Celiac.com on Cheerios and Gluten-free

I’m going to do something a little different today.  As I develop my business, Country Kitchen Center, I continue to learn more and more about the gluten-free world.  I want to share some information that shows how important it is to gather your facts and check them out carefully.    I’m reprinting an article by  www.Celiac.com  on whether Cheerios are contaminated in the production process.  I giving you the “Reader’s Digest” version.  Take note: you need to trust your own judgement and avoid any food you think makes you sick.  It’s really good GF food for thought.  Please share your thoughts and comments.
Andrea, countrykitchenchaos.com and countrykitchencenter.com

Are Cheerios Really “Not Safe For Celiacs?” Or is General Mills Getting a Bad Rap?

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2017 Issue

Image: CC–m01229

Celiac.com 09/01/2017 –

There are a number of folks in the gluten-free community who complain that General Mills is making people sick by selling Cheerios that they know to be contaminated with gluten due to a faulty sorting process. Because General Mills uses a flawed sorting process, the story goes, their boxes of Cheerios are subject to gluten “hot spots,” which is making some gluten-sensitive folks sick, thus the complaints.


It’s important to realize that General Mills produces huge numbers of Cheerios each week. How many exactly? Well, according to their website, General Mills ships 500,000 cases of Cheerios each week. At about 12 boxes per case, that’s about 6 million boxes each week, or 24 million boxes each month.

We know that the FDA received a number of consumer complaints in 2015, when a mix-up at a Cheerios plant in California led to mass gluten contamination, and eventually to a full recall of 1.8 million boxes by General Mills.

During that three month period, after the gluten contamination but prior to the recall, when many consumers were eating Cheerios made with wheat flour, the FDA says it received 136 complaints about adverse reactions to the product. That’s a complaint rate of about one complaint per 529,411 total boxes, and about one complaint for every 5,000 people with celiac disease; if each person with celiac ate 1 box, and the complaints came only from people with celiac disease. (Obviously this is simplified assumption for discussion purposes).

Since the beginning of 2016, the FDA has received 46 reports of people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten or wheat linking their illness to General Mills cereals, including Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Also, General Mills uses its optically sorted gluten-free oats for other products. The FDA is certainly taking all of this into account. When they get complaints, they look at large amounts of data to help them put things into perspective. Has the FDA seen corresponding numbers of complaints for different General Mills products made from the same oat sorting process? It doesn’t seem so.

Celiac.com has covered the gluten-free Cheerios story from the beginning, and will continue to do so. We stand on the side of science, and accurate information.

Beyond the obvious gluten-contamination that led to the recall, we have been skeptical of claims that General Mills’ sorting process is flawed, and that their products, including Cheerios are routinely contaminated with gluten.

If this were true, we think the numbers would be very different, and that the pattern of official complaints would reflect that reality. We also feel that General Mills would be facing down lawsuits from hungry trial lawyers looking to put a big trophy on the wall.

We have simply not seen any good evidence that supports claims that Cheerios and other General Mills products are contaminated with gluten “hotspots” that cause reactions in people with celiac disease. We have also not seen evidence that rules out adverse oat reactions as the cause of many of these claims.

If someone out there has different numbers, or better information, we are all ears. However, until we see convincing evidence to the contrary, Celiac.com regards Cheerios and other General Mills products as safe for people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. We do offer the caveat that people should trust their own judgement and avoid any food they think makes them sick.

Stay tuned for more on this and other stories on gluten-free cereals and other products.

Read more at BuzzFeed.com and GeneralMills.com.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

When friends & family don’t get the gluten-free thing!

  See Frittata Recipe below.

Being gluten-free (GF) and having a gluten-free business means that I think about GF issues every day. As a cook and baker, I am making gluten-free food everyday too. It is simply a big part of my life. I have talked to so many people who are either gluten-free or close to someone who is GF. Last week I did a presentation and one attendee asked “what is gluten”? That’s a great question; however, I was under the assumption that most everyone knows where gluten comes from – wheat and wheat flour – and several other gluten grains. It is a protein that some of us cannot digest. I’m one of those people. Some  GF folks are sensitive/intolerant and others are celiac and are dreadfully allergic. Either way, we need to steer clear of food and products containing gluten.

We can’t depend on others knowing how to keep us safe. Family will think they are being nice when they insist that their celiac adult child have a piece of their non-gluten birthday cake. Sometimes, friends serve food at a dinner and overlook the fact that you can’t eat wheat pasta or chicken covered in wheat bread crumbs.

What do you do? Throw caution to the wind and eat the food or be assertive and stay strong. Without a doubt, BE ASSERTIVE. And, be ready, be organized and prepare for these events. Have a “gluten-free food kit” that you can bring with you. The kit will vary, depending on where you are going and what the occasion is. Please don’t arrive empty handed; don’t be caught without some gluten-free food you can eat. I usually bring a bag or a cooler and fill it with GF bread or crackers, cheese, fruit, nuts and other healthy snacks.


