Thursday, October 29, 2015

Schar's new bread is pretty good

As far as I'm concerned, Schar makes the best gluten-free rolls out there, but I never found anything special about their regular gluten-free bread.

However, Schar introduced a new style of gluten-free breads a couple of months ago which it calls "Artisan Baker" breads, so I decided to give it a try.

The verdict: yes, I liked it. The bread held together completely with my sandwich, which you know you can't always count on with a gluten-free slice of bread. But I was also pleasantly surprised by the taste. I really wasn't expecting anything from the taste, but it was very good.

According to Schar, the bread is made with ingredients that include agave syrup, buckwheat, sunflower seeds and "ancient grains."

So far, I've seen it for sale at Earth Fare and Walmart, but even at Walmart it is a little pricey. That's the downside of Schar. I really like their products -- they also make some good cookies -- but I don't buy them often because of the price. At least I had a $1 coupon for the bread (which I actually found in Gluten Free Living magazine).

So keep on the lookout for specials on Schar products.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Gluten in alcohol

Here's an interesting summary of gluten content in various forms of alcoholic drinks, published by the popular Gluten Dude website.

Just one thing I want to add here about the controversy over Omission beer. Nobody has actually come out with evidence that it is not safe for celiacs. The issue is lack of confidence over the testing procedure.

If you're not familiar with the issue, there are several beers on the market that say they are made from barley but have a process that removes the gluten, so that they meet the standard of gluten-free (less than 20 parts per million of gluten). These brewers say they test the product, but some people question the accuracy of the testing process.

Omission is the most popular "gluten removed" beer. I do like Omission and I still drink it when I'm in a bar or restaurant and there are no other gluten-free options. But I drink it less than I used to and won't go out of the way to buy it if there is a certified safe gluten-free alternative.

There really is no definitive answer one way or another on the question of Omission's safety. I've never had an issue drinking Omission but if you have any concerns at all, you should probably avoid it.

Here's the full posting from the Gluten Dude:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trader Joe's brings out gluten-free pretzels

I went to Trader Joe's last week to buy bagels and hamburger buns, and again I was disappointed.

Trader Joe's has very good gluten-free bagels and buns at a good price but as I've complained in the past, way too many times I go there and can't find them. On this trip, they had the bagels but were out of buns. It's frustrating.

But I did take a quick walk through the store and found a new product: Trader Joe's brand gluten-free pretzels.

Of course I decided to try them. I found they have a very good texture (you can't always count on that with gluten-free pretzels) but had little to no salt, and had little flavor. I'm not in any hurry to buy them again.

My favorite pretzels are Glutino's. I've had them in the past and Glutino was kind enough to send me a box of pretzel samples recently, which I enjoyed again. However, when I have to buy Glutino pretzels, they are usually pricey, so I don't buy them often.

The Trader Joe's pretzels cost $3 for an 8-ounce package, which is the same price you would pay for a package of Snyder's of Hanover gluten-free pretzels when they are on sale at Publix or Winn-Dixie. While I prefer Glutino over Snyder's, I prefer Snyder's over Trade Joe's, so I'll probably just wait to see Snyder's on sale again before I  buy more pretzels.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Panera testing gluten-free bread

Here's an interesting story posted by Yahoo today. Panera Bread is now testing a gluten-free rosemary focaccia roll.

According to the story, the roll is being tested in the Detroit area with plans to roll it out nationally in the second half of 2016.

You can read the full story here:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A great homemade gluten-free pizza

I don't normally talk about food I cook myself, but I made a great pizza at home last night so I felt a need to share. It even looked good coming out of the oven, so I had the foresight to take a photo.

The real point is, if I can make a pizza at home, anyone can do it. I basically started doing this because the cost of restaurant gluten-free pizza is so ridiculously high and they almost never offer bargains (I get sick of watching TV commercials with chains advertising their great pizza deals, which never apply to gluten free).

Homemade pizza also has the extra benefit of having no risk of cross contamination.

I use Udi's pre-made crusts. I've tried some others but as far as what's available in Jacksonville stores, these seem to be the best. And I usually buy them at Walmart, where they tend to be cheaper than in other supermarkets.

