Tuesday, February 22, 2011


If gluten-free vegetarian pizza is your interest, then the above might be considered a somewhat strange photo, but it's posted here to show how this pizza varies from the often unappetizing raw mushroom and steamed broccoli variety of vegetarian pizza so many of us are often faced with.This is by far the best presentation of the Still Riding frozen gluten-free crust I've seen. Some have been passable, but others, barely edible, with undercooked crust and rubbery and tasteless toppings.

At Bistango, the Still Riding crust is in skilled hands. Here, a gluten-free vegetarian pizza features a full-flavored marinara sauce, mozzarella, shitake and cremini mushrooms cooked to perfection, richly caramelized onions and olives providing zip to the whole production. The crust arrives with that ideal combination of crunchy and chewy you expect in a traditional thin crust pizza.

The only thing more memorable than this pizza was the service we encountered. We were a mix of omnivores, vegans and gluten free vegetarians. We all were able to enjoy Italian bread with our entrees, as well as dessert. We were welcomed as warmly as if we'd been a more standard mix of diners. No errors. Great suggestions. Adjustments to the printed menu made graciously.

Oh, and there are TWO delicious varieties of NY style cheesecake--a standard and a gluten-free. How easy is that?



Saturday, February 19, 2011


About a year ago I emailed Maoz to find out if they were gluten-free. (I'd been looking at their online menu and was glad to see so many vegetarian foods.) I received an email telling me that, sadly, they were not gluten-free. Months later I received another email announcing that they now served gluten-free options. I was shocked to realize that someone had actually kept my email, and delighted at the news. It took almost a year since that note, last week, in fact, to finally make my way to Maoz. The one I visited was on 39th & 7th, near Times Square.
This miniscule takeout restaurant is efficiently run to handle the huge crowds which line up outside their door. The manager is aware of gluten-free issues and if you tell him you're gluten-free, he'll point out which items on the menu are right for you. I had the falafel salad bowl for which the choice of salads and dressings is large and delicious. For ten dollars including tax I also had a 16oz lemonade. Perfect healthy lunch.



The Big Booty Bread Company at 261 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC is one of the best places for a gluten-free vegetarian to pick up some pre-movie snacks. Serving four traditionally gluten free breads whose recipes hail from Colombia, you can even take your gluten-eating friends along because most of the place is filled with glutenous treats, but no need to worry about cross-contamination, since the arepas and pan de yucca are kept separately from the main stock.

The flat corn arepas come in two flavors, one resembling a familiar Southern US sweet cornbread, and the other, wonderfully tangy and cheesy (queso fresco in there, I think). The pan de yucca, (yucca flour is tapioca flour) in both its sweet and savory forms is a less rich bread, and either would be a fine base for sandwiches.

Decor is minimal/purely serviceable, and but it's a friendly place to keep warm if it's cold out. When the weather's good, you might want to grab a bag of snacks and a beverage and head over to Madison Square Park for a picnic. Never be left out of a "coffee and cake" snack time again!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I was sent several Mixes from the Heartland to try out and review. Although I make chili all the time, it's been interesting to taste another intensity altogether from mine. Where instructions say to add jalapenos I add chopped tomatoes and just about survive the heat! (But then, I've been told I'm a bit of a wimp in that area.)

What I love about these mixes is, of course, the time-saving aspect. This works better with the bean dishes than those with par-boiled rice, I've found. (The rice tends to overcook without a lot of watching which, to me, defeats the purpose of a timesaving food.) And needless to say, I ignore all advice to add beef chunks or beef stock or sausages or any of that. Here's what I do:

For 1 cup meat stock I use 1 tsp Better than Bouillon and 1 cup boiling water.

For meat, I use 1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein) hydrated in 1 cup boiling water.

Even if the mix contains dehydrated onions, I sautee 1 large onion, roughly chopped, and one half green pepper, roughly chopped per envelope of mix.

If your taste runs to the Texas spicy rather than my pale east coast palate, then add jalapenos or other hot peppers as suggested on each envelope's instructions. Adding a 28oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes is another way to cool the heat, if it's still too much for you.

I have found that still-slightly-crunchy broccoli spears make a nice base for these bean stews. If you can find frozen diced butternut squash, that's another great alternative.

I like a bit of starch with chili so I serve it with either a tostada like Maizada, or a Trader Joe or Food for Life burrito wrap.

Quick meal in a bowl!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Here's a new gluten-free product I picked up at my local supermarket (Gristede in NYC) and it's so useful I think it's worth keeping an eye out for them elsewhere in the country.
I love the taco shells that come in boxes in the store, but since i've never really mastered the use of the taco shell filled with chili to point where I don't require a vegetarian version of the lobster bib, this was quite a find for me.
These are not, as you can see, folded in half. Which, if you were planning on eating your chili with a fork, as I do, is no great loss. And you still have that wonderful taste of corn and chili, which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of those unbeatables that we gluten free vegetarians can easily enjoy with the rest of the world with no adjustments or excuses. So, there!

The chili shown, by the way, is actually the Texas Bean Bake from Mixes from the Heartland. More on that later. Oh, and the broccoli? I always serve chili over broccoli. Or over mushrooms. It's the daytime WeightWatcher in me. At night the vampire carboholic takes over, but, hey, who's perfect, anyway?