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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Noodles & Co. and Gluten Free...

Last week when my daughter came to visit I took her to her all time favorite place to eat, Noodles & Co. I had never known this company existed until we moved to Ohio for my husbands job. My favorite location is their small quaint restaurant nestled beside several other businesses along a stretch of Hamilton Road in Gahanna Ohio. Although they have several franchises in different states they were unfamiliar to this small town girl until my move to Ohio.

The first time my husband and I had visited them for lunch was before starting my wheat free living adventure and I could eat almost anything I wanted on the menu. We haven't gone there recently as I was so sure that all their foods were basically off limit except for the Pad Thai. One can not live on  Pad Thai alone ....

The day before my daughter was suppose to arrive I decided to browse their online menu  just out of curiosity as I wanted to surprise her with her favorite treat. I was pleasantly surprised at the several dishes I could actually have.

Now like any restaurant, Noodles & Co. can't promise that there might not be a chance of cross contamination, but they did everything in their power to prevent it. The waitress made sure to let the chef know I was gluten intolerant so as to use every precaution. He even washed the pan before beginning my meal.

I ordered the Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine with the substitution of rice noodles in my meal. It was absolutely delicious, and I have to say I am a little embarrassed as I ate almost the entire dish! Anyone who knows what generous portions Noodles & Co. serves might be tempted to call me "Piggy".

My daughter not only sampled my dish but had to admit it was really delicious, even though she does not eat gluten free herself. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal, and we had such a enjoyable time.

The girl who had taken our order at the counter came to our table several times to make sure we were satisfied. Now when in this type of situation I find myself quite unsure if I should leave a tip, as one actually places their order at the counter. I decided to leave a tip on the table anyway as they actually clean the tables after you leave, so I feel they deserve a small token of appreciation.

The cost for the portions they give is a drop in the bucket. Two meals with salads, and one beverage costs just a little over $15.00. I would have spent that much at a fast food drive through and not had such a healthy, enjoyable meal...

There are actually 12 items on the menu that are gluten free. I have listed them for your convenience. When visiting please let the person you place your order with know that you have gluten allergies and need to replace the noodles in these dishes with rice noodles. It also helps the chef to be more aware when preparing your meal.

Gluten free menu items by substituting rice noodles:

Penne Rosa
Pesto Cavatappi
Pasta Fresca
Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine
Spaghetti with Marinara
Buttered Noodles

Also no gluten in these:

Pad Thai
Chinese Chop Salad with fat free Asian dressing and no wanton strips
The Med Salad without Cavatappi noodles
Caesar Salad without croutons
Tossed green Side Salad with fat free Asian dressing
Cucumber Tomato Side Salad

Well I have errands to run this morning and then I am treating myself to lunch...you guessed it...at Noodles & Co.

Have a great wheat free day. I know I will!
Sharon

* I did not receive any compensation for this post what so ever. I just feel they deserve a "shout out", that is more than deserved!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Xanthan Gum & Guar Gum measurements..

Both Xanthan gum and guar gum are used in gluten-free cooking to bind, thicken and emulsify gluten free ingredients. If you don't add one of these gums to most of your gluten-free baked goods, they will likely end up very crumbly. Believe me when I say I have learnt from personal experience that this is all so true!

 One gum works about the same as the other, it basically comes down to any food allergies you may have.

Xanthan gum is a corn-based, fermented product. It's made by fermenting corn sugar with a microbial called "Xanthomonas campestris." It's used extensively in the food industry to make products thicker and is a common ingredient in gluten-free recipes for baked goods.

If you use too much xanthan gum in a recipe you may notice a heavy, gummy or even a slightly slimy texture in your baked goods. Be sure to measure carefully when using xanthan gum.
If you have a allergy or sensitivity to corn you may be advised by your physician to avoid xanthan gum. 

Guar gum comes from the seed a of bean-like  plant, sometimes referred to as the Indian tree. It is high in soluble fiber. Guar Gum is often said to have as much as eight times the thickening power of cornstarch. You must be careful when measuring guar gum in gluten-free recipes, or you may end up with heavy, stringy baked goods.

