Lobster Classic Chunk Style by Trans-Ocean

IMG_0471 lobster 1Over three years ago, I wrote about Crab Classic Chunk Style by Trans-Ocean. That’s still available, and I’m still buying it. You can usually get a package at Wal-Mart for $2.50 each. And, there are about two servings per 8 ounce package which makes it pretty affordable.

What I recently discovered was that I could get the Lobster version for the same price. Again, like the crab, this product does not claim to be gluten-free. There is no gluten added, however, unlike the flake and leg styles. Those actually say “contains wheat” in the allergens. MAKE CERTAIN you do not buy those styles if you have a gluten or wheat allergy. It’s easy to confuse them as they all look nearly identical.

I prepare the lobster the same way as I do the crab – chop up some celery, add some mayonnaise (I use canola-based mayo), and instead of just stirring, I use a fork and a knife to break it up into smaller chunks. Then I serve it over salad for a healthy, cool, summertime meal. No salad dressing needed. Great for lunch or dinner.

From their website: “Lobster Classic is a premium blend of wild caught, sustainable Alaska Pollock and real lobster meat. The product has a unique, chunky texture and crisp flavor profile that is unlike other surimi seafoods. Use Lobster Classic for delicious lobster salads, hot casseroles and as a dip style appetizer with cocktail sauce. Certified by the American Heart Association, Lobster Classic is low in fat and cholesterol. It is also a source of Omega-3 EPA and DHA, providing 100mg per 3 oz. serving. It’s fully cooked, making it easy to enjoy seafood while helping build a healthy heart at the same time.”

It’s nice to eat something that tastes good that’s good for you. For more information on this product, go to http://www.trans-ocean.com/lc_chunkstyle.html

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Healthy & Inexpensive Gluten-free Breakfast

Here’s a quick video detailing a healthy, inexpensive and filling gluten-free breakfast, complete with nutritional information.  Enjoy!

Holy Mackerel! Gluten-Free Battered Fish!

What would you say if I told you that affordable, frozen, gluten-free crispy battered fish entrees are available nationwide in your grocer’s freezer case?  Just last night in the grocery store, I, for one, almost fell over when my gluten-mongering husband-type unit blurted “Look Honey, gluten-free!” and held up a box of Oven Ready Gluten-Free Cod by Starfish.  There were also boxes of Haddock and Halibut available.  The cod was priced under $5.00 for a 10 ounce box, so we decided to try that.

Now, you need to understand that in our current apartment, we have an extremely old gas stove, so the results may differ with a newer and/or electric one. 

We raced home and popped them in the oven.  14 minutes later, out they came.  On the box it states there are 3 servings – we felt it was more like 2 – which is what we were expecting anyway, so that is not a criticism by any means.  One side was a golden brown, the other side paler, again, I believe, due to the old gas stove. 

These golden medallions of batter-encased fish were crispy on the outside for certain!  The inside was a little doughy, but no more than a tempura-style batter.  The fish was somewhat flaky – definitely not spongy.  No grit, no strange taste and no mush:  they had a buttery flavor that even the non-Celiac at the table enjoyed.

Gluten-Free Cod by Star-Fish

This product is peanut-free, soy-free, milk-free, egg-free, wheat-free and has 0 grams of trans fats.  I thought the pricing was reasonable – and these products are available nationwide at your Whole Foods store, or at smaller local venues on the West coast.

If you’ve been missing fried foods – here is your fix!  Enjoy.

More information is available about Starfish and their gluten-free fish entrees at www.star-fish.com.

© 2009 K. S. Brooks, Gluten-Free Gusto

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies Part One:  The Social Dilemma

Ever have a shock that just messes you up?  That happened to me last Wednesday while I was shopping at Wal-Mart.  I was in the baking mix aisle looking for the Jiffy Cornbread Mix for my gluten-mongering spouse when my sight unintentionally fell on something completely unexpected:  Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies.

Say what?  Damn straight.  You heard me right.  I did a double-take.  I stood frozen in the aisle behind my cart.  No frikkin way…really?  Gluten-free brownies by…Betty Crocker?  I had to have read it wrong.  So I touched the box to make sure it was real.  It was, indeed.  $3.79 was the price.  I don’t tend to bake gluten-free brownies, but I had to try this out, so I gingerly placed it in the cart.

It was time to go to produce, but I still couldn’t move.  What exactly did this mean?  As mainstream as Betty Crocker, and as universal as Wal-Mart:  were Celiacs finally getting the service we have been asking for?  Or are the numbers of gluten-intolerant people becoming so staggering that a conglomeration as large as Betty Crocker saw a profit potential there?  Part of me was incredulous on a happy level, while another part of me was stunned by the possible gravity of it.

