Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Natural Foods Warehouse opens third location!

Natural Foods Warehouse is my favorite place to buy gluten-free foods like Udi's items, Kettle Cuisine soups, snacks and a ton of other fabulous things! Their prices are great and the people who work there are too. We shop at the Duluth store but there is another one in Alpharetta. Actually, as of next Monday,  there will be TWO locations in Alpharetta. The Duluth store is still the closest one to us, but this is great news for the gluten-free set that live up near the Silos at Crabapple!

The newest location of Natural Foods Warehouse is set to open at 10 AM on Monday, the 29th of November. However, you might want to call the store to make sure they are open before heading over.

Natural Foods Warehouse
12315 Crabapple Road
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Phone: 770-772-0113

Monday, November 22, 2010

Special thanks at Thanksgiving

I feel like my middle name is travel lately. However, as busy as I've been running around to various weekend getaways and family functions, I need to take a moment to say thanks. Even though I have many reasons to be thankful this season, I owe a special thank you to all the people who bought something from my table at the Atlanta vendor fair in September. When I signed up to work the event for Triumph Dining, I was working for them. Due to other work opportunities with Celiac-Disease.com, I had to make the tough decision to quit writing on the Triumph Dining blog shortly before the fair here. Even so, the great folks at Triumph Dining allowed me to work the Atlanta event for them. As it happened, I also represented Shelley Case at the event and sold her great books as well as my own t-shirts and hats.

For various reasons, I wasn't quite sure when I showed up to the event that working the show would be worth my time, but guess what? It paid off big time! In fact, I was able to buy my laptop (and new modem for wifi service) with my earnings from the day. So, if any of you great people that bought something from our table at the show are reading this - THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!  Seriously, this is more wonderful than I can possibly convey...no more asking to borrow my husband's laptop....this is something to be very thankful for, no doubt!

During this time of year, I try to remember the many wonderful things I have to be thankful for. As far as my work is concerned - my readers are what I'm most thankful for. Without you guys, I would not  have this fun new career where I strive to help others learn to love the gluten-free lifestyle as much as I do. I owe you all a debt I can never repay. Thank you all for being there and for all your heartfelt notes of thanks. Thanks to my U.S. readers which of late have surpassed those living outside the states. Thanks also to my many international readers. I'm quite humbled that people across the globe are interested in something I have to say. To all of you, I wish a most lovely holiday season filled with good friends and family and LOTS of delicious gluten-free food!
     

Whole Foods gluten-free holiday recipes

The latest Whole Foods Market newsletter was very thoughtful. It includes a plethora of gluten-free holiday recipes. From apps to salads to soups to entrees to sides to desserts to beverages - this list of recipes contains something for everyone! Though neither is something I've had during the holidays before, the crab stuffed deviled eggs and salmon dip both sound amazing!

There are a couple of pie crust recipes on the list and I've not made either of them. However, I can vouch for the basic pie crust recipe on the Pamela's Products website. It's a no-fail crust, but since the Pamela's mix contains dairy, it's not an option for the gluten/dairy-free set. For a great gluten/dairy-free crust, check out the version from Jules Gluten Free.

No one is going to accuse me of being an exceptional cook or baker, but I do pretty well for someone who didn't do much in the kitchen except buy pretty things for it until after she was forty and diagnosed with celiac disease...lol! Below are the dishes (not recipes) we've always made in my family for Thanksgiving.


  • Roasted Turkey (Butterball brand is gluten-free and as of 2009, so is the gravy packet!)
  • Cornbread dressing (I make the cornbread from the Pamela's website using the pancake mix, not the cornbread mix from that line)
  • Green Bean Casserole (I prefer homemade fried onions made with Jules Gluten Free flour and am excited to use the new condensed Cream of Mushroom soup from Pacific Natural Foods for the first time this year)
  • Candied Yams *this dish is naturally gluten-free
  • Cranberry Sauce (both the jellied and whole berry versions from Ocean Spray are gluten-free)
  • Pecan Pie (I use the Pamela's mix for the pie crust as noted above)   

For a complete list of wonderful gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, visit Teri's page at About.com! Also, we have many Thanksgiving and Fall recipes over at Celiac-Disease.com.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gluten-free awareness still lacking in U.S. hospitality industry

Anyone who reads my work knows I love to travel. For short or long trips....just let me pack some gluten-free food and I'm ready to go! Well, I should note that I love to travel as long as I get to choose where we're going. As anyone who's married knows, there are times when family functions are planned without your input because the events are not about you. When that happens, sometimes you luck out and other times you don't. The latter happened to me recently. We got stuck in a bad hotel with the most uninformed hotel manager I've ever encountered since going gluten-free. If I had been in public when speaking with him, I would have thought we were on Candid Camera.

