A while ago, I bashed Nut Thins. I had bought them in my favorite nut flavor, almond, and they were terrible. Like horrible. Crispy pieces of cardboard horrible. Luckily, I have a gluten-free friend, Lauren, who was able to pass on this nugget of wisdom: the only Nut Thins worth buying are the Pecan flavor.
Lauren knows what she is talking about! After hearing this, I went out and picked up a box at my local Shaw’s ($3.17 a box) along with some of my favorite cheddar cheese and concocted one of my favorite snacks, cheese and crackers. The pecan flavor is a wonderful complement to the sharpness of the cheddar and I love the crunchy texture. And with just 130 calories per 16 crackers, they give you the crunch you’re craving without putting you over the edge.
Some of the most difficult parts of living gluten-free, in my opinion, are finding products in the local grocery store that I can be sure are gluten-free and rationalizing the high costs for known gluten-free brands. Since most of us gluten-free people spent a good few years enjoying gluten before the onset of Celiac’s, we do in fact know what we are missing and we miss it, goddamn-it! Just today I went grocery shopping in my local Shaw’s, and still, even after years of living with my intolerance, I found myself reading labels, scanning for glutenous ingredients and getting frustrated. I still find this a challenge — every package is marked differently and I get distracted by all the funky-named preservatives, etc.
However, General Mills (Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Larabar, Chex, Progresso Soup) has begun to make the shopping process much easier. In addition to starting a website, www.livinglutenfreely.com, they clearly mark their products “Gluten Free.” I’ve noticed it on Yoplait yogurts, and you’ll be able to find it as well, below the ingredients and above the copyright. Their website has a list of products that are gluten-free as well as several recipes for different desserts and snacks that they plan on expanding. I can’t wait to try the Chex Apple-Almond bars! The Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes are easy, tasty, reasonably priced and can be found in the supermarket. How can you go wrong?
That General Mills is dedicating the time and resources to a gluten-free website and gluten-free products is exciting for me. Hopefully their efforts will expand awareness, expand the market, and maybe someday gluten-free grocery shopping will be a breeze. So thank you, General Mills, for helping us live a life more “gluten-freely.”
Rejoice! Betty Crocker makes cookies for the gluten-free, too! The discovery of this product in my hometown grocery has sort of revolutionized baking for me. Gluten-free baking has never felt so accessible — a household name on the box, a low price on the sticker, and simple, easy-to-follow directions printed on the back. And it’s only the gluten that is missing! Sure, casein-free or sugar-free cookies are probably better for me, but when I bake chocolate chip cookies, I’m looking for a cookie that harkens back to my youthful days when I didn’t know what calories were, nor how bad sugar is for you. My friend Betty brings back those memories for me in just three easy steps.
These cookies are very good, only a slight graininess to their texture. The directions say to let them sit 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack, but I would leave them longer. They were very soft and fell apart easily when I tried to move them. Mine baked thin and were a bit flimsy, so next time I think I’ll try baking them for longer.
Not only is this mix easy to whip up, but it’s priced much lower than most other gluten-free cookies. At $3.39 at my local Hannford, these cookies may be a bit flimsy, but their taste is not unlike that of Betty Crocker’s usual mix!
Forget about turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, string beans, gravy, and apple pie. Thanksgiving at my house means one thing: gluten-free pumpkin whoopie pies! These delicious treats have been a staple during the holidays in my house since I was a little girl. Over the years my mother has adapted a recipe she found in the Boston Globe to the perfect gluten-free version. May your family enjoy them as much as we do, and happy Thanksgiving!
Laura’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
For the pies:
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
For the filling:
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup shortening
To make the pies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
In a mixer or food processor, mix the sugar and oil. Add the pumpkin and eggs. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining pie ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and mix well. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely before adding filling.
To make the filling:
Mix the egg white, milk, vanilla and 1 cup of the sugar in a food processor or mixer. Add the second cup of sugar and the shortening. Mix well. To assemble the pies, spread a dab of filling on the flat side of one cookie. Top with another cookie to form a sandwich. Makes about three dozen.
248 Broome Street (between Orchard & Ludlow) | New York City, NY 10002
Happy birthday… to me! Over the weekend I visited friends in New York, and in honor of my 23rd, my best friend K took me out for a special treat. We traversed through lower Manhattan on a surprise journey to… Babycakes!
Babycakes is an adorable little bakery that specializes in treats for people with food sensitivities. Using organic, natural and health-conscious products (like agave nectar over white sugar or artificial sweeteners), they endeavor to make guilty pleasures a little less guilty and more accessible to people with restrictive diets. And so for me, Babycakes made it possible for my friend and I to enjoy cupcakes for my birthday!
I ordered a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and K ordered the gluten-free pumpkin cupcake. The chocolate cupcake was just okay, it didn’t taste exactly like chocolate, there was something a bit off. I prefer Betty Crocker’s mix. The pumpkin cupcake, however, was excellent. Fluffy, tasty, and not a taste betraying it’s composition being utterly unlike most cupcakes — made without gluten, dairy, soy and eggs.
While my own order was a bit less than spectacular, the novelty of a pink and white bakery specializing in gluten-free baked goods was more than enough to make up for it. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and the place was packed the whole time we were there. I will definitely head back to try their cookies next time I am in New York. And if you find yourself in LA, you too can enjoy these gluten-free treats — Babycakes will be opening another location there soon.
Gluten-free crackers… that taste like crackers?! I know. It sounds crazy. But I come bearing good news. They do exist!
Glutino’s Gluten Free Crackers are awesome! I could seriously live off cheddar and crackers, however, since I returned from study abroad in London, I haven’t been able to find any good gluten-free crackers in America. Don’t even get me started on Nut Thins…
These crackers are the perfect size and texture and they taste real. They even crumb like real crackers! Sometimes, it’s the little things I miss about eating gluten, and these crackers make for a great snack. So, go ahead! Throw a wine and cheese party, you can partake in the cracker action now, too!
54 Main St.
Orleans, MA 02653
My gluten-free discoveries are usually deliberate. Either I follow-up on a recommendation or I do some research and seek out places others have reviewed. Cape Cup, however, was a discovery by chance. I was on the way to spend the day at Nauset Beach on Cape Cod with some friends when the other girls began demanding a Dunkin’ run. After a stop at the adorable Friend’s Marketplace for gluten-free beach snacks (cheese and rice crackers…mmm!), we were about to head out of our way to Dunkin’, when the local among us suggested the much closer (not to mention cuter) Cape Cup.
I wasn’t in the mood for coffee, so I elected to stay in the car. I couldn’t help but gush to our local friend at how incredibly adorable and clever I found the name Cape Cup for a coffee shop! I already loved it. That love was reaffirmed when, as she was getting back into the driver’s seat, my sister threw a bag of baked goods at me. One look at her smile and I knew they were gluten-free.
What a delicious treat they were! She picked up chocolate chip cookies and muffins. They cookies were rather thin, crumbly and crunchy, but they were loaded with chocolate chips and tasted fresh-baked, not dry like the store-bought kinds you can find in supermarkets. I quite enjoyed them. I found the Gluten-Free Blueberry-Oat muffin to be delicious. Unlike the Whole Foods muffins, it was light and not too moist. The addition of the gluten-free oats gave it a more complex and textured taste than most gf products and I really enjoyed that.
Upon investigation of their website, it seems Cape Cup offers other gluten-free menu options and different specials. If you’re on the Cape, I’d recommend getting your morning coffee at Cape Cup… and grabbing a treat while you’re at it!