Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

New Blog (and Gluten Free Dressing Recipe) November 14, 2014

I’ve slowly been starting up another Gluten Free Website, and I wanted to share it with you today.

the new Website will be more for national things, like chain restaurants, restaurants at various travel destinations, my recipes will go here, as will product reviews, etc. and this current Gluten Free Blog will be more about local (Minnesota and North Dakota) restaurants that aren’t chains (in more than two states).

my list of gluten free restaurants is one of my favorite features (it’s why I originally began this Blog, so I’d have a complete list that I could update as needed). so I will not only continue to update it on this Blog, but I’m also adding multiple tabs for this in my new Website. the advantage of the new Website is that I can get a layout that I prefer, where I can list restaurants easier by city. so if you’re wondering about restaurants in a particular city (in Minnesota or North Dakota, anyway), you won’t need to scan through the list like you do on the Blog.

anyway, I was going to wait until there was more on it, but I just posted a Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe, and I wanted to share that with you as well. so please check it out, and also the new restaurant list layout.

(and yes, that picture is of my homemade gluten free spinach and cheese ravioli, for which I will post a recipe eventually on the new Website!)


Erte October 24, 2014

Erte is located in Northeast Minneapolis, and has a quaint, atmosphere, perfect for a romantic evening out. it’s not a huge restaurant, so you may want to make reservations. particularly if you plan to dine while they have live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

it’s the kind of restaurant that likes to keep their menu fresh, and change it up. in fact, the menu they post online might not be exactly what they currently offer… but it will give you the idea of the types of things that they serve. and one constant that they’re known for is their steaks.

and while the menu may change, they should always have a version marked for what is or can be gluten free, so be sure to ask for that.

when I went, they had the most amazing polenta sticks. I love polenta sticks in general, though I’ve had some difficulty re-creating them at home, which then makes me appreciate them even more.. and these were the most amazing ones I’d ever tasted! usually I only find these at Brazilian steakhouses, just plain or with parmesan. but these had a quinoa coating of sorts, and an amazing dip to go with them. I couldn’t get enough of these, and hope that they become a menu regular!

as for the main entree, I couldn’t decide between the short ribs or the steak, and eventually decided on the steak. it was quite delicious, but I sort of wished I’d tried the short ribs, as it can be more unique with the various prep and sauce options. the risotto was also very tempting. I believe that I got the au gratin potatoes as my side, which was good, but different (and larger) than I’d expected. I think I’d probably try something new next time.

all in all, the regular menu is pretty small, so that means that the gluten free one is even smaller. but it’s filled with more meat- and veggie-based entrees, rather than burgers or lots of carbs, so you don’t miss out on too much. and it’s got every thing you need: apps, salads, steaks, and other entrees, and a nice variety of sides. so although it’s a short list of options, it’s actually enough.

Erte is a little pricey, so it’s great for a special night out. but it’s got delicious food, and the live music (which is surprisingly unique). so it makes for a great night out.


Original Pancake House September 25, 2014

I love Pizza Luce’s brunches (and bloody marys) so much so that I procrastinated on trying the Original Pancake House for quite some time. but now that I’ve been there, difficult decisions must be made every time I go for breakfast/ brunch! both are completely amazing.

the first time I went to the OPH, I went to the Edina location. thankfully a friend told me to call ahead and get on the wait list. this doesn’t get you a table when you arrive, but it does get you on a shorter one. one time I called ahead and there was no wait, but I still asked to be on the call-ahead list, and it was an hour-long wait for walk-ins by the time I got there 15 minutes later! be sure to call a good half an hour before you plan to arrive, to be safe.

