Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

May (Celiac Awareness Month) is full of events! May 2, 2014

Filed under: Getting Started/ General Info,News — rebeccagf @ 12:38 pm

for those of you who are newly diagnosed or didn’t know/ remember, May in the Minneapolis area has lots of celiac events going on!

it starts on Monday, May 5th. the Celiac Center of MN is hosting it’s annual gluten free barbecue. it’s located at a church in Bloomington, 8400 France Ave S. this year the burgers and hotdogs will be served on Canyon Bakehouse buns. I’ve yet to try them, but I’ve heard people rave about how good they are. Crazy Puppy Gourmet Workshop will be there with their food truck again, serving cheese curds and mini donuts. and it looks like they’ll even have live music and face painting for the kids. the BBQ has been a lot of fun in the past.

next on the docket is the annual celiac walk hosted by R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) on Saturday, May 17th. it takes place at Holy Family High School in Victoria. the 5k run begins at 9am and the 2 mile walk at 9:20am. my favorite part of the day, though, is the gluten-free expo, which runs from 8:30-11am. it costs $10 (children 7 and under are free). there are tons of vendors with samples, and also local businesses/ restaurants set up booths with menu information, samples, coupons, etc. I like to stay apprised of gluten-free offerings, but I still learned quite a few things the last time I went.

and then last, but not least, Wildfire’s annual gluten-free dinner will be on Tuesday, May 20th. I’ve never actually made it to one of these dinners, but I absolutely love Wildfire, so I can only imagine how great they are. you can do the 4-course dinner with wine pairings at each course for $70, or without the wine at $55. this year’s menu includes GF potstickers, crab & broccoli rabe bruchetta appetizers at the reception, which begins at 6:30 (dinner begins at 7pm). then it features sea bass as the first course, rib-eye as the second course, and a chocolate raspberry parfait for dessert. if you wish to attend, RSVP at 952-914-9100. and if you’ve never been to Wildfire, go!! even if you can’t make this dinner. it’s such a great restaurant!

so if you haven’t been to any of these, try and get out to at least one! it’s the best time of year for celiac/ gluten free events!


My Gluten Free Favorites 2013 May 8, 2013

Triumph Dining recently came out with their “best of ” gluten free awards, and since it’s been years since I wrote about my favorite things, I thought I’d do an update a la Triumph Dining.



Favorite Pizza Sauce: Davanni’s (Green Mill is my second choice)

Favorite Pasta Sauce: HyVee Traditional

Favorite Enchilada Sauce: HyVee

Favorite Ketchup: Simply Heinz/ Heinz (beware of Organic Heinz though~ it used to contain gluten, not sure about currently)

Favorite Barbecue Sauce: Sweet Baby Ray’s Original

Favorite Mayonnaise: Vegannaise Grapeseed Oil “Mayo” (surprisingly way better and lighter than normal mayo, can’t go back to the regular now! at Whole Foods, Co-ops, etc)

Favorite Soy Sauce: San-J GF Tamari Sauce

Favorite Soup Broth (Beef): Full Flavor Foods packets

Favorite Soup Broth (Chicken, Vegetable): Whole Foods 365 Brand

Favorite Gravy: Full Flavor Foods, second choice is Imagine


Favorite Bacon: Oscar Mayer Sliced BaconĀ  (Hormel Black Label is my second choice)

Favorite Pepperoni: Hormel

Favorite Hot Dogs: Hebrew National (Beef), second choice is Oscar Mayer (Beef)

Favorite Italian Sausage: Kowalski’s (normal refrigerated store meats)

Favorite Summer Sausage: Johnsonville (Beef)

Favorite Rotisserie Chicken: Kowalski’s, second choice is Whole Foods

Favorite Ham: Costco (very cost-efficient!)

