Biscotti taste-off: Coffaros Baking Co vs. ginnybakes

Recently I was at HomeGoods, of all places, when I stumbled upon some gluten free chocolate chip biscotti. My grandma used to make me biscotti and send it to me by the dozen in college, so I grabbed a box for nostalgia’s sake. They’re made by Coffaros Baking Co.

I geared up to enjoy one with my morning coffee, and was greatly disappointed with the taste and texture. They were grainy and cardboard-esque, like they hadn’t gotten the memo that people expect more out of gluten free baked goods nowadays. I had two bites and threw the rest away.

Then about a week later I was contacted by ginnybakes¬†asking if I’d like to try their almond and sunshine biscotti. Biscotti destiny.

biscotti

ginnybakes biscotti were everything that the other ones were not. They held their shape when submerged in coffee, they had a bit of a chew, lots of nutty flavor, and they’re only 60 calories a piece. The only thing they were missing was the chocolate chips ūüôā

I’d had ginnybakes cookies before, which are great (you can buy them at the Whole Foods on Wisconsin in Glover Park), but I’ll definitely be buying the biscotti now as well.

DC Gluten Free News Round up

1.¬†Mari Vanna¬†Russian restaurant is now serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. ‚Äď 3:30 p.m.¬†The kids‚Äô pre fixe menu ($15) features gluten-free alphabet mac-and-cheese. Hopefully they don’t strictly enforce an age limit for that.

2. Sticky Fingers bakery in Columbia Heights is rumored to be applying for a liquor license. Which means there is the distinct possibility that I could have brunch there and eat gluten free french toast and drink beer. Winning.

3. Sweet Diablo¬†in Dupont serves “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World”: a¬†flourless, gluten-free confection that features thin, crunchy chocolate meringue layers filled with a creamy chocolate mousse and a ganache top. Although according to one blogger, it’s not that great…

(source)

4.¬†Reston burger joint¬†The Counter¬†is debuting a¬†gluten-free menu (according to Eater). In my book the most important thing on the menu are the gluten free chili cheese fries. But you can also build your own gluten-free burger, and offers some predesigned options that fit the category, like a¬†Cranberry and Avocado Turkey Burger¬†on a gluten-free bun. The restaurant will also offer¬†gluten-free milkshakes, Tweason’s Ale from Dogfish Head, and wine.

(source)

5.¬†Newton’s Noodles¬†will be opening downtown in June. Customers will have a choice of rice gluten free noodles or soba, plus a choice of sauce, proteins (shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken and tofu¬†are all available) and vegetables.

6.¬†Restaurant Eve¬†provides a gluten-free tasting menu (in the Tasting Room) as well as very good gluten-free bread baked on site, with 24 hours’ notice. More on¬†where to find a gluten free tasting menu¬†on Chowhound.

Anything else doing on around the District that I should know about? 

Frozen meals: a necessary evil

Since starting my new job, I’ve had some growing pains figuring out what I can eat for lunch. My old job was smack dab in the middle of downtown DC, so there were tons of options around me, including a Whole Foods within walking distance.

Now that I’m working in more of a business district, there are only a few restaurants that are close by enough to quickly get something healthy (and gluten free, of course) to eat. So, I’ve had to get creative and rely more on leftovers, canned soups, and frozen meals.

I’ve found a couple that meet my requirements, which are: low in sodium (relatively, they’re all ridiculous), contains some vegetables, and as high in protein as I can get it.

1. Evol bowls

All four Evol bowls are gluten free, and they also sell three gluten free frozen burritos. While it’s definitely not the same as making it from scratch, it’s definitely a good option if you want something hot that’s made out of better ingredients.

evol frozen

2. Cedar Lane Natural Foods Egg White Omelette

I was admittedly skeptical of microwave eggs, but I’ve gotten about five of these so far and I kind of love them. The filling is cheesy and I always end up feeling satisfied when I’m finished. While it may not look very pretty, it tastes way better then you’d expect. They also sell three gluten free frittatas (mmm roasted chile and cheese) and a three-layer¬†enchilada pie.

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I’ve vowed to start making meals ahead of time more, but until that day comes I’m happy to have found these two companies!

Any one else resort to frozen meals during the work day? Any suggestions for ones you like?

When Celiac really sucks

I’d say 90% of the time, I’m fine with having Celiac disease. Sure, it’s annoying and more difficult to eat out. Sure, I can’t partake in the Pop-Tart craze in my office. I can deal.

But there are those moments – those times when I just want to throw my hands up and say, “I give up! Just give me a feeding tube for the rest of my life and put an end to this whole ‘Eating’ thing.”