I was amazed at the huge gluten free menu that they carry~ they are very thorough in providing TONS of options!! we’re talking pancakes, waffles, crepes, french toast, and omelets. all have tons of options for toppings, add-ins, and syrups, as well as several choices on pancake sizes: normal, the short stack (plenty for one person!), the dollar-pancake size, and junior/ senior meal plate sizes. sides include hashbrowns, eggs, and options on bacons and sausages. and don’t worry, even with incredibly reasonable prices, they said that they run through the options to optimize the deals for you.

on my first trip, I tried my an old favorite of mine, GF pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream (it was amazing!) and sampled of my friend’s GF pancakes with chocolate chips (also good, but would be too sweet for me to eat a full plate of). we also had a side of hashbrowns. I love potatoes, so I was very hesitant to share an order, but I was sure glad that I did! they fill a side plate, and are about one inch high. the hashbrowns alone elevated OPH towards the top of my restaurant list 🙂

the next time I went, I went with a larger group of family, this time to the Roseville location (a much bigger location, it felt like). we all ordered gluten free so that we could all sample everything, which was an amazing feast! we had banana pancakes (and ordered the decadent caramel topping for them, which tastes like caramel rolls), the blueberry pancakes, a rather boring-in-comparison waffle that came with some fun syrups (not that we couldn’t have ordered a more fun waffle…), and another order of strawberry pancakes. we got a plate filled with all kinds of little syrup containers. one surprising crowd-pleaser was a citrus syrup. no one thought they’d like it, but loved it once they tried it. and of course we got more hashbrowns too 🙂 a must!

next time I’d really love to try a crepe, as it’s been a very long time since I’ve had one, and I love french toast too. there are just too many options to decide! hopefully I’ll be able to sample a whole batch of new things though, that feast was definitely the way to go~ and I don’t think they charged extra for gluten free, nor were the options limited that much. so the gluten-eaters were completely happy getting gluten free, luckily for me!

there are several locations: Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth, Roseville (Maple Grove’s Original Pancake House is a different restaurant, which I’ll write about shortly)


Nadia Cakes: Update September 9, 2014

I’ve tried many, many treats from Nadia Cakes now, so I wanted to write a quick update. they now have about 4-5 daily kinds, not just chocolate or white, but triple chocolate and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes too. but I usually go on weekends, because they have ever-changing offerings on Saturdays and Sundays, check their menu online to make sure you hit a day with something great, but sometimes there are surprise ones that show up there unexpectedly, in addition to what’s published online. there are often 7-8 gluten free cupcakes to choose from on the weekends. the GF cupcakes are displayed in a little dome-top cake platter, on top of the regular cupcake shelves, first thing when you get to the display cases. they keep the inventory below and will change gloves to grab your cupcakes and give you separate containers (I ask, just to be sure). if you know that you’ll want a lot of a given type, it’s nice to call ahead of time, even a day or two in advance, so they know if they should make more. (if you arrive later in the day, your first choice may be sold out already). and at any time, with I think 48 hours notice, they can make almost any flavor of cupcake gluten free, as long as you order at least a dozen cupcakes.

here are some of my very favorite cupcake flavors: Salted Caramel, which not only has a great caramel frosting, but caramel melted in the center of the cupcake. Dalmations are gluten free Oreo-like sandwich cookies blended into the batter and the cream cheese topping, with half a cookie sticking out the top. the Inner Goddess is a red velvet/chocolate cupcake. with I believe a chocolatey filling inside (but I’m not positive, it could just be super moist!) and then a whipped topping frosting mound that’s got toffee bits covering the frosting. the Grasshopper is a chocolate cupcake with a fudgey filling and a mint cream cheese frosting, even the Birthday cupcake is amazing, though it’s just vanilla cake and chocolate frosting, because the frosting is a chocolate cream cheese frosting. yum! they have tons and tons of original flavors, and it’s hard to choose which days NOT to go!

and besides gluten free cupcakes, they have several other items. there’s a cookie case, where they’re all gluten free. there are usually monster cookies and some type of cookie sandwich (and they’ll make any cookies in there INTO a cookie sandwich, if you ask). these are probably my biggest weakness! thankfully they’re too rich for me to eat a whole one in one sitting!

and then in the larger case, towards the register, they have some other gluten free items sprinkled throughout. they have a gluten free cookie dough square, that has layers of chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate, and frosting. they also have “trifles”, which are chunks of goodies (cookies and frosting and such) piled into a cup. there’s also a non-GF version of this, so be sure it says gluten free. but just make sure to check out all of the cases to be sure you’ve found all the treats to choose from 🙂  I highly recommend this bakery!


