Sunday, March 29, 2009

gluten-free finds: March

It has been nearly a month since I had been officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. During this past month, I have had a wonderful time investigating the gluten-free foods that are out there to supplement the fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy in my diet.

I have made many interesting finds and decided to do a blog post at the end of each month to share these finds with all. Even if you may not have a gluten intolerance,
some of these products are indeed worth a taste.
I will be sharing my opinions of the overall taste, textures and rating the products.
Included will be pricing, sources and if possible an internet address for those of you that may not live near mega-marts or big-box stores where these were available in my area.

Sometimes a girl needs some pasta and some pancakes…!

Trader Joe’s gluten-free pancakes

I bought these pancakes in the hopes that they would be better than some of the gluten-free baked products that I have taste tested in the last month. I am glad to report that they did not disappoint.

These pancakes come frozen in cello packages of 3 and there are 4 packages per box.
I either take a package out the night before and defrost them overnight in the chill chest or defrost right before use in my microwave. Then I pop them in the toaster until they are heated through. They come out light, slightly spongy and with a nice crispy exterior.

They are truly delicious with a splash of Maple Syrup, a drizzle of Agave nectar or honey, your favorite preserves, and I know that I will enjoying them with fresh fruit when that comes in season. Be careful with how much sweet liquid you apply as they seem to soak it up rapidly.

I have also used them in a savory meal wrapping the pancake around a small grilled chicken sausage. I have also used them as a bread substitute for a egg salad andwich.

Whatever way you eat them, sweet or savory, they are quite tasty.

These pancakes are also dairy-free and I found them in the breakfast food freezer section at Trader Joe’s, 2.99 for 12 pancakes.

For taste, texture, adaptability I give these pancakes 5 (out of 5) gluten-free symbols.
Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta

I have tried brown rice pasta in years past, so I was a bit hesitant to try it again.
But I have to say that I was very, very pleasantly surprised by the Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Brown Rice Pasta.
This pasta has a slightly extended cooking time than semolina wheat pasta, but if you follow the “Quick and energy saving directions” on the package, you will have a wonderfully al dente pasta that will hold up to any sauce that you can throw at it.

I particularly like the Fusilli shape for thick sauces. This shape has the brass-extruded ridges of expensive imported wheat pastas that hold on the thickest Bolognese, Puttanesca, Marinara or Alfredo, yet do just as well with a bit of garlicky olive oil.

The elbow shaped pasta helped me create a glorious gluten-free Mac ‘n cheese for comfort food perfection.

However, for soup I feed my inner child (and the little neighbor children) with the delightful Little Dreams (pictured above) that come in wonderfully fun assorted shapes from cuddly teddy bears, sparkly stars, ferocious dinosaurs and speeding trains, planes and automobiles.

There are many, many more shapes I hope to try, from shells to spaghetti, lasagna and spirals, fettuccini and penne. As soon as those beautiful juicy heirloom tomatoes come into season, I will be busy making sauces to try them all.
For the taste, the toothsomeness, mouth feel and adaptability, I also give this gluten-free pasta a five plus +…

I found this pasta in their colorful pastel bags and boxes at my local mega-mart and Whole Foods, but you can order on line here: Tinkyáda Pasta Joy .

Traders Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos

I am always a bit skeptical about pre-prepared foods. But I found that these mini tacos were quite tasty. These cute mini tacos make a wonderful quick meal with a side salad and we also enjoyed them as fun finger food while watching a movie. They are filling and delicious. Just add your favorite sauces, cheeses, salsa or a squeeze of lime and you have a party.

I would like to try to make these tiny delights myself with other fillings, but as a fast food from my freezer, and a quick gluten-free treat, I give these a 4+.

Find these spicy little delights in the freezer case at Trader Joe’s for 2.99.
San-J Organic Tamari Wheat Free Soy

I love stir fried rice with fresh vegetables. It is my busy week-night meal that is light nutritious and a total no-brainer when I have had a rough day at work. The lovely repetitious movements of cutting the veggies has a calming effect and I can empty my mind of all the my troubles.

But in my stir fry, I just love the unctuous salty umami flavor of Soy Sauce. Yet now in my gluten free mind, I have come to know that most commercially produced Soy Sauces are prepared with wheat, making it off-limits to anyone that must eat gluten-free, unlessthey want problems.

A few weeks ago, I discovered the Panda Brand Low Sodium Gluten Free Soy Sauce that I was in small packets with my take-out from my local Chinese restaurant but I was unable to find it in a bottle my area. So for a few weeks I relied on the kindness the lovely proprietress at Jade Palace resto for my Soy Sauce fix.

I did however finally locate the San-J brand Organic Tamari Wheat Free Soy at my local Whole Foods. I was pleased l that I could continue to enjoy stir-fry-night without missing my favorite condiment that makes the meal for me.

