Monthly Archives: August 2009

Learn to Dine Out Deliciously Gluten-Free!

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In early 2006 I was diagnosed with celiac disease. One of the first things that other people with the condition told me actually scared me worse than my diagnosis did. Several people said that the sooner I accepted the fact that my life of eating out and travel were over, the better off I’d be. To say that advice was unsettling is quite an understatement.

Considering the fact that I am a bit of a “foodie” who always plans vacations around the dining options available at places, never eating out again (or traveling) didn’t seem acceptable at all.

Luckily, shortly after my diagnosis, someone told me about the Triumph Dining gluten-free dining cards, which had helped them learn how to eat out safely. I then found out that Triumph Dining also had a book that was full of “gluten-free friendly” restaurants all over the U.S. I felt like I’d just won the lottery!

The day my copy of “The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide” and dining cards arrived in the mail, I felt that it would be possible to feel “normal” again. Shelley Case’s book “Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide” allowed me to learn – and correctly follow – the challenging gluten-free diet. By the time I finished reading through the first section in the Triumph Dining guide, I knew I could learn to safely eat out again. Suddenly this challenging lifestyle didn’t seem so daunting after all.

Today it is even easier to eat out safely than it was just three years ago. More and more restaurants are offering gluten-free menu selections and many places have printed gluten-free menus. The days of ordering an undressed salad and plain chicken when dining out gluten-free are over. From large chains to small independent places, gluten-free dining options abound in the U.S. – finally!

I’m very excited to announce that I (Tiffany Janes – in case you missed the tiny name at the top of this post) just joined the Triumph Dining team as a contributing writer on this blog. My goal is to share product and restaurant reviews as well as gluten-free news with our readers. As always, we’ll share wonderful recipes from the amazing gluten-free blogging world. I subscribe to the motto at Triumph Dining which is “don’t let gluten win!”and I hope you will do the same!

What is your favorite place to dine out deliciously gluten-free?

Gluten Free Food at Sports Arenas across the U.S.

Hey sports fans!

Next time you’re in Baltimore watching the Ravens play at M&T Bank Stadium, you can enjoy some salty snacks and gluten-free beer! According to the Baltimore Sun, Anheuser-Busch’s gluten-free beer, Redbridge, is sold for $7 on the first floor concourse from a concession stand near section 130. The stand also sells gluten-free pretzels.

But that’s not the only place that people with celiac disease can enjoy food with their sports. The Coors Field in Denver, home of the Colorado Rockies, has an entirely gluten-free concession stand behind Section 147 on the left field that sells hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, cookies, pretzels, chips, brownies, beer, and soda.

Go watch the Washington Nationals play and enjoy munching on enormous gluten-free pretzels by Noah’s Pretzels. The pretzels are also available at Baltimore Oriole’s games.

The Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field, where you can now find gluten-free beer and snacks. The gluten-free beer is available wherever liquor is sold (sections 109, 114, 122, 129, 136, 311, 324), and you can also munch on Larabar and gummy bears.

Lincoln Financial Field, during home games of the  Philadelphia Eagles, will sell gluten-free hot dogs and buns at “The Philly Stand” at Section 117.  By September 20, gluten-free snacks will join the menu. Redbridge beer will be served at The Liberty Bell Taproom at Section 118. Score! (Thanks to Gluten Free Philly for the tip!)

At US Cellular field (formerly Comiskey Park), home of the Chicago White Sox, you can go to the Southside Grill for gluten-free beer, granola bars, and candy.

At Citizens’ Bank Park, home of the Phillies, you can chow down on gf snacks, hot dogs, and buns from the South Philly Market stand behind Section 128. You can guzzle Redbridge beer from any the concession stands near 139, 204, 323, and at the Brewerytown stand on Ashburn Alley. Also in Ashburn Alley, enjoy food from Bull’s BBQ, specifically all meat products, barbecue sauce, cole slaw, and beans. Thanks to CeliacsTips for the excellent info.

Do any other sports stadiums sell gluten-free drinks and food? Spread the happiness and tell us!

GF Blogger of the Month: Gluten Free Food Reviews' Karen

Gluten-free products may be quick and convenient, but they sure leave a dent in your checking account. Especially when you are first diagnosed, seeking out good quality GF products can cause you to waste a lot of time and money. That’s why the gluten-free community is lucky—super-lucky—to have a blogger like Karen. Her blog, Gluten Free Food Reviews, guides readers through the latest commercial gluten free products so that they don’t have to go out and do all the dirty work themselves. Karen uses an easy-to-understand five star system with 1 being dreadful, 3 so-so, and 5 the best sort of GF product money can buy. She updates several times a month and posts clear, close-up pictures of the product being reviewed.

