Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gluten Free Dinner at Bonefish Grill in Green Brook with “Happy to be Gluten Free in Central, NJ” Meetup

I had the pleasure of dining with the “Happy to be Gluten Free in Central, NJ” Meetup group last Monday night at the Bonefish Grill in Green Brook, NJ. I’ve eaten at Bonefish plenty of times and have felt safe at all of them. The staff in Green Brook really out did themselves, especially considering the group isn’t just for Celiacs and most everyone was avoiding multiple food items.

We had Edamame, Mussels Josephine and Saucy Shrimp as appetizers (some plates of the Saucy Shrimp were made DF by easily omitting the Feta cheese). For dinner they brought us an assortment of grilled fish, shrimp, scallops and chicken with Mango salsa, Chimichurri and Lemon Butter (no Lemon Butter for me). There were also sides of Jasmine Rice, Potatoes Au Gratin (made gluten free for the group) and vegetables. I was so caught up in the sea of food and great conversations that I forgot to take any photos!

Thanks to Paul and Sharon for putting this dinner together and a special thanks to Hank and the staff of the Green Brook, NJ Bonefish Grill for taking such good care of us!
Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tastykake Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - New Product Review

I’m struggling with how to write this review or even if I should. I’m always happy when another gluten free / dairy free product is made available to us and since everyone’s tastes are subjective, I’d rather concentrate on reviewing the items I can rave about. However, since this product is brand new and a lot of people will be considering it for the first time I decided I would review them – especially since there hasn’t been very much buzz around them.

Tastykake Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
I had read a blog post a couple of weeks ago that Tastykake would be launching a Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie. I was pleasantly surprised when I rounded a corner in my local Shoprite this weekend and saw a shelf of them on the Tastykakes display. Since the original blog post didn’t note other allergens (and I always check) I quickly scanned the ingredients for milk or milk products (there are none).

A couple of things did stand out from the package though: 1) there is no “contains” statement. This is perfectly acceptable since the ingredients are clear but it is always a nice to have. 2) The primary ingredient is soy flour. Soy has a fairly distinctive taste and I know from experience that it is hard to conceal in baked goods. (This is why I switched from soy milk to rice milk when I bake.) 3) There is no statement about the facility or manufacturing equipment, nor any reference to testing. (I did eventually check their website and none of this information is there either.)

The box of eight cookies (7oz) was $5.99, and after some quick price per pound math in my head, I decided to try them (as I’ve certainly paid more than $13.69 per pound for GF snacks before)! After dinner that night, I cracked opened up the box. First off, the eight cookies come in two separate individually wrapped trays of four cookies each. I snapped the photo for this post and dove in. They weren't bad, but they weren't great either.
While I do greatly appreciate Tastykake’s efforts, the results just fall short. Soy flour does still have a taste to it (I do understand why they use it; it doesn’t dry out as fast as rice flour so you’ll get a softer cookie). Since it isn’t in a flour blend, that soy taste is easily detected in the final product. Also, gluten free / dairy free chocolate chip cookies aren’t exactly hard to find – Pamela’s makes more than one variety in the same large size, Kinnikinnick makes a smaller one, Amy’s makes a bite-sized, and you can bake your own large ones with Immaculate Bake House’s pre-made cookies. I would have been much more forgiving of an attempt at any of Tastykake’s other products – especially one that isn’t already duplicated on the market.

More Gluten Free French Fries

I’ve been talking quite a bit recently with people looking for places that serve gluten free French fries so I figured I would update my Gluten Free French Fry List. Here are some additional places in New Jersey that serve safe French fries. Keep in mind however, that formulas change and procedures aren’t always followed so make sure you inquire directly with the restaurant to be sure.

Cheeseburger in Paradise (625 Rt 1S, Iselin, NJ 08830, 700 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ 07094, and 344 Rt 46E, Wayne, NJ 07470) – their GF French fries are fried in a dedicated fryer!  They’re also now carrying GF/DF hamburger buns: Cheeseburger in Paradise to Offer Gluten Free Hamburger Bun

Elevation Burger (367 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042 and 400 Rt 38, Moorestown, NJ 08057) - Their gluten free French fries are fried in a dedicated fryer (in olive oil!). 

Double S Diner (no website) (154 Rt23S, Sussex, NJ 07461) – I don’t have this one on my Gluten Free Restaurant List as they don’t have a website and while they do have a long list of GF bread products (rolls, buns, bread, pound cake, etc.) the one time I was there they were super busy and I didn’t get a chance to find out what was also DF. They will make steak fries gluten free.

Joe's Crab Shack (Clifton NJ 07013, Lawrenceville NJ 08648, South Plainfield NJ 07080) - I have never been but they list their French fries on their gluten free menu.

I’ve heard rumors of other places handling requests for gluten free fries but without it clearly listed on their website, I’m a little wary.

