Monthly Archives: July 2009

Celiac-friendly Cooking Videos on the web

If you enjoy watching cooking shows on TV but wish that there were a show just for celiacs, just turn the Internet into your personal gluten-free TV. You have so many options you can’t watch them all! Here are some places to start viewin’ and chewin’:

  • Lovin’ From the Oven is a website run by Bobby and Barbee with several videos demonstrating how to make various classic American gluten-free dishes: almond-crusted salmon with a citrus sauce, Southwestern stuffed peppers, potato onion casserole, and strawberry swirl cheesecake, etc. The recipes are also listed on the site.
  • Nearly Normal Kitchen posted five videos starring cookbook author Jules Shepard on YouTube: gluten-free pumpkin cookies, gf brownies, gf flour mixture, gf bread making, and gf graham crackers.
  • Elana’s Pantry, one of our community gluten-free blogs, hosts two videos: one on how to make bluberry muffins with coconut flour, and the other on vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies.
  • Gluten Free Kiwi Dot Com posted a whopping 33 videos, some of which are recipes (pizza, New Zealand love cake, gnocchi, and breakfast), and some of which are commentary on travel or how to set up a gluten-free kitchen.
  • The Gluten Solution recorded 21 videos on YouTube, including several Hallowe’en recipes, paprika chicken, shrimp corn boil, and herbed rainbow trout.

Gluten-Free Indian Cuisine, Part 2 of 4: Tandoori Chicken

A great-tasting recipe that adds a kick of spice to a classic family dinner favorite, Tandoori chicken combines all the right flavorings and textures for a delicious Indian meal.

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We first discussed this dish yesterday, in our post about dining out gluten-free at an Indian restaurant. Over the next few days, we will post about some of our favorite Indian dishes and how to make them at home, gluten-free.

I’ve long enjoyed Tandoori chicken, the subject of today’s post, at Indian restaurants. But first – a quick caveat. As we discussed in our last post, Indian restaurants often cook Tandoori chicken in ovens known as Tandoors, which leads to cross-contamination issues as these ovens also cook the gluten-containing Indian bread naan. Therefore, always talk to your waiter before ordering this dish at an Indian restaurant. Read our last post for more details. Or, for an equally enjoyable culinary experience, just cook the chicken for yourself at home, like Kay did last week.

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Kay’s recipe used a different mix of spices, so her Tandoori chicken didn’t quite achieve its trademark bright-red hue. But nonetheless, it was thoroughly flavorful, maintaining the chicken’s greasy texture while a reddish-yellow matte of spices soaked into the outside of its skin. The heat was far from overwhelming and complemented the chicken’s flavor and texture. This, along with basmati rice and some palak makhani (see below), made for an excellent weekday lunch, and would surely suffice as a tasty and delicious family dinner.

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This creamy spinach dish, known as palak makhani, blended perfectly with our tender Tandoori chicken and white rice. Want to know how to make it? Next week we'll show you how.

Here’s the Tandoori chicken recipe Kay used, reprinted below, courtesy of David Lebovitz.

1/4 t saffron threads

1 T boiling water

Soak the saffron in the boiling water for five minutes.

4 skinless chicken thighs

4 skinless chicken legs

Cut score marks into chicken, to facilitate marinating process. Place in large freezer bag and set aside.

3/4 t salt

1 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t paprika (I used pimente d’Espelette)

1/2 t turmeric

1 to 1 1/2 t chili powder

10 turns fresh ground black pepper

1 c whole milk plain yogurt

juice of one fresh lime

1 T finely-minced fresh ginger

2 minced cloves of garlic

Mix the all the above ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the freezer bag with the chicken.  Squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible, then seal.  Massage chicken through the bag to make sure the marinade penetrates as deeply as possible.  (The nice thing about this step is that you don’t have to get your hands dirty!)  Refrigerate overnight, if possible.  Though I’ve let it marinate as little as a couple hours. The taste won’t be as strong, but if you’re in a hurry, it’ll do.