Gluten-Free Restaurants in Grand Forks, ND: 2014 Update August 5, 2014

just a quick update on the dining options in Grand Forks, ND, as my original post was quite awhile ago, and much has changed since then. and I just want to note that I made many, many calls around town, to hopefully not disclude any restaurants that are making an effort to provide gluten free options in town. if I’ve missed any, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with the names of those restaurants. (although if there is no specific menu and the only provision is something like a plain burger patty or salad without croutons, I generally don’t include them anyway).

and as always, please make sure to ask the appropriate questions at each restaurant to verify that what I’ve been told on procedures and offerings are still vaild. and if you have a lot of questions (for any restaurant) calling to speak to a manager during slower times of the day is always a good idea!

let’s start with… BURGERS:

Five Guys is always a good option, in any city! tell them it’s an allergy, and I like to watch them prepare it on the line, just in case. they’ll either lettuce-wrap it or put it in a “bowl” (the latter is what I prefer). and the fries are safe (either kind) as that’s all they fry there.

Burger King is a true fast-food option (which I’m generally more cautious of), but they do have a dedicated fryer for french fries (although they often dump the fries into the same area as the onion rings, and sometimes use the same scoop, unless you ask them not to). you can also order a bunless burger (and request a glove change). so you can eat there, if you want. I’d suggest slower times, just to be safer. I generally stay away of places that aren’t specifically set-up with gluten free menus or procedures and training, but sometimes you’re in a pinch, traveling, or need to take the kids somewhere to play, etc.

Wendy’s is another fast-food option. they don’t have a dedicated fryer, but bunless burgers and non-breaded chicken are an option. more interesting to me than the burgers are the chili, baked potatoes, and many of the vast variety of salads. just ask the manager or check online before you go.

(**Green Mill in the Pizza section also offers gluten free burgers with Udi’s buns)

next up.. PIZZA:

Pizza Ranch is still my favorite (in many cities), each location seems to handle the salad bar and soda that accompanies a gluten free pizza differently. in Grand Forks, if you order a GF pizza you get a soda and a one-trip to the salad bar with it automatically. they have a great variety of pizzas, generally don’t charge you for additional toppings, and are as nice and accommodating as can be. they bring your pizza to the table in a to-go box, which I like because I can just take one slice out at a time, knowing that other people won’t accidentally contaminate it from their multiple buffet plates that stack up quickly. and it also keeps the pizza warm! I like to call ahead as I’m leaving for the restaurant though, to get them started on making my pizza. otherwise I end up just watching everyone else eat their pizza for twenty minutes, which isn’t fun.

Happy Joes also offers gluten free pizza. I haven’t gotten the feeling that they are quite as informed on cross-contamination, so be sure to ask all the questions that you need to before ordering. also, I’ve had a difficult time in the past on pinning down which toppings were gluten free, so maybe call ahead and ask during a slow time so that you can speak to a manager. I always appreciate when a restaurant offers any special accommodations, so I hesitate to complain in any way, but it really felt like they were more just offering it for fad dieters than people with allerigies and/or celiac disease that need to be very careful. although to be fair, that was a year ago now at least, and maybe that has improved. and of course, nothing beats their taco pizza! (the Crookston location also offers GF pizza).

Rhombus Guys makes a gluten free pizza. I have yet to try it, and don’t know much about their process either, but I definitely need to make it a point the next time that I’m there. I know everyone loves their regular pizza, so I have high hopes for the GF ones. they have a lot of fun-looking specialty pizzas! as I don’t know much about it, please ask the usual cross-contamination questions before ordering, to make sure you don’t get sick.

Green Mill offers a medium gluten free pizza. it’s a really thin crust, and really tasy! they also have gluten free burgers, using Udi’s buns! and there are a few salads as well.

Italian Moon offers a gluten free pizza, baked on a tin pan to avoid cross-contamination. they don’t have a list of GF items other than that, but if you ask, you may find other things that you can eat. for instance, I was told that the queso is gluten free (but you’d have to bring your own chips).

