By Claire Baker, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Director of Communications and New Media
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago, the one thing I missed most was pizza. I quickly learned that there is some really good gluten-free pizza out there, and some not-so-good. Before I couldn’t have it anymore, I don’t think I realized how much I depended on my pizza crusts to be a little chewy, a little bendy, a decent and tasty holder-of-ingredients. I wasn’t a big deep dish pizza fan back then, which now works in my favor, since most (all?) prefab and restaurant pizzas I’ve enjoyed in the last five years have definitely not been of the thick variety.
In addition to being thin, another thing I noticed was that gluten-free pizza crusts, especially those made with rice flour, tended to burn on the edges. My memory of a toasty regular crust is actually pretty pleasant. Burnt rice flour crust? Not so much. Okay… not at all. Which means that there is a very fine line between undercooked and ruined.
That’s the reason I was so pleased with Russo’s. At first I was skeptical, since the crust is primarily rice and tapioca flour and an invitation to burnt edges. But then I saw that the crust is actually pre-cooked and they offered very explicit directions about how to not burn the crust, all a bit different than other gluten-free pizza baking instructions. Preheat the oven to 450. Let the pizza thaw for exactly 10 minutes before baking. Cook it on a tray, not the rack. Check the pizza at the early end of the time range and keep an eye on it after that. No burned edges!
And what’s more, it’s bendy. And chewy. And a good holder of tasty ingredients. The sauce is slightly sweet. The crust is on par or better than other crusts. I fully enjoyed my Russo’s pizza and would get it again (and will follow the baking instructions to the letter.)
NFCA’s office manager, Mary Buhring, also tried out two of the pizza varieties with her son, who also has celiac disease. They were huge fans of the Mulberry variety (Italian sausage, beef, Canadian bacon and pepperoni) and the Chicken Rustica (grilled chicken, tomatoes spinach, feta and mozzarella cheeses). I am a vegetarian, so I stuck with the plain cheese variety. We both agreed that the crust had an amazing crunch to it. Mary and her son loved the combination of the flavors and thought both pizzas tasted like they were made in a high end pizzeria. Ironically, she mentioned that without knowing that these pizzas are from Chef Anthony Russo, owner of Russo’s NY Pizzeria.
You can learn more about the pizzas by heading to www.nypizzeria.com/retail.
I’ve written before about how much I enjoyed gluten-free Breton crackers. So, it should come as no surprise that I’m also a fan of their new Black Bean Crackers with Onion & Garlic and White Bean Crackers with Salt & Pepper.
The biggest plus about gluten-free Breton crackers is probably their size; they are much larger than any other gluten-free cracker I’ve tried, making them ideal for stacking with toppings. Even though they are larger in diameter, Breton crackers are still thin, light and airy, and so they won’t be overly filling like gluten-containing thick crackers can be.
Aside from the color of the crackers, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the Black Bean and the White Bean crackers (aside from their respective Garlic & Onion and Salt & Pepper flavors). I enjoyed both and would definitely recommend them. You can rest easy knowing that these crackers are safe for people with celiac disease too; they are certified gluten-free through the NFCA-endorsed Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP). That means the products go through a rigorous audit process before they’re awarded NFCA’s seal of approval. You can learn more about it at www.gf-cert.org.
Visit www.darefoods.com to learn more about the Breton crackers. Heads up – not every Breton product is gluten-free, so be sure to look for the gluten-free label before purchasing and eating.
By Rachel Rieger, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Patient Education Manager
After eating too many packets of run-of-the-mill gluten-free oatmeal, Bakery on Main’s Carrot Cake Instant Oatmeal is a welcome addition to my breakfast choices. As someone who would love nothing more than to eat a thick slab of cake for breakfast (but knows that’s just not the grown-up thing to do), this oatmeal is definitely the next best thing.
With small shreds of carrot, raisins, and hints of cinnamon, clove and ginger, it was hard to wait the whole minute and a half for this oatmeal to finish in the microwave. It’s perfect with some raw sugar on top and a little bit of milk (or traditional cream cheese frosting…no one’s judging!).
If you can tolerate gluten-free oats, this guilt-free hot breakfast cereal is certainly worth a trip to the grocery store!
