TAG | gluten free
Before we begin, let’s make peace with this simple fact: I recognize that it’s a sin to go to a steakhouse and order pizza. Wildfire is one of my go-to gluten-free restaurants in downtown Chicago. I have a regular order there: spinach & artichoke fondue, black peppercorn filet cooked medium, cheddar double stuffed potato and a bottle or two of Redbridge. When I’m really feeling like treating myself, I’ll also devour the flourless chocolate cake. No, I don’t finish it all. Wildfire’s portions provide the gift that keeps giving for at least one or two lovely office lunch reheats.
Alas, I’m already straying from the point. On my last visit to Wildfire in downtown Chicago, the thermometer read 96 degrees. I simply can’t be expected to order a meal of that size and still be able to breathe, walk and perform the other simple functions demanded of a human in this heat. I eyeballed the salads briefly and even spied the seafood offerings momentarily before my eyes settled on this miracle of the Wildfire pizza offerings:
Chicken sausage, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, jalapeno jack cheese
Making my decision even easier was the realization that Wildfire swapped out the Redbridge gluten-free beer option for Bard’s Tale beer. I’m not a Redbridge hater and it can be really refreshing in summer heat, but when I’m sentimentally craving craft beer flavor, Bard’s is one of the only commercially-available gluten-free beers that fits the bill.
Everybody knows I can talk beer all day, but please, let’s get back to the point once more. Whoever came up with this pizza is a hero. The spicy chicken sausage balances beautifully with the caramelized onions. The green and red peppers taste nearly pickled, which is perfect because their sweetness helps to cool the fire of the jalapeno jack cheese. The smoky, baked crust is perfectly crisped from the wood-burning oven and the sauce is mild and plays a perfect supporting role. With so many huge flavors, what more does the sauce have to do? There are huge chunks of garlic and tomato floating in the sauce while loads of interesting spice flavors and aromas emanate from the chicken sausage. This is an incredibly well-balanced meal, but put it all on a pizza and your palette needs days to recover.
I ate half of the pizza and brought the other half to the office for lunch the following day. It microwaved well and is filling enough for two meals. The only thing missing was a cold beer to wash it down with.
Rounding out my Wildfire meal this time around were the complementary gluten-free bread roll as an appetizer, an obligatory cheddar double stuffed potato (half with the meal, half reheated the following day), and two bottles of Bard’s. My one and only complaint was that the beer was provided with a super-chilled glass. I prefer beer closer to room temperature both for flavor and because it reduces the amount of air taken in while drinking, but with the nearly-unbearable heat of late spring Chicago lurking menacingly just outside those double-doors, I’m not going to get too upset.
Even as a go-to restaurant that I’ve been to more times than I can count, Wildfire’s gluten-free menu continues to surprise and thrill me. I’ll definitely be getting after this pizza on subsequent trips to Wildfire. What’s your favorite gluten-free Wildfire meal?
Anybody who has followed this blog for any length of time is familiar with my affinity for all things breakfast. What I am about to describe is a gluten-free wonder of old school baking: a magical combination of fluffy dough with crispy edges and apples drenched in a cinnamon and sugar glaze.
The apple pancake was something I wasn’t introduced to until I was in my teens, so I never really craved this beast of bakery magic until I could no longer have it. This isn’t an every week thing in my house, but it really hits the spot in late summer and fall when the apples are ripe and you find yourself lucky enough to have a weekend morning free.
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (Authentic Foods or King Arthur brand work well for me)
- 1 cup milk – low fat or 1% is fine
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon Authentic Foods vanilla powder
- In a bowl, add flour, milk, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
- In another bowl, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon.
- Add butter in a 10″ pyrex-type deep dish pie container and put in oven.
- Turn oven to 400°.
- When butter is completely melted, remove from oven.
- Pour batter into buttered dish and put in oven for 20-25 minutes.
- In a separate pan, warm apples, butter (to taste) and cinnamon. Cook for 13-15 minutes.
- Remove batter from oven and add apple mixture.
- Cover entire dish with brown sugar/sugar/cinnamon mixture.
