gluten free shopping

Savings From Target & Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free

Trying new gluten free bread is pretty scary. There is always the possibility that you and your family won’t find the product is… well… edible; and you might waste a good amount of money on bread you toss.

Thankfully, trying Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread is not only a good-tasting solution… but now a very, very affordable one, too!

Target Stores are offering a sale THIS WEEK on Canyon Bakehouse products that they carry in their fresh foods section of participating locations and superstores. (The SRP is $5.49 on 7-Grain and White Gluten Free Loaves.) Combine Target’s sale with the savings you find at the Canyon Bakehouse website and you’ll be able to sample this gluten free bread at a fantastic price!

 

legends-of-notre-dame

Eating Gluten Free at Legends of Notre Dame

What do you think of when you hear “Legends of Notre Dame“? Most likely, the four horseman, football… maybe even a hunchback?

Legends also happens to be a restaurant located right on campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, which no doubt serves students, alumni, and sports fans alike given its proximity to the stadiums. It features pictures from the University’s sports programs from the 1840’s through the current day in sort of a timeline format around the perimeter of the interior walls.

While you dine, you can read up on famous football coaches and athletes, view pics from the women’s soccer championship, or simply enjoy the jerseys, jackets, and pennants on the walls. The restaurant (and alehouse) is owned and operated by the University, with proceeds benefitting social programs at the school.

An awesome little tid-bit you won’t find online is the University-run-restaurants’ commitment to providing nutritional information on its menu. You can find out whether a dish is allergen-free, vegetarian, or considered  “lite” just by reviewing the symbols provided after each dish’s menu entry. In fact, at all campus eateries run by Notre Dame Food Service, a single icon set is used to indicate possible allergens in dishes making it easy for those with allergies or special diets make informed decisions about their food and where they eat.

nd allergen posterThe Legends Restaurant and Alehouse menu in particular also features an entire section (in the back pages) that lists gluten free offerings. While they do indicate that the gluten free selections are prepared in a shared kitchen (with a slight chance for cross-contamination) they also indicate that they take great care to provide students and guests with special dietary needs.

It was quite nice not having to ask whether salad came with croutons, or asking if the recommended dressing contained wheat. The menu indicators had it all covered, making our decisions easier and our questions limited. It was interesting to me that a campus that so heavily relied on “tradition” was also so forward-thinking when it came to nutrition, accommodation, and convenience.

Along with having a beautiful campus (with an estimated value of $3.3 Billion) rich history, great sports teams, arts, clubs, and (of course) highly rated academic programs and highly competitive atmosphere (about 1 in 6 are accepted to the school, with 70% of incoming students ranking in the top 5% of their graduating high school classes) this school has a ton to offer… and includes peace-of-mind for special diets!

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And…

My girls now decided they’d possibly like to attend in fall 2020 and 2021, respectively.

(Keep working hard, ladies!)

 

 

 

 

 

gluten free pesto chicken

Basil & Walnut “Pesto” Sauce

I love using fresh basil this time of year. It’s perfect with tomatoes, as we all know, but it is also very versatile for use in many recipes.

A classic way to incorporate fresh basil into your diet is by making a green pesto sauce. (Which I used on top of boneless, skinless chicken breast, but could easily be used for topping pasta or veggies.) Traditionally, a pesto would utilize pine nuts, but I have substituted walnuts because it was what I had on hand, and its a bit easier on the pocket-book to purchase if you need to go shopping for ingredients. (An 8 oz. package of  pignolias cost around $10 in the grocery store and even more online for organic and high-quality brands.) Plus, eliminating the pine nuts seems to make the sauce an overall more “kid-friendly” flavor profile. Pine nuts— pignolias — appear to be more of an “adult” taste!

Gluten Free Basil-Walnut Pesto Recipe

Shopping List:

  • 1/4 cup finely ground walnuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Preparation:
Combine nuts, basil, romano, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and oil in a mini food processor and simply process until smooth.

As shown, I used the sauce over some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I simply topped the uncooked chicken with the sauce, and baked at 375º for about 25 minutes. Since the sauce is so rich-tasting, the mild flavor of the chicken goes perfectly with the pesto. As a side dish, I served some traditional tomato-based sauce with some gluten free noodles.

mustard see risotto cakes

Dining at Mustard Seed Cafe

The kids and I have been to Mustard Seed Market probably, oh, a hundred times. While I don’t do my regular grocery shopping there, I do stop in when I’m in the neighborhood for some good gluten free selections and hard-to-find items.

