Monday, May 31, 2010

ThinkThin Crunch

Just thought I would give you readers a heads up -- ThinkProducts is coming out with a new protein bar called ThinkCrunch.  It will be available beginning tomorrow, June 1st and is gluten free.

Check out more information here.  Check out my previous post on ThinkThin bars here, my post on ThinkThin Bites here, and another post on ThinkThin dessert bars here.

Friday, May 28, 2010


While celebrating my brother's graduation in Philadelphia, my father made sure that Buddakan was on our list of restaurants to visit.  Maybe he saw it in the original Sex and the City movie during Mr. Big and Carrie's wedding dinner rehearsal.  Well... I know that isn't the case, but Buddakan is a well reviewed restaurant with locations in both Philadelphia and New York and for some reason my dad was particularly pumped to check it out.

The night before Jeff's graduation we headed over for a late dinner reservation.  After catching a red eye to Philadelphia the night before, I was happy for the late reservation because it gave me adequate time to nap and recover from the flight.

I was a little nervous about eating at Buddakan because of it being mostly Asian food (with no sushi in sight).  I generally stay away from Asian food because of the sauces that are used in preparing many of the dishes.  My parents assured me that I would be able to find something to eat, and they were definitely right.  When I told my waiter that I was gluten free, he happily brought me out a gluten free menu detailing all of the options that I had.  I apologize for the blurry picture below -- my cell phone camera is in dire need of an update, I know.  Hopefully they'll come out with the iPhone for Verizon soon.

The restaurant serves its food up family style, so you should definitely go with people who are open to sharing gluten free dishes with you.  Luckily I wasn't eating gluten free alone -- my brother's girlfriend is also gluten free so we were able to split our dishes.  We ordered the singapore noodles, pad thai, sesame crusted tuna, and edamame.

The food was out of this world.  It's been so long since I've had pad thai that I forgot how great it was.  Buddakan's take on the dish was great, particularly on the side of the sesame crusted tuna.  I'm normally not a big fan of tuna, but I absolutely loved that dish and would definitely order it if I were to visit Buddakan again.

I wholeheartedly recommend Buddakan to gluten free people in Philadelphia for a fancy dinner out.  For you New Yorkers, Asia de Cuba is another great option with a gluten free menu.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
325 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Map)
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011 (Map)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Freedom Bakery Visit

It's been a little while since I originally posted about Sweet Freedom Bakery (original post here).  I was recently in Philadelphia and, based on the enormously positive reaction of my brother, Jeff, and Morgan, his girlfriend, after their visit to the bakery, knew that it was on my list of places to go.

After a rather simple red eye flight (no crying babies, had the aisle, sneaked in some sleep), we headed to breakfast at Marathon Grill.  I ordered a light breakfast because I knew the big stop of the day was up next.  My brother was dying to take me to Sweet Freedom.  He's never been to Babycakes with me so he didn't have a yardstick with which to compare gluten free baked goods, but the fact that he would willingly go to the bakery and eat the products knowing they were gluten free spoke to the quality of the treats.

We were some of the first customers and asked a lot of questions to the girl working behind the counter.  What did she recommend?  What else does the bakery make?  What is business like?  Do you have a lot of foot traffic visiting?  She graciously answered all of our questions and helped guide us through some of the options.  Morgan and Jeff were the veterans there to help me in my decision-making (and to have snacks for themselves, of course).

On that first trip we shared a slice of banana chocolate chip loaf, a cookiewich, and some other assorted items.  Probably more important than what I ordered is how the items were.  They were astonishingly delectable -- awesomely moist as I remember gluten-filled baked goods while still being good for those of us with sensitive stomachs.  The entire bakery is free of corn, gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts and refined sugars.  Days later, as I sit here and write this, I'm still reeling from how delicious Sweet Freedom's baked goods are without having any of that nasty stuff listed above.  I also appreciate that the bakery lists the ingredients of each of its products.

Of course, my visit to Philadelphia wouldn't be complete with just one stop at Sweet Freedom.  No, I had to go back for more with my sister Alyssa when she arrived.  When I visited with Alyssa it was a Friday afternoon and the shop had mint chocolate chip cookie sandwiches.  Mouthwatering, insanely succulent cooke sandwiches, that is.  

