Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mani's on Fairfax

Last night was my law prom, and yours truly was named Law Prom Prince! Needless to say, as I'm sure you can recall from your own prom, we imbibed in a little too much of the sauce which made for a rough morning...

Luckily Mäni's on Fairfax saved me! Mäni's is a wonderful breakfast and lunch spot, and its menu is marked as to what can be made gluten free and what already is! Some things (such as the burgers) aren't listed as being GF friendly but with a simple removal of the bun (or whatever the gluten offender is) can easily be made GF. The menu is filled with delicious options like omelettes, huevos over blackstones, fresh fruit smoothies, and great salads. In addition to marking the GF items on the menu, Mäni's also marks Vegan and Vegetarian options as such.

Mäni's is also a bakery that carries some gluten free products. My favorite are the Peanut Butter Bites, which disappeared for a little while because of the peanut recall but I'm glad to say that they are being carried again! The peanut butter bites are deliciously moist and filling; it's hard to believe that they are gluten free. Today was also the first time that I got a taste of Mäni's Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, which didn't disappoint. I've also had the Caramelized Apple Cake, another great GF option. Definitely call ahead to see if they have your favorite!

The previous time I was at Mäni's I also had two celeb sightings: Chi McBride and Kathy Najimy. My friend was dying to profess his love for Kathy's role in "Hocus Pocus," but luckily I was able to restrain him from embarrassing me at my favorite breakfast spot.



Enjoy!

Mäni's on Fairfax
519 South Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Map)
323.938.8800

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March is National Peanut Month!

Did you know that March is National Peanut Month? Well neither did I, but just as I was preparing this post I went to my favorite peanut butter's website and was informed of this important month. So take a moment of silence to remember all of the peanuts that have been important in your life.

OK, with that moment over, let me tell you about my favorite GF peanut butter! It is called "Peanut Butter & Co.," and the company makes a few great gluten free peanut butter flavors. My personal favorite is the Dark Chocolate Dreams brand -- it's a great mix of dark chocolate and peanut butter (in case you couldn't figure it out). Peanut Butter & Co. labels all of their products "Gluten-Free" on the nutrition label if they are GF, so make sure to check the label for the most up-to-date information.



To celebrate National Peanut Month, the company is offering a free Peanut Farmer Starter Kit with any $20 purchase made at our online store. Well okay, fine, I guess it isn't exactly free -- but if you stock up on some PB you can get a free Starter Kit too!

Peanut Butter & Co.
240 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012 (Map)
Available in Ralph's, Whole Foods, and other markets; also available online.
To check for a supermarket near you that carries the product, click here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gluten Free Birthday 2009

I was showered with gluten free treats for my birthday and I would be remiss to not give shout outs to my friends who gave them to me!

I went to school on Thursday, the day before my birthday, with every intention of skipping classes on Friday, March 13th. I mean, who wants to sit in class on their birthday? Luckily my class schedule worked out so I didn't miss anything important.

My friends knew of my devious plan so I was welcomed to school with a delicious tray of Whole Food's GF Walnut Brownies from Lauren and Nathan.



At lunch I was met by Heather and Amy with another set of desserts from the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse -- peanut butter cookies. They were delicious and I think I ate them in about ten minutes.

On Tuesday my friend Sarah and I left for Palm Springs and had a wonderful time. She brought along tons of gluten free snacks from Trader Joe's, including Trader Joe's GF Granola, which I previously posted about. She also brought along some great GF popped chips from Trader Joe's, and I was happy to see that they were well-marked with the "No Gluten Ingredients" label that is so helpful to us Celiacs.

The packages also rolled in. My friend Jon in NYC gave me great gluten free cookies made by Sunflour Baking Company. Jon's family owns a few Robeks shops in Connecticut, and they are thinking of stocking the cookies in their shop. I told them I approved of the Lemon flavor but did not like the Chocolate Chip flavor -- there were barely any chocolate chips in it! I have yet to try the cinnamon flavor...



