Friday, January 30, 2009

Gazette Reviews KD's Fish Fry

The Gazette recently published a review on the gluten-and-allergen-free menu offerings at Saratoga's own KD's Fish Fry. It's great to hear a gluten-free review - especially, a positive review from someone who doesn't normally eat gluten free!

Additionally per the article, Dawn at KD's has been experimenting with gluten-free biscuits to serve along with her gluten-free fish fry. Dawn's menu is constantly evolving, but can be found on KD's website.

Due to the absolutely lovely weather patterns that we've been experiencing in the Capital District this season my husband and I haven't had the chance to go up there as much as we'd like - but we definitely can't wait to try Dawn's new biscuits!

KD's is a great place to keep in mind - it's especially convenient if you are going to SPAC.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gluten Free at Starbucks

I have a confession to make, dear readers: I am a Starbucks junkie.

Now, while I know it's a bit frivolous to throw away $5 or so on a drink (and also not great for the waistline), there's no denying that a grande, nonfat vanilla chai latte helps me get through long days of work combined with a 3-4 hour class. It's not even purely the caffeine - there's something psychologically uplifting about breathing in the delicious, spicy aroma and warming my hands on the paper cup.

I also love the atmosphere of their coffeeshops - part of it might be the fact that when my husband and I had just started dating, we were just out of college, starting out in our careers and flat-broke, and the Wolf Road Starbucks became "our place" for weeknight dates. We'd meet there around 8 PM, order our drink and share an oatmeal cookie (remember, my husband doesn't eat chocolate), and talk for a few hours. We had so many of those great "getting to know you" dates there.

Now, I'll go to meet a girlfriend or four and catch up on our lives or discuss the book we're reading for book club -- again, the perfect atmosphere.

Anyway, you can imagine my surprise and excitement that Starbucks is considering offering gluten-free menu items! They're currently soliciting opinions and suggestions on gluten-free menu items on their Ideas in Action blog. There are over 400 responses to the blog so far, so it looks like a promising venture. They also seem to be very aware of cross-contamination issues, soliciting ideas about individual packaging of their gluten free baked goods and/or placement in a different area than their bakery.

If you are a fan of Starbucks I'd really encourage taking the time to communicate our desire for more gluten-free goods, especially in our region. It takes a few minutes to e-mail or post a comment, and if enough people take the time we may see results!

I had heard Starbucks was testing some gluten free items in certain parts of the country, but hadn't heard anything since; I would love to see some of the Capital District Starbucks carry gluten-free goods - it would be incredibly progressive, and it would be so nice to revisit some of our first dates over chai lattes and gluten-free desserts. :-)

Honest Weight Food Co-op Moving

The Honest Weight Food Co-Op will be moving to Watervliet Avenue in Albany - close to Exit 5 off of I-90.

The new store will be two stories, 31,000 square feet, use green technology (would we expect anything else?), more activity rooms for classes, yoga, etc. and more parking! I'm really looking forward to the new store!

The article can be found here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Uno's Gluten Free Pizza

This past weekend, I threw caloric caution to the wind and enjoyed a date night with my husband at Uno's. We had heard they started carrying gluten free pizzas and were anxious to try them.

We arrived at the Latham Farms Uno's around 7 PM. The parking lot was completely packed, and we joked that the entire gluten free population of Albany must be trying those pizzas - but fortunately we didn't have to wait to be seated. As soon as our server saw the gluten free menu at our table, she mentioned their new gluten free pizzas, available in cheese and pepperoni. She also told us that, generally speaking, their gluten free pizzas were meant for one person, though two people could probably share one if they ordered salad as well.

We ordered one of each pizza so we could share. When the pizzas came out we were incredibly impressed - not only did they look and smell absolutely amazing, but our server took the time to let us know about their efforts to avoid cross-contamination, including completely wiping down the area before preparing the pizza. The pizzas were about the size of a huge dinner plate.

The pizza itself was delicious - the crust was flaky and crispy at the same time. My husband is gluten free but I can eat "regular" pizza and this impressed me as being "just as good" as traditional wheat-crust pizza if not better. I was partial to the pepperoni while my husband's favorite was the cheese (he can take or leave pepperoni as a topping). Still, neither pizza lasted long - I ate the equivelent of half a pizza myself and my husband finished the rest so we didn't have any leftovers. We both left the restaurant completely stuffed and satisfied.

He was tempted to order another pizza "to go" just to have on hand for lunches over the weekend - perhaps Uno's can market a line of gluten free frozen pizzas for the grocery store in the future, though admittedly they're probably best experienced in a restaurant.

What made the evening even sweeter was the fact that our meal didn't break the bank. The pizzas were between 10 and 12 dollars each, and our total bill, alcoholic beverages and 20% tip included, was under $50. We've definitely added Uno's to our regular rotation!

