Miscellany: Coffee Flour and Gluten-Free Pastry Demo

Guess what? That fruit that’s usually discarded when coffee beans are harvested is now

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credit: coffee flour.com

available as a gluten-free flour! Dan Belliveau, one the Director of Technical Services at Starbucks, came up with the idea to salvage the wasted fruit his company calls coffee flour (it doesn’t really taste like coffee, though). It’s full of potassium, iron, protein, and fiber, so it’s a healthy addition to gluten-free baked goods. In addition to providing a unique, new healthy ingredient for people interested in healthy diets, harvesting the fruit will provide jobs and new sources of income for people in some of the most poverty-stricken places in the world. The flour is not available in brick and mortar stores, though, so I just ordered some from Nuts.com. It’s also available from Marx’s Pantry for the same price per pound, but Marx’s pantry charges $12 shipping (vs $5.99 for shipping from Nuts.com). I’m not here to sell anything to anyone; I’m just super excited about the find and want to share the info!  Continue reading

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Gluten-Free Cookie Coated Peppermint Truffles

Another January arrives; another Christmas now lives on in memory and hearts, only. Christmas time is christmastruly the best time of the year. The weather, though not exactly frigid, is less harshly hot. Houses and lawns sparkle with brightly colored lawn decoration and lights. Selections from Handel’s Messiah flow through the air in random places. My favorite Bible verses from the books of Isaiah and St Luke are highlighted in the liturgical readings of Advent. I can finally watch the original The Bishop’s Wife (1947), the original Christmas in Connecticut (1945), the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Scrooged (1988), A Christmas Story (1983), and Elf (2003) openly without comment from family and friends. Limited edition Christmas products show up on store shelves, and we indulge in delicious, favorite foods we cook, bake, and eat only during this most glorious of seasons.

This year, we added a new treat to our canon of Christmas comestibles: gluten-free cookie coated peppermint truffles. For years I’ve made truffles by hand, but only at Christmas time. I used a fairly easy truffle recipe, rather unsophisticated but easy enough for Jacob, Christopher, and Elizabeth to help with the making and rolling when they were younger. Over the past year, however, I have devoured and re-devoured a used copy of  Alice Medrich’s combination memoir and cookbook Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate (2003). Inspired by Medrich’s work to create classic ganache truffles, I decided to use her technique and recipe to make some classic truffles for Christmas. Beginning in November, I made a couple of practice batches. I wanted to know what I was doing, come Christmas time. For my first attempt at truffle-making, I made a dark chocolate cognac ganache, which I coated in dark chocolate, then rolled in pumpkin pie spice. These turned out pretty well, actually; the centers were velvety and the flavor combination was scrumptious . Continue reading

Pizza Hut Announces Certified Gluten-Free Pizza

When I first saw the sign at a Pizza Hut announcing the arrival of gluten-free pizza, I was skeptical. Phil asked me if I

Image from pizzahut.com

Image from pizzahut.com

wanted to try it, and remembering the Domino’s Pizza gluten-free pizza debacle (about which I only read, but never experienced), I decided I’d hold off a while. A plethora of pizza restaurants are offering safely gluten-free pizza these days, so I felt no need to take the Pizza Hut gluten-free purity test. Still, I was curious about Pizza Hut’s success in offering a gluten-free pizza that can be safely consumed by people who have Celiac or suffer from gluten-intolerance. I decided to look into it and found that the Pizza Hut people have taken strong measures to prevent the cross-contamination of its gluten-free pizzas. I don’t know the price of the Pizza Hut gluten-free pizza, but I’m willing to bet that it’s probably less expensive than gluten-free pizzas offered by more exclusive pizza restaurants Currently, Pizza Hut offers its gluten-free pizzas in two flavors: pepperoni and cheese. Customers can order more toppings than pepperoni, of course, but the the Pizza Hut people explain that with the ingredients will have to come from bins from which are taken the ingredients for the regular pizzas; therefore, cross-contamination is more likely if additional ingredients are added to the gluten-free pizzas. Several Pizza Huts in ATX, Cedar Park, and SATX offer the new gluten-free pizza. Has anyone tried the Pizza Hut gluten-free pizza? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you think of it!

