Gluten free D.C., Pt. 4

There is so much amazing gluten free ground to cover in D.C…. I didn’t scratch the surface of what they have to offer but I still managed to find some great eats!

There are distinctly areas of town for dining gluten free that provide more than chain type express joints, Alexandria proved to be one of those for us. We popped by on our way out of town and found these gems:

At Del Ray Pizzeria @delraypizzeria  they offer all of their pizza’s gluten free at the 10″ price. The crust is made locally by The Happy Tart. They were reasonably priced, great service and in a really cute eclectic part of town with free street parking. Bonus!

Like any reasonable family, we cruised over to Alexandria Cupcakes #alexandriacupcakes afterward to pick up dessert. They offered vanilla and chocolate gluten free cupcakes in a dedicated container, separate from the other cupcakes and they also offered a gluten free, vegan cupcake that was raspberry filled for my son. The cupcakes were made of coconut flour, they were moist and the icing was perfect (not too sweet).


What goes better with a cupcake than an iced matcha? A couple doors down from the cupcakes I found Killer ESP (Espresso, Sorbet and Pie). @killeresp   Not only did they have matcha lattes but I scored a raspberry turnover that was full of flavor, held together while I ate it and, oh, did I mention it too was gluten free? Today was a good day. 

On my way to the car I stopped in Misha’s Coffee House. @mishascoffeehouse  I love the inside of coffee houses, stores and bistros. There is always such a relaxed, inviting atmosphere and it’s always on my agenda to see if they have anything  gluten free. 


They had this rack of safely wrapped, individual portions of @katebakesbars treats which are not only gluten free but vegan! (I hear they have paleo versions too ūüėČ

I wish I could spend a week in Alexandria alone. Love the town. Love the eats! 

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Gluten free Gooey Delight

This is something that I created by accident. I admit it. Those things happen and sometimes they taste amazing!

Mix all ingredients below in bowl:

1 bag Brookes Naturals Brownie mix

2 egg whites (instead of the 3 eggs on the bag)

1 C applesauce (instead of the three eggs on the bag)

3/4C melted coconut oil (instead of butter on the bag)

Spray baking dish with coconut oil, add mixture above and bake for 20 minutes. Line top of brownies with square campfire marshmallows, end to end and bake for 4 minutes.

Pull out of oven and cool on counter (so marshmallows reduce in fluffiness). This will be a liquid consistency that is scoopable into a bowl. Great with ice cream!

To transport, cover with wax paper before a lid. Enjoy!

Gluten free treat bars

You know I love easy recipes!

Here’s one of my favorites for celiacs and non-Celiacs will love them too.

1 16 oz container Marshmallow fluff (I prefer this brand as it’s food coloring free)

1.5C Coconut oil

10oz (half a family size box) Cheerios (your choice of flavor) I use the original flavor because the fluff is so sweet and it’s a nice contrast.

Add-ins welcome: chocolate chips, sprinkles, nuts mini marshmallows, etc

Line baking dish with wax paper and spray with coconut oil (Critical if you want them to come out of the pan after cooling). 

Heat coconut oil over medium heat in large stock pot. When melted, add entire container of marshmallow fluff and stir continuously until entire container is warm (about 3 minutes) then add cheerios and stir until all cereal is coated. Immediately transfer onto the lined baking dish. 

If you use add-ins, sprinkle then on top now. Mini marshmallows can be placed in holes to help them melt slightly and stick in the texture.

For bars you need to chill for about 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator. Or you can consume warm by scooping with a spoon.


Cheerio!

Bubbles. Bubbles. Pop, please.

Normally, bubbles are fun, relaxing and even clean! However, spewing out of the dishwasher is not where I want to see them.

This morning my daughter did the dishes for me and added dawn instead of cascade. Suddenly, my dishwasher sounded like it had an upset stomach.

Upon asking for help from friends and googling, I found several solutions including salt, vinegar and olive oil. It wasn’t working but I felt like I should throw in a couple of eggs, a dash of vanilla and a cup of gf baking mix just to round things out. 

Another solution said to scoop out the bubbles, wipe things down and start again. One even said to wait a day! I have never known a bubbling agent to deactivate by sitting. Feeling frustrated, I tried one more suggestion and filled the dispenser on both sides with fabric softener and prayed. 

Within three minutes of turning on the rinse cycle the bubbles disappeared and the washer started draining again. What a relief! 

Gluten Free Trader Joes

The staple gluten free items available at Trader Joe’s are endless and cost effective. If you are lucky enough to have access to one near your home or while traveling, you will find consistency in their offerings. 

