Good For Me and Good For You: New Day Gluten-free Cafe STL

20170414_143528The first time we walked in to New Day Gluten Free, my daughter with Celiac took in a slow, long breath, pressed her face against the case and stared for a full two minutes. When a New Day worker approached and asked if she needed help, she looked awed and breathed, “I can eat anything I want here. My mom doesn’t have to ask the chef or anything.” Safe to say, it was a good day for her.

The baked goods include muffies (small muffins that are almost all top), cake pops, cookies, brookies (brownies + cookies), cupcakes, cakes, cheesecakes, and tarts. The kids’ favorite is an enormous Chipwich, two huge, flat chocolate chip cookies with buttercream and rainbow sprinkles between them. Mine was the chocolate chip muffie. Soft, plush muffins with melty chocolate chips and a sugar crust, I will be ordering them every time we go back.

There is an extensive breakfast menu full of biscuits and pancakes, which is great since Celiacs are usually relegated to eggs, bacon, and fruit at breakfast joints. We came at lunchtime and ordered breadsticks, cheesy garlic bread, cheese pizza with bacon, a meatball marinara sub, and grilled cheese and tomato soup. Clearly, we were feeling Italian that day.

The breadsticks were the highlight of the meal for me, but the pizza was a close second. They were warm and soft, perfectly seasonsed, and served with a marinara sauce that had just the right amount of herbed intensity. The pizza was foldable and chewy, a win-win in a world of crumbly gluten-free crusts. The garlic bread had a hint of grainy after-texture, but my parents and kids didn’t notice. The grilled cheese was buttery, crunch on the outside and gooey on the inside, with salty cheese spilling over the sides of the crust. The tomato soup was creamy, tasting of summer and winter both at the same time.

New Day gets extra points for serving local sodas from Excel Bottling. Next time we go, we’re going to be taking home a tray of cinnamon rolls. They have a case with take-and-bake breads, pastas, sweets, and soups. They also take orders for school-safe snacks and birthday cakes.

The food here made my parents (who always eat their Wheaties) and my gluten-free daugther happy. They’re putting out great products for everyone, not so-so products for people who can’t eat wheat. Feel free to suggest bringing your friends who eat gluten — they’ll happily enjoy New Day’s bread and baked goods. I’m grateful they’re here in St. Louis.

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Sweet & Savory Korean Noodles (잡채)

Simplified, Quick-and-Easy, Gluten-Free Japchae  

Have I mentioned that I am a fan of Korean dramas? No? I have a monthly subscription to both DramaFever and Viki, and when I am cooking, there is always a drama on in the background. My current favorite of late is Weightlifting Fairy but my top recommendations are It’s Okay, That’s Love, Signal, Coffee Prince, Jealousy Incarnate…wait. This is a food blog. Not a Kpop blog.

So, the point is that my love for Kdramas led to a love for Korean food, which isn’t easy to find in gluten-free form. Many of the fermented pastes used as the foundation in Korean food, which were traditionally gluten-free, are now made with wheat as a filler. I have found some great gf soybean or red pepper pastes online, however, and there are some naturally gf Korean ingredients that are unheard of to most Americans, like sweet potato noodles. These noodles have just one ingredient: sweet potato starch. They don’t taste like sweet potatoes, either (I can’t stand sweet potatoes). Top these puppies with some meat and veggies in a sweet-and-savory sauce, and this dish is a winner.

Japchae is a kid’s meal in Korea where many people prefer things nice and spicy, but it’s perfect for adult palates too. It tastes similar to teriyaki or pad Thai. I adapted this recipe from my favorite Korean food blogger, Holly at Beyond Kimchee. Hers is, I’m sure, a much more traditional recipe with deep layers of flavor, but it took me a long time to make it. My recipe is fast for a quick, family weeknight meal. Put the meat in the marinade in the morning, and you’ll be ready to whip the rest up after work.

