Friday, June 21, 2013

Restaurant Review: Kei Kabob (Montclair, NJ)

So nice to have a menu full of interesting and flavorful options!

Gluten Free Falafel with Dairy Free
Tahini Sauce at Kei Kabob
A friend of mine (who is strictly gluten free and mostly dairy free) has been raving about Kei Kabob (401 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042) for a couple of weeks now.  When she first mentioned having eaten there I checked out their website but didn't see any mention of gluten free.  In talking with her again, it turns out the owner's nephew is gluten free and while the fresh baked flat bread they serve with most meals is decidedly not gluten free, most of the rest of the menu naturally is.  (Quite a bit of the menu is dairy free as well since Persian food doesn't call for a lot of dairy.) [And the owner's daughter is lactose free so he is up on this as well!]

Yesterday, I worked from home and met her for lunch.  Kei Kebob is a small store front restaurant with Persian decorations and Persian music lightly playing in the background. 

I had the Classic Barg Kebob (grilled filet mignon) and we split an order of the Falafel (fried in its own fryer).  I was a little concerned that perhaps the sauce on the Falafel was yogurt based but it turns out to be a tahini sauce (ground sesame seed).  Everything was amazing!

Gluten Free Barg Kabob (grilled filet mignon)
Often when eating out what we are left with are some very bland items (grilled chicken, sandwiches without bread, baked potatoes) but at Kei Kabob there are plenty of interesting and tasty choices!

For dessert the owner convinced us to try the Sholeh Zard (which means Yellow Flame).  It is a Persian rice pudding, that is both gluten and dairy free.  It is a rare treat to be able to eat dessert out and even rarer for something so wonderfully flavorful (it is seasoned with saffron, cinnamon and rose water).

Gluten Free Dairy Free Sholeh Zard (Rice Pudding)
I did ask the owner why he didn't advertise or note how much of their menu was gluten free.  His response is quite common for a restaurant owner: they bake their own bread in house and he can't guarantee there is zero cross contamination.  He does take a number of steps to avoid cc (changing out all utensils / cookware that may have touched gluten when a GF order comes in) and we felt quite safe (while I don't react to small amounts of gluten my friend does and she's eaten here multiple times already).  As is true with most restaurants you'll have to double check when you go but I do highly recommend that you give them a try!

In writing this review I took another peek at their full menu and will definitely be returning for dinner as a number of the entrees sound terrific!
Kei Kabob on Urbanspoon

Other Montclair, NJ restaurant reviews:

Plum on Park

Elevation Burger

For even more restaurants with gluten free options check out my GF NJ Restaurant List!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gluten Free Fast Food / Chain Updates

I’m working my way down the list of parts of this site I need to update. I’ve finished the Gluten Free Store update, the Gluten free Restaurant update, and even an update to the Gluten Free Fries list! So today I finished off the updates to my Gluten Free Fast Food / Chain / Quick Serve list.  There are thirteen new chains (eight with locations in NJ), four fast food / quick serve additions (three with NJ locations), and a couple of updates.

Here are the latest updates:


Bensi (10 NJ locations and one in VA) – has a short gluten friendly menu of grilled items with grill vegetables and salad.

Bristol Seafood Grill (KS, MO) –Each location has a gluten friendly menu with shared kitchen warning. (Sister chain of Chequers and Devon Seafood Grills.)

Chart House (AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, MA, MD, NV, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA and two in NJ: Weehawken, NJ and Atlantic City, NJ) – has large gluten friendly menu.

Chequers Seafood Grill (GA) – Each location has a gluten friendly menu with shared kitchen warning. (Sister chain of Devon and Bristol Seafood Grills.)

Chickie's and Pete's  (183 US Highway 130, Bordentown NJ 08505 and 6055 Blackhorse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp NJ 08234, and multiple locations in PA) – Has a gluten friendly menu (burgers without buns, seafood entrees, etc) but although they advertise gluten free fries, their disclaimer states they use a shared fryer (although there are rumors of this changing soon).