Favorite Deli Meat: Hormel Natural Choice (also Boar’s Head, which is more difficult to find)


Favorite Frozen Potatoes: Ore Ida Crispy Crowns (Whole Foods’ 365 Brand tater tots is my second choice)

Favorite Frozen Snacks: Trader Joes Beef Mini Tacos

Favorite Snacks on the Go: Trader Joe’s nuts and/or dehydrated fruits, second favorite are Lara Bars

Favorite GFCF chocolate chips: Trader Joes (really inexpensive!)



Favorite Gluten Free Pasta (cheapest): Tradar Joes Brown Rice Ziti

Favorite Gluten Free Pasta (tastiest): Bionaturae brand (any style)


Favorite Pizza crust (all purpose): Udi’s pizza crust

Favorite Pizza crust (Italian-style): Venice Bakery (order online)


Favorite Bread (all purpose): Whole Foods brand sandwich bread

Favorite Bread (most sandwiches, grilled cheese, anything requiring soft, fresh bread): Udi’s

Favorite Bread (thick or many toppings): Food For Life Millet Bread

Favorite Bread (splurge): French Meadow

Favorite Bread (dinner rolls): French Meadow (available at select restaurants only right now, like Donatellis and Victorias, not in grocery stores), otherwise Schar ciabatta rolls

Favorite Bread (Italian dipping bread): Venice Bakery’s flatbread (order online), second choice: Canyon Bakehouse’s Foccacia


Favorite Pancakes: homemade with this easy recipe

Favorite Bread Crumbs: Kinnikinnick Panko-Style Bread Crumbs

Favorite Croutons: Gillian’s Garlic Croutons

Favorite Pretzels: Glutino

Favorite Graham Crackers: Kinnikinnick S’Moreables

Favorite Crackers: Yehuda Matzo-Style Squares, Toasted Onion Flavor (available only before Passover, so stock up!)


Favorite Bakery (local): Bittersweet Bakery

Favorite Bakery (order online or on vacation): Babycakes

Favorite Donuts: Kinnikinnick, though I’ve been testing out many more lately!

Favorite Cookies (Baked): Liz Lovely Chocolate Chip Cookies (any of their GF cookies are amazing though!), second favorite is Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle Cookies

Favorite Sandwich Cookies: Kinnikinnick’s Kinnitoos (vanilla) and Josef’s Cinnamon O’s

Favorite Cookie Dough Mix (with no intention of baking): Cherrybrook Kitchen (egg-free)

Favorite Frozen Cookie Dough (with no intention of baking): French Meadow

Favorite GFCF “Ice Cream”: Good Karma Rice Divine brand (any flavor!)

Favorite Raw Food Treats: Pure Market Express (just moved out of MN, but still available online) – I highly recommend the “cinnamon rolls”


Favorite all-around: Pizza Luce (eggs benedict, pizzas, spinach dip, caesar salads)

Favorite Brunch: Pizza Luce

Favorite Seafood: Oceanaire

Favorite Steakhouse: Wildfire

Favorite BBQ: Dickie’s BBQ

Favorite Burgers; Five Guys AND Red Robin (Red Robin has unlimited steak fries and fantastic GF buns, Five Guys has better meat and toppings, state-fair-like fries)

Favorite Soup (Chili): Crumb Deli

Favorite Soup (Variety): Jason’s Deli

Favorite GFCF Pizza: Z Pizza (Pizza Luce and Pizza Ranch’s taco pizza without cheese tie for second)

Favorite Pasta: Victorias (in Rochester)

Favorite Asian: PF Changs

Favorite Mexican: Rojo (La Casita second, Don Pablos third)

Favorite Salads: Biaggis, second favorite is French Meadow

Favorite Raw Food/ Vegan: Ecopolitan

Favorite Fast Casual: Chipotle

Favorite Mall of America Restaurant: Cadillac Ranch

Most Anticipated (what I think could be a favorite all-around if I finally got there to try it out): Mad Jacks

Favorite Food Destination: Disney World, followed by Las Vegas


Favorite Cookbook: Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli & Peter Bronski

