You know I advocate for always being prepared and knowing where your next meal will come from. I am lucky to work in Philadelphia in a neighborhood that has a half a dozen places within an easy walk that can make me happy with a gluten-free vegetarian meal. Still, I find that sometimes I'm caught out without something to eat. Maybe this happens to you too? Here are my top tips for solving the problem. (Of course check all labels!)
1. Is there a grocer near by? Head to the produce section and get a bag of pre-washed and chopped lettuce. Then head to the canned goods and get a poptop can of black beans, or better, go pick out some salsa that has beans built in. Add some canned chicken if you want to, and if you feel like it, get a bag of gf tortilla chips. Drain (and rinse, if you can) the beans, combine with the lettuce, top with salsa, and Voila! Taco salad! I've even seen individual servings of guacamole in refrigerated sections which would just be icing on the cake, so to speak. (This, of course, assumes you have a plate, or at least a fork, though in a pinch I bet you could open the top of the lettuce and add the other ingredients right in the bag...)
2. This is a two-fer: Nuts and/or raisins. Nuts are high in healthy oils and protein and they can really stave off the hungries. Check the ingredients though; I once started chomping on a bag of airline peanuts only to discover that they were not gluten-free. They can also be super high in salt, so mix them with raisins for your own on-the-go trail mix. Raisins are sweet and filling and can cut the overly salty nuts.
3. Fruit. There are fruit trucks and stands on every other corner in Philadelphia, but maybe it's harder where you are. But even convenience stores are carrying apples and bananas these days.
4. Kind Bars. They are appearing in more and more convenience stores. They are gluten free and really tasty (though they have enough calories to be the better part of a meal but not enough food to feel like I've had lunch.) Drink a bunch of water to help you feel fuller.
5. Hummus and baby carrots. If you are still at the grocery store, check out the produce section for hummus. Add a bag a baby carrots. You are golden.
6. Still at a decent-sized grocer? For a sweet treat, head to the frozen aisle and get a bag of mangos or blueberries (or your frozen fruit of choice, but I find that this doesn't work very well with whole strawberries). Pick up a bottle of seltzer. Make yourself a fruity fizz! The frozen fruit chills the seltzer and the seltzer helps thaw the fruit.
7. Peanut butter! Also readily available at convenience stores, add peanut butter to the banana or apple, and you've got a tasty treat.
8. Ready-to-eat protein: canned tuna or chicken, or even hardboiled eggs, are available in some convenience stores.
9. Chips and salsa. Many brands of tortilla or corn chips are gluten-free, and I recently found a bag of chips made from rice at a convenience store. It's not the healthiest way to go, but if you find baked chips it'll be a little better.
10. If you are really desperate, get a cup of coffee with LOTS of low-fat milk. If it's a self-serve place, think of it as having a little coffee with your milk. The protein and fat in the milk will sate your hunger until you can get a real meal.
So there! I hope these ideas will help the next time you find yourself stranded and in need of some gluten-free options in a pinch.
I woke up on Thanksgiving morning thinking about cornbread. That, and of course all the things I am grateful for: Wonderful supportive family, cute dog, good health, a benevolent universe and a life of abundance. And coffee. And cornbread.
I had both purple corn flour and yellow cornmeal. I mused aloud on Facebook about whether the two mixed together would make green cornbread. Luckily my friend Lari Robling, food expert and author of the cookbook Endangered Recipes saw the post and suggested I do a swirly thing instead of a straight mix to avoid the possiblity of having the appearance of moldy cornbread. Genius!
So, all in the name of silliness, I embarked on the creation of a marbled cornbread. I like my cornbread on the sweet side, and I remembered hearing a former colleague speak fondly of his mom's banana cornbread, so I decided to give it a try. You can remove the banana and double the sugar below if you don't want to do the banana thing. Or you can add banana and reduce the sugar based on your taste. My version was sweet but not too desserty, and was just right and appropriately festive for our small nuclear family Thanksgiving feast.
