Pizza Hut’s New Gluten Free Pizza

Hum… not too sure how I feel about this. But Pizza Hut just partnered with Udi’s and been certified by the GIG to now offering two “certified gluten free pizzas” – one cheese and one pepperoni and cheese. (All other toppings are not certified – so if you’re Celiac, they’re off the table. Or… off the pizza. :) ) Here’s what Pizza Hut says:

“The Udi’s® Certified Gluten-Free crust is stored in a separate container, on a separate shelf in our fridge. The cheese, marinara sauce and pepperoni are stored in a gluten-free designated kit, and every gluten-free pizza is freshly baked on designated parchment paper in our ovens.
In addition to these storage techniques, team members who make your gluten-free pizza wear gloves and even use a designated gluten-free pizza cutter to cut your pizza to perfection.”

 

pizza2 RetouchedSo they’ve hit all my favorite buzz words “Certified”… “GIG” … “separate”… “designated.” But wait – that’s designated, not DEDICATED. I still have my (serious) reservations about this. It just seems too scary to contemplate going into a place where flour is flying around for regular pizza crusts. Wait. Maybe they don’t make the crust from scratch so it won’t be flour… I’ll have to look into this. But also, I don’t know about your local Pizza Hut, but the one that I grew up going to was staffed by an ever-revolving crew of young adults. And they don’t say anything about the GIG training the Pizza Hut staff, just that they “wear gloves.” Well… that doesn’t mean anything. What if they wear gloves, make a regular pizza and then a GF pizza? Contamination. Simply “wearing gloves” has nothing to do with gluten-free safety. Changing gloves… ensuring fresh gloves are used… those would instill more confidence. And the statement “they even use a dedicated pizza cutter” is nice, but where are they cutting it? On a dedicated cutting board? And the pizzas are “freshly baked on designated parchment paper in our ovens” – which means regular pizzas will be right next to it? Hum….

I just think this would be too risky for me. I pay with 5 weeks of pain for a speck of gluten. I just can’t see myself gambling my next MONTH+ of wellbeing into the hands of an angsty teen with authority issues. I know… I know… this is an extreme version of the probably reality. And maybe if I went and spoke to someone at the actual restaurant, I’d feel differently. Perhaps I should try that… go speak to our local manager and feel them out. Because our local Chipotle is a SCARY and unsafe place for Celiacs but our local Red Robin ROCKS and we’ve never been sick. So… maybe this needs further investigation.

Pizza Hut has a spreadsheet of all the locations that offer the Gluten Free pizzas here. They offer it at a restaurant about 20 minutes from our house… But until I look into it more, I don’t think we’ll try it? But that’s just me.

What do you think? Will you try Pizza Hut’s new Gluten-Free Pizza?

Book Review: “Gluten Free Quick & Easy” by Carol Fenster

As a Celiac with a full-time job and a family to feed every night, this simple little cookbook is the one I keep going back to for everyday meals – even after 40+ gluten-free books weigh down my bookshelves. “Gluten Free Quick & Easy” by Carol Fenster is a great recipe book full of simple, straightforward and family friendly weeknight gluten free meals. It’s full of shortcuts, time savers and tips… what to use and what to avoid.
There’s a great intro section with not only short entries on the seemingly requisite “how to navigate gluten free” and “what is gluten” topics but also ideas on how to save time in the kitchen, what to stock in your GF pantry, common GF baking mistakes, maximize meal planning and using “plan-overs” (Carol’s term for a meal plan that saves time by making things ahead – like buy two pounds of beef and brown it all, then use half that night and save or freeze the rest for another meal, like meat sauce or Sloppy Joes, thereby saving time on the second meal). There are sample meal plans – an eight week chart detailing what to have and when, so as to maximize those plan-overs. These introductory chapters only take up the first 50 pages (of 300+) but are packed with good info, regardless of if you’re just starting a GF diet or have been on one for years. And the rest of the 250 pages of the book is packed with quick and easy recipes.

