Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Product Review: Udi’s Pizza Shell (gluten free / dairy free, contains egg)

Let me start by saying that I’ve never made a pizza shell before (gluten free or otherwise) so this was a new experience for me. I also haven’t had gluten containing pizza in about 20 years (I’ve only been on a gluten free diet for about six years but have been on a dairy free diet for over twenty!) so I’m comparing to memory mostly. I have had GF/DF Pizza at Pizza Fusion and occasionally have frozen GF/DF pizzas by Amy’s.

Udi's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Pizza Shells
with Boar's Head Dairy Free Turkey Pepperoni
On to the review: I’ve had a package of Udi’s GF Pizza Shells in my freezer for a couple of weeks now. I was on a hunt for pork free/dairy free pepperoni. While I found plenty of turkey pepperoni they all contained lactic acid starter culture which is often derived from milk (not sure exactly which part of milk makes me sick). I even considered meatless pepperoni but these were all made from wheat protein. I finally settled on Boar’s Head gluten free turkey pepperoni that claimed it was also milk free (even though it also contained lactic acid starter culture).

Just a quick tangent on Boar’s Head. I gave them a call and their lactic acid is not sourced from dairy. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, only four of their meats contain dairy (Mortadella, Chorizo, Pesto Parmesan Ham, and Italian Style Roast Beef with Braciole Seasoning). Oh, and they make these at the end of the day so they are sure nothing else is cross contaminated!

Ok, back to the pizza. I defrosted one of the shells (I let it sit out for maybe 10 minutes, it fully defrosted pretty quickly) and a small container of sauce I had frozen for eventual use on pizza. I covered the center of the shell with about 3 or 4 tablespoons of No Tomato Pizza sauce (of course, those who can, can use tomato sauce) and baked it for the recommended seven minutes at 375.

I then covered it with shredded Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese, a couple of slices of Boar’s Head Turkey Pepperoni and broiled it for 3-5 minutes more. In hindsight this was a mistake. The package instructions are for regular cheese that melts, I should have only baked the shell and sauce for 3-4 minutes before adding the vegan cheese and broiling. The edges of the crust were a touch more well-done than I had hoped. [That’s the nice way of saying – burnt!] I made the second shell two days later and these reduced times worked perfectly!

One other tip, don’t layer the shredded vegan gourmet too thick or the pieces underneath will liquefy and not melt correctly. Besides this not being the correct texture, you could burn yourself. I used about half the package but probably should have only used a third or so.

The pizza itself was great! The crust was thin but dense and chewy. It held together perfectly. It is a hair thicker than I remember thin crust pizza being but it is much more pizza-like than the Amy’s frozen pizza crusts (by-the-way: I do really like the Amy’s, I just accept that their crust is thicker and fluffier). The crust is also thicker than the Still Riding gluten free crusts most NJ pizzerias seem to be using but it was more malleable. If you don't over cook the crust (see above) it even folds like real pizza! (But, at 8” round, you really don't need to.)

Overall, I really liked them and will most likely buy them again. Dinner was ready in about 20 minutes (including defrosting, shredding, etc.) which on a busy weeknight wasn’t bad at all.

I’ve seen these in a lot of places that carry Udi’s other products. If you can’t find them you can order them at the Gluten Free Mall here: Udi's Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts.

Other product reviews you may be interested in:

 Feel Good Foods Asian Style GF Dumplings

Using Udi's GF Hotdog Bun to make a sub sandwich

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Restaurant Review: Bellizzi (153 Main Street, Mount Kisco, New York 10549 and 1272 Boston Post Road, Larchmonth, New York, 10538)

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine at Bellizzi (1272 Boston Post Road, Larchmont, New York, 10538). (For some reason they have separate websites, if you’d like to check out Bellizzi in Mount Kisco click here: Bellizzi Mount Kisco.) The menus are extremely similar but do have slight differences.
Mama's Gluten Free Chicken Soup with Rice at Bellizzi

The GF entrees are all gluten friendly – grilled chicken parmigiana, etc. but some are served with a side of GF pasta (le veneziane brand).  They have a number of pasta dishes and they also have GF pizza from Still Riding Pizza.

The highlight (for me at least) were their gluten free soups! It’s rare enough to find a restaurant that doesn’t use a gluten containing stock for their soups but Bellizzi even serves Galbusera gluten free crackers along with them!

We each had a cup of GF soup to start and I had the Chicken Milanese (grilled chicken under arugula and red onions with balsamic vinaigrette (I left off the tomatoes). It wasn’t what I was expecting but a welcome surprise. Since I’m usually so limited on a menu to find something GF/DF it is always nice to have something I’ve never had before!
GF/DF Grill Chicken Milanese at Bellizzi in Larchmont, NY

This is definitely somewhere I would recommend and return to if I again find myself in that area.

Looking for other gluten free places in NY to eat?

Gluten Free at 97lake Sports Cafe in West Harrison, NY

Or check the handful listed on my Gluten Free Restaurant List:
Bellizzi Restaurant - Food, Family, Fun on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dairy Free / Gluten Free Swedish Meatball Recipe

I started making Swedish meatballs years ago after realizing that tomato sauce doesn’t really work for me. Now that I have a Tomato Free Sauce, I get to have spaghetti and meatballs again but I like to make Swedish meatballs as well.

A couple of quick notes on the recipe:

If you can have dairy replace the almond/hemp milk with heavy cream. If you are DF don’t use rice milk as it is too thin. If you have to, then you may want to add a little additional flour to the gravy.

Why add bread/bread crumbs to meatballs? It turns out, bread or bread crumbs in meatballs makes them significantly softer. In this recipe, use a middle slice of bread, not the end (I usually save the ends of GF bread to make bread crumbs) as the end may not fall apart as easily.