Guar gum is a high fiber product from the legume family and has been associated with gastrointestinal upset in some people. If you don't tolerate beans well in the digestive system you might want to stick to using Xanthan Gum in your baked goods.

Each type of baked good react differently if  Xanthum Gum or Guar Gum if measured improperly, so use the proper measurements for each in your recipes.

The basic measurements for each are as follows:

Bread and pizza dough recipes: Add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour used in bread and pizza dough recipes.

Cakes, muffins, and quick bread recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup of gluten-free flour used.

Cookies and bar recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon (or less) xanthan gum or guar gum per each cup of gluten-free flour used.

* If using a pre mixed flour be sure that either Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum hasn't already been added to the mix before adding more.

I hope this information helps in your future baking attempts. As always have a great wheat free day!
Sharon

Monday, March 18, 2013

Astoria Mills gluten free mixes...


Morning all. Several months back I had received all seven of Astoria Mills unique Baking Mixes from Trina Astor-Stewart the owner of the company. With all the moving around in my kitchen this past year they somehow got pushed to the back of the cupboard and sadly forgotten :(  I am so glad I decided to do some rearranging last night out of boredom, as nothing good was on the TV,  and I found them hidden in the back.

This is one company's products that I was very anxious to try as their selection of mixes can make everything from cakes, cookies, breads, pierogies and pasta, to pancakes, and everything in between. Downsizing in the home has its advantages, but not in this case. It was my family that was missing out on this treat.

Trina and her husband started the company out of need, as many companies do. Her husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and the need to eat gluten free became a necessity. Later Trina herself was diagnosed with the disease.

Trina was raised on good Southern cooking so it was important to her that in converting to a gluten free lifestyle, that not only did taste have to be the number #1 priority, but that it was equally important that  her mixes needed to perform well. They also had to have  good nutritional value, something many other gluten free mixes on the market are missing.

Today I will be posting a few of my favorites recipes using Astoria Mills Mix #3 which is their Fine Flour mix. I will be using a brownie recipe from my collection I have accumulated over the years, and a basic homemade recipe for pancakes I found in one of my cookbooks, both using mix #3 as the flour in these recipes. Trina has many other recipes posted on her blog, as well as video's to explain using the various mixes, but today we will focus on Mix #3 using my own personal recipes. You can also find a e-book on her site with hundreds of recipes using the Astoria mixes which she has personally tested.

The mix we will be using for these recipes is  free from gluten, wheat, milk, lactose, casein, soy, bean/pea, sesame, tree nut, peanut, and sulphites. (It is processed in a facility which also processed soy). I wasn't sure if this was the mix I was suppose to to use for my brownies, but since the package says this particular mix can be used to make Tortes, Fine cakes, Crepes, Crackers, breads, biscuits, fresh pasta, pierogies, and phyllo dough, I decided to give it a try.

I know it seems like I am always posting brownie recipes on the site, but please bear with me...Brownies are a all time favorite in this house, and it is one of the easiest desserts to make in a hurry. Pancakes are easy to make and quite filling and I needed breakfast FAST!. If you have the dry ingredients pre mixed and on hand they are also quick! They are great for those lazy weekends when most everyone is home.

So with this said, I will post both recipes for your enjoyment. I must say that these brownies are the first to actually get that thin crispy top like those of wheat laden brownies. The texture was light and moist with just a hint of fluffiness. Delish!!!

The pancakes rose to perfection and were moist and filling. Mix #3 met all my expectations and then some. I will definitely keep this mix on hand for these two particular recipes in the future. My only regret is that I didn't try this mix sooner!

Have a great day....and make it wheat free!
Sharon

 Pancake recipe:

1 cup Astoria Mills mix #3
1 T granulated sugar
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 - 1 1/4 cups milk (mix to your liking to make pourable)
2 T vegetable oil
1 large egg

Mix all dry ingredients together thoroughly. Add liquid ingredients and mix until batter is smooth. Drop by 1/4 cup measurements on a pre heated, well oiled griddle or skillet. Turn when bubbles start to form on outside edge. Cook until done.






