Turning on the TV this morning we saw the hosts of one of our favorite morning talk shows chatting up a lovely young chef, Lena Kwak, the co-creator of a new gluten-free flour called Cup4Cup. They were applauding her efforts, as one of the honorees of a new award called “American Made,” given out to artisans and entrepreneurs for their manufacturing contributions here in the U.S.A. Every small business owner knows that successfully bringing a product to market is difficult, but this one, partially because it is a recipe from world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant, French Laundry, has made quite a splash in the stores.
Now, we want to remind you that we live and advocate a gluten-free lifestyle, so we applaud the attempts made by restaurants and manufacturers to supply us with options that fill the void conventional bread and other baked goods once occupied. However, upon further examination of this product, we felt a need to restate a warning we have sounded before. Here it goes: Just because something claims to be healthy, doesn’t mean it is healthy. And just because a product is gluten free doesn’t mean that it is any good for you.
While we applaud the efforts chef Kwak put into creating her wheat-free flour, we cannot overlook the ingredients we found in this gluten-free alternative. To begin with, we were unable to find the ingredients anywhere on the Cup4Cup website (suspect), and couldn’t successfully locate them until we visited the Williams-Sonoma sight. However, when we did, we were neither shocked, nor surprised—simply let down, yet again.
Here are the ingredients: Cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum.
Hmmm… cornstarch, as the first ingredient in flour, really? Yes, that’s right, and not only is corn difficult on your digestive tract, but corn is an ingredient that immediately sets off our GMO detectors. This is because approximately 86% of all corn in genetically modified. We looked everywhere on the site, and on other sites selling the Cup4Cup flour in the hopes that there was mention of Cup4Cup using non-GMO corn, but to no avail. While, this one ingredient alone is enough to knock Cup4Cup flour out of contention to qualify as a RICH FOOD option, combined with its other ingredients, Cup4Cup gluten free flour becomes a solid POOR FOOD choice. Dr. William Davis, the author of the New York Times #1 Bestseller, Wheat Belly, and foreword of our book RICH FOOD, POOR FOOD, wrote, “You can have your wheat-free lifestyle, lose the weight, undo all the damage it has done to your gastrointestinal tract, skin, and nervous system, and still have cookies. But you’ve got to make them with healthy ingredients like coconut flour and ground almonds . . . NOT gluten-free junk carbohydrates like rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch, the ingredients that dominate gluten-free foods but still ruin health.”
Now, to be fair to chef Kwak, we did watch a video on Martha Stewart online where she states, “My golden standard was not really the best gluten-free flour out there, it was how do I make something that will taste, feel and perform like regular wheat flour.”Perhaps to be fair to consumers the marketing and packaging should say, “Not the best for you, but performs really darn well!” As consumers, we think we need to ask manufacturers for products that not only perform well in the oven, but rather perform well for our bodies. After all, Splenda (sucralose) replaces white refined sugar pretty darn well in recipes, but that isn’t a good enough reason for us to advocate the use of it.
Look, just because something is gluten-free doesn't mean it is free of POOR FOOD ingredients, or that it is the best option out there, or is in any way healthy. We can’t tell you how many candies we have seen in grocery and drug store checkout lines filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colors, proudly announcing the fact that they are a gluten-free food in the attempt to lull parents in to a false sense of security. Here is a news flash for you – most of these candies have always been gluten-free, but they are anything but healthy. In fact, according to Mark Sisson, author of Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple, many of the certified gluten-free foods are “crap-in-a-box…Flourless cakes, rice crackers, gluten-free brownies, weird gluten-free pizzas made with bean/rice/corn flour.” He explains that people are chowing down on ultra-processed, refined carbohydrates that do nothing but add to gastrointestinal distress. So, while manufacturers may have taken the gluten out of the flour, they are not creating a product that eliminates all of the problematic ingredients.
If you want to ditch the wheat and live a gluten-free lifestyle then there are certain concessions you are going to have to make. Yes, you can still have bread and baked good-like substances from time to time, but if you are going to take the time to make them, use natural healthy ingredients, like flaxmeal, almond, coconut, or buckwheat flours (and choose them sprouted whenever possible to reduce anti-nutrients). We aren’t promising they are not going to be a carbon copy of a like item made with wheat flour. However, they can still look and taste pretty fantastic.
Again – Chef Kwak did say that her goal was not to create the best gluten free flour, but one that would taste, feel and perform like regular wheat flour – and perhaps she accomplished that. However we urge you to consider the quality of the ingredients before adding Cup4Cup flour to your next gluten-free recipe. Like Dr. Davis said, what’s the point of going gluten-free, only to ruin your health using gluten-free junk?
If you are one of the millions of people who have switched to a wheat-free lifestyle congratulations, but be aware of the ingredients in your gluten-free foods. Turn your packages over and get rid of the foods that contain POOR FOOD ingredients. Not sure what to replace them with? Don’t fret. In RICH FOOD, POOR FOOD we direct you to delicious wheat-free options in every aisle of the grocery store that contain only quality RICH FOOD ingredients, while leaving out the POOR FOOD ingredients – join the RICH FOOD revolution today!