Because this book is a bit older (2007) it predates a lot of the ‘fru-fru’ trends of current gluten-free cookbooks. You know what I mean? Those things that call for 4 different kinds of special-order flours that have to be sifted and refrigerated before use. Who has that kind of time?! While intricate, time and ingredient intensive recipes are nice to make once in a while, this is my go-to guide for some of our family’s everyday basics. Our son’s weekly Friday evening “Game Club” means whipping up a big, ooh-gooey batch of homemade Mac-n-Cheese for the gang of non-celiac 10-13 year old boys. It’s summarily DEVOURED without a word – a huge testament to it’s YUMMINESS! (We use Tinkyada elbows and Kraft Cheddar and add a dash of powdered garlic…)

Whenever we’re craving Asian cuisine, there’s a great Lettuce Wrap recipe (pg 149) that brings me back to those lovely days when we lived near a PF Chang’s (who has a great gluten-free menu and safe food handling practices, btw!). Hum…Now that I’m looking at it, this is actually one of the more time-intensive recipes because of all the veggies, but Carol has some little time saving tips to help minimize prep. And there’s a simple yet AMAZING Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe (pg 233) that will make the even consummate chocoholics drop their forks and roll their eyes in ecstasy. (I’m making myself hungry!)

And one of my favorite features of this book: Carol lists brands! Instead of just saying “gluten-free Asian fish sauce,” she lists “A Taste of Thai” after the ingredient. Not that things can’t change over the years and you still have to check it out by reading the label or calling. But knowing where to start is SO helpful. Newer books seem hesitant to do that, since ingredients change so frequently. But I love these brand listings!

Quick-Easy_GF_BookYummy recipes for things like crepes, drop biscuits, popovers, sauces and tons of Main Dishes will make your copy of “Gluten Free Quick & Easy” stained and worn with overuse. Recipes for Main Dishes like: Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Corn Mango Salsa, Crab Cakes, Salmon Burgers, Pork Schnitzel, Pan Seared Rosemary Pork Chops with Peaches, Sloppy Joe Wraps, Fettuccine Carbonara and Orange-Beef Stir Fry. And the desserts, oh the desserts! Chocolate Bundt Cake, Gingerbread, Pie Crusts, Cookies…! And overall most recipes are fast to make.

Serve these recipes to your non-GF friends and family and they’ll all incredulously say “I can’t believe this is gluten free!!!!” And you’ll smile and think, “And it was quick & easy!” Love this book!

 

Did NBC Fold Under Celiac Backlash?

Our Super Bowl party was super fun but as a host I didn’t get to watch all the commercials. Did NBC react to Celiac outrage and pull all gluten references? I do know that the NASCAR commercial after the (super tense, last-minute-changing) Super Bowl ended did not have the gluten reference in it! Did it only play once? If so, then they pulled it.

According to TheIndependent.com, it appears they did re-edit it to exclude the line. (EDIT: It seems The Independent pulled this post! So maybe they didn’t!!) But NASCAR tweeted about the spot with a link inviting people see the full length 2-minute version (with gluten line intact) after a shorter, 60 second commercial aired.

Read more about this here

And now it seems as though there’s a big “Get Over It!” backlash to the Celiac outcry backlash! People all over are warring over this gluten joke issue, like over on GlutenDude.com.

People don’t seem to understand that it’s hard when the phrase “gluten-free” can lump together trendy, fad dieters with those who find it medically necessary to avoid gluten. And while I agree with many out there that a single joke is just that, a joke, it seems like it might be more difficult as time goes by. Because when you add this single NASCAR joke to the multitude already out there, it becomes more difficult to ignore. From one liners by the likes of Fallon and Conan or by these newly appearing “difficult trend monster” characters in sitcoms or in movies (you know, the one’s writers are always “hilariously” writing in who incorrectly wave all food away with a single, dismissive sniff saying disgustedly “No thanks; gluten!”) it grows with each passing joke added to the pile. It be comes a Whole instead of the individual parts. A Whole that seems to be morphing into a pervading, sneering attitude of condescending towards those on a gluten-free diet… which can make it difficult to navigate daily gluten free life. A daily life which includes servers who don’t believe in intolerance or Celiac… people who dismiss what they deem “needy” or “high maintenance” requests… people who think they know better than us, the ones who live with it year in and year out… all because they’ve heard the growing number of jokes about gluten.

Phew. That was a long soapbox rant, huh?! What do you think?

