Monthly Archives: January 2010

Inexpensive Gluten-free Pizza Option

Ivoryteff_smFor many people on the gluten-free diet, finding the perfect gluten-free pizza is foremost on their to-do list. In my case, it is a bit of an obsession. Thin crust pizza is the most common type you’ll find made with a gluten-free crust. If you prefer a thick crust making your own is probably the best option.

For the lowest price pizza you can make at home, a super thin crust – paper thin in fact – is a good option. LaTortilla Factory gluten-free tortillas make a really good thin crust gluten-free pizza. Someone told me they’d used the Ivory Teff tortillas to make pizza and really loved it so I followed suit. I discovered the LaTortilla gluten-free tortillas at Fresh Market. The package of six tortillas cost less than $5. At about $.80 per 9” tortilla, this is the lowest cost for gluten-free pizza crust (not made from scratch) that I can think of.

The gluten-free products from LaTortilla have no rice flour in them but contain tapioca, whole grain teff and whole grain millet. Both millet and teff are very nutritious grains, which I’m always looking to add more of to my diet. It seems like many of the replacement gluten-free foods contain more fat, sugar and calories than the products they are replacing. I’m not giving up brownies so I make adjustments in other areas when possible.

Any gluten-free tortilla would work to make super thin crust pizza, but the LaTortilla product tastes like a wheat tortilla which makes it perfect for pizza. I defrosted the tortillas for approximately thirty minutes on the counter. I lightly brushed them with olive oil and baked them in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes. After removing them from the oven I added the sauces and toppings. For one pizza I used red sauce, pepperoni, black olives and mozzarella cheese. The other was one of my favorites – pesto sauce, cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, black olives and white American cheese.

Once the pizzas were topped I baked them for about 12 more minutes. My favorite part of a pizza has always been the toppings and with this thin of a crust, you certainly taste the toppings. There is not enough crust to compete with them. One pizza this size is too much for me to eat at one time so I had the leftovers the following day for lunch. Adding up the cost of the toppings, sauce and crust, I estimate the pizzas to cost about $3 each. Thick crust pizza lovers won’t enjoy a thin tortilla pizza but for thin crust devotees – it’s definitely worth trying at least once.

Pamela’s Introduces Ready-made Gluten-free Desserts!

Photo courtesy of Pamela's Products

Photo courtesy of Pamela's Products

The great folks over at Pamela’s Products sent us some exciting news about new products they are now offering and about two shows they will be exhibiting at soon.  You might have seen rave reviews about gluten-free items from Pamela’s Products on this site before. Though many people love Pamela’s bread mixes, making my own regular gluten-free bread is of no interest to me. On the other hand,  making corn bread, great cakes and quick breads with Pamela’s mixes is a normal part of my routine these days.

Excerpt from press release -

Pamela’s Products, a national leader in the gluten-free foods arena, will exhibit at both the 35th Annual Winter Fancy Foods Show (Booth # 1557), January 17-19, 2009 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, and, the Natural Products Expo West (Booth #2865) in Anaheim CA, March 12-14. Back from a number of appearances at East Coast events, Pamela’s Products will offer tastings of the ready-to-eat, gourmet gluten-free line of cheesecakes, chocolate fudge cake and coffee cake during show floor hours at both West Coast Shows. Met with widespread enthusiasm, Pamela’s Products ready-made cakes have been flying off shelves. The company anticipates even wider distribution this year.

Not really one for cheesecake (I know it’s odd since I’m a cheese addict!), that is something I’ve not missed at all since starting the gluten-free diet. For cheesecake lovers there are several flavors to choose from including New York Style, White Chocolate Raspberry, Zesty Lemon, Hazelnut, and Agave Sweetened NY Cheesecake. Now that is a nice assortment of cheesecakes!  Since the cheesecakes are sold in two sizes, I might have to try one of the mini cakes eventually. Just because I can, you know?

Courtesy of Pamela's Products

Photo courtesy of Pamela's Products

Picking up a ready-made gluten-free coffee cake sounds like pure bliss to me! I’m on a bit of a low carb regimen after overloading on gluten-free sweets during the holidays. When I start adding treats to my diet again, I might have to  pick one of the coffee cakes up at Return to Eden in Atlanta. That is the only store that sells these cakes in GA presently.

It’s so great when gluten-free food companies are part of regular food shows. It just proves what most of us already know. The days of eating cardboard type substances – masquerading as food - are long gone. OK – I never had to eat but a few such items and most of that took place in 2006. Back then I didn’t know that one cookie mix made cookies that tasted like dirt and another made great cookies. Learning what brands are worth spending money on is pretty difficult in the beginning on one’s gluten-free journey.