Marvelous Gluten-Free Pizza at Mellow Mushroom

I just recently experienced one of the most delicious gluten-free pizza’s I’ve ever tasted. I like to take my mom out to mellow mushroom pizza 2lunch once a month, and I usually choose restaurants to which she hasn’t been; I try to choose restaurants to which I’ve never been, either. Ever since Mellow Mushroom began offering gluten-free pizza, I’ve been meaning to try it. My mom lives in San Antonio, so for our January lunch outing, I took her to the San Antonio location: 115 North Loop 1604 East (2426 Guadalupe St, in ATX). Mellow Mushroom gluten-free pizza is made with Smart Flour crusts, so it’s vegan as well as gluten-free. The ingredients of the pizza crust are listed on the Smart Flour website.

mellow mushroom 1Our entire experience at the restaurant was pleasant. The service is impeccable; several people in addition to our very attentive server stopped by our table to make sure my mom and I had everything we needed. Most of the regular pizza offerings can be made gluten-free; my mother and I both wanted to try the Kosmic Karma: Red sauce base with feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and Roma tomatoes with a pesto swirl. Since we wanted to try the same pizza, my mom said she would just share the gluten-free pizza with me. We also each ordered the Greek dinner salad.  The salad was a  common Greek salad, but a better quality than the salads I’ve been served a restaurants lately (an increasing number of restaurants seem to be serving smaller salads with more lettuce cores or wilted lettuce, and a paucity of tomatoes, cucumbers, etc).

The pizza itself was pretty amazing. The ingredients were flavorful, and the crust was perfectly tender, yet crisp. The crust looked and tasted so much like a regular pizza crust that I momentarily panicked upon tasting my first bite; I caught our server’s attention and asked her if she were certain the pizza we were served was gluten-free. She assured me it was. My mom, upon tasting the pizza, said she couldn’t tell the difference between the gluten-free pizza crust and the regular pizza crusts she’s used to eating. Mellow Mushroom definitely made my list of trusted restaurants that serve quality gluten-free food.

Just a note: he pizza was not inexpensive, but then again, people who eat gluten-free are accustomed to paying more for our food, whether at the grocery store or in a restaurant.

Surprising Wide Variety of Gluten-Free Offerings at Walmart Neighborhood Market: Yes, Walmart!

One cannot begin a blog post praising Walmart without observing that many people have many objections to the

manner in which this giant retailer operates. Some of the grievances may be valid, some may not be. When someone, some organization, or some company gets something right, no matter how many righteous complaints people have about that entity, that object of indignation deserves a bit of praise so that it may be encouraged to continue moving the right direction. In the past couple of years, Wal–Mart has rolled out a series of smaller stores, to which it refers as neighborhood markets. These stores sell groceries, and not much else. Recently, a Walmart Neighborhood Market opened on DeZavala, in NW San Antonio. I usually do not do any of my grocery shopping at Walmart; anyone who has to eat gluten-free probably doesn’t. Out of curiosity, as I was driving past the store last week, I stopped to see what gluten-free products I might find in that store. I was really surprised at what I found. Not only does this little market have a wide variety of shelf-stable name-brand gluten-free products, it prices them so decently that that even people who have to eat gluten-free on a budget will be able to splurge. Following a gluten-free diet is expensive, and not everyone who has to eat gluten-free has an income that easily supports their dietary necessity. Here is where we have to give Walmart a kudo for making a gluten-free diet a little less financially painful. Continue reading

Delicious Tex-Mex: Easy, Safe Gluten-Free Eating At Rosario’s

In a recent blog post, I wrote that I have reduced the number of high carbohydrate foods in my diet. I emphasized in that post that I do not

Rosario's on San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX

Rosario’s on San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX

plan to completely omit carbs altogether. Food factors into my quality of life and to do away with carbs completely would mean to reduce the joy I derive from eating delicious food; for example, I live in South Texas, where one can find the best, most satisfying, carb-laden delicious Mexican food in the world. Of course Mexican or Tex-Mex food naturally low in carbs is available, but I, for one, cannot and will not resist those traditional enchiladas or tacos just to skip a few carbs. I find other dietary areas from which to delete my carbs – from other foods in which they’re not so irresistible. My claim about the superiority of Tex-Mex food in the Southern region of Texas is fact, not at all hyperbolic. No one has to take my word for it, however; doubters are free to do the field research themselves. I suggest they begin their culinary investigation at Rosario’s in San Antonio. Continue reading

Austin Gluten and Allergy Wellness Event

This post is a little bit of house-keeping. San Antonio / Austin area Celiacs and gluten-intolerant people will want to gaafwe_rgb - Copy (2)consider attending this event. It will be one giant heap of resources under one roof!

February 2, 2014
10 am – 3 pm
Travis County Expo Center Banquet Hall
7311 Decker Lane
Austin, TX 78724
Admission is $10 per adult
Children under 13 are FREE to enter
Parking is Free

For more information, visit the event’s official website.

