Is soy sauce “safe” for people with Celiac?

Just recently my husband and I were talking about soy sauce.  I know, it’s not your typical lovey-dovey conversation, but really – who has those everyday and/or posts them on their blogs?    But in all honesty, our discussion has often bounced back to soy sauce in regard to Celiac/Gluten Free diet.

You see, the reality of my life is this:  soy sauce is in everything (well… almost everything) my in-laws cook.  And while we sadly have not been able to travel in years (read: 2003) to visit them, we would like to.  We want to bring these beautiful babies toddlers (!) we have back to see the rest of our family.  So we start talking about the added expense of traveling when you need to buy food and/or cook.

Primarily while staying at someone else’s home, I don’t want them to feel put-out that I don’t eat what they are serving.  At my parent’s house, I have no problem sliding in to the kitchen and cooking.  In fact, I love it!  But at my in-laws, the kitchen is laid out differently and they do a different style of cooking than what I grew up with.  It makes cooking for them a bit more of a hurdle.  Add to that the fact that food intolerances/allergies are truly not a common topic nor common in the general Asian population (aside from dairy/lactose which isn’t really in the main diet plan anyway) and well… it can lead to some hurdles.

So back to the soy sauce.

When we traveled in 2003, I just bought a bottle of San-J when we arrived for cooking.  It was a great conversation starter (lol!) as we talked about the salty (or non-salty) factor compared to the sauces they liked to use.  (Yes, each varies significantly in saltiness, thickness, etc.)  At one resturant, my father-in-law tried to help my by explaining that I can have wheat/soy sauce and he beamed with pride when the wait-staff and chef told him there was no wheat in what they made.  And then out came the wheat-puffed pancakes for the wheat-soy sauced laden Peking Duck.  (PS.  The “dao mew” – snow pea pods shoots – were AWESOME that night.)

Soy sauce is everywhere in the Asian diet.

And I don’t always trust the labels.

And then I found this study by Frederik Janssen on the GlutenTox blog.  (I am not associated with them, just found them via my search about gluten and soy sauce).  (Copy of the PDF is here:  Safety-of-Asian-soy-sauce-in-gf-diet).

Approaching the gluten free diet frustration of eating-out and the common exposure/concern of soy sauce, the study looked at the varying ingredients found in different soy sauce brands (European based) and analyzed them for their gliadin content.  Remember, the protein that causes the damage to the intestinal track for Celiac patients (like myself) is this protein.  Truly, it is a speck within the wheat grain.

From the anecdotal piece of their survey, Celiac patients who self-reported information regarding how they approach soy sauces responded with the following commentaries:

  • avoided all products with wheat listed on the label
  • consumed soy sauce with wheat listed on label with non-typical reactions that could not be attributed to the wheat/soy sauce
  • consumed soy sauce with wheat on the label with “ease since they know the proteins in these sauces were almost completely degraded; consequently they did not experience any symptoms.” (p.56/Jannsen)

The report further states that “given the results of our analysis, it is quite remarkable that symptoms occurred in some coeliacs after these products were eaten.”

The scientific analysis appears to demonstrate that the levels of gliadin are slightly lower (on average) that the proposed levels (20ppm in the EU).  Most surprising to me was this statement:

“Given the amount of soy sauce used in Asian dishes this level might be irrelevant.   


“There seems to be no correlation between gluten content and the declaration of wheat on the product label.”

The attached PDF (referenced above) then continues on to discuss the types of labeling laws now required (and those not, like for wheat starch) in the EU as well as whether or not the methodology available for analyzing such materials is suitable for the hydrolyzed gluten proteins found in the fermented goods like soy sauce.

As a result of their analysis (please, read it for yourselves) are the following recommendations:

  • that, as far as possible, Coeliacs should choose Asian soy sauces which do not include wheat.
  • if such information (ingredient listing) is not available, they should not be worried about the ingestion of gluten as investigation have shown that hte level so fgluten are almost insignificant in relation to the safe dose as reported by Catassi…
  • Coeliacs should, however, still avoid dishes with very high levels of soy sauce.

Truly I am awed.

I have always wondered.  And in all honesty, have not worried too much about soy sauce.  I have a good handle on food prep/recipes in Asian (mainly Chinese) foods and have felt fairly confident selecting my items with care.  But soy sauce remained one of those ingredients that I question.  NOT because I think it is “bad” but because I wonder what the levels truly are.  This paper has brought the conversation back to our dinner table.

I’d love for it to begin conversation here.

What do you think?  I’d love to collect some info/ideas from you all to post in a follow up post.  I will NOT share you personal information ever.  The results will be tabulated into a graph for sharing.  If you are willing, please click here.

Is soy sauce ‘safe” for the gluten free diet?

GF Joe’s – A new local Gluten Free Market

Shop with reckless abandon, but retrain your brain a bit too.

