Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gluten Free Cookbooks

A dear friend has requested a cookbook post -so, here it goes!

Often times when I'm trying to figure out a last minute dinner, I resort to Pinterest.  However, I have some amazing cookbooks I use, too!  Recently, when doing my meal plan, I started to try using one of my favs each week to give us a good variety, and try new things.  

I'm sure it will be no surprise that my all time favorite baking cook books are none other thank Erin McKenna's!  

The most well rounded guide for a Gluten  Free lifestyle is The Gluten-Free Revolution written by Caroline Shannon-Karasik (Sincerely Caroline).  The book covers all aspects...healthy recipes, smoothies, easy desserts, and Yoga/Pilates.  To boot, Caroline is from Pittsburgh, too!  Love that each recipe has a picture so you know what to expect it to look like!  The recipes are easy to follow...and healthy.  The "getting started" chapter is excellent whether you are a newbie or pro at living gluten free, and it covers prepping your kitchen, gadgets, and more.  Love it from front to back!!  


Trader Joe's not only has a great grocery store -but, cookbooks, too!  They are not dedicated gluten free cookbooks -however, several recipes are noted Gluten Free, and those that aren't can be with simple substitutions.  Both the Dinners Done and Easy Lunch Box have a wide variety of recipes, and easy to use.  The Easy Lunch Boxes features several bloggers you may recognize -such as, Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, Keeley McGuire, and Laura Fuenres of MOMables.  There is a dedicated Gluten Free one, I just haven't checked it out yet!  


Speaking of Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, her book is also one of my most go-to books.  Again, her book it's dedicated gluten free -however, towards the back of the book there is a "list of recipes by dietary need".  The recipes that are not noted Gluten Free can simply be altered by substituting safe, Gluten Free ingredients.  


My last 2 favs are the Lagasse Girls:  The Gluten Free Table and Big Flavor, Bold Taste, and No Gluten!  Both books are dedicated Gluten Free and flavorful!  No doubt that for each of these dishes in the cookbook, the Lagasse family sat around the table and tried it all together, and you get that feeling and love from both books.  

Do you have a favorite cookbook I didn't mention?  If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

To have Starbucks or Not?!?!

Where is your favorite place to get a coffee fix?  Due to its convinience, I'll admit mine has been Starbucks -however, I've seen some conflicting information on their beverages being safe.  Recently, I contacted Starbucks to verify Gluten Free options. I've always loved to get a Carmel Machiatto fix, and Miss J has always loved their Peppermint Hot Chocolate...and of course their new Gluten Free Marshmallow Dream Bar.  Well, the response from Starbucks was not as I suspected!  They advised the ONLY Gluten Free option os the Gluten Free Marshmallow Dream Bar.  To clarify beverages were included, I even replied to the email to verify!  Yes, in deed they were!  My stomach dropped!!  Needless to's going to be tough to drop getting my Starbucks fix -but, glad we still have the option for the Gluten Free Marshmallow Dream Bars.  However, how can you walk into a Starbucks and resist the temptation of not getting a beverage!?!?  


The response received from Starbuck:

Greetings Melanie!

We're delighted you contacted us.

The ingredients used in Starbucks food and beverage products are screened for safety and compliance with laws, and we have undertaken many initiatives to limit unnecessary food additives and provide choices for our customers. This includes a number of low calorie choices, organic foods and low salt items.

Starbucks continues to responsibly develop new products, adding more whole grains, vegetables and fruits, that undergo rigorous assessments for safety, premium quality and to meet customers' expectations. Starbucks stands behind the safety, premium quality and nutritional value of our product offerings.

Nationally, the only Certified Gluten Free product we offer is the Gluten Free Marshmallow Dream Bar. The Chewy Chocolate Cookie is not certified gluten free but is "flourless."
Starbucks is unable to guarantee a "gluten-free" environment in our retail locations due to the potential for cross contamination with gluten-containing products. The open environment and operating procedures of our store locations may present additional risk for gluten-sensitive customers aside from the gluten-containing ingredients themselves. "Gluten-free" is a claim with specific requirements defined by government agencies and industry standards. We are unable to make this claim on a product unless the item is specifically formulated and manufactured to meet the definition of the claim.

We take your concerns about this seriously and want to assure you they have been thoroughly documented and shared with all appropriate departments here in Starbucks corporate office.

If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Dominick V.
customer service

Now...onto finding other options.  I've contacted both Panera Bread and Einsteins particularly for their beverages.  To me, Panera Bread & Einsteins are too much of a contamination risk with food items.  So far, I've only heard back from Panera and their response is below.

Panera definitely gave a very detailed response, and also like that they offer Nutrition Information on their website, too!  At our local Panera location, the beverage area is separate from the food prep area; which reduces contamination risk...especially since all the beverages are listed as Gluten Free.  I'm also on the search for a local, small business coffee shop.  I'd love to hear of any that you love!  We are all about supporting small businesses...especially since my hubby owns one!  Please leave a comment below to pass on your favorite coffee fix!  