- Return dish to oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let cool, cut into portions and enjoy!
Depending on your oven and your altitude, cook times may vary, so do pay close attention to this dish while cooking. It took a couple of tries to really get this recipe right, but it is totally worth it when you get it down.
Let me know how yours turns out or share any tips and tricks in the comments. Cheers!
I wanted to post a quick update about a great little shop I found while traveling through Venice. I know others have blogged about this place as well, but I figure the more exposure the better for this great gluten-free resource. It’s called Mea Libera Tutti. It’s a little tucked away, but it’s worth your time to seek it out.
It seems that gluten-free restaurants and shops promote each other everywhere I travel and Italy was no different. Mea Libera Tutti was recommended by multiple restaurant owners we met in Venice.
When we arrived, the owner was immediately springing into action, showing us all of the newest and most exciting items in her shop. She is gluten intolerant and so is her son, so she understands the issues of Celiac disease very well. My wife and I talked to her at length and she ran around gathering samples of candies and cookies for us to try. We bought as much as our arms could carry. We were especially excited to purchase loads of different pastas and breads to bring back to Chicago with us. We had such a great experience that I promised her I would blog specifically about her store when I returned home.
One of the most exciting products we found was a gluten-free chocolate coffeecake filled with espresso-flavored cream filling. I know it wasn’t healthy, but it made for an excellent breakfast and snack on the go. We also found small loaves of french bread for making quick sandwiches. We even bought several bottles of Estrella Damm Daura gluten-free beer for wandering around Venice with.
The bottom line is that any trip to Venice isn’t gluten-free complete without a visit to Mea Libera Tutti. You can find it here:
Mea Libera Tutti
Cannaregio 3805, Venice
I’ll blog more about the wonderful gluten-free Italian places we discovered in Venice, Rome and Florence soon, but I wanted to be sure to take the time to call out Mea Libera Tutti in advance. Have you been to this place? Know of other great gluten-free resources in Venice? Post them below! Cin Cin!
Baseball. The very word conjures up memories of glories on the field, family moments in the living room watching the games, standing under the Wrigley Field sign for the obligatory tourist picture. For me personally, there are innumerable memories that I still carry with me. I’ll never forget Harry Caray phonetically spelling player names backwards. I’ll never forget going to Wrigley Field as a young man and catching a baseball thrown by Damon Berryhill (look him up, kids). And most recently, I’ll never forget my first gluten-free meal at Wrigley Field.
I knew that Wrigley offered Redbridge gluten-free beer at select beer stands throughout the stadium. I also knew you might find some sort of pumpkin seed and dried fruit mixture if you looked really hard. What I didn’t realize was the incredible offerings you can find nestled in the right field corner of the stadium at the Sheffield Grill.
I found myself wandering into Sheffield Grill for two reasons. I knew they had gluten free beer and I knew it was air-conditioned. When I walked in and ordered a Redbridge, the lovely young lady behind the register inquired whether I was aware that they also had gluten-free hot dog and hamburgers. I was not.
I ordered a hot dog with grilled onions and the cooks countered with a pickle, potato chips and the first hot dog I’ve eaten in almost three years. Everybody behind the grill knew exactly what they were doing. The hot dog bun took a few minutes to prepare (I’m assuming it was frozen), but the cook took the time to explain to me that everything he was putting on my plate was indeed gluten-free. He even went so far as to clue me in that the gluten-free rolls they serve come from everybody’s favorite: Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery north of Chicago in Evanston. I’ll spend some time singing the praises of Rose’s in another post.
Just like that, I’m part of the crowd. I’m enjoying an ice-cold beer at the ballpark while chowing down on the quintessential ballpark cuisine and not feeling even a bit left out. I even went back for another round. I was stuffed and couldn’t finish the second hot dog (the rolls are quite filling, but taste amazing).
So I have a new tradition to enjoy at the old ballpark. I keep hearing that more and more sports venues are adding gluten-free vendors to the mix. I’ve been adding them on Gloodies.com as I come across them, but feel free to talk up your local sports venue in the comments if they support the gluten intolerant. Cheers!