Gone are the days of buying the three remaining boxes of your goodies on the grocer shelves out of fear of never seeing it appear there again. Yeap, I officially now live in gluten-free shopping near-perfect heaven. (Now, if only Whole Foods would build a bakehouse and a green grocer here…..)

In April of this year, Joe Spancic and his wife, Kaylee, opened “G.F. Joe’s Market” in Tumwater, WA. This local market fulfills the wishes of many and consolidates the shopping for all of us. (And the GRAND OPENING Celebration is THIS WEEKEND – May 17 & 18 – with free balloons, samples, and door prizes – beginning at 10AM on Saturday 5/17! I hope to see you there!)

On my first visit in April, I stopped in on a whim. A friend had told me about the market opening and I convinced my husband that we should go “check it out”. My poor love. He’s been on so many car trips while we venture off into the never-explored lands to find some gluten-free item,goodies, store, rare flour, etc. Really. He’s a trooper.

That first night we ventured out and he tried to pull back my aspirations a bit. After all, we knew nothing about what to expect or what a “gluten free market” here – in a small-ish community – would look like. We have grown accustomed to shopping in Seattle monthly, or the two local co-ops plus local markets.

And now? Now I have my choice of at least 5 different brands of pastas (yea, babee!!) on ONE shelf in ONE store – not FIVE shelves in FIVE stores. Thank you, Joe!

And the pastas aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. What do you crave? Joe’s got it.

(Like the best EVER (and vegetarian, to boot!) Vitamin-C gummy bears in the world, or maybe you crave the new Schar’s crackers…the one like Saltine’s that help you tummy?….. or maybe you just want to pick up a bag of certified gluten-free oats? or Montina flour blend? or rice bran? or soy sauce? or… the list goes on and on and on!)

I sat down with Joe and his wife, Kaylee this Saturday. While I had originally had thought I might include their responses here to our conversation as an interview type blog entry, the more I spoke with them, the more I realized that the entry would be too formal and stiff to represent why I wanted to write it in the first place.

You see, since I was diagnosed in October of 2000, I have done what many of you have: Use the internet as my primary connection point about Celiac and going gluten-free. In fact, my doctor merely told me the name of the disease and a few other things like “no pasta, no bread, etc” and that was that for him.

But not for me. Nope. I went right to the computer and typed in “celiac disease” in a google search box. Pouring forth from google were websites (,,, etc), a few book/author names (Jax and Bette), etc. Within a few clicks, I had found communities of gluten-free people on a few forums or listservs (like the SillyYaks group on Yahoo).

They literally saved me from my own brain. I was staring at my box of now-verboten Kashi cereal and wondering what I was to do. The only flours used were rice, tapioca, potato (starch and flour) and buckwheat (rarely). We bravely made a few breads and even order a slew of pre-made breads and breakfast biscuits for traveling on our honeymoon. My love swears that 2/3 of the weight from our suitcase to Rome was due to the gluten free bread/biscuits inside. (I think he was right.) And… we left most of the gluten-free briquettes behind in Roma without even being touched. They weren’t good.

We attended one “support” group meeting. It was confusing and we felt very disconnected. I should have gone back… but didn’t. And then we moved….to a small town where the words “gluten free” had people asking about dog food.

My, oh my how things have changed, huh? I cannot imagine how good it must feel for those of you diagnosed many, MANY years before I!

And now my world has been improved even more so. Thanks to Joe and Kaylee’s amazing gluten-free market so close to me, I could cry!

Actually, I think I may have just gotten teary on my first night there when I laid eyes on cinnamon gluten-free “graham” crackers, frozen cheese ravioli and gluten freehoisin sauce (!) all in one place. While I had heard about all of these goodies online, I’m not a big fan of ordering food online without knowing what it will taste like. And now… well, now I have a bottle of hoisin sauce waiting for me to do some grilling tomorrow night.

Okay, I think I’m rambling now. No. I know I’m rambling now.

You see this post is harder to write than I imagined.

I wanted to talk about the importance of our gluten-free community. We each do something to help lift up someone else. I blog to share. Bette wrote cookbooks, spoke at meetings, etc. Others spread the word through connections at schools – telling teachers, nurses, etc. That’s what we do. That’s how we’ve been helped too.

And Joe opens a market with the love and support of his family.

On Saturday, while I was visiting with both Joe and his wife, new customers came in. In a heartbeat, you could tell which customers were there to begin the journey and who had already established their path. As I chatted with Joe, Kaylee got up to help the customers find what they needed. She asked who they were shopping for, what what occasion, etc and then lead them around the store to a few items that would fit their need. When they left, you could see the relief in their body language and they eyes. I remembered seeing Joe do this as well on my first night in the shop.