Dominos also offers a small gluten free pizza. they will cook them on parchment paper if you ask, in order to avoid cross-contamination in the oven. both the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks locations offer them.

(**also note that some from the Pasta section offer GF pizzas as well)


Mamma Maria’s is my favorite, as there is a lot of choice (this is in East Grand Forks, but I count both cities together for dining purposes). many of the sauces are gluten free, and they’re a lot more flexible than say, Olive Garden. it comes with a nice salad. most customers are offered complimentary “garlic knot” appetizers. if that makes you sad to watch, bring your own bread and ask for olive oil 🙂 but I’m usually filled up enough with the salad and pasta.

Guiseppe’s also offers a lot of pasta options. they have a gluten free penne, and most pasta dishes can be made gluten free. I have not yet made it there to report on, however. as always, be sure to ask about them using a fresh pot of water and other cross-contamination issues, as well on checking on the sauces that you’d like to order.

Noodles is a place that I’ve largely disregarded in the past. I knew they could use a rice noodle from one of their Asian dishes, but that didn’t interest me very much anyway, and it makes me nervous that it’s a fast-paced environment. and finally, without an actual specifically gluten free product, I always have concerns that the training isn’t there. recently, however, I saw that they now offer a regular gluten free noodle! so now that there’s something official, I’m more confident in the process and training, and can’t wait to return to Noodles and eat my old favorites again! the list of which of the pastas dishes can be made gluten free is here under the “watching gluten?” tab (I was sad to see that the mac & cheese could not).

Olive Garden is a classic, and the Grand Forks one is now a legend :). they have such great salad (just get it without croutons), and it’s so nice that they have a couple of gluten free pasta dishes now. my only complaint is that it shouldn’t be too difficult to make their other sauces gluten free, especially now that they’ve already done the difficult part in supplying gluten free noodles and training on it. also, they have no flexibility at all, such as when I requested the gluten free noodles with just olive oil and garlic, or other requests in the past. it seems they’re more of a machine than a made-to-order. again, I appreciate that they offer some options of pasta (and some fish and other entree options), but I’m hoping that they expand which sauces are gluten free soon (like a meat sauce or a mac and cheese sauce, etc).

L’Bistro has a nice list of offerings, they have gluten free pasta (any except the lasagna, ravioli, or gnocchi can be made GF) and an 8″ gluten free pizza crust.


Paradiso happily has an actual gluten free menu now, and it’s not tiny! to start with, the chips are not fried on site, so they are fine to eat. they have several apps, like quesos, nachos, chips & guacamole, etc. and then tacos, chalupas, salads, etc. it’s so nice that they’ve officially identified which are gluten free now, as it gives me much more confidence to venture past my usual beef chalupa!

Mexican Village has a nice-sized gluten free menu, with various sauces and tortilla shells substituting to make a nice meal. the chips are made there (so not safe), but they will bake some for you if you need! that’s really accommodating, and makes me appreciate their efforts even more!


Little Bangkok/ Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks have combined into one restaurant now. they serve noodle and rice dishes. I was last there a couple of years ago when it was just the Drunken Noodle, and my particular waitress and chef that evening indicated that they usually didn’t use a separate pot of water or pan for rice for gluten free dishes. so just be sure to ask the usual questions about that stuff. they had a great list of GF items with lots of variety, so it’s definitely worth checking out! and hopefully by now they have a better process without being asked! I’m assuming it’s more of the Little Bangkok menu now though, which has been known for their (sushi & Thai) says that everything on their menu, with the exception of the Pad Thai, can be made gluten free. however, I looked on their menu and saw tempura, dumplings, egg rolls, etc. so please make sure to ask questions about the ingredients and preparation to find out it what you’d like to order truly is gluten free. I haven’t been there since they combined locations/ menus.

Shing Ya is a sushi restaurant, so a lot of their sushi rolls are gluten free. there is no specific menu, but just ask. if you want soy/ tamari sauce though, bring your own GF version as they don’t have one.

Fuji Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse has a gluten free soy sauce there, so many options are available.

