Nutrition and Food Safety

Healthy Lifestyles Begin With Safe, Nutritious Food

Nutrition and Food Safety - Healthy Lifestyles Begin With Safe, Nutritious Food

Gluten-Free: Is It Right for You?

What is gluten? Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in some grains. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.

What grains contain gluten?

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats*

* Oats do not naturally contain gluten but may be contaminated from being transported and/or processed in the same factories as gluten-containing grains.



What grains are gluten-free?

  • Rice
  •  Corn
  • Soy
  • Quinoa
  • Teff (or Tef)
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Buckwheat
  • Flax
  • Potato
  • Legumes (Beans)
  • Tapioca
  • Wild Rice
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Amaranth
  • Montina (Indian Rice Grass)
  • Arrowroot
  • And more!


 What does “gluten-free” really mean on a label?

A product labeled as “gluten-free” must either not have any gluten-containing ingredients, or if it does have gluten-containing ingredients, the product must be processed to remove gluten and the final product must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

 Can a gluten-free diet help me lose weight?

A gluten-free diet does not necessarily equal weight loss and can result in nutrient deficiencies. A gluten-free diet is only recommended for people with Celiac Disease or other gluten disorders. If you think you have a problem with gluten, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible to find a diagnosis before starting a gluten-free diet. It is more difficult to test for Celiac Disease if you have started a gluten-free diet before consulting your doctor.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where consumed gluten stimulates the immune system and results in damage to the small intestine. Celiac Disease is also known as Non-Tropical Sprue or Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy.

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Say “Cheese” With Welsh Rabbit

Welsh Rabbit

For those not familiar with Welsh Rabbit, the dish is not made with rabbit. It is made with melted cheese on toast, which is a great combination. Melted cheese on bread is not a new concept. The Swiss have fondue, the French croque madames or monsieurs, the British have Welsh Rarebit, or as it’s properly known, Welsh Rabbit.

The history about this dish is rather unclear. The dish originated in Wales, and it seems to have been born from economic necessity. Some say the Welsh invented it as a consolatory meal after an unsuccessful hunt. Others say it’s a tavern dish inspired by the Welsh love of cheese. As Caroline Russock phrases it on “In 18th century England, rabbit was the meat you ate if you were poor, and the Welsh were so poor that they couldn’t afford rabbit, so they ate cheese.”

Then there’s the issue with the name – rabbit or rarebit? According to folk legend, Welsh Rarebit was originally “Welsh Rabbit,” and it was meant to cast slander on the Welsh, who allegedly were not very skilled at catching rabbits. During the late 18th century, derogatory terms such as rabbit became frowned upon in polite company and the name evolved into rarebit, meaning a choice morsel. Today, rarebit has come to mean tasty morsels of bread covered in a mustardy cheese sauce.

The first record of the term “Welsh Rabbit” was in 1725, with the alternative form “rarebit” not being used until 1785. The latter form became preferred in recipe books. Although “Welsh Rabbit” is still heard, “Welsh Rarebit” is the more commonly used form now.

Far from simple cheese on toast, a good plate of Welsh Rabbit is savory, spicy, rich, and layered with flavor. There are a few different versions, but most seem to settle on these staples:

A béchamel sauce that is made from a roux using beer as well as cream. Others flavorings such as Worcestershire sauce and mustard are added. Cheddar cheese is melted in and the thick sauce is served over toasted hearty bread.

Other versions of the sauce have different spices added to them, and sometimes the cheese is simply broiled over the toast and it’s served in a reduced, beer-like sauce.

During the Prohibition-era, milk and cream seem to have been substituted for beer in the sauce. Over time, variations began to spring up and changes kept coming through the years. Golden Buck or Buck Rabbit is Welsh Rabbit crowned with a poached egg. Yorkshire Rabbit is topped with both bacon or ham and a poached egg. Irish Rabbit has herbs, onions and vinegar added to the sauce. English Rabbit uses red wine. American Rabbit uses whisked egg whites. Tomato Rabbit, also known as Woodchuck, uses canned tomato soup.

By the 1970s, the popularity of the dish had begun to fade. No good dish ever disappears completely. In recent years, cooks have begun to remake this favorite in new ways. Many budget-conscious cooks still use it as an economical and easy-to-prepare dinner choice.

Characteristically, the cheese used in Welsh rabbit is Lancashire, Cheddar or Double Gloucester, although Red Leicester is a popular substitute. Buy the best cheese that you can because it’s the star of the dish.

Most cooks also recommend using a good hearty bread, as the dish can be ruined by spongy bread. The sturdy bread forms a dense backdrop for the velvety melted cheese sauce. Not everything should have the same texture, which is part of what makes this dish fun to eat.

The richness of Welch Rabbit cannot be denied and when done right, it’s super flavorful and super rich!

Welsh Rabbit

(Recipe from Chowning’s Tavern: Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA)

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 cup beer*
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 tomato slices
  • 8 to 12 slices (½­-inch thick), toasted French, Italian, or whole wheat rustic bread


  1. Preheat a broiler. Place the beer, mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until boiling. Slowly whisk in the cheese, making sure each addition is melted before adding the next. Add the butter, and whisk until smooth. Season with salt to taste, and set aside.
  2. Place the tomato slices on the rack of a broiler pan, and broil for 1 minute, or until lightly browned.
  3. To serve, place the toast slices on the bottom of an oven­proof gratin dish or in individual gratin dishes. Pour the cheese over the toast, and then top with the tomato slices. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve immediately.

*Notes: If you don’t like beer, you can replace it with milk and it will still taste great.

The components of the dish can be prepared up to a few hours in advance and kept at room temperature. Reheat the cheese until hot, whisking until it is smooth, before the final broiling.


(Sources: Cable News Network – Eatocracy, Oxford University Press, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Wikipedia®)


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Lunch From Home


As children head back to school, keeping your child’s bagged lunch safe should be included on the back-to-school to-do list. Food safety may not be on the radar for most kids, but simply practicing safe cooking and food preparation can go a long way in helping your kids avoid foodborne illness. A case of foodborne illness from an improperly kept lunch will not be fun for anyone! Continue reading

Food Borne Illness–Preventable in Most Cases

Be_Food_Safe_logoWhen is it a problem for 3,000 people to die each year?  When it’s preventable!

Food poisoning is almost completely preventable by following a few rules from the National Institutes of Health and the Partnership for Food Safety Education:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water before and after handling food, and after using the restroom.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables–using a vegetable brush, if possible.  This includes the outside of melons as we can easily introduce disease-causing bacteria as we slice into a watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, or any melon.
  • Avoid undercooked seafood, meats, and eggs.  For safe cooking temperatures, check with your local University of Wyoming Extension office, or go to the Partnership for Food Safety Education website,
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from contaminating other foods.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Promptly refrigerate foods that can spoil.
  • Use only pasteurized dairy foods including pasteurized eggs and egg products.  If eggs are NOT pasteurized, they need to be completely cooked, no uncooked eggs.  Salmonella can be found even in free range chicken eggs!
  • Report suspected foodborne illness to your local health department to help officials identify and stop potential outbreaks (

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