By Rachel Rieger, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Patient Education Manager
What comes to mind when you think of comfort food? Old family recipes, exotic cuisine, sweet treats, or maybe the foods you gravitate toward when you don’t feel well? Everyone’s definition of a comfort food varies, but one thing is for sure – whatever your definition, the Lagasse Girls have included it in their new cookbook, “The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste and No Gluten!”
Each girl’s unique personality shines through in this beautiful compilation of recipes and advice. Bringing to the table years of combined experience – from living abroad, to cooking for large families, to small intimate gatherings with friends – these girls know how to make gluten-free fun! Their dad, the one and only Emeril Lagasse, has also thrown a few traditional Creole recipes into the mix (like Duck and Andouille Sausage Christmas Gumbo…yum!).
Whether you’re newly diagnosed with celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, or you’re an old pro just looking to spice things up a little (As Emeril would say, “BAM!”), this cookbook will keep your repertoire fresh. For those of you who can’t have dairy, you’ll also find a few gems in this cookbook (they’re marked “DF” for dairy-free). Even if you have other food allergies or sensitivities, the Lagasse girls invite you to get creative and tailor their recipes to your tastes and needs.
If you’re not enticed by the photo of their Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls, or the mouth-watering description of Chicken and Dumplings, you’ll certainly find a not-so-traditional recipe in this 350 page cookbook (like Moroccan Lamb Tagine) that screams, “Comfort food ahead!”
I can’t get enough of lentils. Lentil soup is one of my favorite dishes and I have been trying for years to mimic my mother’s recipe. My version isn’t quite the same as hers, but I’m getting close!
My point? Any lentil based food is right up my alley. So, it should come as no surprise that Enjoy Life’s Plentils are on my favorite gluten-free snacks list. Plentils were one of the first gluten-free snacks that I had the chance to try when I joined the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team about three years ago. I loved them then and I still love them now.
Enjoy Life sent some of the chips to the office to try out: Dill and Sour Cream, Light Sea Salt, Garlic Parmesan and Margherita Pizza. I hadn’t had the chance to try any flavor other than the Sea Salt in the past. Dill and Sour Cream is my favorite and the Margherita is tasty as well, with a somewhat spicy yet salty flavor. I didn’t have the chance to try the Garlic Parmesan – they disappeared from our office kitchen super-fast. Always a good sign of a tasty product!
The chips have a wavy rectangular shape and pack a nice crunch. NFCA Patient Education Manager, Rachel Rieger, compared the texture to that of Funyuns.* Not only are all Enjoy Life products gluten-free, but they are also free of the top 8 allergens as well: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. And, with 40% less fat than regular potato chips, you won’t feel guilty indulging in that crunchy craving.
Head to the Enjoy Life Foods website for more information on the Plentils, including where you can find them in stores.
*According to the Frito-Lay website, Funyuns don’t have gluten-containing ingredients, but are made on shared lines and the final products are not tested for gluten contamination. Other Frito-Lay products, however, are considered safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’). Learn more here.
We have all probably shared this experience at one point or another: You go to the store and find a new product that you’re excited to try because it looks oh-so-good on the box. You go home, try it out and are disappointed to find you don’t like the product at all. It can be frustrating, especially because of the increased cost of gluten-free packaged foods.
I am excited to tell you that the solution is here: Taste Guru. They’ll send you a box of various gluten-free, trial-sized products to sample before you commit to buying the full box or bag in store. That’s right – gluten-free products delivered right to your door.
The folks at Taste Guru sent a box to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) office for the team to try. It came perfectly packaged in a box, with the products neatly arranged inside with tissue paper on top and a sticker to hold the goods in place. The box included all kinds of goodies, including NoGii bars, Simply 7 Quinoa Chips and Lentil Chips, Oven Baked Organics Gluten-Free Pancake Mix and the cutest little bottle of Tabasco sauce that I have ever seen (seriously, it was only 3 inches tall and totally adorable). You can see samples of the boxes on Taste Guru’s website.
NFCA Office Manager Mary Buhring was so excited to see the package arrive. Her son, who has celiac disease, will be heading off to college in the fall. She plans to send him some packages so that he has some gluten-free snacks on standby should he find himself in a pinch.