Then I started to feel a little badly for the companies who have supported Celiacs all along, producing gluten-free cooking mixes because they cared.  And now, here was Betty Crocker, jumping on the band wagon, getting prime real estate at Wal-Mart, and selling the mix for only $3.79 (compared to $5.00 and more for other brands).  How are the little companies who have supported folks suffering from gluten-intolerance going to compete with this?  What about Pamela’s, and Bob’s Red Mill, and all the other “little guys”?  These companies started producing gluten-free foods long ago.  How will they compete…and survive?

So, I will try one batch of these Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies in order to review them.  I understand that many people do not have access to small health food stores which carry gluten-free products, or the internet, but do have a Wal-Mart in their town.  But my heart will be with the little guys who were there for me when I was first diagnosed and didn’t know what to do. 

Stay tuned for Part Two…The Product Review!

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies Part Two:  The Review

Okay, it was time to try out the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix.  Part of me was reluctant, as I mentioned in Part One, because if this mix turned out to be good, that meant trouble for the “little guys” like Pamela’s and Bob’s Red Mill.  And since I have been eating more healthily with less gooey sweets, brownies were really not on my diet.  But the box had been sitting on the counter, staring at me, daring me to try it despite the horrendous stove in my apartment.  I accepted the challenge.

The directions are incredibly easy.  The mix requires only eggs and melted butter.  Betty Crocker’s web site even offers butter-free directions for non-dairy diets.  The directions state that the “batter will be thick.”  That is an understatement.  They offer three different size pans; don’t even THINK about doing anything larger than the smallest:  the 8×8 pan.  It is so thick and elastic-like that you couldn’t spread it any farther if you had to.  I’m not kidding.

31 minutes later, I pulled my little square pan of brownies from the oven.  I let them cool most of the way, then tasted a sample.  Honestly, I have to say, these brownies were incredible.  Thick, rich, moist, chocolately, and I really couldn’t tell that they were gluten-free.  There was no grittiness whatsoever.  They were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I covered and refrigerated them, and they lasted for about a week between myself and my gluten-mongering spouse.  He actually found them to be a little too rich for his taste.  I did notice that I would cut 1 inch squares for a quick snack and that would more than fulfill any food or chocolate craving.  After being refrigerated for a few days, they did become somewhat fudge-like and if you don’t seal them tightly (as it instructs to right on the box), they will get pretty crispy/stale.

The three plusses are there:  inexpensive (compared to other gluten-free brownie mixes), easy to prepare, and delicious.

So, that is my verdict:  Betty Crocker’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix is a winner. 

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/gluten-free/gluten-free.htm

© 2009 K. S. Brooks / Gluten-Free Gusto

Gluten-Free Shopping in Scarborough, Maine

On 9-22-08 I discovered a fantastic store on Route 1 in Scarborough, Maine. It’s called Lois’ Natural Marketplace and I felt like a kid in a candy store!

If you would like to read the rest of this article, please click on http://www.celiacchicks.com/maine/ – This column appeared last September as part of the ongoing CeliacChicks Around The World feature.

For other Gluten-Free food information and lifestyle tips, check out www.celiacchicks.com

K. S. Brooks is a guest blogger for CeliacChicks.com, an author and photographer.  © 2008

Review – Woody’s on the Water

            “Almost heaven, West Virginia,” John Denver did say.  And that’s true, I have found some wonderful gluten-free food at the Press Room restaurant in Shepherdstown, WV.  But I found gluten-free heaven itself in Tacoma, Washington – at Woody’s on the Water.

            Upon our arrival in Tacoma, I searched online for a restaurant nearby where my gluten mongering spousal-type unit, David, could get fish and chips, and I stood a fraction of a chance to find something free of wheat, soy, and the fourteen other foods that I can’t tolerate.  I didn’t go into it feeling very hopeful.  Most of the restaurants I found were extremely pricey, and the menu selections were certainly not geared to my dietary needs.  Then I found the Woody’s on the Water website – and saw, right in the left-hand side navigation bar that they had a gluten-free menu.  “This is the place!” I told David.  Finally, I was looking forward to eating out somewhere – but of course, I had a tinge of skepticism. 

            Off we went.  We followed the signs to Woody’s and arrived quite easily at the Thea Foss waterway.  Woody’s was next to the stunning waterfront Museum of Glass.  The outside of the restaurant is modern, with a large dockside patio.

Woody's on the Water, Tacoma, WA

Woody's on the Water, Tacoma, WA

            The inside is sophisticated yet still cozy, with a trendy atmosphere.  If I hadn’t seen the prices on the online menu myself, I would have thought this was a place at which I couldn’t afford to dine.

