Friday, March 16, 2018

News & Notes: March 16, 2018

Before digging in to the news of the day, I want to thank all of my readers - new and old - for supporting my passion in publishing this blog. Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of my first post, which was a simple "Welcome." Since then, the gluten-free world has grown tremendously. It's so much easier now for my son to eat gluten free, whether in the kitchen or out of the house, than it was when I first started this endeavor. Though we've made much progress, our voices must continue to be heard.

Last week's Expo West gourmet and healthy foods trade show brought word of a number of new gluten-free products that are just out or will be soon. For starters, you can pretend you're back in college with Lotus Foods' rice ramen noodle soup. Organic brown rice noodles are blended with vegetables and spices to create three certified-gluten-free varieties: Masala Curry, Tom Yum and Spicy Miso.

Bobo's is adding to its line of gluten-free snacks with TOAST’R pastries, baked oat crusts filled with jams and nut butter. TOAST’R will launch nationally starting at Whole Foods Market in May.  Each box will retail at $2.49 and will come in four flavors: Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed, Strawberry Jam, Chocolate Almond Butter and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Bobo's products are certified gluten free by the GFCO.

Quinn Snacks announced two new additions to its gluten-free pretzel line, Maple Oat Twists and Deli Rye Style Pretzel Rods. All Quinn pretzels use Kansas-grown sorghum flour.

Birch Benders is launching of a new line of frozen toaster waffles in four flavors, including a gluten-free Paleo variety made in Belgium.

Friday, March 2, 2018

News & Notes: March 2, 2018

Hoping to turn around its reputation for "holey" bread, Udi's Gluten Free has sought to improve two of its best-selling loaves. The Multigrain and Soft White Sandwich breads have larger slices and a softer texture. The Multigrain variety is sold in 12-oz. loaves, while the white comes in 12- and 24-oz. versions.

In addition to puff pastry dough, Schar is also importing several other gluten-free frozen items to the U.S. this year, including kaiser rolls and pain au chocolat pastries. Like Schar's croissants, the pastries are made with certified gluten-free wheat starch, which is more commonly found in gluten-free products in Europe. You can read about certified gluten-free wheat starch at Schar's website as well as Gluten-Free Living and Gluten Free Watchdog; consuming products with certified gluten-free wheat starch is a personal decision for those with Celiac Disease; such products are not appropriate for those with wheat allergies.

Available in Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut varieties, Simple Mills’ new gluten-free soft-baked cookies are made with whole-food ingredients like almond flour, honey and coconut sugar. They have no refined sugars or preservatives. Each package contains eight cookies and retails for $4.99.

RP’s Gluten-Free Pasta is rebranding to become Taste Republic. The new Taste Republic pasta line will continue to be certified gluten-free, Kosher, and include fresh pasta favorites such as fettuccine, fusilli and lasagna as well as new items like plantain linguine. Look for the new line to be on retail shelves by May.

Locally, Snap Custom Pizza has opened its newest location in Jenkintown (1621 The Fairway, 215-935-6348), where guests can order custom-made gluten-free pizzas.

Turning Point just opened another southern New Jersey location in Moorestown (1690 Nixon Dr., 856-840-6167. The local breakfast/lunch cafe chain offers a gluten-free menu.

IndeBlue has closed its original location in Collingswood; its Philadelphia outpost in Midtown Village (205 S. 13th St., 215-545-4633) remains open.

Stephen Starr's Philadelphia restaurants have long been accommodating for gluten-free diets. I was able to gather (and have linked to) the current gluten-free menus at Pod, Jones, El Rey, Continental in Old City, Butcher & Singer, Buddakan, Barclay Prime and Alma de Cuba; others, like Morimoto, The Dandelion and Talula's Garden, have lists on site. Note that some restaurants, like Buddakan, do not have dedicated gluten-free fryers; if you're considering ordering fried items, be sure to check with management in advance or when you arrive.