Signing up for deliveries from Taste Guru is pretty simple. Just head to their site here and pick out which monthly commitment and price plan works for you and your budget. Then, sit back and wait for your goodies to arrive on your doorstep.
Do you already subscribe to Taste Guru? Tell us what you think in the comments!
I have had the pleasure of working with Karen Broussard of Gluten-Free Travel Site for almost three years. I’m always happy to share the resources from her site as they are super helpful when it comes to eating gluten-free away from home. From a comprehensive website to phone apps, Gluten-Free Travel Site does a great job of helping people navigate U.S. and international cities, restaurants, colleges and more with their thousands of user-submitted gluten-free dining reviews, searchable by location.
The latest to come from Gluten-Free Travel Site is the incredibly helpful Gluten-Free in London eBook. 10 chapters of detailed information in the eBook will guide you through the trip of a lifetime. The eBook starts out with an overview of what it’s like to eat gluten-free in London and then takes you through everything from choosing a hotel to where to find gluten-free options near popular tourist attractions.
My favorite part about the eBook is the conversational tone. Karen actually took a nine-day trip to London with her family and used her own preparation and experiences to write the book. The food photos included will make you want to hop on a plane right now.
No matter where you’re traveling, you’re likely to find helpful resources and reviews on www.GlutenFreeTravelSite.com. Teens interested in learning more about gluten-free-friendly colleges will also find invaluable information on the Gluten-Free Travel Site.
I always love when Van’s sends products to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). I really don’t think there has ever been a Van’s product that I didn’t enjoy. That holds true for their new gluten-free granola, which comes in Blueberry Walnut and Cranberry Almond varieties.
Both granola varieties are super chewy. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was delicious! The NFCA team ate the granola right from the bag – it was that good. Even though this granola is super chewy, it still works great in yogurt.
I am normally not a fan of blueberry products, but I actually enjoyed the Blueberry Walnut a lot – almost more than the Cranberry Almond. No matter which flavor you try, you are in for a treat with Van’s Gluten-Free Granola!
I’m always getting questions about eating gluten-free on a budget. If I had to rank it, I’d say it’s in the top 5 questions we frequently receive on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Facebook page. We have a great downloadable cheat sheet that I often share, but I now have another resource in my arsenal: Gluten-Free on a Budget by Chandice Probst and Tana Besendorfer. The authors are hosting a “blog tour” for their book and I’m excited to have Gluten-Free Hot Products as a stop on the tour!
Gluten-Free on a Budget is different than I expected it to be. When I heard the title, I just assumed it was a how-to book. Then, I actually started going through the content. It’s one of those books that practices what it preaches; it combines budget-savvy tactics and ideas with recipes that match Chandice and Tana’s approach to saving money. It goes beyond the clip coupons, shop-the-sales approach. They factor a lot into the equation, making the tips applicable for real-life scenarios.
So what does that mean? A great example stems from a chapter that leads with two quotes from Benjamin Franklin: “Time is money” and “Waste not, want not.” Basically, Chandice and Tana take a multifaceted approach to budget by factoring in spending time, using resources wisely and making use of everything. I was immediately struck by their approach because it allows for everyone to define what they’re willing to spend, not just in a monetary sense. That’s what I mean by real-life applications. Sure, the store 10 miles away might have the best sale, but if you have to idle in traffic, take a detour on your route home, and take an extra half hour out of your day, that’s not really saving anything, is it?
The recipes in the book might save money, but they certainly don’t skimp out on the flavor! It has everything from gluten-free chocolate chip muffins to beef stroganoff and there are plenty of kid-friendly options, too. I’m particularly a fan of the recipe photos; I always tend to favor cookbooks that have lots of photos to help you know if you’re on the right track. Plus, Chandice and Tana’s tag-team approach to narrating the tips and background stories is both entertaining and informative.
You can grab Gluten-Free on a Budget for the wallet-friendly price of $17.97 on Amazon. We’re also hosting a giveaway on behalf of Chandice and Tana! Simply fill out this form for your chance to win your very own copy.
