Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy Celiac Awareness Month

It's May, and you know what that means....

It's Celiac Awareness Month, that time of the year when we try to convince the public that has somehow not gotten the message that the gluten-free diet is not a fad and is a serious issue for many of us.

So, you can start by pointing people to this 60-second video from Beyond Celiac:

http://www.beyondceliac.org/awarenessmonth/

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My new favorite pizza crust

I now have a new favorite pizza crust.

If you saw my Times-Union column a couple of weeks ago, I talked about making pizza at home and mentioned that Udi's is my favorite pre-made gluten-free crust.

That prompted an email from Victoria Wolf, who started a gluten-free artisan baking company in Denver called the Gluten Free Explorer that features pizza crusts. She just won the gluten-free division of the International Pizza Challenge at a pizza expo in Las Vegas last month and offered to send me some of her crusts to try out.

And you know what? She was right. Her crust was fantastic, probably the best pizza crust I've had in a long time (including gluten-free pizzas at restaurants).

Hand-tossed crust
Victoria's crusts come in two types, hand-tossed and deep dish. The hand-tossed crust made a great traditional pizza.

The deep dish crusts are a little different, coming in a rectangle. That crust had to be baked longer and as you can see, that resulted in the cheese and sauce baking longer and it came out looking more like a calzone than a pizza. But it tasted great.

Deep dish crust
The deep dish package mentions that it would be good for garlic or cheese bread, and I'm thinking that might be a better use for the crusts. But whatever you use them for, I'm sure it would be great to eat.

The instructions say to put the pizzas directly on the oven rack but, given that I try to avoid messes, I always cook pizzas on a pizza stone. The instructions do say that pizza stones or a baking sheet are suitable options. I think they worked great on my pizza stone.

Unfortunately, Gluten Free Explorer products are only available in stores in the Denver area but you can order them online (glutenfreeexplorer.com). Victoria also makes baguettes, hamburger buns and sandwich bread.

They are expensive, especially when you add in the shipping costs, but I sure did enjoy those pizzas.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chicken sausages from a celiac-friendly company

A Gainesville, Ga., company called First Fresh Foods sent me samples of its chicken sausage products this week to try out.

The company is touting its chicken sausages as a healthier alternative to traditional pork sausages, and for us it has the added benefit of being naturally gluten free. The company CEO's wife has celiac disease, so he is very much attuned to our issues.

The only drawback to this product is that it's not available in stores in the Jacksonville area. According to the company website, it is available at Publix stores in Atlanta and Charlotte. As the company grows, maybe we'll see it here.

Anyway, there are two varieties of the sausage. One is a breakfast sausage that First Fresh says contains 58 percent less fat than pork sausage. I really liked it. It has a good flavor and makes for a nice breakfast, I thought.

The other product is a mild Italian sausage that the company says contains 78 percent less fat than Italian pork sausage. This is where I wish there were decent gluten-free hot dog buns out there, because it would make for a good sausage dog. I put two sausage links on a hamburger bun, which made a decent sandwich. But these sausages would probably be better suited for people with cooking skills who could incorporate them into more interesting recipes.

But anyway, it's always good to find products from companies that are celiac sensitive. Hopefully First Fresh's market area will expand to Northeast Florida.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chick-fil-A testing gluten-free bun

I wrote about this a couple of months ago but Chick-fil-A wouldn't confirm it, but now it's official: Chick-fil-A is testing a gluten-free bun.

The gluten-free bun is being tested in select restaurants in Idaho, Seattle and Jackson, Miss., with no guarantee that it will be rolled out to other markets, Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Leigh Jackson said by email.

But not in Jacksonville
"The bun is being tested in response to customer inquiries about gluten-free menu options," she said.

Chick-fil-A has several gluten-free options on the menu at all of its restaurants, including grilled chicken nuggets and waffle fries. The grilled chicken patties are also gluten free, giving the opportunity of a regular sandwich with a gluten-free bun.

However, Jackson cautioned that the kitchens are not gluten-free environments, meaning there is a risk of cross-contamination. Because of that, the gluten-free buns are individually packaged and sealed by the supplier before they arrive at Chick-fil-A restaurants.

You can get more information on Chick-fil-A's gluten free options at all restaurants here: www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Allergen-Gluten-Diabetic.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. I've been disappointed by tests at other restaurant chains that didn't work out, such as gluten-free rolls at Subway and gluten-free doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts. I'm hoping for better results here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My pizza crust experiment

My Times-Union column this morning details my efforts to make a pizza using Glutino's pizza crust mix.

I'm not going to rehash the laborious process here but I did want to share some photos of the process.

I made one thick crust and one thin crust. Here is the thick crust before I put it in the oven:










And here is the thin crust:







And here are the finished products:


Thick crust

Thin crust

One more note. I mentioned that I like using Udi's pre-made crusts to make my own pizza. I received a note from a reader this morning saying she uses Udi's crusts as bread for sandwiches, cutting the crust into four pieces. That sounds like an interesting idea that would work pretty well.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A gluten-free Passover e-book

With the Passover holiday coming up, kosher chef Jamie Geller, in partnership with Winn-Dixie, has published an e-book on gluten-free recipes for Passover and other occasions.

You can download the e-book here:

Winn-Dixie Passover eBook

Geller is the founder of Joy of Kosher magazine. You can find more information about her and the magazine here:

www.joyofkosher.com

Winn-Dixie also has info on Geller on its website:

www.winndixie.com/shopping/departments/kosher/passover


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Still seeking a good hot dog bun...

Since we can't always get a gluten-free hot dog at the ballpark, I've been celebrating the opening of every baseball season by having hot dogs at home while I watch on TV.

Most hot dogs themselves are naturally gluten free but the problem continues to be the bun. There has been tremendous improvement in gluten-free hamburger buns, in my opinion, but for some reason the technology for gluten-free hot dog buns continues to elude us. They are generally awful.

I bought a package of Udi's buns, which were the only hot dog buns I could find in local stores this year. I checked Publix and Winn-Dixie, which both had them, and Walmart and Target, which didn't.

Gluten-free hot dog buns just seem too big and somewhat stale, which makes them overwhelm the actual hot dog meat. I microwaved these buns for about 15 seconds to soften them up, and it did seem to improve them a bit. But I still didn't like them.

But, I was determined to have hot dogs on Opening Day, and I did. Play ball!