This gluten free Soy gets a 5 from me.
General Mills Rice Chex

As the days get warmer and luscious berries come into season, I love to sit in the morning sun with a bowl of these berries atop a crunchy cereal kissed with creamery-fresh milk. This is a little bit of heaven to me on my lazy weekend mornings.

I was quite happy to see the big companies are paying attention to those of us that are wheat intolerant and assure us of a product that we can easily purchase in our neighborhoods. I bought my boxes of Rice Chex at a big-box discount stores (Aldi and Target) for less than 3.00 for 12.8 ozs. of crunch. With my gluten-free Soy Sauce, Spanish Marcona Almond, ground Grains of Paradise, rosemary and Rice Chex, I also made a pile of tasty Chex Mix for healthy snacks. (Recipe coming soon.)

I give this tasty mainstream cereal a 4 for availably and adaptability.
I hope that my product discoveries and reviews were somewhat helpful. As I stated, I am just at the first month of my search for gluten-free health and wanted to take you all on my journey.


parisbreakfasts said...

I'm ready to go Glueten-FREE
It all looks so good.
Love your Easter bunny too...

Phil Lowe said...

As usual, a very well thought through and presented post Terrie. As you say, a real benefit to those who need to eat gluten free. Cute Bunny too.

Anonymous said...

Trader Joe's is such a wonderful store - great finds! I'm going to get the cute pasta shapes for my daughter, she'll love those!

A Brush with Color said...

Wow, Terrie! I am so impressed with all you're learning and have discovered. It does sound like at least you'll feel like you're not completely deprived if you can discover some of these good things. I'm so happy for you. You made them sound quite tasty. I saw a magazine at Whole Foods that made me think of you--it was called "Living Without" and it looked good. I don't know if it is--if so, I'll buy a subscription for you!!

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

When I came to after that shocking long-eared photo (truly I was not prepared!) I was captivated by your reportage...and, once again, I deeply wish we had Trader Joe. We have Whole Foods and a really special local grocer chain...but I want more!

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup Carol, Phil, Natasha, Sue and Jeanette for your wonderful comments and glad that you all love my bunny.
I think he is precious, but he is not in with my was at a community garden and allowed to roam for a few hours a day with supervision. can still have macarons all you like as they are made with almond flour.
I am making my own pastel macarons for Easter.
BUT you can not have any other pasteries, baguettes or I don't think you'd want to trade places.
I will have a hard time myself when I get home to Paris...but I my friends say there are at least a dozen new gluten-free restos in Paris now.
Wish someone would send me home to Paris to do reviews on

Phil, I appreciate you input as a professional writer, friend and one of my best critics.

Salut cher Natasha, I was sure that your little girl would love these cute pasta shapes...and they are very tasty in any soup.
I took out all the bunnies and added a bit of milk to homemade tomato soup and my 5-year-old neice loved the pink bunny soup.
She ate every morsel (and she is a VERY picky eater).

Salut cher Sue, I am having a great time learning about gluten-free foods.
Gluten hides in so many places in so many simple pleasures I had enjoyed using in my cooking, like certain condiments.
I may have to give up some things along the way, but I am encouraged to find that there are many food manufacturing people out there that care about Celiacs and thier needs.
I have never seen this magazine the Whole Foods I go to.
I don't often buy mags as they are really expensive off the rack.
I went to the website and it looks really helpful...
That was so very, very kind of you to offer a subscription.
You have always been my rock and support through all my tiny troubles. I am so lucky to have you as a friend.

Merci Jeanette, your comments are always so welcome.
Trader Joe's is great for a few things. Some of the prepared gluten-free items I now really need are good and not so expensive as Whole-paychek-Foods.
But after shopping at Joe's for many years, you are not missing all that much.
More and more mega-marts see that Joe's are taking away customers and are adjusting their prices downward and offering much better local organic produce, locally made tasty organic milk,cheeses and meats than Joe's. Just about all at Joe's come from a great distance from here...California.
I'd rather support the local Midwest farms.

I shop at Joe's one a month for a few things I have come to love that
support my new dietary needs, but more and more I am coming away dissappointed as they stop carrying the really great stuff.
So dear Jeanette, don't feel deprived.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that there are foods that you can buy easily. Gluten-free foods would be impossible to find here.
I hope that you're feeling better with the change in your diet.

chez aurora said...

Salut TM :) Glad to see that you are finding some good products out there to satisfy both your culinary and health standards. They do look delicious. Your recommendations are an excellent read even if not having to be careful about gluten, and I will be sure to pass your post on to anyone I come across who has these dietary restrictions. Good luck with your continued search :)

Your Easter bunny is just charming, btw :)))

Bonne journée chère amie :)


Culinary Cory said...

Nice post. I like your approach to making the concept of gluten-free more accessible to the public.

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

This is a completely new arena actually.

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