Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sprouts review - Peachtree Corners

The Sprouts Market in Peachtree Corners opened back in August and I was able to get there on the day of the grand opening.  There was not a line to get in, which was great, but it was overly crowded so it was hard to get around even with the smallest shopping cart they have.  The observations I was able to make are listed below.

There were some frozen and and refrigerated gluten-free breads available including some items I like and some I don't care for.  I thought there were be more options for some reason, but I guess I'm comparing their options to those at Return 2 Eden and Natural Foods Warehouse which might not be fair.

There were some brands of cookies and muffins I'd never seen and a good friend of mine tried some of them and thought they were either really great or pretty good.  Since I was on the Whole 30 challenge during my visit, I didn't buy anything off plan.  That means nothing except meats, veggies and fruits made it into my basket.  Oh, I also picked up some bars for an upcoming trip (after my Whole 30 was finished) and some coconut butter...the latter seemed very overpriced, but I didn't have time to comparison shop for the product.

Overall, Sprouts Market did not strike me as a place for my go-to gluten-free specialty items, but I was impressed with the produce and the variety of items they offer.  Eventually, I hope to try the fresh lemon poppy seed muffins, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes.  "Fresh" is a key factor in getting me to part with my money for gluten-free treats.  I plan to go to the Johns Creek store as soon as it opens and surprisingly, that location will be larger than the store in Peachtree Corners! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Are gluten-free menus going away?

There is finally a gluten-free labeling law in the U.S. (it went info effect earlier this month) which is cause for celebration.  The FDA was supposed to have the law worked out by August 2008...oh well, we are talking about the government, after all.

If  you notice some items no longer sport gluten-free on the label even though nothing has changed regarding the ingredients, don't be alarmed.  Companies that want to claim their products are gluten-free have to be able to prove that fact.  Therefore, some companies that previously listed gluten-free on their labels might drop it only because they never tested their products as there was not a reason for it.

If the only thing a company produces is canned pineapple, there is not a reason to test the pineapple to see if it's gluten-free.  It is - period.  So even though we finally have a labeling law, label reading is still going to be part of our shopping trips.  At least if you see the GF symbol or the words gluten free now, you'll know the item is definitely gluten-free.

The worst part of the new law is a tiny stipulation which mentions restaurants have to meet the same requirements as food companies that produce packaged foods with labels.  Yes, that is basically what the law says...it sounds ridiculous, right?  There is obviously no way this is doable in a non gluten-free restaurant setting so guess what?  Larger chains are already pulling their gluten-free menus and renaming them things like gluten-friendly menu, low gluten menu and avoiding gluten menu - yikes!!!  I'm glad I'm not new to the gluten-free dining scene.  If I was, I might be scared to death to eat out.

When you see packaged food items from Europe that contain gluten, they say just that - 'contains gluten'.  How easy is that?!         

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Earthfare comes to the ATL!

The news that Sprouts Market is opening a Johns Creek location next month is uber exciting, but there is more great news about the area to report! Earthfare (which is one of fave places to shop!) is opening a location in at the Collection at Forsythe in Cumming, GA.  There is no info about this on the Earthfare website, but they have job openings listed for another Atlanta area store listed.  The company signed a lease for two spaces in the area a while back - I guess one of them is the Cumming store.  We noticed a sign about the addition to the shopping center while walking around the shops there.  The below info is from the Earthfare website (FAQ page).


Will you build a store near me? I heard a rumor…
A: We’re always looking for directions to expand, but we’re like ninjas. You won’t know we’re there until we want you to know. Watch the listings on the Our Stores page for locations opening soon.

My apologies that I can't share when the store will open as I can't stand having to give companies my email address just to ask a simple question - especially when I know I'm risking not getting a straight answer for the trouble.  Earthfare carries a few things I've not found at any location here so we usually stop by the Chattanooga and Greenville stores when visiting family in those areas.  It's SO exciting to have another great shopping option for fabulous food in the ATL!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gluten-free salmon cake recipe

When I was growing up, salmon croquettes were a special weeknight dinner. I'm not sure what was in them, except salmon and breadcrumbs, but they were pretty tasty!  Once I was eating gluten-free, I used crushed gluten-free crackers in place of bread crumbs to make salmon cakes.  The main difference between those and croquettes is typically how much oil is used to cook them.  

Last week, I created an interesting version of salmon cakes with no carb filler what-so-ever.  I'm not going to win any cooking or recipe contests, but this experiment turned out surprisingly well, if I do say so myself ;)  

Gluten-free salmon cakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can salmon
  • 1/4 small white onion, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 c. mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tbp. Dijon mustard (or brown mustard)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. rough chopped coconut chips (unsweetened)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • black pepper, to taste
  • several dashes of coconut aminos
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. Saute onions and mushrooms in coconut oil until tender 
  2. Mash up salmon in mixing bowl with sturdy spoon (I remove the larger bones, but it's not necessary) 
  3. Add all ingredients, including cooked veggies, and mix well with hands (I wear food safe gloves for this part)
  4. Form 6-7 medium size patties and place on wax paper-lined baking pan
  5. Place pan in freezer for at least one hour so cakes can get firm
  6. Saute salmon cakes in coconut oil over medium heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side (flip carefully as cakes are delicate)
  7. Serve with fresh lemon wedges (or sauce of your choice)  
There is no coconut taste to these salmon cakes.  The oil doesn't flavor them in the pan and the chips take on the flavor of whatever they're mixed up with. My husband could not figure out what filler I used which totally tickled me. He offered up several guesses, but coconut wasn't one of them.  
   

