Monthly Archives: September 2009

Bella Monica Offers Excellent Gluten-free Pizza!

bellamonicaflatbreadsBefore I was gluten-free, we never made pizza at home – ever. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in  early 2006, there was no gluten-free pizza to be had in a restaurant here so I had to make my own.

We didn’t like any of the prepared frozen pizzas available locally so we made gluten-free crusts from various mixes. When we occasionally tried a frozen pizza, we usually ended up eating only the toppings and throwing out the crust.

These days there are six companies in nine locations offering gluten-free pizza in the Metro Atlanta area. So we stopped making pizza at home over a year ago. However, when I read the Celiac Princess’ review of a new frozen ready-made gluten-free pizza, I thought it might be worth reviewing myself.

Bella Monica is a NC based company that offers several gluten-free flatbread pizzas. They are sold at Natural Foods Warehouse and Whole Foods - that I know of. The product is a little pricey but that’s due to the ingredients used. The toppings are of excellent quality.

We tried the Margherita flatbread pizza which was the best frozen gluten-free pizza that we’ve tried, that we can buy locally. We’ve tasted every brand that is sold here and none of them compares to the Bella Monica product. The standard 10″ size is really a little small for us, but that is the largest gluten-free pizza sold here, no matter the brand.

Bella Monica also makes a Mushroom and Herb pizza and their Spinach and Tomato pizza is made with fresh spinach.  At present, they are the only company using fresh spinach on a packaged gluten-free pizza. The company is really interested in customer feedback which is refreshing, to say the least.

If you’re in the Raleigh NC area you can enjoy Bella Monica pizza and other gluten-free dishes at the company’s restaurant – Bella Monica. The gluten-free menu is quite impressive offering traditional Italian fare including, but not limited to: Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Parmigiana, Stuffed Shells, Eggplant Parmigiana, Shrimp and ‘Italian Grits’. If like I was, you’re wondering what that is, it’s polenta. You can view Bella Monica’s amazing gluten-free menu here.

Give Bella Monica flatbread pizzas a try if you find them in your area. They truly are a cut above the average frozen gluten-free pizza! Let us know if you’ve tried these pizzas yet and if so, where you found them.

NOTE: If you like to make your own crust, here are a few recipes you might be interested in.

Gluten-free Weekends at Shaun's in Atlanta

IMG_0230Shaun’s Restaurant is a highly praised, relaxed neighborhood dining establishment in Atlanta, GA. To some in the area, it might seem like many other such places but Shaun’s is different. Shaun Doty is a talented chef who is committed to using fresh, local ingredients and knows what is going in his food.  But the special part for us is that about a year ago Shaun’s Restaurant began hosting monthly gluten-free dinners.

The local gluten-free dinner club did not prompt Shaun’s decision to host these dinners. This was all his idea and what a great one it was. I had a couple of meals there when the gluten-free “nights” started up and everything we had was outstanding. They even carry Green’s gluten-free beer from Belgium and offered a tasting of all three for those interested in trying them.

Shaun’s gluten-free dinners became so popular that he now offers a  “celiac menu” weekend once a month. That runs three days a month instead of only one – but anyone can have a gluten-free meal there for the asking. It’s suggested that you note your gluten-free needs when making a reservation.

Recently, I was Shaun’s guest for a spectacular gluten-free meal. To start I had an incredible creation – Vidalia onion soup with cumin pasilla chili. To say the soup was spectacular does not do it justice. I really felt like skipping my entree and just having more soup. It was that amazing and my gluten eating husband agreed. It was hard but I did share the last little bit with him.

IMG_0231My entree was both delicious and different, to say the least. The wild Columbia King River Salmon was topped with organic okra and Creole sauce. I’m not a huge fan of okra so I gave most of it to my husband. Still the fish was excellent with a nice low key kick to it. It was also cooked all the way through per my request. It would typically be served medium, I believe.

To complete my gluten-free meal was a refreshing dessert, also quite different which one comes to expect at Shaun’s. The Virgil’s gluten-free cream soda float with vanilla bean ice cream and orange sherbet was the perfect end to an amazing gluten-free meal!

IMG_0233

As always, when leaving Shaun’s we wished we lived in town instead of the burbs of Atlanta. Shaun’s gluten-free weekends are the second of each month (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Today kicks off the September “Celiac Menu” event.