 

Read the original post about this commercial here

Gluten Free Recipe: Cheesy Pizza Puffs

gluten-free-pizza-puffsAh, the Pizza Puff. Delectable little pillows of cheesy comfort that are a favorite of kids and adults alike. These springy little cushions of Gluten Free Goodness are a party favorite! 

They’re super easy to whip up so they’re great for kid’s sleepovers, watching football with dad, or just a yummy little snack for a rainy Sunday afternoon. And watch – nobody’s EVER gonna guess they’re gluten free! They’ll just say “YUM! Can I have another one?!”

Click here to download the recipe for Cheesy Gluten Free Pizza Puffs

Gluten Free Super Bowl Party Food – YUM!

Pepperoni Pizza DipOkay, so as loyal readers may have noticed I’m not much of a frou-frou cook. If there are more than 20 ingredients in a recipe and I’m usually OUT! Simple and easy yet tasty is my motto. Especially when I’m preparing for a party. So for food-oriented parties like the Super Bowl, I like to have as much variety as possible yet not spend all my time in the kitchen. I think a good variety of snacks is doubly important for us since we have a totally gluten-free household. The more our non-GF friends and fam have to choose from, the faster they’ll forget it’s all gluten-free and just think it’s tasty!

Who am I kidding…? Our new friends are always saying “Wow, these are gluten-free? BUT they taste so good!” After a time of two of leaving happily stuffed, they soon change to something like “You always make such yummy stuff” and start skipping the “gluten-free” descriptor. That’s when I know I’ve done my hosting job well. :)

So here’s a list of some Easy Gluten-Free Superbowl Party Foods. Some are super obvious and take no effort (like Crudités or Chips-n-Salsa), but I like to keep a Master Party Food List complete with which brands are gluten-free. This way I can browse though everything for inspiration and it’s easy to shop knowing which brands I found to be safe.

But since I’m fighting the flu tonight and having a bunch of people over for a party tomorrow, I’m just going to post the dishes. I’ll add the brands and recipes tomorrow.

GLUTEN FREE PARTY FOODgluten-free-pizza-puffs

– Items marked with an *asterisk might have hidden gluten, so be careful and check ingredients.
– Items followed by ( r ) have a recipe page (well, soon they will… I’m working on it now.)
– Items that have specific brands to look for are followed by ( b )

Desserts:Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 9.18.16 PM

Bagged Snacks:

Hope you find something that your football fans will flip over!

 

NASCAR and NBC: A Celiac Dis? Or a Gluten Joke?

Have you seen the NASCAR “Gut Check” ad that’s slated to run this SuperBowl Sunday? Everyone’s all aflutter about how NASCAR and NBC are dissing people who avoid gluten.  But are they really dissing or making fun of us? Or are they – hello?! – just making a joke.

NASCAR-NBC-Gluten-Ad-TextBecause to a certain extent, I get the whole “Gluten Gut Check” joke. ‘Cause I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of people who are self proclaimed “gluten light” telling me that being Celiac isn’t hard because they skip the bun on their burger. I’m sick of those restaurant servers who believe everyone emphasizing that they’re gluten-free for medical reasons is really just part of “this whole Gluten Diet Fad.” And I’m sick of people saying “oh! I’m gluten free too!” because they only eat “sprouted wheat” or “super-fresh” bread. I’m sick of seeing people order a gluten-free meal at a restaurant while downing their gluten-FILLED Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

So poking fun at Americans for being “soft” with this whole overused, often misunderstood “gluten thing?” Okay… maybe….

But is the statement “when our idea of danger is eating gluten, there’s trouble afoot” a good message to send our 10-year-old Celiac son? Our responsible little man who will be watching this commercial while struggling to stay completely gluten-free at a SuperBowl party? What does that say to him? To all of us who work so hard on a daily basis to avoid this pervasive little protein? Ha… ha?

But really, does this one little line in a NASCAR commercial really mean anything? Is this one of those “overly PC” or “being too touchy” overreactions? I don’t know about you, but when this Celiac heard it for the first time, that line was like a punch in the gut. Just like gluten gives. Ouch.