Enjoy!





  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gluten-free brunch at South City Kitchen in Midtown

South City Kitchen has been offering wonderful gluten-free dishes for a few years now and my favorite dish there is shrimp and grits.  Until recently, we'd only been to the location in Vinings, but we recently enjoyed brunch at the Midtown location.  Since we had reservations (recommended if you don't want to wait) and were driving in from the burbs, we got there before they opened.  While hanging out at the patio of the closed bar next door, we watched a huge stream of people arrived at SCK where they formed a line at the door.  When the door opened, we all filed in and the staff got busy getting everyone seated.  There is a huge patio with misters to keep things cool out there, but it was a little warm for us so we opted for an inside table.

Even though our server was 'triple seated' in a four minute time span, he handled his section quickly and efficiently.  He went over the day's specials and took our drink order.  Since the gluten-friendly menu (regardless of what they call the menu - it lists items that don't start with gluten ingredients which are prepared as safely as possible in a mixed use kitchen) noted that the Pure Knead bun is served with the pulled pork sandwich, I asked the server if the Benedict dishes used the gluten-free bun in lieu of the English muffin and was told no.



We ordered the pimento cheese dip which came with house-made bread and butter pickles (shown above) which I could have eaten a pound of (!) and celery sticks instead of crackers.  The dip was quite tasty - even to my husband who really wouldn't care if he never had pimento cheese again.



For our entrees, my husband had the amazing pulled BBQ sandwich with slaw (photo above) and a huge kale salad.  He loved everything on his plate.  I've had their pulled pork before and know it's seriously fabulous!  I chose the  “MC” MUFFIN BENEDICT  (photo below) which includes Benton's aged ham, American cheese, chive hollandaise and Red Mule grits.  Because I don't really love hollandaise sauce, I ordered it on the side.



When our meals arrived, I couldn't actually see that there was some type of bread on my plate under the over-hard poached eggs and ham, but my husband could.  We had the server check to see if it was a Pure Knead bun (which is what it looked like) and found out that it was.  What a lovely surprise!  The entire meal was delectable - even the hollandaise sauce!

Honestly, I could have been plenty happy with the dish without the bun, for which there is a small up charge.  We were not going straight home so I couldn't take any food home for later.  I pretty much ate everything I ordered except a few bites of egg my husband quickly scarfed down.  He was also impressed by the chive hollandaise sauce.

By the time I knew I could have the banana pudding (without cookies, I think) and some other ice cream type desserts, it was too late.  I was overly full, but didn't mind at all as I enjoyed every last bite of my meal.  The food is seriously delicious at South City Kitchen (part of Fifth Group) and the 'gluten-friendly' options available for lunch, dinner and brunch do not disappoint one bit!  
          

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pineapple salsa recipe

This summer, it's been as hot in the ATL and as in previous years.  (The past two summers were very temperate here for whatever reason)  The month of August is usually extra muggy and that makes it feel even warmer than it actually is.  UGH!!!

In looking at some ingredients I had on hand the other day, I was inspired to make something refreshing.  Pineapple salsa seemed to fit the bill perfectly and though I've made it before, this recipe is different and most definitely more delicious than any other version I've made or had!

Pineapple Salsa

INGREDIENTS:  

  • 1 cup cubed pineapple, drained (canned [in water] or fresh)
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion (green onion will work)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • dash of coconut aminos (or gf soy sauce)
  • dash of lime juice
  • 4-5 strips of roasted red pepper
  • pinch of salt (optional) 


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. put all ingredients except peppers and salt into a food processor (3-cup bowl works great!) 
  2. with lid on tight, pulse a few times to get the consistency you prefer
  3. when unit is not running, remove lid and throw in red pepper strips
  4. secure lid and pulse a few more times, enough to incorporate peppers well
  5. remove lid to taste, add a pinch of salt (if desired) and pulse a few more times to finish the salsa prep 
We used this salsa on top of grilled fish for dinner.  The light, fresh and slightly tropical flavor reminds me of fresh salsas often used in seafood dishes in the Caribbean.  Yes - it's really that flavorful!  Even though I was tempted to eat the delightful leftover salsa with a spoon for dessert, I decided to think of a way to use it in another meal instead.  

While contemplating making Mediterranean tuna salad (similar to the version at Zoe's Kitchen) the next day for lunch, I remembered the salsa and changed gears.  I simply mixed up the packet of tuna with the rest of the salsa and then served it over a fresh spinach salad.  It was definitely different for tuna salad, but in a very tasty way!  The next time I make this it will be a topping for grilled fish tacos....or sliced marinated grilled chicken...oh yeah!

*This recipe is obviously gluten-free, but it also happens to be free of dairy, soy (sub coconut aminos) and added sugar, too!   

