Category Archives: Staple foods

Why I’m Omission Beer’s biggest fan

If you follow me on Twitter, you can probably tell that I’m slightly…ok completely, obsessed with Omission Beer. I love it so much I actually bought stock in the company. Craft Brew Alliance (BREW) owns the popular beer Redhook, as well as all of the Widmer Brother’s and Kona Brewing Company beers. Currently Omission makes up only a small part of their sales, but if the rapid increase in availability in DC is any indication, it will continue to grow as demand for great-tasting gluten free beer increases. You heard it here first people: Omission is the new Redbridge. Only better.

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event at Churchkey hosted by the great folks at Omission. Churchkey provided some great gluten free appetizers (tater tots!) and the beer was flowing as I got the chance to talk to the passionate staff (many who are celiac’s themselves) at Omission. I even spent 20 minutes talking to Rob Widmer himself (star shock). He was so gracious, and listened to me jabber about gluten free beer.

So, why is Omission my favorite gluten free beer? A few reasons:

  1. Taste: Most importantly, this beer tastes great. It doesn’t have an aftertaste like sorghum beers do, it’s not too light like a cider, and everyone who has tried it has loved it – gluten free or not.
  2. Tested: Something truly unique about Omission is that every single batch is tested by an independent lab using the R5 Competitive ELISA for gluten content. You can actually go to their website and look up your beer using a serial number on the bottle to see the test results. That is real commitment to the celiac community.
  3. Availability: I swear I’m seeing Omission pop up in a new store every week. It’s now in three stores right by my apartment. Since Redhook is such a popular brand, if you request it at your local liquor or grocery store, it’s fairly likely that they should be able to order it for you. Picture below is from Sherry’s Liquor in Woodley Park. which just got it in.

Where to find Omission in Washington DC: 

  1. Churchkey (Logan Circle)
  2. Bier Baron (Dupont)
  3. Whole Foods P Street (I’m guessing most Whole Foods carry it)
  4. Fuel Pizza and Wings (multiple locations)
  5. Madhatter (Dupont)
  6. Mellow Mushroom (Adam’s Morgan)
  7. Thunder Burger (Georgetown)
  8. Old Dominion Brew House
  9. Cleveland Park Wine and Liquors (Cleveland Park)
  10. Sherry’s Liquor (Woodley Park)
  11. Manhattan Market (Woodley Park)

Check out the interactive map on their website for updates.

In conclusion, I love Omission beer. I will drink it in a house; I will drink it with a mouse; I will drink it in a box; I will drink it with a fox. 

Get some.

Cheers!

The cost of eating gluten free

Thanks to a nifty new app on my iPhone that I got called Mint I can now budget and track my spending online and on my phone.

Seeing how much money I spend on food on a weekly and monthly basis has gotten me thinking more about the cost of a gluten free diet. According to the USDA, the average single woman aged 19-50 should spend around $159/month on a “Thrifty Plan” and $316/month on a “Liberal Plan” for groceries.

I set a budget of $400/month to spend on groceries (not including eating out). So I guess I’m on the “Extra Liberal Gluten Free Plan”. Even if I spent on the top end of that amount, I probably spend at least $80-$100 more on groceries a month than the average gal. So, that’s about $960 – $1,200 more a year.

I’m fortunate enough to have enough disposable income to not worry too much about what I’m spending on food. And since finding things to eat on a gluten free diet can be difficult enough on its own, without having to take cost into consideration, I’m grateful that I can afford to spend what I do.

That said, there are a few things that I do to keep my grocery costs down:

1. I don’t eat meat
While I do eat seafood about twice/week, keeping my diet mostly vegetarian helps remove some of the big ticket items from my list like steak, lunch meat, etc.And plant proteins are far less expensive.

2. I buy store brand or mainstream where I can
For staples like sugar, canned goods, and spices, I go to normal grocery stores or Target and get the cheap stuff. If I’m making a ton of cookies for work, for example, I’m not going to use a $8 jar of peanut butter, I’ll use a $1.99 jar from Safeway. When it doesn’t affect the quality of what I’m making, I’ll get it as cheap as I can.

