Archive for Product Advisory

PMCookedHave you made your Halloween dinner plans, yet? How about picking up a gluten-free pizza? If you haven’t heard, yet, Papa Murphy’s take ‘n bake pizza locations are now offering Gluten-Free Pizza. The company has teamed up with Udi’s to provide gluten-free crusts to their customers.

I was contacted and requested to try Papa Murphy’s new gluten-free pizza and report on our experience. My first response was, “Gluten-Free Pizza? Yes!” My second response was, “Wait, what about cross-contamination?” So, armed with a gift card for pizza and questions about cross-contamination, I searched out a Papa Murphy’s location to give it a try.

If you aren’t familiar with Papa Murphy’s, they are a take-and-bake business. In other words, you tell them the crust, sauce and toppings you want on a pizza. They assemble the pizza ingredients on site, where you can see them working, and wrap it up for you. You take the pizza home, unwrap the pizza, and bake it in your own oven so it’s hot and fresh.

I went to Papa Murphy’s on a typical weeknight to see how they would handle the gluten-free pizzas. It was a busy evening with several customers ordering regular gluten-containing pizzas. When we placed our order, we were first told that there is only one size — medium. Not a problem. Then I asked the hard question, “What about cross-contamination?” The young man behind the register said that they are trained to do their best to limit the risk of cross-contamination, but that they can not guarantee that it would be 100% gluten-free due to being prepared in a shared facility. He continued to tell me that the pizza crusts are kept in a separate area, and that the pizza would be prepared with freshly changed, clean gloves. So, we continued with the order.

PapaUncookedI was disappointed, but not surprised to find out that they don’t carry a dairy-free cheese. I ordered one gluten-free pizza with lots of fresh ingredients, and one gluten-free pizza with sauce and pepperoni on the side. (I added the pepperoni they provided  me and my own Daiya cheese at home before baking.) Because of the way Papa Murphy’s is set up, I was able to watch all the preparation of the pizzas. Every pizza crust, gluten-free or not, is on a tray. So, the pizza crust comes out on a tray, and goes down the assembly line. One person, with fresh gloves prepares the pizza with fresh ingredients. The pizza is then wrapped in plastic wrap and given to me to take home and bake.

The biggest risk of cross-contamination I saw was that the ingredients for all pizzas came out of the same toppings containers. It is possible that someone preparing a gluten-containing crust touched the crust and then transferred gluten into the toppings containers. The risk of that is somewhat limited by the fact that the crusts are all on disposable baking trays, and the actual touching of the crusts is limited to possibly touching the edge of a pizza. I would be more concerned about dairy cross-contaimination than that of gluten or wheat. My family felt that the risk on that night was somewhat minimal, or at least no more than eating out at a restaurant that isn’t 100% gluten-free.

PMPizzaWe took the pizzas home, baked them, and enjoyed them. They are Udi’s pizza crusts, which are thin crusts. The size is larger than the Udi’s crusts you can buy in the freezer section of your grocery store. Baking instructions called for 15 minutes at 500º. The pizzas both turned out very good. My plain pepperoni and Daiya cheese pizza was not as exciting as the one loaded up with Papa Murphy’s fresh toppings. But, it was still good. And, the good news is that no one got sick from gluten (or dairy).

Would we buy a gluten-free pizza at a Papa Murphy’s location again? Yes, but probably only occasionally. The time it took me to pick up the pizza, take it home and add my own toppings, and then bake it, was no less than it would take me to prepare my own pizzas with Udi’s frozen crusts at home. More convenient perhaps, but not a real time saver for me. The benefit of going to Papa Murphy’s is the wide selection of toppings. (Be sure to check their Allergen Guide before choosing your toppings.) Papa Murphy’s would also be a good option when traveling and visiting with friends and family.

