• Is the matzo really gluten free?

    by Ellen on April 21, 2006 · 11 comments

    I had the gluten free oat matzo on the first night of Passover, and then again throughout the week. My stomach has definitely been feeling funky since I’ve been eating it. I assumed that the gluten free oat matzo was fine. After all, it’s gluten free. It has to be ok for me to eat, right? Then, tonight we had it for supper. I made matzo brei, the traditional dish you eat during Passover. Though the holiday is over, we hadn’t eaten this cherished preparation at all during our observance, so I got the brainstorm to have it for our Sabbath dinner this evening.

    My first attempt was dismal. I followed the usual directions. Break the matzo into pieces and add to hot water to soften. Drain and add to beaten eggs with salt & pepper, cook in butter. Serve with our usual, maple syrup. Well, I didn’t even get past the first step. After a very short time in the hot water, it turned to mush. Completely dissolved into pasty yucky mush. Four very expensive matzo boards down the drain.

    Then I tried skipping the first step, putting the matzo directly into the beaten eggs, following the rest of the directions. We were excited. Matzo brei! The gosh darn real thing. And I ate my portion of it, drowned in maple syrup.

    But I should not have finished it. I noticed an old familiar sound, just a few minutes into eating it. My stomach started to do somersaults, grumbling and churning, just like in the old pre-gluten free days. But I couldn’t stop, though I should have. Now, I’m sitting here, typing this, and feeling like crap.

    So, who knows? I’ll admit, it could be in my head. But, this feels awfully familiar. I wanted so much to believe that the oat matzo was indeed gluten free. But maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye.

    As for me, next year, I will think long and hard before partaking in that usual ritual. Maybe I’ll make Hillel sandwiches with ricecakes instead:).

    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Anonymous April 22, 2006 at 6:57 am

    The problem is that almost all oats are contaminated with wheat, sometimes rather shockingly large amounts of wheat (some oats have been tested at 800 parts-per-million of wheat contamination — that is very high). If the company making the GF matzo doesn’t test for gluten, possibilities are that it is contaminated. Seems like most experts, these days, feel the only way to eat oats if you have CD is to go with a couple of new farms who are producing uncontaminated oats — putting the oats into fields that are not shared with wheat, and also using oat seeds known to be pure. Both of these companies are just now starting up. But no way is a manufacturer of foods going to use these oats as I have to imagine they will be very $$. Adding to all of that is that there are some studies that show a small percentage of celiacs are intolerant to oats, even pure ones. I MISS OATMEAL and oat cookies so much I could cry! Am anxious to see if I will be able to tolerate the new oats being produced. I couldn’t tolerate either Quaker or McCann’s oatmeal when I tried them.

    Reply

    Diosa April 22, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Oats really are a crapshoot with Celiacs. Most people can’t tolerate them, and even the medical community is split on whether it’s ok for Celiacs to eat. I’m definitely in the “don’t eat” clan – yes, allergic to that too (true allergy). But even if I wasn’t, I’d probably not risk it.

    Reply

    Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 5:36 am

    1) If you read the below posts, you will see that these oat matzot are supposed to be GF, made by a Rabbi who has a celiac daughter. I personally use lettuce sandwhiches instead.

    2) Oats technically don’t have gluten but they often get contaminated. I keep hearing that McCann’s is the safest one to try (the best tolerated) but I have just come to terms with not eating oats either since I am not only a celiac but also have a true allergy to wheat.

    3) For those missing oatmeal products, try substituting quinoa flakes (for hot cereal, in baking). EnJoy Life Foods also has several imitation oats products, and all their products are 100% allergen free (GF, wheat/soy/dairy/corn/nuts-free and I think even potato-free too).

    Reply

    Ellen April 25, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    Well, this was my first Passover as a Celiac. Finding the Gluten free oat matzo seemed like a great solution. But, I’m going to guess, using anecdotal evidence, that I’m one of those people who can’t tolerate oats, even when they’re “pure”. So, Hillel sandwiches made out of lettuce instead of matzo sound perfectly delightful! That will be what I use for next years’ seder. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Reply

    The Celiac Chef April 25, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    The most recent studies I’ve seen suggest that oats contain molecules close enough to glutens to set off CD in at least some people. Alhtough it is true that oats are not decended from the “master grain” (now extinct) that led to wheat, barley, rye, et. al, it is also true that scientists do not really understand what it is about glutens that make us sick. So no oats.. they’re not that great anyway.

    Reply

    Anonymous April 27, 2006 at 6:50 am

    I completely understand your pain. After weeks of not finding any corn torillas , I finally found some at my local WFs last week. They are Maria & Ricardo’s corn tortillas and nothing in the ingredients list suggests gluten or wheat (I’ve been GF for 1 year, but wheat/oats/rye/barley-free for almost 8 – I was just eating spelt). Two days ago, I had a simple quesadilla. Afterwards, I had a little stomach ache, but all of my friends had stomach flu right before then so I told myself to be quiet because I’m lucky I’m not worse. Well, yesterday, I eat 3 more (enchiladas and then a dessert I concocted with ricotta and caramelized rum bananas). Since then I’ve felt so sick . . . and so stupid for not waiting until I found corn tortillas that were labeled GF. My GI tract is all upset, there’s that grumbling/sounds of pain, and my sinuses are all glued up (another symptom for me). Any suggestions for speading up the recovery process? I will not be eating those tortillas again, even though, when I searched online, nobody else had written anything about their gluten status. I also wonder if I’m just becoming ultra-sensitive to cross=contamination or to corn (whose molecular structure is relatively similar to wheat, and it’s over-used like wheat, so people tend to develop allergies). I had been avoiding corn syrup as much as possible. I actually don’t have a celiac/GI doctor since I made the diagnosis myself (with Living Without) while in HS and it really helped all my other auto-immune issues and I’ve had no problems except 1 this autumn when a waiter lied (and I had an allergic – not intolerance – response to the flour). Suggestions for getting over this, therefore, would be greatly apprciated (finals are fast approaching).

    Reply

    Lizzy Vegas May 2, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    Hi. I recently found your site and I enjoy reading your trials and tribulations as a semi-new celiac. I found this link through one of your gluten-free blog links. Perhaps you can try this next year:
    http://glutenfreenyc.blogspot.com/2006/03/best-gf-matzoh-ball-passover-is.html

    Reply

    Ellen May 2, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    I saw a post about that product just before Passover, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Where did you buy it? Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply

    Lizzy Vegas May 3, 2006 at 10:28 am

    I actually did not buy it, but found this link: http://dietaryshoppe.sureshopping.com/display.asp?sku=401
    Maybe you can try it ahead of the holidays? Good luck.

    Reply

    Ellen May 4, 2006 at 7:32 am

    Thanks Lizzy. I will try in advance of trying to make my matzo ball soup, maybe for the High Holidays in the fall.

    Reply

    Gary May 16, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    That salmon looked pretty good
    I might eat that

    Reply

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