One thing that I would like to note - we all know that pizza is not exactly diet food, and these aren't necessarily worse than their other "regular" flatbread pizzas, but these bad boys pack a caloric punch: an entire pizza is between 870 (cheese) and 1,020 (pepperoni) calories. I really hope they add more options in the future - it would be great to be able to order a mushroom or a veggie pizza!

Overall though -- YUM! If you haven't tried their gluten free pizza yet, you definitely should!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Literary Kismet

So, I've been on a healthy-food, what-am-I-putting-into-my-body kick over the past few weeks. Turns out, this is only going to get worse...

I'm currently reading Skinny Bitch, a "tough-love" book that advises us morons that if you don't use your head and pay attention to what you put in your body, you can't lost weight. Makes sense overall - even though I disagree with most of the if-you're-not-vegan-you're-doing-it-wrong viewpoints in the book.

Furthermore, my grad school class in communication and ethics has assigned Fast Food Nation as required reading this semester - we'll be doing a case study on the book. We admittedly don't go to McDonald's anymore for gluten-reasons, but I still think it'll be interesting reading.

Finally, a group of girlfriends and I are in a book club. For the month of February we've picked The Omnivore's Dilemna, which takes a critical look at exactly where our food comes from.

My promise to you, readers, is that as I read these books I'll take anything interesting and relevant to our gluten-free lifestyles and discuss it here in this forum over the next couple of months. For example, Skinny Bitch touts alterna-grain pastas (Bionaturae, Lundberg Farms, etc) as healthier for the general public than regular white wheat pasta!

That said - does anyone else have books they'd recommend on these subjects? I'd be particularly interested in book recommendations specifically about the gluten free lifestyle - I've read the standards, like Living Gluten Free for Dummies, but I'm always looking for something new to read!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Simple, Light Chicken Dish

When I'm trying to eat light, my go-to recipe and one of the staples of my diet (literally - I'll have this twice a week) is based off a chicken in wine sauce recipe I downloaded from AllRecipes. For people who care, it's a South Beach Diet friendly recipe (Phase 2), and if I recall correctly it was 3 or 4 Weight Watchers points (my mother and I debated on that, I counted the olive oil and tallied it at 4 while she tallied it at 3)

This is a great dish because it's simple, doesn't cause too much of a mess, and really healthy for you!

I usually buy a package of thin-sliced, boneless chicken breasts at the grocery store for this recipe - the chicken is already cut thin so you can use it "as is" which is really nice.

I also like to add a lot of seasoning - the garlic, salt and pepper is nice (and it's worth the time to chop up the fresh garlic), but I like to add onion powder and seasoned salt instead of regular salt. And of course, since the secret to cooking with wine is to use something marginally drinkable I usually use Barefoot chardonnay.

What I love about this recipe:
  • It's simple - you can come home from a long day at work and have dinner ready in less than half an hour
  • It's super-healthy for you and a great diet recipe at approx. 250 calories per serving
  • You can make it in one dish - yay!
  • You can substitute/add almost any veggies that you already have on hand. I love making this dish with red pepper slices, sweet onion and portabella mushrooms!
In the winter I like to pair this recipe with mashed potatoes and peas, or a nice salad. It goes very well with pinot grigio or riesling as well!

However if I'm trying to eat healthy - like now, try it paired with:
  • Summer squash (best in season), steamed, with a tsp. margarine and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • A nice organic baby romaine salad, and a baked potato with some plain yogurt if you insist on having a starch. A side note on the salad, Price Chopper brand light bleu cheese dressing is awesome, cheap and pretty decent as far as calories and fat go!
Do you have a "healthy" go-to recipe of your own?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Cookie-less January"

Ah, January. The holidays are over, the tree has been packed up (or in our case, broken and thrown out) for yet another year, the house is finally back in order, and the credit card bill for holiday purchases is due. Alas, this is also the time of year when girls like me try on our skinny Seven for all Mankind jeans and see the dreaded muffin-top from one (or ten) too many holiday indulgences.

Now, the first week of January for us was pretty much still an extended holiday. The first weekend in January a lot of my relatives came up to my parents' house to celebrate the holiday, where my mother actually ordered a tray of chicken cacciatore for everyone (as well as a ton of other munchies, like the crab dip I made for the occasion). Now - one nice thing to know is that Italian restaurants can be very accomodating of gluten free needs! All you have to do is ask:
  • My office holiday party was held at Cornell's, where my husband was given a special plate of wonderful, gluten free, chicken marsala along with salad, rice, and they offered him sherbet for dessert (though he was already stuffed from the meal!) - this was a very special treat, because it was the first time we'd gone to an Italian restaurant since going gluten free!
  • My mother ordered the chicken cacciatore from Canali's, where they prepared the tray in their "default" style and provided a gluten free version for my husband. Their marinara sauce is also gluten free, though since they don't provide gluten free pasta he had side dishes of their yummy green beans and roasted potatoes.

Anyway, now the holidays are officially and completely over, our puggle is still on her diet, and I am starting to eat and exercise off all those indulgent meals.

