Special $15 Gluten-free Meals at Ted's Montana Grill!

IMG_0014On a recent visit to Ted’s Montana Grill, I was delighted to find that their special $15 dinner menu offered some gluten-free options! At our Ted’s location, the special menu offers a salad (several gluten-free dressing choices) and an entrée with two side dishes. Both the the Delmonico steak (beef or bison) and Cedar Plank Salmon are gluten-free on the $15 menu  here. Many other great dishes are also on the full gluten-free menu. There is supposed to be one nice bound copy of the menu at each location but they can print up extras in the back if you go in with other gluten-free diners.

The beef Delmonico steak that I ordered comes with mashed potatoes and green beans or broccoli. However, at Ted’s the green beans contain gluten (don’t ask me how) and I don’t care for broccoli. Luckily, the server checked with the manager and they allowed me to sub out asparagus for my vegetable choice. There was no additional charge for the special request, which is not always the case when you are offering from a discounted menu in the first place. Though not listed on the gluten-free menu, many months ago the manager at our location confirmed that the pickles on each table are gluten-free. They are wonderful and made in house!

IMG_0012The dinner salad was basic but quite fresh and the cream vinaigrette dressing was particularly tasty. I’d not had it there before. Most of the dressings at Ted’s are gluten-free – read the gluten-free for all the options.  Remember when ordering a salad anywhere, to remind the server to write ‘no bread or croutons’ even if you are ordering from a gluten-free menu.

My meal arrived more quickly than I’m accustomed to when ordering steak since I like it more done than rare. The plate was nicely presented and offered nice portion sizes of everything on it. The asparagus was cooked perfectly – not under or over done even slightly. As always, the mashed potatoes tasted homemade and were delicious. My steak was cooked to perfection and in fact, it was the first steak I’ve ever had at Ted’s. I’ve had a burger without a bun and their fabulous Brick Chicken dishes, but never a steak. For $15, the special menu meal is an exceptional value – at least in our area. The quality ingredients used and the company being so ‘green’, also adds extra value for me.  

Though dessert is  not included as part of the discounted menu, the gluten-free choices are Haagan-Dazs ice cream, Shakes and Root Beer or Coke Floats. My husband had to finish some of my meal so I certainly had no room for dessert. If I really had a hankering for something sweet we could have scooted over to Bonefish Grill (in same shopping center as our Ted’s) for their incredible gluten-free Macadamia Nut Brownie or Creme Brulee. The decadent brownie at Bonefish serves two by the way!

For those of you who have not been to Ted’s in a while, their revised gluten-free menu includes French fries. They are absolutely delicious! Always confirm the restaurant has a dedicated fryer before ordering fries when dining out anywhere. As I watched plate after plate pass by our table with delicious smelling onion rings on it, I could not help but think how easy it would be for Ted’s to make gluten-free onions rings in the dedicated fryer. Our server did not know how long the special $15 dinner menu would be in effect, but she guessed that it would be offered until very early in January 2010. If there is a Ted’s Montana Grill near you, it’s definitely worth checking to see if the same deal is offered at your location!

Gluten-free Thankfulness: Top 10 List

"It's Not Fruit Cake" from American Gra-Frutti

Even though Thanksgiving has passed, this season offers us the opportunity to be appreciative of all the things that have come about over the last year. The gluten-free community has so many exciting things going on that it’s hard to keep up with them all.

Not everything has been wonderful, but the positive things that have happened in 2009 far outweigh the negative. white_bread_picThe number of excellent products that are now available in the Atlanta market, and many others, is quite high. This list isn’t conclusive, but it contains some of the highlights that changed many people’s lives – at least in the Atlanta area – for the better in 2009.

  • Kettle Cuisine – delicious frozen gluten-free soup line with several dairy free options as well.
  • Bella Monica – tasty frozen pizza made with organic high quality ingredients. People in the Raleigh, NC area can also dine at the Bella Monica restaurant.
  • Betty Crocker – gluten-free mixes available in most mainstream grocery stores nationwide.
  • American Gra-Frutti– wonderful gluten-free cakes, coconut drops and Pimento Peachtree cheese spread. The cakes and drops are also dairy free!
  • Pamela’s Products – introduced Jiffy-type cornbread mix.
  • Jules Gluten Free – wonderful all purpose gluten-free flour that works in most gluten recipes.
  • The Grainless Baker – introduced the first Cheese Crackers that taste like gluten cheese straws.
  • Udi’s Gluten-Free – rolled out exceptional breads, muffins and pizza crusts line. Bagels are being test marketed in the Denver area Einstein’s!
  • Progresso – started labeling several of their soups gluten-free and stopped adding MSG to all their soups.
  • General Mills – introduced LiveGlutenFreely, the first gluten-free website from a mainstream top 5 food company. 