Now In Season: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars

“A son is a son till he takes a wife; a daughter’s a daughter all of her life.”pumpkin bars 1

“I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.” (M.F.K Fisher, The Gastronomical Me (1943), 18)

I am now working my way through yet another volume of M.F.K. Fisher’s works. So powerfully written is Fisher’s work that it actually drew tears from me as I read about the sad fate of the oyster in Consider the Oyster . I gained a deeper knowledge of culinary history when I read Fisher’s Serve It Forth, I laughed my way through Fisher’s How To Cook A Wolf, despite its being an instruction manual for people who want to cook healthy, delicious meals during times of dire economic hardship and scarcity. Her off-handed, witty observations about the eating habits of certain types of people and her [Fisher’s] own attitude toward certain foods keep the serious subject of eating on a tight budget from weighing down the reader with despair. No matter the topic of Fisher’s writing, her appreciation of the transcendent role food plays in meeting the spiritual and social needs of human beings is implicit in her descriptions of food, the stories she tells as she discusses food, and even her historical account of food. Continue reading

EZ’s Brick Oven and Grill Update: No More Gluten-Free Buns??!!

Sad news. I went to fulfill my EZ’s burger craving last week and noticed the absence of the bright green menu that usually hangs over ez's burgerthe cash registers. I asked the girl who waited on us about the menu. She handed us paper menus and explained that EZ’s has changed management companies, and as a result the menu is changing. Until the new menu is finalized the giant menu that hangs over the registers will remain missing. I asked her details about the changes. GONE are the gluten-free pizza crust and the gluten-free hamburger bun! I was able to have a burger that night; the girl explained that the restaurants would use up the gluten-free stock they have and the location where my husband and I ate that night (on DeZavala) still had some gluten-free buns in stock. Life has been really busy of late; however, when I get the chance, I will email EZ’s and beg for the company to continue offering gluten-free hamburger buns and pizza crusts. In the meantime, people who need to eat gluten-free and are thinking about heading out to EZ’s for dinner need to call ahead to the location of their choice and find out if that location still has some gluten-free buns or pizza crusts. EZs serves my favorite gluten-free burger! How very unfortunate that the people who make these decisions for EZs would choose to delete the restaurant’s gluten-free options from the menu. Well, at least I recently discovered the gluten-free burgers Hut’s Hamburgers in Austin, a place that rivals EZs as my favorite go-to place for my burger fix.

Bubba’s Gluten-Free Turkey Burger: A Satisfying Post-Work-Out Meal

Bubba's Turkey Burger 1

The burger is there, under the lettuce and tomatoes, I promise!

“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.” (John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: In Search of America)

Yesterday I had one of those magical runs, the type of run that inspires the subliminal thought “this is why I love running” to flow underneath all the conscious thoughts that one ponders as she runs. I can’t say why, exactly, the run was so awesome – at least from a training perspective. I ran only five miles, a shorter distance than I had planned for the day, and I had gotten a late start. The temperature was already hot. The bright sun, already high in the sky, was unrelenting in its determination to super-light and heat the world (or at least the part of the world in which I was running). The Crown Ridge neighborhood I had chosen for its hills had zero shade under which I might find some relief as I ran my hill repeats. Yet though my pace was slow, I managed to run the reps without walking even one step. I listened to the cry of the red-tailed hawks as they glided on wing over-head, flying low enough to occasionally cast their shadows over me as they circled above. I could hear the Tejano music on the radios listened to by the construction crews as they worked building houses in the distance. Somehow all of these elements of my run came together to excite in me anew my sense of place: I was home. Everything in that moment came together perfectly to exemplify what makes South Texas, well, South Texas! With the exhilaration that accompanies a run well completed and enjoyed, I drove home from Crown Ridge looking forward to and planning my second work out for the day. Plans for a second work out include careful planning for lunch. Since I had a fairly arduous late morning work-out and planned a second, evening work-out, I would have to eat well, but not too heavily, for lunch

Last week, I picked up some gluten-free Bubba Turkey Burgers at Sprouts. I had never tried these burgers. They’re frozen, but judging from the cooking instructions on the package, the burgers cook easily and quickly. They seemed like good way to get in some protein at lunch or supper time, or between work-outs. Yesterday, I decided to try a Bubba turkey burger as my between-work-out meal. The burger did cook quickly. I pan fried it, just a few minutes on each side. I planned a fifteen mile bike ride as my second work-out of the day, and since I had a hard work-out just before lunch, I decided to get in a few carbs in addition to the protein by eating the burger on Udi’s millet chia bread. The four ounce turkey burger fit perfectly on the Udi’s gluten-free bread slices. I topped the burger with muenster cheese, some Organic Girl super greens, and a small tomato from Phil’s garden. The burger was actually juicy, as the Bubba website claims. It had a texture much like the texture of a home-made turkey burger. The flavor was ok; I prefer beef burgers to turkey burgers, though, so I’ve never had a turkey burger that tasted better than ok. I have, however, had turkey burgers that tasted less than ok. I liked the Bubba turkey burger enough to make Bubba burgers a part of my regular quickly prepared double-work-out day meal rotation. Next time I believe I’ll top the burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, and Fredericksburg Farms Sweet and Hot Jalapenos. Yum.