Registration for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's annual Celiac Disease Education Day on Sunday, March 25 is now open. The 13th annual event will take place from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Colket Translational Research Building on CHOP’s campus. Children in attendance are provided the opportunity to attend interactive age specific lectures and to learn through play with CHOP child life specialists. Complimentary gluten-free meals are provided, and attendees can sample gluten-free products from several vendors. I'll be at the Beyond Celiac table, so feel free to stop by and say hello.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

With the updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,600 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's New for Passover 2018

While the Jewish holiday of Passover has not lost its religious meaning, it has in recent years become an unofficial gluten-free holiday. This year, Passover begins the evening of Friday, March 30 and ends the evening of Saturday, April 7. It's a time when many more gluten-free products are available at supermarkets. This grew out of the observance of certain segments of the Jewish population refraining from eating any wheat products during Passover. The packaging of many gluten-free products is expressly labeled as such, while others have a "non-gebrokts" notation. (As always, read the ingredient label before buying and consuming a particular item.)

Kosher food manufacturer Kayco will be introducing many new gluten-free products this year under various brand names (you can find all of Kayco's gluten-free products here.) The best-selling gluten-free matzo-style cracker, Yehuda, will have a Cinnamon version for the first time, joining Original,  Everything, Egg, Unsalted, Onion and Fiber Enriched varieties. Returning products include Yehuda's gluten-free matzo meal, farfel, cake meal and crackers.

Kayco's Gefen label will introduce fresh gluten-free gnocchi and fusilli pasta for Passover. Gefen will also have a new lasagna and two kinds of chow mein noodles on store shelves.

New from Kayco's Haddar brand are chocolate nut clusters (cashews, pecans and almond), soup croutons and panko crumbs (Original, Onion & Garlic and Barbeque).

This year, Manischewitz has two new gluten-free gefilte fish products: a frozen loaf and a pre-sliced version.

Lieber Foods is expanding their Passover baked-goods line with several kinds of mini cookies.

About a week or two before the start of Passover, supermarkets receive their shipments of fresh gluten-free cakes and cookies from New York bakeries such as Oberlander's, Lilly's Bake Shoppe and Schick's. Look for sandwich, black-and-white and rainbow cookies, cake rolls, decorative and layer cakes.

If you want to try "Mexican Coke" (made with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup), Passover Coca-Cola will be available in the Philadelphia area and other regions. Look for bottles with distinctive yellow caps.

Prices of some Passover foods tend to be higher than their non-holiday counterparts, so I suggest buying one of a particular item to see if you like it before stocking up. Keep an eye on Passover sections after the second night of the holiday, when markets tend to cut prices on whatever products are left.

Friday, February 16, 2018

News & Notes: February 16, 2018

They're not yet on the company's website, but Promise Gluten Free now has baked-in-store sourdough breads. (The Ravitz ShopRite stores in southern New Jersey currently have them on sale for $5.49.) The breads are shipped par-baked and frozen, then baked off in the supermarkets in their own bags to avoid cross-contamination; you'll have to slice at home. There are four varieties in all: Rustic White, Rosemary & Olive, Rustic Seven-Seed and Seeds & Fruit. So far, my son has tried the white bread and really liked it. It's more soft than crusty, but tastes especially good after being toasted.

The company making my favorite gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, Tate's Bake Shop, has introduced two more gluten-free flavors: Oatmeal Raisin (which are also sold at Trader Joe's under the store's own label) and Coconut Crisp.

Schar has introduced a chocolate-covered version of its popular Honeygrams cookies, made with dark chocolate and honey. Also coming soon from the company is a puff pastry dough.

The Jewish holiday of Purim begins the evening of Feb. 28 and of course that means noshing on filled hamentaschen cookies. Katz Gluten Free has a full complement of flavors - chocolate, apricot, raspberry, prune and poppy - available for online ordering. Support Gluten Free Philly and use promo code WELCOME20 using this link for 20 percent off your order.

Locally, Bryn & Dane's is serving up gluten-free wraps, salads and smoothies at its just-opened outpost in Malvern (615 Morehall Rd., 610-296-5555).