Tandoori chicken, freshly marinated and ready for the grill.

Tandoori chicken, freshly marinated and ready for the grill.

When done marinating, shake marinade off chicken, and cook on a hot grill pan (cast iron works great).  Cook both sides until the pieces touching the grill are slightly charred.  If the chicken is cooked on the outside, but not inside, put into an oven safe dish and cook at 350F until it’s cooked throughout, usually 10 minutes.

We’d love to hear what you think of this recipe. If any of you have tried making Tandoori chicken in the past or have any other dining out tips to share, let us know!

Gluten Free Lasagna

Gooey, chewy lasagna may have originated in Italy, but by now almost every American household has whole-heartedly embraced this delicious rectangular entrée. And there’s no reason the gluten-free community can’t enjoy this dish; there are a ton of ways to eat lasagna without wheat. Among the blogging community, Tinkyada GF lasagna noodles are the clear winner in recipe after recipe, but if you’re looking to skip the GF substitutions, we’ve collected a number of recipes that don’t require noodles at all!

  • Bonzai Aphrodite offers us a Vegan Polenta Lasagna. She uses vegan cream cheese, which can be difficult for the non-urban to find.
  • Melanie of Gluten Free Krums substitutes sliced potatoes for the noodles. Then she piles on the turkey, goat cheese, and spinach.
  • Gluten Free Goof of Blog Schmog uses rice, eggs, cottage cheese, and ground beef in her No Noodle Lasagna recipe.
  • The Gluten Free Homemaker cooks up Mexican Lasagna layered with strips of corn tortilla. That’s what I do too!
  • Book of Yum features a Spaghetti Squash Un-Lasagna which substitutes spaghetti squash strands for lasagna noodles and which also offers both dairy and non-dairy versions.

Starbucks Gluten-Free Pastry Discontinued, Sign Our Petition to Bring it Back!

Just weeks after introducing it, Starbucks has pulled the plug on its gluten-free Valencia Orange Cake. Gluten-free consumers lauded the pastry, citing its great taste and sticky texture as reasons to include Starbucks in their morning coffee routine. And now, said the company through its Twitter page, the cake is no more. We, along with most of you, were left scratching our heads.

The pastry was first unveiled in early May of this year. A Starbucks media representative told me at the time that the cake was the result of the massive amount of requests the company received through its customer service website, MyStarbucksIdea.com. On the site, “gluten-free pastry” was the number one “idea” customers wished Starbucks to act upon. And so, Starbucks did the design work, and released its gluten-free Valencia Orange Cake last May, along with much press and publicity.

A past review on our blog praised its sticky, sweet texture and highlighted it as one of the few pastries we’ve tried that didn’t flake apart with every bite in typical, gluten-free fashion. But what really knocked our socks off about this cake was its availability. Though some of you reported that it didn’t quite make it to your local Starbucks, many on our blog said the cake turned them into regular Starbucks customers, enabling them to frequent one of the coffee shop’s 11,000 nationwide locations for breakfast or perhaps an afternoon snack.

To see this cake disappear only a few short weeks after its launch is baffling and perplexing. Several Starbucks locations in our area told us that the cake sold out daily; many of you have reported this as well, though others said shortages were apparent. Tiffany Janes, Atlanta Gluten-Free Food Examiner, cited quality control problems in the Atlanta area as a major factor for its disappearance; no such problems could be found in our local Washington, D.C. locations as well as in most other parts of the country.

This delicious pastry made the lives of many people with celiac disease easier, and, quite frankly, we are among the thousands of consumers nationwide who disagree and are dissatisfied with Starbucks’s decision to remove the pastry. Any problems with quality or availability should have been ironed out. Gluten-free consumers expect and demand more, especially from a company like Starbucks, which so often touts its community involvement.

To that end, we started this petition to bring it back.

In only one week, 3,500 people have signed it, and we encourage you to do the same. Once we reach 5,000 signatures, we will forward it to Starbucks, to urge them to bring back their gluten-free pastry. Please, forward this petition to your friends and family as well, even those who don’t have celiac disease.