This weekend, I went to a family function and I made several vegetable-cheese frittatas. I was able to resist the gluten foods and enjoy a wedge of frittata with the salad set on the buffet table. I make frittatas using different fillings, but this weekend, I roasted 3 vegetables: potatoes, zucchini and onions. I filled baking trays with each vegie, that was tossed in olive oil and roasted them until they were golden brown. I then added enough eggs, milk and some shredded cheddar cheese to make it a thick-like batter. I start cooking them in a hot, well-oiled cast iron pan on the stove. When they are still wet on top, transfer them to a preheated oven to finish cooking. The nice thing about frittatas is that you don’t really need a recipe, once you get the idea. I will give you a recipe below; but, try it with other ingredients like GF leftover pasta, rice and myriad vegetables. I always put some milk and grated or thinly sliced cheese in it. Let me know what variations you come up with.  Frittatas are just as good at room temperature as they are hot.

 Gluten-Free Garden Vegetable Frittata

Serves 4 – 8         Active cooking time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients   (Feel free to change the vegetables or cheeses)

4 medium white potatoes, washed, dried and cut into cubes

1 T.  dried rosemary

1 – 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and cut into cubes

1 – 2 large sweet onions, peeled and rough chopped

8 large eggs, farm raised is best

¼ cup milk

5 oz. (approx.) melting-type shredded cheese, i.e. cheddar or Monterey Jack, etc.

salt and pepper

Optional: fresh herbs, such as parsley or chives.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and oil well.  Toss vegetables with oil, rosemary and salt & pepper and spread in one layer on sheet.  Bake until nicely brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Whisk eggs and milk in large bowl, add 3 oz. cheese, salt & pepper.  Stir in vegetables and mix.  Add to very, well-oiled and heated cast iron pan and cook on medium-high heat on  stove top until bottom is set.  Add remaining cheese.  Transfer to hot oven and cook until top is set.  Insert paring knife to check for doneness.  Do not overcook.  Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and use 2 metal spatulas to remove to cutting board.  Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.

#Learn to love your gluten-free life!


If only there was a recipe for “baking” social media.

I wish I didn’t need social media, but I do and it’s a part of my business that I do not enjoy.  Maybe, I’ll learn to like it.  However, I love building up my gluten-free culinary business & website: www.CountryKitchenCenter.com.    The business touches on many things that I love: baking, cooking, talking food, teaching food and planning classes and lessons.

Right now, I have a bread in the oven.  I proofed it- let it rise – next to the warm, wood oven and the dough formed such a beautiful dome that it already looked baked.  I’m so excited to learn more about baking gluten-free yeast breads.  I may be a culinary teacher; but I wanted to develop a better  technique for making yeast breads.  I took a course at the Institute of Culinary Education “ICE” in New York City.  The instructor, Michelle, was a “teacher’s teacher”.  I got so much from attending her class about delivering instruction and baking myriad gluten-free bread products.  I aim to provide the same level of instruction – but in a smaller, country kitchen setting. Yes, you can see why I named my blog and business as I did.  I can’t wait for more of you to come experience this pastoral scenery when you come to take classes and tour the area.

I just wish there was a quick way for me to get up to speed on using social media to build my business.  I know how it important it is and I need to use it on a regular basis.  Many of you will say that’s “a piece of cake”!  However, I prefer real face-to-face contact, a good asset for a teacher.  I like to converse in person, I like to have a phone call rather than text and when I’m in a restaurant enjoying good food and company, I am not on my smart phone.

I’m writing this post now to share my feelings about using social media.  I know that it’s important to get on it on a regular basis and share my thoughts, experiences and photos.  Soooooo, please help me out by  sending me your comments to this blog Country Kitchen Chaos and going to my FaceBook/Country Kitchen Center page and my website: www.countrykitchencenter.com  Please send me your thoughts and suggestions on increasing my “social media” awareness & ability to reach out to a larger audience.

The bread is in the oven and I just turned the bread to help it bake evenly.  It smells wonderful, just like a bread from an old-fashioned bakery.

A yeast bread class will be on the fall schedule.  

I look forward to hearing from you.  Please share this post here, and share my FB/CKC page.  Help increase my “hits” and following!



Summer Gluten-Free Culinary Classes


My culinary business, Country Kitchen Center, for gluten-free culinary classes and gluten-free consultations and event services, is ready to teach classes this summer.  I have a line-up of classes at my country kitchen location.  If you would like me to travel to your town in the tri-state area, please contact me.

Here’s the list.  Also, see the list on Facebook/Andrea Skolnick and Facebook/Country Kitchen Center and share it with your friends.  I look forward to cooking with you this summer.

Facebook Post:

I have been busy doing gluten-free demonstrations and planning the summer class schedule. Have a look at the line up of baking classes to be held at Country Kitchen Center.