I received another great package from my friend Jeff in D.C. Jeff knows that I love ThinkThin bars after traveling with me through Israel last summer. He saw me suffer through endless McDonald's as everybody else ate their falafel...and by suffer I mean live off McFlurrys. Not such a bad life. So Jeff sent me some ThinkThin bars along with a package of Trader Joe's dark chocolate mixed nuts! He also sent me a delicious mocha chocolate bar snack from TJ's, conveniently marked "No Gluten Ingredients" as well.

And last but certainly not least, my friend Ashley sent me a delicious Edible Arrangement! My roommate Vanessa and I are still working on the arrangement because it was HUGE. I must admit, I had always been wary of giving an Edible Arrangement to somebody as a gift. However, after this experience, I'm hooked. The fruit was fresh, the local Edible Arrangement shop (there is one right in Downtown L.A. by 7th & Figueroa) was incredibly helpful in working out a delivery time, and it was an enormous arrangement.



Thanks to everybody for all of the great GF snacks!!! You made this birthday great.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Gluten-Free Food and Beverage Boom

I thought that some of you might be interested in an article on some GF statistics. Did you know that by 2012 the gluten free food market will generate over $2.5 billion in sales? Incredible.

The article chronicles the explosion of gluten free products available at this year's Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA and gives a few reasons as to why this is the case.

"The Gluten-Free Food and Beverage Boom"
Published by The Gourmet Retailer
3/15/09

L.A.'s Only GF Bakery!

I absolutely love "The Sensitive Baker." It is L.A.'s only exclusively gluten free bakery, and the delicious, freshly baked treats are great! The shop owner, Sandee, is also super friendly and has always been very helpful when I need to pick out great gluten free vegan treats. Although I am not a vegan, I'll usually pick something up for my roommate


The shop has cookies, cupcakes, Mac & cheese, breadsticks, bagels, and brownies. My personal favorites are the brownies -- warm them up in your microwave and they are a delicious treat!



There is only one downside to The Sensitive Baker for me, and that is the shop's hours. Unfortunately it is not open on Saturday and is open on Sunday from 10am-2pm. I'm always in the library and can't make it out during the week (when it is open from 10am-6pm Monday through Thursday). However, I've heard a rumor that the Bakery also sells its goods up in Hollywood at a late-night store... I'll check out the shop and post again soon once I can put the rumors to rest.

Enjoy!

The Sensitive Baker
10836 1/2 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232 (Map)
310.815.1800

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rationalized Treats, Part II

This is volume two in the blog entries that are closest to my hearts: the ones about candy! After living with Celiac through a few Halloweens, I know a thing or two about which candies are and are not gluten free.

Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free treats:

Starburst: All Flavors and Starburst Jelly Beans


Skittles: All Flavors!


Milky Way: All Flavors!


Snickers: All Flavors!


Sour Patch Kids: All Flavors!


Enjoy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

CedarLane Products

I've found over the years that it's not always easy to buy lunch during the work day. Many people opt for sandwiches, easily bought at most cafes, salads with possibly dangerous dressings, or an easy slice of pizza. These options aren't always available to us Celiacs but I've recently found a wonderful alternative to bring with you to your workplace!
CedarLane makes a few different frozen gluten free lunch and dinner options that are really delicious. The best part about these products is that CedarLane explicitly and prominently marks all of their products as gluten free right on the front of the box!

So far I've had the Low Fat Black Bean & Tofu Enchilada Meal (delicious), the Low Fat Garden Vegetable Enchiladas (terrific), and the Five Layer Mexican Dip (delectable). There are a few other products that are gluten free and they can all be found on the website.
CedarLane products are available at your local grocer -- I usually pick them up from the Ralph's by my house.

CedarLane Products: Official Site and Available at THESE grocers
Ralph's L.A. Locations

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's My Birthday!

And I'll cry if I want to! It will be a short post today, but I thought I would include a few pictures from gluten free birthdays of the past...

Birthday 2006

For my first gluten free birthday, my sister made me a gluten free breakfast!

Birthday 2007, Part I:

I was living with a Spanish family in Madrid at the time and they made me an amazing Spanish custard! It was so delicious, very light and fluffy.

