Friday, September 30, 2011

October Gluten Free NJ Events Updated

Here are the events for October:

10/2/11 - CSA Southern NJ Meeting (Voorhees, NJ)

10/11/11 - GF Club at Fine Grind Coffee Shop (Little Falls, NJ)

10/12/11 - Celiac Disease Support Group (Phillipsburg, NJ)

10/13/11 - 10th Annual Gala Fundraiser (Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, NYC)

10/16/11 - Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease (Rye, NY)

10/19/11 - Lyndhurst Celiac Support Group Meeting (Lyndhurst, NJ)

3rd Wednesday - Monthly Meeting of Seashore Celiacs (Brick, NJ)

10/20/11 - The Northern NJ Celiac Disease Support Group Monthly Meeting (Paramus, NJ)

You can see the full list on the NJ GF Events Calendar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease – October 16, 2011

It’s my favorite time of the year!  No, not because the leaves are changing, nor because Kinnikinnick is offering Pumpkin Spice Donuts (although a box is on the way) but rather because it is time once again for the Colin Leslie Walk for Celiac Disease!  Colin Leslie started this walk six years ago after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease at age 13.  The walk has raised over $280,000 for Celiac research so far! (Not bad for someone who is still a teenager!)

Again this year, the walk will be held at Rye High School in Rye, NY.  In addition to the walk along Long Island Sound (choice of 2 or 4 miles), there will be guest speakers, a gluten free cake contest, lunch available for purchase, and the highlight of the event – a gymnasium full of gluten free vendors!

I’ll be walking again this year and I highly recommend that you attend and walk as well.  The registration page is here: Colin Leslie Celiac Walk Registration Page.  If you can’t make the walk and would like to donate, my donation page is here: Jason's Donation Page for the Colin Leslie Celiac Disease Walk.

I hope to see you all there!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Product Review: Gluten Free Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats

Unlike Chex and Fruity Pebbles, Kellogg's hasn’t made Rice Krispies gluten free but rather added a gluten free line of Rice Krispies. This line is Brown rice (the other flavors are regular rice) and lacks the malt flavoring that denies us regular Rice Krispies. I’m not sure why Kellogg’s didn’t just replace the malt flavoring and make them all gluten free (hint, hint).
Gluten Free Rice Krispies with Almond Milk

On to the review: These are not the Rice Krispies you remember from your childhood. Gone is most of the sugar and gone is that chocolatey milk after a bowl of Cocoa-Krispies or sugary milk after a bowl of the other Krispies flavors. On the upside, they are made with whole grain brown rice, they have much less sugar (if you’re watching that sort of thing), and they still can be used to make a Rice Krispies Treat (more about this later). However, if you are looking to reclaim your childhood breakfast cereal, these sadly won’t do it.

Gluten Free Rice Krispies Treats
Can you believe I had never made Rice Krispies Treats before? I figured no review would be complete without them! (To make them dairy free, I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks in place of the butter called for in the recipe.) They were quite good (and quite sticky!). They weren’t overly sweet, so I’m not sure how much kids would like them. I did see Fruity Pebbles Treats on sale so if you are looking for a sweeter bar you could probably swap out the cereal you use to make them.

Almond Milk turned Chocolatey by GF Koala Crisp Cereal
And if you are looking for chocolatey milk in your bowl when you are done, then I'd recommend Koala Crisp Cereal by EnviroKidz!  (I used plain Almond Milk but I'm sure they're just as good with Rice Milk if you prefer.)

While the Gluten Free Rice Krispies were pretty hard to find earlier in the summer, I think they are pretty well rolled out at this point – I’ve seen them in multiple Shoprites and even in a Walmart! Just in case you can’t find them anywhere locally, you can get a four pack from here: Kellogg's Gluten Free Rice Krispies Cereal (Pack of 4). Amazon also sells Koala Crisp Cereal (this time a six pack, but the price is still lower) which you can get here: EnviroKidz Gluten Free Koala Crisp Cereal (Pack of 6).

Updated 5/30/12 - Good news if you are in Canada, Kellogg's rolled these out nationwide this spring!

