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Gluten Free Purchasing and Tax Relief

taxes

Is the effort worth the tax benefit for Celiacs?

We all know that most of the gluten-free items cost more than regular items.  Sometimes a few dollars more than regular things.  Look at a Betty Crocker cake mix.  Sometimes you can get them on sale for $0.99 vs $3.50 or more for the gluten free variety.  While we all definitely would pay any price for our children, it would be nice to save some money somewhere.

Awhile back we found out that you actually can deduct the difference in prices from your taxes.  You can also deduct the extra mileage to the specialty stores and the postage when buying specialized products.  Of course you need a diagnosis from a doctor, so those fad dieters need not apply, but if you are here, you probably have at least one diagnosed child.  What else do you need to know?

About.com (http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/theglutenfreediet/a/ExpensiveFood_2.htm) put out a good article in 2009 with some good tips.  Definitely check it out, with things like:

  • Every receipt must be saved, along with receipts for gluten-containing foods to prove the difference in price.
  • Only food used by a celiac patient would be deductible

You can also check out this article (http://celiacdisease.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=celiacdisease&cdn=health&tm=112&f=10&su=p284.12.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.celiac.com/articles/279/1/Tax-Deduction-for-Gluten-Free-Foods-as-a-Medical-Expense-for-Diagnosed-Celiacs-Only/Page1.html).  While a little dated, it does suggest some IRS rulings for us in the USA, and some additional tips.  With anything in dealing with Celiac, do not ever take these tips here for gospel.  Check with your tax preparer or CPA.  While it will involve a lot of work, the benefit, especially if you have multiple children, will help you!  Every cent counts these days!

Image used under Creative Commons license by flickr user Philip

Jovial Cookies

Jovial

Yum! Cookies!

We tried these at a recent Cel-Kids event at the Raleigh Whole Foods, but did not purchase them at the time.  We recently picked up a box at the N. Raleigh Whole Foods.  First of, we liked the packaging.  Inside the box you will find individually wrapped packs of two cookies.  Very nice to throw in a lunch box or bag when traveling.

We picked up the Vanilla Cream filled and the girls LOVE them!  The outer cookie is cocoa flavored, and a harder cookie.  Inside you find the vanilla cream.  These definitely have a good mix of flavors, showing that gluten free foods, especially desserts, have come a long way since those early gritty snacks.  We will definitely pick up more of these in the future!

Best GF Pizza in the Triangle?

Where do you like to go?  Mellow Mushroom?  zPizza?  Bella Monica?  We are pretty fortunate here in the Triangle with so many options.  We would like to encourage you to help out an article being written on just that topic.  Head over to our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/groups/109187702444254/) and leave your comments.

R-r-r-r-uffles have gluten free options…

Ruffles

Nice and Clear Labeling

Of course, just because something says gluten free, we do not want to stock up and fill our girls with a lot of unhealthy items, like chips, but we definitely appreciate when we see more options for snacking, especially classic ‘picnic’ and ‘party’ snacks.  Frito Lay appears to really have gotten the message on labeling.  First with the Lays’ Stax chips, and now with the clearly marked Gluten Free on the Ruffles.  We picked these up at BJs recently (You Buy Two offer) and noticed the clear gluten free printed.  Like seeing that!

More Label Trouble

Lays Stax

More Labeling Woes...

On a recent trip to Kroger, we wanted to pick up Lay’s Stax chips.  Stax, similar to Pringles, do not contain gluten ingredients, according to the ingredient listing, or at least as far as we can interpret the ingredients.  We feel confident buying them, as we never experienced any problems with them and our girls.

So the confusion comes from the picture on left.  If you look below the Stax, you see a ‘gluten free’ label on the tag.  Sure enough, when looking closer, both the original and sour cream and onion flavors have these tags.  So Kroger identifies these as gluten free, but Lay’s will not come out and put that label on their package.  Why?  Why?  Why?   This can cause so much confusion to families trying to do the right thing.  We are not the ultra conservative type, and would go ahead and buy them, but the sensitivity of others may come into question–why risk it if the manufacturer will not guarantee its gluten-freeness?  That is why we need the FDA to come out and make labeling a national norm.  I hope you saw the post regarding your feedback–please make sure you take a few minutes to put in some comments!

UPDATE–The Original Lay’s Stax (only ones I checked recently) do say Gluten Free on them now.  Thank you, Frito Lay!

