Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Pizza Luce February 25, 2010

Pizza Luce is one of my favorite restaurants. even though it’s a flour-rich environment, they are very conscientious about keeping their gluten-free foods from cross-contamination. they’re general manager and kitchen manager have been certified through the Celiac Awareness Group. this is why they’ve been slow to add locations and days that they offer gluten-free menu options. as of now, they only offer the GF menu at the St Paul (Selby Ave) and downtown Minneapolis locations, but they now offer it every day at those locations, which is great progress.

I’ve already mentioned their pizzas in my very first entry about all the pizza places in town, but I’ll recap a little about it again. they use Cooqi bakery’s pizza crusts, which are egg-free, dairy-free, and vegan as well as gluten-free. and they also offer two vegan cheese alternatives: a soy cheese that they’ve gotten really good at melting, and a “rinotta” nut-based mixture. so if you’re also allergic to dairy, Pizza Luce is your answer! other GF pizza options include most of their specialty pizzas. and each pizza is 10″, so it serves 1-2 people.

the GF menu doesn’t stop there though, there are tons of other options, which are best for people without any dairy restrictions. they have a handful of appetizer options, including chicken wings that they bake with a GF BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s), and several options involving GF break: artichoke dip, bruschetta, etc.they also have several salad options.

and to top it off, they have several gluten-free desserts! they have gluten- & dairy-free brownies and a few ice cream options.

I almost forgot to mention that they carry gluten-free beer! both Redbridge AND Bard’s! back when they only did GF meals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you could just look around and see gluten-free beer at almost every table! so I think the celiac crowd has made quite a positive impact on them, and of course we’re thankful to Pizza Luce for offering us such great (and tasty!!) options. I just hope they expand their gluten-free menu options to their other locations with time.


Recipe: Gluten-Free Spaetzle February 22, 2010

for those of you who don’t know what spaetzle is,  it’s a German egg-noodle dish, which can be served several ways. my favorite is kaese-spaetzle (with cheese), but it can also be served with a brown gravy / mushroom gravy. in fact, you could even use them as egg noodles in a soup if you wanted. it’s one of my favorite dishes.

it’s a fairly simple recipe, with just a few ingredients. so even when I was able to use regular flour, I didn’t really follow a recipe. I just added flour, eggs, and water until it looked right, and then started making it. it’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally ventured to make it gluten-free, and I actually measured things out in case it needed tweaking. and it seemed to turn out pretty normal! (confirmed by a non-celiac). I’m sure the simplicity of the recipe helps to make it an easy conversion. so here it is:

2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used Bette Hagman’s basic GF mixture)

1/2 tsp xanthan gum (which adds the stickiness back into the flour, since it’s gluten-free)

5 eggs

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

(salt to taste)

mix the ingredients together in that order, and start with just a 1/4 cup of water. you want it to be a wet-dough consistency, but not runny. so if after a 1/4 cup, it’s still too dry that it doesn’t really stick together and string just a little if you pull a piece up, add a little more water at a time until it’s a workable dough. (I apologize that I didn’t measure the amount of water I used exactly). but don’t let it become too drenched. if you accidentally add too much water, add another 1/2 cup of flour and 1 more egg.

then boil a big pot of water with a wide mouth. you’ll also need a metal scraper of some sort, anything metal with a straight edge will work, and some type of cutting board, again with a straight edge.

then you take a chunk of dough (I did a 1/4 of the mixture at a time) and place it an inch or two from the edge of your board, and use your metal scraper to sliver off a piece of the dough, and each time dip the edge of the metal scraper into the water, so the dough releases. as you drag the scraper back on the board, when you go over another thin piece of dough, slide the scraper forward again to cut it into the water. the reason you’ll want thin slices is that it gets much bigger while it cooks.

the dough is done really quickly (when it floats to the top of the water, it’s done), but I wait until I’m done with the whole piece on my cutting board before taking any out. and when I do, I pile it onto  plate to let more of the moisture evaporate, and then into a cake pan. as for the water, if it gets to starchy, it’ll boil up really high and make it difficult to dump the scraper with dough in the water without burning your hands. if that happens you may want to dump some of the water on top into the sink before continuing. in fact, when I’m halfway done, I often dump all the water and start fresh for the second half. if you prefer a more mechanized way to press the noodles, people often use ricers, and squirt the dough through into even-sized noodles. I didn’t have much luck with this the one time I tried it though~ I found it to be messy and not too effective. but some people seem to love it. another trick I recently saw on tv that looked much less messy is to use the pasta insert of a pot: hold the pasta insert above the boiling water, put a glob of dough into the insert and then scrape the dough through the little holes. tiny noodles will “rain” through them into the water.

