Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Notable cheesy cracker from Three Bakers

The only "real" tasting gluten-free Cheez-It type cracker I've had in a dozen years was from a bakery in Washington state.  And that company no longer makes what I considered their best item.  Over the years, I've tried most every cheesy crackers I've run across, and while I love Marilyn's Gourmet cheese sticks, I haven't found a Cheez-It replacement worth buying twice.  I was pretty excited by the Lance option, but those ended up having an odd smell to me.  The smell makes them inedible a day or so after the bag is opened.

When I spotted the Three Bakers "Snackers" at Earthfare recently, I knew I had to try them. And, they weren't even that expensive for a gf cracker!  Up front, I should note that I don't really care for air filled snacks, which is what the Snackers are.  They are puffed up and empty inside.  That's clear from the image on the bag, but I had to try them while available.  You never know when your favorite item will be taken off the market by a store, or discontinued by the manufacturer. So annoying!

So...what do I think about the cheese flavored Snackers from Three Bakers? I actually like them a lot!  Not enough to keep them on hand on the regular - due to aforementioned puffy factor - but the taste and texture is really good! 

Find out where you can buy these snacks near you on the 'where to buy' page on the Three Bakers website.    There are three other flavors available including chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip and honey graham.  Now that I think about it, the latter might be worth using for a pie crust! 


Friday, May 31, 2019

Chattanooga ups it's gluten-free game!

Just before the Avalon location of Bantam+Biddy closed in 2018, one of the partners informed us that there was a location opening in July in Chattanooga.  Since our in-laws live there, for the last 16 years we've been regular visitors to the area.  There have been VERY few times when I encountered exciting gluten-free options.  Tony's Trattoria is heads above the rest in terms of gluten-free menus/delicious gluten-free food, but they are the exception. Terra Nostra was pretty impressive, but they are closing for good this summer.  So yeah...Chattanooga isn't on anyone's list to visit for the gluten-free options.  It's the opposite of say...Asheville, NC.

When we were in Chattanooga last September, Bantam+Biddy wasn't open, but it opened soon thereafter.  Upon our return, a couple of weeks ago, B+B was open and we finally got to try it.  The menu was either the same, or very similar to the Ansley Mall location here. We started with the fried green tomatoes (with VERY spicy goat cheese spread), and I had fried chicken tenders and Brussels sprouts.  My husband had some biscuit sandwich (not gluten-free) that he really enjoyed. We were so stuffed (we usually don't order an appetizer at lunch!) so we had to skip dessert.  I'd hoped we could pop back in for dessert during the visit, but the Ironman competition was that weekend and it was TOO crowded in town.  It's so exciting to have such an amazing place to enjoy when in Chattanooga!

Also, most people there don't know all the chicken fingers at B+B are gluten-free.  If you're going with a gluten eater, don't mention it until they tell you how amazing they!  Even then, you might have a hard time convincing them they just had gluten-free chicken fingers. Not sure why it's such a hard concept to grasp, but apparently for some people, it most definitely is ;)

You can read more about the wonderful addition to downtown Chattanooga - location, etc. - here


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dollar Tree offers gluten-free travel friendly snacks

The last time we took an int'l Delta flight, in 2017, my gluten-free meal was mostly inedible.  So for a recent international trip, I packed enough food to get through the 8+ hour long flight.  There was a snack, dinner and breakfast being served and I was given all but the snack.  The flight attendant actually apologized for that, and mentioned that her own daughter has celiac.  She was the most thoughtful such employee I've encountered on the subject in over a decade.

When you have to make a meal out of snacks (assuming you won't have access to a microwave), it's a good idea to include some protein, fat and limited carbs.  Crackers and pretzels don't really satisfy if you're in need of a proper meal.  While I packed some items I got at Trader Joe's (trail mix snack bags, for instance), I also found some worthwhile items at the Dollar Tree store.  You know...the place where everything is literally a dollar.  Who knew such a place would offer some interesting gluten-free snacks which are perfect for traveling?!