Gluten-free Marbled Banana Cornbread
To make this marbled in appearance, you will essentially be making two batches of cornbread batter in separate bowls then doing the swirling in the baking pan before you put it in the oven.
1/2 cup gluten-free yellow cornmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal)
1/2 cup blue or purple cornmeal or corn flour (I used Zocalo Gourmet Purple Corn Flour)
1 cup gluten-free flour blend of your choice (I used Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 medium banana
2 large eggs
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or you can use regular milk or a different milk substitute)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an 8"X8" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Put the yellow cornmeal and blue corn flour in separate, medium-sized mixing bowls. In a third bowl, combine the gf flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and xantham gum and mix thoroughly. Add half of it to the yellow cornmeal and the other half to the blue corn flour.
In yet another mixing bowl, mash the banana, add the eggs, almond milk and butter and mix well. Pour half of it into the yellow cornmeal mixture and half into the blue corn flour mixture. Combine each thoroughly. Because the batter will be pretty runny, be sure to have both batches completely mixed and ready to pour into the baking pan at the same time.
Pour the yellow mixture into one half of the baking pan and the blue into the other half. To do the marbling, drag a spatula in wide stripes through the batter a couple of times until you reach your desired level of swirliness. Resist the urge to over-swirl, lest you over-mix and end up with a gray-green cornbread final product.
Bake the cornbread for 30-35 minutes, until the yellow part is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Eat it warm before the rest of Thanksgiving dinner is ready. Oh, I guess you don't have to do that. I did. It was delicious and pretty and it made me very happy.
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I love sweets. I want to be healthy. My cravings for sweets can easily get me to forget my desire to to be healthy. I have a disabled "off switch" when it comes to some foods. Okay, many foods. In a way, celiac is a blessing because it is essentially an externally imposed self-control mechanism.
So, when Jenn came home with a gluteny apple pie last weekend, I wasn't tempted because I knew I couldn't have it. [Jenn knows I'm fine with the boys and her eating gluten in the house and that I try to stay away from sugary desserts anyway, so don't think it was an insensitive or inappropriate thing for her to do. I couldn't ask for a more supportive partner -- in fact, she's WAY better at reading labels than me. :-)]. I DID feel like having my own desserty item that was relatively fast, healthy and which would satisfy my sweet tooth. I also didn't want so much of whatever it was around so that there was built in portion control.
Thus this recipe, which is sort of a cross between a baked apple and an apple crisp. I decided it was healthy because the total volume of relatively unhealthy ingredients (butter. sugar, gf flour) is pretty small. If you double the recipe and eat all of it, you will probably slide out of the healthy range. Everything in moderation, right?
This recipe is for one apple that you can share with someone else or not (I didn't!).
Easy Healthy Baked Apple
1 apple, cut in half with seeds removed (I used a grapefruit spoon and it worked great)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon gf flour of your choice (I used Namaste brand gf flour blend)
2 tablespoons of gluten-free oats
Your favorite apple pie-ish seasoning of your choice: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom (if in doubt, use a couple of shakes of cinnamon. You can sprinkle a little more on top after baking if you want.)
Handful of raisins, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium bowl and mix in all of the ingredients. Spoon it on top of your apple halves. Put the halves on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the crisp is crispy and apple is tender.
Eat them warm! You can always top with vanilla yogurt or ice cream or whipped cream if you want, but they are good all on their own. Feel virtuous! Enjoy a fresh, warm gluten-free tasty treat! Be very happy. :-)
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100% Gluten-free Helmut Newcake wins best pick: Delicious, vegetarian-friendly, affordable, comfortable.
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"Bonjour Monsieur or Madame. Je suis desole. Je suis allergic* au gluten. Qu’est que vous me
recomende?” (Hello, I am sorry. I have an allergy* to gluten. What do you recommend?)