This backlash from the gluten-free community against the spot is an ad agency’s wet dream; people re-posting the commercial voluntarily? Getting other people who wouldn’t have seen it to not only watch this NASCAR ad, but talk about it to others; others who also may not have seen it otherwise? Well, they’re just loving posts like this one. So… you’re welcome NASCAR, NBC and Hungry Man (the agency).  :P  (Like my little post makes any difference…! lol )

So what do you think? NASCAR’s Gut Check gluten reference: “It’s just a JOKE” or “Celiac is no laughing matter”?

Gluten Free Candy Corn!

Okay, so I can’t remember the last time I had candy corn. Or allowed it in our totally gluten-free house, much to my non-celiac husband’s chagrin. He’s not a big candy guy, but it’s one of his favorites and he hasn’t been able to have it in the house for 6+ years. Because most major manufacturers, like Brach’s, contain wheat ingredients.

So I can’t even imagine the surprise that will play across my husbands face when he comes home from his business trip on Halloween to find big old heaping bowl of candy corn on the dining room table! Because I discovered (while updating this year’s Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List) that Jelly Belly makes a gluten-free candy corn!

Yay! I called the company and confirmed that yes! Jelly Belly’s plain candy corn is gluten-free!!

However, be careful!! Because the Deluxe Halloween Mix is NOT gluten-free. So be sure to only get the regular and check the bag for gluten ingredients, just to be safe.

Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, Here We Come!

Gluten Free goodness awaits all GF New Englanders this weekend. Why? Because it’s the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Springfield, MA! And that means lots of gluten free samples, new products and like-minded folks all under one great big happy gluten-free roof.

Free safe gluten free goodies?? As our 10-year-old says, “Awwwwww, yea, baby…!!!blogger badge  copy

I attended the Orlando GIG Expo a few years back and it was amazing. It was so large and had great speakers and classes. I learned so much, met so many amazing people and, of course, ate some great safe gluten-free foods. It was amazing to see how many people were dealing with exactly what I was going through. That was the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone in my gluten free journey.

I’m even more excited for the Springfield Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. Last year we learned that our son inherited my Celiac, so we’re excited to keep abreast of all the new gluten-free developments. Things have changed so much in the past few years – and are still constantly changing – so I’m sure that I’ll learn a TON of new GF stuff at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo!

So this weekend I’m bringing the whole family so we can all benefit. Even though the whole house has been gluten-free for nearly five years, we can all learn about and find new gluten free things at the Expo. I can’t wait to share with our son that realization I had the first time I attended a gluten-free convention: there are lots of gluten-free people out there! Yay!

I’m really looking forward to a couple of the classes, especially Dr. Giammarino’s “Healing the Gut from Food Allergies and Sensitivities.” My Celiac coupled with my dairy, yeast and egg allergies and 63 additional ALCAT food sensitivities means my gut – well, needless to say, it needs some healin’! So first thing Saturday morning, while my 10-year-old son and husband go to out sampling goods from the 150+ vendors on the show floor, I’ll be hopefully learning some new things from Dr. Giammarino.

The Springfield Gluten & Allergen Free Expo is being held at MassMutual Center this coming Saturday and Sunday, Oct 25-26, from 9am to 3pm. Oh! And if you buy tickets before the Expo begins, you can save some $$! Click here to save on tickets to the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo

And if you’re planning on going, let me know and maybe we can arrange a meetup! Email me and let me know when you’re going and a number I can text you at during the show (I’ve tried the email only meetings and they never work… It seems like it’s text or nothing for me during any kind of big shows.) I hope to see you there!!

Gluten Free Popcorn and Seasonings

Our little community is having a Magic Show for the kids in the park this weekend. Fun! So when they asked for volunteers, I quickly offered to be in charge of refreshments. This way I can make the treats mainstream, kid friendly and gluten free so our son can enjoy treats along with all the other kids.

When brainstorming fun food ideas with my awesome husband and soon-to-be 10 year old son (TEN?! Wow time flies! I remember when I started this blog he was 5 and we didn’t know he was Celiac!) we came up with some fun food stuffs: cotton candy, popcorn, watermelon (it will be a summer afternoon in the park, after all!) and candy. But making cotton candy? Renting machines that could easily be contaminated = PASS. Renting a big popcorn machine? Same fear. So being the ultimate “nothing’s too awesome for a party” person, what do I do? Why, buy a full-sized old fashioned, movie theatre-style Popcorn machine of course! :P

Our New Popcorn Machine! :)

I was hesitant at first, but then thought “Hey, I just finished a big freelance job and had a little extra money… And I’ve always wanted one… It’d be so neat for parties and movie nights (which we often have!!).”