In the words of Dr. Cynthia Rudert, MD (celiac specialist in Atlanta), it’s a great time to be a celiac! Please let us know what you are thankful in the gluten-free world these days.

Gluten-free Gingerbread Houses for All!

Photo copyright A&J Bakery
Photo copyright A&J Bakery

For many families, making gingerbread houses are a holiday tradition. But when someone in the family can no longer eat gluten, particularly a child, this special cooking/craft adventure in the kitchen can be a potentially harmful activity.

Most of the gingerbread house kits you’ll find at the store will be made with wheat, making them off limits to the gluten-free set. There is at least one company that sells gluten-free gingerbread house kits. We might not be able to pop into our local craft stores and pick one up, but we can order an unassembled house online.

Photo copyright A&J Bakery

A&J Bakery in Rhode Island sells assembled houses (pick-up only) and kits that can be shipped. The Allergen Friendly House Kit from this bakery is free of gluten, wheat,  tree nuts, peanuts, soy, egg, dairy, and sesame. They are made in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility.

The ready-made, all edible gluten-free gingerbread house from A Bountiful Harvest bakey can be shipped. This bakery is located in TN and therefore is a 1-2 shipment from most parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.

Many talented gluten-free bakers love experimenting with different flours to come up with amazing gluten-free treats! For those of you who want to bake your own gingerbread house parts from scratch, we found a few recipes that might interest you.

  • Gingerbread House Heaven offers up a gluten-free version of this classic holiday recipe. They also sell forms and related items to bake up the perfect gingerbread house.
  • Check out the creation from Only Sometimes Clever blog. It won 1st place in a gingerbread house competition! Here is the recipe used for the house parts.
  • The Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom blog offers up this gluten-free ginger cookies recipe to make a darling gluten-free gingerbread house. Notice the location of the door – too funny!

Jules Gluten Free Graham Cracker/Gingersnap mix can be used to make gingerbread house parts. The amazing Jules Gluten-Free flour works pretty much the same as wheat flour in most recipes so the Gingerbread Cookie mix is likely an excellent product as well.

If you’re the only one in your home that eats gluten-free and want to help your kids with their gingerbread houses, just remember to wash your hands often, or wear food service gloves, when working with gluten gingerbread house parts. They tend to be crumbly and can easily contaminate a gluten-free item you’re snacking on while working on the building project. Experts report that as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon of gluten can cause a reaction so it doesn’t take much to make yourself sick from cookie crumbs.

Trader Joe’s and Pamela’s sell exceptional gluten-free ginger snap cookies so if you just feel like a ginger cookie but don’t need to build a gingerbread house, grab a bag or two of these excellent cookies to have on hand during the holidays. The cookies go perfectly with a hot cup of tea or mulled cider during these cold winter months.

It is not necessary to give up your special holiday traditions just because you can’t eat gluten. You might have to change a few things up but you can most definitely figure out how to convert your favorite holiday activities to fit your gluten-free life!

Top 10 Gluten-Free Gifts for 2009

A few weeks ago, we asked what topped your Christmas list this year. From your suggestions (and a few of our own), we’ve gleaned the top 10 gluten-free gifts that are sure to be a hit this holiday season. So whether you’re shopping for the Celiac who has everything or you’re gluten-free and your relatives are still nagging you for your wish list, we’ve got you covered!

1. Gluten-Free Cooking Class

Ever wanted to channel your inner-Rachael Ray but don’t know how to hold a knife? Cooking institutes, restaurants, grocery stores, and universities all over the world are offering public courses in cooking gluten-free. Here are a few with 2010 schedules; do a quick google search to find an option in your hometown:

University of Michigan
Sorrentinos Restaurant Group (Canada)
Natural Gourmet Institute in New York
Price: Varies from Free to $125/day

2. Bread Machine

Our local supermarket charges $4.29 for a loaf of gluten-free bread. And the health food store down the street charges even more, $6.29. So, for the second year running, a bread machine made our list of top 10 gluten-free gifts. You can bake a loaf of bread with less than $1 worth of ingredients. If you go through a loaf every 2 weeks, a bread machine will pay for itself in a year. Just toss in the ingredients and the machine does the rest.