Case and point: 

Last week was a long one at work, and on top of that I offered to take a friend to the airport. At 4am. At BWI, which is an hour from my apartment and the opposite direction from my office. So I drive to the airport and figure I should just go right to the office – get in extra early and avoid driving through the city.

Hunger struck while I was driving at 5:30am like a freight train. I ran through the options in my head: try to find a 24 hour CVS, wait until the grocery store opened at 8am…

Then 30 minutes later I saw the beaming golden arches of a McDonald’s. I was getting frantic-hungry and knew they had coffee and orange juice, and maybe¬†hash browns? Were they gluten free?¬†I pulled into the drive thru and tried to look it up on my phone but couldn’t find an answer in time. I scanned the menu and didn’t see anything else I could get, so figured I’d just buy the hash browns and check before I ate them. At least I’d have coffee and orange juice –¬†right?

The drive thru guy asks, “Would you like cream in your coffee? How many?” I say “Yes. Two.” I get my hash browns and drinks, and pull over to investigate the hash browns. According to McDonald’s ingredient list, the hash browns were not gluten free.

GRR.

I get my blood sugar up a bit with the juice, but my stomach is growling and not happy that it can’t have the hash browns. I pull into the office thinking I’ll just stick it out until I can go to the grocery store. I’ll drink my coffee and do some work, it’ll be fine.

No, not fine.

I take a sip of my “coffee” and it’s cold. And thick…

It was a FULL CUP OF CREAM.

No coffee. ALL CREAM.

cream

Fml.

Hungry. Not-caffeinated. Tired. Cold.

THIS is when Celiac really sucks.

When I just need food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, organic, or good for me. I just needed any kind of food at all and couldn’t find it.

In conclusion – McDonalds needs more gluten free options. Or there need to be more restaurants that open at 5am. And now I keep gluten free protein bars in my glove compartment, so I guess I learned my lesson.

Anyone else have a gluten-free horror story? What are your last-resort food options?

Seeing a Celiac specialist for the first time

Recently I decided that it was high time for me to get a check up on how my poor ole intestines and body are doing. The last time I got blood work /a physical done was about two years ago and it was normal, but I have never been to a Celiac specialist since my diagnosis in 2007, so I figured they would be much more helpful. Awhile back I decided to give up the majority of dairy products, which seems to have helped, but I have ongoing symptoms that I’m hoping this new doc can help with.

I went to the George Washington Medical Center, and my experience couldn’t have been better. The doctor (a gastroenterologist) was extremely knowledgable, and presented me with a few options for a course of treatment.

One option included eating gluten for two months to test my diagnosis. While it was tempting to have a doctor-approved gluten binge, I declined and went with the other option: a endoscopy and colonoscopy to see what damage there is to my intestines and if I have IBS or something else on top of my Celiac Disease.

celiac blood test results

Good news is I got my blood work back and the Celiac Disease Comprehensive was clean!

Bad news is (see above) I have to get an endoscopy/colonoscopy, which sounds like just about the least pleasant thing I can imagine. But, if there’s something I can do to get my health back in top form, I’ll just have to power through it.

I’d love tips/advice on my upcoming procedure – I plan on stocking up on jello and tea for the day of fasting, but any help is appreciated!

And a resource for those of you in the DC area – the DC Celiac Support Group keeps a list of favorite doctors in the area if you’re looking for one! Find it here.

Recommendations for a Gluten Free Inauguration Weekend

This is my first inauguration in DC, and boy am I excited! There’s a buzz of excitement in the air and as hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the District, I thought I’d compile a few recommendations for gluten free travelers!

1. Eat like the Obamas

On the following list of the Obama’s favorite restaurants,I recommend you try these gluten free options:

#4: Fries at Five Guys

#5: My favorite kale salad from Lincoln

#9: Tacos from Oyamel

#18: Cupcake at Georgetown Cupcakes 

2. Try a specialty inauguration cocktail 

154 bars in DC will be open until 4:30am during inauguration weekend. Way past my bedtime – but here’s a map of where they are!

3. Go to brunch on Monday

If you haven’t experienced a true DC brunch, this is your opportunity! There are quite a few restaurants opening on Monday for brunch, and my recommendation is Firefly in Dupont, since they have a gluten free menu, and are a bit removed from the action on The Mall, but still very accessible. Get yourself some grits, drink some mimosas, and celebrate four more years!

 

DC Gluten Free News Round Up

1. Tickets are now available for the DC Gluten Free Gala

This year I am finding a way to pay the $250 to go to this. A cocktail reception and a three course meal, plus getting dressed up and wining and dining in a completely gluten free environment sounds like total bliss. (Although what’s with the poached pear for dessert? Can we get Happy Tart in there or something?)

2. B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse coming to Tyson’s Corner

According to Eater DC, there will soon be a B.J.’s restuarant opening. Their gluten free menu has thin crust pizza and broccoli cheddar soup! And gluten free beer!