I asked my husband for the Wii Fit for Christmas, and while it's fun and no-doubt a workout if you do it right (at least, my legs were killing me the first week that I started using it), there's no contest in my mind that going to the gym is better - or even better yet, taking advantage of all the snow we've had so far this season and going snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing!

Anyway - I have less than a month to go until Italian Night at Glen Sanders Mansion, and I want to be sure to fit into a cute outfit! This means eating extremely healthy at Kat's GF Kitchen! I've stocked up on healthy fare including chicken, fish/shrimp and plenty of veggies, and for the rest of this month will be focusing on healthy, low-fat, low-calorie meals - and not going out to eat as much!

Who else has jumped on the diet bandwagon this January??

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Gluten Free New Years

While we live pretty close to downtown Albany, my husband and I decided to forgo the dubious pleasures of club-hopping on that evening and instead made plans for a nice, low-key (and mostly gluten free) evening with some friends. We had people over for a potluck dinner, board games, that sort of thing. It was a very nice evening. :)

We're fans of brut champagne for sipping, but had some spumante on hand so decided to make a champagne punch. I'd never used champagne punch, and I knew that I wanted to use sherbet in it but wasn't sure exactly how to go about it, so I found this recipe and used it as a base. It sounded a little too orange for my tastes, though, so I made a punch with two bottles of champagne, orange sherbet, orange juice and cranberry/raspberry juice. I also added some frozen strawberries and raspberries for garnish, but ended up chilling but forgetting the ginger ale! No matter, though, the punch still came out incredibly tasty, and I got compliments on it all night long.

As far as the food, we had debated a few different options - namely, gluten free pigs-in-a-blanket, gluten free sliders, and gluten free mini pizzas - before deciding ultimately on chili. Naturally gluten free, ultimately yummy, and easy enough to start mid-afternoon and let it cook all afternoon and evening. I'd never actually made chili before, but I found this recipe for "Flatlander Chili" that looked really good and easy, so went with it. Of course, this wouldn't be Kat's GF Kitchen if I didn't play with the recipe at least a tiny bit - now a disclaimer, I didn't measure anything at all, really. I doubled the recipe and used four lbs. of ground beef with two cans of red kidney beans - let me tell you, that makes a LOT of chili! Instead of tomato juice I used two or three cans of diced tomatoes (I had some Del Monte tomatoes already seasoned for chili that were very good). I also added about half a cup or so of cornmeal to thicken the chili up a little bit. We served the chili with fixings: sliced jalapenos, Kraft shredded Mexican cheese and Tostitos scoops. I was happy with the way it turned out for the party - though the next time I make this for just us, I'll probably triple the amount of cayenne pepper that I used!

Since it was a pot-luck, we had a lot of other great stuff. Sam made awesome gluten free baked ziti with Lundburg Farms brown rice penne, we had a wonderful salad with fresh strawberries, walnuts and feta cheese, shrimp cocktail, and all sorts of cheeses, dips and spreads.

Finally, the puggle also enjoyed New Years! Our friends brought their dog over as well, so she even had company the entire night! Here she is, in the best picture I could take of her celebrating the new year - she was not a fan of that tiara!

I hope that everyone else had a safe, happy, and fun New Years celebration - now it's on to what my friend Liz calls "Cookie-less January!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy New Years!

Happy New Year 2009! I hope that everyone had just a nice - and gluten free - holiday as I did with my family. I also wanted to assure my readers that, no I have not fallen off the face of the planet. Our holiday season was incredibly busy between holiday parties with family, friends and co-workers, and it was very fun making our traditions gluten free this year!

One of the most important Christmas traditions in our family is, of course, Christmas cookies. There's a huge list of cookies we like to bake for the holidays, which have included in years past sugar cookies, gingerbread men, snickerdoodles, ricotta cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies. I'd already modified our sugar cookie recipe to be gluten free, so this year we decided to try our hand at de-glutening our ricotta cookie and snickerdoodle cookie recipes, and I added my new favorite cookies, amarettis (naturally gluten free!) to the mix. Yum!

The ricotta cookies came out tasting very good - we could still taste the ricotta cheese - though the rice flour did leave a slight aftertaste different from the "traditional" ricotta cookies made from wheat flour. It wasn't unpleasant at all though and we quite enjoyed them. I decorated them with colored sugar, sprinkles, and nonpareils. I modified our old recipe to use white rice flour instead of wheat flour, and they came out on the first try.

I've always used Betty Crocker's recipe for sugar cookies, and it was very easy to modify this recipe using white rice flour - and decorated them, of course, with copious amounts of colored sugar!

We made the amaretti cookies using Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour and the hard-to-find special ingredient, pearl sugar ordered from King Arthur Flour. Note: the bag says that pearl sugar is processed in a facility that also processes wheat, but we didn't have any problems with it. I like to cook them a little bit less than usual so they're chewy instead of crispy - I thought they came out the best of anything we baked. I plan to purchase a food processor for next year though, so hopefully they'll come out a little smoother than they are in the picture above!