100% Gluten Free Grocery Store

In a review I did of Wegman’s awhile back, I called them the “GF Grocery Store of Your Dreams” . . . and I still hold by that — in regards to large, corporate stores. You’re not going to get much better than Wegman’s.

But nothing beats walking into a store and knowing that as far as gluten goes, absolutely everything inside is gluten free.

It’s like a dream — that you don’t wake up from.

That was my experience last year out on Long Island (NY state), when Teresa and I discovered a store called Strictly Gluten Free.

Here is just a brief bit about this gem of a store (from their About page):

Strictly Gluten Free is the premier exclusive gluten free marketplace for the onsite and online health conscious consumer maintaining a gluten free lifestyle.  We connect gluten free consumers with all the newest and highest quality gluten free products on the market from all over the world.

At Strictly Gluten Free, you can receive support, build awareness, sample products and purchase all your gluten free products in one place. “

LocationHours

396A Larkfield Road, East Northport, NY 11731

New Extended Week Day Hours Beginning 6/3/13

Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (previously was open until 7PM)
Sat: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

 

If you’re in the area, you really should take the time to stop by. There is so much to choose from, and the owners are extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

They even offer on-line ordering!

 

You will still need to read labels to be sure that they meet your needs, and that there are no other ingredients that are no-no’s for you, but from talking with Steve (one of the owners), it sounds like they’ve really vetted everything they bring in to sell from a gluten-free standpoint.

Rudi’s GF Products You MUST Try!

Several weeks ago, Rudi’s GF Bakery sent me a sample box of their products. This was my first time trying Rudi’s products, and they were well worth the wait! They sent me three loaves of bread (white, multigrain, and cinnamon raisin), and plain tortilla wraps.

The white bread (original) is soft, light, and airy. While it didn’t hold up well for a sandwich (or, at least not a thick bacon, egg, tomato sandwich, I bet it’d make a superb peanut butter and jelly sandwich!), it made some of the best French toast I have ever had, hands down.

The cinnamon raisin was amazing. It’s a sturdier bread and has just the right flavor; it tastes just as good as it smells, which in my experience with cinnamon raisin bread, is a rare occurrence! There were just enough raisins to give a delightful contrast to the bread, especially when toasted. The raisins also stayed soft and moist after toasting. This bread became one of my favorite breakfast items. Even T loved this bread and she doesn’t usually like cinnamon raisin!

 

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Rudi’s GF Cinnamon Raisin Toast with a side of GF, nitrate free bacon.

 

The multigrain bread was also soft and light, like the white bread, but less airy, which makes it feel more substantial. T used this for her French Toast, however, and said it was perfect for that as well! I found it to have a mild, nutty-like flavor, with great texture. The grain in it is pleasant without being overwhelming, and nothing (flax seeds, millet, and sunflower seeds) got stuck in my teeth to my delight (a painful worry for me whenever I eat multigrain breads).

 

The plain tortilla wraps are the best wraps I have ever had. When I was little, I used to love ordering Chinese take-out. My favorite dish was Mu Shu Pork with a side of flour pancakes, which you would wrap the pork into to eat. I also loved eating the pancakes by themselves. Rudi’s GF plain tortilla wraps immediately reminded me of those pancakes, even though I probably haven’t had them in over twenty years.

Not only do the wraps taste wonderful, they are very sturdy. My experience, thus far, with GF wraps is that they split apart as soon as you roll them up, no matter if they are fresh, toasted, baked, or warmed at room temperature. If you’re looking for that perfect tortilla wrap, you cannot go wrong with Rudi’s!

We liked them so much we ate the same dish (Mushroom and Black Bean Burritos) multiple days in a row.

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You can discover more GF products by Rudi’s here. If you get a chance to taste their products, be sure to take it! You won’t be sorry.

Wegmans: The GF Grocery Store of Your Dreams

Wegmans (Location: Northborough, MA)

Wegmans
(Location: Northborough, MA)

Over the years, from one side of the country to the other, and a handful of other countries, I have shopped at what feels like and endless list of grocery stores. I couldn’t begin to tell you the names of all of them. But one grocery store stands out above the rest as a go-to place for an excellent supply of gluten-free products. (I just wish they were in the area I live – I only get to go when we’re in Western NY and near Scranton, PA!) Wegmans.

I have been continually impressed with them over the years, even long before I went GF and was just interested in healthier options, by all their choices. If you ask at your average grocery store, you will find that most places will be willing to get in items on a case-by-case basis, if their vendors can get it, of course. But Wegmans goes above and beyond to make sure that not only do they have a plethora of outside choices for their customers, but that they can provide their very own, very safe line of gluten free products!  I also discovered a number of products from companies I was familiar with, but was not familiar with just how many products they truly produced!