Even though I had a bag of bacon jerky (you can find many gluten-free jerky options these days), I also picked up a mini pack of pepperoni.  It was real pepperoni, not turkey, so it's fairly greasy. However, it will provide some much needed protein in a pinch.

Lay's Stax chips, which are labeled gluten-free, are also a good option.  You can remove some of the chips from the can, and put baggies of other things inside, under the chips, if need be.  My husband isn't a fan of Stax chips so a whole canister is a bit much to pack for just me.

Jiff peanut butter 3-pack is a great value for only a buck and I still have two containers left over for future adventures.

The only gourmet type item I found at Dollar Tree were seasoned olives.  I'd first discovered GAEA olives in Montreal or Victoria, Canada...I really can't recall for sure...but the pack didn't cost anywhere near a $1 at the!  There were just two flavors of the GAEA brand olives at the discount store, including my favorite - Lemon & Oregano.  As always, the olives were delicious!

There are some nuts, seeds and such available at the Dollar Tree as well.  There are obviously many items that travel well, but not many I've found in regular grocery stores are a good value. They're  convenience items and you pay for said convenience.  But not at Dollar Tree...everything's a dollar...convenience item or not ;)

Safe and happy summer travels to all!


Friday, May 24, 2019

Genius bread comes to the ATL!

The "real" Genius gluten-free bread hits the ATL!  Well, it's great news in a way, but like many things, it's not as great in the US as in other countries.  The Genius bread (not the Glutino version which was previously available here) is now sold at Earthfare stores.  I only found this out because I wanted to buy the bread in Spain.  It's not sold there, according to the store finder on the Genius site. Anyway, sure enough, the bread is in the bakery (ships/stored frozen, before being put out) at Earthfare.  I bought the multi-grain and white versions and though they were quite tasty, they are NOT the same as in Scotland.  I'm not sure if the ingredients are the same, but the loaf is at least 50% smaller.  That might be related to why the crust is "tough"... Also, the slices are about 1/3 thinner which could also be affecting the taste.  I still like the bread, but it's not mind-blowingly delicious like the first version I had.  It's definitely not worth the drive to Earthfare for it, when I can buy Canyon Bakehouse bread, that's almost as good, at Sprouts. 

The version of Genius bread I found in Scotland is still the best gluten-free bread I've had in over 12 years.  If you missed my post about it, you can find it here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

King BBQ closes at Avalon

On our last visit to Bantam+Biddy Avalon, we found out they were closing that location and rebranding the place as a BBQ joint.  The same owners would be in charge so I'd hoped there would be decent gluten-free menu options.  And after a brief stint without chicken fingers, continued complaints of that fact online helped to bring them back to the menu.  That's why we went in to try the place months after it reopened as King BBQ.  My husband really liked the BBQ he ordered and I loved the chicken fingers and cornbread as usual.  Two months later, in December 2018, we stopped by for an early dinner only to find that King BBQ had closed down.

Though the closing is disappointing for those of us who like to order gluten-free chicken fingers every so often, we can't say we were surprised.  Like Yeah! Burger, King had the order-at-the-counter set up.  Unlike Yeah! Burger, there wasn't a place for people to stand in line while they ordered.  My husband even mentioned on our only visit there that he couldn't imagine they would be able to keep the order-at the counter process at King.  At least it wouldn't be feasible without them moving some tables and other things around to accommodate that set up.

*Apologies for the tardiness of this post - I literally thought it posted a while ago!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Citizen Soul makes the gluten-free grade!

After coming home from France and Spain recently, I sadly settled back into the reality that gluten-free specialty items such as bread, pastries, etc. are all MUCH better in other countries (including Canada!) than here at home.  I'm not sure why that is...but store bought and bakery stuff is just not anywhere near as good here as in several countries we've visited in the 12 years since my celiac dx.

