Gluten-Free Wednesday with Dr. Wangen

Hope y’all had a wonderful, relaxing, healthy Labor Day Weekend! Guess that officially means that the summer is over… Looking at the bright side of things – which we at Custom Choice Cereal always prefer – football season is back on. And that’s always a great thing ;-) But back to the “really” important things in life…

Today is once again the first Wednesday of of the month aka Dr. Wangen Wednesday! This means that our friend and advisor Dr. Stephen Wangen answers any question you might have about celiac disease, gluten intolerance and living gluten-free!

Suffering from celiac disease himself, Stephen understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet from both a personal and professional experience. Most importantly, he is very passionate about helping others like you. This passion was a call that he answered by co-founding The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogging as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serving on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, and we appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen for taking the time off his busy schedule to address your questions.

Asking what YOU want to know is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  3. Dr. Wangen answers and we publish what he says in reply to your comments
  4. Check back for the answer to your question a few days later or simply subscribe to our blog

Don’t be shy – there are no “dumb questions” except for those you don’t ask :-) Besides, we learn a whole lot from what you want to know every month and are curious to see your questions!

A Little Entrepreneurial Wisdom

Yesterday was a very interesting day for Custom Choice Cereal. I had the great opportunity to return to UNC – always a pleasure but especially after Harrison Barnes announced his return to the Tar Heels for another year – to listen to and learn from two student teams who analyzed Custom Choice Cereal over the past months.

The previous sentence already included an important piece of valuable information – listen & learn. Quite honestly, there is rarely a day that passes without finding out something that I didn’t know before. I truly believe that this is one of the great benefits of being an entrepreneur. However, it also requires you to be open-minded and receptive to what others have to say – and yes, that isn’t always easy and can even be uncomfortable if they are not saying what you want to hear but what you need to hear.

What really prompted me to share a few of my entrepreneurial “lessons learned” are two things though. First, I am quite honestly a little fed up with people who over-promise and under-deliver. It should be the other way around, folks! At the very least in the long term it will definitely come around and bite you in the rear end because you will develop a reputation for this kind of behavior. It is perfectly acceptable to say “No” before you bite off more than you can chew!

Borrowing from American History X, I’d like to end this blog entry like every good paper with a quote because “someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong.” I picked a quote from John Ruskin that a very successful local entrepreneur keeps in his email footer and that has impressed me quite a bit. I believe is key for any entrepreneurial activity because it puts the correlation between risk and return in a startup context:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money … that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that … you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Recap Of A Busy Gluten-free Week

Wow, what a week last week has been! New Yorkers apparently love our gluten-free cereal because we were busy res-stocking the shelves at Dean & Deluca. But no worries, all orders you placed by 3:00pm EST online were still fulfilled and shipped the same day. It’s our pledge to you, and we live by it!

But there was a whole lot more going on in the gluten-free world! To make it easier for you (it’s all about organizing the daily information overload), we thought we share the highlights with you in an easily readable format – the good ol’ bullets.

  • A facebook comment by “chef” Damian Cardone claiming that he deliberately poisoned gluten-free diners with gluten because “its all in there disturbed little heads” rightfully caused a serious uproar in the gluten-free community. Chef Florent Gallicchio of Florindo’s in Glenwood Springs where Cardone last worked said that “He never was a chef at Florindo’s. He worked here for a few months and he was a part time server”. Waiter Cardone’s facebook page has since been taken down but you can see a screenshot on the right…
  • Damian Cardone might be very interested in hearing about Paul Seelig. That man re-labeled conventional bread as gluten-free and sold it at the 2009 State Fair in Raleigh. After the local celiac community pointed him out to the authorities he was sent to jail. The State of North Carolina has charged Mr. Seelig with at least 25 felony counts, and his criminal trail began on March 28th. Our good friend Zach from Gluten Free Raleigh follows the case closely. The message to chef Cardone (and everybody else): don’t mess with us!
  • And now to the happy news: being tired of the FDA’s inability to pass standards for gluten-free labeling, Jules Shepard and John Forberger jumped to action and started By creating the world’s largest gluten-free cake on May 4th in Washington, D.C., they want to reiterate that this inaction is a big deal to the millions of Americans who follow a gluten-free diet!

We hope this week will bring only good gluten-free news. Those Paul Seelig and Damian Cardone stories literally make us sick!