You can read all about what Wegmans offer here.

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Natures Marketplace

 

And pre-packaged Gluten Free goodies aren’t the only reasons I love Wegmans so much. They have the best fresh produce section of any grocery store I have ever seen.  Check this out:

 

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It’s thanks to the awesome produce available in the Scranton Wegmans that I was able to try Fiddlehead Ferns in early June. It was a little late in the season for them, but they still had some left. At $9.99/lb, I only bought a few, and then after we had them prepared in the way recommended by a friend who adores them, I regretted not buying more. Before we headed home, we went back to Wegmans and I bought all the remaining ones that still looked decent, packed them in the cooler with the ice packs and took them home. (They were delicious!)

If you’ve ever been curious about the more unusual produce (Fiddlehed Ferns, Dragon Fruit, Cherimoya, Chayote Squash, et cetera), or you’re just having trouble finding one elusive item for that special recipe, if you are near Wegmans, run, don’t walk! If any store will have it, they probably will (as long as the item in question is in season, of course).

 

So, whether you’re looking for that special gluten free item, the best or hardest to find produce, coupled with a super friendly and clean store, you can’t go wrong by heading to Wegmans.

 

Now if only there was one in my neck of the woods . . .

Real Food Works: Delicious Local Meals Delivered

Over the last decade (and some), ordering in at home for an evening meal has become commonplace for many families. I remember thinking what a neat idea it was that my parents could call one number yet order from any number of local restaurants, and have it delivered to the house. And as long as a minimum order (price) was met, you could order from multiple restaurants and everyone could get what they wanted. Genius!

But as an adult, once I went gluten free, it didn’t seem that great to me. I got to watch everyone else enjoy these amazing smelling meals while I ordered a salad. Looking back, even the salad wasn’t that safe since it was usually from the Italian restaurant my parents were ordering from: can we say lots of flour in the air? Nor was it that healthy of a salad. Watery iceberg lettuce, pale tomatoes, pale cucumbers, cheese ….

After going gluten free, I became a lot more conscious of what I was eating because I had to be. I’d wanted to eat healthier before, but could never make myself do it. Going gluten-free forced my hand (for which I’m grateful). I wished that there was something I could order that would be safe, delicious, and good for me. But there wasn’t. And given that I was (and am) in southwestern Virginia, there probably wasn’t going to be a ton of options. Healthy eating is not par for the course around here.

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But it IS for a growing number of places, and Real Food Works is helping customers in their area take advantage of that. And even better? They’re now offering gluten free options!

What is Real Food Works? From their website:

Real Food Works is a start-up located in Philadelphia. Founded by successful tech entrepreneurs with a passion for healthy great-tasting food, we provide a subscription service of fresh meals that are cooked by local restaurants and delivered fresh to our customers. Our food is mostly plant-based with very low oil, salt, and sweeteners — yet it tastes terrific! Our customers can lose weight, enhance their energy levels, and improve their overall health. Our partners can increase profitable revenue while leading in a major shift towards eating healthier food.”

Real food really does taste terrific, but if you’ve been consuming a diet of pre-packaged overly processed foods, you may have to retrain your taste buds first.Don’t worry, if you’re diligent and don’t cheat, it won’t take you long! Although T and I still use some sugar and salt, we try to go with organic sugars (no artificial sweeteners!) and sea salt (we especially love Celtic Sea Salt and pink Himalayan). Guess what? The more you get away from sugar and salt, the less you will need! And you’ll often find that dishes you couldn’t bear to eat without sugar and salt no longer need it to taste good!

And it’s amazing how full you can feel on a plant-based diet. T and I haven’t completely given up meat (in fact, it’s generally not recommended until you’re sure you’re getting all the vitamins from other sources), but we rarely eat it these days, and we don’t miss it. Something neither of us expected. And yes, you really can get enough protein from plants, and it will be better for you than animal-based protein. How do you think gorillas get so big and strong? Not from eating other animals! And if you eat a cow for protein, where do you think it comes from for the cow?

“Our whole food plant-based nutritional standards are based on leading-edge studies from researchers such as Dean Ornish at UCSF, T. Colin Campbell at Cornell University, and Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic. This diet has been recently popularized by best-selling books such as “Whole,” “VB6,” and “My Beef With Meat” as well as the 2011 documentary “Forks Over Knives.””

So what do you get from Real Food Works (besides food you can feel good about eating?):

  • Meals are created and prepared by our partner restaurants: local, talented and passionate about really good food.
  • We share ingredient ideas and cooking techniques, and work closely with our restaurants’ chefs to create exclusive dishes.
  • All meals go through rigorous nutritional and taste testing before they are added to our menu.