Brownies:                                                                                                                    

3/4 C Astoria mills mix #3
3/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine (I used margarine)
2 T water
1 package 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 inch square baking dish.
In a small bowl mix together the flour, xanthan gum, and baking soda.

In a small pan combine the sugar, butter, and water. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, remove immediately.

Stir in just 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the vanilla extract, stirring until the chocolate chips are melted, and mixture is smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and cool until just barely warm. Stir the eggs into this mixture one at a time, beating well with a pastry whisk. Gradually stir in the flour mixture and blend until the mixture is smooth, and there are no lumps.

Stir remaining chocolate chips and nuts into the batter and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pan on a cooling rack to  cool completely, then cut into squares.

* Note: I used a glass 9x9 pan and baked the full 35 minutes.
 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Jello Salad...




Since I am part Irish and tomorrow is Saint Paddy's day, I thought I would share my favorite salad with you. It's quick, simple, and delicious.
Hope you enjoy!!!
 
Ingredients:
2 packages lime Jello (3 oz.)
1 can crushed pineapple (small)
1 pkg. cream cheese, (8 oz.)
1/4 cup walnuts
1 c. shredded cabbage
Just a pinch of salt

Dissolve Jello in 2 cups of boiling water, then add 1 1/2 c. cold water. In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese and pineapple together.  Add cabbage and pinch of salt. Stir well and add nuts. Fold in jello mixture and refrigerate until set.
 
Make it a wheat free day!
Sharon

Friday, March 15, 2013

EARTHPASTE..by Redmond Trading Brands...

Today I tried EARTHPASTE, a all natural tooth paste from Redmond Trading Brands. I had initially contacted the company with a interest in their Real Salt product, and they were kind enough to send me several of their other products to sample as well. I have used this tooth paste the past several days now, and I have to tell you that my mouth has never felt fresher!

Each ingredient comes from the earth, and EARTHPASTE comes in its natural color, the way it should be, with NO artificial colorings. This paste delivers all the benefits that you expect from a tooth paste with none of the added chemicals, unnatural additives, or fluorides. I really like the fact that it is safe for my young grandchildren in case they should swallow it, or kids of all ages :)

I received their Lemon Twist, and Wintergreen flavors to sample and review, and have enjoyed both. I have to say though that my favorite was the Lemon Twist. I liked the fact that I didn't have all that "FOAM" in my mouth that usually makes me gag when brushing my teeth from my regular tooth paste. The Lemon Twist left my breath fresh, with a soft lemon taste following the brushing.

The company offers four flavors. Cinnamon, Lemon Twist, Peppermint, and Wintergreen. Although the Wintergreen also has a great taste, I personally prefer the Lemon Twist. The ingredients list is simple and yet beneficial.

Lemon Twist:
Purified water, Food Grade Redmond Clay, Xylitol, Real Salt, Lemon Essential Oil, Lemon Verbana Essential Oil, Tangerine Essential Oil, Lime Essential Oil.

Wintergreen:
Purified Water, Food Grade Redmond Clay, Xylitol, Wintergreen Essential Oil, Menthol, Redmond Real Salt, Tea Tree Oil

Each come in a 4oz tube and sell for just $7.99. I would recommend this toothpaste highly as it is all natural, and safe for all ages. You can find all the flavors and information about other products they offer at  http://www.redmondinc.com/our-brands/for-your-body/

Until next time...Have a great wheat free day!
Sharon

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Taste Of Gluten Free's Chocolate Chip Cookies mix...

I am expecting company tomorrow and as usual when I should be vacuuming, dusting, and all the other things that need done when you are expecting guests,.... I decided to bake cookies....I bake when I get stressed!!

