Monday, May 26, 2008

Legal Seafoods is Legal for Celiacs!

Legal Seafood Restaurants, which have many locations on the East Coast, has a nifty gluten-free menu!

First, find a location near year on this page, then click on the menu icon on the right. The one near me has a whole gluten-free menu. They even have GF croutons for the salad, GF Cajun spice, and a junior menu with fish sticks coated in garbanzo bean flour!

Besides several locations in major malls, Legal also has restaurants in Logan (Boston) and Reagan (Washington, DC) airports.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Parchment Paper: Nifty and Non-Stick for Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten-free baking for celiacs is tough. The cookies are tough, the bread crusts are tough, and scraping the GF crud off your pans is tough, too. GF baked goods, especially low-fat ones, stick to the pans, and greasing them and dusting them with rice flour makes the outside of loaves gritty.
Enter: parchment paper.
Rip off a good-sized piece of parchment paper. Set your pan on it. Mark the corners with a pen. Cut from the dots to the corners of the paper with scissors or an X-acto blade. Fold the paper: first, from dot to dot, making a rectangle; then, the corners, kind of like inside-out wrapping paper. Put the parchment in the pan. Bake as usual.
When the loaf or cake is finished, lift the loaf out with the edges of the paper. Peel the paper away from the loaf. Perfect, easy crust. No rice flour grit or cornmeal pebbles. The pan cleans up with a damp cloth for psychological reasons, even though the dough or batter never touched the pan.
An added bonus: because you use no oil or butter on the pan, baked goods that rise (like bread) can "crawl" up the paper, like in gluten-ful angel food cake recipes, thus increasing rise and tenderness of bread.
Why didn't I think of this sooner?
Got easy GF baking tips? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, May 12, 2008

What to Eat Gluten-Free: Fast Food French Fries

When you have celiac disease, eating out can be an adventure, like adventuring into a jungle filled with glutenful tigers, ready to tear your guts out.

Even the simple French fry can be fraught with gluten dangers.

However, some fast food restaurants are better than others.

McDonald's French Fries are not only fried in contaminated oil, they sprinkle gluten-laden stuff on them made out of wheat. McCeliac McDeath. AVOID.

Wendy's French Fries are fried in oil with other glutenful items, but at least they don't sprinkle wheat on them. AVOID. (However, the baked potatoes are a good choice.)

Burger King French Fries really are GF! They're sprinkled with salt, not weird concoctions, and fried in a seperate fryer dedicated to french fries. GF King of the Celiacs. Let the rejoicing commence!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What to Eat Gluten-Free at Burger King

TK Kenyon, the Celiac Maniac, is pleased to tell you that if you show up at Burger King with no GF bun in your bag, there is still something you can eat.

The TenderGrill Garden Salad with TenderGrill Chicken has no wheat nor, as far as I can discern from the ingredients, any gluten. It has "natural flavors," which can sometimes be contaminated with gluten, but at least it's a safe start. The allergens list (link below) also lists the TenderGrill as containing no "wheat."

For salad dressings and sauces, GF options include: Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, Ranch Dipping Sauce, Zesty Onion Ring Dipping Sauce, Buffalo Dipping Sauce, and all Ken's salad dressings.

In addition, BK's French Fries are fried in a dedicated fryer that only fries French Fries. Onion Rings, French Toast, and other gluten-ful items are fried in a different fryer, in different oil. All their oil has trans-fats in it, so it'll eventually kill you, but at least you won't have a gluten reaction while you have a heart attack.

If you do show up with your own bun or a nice-sized lettuce leaf, your choices expand. The original beef patty (100% beef) and the Steakhouse Angus beef patty (beef, beef fat, "flavorings," dextrose) and the aforementioned Chicken TenderGrill are safe.

The Garden Veggie Patty is NOT safe. It lists wheat gluten as an ingredient. Neither are breaded items, of course.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cheap GF Flours: Look in Ethnic Stores

Your local health food store sells millet flour for $8/lb and brown rice flour for $4/lb. Sorghum flour can run you $7/lb, too. What's the frugal celiac to do?

Shop in ethnic stores! Indian (like, relating to India, not Native American,) grocery stores in particular have a wide variety of gluten-free flours, including types that your local health food store will never carry, and their prices are great.

(Caveat: I live just north of New York City, and prices up here are higher than in many parts of the country. A gallon of milk, right now, runs $3.30-$4.80, depending on where you shop. Therefore, please don't say, "Oh, millet flour at my health food store is only $6/lb," because your Indian grocery store prices should be correspondingly lower, too.)

The problem with Indian grocery stores is that many of the GF flours are labeled with Indian names. These are generally labeled in the English alphabet, so figuring out which ones are our funny flours is a matter of learning a few new words.

Brush Up on Your Hindi

Garbanzo bean flour is called BESAN. A superfine grind is best. Maya, from Maya Overseas Foods, makes a nice product. A 2 kilogram bag (= 4.4 lbs.) was $5 in my local Indian store, which works out to $1.14/lb. I substitute besan for garfava flour because I think the flavor is milder and it works as well or better.

To contrast, Authentic Foods Garbanzo bean flour from the Gluten-Free Mall is $6.62 for a 1.25 lb bag, or $5.30/lb, plus shipping and handling.

Sorghum flour is called JOWER flour. Kanaiya brand is a a soft, well-ground, light beige flour. Avoid brands were the flour looks lavender. A 2 lb. bag from my local Indian store was $4, or $2/lb.

To contrast, Authentic Foods sorghum flour from the Gluten-Free Mall is $6.38 for a 1.25 lb bag, or $5.10/lb, plus shipping and handling.

Millet Flour is called BAJRI flour, and Jalpur brand makes a good grind. A 1 kilogram bag, (2.2 lbs.) from my local Indian store was $5, or $2.27/lb.

The Gluten-Free Mall doesn't list millet flour, but my local health food store charges $6.50 for a 2 lb bag, which works out to $3.25/lb.

Finding Little India in Your Neck of the Woods

Your best resource is still your local yellow pages book. If you live in a major city or a university town, you probably have an Indian grocery near you.

However, the internet has its tentacles in everything nowadays.

State-by-state listing
Searchable Listing
Online Indian Grocery Store -- Delivers to your front door

TK Kenyon
Author of CALLOUS: A Novel, a story about free will, neuroscience, fate, Schrodinger's Cat, and the End of Days.