Hi Melanie,

I’ll be happy to share more details about our menu. Please see below for a list of our menu items that are made without gluten-containing ingredients. However, because we bake fresh bread daily in our bakery-cafes and bread is core to our menu, we simply cannot ensure that there has been no contact between these items, or any other menu items, and gluten.

Nutrition information and complete ingredients are also available on our website, Menu items offered only in test markets or on a regional basis do not appear on the website. Please ask a manager for the nutritional information at the bakery-cafe where the item is offered.

Please note that nutritional information on our website is updated periodically. Tests of new recipes of existing products may be conducted from time to time in certain markets. These new recipes may contain different/additional ingredients, including allergens, as compared to the original version. For the most update-to-date information, please call or visit your nearest bakery-cafe to speak with a manager.

Although we would like to be able to offer gluten-free bread, this option is not operationally feasible for us at this time. The dough for our breads is made in our Fresh Dough Facilities and transported daily in refrigerated trucks to our bakery-cafes where it is shaped, scored, topped and baked. With all of the wheat-based products being made in our Fresh Dough Facilities, there is no way to isolate a gluten-free dough area.

Cross contact in this situation, as well as in our bakery-cafes, would always be a possibility. We would need an entirely separate facility to make the dough for gluten-free breads and a dedicated area to bake the breads and make the sandwiches. However, we will be happy to note your request for future consideration to our Product Development team. 

We want your visit to Panera Bread to be warm and relaxing with friendly service and deliciously handcrafted food you can enjoy and feel good about, and we truly appreciate your feedback. I hope you’ll visit again soon and give us another chance to share the Panera warmth.


Panera Bread Customer Care

NOTE: Although we try to meet your special requirements, we cannot ensure that these items have not come into contact with gluten in our bakery-café.

** Gorgonzola (G) and bleu cheeses (BC) are commonly made with mold incubated on wheat. Some may choose to avoid these cheeses for this reason and you may substitute another cheese if you prefer. Items containing these ingredients are indicated below with (G) or (BC).

Salads  (including the salad dressing) (source of modified food starch is corn)
•  Greek & Greek with Chicken
•  Caesar & Chicken Caesar (without croutons)
•  Asian Sesame Chicken  (without wonton noodles)
•  Classic Cafe & Classic Cafe with Chicken
•  Fuji Apple Chicken (G/BC)
•  Chicken Cobb with Avocado (G/BC)
•  Seasonal Fruit Cups
•  Thai Chicken (without wontons, vinaigrette, and peanut sauce)
•  BBQ Chicken (without frizzled onions)
•  Crumbly Bleu Cheese Salad (G)
•  Southwest Caesar & Southwest Chicken Caesar (without southwest Caesar dressing)
•  Steak and Blue Cheese (G/BC) (without frizzled onions)

Salad Dressings
•  Balsamic Vinaigrette
•  Caesar
•  Greek/Herb Vinaigrette
•  Asian Sesame Vinaigrette
•  White Balsamic Fuji Apple Vinaigrette
•  Light Buttermilk Ranch (select markets only)
•  Raspberry Vinaigrette
•  BBQ Ranch
•  Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

•  Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean
•  Creamy Tomato (without croutons)
•  Fire Roasted Tomato
•  All Natural Turkey Chili with Beans

•  Coffee‐ all varieties
•  Juice, both apple and orange
Beverages, continued
•  Lemonade
•  Milk
•  Soda, fountain and bottled
•  Brewed Tea, tea bags, Chai Tea (hot & iced) and green tea
•  All lattes, espresso drinks & Frozen beverages
•  Smoothies
•  Signature Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Chip Marshmallows

•  Plain Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Plain Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Chive and Onion Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Honey Walnut Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Roasted Vegetable Medley Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Wild Blueberry Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Reduced Fat Hazelnut Cream Cheese Spread‐ U.S.
•  Herb & Garlic‐ Canada
•  Honey Walnut‐ Canada
•  Light Plain‐ Canada
•  Plain‐ Canada

Breakfast Hot Plates (without toast)
•  Ham and Cheddar Omelette
•  Ranchero Omelette
•  Vegetarian Omelette
•  Scrambled Eggs

Hidden Menu
•  Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
•  Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad
•  Power Steak Lettuce Wraps
•  Power Chicken Hummus Bowl

•  Panera Bread Potato Chips (Kettle cooked and Baked Crisps)
•  Napa Chicken Salad (Add on option for salads)
•  Tuna salad (Add on option for salads)
•  Chicken Walnut Salad (Add on option for salads)
•  All meats (including steak, ham, turkey, roasted turkey, salami, bacon, citrus pepper chicken, smoked chicken, salmon [seasonal], shrimp [seasonal], sausage patty)
•  All cheeses (see gorgonzola and blue cheese reference above)
•  Quinoa

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gluten Free Goat Bakery

While browsing the internet for Gluten Free options to share, I discovered Pittsburg's little Gluten Free hidden secret...Gluten Free Goat Bakery, and had to share!    