Birthday 2007, Part II:

During Semana Santa I went to visit a friend from college and a friend from high school in Greece (and we took a little trip to Turkey). My friend and I celebrated my 21st on top of Lykavittos Hill in Athens; the views were beautiful and we watched the sunset over the sprawling city of Athens.

Birthday 2007, Part III:

By now, you can tell that I like dragging out my birthday for as long as possible. Fortunately my birthday fell around Semana Santa, which is the Spanish spring break. Also, in my defense, this was my 21st birthday so it had to be over-the-top. So I did a little bit of celebrating before my birthday (with my host family), then celebrated in Greece and Turkey, and then finished up with some celebrating in Madrid with my friends. My amazing friend Carolyn somehow found a gluten free bakery in Madrid (don't ask me how; suffice it to say this girl is AMAZING) so we celebrated with that. Incredible!!!

Birthday 2008:

My roommate Clara made me an awesome gluten free birthday cake -- and I left 5 hours later for a 10 day vacation in Costa Rica. Great birthday.


Needless to say, we (read: I) ate the entire thing.

And there you have it -- this is my 4th birthday as a Celiac. Obviously the birthdays have become a bit more sophisticated over the year... I wonder what treats I'll dig up this year!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Faux Ramen Noodles

I recently mentioned on a post that I struggle without Ramen Noodles. But now I think I've found my replacement! Thai Kitchen makes a delicious set of gluten free, easily made noodles. The company's Original Pad Thai, Pad Thai with Chili, Thai Peanut Stir-Fry Rice Noodles, and Lemongrass & Chili Stir-Fry Rice Noodles are all gluten free (and marked gluten free).

The Thai Kitchen stir fry rice noodles are delicious and really simply made. They are another great idea to bring along to your workplace at lunch. Thai Kitchen also makes Instance Rice Noodle Soup, Rice Noodle Soup Bowls, Jasmine Rice Mixes, and a few other items that are gluten free. Make sure to check the product for an explicit "GLUTEN FREE" statement on its ingredients label. Normally it's listed in very noticeable red lettering. Check HERE for a complete listing of allergens in Thai Kitchen's products.

Enjoy!

Thai Kitchen Products
List of Allergens

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tinkyáda -- It's Amoré


It isn't easy finding gluten free pasta and it certainly took a long time. I think I've finally found my favorite brand: Tinkyáda. Tinkyáda exclusively makes gluten and wheat free pasta. The consistency is great, it doesn't taste "fake" as a lot of other brands do, and it cooks just like normal pasta.

As a student I stick to the basics, and without being able to eat Ramen Noodles I've found my replacement in Tinkyáda noodles. Granted they are a bit more expensive... oh well!

Tinkyáda Products

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's GF Cookbook

Elisabeth Hasselbeck appeared on Jay Leno last night and plugged her gluten free cookbook, The G-Free Diet. Unfortunately there are no clips available yet from last night's appearance, but I will post it if it becomes available. You can order the book here!



In the meantime, you can enjoy this old clip from The View with Dr. Peter Green, the Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.



Updated!: Found it! HERE is the link to the entire episode of The Tonight Show with Elisabeth Hasselbeck... but she doesn't really talk about Celiac except for a brief bit at 30:40 when Jay mistakenly thinks she is trying to get rid of her G-Spot. It's strange how she went on the show to talk about her upcoming book and Jay treated her as if she were a spokesperson for Conservatives in the U.S. We want to hear more about the book!

Trader Joe's GF Brownie Baking Mix

I'll be upfront: I'm not a baker. My roommate Vanessa and I recently embarked on my first baking experience. Now I'm not sure if I can ever turn back; I'm addicted.

We started off with something very simple -- a Trader Joe's Gluten Free Brownie baking mix. With only six steps, listed on the back of the package, until I was gorging ourselves on GF brownies, I thought I could do it.