It was only natural that we eventually try the Café Restaurant that the Ohio-based natural and organic health food store. All of the store’s items are preservative and artificial color-free, chemical-free, high-fructose corn syrup-free, and meats are hormone-free and routine antibiotic-free. The Café offers a wide variety of meals, and features all natural and organic ingredients, made fresh to order. When possible they use locally sourced ingredients, too.

Really unique to this area in Northeast Ohio,  just about every meal comes with a variety of diet options. Wheat-free diners (like us) can choose gluten free versions of their favorite dishes, while Vegans, Nut allergic, and Soy allergic can opt for the same dish prepared to meet their dietary needs, too. Best of all, every meal is marked as to whether it is gluten-free, vegan, raw, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, oil-free so there is no guess-work involved.

The kids ordered the Café burgers, with grass-fed beef burgers — and the gluten free option, of course— that included an Udi’s bun, pickle spear, and choice of potato chips, coleslaw, or roasted red skins. Their burgers were really good, juicy, and fresh. The bun was nicely toasted, and the presentation was great. Even the ketchup was fresh and non-bottled.

I opted for the gluten free, dairy free and vegan Risotto Cakes containing two house-made cakes filled with Daiya brand vegan mozzarella, and served with oven roasted plum tomatoes and artichokes with smoked garlic fresh herb cashew cream sauce cream sauce. And, yes, it was as delicious and rich as it sounds.

While I understand that the time and freshness comes with a price, the meals are a bit on the pricey-side for the Café-style, in-market atmosphere. (We could see and hear the market down below. Fine for us, maybe not so much for an intimate dinner date…. but who goes on those anymore?)

In any case, if you are looking for fresh, this is definitely a place that you can trust to serve up good, homemade food that suits even the pickiest of diets or eaters.

 

 

Malabar Farm Sign

Malabar Farm

What’s “Malabar Farm?”

I remember asking on the rather new brown state signage on the side of I-71 in Ohio on the way to one of our weekend soccer tournaments.

“Don’t know.”

So, as any other curious passenger might do, I googled it.

 

This Ohio State Park is the former homestead of Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Prize winner, fiction and non-fiction author, screenwriter for MGM, and a man ahead (and behind) of his time in many regards. Malabar Farm received its name in honor of the Indian Coast; most likely a tribute to the story “The Rains Came” that allowed Bromfield to purchase his farm.

His life was a dichotomy from what I have read and understood from our tour guide at the farm. While he enjoyed the finer things in life (such as his “Big House” and frequent parties with Hollywood celebs, including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall who were married near the double staircase in the Big House) he also appreciated and respected the more simple things in life: cultivating the land, preserving natural resources, and tending to his acreage in mid-Ohio.

Ahead of His Time

Bromfield was a man “ahead of his time” in some regards in that he recognized the importance, and the de-evolution of the “family farm” well before many other Americans recognized it. Growing up on the farm himself, he had originally studied to become a farmer… not realizing yet that his real fate was writing.

However, his recognition of the need to conserve natural resources (the land, soil, water, and forests) as well as preserve a more “natural” and conservative way of farming such as rotating crops and feeding pastures, allowing animals to graze, and growing produce; creating more sustainable, organic, eco-friendly farming methods and greater farming success.

Bromfield’s fear of the family farm and our environment’s downward spiral has proven to be visionary to a degree. Of course, Roosevelt was the first to point out the conservation was necessary years before; but it was Bromfield who wrote poetically about real life on the farm, and the consequences our actions have more than just on our own immediate surroundings.

While some of his practices on the farm were somewhat “radical” for the time period, they helped influence what has become organic methods of farming. It was interesting though, that he wasn’t the perfect environmentalist. Whether or not he realized his impact at the time, he had a famous Jeep which he took to explore his farm; had the “newest” appliances (such as a dishwasher) and, according to our guide, always had the latest and greatest inventions of the time.

And, Behind His Time

While he was a contemporary of Hemingway, his writing was praised at the time, but has lost fashion with readers. His work was honored in literary circles, and received recognition and awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Early Autumn (1927). Many works were turned into movies as well. One such movie,  The Rains Came (1939) won the Academy Award for Special Effects up against a pretty tough competitor at the time: The Wizard of Oz. The screenplay (also written by Bromfield) was based on his novel Rains Came: A Novel of India.