Yep. I can justify anything, given enough time. :)

So I did a bunch of research and found what seems to be the best mid-level prosumer product, a Great Northern Popcorn 8 oz. Popper. FUN!!! So I bought this super fun popcorn machine for about $165 on Amazon, which seems like a good price.

Ah…. But then.. What to put in it that is totally safe for our super-sensitive Celiac stomachs?? After a LOT more research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the pre-measured packages (those with oil on one side and kernels on the other) aren’t the way to go to be safe. Buying kernels, oil, salt and/or seasonings by themselves is safer and much more cost-effective. During my research, I found that the entire line of Kernel Season’s products is certified GF by GFCO! Yay! Super safe. Check out Kernel Season’s GF policies here and more here.

So I settled on the following gluten free popcorn, oil and seasoning products. I’ve yet to try them (awaiting everything to arrive from Amazon), so I don’t yet know from first hand experience that they worked for us. But these are the products that I felt were safe enough to try. The ones with the “**” stars in front of them are the ones I ended up ordering.

—-Kernels—-
**
Jolly Time Select Popcorn Kernels Premium Yellow Non-GMO Popping Corn
Kernel Season’s Popcorn
Jolly Time White Popcorn Kernels
Jolly Time Select Pop Corn

—-Salt and Flavorings—-
** Kernel Season’s Mini Jars Seasoning Variety Pack
Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil(Pack of 2)
Flavacol Seasoning Popcorn Salt — This kept coming up in my research as GF. I just didn’t order it because I used to LOVE Kernel Season’s shake-on flavorings and was so psyched to see it was safe I didn’t even consider an alternative salt/flavor… But it seems like Flavonol’s gluten free and that Gold Medal is gluten aware. Check out their brochure – search the PDF for “gluten” and you’ll see that they say right there that Flavacol is gluten free.
Kernel Season’s Sweet Seasoning Variety Pack

—-Oils—-
In my research into how to make popcorn taste like it came a movie theatre, it seems that using Coconut Oil is the secret. I already have several different coconut oils, so I didn’t need to research or buy that. But a nice gluten-free coconut oil is a great choice for us Celiacs – high temp friendly and makes the popcorn taste buttery without dairy. Nice! I’ll be trying my Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
on our initial run. (Here’s why I chose to use Nutiva instead of Specrtum (which I never use for any product, as you can see here)
Kernel Season’s Movie Theatre Butter for Popping & Topping Popcorn
Kernel Season’s Popping Oil

I even went so far as to order a Paragon Stainless Steel Popcorn Scoop! Yes, I go totally crazy for parties and themes! :P

Anyway. I hope this helps you have a Poppin’ Good Time! A gluten-free popcorn good time, that is!

What kinds of gluten free popcorn, salts, oils and seasonings do you use?

2013 Gluten-Free Halloween Candy & Treats

LOVE this list of safe gluten-free Halloween candy! ::||:: It’s that time of year again: Candy-ween! :) What does that mean for me? My annual downloadable list of gluten-free candy!!

This is the first year since our 9-year-old son has been diagnosed with Celiac too. Now there are two gluten-free goblins in our house. So just like last year, I made myself a handy, alphabetized list of all the mainstream candies he might get that should be gluten-free (as of Oct 29, 2013). I went more than a little crazy about this! I visited every single manufacturer’s website and/or contacted them via phone or email to ensure no gluten comes into our house. It was no small task; it took over a week to complete!! But now I feel so much better about keeping our little man safe and healthy for his first gluten-free Halloween.

I created the list below for my family’s use and am posting it for your reference only. I can’t possibly guarantee these to be gluten-free; ingredients often change and contamination can happen. So some information listed could contain unintentional errors. I strongly encourage you to check the ingredient label on each individual package before you eat anything. Also, there are some valuable Warnings at the end, so check those before diggin’ into your haul. Remember: when in doubt, leave it out!

:) Happy Trick or Treating! – Noi

You can go here to view, download and print out the 2013 Halloween Candy List