Everyone seems to love the all time favorite chocolate chip, and since Taste Of Gluten Free was kind enough to send me their Chocolate Chip Cookie mix to sample and review,  what better time to give them a try.

I have to admit that at the present I am about half way through the baking and I have already sampled 3 cookies, one from each batch as they come out of the oven. Couldn't help myself! These taste so much like the the Nestle Toll House recipe that it is hard to tell they are gluten free!

The recipe calls for butter, but being the brave baker that I am I decided to opt for margarine. I feel sometimes that butter in a recipe takes away from the other flavors I want impacted. Definitely margarine cannot be substituted for butter in all recipes, but I found that substituting it in this particular mix worked well for me.

The cookies rose to perfection and the smell in the house was quite fragrant. I have tried making gluten free chocolate chip cookies before from scratch, but find that this mix saved me allot of time, money, and stress.

The last batch is in the oven as I write, and I find that I will have 5 dozen cookies from this mix as I must have made them a little smaller than normal. Their home site says the mix will make about 3 dozen. They were quite easy to make and definitely delicious. You just add butter, (or margarine...I used Country Crock), 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. The chips are not in the mix so you will have to add your own, but that is okay with me as I can add a few extra for a more chocolate taste. The more the merrier!!! (Check out Costco's in your area for huge bags of Nestle Chips, at HUGE savings)

Taste Of Gluten Free products are made in the USA in Georgia. Their mission is simple: to provide the best products and service to their customers at the lowest prices possible. They are commitment to customer service by offering the best & easiest do it yourself mixes for you to create great tasting fresh baked bread and goodies. All products on their site cost $6.00, whether bread, cookie, pizza crust, or cake mixes. It would me cost that much to buy all the fours separately, and I believe I still wouldn't come up with as good of a cookie as this.

You can purchase their mixes at http://www.TasteOfGlutenFree.net They accept Visa, MasterCard, as well as Discover for purchases. They also offer a 100% guarantee or your money back, although I am sure you will definitely be satisfied with this mix! Delivery is 3-5 days after the item is shipped from their facilities.

I loved this mix and the flavor of the cookies so much I am off to have another :)

Have a great wheat free day.
Sharon

Friday, March 8, 2013

2Brothers2Sisters Pizza Crust

Hi all. I have just returned from a hectic but enjoyable week with family in Pennsylvania. I am now trying to recuperate from all the driving and running around. Being somewhat in a regrouping mode, last night I decided on a early Pizza night...

2Brothers2Sisters had sent me several of their pizza crusts to try so I already had most of the work done for me. Not much in the house to work with as I had decided to wait until my return home before buying groceries, but I did have my standard staples of pizza sauce and grated cheese on hand as I always do.

I topped the crusts and popped them into the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Before I begin to tell you about the results, first let me tell you about the crusts themselves. They look just like those in your favorite pizza parlor. Each is hand made and comes with their own cardboard crisper, and metal baking tray for easy convenience. Quick and easy.....now on to the taste.

I know I have ranted and raved before about other pizza crusts I have tried, but this really was a superb crust. It has great texture as well as flavor. It held up wonderfully to the sauce and cheese, and has the superb ability to bend, which I am sure would almost guarantee it could stand up to any amount of toppings you would add!

There are several topping ideas on their site to try which I will do in the future, when my cupboards are better stocked. The company is run...you guessed it...by 2 brothers and 2 sisters, Mara, Michael, David and Marissa. I spoke personally with Maura and she was very informative about the company and product. The nicest thing about the company is that they basically started not to make money, but to help people by making a delicious desirable product for those in need with allergy restrictions to wheat, nuts, and dairy.

You can order their crusts from their home site at http://www.2brothers2sisters.com  I can't say enough good things about this company. They are polite, delivery was prompt, and the crusts just plain delicious, and are a "must try".

The crusts come in 3 pack, or a 8 pack, for convenience. I hope you stop by their site and check them out. Tell them Sharon from Wheat Free Living & Me sent ya!

As always...Have a blessed wheat free day!
Sharon