However, his “old” Victorian writing style quickly lost fashion with the reading public in favor of more modern styles such as those of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner. Today, it is thought that his books are not on the recommended reading lists of schools and Universities because the Victorian style is better illustrated by authors such as Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.

The Farm Today

Upon the author’s death in , the State of Ohio purchased the land and the original buildings that stood on the property, including over 800 acres, cabins, the “sugar shack”, and of course, the Big House. They operate under the same philosophy of Bromfield: to remain eco-friendly, self-sustaining, and with little impact on the environment. The area is now a State Park and offers tours, hiking, and even some camping along with some scheduled events such as the Maple Syrup Festival and Ohio Heritage Days.

(That being said… I am sure by the site of natural gas lines and a decently sized plant in the immediate area that there may have been some financial interests in obtaining the farm as well… but I digress.)

The farm is expansive, but the impact truly does appear minimal. When you explore the land on foot, you will encounter all sorts of natural wooded areas, a cave, creeks, and even a fishing hole and wetlands along with fenced pastures and natural fields.

The hike to the cave and the Sugar Shack took only about a half hour or so and were quite easy to navigate until you got to the wooded foot paths which were a little more steep. This area was carved out by passing glaciers, and offered a stark contrast to the manicured fields of the farmers nearby.

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A few guide signs helped us learn more about the farm, its animals, and the property as we passed by. There is a guided farm tour available on wagon, too, for those who don’t want to hike.

(As a side note, the famous ” Shawshank Tree” is located on the property. However we didn’t spot it. The tree was used in the movie which was filmed nearby at the Ohio Reformatory. They offer guided tours as well if that sort of thing interests you.)

We decided to tour the Big House after our exploration of the farm’s property; but not after we checked out the baby goats and the miniature ponies which we were allowed to pet. The animals were quite friendly to say the least. I assume they are very familiar with guests… and with what guests might bring them in way of treats. (The sign says please don’t feed the animals, but I must have witnessed a half dozen people or so in the short time we were there try to hand them some long grasses or other “treats.”) It was actually one of the highlights of the trip when two overly friendly little goats attempted to escape the enclosed area to explore the tastier selection of clover on the other side of the gate. Of course mam goat was not all too thrilled with the little explorers. (Totally cute… and something every mom can relate to when their little ones get out of hand.)

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The Big House tour was guided by a Park Naturalist who expertly walked us through the main rooms, pointing out all of the items of interest. What was fascinating was not only that the house remained virtually unchanged from its 1950’s state; but that it also contained a wealth of stories, both written and implied. The estate is home to Bromfield’s collection of over 4,000 books, many of them signed first editions, as well as two Grandma Moses original paintings (Bromfield wrote the intro to her biography), Disney Cells (a Bromfield story was turned in to a cartoon) and tons of interesting artifacts from the author’s life and times.

 

So many riches; in a well-lived house that shows its age and wear in the woodwork, door handles, floorboards, and more. One thing that struck me was that the house… well cared for and huge especially in its day for sure… also was “home” because of the Bromfield family’s willingness to share the home with their friends and even their famed boxer dogs.

What might be looked at as a flaw by other mansion-owners was viewed as a mark of character by the Bromfields: the paw marks the dogs left in their doorways and floor. This was, afterall, a farm and a home… as much as it was a respite for the Hollywood elite, the author and his family.

bromfield sign malabar farm

Malabar Farm Restaurant

After the tour, we ate at the Farm Restaurant which touts a menu unlike most other Mid-Ohio eateries: it offers locally grown food.

The restaurant, located just down the street on the property, stands next to a natural well, and “watering hole” frequented by animals, American Indians, and travelers on the busy nearby early trade route. The former homestead of the Schrack was finished in 1820 from bricks made on site. It was purchased by Bromfield in 1941 and added to his Malabar property, where he sold fresh produce from his farm to passers-by.

While our experience at the restaurant was not the best food we have ever eaten (or the least expensive!) there was something exciting about eating only items that were fresh made and locally harvested, including the grass-fed local beef.

We left the Malabar Farm with our bellies full, and our minds full, too.

Not too shabby for an afternoon hike.