Other product reviews that might interest you:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zephyr Vocal Enseble Dessert Cabaret

This past Saturday night, I attended a dessert cabaret fundraiser for my friend's wife's vocal ensemble - Zephyr.  Since, I've been dairy free for about 21 years (and gluten free for about six) I didn't really have any high hopes for the desserts; I was going mostly to be a supportive friend.  [Ok, I did think it was possible they'd have some mixed fruit like they had after their April concert.]
Zephyr Vocal Ensemble at Saturday night's Dessert Cabaret Fundraiser

Needless to say, I was surprised to see "gluten free desserts" listed on their website when I went to purchase my ticket!  Since I assumed these would contain dairy, I didn't think much of it, but did email my friend to ascertain the 'gluten-freeness' of these desserts so that I could extend the invitation to some GF friends of mine. 

Turns out, the woman baking them keeps a totally gluten free household as four of the five people in that house follow a gluten free diet.  (And the fifth eats gluten free in the house.)

The concert was terrific and when I finally looked at the dessert table, I was shocked to see that one of the two gluten free desserts (the Jewish Apple Cake) was dairy free as well!  (The French Chocolate Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream certainly wasn't!)  Sadly, by this time the battery in my camera had died and I don't have a photo of it. 

I will keep you all posted if there's going to be gluten free desserts at any of their future events!  Of course, if you're in the Sussex county area and just like live music, there's an event calendar on their website here:  Zephyr Vocal Ensemble.

If you're looking for other gluten free events check here:

NJ Gluten Free Event Calendar

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!

That's right we get the month of May and September 13th! Due to a scheduling conflict I won't be able to celebrate tonight (who schedules a condo board meeting on a national holiday?!?!?) but I'll be spreading the word on facebook, the forums I'm a member of, and the meetup groups I'm in. I hope you all do as well.

I think I'll end the day with some 'research' into either the "Complete Guide to Gluten Free / Dairy Free Cookies" I'm working on or the "Kinnikinnick Donut Review" I'm working on. On second thought . . . I may need to 'research' both!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: 97lake (West Harrison, New York)

A couple of months back, while looking for gluten free restaurants within driving distance of my office in northern Bergen county NJ, I discovered 97lake Sports Cafe & Restaurant (97 Lake Street, West Harrison, NY).  [Special note, this restaurant is in West Harrison, New York, not New Jersey.]  Today, I finally got to try it out, and it was amazing.

97lake Sports Cafe and Restaurant in West Harrison, NY
What really attracted me to this restaurant is their six page gluten free menu.  (The online menu has a page for kids, it wasn't in my 'adult' menu at the bar.)  While there are a couple of naturally gluten free items on the menu there isn't a gluten friendly item to be found (that's right, no "order the salad without croutons" or "order the hamburger on lettuce") what there is is an unbelievable selection of actual gluten free foods: gluten free pizza, french fries, gluten free onion rings, gluten free chicken fingers [contains dairy], chicken noodle soup, hamburgers with gluten free buns, sliders with gluten free buns, gluten free crab cakes, NY strip steak on gf garlic toast, gluten free hoagie buns for cheese steaks, gluten free (but sadly not dairy free) Mac and Cheese, gluten free bread (for a corned beef sandwich or BLT), gluten free wraps, and gluten free desserts (most of which are ice cream, none of which looked dairy free).  [Warning: I only asked about dairy in the bun, chicken fingers and onion rings (the chicken fingers have butter milk), if you are also dairy free please check with your server.]  One last thought, I can't drink beer (or anything carbonated) so I didn't ask while I was there, but according to their online menu, they have Estrella Daura from Spain and two different gluten free ciders.

Gluten Free Onion Rings at 97lake (they're dairy free too!)
To write this article, I returned to their website and menus and discovered something I hadn't noticed before.  There is a small notice on the GF menu that reads as follows (note especially the sentence I underlined):

"I was diagnosed as a Celiac in 2005. Since that time I have been on a search for the finest gluten free products and recipes in the market today. It is my pleasure to offer gluten free foods to those who know the struggle of eating out without getting sick. Our fryers are gluten free, as is the entire kitchen. Any gluten based products are made off premises. I hope you understand that gluten free products are much more expensive to purchase. Please enjoy our food." - Alan Marc Smith, Owner, 97lake

Ummm . . . wait a second, that means anything deep fried is gluten free no matter which menu you order off of?  Shhh . . . don't tell the wheat-eaters!  There is a slight price increase on anything with gluten free bread (seems to be $2 usually) which isn't really that bad compared to some other places I've eaten.  So enough about the menu, on to the food!