Within GF Joe’s Market, the Spancic family is there to serve as gluten-free guides as well. I began to wonder if every Celiac diagnosis should come with more than just a renovated kitchen to hold all of our goodies and staples, but also a tour of GF Joe’s with Joe & Kaylee.

I think that kind of welcome to the gluten-free life would really help bring out some gluten-free smiles too.

Before I forget, Joe’s son told me that his dad makes one mean Chicken-a-la-King. I even got the recipe. However, I didn’t have any chicken defrosted… SORRY!… so I’ll make and share Joe’s recipe with you all another day. I really wanted to get this post out. I want people to know about their market… and the grand opening….and about the wonderful community we make together.

Each one, reach one. That’s what we teachers say.
I think it fits for the gluten-free world too.

What do you think?
Who or what made your transition to the gluten-free life easier?
What do you wish you could find at your local markets?
What would you shop for at a local GF market if you had one?

I would love to have Joe get some happy WELCOME and GOOD LUCK email for his store.
You can send him email here or to Kaylee.
You can find his website here.
You can read an article from our local paper here about the store/market.

Please leave a comment below and tell me your favorite GF Market treat or food you’d like to try.
I’m going to learn from Carrie and Mary Frances and put all of your names in a hat and then pull one at random on Friday Night.

I’ll send a treat from GF Joe’s to the person whose name I draw after Joe’s Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday. 🙂 (I’ll mail the treat out early next week.)
(Please let me know if you have any other allergies or intolerances so I can find you something at Joe’s. He’s got it ALL, ya know.)

UPDATE: This weekend I attended GF Joe’s Grand Opening. I’m happy to say that my *mom* was with me and my love while we shopped. She even picked the winning name out for the treats. I shipped off a couple goodies to The Devil Dog Family on Sunday afternoon.

Gluten Free Homemade Croissants!

Dear reader or fellow gluten-free lifestyler,

Do you know what I ate two nights ago for the first time in eight years? Something so delicious and delectable that I practically made myself ill because I couldn’t resist and I ate THREE of them! I’m talking about homemade gluten-free chocolate-filled Croissants. Yeap. Catch you breath. I said the magic word – CROISSANT and GLUTEN FREE in the same sentence.

Last December, I was emailed a recipe that I just wrote about for Crescent Rolls. I had been wondering for VERY long time how I could make croissants to eat with my morning latte filled with chocolate (or not) or fill with turkey and cheese or whatnot for lunches. Typical croissant recipes require yeast, milk, the gluten of flour to create the flaky layers, and resting/rising time that most gluten free recipes cannot duplicate. However, with super slight modifications from the recipe I posted for crescent rolls, I have been able to make croissants the last few nights that I have been enjoying for breakfast and lunch.

Homemade Croissants

It is a welcome change of pace for my taste buds.

The beauty is that this same technique (the rolling, turning, frozen grated butter) that has made the most tender and flaky pastry can also be used for filo dough. In fact, I have a little part of my mind planning to make some more baklava this weekend – oh babee! I’ve made baklava before following Rebecca Reilly’s recipes (Delish, by the way. This is a cookbook to own if you like to bake and also have to bake gluten-free. However, I was truly missing the flaky and tender pieces of filo dough that you normally have in baklava. I was curious about whether this dough would work for that – but was only convinced after my can-eat-gluten-but-doesn’t husband gobbled up a couple mini-croissants and exclaimed “Wow, Katie, you could make the best filo dough and baklava with this stuff.” Done. That’s *so* next on this baker’s agenda.

In the meantime, if you have some time on your hands and plenty of butter on hand, please make some croissants! You won’t regret it, I promise. You can fill them with whatever your heart desire. And trust me, you will want more of these buttery, flaky, tender croissants. I wish I could tell you what they are like on Day Three, but the ones I’ve made have yet to make it past Day Two!

In fact, for the first time ever, I’m rather bummed that my colleagues aren’t wondering what I’m eating for lunch because it looks so “normal” to them. It surprised my last night when that thought crossed my mind. Then I realized, they are usually curious about what I’m eating because they haven’t often seen quinoa salads or eaten homemade risotto or rice balls with smoked salmon. For once, when I want them to jump up and down with me on the desks at lunch, they are painfully unaware of my triumphant, scrumptious lunch. Meh. It’s for the better. They would all just want a bite anyway. LOL

My lunch today includes a croissant filled with turkey/white cheddar and one filled with broccoli/white cheddar cheese. I’m in heaven, don’t ya know. In fact, breakfast? Yeap. A croissant dunked into my coffee. Man, I’m bad! I have definitely had my butter intake for the next – oh – month or so, lol. But that’s okay. I am enjoying exploring the kitchen again.

This recipe takes time to prepare (more like time to roll out repeatedly and refrigerate), but after reviewing many gluten recipes for croissants over the last several years, the time is actually less involved than for traditional croissants.