In Manayunk, Jamaican-Korean The Spicy Belly (3847 Terrace St., 215-482-2095) maintains a dedicated gluten-free fryer and uses a rice flour base for most items. The Korean and jerk wings, shrimp curry and pork belly lettuce wraps are some of the gluten-free items served.


Botto's Italian Line in Swedesboro (1411 Kings Hwy., 856-467-1570) has a large number of gluten-free options, including pasta (prepped separately), meatballs (made with gluten-free breadcrumbs) and sausage.

Further south in Vineland, Maplewood III (200 N. Delsea Dr., 856-692-2011) offers an extensive gluten-free menu that includes appetizers, pasta, entrees and desserts.

Jersey Mike's opened a location in Reading (3225 N. 5th St., 484-869-8559) earlier this week. Guests can order subs on Udi's gluten-free rolls at all Jersey Mike's locations nationwide.

Fox & Son is testing a fried gluten-free "Oreo"
This week, the all-gluten-free Fox & Son at Reading Terminal Market in Center City Philadelphia (51 N. 12th St., 215-372-7935) is offering - wait for it - fried gluten-free "Oreos" using Trader Joe's gluten-free Joe-Joe sandwich creme cookies. Based on early feedback, the owners are considering adding the treats to the menu permanently.

Another 100% gluten-free restaurant, Westmont's Heart Beet Kitchen (29 Haddon Ave., 856-240-1106) announced this week that it will be opening a location in Ocean City this spring. The address has not yet been revealed.

Turning Point announced a Summer 2018 opening for its newest Pennsylvania location in Newtown (2841 S. Eagle Rd.). The local breakfast/lunch cafe chain offers a gluten-free menu.

Studio Movie Grill will open a second Philadelphia-area location at Willow Grove Mall, likely sometime later this year. The first, in Upper Darby, offers gluten-free burger buns.

The Chester County GIG support group will meet on Thursday, March 1 at the Whole Foods in Exton beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting includes a store tour.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

(This post contains affiliate links.)

With the updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,600 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Reaping the Harvest

Harvest's gluten-free short rib flatbread
Former chiropractor Dave Magrogan made a splash as a restaurateur with multiple Kildare's Irish Pub locations throughout the Delaware Valley, but his focus these days is on the growing farm-to-table Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar.

Locally sourced cheese with gluten-free crispbread
 Many menu items at the celiac-friendly Harvest are under 500 calories and utilize mostly local ingredients, changing seasonally. Gluten-free options are listed on the main menu; most salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts fall into this category, either naturally or as modified. The kitchen also serves a variety of gluten-free flatbreads (baked on a separate sheet tray); gluten-free burger buns and mac-and-cheese  are also offered (the macaroni is separately prepared).

Grilled swordfish is among the fish options on the Winter menu
We recently had an excellent experience at the Moorestown location, where my son and I shared the gluten-free braised short rib flatbread (topped with smoked cheddar) and a four-cheese board served with nuts, fruit, house-made jams and gluten-free bread. We also savored bowls of creamy butternut squash soup made with locally sourced honey. My son followed that with a cuminy wood-fire grilled swordfish drizzled with lemon-onion butter. There's even a gluten-free dessert: three-bite peanut butter and chocolate mousse atop flourless chocolate cake.

Harvest rotates gluten-free desserts seasonally
While wine is clearly the backbone of the beverage menu, there is a cider option. Given Harvest's extensive gluten-free food selections, I was disappointed to see Omission - which is gluten-reduced and not truly gluten free - on the beer list, particularly since Magrogan's remaining Kildare's location in Scranton currently stocks three kinds of Glutenberg beer and multiple ciders.

Despite the beer demerit, though, Harvest scored well overall in offering a wide variety of delicious gluten-free fare.

Harvest has six locations in Eastern Pennsylvania (Glen Mills, Radnor, Harrisburg, North Wales, Moosic and the newest in Newtown), along with one in Moorestown, New Jersey and another in Delray Beach, Florida. Future outposts are planned for Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Tampa, Florida.