My recommendation if you want to try Papa Murphy’s gluten-free pizza. For the first time, I would suggest going early in the day when it isn’t quite so busy. The toppings containers will be freshly filled, and less likely to have gluten from cross-contamination. There will also be fewer gluten-containing pizzas being prepared at the same time. Besides limiting the cross-conatimination, it also gives the staff an opportunity to take their time and be more cautious. Be sure to talk to the staff, preferably the person preparing your pizza, and tell them about your sensitivity to gluten. Make sure they change their gloves, and watch them as they prepare your pizza. We felt good about the process. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the looks of the preparation area, you may want to ask the staff if they have fresh toppings in the back that are less likely to have been contaminated. If you still aren’t satisfied, leave without the pizza. It’s always better to be safe than sick. If you were satisfied with the preparation, then you should feel good about the fact that it’s being baked in your own oven, and not one that is being shared with other gluten-containing pizzas. :)

UdiPapa**CeliacFamily was sent a pizza set and a gift card for Papa Murphy’s pizza as an invitation to try the gluten-free pizza and share our experience with our CeliacFamily.com readers. Feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions on it in the comment section below.

Categories : Dining Out, Food
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GF Halloween CandyIt’s almost Halloween, and there will be a lot of candy at our house soon! We will meticulously sort through the candy, check my Gluten-Free Candy List, and weed out the pieces with gluten. We usually give the gluten candy to family, friends, and/or co-workers who can tolerate it. My kids are used to the drill since we’ve been doing it ever since they started trick-or-treating. They don’t seem too bothered by the ritual of diminishing their stock of candy. (And I like the idea of excess sugar going out the door!)

However, I know of some families that do other things to make their kids feel better about losing out on some of their sugar rush. Some families buy back the candy from their kids — giving the kids a few dollars — so the kids feel like they are getting something for all their trick-or-treating efforts.  Other families trade the candy for toys or trinkets, or other special treats. They may even keep a supply of their kids’ favorite gluten-free candy to trade with on Halloween night.

Here’s another idea: How about trading the unacceptable candy with some gluten-free cookies? You can, of course, make your own. But there are also lots of options at the grocery stores these days. These are some of the cookies we’ve tried recently.

 

GinnyBakes

GinnyBakes

These cookies were sent to me to sample. And although they look and smell very good, I had to have my family taste them for me. Yep, they are made with real butter, and since I can’t have dairy, I had to let my family enjoy them without me. (GinnyBakes does make a “Dreamy Vegan Delight” vanilla cookies, which are dairy-free.)

In addition to being made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, GinnyBakes takes pride in the fact that their cookies are made with organic ingredients and no GMOs.

My family tells me that they were very good. Some in the family preferred the Chocolate Chip, while others preferred the Coconut Oatmeal. The Chocolate Chip cookies are crispy and buttery, but didn’t fall apart in the packaging. The Coconut Oatmeal Bliss Cookies are bite-size “ginny minis”. They have that traditional oatmeal cookie taste with chewy little raisins and a touch of cinnamon. I’m told that they did not have a coconut flavor. My husband enjoyed the small packages that he could take to work for a snack. Each bag contained six little cookie bites. You can also purchase to-go packs of the larger cookies, with two cookies per pack.

Where to Buy? Find these yummy cookies at your local retailers, at GinnyBakes online, or at Amazon.

 

Nostalgic Cookies

NostaligicCookiesAll the cookies made at Yossi’s Nostalgic Bakery are gluten-free, dairy-free, Vegan and Kosher. In addition, they do not contain GMO’s, preservatives, corn, or oats.  My kids had to fight me to try these. These are old-fashioned style cookies, as you can see from the picture. The kids enjoyed them, but not as much as I did. I loved the unique flavors and the small size of the cookies. The cookies were not crisp and crumbly, as you might think. Instead, they had a soft, almost chewy, crumb.

The cookies all came packaged individually, which would be perfect for trading with the kids on Halloween! It would also be great for adding to lunch boxes, or keeping in your purse for a quick snack. I can even see keeping a bowl of these sitting on a desk or kitchen counter to share with friends and co-workers. My kids were a little less adventurous about the flavors. They preferred the chocolate sandwich cookies. I enjoyed the variety of the flavors. I didn’t get to try them, but the Pumpkin Spiced Linzers would be great to share with friends and family this season!

