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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gluten Free Candy

Halloween is here!  You may be giving out candy or walking door to door with you little ones, but do you know what candy is safe to eat?  Here is a quick run-down of gluten-free candy by a few popular manufacturers:

For all of you chocolate fans out there you’ll be happy to view Hershey’s gluten free candy list and Nestle’s gluten-free chocolate candy that provides a quick look at what they offer.  Mars follows strict food labeling rules but still request that consumers read the ingredient list to be certain it is safe.

Just Born candy is a perfect option for those that aren’t looking for a chocolate fix.  Haribo lists their gluten-free products like their signature gummy bears, but they also detail their non gluten-free candy like licorice.  Starburst and Starburst jelly beans, as well as Skittles are great options for a nice non-chocolate treat too.

The list can go on, but I want to post this before the holiday is completely over.  I will continue to update this as well as my new page ‘Quick Gluten-Free References’, which lists out by manufacturer the products that are gluten-free and where you can find the information.  I like to think of this page as my ongoing project as the research will never stop!!

Gluten-Free Crock Pot Beef Stew

A wise person once told me ‘You can’t mess up a classic’.  So while going through the Italian version and the Asian version of stews, I decided on a slow cooker beef stew from All Recipes, and altered it to be gluten-free.  I love cooking big meals on a lazy Sunday afternoon so that you have leftovers for the week, and they always taste better the next day!

Gluten-Free Crock Pot Beef Stew

*This recipe is for 12 servings

Directions:

  1. To sear in the flavor I coated each cube of beef with flour (this is in addition to your 1/2 cup flour) and pan fried it for 30 seconds
  2. Once beef has been seared put into crock pot
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper and mix with meat
  4. Next, chop up your onions, potatoes, carrots and celery and add to crock pot
  5. Add in remaining ingredients and stir well
  6. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on HIGH
  7. Serve with bread (I used Schar Ciabatta rolls)
  8. YUM!!

Italian Anyone?

Italian Anyone?

I LOVE pasta.  As an Italian it would be an oxymoron to state otherwise. Unfortunately, a gluten-free diet was not so kind to my affinity for baked ziti, lasagna or stuffed shells. Initially my options were limited, and it was hard at first to find gluten-free substitutes.  This was upsetting as I grew up breathing in the scent of gravy cooking on the stove in the late morning, with garlic and basil floating in the air. Freshly grated locatelli cheese covered the countertop, and meatballs sizzled in the oven awaiting their destiny to be married to red gravy. A thing of the past? Nope. Take a look at the picture to the left – looks just like homemade!

Gluten-free living continues to become easier thanks to product advancements. The evolution of non-mushy gluten-free noodles has revived my enthusiasm for pasta and meatballs, and as a busy Celiac (aren’t we all?) I can even appreciate sauce-in-a-jar like Classico.  But what about involved dishes – will I be able to have a satisfying dinner of say manicotti again? I don’t always have time to peruse the supermarket aisles to learn about new products that are being introduced. I was in luck when I discovered Caesar’s Pasta at the Appetite For Awareness event, and I was fortunate enough to sample their gluten-free chicken lasagna.  Thus a new brand has entered my life.

Built on an Italian tradition of providing quality ingredients and flavor, Caesar’s Pasta has taken a significant leap to accommodate its Celiac customer.  Their products are not only delicious and reasonably priced, but their gluten-free product line is VAST.  Lasagna – cheese, veggi or chicken?  Gnocchi – potato or spinach?  Cannelloni or stuffed shells?  Each dish is a perfect size for one, and while it’s heating up the aroma penetrates the air bringing back fond Sunday dinner memories of Italian seasonings and hearty cheeses.  It’s exciting to learn about progressive food manufacturers, like Caesar’s Pasta, who take into account the dietary restrictions of its customers, and are able to deliver an excellent product.   The next time I have the “What’s for dinner?” question lingering I think I’ll go with the spinach gnocchi…

The Tomato Trot Tradition Begins

The Tomato Trot Tradition Begins

Slightly overcast skies and cooler weather would typically deter people from enjoying a perfect afternoon.  Not the participants of the Tomato Trot!  Runners and runners alike had ideal conditions for the fun charity race sponsored by the Couch Tomato Cafe & Tomato Bistro, and roughly 200 people came out to run for the LUNGevity Foundation.  A well-planned event, there were tents setup for the afternoon pre-registration, which was accompanied by a local band that played throughout the afternoon generating positive energy.

