Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Good Food Store & Backroom Deli January 31, 2010

I almost always stop at the Good Food Store & Back Room Deli when I’m in Rochester. I specifically go there for the restaurant, but do a little grocery shopping while I’m there.

they’ve made a few changes recently. the deli used to be entirely vegan, and almost everything on the menu could be made gluten free, with possible variations. they’re no longer exclusively vegan, but still have many vegan options. they have some good wraps (with a wide assortment of veggies and sprouts in them), sandwiches, and the burgers can be made in wrap form to make them gluten free. they usually have some cold salads with interesting grains or fruits/vegetables/ nuts, soups (often gluten free), some desserts, including ice cream and smoothies.

they also recently switched their fries, which used to be home fries, made on an exclusively gluten free grill. and at first I was sad to hear that they no longer made them, but when I tasted the new shoestring french fries made in a dedicated fryer, I completely forgot about the other ones. and even though it comes in a huge serving, we ordered another batch! yum!

the deli also carries several breakfast items. another favorite menu item of mine are the (gluten-free) buckwheat pancakes. I recommend starting with a single one~ they take up an entire plate, and since they’re made of buckwheat, they’re pretty dense and filling, but very tasty! and they come with either maple syrup or agave. they were actually recommended to me by another customer, but it took a few visits before I actually ordered them.

and while I wait for my order to be prepared, I usually peruse the store. they have the usual co-op or health food fare. the gluten free section is a few aisles long. one interesting thing is that they mix up Bette Hagman’s four-bean gluten-free flour mix in a big bulk container (stored in the GF section), and you can scoop out what you want. this seems pretty convenient (and was reasonably priced), if you don’t want to spend the time making your own mix and buying all the different flours. they also have another GF flor blend that they say can be substituted cup-for-cup for Bette Hagman (the Gluten Free Gourmet)’s regular gluten free flour mix. also available in bulk in the GF section are Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Gluten Free Hot Cereal, certain single flours and starches, some GF noodles, GF rice krispies (they look perfect for making krispy treats), etc. usually I’d worry about cross-contamination with bulk containers, but these are located deep within the gluten free section, all by themselves.

they also have a room with all kinds of other bulk containers~ shampoos, cleaning products, beans/ lentils, herbs, spices, etc. it had quite the variety.

I haven’t explored Rochester enough to see if there are a lot of other co-op or health food- type stores there are, but this one is really nice, and it’s close to the regular hospital and the Mayo. it’s also right next door to HyVee, who has a huge list of their HyVee brand products that are gluten free (and very cheap!!) so I usually stop at both places while I’m there.

I should also mention that one other store I do know of is the Gluten-Free Cupboard of Rochester, which is exclusively gluten free! the shop is small, but carries a ton of different products. they also ship their products from their website, so you can check them out, even if you live elsewhere in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, or anywhere really. so check them out if you go to Rochester or online. it’s nice to support businesses that cater to the celiacs and the gluten free crowd.

 

Common foods & ingredients that may (surprisingly) contain gluten January 29, 2010

foods like breads, battered chicken strips or onion rings, pancakes, pasta, and pizzas obviously contain gluten. but there are many foods that we, as celiacs, need to watch out for.

there are some items that can contain gluten that we might not realize, when first starting on the gluten-free lifestyle. items like mainstream cereals that seem safe because they’re made of corn or rice, still usually contain malt (barley), for instance. other gluten-containing products that you might not suspect are all types of sauces (BBQ sauce, soy sauce, pasta sauces, salad dressings, etc). also soups and broths may contain gluten, as can processed meats like ham, hot dogs or sausages. some things that seem really far out there at first are chicken and turkeys~ sometimes chickens in packages are injected with a broth that may or may not contain gluten. (I always go with more natural brands to avoid those), and even whole frozen turkeys need to be checked before purchasing or eating. most of the mainstream brands are now gluten free (except for the packet of gravy that sometimes comes with it).  but always check it out before using. and as I wrote in my Thanksgiving blog, beware of the bags that many people use to cook turkeys in. I’ve heard they are off-limits and contain gluten.

also, there are a few tricky foods that could be dusted with flour, while not listing it as an ingredient. these items are ones that I always check grocery guides for, before purchasing any given brand, because without listing the flour as an ingredient, we couldn’t otherwise know except through contacting the manufacturer. one of the big ones are from the freezer department: tater tots, french fries, hash browns and other frozen potato products. I usually stick with Ore Ida, as most of their potato products are safely flour and gluten free. another item that may be dusted with flour, and not so noted, is chocolate. most of the main candy bar brands are safe, but always consult the company or a grocery guide before trying them. the chocolate that is most likely flour-dusted are the finer chocolates from specialty chocolatiers. and since they probably aren’t listed in a grocery guide, it’s best to contact the company’s info line or headquarters to get that information.