3. I try to avoid gimmicks
There are a ton of new gluten free products coming out on a seemingly daily basis. Some of them look great, or are something that I’ve been looking for. Some don’t look that great, but I’ve bought them before because of that pretty “gluten free” label slapped on the packaging. Then I’ve gotten them home, tried them, and cursed myself for spending $7 on a box of cookies that aren’t even close to as good as the ones I can make at home. I’ve tried to become better at telling myself that I don’t have to try every new product that comes out.

And a few things that drive my expenses up:

1. Specialty products I can’t live without
That’s an exaggeration, but there are some gluten free products that I love that are just expensive. I love Glutino pretzels, but they’re $7 a bag. So, I only buy them occasionally. I also love Bakery on Main’s granola, but again, I think it’s $7.99 a bag. Usually I try to resist buying them unless they’re on sale.

2. Keeping up the variety and nutrients
I’ve found it to be really easy to get into an eating rut on a gluten free diet. For example, I love Pacific Foods tomato soup. So, for about two months straight I ate it. Every. Day. Now I try to load my basket with different fruits, veggies, and kinds of whole grains/proteins (quinoa, lentils, beans, tempeh, tofu) to keep me interested. Trying new recipes and flavors helps me feel more content and less frustrated with having to eat gluten free.

That said, all of that variety comes with a cost. Quinoa is $6 a box, spices are expensive, and rare fruits/veggies can add up. Not to mention all of the nuts and nut butters I eat. I can easily spend $30 on nuts alone at the store.

3. Laziness
I try, I really try to make things myself. But making bread with Pamela’s bread mix is so easy that I always buy the mix instead of getting ingredients and figuring it out myself. While I’ve gotten used to paying $9 for a loaf of bread, sometimes when I see a delicious gluten-filled artisan loaf on the shelf for $4, I get jealous.

The same goes for bars. I could easily make my own granola bars, or Kind Bar-type bars (which I do sometimes), but when I’m out and need something quickly I can end up spending $2.50 on a snack.

In conclusion, eating gluten free is a strain on the wallet for a number of reasons. It took me years to figure out a balance between splurging and saving on different grocery items, but I feel like I’m at a pretty livable place right now.

Any tips on saving money while grocery shopping gluten free? Or anything that you spare no expense on?

Top 8 mainstream gluten-free snacks

I saw a post about gluten free mainstream products, so I thought I would do my own. My fridge and cupboards are usually about 80% natural/organic and 20% mainstream products, and I usually only buy mainstream products that I LOVE and can’t live without. I did not include things that are obviously gluten free, whole foods, or things that are incredibly healthy really, but things that are truly just snackable.

1. Mini Snickers bars – not that you can call a candy bar a snack, but I love a couple of these in the middle of a rough work day. And don’t get me started on how adorable the Easter pastel colored ones are.

2. Chex cereal – even though the sugar count is high, still great for snacking

3. Archer Farms (Target) fruit strips – Perfect for a hit of sugar before a run, and they’re not too chewy or fake feeling

4. Orville Redenbacher’s kettle corn – this with white chocolate chips is my go-to late night movie or work snack

5. Fritos – horrible for you, but so addictive. On top of veggie chili is so ghettolicious. The flavor twists Honey BBQ flavored ones are also gluten free. And equally awful for you.

6. Skinny Cow truffle bars  – White Mint is my fave, I have one of these pretty much every day.

7. Emerald cocoa roast almonds – my aunt introduced me to these. It’s the closest you can get to dunking almonds in chocolate while still keeping them healthy.

8. Mentos – more of a mint than a snack, but sometimes I eat like five of them. In which case I make them a snack, albeit a bad one.

Any guilty pleasure gluten free snacks to add?

Yes! Organic Market

I’m already a fan of the Yes! Organic Market by my apartment in Cleveland Park. It’s small, but has reasonable prices and is great for picking up things that I can’t get at Whole Foods (things that will melt or are too heavy to carry).