For the gluten lovers in your life, Sunday nights (at least through summer) offered a $12 pasta dinner three course meal. Maybe if Shaun finds a gluten-free pasta he likes we can pay a bit more and get a similar deal!

Over the weekend I picked up a six-pack of Virgil’s cream soda so I can attempt to make an orange vanilla cream soda float. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to be quite as good as Shaun’s was. And I really wish he’d sell the Vidalia onion soup by the quart!

Let's Talk about Gluten-free BBQ!

Labor Day marks the start of BBQ season in the Atlanta area. When I say BBQ (barbecue), I mean food with barbecue sauce in or or on it – not a verb meaning “to grill”. In the South, barbecue means barbecue sauce is involved. Up North, the term tends to mean the activity of grilling food. Using sauce – BBQ or another type – may or not be involved.

bss_thickerAround oue house we love our Bone Suckin’ Sauce – Thicker Style. It’s gluten-free, MSG free, preservative free and all natural. It’s even free of high fructose corn syrup! This is fairly uncommon for ready-made BBQ sauces. Bone Suckin’ Sauces are simply amazing – to us anyway!

Check out the BBQ recipes on the Bone Suckin’ Sauce website. Just remember that all of their recipes are not gluten-free – just their sauces. Most recipes listed can easily be modified to be gluten-free, of course.

From the Bone Suckin’ Sauce website:

We are proud to annouce our products are always Gluten Free! We were just Honored by Columbia University’s Celiac Disease Center. How fun! Even our wonderful Bone Suckin’ Yaki is less than 5ppm Gluten ~ We also say No to High Fructose Corn Syrup!

However, there are those that like to make their own BBQ sauce.  Check out these interesting  recipes by some very creative gluten-free bloggers:

  • Over at The Book of Yum, they created a few gluten-free, vegetarian BBQ dishes. I must admit I had never heard of wing-less BBQ tofu before. You’ll find some very interesting and tasty recipes over there, no doubt!
  • For a different approach to barbeque, the Whole Life Nutrition blog offers a sugar free, gluten-free and soy free Chipotle BBQ recipe. They even have a book with over 200 gluten-free recipes in it – devoted to helping people eat deliciously and healthy!
  • Elana at Elana’s Pantry created a barbecue sauce recipe that does not use sugar or agave. Now that is one amazing feat, to be sure!

Tell us about your favorite gluten-free BBQ sauce (or recipe for it) in the comments below!

Quick Note: Survey Results are In!

FYI-Survey results for the 2nd edition of Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide are finally in. You can read the survey results in our upcoming newsletter. (If you’re not already subscribed to the free newsletter, our sign-up form is on the upper right corner of this page.) Thanks again to everyone who participated in the survey!

Gluten-free Offerings at Lavender Asian Bistro

Gluten-free Mango Prawns

Gluten-free Mango Prawns

Chinese food is a staple meal for most Americans. However, since most soy sauce contains gluten in the form of wheat, giving up gluten usually means saying goodbye to Chinese take-out. The national chain – P.F. Changs – has a wonderful gluten-free menu but they don’t have locations everywhere in the country.

In Atlanta suburb Lawrenceville, GA, lies an independent Chinese and Thai restaurant that offers amazing gluten-free meals. Lavender Asian Bistro is a popular local restaurant that has been stocking gluten-free soy sauce for over two years now. When they host the local gluten-free dinner club, they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer as well!

The entrees to choose from are overwhelming. Both Chinese and Thai options abound and if you think of any traditional dishes that aren’t battered and fried, they can be made with gluten-free soy sauce. The only gluten-free noodles at Lavender are rice noodles, which can be substituted in any meal. Both the brown and white rice are gluten-free. ALWAYS specify you need gluten-free soy sauce in any Asian restaurant that offers it – every time you order.

The egg drop soup is gluten-free and so are the ice creams including green tea, red bean and mango flavors. Friday and Saturday nights are hopping at Lavender and it’s best to go in most any other night –  or any day for lunch except Mother’s Day.

When Lavender Asian Bistro first hosted the local gluten-free dinner club, they were pleasantly surprised with the large turn out. The success of the event prompted the owner to keep gluten-free soy sauce in stock. They’ve not been without it since, so we  enjoy fabulous gluten-free Chinese food several times a month!