Even though I made the Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate cake this week and it’s very good, the Pamela’s Chocolate Cake mix is by far the best one I’ve tried to date. You can read my full review of the Pamela’s mix here. Make the Pamela’s Chocolate Frosting for the cake and people will think you toiled for hours in the kitchen – no doubt! Hopefully some of our readers are in the areas where these two food shows are being held and are can attend an event. In my gluten eating days I always wanted to go to the Fancy Food Show. Now that I’m gluten-free, I want to go even more so!

Win a Copy of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking!

artisan_agfccoverArtisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve seen in a while. Right off the bat, as you start reading about how Peter learned that there is an emotional attachment to food that one might not realize before going gluten-free, you will connect with his and Kelli’s journey. The sense of loss when one faces such a major life change is something only those of us who go through it can understand. When we have a phenomenal piece of gluten-free pizza when dining out, others around us do not understand why tears well up in our eyes.

Another thing that makes the book so great is the fact that it isn’t  overloaded with gluten-free replacement food recipes. Don’t worry – there are plenty of great selections in every category, but there is more to this cookbook than what one might expect. In addition to the things you’d expect to find like recipes for breads and desserts, there are also recipes for sides, soups and salads, appetizers, entrees and even drinks. There are not just a few offerings in those categories but many in each of them. From Shrimp Cocktail with Homemade Sauce to Mozzarella Sticks to Sweet and Sour Chicken – it’s all in this cookbook!

If you’re ambitious enough to want to make your own homemade corn tortillas, there is a recipe for those, which actually doesn’t look that difficult. There are dishes that represent many different cuisines including Coconut Red Curry Stir-Fry, Sushi Rolls and Gnocchi – to name just a few. Basics like Seared Scallops, Homemade French Fries and Wild Rice are also included. The dessert and bread recipes will have your mouth watering in no time. Below are just a few of the really special things I picked out to try eventually. Right now, I need a break from sweets after all the gluten-free goodies I enjoyed during the holidays.

  • Angel Food Cake with Strawberries
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
  • Apple Pie with Streusel Topping
  • Dessert Crepe with a Trio of Sauces
  • Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas (OK- I’ll admit I’m using ready made La Tortilla Factory tortillas for this one!)

If you’ve been wanting to make your own gluten-free ravioli, the Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking cookbook has you covered. Whether you’re a deep dish pizza lover or prefer a super thin crust – you’ll find recipe options for both in this great cookbook. Though many of us roll our eyes at well meaning friends when they ask if we can just order a salad wherever they want to eat, this book actually has amazing salad recipes that you’ll want to make and eat!

Make sure to check out the Bronski’s blog, No Gluten, No Problem where they share recipe creations and great tips about living gluten-free deliciously. The latter is something I strive to do each day. Kelli and Peter have done themselves proud with this lovely book. Their special artisan gluten-free flour blend recipe calls for three flours, two starches and xanthan gum. There is a recipe to make either 3 or 12 cups of flour at a time. Not being one to mix up my own flour, I plan to use a ready made gluten-free flour in some of the recipes in this book. I’ve done this with other cookbooks and for the most part have had great success. It seems that if you have a really good gluten-free flour blend, it will work well in many recipes that call for a different gluten-free flour blend. The key is that your flour has to be a good all-purpose flour to start with. Don’t just take plain rice flour and use it in a recipe unless that is what is calls for. Gluten-free flour blends are needed for the best tasting gluten-free foods, always.  In addition to being available on the author’s website, th book is also available on Amazon.com.

Please leave a comment below for your chance to win an author signed copy of this lovely and deliciously well done gluten-free cookbook! Winner will be posted on Wednesday, January 13th – good luck!

UPDATE: 1-13-09 / Congrats to Tim who won the copy of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking!

Special thanks to the Bronski’s for my review copy of their beautiful book!

Gluten-free Pasta Recipes

Gluten-free Penne Alfredo at Pepperoni's in Duluth, GA

Gluten-free Penne Alfredo at Pepperoni's in Duluth, GA

These days there are so many gluten-free pastas on the market that it’s not hard to find them – it’s  just tough to choose which one you like best. We like Andean Dream and Le Veneziane pastas best but no matter what pasta you like, there are tons of great dishes to use it in. There are entire cookbooks devoted to pasta recipes. Many of the recipes don’t call for gluten ingredients except for the pasta, of course.

Mainstream magazines seem to be full of pasta recipes and most of them don’t call for any gluten ingredients except for the pasta. Therefore, they are some of the easiest recipes to convert to being gluten-free. The Martha Stewart Pasta Cake recipe is out of this world delicious and we love making it in the dead of winter. One thing to remember is that if you don’t have a really delicious gluten-free pasta, you’ll want to use a recipe with a heavier or strong flavored sauce. Those types of sauces can compensate for a so-so quality pasta being used in the dish.