This may be pushing... but I visited the bakery for a third time.  I just couldn't get enough!  My family and I had an early breakfast on Sunday morning before they went out to the 'burbs and I was left to fend for myself in the city.  My flight was at 4pm, so I didn't need to be at the airport until about 2pm -- plenty of time to walk over to Sweet Freedom's location.  They had a delicious chocolate crumble cake being served up -- how could I say no?  The photo to the left is the half-eaten slice of chocolate crumble cake that I indulged in.  Every single item I tried from this shop was amazing, there wasn't one stinker.  Oh, well... I didn't love the magic bars, but that was more my personal preference instead of the bakery's skills with the ovens.

As I talked to the co-owner, I tried to convince her to open up a shop in Los Angeles.  She said she was more prone to open in La Jolla down by San Diego.  I'd accept that, if only so I could have Sweet Freedom Bakery's awesome treats a little closer to home.  They do ship nationwide, but shipping charges to Los Angeles looked a bit steep: $60-something dollars for overnight shipping.  Eek!

Next time you're in D.C. or New York City and are thinking of a day trip, why not make your way to Philly and indulge in some awesome treats?  It's relatively close and I really enjoyed my time in the city.  There's so much history there and it's small enough to be totally walkable.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
1424 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146 (Map)
Follow Sweet Freedom on Twitter Here

20th Anniversary Celiac Disease Foundation Conference

I was initially hesitant about attending the 20th Annual Education Conference and Food Faire organized by the Celiac Disease Foundation.  Would I learn anything new?  Would there be good exhibitors?  Fortunately the answer to both those question after having attending is a resounding yes!

The morning kicked off early with 8 a.m. registration.  I was a little daunted by the early start time, but it was made much better by the samples of gluten free Bisquick that they offered to conference attendants.  Bisquick will release the gluten free mix this summer.  I can happily report that the pancakes were great!  I also inquired about the price and was told that the mix should be at a price point similar to Betty Crocker's Gluten Free mixes.

Speakers included Dr. Peter Green from Columbia's Celiac Disease Research Center at Columbia University, Daniel C. Adelman of Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Sheila Crowe of the University of Virginia.  Dr. Green discussed the prevalence of Celiac Disease worldwide, causes for the increase in diagnoses in recent years, and the results of a Celiac eating gluten.  I enjoyed his discussion but was more interested in Dr. Adelman's; he discussed the potential treatments of Celiac Disease.  Most importantly, he stressed that his company was in no way trying to permanently replace the gluten free diet.  From his presentation that did not seem to be a viable option.  Instead, his company is aiming to create a pill similar to Lactaid which would allow Celiacs to infrequently imbibe in gluten (or use the pill in circumstances in which cross-contamination is likely).

I could go on and on about the conference -- check out the program here.  There were an enormous amount of exhibitors including Betty Crocker, Namaste Foods, Pamela's, Mary's Gone Cracker (one of my personal favorites -- the pretzels are great), So Delicious, Edward & Sons, Bard's Tale Beer Co.,  Pure Fit, and French Meadow Bakery, to name a few.

Betty Crocker was also showing off their Asian and Hamburger Helpers, both of which will soon be marked "Gluten Free" and sold in supermarkets nationwide.  I tried the Chicken Fried Rice flavor of Asian Helper -- it was delicious!  I can't wait for it to be on store shelves.

Again, there is so much more to say about the conference that I can't express in a blog post.  All in all, I'm really happy I attended and had the chance to here Dr. Green speak, meet a few readers and fellow Celiacs, and pick up tons of great samples.  I'm definitely looking forward to next year.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Celiac Disease Foundation

Babycakes Bingo!

Yeesh -- it's been so long since I've posted that I think my web browser has forgot how to load Blogger!  I truly apologize for the delay; final exams consumed my life from Mid-April to Mid-May and I've been traveling from coast to coast recently.  I have a ton of great posts lined up for next week so you have that to look forward to.

In the meantime, I was fortunate to attend Babycakes' inaugural Babycakes Bingo tonight.  It is always a party when I visit Babycakes, making it one of my favorite gluten free spots in Los Angeles.  The people who work at Babycakes make the place a great place to visit as they are friendly, knowledgeable about gluten sensitivities, and generally nice people.  The design of the store is also cool and, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the treats are out-of-this-world amazing.

Tonight I brought my friend Lauren along for the ride.  Lauren's a picky eater -- last week I invited her to the opening of a raw vegan restaurant in Echo Park and she opted not to attend because she didn't think she could handle it.  OK OK fine, raw and vegan might be a lot to handle, but I'm very proud of Lauren for checking out Babycakes since there are no dead animals in any of the bakery's products.  Somehow they accomplish magical taste without dead animals -- crazy!