Timing couldn't be more perfect since I'm starting my Real Foods journey, too!   Gluten Free Goat Bakery products ingredients are perfect because she uses "real" ingredients to make the product options healthy.    


Gluten Free Goat is owned, and founded by Jeanette, who is in the 10+ year Celiac diagnosis club like myself!   10 years ago, there weren't many yummy, gluten free options -but, luckily she loved to cook, and bake -so, she got down to business, and started perfecting her recipes!  Jeanette bakes completely gluten-free & vegan treats sourced, local, seasonal, and organic whenever possible.  Unlike many other gluten free products, her products "avoid having to sacrifice your tastebuds in order to stay healthy."  


Gluten Free Goat also offers consulting for those who are newly diagnosed to help you understand the gluten-free options that your local market offers, or compiling GF resources — such as, restaurants, cafes, etc., in your area.  To get more information, please be sure to check out her website! 

Gluten Free Goat Bakery Products can be found at the following locations throughout Pittsburgh:
- Amazing Café: Tuesday and Friday deliveries
Biddles Escape: Tuesday and Friday deliveries
Big Dog Coffee : Periodic deliveries
Commonplace Voluto & Squirrel Hill : Tuesday and Friday deliveries
– Constellation Coffee : Periodic deliveries
– Espresso A Mano : Tuesday and Friday deliveries
Lili Coffee Shop: Friday deliveries
Naturally Soergel’s : Friday deliveries
Tazza D’oro: Tuesday and Friday deliveries
 – CMU Tazza D’oro (in the Gates building) : Tuesday deliveries
Té Café: Tuesday and Friday deliveries
– Zeke’s Coffee: Tuesday and Friday deliveries
In addition, Gluten Free Goat is now a full time vendor at the Pittsburgh Public Market, too!!


Hopefully, my new discovery of Gluten Free Goat Bakery makes your day even sweeter, and you now too, have discovered a new gluten free sweet treat to try...or try again!  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC Disney Location...Gluten Free Heaven

It's no secret we are HUGE fans of Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC formerly known as BabyCakes NYC. Even though I am just a newbie blogger, still trying to find my voice, -but, let me tell you...Erin McKenna is a true super hero in my eyes. She created this gluten free safe haven, and heaven.  There is no feeling better than being able to walk into a bakery, and be able to order whatever you want...and it be pure goodness, and safe!  Not only is visiting Magic Kingom first on our list for our little princess...getting our Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC fix, too!  During our last Disney trip, the Downtown Disney location was closed -but, we made sure to get our fix at all the other locations that provided Erin's goodness!  

Since we can't get to Disney everyday like we would love, we fuel our addiction throughout the year by using Erin's cookbooks (and app, too).  However, there is nothing like the real deal!!  We absolutely love everything I've made from the cookbooks:  frosting, donuts, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, waffles....and for the first time ever bread!  Everything is simply pure Gluten Free goodness!  

So far, we have only visit the Disney location, and hope to one day venture to the NYC and CA locations, too!  Before the new Erin McKenna Bakery NYC at Downtown Disney, you may have visited it as BabyCakes NYC.  They used to share a space with Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Pee...the building next to T-Rex!  

The NEW Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC location had it's grand opening in February this year, and as you can imagine its a huge buzz in the Gluten Free community!  Now, so many more are away of the must have Gluten Free Goodness...must have, and Gluten Free Heaven.  

Since we won't get to visit the new location until October, check out Alexis of Gluten Free in Orlando's Blog post on her visit for the grand opening!  

And...another Blog post from Disney Food Blog.

The exciting news of the new Downtown Disney location of Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC even was featured in the Huffington Post.

 We are no doubt counting down the days until we get to visit the new Erin McKenna Bakery NYC location this October ourselves!   Since it's almost 6 months away, I couldn't wait to share with all of you about of Erin McKenna Bakery NYC love!  No doubt, I'll be doing a blog post about a visit, too!  So...stay tuned!!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

14 Week of "Real Food" Mini-Pledge...who wants to join me?!?!?

It's that time of year that I'm ready to get back on track with healthy eating.  Each year over the winter I slip into my winter hibernation eating...especially this year since we had so much snow!  I'd like to think I'm a pretty healthy eater, and as a celiac we have the perk of not having some of the unhealthy options -such as, fast food.  However, we still have the option of GF processed foods, and it's tough not to grab out of convenience.  

