Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Stuff

First, let's talk about pancake mixes. Now we all know there a lot of them out there in the universe of gluten-free options. My favorite far and away is Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. It makes the most heavenly pancakes and waffles. And here is a tip if you want extra incredibly, stupendous pancakes.....instead of 3/4 of a cup of water, add 3/4 of a cup of whipping cream (not whipped). The pancakes are so creamy and good you would swear that you were revisiting your life before celiac disease. I have visions of the pancakes my Mom used to make on cold mornings. She would give each of us a fluffy stack of deliciousness that was not to be taken lightly. And so it is again for far as I am concerned, Pamela's mix is outstanding in it's field! Try and see if you don't agree.

Next, lets talk about the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes that came out last year. First, the brownie mix. I think it is quite tasty. I always add a cup of chopped walnuts (sometimes 1 & 1/2 cups.......yeah, I love nuts), and I always frost them with Duncan Hines milk chocolate die for! I brought them to a function and never said a word about them being gluten-free. One of the guests commented on the fact that they tasted just like her Grandmother's brownies. I was quite pleased with that comment and I never told her any differently. Now about the chocolate chip cookie mix........not so good (as is). But, as I have found with most gluten-free mixes you need to add more to them to give them the zip that they almost always need. I follow the directions on the package, but then I add to it 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of walnuts, 1 additional egg, 2 more tablespoons of butter, and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of plain M&Ms. The cookies are wonderful jewels of sweetness when they are done and they have substance and are not dry and blah! Just in case they aren't sweet enough, I drizzle some melted white chocolate over them or milk chocolate. I gave these as gifts this Christmas in my cookie tins and people loved them and mention of the gluten-free factor to them. I will talk about the Betty Crocker cake mixes next time.

A note about Applebee's: They cannot accommodate celiacs very easily. I am pretty sure that most all of their meats are injected with gluten of some kind and of course almost everything they have on their menu is dipped or fried in some type of wheat product. Their wait staff knows very little about our issues. The only safe things I have found on the menu are the sides of broccoli, baked potatoes and a hamburger patty that you must insist has no seasoning or additives. Not much of a selection for us. Perhaps if we start complaining to them they may have a change of heart, but I wouldn't count on it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mail Orders

OK, when living a gluten-free life sometimes you just want to go on line and order something new and exciting and wait with guarded anticipation for it to be magically delivered to your door. Now I have tried several places and one place that I HIGHLY recommend is Mariposa Baking out of Oakland, California. They have a lovely website and oh my do they have some wonderful products. And if that isn't enough sweetness, they are not very expensive and their products always arrive fresh and delicious. Let's look at several of their delights. First, they have these amazing coconut lemon squares...........oh just amazing! They are bursting with flavor and one square is just enough to satisfy least for a little while until the craving overtakes you and you need another one. Next they have an amazing little coffecake (when I say little I mean little....just enough for two people - or one if you want it all to yourself), I warmed it up and it was devine! (and you might want to throw caution to the wind and put a touch of butter on it too)....couldn't hurt. It has great texture and you feel like you are indulging in something very sinful but so nice! A very special treat. Next are their amazing bagels.......oh my, they are so good and they are big! I have bought gluten-free bagels before that are more akin to a small hockey puck than a bagel. These are a totally different story and just heaven. Again you will think you are eating something that you shouldn't be...but alas it is OK! Another one of my favorites in their biscotti. Crisp, full of flavor and just the right amount of crunchy delighfulness. Now these people have not paid me to say this (however I am quoted on their site for their heavenly creations) but I volunteered the comments after devouring all of their products. But don't take my word for it. Go out on a limb and order something off their site and see if you don't think I am right. We all deserve a little treat now and again. Like all gluten-free products, you should keep what you don't eat right away in the freezer. (You won't be sorry!)

Post note.....The other day I mentioned I was trying Udi's gluten-free frozen pizza crusts. I finally created the pizza and I must say it is by far and away the best gluten-free pizza crust I have tried to date. Nice and thin and crispy the way I like it. Yay!!! I must say I am pretty impressed with these Udi's products. They also have a site: You can order online and I believe I mentioned that their products are starting to turn up at HyVee. Keep smiling, Linda

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Let's talk about gluten-free pizza!

OK, if you are not a newbie to the gluten-free life you know that pizza is not exactly high on the list of your favorite foods any longer. Gluten-free pizza is usually tasteless, doughy, and just plain blah! I think I have tried every frozen pizza dough out there and every time I get my hopes up, come home and create a masterpiece (only in my mind of course)I am always disappointed. I don't know, maybe I expect too much from a gluten-free pizza crust? There is a frozen pizza that some HyVee stores carry and it is not half bad. The crust is made out of cheese believe it or not and it already has sauce and toppings on it. A man in Iowa makes these and ships them to different HyVee stores. Now when I do buy one of these which is not very often, I always "doctor" it up with more toppings, gooey cheese, etc. My biggest complaint is that the pizza is extremely salty. I mean really salty and I definitely have a problem with too much sodium. But it is not bad in a pinch and of course it is totally gluten-free!

Now going out to a restaurant for a pizza, that is another story. I understand that Godfather's gluten-free pizza is not good. But I can tell you about one that is absolutely wonderful. Ryan's Bistro on about 176th and West Center Road has pizza that will make you swoon with enjoyment! They use a very thin crust and it is crispy, thin and delicious! Their different toppings are also wonderful and I highly recommend the BBQ, chicken, bacon, cheddar pizza. It is a small glimpse of heaven in an otherwise lack luster offering of gluten-free pizza. Now, I am going to try Pudgy's Pizza soon, and the pizza at Blue Planet is also great........more about the Blue Planet later. But I seem to be obsessed with the pizza at Ryan's Bistro....I crave it if I don't have it every so often. I think it has something to do with the fact that I went so long without pizza thinking I would rather not have any pizza than a bad one. Check it out and let me know what you think and if you have any pizza recommendations.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Issues with not so good bread

So, you are gluten free and you have tried several or many of the frozen gluten-free bread products and you are still coming up unsatisfied. Let's face one big truth about gluten-free eating. Bread products have come a long way, but they still don't taste like gluten laden bread, so you may have to adjust your taste just a bit. There is a slight difference in taste and I am assuming that there always will be. But, all whining aside there are some good products out there. A new bread product that HyVee is carrying in their Health Market frozen food section is Udi's products. Their frozen muffins are wonderful........the closest thing I have found yet to "real" muffins. I keep them in the freezer and heat them up in the oven when I want to indulge in one. They are nice big muffins and the texture if delightful. They also make a frozen whole grain bread that I think makes excellent toast. I think we all know that you have to keep frozen gluten-free bread frozen and just pull out what you need as you need it. Gluten-free bread does not have a great shelf life nor does it do so well without being toasted. But this bread is pretty good. I have not tried their sandwich loaf yet, but I have their frozen pizza crusts in the freezer as we speak and I am planning on making a pizza tomorrow so I will post the results. What drew me to it was the fact that the crust is thin.......I don't think that there is anything worse than a thick, frozen, gluten-free pizza crust.......ugh! Not good!! So hope springs eternal with this one awaiting to be created. I have yet to see Udi's products anywhere yet but HyVee Stores. My quest for good gluten-free bread products seems to be never ending and I am happy to see new products that seem to outshine some of the old stuff. I believe I would rather just go without bread that eat bad gluten-free bread.......not worth the calories or the "blah" of it all. Stay tuned all you celiacs........later.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The land mine of gluten free eating

For those of you with celiac disease, eating out can be akin to roller skating through a mine field. My hope is that I can let you know of restaurants in Omaha that are saavy about celiac disease and know how to prepare food that is not contaminated. Those of you who are extremely sensitive know the dread you feel after eating a meal out that you have been assured is gluten- free only to have your whole body indicate otherwise within a short amount of time. And then there are the helpful waitstaff who assure you they know what you are talking about when you mention wheat-free eating and that don't really have a clue.........again glutenized and miserable for several days thereafter. Next post I will talk about a good restaurant in Omaha offering gluten-free alternatives. But my first recommendation is this: ask to talk to the manager of the will have much better luck right out of the gate!

And the other issue is gluten- free products........some good, some mediocre and some positively awful. I will try and steer people clear of really awful products and focus on the good stuff! Now I love to cook, but I don't have a lot of time and now that I have to eat gluten-free I am not very interested in recipes that require you to purchase 3 or 4 different flours in order to make a loaf of bread.....or a batch of muffins....not me..........too expensive and not enough time. I have found a gluten-free all-purpose flour that I really like. You can use it cup for cup in any recipe that calls for regular flour........and that to me is fantastic!! The product is: Beth's Gluten-free All-purpose Flour by Gluten-Free Pantry. It comes in 16 oz. packages which probably is only a little over 2 cups but it is a very good product and it is not overly expensive. You can find it at Baker's and most HyVees in Omaha. I believe you can order on line in larger quantities. Give it a try and see what you think!