Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gluten Free Offerings at the Cheesecake Factory

Interested in eating at a new restaurant and encouraged by the feedback several other gluten-free people had given, I called the Cheesecake Factory in Colonie Center to find out their gluten free options. A teenage employee answered the phone but promptly put me through to a manager who could answer my questions.

I was very impressed with their level of customer service - the manager I spoke with went through the menu and discussed what was naturally gluten free and what could be made gluten free. We came up with the following options that as of my phone call on 8/29/2008 the following menu options are/can be made gluten free:


All salads can be made gluten free, with the following salad dressings:
  • Bleu Cheese
  • Thousand Island
  • Honey Mustard
  • Caesar

  • Salsa and Chips
  • Thai Lettuce Wraps
  • Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

  • Fresh Fish entrees (e.g. Mahi Mahi, Salmon)
  • Steaks (with no au jus)
  • Grilled Chicken Medallions (avoid the balsamic vinagrette)
  • Cajun Jumbalaya (Manager said there was a trace amount of gluten from worcestire sauce, but I've also heard that worcestire sauce is gluten free)
And of course for dessert they have flourless Godiva cheesecake!

When we told our waiter about Vince's diet, they were very accommodating. They brought a manager over to our table who talked to us about the menu. He was very good about double-checking ingredients - even telling us there was red wine vinegar in the Caesar dressing, and expressing concern over ingredients such as dijon mustard and offering to bring the container out so we could check the mustard ingredients.

Vince ordered Steak Diane, served with mashed potatoes and grilled onions, with a caesar salad (no croutons, of course!) I'm not usually a steak person but I tried his steak and it was extremely good. I had the grilled salmon, plain with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. I would have ended the night with the flourless Godiva cheesecake, but since Vince can't eat chocolate there wasn't any point! (Now, if they come out with a flourless vanilla bean cheesecake, then we could talk!)

Overall we were very happy with our experience, and would be happy to recommend the Cheesecake Factory as an allergen-friendly restaurant!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recipe: Yummy Gluten Free Bread

Breadmaking is a weekly routine in our household. Many of the gluten-free breads on the market are some combination of inedible and extremely expensive, so we purchase bulk flour and have made baking a Sunday afternoon ritual. Not only does homemade gluten free bread taste much better than most store-bought varieties but it saves quite a bit of money.

I have a go-to bread recipe that I modified from the Easy Gluten Free Baking website. It's extremely easy and versatile - I've used this recipe for everything from sandwich bread to Italian loaves to hamburger and hot dog buns.

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cups tapioca flour
2/3 cups dry milk (optional)
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dough enhancer
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp canola oil
cooking spray
2 Tbsp melted butter (optional, for brushing - but trust me, you want to do this for Italian bread, as well as cutting diagonal lines in the dough before it rises!)

1. Mix water, sugar, dough enhancer and yeast. Set aside to foam.
2. Sift together dry ingredients.
3. Add eggs, oil and water/yeast mixture. Blend well - here's where the KitchenAid mixer comes in really handy. After everything has blended I let the KitchenAid knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.
4. Coat your pan with cooking spray. Spread dough into pan. If desired, brush dough with melted butter. Cover and let rise for approximately 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until bread is done. Test that bread is done by inserting a toothpick into bread - if it comes out clean the bread should be done. NOTE: My oven is on its way out and tends to cook faster than some other ovens so be sure to check that the bread is done, it's likely your oven will take longer!
7. Remove from pan and let cool. Enjoy!

Note - if you get bored with this recipe you can use alternate flour combinations as long as it adds up to the equivelent of 2 1/2 cups of wheat flour and 2/3 cup starch. So you could use something like:
  • 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup amaranth flour, 2/3 cup tapioca flour
Use your imagination - it can make bread making fun and it's nice to not have the same monotonous thing every week.