Please don't misunderstand - the new hip eatery in downtown Alpharetta, Citizen Soul, doesn't currently offer gluten-free bread.  But...they offer something even more exciting - gluten-free fried chicken!  It's amazing...flavorful and tender!  The sides with it (currently grits and green beans) are also wonderful!  We shared the stonefruit salad which was so fresh and flavorful we thought we might be back in Barcelona ;)  The chocolate cake is huge and scrumptious...enough for 2 or three to share...for! 

Service was lovely and not rushed even though the place is usually packed.  Parking is easy in the close by free parking deck.  Great cocktails as well....Citizen Soul is a wonderful addition to downtown eateries.  In fact, as of now, it's THE best place down there for my money!   

Monday, January 21, 2019

Gluten-free fried onions

This post should have gone up in December, but I found myself overwhelmed during the holidays.  Everyone probably feels this way, but a kitchen remodel thrown into the mix really took it's toll on my holiday spirit and energy level ;)

For many years, I made homemade fried onions for my traditional green casserole.  I'd found a few gf brands of onions, but none were good enough to buy twice.  Last year I finally found a decent tasting shelf stable fried onion - Loeb's - at Publix.  They were packaged in a bag and are now in a plastic jar.  Either way, the onions were a suitable substitute for the French's brand of fried onions many of us grew up with.

Then, last month, an email from findmeglutenfree announced the availability of several brands of fried onions just in time for the holidays!  I noticed that the Sprouts brand was listed so that's the product I decided to try.  They are possibly the exact product from Loeb's as the ingredients are exactly the same (onion, buckwheat, vegetable oil and salt).  However, for some reason I can't pin down, I prefer the taste of the Sprouts product.  Aldi has a similar product which I'll probably try eventually.  So far, nothing tastes just like the French's brand, but that's okay.  That product has a form of sugar in it which, like many people, I can do without.

PRODUCT NOTE:  buckwheat is in fact, not related to wheat - nor is it a grain.  It's plant based and is completely gluten-free.       

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Best gluten-free "Ritz" style cracker!

I'm a cracker person....always loved Saltines and Ritz crackers with cheese, or spread or even plain old butter!  So when I had to give up gluten crackers, I went on the hunt for "real" tasting crackers.  Twelve years later, I'm still on said hunt.  There are many really tasty crackers available today.  Absolutely Gluten-Free, Crunchmaster and Schar all offer some really good options that gluten eaters can also enjoy.  However, until recently the Ritz style cracker has eluded me. 

In the past, I've often ended up with six or seven boxes of crackers in my pantry at one time.  Clearly, no one needs that many crackers so I took a break from trying new brands for a while for a couple of  years.  That break ended two weeks ago when I decided to check out the tiny GF section in a Publix that is not our normal store.  Low and behold, there was a product from Lance (you know - the company that makes the silly-small peanut butter and cheese sandwich style gf crackers) marked "NEW" and the photo on the box look exactly like a Ritz cracker.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try them so into my basket they went!  I ended up getting to try them for almost nothing due to a random act of kindness.  The person in front of me in line gave me a gift card worth over $3 (what was left after they checked out) and the crackers were maybe $3.59.

Unfortunately, when I opened the bag of crackers, the small size of the round disks was a shock.  I shouldn't have been surprised since the above mentioned sandwich crackers are also way too small.  The good news is that this new plain cracker pretty much taste like a Ritz cracker!  There is a very slight sandy mouth feel which is the only sign they're not a "regular" cracker.  Due to the buttery flavor and perfect crunch, I can get past that sandy feature.  I would prefer they cost twice and much and be twice the size they are...but I'm probably alone in that wish ;)

If you like Ritz crackers, but can't have the real thing anymore, the Lance brand is definitely worth trying.  I've only seen them at Publix, but they're apparently sold at Target as well. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

No omelet for brunch...seriously?!

When visiting in-laws recently, we went to brunch in Chattanooga, TN.  Since brunch is typically pretty easy to manage gluten-free (I've always been able to order an omelet and grits, hashbrowns or fruit), I wasn't concerned about the place we were going.  And, for the record, it came up on the list of gf friendly places on Trip Advisor anyway.