If you keep up with my blog at all, you know that I’m a huge brinner (breakfast for dinner) fan. Breakfast being the most important meal of the day, I try to eat it as often as possible at all times of the day. This particular recipe is a traditional breakfast skillet with potatoes, meat, cheese and eggs and it serves 2 people. This is also another recipe that is easier and more fun with 2 people. Let’s get started.
4 strips of bacon
6 oz shredded cheese or 2 slices of Kraft American cheese
The first step is to cut up the potato into 1/4″ chunks. You can cut them smaller if you like, but 1/4″ is a nice bite-size serving. Grease a small skillet pan with butter or your preferred gluten free cooking spray and toss the potato chunks in. Cook them covered over medium heat for 10 minutes or until they soften up a bit. Add in a dash of salt and pepper to taste at this point if you like. If you really like butter, feel free to add a pat of butter to the potatoes as well. This can help them to soften up a bit. Don’t forget to move the potato chunks around from time to time during cooking to ensure that every chunk gets a proper amount of attention from the heat.
While your potatoes are cooking, begin cooking your bacon. It’s up to you if you decide to cook your bacon on the stove or bake it in the oven. Regardless, just be sure you have a gluten free bacon and that it is well cooked. If you cook it on the stove, be sure to place it on a bed of paper towels and dab it with paper towels to remove a bit of the excess grease when finished cooking.
Around the time that your bacon and potatoes are wrapping up, you should begin cooking your eggs. I prefer my eggs over-easy, but you can cook them to your own liking.
While your eggs are cooking, break apart your bacon into small pieces and mix it in with the potatoes. Once you have them mixed well, you can add shredded cheese to the mix. If you want to use American slices, you may prefer to wait until the mix is plated.
Finally, it’s time to plate your masterpiece. I prefer to serve my skillets in a bowl. Place the cheese, potato and bacon mix in the bowl first. If you are using sliced cheese, place that over the mixture now. Finally, take 2 eggs and place them on top of the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste, if you like, and you are all finished.
This is a very basic skillet recipe, but you can add whatever you like to make it your own. Try Bob Evans crumbled sausage or spicy turkey sausage for a kick. Pile in sauteed vegetables or some hot sauce for more flavor. There are no limitations. Just be sure, as always, that your ingredients are gluten free. Let us know how you make this recipe your own in the comments.
Update: Sadly, these chips no longer have “Gluten Free” printed on the package.
There’s nothing better than a good, safe, gluten free snack. We all have our favorites. A quick look online will produce lists and lists of foods that “do not contain gluten.” But in order to really feel good about my snack food, I prefer to see the words “GLUTEN FREE” right there on the package. I want to share a new snack I found the other day that I’m throwing into the WIN column.
Jay’s Grande Tortilla Chips are amazing. I can’t remember coming across a tastier, more exciting gluten free chip. They are extremely airy and very flavorful. The texture is just perfect for this type of snack. My wife was crazy about these too and she usually doesn’t care for gluten free snack food.
This is a new product, so the Nacho Cheese flavor is the only one I’ve tasted. They were discovered at a grocery store chain in Chicagoland called Strack & Van Til’s. I’m assuming they will be sold at any store that carry’s Jay’s brand chips in the future. Do yourself a favor and look for these chips at your local grocery store. Let us know where you find them in the comments area.
Anybody who knows me, knows that I love Mexican food. For many of us, Mexican food is a mainstay of the gluten intolerant diet. I will admit to not knowing anything about cooking authentic Mexican food. But one thing I do know, is nachos. This little recipe is fun, fast and completely gluten free. Sharing the cooking duties with your significant other is part of the fun. So start an assembly line and get to work. You’ll be reaping the delicious rewards in no time.