Also - huge tip here - I have found King Arthur Flour's website to be absolutely invaluable for baking. My three favorite pans that I've purchased from their site are their hamburger bun pan, the New England hot dog bun pan, and the Italian loaf pan. Trust me, they're worth every penny!

Update: Thanks to Joan for catching my typo - and avoiding a real-life re-enactment of "The Blob!"

Sherry Lynn's is moving!

Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe is moving from their Brunswick location.

The new location will be in Siena Square, 644 New Loudon Road, Latham. Right around the corner from us! That's actually great news - I'm really looking forward to bringing their famous apple fritter donut holes home to Vince for the occasional treat!

Expect the move to occur sometime between October and November. I'll keep you all updated as I find out more!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gluten Free Beer

One of the biggest things you have to give up on a gluten-free diet is beer. We always like to keep some beer on hand in case we have company, and while admittedly a case of beer could and did last a long time in our household, my then-fiance did enjoy the occasional Budweiser. And as is usually the case, after being told he could never drink regular beer again only made him want... a beer.

Well, the first thing we tried was Redbridge beer. On paper, it's great - brewed by Anheiser-Busch (keep in mind, his beer of choice was Bud), gluten free and available in our local grocery stores. When we first tried Redbridge, it tasted decent. I likened the flavor to Killian's. However, Vince wasn't thrilled with the aftertaste it left. Actually, I think we still have half the original six-pack we bought in the back of our fridge.

I wasn't quite sure what to do next for gluten free beer. I mean, sure, I saw some brands available online but I didn't want to buy an entire case of beer without trying it first! Well, when I was surfing the web the other day I came across mention of Oliver's Beverage Center on Colvin Ave, Albany.

Oliver's has the reputation of being the largest beverage supplier in the Capital Region, and boasts a selection of gluten free beers. Of course, they do carry Redbridge, but I was more interested in some of their other gluten free beer offerings. I asked an employee about gluten free beer and he was very helpful, showing me their small section of gluten free beers as well as their hard ciders. What really impressed me was the fact that they sell beers not only by the case and 6-pack, but by individual bottles as well. It's a lot easier to spend a few bucks on a bottle or two than commit to an entire 6-pack that may or may not be good!

I ended up purchasing two bottles each of Bard's Tale beer, and New Grist beer. We haven't tried the New Grist yet, but Vince was very impressed by the Bard's Tale beer. It had a good taste and not that bad of an aftertaste - we'd definitely buy it again. We're looking forward to trying the New Grist beer as well. Maybe this weekend. :-)

I also picked up some Woodchuck hard cider - their bottles say that it's naturally gluten free, and while I'm not a fan of stuff like that I know my hubby drank those Smirnoff drinks so we figured that might be worth a shot as well.

I've heard that Fox Barrel cider is very good but it's made in Oregon and I haven't been able to find it locally. Does anyone have any other gluten free beer recommendations?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Online Gluten Free Resources

After speaking with some other gluten free people the other day, I found that a lot of people just don't know where to look for information about celiac disease or the gluten free diet. I'm of the opinion that the more information you have the better, so I've put together some information resources that will be very helpful to anyone starting a gluten free diet, and hopefully at least something new for someone who's been following a gluten free diet for some time now. So here goes...

Some informative links:
Some useful gluten-free blogs:
Additionally, did you know that you can set up e-mail alerts through Google? For specific queries of your choice, for example 'celiac' or 'gluten free' you can set up automatic e-mails that let you know whenever that phrase is in the news, new web pages or blog posts concerning that phrase come up, etc. It's a great way to stay on top of the gluten free community, and best of all - it's free! All you need to do is sign up for a (free) Google account, and you can set up as many alerts as you wish. You can find out more information at Google's alerts page.