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  • We operate with stringent nutritional requirements, and information is available for every dish.
  • Meals include only natural, whole food ingredients. We use no processed foods, and certainly no additives, chemicals, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Our nutritional specifications are constantly reviewed to ensure that they reflect the best available research.

But how safe is the gluten free aspect of Real Food Works? If you’re like me, you’re really choosy about where you eat when you’re not at home!

Real Food Works GF meals are prepared utilizing only gluten-free ingredients. All RFW meals are prepared in licensed commercial kitchens by cooks with ServSafe food safety certification from the National Restaurant Association. RFW does offer this disclaimer:

“It is important to understand that “gluten-free ingredients” does not mean there will never be exposure to glutens. While the ingredients do not contain glutens, the restaurant providing the meal may not be gluten-free, and its personnel may not have completed gluten-free training. We cannot be held responsible for individual reactions to any meals or products, nor can we guarantee the absence of cross-contamination. It is the customer’s sole responsibility to read and understand the ingredients in each meal that you purchase on our site, and to know what is safe for your diet. While our site may provide certain resources on gluten-free or gluten-free ingredient food options or celiac disease, the information provided here is for reference and educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as medical advice.” You can read more in their FAQ. They’ve written a blog post about gluten-free eating as well.

This is a standard and fair disclaimer. This is something every GF person should keep in mind any time they go out to eat to a place that is not 100% gluten free or is not certified. Always do your own research!

You saw an image above of three possible dishes. How about a description of another? Sometimes I find that just reading about a dish makes me want to eat it even more than seeing it. “Russo Wrap from the Virago Baking Company: Organic vegetables seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and tucked into a collard wrap with homemade hummus. Served with beet stew and lemony sorghum salad.” (Go here and scroll down to the Russo Wrap. You can then click on it to find out exactly what is in it, along with the nutritional information!)

And, now that you now where the Russo Wrap is from, you can research the restaurant and make a more informed decision: Virago Baking Company. As far as I can tell, every source restaurant is listed, so you can check everything out to your heart’s content!

This looks like a great opportunity for you and your family, whether everyone in your household is gluten free or not. If you’ve been wanting to eat healthier and you weren’t sure how to start, this could be an excellent jumping off point for you!

If you’re in Philadelphia and you give Real Food Works a try, I would love to hear what you think!

Graphics courtesy of Real Food Works.

The Dutch Pantry & New Hope Mills

The Dutch Pantry When T and I head to Roanoke, we generally go up I-81 N, which takes us past the exit for The Dutch Pantry. We’ve wondered about it several times, but have never stopped there.

Several days ago, we were only heading as far as Wytheville to get the only gluten-free cat food our oldest cat will eat these days, and decided since there was no hurry, that we would stop and check it out. And we got a nice surprise!

At the edge of the parking lot was a large sign that announced that gluten free items were available! Although they do not have a huge selection, they have a good selection, including products from a NY-based company that we had never heard of: New Hope Mills.

They had several mixes that looked really tasty, but since we both like brownies, we chose the Double Chocolate Brownie mix.  Although the company produces both gluten-full and gluten-free products, the gluten-free ones are certified by GIG, and the packaging states that they are manufactured in a gluten-free processing area on dedicated equipment. (The equipment may be shared with products that contain egg, tree nut & dairy ingredients.)

The Dutch Pantry also had pasta, some Bob’s Red Mill products, Route 11 Potato Chips, among other products. They even had a gluten-free cookbook for sale! It didn’t include the healthiest of recipes, but if you’ve been trying to find some gluten-free alternatives to traditional home cooking (especially Southern from what I could see when I flipped through it), you may want to go check out this book!

That evening, we made the brownies. The directions call for beating 2 eggs with a high speed mixer, so this was also our first opportunity to try out the Kitchen Aid mixer we received as a wedding gift. Once the eggs are beaten, you add the mix and then 6 TBSP of melted butter. The batter was thick and creamy, and smelled and tasted quite a bit like rich chocolate soft serve ice cream!

New Hope Mills GF Brownie

We baked the brownies in an 8×8 pan for about 30 minutes. Our apartment smelled quite yummy as they baked! These brownies are good hot out of the oven. They are good when they have cooled slightly. They are still delicious a couple of days later! (We left them in the glass pan and covered them with a sheet of tinfoil.)

The top was flaky and the bottom delightfully soft and a bit chewy. They may be the best gluten-free brownies ( from a mix ) that I have tried so far. We both really enjoyed them!

I can’t wait until we have the funds to go back to The Dutch Pantry and try another product from New Hope Mills, and check out their other gluten-free items again.

(Please note that the prices at The Dutch Pantry are quite affordable for the average customer, we simply cannot afford a lot of extras.)

If you’re in the area, be sure to check them out!

New Hope Mills GF Brownie Mix