This pastry was a great help to the gluten-free community, and its presence in thousands of stores nationwide will be sorely missed.

Click here to sign the petition.

Gluten-Free Indian Cuisine, Part 1 of 4: Dining Out

Tired of eating the same meal over and over again?

Here’s to spicing it up a notch.

Over the next few weeks, along with our regular helping of product reviews, restaurant reviews and gluten-free news, Triumph Dining will be posting about Indian food, a cuisine with ingredients that are often mysterious and unfamiliar to the gluten-free consumer. You’ll be surprised to find that most Indian food can be enjoyed entirely gluten-free.

In the first installment of our series, we take you to Haandi Indian Cuisine, a typical Indian restaurant, to show you the ins and outs of making sure your meal is safe and delicious.

Indian Buffet

Haandi’s main dining room was laid out like I expect most Indian restaurants might – white walls with mirrors, neat in appearance, white tablecloths, waiters eager to refill your rapidly diminishing water glasses. Haandi also shared a common feature many Indian restaurants now boast – a lunch buffet, complete with five stainless-steel pots containing foods varying greatly in taste, ingredients and seasonings.

When we sat down, we immediately asked the manager if any of the dishes contained gluten. His response would irk even the most seasoned gluten-free restaurant pros. “Gluten? What’s gluten? Isn’t that in Chinese food?”

Gulp.

When faced with a waiter, chef or manager at an Indian restaurant who’s never heard the word gluten in his life, don’t panic! All will be okay. But before you order, be sure to do the following.

  1. Pass over our Dining Card for Indian Cuisine (shown below), which lists Indian ingredients that often contain gluten and more precautions chefs should take when preparing food that’s gluten-free. The directions are listed in English on the front and Hindi on the back.
  2. Explain to him that wheat, barley and oats contain gluten. We don’t necessarily suggest you mention rye. Why? Rye is an ingredient that’s almost unheard of in India. (In fact, when we created our Dining Card for Indian Cuisine, we consulted with three Hindi translators, none of whom knew what rye was!) Another common mistake – rye is often confused with the identically-pronounced Indian spice rai, which is safe for your consumption.
  3. Finally, be sure to ask if the restaurant has a tandoori oven or tandoor. A tandoor is an extremely hot clay oven used to cook tandoori dishes as well as the wheat-based naan, an Indian flatbread. Often times, chefs will slap the naan onto the sides of the oven when cooking it, creating a “poof!” of flour and a near guarantee for cross-contamination with other dishes inside. Some Indian restaurants have tandoori ovens, others don’t. If your Indian restaurant does not have a tandoori oven, cross-contamination generally is not an issue, but be sure to check with the chef beforehand.
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The reverse side of our Dining Card for Indian Cuisine lists, in Hindi, precautions chefs should take when preparing a gluten-free meal. Flip it over, and these same directions are written out in English.

This might seem like a lot to handle, but Indian food is unique in that it is among the few types of cuisines that rarely has hidden sources of gluten. We discussed the main cross-contamination issue earlier. Another gluten-containing ingredient, a spice known as hing (which is listed on our dining card), also causes problems from time to time, as it is often milled with wheat.

Gluten-Free Indian Food

As it turned out, Haandi did have a tandoori oven, making the tandoori chicken entrée in the buffet off-limits. However, the other dishes in the buffet – aloo gobi, dal makhani, saag paneer and chicken tikka – were gluten-free, the chef told us. We sampled them, and all were tasty and delicious. We’ll delve into each of these dishes over the next few weeks and show you how to make them, along with our usual helping of product reviews, restaurant reviews and gluten-free news.

Though we were disappointed that Haandi didn’t offer gluten-free tandoori chicken, it’s a dish that’s easy-to-make at home and tomorrow we’ll show you how.

Are there any other fans of Indian cuisine out there? What are you concerned about when you eat gluten-free at an Indian restaurant? We’d love to answer any questions in later posts in this series so let us know!