Still, all this free information is good, but sometimes it's worth paying money for some information. My husband and I started out our gluten-free journey by purchasing gluten free product and Rx lists. They provide subscriptions to lists of gluten information in many different products - you can get this information either on your Windows or Mac desktop (where's the love for us Linux geeks?) or your PDA. If you own a PDA it can be especially useful because you can bring the list right along with you when you go grocery shopping - and if you have any questions the software will provide contact information for the companies in question which can be really useful when you want to research specific foods. There are several such lists available - Vince and I initially purchased the Clan Thompson Celiac SmartList - but I'd love to hear other suggestions as well!

Finally, as one reader, Lisa, also pointed out, The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza sells some gluten free magazines, including Living Without. It could be worth checking out next time you're in the area!

As always - if I've missed a really great resource please let me know!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gluten Free Soy Sauce!

I took off early from work this afternoon to check out Hannaford's Healthy Living class regarding the gluten free diet. I'll admit that I was already familiar with a lot of the information presented in the class - they went over the basics like what is/is not allowed on a gluten free diet, specific products they sold that are gluten free, etc. However, I was very excited to learn that not only does Hannaford carry a gluten free soy sauce in their Nature's Place department, but as of the writing of this blog entry their name-brand soy sauce is also gluten free!

In the past we've tried La Choy's soy sauce which is also gluten free, but the taste just isn't that great. The other gluten free soy sauce we've experienced is the Panda sauce produced by the Kari-Out company. This is an especially nice find - we love going out for sushi, but we can't usually go out at the spur of the moment. We have to plan ahead and remember to bring our own soy sauce. Well, certain local restaurants, such as Okinawa in Wynantskill, carry the gluten free panda soy sauce. So not only do we get to go out for a nice sushi dinner, but we also don't have to worry about gluten free soy sauce!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Albany Gluten Free Resources, Part 2

It's about that time again to update the list of gluten free resources in the Albany area. In my original post, I focused primarily on Albany gluten free resources, but this list includes several capital district gluten free resources as well as restaurants that serve gluten free food in other areas of New York State.

If I've left off any restaurants, stores or other helpful information please leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about more gluten free resources in the Capital District (and beyond!) not only for us to try but also to add to this ever-expanding list of gluten free resources.

Of course, before going to any restaurant, much less one listed here, it's always good practice to call ahead and verify that they can, in fact, accomodate your special dietary needs.

Happy gluten free dining. shopping and eating!

Restaurants with dedicated GF menus

Restaurants without dedicated GF menus but that are generally safe

  • Just about any sushi restaurant, as long as you bring your own soy sauce

  • Just about any steak house – steak, baked potato and veggies are gluten free, the only real issue can be au jus from prime rib

  • Cheesecake Factory (They don’t list anything online but have GF cheesecake so I’d imagine there has to be stuff that’s OK to eat there)

  • Hattie’s, Saratoga (We haven’t been, but I’ve read a lot of good review RE: GF dining experiences there)

  • Maestro’s, Saratoga

  • Red Lobster (steamed crab and lobster only, with baked/mashed potatoes and salad)

  • Also most high-end restaurants have chefs that can accommodate a gluten free diet. It's always good to call first though!

Grocery and health food stores that carry GF items:

As an additional note, Oliver’s Beverage Center on Colvin Ave in Albany is on my list of places to check out this weekend. Apparently they stock four different types of GF beer.

Recipe: Sauteed Cinnamon Apples

When fall comes around, or at least chilly August weather in Upstate NY, my mind starts turning to apple picking and what can be done with apples. Well, it's a bit early, but our summer hasn't been very hot and my mind has already turned to apples. I absolutely love the sauteed apples at Cracker Barrel and Smokey Bones, they make a great side dish and they're incredibly easy to make.

I make apples for my hubby and myself - the measurements here will feed the two of us for about two meals. I also don't like to do a lot of measuring because it's all about what you like. Some people like sweeter apples and others like their dishes a little more tart so it brings out the natural flavor of the apples. Still, it's an easy recipe to play around with, reheats nicely, and you generally can't go wrong just eyeballing amounts.

