Review: King Arthur Gluten-Free Pancake Mix

KING ARTHURI am writing this while I slowly let my stomach shrink back to its normal size. After trying out the new gluten-free pancake mix from King Arthur Flour Company this morning, I am going to have to skip lunch. I ate too many pancakes.

Everyone in the gluten-free community seems to have the new gluten-free mixes from King Arthur on their mind or in their bellies, so when the company sent us some samples, I had to try out my favorite type of baked good – the breakfast type.

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Gluten-Free? Discover Quinoa!

It’s a delicious and nutritious grain! It’s gluten-free! It’s quinoa! (That’s “KEEN-WAH.”)

Many people don’t try quinoa until they’ve started eating gluten-free. A “pseudo cereal” harvested for over 6,000 years in the Andes and recently popularized as a healthy alternative to white (and gluten-containing) starches, quinoa has a unique consistency somewhat akin to that of couscous. Quinoa, once considered “the gold of the Incas,” opens a new window of culinary opportunity for those on gluten-free diets. This tasty, hardy food is 100% gluten-free, and can be used to make everything from salads to baked goods. Here are a few ideas about how to integrate quinoa into your gluten-free diet!

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Review: La Caraquena Latin American Cuisine

venezuela-flagDifferent cuisines have different appeals for gluten-free diners. We went looking for great gluten-free Latin American cuisine, and we found a gem with delicious gluten-free arepas.

“Table for three or ¿Mesa para tres?” the host asked as we entered La Caraquena. The authenticity starts at the door of this Latin American restaurant. The small space squats under a motel that I have passed countless times in my life but never thought to try. Now, as a new fan of Venezuelan cuisine, I realize that I’ve probably just as often passed over the opportunity to be surprised.

Full but somehow not crowded, with its seating spilling outdoors, the restaurant served lunch at noon to groups of Spanish-speakers, English-speaking families, and customers greeted as regulars. Our waiter, Raul, was very friendly and when he forgot to bring Michelle her water, he insisted that she ask for other things he could fetch immediately. (And he added a new ladybug sticker to the credit card we paid with, because apparently he keeps ladybug stickers at his workplace.)

Michelle and I decided to try the fried arepas in the peluda style. An arepa is a corn patty the shape and size of an English muffin but with a heavier consistency and grainy texture. It is, as Raul told us, completely gluten-free, made with “corn, water, salt…and of course, love.” Typically, Venezuelans serve it cut open on one half and stuffed. I had the chance to visit Venezuela last summer, where I tried an arepa stuffed with queso de mano (literally “hand cheese”), a soft, white cheese. At La Caraquena, I was not disappointed in the quality or authenticity. They serve around eight different styles of arepas cooked either grilled or fried. We did not ask about every type, but ours were gluten-free, filled with pulled beef and shredded cheese. You should double-check the filler ingredients before assuming that these delightfully tasty parcels are gluten-free, but they are mainly packed with meat, cheese, and vegetables. The portions are somewhere in between what I remember from Venezuela and what a typical American sandwich consists of – manageable but still filling. And were they good? Well, I will certainly go back. Let’s put it this way: I could definitely taste the love.

Angel Falls by Kiera Busching

The highlighted dish on the menu, a Bolivian sandwich, was not gluten-free, but if you are looking for a gluten-free dinner in the D.C. Metropolitan area, there are enough gluten-free arepas to make the trip worthwhile several times over. If you are not from the area but are still interested in branching out from typical Mexican fare, you can check out our Restaurant Guide to find Latin American restaurants in your home state.

Bonus: if you are Southern or a fan of Southern cuisine (American Southern as opposed to South American), I would suggest the iced tea, which, as Raul warned us, was sweet tea. Now, for the first time, I know it is possible to get good sweet tea north of Richmond.

La Caraquena Latin American Cuisine is located at 300 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA 22046. Hours: Mon, Wed-Fri 12 PM – 10 PM; Sat 11 AM – 10 PM; Sun 11 AM – 9 PM.

Review: Kinnikinnick Gluten-Free Graham Style Crumbs and Gluten-Free Cheesecake Recipe

Is it a cake or a pie? Who cares, it’s delicious! Cheesecake is a real crowd pleaser and one of my all-time favorite treats. The filling of plain cheesecake is most often gluten-free itself, so the only obstacle to enjoying this dessert gluten-free is the crust. Fortunately, Kinnikinnick sent us some Gluten-Free Graham Style Crumbs, and I decided to test them out to see if they can deliver the sweet crumbly texture and taste that I expect from a regular cheesecake crust.

Right away, the crumbs captured the grainy, powdery texture of graham cracker crumbles. They’re made using pea starch, potato starch, and rice flour, among other things, and they’re sweetened with molasses, honey, and brown sugar. The package had enough crumbs for one gluten-free cheesecake crust, which I made using the instructions on the back of the box.

Kinnikinnick Gluten-Free Graham Style Crumbs

For the crust:

Add ¼ cup sugar and 6 tbsp of melted butter to the crumbs. Then press the resulting dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a round baking pan.

The hardest part was forming the crumbly dough into a pie crust along the edges of the pan. After refrigerating for one hour, the crust was ready for filling.

For the gluten-free cheesecake filling, I used an old recipe from my mom that is gluten-free and really easy to make.


8 oz package of cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

8 oz container of sour cream

(Make sure you buy gluten-free sour cream – some brands of this can be tricky. If you’re wondering what’s safe, The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide lists 23 brands of gluten-free sour cream.)