Now Those Are Great Gluten-Free Cereal Names!

Wohoo, it’s Friday! Not that we at Custom Choice Cereal really have a “work week”… Quite to the contrary, weekends give us some time to catch up on the “fun” administrative work that’s a part of entrepreneurship. Always work hard, and if you think you’re done – think again! Someone has to do it, and that someone is going to be Hajo :-)

Friday has become the day that we recognize the names your gave your gluten-free cereal creations this week. It’s a good tradition, and we want to share some of the fun we have with you. Trust us if we say that it will also explain the at first glance seemingly odd picture accompanying this blog post… These cereal names can hopefully serve as an encouragement/stellar example how creative one can get!

So without further ado, Heeeere weeeeee gohoooooo:

5. Gluten Free Greatness!! (mix ID 952f20). Indeed.
4. Maegan’s Munchies (mix ID 85ae8d). I’m a sucker for alliterations…
3. Bird’s Superfruit cereal (mix ID 66e9b0). You gotta be one heck of a bird lover to feed this treat to your feathered friends!
2. Choc’ Full of Nuts! (mix ID 828c86). Including Walnuts, which, as we just learned, are the healthiest nuts!
1. And this week’s winner is Wayne’s World (mix ID 999dea). Just looooove that movie – and “interesting” last three letters of the mix ID…

As always, we hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend. If you are spending some time on facebook, please consider to become a fan of Custom Choice Cereal. It’s a great way to connect with us and others in the gluten-free community and share advice, pictures, ask questions or just tell us what you’ve been up to!

Gluten-Free Bakery Product News

Canyon BakehouseWe at Custom Choice Cereal are always happy to see other gluten-free companies thrive and expand their offering. As a result, we had to share this video with Josh Skow, co-founder of Canyon Bakehouse, a gluten-free bakery that currently offers 6 products in over 44 States and is working on introducing 4-5 new goodies in 2011. Congratulations from one gluten-free entrepreneur to another!

A little warning before the video (because we know our own reaction and the sensitivity about this topic) – Josh describes celiac disease as a “disease but it’s like an allergy” and continues to say that “people who are allergic to gluten, which is mainly in wheat”, need to follow a gluten-free diet. Don’t forget that the protein gluten is also in rye and barley! In addition, most oats a cross-contaminated during harvesting and processing so you have to avoid them as well.

We are sure that Canyon Bakehouse’s products will also be carried in the new gluten-free heaven – with 6,000 square feet of floor space, the nation’s largest entirely gluten-free store is set to open in Burbank, CA. As Debora Ceizler, marketing director for the Celiac Disease Foundation, rightly points out and we at Custom Choice Cereal have tackled (2.5 billion combinations of gluten-free cereal, anyone?): “Variety is difficult to find and variety is key”.

Have you tried the Canyon Bakehouse products?  Which one is your favorite?

YOU Make Our Gluten-Free Day!!

Sit back in your chairs, relax and enjoy the show! Here comes a blog post that you will hopefully enjoy as much as we at Custom Choice Cereal did.

“Okay, first I was impressed that there was a site specifically for Gluten Free cereal. Then I was impressed because you could mix your own AND name them! THEN I was impressed by the ease of ordering, and the personal customer service as evidenced by the nice email I got after placing my order.

Well, now I’m a devoted and extremely satisfied customer and here’s why: I received my cereal today (two days after ordering – FAST!), and was so excited that I decided to make myself a bowl of one of my custom mixes as soon as I got home tonight. When I opened the box there were my two special mixes, cool labels included, neatly packed (and without a lot of unnecessary extras, I might add). Then I noticed in the box was a pamphlet about the business, and a business card – yours – with a PERSONAL NOTE!

Who does this anymore in this day of automation and “press one for English”?! I was beyond thrilled with that little piece of kindness.

Then I ate some cereal, my “Banaconut” (mix ID 22f1ca), a multi-grain flake with coconut and banana chips. OH MY GOODNESS! It was fantastic!! Having sampled some really tasteless or downright icky GF cereals since beginning this GF journey, I admit some concern about how my new cereals would taste. I am so HAPPY!! Actually, I did a little happy dance after my first bite!

I am absolutely thrilled that I found your company and that I placed my order. You WILL be hearing back from me in the future!

Thanks SO SO SO much!”