The Bar at Woody's

The Bar at Woody's

            We were greeted by a cordial hostess at which time I requested the gluten-free menu.  It’s not part of the regular menu – it is completely separate.  The table was clean, nicely set, and intimate.

Intimate Booth at Woody's on the Water, Tacoma

Intimate Booth at Woody's on the Water, Tacoma

            One of the owners, Thomas, came over.  We discussed the gluten-free menu at which time he told me his daughter was gluten intolerant, so he understood the dilemmas of finding good restaurant food.  He even offered us two different gluten-free beers.  It was the first time, that I felt relaxed and confident ordering gluten free food in a restaurant.  That was a really nice feeling.

            I had the House Salad to start.  The Balsamic Bleu Cheese dressing was an excellent and harmonious combination of flavors.  David had the clam chowder, which he said was the best he’d had since our stop in Newburyport, Massachusetts three years earlier.

             A huge plateful of Smoked Salmon Pasta arrived before me.  Perfectly cooked rice pasta, salmon, onions and cream sauce graced my palate with flavors which rivaled the best of New York City Italian cuisine.  David thoroughly enjoyed his monstrous serving of Fish and Chips as well.  We shared a Crème Brulee for dessert, although Woody’s offered a few other gluten-free specialty desserts.  Including our micro-brewed root beers, this entire meal was under fifty dollars. 

             The next morning our business meeting ended at eleven.  We needed to be in Vancouver that night.  It was a no-brainer:  Woody’s for lunch.

             I had the Smoked Salmon and Fresh Blueberry Salad.  The portion was enormous, and delicious.  Although I did enjoy it – I frankly preferred the Balsamic Bleu Cheese dressing from the evening before.  David got a bowl of the clam chowder.  I had to sneak a taste of it – it really was as good as he raved.  And I grew up in New England, so I should hope that I am a good judge!

             My opinion in a nutshell:  Woody’s on the Water is loaded with atmosphere at an elegant location, serving gourmet level food at affordable prices.  Their Gluten-Free menu offers an excellent selection of entrees, appetizers, desserts and even beer.  We were only in town eighteen hours, but we managed to eat at Woody’s twice.  That’s really how good it is.

K. S. Brooks is an author, photographer and guest blogger for CeliacChicks.com. 

Gluten-Free menu:  http://www.woodystacoma.com/index.php/menus/glutenfree/

The Crunch Factor

If you have food allergies, you know that little things can make a big difference.  Many foods, especially salads, have been ruined for me.  So when I found two alternatives to croutons for people with gluten- and/or wheat-intolerance, I got excited.

Since I have always been a fan of croutons, it was time to take the dive and try these.

The first type I invested in was the Olive Oil & Garlic Gluten-Free Croutons by the Gluten-Free Pantry.  They do contain eggs, corn and yeast.  They do also contain a lot of flavor.  I located my first package of these wheat free croutons in the gluten- free section at an NRG Organic Supermarket on the East Coast.  They were so good that I went back for more and they were already out.  They never got more in.  A couple of years later, I gave in and ordered some online.  The consistency of this package was different, in fact, they were rock hard.  I’m uncertain if they changed the recipe, or if it was just a lot inconsistency, but for some reason they weren’t as enjoyable.  The flavor of the first package was good enough, however, that I would give these a try again sometime.

One afternoon I was in the produce section at Safeway when I discovered the Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips Lightly Salted.  It states “Naturally Gluten Free” right on the front of the package.  I like these “Crunchy Toppings for Salad” for a number of reasons.  The list of ingredients is literally this short:  corn masa flour, safflower and/or sunflower oil, salt, trace of lime.  I like things simple.  I also like that they are easy to break up, and that they add a great crunch to salad.  I have even use them on top of soup instead of oyster crackers. 

Either way, if you are missing the crunch or that little extra substance to your salad, either of these products should fit the bill.

 

Gluten-Free Croutons

Gluten-Free Croutons

Product Information:

Olive Oil & Garlic Gluten-Free Croutons by the Gluten-Free Pantry – 5 oz. ~ $4.99

Ingredients:  corn starch, tapioca starch, water, liquid whole egg, chickpea flour, canola oil, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, xanthan gum, garlic powder, yeast, salt, spices, cream of tartar.

http://www.glutenfree.com/Gluten-Free-Pantry-Olive-Oil-Garlic-Croutons/Item129070

Tortilla Strips by Fresh Gourmet – 3.5 oz ~ $2.00 on sale.

Ingredients:  corn masa flour, safflower and/or sunflower oil, salt, trace of lime.

http://www.freshgourmet.com/FreshGourmet/Retail/html/crunchyToppings/tortillas.html

For other Gluten-Free food information and lifestyle tips, check out www.celiacchicks.com

K. S. Brooks is a guest blogger for CeliacChicks.com, an author and photographer.  © 2009