Favorite Baking Book: Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts

Favorite Cookbook Series: Gluten Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman (in particular, her GF Comfort Foods Cookbook)

Favorite Magazine: Living Without

Favorite Blog: Gluten Free on a Shoestring, second favorite is Tartelette (only about half are GF, and are marked as such)

Favorite Local Chef: Angela Litzinger (she does cooking classes locally and has a wonderful blog with recipes and ebooks, all of which are GFCF)

Favorite GF Grocery Guide: Cecelia’s Marketplace


Celiac Center of Minnesota October 15, 2010

I’m pleased to see that we have a new addition to our celiac community here in Minnesota: the Celiac Center of Minnesota.

beginning October 25th, they will be offering many classes, including weekly orientation classes for those who are newly diagnosed, along with many other classes of varying topics. they say that the fees are modest, and that free childcare is available.

to learn more about them, they’re having an Open House on Monday, October 18th from 6-8pm in Bloomington, at the St Stephen’s Lutheran Church (8400 France Ave S). there will be door prizes, treats, and plenty of information I’m sure. (open to everyone)

I’m excited to check them out!


Organic Diva May 27, 2010

a friend of mine showed me this website, and I was really excited. I don’t often write about products available online, but since gluten-free cosmetics and skin care items can be so hard to find, I thought this was worth mentioning.

Organic Diva has strict organic standards for the products that they offer. the Diva Shop has a special gluten-free section that you can click on in the left-hand list of categories. when you drag your mouse over the gluten-free section, you choose from several sub-categories, like sun/bug care, skin care, soaps & lotions, various make-up categories, etc.

it seems reasonably priced, and the shipping charges are only $4.95 for orders under $75 (free on orders more than $75).

for those of you who find it really difficult to figure out which personal care items are gluten-free, this could be a good source. there aren’t a ton of choices for each sub-category, but there are enough to find something to use, if you’re having trouble finding products.

plus, everything’s organic!


Disney World, Gluten-Free May 25, 2010

sorry it’s been awhile since my last post~ but I just got back from Disney World! I was really excited to go, ever since I found out that I was celiac, because I’ve heard such great things about Disney World and food allergies. and they did a great job.

it’s best for everyone, celiac or not, to make reservations for their sit-down restaurants as early as possible after booking your trip (407-WDW-DINE). when you call, let them know about your “allergy”, and they’ll note it on your reservation. I also contacted their Special Diets team and filled out a form with my dinner confirmations and listed the allergies for each person in our party. at first this seemed like it was the only way to notify them. But after changing around some reservations later on, I didn’t need to fill out the form again with the amendments. so I’m not sure that’s it’s necessary, but it certainly didn’t hurt!

the Special Diets team also sent me a TON of helpful info for the parks/ water parks that I told them I’d be visiting. so I highly recommend contacting them ( if you go. they sent forms showing which brands of specialty gluten-free products they used, and where they were available at each of the 4 parks. there were separate forms for each of the parks, where they listed what gluten-free products were available at which locations (specialty or not). they also sent me the nutrition and ingredient info on their allergen-free chicken tenders that are available throughout WDW (and very tasty!!). basically, they sent a ton of info!

also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them. since your reservations for all of the restaurants are through the same phone number, you don’t actually get to talk to each restaurant ahead of time. so it’s nice that the Special Diets team will research your questions and let you know. for instance, I asked if any of the gluten-free pizza locations also had dairy-free pizzas, and they checked it out and told me that there’s only one place at WDW that does this: Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios. it really helped to plan to trip out better. so feel free to ask them what you need.

the sit-down restaurants were great~ all of them will be able to accommodate a gluten-free, or other allergen-free diet. for the buffets we went to, the chef brought us around and showed us what we could eat. I’m extra cautious and prefer not to eat items that are on a buffet or otherwise sitting out with non gluten-free foods, so the chefs were very helpful in making me a plate in the kitchen and bringing it out.

at the quick service restaurants, not all of them had gluten-free options, but many or most of them did. the packet of info from the Special Diets team gave all the info on what to get and where, so I could plan ahead. sometimes we had to back-track or make a longer trip to get the gluten-free food, and it would often take longer for them to make it, but it was always tasty and worth the wait!