Blend the sugar and cream cheese together. Add the vanilla and the egg, stirring well. Finally, blend in the sour cream and pour the mixture over the crust.

(Now, you can stop there if you want plain New York style gluten-free cheesecake, but I had some blueberries in the freezer to use up. After defrosting, I smushed 1/2 cup of the berries and then  brought them to a boil with 3 tbsp of sugar. I drained the resulting syrup away from the blueberry skins. The syrup was then drizzled over the filling and gently swirled in with a knife. The result is very pretty!)

Pie 1

The cheesecake then goes into the oven at 350° for half an hour. Next, leaving the oven door closed, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake bake in the residual heat for another hour. Remove the cheesecake, let cool, and refrigerate!

You can dress up a plain cheesecake with some canned cherries or strawberries or drizzle fudge or caramel sauce on top. I topped mine off with a few fresh blueberries.

Gluten Free Cheesecake

The final cheesecake was gluten-free and delicious! The crust crumbled and crunched just like a graham cracker crust should. The only problem I had was some separation of the crust along the edges, but that was more due to the pan I used than the crumbs themselves. The flavor of the crust was very graham-y and complemented the creamy cheesecake nicely. Granted, cheesecake is as unhealthy as desserts come. But with a gluten-free graham crust this easy to make, the whole family can enjoy this guilty pleasure!

Celebrate! A Gluten-Free Summer Recipe

Other holidays with family often warp into a wellspring of cake, pie, stuffing, cookies, gravy, hamburger and hot dog buns, and even pizza when all the previous dishes burn and the cook ends up ordering take-out. We have great news, however, because we may have finally found a holiday that we can make completely – or, at least, we can try to make it – gluten-free. What is it? Midsummer’s Eve, or the summer solstice. The secret? Its complete vagueness to everyone not practicing New Age religions. You will be able to convince your friends that the gluten-free dishes you make are completely authentic. Unless your family and friends are neo-pagans with very certain ideas about proper midsummer cuisine, you may finally have one easily gluten-free celebration every year. Get ready for stress-free June 21! If you are running late, you can use any night up to June 26. (And even if you don’t feel like celebrating, these ideas will work for a gluten-free barbeque all summer long.)

Summer solstice traditions were rooted in the belief that the longest day of the year was also the most magical. Today, the biggest bashes are in Northern Europe, especially Sweden. If you want to go all out like our northern friends across the ocean, try a bonfire.  (Swedes are always setting things on fire. Their favorite Yule tradition is setting the Gavle goat, literally a giant goat, ablaze every year.) The fairies come out, the witches dance naked, Puck poetically Peeping Toms. Revelers decorate their houses with wreaths and garlands of flowers and herbs, trying to stay awake all night and tempt spirits, falling in love in astonishingly large numbers.

When you start planning your Midsummer feast, it might be that the way you think about cooking it is just as important as what you cook. Eat outside, first of all, whether you go picnic-style or haul all the living room furniture out onto the front lawn. Gaiatribe suggests using “flame-cooked” and “sun-made” food, so that your grill is automatically converted into a much more interesting type of fire and your sun-dried raisins a more inviting source of fiber. Also, everyone seems to agree that summer fruits and vegetables are perfect, and they are already smiling at you from the lush plastic greenery of the grocery store. For us, that means corn on the cob, watermelon or fruit salad, and grilled chicken – a dependably great gluten-free summer meal that has the added benefit of celebrating the earth’s elements. Or at least gives Dad an excuse to make fire.

Here’s a basic menu, which comes from this website:

Brown or Wild Rice – According to The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, Carolina Rice produces whole grain brown rice, which seems appropriate for a festival celebrating the earth’s bounty.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs – The best are red, green, and yellow peppers together with onions.

Sunny Citrus Chicken (see below) or grilled salmon – Fish is the most popular food in Northern Europe for Midsummer.

Strawberries with Whipped Cream – Also a Swedish Midsummer favorite.

At such a magical time of year (or any time of year, really), looking in unusual places could yield interesting gluten-free recipes. For example, who would have known that Hearth and Home Witchery had such an interesting – and Midsummer-appropriate – chicken recipe? (By the way, you might notice that no other major holiday focuses on chicken. Well, no time better than Midsummer’s Eve!) Here’s the recipe:

Sunny Citrus Chicken

2 tablespoons butter
4 boned and skinned chicken breast halves
1/2 cup chicken stock (Our Grocery Guide lists 19 brands that each sell various types of gluten-free stock.)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate – thawed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon curry powder (Our Grocery Guide lists various brands like  Goya and Durkee, whose curry powders are definitely gluten-free.)
salt and pepper

Optional Garnish: orange slices or toasted almonds

In a skillet, melt butter; brown chicken lightly on both sides; remove and set aside.

Mix together chicken stock, honey, orange juice concentrate, and lemon juice; blend in cornstarch and curry powder. Pour into skillet; bring to a boil, stirring as it thickens; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return chicken to skillet; simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes (do not overcook). Arrange chicken on platter; spoon sauce over. If desired, garnish with orange halves and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Makes 4 small or 2 large servings.

Have you ever been surprised to find gluten-free food or recipes in unlikely places? Where, how, and what did you think of them?

Or, how do you handle (beginning, mid, or end of summer) barbeques? Do you have any good recipes?