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs
1 slice gf bread
1/4 cup almond/hemp milk
olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped fine

1# ground beef
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Gravy Ingredients:
1/4 cup almond/hemp milk
2 cups gluten free beef broth
1/4 cup gluten free flour mix
dash nutmeg
dash allspice
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Lingonberry, (cranberry, currant, blackberry, raspberry)

How to prepare GF/DF Swedish Meatballs:
Soak bread in milk using the bare minimum of milk (you can always add more).

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil (about 3-4 minutes) in a high rimmed sauté pan.

Whisk milk/bread mixture until bread fully falls apart (again adding more milk as needed).

Mix bread/milk ingredients, onions, ground beef, allspice, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 1” meatballs (recipe should make 20-24). If you used too much milk on the bread the meatballs may not hold their shape well. If so, cool in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Fry meatballs in batches until browned on the outside, transfer to a paper towel lined plate as done.

Drain off some fat as needed/desired.

To make the gravy:
Combine the milk and gf flour in a covered container and shake well. Deglaze the sauté pan with a bit of the beef stock/broth before adding the rest. Stir in the flour/milk mixture. Add the nutmeg, allspice, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Return meatballs to pan and simmer until gravy is desired consistency and meatballs are cooked fully through.

Serve over Gluten Free noodles with a bit of jam (lingonberry is traditional, but currant, cranberry, blackberry or raspberry jam can all be used in a pinch.)


Note: the jam can be mixed into the gravy as well.

If you make this recipe and enjoy it, let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Restaurant Review: Chick-fil-A (various NJ locations)

If I’m going out after work I really don’t like to stop home first. Once I’m home it’s too tough to overcome the inertia and head out again. Therefore, if I need to stop somewhere for a quick bite, the Chick-fil-A on my way home fills the bill nicely.
Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken with Polynesian Sauce
on Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bun

As those who have previously read my article on Gluten Free French Fries already know, Chick-fil-A’s french fries are fried separately from their breaded chicken items in a different frier. (As always, make sure this is the case at your local Chick-fil-A.)

They also offer three grilled chicken items that are gluten free (two salads and one bun-free sandwich)  Oh, and the best part? When you order a grilled chicken sandwich without a bun – they deduct the cost of the bun!

Update 2/6/12:

I had their grilled chicken nuggets on my way home Friday night.  They aren't just on the kids menu, they have  an 8-piece "grown-up" version as well.  The taste was very similar to the chargrilled chicken breast but I suspect you get more chicken with the chargrilled breast.  Even though the kid in me enjoyed dipping the nuggets, I think I'll stick with the chicken breast (smothered in Polynesian sauce of course!)
Chick-fil-A on Urbanspoon

Other quick serve/fast food reviews:

Gluten Free at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Gluten Free at Elevation Burger

Where to get Gluten Free Fries

And be sure to check out my list of Gluten Free Fast Food Restaurants.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Product Review: Feel Good Foods Dumplings

WARNING: You must follow the directions exactly as written on the packaging!
Cooking Feel Good Foods' Gluten Free Asian Dumplings

I’ve heard a number of people complain that these dumplings fall apart or that they just turn to mush. I had minimal issues with them but it is critical that you follow the directions on the box exactly. (They say shake frequently to avoid sticking, I found that means almost constantly!) They’ve even posted a video on their website showing exactly how to cook the dumplings.

Feel Good Foods produces four types of gluten free Asian style dumplings: Chicken, Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable. I found that they came out exactly like the traditionally prepared dumplings one would get at an Asian restaurant (not the deep fried type).

After their success with dumplings, I hear rumors they are launching a gluten free egg roll in early 2012!!!
Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Asian Dumplings

I’ve seen the dumplings at Corrado’s and Nature’s Pavilion. They are also available at a number of other small retailers across the state. If you can’t find them locally you can order them from the gluten free mall here: Feel Good Foods Asian Style Gluten-Free Dumplings.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Which Gluten Free Hot Dog Bun is Best?

Gluten Free Asian Food at the Pandan Room in Hackettstown, NJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gluten Free Holiday Cookies and Cakes by Schär and Mi-Del

Oh, how the times have changed!

Schär Gluten Free Dairy Free Spekulatius
It’s amazing how different both the product landscape and restaurant landscape has changed for gluten free food in the six years I’ve been gluten free. We now have sandwich bread that doesn’t fall apart, pasta that isn’t mush, and over 100 national chains and local restaurants in NJ now have gluten free menus!

And now, the gluten free market has gotten big enough that companies can launch targeted gluten free products for the holidays!

Schär – Wegmans is carrying a special line of Schär products for the holidays: Panettone (Italian Christmas Cake), Fantasia (yellow sponge cake), Cioccolini (chocolate cookies with a chocolate cream center), Fior di Sole (vanilla ring cookies) and Spekulatius (spiced cookies stamped with images of the traditional story of St. Nicholas from the West Germany/Belgium/Netherlands area). [For those who don’t also need dairy free – there is a chocolate chip version of the Panettone and a Lebkuchen (chocolate covered gingerbread cookies).] I’ve only tried the Spekulatius so far and they were good – crispy and a welcome change from the other cookies I eat year round.

Mi-Del Gluten Free / Dairy Free Gingerbread Men
Mi-Del has a box of GF/DF Gingerbread men.  (Be careful as they also sell gluten containing Gingerbread men.)  These are good as well although they taste suspiciously like their ginger snaps. (But then again, you can’t bite the head off a ginger snap!) I bought mine at Fairway but I suspect they will be available in most supermarkets where Mi-Del products are sold.

Hopefully, you can find these products in person as I have not seen any of them for sale online.

Other Gluten Free snack reviews:
Gluten Free Fig Newton Substitution

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Donut Review

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tomato Free / Gluten Free Chicken Cacciatore Recipe (naturally dairy free as well)

I recently put together this TF Chicken Cacciatore recipe and it was such a success I thought I’d share. I used a jar of unmarinated roasted red peppers, but I’m sure you could roast your own if you preferred. I’m just not sure how many you’d need - the 32oz jar gave me 4 cups of puree. I think if I were to roast my own, I might try roasting the onions as well.