You need:
3 Granny Smith apples
3 Tbsp of butter give or take
Half a cup of brown sugar (more or less depending on your taste)
Cinnamon to taste (I'm pretty liberal with the cinnamon, I'd say I use a heaping Tbsp)
1 1/2 cups water with 1 Tbsp of cornstarch, mixed

1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat
2. Throw in the diced apples, stirring frequently, until the apple slices become soft
3. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and water/cornstarch mixture
4. Bring to boil, stirring frequently
5. When sauce thickens, take away from the heat. Serve hot.

They go really great with pork chops or spare ribs, but in the fall I've been known to serve them with chicken (especially roast chicken) as well.

See? Can't get easier - or yummier - than that.

Best part about it - it's naturally gluten free with no substitutions!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Search for Gluten Free Bread Crumbs

As most of you who live in Upstate NY know, when we're not enduring torrential downpours this summer has been unseasonably cold. With temperatures in the low 70s these days (yes, I know it's Upstate NY and to stop complaining), and a buy one get one free sale on pork chops at our local Price Chopper, I decided to bake some comfort food this week.

Now, one of the big challenges to gluten free comfort foods was finding good bread crumbs. Let's face it, a girl just doesn't have the time to always make bread crumbs and it's really convenient to have a trusted brand on hand. My mother taught me to always use 4C Italian bread crumbs, and those worked well for years - chicken parmesan, baked chicken, pork chops, fish, you name it and these breadcrumbs did the job. Thus began the hunt for decent, gluten free bread crumbs.

Well, the first type of bread crumbs that I picked up, the first week we went shopping in the gluten free section of our local grocery store, was Orgran's all purpose bread crumbs made from rice flour. And I have to say, don't bother! These "bread crumbs" had the look and consistency of coarsely ground white rice flour. What was the point? I wanted bread crumbs for texture, not a flour coating on my baked chicken. Plus they were completely flavorless and no matter how many spices I mixed in, they always seemed to absorb all flavor. Next!

A couple months later brought me to Hannaford, where I found Gillian's bread crumbs. They came in a clear plastic container and I could see they actually looked like real bread crumbs, and as a bonus Gillian's makes Italian seasoned bread crumbs!

I brought home Gillian's bread crumbs and tried them right away and I have to say - they got the taste of real bread crumbs down perfectly. My only complaint is the texture in some dishes - you absolutely can't beat Gillian's bread crumbs for chicken parmesan or anything that you want to be a little on the crunchy side, but if you want soft, breaded baked goods then there's something... missing. I'm happy to stock Gillian's bread crumbs in my pantry and I've passed the word on to my mother to do the same when she bakes for Vince, but I still wanted to find a good, soft coating.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I came across HOL-GRAIN chicken coating mix. The canister says that it's great for chicken, pork, fish and vegetables, so I picked up a package to try it out. The mix was very fine, and there were already some seasonings. I coated my pork chops in egg whites and the chicken coating mix, then topped them with extra garlic powder, onion powder, and a liberal amount of seasoned salt. In a glass pyrex baking dish (incidentally a shower gift from my gal pal Sam, and a daily reminder of my previous pyrex baking dish that I kind of, sort of, exploded - a story for another time) sprayed with PAM, I baked the pork chops at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

The pork chops came out perfect - soft, tender and juicy. Honestly, you couldn't tell the coating was gluten free. I'd definitely recommend doctoring the coating mix with additional spices but this coating mix is definitely a winner for baked pork chops and baked chicken.

The best part about baking gluten-free comfort food? It goes so well with naturally gluten-free comfort food - mashed potatoes (made with loads of real butter, 2% milk and garlic), peas, and easy-as-pie sauteed cinnamon apples (coming in my next post) made the meal perfect.

It's hard to believe it's still August!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Review: Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa Blend

I know that everyone in the gluten-free universe has heard of and probably tried the ancient supergrain called quinoa, but this grain really started going mainstream right about the time that I started this blog. I picked up a box of Quinoa Harvest quinoa a while back, and well, it's a humorous story involving way too much garlic salt rendering the quinoa inedible. So, I still have the box and I'm determined to give it another go, but the summer's been so busy that I just haven't had a chance to experiment much in the kitchen.