Boy was I wrong. Even with Vanessa's professional help, the brownies were a disaster. I'm not sure if this is my fault or the mixes fault, but after following the directions exactly (mixing 1 Egg, 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, 1/4 Cup Water, and brownie mix) neither of us felt like the mix was meshing correctly. We added some Blue Diamond Almond Breeze to try and get some more liquid involved, and then it seemed to be working better.



Then we added some Trader Joe's White Baking Chips (also gluten free) to the mix to enhance the flavor.



After pouring the mix into the bowl as directed on the mix's package, I put the brownies into the oven. 30 minutes later, the brownies still weren't done. 1 hour later, they STILL weren't done. I'll take the blame and won't place it on Trader Joe's -- I think adding the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze was a step in the wrong direction. Whoops.

The results were mixed. Of course I'm still eating them (I'm a starving law school student, can't throw away edible GF brownies), but I would definitely not serve them to any of my friends.

I'm interested to know -- has anybody tried this mix with better results?

Anyway, despite my failed first foray into gluten free baking, I'll be writing with more attempts soon.

Enjoy!

Trader Joe's L.A. Locations

Monday, March 9, 2009

Link between Autism and Celiac?

Researchers at USC's Keck School of Medicine recently found a link between gastrointestinal disorders (such as Celiac) and autism. Check out the full article here.

As reported in the article, many parents of autistic children place their children on gluten and casein free diets, noting a link between the diet and their child's improved social skills. Casein is a protein found in cow milk and cheese.

The finding is important -- perhaps not particularly for us Celiacs, but it's an important step in finding ways to better understand Autism and help children inflicted with the development disorder.

Keck School of Medicine Press Release: "USC Researchers find gene variant that links autism with gastrointestinal dysfunction."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hugo's in WeHo

Hugo's is my absolute favorite gluten free restaurant in L.A. I'm a regular, dining there at least every other week. Located in WeHo, just a few blocks from The Abbey, Fiesta Cantina, and, my personal favorite, Millions of Milkshakes (check out my previous post here), Hugo's is a great spot for gluten-free eating -- they label everything on the menu as to whether it can be made gluten free!



The food is Healthy American; they have meat on the menu with plenty of fish, vegetarian, and vegan options as well. The restaurant labels vegan and vegetarian options similarly to its gluten free options.

Hugo's is a must try for all L.A. Celiacs. My recommendation: start with the Deconstructed Black Bean Nachos, order a strawberry mojito (or a pitcher, depending on how long your day of work was), and then check out the ever-changing specials. I've ordered the Tofu Mole, Stir Fry, and Very Green Casserole and have not once been disappointed. The restaurant also has terrific gluten free desserts!

Not only is Hugo's a delicious gluten free restaurant, it's also a celebrity hotspot. Recently, Zac Efron was spotted eating lunch at Hugo's, and when I was there in January I saw James Cromwell (of "Babe," "Spider-Man 3" and the recent "W."). A quick Google search lead me to plenty of other celebrity sightings at Hugo's, but the restaurant is very relaxed and low-key. As the weather gets warmer, Hugo's will open its outdoor patio which is great for summer dinners.


The food will not dissapoint and neither will the atmosphere. It's great for dates or just going with friends. I've also heard that the brunch menu is terrific, but I have yet to try it out. The restaurant also has a location in Studio City/North Hollywood that I haven't visited (I have yet to cross the threshold into the . . . dum dum duuuummm . . . VALLEY).

Hugo's Restaurant
8401 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069 (Map)
323.654.3993

or

12851 Riverside Drive
North Hollywood, CA 91607 (Map)
818.761.8985

Babycakes NYC

OK, OK, I know this blog is dedicated to eating gluten free in L.A. But as a native (upstate) New Yorker, and somebody who has frequented the city, I can say without reservation that one of the things I miss most about New York City is Babycakes.



Babycakes is a terrific bakery that is almost exclusively gluten free. Located in Manhattan's Lower East Side (and when I say Lower, I mean Lower -- it's very close to Delancey), Babycakes is a New York outpost for amazing gluten free baked goods.

