Thursday, November 13, 2014

Midnight (or day) with Garden Lites - they're good, not evil :)

Most people think soufflés are all eggs and cheese or chocolate. Occasionally, some extras
can be tossed to ratchet up the flavors for an entree that is more substantial.  Unknown to
many is that all soufflé recipes call for wheat flour - usually a tablespoon or two. Even this small amount can be unhealthy for those who are wheat intolerant (and worse for those with Celiac).

Garden Lites ( ) has developed some great gluten-free soufflés for everyone to enjoy. Light and low in calories while packed with protein and other nutrients, the flavors range from Butternut Squash to Southwestern to Zucchini. 

Each frozen selection can be made in an oven or microwave and can be served as a light entree (top with cheese and bacon bits to enhance them) or a side dish. Easy to find in the freezer section at a local Super Target store on Park Boulevard and the Tollway (, the Garden Lites also has a page on their website to locate all stores in your area to find all of their products.

Look for muffins, veggie chili and cornbread melt, and many other special seasonal
vegetable treats (like Pumpkin Spice Soufflé). 

There's a lot of good eating from this garden.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eating away from home for three days ( or - why I pack like a Bedouin)

     Last weekend I attended a conference for nonfiction writers.  The location was a national 4-star chain hotel conference center (Elizabeth Taylor was once married to one of them, so you get the idea). All meals were included in the conference price - which had gone up this year.  Having attended this event before, I knew that the hotel and its catering department had done a great job of providing an assortment foods for an assortment of guests. Not so this year.

    In addition to having few selections that were gluten-free for breakfast (how hard is it to put out containers of yogurt?), the lunch and dinner options were heavy on sauces containing flour and lots of pasta.  Haven't they considered rice or potatoes?  The catering staff were very helpful in finding non-gluten products for me (like oil and vinegar for a salad... not an entire meal). Fortunately, I am just 'wheat intolerant' and not a Celiac like another guest who attended is. She was really hungry... until I flashed her my stash of gluten-free goodies.

    From soy chips ( to nutrition bars ( I had packed a bunch of my favorite 'side dishes' that can take a bowl of fruit or a salad and turn it into a meal.  And, I kept them in my ridiculously large tote bag wherever I schlepped with enough to share with the curious and the desperate.   (You would think that I get $$$ from these product shout-outs, but I don't. So, you can trust what I say.)

    Don't be sensitive about packing like a Bedouin. Take care of yourself, and you won't be hungry while eating gluten-free away from home.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What do honey bees, the 4th of July, and gluten-free eating have in common?

There is a lot of good eating to be done on a 4th of July weekend and most of it is naturally gluten-free. Meats, poultry, and fish that get tossed on the grill with just some herbs and spices are great choices. To keep it simple, just a good old-fashioned all-beef hot dog wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with some spicy mustard will work, too. Add some baked beans, potato salad, or cole slaw as side dishes and you have the makings of a feast. Even the lowly potato chip (regular salt, no flavorings) is gluten-free.
Finish your meal with an ice-cold watermelon cut into big thick slices, or a red-white-and-blue special treat using Haagen-Daz vanilla bean ice cream topped with strawberries and blueberries. You and your guests will have eaten a festive meal that everyone can enjoy. ( To add an interesting topic to conversation with the 'oohs and aahs' when the dessert comes out, you might take a look at what Haagen-Daz is doing for the environment through its support and research about the honey bee. (
Haagen-Daz reports, "...over the last five years, we've lost over one-third of our honey bee colonies nationwide, due to factors such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an alarming phenomenon that occurs when honey bees mysteriously desert their hive and die. Researchers do not know exactly what causes CCD, but they believe there may be many contributing factors, including viruses, mites, chemical exposure, and poor nutrition." For every Haagen-Daz product purchased, the company donates to the research being done by the University of California - Davis which has the most comprehensive facilities in the nation dedicated to saving the honey bee (and its major role in the food supply we enjoy... like those berries to put on top of ice cream.)
Everyone enjoys a traditional treat like ice cream especially when celebrating an important birthday like the 4th of July. So indulge with a good quality gluten-free dessert, help the honey bee keep those yummy berries ripening to perfection, and have a happy and safe holiday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Wall Street Journal, gluten-free food, and perpetuating a negative image