Hamburger with Avocado on a Gluten Free Hamburger Bun
with Gluten Free French Fries at 97lake
As mentioned above, I asked about the dairy free status of the onion rings, hamburger buns, and chicken fingers.  The chicken fingers are dipped in buttermilk, but that's ok as they were only my backup plan.  I was really after a burger and fries . . . oh, and onion rings.  The onion rings arrived first and they were perfect - crispy battered exterior, hot soft onion interior!  Exactly what I remember onion rings to be.  Then came the burger - the roll was toasted and tasted homemade.  Although it felt like it was starting to come apart towards the end, it held up through the entire half pound burger.  The fries reminded me a bit of 5 Guys' fries only at 97lake they are thicker and more expertly cooked (I often have to finish my 5 Guys fries in the oven when I get them home).

And finally some notes about getting there:  My Garmin GPS dropped me off at 97 Lake Street in White Plains about a 1/2 mile from the restaurant.  I just happened to luck out and drive past the restaurant as I did not stay on Lake Street.  That Lake Street becomes Veterans Memorial Drive and then East Lake Street.  The road I was on is labeled as Harrison Blvd in Google Maps (they run parallel to each other, the restaurant is across both roads from the football field).  (BTW: Google Maps thinks West Harrison is Briarcliff Manor. ) Click here to get directions from google maps: Google Maps Directions to 97lake (I've already centered the maps on the restaurant for you, right click on it and select "Directions to here".)

97 Lake SportsCafé & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Other reviews you may be interested in:

Gluten Free Bellizzi's (Mt. Kisco and Larchmont, NY)

Gluten Free Restaurant List (mostly for New Jersey but includes a handful of NY restaurants near the border)

Gluten Free French Fries (stand alone NJ restaurants and Nationwide Chain / Fast Food Restaurants)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Justin’s Vegan Peanut Butter Cups: Product Review (Gluten Free as well)

I may have missed them on my list of GF/DF Products I'm Still Searching For, I was recently reminded of how much I miss Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Reminded that is by seeing Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups at Fairway!  (Warning: while both the Milk and Dark Chocolate Cups are gluten free, but only the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are dairy free/vegan.)
Justin's Vegan Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I put a pack in my basket and finished my shopping.  While I was excited to try them, I’ve gotten burned too many times by products that were better in theory than in taste/texture.  And, like everything organic / fair trade, they’re a bit pricey.

I tried the first one as soon as I got my bag in the car . . . and immediately headed back into the store for more.  (I figured you’d want a photo of a bit more than the empty wrapper and now that that second cup was exposed, it wasn’t going to survive the drive home!)  (I’m happy to report; neither of the cups pictured at right lasted through the photo shoot!)

The cups are a bit thinner than a Reese’s but the chocolate and peanut butter are both of a higher quality.  All of Justin’s products are certified Gluten Free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. 

Justin's Vegan Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

I haven’t tried their nut butters straight, but I did try a sample of their Gluten Free/ Dairy Free Chocolate Hazelnut Butter earlier this summer and it is certainly a fine dairy free / vegan Nutella substitute.

While Fairway, Wegmans, Nature's Pavilion and Whole Foods are all listed as carrying their products, I can’t say for sure that anyone but Fairway has the peanut butter cups.  While Amazon has a page full of Justin’s products, they haven’t yet gotten the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups in stock as of yet.

Other articles you may enjoy:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finding a Celiac Support Group (or Gluten Free Support Group)

In addition to my supermarket addiction, I apparently have a bit of a support group addiction as well. I am a member of six different support groups (either gluten free or celiac disease). That's the nice thing about living in a very populous area - the number of options available.  Support groups are no different.

Annual Gluten Free Picnic by the Seashore Celiacs
Each group approaches their events differently. Some meet at set locations, some try new restaurants, some share new snacks, some have guest speakers, but the one thing they all have in common is the camaraderie. It is nice, no matter the event or structure of the meeting, to spend an hour or two with people who completely get what I go through in having food restrictions.  Not only that but the other members can be a wealth of information on where to eat and which products are best.

I would highly recommend (especially for those who have GF children) to find and join a support group. Social interactions can be very food centric and it is tough on me as an adult to be the odd man out; I can’t imagine what it is like as a child. Even if you don't match the topic exactly (wheat allergy at a Celiac meeting for example), emotionally you'll get quite a bit out of the experience.

So where can you look for a group if you aren't already in one? (note – if you live in NJ, I’ve added an ‘as current as I can make it’ list at the end.)

