Monthly Archives: December 2010

More Culinary Mystery-Solving: Using Agar-Agar and Guar Gum

Photo courtesy of:

Photo courtesy of:

It seems that our post about xantham gum caused some minor controversy, so I would like to propose two more options for all of you gluten-free bakers and dessert-makers out there.  Agar-agar and Guar gum supply many of the inherent qualities missing from gluten-free baking: they provide a delicious, chewy texture with no added flavor.  What are these mysterious little culinary helpers, you ask?

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GF News Alert: Saliva Study Shows Promise

Back in the fall I got all excited because there was a new and improved blood test for celiac disease. Way less invasive than an endoscopy (although many of you wrote in to say endoscopies really aren’t so bad).

Of course, that was then. Ready for the next big thing? Stick out your tongue and say ahhh.


Well, something like that. Science is heading in the direction of a saliva test for celiac disease.

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A Gluten-Free Swedish Smorgasbord

StLuciaDayHappy (one-day-belated) Saint Lucy’s Day! December 13 is the feast holiday of Santa Lucia in Sweden, as well as other Scandinavian countries. The celebration is quite beautiful; traditionally a girl in a white dress wears a crown of candles to lead a procession of children carrying candles. Being of Swedish descent myself (my great-grandfather immigrated to NYC from Sweden in the early 1900s), I’ve always been interested in Swedish cuisine and traditions. The food is very hearty, heavy on the cream with a focus on potatoes, fish, and pork. There are a few Swedish foods that require an acquired palate- lutfisk (aka whitefish in lye) and pickled herring are a few Nordic favorites that I’ve never been able to manage. But the following Swedish recipes, presented gluten-free, are quite delicious!

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Gluten-Free Christmas: Bûche de Noël, fancy and fantastic

Oh, the Christmas season. Goofy sweaters, the pine-and-cinnamon scented air freshener in the grocery stores, heartwarming episodes of my favorite TV shows, blog posts about delicious gluten-free Chistmas treats…


These are a few of my favorite things. Another of my favorites is Bûche de Noël: it’s so pretty! I remember convincing my parents to buy one from the local bakery when I was still a gluten-eating child. It had tiny icing mushrooms and a dusting of powdered sugar snow on its fondant bark. Each slice was a beautiful swirl of chocolate cake and whipped cream.

It was glorious. It tasted TERRIBLE.


In tribute to that first, flawed cake, here are some recipes for gluten-free Bûche de Noël (or Yule Log, if you prefer). Some are fancier than others — and really, the decoration is up to you. All are guaranteed to turn your table into a winter wonderland, and should taste pretty good to boot.

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Gluten-Free Beer: Trend, or Here to Stay?

As 2010 winds down, speculation season begins. What’s going to matter in 2011?

A friend of mine, one who is dedicated to all things beer, pointed out an interesting set of predictions from the National Restaurant Association. Every year they survey 1,500+ industry professionals regarding several hundred trends. For the past two years, one trend listed was gluten-free beer.

beerIt turns out that 58% of professionals surveyed thought this trend was a new one, and that 34% considered it “sooo five minutes ago”. Only 8% considered gluten-free beer a “perennial favorite.”

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Product Review: Kitchen Table Bakers Gluten-Free Parmesan Crisps

AgedParmCrispsIf there is one thing that you need to know about me, it’s that I love cheese.  Havarti, Gruyère, Stilton – you name it, and I’ve probably enjoyed it.  So imagine my excitement when I discovered Kitchen Table Bakers Aged Parmesan Crisps, which are wheat, sugar and gluten-free.  They were so good, in fact, that their rapid obliteration became the stuff of office legends.  Apparently, barreling your way through a package of crunchy, tangy parmesan crisps in under 10 minutes is an excellent means by which to impress your colleagues.

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GF Travel, Germany: Gluten-Free Hotel in Garmish-Partenkirchen

If I still haven’t convinced you that traveling gluten-free is easy and fun, this post should do the trick.

I’d like to introduce you to Darren and Michelle, who opened the Gluten Free Hotel earlier this year, in the German Alps. As you might guess, the hotel offers room and board in a 100% gluten-free environment — perfect for anyone wary of traveling abroad safely. They were kind enough to answer a few questions — and provide a recipe for us — via email:

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The (Naturally Gluten-Free) Paleo Diet

A little while ago, Sarah posted an article on being gluten-free and vegetarian. If you thought that sounded restrictive, how about this one?

cavemanThe Geico caveman would find something to smile about if he heard about the eating regimen known as “Paleo Diet.” The premise is simple: eat like our Paleolithic hunter/gatherer ancestors did before the Neolithic era of agricultural crop domestication and animal husbandry. Therefore, the diet consists of huntable foods such as meat and fish and foraged foods such as nuts, fruits, mushrooms, roots, and vegetables. With no grains in the equation, the diet is, of course, totally gluten-free. (And with no dairy included, it’s also completely safe for the GFCF diet).

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Gluten-free Travel: Slovenia

Ah, December. Holiday season is in full swing – are you itching to get out of it for just a bit? If so, why not try Slovenia?

I love-love-loved Trieste, but as my friend and I boarded a bus to the Slovenian capital city of Ljubljana, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I’d heard of the country had been good, it’s just that I hadn’t heard that much.

Accordingly, there were some gluten-free Italian goodies stashed away in my bag, just in case.

I didn’t need them at all.

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Gluten-Free Restaurant Alert: TGI Friday's GF Menu

Remember last week, when I mentioned TGI Friday’s gluten-free menu and promised more information?

Well here it is. I’m very pleased to be able to share with you the TGI Friday’s Allergen Menu, straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth.


Click here to download the PDF!

As you can see, the menu covers the top eight allergens, including wheat. They also indicate which items have MSG added to them. The last page is a listing of which items are gluten-free, and how to order them to make them safe to eat.

It’s not an overwhelmingly large selection — much of the menu is fundamentally wheaty, after all — but what is listed can be eaten with reasonable confidence. A disclaimer on the menu reminds diners that there are shared prep areas. Since cross-contamination remains a concern, you’ll still want to bring your dining card along and make sure to explain your needs to your server each time.

Have you been to TGI Friday’s since they introduced their new gluten-free menu? If so, what did you think of it?