Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gluten Free Creations Bakery -- Phoenix, AZ -- Review

Recently, I had the occasion to sample the many foods at Gluten Free Creations Bakery in Phoenix, Arizona.

It was a quick trip to the Valley, so I hadn't had time to bake and pack an appropriate variety of traveling food. Thus, I needed GF food, fast.

I drove into the heart of Phoenix ( 2940-b E. Thomas Rd. · Phoenix, AZ 85016  ) to sample the wares.

The bakery's front room is small and crammed with glass-fronted freezers, which are in turn stacked with varieties of GF breads and baked goods. In addition, shelves are stocked with their own fresh dry mixes. 

 I picked up what seemed like "one of everything" from the weight of my bag but was actually a small sampling. As with everything, some are better than others. 

Buckwheat Bread -- Great for sandwiches. I ate the whole loaf in a couple of days.

Whole Grain Bread -- Dry and heavy like many GF baked goods. Crumbly for sandwiches. Fantastic for toast. The whole grains roast in the toaster and smell delicious.

Hamburger buns -- Dry and crumbly. Very white. Little taste. It's hard to do good white buns.

Cinnamon Bun -- Expensive for one bun. The outside ring was very bready and bland. Inside rings were nicely soaked with butter and cinnamon.

Chocolate Donuts with Icing -- Ah, donuts. I haven't had a donut for 8 years. These donuts more like a cake in texture than a donut, but it was the texture of a really good cake. I ate the whole 6-pack in a couple days.

To summarize, I can bake better fresh bread and some other baked goods, but this is a great bakery if you don't have the time. The baked goods and breads are substantially better, indeed orders of magnitude better, than any national brand you could find in the frozen case at the health food store.

They are also sensitive to other food allergies and label their goods if they are CF or egg-free, and a lot of them are.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Schar Fusilli Pasta is great!

TK Kenyon, the Celiac Maniac, is here to tell you that recently, Schar pasta began appearing in my health food stores and grocery stores. It was expensive, so I put off trying it.

Well, I tried it, and it's flipping awesome.

This is as close to "real" pasta as I've tasted in years. Other corn and rice pastas were gritty and/or slimy, but Schar came out absolutely wonderful: firm, toothsome, and actually tasted good!

It's made in Italy. Go figure: the Italians know how to make really good pasta.

While I still enjoy the soy-based Nutrition Kitchen's Green Soybean pasta that I posted about here, but Schar's Fusilli is a closer approximation of the real pasta thing. It was great with marinara, alfredo, and cold in pasta salad.

In addition, my local Walmart now has a Gluten-Free section, where I found the box of Schar Fusilli for $5 instead of the $8.50 that my local over-priced grocery store wanted. My local health food store wanted $7 for it.

I plan to try every Schar product out there.

Schar has a nicely informative website as well. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The End of the Danal Story

Read the Beginning of the Danal Story, about how to approach a restaurant to ask for GF food HERE.

So, I emailed the folks back, telling them what I could eat, including a long laundry list of eggs, nuts, dairy, butter, wine, potatoes, etc., and they emailed back a short note saying we could discuss the menu when we got there.


I almost didn't go, but I stuck a couple protein bars in my purse and figured that I could just drink a soda with my friends if the food was going to suck. So, I went.

When I got there, the hostess showed me the menu and said, "Pick out whatever you want, and we'll have the chef make it without wheat or flour."


I got the Salmon and vegetables with lemon/white wine sauce en papillote, which means that they prepare and bake everything in a parchment paper bag. This greatly reduces the chance of cross-contamination, so it's a really good idea for celiacs to consider this method of preparation whenever they're dining out.

It was yummy. I ate a whole lot. The potatoes and veggies underneath were scrumptious. The sauce was delectable.

If you're in downtown Manhattan, try Danal.

More importantly, here's the lesson I learned from this experience: don't just hit the restaurant with a huge list (like the one at of "Thou Shalt Not's." It's counterproductive and sends them into lockdown mode.

After telling them that you can't eat flour, whole wheat flour, bread, bread crumbs, panko, or soy sauce, tell them what you can eat.

I think I freaked them out with the huge list of all the variations of things I can't eat.

Tell them what's okay, including: eggs, dairy, butter, wine, spices (except asofoetida, also called hing, an Indian spice that is nearly always cut with wheat flour because it smells like cat pee or window cleaner,) herbs, garlic, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, most salad dressings especially vinaigrettes but no croutons or blue cheese, and all fresh oil in a clean pan including peanut, olive, and canola.

When they ask what you want, just avoid deep fried stuff and things with buns. Don't make it hard for them.

This one turned out fine. I ate a delicious meal with no glutenization symptoms afterward.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Approaching a restaurant to ask for GF food

I'm shy about having celiac disease. Asking for gluten-free food is restaurants is rough for me.

I don't like making a fuss. I detest being whiney or asking for special treatment.

