Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Gluten-Free Grilling

Memorial Day is just around the corner and with it comes the season of barbeques! I love barbeques for the fun, carefree atmosphere and for all the delicious food. Freshly grilled meat, fruit salad, pasta salad…yes, pasta salad. One of my favorites is a light and refreshing Greek pasta salad. Simple to prepare and a perfect compliment to grilled chicken, shrimp or even a hot dog! I like to toss chopped plum tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, crumbled feta cheese (Boar’s Head and Organic Valley are good) and kalamata olives with 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, a few tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, about a teaspoon of dried oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Then throw in about 8 oz (half a box) of your favorite gluten free pasta (try Mrs. Leeper’s or De Boles corn pasta or Ener-G Foods or Annie’s rice pasta) and you’ve got a beautiful, flavorful side dish.

Potatoes make great barbeque side dishes. Set up a baked potato bar with all your favorite fixins: sour cream (Organic Valley), bacon (Boar’s Head), chives and cheddar cheese (Boar’s Head) or roast potatoes in a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Potato salad is one of my favorites. A basic recipe needs 5 medium sized red potatoes, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s is gluten free), 2 tbl vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp pepper. Simply cube and boil the potatoes, boil the eggs and mix the other ingredients in a bowl. Once boiled, cool and peel and chop the eggs and mix with the other ingredients and the cooled potatoes. This recipe can be jazzed up with bacon, cheese and sour cream to make baked potato salad or with red pepper flakes to make it a little spicy.

Chicken and seafood taste great on the grill, especially between chopped peppers, onions and mushrooms on a kebab, but I eat a lot of that stuff all year-round and come barbeque season I like to indulge in a hot dog every now and then. Hebrew National is my favorite brand and they are gluten free. Ball Park and Applegate Farms are also safe to eat and Applegate Farms has several delicious, all-natural, organic and gluten free products on their website. I personally love a plain hot dog, cut up with some ketchup and sauerkraut, but if you like yours on a bun, try this recipe. I originally found it online and it turned out well when I tried it:

Gluten Free Hot Dog Buns:
• Mix 3/4 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbl sugar in a bowl.
• In another bowl, mix 2 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1/2 cup milk
• Mix all ingredients together and spoon batter in a hot dog bun shape about 5 inches long on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 14 mins, or until golden brown. Cool completely, and slice a slit for the hot dog.

Have a happy holiday and lots of happy grilling from GF Delights. If you aren't in the mood to make your own food, check out the famous Blue Smoke, they have some great gluten free options including two types of slow-smoked, tasty ribs.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cross-Country Gluten Free

My apologies for being absent these last few weeks; I took a road trip from Vancouver, Canada to New York and internet access was scarce. A few of the days we drove upwards of 450 miles, stopping only for gas (the timing of the trip could not have been worse--$4.19 a gallon in San Francisco!), so out dining options were limited to what was available at rest stops. I found that eating healthy while on the road, whether sticking to a gluten free diet or not, is challenging. We tried to frequent Subway over the like of McDonald’s and KFC not only because Subway’s salads are gluten free, but also because in general, the options are healthier.

The trip started out promising, with the Cinnamon Works bakery in Seattle’s Public Market advertising gluten free items in their window, unfortunately we got there just after closing so I didn’t actually get to try their “Monster Cookie” which apparently is not only the “best cookie in the world”, but is also gluten free! Next time I’m in the area, I’ll be sure to try one. I did, however, get to enjoy a delicious gluten free cup of joe at the original Starbucks store in the Public Market.
Unfortunately, after a day and a half delay in the Oregon wilderness (involving complications with out tow hitch), our in-city stops in Portland, OR and San Francisco were scratched or shortened so that we could catch up on our driving and I was forced to abandon my plan to discover gluten free gems in those cities. Instead, we stocked up at the supermarket and ate most of our meals en route. I would recommend this as a general rule for all road trippers—this way you have complete control over what you eat and when. We did manage to enjoy a wonderful tour of the William Hill Estate winery in Napa, CA and the wine selection I sampled was delicious. Wine, as you know, is naturally gluten and wheat free.

Another wonderful West Coast delight is In-N-Out Burger. Now, I don’t make a habit of eating fast food, but because of all the time we spent on the highways, we made a couple of stops here. In-N-Out prides itself on freshness and quality and in homage to the West Coast’s health-conscious, beach-body cuisine, they offer their burgers “protein style”, which means your burger comes in a lettuce wrap instead of on a bun. Lucky for those of us with celiac or a gluten allergy, that also means they’re gluten free. Ask for it without their spread, because they have yet to confirm that it’s gluten free. Their burgers and their fries are gluten free—the fries are cut from whole potatoes right in the restaurant and are fried in gluten free oil.

We had a fantastic trip, despite the rushed nature of it, and saw some amazing sights, which really opened my eyes to the incredible beauty of our country. For someone who loves to travel, I’d never seen much of my own country between the right and left coasts, as most of my travels have been overseas. It’s worth taking a cross-country road trip if you have the time...and the money for gas!

It’s good to be home and back to my staple gluten free eateries. One of my first stops upon my return was Zambetti’s in New City, NY to stock up on some of their gluten free pastas and snacks. That’s all for now. If you’re planning a road trip, remember to check out’s restaurant list to map out gluten free eating stops along the way.