Kon Nichi Was doesn’t have a gluten free menu, but they can make some gluten free dishes. spring rolls are the obvious choice at any Asian restaurant. soy sauce and faux crab/ seafood are the usual suspects. so keep that in mind at any Asian places you want to venture to. I like to just bring a GF soy sauce/ tamari with me, and that usually opens up a lot more options.


Erbert & Gerberts has an amazing gluten free sub roll by Udi’s that I didn’t even know existed. it’s amazing and super soft (if fresh). they only unthaw so many at a time, so I always call ahead prior to driving there, to make sure I’ll be able to get a GF sandwich.

Jimmy Johns offer lettuce wrap (low-carb) sandwiches, and they deliver


Dickie’s BBQ is a good option in any city~ almost all of the meats are gluten free, as are all the BBQ sauces. many of the sides are as well, such as the coleslaw (tastes amazing!), the BBQ beans, the green beans with bacon, and several others. sometimes I bring my own GF bread in order to make a sandwich, but sometimes I just enjoy eating the meat plain.

Wild Hog is a newer restaurant on the scene. they have a nice list of gluten free options, which also includes all of their barbecue sauces, as well as most of their meats.


the Blue Moose is in East Grand Forks, just across the river. I’ve gotten conflicting info from them over time, but I think I have it figured out now. they do have a list of gluten-free items, mostly the pricier seafood/ meat entrees and plain veggies, or burger without a bun. so bring a bun with you if you go! I will say that there were a few suprises on the list, from what I remember, though I can’t recall specifics. one of the highlights is that you can have the queso there! and since they don’t fry the chips at the restaurant (in a fryer with other things), the chips are fine to eat as well!

Al’s Grill & Catering has the gluten free items starred on their menu. I haven’t been there since they opened (pre-celiac diagnosis), but their food tasted amazing, so I can’t wait to try it again! it sounded like there were quite a few GF item on the list.

Toasted Frog is a great restaurant downtown. it’s one of the nicer and trendier places. it does have a gluten free menu, which had a few options on there. they, too, have good chefs, who will know how to accommodate any other specific requests as well.

Sanders is a fine dining restaurant in Grand Forks, and they have always had excellent chefs. they understand gluten allergies and can accommodate as necessary. with nice restaurants that prepare many meant and vegetable dishes from scratch, many options are usually available.

Ground Round offers a lot of what I call “omission” dishes (salads without croutons, burgers without buns, and then plain meat dishes). but they also have a loaded potato section too. and as always, nice to have any options!

Ruby Tuesday has an allergen list, there’s a lot on it, actually, but again, mostly salads without croutons, meat, and veggies. if you enjoy salads, though, the salad bar is large and extensive.

Texas Roadhouse can accommodate. the steak and potatoes are easily made gluten free. last I was there, there was no specific GF menu, but that may have changed. I’ve never ventured past the steak to know about variety of options, sorry!

Perkins has put a list of gluten free items together. it includes soup (tomato basil), several salads, a couple of meat dishes (pork chops, steak medallions), and several omelet/ egg  meals (with hash browns, bacon, fresh fruit, etc)

Tim Horton’s has as small of a gluten free menu as can be (one item), but if you’re with a group that wants to go there, there is a treat that you can have: coconut macaroons


most grocery stores have some gluten free specialty items here and there, but Hugo’s on 32nd Ave S has the most extensive variety for their chain

and the local co-op, Amazing Grains, has probably the largest selection of gluten free and other allergen free items.

This list will likely grow over time, so please check back every now and then.

Happy Eating!!