Enter the Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa Blend. Our local Hannaford sells the French Herb flavor. While this flavor is not listed on their website (I hope it's not being discontinued!) it's still available for sale in bulk on Their quinoa blend is another somewhat-instant (about 20-30 minutes) convenient side dish, and I picked it up to try with dinner one night.

I followed the instructions as completely as possible given my tired, just-completed-eight-hours-at-the-office daze, but they were simple enough that everything came out very nicely. My hubby isn't as big a fan of the quinoa blend as I am - he's not used to the consistency - but I found it a very tasty, unique and savory dish. You have to take note of what you pair it with - it's very strong and could easily overpower a meal. I served the quinoa blend with lightly seasoned and baked tilapia, a fresh salad, and a nice pinot grigio.

I'd definitely recommend trying the French Herb blend. Seeds of Change does have other flavors listed on their site (the amantani whole grain blend quinoa and wild rice looks especially yummy), but as yet they haven't been picked up by our local grocery stores and I'm hesitant to purchase it in bulk online before trying it. (If anyone from Hannaford is reading this, please consider it a heartfelt request to start stocking it!)

And of course, the ultimate test - Phoebe the puggle tried a little and liked it. Three paws out of four!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Review: Lundberg Farms Risotto

In almost all of the grocery and natural food stores I go in, I always seem to see boxes of Lundberg Farms Risotto in several flavors, including Alfredo, Florentine, Tuscan, Wild Porcini Mushroom, Butternut Squash, Cheddar Broccoli, Creamy Parmesan, Garlic Primevera, and Italian Herb. I have to admit that the first time I picked up a box of their risotto, the first thought to enter my mind was "oh, look, gluten free rice-a-roni!"

Well, don't knock rice-a-roni - we loved that guilty pleasure stuff in the pre-gluten-free days, so figured it couldn't hurt to try risotto. And I have to say that we haven't looked bacgk. In fact, Lundberg Farms risotto is so rich, tasty, not really budget friendly but affordable and worth it at around $3/box, and easy to make that I've been known to highly recommend their products to friends, gluten-free or not. In fact, after eating their products I don't think we'd ever be able to go back to some of the cheaper packaged rice mixes. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook including the time to boil water (and the stove in our apartment can take forever and a day to heat up) so it's not totally "convenience" food but it's easy enough to whip up as a side dish. I'd recommend pairing with something like baked/roast chicken, baked pork chops, or even fish.

We haven't tried all of their flavors - there are some that my hubby vetoes right off the bat - but of the ones we've tried our personal favorites are Creamy Parmesan (my favorite) and Cheddar Broccoli (Vin's favorite). We also occasionally have the Wild Porcini Mushroom flavor for something different. The only ones we weren't thrilled with were the Florentine and Alfredo, and it's not fair to say that the Alfredo is bad, but it just doesn't compare to the Creamy Parmesan, so why bother?

And, of course, the puggle loves Lundberg Farms risotto. When there are leftovers she's ready and waiting, only happy to oblige - unfortunately there rarely are leftovers. The puggle gives Lundberg Farms risotto four paws (out of four, of course!).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gluten Free in Saratoga - KD's Fish Fry

Last week Vince and I went to Saratoga to see the Maroon 5 concert at SPAC. Since it was a Tuesday and we had to rush up there for the show, we needed a quick, convenient, gluten free dinner which is why we chose KD's Fish Fry. It's on Geyser Road (very convenient to SPAC), and they offer a huge gluten free menu.