Devon Seafood Grill (FL, IL, PA, WI) – Each location has a gluten friendly menu with shared kitchen warning. (Sister chain of Chequers and Bristol Seafood Grills.)

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que  (CT, NY and Newark, NJ) – has allergen information for their full menu (buried on their ‘Contact Us’ page, year old). Shows gluten, dairy, nuts, tomato, garlic and shellfish. I grabbed take out there once and would want to try dining in before passing judgment.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill (AL, AZ, DE, NC, NE, OH, PA, TN, VA but none in NJ as of yet) – has a sizable gluten friendly menu.

Ground Round (IA, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NY, OH, PA, SD, WI and 2 locations in New Jersey)- offers a gluten friendly menu (salad no croutons, burger no bun). I haven’t been since I was a kid.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurants (AZ, CT, FL, HI, IL, LA, MS, NV, OH, SC, TN and coming soon to Atlantic City, NJ) – offers gluten free buns, gf entrees, a gf brownie and a dedicated fryer for gluten free fries! No word on other allergens in the buns or brownie.

Miller’s Ale House's new location is now open in Paramus: 270 route 4 east, Paramus, NJ 07652.

Rodizio Grill (Voorhees, NJ as well as locations in CO, CT, FL, MA, MN, OH, PA, TN, TX, UT, WI). They list their GF items on their online menu. Dairy should be easy to avoid here. See full review by Michael at Gluten Free Philly (warning he isn't dairy free).

Ruby’s (CA, HI, NV, PA, TX and Newark, NJ) [WARNING: the Newark NJ location is in the airport behind security.] – this diner chain now offers Udi’s gluten free hamburger buns.

Silver Diner (Cherry Hill + more) has expanded their GF menu. Unsure of other allergens.

Yard House  (AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, IL, KS, MA, NC, NV, NY, OH, TX, VA, WA, coming soon to ID and OR, but none in NJ) – offers a gluten sensitive menu on their website that details how to modify their existing dishes to make them gluten friendly. They also offer gluten free beer (depending on the location). I’ve eaten here and felt quite safe.

Fast Food / Quick Serve:

Gluten Free at Boston Market
Boston Market (27 states nationwide + multiple NJ locations) – has a listing of the eight major allergens plus gluten on their website (be prepared for the local restaurant to have no idea about this). Both the chicken and turkey are gluten free and dairy free as are a number of sides and best of all, three of their sauces including the standard gravy (again double check with your local store).

Deux Aux Natural has closed.

Eat'n Park (OH, PA, WV) – they offer a gluten friendly menu and gluten free sandwich buns (most items are made gluten friendly by substituting this bun).

Muscle Maker Grill (multiple NJ locations and AR, CA, FL, IL, MO, NY, OK, PA, TX) – has a limited gluten friendly menu with some dairy friendly options. Read my review of Muscle Maker Grill.

PB and U has closed in Wayne, PA, but their NJ location is still open.

Pure Tacos has closed.

Red Mango (Nationwide including 25 locations in NJ) - this frozen yogurt chain also offers gluten free / dairy free sorbettos. (Review coming soon)

Be sure to check out the full Gluten Free Fast Food / Chain / Quick Serve list and if you are in NJ the Gluten Free New Jersey Restaurant List.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gluten Free French Fries Latest Update

It’s time for another update to my gluten free french fry restaurant list. I’ve added eighteen new locations: some here in NJ, a couple that I’ve personally tried in NY, and then a couple of national chains. As always, be sure to double check with the restaurant before ordering. Procedures and recipes sometimes change and their fries may not still be truly gluten free!

NJ Restaurants:

6 Brothers Diner in Little Falls, NJ – they have a dedicated fryer for gluten free fries (and gluten free chicken fingers)!

Alumni Grill in Wildwood, NJ – has gluten free fries and gluten free sweet potato fries!

Biddy O'Malley's in Northvale, NJ – last I was here they were looking into installing a dedicated fryer. No word on if that is done yet.

The Cozy End in Upper Montclair, NJ – they have a dedicated gluten free fryer for lots more than just gluten free French fries! These are some of the best fries I’ve ever had.