Where to Buy? Find these cookies at retailers in select locations, at Nostalgic Cookies online store, or at Amazon.

 

Enjoy Life Cookies

EnjoyLifeCookiesEnjoy Life is a brand I can really appreciate. It’s hard to find chocolate that is dairy-free, but I can always count on Enjoy Life for allergen-friendly chocolate chips (minis, mega chunks, and now regular size morsels, too). Enjoy Life’s products are also free of the top 8 allergens — so no gluten, dairy, or nuts — which makes it great for school parties where there are always a variety of allergies to manage.

I only have a picture of the Soft-Baked Cookies here, but we’ve also enjoyed the crispy, crunchy variety they make. In fact, I think I like the crunchy cookies better. The soft-baked cookies are cake-like in texture. Almost like a brownie, but not as rich and fudgy as you would expect a brownie to be. They are small — only one or two small bites and it’s gone!

Where to Buy? Find these at your local retailers (Enjoy Life convenient store locator). Or purchase online at Amazon or other online retailers.

 

*GinnyBakes Cookies and Nostalgic Cookies were sent to Celiac Family free of charge to sample and provide an honest opinion to Celiac Family readers. If you have tried any of the cookies mentioned above, I invite you to leave your own opinions in the comments below.

Other Cookie Reviews by CeliacFamily

Animal Cookies

Animal Cookies

Mi-Del Cookies

Mi-Del Cookies

Pillsbury Cookie Dough

Pillsbury Cookie Dough

Categories : Food, Product Advisory
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FFCornDogs

Gluten-Free Corn Dogs are a Treat at my house. A treat for the kids because they love them. A treat for me, too, if they are pre-made and frozen, so I can offer them for a quick meal at my house. ;)

I have made my own gluten-free corn dogs. They turned out very tasty, but took some time and effort to get them just right. It seems simple enough: You dip and coat hot dogs with cornbread batter, then deep fry. But, sometimes it takes a little practice at getting the batter to stay on the hot dog, the hot dog to stay on the stick, and frying it with the stick.  Anyway, that’s another story. This story is about the new Foster Farms Gluten-Free Corn Dogs you can find in the freezers of your local grocery stores.

FFCornDogBoxI was recently contacted to try the new Foster Farms Gluten-Free Corn Dogs. In case it isn’t clear by the Foster Farms brand name, these corn dogs are made with chicken franks. The chicken franks are “double-dipped in a honey-crunchy” cornbread batter. And, Yes!, they are as good as they sound. I baked them according to the directions on the box. From frozen, 18 minutes at 350º F. (For faster results, you can microwave in 40 seconds or deep fry for 9 minutes. Those are times for cooking from frozen. If thawed, cooking times are even faster.)

FFCornDogHow did they taste? Great! The hot dog was tender, not too chewy, and had a good flavor. The cornbread coating was lightly crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside. The cornbread coating is also lightly sweetened. Really yummy. My daughter was a little hesitant to try it, but once she did she wanted another one. So did my son. They had to stop at two corn dogs each because I didn’t cook the whole box, which contains 12 corn dogs.

Now for the ingredients. Like I mentioned, these corn dogs are made of chicken. There are no added hormones or steroids. No trans fats. And, each corn dog contains 7 grams of protein and 180 calories. Each corn dog also contains 530 mg of sodium (22% of the recommended daily value). You’ll find sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, and the dreaded sodium nitrite on the ingredients label. Also contains soy and egg.

Would I buy them for my family? Yes, on occasion. I’m not going to go looking for them to add to our menus on a regular basis. However, it would be nice to have in the freezer for those crazy nights when I really need something quick and easy for dinner. Something my kids could fix for themselves. And, wouldn’t this be an easy item to cook for a kids’ birthday party or a play date? Something everyone could enjoy. You don’t even need to tell your guests that it’s gluten-free because they won’t know the difference.