Case in point: I'm attending a function this weekend at Danal, a country French restaurant in NYC. Ethnic food is usually more amenable to GF options, and Continental food is the hardest. I knew it was going to be tough. So, about 5 days in advance, I sent the following email through Danal's website:


I will be dining at Dinal on Saturday, Sept 19. I have a serious allergic reaction to wheat, gluten, white or whole wheat flour, bread, bread crumbs, pasta, panko, rye, most soy sauce, and barley. What may I eat at your fine establishment?

I admit, I stuck that blog address in there in an attempt to get special treatment.

Danal was very nice and emailed back the next morning:

Hi TK,

I have discussed your allergies with our chef and just wanted to verify, are you able to have oil?
we can prepare something along the lines of steamed fish or chicken with boiled vegetables.

Are you participating in our Rosh Hashanah dinner on the 19th, or a regular dinner?


So, they're being very nice, but I still feel petulant. It's tough, but we have to do it.

This is why I tend to either 1) cook at home, and why I've gotten pretty darn good at it, or 2) occasionally go to chain restaurants that have a standardized menu with GF options, like Outback or P.F. Chang's. When I can, I find small restaurants with GF sensitivities, like Risotteria in NYC, but those're hard to find. It takes research and time to search those out.

Here's where I'm really petulant: When I go to a restaurant, I want something good, not just steamed chicken and boiled vegetables. It's safe, and I have to go out this weekend to this particular restaurant, so I'll grin and bear it, but geez. I can make that at home in 20 minutes, even though I wouldn't make that at home because I'm a vegetarian. (At a restaurant, I eat whatever is safe, but at home I eat low on the environmental food chain, cruelty-free, and what won't cause a heart attack at age 50. Vegetarian food provides all these benefits.)

When I go out, I want to eat something that I can't make better at home. When I'm going to be paying $40-$60 for one meal, like I will this weekend, I want it to taste good. I'm glad I probably won't be getting glutenized, but I'm disheartened about their response to the point where I'm thinking of not going. I'd rather eat Chang's Spicy GF Chicken at P.F. Changs, or the Huge Vegetarian Market Bar Stir Fry with GF Teriyaki Sauce at Stir Crazy, or a whole pan of Betty Crocker's GF Brownies at home.

Anyway, that's my latest dilemma. I emailed them back, and when they email back, I'll post those. It's just mortifying.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Olive Garden's Gluten-Free Choices

Contrary to what you might expect, The Olive Garden has some GF options.

Most of the options are Zone-diet meat-and-vegetables type fare, though they claim that they have GF penne now, too.

I am somewhat dubious about this new leaf that Olive Garden has turned over. First of all, comments about Olive Garden at the Gluten-Free Registry have been less than stellar.

If you go, impress upon the server, manager, chef, and anyone else who will listen that everything must be cooked in fresh water. Usually, they just toss vegetables in the pasta water to cook. That's more than enough cross-contamination to cause a major glutenization.

Caveat emptor.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Michelle Obama To Break Ground on Garden at White House

I have been pleased to be part of the "Eat the View" Campaign, a petition asking the Obamas to plant a garden at the White House to showcase the many benefits of gardening: economic, nutritious, physical, emotional, and environmental. 

Michelle Obama is going to break ground at the White House on the South Lawn for the first formal vegetable garden in decades. 

Bravissimo, Michelle! 


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Glutenfreeda Foods Recalls GF Peanut Envy Frozen Cookie Dough -- Salmonella

Usually, we celiacs worry about gluten contamination in our GF products. In this case, the stupid Peanut Corp of America tried to poison us. 

Glutenfreeda Foods, Inc. Recalls Peanut Envy Frozen Cookie Dough Because of Possible Health Risk

Glutenfreeda Foods, Inc.   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- February 24, 2009 -- Glutenfreeda Foods, Inc. of Burlington, Washington is recalling all PEANUT ENVY FROZEN COOKIE DOUGH because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.  The product was manufactured using peanuts/peanut products recalled by Peanut Corporation of American because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.  Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

PEANUT ENVY was distributed throughout the United States and Canada by the following distributors: IN THE UNITED STATES: Nature’s Best, CA , UNFI (Atlanta, GA, Dayville, CT, Sarasota, FL, Greenwood, IN, Iowa City, IA, Chesterfield, NH, Auburn, WA, Rocklin, CA, Ridgefield, WA, New Oxford, PA, Aurora, CO), DPT Rocky Mountain, CO, Garden Spot Dist., PA.

IN CANADA: Ontario Natural Food Co-op, ON, SunOpta Grocery West, BC, SunOpta Central, ON.

PEANUT ENVY will be found in the freezer case in a 1 lb. (454 gram) ice cream style oval paper tub.  The package features a young woman holding a cookie on a gold background and under the label states, “Glutenfreeda’s REAL COOKIES Peanut Envy”.  UPC code is 5824600101 on product tubs, 5824600106 on all USA case boxes and (01)08582460010185 in Canada, all dates are affected.  This product has a one year shelf life.  Products with “Use By” of 2/24/09 and prior are included in the recall and should be removed from store freezer shelves.  Consumers who have purchased the product should check their freezer for the product and expiration date. 