While on our current trip to Chicago, I was able to score a room at the Homewood suites. We like staying here because one room has a living area with a fold out sofa for the kids as well as a refrigerator, stove and microwave. 

This allows us to pop into Trader Joe’s, pick up some favorites and be prepared for back up meals.

My typical buy list (at home) consists of:

Gluten free rolled oats

Gluten free pretzels

Joe Joe’s Gluten free cookies

BBQ sauce

Gluten free chicken breast nuggets (frozen)

Gluten free multi grain bread

Gluten free cornbread mix

Gluten free mini chicken tacos (frozen)

Broccoli and kale slaw (bag mix)

Organic creamy tomato soup

Taco seasoning mix!!! (I use it for chili too)

Fruit bars (variety)

Individual bags kettle corn

On the road, these help us out:


Add to it their gorgeous and affordable flowers, fresh fruit a plenty and variety of vegetables (chopped, frozen and in fresh picked form) and you have more than enough variety for a cost effective, allergy friendly diet. 

In the frozen veggie section you can also find chopped cauliflower, shelled edamame, shredded carrots, organic corn and more!

Stop in. Grab a list of gluten free options from the desk and shop a plenty!

Gluten free meals, fast

I’m convinced that if my life were in TV it would be a timed cooking show. You know… here’s eight random ingredients, two hungry kids and thirty minutes until bedtime… now go!

That’s why it’s always a good idea for me to have gluten free corn dogs, chicken nuggets and frozen burgers on hand.

I’d love to say that I could think of something palatable to make out of avocado, apples, frozen hamburger meat, eggs and almond milk. Chances are pretty good, even if I were to whip it up, I would receive a big, fat “eww gross” from my mini audience.

I’ve vowed to try and take some of my kids favorite restaurant meals and replicate them in house. This will save time, money and the entertainment factor of our traveling road show, at bedtime.

Considering my narrow window for meal consumption, the prep time needs to be virtually non-existent. That’s why most of my meals can be completed in thirty minutes.

A couple of things I avoid when cooking are large prep times and mixing blends of flours. No thank you. I will be utilizing mixes whenever possible.

Check out some of my easy recipes for families on the go!

A hint… my favorite appliance is the
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The Gluten Free Pizza debacle

Being lied to is not on the top of my Christmas list. I understand the concept of proprietary information and I appreciate restaurants being cutting edge but come on, people! Do not lie to me.

When it comes to how restaurant staff answer a question about ingredients, products, prep area, contamination and the like, I expect them to take me seriously. Very seriously.

I went into Giordanos, Indianapolis location for lunch. It was the first time since the nationally recognized, Chicago pizza chain moved in and having popped in once while in chi-town, I figured it would be a pleasant experience. 

I called them to verify the brand of pizza crust to ensure it was both gluten and rice free. On the phone I was told they make it there, yet they threw away the packaging and I’d have to call Chicago if I wanted any further info. 

Uh, wait… what? If you make it there, why would there be packaging to throw away? Ok. So, I called Chicago. They too had, surprisingly, thrown away the packaging and were unable to verify the brand of crust but alas, somehow they managed to have all the ingredients available. Hmmm…

Fortunately, she was able to give me the ingredients and indeed, it was rice free as well. Oh, and side note, they are pre-made frozen crusts. I guess the other girl wasn’t there on that training day.

I was also informed they have dedicated pans for gluten free cooking but use the same prep space as their flour filled, dough flinging step brother. Great.

The kids and I emerged unscathed from this one but I have to admit, I’d love a tour and a chat with someone transparent enough to share how the process, product and prep is really handled for future visits and the health of other celiacs. 

May the sauce be with you.

Kale chips

Kale is one of the more polarizing things in life. Like cold weather, lipstick and exercise, you either love it or hate it.

Being in the healthier phase of my life, sans kool aid and little Debbie cakes, I have turned to all things green. Matcha, green juice, celery, zucchini, avocados and kale seem to be among the foods that I actually prefer to munch on.

I haven’t found a prepackaged kale chip that suits me. They seem to be coated or soggy. In search of something enjoyable, I started experimenting.

The recipe below can vary based upon what you sprinkle on top but I found to be enjoyable.

2 bunches fresh organic kale, washed, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces.

Dry with a paper towel

Place kale on top of wax paper (or parchment) coated with spray oil, then spray kale, with preferred oil. I like avocado or coconut spray. 

Sprinkle seasoning of choice on top. My favorites are either Wild Tree rancher steak rub, garlic blend or onion blend. 

Sprinkle what makes you enjoy it most. Dry seasonings work best so the cook time remains consistent.

Bake at 350 for ten minutes. The kale will shrink and harden but not burn. You can cool on the cookie sheet when done. 