If a recipe calls for a small amount of wheat flour, rice flour or another all purpose gluten-free flour will work in place of it. There are so many ready made gluten-free pasta sauces available that you could use a different one every night for a month and still not try them all. Most of the sauces are sold in mainstream grocery stores. An easy pasta meal requires cooked pasta, a sauce and optional veggies or meats. Add a fresh green salad and you have a complete and fairly well rounded gluten-free meal.

If you don’t have a pasta cookbook handy, have no fear. We’ve found some killer pasta recipes online from various blogs and recipe websites.

When I hear people talk about not being able to have pasta anymore, I’m kind of perplexed. It’s true that not everyone can find gluten-free pasta available when dining out, but most towns and cities has a store (or several) that sells gluten-free pasta. Additionally, you can buy many different gluten-free pasta products at Amazon.com and the Gluten Free Trading Company. Therefore we can all enjoy our favorite pasta dishes, just like we did when we ate gluten. If one isn’t a gourmet chef, they can usually still boil water to cook pasta, drain it and pour a ready-made sauce over it. Newman’s Own and Amy’s both make some exceptional restaurant quality pasta sauces and every prepared pesto sauce I’ve found to date is gluten-free. Traditional Ragu sauce is gluten-free and is often on a “buy one get one free” promotion in our area.

In this new year with unknown possibilities, let’s focus on all the great things that happened in 2009 for our market and also on all the fabulous foods we can enjoy. Pasta is something wonderful that we don’t have to give up just because we can’t eat gluten and to quote Martha, that is a very good thing indeed!

Excellent Gluten-Free Breads Hit the Marketplace!

Photo courtesy of Udi's Gluten Free

Photo courtesy of Udi's Gluten Free

Udi’s Gluten Free, a Denver based company, is a spin off division from Udi’s, an artisanal gluten bakery. Somehow or another, the bread makers at Udi’s transferred their skills for making gluten breads into the ability to make incredible gluten-free products. By the way, the items are also dairy, soy and nut free. The only thing they are not free of is incredible taste!

The White Sandwich bread is kind of like a gluten-free version of Wonder Bread and Udi’s Whole Grain bread comes quite close to soft whole wheat gluten bread. Each of these incredible breads are edible without heating, toasting or warming of any kind. It seems too good to be true but it is 100% true, according to every person, blogger and review I’ve found online. Below are just a few of the many rave reviews of the fabulous products from Udi’s.

When my first Udi’s order arrived last summer, I could not get over the soft feel of the bread. I quickly checked the label to make sure it was gluten-free, since I knew that Udi’s had a gluten bakery. The products in my box were indeed the gluten-free products, which are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. I immediately pulled out the peanut butter and slathered it on a piece of the Whole Grain Bread. It was the fist piece I’d had in several years and it brought tears to my eyes.

Another unbelievable thing about Udi’s breads is the fact that you can store them on the counter for up a week without them spoiling. They can be left in the refrigerator for up to 28 days and last several months in the freezer. To be fair, I can’t imagine how anyone would ever need to freeze them, unless they’re just stocking up on them for the future. We don’t go through a loaf of bread in a week so we keep the breads in the fridge and pull pieces out as needed.

The pizza crusts from Udi’s make exceptional pizzas that actually stand up to the heartiest ingredients you can think to add. It would be great if some local pizza joints would use them here but so far none of them do. It’s one of the few crusts that don’t taste frozen, even when you pull it right out of the freezer before baking. It’s that amazing!

For muffin lovers, Udi’s Lemon Streusel and Blueberry Muffins are certainly something to get excited about. Again, the muffins can be eaten at room temperature if need be, but we prefer heating them very slightly for that fresh baked taste. Our favorite flavor is Lemon Streusel and those have replaced our old favorites from Whole Food Bakehouse – Lemon Poppy Seed. We have not yet tried the Cinnamon Rolls from Udi’s. If none of these baked treats are available near you or you don’t want to order muffins and cake online, the Grocery Guide lists eight brands that sell ready-made, gluten-free baked goods like muffins, brownies, and cake in stores.

Though we have not tried them yet, Udi’s gluten-free bagels are being test marketed in three Denver area Einstein’s locations. Can you imagine walking into to a bagel shop and getting a tasty gluten-free bagel?! Udi’s products are available for online ordering, but the company recently hooked up with a national distributor. That’s why we can now buy the products locally at Return to Eden. To get the fabulous Udi’s Gluten Free products to your local store, just ask for them. If enough people in your area do that, you’ll likely be enjoying soft incredible bread from Udi’s soon enough!