Tomato Free Chicken Cacciatore
1 jar (32 oz) plain roasted red peppers
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbps olive oil
4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds) cubed
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 large green bell pepper chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
(1 cup sliced mushrooms, optional)

1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf

How to prepare:
Add peppers from jar to blender being careful to remove any seeds. Add some of the liquid from the jar as well and puree (remember you can always add more liquid if needed). [Note: add all the seasonings except the bay leaf here to blend them in well.]

Brown chicken in the olive oil and then remove from the pan.

Next, brown the onion, garlic and peppers and when done, remove them from pan as well. [I'm not a big fan of mushrooms so I don't include them. If you'd like to add them, do so here.]

Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Stir in the seasoned red pepper puree.

Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan. Add the bay leaf and cover. [If you didn’t blend in the seasonings at the beginning, add them here.]

Simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through about 30 minutes. [If you choose to use whole chicken pieces (bone-in or boneless) you may need to adjust the cooking time until the chicken is properly cooked through.]

Discard bay leaf and server over hot gf pasta or rice.

Serves 5.

If you try this recipe and have success please let me know by leaving a comment below!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Chicken and Rice Recipe (Arroz con Pollo) – if needed you can omit the tomato paste or replace it with a little red pepper paste instead.

Tomato Free Chili Recipe

Click here for more No Tomato Recipes

And click here for more Heartburn/GERD/Acid Reflux Friendly Recipes

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: Bangkok Kitchen (Caldwell, NJ)

Someone at the October meeting of the Fine Grind GF Club (Little Falls, NJ) mentioned that the Bangkok Kitchen (391 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell, NJ) had a GF menu. I recently met one of my cousins for dinner there and it was great! I had looked up their menu online and all but about four items were flagged as gluten free.
Gluten Free Ka Tiem at Bangkok Kitchen, Caldwell, NJ

Most Thai dishes tend to be naturally gluten free (and like most asian cuisine, tend to be DF as well). The owner has Celiac disease and has modified most of those that aren’t naturally GF to be GF as well. Please note: make sure you mention you need a gluten free dish when ordering as some items flagged as GF on the online menu aren’t normally prepared GF but rather are modified when you order them that way.

Bangkok Kitchen is a store front restaurant with Thai décor. The in-store menu does not list the GF items (although everything except the dumplings, spring rolls, and chicken wings can be made GF). I had the Ka Tiem (chicken sautéed with cilantro garlic sauce and vegetables) as you can see at the right. The offline menu flags the spicy items by changing the first letter in the item to red. My cousin had the Masamun Beef and said the spice level was fine (not mild but not too spicy either).
GF Masamun Beef at Bangkok Kitchen in Caldwell, NJ

The restaurant is BYOB and in addition has a nice selection of Vegetarian/Vegan dishes as well. With such a wide-ranging Gluten Free menu I will certainly be going back!

Other restaurant reviews you may enjoy:

If you are looking for other ideas of where to eat, check out my big list of Gluten Free Restaurants in NJ.

Bangkok Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease: Post Walk Recap (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2 - Recap of Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease

Sorry for the delay, but here is the final installment of my vendor recap from the Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease.

Other vendors:

A Taste of Thai – They sent along a heap of individually wrapped fortune cookies as samples, but didn’t attend. The packages lacked ingredients but it turns out they are GF/DF. I do like a number of their instant rice cartons and keep some in my desk drawer for emergencies.  The fortune cookies are nothing like a chinese fortune cookie and I've never seen another Thai fortune cookie so I have no point of comparison.  They are sweet and a touch cinnamony maybe?
By-the-Way Bakery Gluten Free / Dairy Free Baked Goods

Bakery on Main – They had samples of their GF granola and granola bars.

Boar's Head - They had a giant prize wheel and everyone who spun won something. I won a reusable lunch bag.

By the Way Bakery - They're an actual local bakery at 574 Warburton Avenue, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706.  They were sampling their cupcakes, pound cake, biscotti, granola, etc.  I tried their marble pound cake which was good and their lemon pound cake that was out-of-this-world!  Their entire menu is gluten and dairy free!

Breads from Anna – These are some amazing mixes that are very allergen aware.  They're all gluten free, most are dairy free but there is something for everyone as some are yeast free, corn free, soy free, nut free, and even rice free.  I last saw them locally at Linda’s Diet Delites in Clark (see my gluten free store list for contact info), but hopefully they'll shortly be available at more local shops.

Charley’s Organic Toffee - they didn't have anything DF at the show, but they do have one DF product via mail order only.

Deb's Farmhouse Gluten Free Dairy Free Cookies
Cogolulu Café - (991 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897) this is a 100% GF cafe in Wilton, CT.  Not sure how DF they may be.

Conte’s Pasta  - I actually didn’t see them there.  Most of their items contain dairy as well, but not their Potato/Onion Pierogies, nor their Gnocchi.

Deb’s Farmhouse Kitchen  - One of the highlights of the show! Deb’s makes good and hearty cookies (Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin) which are also dairy free and contain whole grain rolled GF oats, almonds, and bean flour but still manages to taste like a cookie! Currently, they are only sold in NY and CT.

Ener-G - One of the oldest gluten free companies. I use their egg replacer still but have switched to newer products for most of their other items.

Gilbert's Gluten Free Dairy Free Cookies
Everybody Eats  - all of their samples contained dairy but they do have a handful of dairy free products. Unfortunately, most of their products are extremely expensive.  With the exception of their dairy free chicken ravioli’s some other company is making a much less expensive competitor of their other four DF/GF items.

Enjoy Life  - They weren’t at the fair itself but did send along little goodie sample bags. This bag included a sample of their new large crunchy cookie.