  • Check with your local hospitals. A good number of them offer support groups and if there is enough interest may add more.
  • Try They list all sorts of local support groups here: The nice thing about meetup is that you can do a zip code search on your issues and they will point you towards the closest groups.
  • There is a list of R.O.C.K. chapters (Raising Our Celiac Kids) at Link to ROCK Chapters. It appears that R.O.C.K. doesn’t have their own website but rather is hosted on
  • The Celiac Disease Foundation has a list of affiliates as well:
  • Try searching for a group on Facebook.
  • Ask around at your local health food store.
  • Google it! (or use any web search site for that matter.)

And remember, if you can't find one you can always start your own. You may just be surprised at how many others in your community have similar problems!

List of NJ Celiac / Gluten-Free Support Groups:

Celiac and Allergy Support Meetup Group - in the Parsippany, NJ area.

CSA Southern NJ - meets in Vorhees, NJ

The Fine Grind GF Club - meets at The Fine Grind in Little Falls, NJ.

Happy to be Gluten Free in Central NJ Meetup - meets in the Westfield, NJ area.

The Jersey City Gluten-Free Meetup - meets in Jersey City, NJ.

Kogen Celiac Center – website hasn't been updated in over a year so I'm not sure this is still active (part of St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, NJ).

Lyndhurst NJ Celiac Support Group - meets in Lyndhurst, NJ.

Morristown ROCK – no website, and I'm not sure this is still active.

Northern NJ Celiac Disease Support Group - they meet almost monthly in Paramus, NJ.  This is my 'home' support group; I've been a member since shortly before I diagnosed myself with gluten intolerance.

Seashore Celiacs - they meet on the third Wednesday of the month in Brick, NJ.

Warren Hospital Celiac Disease Support Group - You'll need to search on their calendar for meetings and call for additional info. They meet in Phillipsburg, NJ

Some other articles you may enjoy:

Are French Fries Gluten Free?

Hidden Sources of Gluten in Your Diet

Politics, Religions and Which is the Best Gluten Free Pasta

Advice for Traveling Gluten Free

Friday, September 2, 2011

Which Gluten Free Hot Dog Bun is Best?

I’m a huge fan of Udi’s Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns. However, to make sure they are the best option, I've now tried all the rest.

My very first gluten free hot dog was years ago at Soul Dog in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The bun fell apart and I ended up with mustard all over me, but I was still happy to have a hot dog again!  Boy have we come a long way since then.

I used to use Ener-G buns before Udi’s came along but they are a little dry and they fall apart at the seam. Schär does make a sub sandwich roll that could be used as a hot dog bun but it's just not the same (and they end up being quite pricey).
Udi's (left) versus Rudi's (right) Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns

That leaves Rudi as the only other competitor and since Rudi's buns aren't very available in my area so it took a while for me to try them. When I finally did, I found that the Rudi's buns aren't pre-split, aren't fluffy, and when cut open come apart at the seam (as you can see from the photo at the right).  Truth be told, coming apart at the seam is really the deal breaker for me - six years of suffering through bread, rolls, brownies, buns, etc falling apart and crumbling on me and I expect more. 

The only advantage Rudi's has over Udi's is that they are truly multigrain (they contain sunflower seed and flax seed). However, I'm not really looking for my hot dog bun to be nutritious; after all, I am putting a hot dog on it!  I do realize that this is important to others and in that case the Rudi's is a good alternative.

In the end though, compared to all the rest, hands down Udi's is still the best. If you defrost them in the microwave (half power for about 30 seconds) right before you need them they hold together great (especially at the seam) and are soft and fluffy. While it is coming to the end of cookout season in NJ, I still think I'll have a few more before it gets too cold out!

Schär Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns
Update 6/19/2013 - Schär has now come out with Gluten Free Hot Dog buns. They are sold in a four pack shelf stable package. They are a bit bigger than the Udi buns and are only cut half way through. In order to load a hot dog and toppings I had to cut it open further and although I didn't cut all the way through, the seam still didn't hold up once loaded. [The packaging shows a toasted bun so I don't feel bad about cutting it further.] Taste wise they are fine and I would probably use them more for grilled sausage. Overall, I still think Udi's the best (and as compared to Schär quite a bit less expensive as well).

You should be able to find gluten free hotdog buns locally but if you can't they are available online: Udi's Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns (1 package) from the Gluten Free Mall and Schär Gluten Free Hot Dog Rolls (case of six 4-packs) from also sells cases of the Ener-G buns but neither sells the Rudi's buns.

Other Hot Dog Related Articles:

Which Gluten Free Hamburger Bun is best?