Of course, you may be asking why I posted NYC info on this exclusively L.A. blog. Well, some people like to travel (I know that I would give anything to take a subway instead of drive my car right now) and, more importantly, the bakery delivers! Of course delivery is a bit expensive out here to L.A., but if you are bulk ordering then it is a terrific idea to order from Babycakes. The owner, Erin McKenna, is wonderful and super friendly every time I go in. Below, you can see her on the Food Network talking about us Celiacs and how she came to bake gluten free.



If you are ever visiting New York City, you must stop in to Babycakes. The shop is wonderfully decorated, the help is very friendly, and the baked goods are amazing.

Another great thing: Babycakes is coming out with a cookbook! You can pre-order it now on Amazon (order it here!) for its imminent release on May 5th, 2009.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the bakery is planning to open a West Coast outpost. Originally planned for opening in Summer 2008, the bakery now has no specific opening date. It will be opening very close to the Grove at the intersection of Beverly Blvd & N. Gardner Street (check out the map here). Hopefully the bakery will open sooner rather than later, although when I last heard they had no specific opening date.

Babycakes NYC
248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow)
New York, NY 10002 (Map)
212.677.5047

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chex GF Recipes

This will be a very short post, but as I was checking out websites for my gluten free cereal suggestions, I stumbled along THIS site. There are plenty of GF recipes provided by Chex here that might be great to bring along to you with a party. You know, those parties that, when you go to them, have no available GF food? Well now you can bring a GF chex mix with you.



Enjoy!
Gluten Free Chex Recipes

Good Morning, Gluten! Part I

One of the first question people usually ask me when I tell them about being Celiac is, "What do you do for breakfast?"

So many people rely on cereal, biscuits, muffins, and similar foods for breakfast. Obviously, us Celiacs are limited to those foods and can't pick them up on the go. However, there are tons of GF alternatives that you can pick up that are just as tasty as their gluten filled alternatives.

I was a cereal fanatic before being diagnosed. After being diagnosed, it took me a long time to find cereals that I liked. After becoming a skillful navigator of ingredient labels, I've come up with a few great GF breakfast cereals. Warning!!!: Please always read the labels of the cereals that are not marked gluten free in case their ingredients change.

My Favorite GF Cereals:
-Rice Chex: This brand now very prominently marks itself gluten free and is available at all major markets.
-Trix: If you have a gluten free child, Trix are gluten free. While they aren't marked GF, I have checked their ingredients and called the company; I was told by the company that they are not yet able to mark them GF because they are not produced in a GF dedicated facility.
-Fruity Pebbles: Also GF but not marked as such.
-Gorilla Munch: This is a more specialized cereal that is not available at all grocery stores. I usually pick it up from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's; these taste like Kix but are a bit sweeter (they have sea salt in them). Very good! These are marked GF.
-Kix***: GF but not marked as such. *** - See Update Below
-Peanut Butter Panda Puffs: Great for kids, this is marked gluten free and is made by EnviroKidz (like Gorilla Munch above).

Granola:
Granola is normally an issue because of the oats contained in it. However I've found two great gluten free alternatives to add to your yogurt or just take with you on the go!
-Trader Joe's Gluten Free Granola: Obviously this granola is only available at Trader Joe's. It is a great crunchy snack food and comes in two delicious flavors: Loaded Fruit & Nut and Cranberry Maple Nut.

-Bakery on Main's Gluten Free Granola: This is a great alternative to Trader Joe's GF granola, but may be more difficult to find. I normally go to Whole Foods to pick it up, and ordering through the website is another great idea. This granola is also great and comes in a few different flavors: Orange Cashew, Rainforest, Apple Raisin Walnut, Nutty Maple Cranberry, Extreme Fruit and Nut.
-The Laughing Giraffe Gluten Free Raw Granola: This is a great granola but is also very expensive (about $9/bag). This is available at Whole Foods and is available through the website. It's a great granola, but for adding granola to your yogurt I would go with Trader Joe's or Bakery on Main.