Gluten Free Greek Fries at Opa Greek Cuisine in Wayne, NJ
Kind Burgers in Sea Bright, NJ – offers gf fries.

Little Shanty in Warren, NJ (more coming soon) – has multiple fryers and offers gluten free french fries and gluten free onion rings. Warning: their sweet potato fries are NOT gluten free.

Opa Greek Cuisine in Wayne, NJ – has a dedicated fryer for their gluten free greek fries. (review coming soon)

Your Way Cafe in Westwood, NJ – they have a dedicated fryer for gluten free French fries and gluten free chicken fingers. (review coming soon)

NY Restaurants:

97lake in West Harrison, NY – they have gluten free onion rings and gluten free fries. As a matter of fact their kitchen is mainly gluten free, they just bring in gluten containing bread for other diners! Read my review of 97lake here.

Mama’s Italian Restaurant in Oakdale, NY (Long Island) – has a dedicated fryer for gluten free fries and a multitude of other gluten free fried items. (Review coming soon.)

Market Cafe (NYC, NY) – has a dedicated fryer for their gluten free seasoned fries. (Review coming soon.)

Perfecto Mundo in Commack, NY (Long Island) – they have a dedicated fryer for all of their gluten free options (potato frites, sweet potato frites, yuca frites, chips for salsa and guacamole, etc.) (Review coming soon.)

Chain / Fast Food Restaurants:

Burger21 (mostly in FL, but expanding) - they offer gluten free french fries and gluten free sweet potato fries!

Glory Days (no NJ locations) – has a dedicated fryer. (review coming soon)

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurants – offers a dedicated fryer for gluten free fries!

Joe's Crab Shack - I'm removing this one from the master list. They used to list french fries on their gluten free menu but have removed them. I've eaten here and the boiled potatoes that come with their steam pots are gluten free but we all know potatoes were meant to be fried not boiled!

Mon Ami Gabi (no NJ locations) – they have gluten free French fries at this French Bistro.

Red Robin – some locations now have a dedicated fryer.

Ted’s Montana Grill (no NJ locations) – has gluten free fresh cut fries! (review coming soon)

White Chocolate Grill (no NJ locations) - they have gluten free shoestring fries. I ate at their AZ location years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit.

These were just the updates, see the full list here: Gluten Free Fries.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gluten Free Meatballs (dairy free too)

When I first put together my Tomato Free Sauce (recipe), I would make a batch of that and three pounds of gf meatballs. I’d make the first pound as Gluten Free Swedish Meatballs (recipe) and the other two would get added to the sauce.

I recently realized I never shared the standard gluten free meatball recipe, so here it is. You can bake them, fry them or simply simmer them in your sauce. Baking and frying will keep them held together better when you add them to the sauce and reduce the amount of time they need to simmer in the sauce. I prefer to bake them first as this cuts out the mess of frying.
Gluten Free Meatballs with Homemade Nomato Sauce
over Gluten Free Spaghetti


1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
½ onion, chopped fine
Olive oil
¼ cup basil (1 tbsp dried)
¼ cup parsley (1 tbsp dried)
¼ gluten free bread crumbs (recipe)
Salt and pepper to taste


1/4 vegan parmesan (or dairy)

How to prepare gluten free meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 350 if you are going to bake instead of fry.

Saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent and just starting to brown (about 3 minutes).

In the mean time, finely chop the parsley and basil. (Quick note: the ¼ cup measurement assumes loosely packed prior to chopping. You’ll have much less afterwards.)

Add the bread crumbs, herbs, ground beef, salt, pepper, and onions and garlic (as soon as they are done) to a large mixing bowl (add vegan parmesan if using here as well). Mix thoroughly.

Form into 1” balls (about 1 tbsp worth) and set aside.

You can then fry the meatballs (in batches) until browned on all sides or for less mess, bake them in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  (See below if adding directly to your sauce.)

