Thursday, April 29, 2010

GLUTEN FREE VEGETARIAN MEXICAN FOOD AT TRADER JOE

GLUTEN-FREE ROASTED VEGETABLE ENCHILADAS

If you are celiac and/or gluten-free, and you like Mexican-style food but are not always in the mood to start cooking from scratch at the end of a busy day, then Trader Joe is ready to help you get a tasty Latino meal on the table quickly. The best thing is, these foods can all be stored frozen or are sold canned, so you can decided to have this Hispanic fiesta with no planning ahead whatsoever. (Many are dairy-free as well as gluten-free.)

A look at Trader Joe's online list of gluten-free items reveals many items which could combine in several ways to make satisfying South of the Border dining. The Black Bean and Cheese Taquitos make great appetizers, even if the rest of the meal is northern style. Just place them on a tray in the oven and heat till defrosted and hot. Another simple hors d'oeuvre would be one of the many salsas Trader Joe sells paired with one of more than a dozen types of gluten-free tortilla chips available at TJ.

Make a large salad or steam a bag of vegetables from the frozen food section. Cook up rice (fully cooked brown rice is sold in the pasta aisle) and heat the gluten-free tortillas (small corn, or large brown rice ones) and tamale or enchilada you prefer, and dinner is ready to be served. 

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE MACARONI AND CHEESE FROM AMY'S


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Gluten-free convenience foods are often not worth the extra cost, even if you possess the most rudimentary kitchen skills, but there are times when convenience is worth a surcharge, and gluten-free meals that are convenient, well, sometimes worth almost anything. Macaroni and cheese is easy enough to make but if you really don't have the time to prepare your own, Amy's is a wonderful substitute for homemade. 

The sauce is cheesy and not at all gritty. The noodles aren't overcooked, even if you prepare them so a nice crispy crust starts to form along the edges. (That is a real feat, since many rice noodle dishes can get very gluey.) One of the ways you might want to use this item is as an ingredient in a quick casserole you can make in minutes.

Steam or defrost about two cups of fresh or frozen broccoli in your microwave. If you've got a bag of Trader Joe Melange a Trois (frozen green, yellow and red pepper strips), throw them in with the broccoli, too. When fresh red peppers are on sale, dicing and freezing them is even more economical than the Melange option. When the peppers and broccoli are done, drain, cover and set aside. 

Follow directiions on Amy's package. Stir into vegetables. Sprinkle with Spanish smoked sweet paprika, and some salt if you think it's needed. Protein, carb and vegetables, the perfectly balanced gluten-free meal in less than 10 minutes!  


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Monday, April 26, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE BREAD FROM UDI'S COLORADO BAKERY


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Gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches are easy to make and hard to find. While many restaurants offer international dishes which are traditionally gluten-free, sometimes nostalgia kicks in and there is really no amount of rice noodles or number of corn tortillas that will satisfy the desire for old-fashioned comfort foods of your childhood. There's a gluten-free diner in Manhattan called Pete's, and what some might consider the best thing about Pete's is the variety of comfort foods available there for gluten-eaters and gluten-avoiders alike.

The ultimate in comfort food, though, is, of course, a food you can prepare in your own home, on a moment's notice, with no searching for exotic ingredients required.  That is why having a loaf of Udi's sliced white bread in the freezer or pantry is an absolute joy. Even if you've eaten whole grain bread for most of your life, there's something about grilled cheese on white bread that spells home for many of us. Technically the cheese should be the old standby: sliced American. Here, it's Wisconsin sharp cheddar--still a fine choice.

Udi's package brags that left to defrost on its own to room temperature, the bread needs no toasting or microwaving, a claim few if any other gluten-free bakeries can or do make. Once experiencing the taste and texture of this bread--both excellent--you will know why. Udi's also makes a whole grain loaf using teff flour.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN SESAME SNACK FROM TRADER JOE


Is this snack delicious, gluten free and vegetarian? Definitely! Is it health food? Not exactly. Have you ever eaten those middle eastern candies made of sesame seeds, honey and sugar syrup? They're usually very hard and sticky and crunchy and murder on your teeth. This particular take on sweet sesame candy is totally different. Still sweet, but soft and very versatile. The "crepe" as it is named by Trader Joe, has the weight of thick fruit leather, and the flexibility of it, too. 

Ignoring for the moment the hedonist's wild method of simply tearing off pieces of the rounds until they have eventually disappeared (perfectly acceptable in certain settings, incidentally), here are some serving suggestions you might want to consider:

1. Spread a crepe with honey, slice into eight wedges, roll up, beginning at pointy end. Serve on platter with dried figs.

2. Roughly cut or tear a circle of apricot fruit leather and place on one "crepe. Slice both layers into eighths and roll up from pointy end. Serve with fresh grapes.