When dining where there might be a language barrier, it’s a good idea to have gluten-free dining cards in the appropriate languge with you. Does your local Chinese restaurant offer gluten-free options? If so, please let us know about it below!

Note: Lavender Asian Bistro is listed in the Triumph Dining Essential Gluten-Free Dining Guide ; no GF menu; GF friendly; order NO candied nuts.

Gluten Free Groceries – Shop With Ease


What’s for dinner tonight?

It’s hard enough just getting a meal on the table each night. But when you add in the challenges of being gluten-free, it’s like you’re playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers.

Triumph’s gluten-free grocery guide is the answer: think of it as the yellow pages of gluten-free food. Want to know what brands of salad dressing, soup and hot dogs are okay? With over 30,000 products listed there are tons of options for you. From popular brands like Heinz, Kraft, and Coca-Cola to smaller specialty companies, you’ll find many of your favorite products, plus plenty of enticing new ones.

Make your favorite gluten-free recipes.

The guide is organized logically, by grocery store aisle. Dairy products are all listed in one place, frozen foods are grouped together, and so on. Gluten-free shopping is now as easy as following along as you walk through the store. There’s no advance planning necessary and no hurried “1-800″ calls from the middle of the store — all the information you need is always right here, at your fingertips.

Avoid cross-contamination.

This is the only guide available that shows you which manufacturers disclose information about cross-contamination risks, dedicated production lines and facilities, and gluten testing of their products. We make it easier for you to know which products live up to your personal standards, so you can be comfortable with the choices you’re making.

Stay on budget.

After more than 8 years of shopping, we’re still shocked by how much gluten-free food can cost. The average family spends $400 each month on groceries, but gluten-free food can easily cost twice as much. Buying store-brand foods is one way to keep your costs under control. We’ve included store brands from some of the larger grocery chains like Safeway, Giant, and Wal-mart (and more!) to help you stretch your budget a little further.

Take it with you.

This guide is compact and portable; the perfect size to bring along on all your shopping trips. Just toss it in your purse, stash it in your car, or keep it at your desk, kitchen table, or wherever meal planning tends to happen.

Triumph Dining’s Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide.

  • Find over 30,000 brand-name and store-brand gluten-free products at grocery stores across the U.S.
  • Color-coded system makes meal planning and finding your favorite foods a snap
  • 2nd edition, 240 budget-friendly and time-saving pages
  • Completely revised and updated annually, so it’s fresh!

>> Click here to learn more about our gluten-free grocery guide.

Gluten Free Restaurants – Dine Out Stress-Free


Eat whatever you like.

Whether you’re on a business trip across the country, a family road trip across the state, or a night out on the town, our Restaurant Guide will let you and your loved ones boldly go where no gluten-free person has gone…lately.

5,000 gluten-free restaurants to choose from.

If you had unlimited time and patience, you wouldn’t need this guide. There isn’t any part of it that you couldn’t duplicate with your own research. But it would probably take you over 2,000 hours, because that’s how long it took us.

Each year, we review every listing and add hundreds of new restaurants — 800 for this edition. And we include lists of gluten free options from over 80 popular chain restaurants, so you can find good options where ever you are. We’re the only ones who spend months talking to thousands of restaurants, but it’s worth it. We work hard to stay on top of the quickly-changing restaurant world so you don’t have to.

Triumph Dining’s Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide.

  • Over 5,000 delicious gluten-free restaurants
  • 80 gluten-free lists from chains like P.F. Chang’s, Panera, and Subway
  • Covers all 50 states in an easy-to-use state-by-state directory
  • The only restaurant database (print or online) where every listing is verified and updated each year
  • 4th edition: Includes over 500 pages, updated each year, so it’s fresh!

>> Click here to learn more about our gluten-free restaurant guide.

ARAMARK Hits Another Home Run at Braves Stadium!

Redbridge beer at Turner Field

Redbridge beer at Turner Field

Some of you might know that Turner Field - home of the Atlanta Braves -started offering Redbridge gluten-free beer in July of this year. You can’t find Redbridge everywhere beer is sold in the park, but it is there and the price was reduced from $7 to $6.50!