J&L Feel Good Food - this is a brand new company and I can't find much more than a facebook page on them.  It looks like they bake for different farmers markets in the NY area.  Their entire line is GF and they have a couple of DF items too.

Gilbert’s Goodies - They have a variety of very soft cookies.  I've had their bite sized cookies from Whole Foods in the past and am excited that they now are available at the GF Cart at the Prudential Center!  Their entire line is gf/df/nut free/corn free and all but chocolate chips are soy free.

Gluten Free Living Magazine - I actually subscribed to this magazine at last years fair.  Very informative and provided in depth coverage of some important questions: is their gluten in toothpaste?  naturally gf flours? gum? etc. 

Izzi B's Gluten Free Dairy Free Cupcakes
Izzi B’s Allergen Free Cupcakes -  Very attractive cupcakes sold in the freezer case. I gave her a copy my store list so hopefully they will make their way to New Jersey soon!

Jovial Foods - they had a table full of samples of their GF pasta and fig cookies.  You can read my review of their cookies here: Jovial GF Fig Filled Cookies.  Their pasta is good and holds up quite well too.

Juice Plus – I’m not going to include a link here as I just spent 10 minutes on their website and couldn’t find a list of ingredients, nor a guarantee they are gluten free (important considering they do list the 17 fruits/vegetables/grains they source from and oats are included).

Kitchen Table Bakers - They make crackers out of cheese.  That's a big no-no for me!  (Although, I do here they are good.)

Le Garden Bakery – Their website is no longer active.

NJY Camps - This organization runs a summer camp for children. They have recently upgraded their gluten free dining options so all their gf attendees can enjoy the camp!  (They keep kosher so dairy free shouldn't be too tough to manage.)  They had 20 GF campers last year and hope to host even more this year.  They are also planning a fully GF family weekend in June.

The Gluten-Free Guides - they have travel guides for NYC, France, Italy, and Washington, DC.
Gluten Free on a Shoestring -  Nicole from Gluten Free on a Shoestring was there selling her cookbook. This is one of the blogs I follow on a regular basis.

Nugo Nutrition - they make a wide variety of snack bars.  Be careful as only some of their bars are GF/DF.

Organic Bistro/Helen’s Kitchen - I've been meaning to write a review of Organic Bistro for quite some time now.  I usually have a couple of their dinners in my freezer for quick meal if I'm rushed.  They're launching three new varieties: Grass-Fed Beef with Mushroom Sauce (Butter), Wild Salmon with Pesto (Cheese), and Southwest Style Grass-Fed Beef (DF).  All their products are GF and most are DF as well.  Helen's Kitchen is a sister company specializing in Vegetarian/Vegan frozen foods (about half of which are GF as well).

Rudi’s -  I actually prefer Udi’s breads so I ended up skipping this booth. There products tend to be soy free for those who need it.

Three Dogs Gluten Free Bakery - A dedicated GF bakery in Briarcliff Manor, NY. I didn’t get anything from them this year, but have in the past and it is very good. 510 North State Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510.
The Lunch Buffet was provided by Pizza 2000 but it was too windy outside so we didn’t try it. Their online menu lists only GF pizza and GF pasta in marinara sauce. The buffet appeared to have some additional items, so perhaps they are working on expanding their menu.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Restaurant Review: Pizza Fusion (Ridgewood, NJ 07450 and Red Bank, NJ 07701)

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine at Pizza Fusion in Ridgewood, NJ. This was the first pizza place in NJ to offer both Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pizza and is one of only a handful that now do.

Pizza Fusion is a gourmet pizzeria using mostly organic ingredients and has a heavy environmental slant (they’re heavy into recycling, renewable energy, energy efficiency, etc.). Their menu clearly marks the gluten free options and vegan options. For the dairy free they offer both a soy cheese and Daiya cheese (the GF crust is dairy free but contains egg).
Gluten Free / Dairy Free Pizza with Grilled Chicken,
Roasted Garlic, and Basil at Pizza Fusion in Ridgewood, NJ

Since they are gourmet (and organic, and buying renewable energy, etc) they are a bit pricey. There is an additional charge for a gluten free crust and dairy free cheese. Their price on their GF crust came down 25% since they first opened and they now also offer a personal sized pizza so it’s not as bad as it once was.

They are very careful, preparing the GF pizzas in a dedicated area, using dedicated utensils, and baking them on the top shelf of their oven (which is also dedicated GF). The staff is very knowledgeable on what is safe and what isn’t (gluten free items are marked GF on the menu and vegan items are marked V and the staff easily confirmed the lack of dairy in everything I ordered). The crust is thin and crisp and all of the toppings are high quality and fresh. They’ve also got a nice variety of beverages including various Boylan sodas, Honest Tea’s, and fresh brewed teas and coffee.

Left over pizza freezes well and can be reheated in the oven for 10 minutes at 350. Since the crust contains bean flour I wouldn’t recommend storing the leftovers in the refrigerator as that bean aftertaste will become more prevalent.

The highlight of their menu (at least for me) is the Gluten Free / Vegan brownie on their dessert menu! It’s light and airy and one of the few desserts I can order anywhere in the state!

(p.s. I’ve heard rumors that they’re expanding their GF offerings but there isn’t any info on their website and I didn’t notice it on the menu while I was there.)

Pizza Fusion on Urbanspoon
Other reviews you may be interested in:

Rutherford Pancake House (Rutherford, NJ) - they have dairy free cheese for their pizza but I've yet to try it.

Janice A Bistro (Ho-ho-kus, NJ) - no pizza here but an amazing restaurant in the Ridgewood area.

And of course, don't forget to check my giant List of New Jersey Restaurants with Gluten Free Menus and my giant list of Chains with Gluten Free Menus.