I’m not good at rolling them up to look perfect, and have decided to stick with the mass-rolling technique of keeping them straight. Or, in the case of the ones filled with cheesy goodness or chocolate, I actually rolled them up a bit more like an egg roll + crescent to keep the filling within the croissant and not all over the baking pan. You can even seal in the goodness by filling, rolling over one flap over the top of the filling and brushing the edge with some beaten egg and folding up a *bit* (like 1/4″). Once you’ve done that, you can roll it like a crescent/croissant.

I do hope you try this recipe, please tell me if do! I’d love for us to keep this one on the exploration front – it’s worth it! Here are the basic steps I followed. Keep in mind that the croissants will NOT puff up/rise (there’s no yeast here) nor will they be as large as the ones you see at the market.

First, prepare batch of the crescent dough with the modifications I used plus a few others. I have retyped the recipe here because I have added a bit more of a few ingredients like cream of tartar, xanthan gum, baking soda, sugar and an additional flour (sweet rice flour).

I have also uploaded pictures of the steps (rolling) for you if they will help as well. Although, let me just say this, photography + massive amounts of sweet rice flour….. well, they just don’t always mix. LOL

Here’s the overall step-by-step picture. You can find details that explain each image on Flickr too. Just click on the big picture and it will take you to the Flickr page where you can read more.

Making Croissants

GF Croissants
Recipe makes 14 small-medium croissants.

1 stick of butter, (8 Tablespoons) slightly softened
1 stick of butter, frozen
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cottage cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cream cheese
1 cup GF Flour Mix (rice-based or sorghum-based)
2 Tablespoons of sweet rice flour + 1 ½ cups sweet rice flour for rolling
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
1 or 2 eggs, beaten (to seal the croissants closed and brush on the croissants before baking)


  1. Cream together softened butter, cream cheese, and cottage cheese until whipped, creamy and semi-yellow in color (about 3-4 minutes)
  2. Add GF Flour mix, 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and sugar. Mix together until the dough comes together – mostly away from the sides and begins to form a ball or lump in the middle of the mixer (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Shape into a disk and place into a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate at least two hours, overnight preferred.
  4. Grate the frozen butter (I used my food processor) and put it into a freezer-safe storage container/bag. Return grated butter to the freezer until you are ready to use. (By the way, it will store indefinitely like this.)
  5. Work in a cool place or consider refrigerating the dough after Step 9). Place parchment paper, sweet rice, grated frozen butter, and the rolling pin on a large surface that you can easily reach to roll the dough thinly.
  6. Remove dough from the fridge and divide into fourths. Return 3 of the 4 to the Ziploc bag and place in the refrigerator.
  7. Reshape this ¼ piece into a disk quickly. (Try to touch the dough as little as possible in order to keep it as cold/cool as possible.)
  8. Generously dust the top of the parchment paper. Place the dough disk into the center on a generous amount of sweet rice flour. Generous dust the top and side of the dough. Cover with another piece of floured parchment paper. Roll the dough as thinly as possible (about 1/8 of an inch or so). You should be able to see through the dough partially. I was able to roll the dough about 22” long and about 15” wide.
  9. Turn the dough lengthwise. Generously sprinkle the middle 1/3 of the dough with the grated, still-frozen butter. Fold up the bottom third of the pastry over the top of the middle third. Sprinkle the grated, still-frozen butter over the top of the part you just folded on top. Fold down the top third of the dough to cover the center/butter again.
  10. Turn the dough and fold in any edges that are thin or not part of the folded center. Generously dust the top, sides, and bottom (lift the dough gently to push flour underneath) of the dough. Repeat the rolling and butter sprinkling (Steps 8 and 9) one more time. You will sprinkle the butter on twice and roll out three times.
  11. After the second sprinkling of butter and folding, turn the dough again and roll the dough out for it’s final time, once again rolling it as thinly as possible. Work quickly at this point as the dough is beginning to warm up again.
  12. Lift off the top parchment paper and divide the dough in half with a pizza cutter. Leave the dough lying flat along the parchment paper.
  13. Divide each half into long triangles with the pizza cutter. You will end up with 4 large triangles for each ¼ of the dough. At this point you may fill your croissants with pieces of dark chocolate or turkey/cheese, etc by placing your filling on the wide end of the triangle.
  14. Roll the croissant up from the wide end carefully (as the layers are thin). Seal the end (to keep it together during baking) by brushing beaten egg onto top ½ inch before finishing the roll. Shape into a crescent moon shape or leave in a roll.
  15. Brush the completed croissants with beaten egg (this provides them with a golden brown or they will turn a dark brown while baking).
  16. Lay the complete croissants on parchment paper and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Repeat steps 7 through 15 with the remaining dough. OR bake the first batch, see what you need to adjust and then bake the others. The dough will keep refrigerated for two days.
  17. Bake the croissants at 375F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.


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