Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Frozen Assets

Talia di Napoli's gluten-free Margherita pizza
Ever since our son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 16 years ago, we've been on a seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect frozen gluten-free pizza. His tastes have changed - from the personal pizzas made by Foods By George that he devoured in his younger years to the hard-to-find gourmet American Flatbread varieties that he discovered more recently. One constant is that the frozen pizzas - and for that matter, most of the ones available in restaurants - do not have a distinctive crust.

Until now, dear readers. Talia di Napoli's gluten-free Neapolitan pizzas are a game changer and have immediately become our son's new favorite. Recently featured in Food & Wine and the New York Times, the company imports both traditional and gluten-free pizzas hand made in Naples, Italy. The gluten-free versions are certified by Coeliac UK (less than 20 ppm) and the company's owner told me that they are produced on sanitized lines on days when traditional pies are not made, and baked in a dedicated wood-fired oven then flash frozen - known as a "sleeping" process. They have a real, airy crust that we haven't seen in any other frozen pizza. In fact, these pies rival the taste and texture of craft coal- and brick-oven pizzas sold at local pizza shops.

The gluten-free Primavera pizza from Talia di Napoli
Why the difference? The 11" gluten-free pizza base is made with buckwheat flour, rice flour and - yes - gluten-free wheat starch. The use of gluten-free wheat starch, which helps makes Talia di Napoli's gluten-free pizza unique, is more prevalent in European gluten-free goods than in the United States; Schar's gluten-free croissants and waffles sold in America are made with the starch. Given the word "wheat" in the name, consumers understandably may be wary of consuming products made with gluten-free wheat starch and, indeed, those with a wheat allergy or intolerance should avoid such foods. However, research has shown no evidence that foods made with gluten-removed wheat starch are harmful to those with Celiac Disease. You can read more about gluten-free wheat starch here, here and here and here. (Of course, consuming gluten-free foods made with this ingredient is an individual choice and I'm not here to twist your arm.)

Talia di Napoli rotates its offerings monthly, but the gluten-free Classic Pack ($95.99) includes four Margherita and three Primavera pies. All orders ship free to U.S. addresses. Yes, these cost more than your typical frozen pizzas but believe me: it's worth it. Promotions vary, but currently using GRAZIE15 will get you 15% off, TALIA10 will get you 10% off and this link will save you $5.

Make room in your freezer and buon appetito!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What's New For Passover 2020

While COVID-19 might prevent families from gathering in person to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Passover, they can still have seders virtually using Facetime and Zoom.

This year, Passover begins the evening of Wednesday, April 8 and ends the evening of Thursday, April 16. 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.)

I've been chronicling new gluten-free Passover items for many years (you can read prior posts here), and this year brings many additions to the Seder table. Locally, many of these products can be found at ShopRite markets, particularly the one on Route 70 in Cherry Hill (Garden State Pavilions) and Wegmans stores.

Kosher food manufacturer Kayco, which recently acquired the Manischewitz brand, will be introducing new gluten-free products under various brand names (you can find all of Kayco's gluten-free products here.) The best-selling gluten-free matzo brand, Yehuda, returns with Original, Everything, Egg, Onion, Unsalted and Fiber Enriched varieties. Yehuda also has gluten-free matzo meal, cake meal and crackers.

This year, there are several new products under the Manischewitz label, including gluten-free Sicilian-style pizza and cold-brew coffee and tea macaroons.

This year, also look for new Gefen-branded gluten-free granola clusters, in maple almond and honey pecan flavors.
Kayco also has gluten-free Passover rolls, made with potato starch.

Also check the frozen-food section of your local market for even more varieties of gluten-free Passover pizzas and pizza bagels, blintzes, knishes and other items.

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'sLilly'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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo Returns on May 16

The 5th annual Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo on Saturday, May 16 is the premier area event for those with celiac disease or living a gluten-free lifestyle. There will be 80+ local and national vendor booths, as well as seminars, door prizes, samples galore, products for purchase and more. Spend a day in a gluten-free paradise as you learn, sample and experience new brands. Try and buy unique and artisan products and stock up on gluten-free goodies you can’t easily find.

The expo will again be held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Ave. - Hall C) in Oaks, Pennsylvania with free parking available. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, March 12, at noon Eastern.


VIP 9:45 a.m. EARLY ENTRY (limited availability)
$28.50 + fees (All kids 6 and over must purchase a ticket; 5 and under are free)
This ticket includes early 9:45 a.m. entry into vendor area, guaranteed goodie bag, and VIP area with exclusive VIP gluten-free samples and treats. VIP registration and VIP area with goodies opens at 8:45 a.m.

10:15 a.m. EARLY ENTRY (limited availability)
$18.50 + fees (Kids 12 and under are free)
This ticket includes early 10:15 a.m. entry into vendor area (45 minutes before general admission) and guaranteed goodie bag.

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. GENERAL ADMISSION
$10.00 + fees (Kids 12 and under are free)

Buy tickets online, or purchase by phone at 717-248-6741 M-F 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

General-admission tickets may also be purchased in person at The Happy Mixer in Bucks County beginning March 12 (VIP and Early Entry are online or phone only). VIP and Early Entry tickets sell out very quickly so the best chance to purchase them is to order online as soon as they go on-sale March 12.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Gluten-Free Education Evening at The Pop Shop Collingswood Set for March 31

Learn more about living gluten free deliciously at The Pop Shop's Collingswood, New Jersey location (729 Haddon Ave., 856-869-0111) on Tuesday, March 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will include a gluten-free buffet dinner, dessert by Bleu Bear Bakery, samples, coupons and more.

Yours truly will share tips for traveling and dining gluten free. Ravitz’s Family Market’s dietician, Ashley Cully, will offer advice and options for gluten-free shopping and cooking at home. All guests are encouraged to bring their favorite gluten-free recipes for a recipe swap.

This evening is excellent for people or caregivers with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and those who live with someone following a gluten-free diet.

Tickets are $26.95 per person and include tax and gratuity. Purchase them online at this link.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Step Beyond Celiac 5K Returns to Philly May 31

Lace up your running shoes, train, raise money and run (or walk) a 5K for research, education and early diagnosis of celiac disease to improve the quality of life for affected children and adults.

This year, the Philadelphia version of Beyond Celiac's Step Beyond Celiac 5K is scheduled for Sunday, May 31 at FDR Park beginning at 8 a.m. The event will raise funds to support research efforts and help the organization develop a global patient registry of people diagnosed with celiac disease who want to participate in research studies, including clinical trials.

All participants registered before May 1 receive a Step Beyond Celiac 5K shirt and post-race gluten-free goodie bag with treats and coupons from your favorites and some new-to-you gluten free organizations.

Early-bird registration (by March 31) is $30 and children 5 and under are free; use code 2FOR2020 and save $2.. Help me meet my fundraising goal by joining Team Gluten Free Philly at registration.