Friday, November 4, 2011

La Riveria Trattoria (Clifton, NJ) featured on Schär's "Better Without" Video Series

La Riviera Trattoria (421-27 Piaget Avenue [Rt 46E], Clifton, NJ 07011) was featured in the latest episode of Schär's Video Series "Better Without".  The episode details advice for eating out both at restaurants with and without a gluten free menu.  It covers the questions to ask to make sure you'll be safe.  It contains some really good advice but there are two tips I'd add to it:

1) Call or Email ahead rather than waiting until you are in the restaurant if possible - if you get there and they don't get it, you then have to get up and leave and find somewhere else to eat!  Of course, you should still talk with your server when you get to the restaurant to double check everything.

2) I'd place more emphasis on dining in restaurants that really get gluten free.  You'll be safer and you're helping to support those who are stepping up and providing us a place to eat.  I'd rather spend my money in a restaurant that is already doing the work needed to attract me as a customer, rather than somewhere that views me as an annoyance or an afterthought.  (You can check my list of NJ Restaurants with a gluten free menu but keep in mind I haven't yet tried a lot of these restaurants so I can't speak to their level of understanding.)

But speaking of restaurants that really get it . . . the episode includes details of the steps La Riviera takes and even tours their kitchen to show the separate gf prep areas, special gf plates, separate gf pots, and overall precautions for cooking and serving gluten free food.  I've eaten there a number of times but had no idea how stringent they were!  [When not in use they cover their pans with plastic wrap and keep their GF bread crumbs in sealed containers - all to reduce the chance of cross contamination.]

Their waitstaff really gets it as well.  The last time I ate there was with two friends with Celiac Disease.  We mentioned to our waiter when we were seated that we were all gluten free but that I was also dairy free.  Later on, when we were ready to order, I accidentally ordered a gf pasta dish with cheese on it.  The waiter remembered I was dairy free and pointed out that he'd have them make it without cheese instead!

If you need more convincing, you can check out my previous review here: Restaurant Review: La Riviera Trattoria (Clifton, NJ).  If you've never been, I highly recommend you give La Riviera a try!  The food is amazing and as you can see from the video they really go above and beyond to make sure we are safe. 

La Riviera Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Lasagna Recipe (easily made vegan and tomato free)

I’ve been making this GF/DF lasagna for a couple of years now. I started off with DeBoles no boil noodles but this was at a time when I was still eating tomato sauce (albeit very little) and there wasn’t enough moisture in my pan to fully cook the noodles (I only used about a ½ cup total). That first attempt came out ‘crunchy’. When was the last time you used ‘crunchy’ to describe a really good lasagna? Nope, me neither.

GF / DF / Vegan Lasagna (with Tomato Free Sauce)
I’ve since tried making this with Tinkyada noodles as well as the DeBoles but this time boiling them a bit first. Both were fine but some challenges remained. First, if you use the Tinkyada, the 15-16 minutes recommended on the package is delusional – try about 10 minutes or less (remember they’ll continue cooking in the oven). Second, the both brands are 10” long so if you pan is shorter, you’ll have to cut them (my current pan is 10” by 14” but my original was 8”x8”). Finally, these noodles tend to stick together while cooking especially if you don’t have a big enough pot. I had been cooking them in batches in a 12” sauté pan but that just adds to the time and complexity.

The last time I made a big batch of No Tomato Pasta Sauce. I set aside enough to try this recipe again, only this time using the DeBoles and not boiling them. This recipe will work with regular Tomato sauce or my tomato free sauce.  It is vegan as written and only contains meat if you want it to (or serve it with meatballs).

1 cup sauce (Tomato or Tomato-Free Sauce)
1 box gluten free lasagna noodles (DeBoles or Tinkyada) 10oz
1 block Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese (enough shredded to cover top, about 1/3 to 1/2 the block)

Tofu Mixture:
1 package silken tofu (14oz)
1 cup sauce (Tomato or Tomato-Free Sauce)
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded spinach (optional)

How to prepare:
If using Tinkyada, boil the noodles for 10 minutes (Tinkyada says 15-16 min but this is way too long) or until done. Drain, rinse with cold water and lay out flat before they crumple and/or stick together.

If using DeBoles No Boil, skip the previous step.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the tofu, 1 cup of sauce, parsley, basil, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper (include optional shredded spinach if using). Hint: crumble the dry spices in the palm of your hand before adding to increase their flavor. Use a spoon and stir the tofu mixture until it resembles the ricotta cheese filling of real lasagna. (Do not use shredded mozzarella in the mixture; it will not melt like real mozzarella unless it is broiled on top.) [Notes: don’t over stir or the mixture will become too smooth. If using soft tofu, a whisk may be easier to use to get the correct consistency.]

Preheat the oven to 375. (350 for No Boil.)

Coat the bottom of a lasagna pan with 1/2 cup of sauce.

When the noodles are ready, add a single layer to the pan topped by a layer of the tofu mixture (I used about 2 heaping tbsp of mixture per noodle). Alternate layers until you are out of noodles (hint preserve some of the better [unbroken] noodles for the top). Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce on the top layer of noodles. Bake covered at 375 for 20-30 minutes until heated through. (Or if using No Boil, bake covered at 350 for 40-60 minutes. Start checking at 40 minutes for doneness.)

Remove from the oven and cover with shredded soy mozzarella. Place under the broiler and broil – watching carefully until shredded cheese begins to bubble. Remove promptly once the cheese is melted as shortly thereafter it will blacken and then burn. [Warning, if you bake the soy mozzarella on top of the lasagna it may dry out and not melt as much when you broil it, it is better to add after baking.] [You can also use Daiya Shredded Mozzarella, if so, uncover and add for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.]

One final note, I’ve been pre-melting my Vegan Gourmet in the microwave and then drizzling it over what I’m making. I find this works best for things that aren’t oven baked – cheese steaks, tacos, nachos, etc. I think the next time I make this, baked ziti, or stuffed shells, I’m going to stick to broiling it.



Meat Lasagna – include cooked ground beef either in the tofu mixture or in a layer on top of the lasagna but below the shredded cheese.