Just this month she has reviewed the Gluten Free Every Day cookbook; Amy’s Bowls Mexican Casserole; Betty Crocker GF chocolate chip cookie mix and both cake mixes; Cerealvit GF and organic cereals; and Xan confections GF and vegan gourmet chocolates and caramels. She also occasionally reviews restaurants and gives away GF products. So far you can search from over 300 helpful posts!

The left side of Karen’s blog works like an index of links to all of her products reviews, which you can search by category (all-purpose flour mixes, for example) or by brand name, like Tinkyada. She lists ingredients at the bottom of each review, which is really helpful in case you have more than one food sensitivity or if you’re a picky eater. Karen also kid-tests certain products on her children and gives you their blunt assessments.

Here’s a sample of one of her reviews, in this case, Katz Gluten Free Cookies:

This is what I thought of each flavor:
Colored Sprinkle Cookies: These were the clear winner at my house! These gluten free cookies are heart shaped shortbread cookies with fun sprinkles decorating the top. They are just the right size for a child to hold and are delightfully light with a soft crunch. They boast a sweet vanilla flavor that anyone would enjoy. My kids are begging me for more! Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Ingredients: gluten free flour (corn, tapioca, brown rice, sorghum), sugar, palm oil, canola oil, fresh eggs, pure vanilla, xanthan gum, salt, colored sprinkles
Chocolate Rugelech: These cookies look like mini pinwheels with swirls of chocolate and coffee flavored filling with a hint of cinnamon. It is a nice idea, but the end result was less than fantastic. These cookies were brittle and easily fell apart in my hand. They were very crunchy and dry, and I couldn’t even dunk them into a beverage because they crumbled so easily. I am not sure if I got a bad batch, but this happened before and after freezing them. It’’s really too bad, because it is a great idea for a sweet snack. Rating: 1  1/2 stars
Ingredients: gluten free flour (potato, tapioca, white rice, brown rice, sorghum), sugar, canola oil, fresh eggs, orange juice, cocoa, dry yeast, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, coffee, cornstarch, pure vanilla.

About her motivation for keeping up this blog, Karen writes:

I hated that I wasted so much money on products that didn’t taste good.  I turned online to search for suggestions from real people about what gluten free products were worth my time and money. I admit, I am not the best cook, and definitely not a “foodie”, even though sometimes I wish I was. I needed some reliable mixes and products to help me on my gluten free journey since spending hours planning and cooking everything from scratch just isn’t an option every day.

When I searched for gluten free product reviews, I wasted so much time surfing through so much “clutter” – long personal stories, and personal blogs that were fun to read, but they did not have the product information I was searching for. . . and many the product sales sites I found only had very limited “products reviews.’ And for some reason, all of the reviews were positive. (Hmmmmmm, interesting.) I really felt frustrated! I was too busy to waste my time wading through endless pages of gluten-free related info, only to come away with minimal product information.

I wanted to find a clear cut site, a site that wouldn’t try to tell me a food was good just so I’d buy it. I wanted an honest site that would point blank tell me what was good or not. Since I couldn’t find one, I decided to create my own- thus, glutenfreefoodreviews was born.

I think it is just fantastic that we have this resource of  clearly written, useful, and frank reviews by someone who’s neither a professional cook nor a corporate spokesperson.  Her blog helps the gluten free community a lot. Thank you Karen!

Gluten-free Casein-free Fresh Ice Cream!

Today a fun (but not gluten-free) blogger posted about Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in New York, New York. Since so many gluten-free people pass through this great town, I thought I’d let you know about Lula’s although as a disclaimer you should know I’ve never been over there. According to The Girl Who Ate Everything:

Don’t let the diet-friendly designation deter you if you’re omnivorous (easy to say, those desserts don’t always have the best reputations for being delicious)—it’s good even to those of us whose stomach acids can tear through everything.

You can hop over to her blog post to see a picture of Today’s Flavors (on July 5th). She ate nut-based orange creamsicle plus ginger molasses ice cream, so you can imagine that Lula’s ice cream flavors will satisfy every crazed whim you have. The Girl Who Ate Everything writes:

The ice creams were smooth, creamy, not too sweet, and strongly flavored. Orange creamsicle tastes like orange creamsicle! Ginger molasses tastes like…well, mostly molasses, but it’s still good. Better than a lot of typical dairy-based ice cream? I’d say yes.

It seems from the menu that about half, or more than half, of all the ice creams are gluten-free, designated clearly for ease of use. If you check out Lula’s online menu, you can see for yourself that they have several clearly marked gf sauces (hot fudge, peanut butter, and marshmallow), almost all of their syrups are also gluten-free, and they offer six gluten-free toppings including gluten-free cookies! Pretty much gluten-free heaven, as far as I can tell.

In addition to simple ice cream, they sell flavored sodas (seltzer plus syrup), New York egg cream (“no egg, no cream”), shakes and malts (with rice milk), sundaes, flurries, and banana splits.