We have to thank YOU! You might not believe it, but when we received your email, we did a little happy dance, too :-D

Gluten Sensitivity Covered In The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal once again published an outstanding article including a video on a topic that concerns us all, this time focusing on non-celiac gluten sensitivity. And guess what? It was the most emailed article on the WSJ’s website yesterday! I think that’s pretty awesome and a great indicator how dear this topic is to many people.
Who Reacts to Gluten
A new study in the journal BMC Medicine shows that gluten can set off a distinct reaction in the intestines and the immune system, even in people who test negative for celiac disease. It concludes that the two gluten-associated disorders, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, are different clinical entities. As lead author Alessio Fasano from the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research says: “For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease. Though the details remain unknown, it is now clear that gluten triggers a quite extreme immune response in some modern humans.

Since gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley have been a staple of our diet for 10,000 years, it is not clear why both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are on such a sharp rise. I have shared Joseph A. Murray’s research before, and he says about celiac disease that “people aren’t born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment”. One of the possible answers: agricultural changes to wheat and other gluten containing grains that have boosted their protein content.

Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, however is much less researched and thus much more vague. As our friend Cynthia Kupper, Executive Director at Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, rightly points out: “There’s a lot more that needs to be done for people with gluten sensitivity. But at least we now recognize that it’s real and that these people aren’t crazy.” As of now, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment recommended for both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Have you or your child tested negative for celiac disease but seen significant improvements on a gluten-free diet? What tests did your doctor run on you to determine a gluten sensitivity?

Snack Girl Reviews Our Gluten-Free Cereal

Happy Monday to you all! If you haven’t heard of Lisa Cain aka Snack Girl you should definitely check out her website. Lisa started Snack Girl to educate people “about the foods they eat every day”. We at Custom Choice Cereal couldn’t agree more, especially since cereal truly is an everyday food!
Snack Girl
That’s why we are very excited that Snack Girl reviews our custom gluten-free cereal on her website. She is especially intrigued by our concept because as so many of us, she “wastes a lot of time in the cereal aisle. It takes FOREVER to look at all the labels to try to understand what I am truly buying”. Now that she found Custom Choice Cereal, Lisa can “choose the ingredients that go into that cereal so I could make my cereal perfect”.

After sending us a very encouraging email (“I REALLY liked it!”), Lisa writes that she “designed my own cereal on his site and was pleasantly surprised by the results. I was supposed to share this cereal with my family, but I forgot”. Now that’s a great sign that we are doing something right here and the best encouragement we can get! But she doesn’t stop there and continues by saying that “the ingredients were high quality and were really not comparable to buying a box of cereal at the supermarket. It is like an entirely different animal”.

We also love how she points out that “kids will love designing their own cereal – so if you are trying to get Jimmy off of Cocoa Puffs – this is a great option”. Wow. Seriously, Snack Girl has been reviewing snacks for years and knows what she’s saying, so her “stamp of approval” is a great honor for Custom Choice Cereal!

Check out the Snack Girl website, it has great pictures of many snacks as well as an easy navigation menu with the categories Healthy Snack Recipes, Healthy Packaged Snacks and the Worst Snacks she has tried.  You are certain to learn a thing or two!

Great Gluten-Free Cereal. Names.

The weekend is almost here, and the faces behind Custom Choice Cereal can’t wait to see Carolina finally play its first game in the ACC tournament in Greensboro today! But first things first, and we’d like to stick to our good tradition of recognizing YOU the creative names your gave your gluten-free cereal munchies this week!

As you know, we try to be as objective as possible. However, sometimes – especially when sports are involved – we are easily biased. This being said, we think that this week’s best gluten-free cereal names are:

5. Sylvia’s GF Southern (mix ID 0cd976). Southern lifestyle starts at breakfast. You got it!
4. ChocoNanaBerry Surprise (mix ID 72d2fe). So deliciously tasty it surprises with every bite.
3. healthy choice (mix ID d84964). That’s the idea!
2. March Madness (mix ID 88da4f ). Couldn’t have said it any better :-)
1. And this week’s winner is THE KATE (mix ID 9004f7). Just have to love the article & simplicity!

If you feel that the name for your cereal should have been included among this week’s best names – please leave us a comment. Otherwise: enjoy a healthy and fun-filled basketball weekend!