Anyways, back to bingo:  I've been tweeting with Babycakes' L.A. location and, after a little back and forth, tonight was confirmed as the first Bingo night.  Lauren and I showed up with time to spare before the 8pm start.  We split a cookie sandwich (divine) and a brownie mint cupcake (my personal favorite cupcake) before the games started.  For every $2 that you spend, you get a bingo card!

In total we played four games.  Lauren and I make a great team, as we won three of those four games!  For each game we won we were given two cupcakes.  For the first round we opted for a strawberry and an orange cupcake.  The strawberry cupcake was unbelievable!  The frosting was fresh and smooth and the cupcake itself packed a powerful strawberry flavor that made my night.  I didn't love the orange one as much (sorry!) but strawberry is now competing with brownie mint as my personal favorite Babycakes cupcake.  It may be a duel to the death.

The bingo games were accompanied by riddles, jokes, crowd shout outs, and a generally lively atmosphere.  I told my friend Lauren that I might make her join me for tequila shots down the street at the new bar Las Perlas before we head to Babycakes next time so we liven up the crowd.  For the first night, there was definitely a good showing of people.

For the second and third rounds of cupcakes we chose a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, and two strawberries.  I indulged myself and had the chocolate cupcake right there in Babycakes; we took the rest to go.

Babycakes will be holding its Bingo every Tuesday night from 8pm-9pm.  I know I'll be there frequently  -- hope to see you there too!

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
130 E. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Map)
248 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002 (Map)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gluten Allergy Shout Out on "SNL"

Did any of you catch this?  Check out the gluten allergy shout out (hollaaaaaaaaa) at the end of this un-aired skit.  Thanks Liam for sending it along.

Do you love it or do you love it?

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Feature: Print!

Today as I was printing out articles from various internet news sources I was frustrated that certain sites didn't have a simple "Print" button that removed the images and gave me only the text.

I decided to add a simple "Print" button to my blog -- you can find it at the bottom of every post from now on.  Let me know how it works for you -- I've been testing it out and am happy with it so far.  It will be useful if you need to print out any recipes (more of which I'll be publishing this summer) or any other posts.  I'm really excited to print out my sister's Death by Chocolate recipe and make it for a Memorial Day BBQ!

Do you love it or do you love it?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yumnuts Naturals

Just found a great new product: Yumnuts.  Admittedly, I can't think about the name without thinking of the grade school insult "numb nuts"... but that's neither here nor there.

Best part: they are marked gluten free and delicious!  Of course I went straight for the chocolate flavor because I'm a chocolate fiend.  I've had plenty of chocolate covered treats before -- I often buy the dark and milk chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe's which are good, but Yumnuts are definitely better.  The Trader Joe's nuts have a much thicker coating than Yumnuts and practically drown in chocolate -- not that so much chocolate is a bad thing, but Yumnuts taste a bit healthier and less like a treat.

The company makes other flavors, including sea salt, spicy cajun, and honey, amongst others.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Yumnuts Natural

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Generation Gluten-Free" Documentary

The director of "Generation Gluten-Free," Susan Cohen, recently contacted me and offered to send me along a copy of the documentary.  I took her up on the offer because I wanted to learn more about the history of Celiac Disease.  A lot of people ask me very specific questions about the science of Celiac Disease and the development of products over the years; watching the documentary helped fill in some of the blanks.

I especially enjoyed that much of the documentary was filmed at Risotteria and Peter's Restaurant, both in New York City.  Risotteria was one of the first gluten free restaurants I visited after being diagnosed with Celiac in June 2005 so it was nice to see the owner speak on camera about the development of his gluten free products.

The documentary was informative but very focused on the development of gluten free support in and around the northeast, particularly near New York City.  Regardless, the DVD is a great look into the formation of effective support groups -- a great lesson for Celiacs nationwide.  Many of the people interviewed in the DVD were diagnosed more than 50 years ago, when finding information was truly difficult.  Now with blogs, twitter, dedicated gluten free magazines and the like, finding such information isn't nearly as arduous as it once was.  I wonder how new media will affect Celiacs nation- and world-wide.  I think the readily available information about Celiac Disease has exponentially increased the amount of products, news, and resources that are available to Celiacs.  With new media continuing to expand and more people being diagnosed with Celiac it is likely that development in the Celiac community will continue to skyrocket.

I take Susan Cohen's "Generation Gluten-Free" as a rallying cry to Celiacs nationwide to become involved in the community to push retailers, restaurant owners, and common folk to be more receptive to gluten free needs.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Generation Gluten-Free