If any of our readers have eaten at Lula’s, we are eager to hear your report!

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, 516 East Street (between Avenues A & B), New York, NY

Gluten Free Chattanooga

If you or a gluten-free loved one live in or near Chattanooga, Tennessee, a new support group has been formed that may help you. The support group, Gluten Free Chattanooga, meets for the first time Tuesday, August 25th, at 7 p.m. in the Thompson Room of Erlanger Hospital. Here is the group’s page on Facebook: GF Chattanooga. The mission of this support group is:

to make a positive difference in the lives of those living with celiac disease or gluten intolerance through education, support and the opportunity to interact with fellow celiacs.

The support group attempts to give people newly diagnosed with celiac disease all the information they need; they also want to encourage doctors to test more patients for celiac disease.  To speak with the group leader, Kelly Brexler, call (423) 664-2520 or email group supported Stacy Johnson at glutenfreechatt AT yahoo DOT com. Original article in The Chattanoogan about the group here.

While you’re in Chattanooga, check out the gluten-free bakery and chocolate shop, A Bountful Harvest! It’s at 1101 Hixson Pike Suite L in a shopping center, The Corner at Riverview.

Good luck on all your gluten-free adventures.

Gluten-Free Indian Cuisine, Part 3 of 4: Saag Paneer

Spinach, that crunchy green salad leaf packed with protein and essential vitamins, takes on a different tone in its Indian cuisine variation, saag paneer. The vegetables and nutritional benefits are still there, but this Indian dish adds a creamy, mildly spiced dimension to the spinach that pairs well with rice and meat and is almost always gluten-free.

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This third post in our series about gluten-free Indian cuisine delves into yet another item we ate at a local Indian restaurant, Haandi.

So, you’re probably wondering what’s in saag paneer — easy!  Saag mean spinach, and paneer is an Indian cheese. For you foodies, here’s a little more about the paneer.  It’s akin to a farmer’s cheese, not aged or ripened, so it has a very mild flavor. It has a pleasantly chewy, almost rubbery texture.

I’ve watched homemade paneer being made with just whole milk and lemon juice (vinegar may be subsituted).  My auntie Shobha (okay, not really my aunt, but as a family friend, she insisted I call her that!) would curdle the boiled milk with the lemon juice, then strain out the curds.  Sometimes she would ues the loose curds as they were.  Or, time permitting, she would put the curds in a cheesecloth bag and hang it over the sink, letting the whey drip out slowly.  Every half an hour or so, she would squeeze the cheesecloth tighter around the curds, compressing them into a thick brick.  She would cut the bricks into cubes and use it for one of my favorite dishes, saag paneer.

Not everyone has the opportunity to have Auntie Shobha’s saag paneer.   But luckily, it’s a staple Indian restaurant dish.  And, it’s almost always gluten-free!

When ordering this dish at an Indian restaurant, be sure to ask if the chef thickens it with flour. Spinach can be watery, and once, I dined at a restaurants that add wheat flour to thicken the dish.  But otherwise, I’ve never encountered a problem with this dish.  For more Indian cuisine dining tips, check out the first post in this series.

Here’s a recipe for gluten-free palak paneer, taken from allrecipes.com. I chose it because paneer can be hard to find outside of a local Indian grocery, and this recipe uses ricotta cheese.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

2 dried red chile peppers

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

3/4 cup sour cream

3 pounds fresh spinach, torn

1 large tomato, quartered

4 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves

8 ounces ricotta cheese

Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of ginger, red chilies (optional ingredient) and onion until brown. Mix in the cumin, coriander, turmeric and sour cream (add more or less to achieve desired creaminess). Add the spinach, handfuls at a time until it is cooked down, about 15 minutes total. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Pour spinach mixture into a blender or food processor and add the tomato, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of ginger, and cilantro (add more or less according to taste). Blend for 15 to 30 seconds, or until the spinach is finely chopped. Pour back into the saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  3. In a medium frying pan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and fry cheese until browned; drain and add to spinach. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Season with salt to taste.

Many Muffins—Munch Munch!

From the variety and exuberance of gluten free muffin recipes on the Web, one would assume that muffins satisfy us like nothing else.  Muffins cook up quickly, come in dozens of flavors and textures, and boy do they make your morning smell like hot, fresh heaven. Here’s your chance to pick the most drool-worthy recipe for <b>gluten free muffins</b> and dig in!