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a column in the business section of the newspaper titled 'The Gluten-Free Craze: Is It Healthy' ( Embedded deep within the story was a side-bar that stated this column was "first in a series about how consumer perceptions and corporate strategies shape the national diet."
This is what the nutrition and health news of the country have turned into - corporate strategies and a reporter's perceptions.
Interestingly, the article does state that about 20 million Americans (one to two million with Celiac disease and another 18 million with gluten intolerance) have a health requirement that necessitates that they eat gluten-free foods.
To put the size of this group into perspective: it is the same as the entire population of the City of Baltimore, MD; it ismore than Johns Hopkins Medicine website's estimated 15 million people in the U.S. with coronary heart disease (,P00243/)
Yet despite the size of the group of people who must eat gluten-free, the WSJ article still chose the word 'craze' to describe the increase in foods and consumer awareness surrounding this market segment. It makes the reader wonder whether the next drug company that brings a drug to combat coronary heart disease to market will be referred to as 'a craze.'
The writer in support of her position then shows three gluten-free products that have less nutrition than their 'with gluten' counterparts made from manufacturers who were adapting their existing product line. There was no information about readily available gluten-free products from mainstream manufacturers like Van'sSeeds of Change, and Bob's Red Mill and how they compare to those companies with dueling product lines - a more authentic comparison.
In addition, the article states that 'critics' view some product labeling as 'misleading' because certain manufacturers' products that have always been gluten-free (or trans-fat free, or whatever-free) are now labeled as such. Really. Accurate, clearly displayed information is now 'misleading'?
Many people without medical conditions chose to eliminate certain foods or ingredients from their diets because they feel better or have certain religious or social conscious beliefs. Why is there a stigma attached to those who chose to omit gluten?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Food for thought: an open mind can improve nutrition

Having a casual conversation with people about different foods and restaurants can often lead to more details about a person’s life. Their religious affiliation may include dietary restrictions. Their health issues might necessitate their avoidance of certain foods. Their chosen social consciousness may revolve around only eating particular food groups. And then, there are just the garden-variety picky eaters who only have a limited palate.
Sometimes though, a conversation can drift into that gray area of ‘diets’ that can make people feel uncomfortable (or even hostile). Why is it different when people talk about food and relate it to another facet of their lives (religion, health, or social consciousness) from a chosen diet regime?
On the one side, the ‘tellers’ are usually excited and motivated by their choice of diet. And, let’s face it - some people can be preach-y when they talk about the ‘one-true-way-to-eat-for-life.’ On the other side, the ‘listeners’ might be a little self-conscious about their own bad habits that have led to not feeling their best and subsequent feelings of defensiveness. Recently, there have been a lot of snarky comments in the news about gluten-free eaters and the surge in product options that are gluten-free in supermarkets and restaurant menus.
Even The New Yorker magazine got on a lighthearted bandwagon when it published a cartoon the week of April 28, 2014 that was captioned, "I've only been gluten-free for a week, but I'm already really annoying."( As recently as June 16, The New York Times proclaimed in a headline, 'Gluten-free eating appears to be here to stay' ( Really.
However, every once in a while, there is an opportunity for what might be called a ‘teaching and learning moment’ where food and diets and choices converge.
While being asked about the content of this column, a question was asked by someone who was not familiar with what benefits there were for people to eat gluten-free foods and products who did not have to for health reasons. Here is the response given.
There are many nutritional benefits to wheat-based products as well as convenience, affordability, and availability. Unfortunately, there are many products that have gluten and gluten derivatives used as fillers and preservatives that do nothing but take away from a quality food product. As an example, Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q sauces, marinades, and rubs are all made with pure ingredients (spices, oils, juices, vinegars, etc.) that do not include wheat gluten. Other purveyors of similar products choose to use wheat gluten as a thickener and/or flavor enhancer. Choosing products and prepared foods that are labeled gluten-free is one way to find many “regular” products that are of a higher quality just like Stubb’s product assortment (
The same example can be applied to the product of corn syrup. Corn syrup is a sugar. If it is in desserts, it is reasonable and makes sense (a sugar in a sweet product, of course!). If corn syrup is in tomato sauce, sandwich bread, and frozen dinner entrees, it becomes an ingredient that says the manufacturer just might be trying to use fillers and cheap ingredients (as well as making their products undesirable to customers who cannot or don't want to eat sugars).
Bottom line – we can all learn from one another about healthful options with open minds and sharp eyes on ingredient labels.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Salata - for salads that are great and gluten-free