the amount of spaetzle that this recipe makes is enough for like 4 people to have large portions. (it’s hard to stop eating). but if you just want to adjust the amount, it’s basically 1/2 cup flour to 1 egg. and I’d try using a 1/4 tsp xanthan gum if using up to 1 cup flour and 2 eggs, and then I’d use 1/2 tsp xanthan gum up to 4 cups flour and 8 eggs. the 3 cups flour would probably be the perfect amount to fill a nice layer in a cake pan. but I’d start with my recipe, and add from there, depending on how the water goes.

for kaese-spaetzle, I grill up a TON of onions, either caramelized or just really cooked down until they’re nice and brown. I always add more onion every time and think it’s a ridiculously large amount, but it cooks down so much, that I always end up wishing there were more!  so I use about 1 small to medium yellow onion per egg used (so about 5 with this recipe). and feel free to keep adding olive oil as it cooks~ you’ll probably use a lot. also, put them in the pan to brown BEFORE you start cooking the noodles in water, because it’ll take just as long.

so once the spaetzle is cooked, and some of the excess moisture evaporated, start spreading it evenly in the pan. then add the caramelized onions (you may even want to layer them, or mix them around so it’s mixed in really well). and then shred some cheese and sprinkle it on top. emmenthaler is my cheese of choice, but if you can find edam, that’s also used. these can be found in the specialty cheese area of a grocery store and comes in little blocks. it doesn’t take a lot of cheese~ in fact, it can be overwhelming if you use too much. about 4 ounces should be plenty. ( a smaller grater works nicely, because it’ll spread easier and melt better).

then put the whole thing in the oven at 350 degrees and heat until the cheese is melted, maybe 10-15 minutes or so. (in these pictures, the caramelized onions were added after melting the cheese and noodles in the oven).

for brown or mushroom gravy, I still like to make it with onions, but it probably wouldn’t need quite as much, maybe 2 smaller onions.

and for soup, you wouldn’t need to add anything.

the recipe is actually quite simple, I just like to explain things in detail, so that it turns out well 🙂

if you feel really ambitious, you could make some schnitzel to go with it. just dip some boneless pork chops in GF flour; or if you’re really fancy, dip them in flour, then egg, then GF bread crumbs. and fry it on the stove until it’s browned, and then cook it in the oven until it’s at a proper temperature (I go to 165 degrees).

the kaese-spaetzle is definitely a favorite for lots of my friends and family! the leftovers never last long at my house 🙂


magazines February 19, 2010

there are some gluten-free publications out there that might be of interest to you.

first, there’s Gluten-Free Living. I subscribed to this for awhile, but recently let my subscription lapse. it was helpful with its different articles about current events, like news about new gluten-free testing laws/ guidelines, new GF products or restaurants, etc. I found their rules of thumb about questionable ingredients to be a little liberal. I like to take extra caution, since some products aren’t produced in the US, and may not follow all the same guidelines. but they ruled many questionable ingredients as safe now. that was my only beef with it, and again, it’s because I take extra precautions. otherwise it was informative, although infrequent (it’s a quarterly publication). a lot of the information is on their website for free (labeling laws, ingredients, etc), so you could check that out if you wanted. it’s also available for individual purchase at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Whole Foods, and other retail locations.

I’ve also bought a copy of Living Without, which has information, news, and recipes that exclude multiple allergies. they had some really tasty-looking recipes! I picked this one up at Whole Foods, and it’s quite common in co-ops, health food stores, etc. it’s definitely one of the most popular magazines in its categories.

other gluten-free magazines include Delight Gluten-Free and Gluten Free Monthly. and another allergen-free publications are Allergic Living, which had some really interesting feature articles shown online. all of which have useful websites, even if you don’t end up subscribing.

here in the Minneapols/ St Paul area, there is a free monthly publication called Twin Cities Naturally that you can pick up at GF bakeries, co-ops, Whole Foods, etc. it isn’t exclusively gluten-free, but often includes GF recipes or other points of interest for celiacs.

again, even if you don’t elect to buy a subscription, the websites are a great tool to check periodically for news, updates, recipes, etc.


Tailor Made Nutrition: 1st Anniversary Celebration February 18, 2010

Tailor Made Nutrition in Woodbury is the only exclusively gluten-free grocery store that I know of in the Twin Cities metro. besides regular grocery items, they also carry supplements and beauty products that are GF / allergen-free.

they’re celebrating their 1st year anniversary this Saturday from 10am-4pm, with GF and allergen-free food samples, drawings for free groceries, and they have practitioners that will be on hand to meet. also, there will be a 10% discount on all purchases during the celebration. so go check it out and support them!


