one is olive oil and balsamic the other is sundried tomato and garlic.) They are labled gluten free. They are in plastic, and although not low fat by any means, we do sometimes keep these on hand for times when my home made dressings run out. (But we all prefer the wonderful salad dressing recipes in my book -- which are also lower in fat too.)
Lundberg Organic short Grain Brown rice. This is a great bargain. These are 12 pound bags -- and labeled gluten free. They are 13.79 per bag. I use this for grinding into rice flour, making sushi, risotto, breakfast rice (in my book) or just boiling to serve with a stirfry.

Kirkland Balsamic Vinegar. 33.8 bottle for 10.99.

Pilaros pitted Kalamata olives. Jar says "No gluten added" Drained weight is 53 oz and it sells for 6.79.

Tassos Pitted Kalamata olives jar says, "Gluten free" drained weight is 53 oz and it sells for 7.79.

Sadly -- I just realized that the tasty Mrs Mays snack bars and snack bags are MADE IN CHINA!! Boo hoo. They were labeled gluten free, vegan and NON-GMO -- I guess we won't be buying any more of them. (probably a good thing though -- they were very sweet and sticky -hell for the teeth I am sure.)

In the frozen section you will find Lisa's Organic Frozen Green Beans. These are a great product. I use them in my Lentil Pate Wraps, shepherd's pie or even when we just need fast food -- I throw a few handfuls in the steamer and we have a warm satisfying snack in minutes. They come 6 pounds for 5.99 and are grown in Canada.

Bybee Organic White Corn (frozen) is grown in the USA, is very tasty and sells for 5.39 for a five pound bag -- what a deal! another freezer staple at my house.

Bybee organic frozen mixed veggies, (corn, carrots, green beans) come in a 5 pound bag, and sell for 5.79

And here is our "can't live without" item, Wyman's frozen wild blueberries. Now these aren't quite as big, nor as sweet as most blueberries -- but because these are wild, they actually have more of the life saving antioxidants that you keep hearing are critical for your eyes, and to reduce your cancer risk, and at 7.99 for a four pound bag -- this one is worth stocking up on as many as your freezer will hold. We use these almost daily in our breakfast smoothies, or our evening icecream (made from almonds, bananas and stevia -- so not too decadent but really delicious) And they also are great in my blueberry muffins (recipe in my book) or buckwheat pancakes.

Kirkland (Radar Farms) mixed berries ( Raspberry, blueberry and Marionberry) sell for 9.59 for 4 pounds, Not near the bargain (in terms of money or antioxidants as the wild blueberries) but still great for frozen snacking in the heat of summer. And really yummy as a dessert (let them thaw) and then top them with my cashew cream (in my book) -- for an elegant dessert you can whip up in minutes.

There are also several choices for organic corn chips at Costco -- but none that I will purchase -- one is packaged on equipment that also handles wheat, (which might not be a problem if they clean it well between runs --but I don't know if they do) and the other lists non-organic soybean oil as an ingredient -- due to my concerns about genetically modified soy -- I won't buy this. I am amazed that a company would be so stupid to make a tortilla chip from organic corn, but then use conventional soybean oil in it.

On previous trips to Costco I also found these items:

Organic fresh raspberries -- They have them from time to time -- much less expensive then anywhere else I've seen them --- but still pricey -- hey they are raspberries -- so fragile -- it's best to grow your own.

Organic Quinoa by Earthly Delights -- A four pound bag was 10.99. It is labeled, "Gluten Free" and under allergen information, says it is produced on equipment shared with peanut and tree nut products. It is grown in Bolivia and packed in the USA.

About 60% of Americans have the genes that predispose them to becoming gluten sensitive.

Recent research (By Dr. Kenneth Fine) suggests that about half of these people have detectable immunological reactions to gluten, and the majority will NEVER meet the classic definition of celiac disease -- even though gluten IS triggering an autoimmune reaction in their body which may affect many organs or tissues other then the small intestine.

Recipe for these GFCF Penguins is in my book!

Are You Educated on Genetic Engineering?

