Susie’s Blog

Nima: Gluten Gone Tech

by Susie Bramhall

For those with either Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance (yes, include me in the group), we know how tough it can be when eating out to ensure the food we put into our mouths is free from any gluten — whether in the food itself or through cross-contamination. It is especially stressful for me, personally, when grabbing a bite at a restaurant that does high volume, such as a semi-fast food joint. Did they really use a separate knife when cutting the lettuce? Were the onions grabbed by an employee, although wearing gloves, who just handled bread? These questions and others lead me to often spend longer than usual time with my waiter or ordering cashier to ensure my food is safe for me to consume. And then to be honest, I look at the final product and I’m still not 100% sure.

So, when I heard about a handy little device than can help me and others check the gluten content in my food, it was definitely something I wanted to explore.

nima-scottCo-founders Scott Sundvor and Shireen Yates are the masterminds behind Nima, a portable sensor that simply and easily detects gluten in food.

With a mission to develop new ways to quickly test food on-the-go, it was very personal for both Sundvor and Yates to bring that plan to fruition…striving for a way to alleviate the stress around unknown food ingredients, deliver social freedom, and make mealtime enjoyable again.

“I found out in college that I had allergies to gluten, dairy, egg and soy and had to completely change the way I ate,” says Yates. “I met my co-founder, Scott Sundvor, through mutual friends at MIT. He has ulcerative colitis and follows a gluten-free diet to help manage those symptoms. We bonded over our shared intestinal distress and decided to build a product that would help people know what is exactly in their food.”

The result: Nima, a discreet and portable device that allows consumers to test their meals for gluten anytime, anywhere. At just 3.5. long, 1” wide and 3.1” high, the triangular-shaped Nima fits easily in the palm of your hand and can be carried in a purse, pocket, or backpack.

“We were tired of getting sick from unintentional gluten exposure,” adds Yates. “We wanted a way to quickly test a piece of food in front of you to see if it was actually gluten-free.”nima-shireen

So how does it work?

Nima is optimized to detect 20 parts per million of gluten in a sample.

Explains Yates, “We can’t guarantee the whole plate is gluten-free, but it’s an extra tool you can use to screen your meal before you eat.” 

“Options for understanding what’s in our food are minimal, and Nima has the vast potential to fulfill a visceral need in the food transparency sector,” adds Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group, who assumes a new seat on Nima’s board of directors. “Nima leverages human computer interaction to provide the community with better data about our food to potentially save lives – in five years, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.”

Founded in 2013, Nima is close to its release, soon to help many find that relief they are looking for…knowing their meal is safe for consumption. In the past year, Nima opened pre-orders for its highly anticipated gluten sensor, going on to win the esteemed TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield competition at CES 2016. To date, you can still reserve your Nima and be one of the first to get your hands on this dynamic device when it goes on sale this coming spring 2017 at nimasensor.com

Expect to pay around $279 for a Nima Starter Kit, which includes the sensor, three one-time-use test capsules, charging cable, and carrying pouch. Capsule refill packs start at $59.95 per 12-pack, but you can save if you subscribe for the refill packs auto-delivery option.

Although Nima is targeted to first sell to consumers who eagerly want to know if gluten is in their food, the company is open to working with restaurants to help them better understand gluten contamination in the kitchen.

So, just as I am super excited for this breakthrough technology into the gluten-free world, the folks at Nima are getting fantastic feedback from those who deal with the same food issues on a daily basis.

“We hear stories every day about people who are isolated because of their diet or get sick, even though they are doing their best to be gluten-free,” explains Yates. “When we tell them about Nima, we are always grateful to hear they think it will be life-changing for them. To have an added peace of mind at meal time means being able to eat outside the home, go to grandma’s house or travel at their peak wellness. One gluten-free mom said they felt like a real family again after using Nima (through Beta testing) at a restaurant because they could laugh and talk and enjoy their time together without anxiety. Nima is very empowering.”

And gluten testing is just the beginning for this innovative tech company, according to Yates.