I don't have to tell you that Paris is an amazing vacation destination. I will tell you that as a non-French speaking person with celiac disease, I was a bit apprehensive about how I was going to be able to eat out, and for good reason! The French do not seem to be as aware of celiac and gluten-contamination issues we are in the United States. Or maybe they are, but the ones that have good awareness and food handling practices aren't telling anyone.
At any rate, I listed my top 10 tips for travel to Paris here. Check that out, and add to it my list of restaurants where I either had satisfaction, or where I hoped to have satisfaction but for some reason or other wasn't able to eat there. I've listed them in order of my personal enjoyment of the gluten-free experience. Also note that I am a vegetarian, so that was at play in our restaurant selections. If you are an omnivore, you can definitely eat at all of these places too!
*I know that celiac is an autoimmune disorder and not an allergy. :-)
1. Helmut Newcake. MANY people have sung the praises of Helmut Newcake on line. The accolades are well deserved! It is closed on Monday and Tuesday (we arrived on a Monday), so we were not able to check them out until the third day of our vacation. It was a rainy, cool day, and the trip there was pretty long and ended up feeling like a pilgrimage. The vegetarian entree that day was a tomato and goat cheese tart, which came with a salad. I popped into the restroom upon arrival, so my partner Jenn ordered for us. Because she is incredibly supportive and ever vigilant, she started to ask them to hold the salad dressing because she wasn't sure of the the ingredients. And then she remembered! EVERYTHING in the place is sans gluten. Love that. The tart and salad were very good and Jenn confirmed that even her non-celiac palette found it to be delicious. Since it's a bakery, we of course had to buy pastries. I had a thing I think is called la religieuse, sort of a doubledecker filled pastry with hazelnut custard within and a hazelnut icing outside. Jenn, of course, had la religieuse avec chocolate. It was, no doubt, THE BEST dessert I've ever had. In true Paris fashion, we occupied a window seat (It was raining pretty hard, so we didn't sit outside), ate our food leisurely, I enjoyed a cappucino, and we spent the better part of a rainy afternoon just soaking it up. There were clearly regulars that frequent the place -- people were on laptops, reading papers, and friends were hanging out. We saw more than one foreign tourist stop in, just as relieved as we were to be able to eat anything in the place.
Price-wise it was great. Our entrees were around $10 each, and the pastries ranged in price from ~$1.50 - $7, depending on the size, etc.
We picked up a few additional items (eclairs, cream puffs, etc) to take back to the apartment to enjoy that evening with our traveling companions. We actually planned to visit there a second time, but sadly, it didn't work out. It will definitely be on our list of places to go for our next Paris vacation!
Helmut Newcake, 36 Rue Bichat, Paris, 75010. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. They FINALLY have a website (as opposed to just their Facbook page): http://www.helmutnewcake.com. I do recommend following them on Facebook though -- they list their specials and when you see their posts in your fb newsfeed you will either get excited about your trip or fondly remember it.
Having mid-day dessert and coffee 100% Gluten-free NoGlu was amazing
2. NoGlu. One of our traveling companions (I'll call her Geri) took a French cooking class one day on our vacation. In addition to learning how to make some most excellent dishes (which she later prepared for us), she struck up a conversation with the instructor about the French perspective on gluten-free dining. The instructor confirmed that France is far behind on accommodating special needs diets, but told Geri about a new completely gluten-free restaurant in town, NoGlu. Of course we had to go!
We had originally planned for the four of us to meet there for lunch, but a quick review of the website gave me the distinct impression that a) they were pretty expensive, and b) they were fairly meat-centric. We modified the plan and decided to meet for afternoon dessert and coffee instead. (Not that I wouldn't go there for a meal, because I totally would, but I'd want to keep an eye on the daily menu that sounded good AND vegetarian, especially if I'm going to drop upwards of $50 FOR LUNCH.) Of course I loved that every dessert option was gluten-free. I got the blueberry cheesecake -- absolutely fabulous. We had great service, we got to meet Jenni the chef, the location is in a super cute little covered street (called a passageway) and we had a wonderful and very memorable time.