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Malabar Farm is located at:
4050 Bromfield Rd, Lucas, OH 44843

It is located in an areas called “Pleasant Valley” (Which happens to be another one of Bromfield’s book titles.)

The area is near Mansfield, Ohio, Mohican Park, and Mt. Gilead. The State Park offers free admission, however, there is a charge for tours. The Big House tour was roughly $5 per person.

 

 

 

 

 

gluten free ode to chicken pot pie

Gluten Free “Ode” to Chicken Pot Pie

Sure, I could make a gluten free pie crust… but for a weekday meal, sometimes it is just time prohibitive. What to substitute instead? How about the good ‘ole gluten free penne! It offers the perfect replacement for the carb-y crust, plus it is probably a little lower in saturated fat. (I’m not really going to look up the numbers here… but the only gluten free pie crust I have had success with has included a ton of butter and shortening in the recipe.)

Next time, I think I will try this over some mashed potatoes… yum :)

Shopping List:

  • 2 Lbs. chicken breast
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • black pepper & salt (to taste)
  • 12 oz.- 16 oz. size gluten free penne (I used Barilla Gluten Free Penne Pasta which cooks up pretty consistently and quickly.)

Preparation:

  • Cook the penne as instructed on the box.
  • In a large skillet, bring the 1 cup water and chicken stock to almost boil. Cook the chicken (diced) over medium heat in the liquid. Cover.
  • Once chicken is nearly finished cooking, add the vegetables. Cover to steam the veggies and finish cooking.
  • In a heat-safe (glass) measuring cup, carefully add about 1 cup of the hot liquid. To this add the 1/4 cup of corn starch and the garlic powder, and whisk well to make a thickened liquid.
  • Quickly add to the warm liquid on the stove top and stir quickly and thoroughly to combine all ingredients and create a gravy-like consistency in the skillet.
  • Remove from heat, and add the warm (drained) penne noodles. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

gluten free snack caprese

Easy! Caprese Bites

Who doesn’t love a caprese salad during the summer when basil is fresh and the tomatoes are ripe? Its the perfect time of year to make these awesome salads… or try a caprese bite for a quick and easy snack alternative!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 sliced tomatoes, sliced and halved
  • Fresh basil (chiffonade of basil, about two to three leaves)
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced and halved
  • White pepper (to taste)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Seed crackers (I use Blue Diamond Multi-Seeds Crackers … they are seriously really, really good!)

Simply stack a tomato and piece of fresh cheese on each cracker, and sprinkle with your chiffonaded? chiffonated? (Oh, you know what I mean! I seriously think the past tense of chiffonade is non-existent!!!) basil. Lightly top with olive oil and vinegar and a light dusting of white pepper. (A spray version of the olive oil and vinegar works really well for a light misting. A good, reasonable one to try is Balsamic Vinegar Spray By Acetum imported from Italy.)

Il gioco è fatto! Facile!

 

 

 

 

 

heroic glutenfree bbq veggie meatloaf

More Ways To Be Heroic: BBQ Veggie Meatloaf

I love finding new ways to incorporate gluten-free, all-natural HEROIC! seasoning into some of my weekday family meals. The seasoning blend from California Gold BBQ Rubs is salt free and sugar free which makes it a perfect addition to your own recipes without adjusting for sodium or sugar content.

This “mini meatloaf” also includes another very important ingredient: hidden veggies. They add a good sweet flavor, some nutritional benefits, and a super-easy way to incorporate veg into the meal.

Shopping List:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup gluten free corn flakes, pulverized in food processor
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded or minced
  • 2 large carrots, shredded or minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus one teaspoon of canola oil
  • 1 cup natural ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar ( I use Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Organic Raw … with the “mother!”)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Heroic! BBQ seasoning

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, mix ground beef, eggs, gluten free corn flakes, zucchini, carrots and garlic until well blended. Form into approximately 8 mini meatloaves/thick patties.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Heat 1/4 cup canola oil over medium flame in a frying pan on the stovetop.
  • Add half the meatloaf patties into the warm oil to brown on one side. Flip patties after about 3-4 minutes to brown the other side. Place patties on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining patties.
  • To create the BBQ sauce, mix together the remaining ingredients: ketchup, mustard, honey, vinegar, sugar, Heroic!, and 1 teaspoon canola oil.
  • Pour equal portions of the BBQ sauce over each meatloaf patty.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Delicious! Tangy and sort of sweet, I served ours with Jasmine rice (with a pat of butter and a little parmesan cheese mixed in) to balance the meal a bit; however, these would be great with just about anything including gluten free mac and cheese, potato salad or even homemade french fries or chips.