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac in 2003, I went back to the basics of meat, potatoes, veggies, and fruit -so, it's easy to do again, right?!?!  It may be a little more work food prep wise -however, it's so good for you!  Last summer, I came across the 100 days of Real Food, and the Leake Family story...and thought I can do that!  At the time I started, it was easy because it was Famers Market season...oh, how I love farmers markets! Then, as you can guess, I fell of track through the winter since the fruit & veggie selection isn't near as good.  I did, however, do my best to follow the rest of the rules of the pledge -but, at times fell back to processed food out of convenience., I'm jumping back in, and starting with the 14 week of "Real Food" Mini Pledge.  

In addition to the farmers markets, we are hoping to plant our own garden to enjoy naturally, fresh, GF goodness, from our own back yard!  There is nothing like being able to walk to the back year and get your own veggies, and berries!  

Now, here is the question...who wants to join me in taking the pledge?!?!?  

Stay tuned for WEEK 1:  Two fruits and/or vegetables per meal....

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pittsburgh GF Eats

In the beautiful, Pittsburgh area we have some pretty amazing Gluten Free (GF) eats options...and sure there are many more to add to the list that I have yet to discover!  One of my goals is to go out of my GF comfort zone, and discover more amazing options I've yet to try and discover.  But, for now, here is a list of some of our favs:

1) Mandy's Pizza:
If you follow me on FaceBook, you won't be surprised to see that our #1 fav is Mandy's Pizza!  Mandy's is a bit of drive for us -but, SO worth it!  The award winning Mandy's has something to offer for everyone...traditional, vegan, and allergen-free eats.  Mandy's also has food allergies at heart since their son has allergies...and he even created a full line of allergen-free pizza, and mixes the age of 9! 

The rest of the list is listed in no particular order!

2) PF Changs:
In my opinion, PF Changs does it right!  It is such a comfort to me that they plate GF eats on dedicated plates.  All GF plates will be printed, and non GF will be on white plates -so, when your meal is served, you know its yours...and safe!

3) Juniper Grill:
The majority of Junipers menu is naturally GF, and so many options!  So many favs at Juniper...especially their fish tacos, and cheesy smoked brisket dip.  

4) Aladdin's Eatery:  
Love their V-Nine Soup, and tuna stead salads!  They also have several vegetarian/vegan options, too!  

5) Gluuteny:  
Celiac Heaven indeed!  100% Gluten Free & Dairy Free Bakery with endless options...and even mixes to take home to make!  

6) Bonefish Grill:  
The GF menu is not currently listed on their website.  However, when you visit, you just ask the hostess for a GF menu.  We love their wood grilled fish options with lemon butter or mango salsa!  

7) Sunny Bridge:  
Not only do they have lots of GF grocery options, they also have a GF Cafe and Bakery!  

8) Naturally Soergels:
Gluten Free, Allergen-Free, Natural and Organic Store.  In addition to the store, Naturally Soergel's also partners with Mandy's Pizza for seasonal events -such as, Donuts with Santa!   GF options galore...and if they don't have it, you can certainly request it!

9) Chipotle Mexican Grill:  
Depending on your location, Chipotle may be hit or miss.  We have yet to have an issue with our location.  Upon ordering, we state we are Celiacs, and they always pull from fresh ingredients to make our yummy Burrito Bowls.

10) Outback Steakhouse:  
Outback also does not list their GF menu on their website -however, simple request one from the hostess during your visit.  Don't forget to have the chocolate thunder from down under for dessert, too!

11) Red Robin:
Even though Red Robin offers GF bun, I still opt for the lettuce wrap burger.  It can get mess -but, it's oh so good!  Also, love having the option for french fries! 

12 ) BnDz:

UPDATED:  Removed from List.  

13) Mitchell's Fish Market:
We are sea food lovers for sure!  Can't go wrong with Mitchell's.

14) Bravo!  Cucina Italiana
I've noticed at my visits with Bravo! our food tends to take a while -however, to me that is a good thing because it means (so I like to believe) that my food is being prepared with caution.  Love tier Chicken Griglia.   

15) First Watch:
Perfect little place for a quick breakfast, brunch or lunch...with so many options! 

16) Grand Concourse:
Grand Concourse has become our favorite place to enjoy brunch for special occasions.  All our bellies leave very happy every time!  The chefs are amazing...and give you the magical Disney feel!  

One of my biggest rule of thumb and suggestion when eating out is to avoid busy, peak times to avoid  reduce the risk of contamination.  As we all know, even though a GF menu is available, we always have a risk for contamination.  Hope this list helps you...and I hope to expand it with more Pittsburgh eats!  I'd love to hear if there are any of your favs now on the list in the comments below!  

*My apologies for not having pictures of yummy gf goodness from each eats!  For those that offer a GF menu, simply click on their to see their menu options.