Taste Test: Gluten Free Pizza Crusts June 16, 2014

there are so many gluten free pizza crusts available these days, that I know I’m no where near halfway through trying them. but since I have tried a lot of them, I thought I’d share what I’ve found, and help you go straight to the good ones 🙂


Udi’s pizza crust is my overall favorite. you can cook it on a pizza pan, on tinfoil, directly on the rack, it doesn’t matter. it’ll still turn out great! it’s a perfect level of thickness for me, and crisp without being too crisp. it holds any and all toppings wonderfully, and probably tastes the most normal out of all the crusts I’ve tried. when I make pizza using an Udi’s crust, goat mozzarella, Davanni’s pizza sauce, Hormel pepperoni, and fresh basil pieces cut up and sprinkled throughout, I’ve had multiple people tell me over time that it’s the best pizza they’ve ever had (and mostly from non-gluten free people!) so it’s got the stamp of approval from a lot of people! a supreme pizza with Italian sausage meat (available at Kowalski’s and SuperTargets and sometimes Cub’s freezer section), green pepper, and onion, is another favorite way that I make these. I usually do supremes only when I buy the crusts by the case (there’s a 10% discount to do so at most co-ops or Whole Foods). I make a pizza prep station and separate the two crusts that come in each pack with parchment paper, once prepared, then put them back in the package, label it, and throw them in the freezer. that way I can buy the fresh basil and other fun ingredients just once, and have a frozen pizza ready to go, whenever I want. my only complaint is that if these 9″ pizzas were 1-2 inches wider, it’d be a much better serving size for two people. it’s just a bit small for two, and leaves you wanting. but a whole pizza for one is a little too much. so it’s probably best to make it a personal pizza with a little bit of leftovers (if you can resist eating it all!) the crusts are two to a pack and are gluten, soy and dairy free.

Venice Bakery (available online) is the company whose flatbread supplies Biaggi’s (the variety pack is a great way to check out both the pizza crusts and flatbread). they have a few pizza crust options available as well, plain or seasoned, and 5″ or 12″. the pizza crusts are about the same “thinness” as the flatbread, and really, really good. this is my second-favorite crust (although a little too thin for some of my family). the only issue I have with them is that with the larger size, it can bake really limp in the middle. I’ve found that using a pizza pan with holes perforated into it really helps (make sure it’s a dedicated pan, otherwise gluten can get trapped in those little holes and contaminate you). the other thing that really helps is letting it sit for 3-5 minutes after removing from the oven, and it’ll be much firmer when you serve. once I tried brushing the bottom with olive oil~ that helped some, but not enough to make it worth the hassle. I’ve also tried cooking it directly on the rack, but this was a gooey nightmare, so I don’t recommend it. but with those two adjustments, I think it turns out quite well. another thing you could do is just order the small size, but it’s really small~ I’d probably make two of them for a one-person serving, unless it’s just a light meal or if you’ll have sides with it. I should also mentioned that these crusts are vegan, and therefore dairy and egg-free, and it’s also soy, corn, and, of course, gluten-free. my favorite way to eat these pizzas are with a mixture of different flavors of goat cheese~ about half mozzarella, with some cojack and/or cheddar thrown in, plus Davanni’s pizza sauce (my favorite), Hormel pepperoni, and a healthy sprinkling of Litehouse freeze-dried oregano (available at Target, just like fresh herbs but without having to spend a ton each time). this pizza combo tastes a lot like a regular restaurant pizza. and it’s large enough for two people to share, and be quite full afterwards.

Down in the Valley Bakehouse was my third choice (second favorite of some of my family). it’s a local brand, made by Valley Natural Foods. it looks similar to Udi’s crusts, both are 9 inches, come two to a pack, and are about the same thickness.  this one had a bit of a more homemade taste, as you could smell and taste a yeast flavor, for better or worse depending on your personal preferences.

Bittersweet Bakery is a local one that I finally tried. they do take & bake or just plain crusts, from their Eagan location. or you can find the crusts from a few places around town, such as Fresh & Natural. this crust is on the thicker side, has some seasoning in it, and all around tastes pretty good! plus, it’s nice to support local places, especially since we have so few dedicated gluten free bakeries. some pizza places around town use this crust, like Fresh Picked Pizza in Shoreview. they come in 8 or 12 inch sizes, and are gluten, dairy, and soy-free.