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sprouts Market is coming to Johns Creek!

It's exciting that Sprouts Market opened in Snellville recently and I've heard it's a great store if you can get into it (according to the husband's co-workers, there is apparently a traffic issue at that location).  I missed the blogger sneak peak for that store since it was in the middle of a work day and on the other side of town to boot.  But I know from bloggers elsewhere that Sprouts Market is a VERY gluten-free friendly place to shop.  That's why I've been excited about the company expanding to this area ever since I spotted the coming soon sign near Trader Joe's in Norcross.

I thought that the (yet to open) store over there would be the most convenient to us, now that we moved out of Gwinnett county.  However, as I was on 141 last weekend, I noticed that the space vacated by a massive shoe store recently is being renovated to be a Sprouts Market!  Let's see...if I drive pretty slow, the Sprouts Market over here is about a five minute drive from our house!  This is seriously exciting news since about a month after we moved, the Natural Foods Warehouse on 141 closed down.  It's a short distance to the NFW location on N. Main Street, but with weekend traffic it can be a bear to get there.

The grand opening date for this location is set for September 17, 2014.  Check out this page on the Sprouts website to see where more new stores are opening in the near future.  

UPDATE:  The open date for this location is being pushed out so it will not open on September 17th.  I'll announce the actual opening date when I get one I think is legit ;)   

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gluten-free events at Whole Foods



There is a gluten-free event at the Buckhead location of Whole Foods Market this weekend.  I'm not why the location is not listed on the above flyer that the demo manager sent me.  Look for details on the store's website.

There is also an August event coming up at the Harry's Whole Foods store in Marietta.  Click this link and scroll down for the gluten-free event info for that store.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fresh gluten-free pizza crust hits the ATL!


Up until last weekend, I'd only had wonderful FRESH gluten-free pizza crust in New York City.  At one time there was a place making fresh pizza crust in the metro Atlanta area, but it wasn't very popular and it might have been dropped from the menu subsequently.

Meet Don Antonio by Starita - Atlanta!  As you enter the upscale space on trendy West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, take note of the lovely patio strung with lights...it reminded me of a lovely Italian place in Rome.  Inside, the high ceilings and warm, rustic colors of the restaurant's interior further ooze the feeling of Italy.  I secretly hoped that maybe the food would taste as fresh as it does over there....

After reviewing the gluten-free menu options, we ended up getting to try some things we'd planned to order as well as several other things during a leisurely lunch.  By the end of the meal we were in a slight carb-induced coma, but we weren't complaining one bit!


To start, we sampled the Angioletti salad which is lightly fried dough topped with grape tomatoes, arugula and EVOO.  The produce was so delicious that we assumed they had a garden on site.  Seriously.  The bread pieces were amazing in the way that makes you wonder if it's really gluten-free.  Of course, it absolutely was!


Next up was the famous fried pizza Montanara Starita.  It sounds odd - a lightly fried pizza crust - but nothing about the pizza tasted fried and it wasn't at all greasy.  It was just 100% amazing!  If the crust was wonderful and the toppings were not, it would be a problem for any gluten-free foodie.  Thankfully, the amazing sauce, basil and house-made mozzarella cheese matched the perfection of the "I can't believe it's gluten-free!" crust!

In addition to the signature 'fried' pizza, we also got to try a regular gluten-free pizza and my husband sampled the gluten crust pizza and actually preferred it to the regular crust!  The only time he's ever said that about gluten-free pizza was in NYC.  I slightly preferred the Montanara 'fried' crust pizza over the regular gluten-free crust, but both options were fabulously delicious!  It's not easy to tell from the photos that the non 'fried' crust is slightly larger than the regular one.


Once I tasted the crust on the first Neopolitan style pizza at Don Antonio's, I realized I'd actually forgotten how wonderful fresh pizza crusts can taste.  There are some amazing and some very good frozen gluten-free crusts out there, to be sure, and there are some that are pretty much inedible.  It's reasonable to assume that there will always be more frozen gluten-free crust options than fresh ones.  That's why it's particularly special to be able to enjoy such a special pizza made with a FRESH crust and ingredients without having to fly to NYC or Naples!
    
We topped off our wonderful meal with a dessert made up of fried gluten-free dough and Nutella.  It was decadently delicious - what else is there to say?!  There is a full bar and the specialty cocktail options totally rock!  Feast your eyes on the special pies and other things at Don Antonio's here.



One of the most delightful things about dining at Don Antonio's is the way the staff makes you feel like family - it really is like being in Italy in the heart of Buckhead - in terms of the fabulous food and the service.  We were lucky enough to meet owner and renowned chef, Roberto Caporuscio (see above photo)during our visit and he explained about the extensive cross contamination prevention procedures they have in place.  Roberto's daughter was in the ATL for a long stint to train the staff which included proper gluten-free prep and service from the back of the house to the front.  Be sure to check out this fabulous addition to the Atlanta pizza scene whether you're gluten-free or not!

Let's talk about gluten-free fritters!

For someone who used to avoid going to the grocery store at all costs, it still amazes me that I can entertain myself at even a regular gro...