Taste Test: Erewhon Breakfast Cereals

Corn flakes bring me back, way back. To when I was five, when nothing else but corn flakes mixed with just a tad of sugar and sliced bananas would make me excited to wake up every morning with a grin on my face. Just the thought of this delicious breakfast, and I’d hop out of bed and race downstairs for a bowl. It’s the classic breakfast cereal, the original breakfast cereal.  How better to enjoy it than with Erewhon’s Organic, Gluten-Free Corn Flakes?

We were shocked just a few weeks ago by Envirokidz Gorilla Munch, as it only contained only three ingredients (organic corn meal, organic evaporated cane juice and sea salt). But Erewhon has done this delicious cereal one better, as its corn flakes only contain two ingredients – organic milled corn and sea salt. Amazing to think that something like cereal, which I’ve always associated with large factories, processed foods, and an ungodly number of flavorings and sweeteners, could be boiled down to just the absolute basics, and organic basics at that.

But maybe you love the basics, and love fruit, but fresh fruit? That doesn’t quite do it for you. Erewhon’s Strawberry Crisp Cereal takes corn flakes and adds a helping of freeze-dried strawberries. The strawberries add a much sweeter flavor to the flakes, and this cereal probably would better meet the breakfast demands of those under 12 years of age. The strawberries melt in your mouth into what feels and tastes like individual grains of sugar. It doesn’t feel natural, but as a substitute for fresh fruit, it suffices nonetheless.

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As someone who stuck to the simple, plain cereals growing up, I never particularly fell victim to the vast array of chocolate cereals (e.g., Count Chocula, Cocoa Puffs), but for those who did (or still do), I suspect Erewhon’s Cocoa Crispy Brown rice might be in your future. Natural, organic, and containing few ingredients, this cereal doesn’t blow you away with the taste of sugar or chocolate. Instead it sticks with its crunchy, grainy texture and its ability to make your milk chocolatey, which is always a plus when mugs are the only suitable cereal bowls available in your office (see below). I wonder if anyone’s tried using these to make Rice Krispies Treats? That sounds like a delicious snack, and I’d love for someone to let us know if they’ve experimented with this.

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Erewhon sent us free samples of their products to review.

Have any of you tried Erewhon’s products? What did you think of them? Please comment!

Starbucks Petition UPDATE: 2,500 Signatures!

Since Friday, 2,500 people have signed our petition to bring back Starbucks’ gluten-free Orange Cake. We still need 2,500 more signatures before we will forward the petition to Starbucks. Please, if you haven’t already, tell your friends and family to sign! As evidenced by some of the comments below, this pastry was a great help to the gluten-free community, and its presence in thousands of stores nationwide will be sorely missed.

An anonymous signer told us, “I loved to be able to walk into a “normal” restaurant and be able to order the gf cake. I never left with less than two.”

Candace Magruder wrote, “Please support the significant portion of your customers who can’t eat all those other yummy-looking treats.  We love Starbucks now, but we would love you even more if you brought back the cake!”

Another anonymous signer, whose comments were echoed by many of you, wrote,  “It is extremely difficult to find desserts in restaurants that are gluten free. We all know that cakes and desserts in general are not “healthy” for regular consumption. We can get gluten free bars at a health store, and very few of them could even come close to being considered a treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee. Please reconsider your decision to remove this cake from your stores.”

Finally, Jennifer Williams Zwagerman told us how Starbucks only made it into her morning routine because of its gluten-free option. “I’m sad to see the cake disappearing. I’ve actually been going to Starbucks in the morning more often now that the cake was available as it was one of the few breakfast options I had. Without the gluten free cake, there’s no reason for me to now go out of my way to Starbucks instead of one of the other options available to me.

If you haven’t signed our petition to Starbucks already, please consider doing so now. The gluten-free community benefitted greatly from the accessibility and ubiquity of this pastry, and significantly regrets its demise. Tell Starbucks how you feel, sign our petition!