We arrived to a bustling restaurant and had to wait about an hour to be seated.  Since we had time to kill, I asked the hostess about gf options.  She was nice enough, but clearly knew nothing about what I could and could not order.  She said she'd get back to me and after asking her again later, I was finally told they can't do an omelet (yes - they serve eggs).  OK - I'll have to order scrambled eggs and I'll just ask for cheese and bacon in it.  At least I won't starve to death.

The server takes my order and he's pretty knowledgeable.  He knows I can't have b'fast potatoes and isn't sure about the grits.  I tell him I'll have scrambled, well done eggs with bacon and cheese mixed in.  And, if I can't have grits - I'll have fruit.  Nope - they don't have fruit. The poor server looked so concerned as he continued to try to help me find something suitable to eat.  By now, everyone in our party of six was on the verge of being "hangry"!

I'm told before the food comes out I can have the grits.  Well, that's good news, at least.  Then the food is delivered and my plate looks fine (no unwanted toast on it).  For reasons not explained, the bacon is on the side - not in the eggs.  And the scrambled eggs are very runny...and have to go back for more cooking.  I ate the grits (very good) and bacon and eventually my eggs. 

My food was fine, if nothing special.  Being spoiled in the ATL is great as long as you're in the ATL!  I wasn't expecting to order gluten-free pancakes or a cinnamon bun, like we can easily do here, after all.  The rest of the party really enjoyed their food, though my husband thought his sandwich was small for the price.  If you're wondering where we went - it was the Flying Squirrel.  In their defense, they have pretty decent gf reviws for dinner - not brunch.  My bad.

The good news is that if you want an omelet for brunch or lunch when in Chat, you can have an amazing option at Frothy Monkey (the same chain as in Nashville).  The gf bread and muffins there are nothing to get excited about, but they're decent enough.  They do bake those in house so please keep that in mind before ordering.  Either way, the omelets are amazing there!

GF food for thought:  don't assume you can order an omelet at brunch...apparently, not everyone can make one ;)


Friday, August 24, 2018

The best gluten-free bread on the market is not sold in USA

Anyone who loved bread when they could have gluten might still be looking for that perfect, normal tasting, I-can't-believe-it's-gluten-free-bread...and hoping the next brand they try will be it.  Over the years, I'd pretty much given up ever finding the all-elusive perfect gluten-free bread.  Carbs are really not my friend these days so I didn't feel I was missing anything.  Recently, with the discovery of Jersey Mike's amazing sandwiches and my favorite freshly baked scones from Seven Sisters, I've enjoyed bread items more than in recent years.  However, I still find myself letting sliced bread sit in the fridge too long....until it's almost petrified and has to be thrown out.  Throwing out food of any kind is terrible and I try very hard not to ever do it.  So, I rarely buy bread, but do splurge on bagels every now and then.  Those freeze well and can be taken out the night before you need one and for me, that means much less waste than sliced bread.

For my birthday last year, we went to Scotland for the first time.  To say the trip was amazing is an extreme understatement.  We went in the warm season - July - making sure to pack like it was winter in the ATL.  Yes, we needed gloves, hats, coats, scarves and of course - heavy duty umbrellas! More about the trip later.  The point of this post, which is dragging on unnecessarily, is to share the best gluten-free find I've had - EVER!

Rumors about Genius bread surfaced many years ago, but it was the brand of the bread sold in many parts of Europe.  What I didn't realize at the time, is when it was introduced in the US, it was not (in any way shape or form) the bread that everyone who'd had it in Europe had raved about. In fact, I could not believe anyone would think the bread was any different than your standard, oddly textured, frozen bread we've all become accustomed to.  Eventually, I found out all Genius bread is not created equal - to say the least!