I was delighted that they use several items from our neck of the woods. French Meadow cookies and brownies were in many locations, including most sit-down restaurants. ironically, they were cheaper there than if you buy them at their restaurant in Minneapolis, because Disney World doesn’t charge extra for special, gluten-free foods, which is really nice! there were also some Kinnikinnick products (Wisconsin brand) used as well.

as far as vacations go, this is one of the easiest ones you’ll find, as far as coordinating your gluten-free diet is concerned. gluten-free food is everywhere, and they take it very seriously. so you can relax and enjoy your vacation like a “normal” person if you have food allergies.


Vegan Substitution Basics May 3, 2010

for those of you who also have dairy/casein allergies or issues, or anyone considering a vegan lifestyle, here are some basics that may help to get you started…

(and all of the items below are gluten-free as well, though you should always double-check before purchasing or consuming)

butter/ shortening substitutes:
Earth Balance. no need for any more~ it’s great and barely noticeable that it’s a substitute. it’s available at Whole Foods, co-ops, and Trader Joes (though I heard rumor TJ’s may not carry them anymore)

milk substitutes:
rice milk: cheapest at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but available at co-ops and regular grocery stores as well. (my fav for cereal, plus everything’s made of soy, so it’s a nice break)
almond milk: a matter of preference, I know a lot of people who prefer this to rice milk
soy milk: best for baking or mashed potatoes (the regular, not vanilla flavored) because it’s thicker
hemp milk: I haven’t tried it yet, but heard its thicker and good for baking as well.
coconut milk: another great substitute for thicker things, including ice cream.

speaking of ice cream:
Good Karma Rice Divine brand “ice cream” is SO good, and you can’t tell the difference
Madwoman Foods, near 46th and Nicollet makes their own coconut ice cream and sells by the scoop or in freezer containers.
I’ve always thought that the book Lick It by Cathe Olson looks great if you want to try making it yourself.

chocolate chips: Food For Life brand has allergen-free chocolate chips. Whole Foods brand vegan chocolate chips are also dairy-free. Trader Joes also makes vegan chocolate chips, which I believe are made of dark chocolate.

Pizza Luce~ I believe that both their gluten-free and their regular pizza crusts are gluten-free (double-check to be sure), and they have two vegan “cheese” alternatives~ soy cheese (really good, I can never get it to melt like they can, especially good at the St Paul Selby Ave location), or “rinotta” which is made of nuts.

vegan “cheese”:
the cheese substitute they use is Follow Your Heart, Vegan Gourmet line. this is the one that Pizza Luce uses. many dairy-free cheeses still contain casein, which is a milk protein. this one is casein-free and completely vegan. it melts best if you microwave it for at least a portion of the cooking time.

egg substitutes:
if you’re vegan or have egg allergies, you can substitute an egg with either use 1 Tbl ground flaxseed to 3 Tbl water (which will make a goopy substance) or Egg Replacer (by Ener-g brand), depending on the function of the egg. a combination of both substitutes may be necessary.

Ecopolitan is a raw food restaurant, which is completely vegan, and very tasty! Pure Market Express is a new raw food place in town that makes raw food meals and are available for sale at several local co-ops, though not at Whole Foods yet. they also have delivery plans for a 7-state are ($10 fee), and will provide up to an entire week’s meals.

a great website with casein-free (and gluten-free) recipes, which could come in handy, and includes making your own dairy-free yogurt (and from that, cream cheese), dairy-free caramel, a vegan alfredo sauce, etc. is Angela’s Kitchen.

you might also enjoy the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, which has a lot of allergen-free recipes, and many Asian, Indian, and other ethnic recipes as well.

hopefully this helps people get a jump-start on a dairy-free or vegan diet. it’s usually quite easy to make a recipe vegan with the Earth Balance “butter” and milk substitutes. if going completely vegan, the eggs can be a bit trickier, but once you get used to baking egg-free, it should get easier.