Kennywood–Western PA Amusement Park

Kennywood Arrow

Gluten Free at the Kennywood

Pittsburgh is home to many things, including a popular amusement park named Kennywood.  As a child, we would go there multiple times a summer.  During a recent trip to Pennsylvania, we took the girls for their first trip of roller coasters, wet rides, and dark rides.  As with any amusement park, Kennywood has all your typical food and treats, which we sought to find out about ahead of time.  I sent an email to them to find out about gluten free options.  Within a day, I received an email from Michael Henninger (of the famous Kennywood family) with a document of many gf items (linked here).  Excellent!  Lots of options, including their famous Potato Patch Fries.  They are a time honored classic, which I definitely wanted my girls to experience.  Yum!

Bella Monica Pizzas

Bella Monica Pizza

Bella Monica Pizzas, Now Available at Kroger

Out of all the frozen gluten free pizzas, our girls like Raleigh’s own Bella Monica pizzas best.  Up until now, we needed to go to specialty stores to pick one up.  Not anymore…we found them recently for $9.99 (yes, like $3 cheaper!) at the Falls of Neuse/Strickland Kroger in Raleigh.  If you have not been to that Kroger since they remodeled, you really need to stop by.  They have a large collection of gluten free items, frozen items, and a whole display of Udis.  And now even the frozen Bella Monica pizzas!

Eat-N-Park-The Place for Smiles!

Eat-N-Park Menu

Lots of Celiac Options

Ok, so do we have any Northerners reading this blog?  We recently took a trip to Western Pennsylvania, finding many gluten-free items along the way.  As all parents of Celiacs probably learned long ago, when traveling, you really need to plan ahead. You will probably find gluten free items wherever you go, but you need to spend a little time researching the area.

In Pennsylvania, Eat-N-Park is a traditional chain of ‘diner’ restaurants.  You will find them practically from the middle of the state to the Western border, including some over the border.  The food includes lots of home cooking, various burgers, sandwiches, fish, and chicken.  They rotate menu items frequently.  And then the famous Smiley cookie (of which, they currently do not offer a gluten free version). I had heard they offer many gluten free options, but until we got there and took a look at the menu, did we see how much.

First off, the Celiac Friendly options were part of the regular menu.  I like that, no special notebook, no chef comes out, it is right on the menu like the other food.  I also like it called Celiac friendly instead of just gluten free.  This suggests they know Celiac to be a disease and not a food fad or diet.  The girls split a plain chicken breast, lightly seasoned, and chomped it down!  They also make gluten free sandwich rolls that you can take home.

Love seeing a regional chain offer such a robust Celiac menu.  Makes traveling all that much easier!

FDA Comments Welcome on GF Labeling

FDA Logo

Now Accepting Comments For GF Labeling

It took long enough, but the Food and Drug Administration finally opened acceptance for comments for gluten free food labeling.  They began looking at food labeling in 2007, and now finally they are accepting comments from citizens.

One of the plans they have, according to their news release is

One of the criteria proposed is that foods bearing the claim cannot contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten. The agency based the proposal, in part, on the available methods for gluten detection. The validated methods could not reliably detect the amount of gluten in a food when the level was less than 20 ppm. The threshold of less than 20 ppm also is similar to “gluten-free” labeling standards used by many other countries.

I can definitely respect consistency!  It would be nice that everyone adopted a similar threshold, and the 20 parts per million number would make sense as many European countries already adopted it.

You have 30 days to get your comments in.  You can find lots of information here:

The FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers, and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about gluten-free labeling in docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 at www.regulations.gov. The docket will officially open for comments after noon on Aug 3, 2011 and will remain open for 60 days.
To submit your comments electronically to the docket go to www.regulations.gov
1. Choose “Submit a Comment” from the top task bar
2. Enter the docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 in the “Keyword” space
3. Select “Search”
To submit your comments to the docket by mail, use the following address:
The Division of Dockets Management
HFA-305
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852Include docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 on each page of your written comments.
For more information:
Federal Register Notice (scroll to FDA–temporary link will update when document publishes on Aug. 3):
Gluten-Free Portal (scroll to Gluten-Free):
Questions and Answers on the Gluten-Free Labeling Proposed Rule:
Consumer Update on the Gluten-Free Labeling Proposed Rule:

Mission Corn Tortillas

Mission Tortillas
GF Corn Tortilla

When cooking tacos, quesadillas, or enchiladas, we usually need to serve up the girls with some gluten free tortilla chips.  Most shells contain wheat.  We recently found yellow corn tortillas by Mission, clearly showing a gluten free label.  We can fix up some quick meals now, not needing to prepare separate shells.