Schar’s pizza crust is probably a good option for people who like thicker crusts. I won’t say that it’s quite like a fresh deep-dish or anything, but maybe comparable to the Red Baron Singles Deep Dish (frozen pizza). I’ve never been a fan of deep dish or too thick of a crust, so this wasn’t my favorite, but my family said that it was decent, particularly for gluten free. I usually love Schar products (Dr Schar in Europe), so this anomaly was just due to a personal preference. I will say that with such a sturdy crust, it will easily hold any and all toppings. so if you want to pile your pizza high, this could also be a good option for you. it’s also a really nice size for a personal pizza, at 8″ (2 per box), it’s gluten, soy and egg free.

Kinnikinnick makes little rectangular pizza crusts. they looked small to me at first, but they’re actually a really good personal pizza size~ it’s like one really large slice of pizza. this crust is also on the thicker side, so it filled me up before I even finished. it’s actually just a bit thicker than I like, but many people prefer a thick crust. I think it would be much better with more toppings to balance it out, so I think I’ll make a supreme pizza on this crust next time (instead of just pepperoni). the bottom of the crust is a cornmeal dusting. I like the thought of the cornmeal more than I liked it in practice. the little pieces ore corn were falling everywhere, and they cut up my mouth a little. next time I’ll probably use that as the side I top, to avoid the mess. the crusts come 4 to a pack, and they are gluten, soy and dairy free.

Against the Grain: I liked the texture and the size of this crust (12″), and also the sturdiness to hold any toppings. however, with 3 cheeses in the crust (mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan), I must say that I got a little cheesed-out. I likened it to the cheese-stuffed pizza crusts at Pizza Hut, except none of the fun goo, and you can eat around it if you don’t want it. maybe next time, with less cheese of my own on top, it could taste great (and more economical), I don’t know. I also thought about the possibility of just making it into a flatbread, but I think it may be too thick for that. anyway, I was a bit overloaded, but if you really love lots of cheese, it could end up being the right pizza for you. this is gluten, soy, corn, and yeast-free.

Nature’s Hilights’ Brown Rice Pizza Crust is the ultimate allergy-friendly crust. the ingredients are literally brown rice flour and water. beyond being free of everything in the world except brown rice, I’ve found that it’s one of the few I’ve found that is yeast-free. but for the bad news, if you can eat other alternatives, you may opt for those first. the crust usually turns out quite gummy. unfortunately I didn’t have a perforated, dedicated pizza rack back then. that probably would’ve helped, and I also should’ve let it sit for a few minutes, now that I’ve since discovered that trick. and unless you have no other options with preventing cross-contamination, do not use tinfoil underneath. it seems to exacerbate the problem. if I made them again, another thing I’d try would be to quarter the pizza and cook in smaller pieces. because once you can get it crisp (like the edges), it’s actually surprisingly good. and for those who can’t find gluten, dairy, egg, soy, corn, and yeast-free pizza, it tastes amazing 🙂 I made these with just tomato sauce, some veggies, and pepperoni back when I was avoiding more allergens, and appreciated them very much! Whole Foods carries them, and they come two to a pack.

I hope this helps you make your pizza crust decisions easier to make! and don’t be afraid to do a little taste-testing of your own~ there are a lot of options these days!


Travel: London Gluten Free May 29, 2014

I recently travelled to London for a few weeks, and wanted to share what I learned about gluten free restaurants, in case anyone else plans to travel there.

one of the main things I found was that as common as it is in the Minneapolis/ St Paul metro to find a restaurant with a gluten free menu, in London it’s vegetarian menus and dishes that get that sort of attention. but although there aren’t as many restaurants with gluten-free menus (percentage-wise) as Minnesota, they definitely knew what celiac disease was, and took the “gluten free” label quite seriously, and knew what they could and couldn’t make offhand, more often than not.

first there are the nice, expensive restaurants… as in most cities, these restaurants are usually quite easily able to adapt a meal to be gluten free. they often consist mainly of protein and veggies, and have excellent chefs. I don’t feel that these restaurants need too much attention cast on them. if you go to a nice steakhouse, for instance, you should have no issues. I dined at Goodman Steak House in Mayfair, and it was amazing. and even more amazing was Gordon Ramsey’s Maze. I also had drinks and the most amazing scallops appetizer at Claridge’s in the Mayfair area (a hotel where many American celebrities stay). it was fun to get a good splurge for fine dining, with such amazing chefs in London.