Japchae

Serves 6 – 8

Takes 30- 40 mins to make

5 tablespoons of gluten-free soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons Korean or Japanese sesame oil, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic in olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons honey, divided

2 green onions, minced

2 large carrots

olive oil, as needed

1 small white onion

2 big handfuls of kale

1 box of cut field mushrooms

1.5 pounds boneless, cage-free chicken breasts

6 ounces of Korean sweet potato (glass) noodles

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

In the morning, place 3 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs sesame oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp honey and the green onions in a large ziploc bag and shake to mix. Cut the chicken into strips and put in the bag. Stick it in your fridge until you’re ready to cook in the evening.

Fill your stock pot 2/3 with water and put it on to boil. Peel the carrots and cut into thick matchsticks. Place these into a fry pan with a drizzle of olive oil, and turn it on medium-high heat. While the carrots begin to cook, chop the onion into medium-sized chunks. Add these to the pot with the carrots and turn the heat to medium. Keep stirring occasionally as you…

When the water has come to a rolling boil, place two big handfuls of kale into it and blanch for 2 minutes. DON’T DUMP YOUR WATER OUT. Strain them out the water with a large slotted spoon, and place them into a colander set in a bowl, let drain. While the kale leaves cool a bit, blanch the mushrooms for 3 minutes. Wring the excess water out of the leaves and place them on a towel. Be careful, they’re hot. Fish the mushrooms out and drain them in the colander as well.

When the carrots and onions are halfway cooked, put the contents of the chicken bag in the pan with them, marinade and all. Cook for 5 minutes and turn strips over to cook the other side. When the strips are cooked through, stir the carrots and onions and chicken around together in the pan and cook another 2 -3 minutes.

As soon as your boiling water is free, put ½ the package of noodles into it and set a timer for 5 – 6 minutes. While the noodles are boiling, mix the rest of the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and honey with the ginger and sesame seeds in a bowl and stir the kale and mushrooms into it. Drain the noodles and rinse them with lukewarm water. Put them in a serving bowl and top with the all the meat and vegetables and the sauces from the bowl and pan.

The noodles will be room temperature and the toppings hot. Enjoy!

Cocoa Crispy Treats

Sugar-free, Delicious Treats

I’m at Target last week looking for the best gluten free cereal on the market: Mom’s Best Crispy Cocoa Rice. And — gasp — they’re out! Even the tag is gone! In its place is One Degree Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps. I look the box over: gluten free? Check. Delicious looking? Check. Super healthy? Double check!

I get these puppies home, cover a big bowl of ’em in some 1%, dig in and blech. Now, I have a wide palate; I love almost all food, and I was not expecting this to be like Mom’s Best because, well, what could be as good as that? I was expecting more of a cardboard-y health food, but this wasn’t carboard-y; it was just gross. The texture was good, but the flavor was too strange for me to stomach.

I wasn’t about to throw it out, though. I’ve tried my fair share of gluten free pre-packaged foods and had more misses than hits. So, I did what I always do, and made lemonade out of these lemons. The best friggin’ lemonade I’ve ever had!

OK, moving on from the lemonade metaphor, this cereal is the most amazing base for delectable snacks. (Desserts? Snacks? I can’t decide which to call them.) Basically, I made cocoa crispy treats that are sugar-free and daaaaayum delicious. Mr. Picky McPickerson, pictured above, ate half the pan. Enjoy.

 

To Make Me:

4 cups of One Degree Sprouted Brown Rice Cocoa Crisps

1/2 c honey

1/2 Simply Nature Creamy Almond Butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Prep a 9″ square pan by spraying with oil. Measure the cereal into a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, boil the honey over medium heat for one minute, then stir in the almond butter, salt and vanilla. Pour this hot mixture over the cereal and stir until combined. Press this into the pan firmly using the back of your spoon or your hands if you can handle the heat. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Bring back to room temperature, cut, and serve.

 

How Do I Handle Potlucks and Parties?

and Mediterranean Shrimp & Tomato Bake

Oh glory be, you finally figured it out! You know what was making you or your kid sick: gluten. Stupid stupid gluten. You’re so happy; bring on the health!