16 passage des Panoramas, Paris 75002. www.noglu.fr. Reservations recommended. They do lunch M-F, brunch on Saturday, and dinner on Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Parisian diners enjoying authentic crepes
3. Aux Ducs de Bourgogne. I learned that savory crepes are not really crepes because they should be made with buckwheat flour and called galettes. We found this place because other gluten-free peeps who have traveled to Paris mentioned it on their websites. Apparently it's listed in a gluten-free Paris dining guide as well. We met our friends here for a late-ish dinner (for us anyway) on a Thursday night.
I loved it because the gluten-free nature of the galettes is spelled out right on the menu. The owner, a nice Lebanese man named Charles, was chatty and the kind of guy who would say, "You don't want that. You want this!" (though he would go ahead and sell you what you ordered, albeit grudgingly. He sort of scolded me for ordering and expecting my espresso to come with dessert -- I guess the French don't do that...)
I had a spinach and egg galette for dinner. It was very good and I loved that I could get authentic French food in Paris without having to ask for a bunch of substitutions or omissions. For dessert I asked Charles to make me a sweet crepe with his homemade caramel sauce with buckwheat instead of regular flour. Knowing I needed gluten-free, he said of course. Also delicious. My dining companions also enjoyed their meals and we had a delightful evening and stayed well past 10 pm.
One thing I'm not sure about is what measures Charles took to avoid cross-contamination. I suffered no ill-effects (in fact, I had no signs of having gotten glutened the whole trip), so I'll take Charles' word that he takes care to keep the buckwheat prep surfaces clear of wheat flour and batter.
Price wise, it was amazing. Entrees were mostly under $10. Dessert crepes were maybe a little less.
Aux Ducs de Bourgogne, 30 Rue Bourgogne, Paris 75007. Thus far Charles has no website or facebook page. He apparently has a nephew who was supposed to be working on building an on-line presence for him, but it's going slowly. Call in advance to make sure they are open -- not sure if reservations are required (It was not busy when we were there.) 01 45 51 32 48
Jenn, Jeannie, Geri (and me!) dining al fresco. Tres Parisienne!
4. Le Pain Quotidien. It was our first night in Paris. We had powered through and not succombed to the desire to take naps when we first arrived. Tired. Hungry. No great plan for where to have our first meal out. We'd already been walking for awhile, looking for a likely crepe place (we were nowhere near Aux Ducs de Bourgogne.) We happened upon Le Pain Quotidien, a chain that Jenn and I ate at in New York earlier this year. In the United States Le Pain Quotidien has a fairly extensive awareness and offerings for gluten-free diners, though no specific gluten-free menu. I encouraged our weary-yet-merry band of travelers to stop looking and just go sit down at a nice outdoor table and jump into the world of gluten-free dining in Paris. Thank goodness for our friend Jeannie, who speaks passable French!
The Le Pain Quotidiens of Paris do not call out their gluten-free offerings as they do in the US, but the menu is loaded with veggies and legumes and it wasn't too hard to put together an entree that would work. With the help of our server who checked on the gluten status of a number of items, ultimately I ordered the Vegetarian Platter of goat cheese, beet caviar, grilled vegetables, hummus, lemon lentils and arugula (approx $20). It was excellent. The other gals all had plenty of options to amuse them too! And while it was a little disappointing to be eating in a chain restaurant, if didn't feel too chain-like, so that was okay. Plus we were all just feeling so blessed to be in Paris, sitting outside on a beautiful evening, excited about the trip and what we would be doing and seeing in the coming days. If we'd found ourselves in that neighborhood at mealtime again, Jenn and I would have chosen to eat there. There is also a second Paris location in the 7th.