Salata - The Next Generation Salad Bar is a restaurant chain making a commitment to healthy eating for all diners and especially those who eat gluten-free. Why? Salata states, "We respect the dietary restrictions of our customers and made a few modifications to our recipes to provide healthy dining options for all of our customers."

Wow. Salata gets it. Great recipes with a few modifications equals a menu for everyone to enjoy.
In addition, Salata informs diners that they do have a few items that are not gluten-free, that their restaurants are not a gluten-free environments, and to always be aware that cross-contamination can occur. They recommend that you speak with your location's Kitchen Manager, Owner, or Chef (who you will find are readily available and happy to help) before ordering because they practice "proper procedures when preparing gluten-free items and do our very best to ensure a final gluten-free product," according to their corporate offices.
Salata's website provides additional information on their products (dressings, soups, and sauces) as well as additional resources for their patrons at:
When you visit Salata here a few tasty tips to keep in mind because there is so much to choose from:
1) The first sign you see on the glass at the beginning of the salad assembly line encourages you to mention to a server if you need special assistance with a gluten-free meal. People are friendly and willing to help, so speak up.
2) There are lots of savory and sweet choices (from all the usual salad bar options and also a large variety of nuts & seeds, cheeses, dried and fresh fruits).
3) There are many dressings to choose from and the servers are happy to provide you with a tasting spoon so that you can sample them before your custom salad is tossed.
4) Go hungry. Portions are ample and a cup of one of the hot soups make a great add-on for a full meal.
To find a location near you, visit: and enjoy "Salata" great food.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Great gluten-free barbecue ideas and rich flavors for everyone

It can be difficult to find a variety of flavors in sauces, marinades, and spice rubs that are gluten-free. Look no further - there is Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q for everyone. (

Spice rubs come in four blends, and the 
Bar-B-Q and Steakrubs are particularly good - they are not only great rubs for meats, they also can be used for other dishes. Mixed into ground beef for an awesome grilled hamburger, or used as a sprinkle on top of a baked potato with butter and cheese, these rubs do double and triple duty in your kitchen.
Marinades come in six flavors. For the average cook, theChicken Citrus & Onion Marinade is a great staple to add to your pantry. Whether grilling chicken, or baking up some chicken tenders for a whole crowd, you can put the chicken in one or two zip lock plastic bags with the marinade in your fridge the night before for a deep flavor. Then grill or bake it all the next day for easy preparation - and time to enjoy your company. For the little more adventurous, try the Green Chile Marinade made with Hatch chilis, garlic, and lime as an enhancement to grilled or baked fish (like tilapia) and chicken and pork will work well, too. These two marinades give you many, many options.
Sauces also come in six flavors. Three varieties that will please everyone are the Spicy All Natural Bar-B-Q, theSticky Sweet, and the Original Bar-B-Q sauces. Whether basting your grilling meats as they cook or using them as a warmed-up dipping sauce after the meat is cooked, these sauces are deeply flavored and delicious. Most important, all sauces are made with pure cane sugar and molasses for sweetness (not high fructose corn syrup) for a richer, high quality product.
For even more recipes that are easy and will please a summer crowd at your house, visit Stubb's recipe page on their website at: Then, sit back and share some great food that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Zoe's Kitchen at Preston Road & Park Blvd - something for everyone