Baked Ziti – I use this same tofu mixture tossed with cooked pasta (ziti, etc) to make Gluten Free / Dairy Free / Vegan Baked Ziti 

Lasagna rolls – Haven’t tried this yet but should be able to use the tofu mixture in individually rolled Lasagna noodles. Obviously, this won’t work with No Boil Noodles!

Stuffed Shells – I also use pretty much this same recipe for Gluten Free / Vegan / Dairy Free Stuffed Shells

Recipe Pages:

All of the recipes on this site are listed here: Gluten Free Recipes flagged by allergen, but you may also be interested in my listing of Vegan Recipes and/or my list of Dairy Free Recipes (that you'd expect to contain dairy).

If you try this recipe and have success please let me know by leaving a comment below!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease: Post Walk Recap (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1 - Recap of Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease
Pamela's Gluten Free Products

Silver Level Sponsors:

Pamela's - Pamela's had a double table filled with giveaways.  Two-packs of their regular sized cookies, individually wrapped mini-cookies, sample sized mixes, and new for this year: Whenever Bars.  For those who haven't seen them, they are 1.4oz snack bars in Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut, Oat Cranberry Almond, Oat Raisin Walnut, and Oat Blueberry Lemon.  I have three of the four flavors but have only tried the Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut which was quite good.  All are made with GF oats and are both GF and DF.
Glow Gluten Free Cookies

Shoprite - Shoprite had a large booth in the back corner and were sampling some of their products, sharing space with a cook book author, and giving out reusable shopping bags filled with samples.  These included a healthy living magazine (Live Right produced by Shoprite), a guide on living with celiac disease produced with the NFCA, coupon books, Nature's Path WholeO's cereal and a bag of the new Bachman's GF pretzels. 

Glow - Glow makes four flavors of crisp gluten free cookies: Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Double Chocolate, and Ginger Snap.  These are produced in a dedicated GF/DF bakery.  All four were available for sample.

Kettle Cuisine Gluten Free Soups
Kettle Cuisine - Kettle Cuisine was sampling their Angus Beef Steak Chili and Tomato Soup with Garden Vegetables.  Since I can't really handle tomatoes I passed, but I did grab a coupon as I do really like their chicken noodle soup.

Soft'n Hearty -They were sampling their Easy Roll Mix which is naturally gluten, soy and dairy free. The mix itself is also egg free but they had made the rolls with egg.  I only eat a small amount of egg and decided to skip these.

Against the Grain - I don't recall seeing them there, and almost every product they make contains dairy so I've never actually tried them.  I just checked their website though and see that they now have two dairy free products as well.

GlutenOut / Agluten – they were selling their products (a line of Italian foods from Italy) but not sampling anything. From what I could see, most of their items contained dairy (ravioli, tiramisu, gnocchi, etc).

Bronze Level Sponsors:

Pure Gluten Free/Vegan Cookies and Snacks
Udi’s - Ah, my favorite GF/DF bread supplier!  I actually ended up skipping their table as I already consume their products (I use their GF/DF hamburger and hot dog buns and make my breakfast sandwiches out of their breads.  I also have their cinnamon raisin bread from time to time and their bagels.).  One quick warning - their cookies contain dairy.  I've previously reviewed a number of their products: Udi's Ancient Grain Breads, Udi's Hotdog Buns, and Udi's Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

Pure - their entire line is gluten free and vegan (and corn, soy and egg free as well!)  They had samples of their product line, the highlight of which was a raspberry thumbprint cookie.  They also have some snacks made from pea flour which were interesting.  They're only in two stores in NJ so far: Organico (495 North Franklin Turnpike, Ramsey, NJ 07446) and Taste of Dawn (192 Main Street, Butler, NJ 07405).
GFL Gluten Free/Dairy Free Pita

Food Should Taste Good - I don't remember seeing them there but Fairway was giving out samples.  They make a great line of GF chips in a dedicated GF factory.  Some of their chips contain dairy including the chocolate and three with 'cheddar' right in the name.  My favorite is their Sweet Potato chip.

GFL Foods – They were at last year's walk as well.  They sell a GF Pita that is really exceptional.  Unfortunately they are a bit expensive (according to their webstore $9 for six).  The only NJ store carrying them so far is DeLiteful Foods (4040 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08619).

Mrs. Green’s Natural Market - This is a great small market in NY (10 locations) and CT (2 locations).  They don't have any NJ locations but some are right over the border.
Gluten Free Naked Nuggets

Delight Gluten Free Magazine - they were giving away free issues of their magazine and taking subscriptions.  I haven't gotten to the sample issue (Fall 2011) that they gave me yet, but I did read another sample issue earlier this year.  A lot of very modern recipes and great photos.

Naked Nuggets - These are essentially non-breaded chicken nuggets.  I've had them before (and sampled them again at the fair) and they are quite good.  I'm sure being unbreaded they are much healthier.  Maybe if I had kids and was trying to get them to eat better, I would look at these again.  For now however, this big kid wants his chicken nuggets breaded and deep fried!

El’s Kitchen - They were sampling their bagel chips and snack medley.  All of their products are gluten and dairy free (gfdf) and have a nice kick to them (a touch spicy!)  The snack medley is bagel chips, corn chips, pretzels, corn nuts, and potato chips.

Really Great Food Company Gluten Free Mixes
Really Great Food Company - they had a display of their mixes but weren't demo'ing anything.  They have a very wide variety of mixes (wider than any other company I've seen actually).  I've seen them at Corrado's in Wayne, NJ and according to their website they are available at Balance Health Foods (1239 Rt22E, Lebanon, NJ 08833) and The Sunflower Seed (38 Old Hwy 22, Clinton, NJ 08809).

Mary’s Gone Crackers - Mary's Gone Crackers was handing out samples of their chips, cookies, and 'twigs'.  All of their products are vegan and gluten free and due to the number of whole grains and seeds they use quite nutritious. However, again due to the whole grains and seeds they use their products are quite crunchy as well.

