Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm in the mood... for actual food.

Nothing says "I think you are swell and don't want you to get food poisoning" like a romantic gluten-free dining experience on Valentine's Day!

Our wonderfully food-quirk-friendly pals at Wilmington's Fresh Thymes Café are offering a very special Valentine's dinner on Tuesday, February 14th - call soon to reserve your spot as space is limited: (302)656-2026. Fresh Thymes is a great spot that serves only REAL food - all natural, organic, local, no strange preservatives.

"We will create a charming candlelight atmosphere for the lovebirds and have some amazing dinner. We will be serving a sweetheart salad, Main Entree Choices: Maple glazed Wild Salmon over whipped root vegetables, Chicken or Eggplant Parmigiana over pasta (eggplant can be done vegan too) or Passionate Pineapple Tempeh over coconut quinoa and flourless chocolate cake with organic mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. If you need a completely vegan or gluten-free meal please let us know. We have no problem accommodating. Cost is $35 per person."

Monday, January 9, 2012

We're back!

I can't believe that it's been over a year since I last posted, so one of my 2012 resolutions is to keep Wheat Nothings going. It's been almost two years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and at this point it's just second nature, thanks in large part to all the restaurants, food stores, and new products on the market. Living gluten free is easier and tastier than ever.

Some highlights of upcoming posts, when time permits:

* A guide to gluten-free London! I spent six weeks in the UK this summer and I have compiled tons of information and reviews.

* Recipes and reviews

* New dining info in Delaware

Happy and healthy 2012, gluten free friends! Stay tuned for more Wheat Nothings.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Survey says... pizza.

Make your gluten-free voice heard and vote for your favorite GF brands in Triumph Dining's first annual Best of Gluten Free Awards! Participants receive free dining cards. Check it out here:

In *ahem* extremely exciting gluten-free pizza news, northern Delaware is now home to Extreme Pizza, located in downtown Wilmington. The good news: they deliver and the pizza is really good! (In fact, I voted for them in the Triumph survey.)

On the down side, it's pricey - almost $16 for a 12" plain cheese GF pizza and about $20 for specialty toppings. In comparison, Seasons Pizza is $9.99 but it's smaller and thinner. That's quite a splurge for pizza, but it may be worth it on rare occasions, since lazy + delivery + GF is no simple proposition. (Another unfortunate side effect of celiac disease: $20 pizza?!) Extreme's GF menu also includes a few salad choices. The specialty pizzas are very creative and have fun names like Mr. Pestato Head, Peace in the Middle East (shown above, with hummus, tomatoes, olives, onions, feta, fresh basil, pepperoncinis, and mozzarella), and Poultry Geist. Another perk: Extreme also offers soy cheese.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy gluten-free Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and gluten-free Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday! This was my first (knowingly) celiac Thanksgiving and it went really well. I hope more people will learn that it's so easy to make gluten-free dishes that your celiac friends and relatives can enjoy - there are many side dishes that are normally gluten-free or can be so easily adjusted that non-celiacs wouldn't notice a difference. Bottom line: just talk to us.

This year I was really craving stuffing, so I made my own. I used up several loaves of GF bread I had in the fridge or freezer (Udi's, Rudi's, and Food For Life) and Trader Joe's Stuffing Starter Mix (chopped celery, onions, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme). I toasted the slices of bread in the oven, let them sit out for a day to harden, then broke them into crouton-size bites. I sauteed the veggie/herb mix in olive oil, then blended them with my croutons and some water. I pressed the stuffing into a sprayed 9x13" pyrex and baked for an hour at about 325, covered with foil. Next time I would probably use broth for more flavor, or I'd recommend doing something to season the bread. I would also bake it for longer, or take the foil off towards the end. But it smelled heavenly and the texture was great (for my first stuffing attempt)! Craving satisfied, almost exactly how I remembered it.

The other dish I've been craving: sweet potatoes! I didn't measure my ingredients, but here's basically what I did. (Also, if I'm cooking small portions, I use my toaster oven since it's so much faster & less electricity than heating up the big oven.) Preheat oven to 350. Peel 2 sweet potatoes & cut into small pieces. Melt about 1 tbsp of dairy-free margarine (or butter) in the microwave. In a large mixing bowl, pour melted margarine and about 1 tbsp of canola oil over potatoes. I added some orange juice, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, a packet of Sugar in the Raw (or brown sugar, or omit), and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix it up, making sure the potatoes are evenly coated. Pour them into a foil-lined pan and bake for an hour, stirring once or twice. In the last 5 minutes, I added some marshmallow pieces on top. They were the absolutely perfect blend of gooey and crispy with an amazing caramelized, citrusy flavor. Really, this couldn't be easier or more delicious at any time of year.

Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday because it's my birthday weekend. :D We celebrated with a trip to Padi, a new Thai/sushi fusion restaurant in Hockessin, DE from the owners of Wilmington's very yummy Rasa Sayang, another favorite of mine. Located in Lantana Square Shopping Center, Padi has a nice, modern vibe with a sushi bar and big modular booths. The service was attentive and the food was DELICIOUS! I ordered spicy tuna and salmon rolls for starters, drunken noodles with shrimp, and my beloved mango sticky rice for dessert. Our server was very understanding and the kitchen made my noodles without soy sauce. I brought a bottle of wheat-free tamari to use with the sushi, and when the manager came over to check on us, he noticed my soy sauce and asked if I'm gluten-free! He then commented that he's been trying to find a commercial-size container of wheat-free soy sauce so they can keep it in the kitchen, and said he has a number of friends who are gluten-free, so they are very aware and happy to make accommodations. Well, that's what it takes to sweep me off my feet, folks - fresh & tasty sushi, outstanding Thai/fusion entrees, and gluten awareness. I can't wait to go back - Padi is definitely a new favorite. (No links, as the restaurant doesn't have a website. Call for reservations - 302.239.1800.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Udi's coming to Trader Joe's?