Gluten Free Dining while Traveling April 27, 2010

continuing on with the travel theme (as summer is fast approaching), there are several ways to learn about celiac-friendly restaurants before traveling.

the first thing I do when I plan a trip, is go online and look up any local celiac groups at my destination. hopefully they’ll have a website, because celiac groups’ websites virtually always include links to various restaurants that have gluten-free options. oftentimes they always write a little tidbit of what exactly each restaurant offers for us, which can be very helpful. (local blogs such as this can be useful to search for as well.)

if there is no website, there’s usually a local CDF (Celiac Disease Foundation) or GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) chapter, with an email address for a contact person listed. in such cases, I email the person and let them know my situation and ask if they have any suggestions for celiac-friendly restaurants.

there are also websites that contain info, state-by-state, on gluten-free restaurants. one of my favorites is the Gluten Free Registry. besides listing each restaurant by state, you can also choose one particular city if you prefer to focus on just one area. also, they list not only gluten-free restaurants, but also grocers, bakeries, vacation destinations, etc that offer either a special gluten-free menu or specialty GF items. they also offer GPS programs that you can download, again by state. this can be very helpful on road trips!

another travel website for restaurants is the Gluten Free Travel Site. they’re worldwide, and have more extensive reviews of the restaurants, rather than just a website and address. I find this site to be a little less useful, as it can be difficult to look for a particular city. also, multiple reviews of the same place aren’t consolidated into one listing. that being said, I still check it before trips in case of any hot tips. and it’s definitely geared more towards travelers, so the detailed information in the reviews can be very useful. and because their scope is worldwide, it’s possible to find restaurants when traveling abroad.

Gluten-Free On the Go is a UK-based website that lists various celiac-friendly restaurants. again, the organization of this doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. but it lists a ton of restaurants in the UK, Europe, Australia and elsewhere worldwide. so it’s a great source for travel abroad. they also have a tab that lists celiac contacts in many countries, for additional information before traveling.

an update from a comment below, is that there is one main site in Camada that is well-monitored, calledĀ The Celiac Scene. so if you are in Canada or plan to travel there, be sure to check out this website.

Allergy Eats website is one that I haven’t used much, but I know that they account for other allergens as well when making restaurant recommendations. it’s worth checking out if you have multiple allergies.

then there are several types of books that can be helpful. some books list restaurants with gluten-free options available~ Triumph Dining is a prime example of this. they list the restaurants by state, and they sort it further by metro area for big cities.

Let’s Eat Out travel books are very useful. for international travel, they have a list of basic terminology for each of the main allergens, translated into 5 languages. they also list 7 different ethnic cuisines (whether you’re eating them in the USA or abroad), and what ingredients are generally safe (gluten- or allergen-free) or potentially dangerous (gluten- or other allergen-containing).

something else that can be useful for travel, as you may not always be able to find a restaurant that’ll be knowledgeable about gluten-free meals, are dining cards. gluten-free dining cards can be found online for free, and area also available for purchase from many companies. some of the better ones are available from Triumph Dining. their dining cards are available in ten languages (english on one side, the other language’s translation on the other), and are tailored to each cuisine.

in order to make these sources more useful, if you find that a website or restaurant guide is missing a restaurant that you know to be celiac-friendly or have a gluten-free menu, it’s great to be proactive and let them know. their websites have areas to suggest new businesses or write new reviews. and just because they’re travel websites doesn’t mean that you can’t update your hometown area. it benefits everyone if you share your discoveries.

traveling gluten-free can be a little more challenging. but with all of these resources available (and many of them for free), it makes the whole process easier. less time worrying means more time relaxing, so do your research ahead of time so that you can enjoy yourself during your trip! happy travels!