1 Large Chicken Breast (1/4 pound ground turkey or beef will work as well)
1 Bag Corn Tortilla Chips (Mission brand round style work great)
1 16 oz can La Preferida Fat Free Refried Beans (if you can find a smaller can, 8 oz is all you really need)
1 4.25 oz can Black Pearls Chopped Ripe Olives (fresh olives are fine, sliced or chopped)
1 7 oz package Wholly Guacamole Classic (or homemade guacamole)
1 16 oz tub Daisy Light Sour Cream
The most important thing to remember, is that you can modify this recipe in any way, as long as you keep it gluten free. We’ll discuss some of the ingredient choices throughout the instructions, so let’s get started. First, chop a large breast of chicken into 1/4″ cubes. The smaller you can chop them the better, but I’m not chef and I’m certainly not any good with knives, so I stick to 1/4″. I have used ground turkey before and it works just fine, but sometimes I just get a taste for chicken.
Cook the chicken over medium heat on your stove top until fully cooked. I like to add some seasoning here to spice up the dish. I find that a dash of salt, a dash of garlic powder, a dash of red cayenne pepper or some blackening seasoning work well together. Feel free to use whatever spices you like to give this meal a bit of flare. While your chicken is cooking, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Pull out a 9 x 12 non stick pan and lay out 24 round chips on it in neat rows.
Once your chicken is fully cooked, it’s time to fire up the assembly line. Begin by taking a knife or other spreading utensil and wiping a layer of refried beans across each chip. There is a fine line between under-beaning and over-beaning. The general rule of thumb is that if you can stick a piece of chicken in the bean spread and it doesn’t roll away, you’re in good shape.
Next, add your chicken or meat of choice to each nacho. Be sure to ration them out so that each nacho gets an appropriate amount of meat. Feel free to skip this step if you don’t want all that meat on your nachos. There are plenty of ingredients to come, so adapt the recipe to suit your taste.
Next, add the black olives. If you have chopped black olives, you may want to scoop them onto the nachos with a spoon. For sliced black olives, you might decide that using your hands works just fine. And if you don’t like black olives, leave them out.
Our final step before sliding them in the oven is to add cheese. Chihuahua cheese is great. So is cheddar. Tonight I have some shredded Mexican cheese and that will work out very well. Be liberal with the cheese. It always seems like there’s too much before it cooks, but it can be surprisingly deceptive.
Place the nachos in the oven on the middle rack and let them cook for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is sufficiently melted. Depending on the amount or type of cheese, this number could vary widely. Be sure to check on the nachos occasionally during this time to prevent a burnt cheese disaster.
Shut the oven off and pull the nachos out. Be careful during these next couple of steps because you will be working near a very hot metal pan. If you prefer to move the nachos to a plate at this point, be sure to use a good spatula. The next 2 steps are perfect for those of you working in teams. First, begin dropping a dollop of guacamole on each nacho. I prefer Wholly Guacamole. If you can find it, give it a try. There is also a spicy version available and all Wholly Guacamole is gluten free and comes with 2 – 7 oz bags in the package.
A dollop of sour cream on the top of each nacho will cap off these wonderful little treats. If you haven’t already moved your nachos to plates, now would be a good time to do that.
And there you have it. Eat them as a meal or set them out for a party. They pair especially well with a pint of gluten free brown ale (homemade, of course). Make this recipe your own and don’t forget to let us know how it turns out in the comments.
A lot can change in the course of a year. In February of 2009, I was just beginning to enjoy the benefits of being a young professional in the city of Chicago. I spent nights and weekends discovering new restaurants and bars, random ethnic food, and generally getting fat off of all that my great city had to offer. I had no idea that my body was nearing a breaking point.
I knew that I hadn’t felt well for a long time, but I had chalked it up to family history. The other men in my family have always had abdominal pain and issues with digestion and I assumed it was just something I had to deal with. My breaking point came when my pain began to feel more like an illness and I couldn’t go to work. One particular Saturday night led to 4 days off of work. Several times before, my doctor had suggested that a gluten free diet might help my abdominal issues. This time, he gave me strict marching orders.
Nothing can prepare you for the diagnosis. This is the type of bittersweet message you never want to receive. I can feel better yes, but at what cost? No more discovering new foods, no more rare beers from all ends of the earth, no more enjoyment of any kind. I thought all was lost. My despair led me to a desperate search for all of the things I used to enjoy. I struggled for a long time to find some balance and understanding. These are the hard lessons I learned.