Right about the time we calmed down about the gluten-free beer news at Turner Field, we found out that Coors Field in Denver -  and the Phillies stadium both introduced gluten-free food stands!  As reported here previously, more stadiums around the country are jumping on the gluten-free band wagon.  Considering the size of the Atlanta gluten-free community, it’s only natural that we have such a concession stand too!

Lo and behold - this week ARAMARK, Turner Field and the Braves issued this press release announcing the opening of the gluten-free consession stand on September 4th- today!  The news is both shocking and exciting at the same time! The gluten-free stand is behind Section 106 and will offer :

  • Armour all-beef franks
  • Sirloin beef burgers
  • Chicken sandwiches
  • Kettle Chips – 2 flavors
  • Oogie’s Popcorn – white cheddar
  • Bob’s Red Mill brownies
  • Soda, water and gluten-free Redbridge beer

Buns for hot dogs, burgers and chicken sandwiches are from Kinnikinnick.  The prices are comparable to the gluten products sold at the park.

Hopefully the gluten-free community here will go out and support the Atlanta Braves and the new gluten-free concession stand!  Local Publix stores sell 2 for 1 tickets to certain home games. Please check your local store at the customer service desk for this offer!

Does your local sports stadium serve gluten-free beer or food? If so, let us know about it in the comments below!

Italian Gluten-Free Cereals Hit the U.S. Market

ce01It comes as no surprise that Italy produces some of the finest gluten-free products sold in any country. Pasta, pizza and bread are diet staples for Italians so companies there have been creating gluten-free “replacement” foods for many years.

Recently, I was sent a complimentary package of some brand new (to the U.S.) Italian gluten-free cereals from Riega Foods – the exclusive distributor of Cerealvit products in the U.S. Check out the interview with CEO Brad Gampper at Food Biz Daily to learn how this product line made it over to the U.S.

Cerealvit cereals are cholesterol free and low in sugar or sugar free. The products are all organic, gluten-free and GMO free. There are no “fake ingredients” in the cereals – they are all natural. This seems to be a trend in many fabulous new gluten-free cereals that have entered the market recently.

  • Corn Flakes are excellent and the extra thick flakes are slightly sweetened with rice malt (instead of barley malt). Like most corn based cereals, the fiber content is fairly low, at 2.5 grams per serving. The slightly sweet flavor is just right – not bland and not too sweet. This product is also vegan.
  • Coffee Flakes are Italian coffee coated corn and flax flakes, which are enriched with Omega 3 fish oil. Don’t worry there is no “fishy” taste to this cereal though it did have  too strong a coffee flavor for me. If you love strong coffee, you might want to give these a try. Check out this review from Karen at Gluten-Free Food Reviews. The Coffee Flakes were a big hit with teens over at Celiacs in The House as well.
  • Benevit Multi Grain is made with Buckwheat and rice flakes and it’s slightly sweetened with organic cane sugar. This cereal is now in my Top 5 list of the countless gluten-free versions I’ve tried in three plus years of test tasting. This cereal  contains 7.5 grams of fiber per serving and is also vegetarian.
  • Choco Stars -  a favorite with gluten-free kids in Italy – was not available for my taste test. They are due to arrive on our shores in early Fall 2009.

If you don’t see any of these cereals in your local stores, consider taking this form in and request they order them for you. The cereals have a suggested retail price of $5.00-$5.50 for a 13.25 oz. box. Considering the fact that the cereals are imported from Italy – and the amount of product in the box – the price seems very reasonable. One of the most impressive things about these cereals besides the taste and quantity of product in the box is the “crunch” factor. The flakes of all three versions stay crunchy in the milk for a long time.

Cerealvit products are certified to be gluten-free by the Italian Ministry of Health and meet the Codex Alimentarious standard for gluten-free. All Cerealvit products are routinely tested to insure their safety for those who must adhere to a gluten-free diet for health reasons.

Have you tried these cereals yet? If so, let us know what you think about them in the comments below!

UPDATE: Exclusive offer to our readers for 15% off these great cereals – now offered from Riega Foods through  Amazon.com. Please use code TRIUMPH2 for discount on product only. Offer valid 9/14/09 – 9/20/09 on Coffee Flakes, Corn Flakes and Multi Grain Cerealvit cereals. Take advantage of this great offer now!