Review of Gluten-free Pita Bread

pita_0071Until I read about GFL Food’s gluten-free pita bread on Erin’s blog, Gluten-Free Fun, I had no idea that such a product existed. Kim’s review on Gluten Free is Life sealed the deal. I had to get my hands on this pita bread! Remembering my favorite sandwich at My Friend’s Place (a sandwich shop in the Atlanta area), a mini tuna pita melt, I knew exactly what I’d be making if I was lucky enough to get to sample this product.

Like most gluten-free bread products, the pita bread from GFL Foods needs to be kept frozen. The instructions say to defrost one pita at a time in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Not following the instructions might result in a crumbly experience. Once the pita cooled down a bit, I split it in half. I was making two different half pita sandwiches. I filled one with lettuce and tuna fish salad. For the tuna, I did something a little different. I didn’t use mayo but used Trader Joe’s black olive tapenade spread instead. I also added a few minced capers and a tiny bit of spicy brown mustard. We had something similar in Key West once and it was the best tuna salad we’d ever had. Mine isn’t nearly as good as that was, but it’s pretty tasty none-the-less. For the other half pita, I spread a thin layer of Peachtree Pimento cheese spread inside.

So far the pita bread looked, felt and smelled like “real” pita bread. Obviously, the real test is the actual taste (and texture in our house). If something has a great taste with a less than appealing texture, it’s not a keeper for us. Life is too short to eat bad or sub par tasting food, period. I’ll go without any day before I’ll eat something that’s not worth my hard earned money. OK – so how was this gluten-free pita bread from GFL Foods? In a word – wonderful! Actually, that does not do it justice – truly wonderful is more like it. In addition to being gluten-free, this pita bread is also dairy free, cholesterol free, trans fat free and preservative free. They can be purchased online and at several stores in the Northeast U.S. Check the GFL Foods website for details.

Sometimes when we taste things that we haven’t been able to enjoy for a while, we are taken aback with the emotions that come rushing to the surface. Why does food have this affect on us – or some of us anyway? It’s because we have attachments to memories that involved food. When I was a student many years ago, I could afford to enjoy lunch out at very few places. One of those places was My Friends Place. Their mini pita was a part of my life for over 15 years. And then one day it wasn’t anymore, due to my need to eat gluten-free.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a delicious pita bread sandwich that reminded me of the ones I’d loved for so many years. While I still can’t have the pita bread at My Friends Place, I can finally have it at home. More than that, this pita bread is something I’d be proud to serve gluten eaters, which is saying a lot. The last thing I ever want to do is help perpetuate the myth that gluten-free food is tasteless or bad tasting. With the GFL Foods pita bread, there are no worries there. This weekend I’ll be picking up some egg and tuna salad from My Friends Place to recreate my favorite pita sandwich ever and I can hardly wait!

Special thanks to Erin for this exciting news about gluten-free pita and to GFL Foods for making such excellent pita bread. Thanks also to Rami for my tasting samples!

Win Triumph Dining’s New iPhone App

To celebrate the launch of our new gluten free grocery guide iPhone App, we’re giving away 10 free copies to our blog readers. To enter the contest, just add a comment at the end of this post. We’ll choose winners this Thursday and announce them right here, so enter soon and stay tuned!
The new App is the iPhone version of our popular gluten free grocery guide. Like the print edition, it lists over 30,000 gluten free foods, making it the largest gluten free product listing available anywhere. We worked with one of the best iPhone developers in the business to build a very fast, powerful App that’s really easy to use.
To learn more, visit the grocery guide app page at Apple’s App Store [link to app].

To celebrate the launch of our new gluten free grocery guide iPhone App, we’re giving away 10 free copies to our blog readers. To enter the contest, just add a comment at the end of this post. (Of course, you’ll need to be an iPhone user to actually use the app…) We’ll choose winners next Friday and announce them right here, so enter soon and stay tuned!

The new App is the iPhone version of our popular gluten free grocery guide. Like the print edition, it lists over 30,000 gluten free foods, making it the largest gluten free product listing available anywhere. We worked with one of the best iPhone developers in the business to build a very fast, powerful App that’s really easy to use.

To learn more, visit the grocery guide app page at Apple’s App Store (the link will open up the iTunes Store on your computer).

UPDATE: This contest has ended. Winners were announced here. Thank you for all who entered!