No known illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this product/these products.  The recall was initiated after it was determined that the peanut product received was manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America.  Glutenfreeda Foods, Inc. has informed FDA of its actions and is fully cooperating with the Agency.

Consumers who have purchased Real Cookies “PEANUT ENVY” are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-360-755-1300, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4”00 pm (PST)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Purple Puree for Sneaky Celiac Chocolate Cookies -- A healthy GF and CF snack

This puree is used for Sneaky Celiac Chocolate Cookies. Both the puree and the Sneaky Cookies are adapted from The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) by Missy Chase Lapine.  

This recipe makes three cups of Purple Puree. Line small plastic storage containers with Press-N-Seal with the sticky side facing UP, then measure the puree in generous 1 cup measures into these lined containers, then freeze. When solidly frozen, remove the frozen aliquots and store in a zippered bag in the freezer. 

1 lb. chopped spinach, frozen
1 lb. blueberries, frozen or fresh

- Dump frozen spinach into large, microwave-safe cassarole dish. Cover with water. Microwave 10-12 minutes on high until a bit cooked. This removes the "spinachy" smell. 

- Meanwhile, rinse blueberries with warm water in a strainer until clean and thawed. Puree in a food processer briefly, 30 sec or so. 

- Strain spinach to remove water. Rinse with cool water. When spinach is cool enough to handle squeeze all the water from the spinach that you can, until it is quite dry, and add it to the pureed blueberries in the food processor. 

-Process until very smooth. If necessary, add water by the tablespoon until the mixture processes smoothly. You want this puree to be as thick as possible. I rarely need to add any water. 

This recipe makes around 3 cups of Purple Puree. Freeze in 1 cup aliquots as directed above. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama Garden

Grow gluten-free goodies for your friends and neighbors. Share the vegetable wealth. Give food to those who need it. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Awesome GF Bread

I must tease you: I have made a loaf of trule awesome gluten-free bread. It's so good. It's moist, not soggy; spongy, not crumbly. After three days, it's still really good and doesn't crumble. It even rises a little more during baking ("oven-spring.") 

The technique is the best part. I think it'll be applicable to other flour combinations, which means that you may be able to convert your favorite GF bread and make it even better. 


I am repeating the experiment and taking pictures for the tutorial/recipe. 

Good news: Awesome bread. Healthy, too. Lots of whole grains and fiber. 

Bad news: Takes at least seven hours. 

Good news: The longest step is a sponge that takes 4 hours to overnight. It's essentially untimed, which means that you can just let it sit on the counter all day or overnight in the fridge, up to 24 hours. It's not finicky, but it is a long incubation. Then, add a few more ingredients, mix, quick-rise, bake for an hour, and cool. 

More good news: Like all gluten-free breads, at least you don't have to knead it. 

Recipe coming soon. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nifty Must-Have BreadBags for Celiacs

Don't you just hate it how gluten-free bread goes stale and crumbly two days after you make it? 

You have to get these nifty Debbie Meyer Bread Bags. I've used the veggie storage bags for over a year, and yes, they do work. They work great. When I saw the Bread Bags, I bought them and stuffed GF bread into them that night. They're awesome. Seriously. If you buy or bake GF bread or bready items, get these bags. 

Just a safety note: if you have gluten-ful people in your family, use separate bags for GF and gluteny bread and keep some bags designated as GF. Sharpie markers work to label them. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Red Robin Locations Have GF French Fries

I love french fries. I really love great french fries. Unfortunately, most restaurants fry their french fries in the same oil as they fry gluten-crusted chicken sandwiches, onion rings, etc. The sediment from the crusts has more than enough gluten to provoke a gluten reaction, at least for me.

Burger King restaurants, in general, use a designated fryer for french fries and just french fries, and then they sprinkle the fries with nothin' but salt. The fries are so crisp that they have a pastry-like texture. Excellent.

Sometimes, however, you want an alternative, like a basket of nice steak fries.

Some Red Robin Restaurants, which are upscale burger joints, have seperate fryers for french fries versus breaded items. The Red Robin near my parents' house in Arizona, specifically the one in Surprise, AZ, on Bell Road just west of Grand Ave. (14015 W. Bell Rd. Surprise, AZ 85374,) have separated out their fryers. Ask your server.

Though there is no nutrition info on their website, my server was knowledgable about gluten contamination. I stuffed steak fries in my mouth before he finished his shpiel.

I stuffed myself stupid on steak fries last week in AZ. Love-love-loved them. They're big, potatoey, scrumptious slabs of carb, and they keep bringing you more ("bottomless basket") until you ask them to stop.

No glutenization reaction. Awesome.

The Celiac Maniac