Celiac Skeptics? New Saliva-Based Test Facilitates Diagnosis

Do you remember when The View first did a profile on celiac disease?  If you do, then you probably remember (with horror) the fabulous comic Susie Essman, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, saying “I don’t know if I have it [celiac disease], but I know I’m gluten intolerant.”  Okay, maybe that’s not so bad, but then she continued to say “Well, my mother has celiac.”  Fast forward to minute 1, second 35, of the video, then minute 2, second 40, to see for yourself.

I suspect that everyone with celiac disease watching The View at those moments released a collective “arghhhhhhh.”

Susie knew that a) gluten bothers her and b) her mom has celiac disease. All signs point to the fact that she should get tested.  With celiac specialist Dr. Peter Green on national television hinting that she should, I would be surprised if she didn’t get tested eventually.

But we’re not just talking about Susie – people with this attitude abound. We hear from dozens of people every year that have relatives that refuse to get tested for celiac disease – despite the fact that they have a family member with it, or even sometimes despite the fact they themselves have symptoms of celiac disease. And not all of us have the opportunity to have Dr. Green show up to family functions and convince our look-the-other-way family members to get tested.

I’m no psychologist, so I don’t know why people do what they do, but I suspect if testing were easier (no two-month wait to see the doctor) and less invasive (no blood draws or endoscopies), people might be more likely to get tested.

Prometheus Labs has a new saliva-based genetic test for celiac disease called MyCeliacID that may fit the bill. For $329 you can order the test, and the company will send you a special vial to store your spit. This isn’t some slick mouth swab, like we were expecting. You literally must drool into the test tube, mix it with some stabilizing solution, seal it, toss it into a prepaid mailing envelope and send it back. Seven days later, you can access your results online. Quick, painless, and only a little bit icky.

The test itself checks DNA for genetic patterns that are associated with the presence of celiac disease. Positive results, however, don’t automatically equal a celiac diagnosis. They simply mean that there’s  a chance of the subject developing celiac disease. Because of the fickle, unpredictable and largely mysterious nature of autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, even genetic makeup can’t definitively forecast the presence of illness. But hopefully, those who test positive will get the kick in the pants they need to see the doctor.

So what do you think? Do you think people who are otherwise doctor-phobic might take the test, if it’s presented as a simple “all you have to do is drool” type of chore?

Do you have any tips to share when handling relatives like Susie?

Emeril Lagasse GF Cooking Videos

In case you missed it, the famous TV chef Emeril Lagasse (who my mom adores) put on an all gluten-free episode. Follow the link to watch his videos on how to make gluten-free New Orleans fare. Recipes include stuffed chicken, cornbread, stewed tomatoes and okra, and pecan pie. It all sounds delicious, but when I checked out his recipes, I realized that people with celiac disease should be careful of some if his ingredients. For example, his stuffed chicken recipe calls for “amber beer.” As we all know, beer has to be specifically gluten-free to be safe, and because most GF beer is made with sorghum, it tends to be sweeter than non-gluten-free beer. In the same recipe Emeril also calls for “Creole seasoning,” and “Louisiana hot sauce,” neither of which is certain to be gluten-free. If you’re wondering which brands are safe, you can find gluten-free ingredients in our grocery guide. Emeril does, however, helpfully specify a gluten-free brand of Worcestershire sauce. Need helpIf you exercise your usual caution in purchasing ingredients, these recipes will be a lot of fun. Enjoy!

Starbucks Petition UPDATE: 1,600 Signatures!

The gluten-free community needs your help. So far, over 1,600 people have signed our petition to Starbucks to bring back their gluten-free Orange Cake. Once we reach 5,000 signatures, we will send this petition to Starbucks to show our support for this delicious and most importantly, accessible, pastry. So many of you have told us what a relief it was to have something delicious to eat at a nationwide chain like Starbucks. Let’s join together and tell Starbucks how important it is to the gluten-free community that this pastry remain in stores nationwide.

Click here to sign the petition.