But wait – our society is built around food with friends. Crap. What the heck are you supposed to do at barbecues, potlucks and parties?

  1. Bring your own salad dressing. Get those little packets of Newman’s Own dressing and stow some in a plastic tub in your glove compartment. You will be able to enjoy the salads at social gatherings.
  2. Bring your own sweets. You should always have a stash of sweets in your car. I like Aldi’s LiveGFree Double Chocolate Brownie Soft Baked Cookies. You can keep a box of these in your glove compartment (or in your child’s classroom) for times like baby showers where the adorable little stork-shaped sugar cookies are making you want to rush over to your favorite GF bakery and go to town.
  3. Let people know. I know it seems hopeless because even well-meaning people who attempt to make you something GF mess up and you get sick from eating it. But a lot of times, it works! My daughter’s friends’ parents have been incredibly kind, buying GF waffles for sleepover breakfasts and serving eggs and bacon for dinner. People at church started bringing croutons on the side or plain baked potatoes with toppings on the side for potlucks. Most people want to be accommodating.
  4. Don’t be shy about saying ‘no’ if they tried but you’re suspicious they missed something. Just be as kind as possible when you do it, and everyone will get over any hurt feelings. (And if they don’t, well, what can you do?)
  5. Ask if you or your kid can go first. Tell everyone you’ve got just a few things to choose from that are safe to eat and if those things are gone by the time your turn at the table comes around, you’ll be left hungry.
  6. Make a huge portion of something delicious that just happens to be gluten-free. The picture above is from my cooking club with my pal Grace from Taste with Grace. I brought along my go-to potluck dish (recipe below) and it was a hit, even with seafood-averting Midwesterners.
  7. When all else fails (surprise ice cream sandwich party in your kid’s second grade class!), promise yourself you’ll have a GF version later. And then eat it when it’s safe.

Mediterranean Shrimp & Tomato Bake

8 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into fourths

2 Tbls olive oil

sea salt

2 tsps minced garlic

1 – 2 pounds raw, peeled, deveined jumbo shrimp*

1 -2 Tbls lemon juice

1 4-oz pkg crumbled feta

2 c basmati rice, prepared as directed

Preheat oven to 350F. Get the rice cooking. Toss tomatoes in oil, garlic and salt and bake in 9×13 pan for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp and toss them in the lemon juice. Use 1 Tbls lemon juice per pound of shrimp. Remove tomatoes from oven and stir shrimp in. Top with crumbled feta. Bake for 10 more minutes or until shrimp are just pink and shaped like a letter “C.” Serve all this goodness over rice.

*Please buy sustainably procured shrimp. I want my great grandchildren to be able to enjoy shrimp. Also, our American fishermen need our support. Here’s more information on that: Seafood ChoicesALDI’S seafood chain, and Behind the Business of Shrimp Farming.

Crustless Cottleston Pie

Winnie the Pooh talked a lot about Cottleston Pie, and now you can eat it. I found a recipe for it in  The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook by Virginia H. Ellison well before Aury was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and it became a family staple. Think of it as a savory-er quiche.

The original recipe, of course, calls for a crust. I made GF pie crusts (which are a pain in the rear, let me tell you) and bought GF pie crusts (which are wicked expensive, let me tell you), until finally I thought — why do I need a crust?

It came out perfectly, and even Buddy, my five-year-old boy who ABHORS eggs, ate two pieces. Cheers to fast family dinners!

Crustless Cottleston Pie

1 5-oz can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained

1/2 cup frozen peas

2-3 eggs (how eggy do you like your pie?)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 pinches sea salt (smidge less if using salted butter)

ground pepper, to taste

1 pinch nutmeg

1 tablespoon cold butter cut into tiny dots

1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray a 9″ pie pan with oil. Sprinkle tuna and peas on bottom of pie pan. Beat eggs, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg until mixed and frothy. Pour on top of tuna and peas. Sprinkle top with dots of butter and then top with shredded cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown and the middle doesn’t jiggle. (You’ll need to cook it a little longer if you only used two eggs). Cool for 10 minutes, slice, and serve.