We found one model that features a special, gluten-free cycle, which essentially speeds up the bread-making process to prevent air bubbles created by yeast from escaping during the rising period. The manufacturer claims it yields a fluffier, lighter product compared to gluten-free bread made on a regular cycle, and reviewers seem to concur. But other models that include thumbs up from gluten-free reviewers are also listed below. As an added bonus for all you cat lovers out there, most machines have little window so your kitty can peek inside and watch the action. Kay’s calico used to love watching the knead cycle.

Breadman TR-875 Breadmaker, $129.99
Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine, $189.99
Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker, $129.99

3. Restaurant Gift Certificate

Longing for a night on the town free from gluten hassles? We have a book full of restaurants that cater to the gluten-free community, many of which offer gift certificates. Call your favorite find out if it offers gift options, or check out these chains which offer gluten-free menus and gift cards:

Outback Steakhouse
P.F. Chang’s
Price: Your Choice

4. Gluten-Free Baking Cookbooks

Baking is a science, but gluten-free baking takes it to another level. You might feel like you need a PhD in chemistry to bake bread that’s chewy and moist (not crumbly). Fortunately, you can find lots of great recipes online, but it’s hard to separate the from the duds. When using expensive, gluten-free baking ingredients, it helps to have tried and true recipes on hand so that you don’t waste your time and money. Our readers and editors recommend:

1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster
Gluten-Free Baking Classics, by Annalise G. Roberts
Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America, by Richard J. Coppedge Jr. and George Chookazian
The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: More Than 200 Wheat-Free Recipes, by Bette Hagman

All Prices are under $30

5. KitchenAid Mixer or Accessories

Whether by choice or necessity, I know a lot of gluten-free bakers out there. It’s just too much of a hassle, and too expensive, to always buy pre-packaged gluten-free baked goods. We often have no choice but to make things from scratch or go without. This is the most expensive gift on the list, but any baker will swear it’s totally worth it. I got my first one for Valentine’s Day from my husband. I would have rather gotten it for Christmas and some romantic chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not complaining…

Already have a Kitchen Aid Mixer? Check out the neat beater blade accessories with silicone scraper edges. You won’t have to scrape down the side of your bowl as often. Just make sure that you buy the right size for your mixer.

KitchenAid Mixer, $239.99
KitchenAid Beater Blade, $16.99 and up

6. Bun Pans

Here’s another gift for the baking enthusiast in your life. You can find fresh or frozen gluten-free sandwich bread at almost any supermarket, but buns are harder to find — and eating a big, juicy hamburger on a wimpy bread slice is not fun, nor practical. The whole thing just falls apart! And eating hot dogs in a square bread slice is just, well, square. Now you can make your own hamburger and hot dog buns. Freeze them and thaw when the weather warms up and you’ve fired up the grill.

Chicago Metallic Hamburger Bun Pan, $26.27
Chicago Metallic Hot Dog Roll Pan, $26.85

7. Gluten Test Strips

You probably have this gluten-free thing down by now, but you can’t live in a bubble. Whether it’s a business meeting, family function, or spontaneous outing, we all find ourselves eating food that was prepared by someone else. For these occasions, use our Triumph Dining Cards or these rapid result gluten tests. You simply mix a sample of the questionable food to a gluten extraction solution and allow the solution to be absorbed onto the test strip for 10 minutes. They’re sensitive enough to detect levels of gluten as low as 10 parts per million. They’re a little pricey for everyday use, but worth it for peace of mind, especially at large gatherings like weddings or conventions where you don’t have access to the chef.

EZ Gluten Test, $25 and up

8. GF Restaurant Guide…or Grocery Guide

Ok, we admit it. This one’s a bit shameless, but with with over 40,000 guides sold,  our products belong under any gluten-free tree. Over the past five years, our team has spent countless hours researching and updating our bestselling guides and dining cards in an effort to make living without gluten easier for everyone. Let’s face it, you’ve got to eat, but trying to find gluten-free options at your regular grocery store or favorite restaurant can be daunting. Our guides help people find gluten-free restaurants and also list brand names of store products that are gluten-free. Team up with us, and we’ll have you eating gluten-free and loving it through the new year.