“We’re also developing tests for peanut, milk and tree nuts to add to the Nima platform, which will continue to expand the database of free-from friendly restaurants and foods in the Nima app. Gluten is only the beginning! “

nima-logo

For more information on the Nima sensor or to pre-order, go to:

nimasensor.com

MOTHER’S DAY & PIE…A SWEET CELEBRATION!

MAY 16, 2016

 

It’s nice to be awakened with breakfast in bed.

When my child was little, that was our annual routine for Mother’s Day. Along with flowers, some homemade gifts, and a day full of pampering, I was queen for a day…minus the horse drawn carriage. Although, my husband’s SUV was more than adequate to chauffeur this mom around town to a fancy dinner or picnic in the park.

These days, great dinners and fancy restaurants are still on my pallet’s radar; however, I would definitely opt for a more “outdoorsy” and casual celebration. Picnics are still one of my favorite things and being out in the fresh air amongst the singing birds and light breeze just gives me a sense of ultimate happiness. It’s an open slate…full to imagine, laugh, and best of all…just talk, talk, talk with my son and husband. We can talk about dreams, ideas, goals…and it can go on for hours.

So this year on Mother’s Day, I was treated to a picnic, but it was the setting that really had me at “hello, let’s eat”. My family decided to surprise me with loads of gluten-free goodies packed up at my new favorite destination…a hidden away park and trail that my husband and son originally discovered on a day trip some months ago. It’s full of large trees, the cutest wild bunnies hopping around, and wooden-slated walkways every which way. It’s a piece of a rustic world tucked away from the busy life of the city. It’s a place to find inspiration, to find rejuvenation, and to find calm. It was a gorgeous day and the perfect setting for our picturesque outing. And after our tummies were full of sandwiches and snacks, there was only one thing left to top off our meal.

About a week before, I had received a beautiful box with a Threeberry pie from The Maine Pie Co.

main box

main box back

I had heard raves about these gluten-free desserts, but had yet to try one myself. Although the sweet tooth in me wanted to tear the pie right out of the box and get it into the oven the day it arrived, I wanted to savor it in a more special way…on Mother’s Day.

So, I waited.

And waited…each day, looking at that pie in my freezer.

When Sunday, May 8th was finally here, I went ahead and baked the pie in the morning, before my surprise picnic. The piee came fresh frozen, meaning all I had to do was just pop it in the oven and bake it…super easy!

main pie box

My husband only told me we were going “somewhere” and knew I had been waiting until Mother’s Day to celebrate the pie with my family. So once the pie was baked and cooled, he packed it up in the basket to take along.

main pie baked

Now, I’m a pie lover from way back! So is my husband. But to tell you how delicious this pie was, is just an understatement. It truly was one of the best gluten-free pies I have eaten. The crust was a heavy lattice design, giving crust lovers (like I am) even more opportunity to grab an extra handful. It was flaky, buttery, and held up beautifully. The filling was a combination of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, which were overflowing with flavor. It wasn’t too sweet or tart, but just the perfect amount of flavor. And the filling was packed in there…I mean, there really were so many berries…with each pie slice, more filling just oozed out. For both my husband and son, who are not gluten-intolerant, the pie was a slice of perfection. Neither would have known the pie was gluten-free and my husband, especially, said the pie tasted better than many non-gluten varieties he has eaten. This pie was definitely equivalent to homemade! It was tasty cold; however, I have to admit that during that evening, later back at home, my taste buds were calling me to the kitchen for another piece (or two). This time, I reheated it (which still came out flaky, as if I had just baked it), and topped it with a dollop of Vanilla Bean So Delicious Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. It was the perfect pairing…kind of like cheese with a good wine…only so much better in my book!

main pie so

main pie fork

FYI…The Main Pie Co has loads of pie flavors…Peach-Raspberry, Pumpkin, Maine Wild Blueberry, Pecan, and many others. They also have cookie varieties, tarts, and pie crusts, to stuff with favorite fillings. For more info or to order, go to TheMainePieCo.com. Please check them out…you won’t be disappointed and they bake up perfectly!

So, all in all, I’m one lucky mommy to have had this awesome Mother’s Day Celebration. But really for me, being a mom is a celebration each and every day…more pie please!