Red Lobster Gluten-Free Cheddar Biscuit Success!

FLOUR-1x5-1Someone at Jules Gluten Free sent me a five pound bag of flour a while back.  I’ve made several different things with the great flour blend, including this amazing pumpkin bread. Also, I’ve made brunch cake, fried onions, fried chicken fingers, pie crust and crab bisque. Everything turned out exceptionally well except the pie crust. I’m not sure if I did something wrong but the pie crust was the only thing that didn’t turn out spectacularly.

When I saw Shirley’s recipe on Gluten-Free Easily, for garlic cheddar biscuits, I knew I had to try them with the flour from Jules. As we are not big chain restaurant lovers, we rarely went to Red Lobster when I ate gluten. The few times we did go the only thing of note there to me were the awesome garlic cheddar biscuits. Yesterday was my four year anniversary of being gluten-free. What better way to celebrate the anniversary than with garlic cheese biscuits? We had Roasted Red Pepper soup with chicken for dinner and a salad. The soup mix from Frontier Soups was delicious but the clear star of the meal was the biscuits, made from Shirley’s recipe.

cheesebis69I can’t thank Shirley enough for posting this excellent recipe. I was actually out of xanthan gum and was concerned that the biscuits would not work, but I took my chances and everything turned out fine. I added an extra tablespoon of cornstarch to the dry ingredients. This does not take the place of xanthan gum but Shirley’s flour mixture has a lot of cornstarch in it so I didn’t think it could hurt. Since I used the Jules flour, there was less cornstarch in my mix. The biscuits mixed up fairly easy with a sturdy bamboo spoon.  Per Shirley’s recipe notes, I planned to incorporate some of the minced garlic I used into the batter itself. However, I completely forgot so I just brushed the butter and garlic mixture on the hot biscuits when they came out of the oven. Oh, just the smell alone is killer!

My plan was to make only half a batch of biscuits, but I decided it would be a good experiment to freeze some of them for later. Some gluten-free things do great when frozen and thawed and some are inedible. When I know how these turn out I’ll comment below. So, these incredible biscuits from Shirley tasted pretty much like I remember the ones from Red Lobster tasting, though admittedly it’s been probably five years since I’ve had those. My tastes are not really calibrated for gluten foods these days. Either way the biscuits were perfectly fluffy, flavorful and simply perfect tasting! Score another win for Jules Gluten-Free Flour.

It’s a good thing that I didn’t make half a batch since the gluten eater in the house had EIGHT of these biscuits. He also said they were better than the ones at Red Lobster. Now I’m very excited to try the Jules flour for buttermilk biscuits! Jules flour is available in some stores and can be purchased directly from the company. I bought a 15 cup snap top storage container at Target to keep the flour fresh. It’s been stored in that container in the pantry for about eight weeks and it’s still perfectly fine. Red Lobster impressed us, so if you feel confident enough to try another chain restaurant, the Restaurant Guide lists 120 national and regional chains with gluten-free options.

Special thanks to Shirley from Gluten-Free Easily for this excellent recipe. Your biscuits really made this a special gluten-free anniversary!

Gluten-free Tuna Casserole Recipe

cheesetopping__SL500_AA252_Recently, I discovered an easy and delicious way to make gluten-free mac-n-cheese. We’ve always loved tuna casserole during the winter, but we haven’t had it in four years, aside from the Mrs. Leepers boxed dinner. Though we do enjoy that meal, it’s not the same as the Kraft mac-n-cheese version we used to make. Sometimes you just want an old favorite and luckily, many such dishes can be made gluten-free with a little tweaking.

Our tuna casserole recipe calls for prepared mac-n-cheese. We use Andean Dream quinoa/rice pasta and Kraft Cheesy Topping to make mac-n-cheese that pretty much mimics the Kraft version. Amy’s and Glutino brands sell frozen gluten-free mac-n-cheese and the Annie’s, Trader Joe’s and Mrs. Leepers product lines all offer gluten-free mac-n-cheese boxed dinners. Use whatever gluten-free mac-n-cheese you prefer.