Biotechnology is the new frontier. Yet, few people in our country right now, have any idea, just how dramatically Genetic Engineering is poised to change our lives. Proponents believe biotech holds the possibility of doing some great things, and I believe it might have some great applications, but there is also evidence that this technology if misapplied or allowed out of the lab/hospital setting, could have significant and even disasterous consequences for our health, and well being. The problem is, there is so much money to be made right now in biotech, and so little required in terms of safety testing, and no requirement for product labeling, that human hubris and capitalism being what they are, I think we are headed for some difficult lessons -- before appropriate safeguards are put in place. I believe at the very least, people should have the option of taking the risk of exposure or avoiding this risk if they so choose. (But that is currently NOT the case.) Please watch the video below (it is less then 20 minutes long) of how one mother (who just happened to be a wall street food analyst) woke up to this issue. Then go explore this site: Seeds of Deception to learn the facts so that you can protect yourself and your family.

Should you avoid Genetically Engineered Foods?

Check this out -- Vitamin D

Many of us probably have suboptimal levels of vitamin D, which can be a contributing factor to the development of many of the related conditions and symptoms more common in those who are gluten sensitive. Watch this video -- It's worth the investment of thirty minutes of your time. I should mention however, that while some authorities consider D3 superior to D2, there is good data that if D2 is taken in reasonable amounts (like 1000-2000 iu daily -- not the huge megadoses that some doctors recommend taking on a weekly basis) that D2 is very effective. (And for someone like me who prefers to minimize any possible exposure to prions which may contaminate animal derrived substances -- of which D3 is one -- this is very good news.)

Dietition Jack Norris has great info on Vitamin D here. Be sure also to read Vitamin D Researcher/MD Michael Hollick's book, The UV Advantage.

Recurrent Abdominal Pain (R.A.P.)

Pre Celiac Disease?

As soon as my daughter could talk she began to report to me that her tummy almost always hurt. Although it didn't become really bad until she was about 8 years old -- this I believe was due to long term exclusive breastfeeding. Throughout her early years, I raised the issue of her chronic abdominal pain with our family doctor on many occaisions, and he would assure me that nothing was wrong, that RAP was very common in children and usually due to emotional issues. When it increased in severity we went to see another doctor -- he thought she might have ulcers -- but that test came back negative and the other tests he ran showed that she was in good health. He thought she was fine too. Eventually I learned about gluten from a friend and well you can read the rest of this story by clicking on the links to articles at the top of this page. However the main point I wish to make here is this: In looking back, it is clear to me now that my daughter -- probably from birth was reacting to gluten. Her fussiness, her greenish stools, her starting to nurse and then pulling off and crying, and then years of tummy aches -- all suggest that gluten was causing her issues from the very beginning. On many occaisions I suspected that wheat might be affecting her -- but its withdrawal never entirely resolved her issues. Now of course I know that gluten is not just in wheat, but also barley, spelt, rye, oats and lots of things made from these. RAP is very common and most the time, it's cause is never found. I would urge anyone who's child is suffering, to explore the possibility that gluten might be the cause of their distress.

Why is Gluten so Problematic?

August of 2009 Scientific American published this very in-depth article on Celiac Disease:

With this quote in it:

"Gluten, however, has a peculiar structure: it is unusually rich in the amino acids glutamine and proline. This property renders part of the molecule impervious to our protein-chopping machinery, leaving small protein fragments, or peptides, intact."

However one thing the article left unanswered. I want to know what is the scientific basis for so many doctors believing that antigliadin antibodies are non-specific and are not (by themselves) indicitive of a problem? The article said that anti-gliadin antibodies are NOT considered specific to celiac disease because they are often found in people who do not have celiac disease. But given that it has only been about 65 years that the medical profession has even made the connection between celiac disease and gluten, and only SIX years since the medical profession realized the incidence was at least TEN TIMES more common then they previously thought....why are they still assuming that anti-gliadin antibodies are nonspecific?

Could it be that all those people who do have antigliadin antibodies in their systems, but don't show damage to the villi are still having a dangerous reaction to gluten? Should the definition of celiac disease be altered...or else dropped altogether and simply be part of a condition called gluten sensitivity which may or may not create visible damage to the villi of the small intestine?

Taxonomic Relationship Amongst Grains

Taxonomic Relationship Amongst Grains
Only the Hordeae tribe make their own gluten -- but oats can absorb gluten if they are grown or stored near gluten containing grains.