 

 

 

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us


The book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss was published in 2013, and offers an up-to-date, and interesting look at the “big” food companies and their dependence on inexpensive… and addicting… ingredients to sell more of their products, gain shelf space in the grocery aisle, and have people asking for more.

There are so many take-aways from this book, and so many interesting points that are made by the author. What is extremely interesting to me is the investigative reporting on the companies, the interviews, and the candid quips that the author shares about his meetings and findings. (Like, for example, most of the heads of major companies don’t eat their own food.) I also enjoyed the bits on marketing methods, brand growth strategy, and “world domination”… (errr, I mean brand saturation strategy) of the major food companies, who no doubt also influence the “smaller brands. (That is, of course, if they aren’t bought out or gobbled up by them.)

Even though Americans are aware of the dangers of salt, sugar and fats, somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to convenience foods that most people rely on, and grew up eating. Even the smartest people… doctors included… often fall into the traps that these companies set through plan that involves strategic marketing, placement, and of course what is referred to as the food’s  “bliss point.” People who try to watch their intake of salt or sugar, or eat low fat,  are often still duped into falling into the convenience-slash-deceptive marketing tactics that these companies use. In fact, example after example is given; fact after fact indicating that people believe they are eating healthier by choosing granola bars, cereals, or convenience meals marked “low fat” or “with calcium” when in fact, they are eating nothing less than the equivalent of a candy bar or can of soda.

Think that food should just taste good? That food giants create hit products based on taste and texture? Think again.The sections about finding the bliss point for manufacturers was fascinating. Of course, it makes sense: scientifically finding the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and fatty to give a good initial “taste” (but, as you’ll read, not “too tasty” or complex, or different) plus a good mouth-feel (something I never really considered before, but surely have encountered once it was explained) as well as a good price point (make it cheap), convenience (make it fast) and durability (make it last a really, really long time on the shelf.) It’s like a huge, scientific pros and cons curve where the ultimate goals is not to find something healthy and delicious; but to find something that people can tolerate while maximizing profits.

In addition, the strategies of brand managers and marketing teams to promote, sell, and addict buyers in order to continue selling were also fantastic. (Fantastic in a sense that they are remote from reality and imaginative; not that they are extraordinarily good or outstanding. Although, I am sure that the marketing managers believe themselves fantastic otherwise, because they are making HUGE profits when they get it right.) The very notion that they use the same strategies as the cigarette companies did long along to bait and hook people is almost appalling. And, while some rather small strides have been taken to reduce advertising to youth (more of an illusion than a reality, really) the more often they can get their products into the hands of a child, the more likely the product will succeed long-term. This explains why cartoon characters are featured on brands that supposedly don’t advertise during children’s programming any longer; or why things appear without crusts that children peel off their sandwiches; or arrive in boxes with games on the side.

The thing I really realized: they have me, too.

Maybe they don’t own me to the same degree as many other people… but they do have me. I have canned goods, soups, broth, and albeit gluten-free and minimal, I still have prepackaged cereals in my pantry. It is very hard to get away from it completely. The fact is it is just too easy to say “have a bowl of cereal” or “eat some yogurt.”  I suspect, if you look in your pantry and fridge, they have you to some degree as well. Perhaps now that my eyes are opened even wider by Moss’s well-written and well-investigated book, I’ll be less likely to settle for cost and convenience over health and nutrition even more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gluten free blueberry boy bait

Arrowhead Mills Brown Rice Flour

The latest gluten-free product review has posted to The Gluten Freedom Project website.

The full length review on my experience using the Arrowhead Mills Organic Brown Rice Flour can be found at: http://www.glutenfreedomproject.com/topic/product-review-arrowhead-mills-organic-brown-rice-flour.

Since writing the review, I have made several other items with the flour, including the “Blueberry Boy Bait” recipe courtesy of author and allergy-free baker/chef, Cybele Pascal. (The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook, 2010, Random House Publishing.) It turned out well, and would, as my review suggests, purchase the flour again because of the value it presents in both price, versatility and taste.