1. Be Vigilant, Be Aggressive
In most situations, I am not an aggressive person. I avoid confrontation whenever possible and am not as direct as I should be sometimes. This is one of those situations where I have needed to break a few of my own rules about common courtesy. If you go to a restaurant to eat, be absolutely clear about your condition with the help. Ask to see the chef. Demand that your food be prepared at a separate workstation in order to prevent cross-contamination. If they won’t comply, don’t stick around. If you go to a friend or family member’s house for dinner and there isn’t anything that you can eat, don’t eat something just to be polite (more on this in the next section). Most people do not understand what having a gluten intolerance means. They will try to get you to eat things that will make you sick. Be assertive, but be patient. The people who misunderstand your disease initially may be the same people who surprise you the most down the road.
2. Be Prepared
If you have recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it is important to find a fallback food for emergency situations. For me, that food was Rice Chex. Did I feel like a toddler toting around some Tupperware or plastic bag full of cereal? Absolutely. Did I have something to eat at family parties and as a snack when I was out and about? You bet. Another element of being prepared applies to restaurants. More and more restaurants are catering to gluten intolerant folks and plenty of resources are appearing that list those restaurants. Call restaurants before you leave the house. If you are meeting friends for dinner, sometimes you need to eat before you leave. It will save you the trouble of starving through dinner just to spend some time with company. This leads me to my next point.
3. The Internet Is Your Best Friend
Use the resources at your disposal to improve your way of life dramatically. When I have free time, I search randomly on Google. I type in my city or neighborhood and the phrase “gluten free” and occasionally I find new restaurants and grocery stores that are accommodating our community. Most of the brands at the grocery store have allergen information on their websites. Forums and discussion boards are everywhere waiting to answer your questions. As a matter of fact, post questions in the comments area and I’ll be happy to help you out. The moral of the story is that resources abound on the internet. Use them.
4. Be Fearless
Nearly 3/4 of the food you are used to eating has just been taken out of your diet. What do you do? Accept this turn of events as time to experiment. Not everything you make is going to be a home run. Use the remaining foods you have at your disposal and combine ingredients like you never have before. A white corn tortilla rolled up with sliced ham and shredded cheese baked in the oven. Is that good? No? Build up from there. It takes some work and some terrible food before you start to become comfortable creating your own dishes. Don’t forget to use the internet to locate gluten free recipes. There are full communities dedicated to this single topic. Finding a local restaurant with some gluten free food is great. Having a go-to restaurant can be a life saver. But don’t forget to try new things. Since I went gluten free, I’ve discovered sushi. It never interested me before, but once you start eating healthier, you may find your tastes changing. Does spicy blue crab wrapped in rice and seaweed sound awful to you? Be fearless. Try the scary stuff. You might be shocked by how much flavor you are missing out on.
5. Be Consistent, Be Committed
This is the most important lesson I learned. Taking on a new diet is daunting. Don’t assume that you can come and go from this diet. Be committed to it. The more time I spend away from gluten, the more sensitive I get to the effects of it in my system. Get on a regular schedule of finding recipes and going to the grocery store. Buy fresh produce. Support local farm markets. I have already laid out the benefits of preparation. Take the time to research recipe ingredients individually to prevent any surprises down the line. Your diligence can be the difference between a new favorite recipe and several days of misery.
Your diet is what you make of it. For a long time, I struggled to find sweets that I could eat. I didn’t take the time to do the research and it was my own fault that I wasn’t happy with my food choices. Then I started looking up each of the sweets I used to enjoy. I found out that many of my fears were unsubstantiated. When I finally discovered a selection of beers that I could have that were accessible to me, I was thrilled. When I decided that I wanted a greater selection of beers, I began brewing my own. You have options. There is one undeniable truth to all of this. Whether you look at this diet as a curse or a blessing, you’re right.
Chili is a food that I never gave much thought to. I always enjoyed it, but I never craved it. When I removed gluten from my diet, chili wasn’t one of the foods I got upset about. My wife recently found this recipe online for Halftime Chili. We decided that this recipe should be converted for the gluten free community. I am thrilled that we gave it a shot, because this is the best chili I’ve ever eaten. I’ll go into brand specifics to ensure that you can make this fantastic recipe gluten free, just like we did.