It's understandable that in a small town in a non touristy part of Florida, a hotel manager might not know what gluten is. However, when you explain you can't eat wheat and therefore, can't have the waffles the guy is telling you about and he says "we also have muffins, bagels and cereal" - that is just not OK. Seriously - this person is in charge of a hotel that serves customers breakfast every day of the year. The place is not nice at all, but still, to think the manager didn't know that wheat is in all the carb items in their free breakfast line-up is incomprehensible to me.

The regional hotel also serves eggs and sausage at the location we stayed at. The meat appeared to be gluten-free, but since it contained MSG I could not have it. The eggs come in a bag with an ingredient list as long as my arm so whether or not they were gluten-free was irrelevant. We prefer real eggs. I did appreciate the manager cutting the ingredient lists off the food boxes so I could read them when we checked in. For that, he deserves credit for having good customer service skills.

For the two night trip (thank goodness it was short!), I took my own sausage, an Udi's muffin and bagel for breakfast. The only part of the free breakfast I could have was the fruit. One day I ate in the room (the manager gave us a microwave and the room had a mini-fridge) and one day I used my Toast-It bags to heat my bagel in the toaster in the lobby. Admittedly, this hotel was a budget (very cheap) hotel. Even so, how much a place costs should not indicate whether or not the manager knows what wheat is.
   
The name of this hotel will remain nameless to protect the guilty. Just remember that no matter where you're staying, don't assume that eggs and meat are always gluten-free. And presently, we should not  assume that all managers in the hospitality industry have any idea what gluten-free means. For now at least, they most certainly do not.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fox Atlanta to feature gluten-free diet November 19th!

Carolyn O'Neil, a dietitian in the Atlanta area, will be speaking about the gluten-free diet on Good Day Atlanta this Friday (11-19) morning. The show starts at 4:30 AM and if the segment airs before 7, I'll definitely miss it. Please check your cable line up for the Fox network channel. Hopefully, I'll be able to post the video after the fact.

 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jules Gluten Free cookie swap

You know how people have cookie swaps during the holidays but unless yours is with a gluten-free group of friends, you can't eat any of the cookies that people swap? Well, Jules of Jules Gluten Free decided we too deserve a cookie swap. Therefore, she's created a virtual cookie swap of sorts for our community!

Please visit the Jules Gluten Free Facebook page for details on how you can get in on the fun, get some great recipes, share your own and possibly win some neat prizes from Jules Gluten Free! For more details please click here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are Gluten-free Restaurant Goofs Growing?

Recently, I was told about some very odd mistakes that restaurant staffers made at places with printed gluten-free menus. While nothing happened to make anyone sick, the mistakes are so strange that I’m compelled to share them. Most people know that just because someone hands you a gluten-free menu doesn’t mean they understand what gluten is. It’s up to gluten-free diners to ask the right questions and determine what the staff does or doesn’t know. The exception is when you’re a regular customer and the staff writes gluten-free on your ticket before you can ask them to.  

The first goof was at a national chain that has American cuisine and a gluten-free menu that includes a killer brownie dessert. At a location in Kentucky, a gluten-free diner was told by the server that everything on the menu was gluten-free. The customer knew that was not the case and asked the server to go ask someone for help. The server came back and nicely apologized that he was mistaken – the hamburger buns, pasta and other various things were not gluten-free.

The next week, the same customer was in Atlanta at another national chain that has a gluten-free menu. The place specializes in burgers and has gluten-free French fries. The server at that place said the fries were not gluten-free even though they are clearly listed on the gluten-free menu. The customer was a regular and had enjoyed fries there for over two years. After an awkward conversation, the server left the table to find out about the safety of the fries. They returned to the table to report that the fries were gluten-free, but only as of that day. Unlike the server in Kentucky, this server was not particularly friendly and didn’t want to admit they had made a mistake.

In both of the above cases, there was no harm done, but that is because the customer knew more about the gluten-free options at the restaurants they were visiting than the servers assigned to their table. At both places, the managers and/or the people making the food knew the fries were gluten-free at the burger place and that not everything on the menu was gluten-free at the other establishment. That is really what mattered – or is it?