Co-owner Craig Mosmen happily stated:

“All in all, I was more than pleased with every aspect [of the event].  Next year we hope to have even more runners, and I think we can expect a good number of people that ran this time around to come back next fall.”

If the 4-mile trek seemed daunting don’t despair!  The course may be changed to a 5k, which is a familiar distance to many.  Start training now so you can be the next winner of free pizza.  Don’t forget – they have awesome gluten-free pizza which earned the ‘Gluten-free Resource Education Awareness Training’ seal of approval 🙂

Overall, the first annual Tomato Trot was a success thanks to the efforts of the Couch Tomato and staff.  Many thanks to the coordinators of Manayunk’s “Fools Run”, Amy and Mike Connolly, who provided great guidance to make this happen.

Congratulations to everyone that participated!  Check out the race details here.

NFCA Appetite for Awareness

On September 23rd the NFCA held their annual Appetite for Awareness food show.  A busy event, I would coin it a food frenzy, as people swarmed tables to try samples of dishes they didn’t think possible.  Restaurants, caterers and businesses promoted new gluten-free options, and provided hearty samples so the flavors could truly be enjoyed.

What starts out as a sample here and a sample there quickly turns into an undeniable fullness.  You are immersed into a wonderful world were you can’t possible pass up a chocolate brownie, a soft pretzel or a crab cake (yes – real crab not the gluten-laden artificial kind!).  Your eyes run wild while trying to process all the food you can eat without questioning the ingredients or food preparation.  Each business had such an artistic and flavorful fusion that it was difficult to like just one, and the list of restaurants that attended now offers anyone with a gluten-free restriction a fabulous dining experience.

Eventually I sampled my way through the different restaurants and caterers and found my way to the local shops and companies.  I quickly noted a few stand-out companies and was able to talk briefly with the owners directly.  My first find was Caesars Pasta and they were promoting new line extensions of their already convenient and authentic Italian gluten-free pasta dishes.  The staff of Caesars Pasta couldn’t keep their product on the table long enough, and were constantly cooking samples for a ready-to-eat experience.  I was able to grab a chicken lasagna dish that was bursting with Italian seasonings, cheese and sturdy noodles.  A great option for when you don’t have the time to cook dinner or even an easy lunch option for the office.

Nothing pairs better with meat and cheese, or any dinner, than a nice cold beer.  Yes, I tried multiple types of beer:)  New Planet Beer and Redbridge were supplying the masses with whole portions and different flavors.  New Planet offered a Raspberry Ale, a Tred Lightly Ale and an Off Grid Pale Ale for those that wanted a brew to wash down the dinner samples.  It was the first time I was able to try a flavored beer, and the raspberry ale had the distinguishable taste of raspberries and a slight beer after taste that wasn’t too hoppy.  Many thanks to New Planet Beer because I can happily say I know the difference between a hoppy and not-so-hoppy beer.  Of course you had to be 21 for legal purposes.

Following dinner it’s common to eye up desserts.  My journey led me to The Little Bakery that boasts decadent gluten-free desserts, and they live up to their ‘Best of Philly’ honor.  Their raspberry iced chocolate brownie was rich, smooth and satisfying.  Others around me were raving about the other brownies and lemon bars that were offered too.  The owner, John Rorer, mentioned they will be expanding their product to supply the Rittenhouse Market on Spruce Street.

Making my way through the lines of people I found another crowd-pleaser.  Tonya’s pretzels won the hearts of many Philadelphia residents as they could have the pleasure of biting into a soft, warm pretzel that was as close to the original that a celiac could get to.  You even had the option of a salt or cinnamon and sugar-coating.  Of course I opted for the cinnamon sugar, and without a doubt it exceeded any expectations.  There were many people hopping back in line for another round!

To accompany the love for bread, Sweet Note Bakery has successfully crafted a gluten-free bagel that is worth eating.  The bread had the consistency of a regular bagel and it comes in multiple variations.  I sampled an everything bagel which I never thought would be possible again.  Not only was the taste and texture evident, but so was this size.  For once a gluten-free product was a portion that would fill you up, and not be half the size of a gluten version.  You would only need one for breakfast!

By the time you make your way to each table and learn about new products coming out or restaurants that are now offering a gluten-free menu, you are bursting.  Your stomach is so full yet you want to grab another cupcake, and your mind is busy making mental notes of the next place to take the family.  There is a ton of information to be learned and it is wonderful to have these events taking place.  I can only anticipate the next one!