The original article and list is here: Are French Fries Gluten Free?

Updated 8/21/11

Rutherford Pancake House has gluten free fries as well.  (Restaurant Review: Rutherford Pancake House)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Udi's Gluten Free Sub Sandwich Rolls

I know what you are thinking - "I had no idea Udi's was making a gluten free sub sandwich roll!"  Well, technically they aren't but their hot dog buns are easily repurposed for the task! 

Gluten Free / Pork Free / Dairy Free Italian Hero on Udi's Hotdog Bun

I was very impressed with their hot dog buns, especially how well they held up and that they didn't crumble.  After having hot dogs three nights in a roll, I decided to them out for a sandwich as well.  I've previously tried the Schär sub rolls but they're pricey and not as good as the Udi's.

My first sandwich is pictured at the right.  I made it with Jennie-O turkey ham and something called 'Beef Cervelat' in place of Salami.  If you are also pork free and looking for a pork free salami substitute, some A&Ps and some Shoprites carry this unsliced in their deli section.  It is exactly as I remember salami tasting.  (Pork bothers me, not as much as dairy but enough that I avoid it.)

But back to the rolls - I made these sandwiches (I had another italian hero and then roast beef subs twice after this one) using oil and vinegar, then wrapped them in foil and took them to work for lunch.  The rolls didn't get soggy and unless I cut them all the way through, the seams held as well!  Yes, the hot dog buns are smaller than the standard submarine sandwich roll but if they hold up I don't care. 

I've seen the Udi's hot dog buns both in Fairway in Paramus, NJ and Grassroots Natural Market (20 First Avenue, Denville, NJ 07834).  If you can't find them near you, you can also order them online from the Gluten Free Mall here: Udi's Gluten-Free Hot Dog Buns

Now if we could just get Udi's to produce a NY style bagel (not a roll with a hole in it that passes for a bagel in the rest of the country) then my search for GF/DF baked goods would be complete!

My original review of the hot dog buns is here: Udi's Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns are Amazing! and Udi's is also making two different higher fiber breads which you can read about here: Udi's Ancient Grains Gluten Free Breads

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Restaurant Review: Plum on Park (Montclair, NJ)

I couldn't wait! I took two bites out of breakfast before remembering
to snap a quick photo of Plum on Park's delicious GF/DF bread!
I recently had the pleasure of having breakfast with some gluten free friends at Plum on Park (14 Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042).  [Open for Breakfast and Lunch, Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays]  They make their own gluten free bread and often have other gluten free baked goods.  A quick email to the owner confirmed that their bread is dairy free as well (although not all of their other baked goods are so you'll need to ask). 

Since all three of us are gluten free, the owner offered us the lunch menu as well.  Most of the sandwiches can be easily prepared dairy free as well by simply removing the cheese.  But, since I haven't had breakfast in a restaurant in over a year, I ordered the Toast with Almond Butter and Apple Slices drizzled with honey from the breakfast menu.  You can also get any of their egg dishes with gluten free toast but if you are dairy free as well the gluten free french toast is off limits!

The home made bread is fantastic!  It is thick, hearty and flavorful.  While we were there we overheard at least four other tables ordering something gluten free as well.

Now I just need to go back and try lunch . . .
Plum on Park on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 17, 2011

Udi's Ancient Grains Gluten Free Breads (they're dairy free too!)

Udi's Gluten Free Ancient Grain Breads
(toasted with Smart Blance)
I had seen on Gluten Free Mall that Udi's was coming out with two varieties of Ancient Grain Breads - Millet-Chia and Omega-Salba.  I recently saw them at Fairway in Paramus and picked up a loaf of each to try.  (Ok, and so I could write this product review as well!)

I think the draw of both of these loaves for most people following a gluten free diet will be the high fiber content (6gr per serving for the Millet-Chia and 5gr per serving for the Omega-Salba) but it's the full flavor that will keep me coming back for more! 

Both breads are much more flavorful than either Udi's Whole Grain Bread or White Sandwich Bread.  I prefer the Omega-Salba over the Millet-Chia but both were excellent.  I did find the slices felt a slight bit less durable than the white sandwich bread or whole grain bread, but in addition to the toast in the photo, I've made a sandwich out of each and they've held up just fine.

Both breads are gluten and dairy free but they contain eggs and corn.  The Millet-Chia contains actual millet seeds and the Omega-Salba contains actual flax seeds.