Bring your favorite pasta sauce to a boil and add the browned (either oven or frying pan) meatballs then reduce to a simmer.  Continue to cook them until cooked all the way through and no longer pink in the center (20-30 minutes).

If you are not baking or frying make sure your sauce is boiling before adding the meatballs and that they are all completely covered in the pot. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until done (about an hour), not stirring for the first ½ hour so they don’t fall apart. I would use a meat thermometer to confirm they have reached an internal temp of 165 degrees in this case as well.

[NOTE: If using my no tomato pasta sauce, I like to add the meatballs prior to adding the pureed beets and then I don’t add the beets until the meatballs are done. Once you add the beets, if you cook them for more than 5 minutes or so they’ll begin to discolor.]

Serve with your favorite gluten free pasta!

Check out my other Gluten Free Recipes!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Restaurant Review: Organico (Ramsey, NJ)

I wasn't sure how to categorize this review at first. Organico’s (495 North Franklin Turnpike, Ramsey, NJ 07446) is part lunch counter, part juice bar and part health food store. They carry a small selection of gluten free products including some by Ancient Harvest, Bionaturae, Bob’s Redmill, Food for Life, Glutenfreeda, Go Raw, Kind, Kinnikinnick, Oskri, Pure!, Tinkyada, and Udi’s. [They are one of the few places to get Pure!’s cookies outside of NY.]

Gluten Free Tuna Lunch Box at Organico in Ramsey, NJ
They have a full juice bar offering various organic fresh made juices, plus dozens of organic smoothies (smoothies can be made dairy free with rice, hemp, almond, or soy milk).

I've been a couple times to grab a quick to-go lunch. They do have a small counter at the front window and everything is packaged for take-away. They offer a choice of two soups daily (you’ll need to double check on allergens) as well as prepared sandwiches (warning: on gluten containing bread).

Finally, (saving the best for last) they offer a daily gluten free lunch special! I've only ever had the Tuna Lunch box (tuna salad made with egg-free mayo, along with brown rice, alfalfa sprouts and avocado) but I am hoping to head back for the Forbidden Black Rice and Mango as well as Gina’s Rasta Rice (bamboo infused rice, with organic vegetables).

Overall, this is a great place to grab a healthy and delicious lunch! (And after today’s fresh apple carrot ginger juice, I thing I’ll be back all too often!)

Organico on Urbanspoon

Other great nearby places to eat gluten free:

Gluten Free at Gao Thai Kitchen

Gluten Free at Joe's American Grill

And of course, don't miss the full gluten free NJ Restaurant list.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

New gluten free book for kids!

I had the pleasure of meeting local NJ author Heather Spergel at the last meeting of the gluten free support group that meets at the Fine Grind in Little Falls.  She had brought along an advanced copy of her new children's book "Free to be . . . Gluten-Free!".  It's the story of a young boy who becomes ill, deals with the 'gluten monster' and then recovers.  I won't review the book here as I'm a bit too old (it's for kids) and sadly have no children of my own. 

I will however point out some of the highlights of the book.  First, the little boy in the book has a multitude of different gluten related symptom making it much more likely that a gluten free child will find at least one to relate to.  So many other books are specific only to Celiac disease or digestive issues.  Second, there are a number of gluten free recipes in the back of the book (especially useful to those just starting out) as well as other strategies for transitioning to gluten free.  Third, Heather wrote not just about the physical and mental symptoms of gluten issues but the emotional issues of having to eat differently from everyone else.  And, finally, the author, her son and her daughter are all gluten free with a multitude of different symptoms so she's writing from a world of experience.

The book is due out in June and Heather will be making a couple of local appearances including a Mommy and Me Story time at Whole Foods in West Orange (June 19, 11:30am), a meet and great + story time at Barnes and Nobles in Livingston (June 22, 12pm) and another at the Fine Grind Coffee Bar in Little Falls (June 29, 12pm).  [A full list of future and other appearances are on her website here.]

You can get a copy of the book (once released) at the Livingston Barnes and Nobles, or your local book store can order it for you from their distributors.  If you can't find it locally (or don't have a local bookstore to order it for you) you can order it online from