Snack Chicks' GF/DF Herb-An Chicks Snacks
Snack Chicks - these are baked chick peas in four flavors - Sweet (cinnamon sugar), Naked (simply salted), Hot (spicy), and Herb-an (garlic and herb).  They're healthy, crunchy and had good flavor - I just don't like chickpeas and couldn't really get over my bias.  If you like chickpeas or seasoned nuts I would highly recommend trying these.

Katz Gluten Free - I highly recommend their products if you can have egg.  They are made in a dedicated Gluten free, dairy free, and nut free facility.  I find that there is just too much egg in their products for me, but if you can have egg, then go for it.  They have a very diverse product line and are making a number of items that no one else is.  I'm seeing their products in more and more places including lots of independent shops as well as some Shoprites and Fairway.

Dream Desserts - this CT only bakery is making dessert bars that are unfortunately made with dairy ingredients.  If you can have dairy and are in CT, I would suggest you try them.  A friend of mine raved about them and they looked really good!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease: Post Walk Recap (Part 1)

What a day!!!  Thank you so much to those who donated!  The final tally isn't in yet, but through the web forms alone (which only about a dozen people used) over $33,000 was raised!

2011 Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease T-Shirt
We were promised 42 vendors but upon arrival we found the number had swelled to 58!  We arrived about 30 minutes before the walk, checked in, put our lime green t-shirts on and headed into the gymnasium to see whomever had set up already.  (See below for the reviews!)

At 10am we headed outside for the walk itself.  There is a choice of two routes (one four miles, the other two) but they run together for the first mile or so.  At the split, the friend I drove up with decided to take the shorter route and I continued on for the four.  I got back around 11:30 - just in time to have missed the day's guest speaker (the guest speech was on cake baking so I didn't really miss out).  That was my only minor issue with the day, I walk very fast but finishing four miles in the 75 minutes between start and speaker wasn't enough time.

Start of the 2011 Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease
Ah, on to the vendors!

I wasn't sure how to order this list.  There were donation levels in supporting the walk and I've decided to list them by those levels:

Gold Level Sponsors:

97lake Sports Cafe and Restaurant - They didn't finish setting up until after the walk but at that point they had trays and trays of Gluten Free (and Dairy Free) chicken wings.  They had a couple of copies of their menu as well but I'm already very familiar with it - Restaurant Review: 97lake, West Harrison, NY.  In talking with the owner I discovered something interesting.  The gluten free beer they serve, Estrella, is made from Barley, Hops, and Rice but they then filter out the gluten and test to below 6ppm. 

Long Island Sound from Along the Walk Route
Fairway Market - Fairway had an extensive setup at the entrance with lots of assorted samples: Andean Dream cookies, Kind Bars, $10 off coupons, etc.  They were also giving out reusable grocery bags (presumably containing samples) but I ended up not getting one (I already had three by the time I got to their table!)

Schär - They also gave out a reusable grocery bag this one containing a 2-pack of their Baguettes.  They had a mailing list sign up and those who did will be getting a package of Ciabotta rolls in the mail.

EZ Gluten - This company makes individual test strips for testing your food for gluten.  I've seen these before (online) but never ordered them.  The woman at the table demonstrated them and they seem easy enough to use but they cost around $12 each depending on how large your order is.  Their literature says they are sensitive down to 10ppm. 


Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease: Post Walk Recap (Part 2)

Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease: Post Walk Recap (Part 3)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More New Jersey Stores Carrying Gluten Free Foods

I have found a number of additional stores in NJ that carry a good selection of gf/df foods.  Here are the latest:

Local Specialty Stores:

Big Bear Natural Foods – (21 Artic Parkway, Ewing, NJ 08520, 239 North Union Street, Lambertville, NJ, 08530, and #7 Rt 31, Pennington, NJ 08534 (plus two other locations in PA)) – There are three of these stores but I’ve only ever visited the Pennington location. Their brands included: Ancient Harvest, Andean Dream, Bionaturae, Bob's Redmill, Daiya, DeBoles, Dutch County, Ener-G, Envirokids, Glow, Glenny's, Gluten Free Cafe, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutenfreeda, Glutino, Ian's, Jovial, Jo-Sef, King Arthur, Kinnikinnick, Liz Lovely, Lucy's, Mary's Gone Crackers, Namaste, Pamela's, Rudi’s, Schär, Tinkyada Udi's, and Van's. 

Tasting Counter at DeLiteful Foods in Lawrenceville, NJ
DeLiteful Foods – (Glendale Plaza, 4040 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08619) – this could be the most amazing GF store I’ve visited so far. The shop has two rooms, the first when you enter is gluten containing food, and the second (off to the right) is gluten free food. The GF room is bigger and has a bigger selection. The highlight of the GF room is a tasting bar where you can sample a number of GF products before deciding if you want to buy them. The brands I saw when I was there were: 1-2-3 Mixes, Amy's, Ancient Harvest, Andean Dream, Bakery on Main, Bell & Evans, Betty Lou’s, Bi Aglut, Bionaturae, Blue Horizon, Canyon Bakehouse, Celiac Specialties (chocolate donut holes), The Craving Place, DeBoles, Dutch Country, Ener-G, Feel Good Foods, Foods by George, Food Should Taste Good, Gillian's, Glenny's, Gluten Free Cafe, Gluten-Free Naturals, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutino, Ian's, Joans, Jovial, Katz, Kettle Cuisine, Le Veneziane, Lucy's, Mary's Gone Crackers, Mrs, Lepper’s, Namaste, Organic Bistro, Orgran, Pamela's, Rudi’s, Russo’s (cannoli shells), Sam Mills, Schär, Shabtai, Solterra Pizza, Starfish, Sweet Sin, Tinkyada, and Udi's.