I had the pleasure of working with cookbook author Laurie Sadowski a few months back. Along with Sarah Norris of Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free in Walt Disney World, Laurie was planning the Food Allergy & Celiac Convention in (you guessed it!) Walt Disney World. We hosted a Twitter chat with Sarah and Laurie, who we affectionately referred to as the Disney Gals at the NFCA office, and helped them get the word out about the event. Shameless plug for the Disney Gals – check them out. They plan an amazing event for families affected by food allergies and celiac disease.
Ok, back to the topic at hand! Laurie Sadowski’s The Allergy-Free Cook Makes Pies and Desserts. Laurie contacted me to see if I would be a part of her blog tour for the new cookbook. Knowing how valuable this cookbook can be, I said “Of course!” Also, I know how much you guys love giveaways. Keep on reading to learn how you can get your hands on a free copy of the cookbook and have a recipe of your choice shared by Laurie herself.
If you’re accommodating multiple food allergies or gluten-related disorders in your home, this book is for you. None of the recipes call for eggs, gluten, soy, nightshades, wheat or dairy (also making the recipes completely vegan). If other common allergens are included in a recipe, they’re called out above the recipe so you immediately know which recipes could be right for you and your family.
So how many recipes can be included in a vegan, allergy-free cookbook? 147 pages worth. Laurie has recipes for pies, cheesecakes, tarts, pudding, ice creams, and cobblers and crisps. I’m normally intimidated by allergy-free cookbooks since they sometimes include ingredients you can’t easily find on the grocery store shelves. The Allergy-Free Cook Makes Pies and Desserts has many easily-recognizable ingredients, like sea salt, xanthan gum, maple syrup, orange zest, and gluten-free flours (yes, there are way more ingredients than this in the cookbook, but you get the idea).
As part of Laurie’s blog tour, we’re giving away a copy of her cookbook. All you have to do is fill out this form to be entered for your chance to win. We’ll be randomly selecting the winner soon, so stay tuned!
Can’t wait for a copy of the cookbook to try out a recipe? Simply comment on this post with the recipe you’d most like from the cookbook. Laurie will then share the most popular recipe from the cookbook on her site. Pretty cool, right? Here are some recipes to choose from:
Pies and Cheesecakes, including:
- Peach pie with buttery double crust
- Pumpkin pie with pecan streusel
- Cherry pie with cacao nib pastry
- Old-fashioned raisin pie
- Peanut butter blondie pie with cocoa crust
- Deep dish apple crumb pie
- Fresh strawberry pie with almond crust
- Chocolate-hazelnut truffle pie
- Blueberries and cream pie
- Coconut cream cheesecake
Tarts of All Sizes, including:
- Chocolate-caramel-pecan tart
- Better than butter tarts
- Lemon-glazed carrot cake tart
- Shortbread lemon tarts with white chocolate drizzle
- Sticky molasses shoofly tarts
- Pistachio cherry ganache tart
- Blueberry toaster pastries
- Nectarine and red currant galette
- Flaky winter persimmon galette
Cobblers, Crisps and Other Fruite-Filled Desserts, including:
- Double chocolate-raspberry cobbler
- Strawberry-rhubarb snickerdoodle cobbler
- Maple-apple-pecan crisp
- Nova Scotian blueberry grunt
- Blackberry buckle
- Pear cardamom pandowdy
- Ginger plum crumble
- Stuffed apple dumplings with cider sauce
Puddings, Pudding Cakes, and Layered Desserts, including:
- Chocolate-pumpkin custards
- Lemon-blueberry pudding cake
- Fudgy mocha pudding cake
- Black Forest trifle
- Gingersnap-pumpkin icebox cake
Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts, including:
- Very vanilla ice cream
- Peanut butter-brownie bite ice cream
- Hot fudge sundaes in sugar cone bowls
- Magical caramel-swirled brownie sundaes
- Frozen Kahlua mud pie
- Strawberry ice cream sandwiches
- Mint chocolate swirl ice cream
Comment away, everybody! Looking forward to seeing which recipe you most want from Laurie!
You can learn more about Laurie, The Allergy-Free Cook Makes Pies and Desserts and her other cookbooks at www.TheAllergyFreeCook.com.