26 May 2010

Wednesday Brunch and Gluten-Free Favorites Thus Far...

It's been over a week since I last posted. I've been distracted and haven't quite yet gotten ahold of the time it takes to maintain this new endeavor. So today's post is not a recipe from The Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle as promised (Whole Foods on River Street was out of stock in xanthan gum and I was simply too frustrated to track it down at another store), but I promise that is coming soon!

The past few weeks as I have converted to a diet without gluten, I have been craving breakfast pastries and treats of my past life. I had access to an abundant supply of croissants, fruit turnovers, bagels and more at my last job, which was such a perk. I bought Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix last weekend and decided despite the high temperatures today was the perfect day for brunch - on a Wednesday afternoon? Why not? This is what being unemployed is all about, right?

I followed the instructions on the package (just add milk, vegetable oil and an egg) but of course put my own spin on it by adding two tablespoons of flax seed meal, a handful of blueberries and some chocolate chips. I also quickly whipped up some homemade whipped cream (seen melted on the hot pancake in photo), fried up some bacon and poured on the delicious Vermont maple syrup. The results were superb! A very moist pancake with lots of flavor - I think the flax seed meal really added to the depth of flavors and I will continue to add it to all my baked goods going forward. (Please don't mind my bad iPhone picture - I could not find my digital camera)

I haven't been eating much lately so I haven't been running like I should be in preparation for the Falmouth Road Race in August (note: expect my fundraising kick-off mid-June but in the meantime, donate to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy fund on my webpage). What I have mostly been living on have been some of my favorite gluten-free discoveries thus far...

General Mills Corn Chex and Rice Chex Breakfast Cereal
- I was so happy to find out that both Corn Chex and Rice Chex are gluten-free! I like to mix them, top with fresh berries or banana and add milk. It's a really great breakfast or snack that is very reminiscent of Crispix (my favorite breakfast cereal). Also great because gluten-free granolas, oatmeals and cereals are outrageously expensive, but you can find Chex anywhere for a reasonable price. I will definitely also experiment with some Chex mix recipes for upcoming social events (kinda hokey but so yummy!).

Go Raw Pumpkin "Super Chips" and Spirulina "Super Chips" - I bought these tiny treats on a whim at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and became an addict. Although they do not appear to be very appetizing, the taste is phenomenal. I love grabbing a handful for a healthy snack. These products are organic, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, cholesterol free, hand-made and raw by a family business in California. The packaging says "please feed this to your children and love them above all else" which really cracks me up.

Larabars - I have always been a huge consumer of nutrition bars - Clif Bars, Luna Bars, Power Bars, ProBars, ThinkThin Bars, Balance Bars, I love them all! I tried Larabars in the past but was not a huge fan. My gluten intolerance diagnosis left my regular rotation of nutrition bars with only ThinkThin bars, so I decided it was time to give Lara and her bars another chance. I am now completely obsessed with these amazing gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, soy-free fruit and nut bars. Cinnamon Roll is my favorite flavor (dates, walnuts, almonds, raisons, cashews, cinnamon) but they are all delicious. Flavors range from Apple Pie to Banana Bread to Tropical Fruit Tart. My only concern is that dates have a lot of sugar in them and it's not good to eat them all the time. But it's not really candy and there is no sugar added so I will keep munching away.

Schar Gluten-Free Pasta - Being half Italian and a runner, I am a BIG pasta eater. I've tried several brands of gluten-free pasta over the past few weeks and have declared a winner of my personal favorite: Schar. The Multigrain Penne Rigate is my absolute favorite - a perfect blend of corn flour, rice flour and buckwheat flour that cooks quickly (about 7 minutes) and tastes nearly identical to traditional pastas made with semolina flour. There is no gluten, wheat or lactose so it's pretty safe for anyone to enjoy. Schar is the #1 gluten-free pasta in Europe, so it's no surprise it's my favorite. Only downside is it's $3.99 per box (which is less than 1 lbs) and so far I have only found it at Shaw's/Star Market.

Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips - I was a fan of all-natural, locally owned (Needham, MA) Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips before my gluten-free lifestyle took hold. Even though lots of tortilla chips do not have wheat in their ingredients, I am wary to try them in case of cross-contamination etc. But Food Should Taste Good Chips are certified gluten-free and absolutely wonderful. They come in a wide array of delicious flavors - Sweet Potato, The Works and Cheddar are my favorites - including Chocolate! They are large, hexagonal chips that as the packaging states "it's a cracker too!". They can be found at Whole Foods Market and most supermarkets for about $2.99 per bag. Check out their website for for a coupon too!

I've also still been eating lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, yogurt and cheese. As I add more gluten-free products to my pantry, I will keep writing reviews.

I was very much looking forward to picking up a gluten-free cupcake or other pastry at the new Cherry Bomb Bakery in Brighton Center (in the old Battery space, owned by chef from EVOO) after church on Sunday. I was devastated when they did not have any gluten-free offerings that day, and only one vegan offering. Since their website states "we will have a large part of our menu accessible to the vegan population and many gluten free options" I was pretty disappointed by this. Granted they just opened and their Yelp reviews are mixed; I am sure there are other gluten-free and vegan cupcake lovers in my neighborhood anxious to try it out.

Watch for my next post soon featuring homemade gluten-free bread! Mmmm I can't wait...

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Remember and honor those have died serving our great country to protect our freedoms. God Bless America.

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