So far I've only seen them at Fairway in Paramus.  If you can't make the trip, and can't find them locally you can also order them from the Gluten Free Mall here: Udi's Gluten-Free Millet-Chia Ancient Grain Bread and here: Udi's Gluten-Free Omega-Salba Ancient Grain Bread

If you missed it, I've also reviewed other Udi's products here:   Udi's Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns are Amazing! and here: Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Raison Bread.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Arroz con Pollo Recipe / Chicken and Rice - (Gluten Free / Dairy Free)

Arroz con Pollo / Chicken and Rice
I've been searching for a good Chicken and Rice recipe (Arroz con Pollo) for a couple of years now.  I've never been able to find one that is any good or even remotely authentic so I've created my own.  I made it last night and it was amazing, so I figured I would share.  I like to use boneless skinless thighs (they cook more evenly than bone-in, are less likely to dry out than white meet, and without the skin are less fatty).  Yes, dark meat has more grams of fat than white meat but the flavor and other nutrients are better.

If you are using bone-in pieces be sure to check that they are cooked through.  Leaving the skin on will improve the flavor but increase the fat and calorie count. 

As long as your stock is GF/DF this entire recipe is naturally gluten and dairy free!

I like to add extra vegetables to what ever I am cooking, hence the peas and/or roasted peppers.  Traditionally, these aren't added (at least not in volume, there may be some as a garnish).  [I did once witness a heated arguement between two Spaniards on whether even using them as a garnish in rice was appropriate!]

The entire meal can and should be cooked in the same pan (I use a 3qt covered anodized deep saute pan).  If you have a cast iron pan by all means use that.

Olive oil
1 medium spanish onion - chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds boneless or bone-in chicken darkmeat

1 cup short grain rice (may use medium grain, may NOT use long grain)
1 tbsp tomato paste (omit if needed)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp oregano

2 cups gluten free / dairy free stock
1 pinch saffron strands

Optional Ingredients:
1 cup peas
1 roasted green pepper

How to prepare:
Saute garlic and onions in olive oil over moderate heat until beginning to brown. Remove from the pan.

Saute the chicken until brown on both sides. Remove from the pan as well.

Add the rice, garlic, onions, tomato paste and spices (cumin, turmeric, oregano) to the now empty pot. Stir to coat (about 2 minutes).  [If avoiding tomatoes/nightshade feel free to omit the tomato paste.]

Add the stock (you may substitute 1:1 gluten free beer for up to 1 cup of stock, or 1:1 Spanish white wine for up to 1/2 cup of stock).  Bring to a boil.

Turn down to simmer and cover. Remove 2 tbs of liquid and cover the saffron strands. Allow to steep for 2 minutes then add liquid back to pot. Add chicken on top but press down into the ingredients underneath (so the chicken is mostly/entirely submerged). Simmer for about 30 minutes or until chicken is done. (Add optional ingredients with 10 minutes left if you want (if using frozen peas make sure they are thawed first).)

When done, raise the heat to high for roughly three minutes.  You want the rice on the bottom of the pot to get nice and crunchy brown.


Click here for my full list of Gluten Free Recipes (dairy free too).

And here for GERD / Acid Reflux Recipes (includes suggested modifications).

And finally, here for Nightshade Free Recipes.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Updated NJ Gluten Free Restaurant List (5 new restaurants, 4 new chain/quick serve/fast food restaurants listed)

I have found a large number of additional restaurants to add to my Gluten Free / Dairy Free Restaurant List

Single Location Restaurants:

Carlo's Goumet (326 Rt 9N, Marlboro, NJ 07726) - They post their brands on their GF menu.  They have GF pasta, chicken tenders (Bell & Evans), pizza crust (Still Riding) and a couple of Gluten Friendly entrees (I had grilled chicken marsala over GF pasta when I was there).  For those who aren't dairy free they have Grainless Baker baked goods and Conte's Raviolis.  [Note - they have another location in Manalapan, but it does not have a gluten free menu.]

China Sea of Absecon (662 White Horse Pike, Absecon, NJ 08201) - They have a pretty extensive gluten free chinese menu.  There are no notes on how they make it gluten free (grilled vs. breaded with something else).  I have never been.

Lucky Bone's Backwater Grille (1200 Rt 109, Cape May, NJ 08204) - A good sized gluten free menu including gluten free rolls for their sandwiches.  I'm not sure if they are dairy free or not, I emailed them over a week ago but haven't heard back.  I haven't been here yet.

Plum on Park (14 Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042) - A small little breakfast and lunch place right off of Bloomfield Ave in Montclair.  Their gluten free bread is also dairy free.  Most sandwiches can be easily made GF/DF.  For those only GF, they have french toast!  Closed Sundays.  I recently ate here and loved it!

Rutherford Pancake House (40 Park Avenue, Rutherford, NJ 07070) - Their gluten free options are right on their regular menu.  They also have quite a few dairy free and even vegan options as well.  They even have Daiya cheese for dairy free Quesadillas and Pizza!  Not open for dinner.  I haven't been but friends rave about it.


California Pizza Kitchen (5 NJ locations) - They have a small GF menu (about 1/2 of which is also DF) and recently announced that they will soon be carrying gluten free pizza crusts (no word on DF cheese).  In addition to their GF menu they have a chart of the eight major allergens on their website.  I have never been.

