Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gluten Free Rice Krispies

There has been some excitement over a new and improved, yet very familiar product. It's something almost all of us have tried or enjoyed at breakfast for years.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies!

Now....They are GLUTEN-FREE!!!

Those suffering from allergies or sensitivities to gluten can rejoice and eat this cereal 'til kingdom come without all those painful side-effects.

A friend of mine was so enthusiastic about this, she actually posted a photo of the brand-new box of Rice Krispies on Face Book. In big, bold letters, there it was.


Okay. I am just a nutritional consultant who studies food for a living, but the last I looked, rice didn't contain gluten. Rice Krispies are puffed grains of rice. But, I before I completely dismissed Kellogg's new advertising campaign, I thought I should check it out for myself. Perhaps the OLD Rice Krispies were rolled in wheat or a derivative of wheat was added to the recipe for flavor.  Maybe wheat is needed for the whole 'puffing' process? I honestly did not know. So, I rolled up my sleeves and began to investigate.

Here's what I discovered:

First, here's the claim to fame for the new Rice Krispies Gluten-Free Cereal:

New Rice Krispies® Gluten Free cereal, made with brown rice, lets you bring a childhood favorite back to the table. Now your kids can enjoy a bowlful for breakfast, and they won't miss out on the timeless taste of homemade Rice Krispies Treats® marshmallow squares.

You can see it for yourself, here: Kellogg's Product Detail.

Sounds good to me. Who doesn't love Rice Krispies Treats®?

And I do think it's a really good move to use brown rice instead of the usual processed white variety.

Here's what's in the box of New Rice Krispies:

Ingredients: Whole grain brown rice, sugar, contains 2% or less of salt, BHT for freshness.

Vitamins and Minerals: Iron, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate), niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B12.

Let's dive deeper and take a look at what's inside the regular variety of Rice Krispies:

Ingredients: Rice, sugar, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavoring, BHT for freshness.

Vitamins and Minerals: Iron, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate), niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D.

Do you see what I see?

The new version of Rice Krispies is missing an ingredient: MALT FLAVORING!

AH HA!!!

Malt flavoring is the guilty culprit. Removing this ingredient from the new Rice Krispies makes it a Gluten-Free product!

What is Malt Flavoring?

Malt flavoring is an extract, most commonly from the grain barley, but may be made from other grains. It is made by germinating the barley grains by soaking them in water, then heating them to stop the germination so the plant doesn't grow. The germination causes the starch in the grains to turn to sugar, with the result being an extract that has many uses.

Malt is used in the brewing of beer as a food for the yeast, as well as a flavoring that is found in many foods.

It contains gluten, which is a complex of proteins found in the grain, so it's not safe for people with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity.

Read more: What is Malt Flavoring?

If you suffer from allergies to wheat or wheat products or have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it's best to avoid foods that contain malt flavoring of any kind unless you know for a fact it is not made from glutenous grain.

I must admit, I was secretly hoping this was just another deceptive advertising ploy to get YOU to buy more Rice Krispies.

But in this case, they are telling the truth. So you can relax and pour yourself a nice big bowlful or mix up some Rice Krispies Treats for the kids. The fact that this new cereal is made with brown rice makes it even more appealing. But don't be fooled. Despite the fact that it now contains brown rice, there is only 1gram of fiber per serving. So if you need more fiber in your diet, look for products that contain 3 or more grams per serving.

Sugar is listed as the second ingredient. That's usually a big red flag but there’s only a quarter of a teaspoon per serving in the Gluten Free Rice Krispies. That's very low for a cereal.  (The original version has one teaspoon). So, even if you don't have sensitivities to gluten, this product is the wiser choice. It is white processed sugar, however, so if you are looking to avoid that in your diet, skip this cereal.  If your kids are accustomed to the old Rice Krispies, they might be tempted to reach for the sugar bowl to achieve that familiar sugary satisfaction. Add some fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries or peaches for natural sweetness.

The one real complaint I have (aside from all those added vitamins and minerals) is BHT. BHT – Butylated hydroxytoluene – is an antioxidant preservative that lengthens the shelf life of a product. There is some controversy around its safety, with reports of hyperactivity and carcinogenic properties. Unfortunately, almost all cereals use BHT as a preservative.

Personally, I prefer to avoid anything so controversial. And I don't want to feed it to my family.

I would never leave you hanging without alternatives, however.

If you are interested in healthier versions of Gluten-Free cereal (and other products), here's a helpful website:
Gluten Free Cereals.

And this is my Daily Cyn......

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