3. Spread one "crepe" with raspberry jam. Place a second over the first and cut into 12 slices. Eat as you would pie, and pair each slice with a cup of mint tea, hot or iced.

How would you serve these sweet treats? 


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Friday, April 23, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE SHABTAI LADY FINGER COOKIES


A food, gluten-free or otherwise, that is called a finger is usually long and slender in shape like, well, a finger. These are round. But be that as it may, they are lady-finger-tasting and it's a very good taste at that. Lady fingers are a traditionally delicate cookie, and these do not disappoint in that respect. 

Lady fingers can be used in trifles, desserts where layers of cake and juicy berries are combined with whipped cream and chilled. For a fresh variation on the trifle, make the good old American strawberry shortcake. Place fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream between two of these ladyfingers, top with more whipped cream and a berry and you are done. You might also like to use these cookies to make a tiramisu, the Italian dish made with sponge cake soaked in espresso, layered with cream and topped with cinnamon. 

A word of warning: if you are considering using these lady fingers for any of these dishes, it is recommended that you buy an extra box simply for snacking or tea time. Otherwise, you may find you've all too quickly eaten the main ingredient for dinner's dessert piece de resistance. They are that good.

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RECALL IMPORTANT TO CELIACS: McCormick Fajitas Seasoning Mix

McCormick & Company has announced a voluntary recall of McCormick Fajitas Seasoning Mix, with UPC Code 5210002121 and “BEST BY” dates of JAN 16 12 AH and JAN 16 12 CH. McCormick Fajitas Seasoning Mix packages with these date codes contain undeclared wheat and milk ingredients. People who have allergies to wheat or milk run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.

 

The McCormick Fajita Seasoning Mix packages were distributed to grocery stores nationally beginning on February 15, 2010. The product is available in 1.12 oz. pouches, and the date code is found printed in black on the back, at the bottom of the pouch. The “BEST BY” dates of JAN1612AH and CH are the only date codes affected by the recall.

 

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that product was mispackaged, and as a result, the ingredient statement on the package did not list wheat and milk as ingredients. No illnesses or allergic reactions have been reported to date. No other McCormick products are involved in this recall.

 

All grocery outlets that sell McCormick Fajitas Seasoning Mix packages have been notified to remove the affected product (UPC Code 5210002121 and a “BEST BY” date of JAN1612AH and JAN1612CH) from their shelves immediately.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration. The company is also issuing an alert through the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

 

WHO TO CONTACT: Consumers do not need to return the product to the store where it was purchased. Instead, consumers are urged to contact McCormick’s Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-632-5847, weekdays from 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM, or weekends from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Time), for a replacement or full refund, as well as instructions on what to do with the product.


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE INDIAN POTATO TOMATO STEW AT TRADER JOE

Gluten-free vegetarian Pav Bhaji, mixed with chickpeas and served over steamed spinach.

Even if you eat this gluten-free meal straight out of the bag (which is sold in a box), combined with other foods, the more compiex part of the dish is already done for you--the blending of diced potatoes, onions, cauliflower, green peas, green pepper, butter, oil, and spices into a delicious sauce. The gluten-free Indian meals which are vacuum-sealed and sold on the shelf at Trader Joe are a real time saver for the celiac or gluten-intolerant diner. Empty the contents of the foil envelope into a microwavable dish and within minutes, dinner is served, if, that is, you prefer your meals very hot, chili-wise, that is.

For those who find these packaged meals uncomfortably spicy, here are some ways to deal with the excess heat. Dilute the stew by adding pureed vegetables. Adding a dollop of yogurt to each bowl of stew will also have a cooling effect. Though served traditionally with Indian flatbread, called nan, or over rice, here Pav Bhaji is shown over steamed frozen spinach, used a sauce for the chick peas which have been added to turn this tasty side dish into a main dish with protein. Cooked white beans or lentils would work equally well. You might also want to add some toasted cashews.



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GlUTEN-FREE INDIAN BLACK LENTIL STEW AT TRADER JOE

Gluten-free Dal Makhani served over steamed butternut squash


Gluten-free Indian meals which are vacuum-sealed and sold on the shelf at Trader Joe are a real time saver for the celiac or gluten-intolerant diner. Empty the contents of the foil envelope into a microwavable dish and within minutes, dinner is served. Hypothetically, at least. For those of us who find these packaged meals uncomfortably spicy, here are some way to deal with the excess heat. Dilute the liquid part: add some crushed tomatoes, broth or pureed green vegetables. Add to the solids: more lentils, kidney beans, or chunks of meat if you're an omnivore.

Though served traditionally with Indian flatbread, called nan, or over rice, but a tortilla would work as well if you're gluten-free. Here Dal Makhani  is shown over diced, steamed frozen butternut squash. The lentil stew would work equally well over an even less starchy vegetable like broccoli or green beans. If you top the dish with yogurt, that will allow you to make the final adjustments in the heat (spiceand temperature) precisely to your liking.