Best when consumed immediately. Otherwise, poke a whole in a ziplock so it can breath. If housed in a sealed storage bag it starts to lose crispness. 

Kale on.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Drops

Getting my kids to eat something nutritious in the morning is more of a challenge every day. Most breakfast foods are not naturally allergy friendly. We have four of the top eight allergens in our family (and three more that are less common, although just as difficult to work around).

This recipe is super simple and I managed to make it in 25 minutes on a school morning.

6 ripe bananas – peeled and mashed
1T Cinnamon
3C Freedom Foods Gluten Free instant Oatmeal with berries (market district)
1C Raisins

I mashed it all together with my mix and chop for a chunky texture and scooped into my mini muffin tin with a small scoop. Fast, easy and contains the mess.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and let cool.
The bananas are very hot inside, so don’t do what I did and eat within the first 5 minutes.

The oatmeal in this mix is super refined and cooks quickly. These have a fantastic hearty texture and are secretly healthy for them. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Hidden Gluten.

Are you new to the diet, confused and overwhelmed?

Maybe you have been on it awhile and you don’t understand why you are still getting sick?

Here are a few simple ways to keep an eye out for hidden gluten:

#1.     Oatmeal

It must say gluten free. It has to do with how it’s grown. Basically, farmers rotate crops to keep the ground conditioned for optimum growth. This means that one year of wheat, another year of oats, results in wheat being harvested in oats. Many tests have been run on leading oat brands and determined that the contamination was so high you might as well be eating a bowl of wheat bran. My favorite is Trader Joe’s gluten free oats. They are the best value I have found on the market.

#2.     Imitation crab meat

Not only is it imitation, making it essentially equal to the plastic stuff used in the display cases, but it’s full of food dyes. Oh, and did I mention that it’s created from wheat? Check the label. You will see what I mean. Either it’s real crab or it’s not safe.

#3.     Vanilla extract

I have watched the food network and according to Alton brown and his infinite food wisdom, I have learned that vanilla is made from a vanilla bean being placed in a jar with vodka and distilled. If the vodka has gluten in it, which most do, you have a bottle of gluten filled vanilla extract. If the bottle doesn’t specify gluten free, assume it’s not. I use Kirkland brand. It is labeled gluten free and a great value.

#4.     Soy Sauce

I know, you thought it was made from soy,¬†right? Wrong. It’s actually made from wheat. Unless you buy La Choy, Tamari based (gluten free) soy or Liquid aminos. Bragg’s aminos are in my fridge now. They taste amazing and I love the quality of the companies products.

#5.     Licorice Candy

Anyone think that candy must be safe? Well, actually, flour is added in the baking process to most recipes, although the root itself is a legume. Put down the Twizzlers and watch for the “healthy alternatives” to main stream candy as well. The process is the same. The only brand I have found to be free from gluten is from Lovey Candy Co.

 

#6.     Cheese

Don’t get excited, it’s not all cheese by any means. Check the package on shredded brands for flour that is used (as a non caking agent). Also, some bleu cheese may be produced with the aid of flour. I’m not a fan of bleu cheese so this hasn’t been an issue for me.

#7.     Packaged meats

Lunch meat, hot dogs, sausages, hams and turkeys can be infused with gluten containing substances (usually present in the broths they are made in). The safest meats will label gluten free on the package. Boars head is my personal favorite.

#8.     Condiments

BBQ sauce, teriyaki, ¬†salad dressings, asian sauces, ¬†gravy, dips… you name it. I have encountered wheat, rye and barley in all of the above. Be especially careful in restaurants as they tend to buy the least expensive options, due to the quantity they go through. It may be boring but much safer to have any sauce left off.

#9.     Cereal

Just because it is a¬†“corn” “rice”, or “potato” cereal does not mean that it doesn’t contain multi grains. There are a few brands, like Chex that carry gluten free options but always double check the label. And remember that malt is made from Barley, so if your cereal has rice and malt, it’s NOT gluten free.

#10.     Soups

This is one of the most agonizing for me. I love a good bowl of hot soup in the winter and cans, boxes, catering and restaurants love to thicken their soups with flour. Anyone ever heard of corn starch? Seriously. It’s rare that I can have a soup. A few safe ones I have found are Chili’s baked potato, Jason’s deli’s veggie chili and tomato and Zoup has several daily choices that are clearly labeled with gluten free tags.

Unfortunately, there are loads of places that gluten lurks, including “Modified Food Starch” because it can be made from corn or wheat. Keep stead fast, be diligent. It is worth the effort to rid your body of the pollutants and help you feel better.

-Your Gluten Free Sister.