there are many ingredients that may contain gluten as well, when reading labels at the grocery store. some of these have changed over time and have been determined to come from non-gluten sources, but I like to stay cautious, in case the food was made abroad and the standard ingredients for these questionable items differ. some of the more obvious ingredients to avoid are anything with that specify wheat, barley, rye, or oats~ those are automatically out. couscous, spelt kamut, and semolina are also out. then there are more cryptic ingredients that most people don’t even know what they are or where the come from. if you search online for possible gluten-containing ingredients, you’ll come up with tons of lists, all of them different, but the main ones usually show up on all of them: the natural flavors/ flavorings, HPP/ HVP, hydrolyzed starches and proteins (unless the source is listed after the ingredient, specifying a source other than what), starch or modified food starch (again, unless a source is specified), maltodextrin, caramel color / flavoring, seasonings, and stabilizers. other, less common ones could include, emulsifiers, enzymes, glucose syrup, smoke flavoring, broth, and many more.

the list of questionable foods and ingredients goes on and on, this is just a basic primer. just try and be on guard with everything. and never be afraid to call a company or manufacturer~ I’ve called many manufacturers right from the grocery store from the numbers on the products. I find that companies increasingly have allergen information on hand, and can tell you in moments whether the product is free of gluten or other allergens. it’s better to know before you spend the money on a product, and always better to be safe. grocery guides can also be quite helpful to make the search quicker and easier, especially when first starting out and trying to remember all the potential glutenous ingredients. but it’s definitely worthwhile to learn what the suspect ingredients, because you’ll need to know them at some point in time, when you have no other resources available. it’s always better to be prepared.

 

Crumb Gourmet Deli January 27, 2010

I love Crumb Deli! they go out of their way for us celiacs. not only do they carry gluten free bread (from Bittersweet Bakery), but they have a separate counter that they prepare our sandwiches on, including our very own dedicated gluten free toaster! I find that very thoughtful. they carry Boar’s Head brand meats and cheeses, so those are all gluten free. this means that we can order basically any entree! (except the wraps) and they have some really fun sandwich options.

they have at least a few gluten free soups, but some of them rotate, so just ask which ones you can have when you go in. the chili (my favorite, and I like to bring my own tortilla chips to crunch in it), is both gluten and dairy free, the tortilla soup is also gluten free and I believe it’s also dairy free but am not positive, and then there’s a creamy tomato soup that gluten free, but contains dairy. they are available in quart-sized takeout containers

you can do a 1/2 sandwich with a 1/2 soup, but I don’t recommend this, as the gluten-free bread is a little smaller, and that doesn’t amount to much of a sandwich. but if you order a full sandwich, it should be enough to fill you, because the gluten free bread is so dense. I often take off the top piece of bread, since I’m not used to eating much bread anyway.

each sandwich or salad comes with chips or fruit. I love that they have fruit~ often pears or apples. the plain potato chips are also gluten-free. and to finish off the meal, they have gluten free cookies, also from Bittersweet Bakery! yum!

they’re very careful and conscientious while preparing our gluten free meals~ changing gloves, preparing in a separate area, etc. my only concern when I go there is that unless you request that they use ingredients out of the back room, they will use the ingredients and toppings from the normal bar where all the regular sandwiches are made. some people aren’t concerned about this, but I prefer to request that they get my ingredients from the back. so that’s your choice, but know that it’s an option.

they are always very accommodating when you ask. I’ve never had any problems there~ they’re so helpful and friendly. I wish I made it there more often! they’re located in Eden Prairie on Hwy 5 (62 turns into 212, which turns into 5) & Mitchell Road, right off the exit.

I should also mention that they cater….

 

Madwoman Foods Bakery January 26, 2010

I haven’t actually written about Madwoman Foods yet, but I have a somewhat urgent request that they’ve sent out, that I thought I’d relay.

first I’ll explain who they are and what they do. they’re a gluten free bakery, and most, if not all the products are also dairy-free. they also try and cater to the diabetic community, as their products are low glycemic. their bakery has many varieties of cupcakes, with some more unique varieties (the chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting is a favorite of mine).  another fun thing that they have is caramel rolls. I’m not sure if they carry them everyday or just on certain ones, but it’s rare to find somewhere to get fresh gluten free caramel rolls! they also make brownies, bars, cakes, etc.

a special treat (particularly in the summer) are the ice cream cones! they keep fresh gluten and dairy free ice cream in a little freezer case, and they even have gluten free ice cream cones to put them in for us! what a treat!!

I haven’t been there since I saw this recently in their newsletter, but I believe they started making (gluten-free) sandwiches for lunch or any time.

they also have a website that you can order various products from, including GFCF pizzas, flatbread, tea cakes, granola, etc.

beyond their bakery items, they also have a small retail grocery section. it was at Madwoman where I found my first bag of gluten free gnocchi in the freezer section! in fact, I hadn’t seen many of the items in their grocery section before, so it’s worth checking out.

this brings me to their urgent request… apparently times have been tough, especially this month, and they’re trying to win a grant that’s available to local businesses. it would give them the money to advertise and hopefully drum up some more business. if you would like to help them, it’s basically a popularity contest. so just go here:  http://lovealocalbusiness.intuit.com/ and enter Madwoman Foods as the business name and Minneapolis, MN as the city, and then nominate them.

another obvious way to support them would be to go check them out.  gluten free bakeries are a rarity, so it’s nice to hold on to the ones we already have. they’re located in Minneapolis, pretty far south of downtown on 35W, near the Pizza Luce in Uptown. the address is 4747 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis. and if you you don’t want to make the trip, or it seems a little far for you to go, they do take mail-orders online for some of the items mentioned above. between the fresh baked goods, deli sandwiches to order, the homemade ice cream, the grocery section, and the internet orders, please find a way to at least check them out. I think you’ll find it worthwhile, and will hopefully help save them in the process!