Vince and I have been to KD's Fish Fry twice, and it doesn't disappoint. We both ordered gluten free so we could steal from each other's plates - we started with their mushroom appetizer. Vince had a fish fry with onion rings while I ordered the fried shrimp with french fries. It was incredible - you can tell the breading is gluten free because it's not the same color as "regular" fried foods, but it's just as tasty! Our entire meal came to about twenty dollars as well, including drinks, and the portions were large enough so that neither of us could finish our dinner. You can't go wrong there!

What really sweetens the deal about KD's Fish Fry though is their home baked desserts. They sell gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies ($2.50 for one dozen). They're amazingly light, chewy and tasty - we like them better than the Freihoffer cookies we used to buy at the store, and it's hard to believe they're gluten free! They also carry other cookies such as chocolate chip, which unfortunately we haven't tried as Vince can't eat chocolate either. But I'm sure they're amazing!

The best part about our latest trip - they just installed a new freezer in the front of their store where they plan to start selling gluten free snacks, cookies, and pre-made meals right out of the store. The man who helped us gave us a sample of a baked cheese snack called Just the Cheese which is gluten free and very tasty. It's definitely on our list to pick up the next time we're in the Saratoga area.

If you haven't yet visited KD's Fish Fry, you're missing out. It's good whether you're gluten free or not, and I love the fact that we're supporting a local business that's so proactive about supplying decent, gluten-free options to our area.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Review: Enjoy Life Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

The last time I placed an order of gluten free goods online, I decided to add Enjoy Life's cinnamon raisin gluten free bagels to my cart. I hadn't tried anything from their brand before, but they certainly looked good and had decent reviews overall. My hubby has never liked cream cheese, but he used to love cinnamon raisin bagels with butter, so I figured this would be a nice treat.

They came and were much smaller than I imagined. I know Bruegger's bagels are quite large and more than one serving size per bagel, but I wasn't expecting something quite this small. Still, the package gave off a very pleasant cinnamon smell so I figured it was still promising. We stuck them in the freezer as recommended until the weekend, when we toasted them and added butter.

Well... I'm trying to be as polite as possible here, but they tasted - and had the consistency - of a big, thick piece of cardboard. One bite was all that we needed to realize these bagels were not good at all - I gave the puggle a piece of the bagel to see if even she'd eat the bagels. She took it, played with it for a little bit, grudgingly ate it, and then gave me a dirty look like I did something incredibly mean to her. Keep in mind, our puggle suffers from Coprophagia, so that's saying something.

All in all, we threw out the rest of the package, considered the whole experience a $6 lesson, and decided that, until we hear reputable evidence otherwise, Enjoy Life is brand to avoid.

The puggles rating: 0 paws. Enjoy Life? Anything but!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Albany Gluten Free Goods!

A couple of weeks ago I was surfing around online and came across the Metroland's "Best of 2008" issue. Of course, I was gratified to see that Mari's Japanese Cuisine on Van Vranken Ave, Schenectady won the "Best sushi" category - I've known Mari and Jiro for years and they're not only extremely talented at what they do, they're wonderful people and most definitely deserve this recognition. Congratulations to Mari's, and if you haven't tried their sushi it's well worth the trek to Schenectady!

I also noticed that Paradise Natural Foods, on Western Ave in Albany, was listed as the best health food shop and gluten free was specifically mentioned in the blurb. They're located about half a mile west of Crossgates Mall, in the same plaza as the Runi hair salon.

We walked into this store and were blown away by their selection. Of course, they have a lot of standard fare - the popular grains, flours, and pasta products that we've all come to know and love. They carry Tinkyada pasta at a significantly better price than our local Price Chopper, and they have more varieties of other well-known brands like Mrs. Leepers, Glutino and Glutano just to name a few. We were impressed to see that they carried the Glutano soda crackers that Vince loves and we usually purchase online. We ended up picking up cereal, quite a few different types of gluten free pasta, gluten free bagels (hopefully they'll be much better than the Enjoy Life bagels we tried), pretzels, chicken noodle soup, new england clam chowder, frozen mac and cheese, a frozen ravioli dish, and quite a few other new things to try. I'll definitely note the winners on the blog at a later date.