UPDATE:

A discerning reader just sent me an e-mail telling me that she went to her local market and checked out the Kix (thanks Lindsey!). Luckily, she read the ingredients on her box and saw that the box she picked up used oats in its production. However, I just re-checked my box here at home and saw that it was gluten free (although not marked as such). I've included a picture of the box I picked up below -- you will notice that it is a new box design. They may be rolling this new recipe out slowly, so please make sure to check your Kix carefully before enjoying!



Look for more breakfast ideas later -- Enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

SoyJoy Gift

After last night's long stay in the library, my classmate Lauren Wright and I bonded over being Boston outcasts here in L.A. We also sit next to each other in our Constitutional Law class, and this morning she surprised me with a tasty treat: two SoyJoy bars.

I've never tried SoyJoy before because, frankly, they always seemed gross to me. I can't aritculate a particular reason, but among the plentiful options of fruit bars they never particularly appealed to me.



Well, thanks to a care package from Mama Wright, Lauren has changed my mind. Mama W sent Lauren a care package full of SoyJoys and, after noticing they are gluten free, brought me two SoyJoy bars for me to try. I just ate the Mango Coconut bar that she gave me, and I am now a changed man. I loved it! It is a nice light snack, delicious, and free of gluten. There are 6 flavors, all gluten free!

Now I can't wait to eat the Raisin Almond one...thanks Lauren and Mama Wright!

SoyJoy Website
Available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Death by Chocolate mmmm

Hello! I'm Alyssa, Stephen's sister. My designated position in our household is the baker, and whenever Stephen comes home (which is far too rare an occasion) I handle most of the gluten free baking. i try and make stephen as many goodies as possible, because it seems so hard to find good gluten free goodies! but as any food would, stephen scoped out the l.a. scene and has devoted some of his spare time to finding the best available gluten free options.

Though i am not restricted to a gluten free diet by any means, I have become quite the connoisseur of all that is gluten free, since my taste buds are not used to it I can pick out flavors well.

My absolute favorite is a trifle called Death by Chocolate.

Death by Chocolate Recipe
-2 pans of brownies ( if using brownie mix, two separate bags of brownie mix. I use Pamela's products brand. and i always bake for less than directed!)
-2 containers of cool whip lite, at room temp
-chocolate pudding (using this recipe)
because it is more reliable to be gluten free than the boxed kind! I also make two batches of it to ensure there is enough.
-one bag of toffee bits (normally found in the baking section by the chocolate chips)

Once the brownies are cooled, get your favorite trifle dish ready for assembly.
-break up brownies and cover the bottom of the dish.
-add pudding to cover the brownie layer.
-add cool whip on top of the pudding (it doesn't have to be perfect!)
-sprinkle some toffee bits
-REPEAT! until all ingredients are gone.
-put in refrigerator until ready to serve. you can take it out a few
minutes before serving. some people like it room temperature but some
people like it very cold.
-enjoy, it is very chocolate-y, hence the name death by chocolate,
which is lovingly replaced by the acronym "DBC" in our household!



I'll be guest blogging often with more recipes and ideas for mixes.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New ThinkThin Product

I just found out about a great new product for Celiacs on the go: ThinkThin Bites! I've previously posted about my love of ThinkThin Bars (find it here) and all of the other great ThinkProducts and am excited to try out the company's newest product: ThinkThin Bites.



ThinkThin Bites are smaller versions of the company's ThinkThin Bars. Full-size ThinkThin bars contain 20g of protein, while the new ThinkThin bites contain 11g of protein. While they are marketed as weight loss bars, I use them as great on-the-go GF snacks, particularly when I don't have time in the morning to make a lunch. I have yet to try the company's ThinkThin Bites, but all three flavors (Chocolate Toffee Nut, Cookies and Cream, White Chocolate Raspberry) are certified gluten free. These bars are a great to bring with you when traveling, as they provide plenty of protein and are absolutely delicious.

I have loved every ThinkProduct I've tried in the past and I am hoping these don't disappoint! If you have already tried them, please leave me a comment and let me know if you enjoyed them.

Enjoy!

ThinkProducts
Available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, select other grocers, and through the company's website.