3 Tablespoons Crisco Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
8 large garlic gloves, chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey breast
1 envelope McCormick taco seasoning (don’t use McCormick Chicken Taco seasoning, it contains gluten)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1- 15oz can Contadina tomato sauce
1- 6oz can Contadina tomato paste (Don’t use Contadina tomato paste with Italian Herbs, it contains gluten)
3 cups of Swanson Natural Goodness chicken broth
1- 16oz can of Organics brand organic kidney beans (Joan of Arc kidney beans are gluten free, but they seem to have an awful lot of ingredients in them which always makes me nervous)
Begin by setting out all of your ingredients ahead of time.
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute the vegetables for about 8 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
Add the meat or meat substitute of your choice and cook until no longer pink. Be sure to break up the meat with a spatula or spoon as it cooks. I prefer lean turkey breast because of the wonderful texture it provides in contrast to the kidney beans. It always cooks nicely and is really great for you.
Add the taco seasoning, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir this for about 2 minutes.
Mix in the tomato sauce, chicken broth and tomato paste.
Simmer this mixture until it thickens to your desired consistency. You should stir the mixture occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the edge of the saucepan and burning. Depending on your location and stove top, this should last for around 1.5 hours.
If you are someone who likes beans in their chili, this is where you would add your kidney beans to the mix. Simmer the mixture for 5 more minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper and get ready to enjoy your masterpiece.
If you are making your chili ahead of time for the big game, be sure to refrigerate it at this point. When you are ready, reheat the chili over low heat until it is nice and warm for your guests. They’ll never know it’s gluten free (unless you tell them).
Everybody likes their chili with different toppings. Be sure to have plenty of shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream on hand. And don’t forget the hot sauce for those who like a little heat. Feel free to modify this recipe to your liking and let us know how it goes in the comments. Just be sure to always check your ingredients to make sure they’re gluten free and you won’t be disappointed.
Having a gluten intolerance can sometimes feel extremely restrictive. You can’t have any of the familiar flavors you’ve become accustomed to. This is especially true of breakfast food. You can write off all of your favorite cereals. If you are especially ambitious, you might make eggs and bacon every morning or some form of gluten free baked good. But for those of us living on normal schedules who don’t have extreme culinary prowess, breakfast has left us few options. Nothing is as fast or easy as a bowl of cereal. Expensive gluten free cereals, many of which taste like cardboard, are readily available at most grocery stores and specialty outlets. That’s fine for people with unlimited money and non-discriminating taste buds, but what about those of us who want something affordable that tastes great? General Mills to the rescue.
While Rice Chex and Corn Chex may not be the most exciting cereals around, they scream at you in capital letters that they are gluten free – right on the front of the package. That’s not exciting enough for you? How about 4 distinct flavors of gluten free chex? In 2009, General Mills released Chocolate, Cinnamon and Honey Nut Chex. There is also a rogue Strawberry flavor that I have yet to track down, but that wouldn’t be high on my list of things to try anyhow.
I’m not going to thoroughly review each of these cereals, but I do encourage you to try them all. If you have gluten free kids, the Chocolate flavor should more than satisfy a morning sweet tooth. The first time I tried the Cinnamon Chex, I felt like I was eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Since then, I’m fairly confident that General Mills toned down the crazy sweetness and adjusted that flavor for a more adult palate, but I could be wrong. All in all, Honey Nut Chex Cereal is my favorite. It is sweet enough to fix a craving any time of day, but not so sweet that you want to run around the house for an hour afterwards.
Plus, had I not taken photos for this post, I wouldn’t have realized that whoever designed the Chex packaging tied it all together so that setting all of the boxes in a row makes a larger picture. Does it make the cereal taste better? Probably not, but it is creative and made me smile. So, try these out and support a company that’s making an honest effort to reach out to the gluten free community. Just don’t question why cereals like Rice Krispies, Corn Pops and Honey Smacks aren’t gluten free. I have yet to hear a good answer on that.