Biaggi’s February 16, 2010

Biaggi’s is a fun restaurant to go to if you’re celiac / gluten-free. they have a ton of options (they have a large, two-page menu of gluten-free items!), with a wide variety of price ranges, which makes it a good option for many different occasions.

there are a few appetizers that you can start with. I haven’t ordered them before, but carpaccio is always good, and caprese salad has been a long-time favorite of mine, so the apps look really tasty.

for casual, more budget-friendly dining, salads are a good option. there are quite a few fun salad options, but I’ve never ventured beyond my favorite, which happens to be the chopped chicken salad. I don’t know what it is about this salad, but I can never get enough~ lettuce, tomato, avocado, bacon, grilled chicken, and a delicious (and dairy-free) creamy dressing. it’s like my favorite chicken club sandwich in salad form. and how can you go wrong with avocados and bacon?! but there are tons of other salads to try out as well.

the pasta is also quite reasonable, and it also comes with a ton of options. there are a handful of specialty pasta dishes. but even if you just want noodles with a pasta sauce, they have a dozen gluten-free sauces~ including alfredo, bolognese, espresso sauce, marsala, mac & cheese sauce, pesto, roasted red pepper cream, rum caramel, scallion cream, etc. the only problem is that if you have dairy allergies, the pasta sauce choices are much more limited. in fact, they basically have to crush tomatoes and make it into a sauce, at least that was the case the last time I ordered pasta.

gluten-free pizzas are a new addition to their GF menu. they kindly brought samples of their new pizzas to various celiac groups around the Twin Cities, and were given rave reviews.  it looks like the menu has finally been updated to reflect the gluten free pizza options.

and if you’d like to make your visit more of a special occasion, they have quite a few entrees that are pretty elegant and tasty. I’ve still never gotten to the seared sea bass, but I’ve been eying that one for awhile now. there are plenty of chicken dishes, and a few steak options. I’ve had the grilled chicken pietro a couple of times. it’s not the best thing I’ve had, but as long as there isn’t too much of the thick sauce on it, I find it strangely addicting.

in fact, I was recently involved in a wedding (in Illinois), and the groom’s dinner was at a restaurant with no gluten-free options. so my dinner (and lunch the next day) came from Biaggi’s. I felt more comfortable getting my food from a restaurant who is fully aware of allergy and cross-contamination concerns anyway. so their entrees really are worthy of special occasions.

locations in the Minneapolis/ St Paul area include Maple Grove and Eden Prairie, but there are locations several locations in the Midwest and in a few more states nationwide.


Lakewinds’ Gluten-Free Round-Up February 13, 2010

Lakewinds Co-op is having its annual gluten-free round-up next month. there will be 30 vendors there with lots of demos and free samples!

these gluten free samples are a blessing for the celiac / gluten free crowd~ these specialty products can be quite costly in comparison, and it’s a great opportunity to be able to sample the foods before buying them. I like to bring a notebook along, just to make sure that I remember all the new products that I discover and enjoy!

Lakewinds’ sample fair is the best that I’ve been to in the Minneapolis/ St Paul metro, so I definitely recommend checking it out!

the Minnetonka location is having theirs on March 6th from 11am to 4pm

the Chanhassen location is having their round-up on March 20th, again from 11am until 4pm

here is a link to their website, where you can find location information:


CSA’s (communtiy-supported agriculture) February 11, 2010

as celiacs, there’s one thing we can eat with confidence… no research, no grocery guides, just gluten free and healthy… and that’s fresh produce.

one of the benefits of living in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, is that we’re surrounded by lots of small, mostly organic farmers,  and many of which sell shares of their crops each season to the public (which is called community-shared agriculture). these shares are generally boxes of produce that you receive weekly through the summer months. and you pay for them with a fee before the season begins.

there are tons of farms to choose from, which translates to tons of variations in the plans. besides the obvious price differences between farms, there are many other things to consider while picking out a farm and plan.

first of all, the farms will offer various share sizes~ the usual options are a half bushel, 3/4 bushel, or full bushel. the half bushel size is good for a couple or small family, and the full bushel is for a large family or one that eats a LOT of veggies. it’s cheaper to split a full bushel with someone else than it is to each order the smaller size. this is so commonplace, that most farms will ask on the sign-up form for the name of the second person/ family that you’re splitting with. splitting a share crop also makes it easier for picking up the produce, in case your family is out of town during one of the days you usually get them~ that way there’s a back-up plan, and someone to share the burden with.

another major variation is the amount of weeks you sign up for, and the frequency in which you get them. generally, 16-18 weeks of produce is the norm. some are longer, some are shorter. also, some farms offer plans that deliver every other week, instead of weekly. this isn’t as common, and just like half shares, it costs more than half of what a normal share would cost. but it could be worth it if you feel like you just can’t get through all those vegetables before the next week! (I end up doing a LOT of stir-fry to use up my extras).