Summer Classes & Workshops June – September 2017
Our classes’ explore class subject in-depth. We build confidence to help you master culinary skills.
Gluten-Free Baking Workshop Learn basic principles for baking gluten-free goods and making gluten-free flour mixes. The instructor will demonstrate and sample baked goods. Workshop attendees receive recipes & samples.
Gluten-Free Cookie Class Learn to bake scratch cookies with great taste. Instructor demonstrates making a gluten-free flour mix, the “creaming method” and three cookie types: drop, bar and refrigerator. Students have hands-on practice by baking one cookie type. Students receive recipes and samples.
Gluten-Free Cupcake Class Instructor will demonstrate the “creaming method”, a gluten-free flour mix and a trio of cupcake recipes & frosting. Students have hands-on practice baking and frosting a cupcake recipe. Students receive recipes and samples.
Gluten-Free Muffin & Quick Bread Class Instructor will teach the “muffin method”, how to makes gluten-free flour mixes and demonstrate how to bake three quick breads. Students have hands-on practice baking a muffin recipe. Students receive recipes and samples.
Gluten-Free Kids & Family Classes
Fun and informative class, making pancakes and other family favorite foods. Call for class details.

See More

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As good as it gets, gluten-free buttermilk pancakes!

Country Kitchen Ch
aos focuses on two topics, close to my heart and daily life: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and gluten intolerance and gluten allergies.  Someone might say it is a lot to deal with, but it has given me challenges that make the best of my life. As a person with ADD, I am always dealing time and organizational issues.  When I cook, I must be organized and specific with my cooking instructions.  If I want to double a recipe, then I write down the new amounts, otherwise I will make a mistake.  Mostly, I write the new amounts in a column, to the right of the one in the cookbook or on a printed computer page and put a 2X above the new amounts. If my eyes are straying to the single batch column, then I place a paper over it.   I doubled this pancake recipe since one batch is not enough for any pancake loving person. You can freeze any extra pancakes and have a tasty fast weekday breakfast.  You certainly won’t get gluten-free pancakes at any fast-food restaurant!

This weekend, I made amazing gluten-free fluffy buttermilk pancakes.  They fit my credo:  as good as regular-gluten food. I had a bottle of my favorite brand, “Kate’s Creamery – Real Buttermilk” and wanted to make a breakfast dish using it.  If you haven’t tried it, do so…it is the best thing to making it yourself!  I tweaked a pancake recipe from 1000 Gluten-Free Cookbook by Carol Fenster.  You can use her sorghum based flour blend or another all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. In either case, keep a gluten-free flour mix on hand for quick breakfasts and other baked recipes.

Here’s my method for making these pancakes, which are sure to be a family favorite.  Mix & blend well the dry ingredients.  In a separate large, liquid measuring cup, mix well the wet ingredients.  I added a little more buttermilk since the batter was too thick, but you may need to adjust it each time you make it.  It should be thick, but still pour slowly from the measure cup. I added two yellow organic, sliced bananas (save the really ripe one for your baked goods).  I also added 1/2 cup small pecans pieces; which increases the protein content. I gave it a spice boost with a bit of cinnamon.  Pancakes give you lots of room to play with your favorite flavor palette.

I mostly cook with cast iron pots & pans.  I have a griddle pan that covers two burners and can cook a small bunch – about 2 to 4 at a time.  Cast iron can over-heat quickly; keep a close eye on the heat level and even your first pancakes will be good ones.  When you make the pancakes, have some butter or oil melted and ready to brush your griddle. I use a silicone brush, one of my favorite tools.  Fill a scant 1/4 cup with batter and slowly pour it onto the hot griddle.  Cook until top side bubbles, then use two metal spatulas to flip the pancake.  Lift with one spatula and keep it from sliding as you turn it.  The second side will brown very quickly.  In no time, you will be enjoying a wonderful, hardy breakfast.  I serve the pancakes with real maple syrup and a touch of sour cream.  I get my syrup from local maple producers, one of the perks of living in upstate New York.  It’s also where I base my gluten-free cooking school, Country Kitchen Center.  Check out my website for details.  If you would like to schedule a class, check out my website: www.countrykitchencenter.com  and/or email me at ckc@countrykitchencenter.com.  I’ll be glad to touch base with you and assist with your gluten-free questions.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups  all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1/4 cup  sugar
2 teaspoons  baking powder
1 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup  buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
2  large eggs
2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2  bananas, sliced
1/2 cup  pecans, small pieces
Additional butter or oil, melted, for cooking

In a medium mixing bowl, measure & mix the dry ingredients, from flour mix to xanthan gum. In a 4 cup liquid measure cup, whisk wet ingredients until smooth.  Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Gently incorporate the bananas and pecans using a large wooden spoon.  Make sure all the flour is well mixed.  Let stand at least 5 minutes.
Heat griddle, lightly brush with melted butter or oil. Dip greased 1/4 cup into batter, level and quickly pour onto griddle.  When bubbles appear on top side, about 2-3 minutes, use 2 spatulas to turn and cook until bottom is brown, about 1 minute.  Continue until pancakes are done.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

Tips for making pancakes
Have your ingredients all prepped and the workspace ready.
Use cast iron pans and two spatulas for a better technique.
Pre-set your table.  Warm your food plates in a 200 degrees oven and keep cooked pancakes warm too.