Advice, Tips & Tricks

We at Custom Choice Cereal let you create your perfect gluten-free cereal. Tastes are as different as individuals, so you can select exactly the ingredients you love. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we figured why not start there? But that’s by far not all we do for you!

We are here to help you master your gluten-free life. That’s why we have assembled some advice, tips & tricks ranging from information on tax deductions of gluten-free food to gluten-free baking advice. As always we provide more information for you on our blog.

Proven & Simple Advice for Eating Gluten-Free

Let us start out by sharing the best advice we've ever heard when it comes to gluten-free shopping: only shop the perimeter of your grocery store and avoid the aisles. You get all your essentials (vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy) and avoid the aisles - and that's where all the processed stuff containing wheat, rye, and the hard-to-detect barley is stacked.  

Here are some more tricks when it comes to eating out "gluten-free style":

  • Go out to eat as early as possible.  This will minimize the risk of cross-contamination.  If you have ever been in a commercial kitchen during meal time you know that things are literally flying around, and so is the evil gluten....
  • Ask first. Don't tell your waiter about gluten-free food and why you need it. This way you avoid that they agree to anything you say and can really check if they have done their homework. Yes, it not the nicest thing to do, but you learn to be paranoid after a couple of bad experiences.
  • Understand the "behind the scenes." Are they using separate (color-coded) utensils, pots, pans & flatware for the gluten-free menu items? 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for replacements. Then you can venture into the evil trick. If ever you get a meal with gluten, say a salad with croutons, that has to be returned to the kitchen, hide a toothpick or piece of your napkin at the bottom. This way you can check if the kitchen really prepares a new dish for you from scratch or merely removes the gluten items (and clearly serves you contaminated food). The nice alternative is to hold on to your plate and only give it up when you receive the replacement.
  • Be polite. Let's be honest: you are most likely one of the more demading customers and cause the waiter some extra work.  Be nice and show your appreciation for them going out of their way, it makes it easier and more fun for everyone!

Tax Deductions of Gluten-Free Food Expenses

Gluten-free food usually commands a price premium over similar food items containing gluten. The resulting burden in additional food expenses can be quite significant, and that's why the IRS includes them as tax deductible medical expenses: “Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatment affecting any part or function of the body”. 

Download the IRS Publication 502 for full information
Unfortunately, you can only deduct your total medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross annual income. But we summarize the most important rules and things to do for you:

  • You can deduct any expenses for gluten-free food in excess of the cost of a comparable food that contains gluten. Let’s say that regular cereal costs $5.00, and you create a mix at Custom Choice Cereal that costs $7.50, the difference of $2.50 may be deducted as a medical expense
  • The great news is that you can deduct full shipping and other delivery costs for gluten-free products made by mail order
  • Obtain a letter from your doctor stating that you have been diagnosed with celiac disease and must adhere to a gluten-free diet. This is especially useful to avoid any trouble if you get audited.
  • This last point is very important: Make sure that you keep all receipts from your gluten-free purchases as well as a schedule showing how you computed the tax deductions for your gluten-free food expenses.

Tips on Gluten-Free Baking

As many of you probably know from experience, baking without gluten is a challenge because gluten makes dough elastic and stretchy, and it also traps gas in baked goods which results in a light, airy structure. Custom Choice Cereal came across an outstanding short guide on how to successfully tackle the challenges of gluten-free baking that was developed by the Colorado State University Extension. We gladly share this information with you! The guide includes:

  • an overview of gluten replacement products and their qualities
  • gluten-free flour blend formulations
  • advice on gums and binders (eggs are the most common binder in gluten-free baking)
  • tips on how to increase moisture, enhance flavor/structure/texture

Download the guide to gluten-free baking.
We recommend that you print this guide and keep it in your kitchen cabinet for easy reference regardless of whether you are an expert in gluten-free baking or have had trouble trying to bake gluten-free.

Paper on Kids and the Gluten-Free Diet

In February 2007, Mary K. Sharrett and Pam Cureton published a great paper in "Practical Gastroenterology." 

Download "Kids and the Gluten-Free Diet"

Even though this paper has been out for quite some time, it is one of the best papers that we have seen because it provides an incredible amount of helpful information on only 10 pages. It is an absolute must-read for any parent with a child/children on a gluten-free diet and covers the following topics:

  • "Typical" and "atypical" symptoms in celiac children
  • Treatment and a list of gluten-free vitamins (check if still gluten-free!)
  • Nutritional concerns and mitigating strategies
  • Ways to empower the celiac child to better live with the condition
  • Challenges of everyday life and how to overcome them
  • Gluten-free school lunch ideas
  • and last but not least a list of decent gluten-free resources