After all the hype about the hurricane, and a long lazy Saturday, I needed to get out of my apartment in a bad way. So I ran. Then I went to yoga. Then I walked about six miles. So when I saw the Yes! Organic Market on 14th Street I figured I would stop in for a potential snack and to see if it was different from the Cleveland Park location.

It’s not only different, it’s about 300% better. Give or take.

It’s bigger, has a full wine section (with a sample table), and way more produce. The best part though? The gluten free baked goods.

I was particularly intrigued by Merry’s Miracle Tarts (they had chocolate-mint, and a lemon one as well).

And these chunky chocolate brownies from Frankly Natural Bakers.

Then I noticed that they had a whole shelf full of Katz’s products, including chocolate cupcakes, cookies, apricot tarts, and these vanilla and chocolate rugelech.

They also had a full freezer section with baguettes, breads, and this Against the Grain Gourmet pizza with nut-free pesto that I haven’t seen before.

So what did I buy? Nothing.

I panicked from the amount of choices, grabbed some Jojoba oil, and called it a day. I’ll have to go back when I actually need something, because that place has it all.

Have you tried any of these products? Let me know what you think!

Chocolate in all forms

There are some times of the month when I swear I can eat chocolate at every meal. While I could definitely put down a pint of Haagen Dazs every night, I try to find healthier ways to control my cravings.

Chocolate ZICO coconut water

When I first heard that ZICO was coming out with a chocolate coconut water I thought – blech! That cannot possibly be good. I’ve tried the other flavored varieties before and they are way too sugary or taste odd to me. So I stuck to plain.

This stuff tastes almost exactly like chocolate milk. Or at least Yoohoo.

Plus it’s only 110 calories for a big bottle, and since it’s so yummy I can take a few sips and put it back in the fridge, unlike plain coconut water which I basically chug so fast I give myself the hiccups.

I need to order a case of this right away.

(source)

Lindt chocolate with a hint of sea salt

I had seen some rave reviews of this chocolate on other blogs, but I’m not usually one to just buy a big honkin car of chocolate from the store. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

At first it tastes just like a good piece of dark chocolate, but then, when you get a little rock of salt it causes this little flavor burst that’s so cool! It basically amplifies the effect that you get when you add salt to sweet chocolate chip cookies.

Luna chocolate-peanut butter protein bars

When I was at Target the other day, I picked up a box of these and noticed that they are now labeled gluten free. I guess they just started labeling them, which is great because it clearly differentiates them from the normal Luna bars, which are not gf because of the oats.

“Our ingredient suppliers have confirmed that all ingredients are gluten free, so they contain no gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The location where we make our food is capable of making a gluten free food and we test our finished products to confirm that they are gluten free.” (source)

I can’t say that these taste all that great. They’re protein bars, so, they taste like protein bars. But, half of one out of the freezer works for me if I have a sweet tooth after lunch.

And when all else fails, I can always turn to…

Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle bars. Because they taste like creamy frozen pudding.  Also, their website is confusing because it says “Does not contain” and then in the list it says “gluten free”. So it does not contain gluten free? Hmm…

Either way, they are gluten free and I can eat a box in two days. Or one day, or one hour.

So, there you have it. Some slightly healthier options for when you feel the need to have a constant stream of chocolate in your diet.

Do you have any other healthy gf chocolate dessert options?

El’s Gluten Free Snacks: Bagel Chips and “Medleys”

Apparently El’s Kitchen has been all over the place lately getting the word out about their gluten free bagel chips and Gardetto-like snack mix called “Medleys”. I saw a giveaway on Gluten Free is Life yesterday, as well as a review from Gluten Free and the City. Maybe they’re looking to build out their testimonials section?

Well, I’m happy to help! They were so nice to offer to send me a sample bag of each as well.

When they arrived in my mailbox I immediately ripped them open and dumped them on a plate to see what was inside.

Bagel chips on the bottom, Medleys on the top

This is not your average snack mix, people.

The Medleys mix was so interesting and fun!

There were corn nuts, which I don’t even remember eating before, and now I don’t know how they were absent from my life for 24 years. So yummy! Like edible popcorn kernels mixed with a nut. Plus there were these potato cracker/chip pieces that were ultra crunchy and had ridges on them. And to round it out, there were little Frito-like corn chips.