Le Pain Quotidien, 18 place Marché St Honoré, 75001 Paris. Le Pain Quotidien's system-wide website (www.lepainquotidienne.com) is a little tough to drill down through to get to a specific restaurant, and super slow to navigate effectively on a smart phone. Here's the link to this specific location: http://www.lepainquotidien.fr/#/fr_FR/nos_adresses/paris/st_honoré. Good luck with that!
5. Exki. This is a place that we happened upon while looking for a good takeout lunch for Jenn for our picnic one day. I hadn't seen it in any of the reviews or recommendations for gluten-free friendly dining in Paris, so it was quite a surprise when we found item after item clearly marked gluten-free. It's a "pick up your already prepared food" type of place that notes its commitment to organic food and local sourcing, recycling and minimization of the use of natural resources. My kind of place! Plus, it was light and airy and would have been a fine place to eat in if we hadn't already planned to dine in a nearby park.
Since I had packed my lunch, I have to note that I didn't eat any of the food from here (the picture is of a quiche that isn't vegetarian.) Jenn took one for the team and got a gluten-free (flourless) brownie which looked and smelled delicious, and which Jenn reported to taste as good as it looked and smelled.
It was quite affordable. Entrees were under $10, and desserts were around $5. Jenn was thrilled about the least expensive Diet Coke in town. I'm hoping that Exki catches on and starts opening restaurants in the United States!
Exki, 82, Blvd Montparnasse 75014 Paris (other locations available too.) http://www.exki.com/fr-fr/home.
Le Bistrot, 92 Rue de Turenne, Paris 75003. We ended up at Le Bistrot when our attempt to go to Fée Nature failed. [Note to self: Check when restaurants are open so that you don't walk and walk and walk only to peer through a locked door.] Le Bistrot was clearly a favorite with the locals. It was the only place I pulled out my laminated card to explain my dietary restriction. Our server was very nice, studied the card thoroughly, then assured me that my salad pick would be safe. I ordered the Fermiere sans lardons, a salad with potatoes, tomatoes, poached egg, lettuce and a balsamic vinegrette without the ham. It was definitely weird to have a warm poached egg on top of my salad, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The place was moderately priced -- entrees were in the $12 - $17 price range. It was a little cooler on the night we were there, so we opted to eat indoors, but unfortunately the smoke from the sidewalk denizens leaked into the place. Regardless, the atmosphere was enjoyable, the food was good and the service was accommodating and efficient. I wouldn't particularly put this place on anyone's gluten-free Must Visit list, but eating there was a nice confirmation that one can find safe dining in an unlikely place.
Other places I'd hoped to visit but which didn't work out for some reason
Fée Nature, 69 rue d'Argout, Paris, 75002. There are no less than a half a dozen web references to this vegetarian place, some of which claim it is 100% sans gluten, some which claim it offers daily gluten-free options. There is at least one first hand review on Yelp that it has daily GF options. I also saw this menu on their facebook page as translated by Bing: "Today, to warm up, the velvety detox 7 vegetables and carrot tops, then risotto of spelt or complete pasta mozza, Arugula & tomatoes. And our delicious chocolate ricotta cake!" Spelt = gluten, so be careful! We arrived on an evening when they were not open, but it looked very cute inside.
Vegan Folie’s, 53 Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 75005. We actually DID make it into this place, but it was close to closing time and they had sold out of the gluten-free cupcake of the day. I really like their politics -- one day when we were there they were donating proceeds from the sales of one of their cupcakes to a cause that fights foie gras, which as you can imagine is a pretty popular dish in Paris. I still follow their facebook page just for fun.
Rose Bakery, 3 locations: 46 Rue des Martyrs, 75009; 30 Rue Debelleyme, 75003;10 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012. We tried valliantly to visit one of these locations, but it was closed for renovation (scheduled to reopen a couple of days after our departure). I would love to have checked it out for real! They have no real website I can find, which is frustrating. I found the most info on Yelp.com, which noted that they are vegetarian and offer real food in addition to pastries. Their open days and times are not consistent across locations, so go to www.yelp.com, put Rose Bakery in the "Search for" box and Paris, France in the "Near" box and you'll get all three locations. Call ahead. Your feet may thank you.