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, $19.95
The Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide, $23.95
Triumph Dining Cards, $18.95

9. Premium Rice Cooker

With bread largely out of the picture, rice takes center stage on the gluten-free plate. This cooker is made by a company in Japan, where rice is eaten every day. Yes, it’s expensive, but every Japanese household has a premium rice cooker for a reason — it makes better rice than the cheaper ones. If you eat rice almost every day like we do, this is a wise investment. Bonus: it also makes fabulous steel-cut gluten-free oatmeal. (Not sure what gluten-free oatmeal is? Read our article on it.) Before I go to bed, I throw in 1/2 cups of steel-cut gluten-free oats in the morning, a handful of raisins, and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed for its omega-3s, and 2 cups of water. Then, I just set the timer and press cook. Freshly-cooked oatmeal is ready at 7 am sharp the next day.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker, $140

10. GF Magazine Subscription

You can find lots of great information online, but there’s nothing like holding a glossy magazine in your hand. There are several to choose from:

Gluten-Free Living ($34 for 1 year, 4 issues) delivers hard-hitting gluten-free news. They were one of the first to break the news that distilled vinegar is indeed gluten-free.

Delight Gluten Free ($18 for 1 year, 4 issues) is the newcomer, and they are more cooking-centric. Each issue is packed with lots of yummy recipes and pictures.

Living Without ($23 for 1 year, 6 issues) delves into the complexities of life with various food allergies. It’s a great pick for someone struggling with multiple sensitivities beyond just gluten.

Special Gluten-Free New Year’s Eve Dinner in Atlanta!

Shed at Glenwood Bar (Jason Crawley Photography)
Shed at Glenwood Bar (Jason Crawley Photography)

The Shed at Glenwood is a hip restaurant in a older, revitalized part of downtown Atlanta. The menu offers fresh, organic foods prepared in very creative ways. In the summer of 2009, the restaurant hosted the Atlanta GF Dinner Club for a brunch event. The special menu included Maine blueberry gluten-free pancakes and quiche with a wonderful savory gluten-free crust! The Chef used Gluten-Free Pantry pie crust for the quiche and Pamela’s pancake mix. Those items are not on the menu and were created only for the dinner club event.

The food is incredibly delicious at The Shed at Glenwood and the décor reminds one of a trendy spot in California. The sleek bar serves up plenty of specialty cocktails, making it the perfect spot for the downtown set to meet friends after work. Desserts selections are very creative and usually include something interesting for gluten-free patrons.

The Shed at Glenwood has several ‘regulars’ who can’t eat gluten so they decided to offer gluten-free options for their New Year’s Eve dinner this year. The price fixe menu includes three courses, all of which have a gluten-free selection. This very special event menu has something for everyone – gluten-free diners and glutenoids alike!

Shed at Glenwood NYE Dinner Menu: (bolded selections are gluten-free without modifications!)

1st Course
Belgian Endive Salad, Apple, Blue Cheese, Toasted Pistachio
Roasted Beet Salad, Vermont Goat Cheese, White Balsamic
Beef Tonque & Bread Salad

2nd Course
Gulf Oysters, Lemon & Black Pepper
North Carolina Trout, Oregon Black Truffle, Caper Egg Sauce
Eggplant Terrine, Ricotta, Pine Nuts

3rd Course

Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushrooms, Maine Lobster
Pan Seared Duck Breast, Parsnips, Spicy Cranberries
Ricotta Ravioli, Georgia Pecans, Brown Butter, Sage

4th Course
Glass of Segura Viudas Pinot Noir Brut will be served with your Dessert Course

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Orange Anglaise
Apple Brownie, Creme Fraiche Ice Cream
Housemade Ding Dong

Be sure to make your New Year’s Eve reservations soon if you’re in the Atlanta area and want to enjoy a gourmet and delicious gluten-free meal at the Shed at Glenwood! Gluten-free diners are always welcome there. Just note your gluten-free needs when making a reservation any time of the year. If you miss the NYE dinner, the restaurant is open on New Year’s Day at 4 pm.

Because the food is real and fresh, the Chef knows what’s in each dish. Interestingly enough, he never uses flour for his reduction sauces. The helpful staff can help steer you in the right direction when ordering a gluten-free meal. The Shed at Glenwood is dedicated to providing safe, yet creative gluten-free meals to their customers that request them.

Please note this is NOT an Atlanta GF Dinner Club or Atlanta Metro Celiacs event.