All covered in delicious spicy coating of Worcestershire, honey, paprika, cumin, and a bunch of other ingredients.

The bagel chips are really crunchy and thin, but I was dying to dip them into something. So I pulled out some smoked salmon dip from Whole Foods and got to it.

And that is the bagel chips’ natural state. SO good with the dip. They’re so crunchy that they didn’t break when I loaded it up with dip.

But, I didn’t stop there.

Last night I decided that they needed to go on top of soup. I used to get soup at Bruegger’s Bagels and use their bagel chips to dunk in my soup. Those were thick, and still a bit hard to gnaw on after they waded in the soup for awhile (in a good way).

Doesn’t that homemade roasted corn and poblano chowder look good?

Oh, who am I kidding? I bought one of those pre-made quarts of soup from Whole Foods. I did add in fresh broccoli, yellow squash, and a salmon fillet. That has to count for something, right?

Kind of like I remember. I think that if I’m truly going to get the Bruegger’s effect, I’ll need to make my own really thick bagel chips from gf bagels at some point.

Still, they made a pretty great topper. I think I still prefer them with that smoked salmon dip. Yummmm

El’s doesn’t sell their products in DC yet, so you’ll have to buy them online. Or check if they have them in your area on their website. They would make a great gift for your gluten free BFF too, since it’s a specialty product that you won’t be able to recreate.

I think we can safely say that El’s owns the market in gf bagel chips and snack mix. Crunch away!

My quinoa lunches

Last week I threw a package of red quinoa into my basket at the grocery store without really thinking too hard about it. Then I got to the checkout and found out that it was $7.00! I got it anyway, since I figured it would last awhile and I could use it for my work lunches.

Quinoa is great because it’s so versatile, and can even be used in sweet dishes, like Cocomama breakfast cereal. It’s high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, and magnesium. And who couldn’t use a little extra magnesium in their life? ;)

And boy did I use it. I managed to put together the strangest combinations of ingredients that I found in my fridge.

First up:

Quinoa with tuna salad, broccoli, carrots, and feta.

Then there was:

Quinoa with chick peas, cucumbers, carrots, feta, and parsley.

And today:

Quinoa with stir-fried tempeh, carrots, hummus, feta, and parsley

I think I need to take a break from this quinoa thing. I love it dearly, but I think I’ve had enough.

At least I got my $7.00 worth – I still have some of the package left!

Any ideas on how I can use the rest of this quinoa in a different way? I think I’m turning orange from all of these carrots…

Shopping Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Style

Trader Joe’s has to be one of my favorite places.  Not even favorite grocery store, just a favorite place of all places.  I love the distinct smell of TJ’s (kind of like sawdust?), the friendly staff, the unique products, and how gluten-free friendly they are.  They even provide a list of all of the gluten free products they have for easy shopping.  Oh yeah, and it’s five pages long.

The store itself can be a bit overwhelming…the one in Manhattan on 14th Street is basically like a small underground bunker, filled with food, and stuffed with hundreds of people trying to loot it and get out as fast as possible. (See below)

So I decided to document what a typical trip to Trader Joe’s looks like for me, which is usually grabbing a few specialty gf items, things that are cheaper there than anywhere else, things that are unique to TJ’s, and then getting the heck outta there.

1.  Wasabi Mayonnaise – great on sandwiches and in tuna salad

2. Onion and Chive Corn Crackers – amazing with cheese, or just plain out of the box.  They’re kind of like really fancy fritos, and everyone who tries them loves them.


Speaking of cheese…

3.  Sharp cheddar and rosemary asiago cheese – Forget whatever grocery store cheese you buy, TJ’s cheddar is way better and comparably priced.  And the rosemary asiago is my secret cheese BFF.  I love him.

4.  Almond butter and Better n’ Peanut Butter – Yes, that is almond butter for $4.99.  I refuse to buy it anywhere else (plus it seems like Whole Foods prices are going up for almond butter? Might just be my imagination…).  And Better n’ Peanut Butter is perfect for those of us who like to eat peanut butter out of the jar, but feel regret after consuming a full meal’s worth of calories on nut butter alone.