HOLIDAYS IN JULY

May 10, 2016

Planning for the holidays this summer? Maybe. It won’t be too long before retailers start displaying their merchandise for the holiday season. And, although, many of us think it’s way too early to be concerned with such details, especially when we are busy planning swimming pool dates and backyard BBQs, I have to admit, I’m not immune to the early planning myself.

Just today, I walked into the kitchen to the most wonderful aroma. The smell of fresh baked cookies, or was it a candle the neighbor had on the back patio…after all, my windows were open, so I was able to enjoy all of the wonderful scents of pre-summer. It wasn’t until close to an hour later when my husband walked out of the kitchen with a beautiful yellow cake that he thought we would all fancy on a lazy spring afternoon. Although the gesture was genuine, my first thought was, “did he just use the gluten-free yellow cake mix I had specifically bought for an autumn cake I was planning to make this fall?’ Yes, that’s right. This fall. I had purchased this cake mix nearly four months early with high aspirations of preparing one of my favorite pumpkin spice cakes. With the excitement of the kick-off to “that time of year” running through my veins, I couldn’t help but purchase a yellow cake mix (as a base to use for my autumn creation) on a whim last week at the grocery store. Yes, this yellow cake mix that was now fluffy and light and swiftly going from my fork into my mouth. I know it seems early. I know I was probably going to eat the cake within days of purchasing it anyway. But there was just something about the excitement of getting my list together for another upcoming festivity.

The truth is, I know myself. I know the love I have for holiday celebrations. I know the passion I have for everyday celebrations. And I know that many celebrations revolve around food. Whether it’s succulent sweets, enticing entrees, dining out with family and friends, or just finding time to enjoy the little things in life, food is often the centerpiece of the party; however, in my case, that centerpiece must always be gluten-free.

After developing a gluten intolerance nearly 13 years ago, the world of gluten-free has come a long way. Running to the store to pick up a box of gluten-free cookies isn’t nearly the task as it was so many years ago. In fact, gluten-free products are all around us, which now makes any celebration a “piece of cake”.

My eagerness to share this passion with you is incorporated throughout this website, WheatWatchersOnline.com. In fact, that’s why I was so eager to start this site. I wanted to showcase how easy it is to plan your favorite events, your best parties, and your special holidays…all featuring gluten-free goodies and menus. You’ll even find ways to enhance your celebrations with tips for decorations and party favors. I also want you to know that it’s okay to travel. To feel safe and comfortable on your excursions. That’s why WheatWatchersOnline.com will be highlighting attractions, hotels, and resorts that go out of their way to ensure a great gluten-free getaway. And I want to explore and share with you, the many restaurants, bakeries, and stores out there, offering gluten-free items. And, of course, the many, many gluten-free products that are available every single day. This website is designed to offer great ideas, not only by our staff, but by some of the best chefs in the kitchen, to give you the tools and the extra touches to celebrate the joys of gluten-free living.

I invite you to join me on this wonderful and tasty journey. Your feedback is welcome and I would love to hear what types of gluten-free celebrations and tips you would like to see on the site. Please also click on the RECIPES section of the site to see how you can submit your favorite gluten-free goodies! You can also have a chance to win bundles and bundles of gluten-free goodies and gifts by clicking on the GRAB BAG section. In fact, right now, you can register to win an autographed copy of The Lagasse girls’ (yes, daughters of famed chef, Emeril Lagasse) cookbook, The Gluten-Free Table. Both, Jilly Lagasse and her sister Jessie Lagasse Swanson are in the no-gluten zone (Jilly has Celiac and Jessie is gluten intolerant) and have whipped up a fabulous cookbook full of amazing recipes! Even their dad contributed to the book. Be sure to get your name in the drawing…and check back regularly for new, electrifying giveaways! Want more perks? Right now, you can save $1 on your next Udi’s purchase by clicking on their ad…yum! You can also follow Wheat Watchers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest by clicking on the appropriate icons on the homepage.

Thank you for being a part of our fabulous Wheat Watchers community. Please check my blog again…I’m looking forward to celebrating with you!