  • If you want a one-size-fits-all gluten free muffin recipe, Lilac Kitchen developed a muffin formula that invites tweaking.
  • Elana of Elana’s Pantry has muffin recipes coming out of her ears! Try her hearty Bran Muffins with almond flour and flax meal or sink your Hallowe’en fangs into her pumpkin pie muffins made with fresh pumpkin.
  • Karina of Karina’s Kitchen also churns out muffins recipes, but to me her vegan Pear Polenta Muffins sound mind-alteringly scrumptious: cornmeal, tapioca starch, rice flour, a mashed banana, fresh chunks of pear, and hemp (or rice) milk.
  • Mrs. GF from Recipe for a Gluten-Free Life also uses mashed banana but makes her Banana-Quinoa muffins nuttier by adding quinoa flakes and brown rice flour.
  • This seems a good combination to the owner of the gorgous blog La Tartine Gourmande, whose Banana-Coconut muffins hide within their chewy depths hazelnut flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, bananas, grated coconut, and coconut milk.
  • Rachel of the Crispy Cook takes the savory route with her Rice and Cheese Muffins. She uses leftover rice, grated cheese, egg, and xantham gum to hold them together for extra munchability.
  • The Gluten Free Mommy whipped up Carrot-Zucchini muffins with a yummy streusel topping from I Am Gluten Free. She uses sorghum, tapioca, and white rice flours with xantham gum, yogurt, butter, and eggs. A lactose-intolerant reader substituted applesauce for the yogurt and it turned out great.
  • My favorite muffins are blueberry, and Shauna, the Gluten-Free Girl, has a doozy of a recipe for people like me. Her Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Zest are made with sorghum flour, tapioca flour and white rice flour with the addition of baking soda, baking powder, and yogurt. Plus a load of blueberries.

Which gluten free muffins are you going to try?

Gluten-Free Culinary Summits

This September, the Culinary Insitute of America in Hyde Park, New York will be hosting the Gluten-Free Culinary Summit East Edition. In October, Johnson and Wales University in Denver, Colorado will host the Gluten-Free Culinary Summit West Edition. These Summits will feature dozens of demonstrations, panel discussions, and recipe tastings conducted by top chefs, culinary institute professors, and cookbook authors. Everything will be gluten-free.

The New York Summit takes place September 12-13 and features optional programs like “morning pastry delights,” “the best gluten-free cookie,” “gluten-free bread baking,” “the art of healthy and savory entertaining,” “afternoon tea celebration reception,” and “sweet and savory crusts.”

The Denver Summit occurs October 3-4 and includes programs such as “audience tasting and voting for best gluten-free quick bread,” “artisinal ingredients,” “high altitude baking insights,” “enlightened morning cuisine,” “imaginative desserts,” “sweet and savory brunch delights,” “the adventures of chocolate in a gluten-free world,” and “creating and using a great flour blend.”

Register and read more about the Summits here. A full day’s worth of events costs around $200.

Socially Responsible GF

These days many people try to buy products in a socially responsible way. Movements like Buy Local, Go Organic, and Buy Fair Trade have all had their effect, especially on the more affluent parts of the country. But it’s something of a headache to add Gluten-Free to that list, so Triumph Dining has come up with a list of some organic, fair trade (not local, that’s up to you) goodies for you or your gluten-free friends to indulge in, guilt-free. Just remember to recycle the wrapping!

  • Simply Organic baking mixes: Banana Bread, Carrot Cake, Chai Spice Scone, Cocoa Biscotti, Cocoa Cayenne Cupcake, and Honeypot Ginger Cookie.
  • All Dagoba Organic Chocolate products: chocolate bars, drinking chocolates, baking items, etc.
  • Equal Exchange Organic Coffee: Love Buzz, Breakfast Blend, Mind Body and Soul, French Roast, Decaffeinated, Colombian, and Ethiopian. Also all of Equal Exchange’s cocoa and chocolate products are gluten-free, and their tea and sugar are also organic and fair-trade.
  • Zebra Mints from Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates.
  • Wholesome Sweeteners Raw Honey.
  • Pure Fun Candy Canes. Plus pretty much all their other candy.
  • Buddha’s Bakery sells vegan, organic, and gluten-free cake, muffin, and frosting mixes. The dates and cocoa in the ingredients are fair trade.

Have we missed socially responsible foods that you love? Tell us all about them.

United Kingdom News: Gluten Free Dog Food

Owner Stephen Ward in Lancashire discovered that his French mastiff Milo was allergic to wheat and gluten, so he started buying dog food from a specialist in non-allergenic, gluten-free dog food. Milo became healthy again, but then the specialist’s business folded, and Mr. Ward did not want Milo to suffer again. So Ward, aged 41, started a business, Height Farms Premium Pet Foods, in Harwood. The business has been taking off and Milo is a lot better. Ward likes to think of his product as “posh nosh” for dogs and cats.

The food contains no artifical colors or flavorings, no soy, dairy, wheat, or wheat gluten. Main ingredients vary from fresh chicken, turkey, rice, grade ‘A’ chicken meal, and fresh salmon to lamb meal. You can order online or by telephone, but probably only in the U.K.

Does anyone know if pets can have celiac disease, or only allergies to gluten and wheat?

Read the original story.