Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Archive for the ‘Gluten-free’ Category

A bakery where we “All Can Eat”

All Can Eat Bakery

Nothing in the above display-case contains gluten. All Can Eat Bakery, located at 937 Main St. in Randolph, Mass., is worth the trip from anywhere in the Boston area. I’ll tell you why in a second.

In November, I took a job in Mass. and moved to a city just to the northwest of Boston that happens to be the home of at least two large bread factories. On any given night, driving through the city can make you feel like you’re standing in the kitchen of one of Boston’s famous Italian bakeries. Pretty ironic for someone who can’t eat bread.

But I ventured into one of the wholesale outlets of these factories one day, just to see if they had any specialties of the gluten-free variety. They did not–at least nothing beyond the gratuitous refrigerator of Rudi’s and Udi’s bread I could find anywhere else. But one of the bakers was kind enough to give me a tip – about 20 minutes south of Boston sat a bakery built for me–or rather, for the Autistic children attending a special school down the street–but for me and people like me as well.

All Can Eat is 100 percent gluten-free, and often dairy-free as well. When we arrived, I was overwhelmed at the display case, full of odd favorites of mine – lemon squares, oatmeal raisin cookies – that I hadn’t yet found a good substitute for. They also sold frozen pizza crusts, a plethora of cookies, cupcakes and pastries, as well as a full menu of gluten-free items made to order.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich, which may seem like an odd choice, but sometimes it’s the simplest things we miss ordering the most. It was delicious. I also took home a lemon square, a black and white cookie, two pizza crusts, seasoned bread crumbs, and a promise to return.

Everything was delicious and very reasonably priced, but just the feeling of being in a place where everything is up for grabs is worth the trip. I guarantee you’ll find something you didn’t even know you missed.

-Taylor

8/27/2012 Update: I am sad to report that I tried to visit this wonderful bakery again last weekend, only to find that it had gone out of business. This post offers some insight, but doesn’t soften the blow.

A Humble Apology from Me to You

Dear Readers,

I feel I may owe you an apology, as I may have led you down the wrong path concerning gluten-free food at California Pizza Kitchen. I wrote a couple months ago an entry about my pleasant back-to-back experiences eating gluten-free at a West Palm Beach California Pizza Kitchen. Well apparently my experience was a lucky one, as many people have been sickened due to cross contamination at the chain restaurant all over the country; so much so that CPK has pulled the gluten-free crust from its menu.

The last thing I ever want to do is make anyone sick over a recommendation I gave on this blog, and I hope this post will right that wrong. The staff at the location at which I dined seemed very knowledgeable, but I now know that to have been an anomaly.

A Celiac.com article alerted me of CPK’s lack of training for its chefs and workers on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, writing:

…The company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

We can only hope.

Happy reading and pleasant eating,

-Taylor

Fine Dining – Sans the Gluten

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

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Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!

 

-Taylor

Lost in the (Asian) Supermarket

Even before  I went GF, I loved Asian supermarkets.  Asian food is great for gluten-free diets because, with the exception of questionable wheat-filled sauces, many meals are naturally gluten-free.  Sure, the amalgamation of unidentified smells may overwhelm as you first walk in, but as you browse the aisles of countless brands of soy sauce and rice noodle, the smell dissipates and you’re free to enjoy the unbeatable prices these places have to offer.

Quail eggs are a good example.  I once purchased a dozen quail eggs for the price of a dozen regular organic eggs.

Another example is pork belly. I don’t even know if my regular grocery store sells pork belly (which, if you’re not familiar, is basically thick-cut, extra delicious, not-as-salty bacon), but my local Asian market had it.  In large quantities.  For not that much money.  And because you wouldn’t want to eat very much pork belly at any one time (it goes well on top of a burger, say), a little belly goes a long way.

So naturally, my trip to the Asian supermarket led to an Asian-inspired meal the next day.  A simple but filling breakfast-for-dinner: rice seasoned with sesame seed,salt and sugar (a $2 seasoning from the market!), and a pork belly-stuffed egg, with a side of edamame.  Delicious and protein-packed, it was a a satisfying little mid-week meal.

So be adventurous.  Go check out your local Asian supermarket – every city has at least one.

-Taylor

California Pizza Kitchen gets Gluten-free Friendly

While in West Palm for a wedding this past weekend, I visited an old friend of mine. This friend and I hadn’t seen each other in years due to an impromptu falling out.  I simply couldn’t tolerate this friend anymore, and I feared our relationship was irreparable. Well guys, I ‘m happy to report that this friend has changed his ways -in a big way. This friend is none other than California Pizza Kitchen (affectionately known as CPK), and it was long ago a favorite restaurant of mine. But this weekend, as I resigned myself to a salad lunch at a restaurant not of my choosing, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Not only does CPK now have a complete GF menu, including GF crust available on all but two of their specialty pizzas, but the regular menu has a classy little GF next to each salad, soup or appetizer that comes naturally gluten-free. No fuss, no muss.

A friend and I opted to share the white pizza with applewood smoked bacon.  I scarfed two pieces down  before I remembered to photograph:

The very next day, another close friend of mine (this one human) drove up from Boca Raton to meet me for lunch. She wanted CPK. I didn’t complain.  This time we had the Jamaican Jerk, sans bacon. This time, I forgot to photograph at all.

-Taylor

Having Fun with Farm Fresh Salad

Salad is one of the most versatile foods around. Appetizer or full meal, a nice salad can be filling and healthful or filling and super fatty, depending on the toppings.   We’ve been having a lot of fun with salad lately. Topping it with bacon and hard boiled eggs, or chopped roasted chicken from the store.  Even fresh CSA-provided blackberries make a delicious topping.

I know many people with Celiac refrain from making salad at home because it is so often the go-to meal at unaccommodating restaurants. But I’m of the belief that salads at restaurants are overpriced and underflavored.  Often we have to order them sans dressing to be extra careful, and there are few things less satisfying  than a dry salad. To make things easier, there’s even a list online of gluten-free salad dressings.

Just look at that rainbow of a salad (above) to see how tasty, nutritious, beautiful, and fun homemade salads can be.  Fruit and nuts? Extra veggies? You can even make your own GF croutons.

Think of the plate as a blank canvas and the many farm fresh fruits and veggies that are currently in season as your palette and get chopping!

 

-Taylor

Gluten-free Advantage: Not Being Tempted by Lazy Cakes

People always tell me I’m lucky to be gluten-free because I’m perpetually on a no-carb diet, or because I’m not tempted to consume high-calorie snacks when I’m out running errands.  For the most part that’s true, although I think people tend to forget the calorie-content of sugary coffee drinks, a GF guilty pleasure of mine.

But I’ve been hearing a lot recently about a glutenful snack that contains more than just calories – it contains melatonin, a supplement popular in the 90s for its supposed calming power.  Most popularly called Lazy Cakes, these OTC pot-brownie substitutes have been popping up here in Gainesville and, apparently, everywhere else.

The danger lies in the fact that melatonin, if taken at all, should be taken in small doses and, like any drug, not when you plan to operate heavy machinery – like a car.  But by being encased in chocolate and marketed as a snack, people are all but being encouraged to gobble the stuff up just for the opportunity to relax in our fast-paced world.

That’s one product I can walk by at Walgreen’s without one little pang of jealousy.

-Taylor

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