I've just learned via Facebook that Trader Joe's will soon be carrying Udi's products. Udi's is well-known and very popular in the GF crowd for their remarkably normal sandwich bread, bagels, muffins, and mini pizza crusts. And even if this is just a cruel rumor, you can find Udi's in the Delaware area anyway at both the Giant and Shop-Rite on Concord Pike, Wilmington and occasionally Newark Natural Foods on Main Street, Newark, or at Whole Foods (not in Delaware). Great to see that Udi's is becoming easier to find.

Last night I threw together a very easy and delicious pot of GF chili-mac, which made for a super tasty lunch at school today! Here's what I did (sorry, no pictures):

- about half a pound of cooked ground beef
- 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes w/ green chilies
- about half a bag of rice noodles - cooked, drained & rinsed (I strongly recommend Trader Joe's brown rice penne or rotini)
- half an onion, chopped
- to taste: chili powder, ground cumin, oregano

Failproof instructions: saute the onion in some oil. Add everything else and mix it up til it's all warm. I used roughly 4 shakes of chili powder, 1/2 tsp of cumin, and just a dash of oregano. Yum! (You could also add corn, beans, chickpeas, etc.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rice Chexie treats & cozy GF soup!

How did it get to be November?! It's that time of year when a girl's thoughts turn to outlines, memos, final exams, and stress stress stress. And cozy comfort food that's perfect for fall. Just a quick post tonight but I wanted to share two easy recipes I've enjoyed recently.

Rice Chexie treats!

By all rights Rice Krispies should be gluten-free but they contain malt flavoring, which comes from barley. No go. I am cuckoo for rice krispie treats, but the great news is that you can make a GF version that's just as good, if not better, using Rice Chex, which are thankfully gluten-free. Here's what you need:

* pan (8x8 or 9x13, greased with cooking spray. I use Pyrex baking dishes.)
* 2-3 tbsp of butter or margarine
* 1 bag of marshmallows (check the ingredients to make sure they're GF. Also, minis melt faster than the big ones)
* 6 cups of Rice Chex cereal
* optional: 1 tsp vanilla extract (again, check ingredients)

Spritz your pan. Over low heat, melt your butter/margarine and marshmallows, stirring constantly. The second it's smooth, remove from heat - don't overcook. Add vanilla and stir. Add your cereal and stir it through the goo; this is always the annoying part. Dump the mixture into the pan. It helps to use waxed paper, the back of a wet spoon, or dampen your hands to press the mixture flat. Now comes the hard part: waiting. Cut into squares or shapes and enjoy! They are amazing and taste just like the real thing. (Note: I have previously tried using organic brown rice krispies. Feel free to try it for yourself but IMO it tasted like cardboard. Rice Chex are about 100x better for this purpose!)

Cozy Comforting Potato-Leek-Veggies I Found in my Fridge Soup

On a cold fall day potato-leek soup hits the spot. I made a big batch of this soup, but it didn't last long. I brought it to school for lunch and received two compliments from passers-by who said it looked delicious. Oh, it was! I based the soup on this great and easy recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup. I didn't take any pictures, but here's what I used, as far as I can remember:

* 1-2 tbsp butter or margarine (olive oil should be fine too)
* 2 leeks (Trader Joe's, pre-trimmed - chopped & rinsed)
* 2 potatoes, peeled & chopped (I used russet; yukon gold would be delicious too)
* about 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
* about 1/2 pound of asparagus, chopped into 1" pieces
* 1 carrot, sliced into rounds
* 2 cups of Pacific organic chicken broth (1 small box, which is what I had on hand. If you have more broth, omit the water. Of course you could also use veggie broth. It should be a total of 3 1/2 to 4 cups of liquid.)
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1/2 cup goat milk (Whoa, GOAT? Okay, yes, here's where I got crazy. This was an experiment. Goat milk can be found at Trader Joe's and is supposedly easier to digest than cow milk, so I gave it a try. I wouldn't drink it by itself, but if you like the pungent, tangy flavor of chèvre, it's a nice stir-in for soups or mashed potatoes. While I'm still not on great terms with dairy, this milk seemed to be okay with me. You might prefer to use regular milk, Lactaid milk, or heavy cream.)
* kosher salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot or saucepan, melt butter/marg or heat olive oil over medium or medium-high heat. Sauté leeks til they soften. Add broth and/or water, potatoes, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover & let simmer about 10-15 minutes til your veggies are nice and soft.

I have - and LOVE - an immersion hand-blender, which is absolutely ideal and so easy for pureeing soup (and it's dishwasher-safe). If you have a hand-blender, use that or transfer soup in batches to your regular blender and process til smooth or whatever texture appeals to you. Return soup to the pot. Add your milk and re-heat over low. Season with salt and pepper; serve with a little shredded cheese on top if you like (or perhaps a dollop of sour cream?). Deeeelish. I can't wait to make another batch!