The outrageously rich flourless chocolate cake that became a restaurant dessert menu staple several years ago is an excellent example of foods that do ‘double duty’ for diners. Flourless chocolate cake is often described as ‘an indulgent treat for chocolate lovers.’ If you have ever had this cake, you know that it is as described. And, this cake is also gluten-free (though rarely is it advertised or written about that way).
Back in the 1970’s when the first version of a famous diet doctor’s low carb diet became popular, in the disallowed food list happened to be everything that contained wheat and almost all grains, too. As many people decided that eating low-carb was the best diet for them, they didn’t even realize that they were also eating a gluten-free diet. Hmm… see where this is going?
Sometimes, it may be better not to ask about gluten-free restaurant menu selections. Sometimes it is better to ask for low-carb or vegan options. Why, you may ask?
Many establishments believe that is they offer an item as gluten-free, they must certify it to be from a no cross-contamination environment. This simply isn’t so. People with Celiac disease who must eaten pure gluten-free foods know this. Those who are not sensitive to cross-contamination do, too.
If an establishment wants to certify an item as gluten-free, there are steps the must take to do so and insure that these steps are followed. However, any place can offer a wide variety and selection of foods that fit many people’s needs – and offer a short disclaimer as to the possibility of cross-contamination as open disclosure.
As a restaurant customer, by keeping your mind open to what different menus provide and how other dietary selections can also meet a gluten-free standard, you can have better dining experiences.
A restaurant you might want to check out is Zoe’s Kitchen ( for locations and menu), and before going take a look at their ‘Live Mediterranean’ style with options for everyone.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Keep calm and love gluten-free

What makes it acceptable to 'hate on' gluten-free eaters? Every article that judges gluten-free eaters as a fad dieters or worse, always includes a hasty statement with a nod towards those who have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. (The Wheat Foods Council on their website captions a video post: "It's the newest food fad out there: gluten free. Trace explains what gluten is and if there's any actual science behind all this anti-gluten rhetoric.")
Yesterday, Samantha Goodson of wrote, "...if you don’t have Celiac disease and you don’t suffer from symptoms like cramps or diarrhea after eating gluten, there’s no real health benefit to going gluten-free. In fact, there are even some risks to cutting it out. We can only assume that the fad will eventually fade out, leaving the gluten-free life to those who actually need to be living it." (
Ms. Goodson is not a medical professional, nor nutritionist. The video she links to the article is by a couple of guys that call themselves AsapSCIENCE. (Spoiler alert: these dudes have no professional standing, either).
If someone wants to omit meat or dairy (or both!) from their diet, the media is not marginalizing them as followers of a fad. People are trying to live a healthier lifestyle that they believe is best for them. They don't need a disease or a sensitivity to justify it. (And, why should those who do have to explain why they are eating/not eating certain foods?) In some communities, they are admired for their diligence. Why isn't it the same for people who do not eat foods with gluten?
Many people choose not to eat sugar, and they do not have diabetes. Today, many people are choosing not to eat gluten who do not have Celiac disease, nor Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). Tomorrow, if a group of people out there decides to stop eating salt... oh, wait a minute... there are people who don't eat salt. OK, well, how about if a group of people out there decide not to eat fat... right, there are those people, too. Do you get where this is going now?
Only you and your health care provider can determine what is best for you and your nutritional needs... not some ill-informed, humorless hacks.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Travel tips for gluten-free eating away from home

When you have to (or want to) eat gluten-free food while away from home, some pre-trip preparations need to happen to avoid hunger and always have a viable, nutritious choice. Let's face it, a banana or other fruit is nice, but it can get squashed along the way. A sack of potato chips in an airport isn't going to carry your energy level very long. So, here are some ideas to enjoy your trip whether it is for business or pleasure.
If you're going on a cruise or to an all-inclusive resort, meals and snacks are already in the price you have paid. The best time to speak up about your gluten-free needs is before you get to where you are going. A call to a cruise line, hotel or resort will not only have them aware of your need, but also may provide you with special selections to choose from. Even a small bed-and-breakfast in a country setting is often happy to accomodate a guest. It is your responsibility to ask and inform the establishment.
One cruise line that is especially helpful is Celebrity Cruises ( On their website page labeled 'Special Dietary Needs' they will provide the information on when to contact them so that they can have everything you need on board for a memorable vacation.
Taking a trip to 'the happiest place on Earth'? The website for Allergy Eats will tall you about each option in each park in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Take a look at the web page devoted to making everyone happy with many options for everyone to have a great time. See:
Most important (besides packing a sack full of your favorite gluten-free nutrition bars), is to download an app to your smart phone from Gluten Free Travel Site at At your fingertips will be restaurant reviews, resources, and a place for you to submit a review as well. Your input will help other travelers and you reap the benefit of others' experiences, too.
With a little prep time before any trip (and a handy app during it) everyone can now enjoy visiting a place and enjoying its cuisine away from home.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gluten-free websites that rock!