Let’s say that someone new to the gluten-free diet goes to either place and has the same experience. Seasoned gluten-free diners would know that incorrect information was being shared with them, but newbies would not necessarily be so informed. At the place where everything here is gluten-free” (except that it’s not), the customer might just get excited and order a whole lot of gluten dishes and pay the consequences later. I’ve been to a gluten-free restaurant and overheard people at tables next to us ask the servers if everything is really gluten-free. People who are not expecting to hear that news are shocked, to say the least.

At the place where the uninformed server insisted that that fries were not gluten-free, someone would just go without fries that in fact, were safe to consume. This would not cause anyone to get sick which is a good thing. But if the person went there because someone told them the fries were gluten-free and they didn’t get to order them in the end, they might not ever go back to the place. How is that good for business?

It’s exciting to have more gluten-free dining options than we can possibly even try, but it can be exhausting to play twenty questions with a server at a place that promotes their gluten-free menu. I feel like it’s my responsibility to know what gluten-free means and it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to know what is gluten-free at their establishment. At least someone there needs to be informed and it would be nice if the servers had some knowledge about the gluten-free menu where they work. If that isn’t the case, the place should not state that they can accommodate gluten-free diners, period.


  



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Udi's coming to Kroger & Publix in FL can sell Bard's Tale beer

Udi's gluten-free products are supposed to be rolling into all Kroger stores now, but some people have not been able to find them. I'm going to stop into a Kroger the next time I'm near one and see if they have the products yet. The items are supposed to be in the regular bakery section, like they are in Earthfare stores. Kroger is said to be carrying the entire Udi's line, not just bagels and bread as is the case at our Publix.

Also, folks in FL can now ask for Bard's Tale gluten-free beer at Publix (only in that state). The company has clearance to sell it, but consumers might have to jump start the process by asking for this exceptional gluten-free beer at their FL Publix stores. Bard's Tale is the best domestic gluten-free beer I've tried and the only place I've found it near us is Whole Foods. Of course, I'm not a beer lover in the first place and I only have it in super hot weather or in beer chili or beer  battered shrimp. It seems that people that really love Redbridge don't like Bard's Tale and vice-versa.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Udi's bagels on sale at Publix!

Sorry if the sale is already over but I was out of town over the weekend. I picked up the last pack of Udi's gluten-free bagels at the Publix we shop at last Thursday and was shocked that they were marked $4.59 (or something like that) and then rang up at $3.99 as they were on sale. I don't think I've even bought them for that little at Natural Foods Warehouse. I think Publix figured out that they can't sell something for $1.50 - $2.00 more than the health foods stores do and keep the stock moving. The Udi's bread also came down in price about $1.00 per loaf there.

Also, our Publix location brought in Glenny's Oatmeal Raisin cookies and they were on sale for $3.99 too. I usually pay around $3.50 for those at NFW, but since we were heading out of town and needed snack foods for the trip, I spent the $4 and surprised my husband with them. He is addicted to those cookies which is why I rarely buy them. He'll eat the whole box at once and he can eat gluten. They are that fabulous!        

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gluten-free deal of the week - November 1st, 2010

We rarely shop at Whole Foods for various reasons (mostly due to their high prices on gluten-free items), but we do have to stop in there every so often. This past weekend, we had to pick up some samples from Ice Supreme (which I'll be reviewing next week on Celiac-Disease.com) and I decided to check for the new Pacific Foods condensed soups while there. I was shocked to find the price was pretty much the same as at our fave store here, Natural Foods Warehouse, so I bought five boxes of it. However, that was not the find of the week.

Imagine Chicken Broth was on sale for $2.50 each, or 2 for $5. When I picked up two boxes to put them in the cart, I noticed that there was a coupon on the front of the box. It was for $3 off for $10 worth of products from several lines owned by Hain Celestial. I didn't need anything else from the company except for the broth so I bought four boxes of broth to get to the $10 total. Then I used the coupon at check out (don't try this in the self check out line) and paid only $7 - or $1.75 per large box of gluten-free chicken broth. That is all I need to get me through December - what an amazing deal! The regular price for the broth at Whole Foods (here) is $3.49 so even if it's not on sale, the coupon for $3 off is a good value. I still have three such coupons left to use before some date in the Spring.
   

CPK's gluten-free pizza - third time's a charm!

Once upon a time, California Pizza Kitchen (aka CPK) introduced a gluten-free crust.  And, it was the worst I've ever had in a restaura...