Fast forward several years when I walked into a Sainsbury's in Edinburgh and found Genius bread sitting on the shelf - NOT in the freezer, mind you - in the 'free from' section.  Strangely enough, because the bread was as light as a feather AND it was a huge loaf, I immediately assumed that it was regular, gluten containing bread. Seriously - that went though my mind even though the bread was in the 'free from' section.  That's where allergen-free products are found in many countries in Europe.  They don't mix everything up like so many stores here do.

OK - so there is a light loaf of bread that is labelled gluten-free. The size of the slices is "normal" making it all the more confusing.  It's hard to wrap your brain around something you didn't know could, or did, exist.  It was...well, it was a gluten-free miracle of sorts.  We picked up some basics like eggs, cereal, fruit, cheese, wine, milk and various 'free from' snacks like mini tarts (yum!) and made our way back to our fantastic Home Away apartment.  Our plane had arrived just a few hours before so it was time for lunch.  Naturally, I decided to have a piece of bread with butter on it along with a grilled chicken salad.

It was love at fist bite for the REAL Genius bread.  Even still - I literally ran into the kitchen to read the label on the bread bag again!  At this point, you feel as though you're losing your grip on reality.  How many times do I have to read a label to believe the bread, as inconceivably delcious as it is, is in fact, GLUTEN-FREE?  Enough already - get over it and enjoy it!  And that is what I did for the entire trip, even savoring the last slice at the Edinburgh airport, before heading home.  It wasn't until after I got back to reality - the one where no amazing gluten-free bread is on the shelf at my local grocery store - that I began to question why that was.  More on that another day.

For now, please know that if you are anywhere outside the U.S. that sells Genius bread - BUY IT!!!  You won't like it - you'll love it and then you'll be dissappointed that you can't find it anywhere in this country.  The only upside is that if this bread was at the store around the corner, I would have a very hard time sticking to my self-imposed low carb!

At the time of this post, the original Genius gluten-free products are NOT sold in the U.S.  Maybe if we all request they sell the REAL Genius bread in the U.S. - by contacting the company, we'll get it here eventually ;)



Thursday, August 9, 2018

What happened to Burger 21?

Over a year ago, we started picking up take-out from Burger 21.  They have gluten-free buns as well as gluten-free fries (regular and sweet potato) made in a dedicated fryer.  And if you dine in, they have a nice gluten-free cider.  Since the bright indoor lighting is rather jarring if you're sensitive to light, we went from dining in to picking up take-out fairly quickly.

However, over the last six months or so, our orders often haven't been made right.  Thankfully, my meal was still gluten-free, but the bacon we paid for was not on the burger.  This happened three consecutive times.  Finally, we complained (via phone) and the next time my husband went in, they gave him a free burger on our take-out order.  Unfortunately, even though my burger had the bacon ordered on it, it also had lots of condiments and other stuff I do not eat on burgers.  It was completely gross so we had to go back and exchange it for another burger.  We got more coupons for that mistake, but by then I was thinking I don't really care about saving on an order if the restaurant can't seem to prepare it correctly...over and over again.

Finally, another take-out order and again, it was prepared incorrectly.  But this time my husband knew to check the order BEFORE he left and sure enough, there was stuff on my burger which was not supposed to be on it...and the order taker definitely confirmed the other back correctly before sending details to the kitchen.  So, now we assume someone in the kitchen can't read the tickets....or they're snap chatting with someone or taking selfies...whatever kids do these!  Whatever the issue, they're absolutely not concentrating on getting orders prepared correctly.

Now my husband won't go back and since he's the official take-out guy at our house, I'm kind of out of luck.  By the way, Burger 21 burgers are fine and the fries are very tasty.  But the gluten-free buns and burgers at Cheeseburger Bobby's are better.  I can't have fries there due to no dedicated fryer..hence our past tendency to get burgers from Burger 21, unless I'm not in the mood for fries. 



Notable cheesy cracker from Three Bakers

The only "real" tasting gluten-free Cheez-It type cracker I've had in a dozen years was from a bakery in Washington state.  An...