Finding unique and interesting information on all things gluten-free can be difficult if you don't have many hours to surf the 'net. Here are some places on the information highway you might like to 'land on' and enjoy for their original content, variety of products talked about, and originality.
One website that is the foundation for a magazine (and a blog, too) is Simply Gluten Free. Their link to this feast of information is: Carol Kicinski, who first published the magazine in November 2011, describes herself as, "...a professional recipe developer, television chef, magazine founder and editor-in-chief, freelance writer and cookbook author. I cook. I write. I travel. And I do it all gluten-free!" Carol also provides an enormous amount of recipes in every category you can imagine for ease of finding inspiration in one place. Click on the 'Recipes' tab and be prepared to be pleasantly overwhelmed.
Looking for a gluten-free vacation where you will not only be pampered, but have fun learning how to re-create the foods you love at home? Visit Jovial Foods at: You will learn about their story, the purity of their foods (they have a great product line), but also one interesting twist - they also have a travel site.
Several times throughout the year you can travel to Italy with co-founder, Carla, " experience first-hand that great Italian food can, indeed, be gluten-free and delicious. With nearly twenty years of experience as an organic food manufacturer, she also has a deep understanding of food, nutrition and cooking. Spending a week together with Carla will open your eyes to authentic Italian cooking with a New World sensibility,as she shares the secrets she has learned from her life in Italy. You will travel home feeling nourished and refreshed, with a vast assortment of einkorn, fish, heritage meat and seasonal vegetables dishes that you have mastered in hands-on classes."
And, just one more suggestion... visit to share in her blog and really get to know Shauna Ahern (a former English teacher) and follow her on a journey from undiagnosed pain and suffering to diagnosed with Celiac disease and now a 'Gluten-free Girl'. It is uplifting, encouraging, and interesting because in addition to the recipes, she also posts videos. Also, take a moment to review FAQ's - and if what you're looking for isn't there, you can email her. What a concept!
Have fun exploring these websites and please feel free to email me with yours. I would love to include them in a future column. Happy reading!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gluten-free guilty pleasures :)

For many of us who must eat gluten-freebecause of an intolerance or allergy to gluten, every now and then it’s great to indulge in a treat that gives you the satisfaction that only certain comfort foods can bring. Here are a few worth considering that are local and virtual...
First on the list are real, authentic 'Philadelphia Cheesesteaks'. There are those that say the roll is as important as what is inside it, but if you have great sliced steak meat and an abundance of cheese, the roll only plays a supporting… role! There is no better cheesesteak in Plano (or North Texas) than Fred’s Downtown Philly Cheesesteaks. Fred, a native of Philadelphia, ‘imports’ all his authentic ingredients and his team cooks it up on a flat top grill in the traditional style. Fred’s will take all that tender and tasty goodness and make you a ‘Cheesesteak Salad’ with no gluten products in it. Go. Eat. It will change your life.
There are lots of bakeries out there that claim they have gluten-free goodies to purchase. Sometimes, they don’t bake them every day. Sometimes, the stuff is plain nasty. However, there is one bakery (a national chain) that always is baking gluten-free red velvet cupcakes with sinfully rich frosting. That bakery is Sprinkles. There is only one location in Dallas on Villanova Drive off of Preston Road. Take a road trip if you must to this location or any of the others across the country that are near you – and I promise you will find a moist, chocolate-y red velvet cupcake generously frosted, gluten-free, and freshly made.
If you can't find it, make it. One of the best websites for gluten-free recipes that includes a hefty dose of humor is Writer Mellissa Sevigny creates terrific recipes out of easy to find ingredients. Make her ‘Cream Cheese Pancakes’ for a special breakfast or just everyday, and delight in knowing there is no flour in them and the protein is excellent. It takes 4 ingredients: eggs, cream cheese, sweetener (like Stevia or Splenda), and cinnamon. Rich and luscious topped with maple syrup and some sliced berries, this gluten-free dish will make everyone ask for more. Here’s the link to save you some time:
No one out there today has as wide a variety of amazing gluten-free recipes better than Mellissa and her blog I breathe… I’m hungry is a hoot!
Have fun this weekend. Whether trying out a new restaurant or recipe, everyone can enjoy eating a guilty pleasure food that is also gluten-free.