I use Publix pizza sauce, which is also usually pretty cheap, and I generally use either Publix or Sargento shredded cheese. The cheese I buy depends on what brand of cheese is on sale, and there always seems to be one brand on sale.

I sometimes make plain cheese pizza, but I also happened to find Hormel pepperoni on sale, so this was a pepperoni pizza. My experience tells me that higher-class pepperoni isn't any better than this.

I cook the pizza for 12 minutes at 375 degrees. The Udi's crust package says to cook it for seven minutes, but it seems to come out better at 12. And I cook it on a pizza stone that I put in the oven.

This pizza costs me about $5 to make usually, although it was probably a little more this time because of the pepperoni, but not much more. And it tasted great. If you like pizza, you should try this some time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mixed bag of new gluten-free breakfast items

Well, gluten-free Cheerios turned out to be a disappointment, as we learned definitively this week that we can't trust the safety of them.

But on the bright side of breakfast, I did find a couple of new microwavable breakfast items at Target in the last couple of weeks, with mixed results.

The first was a line of gluten-free breakfast sandwiches made by Udi's. Now if you saw my post last week, you know I had a fantastic gluten-free breakfast sandwich in Chicago at a place called Lyfe Kitchen, and that was the first time I can remember even finding a gluten-free breakfast sandwich. So I was naturally intrigued by Udi's selections.

Of course, I didn't expect this frozen sandwich to equal the fresh breakfast sandwich at Lyfe. But unfortunately, the Udi's breakfast sandwich didn't really live up to my low expectations. I would rate it as mediocre.

On the brighter side, I also found some new breakfast cups made by Evol Foods. Now Evol is not a 100 percent gluten-free company and I don't think all of its breakfast cups are gluten free, but the two I tried do have a certified gluten-free mark on the label. And they were pretty good for a quick breakfast, I thought. I'd recommend them.

As I said, I stumbled onto these products at Target and haven't seen them anywhere else. But if you find them and are looking for quick breakfast products you can keep in the freezer, you might want to give them a try.

Monday, October 5, 2015

General Mills recalls some of its 'gluten-free' Cheerios

As you may have already heard, General Mills today announced it is going to have to recall some of its new Cheerios cereals that were supposed to be gluten free, because an error at a plant in California resulted in wheat getting into the products.

With all the problems I've been reading about the new gluten-free Cheerios, I wouldn't try them myself. And just a couple of weeks ago, a doctor at the Mayor Clinic told me that Mayo is not recommending celiac and gluten intolerant patients eat Cheerios because of questions about General Mills' testing methods for gluten in the product.

But if you are interested, here's the full press release from General Mills about the latest problem:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beaches gluten-free shopping options growing

For Beaches residents, the gluten-free shopping options just keep growing and growing.

Native Sun opened its Jacksonville Beach store last month, and today's Times-Union reported that another organic and natural foods chain called Lucky's Market plans to open its first Jacksonville area store in Neptune Beach next year.

I finally visited the new Native Sun and I liked what I found. It seems like the cafe area is bigger than the cafe in the Baymeadows store and the grocery shelf space is smaller. However, as I walked through the aisles, it looked like all the gluten-free products I've previously found in Baymeadows are available at the Beaches store.

They even have their gluten-free bakery products available, including the doughnut bites.

As I've written before, Native Sun's director of research, Ginny Nehring, does a great job checking on products that claim to be gluten free. If you see the "no gluten added" tag on the shelf at Native Sun, you can be extremely confident that the product actually is safe.

We'll have to see what Lucky's Market brings next year. But I checked its website and it says its deli offers gluten-free items and as far as the grocery section goes, it said "we’re also working hard to expand our already large selection of gluten-free items."

So we're getting a lot of good shopping options at the Beach. Trader Joe's opened last year, and even though that store frustrates me at times, you can still find some good gluten-free stuff there at a good price, particularly their hamburger buns and bagels.

And of course Whole Foods is planning to open a Jacksonville Beach store sometime before the end of this century.

Okay, they actually say it will be in 2021, but I'm betting Whole Foods opens before that.

Now if we could just get an Aldi at the Beach, I'll be fulfilled.