Cheeseburger in Paradise (625 Rt 1S, Iselin, NJ 08830, 700 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ 07094, and 344 Rt 46E, Wayne, NJ 07470) - a nice sized gluten free menu highlighted by having both GF/DF hamburger buns and french fries fried in a dedicated fryer!  I haven't been yet.

Maggianos (Riverside Square Mall, 390 Hackensack Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601) - No allergen information on their website (except they do flag items containing nuts).  I have heard from friends that they carry gluten free pasta and are very accommodating.  I have never been.

Quick Serve/Fast Food:

Elevation Burger (367 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042 and 400 Rt 38, Moorestown, NJ 08057) - They will prepare their burgers in a lettuce wrap instead of a roll and their french fries are fried in a dedicated fryer.  This is my new favorite burger place and I'll be writing a review soon!

It just keeps getting easier and easier to eat out on a gluten free diet!  Don't forget to check out the full listing here: Gluten Free / Dairy Free Restaurant List.  If you think I'm missing a restaurant let me know in the comments below.  But keep in mind, they need to have a GF menu on their website and there need to be options for those of us who need to be dairy free as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Karina's African Sweet Potato Stew - (Gluten Free / Dairy Free / Vegan)

Karina's African Sweet Potato Stew with Peanut Butter, Black-Eyed Peas and Beans
I recently made this flavorful soup again and as always it was wonderful.  It is one of my favorite Gluten Free / Dairy Free recipe finds.  I leave out a cup or two of water and make it a stew instead of a soup (it makes bringing it for lunch at work a bit easier). 

The original recipe is here: 

African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black-Eyed Peas & Beans

You can read all of Karina's recipes on her blog here: Gluten Free Goddess

I think I have one batch left in my freezer, so I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Restaurant Review: Uno Chicago Grill (Jersey City, NJ)

Yes, I know, I already reviewed Uno Chicago Grill back in February (Restaurant Review: Uno Chicago Grill (6 locations in NJ)) but last night I ate in the JC location with the Jersey City Gluten-Free Meetup Group.  I'm a big fan of support groups.  Although my friends and family are incredibly supportive of my dietary restrictions it is still great to get together with others who are going through what you are going through yourself.

All seven of us ordered off the gluten free menu (even the two significant others that tagged along!)  The staff was very knowledgeable and accommodating of our group.  The manager stopped by a couple of times and we gained quite an insight into how careful they are. 

I took some photos of the things we had (WARNING: only two of us avoided dairy so most of these are NOT dairy free).
Gluten Free / Dairy Free Cuban Black Bean and Lentil Soup

Gluten Free Sirloin Steak, Steamed Vegetables, Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes (NOT Dairy Free)

Gluten Free Herb Rubbed Chicken and Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes (Mashed Potatoes NOT Dairy Free)

Gluten Free Veggie Pizza (NOT Dairy Free)

Steak Tips, Craisin Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli prepared Gluten and Dairy Free

Overall, it was a great evening and I'm looking forward to the group's next meeting.

Uno Chicago Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Udi's Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns are Amazing!

I finally found a store that had Udi's Hot Dog Buns in stock this past weekend: Grassroots Natural Market (20 First Avenue, Denville, NJ 07834).  (They had a couple of more packages if you can't find them elsewhere.)  I've since heard that the Paramus Whole Foods has/had them in stock as well.  It seems like they are quickly becoming easier to find (I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this!).

Of course, now that I had the buns, it turned out I was out of hot dogs!  A quick trip to the supermarket fixed that for me.  I ended up buying Nathan's Bigger-Than-The-Bun Hot Dogs.  They are a little thinner than my past brand but they are marked Gluten Free on the packaging.

Two Hot Dogs on Udi's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Buns
I cooked two of them (mostly so I could get a photo of one with relish and the other with sauerkraut) and was glad I did.  The buns were amazing!  All I did was defrost them.  They come pre-slit and unlike other gluten free rolls/buns the seam between the top and bottom held together beautifully.  They were soft and fluffy and did I mention?  The seam held together!

Last night, I made hot dogs again, this time since the Nathan's were so skinny I put two in the bun.  Loaded with sauerkraut and two hot dogs again the buns held up!  Next, I think I'll try using them as little sub sandwich rolls!

My Whole Foods in West Orange does not have them, but I've heard Paramus does.  I've also seen others online report their local Whole Foods has them.  If you can't find them offline, you can order them from the Gluten Free Mall by clicking here: Udi's Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns

Note: They are Gluten Free and Dairy Free (contain corn, egg).

Other articles you may be interested in reading:

Which Gluten Free Hot Dog Bun Is Best? Udi's vs. Rudi's.

Cheeseburger in Paradise to Offer Gluten Free Hamburger Buns