Friday, April 11, 2014

And the winner is... Allergy Eats - a website with all you need to know about eating out.

Allergy Eats, the online website that contains over 600,000 allergy-friendly restaurant listings across the U.S., has recently released their 'Best of' list for 2014. By diner feedback (and without restaurant input), here are the winners for the top category:
Large (restaurant chains with over 200 units):
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.45 rating)
* P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.43 rating)
* Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
Outback Steakhouse (4.35 rating)
Romano’s Macaroni Grill (4.20 rating)
(* personal favorites of this writer who has previously mentioned these chain restaurants in other columns)
In their press release, Allergy Eats (founder Paul Antico) states, "We’re pleased to announce the 2014 list of the Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in the country. These restaurants have demonstrated a superior willingness and ability to accommodate guests with food allergies. We applaud their exemplary efforts around food allergy protocols, training and education and congratulate them for earning a place on this prestigious list."
For people who must eat gluten-free or have other food allergies, there are many businesses who make the extra effort to see that all their guests needs are met in addition to providing the social interaction of dining out.
Antico goes on to say, “The Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains list – and the growing number of Allergy Eats ratings of all restaurants – help the entire food allergy community make more informed decisions about which restaurants to visit and which to avoid, based on how well (or poorly) they’ve accommodated others’ food allergies.”
To see all of this year's winners visit the Allergy Eats website at: In addition, you will find a variety of pages dedicated to resources, restaurant partners (even Disney World), gluten-free bakeries across the country, and a community blog to share information.
For an all-encompassing stop on the internet highway of information about food allergies and sensitivities, Allergy Eats is, itself, an award winner for variety and volume of resources.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gluten-free treats for spring holidays and special events (like the NCAA Final Four)

Spring is finally here and the holidays and celebrations that go along with this time of year will bring plenty of social occasions to attend. It may seem like a challenge to provide guests with gluten-free and delicious desserts, but many manufacturers’ websites feature recipes using their regular products that are naturally gluten-free.

The Hershey Company is one such manufacturer – and who doesn’t like Hershey’s chocolate? What may surprise you is that this company which is celebrating its 120th year in operation in 2014 still uses sugar, milk, chocolate, and cocoa butter to make their luscious milk chocolate.  Unlike other companies who substitute in cheaper ingredients, (like corn syrup) Hershey’s is still a high quality product.

Hershey’s website ( ) has many recipes that use their gluten-free products. You can find the whole list of them under the tab of ‘nutrition and well-being’. Although the recipes are written to include gluten ingredients, these candies combine nicely with gluten-free baking mixes to create a dessert that will know the socks off of your guests (just try Bob’s Red Mill Brownie Baking Mix

The classic Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup and the Reece’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups are (thank heaven) gluten-free.  Chop up the big ones and include them in a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix for a crowd pleaser.  Take the miniatures and drop them on top of prepared gluten-free brownie mix before baking and everyone will love you when you take the pan out of the oven. Bring a pan of these around while watching an NCAA March Madness College Basketball game and support the Reece’s sponsorship of this event, too.

For those of you making a flourless chocolate cake or cupcakes, Hershey’s also makes a wonderful cocoa powder and baking chocolate bar that is found on the baking aisle of most supermarkets around Plano – and everywhere, too.

Here’s to wishing you a spring season that is joyful and sweet with friends, family, and gluten-free goodness.