It is important to note that these are Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten Intolerance Group. Foster Farms also makes Gluten-Free Breasts Strips and Gluten-Free Breast Nuggets now, too. If you’ve tried any of them, I’d love to know what you think.

 ***The Foster Farms Corn Dogs were sent to me free of charge to share my honest opinion with CeliacFamily.com readers.***
Categories : Food, Product Advisory
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Ghost Meringue Cookies

It’s officially fall! I love the cooler weather, the festive times, and the promise of family gatherings for the holidays. It’s also that time of year for ghosts and goblins and witches…Oh, My!

These Meringue Cookies are a favorite for holiday parties. And, I’ve submitted them to SavingStar for their recent recipe contest. They compiled recipes from 20 bloggers and are asking all readers to vote for their favorite. Check it out and vote for my Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Festive Meringue Cookies. >>>Be aware that the recipes in the contest are not all gluten-free recipes. But, go ahead and vote for my Gluten-Free Meringue Cookies. ;) <<<

Win a $50 American Express Gift Card.
Vote for Your Favorite Recipe
to Win $50 American Express gift card! — 20 Favorite Recipes from 20 Food Bloggers @SavingStar. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the SavingStar post to enter your vote. You have until the end of September (2014) to place your vote.

(For full disclosure: If my recipe wins, I get a gift card, too.)

Want to see what else you can make with meringue?

Snowman Meringues

Snowmen

Christmas Tree Meringues

Christmas Trees

Meringue Duckies

Meringue Duckies

 

Categories : Giveaway, Newsworthy
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I was recently contacted by Christi Silbaugh, one of the authors of “Gluten-Free Made Easy” and asked if I would review her new gluten-free cookbook. Just reading the title “Gluten-Free made easy” made me anxious to read it and give some of the recipes a try.

At First Glance.
This cookbook is a paperback book with at least a dozen gluten-free recipes in each category of Breakfast, Finger Foods, Pasta and Pizza, Main Dishes, Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads, Breads, and Desserts. There are plenty of recipes to tempt your taste buds.

This book begins with lots of good information and resources about being gluten-free: answers to common questions, flour blends and cake mixes, easy ingredient substitutions, favorite products, where to shop, etc.

The cookbook is well-organized and features many recipes with full-page, 4-color photographs. Sometimes I receive cookbooks to review, and only find a few recipes that I really want to try. Not so with this cookbook. It is full of gluten-free recipes for everyday eating. Many of the recipes have few ingredients and simple instructions. Love that!

The Recipes.

  • The Mole Chicken was a nice change for our family. It wasn’t too spicy, and we enjoyed the chocolate flavor.
  • The Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken was deliciously crisp and moist.
  • Pollo Pasta Primavera and Linguine Carbonara are on our menu this week. Can’t wait to try them!
  • Simple Spanish Rice and Mexican Black Bean Chili will be on our menu next week.
  • My kids have requested Cinnamon and Sugar Donut Holes and Banana Snickerdoodle Muffins, so we’ll be making them soon, too!

There are several recipes in this cookbook that are similar to our own family favorites, so I know we’ll enjoy the many new ones we find in the book, too.

The Tips.
I love all the tips scattered through the book: Make Your Own Pancake Mix, Snacks in a Snap, Lunch Box ideas, Purchase or Prepare (tips for saving time and money), Making Treats for a Gluten-Free Friend, and more.

Overall.
There are a lot of great gluten-free recipes in this book! It would be a great cookbook for anyone on a gluten-free diet. And, it gives a lot of information that would be helpful to someone new to the diet, as well as someone who wants to cook for their gluten-free friends and family members. The only downside for me, is that a lot of the recipes call for dairy — butter, cream, milk, etc. — which my body can’t tolerate anymore. Of course, I’ve gotten pretty good at making substitutions, but it would be nice to have recipes that had already been tested with dairy-free alternatives.

Where to Find It.
Gluten-Free-Made-Easy-blog-tour

 

Categories : Books, Product Advisory
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