5.  Granola – I can’t choose which one I like more between the Cranberry maple, loaded fruit and nut, or tropical. This oat-less granola is a perfect out-of-the-cupboard snack, and is chock full of toppings.

6.  Ginger snaps – these are great for making crusts for desserts (like in Pretzel Strawberry Jello , I’ve also used it as a crust to a pumpkin pie) or just right out of the bag.  They’re crunchy and very gingery, but are also good when they’re a little stale and chewy (is that gross? oh well.)

6. Frozen pancakes – these are a staple at my dad’s house in Michigan and they make for a super simple breakfast.  Just pop them in the toaster, spread on a topping (bananas and Better n’ Peanut Butter for me).  They’re not as good as homemade gf pancakes, but they’re very convenient.

7.  Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal – this is absurdly cheap at TJ’s.  $3.69 is a crazy price for flax meal – I put a tablespoon in my oatmeal and cereal.

And something I don’t buy, but I figured I’d include, are Udi’s products (usually on the bottom shelf in the bread section).  I don’t typically buy gf bread, but helpful and cheap to buy at TJ’s if that’s your thing.

So, that’s my must have list.  There are so many great gf products at Trader Joe’s (including those not pictured here like their brownie mix, chocolate-covered cherries, ice cream, Think Thin bars, etc.) and they keep expanding their line. For more groceries, check out my grocery cart.

Do you have any other favorite gluten free products that can be found at Trader Joe’s?  Or anything that’s just dirt cheap?

Cocomama Quinoa Cereal

Before I moved to DC, I splurged on a bunch of non-perishables from G-Free NYC, including a packet of Cocomama Quinoa Cereal.  In the days when I was moving in, convenience was paramount for meals.  So this was a great option, as you basically just tear open the packet, nuke it, and squish it into a bowl.  I got the Banana Cinnamon (with a hint of Maple) variety.  But they also have Orange Cranberry, Honey Almond, and Wild Blueberry to choose from.

Now, whoever was the photographer for the pictures on their website must be a regular Ansel Adams, because mine did not end up looking anything like theirs.

Their pic:

My pic:

Mine looks about five shades darker, and I also just squirted it out right from the package, so it doesn’t have that nice fluffy-looking texture.

As far as how this stuff tastes – it is VERY rich.  It must be the coconut milk and maple syrup, but it sticks in your mouth and gut like peanut butter.  You’ve got to have a big tall glass of cold milk on hand to have with this.

I do like that they have found a way to make quinoa into a sweet dish, since I haven’t seen that done successfully.  They use simple ingredients, and have also kept the consumer in mind by making it extremely easy to prepare.  For those mornings when you don’t feel like dirtying dishes or doing prep work, these are a great solution.

Buy Cocomama products ($20 for a six pack of pouches)

Visit their awesome website

Gluten free running fuel

After 14 years of ballet, I never thought that I would run.  I still don’t consider myself a “runner”, but since I usually run about four times a week, others might.

Since I picked up some new kicks from The Running Company in Georgetown this weekend, it got me thinking about the food that fuels runners.  Most people associate pre-run meals as being carbo-loaded, spawned from high school pasta parties before track meets and pre-marathon bagels.  When I started running I realized that it really does make a difference what you eat before a run.

Obviously you can use gluten-free replacements for pasta, bagels, and pizza (although go with the rice or corn varieties instead of the brown rice ones, since whole grains can cause digestion issues while running).  But here are some alternate choices for pre and post run snacks.

A few pre-run gluten free meals:

  1. Low fiber fruits and vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, olives, grapes, and grapefruit)
  2. Soy milk with non whole-grain cereal (like Leapin Lemers)
  3. Greek yogurt with honey or granola

And for post-run:

  1. Coconut water (for electrolytes)
  2. Skim chocolate milk (for carbs and a little protein)
  3. Bananas, apples and berries (reduce inflammation)
  4. Nuts
  5. Eggs
  6. Raisins
  7. Sweet potatoes or potatoes