traditional English food: I didn’t end up a many of these types of restaurants/ pubs. the food is often heavily breaded, and while I heard that they can work around the allergy quite well, it didn’t seem like I could get much of the fun stuff that I wanted anyway. I found online that there was a restaurant in Leicester Square called Mermaid’s that made gluten free fish & chips. I walked around for an hour searching and searching, and found nothing. later I discovered that they’d closed down. so don’t make that same mistake! instead, if you’re there on a Wednesday, there’s a place called Oliver’s Fish and Chips that’s just a little north of the main tourist areas in the Chalk Farm area (easily accessible by the Underground, or a taxi isn’t too expensive either). when I went there, I was amazed at the list of fish options to choose from to make the GF fish and chips (which are huge!). it was such a treat. they do that every Wednesday now.

mid-range restaurants: Caffe Concerto is another chain (lots of locations scattered across London), it’s a bit more of just a normal restaurant. but I was very pleased to find that I could have the chips (fries) there, as they had a dedicated fryer, and the entrees were really tasty and not too expensive either. I found that by just walking down the street and popping in, most places knew what gluten was, knew of a few items that could be made gluten free, but didn’t have a specific menu. but don’t be afraid to go in and ask, you might find something amazing!

Italian: what I ended up eating most frequently was Italian food: pizza and pasta. there are several chains that you can find all over the tourist areas. I’ll skip to the best one first: Rossopomodoro. the gluten free pizzas taste like they’re on homemade dough! it’s Napolitano-style and absolutely amazing. unfortunately I only tried this restaurant a few days before I left. but to make up for it, I went all 3 days in a row until I left 🙂 it’s a must-try! other pizza chains, which are nice to have, but with a standard pre-made GF pizza crust (“base”) are Pizza Express and ASK Italian. and Bella Express was my second favorite, they had GF pizzas and pasta both.

quick eats: Port-a-Manger and EAT are sometimes literally located on every block. both have shelves of soups that are gluten free, and labelled as such on the placards. I tried many of these soups, and they were amazing. the Mushroom Risotto soup at Pret-a-Manger was my favorite (and I don’t usually like mushrooms!). then there are random ones all over the place, Hermann ze Germann near Leicester Square/ Covent Garden area. also near there is a Five Guys! it must be fairly new, as lines were often out the door and along the street a ways.

American restaurants~ there’s a Hard Rock Cafe, a Planet Hollywood, etc in the Piccadilly Circus area (not far from Leicester Square), they had a surprising amount of options (though mostly just bunless-burgers and salads and such), but the waits can be upwards of an hour, so plan to put your name in and walk around or something if you’re wanting to go to one of these.

restaurants I wanted to try, but never made it there: Gourmet Burger Kitchen~ from what I’ve read, they may vary from location to location, but some have gluten free burger buns and dedicated friers for the french fries. La Tasca~ a Spanish tapas place with many locations, looked really good, had a lot of options, and wasn’t too pricey (relatively), but I never made my reservations! My Old Dutch Pancakes~ there are a few locations and the menu looked reminiscent of a Pannekoeken, wish I could’ve tried it! also, there’s a bakery not far from Buckingham Palace that also has several GF treats, including savory pies that are GF, made ready to serve there, called WAGfree Bakery. just popping into some cupcake shops, I found that many, if not most, had at least one gluten free option.

also worth mentioning are Indian restaurants, as they’re really prevalent in London. I didn’t go to any, as I had a way-too-spicy experience at one on my last trip to London (years ago). but a few that I saw mentioned as knowing what their gluten free options were, were Namaste (near Camden Town Underground stop) and Masala Zone in the Soho area.

there’s also a Whole Foods if you prefer to find groceries, but it’s not exactly in the middle of the tourist area.

and finally, there are a lot of fun Gelato shops, so definitely ask what you can have when you see one, because it’s such a treat to have fresh, homemade, authentic Italian ice cream

feel free to leave comments of other great restaurants in London that you’ve found!