And (stop the presses) a gluten free chocolate chip pizookie!¬†It’s a pizza-sized cookie topped with ice cream. Completely¬†unnecessary in its size, but perfect for the moment you give up your New Year’s resolution.

pizookie

3. Gluten free pasta making class from LivingSocial

There’s still time to sign up for one of these classes, where you will learn how to make gluten free ravioli! ¬†I’ll be going to the January 23rd class!

Sign up here!

Anything else going on around the District that I should know about?

Check out what I’ve been eating lately on my Facebook page: Gluten Free in DC!

Meryienda cookies

I was so excited to try cookies from the adorable Elvira at Meryienda Gluten Free Bake Shop¬†. While she’s new to the bakery business, you’d never know it from the amazing chewy cookies she’s created. I’m definitely a “thick and chewy” rather than a “thin and crunchy” kind of cookie-lover, so I was excited to see that they were nice and plump when I opened my package.

cookies

You know you’ve found a superior gluten free baked good when you find yourself saying “How did she do that?” after you try it. That and the fact that I had to force myself to freeze the cookies so I had a chance at not eating them all in one day.

The oatmeal raisin were by far my favorite. They were full of whole rolled oats and sunflower seeds (which I think were the secret ingredient – when they bake they get all covered in brown sugar and add a great crunch to each bite).

You can order online, or have them delivered within 24 hours if you live in Manhattan. It’s times like this when I miss living in the city…cookies on demand!

Do you have a “secret ingredient” that you put in your cookies?

Why I ate turkey: How celiac disease drove me to give up vegetarianism

This picture of me shocked my friends and family. That food on my fork? That’s turkey. Not tofurkey, but real, bonafide animal meat.

The shocking part? I haven’t eaten meat in over seven years.

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So why start eating it again now? Because I reached my breaking point.

I reached a point where my moral stance against the meat industry and overall disinterest in eating meat filled with hormones and other nasty things was outweighed by my frustration with celiac disease. There were so many times when I would go to a restaurant or party and think, “If I only ate meat my life would be so much simpler right now.” I never actually had the urge to eat it because the thought grossed me out, but I sure thought about it. I made the decision to start eating seafood when I was diagnosed because I felt like I couldn’t anything at all (plus I love the taste of seafood and have fewer qualms with eating it).¬†

However, lately I’ve been thinking about eating meat more and more. Thinking that a little bit of organic, humanely-treated turkey or chicken every once in awhile isn’t going to kill me. It actually could make me feel better and more satisfied with my diet. It could simplify my life and take some of the pressure off of me when dining with others. And it’s probably healthier than eating so many soy protein-based foods (which I’ve tried to cut down on).

So, I used Thanksgiving as a test run and had a little turkey with my meal. I’ll admit, the first bite was kind of hard to get down because I wasn’t used to the texture. But after that initial few chews, I was fine. Since then I’ve had a couple of bites of turkey in a salad and on a sandwich, and it’s been…nice. It fills me up, and I don’t mind the taste.

Now, I don’t plan on becoming a huge carnivore, or eating pigs and cows any time in the foreseeable future. But I’ve realized that eating a little white meat every so often doesn’t diminish my beliefs about vegetarianism. It’s just helping keep me sane! Voluntarily limiting my options in my gluten-free diet was always a struggle, so now I’ll have a few more things I will eat.

I’ll make it a point to get quality meat, so I feel good about my decision each time I cross the aisle to the carnivore side, but I’m loving the feeling of having more options open to me.

What do you think? Have you ever tried something new or something you didn’t think you like in order to expand your¬†palette¬†on a gluten free diet?¬†

Beanfields Chips: move over Doritos!

It’s a miracle that most Doritos are gluten free. They’re available everywhere, and bring you right back to pizza parties in the 3rd grade. However, no one feels great after eating a bag of Doritos. Your tongue turns bright orange and you haven’t eaten anything with nutritional value.¬†

But what if you could have a chip that tasted eerily similar to a Dorito, only made out of beans and rice? With a good dose of protein and fiber? AND they’re low in sodium, low in fat, and gluten free?¬†

Enter Beanfields!

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The good people at Beanfields sent me samples of all of their flavors to try, but I think that the Nacho or Pico De Gallo ones are my favorites. They’re light and crispy, and completely snackable. The Sea Salt and Unsalted are more suited to dipping in hummus or salsa and would make a great alternative to the less-healthy corn tortilla chips.

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The sad thing is that when i looked in this box I thought, “Wow! I have a lifetime supply of chips!” Then two weeks later they were all gone.¬†

Use the store locator on Beanfield’s website to find them at a store near you!¬†