For this batch of mac-n-cheese, I used a heaping tablespoon of the Kraft Cheesy Topping. It takes about 15 minutes to make the pasta dish and two minutes to mix in the soup and tuna. To save time, I’d thickened the soup the previous day. It takes about half an hour to thicken non condensed soup to the desired consistency for casseroles. We use Walnut Acres Portebello Mushroom soup but it’s not that easy to find. Healthy Choice makes a gluten-free cream of mushroom soup and Progresso’s Creamy Mushroom soup is now labeled gluten-free. This dish isn’t the healthiest around but serving sauteed asparagus as a side dish ups the health factor of the meal. If desired, you can add veggies directly into the casserole. Since the cooking time is so short, the veggies or add-ins need to be cooked beforehand.

IMG_0061To say we were impressed with this remade version of our old standby casserole is quite an understatement. It was at least as good as the gluten version we used to enjoy. The only difference was the absence of French’s fried onions and we were surprised that we didn’t really miss them. It’s always fun to figure out a way to convert gluten dishes into something safe and delicious to enjoy. It might take a while and some things might not turn out great the first (or second or even third) time around. But eventually most anything can be made deliciously gluten-free. It just takes practice and patience.

Gluten-free Tuna Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups prepared gluten-free mac-n-cheese
  • 1 family sized pouch of tuna (packed in water)
  • 1 can of gluten-free mushroom soup (I used the Walnut Acres brand thickened with cornstarch/water mixture *Progresso Creamy Mushroom is now labeled gluten-free)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup skim milk (depending on creamy your mac-n-cheese is)

Instructions:

Once mac-n-cheese is prepared, stir in tuna and thickened mushroom soup. Pour mixture into lightly greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes – or until bubbly hot. ENJOY!

Variations:

Use cooked diced chicken instead of tuna. Use gluten-free potato sticks or potato chips flavored with onion powder for extra flavor. Use cream of celery soup instead of mushroom soup. Mix homemade gluten-free fried onions into the casserole and use some to top the casserole. Always make sure to choose gluten-free products for all ingredients.

Review: Lucy’s Gluten-free Cookies

home_productsRecently, we received some sample packs of gluten-free cookies from Lucy’s Cookies. The way this company came into being is really interesting. Dr. Lucy Gibney’s son had multiple allergies and she wanted to create something safe for him to enjoy, that was good enough for other kids to enjoy as well. She accomplished her goal, no doubt!

Due to overloading on carbs during the holidays, this reviewer took a while to sample all four flavors of cookies. Not being the biggest cookie lover in the world, the gluten eater (who never passes on a cookie) in the house was employed to help test taste each cookie flavor. First up was the “Sugar Cookie” from Lucy’s. The cookies were light and crispy and though we are not big sugar cookie fans generally speaking, these had a great taste and texture.

Up next were the “Choco Chip” cookies. These were very good and will be a nice replacement cookie for a brand that recently changed ingredients. The other brand now has an aftertaste that I don’t care for. Again, the cookies from Lucy’s were light and the chocolate chips added a nice contrast to the crispy texture. The “Oatmeal” cookies were quite delightful with a lovely flavor. The company uses gluten-free oats to make the cookies so these treats offer an easy way to include oats in our diet. It offers those of us that can tolerate gluten-free oats that option, at least. I’m always looking to add safe oats to my diet, usually through hot cereal or oatmeal raisin cookies. Like the rest of the Lucy’s cookies we’d tasted, the Oatmeal cookies were light and crispy.

Last but not least, the “Cinnamon Thin” cookies were my favorite of the bunch! In fact, I decided not to share any of the cookies in the sample bag with the gluten eater in the house. He is not a fan of cinnamon cookies anyway. The Lucy’s “Cinnamon Thin” cookies are the exact type of cookie I like to enjoy with afternoon tea. The flavor was absolutely perfect. Like all the other flavors, there was a light crispy texture to this cookie, which is quite nice with hot tea.

Lucy’s Cookies are now available at about 6000 Starbucks locations. In fact, the cookie company had to ramp up production in order to supply the massive coffee house chain with enough cookies for their new “healthy snacks” program. Starbucks sells the snack size bag of cookies and retail grocery and health food stores sell the larger boxes of Lucy’s cookies. To find the products near you, check the website store locator. It’s doubtful that gluten eaters who want a healthy snack at Starbucks would mind that these treats don’t contain gluten. They are tasty enough for everyone to enjoy!

In addition to being gluten-free, the cookie are free of dairy, nuts, tree nuts, casein and eggs.  Special thanks to Lucy’s Cookies for our sample packs of cookies!