Friday, August 30, 2013

Is Trader Joe's a good gluten-free spot?

It seems like a lot of people are getting excited about the prospect of Trader Joe's opening in Jacksonville Beach. You would think that a specialty grocer like this would have a good selection of gluten-free products.

But based on my limited experience, I'm skeptical.

In case you missed it, the Times-Union today has a front page story about Trader Joe's opening a store this fall at the Beach. I should point out that the story is highly speculative and while it seems likely, the store is not yet a certainty.

My only experience with Trader Joe's has been in Chicago. There is a Trader Joe's near the hotel I often stay at in Chicago. On my two most recent trips there, I've visited the store hoping, at the very least, to find something gluten free I could eat for a quick breakfast.

However, I was very disappointed at the gluten-free selections. I actually found a better selection of gluten-free options at a nearby Jewel-Osco store, which is a typical neighborhood supermarket.

Because of that, my initial reaction to Trader Joe's is, so what?

However, I coincidentally found a blog post yesterday about a Trader Joe's brand gluten-free pizza. This sounded very enticing.

So, I'll reserve judgment until the store actually opens. If it it actually opens.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gluten-free pretzel bun recipe

Now I would never try to make this myself, but Glutino sent me a recipe for gluten-free pretzel buns. The company even offered to send me a free box of its all-purpose mix to try and cook this myself, but I didn't even want to attempt it.

However, as a public service, I offer their recipe to anyone who wants to try this themselves.

1 ½ cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 (7 gram) packet or 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling
In the microwave, heat the milk and butter to 110 degrees F. Set aside.  
Combine the flour mix, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and blend. 
Add the milk and butter mixture and the eggs and yolk to the flour blend.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. 
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Coat each with PAM vegetable spray. (This prevents the baked rolls from sticking to the paper.)  Turn the dough out onto the parchment and knead until smooth.  Divide into 12 equal pieces.  Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side.
Using a slotted spatula, remove the rolls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Use a sharp knife to cut an “X” shape in the top of each roll.  
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, turning pans halfway through baking. Serve warm. 
Reheat in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gluten-free pancakes coming to Jacksonville?

A chain of breakfast restaurants called Another Broken Egg Cafe announced plans last week to expand to Jacksonville next year, and I'm intrigued.

That's because its menu includes a "gluten free friendly jumbo pancake." I don't know of any other restaurant in the Jacksonville area that offers gluten-free pancakes.

The menu is a little cryptic, using the term "gluten free friendly." The menu does say that the kitchen is not a "100% friendly gluten-free facility."

I'll wait until they actually get close to opening a local restaurant before investigating this. But for now, just call me intrigued.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Glutino crackers very tasty

Glutino sent me samples of a couple of new products last week: Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers and Lemon Wafers cookies.

I thought the crackers had a very good flavor. Glutino suggests using them with dips or spreads, but I found them very tasty on their own.

I would rate the wafers as just okay. They tasted basically the same as you would expect from a lemon wafer, which is not something I would normally eat. So I guess that's why I didn't get very excited about them.

However, I would definitely buy the crackers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Deal alert: Rudi's bread

I feel a need to pass along this deal I just found at Publix: buy one, get one free on Rudi's gluten-free bread.

It's selling for $4.39, which means that each loaf in the BOGO deal is $2.20. That almost makes it reasonable.

I generally try to stock up when I find deals like this, which means my freezer will be full of bread (it's still filled with Canyon Bakehouse buns after they were on sale a couple of months ago at Native Sun). With the high cost of gluten-free food, it's all we can do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Your Pie now open in Tapestry Park

More good pizza news. The second Jacksonville-area Your Pie restaurant is now open in Tapestry Park. I visited it today and had a great experience.

Your Pie is a restaurant chain in which the employees build your pizza in front of you before placing it in the oven. But it's of particular interest because it's a very gluten-free friendly restaurant. It has a wide variety of gluten-free pizza options (the menu indicates which ingredients and sauces have gluten in them) and a program to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible.

I had already visited the first local Your Pie which opened in the spring in Fleming Island, where the owners showed me how they put together gluten-free pizzas separately in the kitchen so that they aren't contaminated with gluten from the other pizzas being assembled out front. But this was my first time going in as a regular customer, so I was interested to see how they responded to my gluten-free order.

Basically, they responded perfectly. The guy who was making all the other pizzas said the manager would assemble my pizza in the kitchen, away from all the other pies.

Oh, and I should also add that my barbecue chicken pizza was delicious.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gluten-free pizza at The Loop

We have another option for gluten-free pizza. The Loop Pizza Grill now has a gluten-free crust available at all nine of its Jacksonville area locations.

I actually discovered this in the Loop ad last week in Mint Magazine, and checked with the company to make sure it was available at all locations. I was told the restaurants also have gluten-free buns available now at all locations for burgers and other sandwiches.

Anyway, I wanted to try the pizza, so I visited the Neptune Beach restaurant. There was nothing on the menu to indicate the gluten-free pizza was available but it is there, with a 10-inch crust. Without being able to check all the toppings to see if they were gluten free, I played it safe and ordered a pepperoni pizza.

There is a $2.50 surcharge for the gluten-free crust, which isn't really a surprise. We're all used to paying more for gluten free.

The good news is, I really liked the pizza. I thought it had kind of a New York-pizza taste to it, meaning it was very oily. I know that won't appeal to some people, but I liked it.

Yes, I'm sure I'll be eating there again.

In other pizza news, Jennifer Gornto of the glutenfreejacksonville blog says that the second Your Pie restaurant in the Jacksonville area is opening this week in Tapestry Park. Your Pie, which has a large variety of gluten-free pizza options, opened its first area restaurant in the spring in Fleming Island.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jaguars' gluten-free options at EverBank Field

I'll be writing about the gluten-free options at Jacksonville Jaguars games in my Florida Times-Union column this Thursday. But in the meantime, here's the list of gluten-free concessions that will be available at EverBank Field this year, as provided by the Jaguars:

In the clubs, the main gluten free locations will be a chef’s table in the East and West Upper Clubs, which will carry these items:
Hot Dog, Nachos, BBQ Pop Chips, Caramel & Cheddar Popcorn, Tapaz 2 Go Crackers and Hummus, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar, Udi's Cookies, Bottled Gluten Free Beer - Omissions, Bard's, Angry Orchard, and McKenzie's Cider (Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry).

The snacks will also be available in regular seating areas.

 Gluten Free Bottled Beer will be available throughout the following areas:

Bud Zone bars, Lower Club Center Bars, Lower Club Satellite Bars, Upper Club Elevator Bars, and the Gluten Free table above.

 In the general concessions, gluten free hotdogs will be available in 104, 115, 131, 142, 415 and 442.

 The Duval Taco offering at 435 will have gluten free corn tortillas.

 Lastly, McKenzie’s Cider will be available at the following locations, as of our current plan:
Portables at sections 118 and 127
All stadium classic stands 104, 115, 131, 142, 415 and 442
Upper East Club Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
Upper West Club Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
SEZ Draft Cart – Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry (this one will be in the 100/SeaBest Cool Zone area)
Lower Club Satellite Bars – Bottled Lazy Lemon and Black Cherry
Gluten Free Table on Upper Clubs (same table as listed above)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finally!! The FDA approves gluten-free guidelines

It's taken years, but the FDA today finally published its official guidelines for labeling foods as gluten free.

Here is what the agency said in its news release:

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term "gluten-free" on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.” 

Companies have one year from today to comply with the rules.

In case you're wondering, I've been told directly by a leading researcher, Stefano Guandalini of the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, that the 20 ppm standard is safe.