Ladurée, multiple locations (check Yelp or their website.) Another valiant effort! We were on the Champs Elysées and attempted to visit the one on that grand stretch. Sadly, it was either closed for renovation or not yet open for business. Their website is quite fancy, but totally baffling to me, since I don't speak French. A number of gluten-free folks had mentioned them on blog posts and what not, so I look forward to a firsthand report on how/whether they do safe gf fare.
Places we didn't try to visit but we would have if we'd been in Paris longer
Bob's Kitchen, 74 Rue des Gravilliers, Paris, 75003. Looks very hip and as if it would be a good candidate for gluten awareness, though they don't specifically call it out on their webpage (quite minimalist, btw) or facebook page.
Breizh Café, 109, rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, 75003. This is another crepe place. We didn't make it there, but it did get a couple of mentions from other gf peeps on the interwebs, so it may be worth a look.
Tugalik: I discovered this place after our return. It sounds pretty promising. Two locations. From their website as translated by Google Translate: All our dishes, desserts, our starters and our tapas are made "home", and prepared on site using fresh ingredients, without preparation industry. Our fruits and vegetables, as well as our grains are from organic agriculture. We prefer gentle cooking methods and maximum use of the plant milks, unrefined sugars and flours of cereals varied to meet the needs of people intolerant to gluten and lactose.
Places that got a couple of mentions on the web for gluten-free but which didn't appeal for one reason or another
The Reminet, 3 rue des Grands-degrees, Paris, 75005. Another place we didn't visit but which got a couple of mentions on the web. It looked a bit more expensive and possibly quite meat-centric, making it not a great fit for us anyway.
Pierre Herme, multiple locations. This place got a couple of shout outs for their macaroons (which typically don't have gluten) and other confections. Jenn hates coconut and I don't eat chocolate, so I we gave this place a pass, but may be of interest to other gf travelers to Paris.
There you have it! If you got all the way to the end of this post, you are probably really seriously going to Paris soon. Cool! Let me know if this post was helpful. I'd be happy to give you other thoughts on getting ready for your trip. Have fun, and bon voyage!
I happened past the Good Karma Cafe while on a lunchtime walk yesterday. I hadn't planned to stop in, but I figured with a name like that, they might be hip to the gluten-free scene. My hunch was correct. They clearly labeled both of their daily soups gluten-free. I had the Tuscan White Bean and Spinach soup (soups like something I'd make!), which was just what I wanted: hot, flavorful and comforting, and on the mild side. I asked how they made their Chicken Pot Pie gluten-free. "It's a soup! No crust!" came the reply. Good answer!
I did ask if they take care to avoid cross contamination -- gluteny breads and baked goods abound -- and they assured me they did. I got a good feeling from the place, but the food prep area is quite small, so further investigation may be required. Happily, I did not suffer any gluten-related side-effects from eating there.
The restaurant itself is cute, maybe 10 tables indoors, 3 or 4 outside, (the day was warm and springlike, so I sat outside amongst the potted greenery) and counter seating in the window. Many of the indoor tables were occupied by people with laptops who looked like they'd been there awhile and had no intentions of moving. Maybe it was just a Veterans Day holiday thing. Or maybe they pay rent. Hopefully for the owner, they are buying enough to help him pay HIS rent. This is a great place and I'd love to see it succeed and be here for years to come.
Give this place a try.
331 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA
Oh, and I see from the on-line menu that they also offer sandwiches on gluten-free bread. Bonus! (I didn't see a printed menu in the place, so I think they would benefit from making the gf bread option as visible as they do the gf soup status. Or maybe it was there and I just didn't see it?]