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RECALL IMPORTANT TO CELIACS: Zatarain Dirty Rice

Recently, the FDA announced a recall of a mislabeled product which could be harmful to celiacs or those who must follow a gluten-free diet for other reasons. The Louisiana company, Zatarain's has announced a voluntary recall of Zatarain's Original Dirty Rice Mix, 8 oz. package with UPC Code 7142909535 and a "BEST BY" date of JAN 19 12H.

Zatarain's Original Dirty Rice Mix packages with this date code contain undeclared wheat and barley ingredients. Each of those ingredients contains gluten and is avoided by celiacs, for whom the reactions can be serious or even life-threatening.

The Zatarain's Original Dirty Rice Mix package was distributed to limited grocery stores in Florida, Michigan and Virginia beginning February 15, 2010. The product is available in 8 oz. boxes, and the date code is found on the bottom of the package. The "BEST BY" date of JAN1912H is the only date code affected by the recall. No other Zatarain's products are involved in this recall. All grocery outlets that sell Zatarain's New Orleans Style Dirty Rice Mix packages have been notified to remove the affected product (UPC Code 7142909535 and a "BEST BY" date of JAN1912H) from their shelves immediately.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration. The company is also issuing an alert through the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

WHO TO CONTACT: Consumers do not need to return the product to the store where it was purchased. Instead, consumers are urged to contact Zatarain's Consumer Affairs at 1-877-837-3796, weekdays from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time, for a replacement or full refund, as well as instructions on what to do with the product. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE PANINI AND DESSERT AT TU-LU NYC



Although warning is given that the bread these panini are served on was not made in a gluten-free facility (it's made first daily, after the machines are cleaned), no ill effects were felt by the full celiac and gluten-intolerant folks in our group. Which is great news, since these panini were terrific!

Here's the sliced roasted turkey and provolone sandwich, served with herb mayo and a side of salad. It got great reviews from the non-vegetarians among us. 





The ovo-lacto presence in our group was ecstatic over the 3-cheese, basil pesto and tomato sandwich pictured at left. You can see from this closeup how beautifully the bread toasted up. Heavenly!


If you want a temporary break from the extraordinary cupcakes (see slideshow) Tu-Lu offers, try this little cinnamon spice cake. Light and subtle. Perfect with the English Breakfast tea and coffees our group had. 

This is an intimate, charming, bright and cheerful place to stop for a sweet snack or sandwich. Service is warm and helpful.
Note: The chocolate peanut butter cupcake is unforgettable.
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GLUTEN-FREE FOODS FROM SHABTAI



If you were incredibly busy this year, or just didn't feel up to preparing an entire Passover Seder from soup to nuts, Shabtai gluten-free products would have been your secret kitchen staff, or at least, pastry chef. With a range of gluten-free macaroons (almond, coconut, and chocolate versions of each) as well as a huge selection of cakes, you can impress your guests without a hint of exhaustion.


Their gluten free devil's food seven layer cake is chocolatey and delicious, but their gluten free marble cake brings back memories of the marble cakes of years gone by. There's a Swiss chocolate roll, a raspberry roll, a honey cake, sponge cake, and a range of intricately decorated layer cakes--from Mocha Apricot to several other varieties of chocolate layer cakes. Cookies, brownies and an item called Ring Tings are bound to stir up chocolate childhood memories. 

This brand is not only a great gluten-free resource for Passover, but for worry-free desserts year-round.
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE FOODS IN LITTLE SENEGAL, NYC

Gluten free shopping in Le Petit Senegal? Mais, bien sur! Along West 116th Street, from 7th to 8th Avenues, give or take a block, you will find many gluten-free treasures, but they won't be the kind you usually see on gluten-free online shopping sites or at Whole Foods or other health stores, for that matter. Though most shop owners seem to speak at least some English, any French you have will be useful.

Famous along the street is the African Market, with its wide selection of clothing, sculpture and craft items. The cloth pictured below is African, bought in Manhattan, though not from this particular market. But perhaps your time would be best spent in the food shops, which carry products that are almost never found beyond ethnic neighborhoods like this one.  Above is millet couscous, millet flour made into small balls approximately the size of Israeli couscous, but gluten free, which the Israeli version is not. Pictured below is couscous made of rice.  See the slideshow for more products, including plantain flour, millet flour and yam-coconut flour.

The mix of cultures in such a small neighborhood is part of its charm. Though Senegalese make up the largest African group, there are also immigrants from the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali and Guinea. On the edges of Petit Senegal are African-American and Latino communities, so if you walk the length of 116th, one minute you can catch sight of bingo game in progress in a local iglesia basement and next you're passing clothing stores playing the latest urban music hits on WBLS or Hot 97. You definitely won't be bored, and for the price of a subway or bus ride (or walk, if you live nearby) you'll feel you've been on vacation to another country, or another continent.

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