the contents of your crop share are another main factor to consider. the crop shares are primarily composed of vegetables. the veggies planted differ at each farm~ usually there is a description of the overall vision of the farm in regards to crops (the majority grow the most popular veggies, some focus on heirloom breeds, others like oddball veggies, etc), and many of them have websites where you can find complete lists of produce offered or past newsletters that you can read to get a feel for what they grow. there’s a typical trend of which produce is in peak harvesting~ early spring usually yields a lot of greens, herbs, and other salad-making fare. the tomatoes (and heirloom tomatoes! my favorite!) usually come around August, as do the melons. squash and potatoes come later in the season.

many if not most of these crop shares include at least some fruit in them, again in varying amounts by the CSA you choose. if you’re a huge fan of fruit, many of the farms will offer an actual “fruit share” with it’s own delivery schedule.

in fact, there are lots of extras that you can add on, or sometimes get instead of regular produce shares. probably the most common add-on is a winter crop share. these shares include a lot of winter storage vegetables, like potatoes, onions, squash, pumpkins, etc. these are often just 2-4 extra deliveries.

other add-ons include things like egg shares, chicken shares, beef shares, flower shares, honey, maple syrup, and other unique ones. the eggs are more common than the others listed above. and sometimes for the meat shares you have to go to the farm to pick them up, rather than having them delivered.

drop-off locations can be a major factor. usually a CSA farm will make weekly deliveries to various locations for pick-up, and you sign up for the delivery site/time that you’d like. drop-off sites are all over the Minneapolis/ St Paul metro, Rochester, and sometimes even Winona, as well as a few other cities in the region. there are at least one or two in the Western Minnnesota / Grand Forks/ Fargo areas. (in fact, there are CSA’s all over the country, so if you live in another region, look for what’s available near you). and the location itself could be at a grocery store/ co-op, some other type of business location, or even someone’s home. the amount of drop-off places to choose from varies, depending on the size of the farm~ some can be quite small and offer few options, while others are large and have a vast amount of choices. and if you’re fortunate enough to live near one of these farms, it’s generally cheaper to pick your crop up at the farm.

your pick-up time will usually be a window of somewhere around 4-6 hours, so you don’t want to miss it or you may lose out on that delivery. (they often give away the leftovers at the end of the window, so as not to waste them.) so make other arrangements if you can’t make it any particular date.

lots of the CSA farms have activities to participate in. these can include fall harvest festivals, hayrides, pumpkin patches, orchards, berry picking, salsa-making days, opportunities to help out on the farm one day (some even require that), and all kinds of other creative activities to visit the farm. so if this interests you, make sure to check out what they offer, and where the farm is located.

also, some of the farms have websites and some don’t. I prefer the farms with websites, so I can feel like I’m more part of it. but this may not be important to everyone. many of the farms at least include newsletters with the deliveries that tell you what’s in the box, some recipes to utilize them, and some updates on the farm.

since there’s so much to consider, you can check out this master list, which provides lots of these details for the area farms in Minnesota/ Wisconsin: scroll down to see general contact information and  scroll down further to see more details about the farms. I also just came across this list from the Wedge Co-op, which has a nice format that I find almost easier to compare, though I haven’t checked to see if it’s as comprehensive:

from either of those sites, you can find the link to many of the CSA farms’ individual sites for more information.

for at least the past couple of years, Seward Co-op had a CSA fair in April, where farmers would come and present what plans and crops they offer, and it gives people an opportunity to ask questions and find out more. it was packed there, and many of the CSA’s sold out.  so if you would like to wait until then (provided they offer this again at Seward), make sure and go early because not only do the farms sell out, many of the drop-off site choices fill quickly and then you may have to switch farms in order to get a drop-off location that’s more convenient for you.also, some of the farmers brought some items to sell, such as cookbooks with ways to use all of your veggies, honey products, herbs to plant in your home garden, etc. I enjoyed it. Eastside Co-op may do something similar in the spring as well.

what I did my first year was to research them online and sign up in the early spring, and then I also went to the CSA fair to find out more about the farms that came, for future reference. your first year will definitely be a learning experience~ you may be overwhelmed at how much produce keeps coming, or disappointed that you split a box with someone because you could’ve used more. even though I found it difficult to keep up with the constant flow of veggies, I sometimes wished I had BOTH eggplants or BOTH squash that was in my shared box, because after splitting it in half, my one item wasn’t enough to do anything with. my friends that I split with and I should’ve adjusted how we split the boxes to avoid that. but you may also find that you weren’t a fan of a lot of the types of veggies you received, or decide that you’d like to add a fruit share or meat share, and may have to switch CSA farms the next year to satisfy those desires. so don’t worry too much the first year~ just pick one that you’ll be happy with and then adjust as necessary after that.

and if you decide that a CSA is just too much for you, these same farmers usually bring their leftover produce to farmers’ markets in the area, so you can just purchase what you’d like.

I find the CSA shares to be a health challenge of sorts, to try and learn to use new vegetables that I normally wouldn’t, and to try and use up all of the veggies before the next ones come (or at least before they go bad). and with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, extra nutrients are always welcome!