The woman I talked to behind the counter was very nice - and while she was ringing me up she informed me that they run bulk discount specials if you prefer to order goods by the case. Unfortunately we can't take advantage of that now due to space, but anyone with a chest freezer or a large pantry should duly take note - especially with food prices what they are these days!

Paradise Natural Foods is certainly worth a look in your gluten free travels - we plan on coming back and stocking up in the future!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Update: Celiac Diet Update at Clifton Park Hannaford

Just a quick update regarding Hannaford's Celiac Diet Update. I called to register for their class and was informed that it has moved to Monday, August 25th at 2:30 PM.

I am definitely still going to the event, but wanted to make sure you're aware.

The woman I spoke to said it was most likely going to fill up, so please call and register soon if you haven't already! Their number is (518) 383-4136.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Celiac Diet Update at Clifton Park Hannaford

Thanks to the wonderfully thoughtful receptionist at my place of employment, I found out about a free Healthy Living Class offered by Hannaford. An article on Hannaford's Healthy Living Classes is available via the Daily Gazette's website.

Next week, Hannaford in Clifton Park is sponsoring a Celiac Diet Update, including gluten-free food sampling. This event is Wednesday August 13th (next week) from 2 - 3:30 PM.

You can call to register for this event at (518) 383-4136.

It looks like I'll be taking a half day on Wednesday and may see some of you there!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gluten Free goods, right in Stuyvesant Plaza!

On Friday, I took a half day from work and spent the afternoon shopping with my mother. Instead of hitting Crossgates like we usually do, we decided to change it up and check out some of the stores in Stuyvesant Plaza. Now, Stuyvesant Plaza is pretty close to where I live and we go often go there - however, I'm sometimes guilty of tunnel vision, and I had no idea there was a food store selling gluten free goodies until a co-worker clipped a coupon for me.

The store is It's Only Natural, LLC, and the sign outside their door boasts the largest selection of gluten free goods in the Capital District, with an added note that if they don't have it they can get it! That was pretty encouraging, so my mother and I went in to browse.

Now, I wouldn't say their selection was the largest I've seen in the Capital District, but it certainly rivals the gluten free selections available at the larger Hannafords in the area. They carry Authentic Foods flour (at a slightly higher markup than online, but it's really useful to know if we run out of something!), an assortment of baking mixes, cookies, pretzels, chips, crackers, and other snacks, and a wide variety of frozen items - breads, rolls, frozen pizzas, etc. They had some gluten free items that I'd never seen before, even online, including gluten free croutons and hot dog buns.

What really impressed me, though, is the fact that they've started carrying products from local bakeries. They had muffins from Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery in Brunswick as well as bread, rolls and cookies from Saratoga Gluten Free Goods. Everything was fresh and soft to the touch and looked amazing! I really wanted to pick up some of their whole grain bread, but figured my hubby wouldn't be thrilled with it - he grew up on Freihoffer split top wheat bread and isn't thrilled with a lot of the whole grain options available. It's a shame.

Still, I did pick up some yummy looking buns made by Saratoga Gluten Free Goods, a box of Kinnikinnick vanilla glazed donuts (we'd seen the cinnamon sugar donuts in Hannaford, and they were pretty decent, but hadn't seen the glazed donuts before), some gluten free rolled oats from Bob's Red Mill, and a package of Pamela's bread mix (I usually bake my bread from scratch, but I've heard that's the best brand and it can't hurt to have on hand if we're feeling lazy).

The next day I brought the rolls down to Yankee Stadium, where we tailgated with our dads before Old Timer's Day. Great time, great food - and those rolls from Saratoga Gluten Free Goods did not disappoint. They were amazing!

Overall - please, check out It's Only Natural, LLC in Stuyvesant Plaza. The odds are you'll see a lot of familiar brands and products, but you'll probably also see something new and worth trying. And it can't hurt to make suggestions for new products either!