Donaldson Farm – (358 Allen Road Hackettstown, NJ 07840) - In addition to lots of fresh (naturally gluten free produce) this farm stand has a small GF section. Their brands include: 1-2-3 Mixes, Amy's, Ancient Harvest, Andean Dream, Arrowhead Mills, Bakery on Main, Bell & Evans, Conte's, Katz, Schär, and Van's.

Grassroots Natural Market – (20 First Ave, Denville, NJ 07834) This was one of the first health food stores I visited after going gluten free. They have a large frozen variety (although most of it is tucked sort of behind the lunch counter). Their brands include: Amy's, Ancient Harvest, Arrowhead Mills, Bakery on Main, Bell & Evans, Bob's Redmill, Daiya, DeBoles, Evol, Ener-G, Envirokids, Foods by George, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutino, Kinnikinnick, Liz Lovely, Mary's Gone Crackers, Namaste, Pamela's Mixes, Purely Decadent, Schär, So Delicious, Terra, Tinkyada, Tofutti, Udi's, Van's and Vegan Gourmet. 

Linda’s Diet Delite – (1049A Raritan Road, Clark, NJ 07066) – I recently visited this shop for the first time. They have fairly diverse offering. Their website states 40% of the shop is gluten free and I certainly believe it! Their brands include: Bakery on Main, Bell & Evans, Bi Aglut, Bob's Redmill, Bread by Anna (this is the only place in NJ I’ve seen these mixes), Celiac Specialties (Crossaints only), Conte's, Dutch Country, Ener-G, Envirokids, Feel Good Food, French Meadow, Foods by George, Glenny's, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutino, Hodgson Mill, Ian's, Katz, Kettle Cuisine, Kind, King Arthur, Kinnikinnick, Le Asolane Pasta (first time I’ve ever seen this pasta from Italy), Le Veneziane, Lillian’s (frozen fish dinners which I’ve never seen elsewhere), Namaste, Pamela's, S'Better, Sam Mills, Schär, Shabtai, Something Good Mixes, Sweet Sin, Tinkyada, Udi's, and Van's.

Water-To-Go (3501 Haddonfield Road, Pennsauken, NJ 08109) – [Please note, this weblink opens a site called Gluten Free Dynasty, I’ve listed this as Water-To-Go as that is what is on the sign out front.] This is the oddest store I’ve ever been in (ok, besides that Pizza parlor/septic tank cleaning company in upstate NY). It is perhaps 2/3’s a furniture store, plus a water bottling shop and a gluten free market. They do however have a wide variety of brands and items, including: 1-2-3 Mixes, Amy's, Bell & Evans, Bi Aglut, Bionaturae, Cherrybrook, Conte's, DeBoles, Ener-G Feel Good Food, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutenfreeda, Glutino, Good Eatz, Joan’s, Jovial, Katz, Kettle Cuisine, Kim and Scott (this is the only place in NJ I’ve seen these pretzels), Kinnikinnick, Le Veneziane, Maxwell’s, Namaste, Pamela's, Rudi’s, Schär, Tinkyada Udi's, and Van's. 

Supermarkets and National Chains:

Fresh Market – (Their only NJ store is 32 Chestnut Ridge Road, Montvale, NJ). This is a smaller upscale grocery. Only their seafood bar clearly listed ingredients (you’ll still need to inquire about cross-contamination). Their brands included: Bell & Evans, Daiya, DeBoles, Ener-G Food Should Taste Good, Immaculate Baking Co., Kind, King Arthur, Mary's Gone Crackers, Organic Bistro, Pamela's, Sam Mills, Terra, Udi's. 

Walmart – The brands I’ve seen here include: Bakery on Main, Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Bob's Redmill,  Envirokids, Glutino, Pamela's, and Tinkyada

Weis Markets – This chain is mostly in the northwest of the state. Their brands include: Amy's, Betty Crocker, Bionaturae, Bob's Redmill, Envirokids, Glutino, Hodgson Mills, Kind, King Arthur, San J, Schär, A Taste of Thai, Tastykake, Udi's, and Van's.  

Don't forget to check out the full list:

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Store List

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Donuts: Product Review (dairy free as well, contain egg)

Kinnikinnick is one of the oldest companies serving the gluten free community. According to their website all of their products are manufactured in facilities that are wheat free, gluten free, peanut free and tree nut free! Almost their entire product line is dairy free but a lot of their items do contain egg.
Kinnikinnick GF/DF Maple Glazed Donuts

Their donuts are one of my favorite gluten free snack items. They’ve come a long way since I first started my gluten free diet when they were sold lumped together in a plastic bag. The donuts are now sold six to a box and come frozen. Twenty – thirty seconds on low in the microwave and you’ve got a delicious warm treat (be careful – too long or too hot and the glazing will melt).

They are an average to smaller size (not oversized like dunkin donuts) and have a light texture (not too dense). They are available year round in four flavors – Chocolate Dipped, Maple Glazed, Cinnamon Sugar, and Vanilla Glazed. I like to mix it up when I buy a box as all four are really good. (I also have a smaller freezer so I can't keep all four on hand at all times.)

I say "available year round in four flavors" because last year, Kinnikinnick also started offering seasonal donuts through their web store only. (Note: these come fresh not frozen and are in the same plastic tray as the box, just in a clear plastic wrapping and not a box.)

Kinnikinnick GF/DF
Pumpkin Spice Donuts
Their current seasonal donut is a Pumpkin Spice Donuts, available until November 30th. Other past seasonal donuts have included Cinnamon Apple donuts in the late winter (pink frosting for St. Valentine’s Day) and Blueberry Donuts in the spring. There is no hint on their website what they’re planning for 2012 or which if any will return. Seasonal donuts can only be ordered direct from Kinnikinnick here: Kinnikinnick Web Store (You can use this same link for their regular donuts if you can’t find them locally.)

Other gluten free snack/breakfast reviews you may be interested in: