Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Everybody Eats Big Sale!!!

OK, this is newsworthy! Everybody Eats, who makes the best gluten-free products on the planet is having a one day sale. You have to call tomorrow and order and you get 30% off. You have got to order some of their products and this is the perfect opportunity. Please see below. (These are the guys that make the awesome multi-grain bread!)

30% OFF EVERYTHING - Shipping and packaging not included
THURSDAY, APRIL 1st, 2010 (this is no joke)
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ONLY (EST)

Call will be so happy that you did!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gluten-free snacks - the good and the not so good

Greetings to all and happy spring! I have been sampling some different gluten-free snack items this week and what follows is my take on them individually.

Bakery on Main - Nutty Cranberry Maple Granola - I have never been "over-the-moon" about granola, but I did occasionally indulge in it in my before celiac (BC) life. It has too many calories and too much sugar normally, but this one seems quite different. It has 13 grams of sugar per serving which is not over the top. It is loaded with pecans, almonds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, fruit juice, cranberries, and other good stuff. I like it alot! It is really good straight out of the bag when you need something with crunch and it is also good as a cereal with milk. However, I do prefer it just as is in the bag. I have found this at Hy-Vee and No Name Nutrition. It isn't terribly expensive and it fulfills a need for a few bites of crunchy delight when you need a quick lift. And it is so conveniently can take it anywhere. I give this item a thumbs-up.

Arrowhead Mills - Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes Cereal - now I know many people who consider cereal a snack (me included) or strictly as a breakfast food. But whichever way you lean, I think this is a good healthy option. It has 33 grams of whole grain per serving and has buckwheat and grits in it. With only 5 grams of sugar it fits the bill for me. I like to put soy or almond milk on it and it really doesn't need any additional sweetener. And I am not racked with guilt when I have a small bowl for a light snack. I get this at Hy-Vee or No Name Nutrition as well.

Katz - Chocolate Chip Cookies - I hate to be the bearer of bad news but these cookies are just not good at all. They give gluten-free cookies a bad name and quite frankly there are plenty of gluten-free products floating around the universe giving gluten-free products a bad reputation, not to mention bad taste. So I don't think we need any more contenders in that area. They were dry and crumbly and basically had no redeming qualities. Don't waste your money and don't settle for "ho-hum" products.

Katz - Cinnamon Rugelach/Rugelech - For those of you who don't know, rugelach is a perfectly delightful, sinful pastry that you will find in many bakeries on the East Coast. It is quite wonderful and flaky and a real treat. Let me just say that this is not a real treat! It was extremely dry, stale tasting and not the least bit deserving of a second piece. This was a new box so it hadn't been opened, so I am not sure what the staleness was about but again, don't waste your money. As always, I think you get what you pay for.

Sahalie Snacks - Glazed almonds with cranberries, honey & sea salt - I had several friends try this with me to see if I was just jaded by inferior products. But we all agreed.....although it sounded healthy and tasty it was extremely mediocre and I would not purchase it again. There was just something totally "off" about it and I could not recommend this to anyone.....friend or foe. I was somewhat disappointed because I wanted to like the product...........but it just didn't happen.

This brings me to a point that I may have driven home not settle for products that don't taste good. There is a great deal of competition out there in the new world of gluten-free products being baked and manufactured. If you buy something and you think it isn't any good........tell the store, dietician, manager, whatever, that it was not good. Most of the people doing the purchasing don't try many of these products and consequently, they need to know so they don't keep ordering them. We need to be pro-active and insist on quality over quantity. To me there doesn't seem to be much point in having a large selection of product if a good percentage of it is not worthy of indulging in. The same can be said for restaurants. If you go to a restaurant and you are assured your food is gluten-free but.....saints preserve 2 hours your small intestine is telling you something completely the restaurant the next day and let them know what happened. They need to know these things! And they won't know if you don't tell them. Now go out there and enjoy life!! Later, Linda

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gluten-free Nirvana

I received another box of baked items from the supremely & ultimately decandent gluten-free
Everybody Eats on Thursday. Since then I have been sampling with great joy the new products they sent me. Oh my, the bagels! If you have ever had "authentic" New York style bagels from New know the kind where they boil them first and then bake them? And they have that chewy familiarity that only a "real" bagel can offer? Well, low and behold and stop the presses..........they do exist in a gluten-free form now!! The minute I looked at these remarkable little jewels I knew they were different from the brands of gluten-free offerings I had sampled in the past. This may sound absurd but they have a "real bagel" look to them......some of you will know exactly what I am talking about, and the rest of you will have to take my word for it! Now I sliced mine and toasted it and then assaulted it with BOTH butter and cream cheese! (Yes, I know I am a hedonist but sometimes that is exactly what life calls for.) These bagels are so chewy and heavenly delightful! They are the kind of bagels you savor and eat slowly and while eating you are already thinking what you will top your next one with.........of course you won't have another one until tomorrow.........??? These bagels are real gems and if I was to rate them I would give them 5 stars (and a schmere of cream cheese, of course)!

Next I tried their white bread. Now let me just preface this by saying I have not been impressed with most of the gluten-free white bread that is out there.........pretty tasteless and dull. But this white bread is different. There is something about it and I can't exactly describe it precisely, but I know that I like it. One thing I love about this bakery is that they don't slice the bread for you. They send you a whole beautiful loaf just like I picture it emerging out of their magical ovens. I love that little touch, because I can slice the bread any thickness I like.........of course I lean toward thick slices, but sometimes only a thin slice will do. When I get a loaf I slice it in various thicknesses and freeze them in ziploc bags. Then when I need a couple of slices for a sandwich or toast or some creation, they are ready to be popped in the toaster or oven and turned into a significantly, glorious experience. I made toast with it yesterday for breakfast with butter and blackberry jam. It was a perfectly enjoyable breakfast........almost sinful. I think many people with celiac have become accustomed to mediocre products and so when we have something that is really outstanding we almost feel guilty............are we secretly eating gluten and don't realize it? Can something this good really be gluten-free? You know the drill.

And while we are on the subject of loaves of bread from a corner bakery in Brooklyn, their Multi-Grain, High Fiber bread deserves a second nod. This stuff is so good!! And now I know that it also contains 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein in every slice!! I think that is some pretty awesome news. Most gluten-free bread is made with rice flour and is pretty much sans fiber or protein. Now this is a bread I can feel good about..........and do a little happy dance over, while I am at it!

Last but certainly not least is their banana bread loaf. I recently devoured a slice of it and I must say it was just amazing! Again the loaf comes whole so it is a good idea to slice it before you freeze it. I put a slice in the microwave and warmed for maybe 8 seconds and then slathered some butter on it. (Yes I can see your eyes rolling, but butter makes everything better!) It was warm and comforting, deliciousness that once again made me think of my childhood when you could smell banana bread baking in the oven and couldn't wait for your Mom to slice a piece of it for you to gobble down with a cold glass of milk! Now I am plotting other ways to serve these slices of paradise...........I am thinking banana nut french toast???? Little sandwiches made with cream cheese in the middle??? The mind boggles at the possibilities!

I must say one more time for the record........these guys are not paying me to wax on rhapsodically about their products. However, I can't seem to help myself. They have got this whole gluten-free baking process down to a science! Pure and simply they are what we have all been seeking for a very long time! Great taste and a quality product...............imagine that!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mixed Bag

First a couple of announcements. If your are a fan on FB of Blue Planet Natural Grill they are running a trivia contest this week online. They are asking 10 questions about their amazing grill and then the first person with the correct answer wins a $10 gift certificate to BPNG. I believe they are already on Question #5 today, so get on their FB site and go for it!! And while you are at it, go there as fast as you can and have something (or maybe a couple of things) from their outstanding and inspiring grill. The awesomeness of BPNG is superior and oh so fulfilling!! Yay!
Blue Planet Natural Grill

The Council Bluffs Hy-Vee (next to the Mall of the Bluffs), is having a gluten-free bag sale on March 25th. Any gluten-free products you can get in a paper bag will be 10% off. Now, as I have eluded to recently, we need to support Hy-Vee stores since they are so eager to order new products for us and are sincerely interested in providing quality food for celiacs and actually everyone for that matter! Did you know that you can get nutrition counseling and educational services at Hy-Vee Health Markets? Who knew?? You can even get your cholesterol checked for a mere pittance (try that at your doctor's office). What a great service they are providing the people of Omaha, Council Bluffs and actually Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri!

Now this brings me to a subject that is near and dear to my heart. That is.......speaking out to stores and restaurants about getting QUALITY gluten-free products in their stores and restaurants. As consumers with a good deal of money to put back into the economy, retailers (be it restaurants or stores) need to recognize that more and more members of the population are turning to gluten-free eating for whatever reason, and therefore need to acknowledge that fact. We are a significant group of individuals and I for one have made it a practice not to spend my money in places that don't choose to recognize this growing number of consumers. We are more than worthy of the accommodations that are required for gluten-free living. Now this may seem unreasonable to some of are not in the habit of making yourself heard or speaking up for things that you believe in. But I bring for your consideration the idea that if you don't speak up they don't know what you want and if you do speak up and they still don't accommodate and dine is just that simple. At the very least speak out with your wallet and don't spend money at places that don't recognize your needs.

I am expecting another package of paradise from that outstanding GF bakery in Brooklyn:
Everybody Eats Of course the anticipation is again palpable and of course the review is to follow. I have asked several of the Hy-Vee stores in the area to carry some of their products and that would be an unbridled joy for me as a consumer and fan!! You may go on the Hy-Vee website, choose your store location, and request items from there as well.

Spring will be upon us soon and with that all the joys of outside living will again be a possibility! Make the best of your day and let me know if you come across something you would like me to mention or review. Cheers to you all, Linda

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Innovative Hy-Vee Stores

Now you may or may not be aware of this, but Hy-Vee Stores are a celiac's best friend. Their Health Market dietitians and managers are extremely knowledgeable about gluten-free eating and they are more than eager to help you with suggestions and choices. What a refreshing change of pace to go to a store that actually caters to us! And here is something else.....if you ask them to carry a product that they don't have they will do everything in their power to get that gluten-free item for you. Imagine that happening at some of the stores you may frequent now.......probably not! And they have pages and pages on their website that you may print of all the gluten-free items that are mingled throughout the store. It is also always available at the Health Market if you don't feel like lugging it around. I have reviewed many items on this site that can only be purchased at a Hy-Vee store and I will continue to do so. I also will try and keep you apprised of new products they get in, specials and celiac support group functions that they have. I'm telling you........these guys have their act together in a big way!

March 24th,(Wednesday) the 108th & Fort HyVee will have a 15% off gluten-free sack sale! You fill a brown paper bag with gluten-free items and you get 15% off for that day only. (Only Health Market Dept. items.) Also at the 108th & Fort Hy-Vee on March 25th,(Thursday) from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM there will be a celiac disease support group meeting. You will have the opportunity to try new gluten-free items and discuss solutions to living with this disease. And of course it is free!! And don't forget we can start looking for gluten-free products from the heavenly
Olivia's Oven this summer. What a stroke of luck for us! Now as I recall last year I asked Bakers to start carrying a gluten-free product and they contacted me and told me that they could not help me with that. Now who do you think is going to get my hard earned money??? It is very heart warming to see that Hy-Vee recognizes the growing market of people that must or want to eat gluten-free and actually react positively. All I can say is YAY FOR HY-VEE!!

Alert for you readers......I am looking for recipes for gluten-free rye bread (or should I say "mock" rye bread). Please let me know if you have a good one! Thanks, Linda

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Simple and the Sublime

Well, I dove into my newest shipment of goodies this weekend and what a pleasant experience it was!!

Olivia's Oven was started by a lovely woman named Carreen who has a daughter who was diagnosed at a very early age with celiac. She was not that impressed with the gluten-free options available (who could blame her) so she started her own gluten-free bakery. What she has created is a lovely selection of sans gluten products that you can order via the phone and she also supplies her products to HyVee stores in the Kansas City area. I have it on pretty good authority that the supplies to HyVee stores may expand to include our area some time this summer. Now that is some very good news! First I must talk about her incredible donut holes. Donut holes you say.........yes!! Once again we are in a territory that I no longer could visit. Now I never had a raging affinity for donuts in my old life, but I did occasionally enjoy a really good donut. But alas, as with so many things, donuts went on the "I will never have these again" list. But, that no longer seems to be the case. These donut holes are little nuggets of the most sublime, heavenly, enticing puffs of joy! Carreen gave me a tip and said to take a few out of the freezer and leave them in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. Oh my, there might be some mystical powers to these donut holes, I can't say for sure. But what I can say is you cannot eat just one (or two) and you cannot possibly stop thinking about them when you are not indulging in them. Even non-celiacs would love these.....of that I am certain. They are simply wonderful!

Next up is Carreen's cinnamon raisin bread. When I was a child my favorite thing for breakfast was cinnamon raisin toast. It was always a special treat since my Mom did not often buy cinnamon raisin loaves of bread. But the aroma of warm cinnamon toast in the morning was enough to make me exceedingly happy and appreciate the simplicity of the toast. This bread does not disappoint. Nice texture, light flavor (not too sweet) and nice sized slices! It seems live gluten-free bread is always so puny and kind of inferior looking. But this bread is lovely and a very welcome addition to my gluten-free life..........and oh, the intoxicating aroma!

Now to the pizza crusts. I have had them at a delightful little pizza place in Kansas City called Waldos. It was the first time I ever went into a real live restaurant and ordered pizza off the menu. My excitement was palatable. What a pleasurable meal that was. And now I have them in my freezer where they await my own special creation of toppings to make them unique and tasty. Carreen does a nice job with these crusts and I am very grateful for that.

Last but not least,is the sour dough bread. I was intrigued by the fact that she made such an item and so naturally I had to try it. Again, it is not puny slices of bread. Nice size slices and they make splendid toast. And quite amazing grilled cheese or grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I was very happy with this bread. Good texture and it stands up well when used in a sandwich. (Which some gluten-free bread does not do.) I have got to say that Carreen makes very good, simple quality products. And I can't wait until they are available in our neck of the woods!

Side note.......I ate at Charlestons the other night and had a nice gluten-free experience there. They have a gluten-free menu that they don't really advertise or have online, but it does exist. Our waitress was very well versed in celiac since her Mother had it and the chef seemed very well informed as well. I had ordered the salmon but he knew it was marinated in soy sauce which of course has wheat in it. Because he knew that he kept me from a misguided mistake that I would have sorely regretted. Yep, I am continually delighted to see how gluten-free eating is starting to main-stream in Omaha eateries. And the more we speak up the more we will see out there. Safe eating, Linda
Waldos Pizza

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Managing Your Unglutenized Life

Managing your gluten-free life can be challenging, to say the least. It is not easy by any means, but it can be done. How often have you gone out with friends or family only to be staring frantically at a menu that seems only to offer food selections that have been either drug through flour, dipped in a floured batter, or smothered in a lovely flour-laden cream sauce? Then comes the anguish and anxiety of wishing you had stayed home and gnawed on raw carrot and celery sticks or something similar. You wonder if the wait staff will understand the precarious predicament you are facing, or will you be unintentionally glutenized and be tortured with an assault on your digestive system that literally reduces you to a "very special" kind of misery.

Take heart! You can have a social life and still not be accosted by gluten at every turn. The secret is to be very well informed. Via some unpleasant experiences, I can tell you that you need to research, read labels continually, and arm yourself with a myriad of information. Most restaurants now post their menus on-line and they also post their gluten-free menu (if one exists). Study them, print them, call and talk to the manager about options. Ask questions and don't be shy about it. The questions should be precise because vagueness is not an option with a celiac. Spontaneity is definitely more demanding, but you can do it if you do your homework. You can't depend on others to do it for you. So keep all your print-outs for reference.

Now I have wonderful friends that I adore and whenever we decide to get together, they always ask me; "where can you eat"? I usually name 4 or 5 options that I know are non-gluten friendly and we go from there. Another aware that the most unlikely foods can have gluten in them. I have been told at restaurants that there is wheat in their sour cream (really??? Is that technically even sour cream?) I have been told to leave black olives off a salad because they have wheat in them (again....what???). However ridiculous this seems, it has kept me from making some misguided choices. Back to reading labels........once I didn't take my own advice and started taking a supplement. I felt really bad and had that "glutenized black cloud" following me. I finally checked the label (duh!) and there was wheat in it!!! My point is to be careful and make yourself aware, it literally is in everything!

One more thing on the eating out with friends issue........if your friends don't take your health issues into consideration when picking a might want to get new friends....I'm just saying.......

I ran across a new product at HyVee in the frozen food section of their Health Mart. It is Kettle Cuisine Chicken Noodle Soup (gluten-free, of course). I must admit I was slightly leery and bought it on impulse. (I am not a big fan of prepared frozen food.) But I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It had a lovely flavorful broth, chucks of white meat chicken, slices of carrots and celery and very nice noodles (not mushy). I would definitely buy it again. It is always nice to have something around that you can fix in a pinch. This company is another example of someone starting a business because of family members with celiac.

I just got a great shipment of products from a gluten-free bakery in Kansas City. More on that in a few days after I sample everything. Looks really good so far. Cheers! Linda