 

Coborns Delivers January 25, 2010

Coborn’s Delivers has made a huge effort to cater to the gluten free crowd. for those of you not familiar with Coborn’s, they are a home-delivery grocery service. they deliver to the greater Minneapolis/ St Paul metro and the St Cloud area.

their goal with their gluten free section is to create a one-stop shop for us, since we celiacs often have to go to several stores to get everything we need for various recipes or meals. they took the counsel of various people and celiac groups, and came up with a great selection of gluten free products, that’s constantly growing (they just added all sorts of goodies from Bittersweet Bakery!!).

to get to the GF section/ department, (go to the Home Delivery section to start), then click on My Lists, and then there are some Quick Lists on the top right, and choose Gluten Free. the GF “department” has several sections to  browse through. this includes condiments, frozen items, baking items, breakfast, pasta, snacks, and even GF beer (Redbridge), to name a few of them.

they stay very competitive in their pricing, which can be difficult to find with our specialty items. also, they list the ingredients in each item when you click on it, in case you have multiple allergies. (for all products, not just the gluten free items) this also is a nice tool for those of you who aren’t in the delivery area~ you could still check the ingredients for products online if you wish.

one nice feature to the website is that you can create a custom list of your favorite items, so that you can just change around quantities each time, without constantly looking them up. it explains how to do this on the website in the My Lists section.

it’s a flat $5-10 delivery free, depending on how much you spend, and if you want the groceries on the same day or the next (although they have annual unlimited delivery packages that you can purchase if you become a frequent customer). you can actually get free shipping, if you pick the groceries up at park & ride locations around the Twin Cities metro.

I had only heard great things about them, and finally tried them out this past weekend. it was a great way to avoid going to the store, and I got normal groceries plus my specialty gluten-free products as well. they just dump off the bins in a 4-hour window of your choosing, and then you can either exchange the green tubs they come in with your next order, or schedule a pick-up online (for free). the insulation in the bins would last up to like 8 hours, I was told. I was glad that I was there when they came though, because I wouldn’t have wanted to store 3 big bins until a pick-up or another delivery. they are pretty big! (and I didn’t really order that much food, but each type of item is packed separately: frozen, fresh, veggies~ the want to make sure the groceries are in good condition when found on the steps).

the representative also said that most people fear that they’ll get bad produce (keep in mind, it’s a full-service grocery store, not just GF), so they go above and beyond to get the freshest produce. (they tell you online which produce items are “better” or “best” at the moment, since in the winter, fruits and vegetables don’t look the juiciest or their best) and the people I know who use it regularly confirm that it’s true that the produce is better than regular grocery stores. some say it’s their favorite thing to order from them!

I’m very impressed by everything I’ve seen and heard from them, as well as from my first delivery experience. everyone I know who has tried it is hooked.

 

American Girl Store & Restaurant January 22, 2010

the American Girl store is a great place to bring kids. it’s a great destination experience, especially for girls, including a restaurant that can accomodate celiac diets and allergies of all kinds.

the store is filled with dolls of varying sizes (there are feature dolls with names and personalized stories and accessories, bitty babies that are smaller, and more generic dolls that you can get with varying features). they also have lots of accessories and clothes, and books about the feature girls.

it’s the most fun for girls who have an American Girl doll, not only because they can shop around for accessories and such, but also because there are fun things to do with the dolls. for instance, they have a hair salon for the dolls, with a menu of options for straight and curly-haired dolls that they can do. the dolls have little salon chairs to sit in while the employees work their hair magic.

the restaurant/ cafe has little chairs for the American girls to sit in that attach to the tables, so the dolls are pulled up right next to the girls in little “high chairs” while they eat. it’s best to call ahead if you know that you’re going to eat at the American Girl store, so that they can provide more gluten free options. I believe they told me that almost all of the dishes could be made gluten free, with a few adaptations.

to tie the whole experience together, they also host birthday parties, full of all these fun activities.

it’s a fun and magical experience for kids, especially if you’re willing to buy one of the dolls (which can be pricey). otherwise it can be a little disappointing for the girls to look, but not be a part of the experience. but it’s always nice when destinations for family outtings make provisions for children with allergies.

 

Cooqi 3rd anniversary weekend January 20, 2010

Filed under: .Bakeries,News — rebeccagf @ 9:38 am
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this Saturday and Sunday, January 23-24th, 2009, Cooqi Gluten Free bakery will be celebrating their 3rd anniversary! there will be lots of samples, giveaways, and cake. so stop by if you’re in the area!

thank you Cooqi, for all your efforts the past 3 years!