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.

Monster Bread

Monster cookies are my favorite cookie — along with Indiana School cookies, Holiday Cut-Outs, and Chocolate Chip. (I may have a cookie problem). They are salty, sweet, soft, and crunchy all at once. They have crisp dried fruit flavors and deep nutty notes. 

And now, you can make monster bread. At my house, this disappeared in one day. It may have been because I ate it all. Maybe. 

This is a basic banana bread base with extra vanilla and only brown sugar, no white, for that rich cookie flavor. I like to make small loaves of this recipe. The topping is too heavy for muffins, and a full-sized loaf pan will make for dense slices that are probably more than a healthy serving. I got some cute little loaf pans from IKEA for Christmas that are perfect. 

If you don’t have small loaf pans, go for a whole loaf, and just cut your slices in half. 

Monster Bread

Ingredients for the bread

3 ripe bananas

2 eggs

2 cups + 2 Tbls gluten-free flour blend

1 Tbl baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp xantham gum

1 stick butter (salted is fine)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbl vanilla extract 

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter morsels

1/4 cup pecan pieces 

1/4 cup golden raisins

Ingredients for the topping

2 Tbls butter

2 Tbls brown sugar

2 Tbls flour blend 

1/4 cup quick oats

2 Tbls dried cranberries or dried cherries, chopped

1 Tbl pecan pieces

Gather all your ingredients and three mixing bowls. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare your pans by spraying with canola oil or smearing with butter. 

In the first bowl, mash the bananas and beat the eggs into them. Set aside. 

In the second bowl, which should be large, whisk together the flour blend, powder, soda, salt, and xantham gum. Set aside. 

In the last bowl, melt the butter. Add the sugar to the melted butter and stir, then add the vanilla. Scrape the butter mixture slowly into the banana egg mixture to avoid cooking the eggs with the warm butter and combine. Set the empty melted butter bowl aside to make the topping later. 

Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just incorporated. Then add the chips, morsels, pieces and raisins. Pour into your pans so that each pan is a scant 2/3 full — remember you’ll be adding a topping, and you don’t want your loaves to overflow during baking. 

To make the topping, melt the butter in the reserved bowl. Add the sugar and flour blend, stir to combine. Mix the oats in, then add the dried fruit and nuts. Cover each loaf with the mixture, pressing lightly to adhere it to the dough. 

Baking time depends on the size of your loaf pans. I made three mini loaves that were done in 30 minutes. A full-size pan could take between 50-60 minutes. Use your eyes and nose to watch for browning and test with a toothpick for accuracy. 
 

Cheap Places for Gluten-free Products

Gluten-free products are cost-prohibitive. It’s inexpensive to eat gluten-free if you buy whole foods like rice, eggs, potatoes, meats, fruits, and vegetables. But if you want pre-packaged snacks and treats like crackers or granola bars, you’ll be paying more than twice per box compared to wheat-based products. The best way to have your cake and eat it too is to shop at ALDI or Asian markets.

The above photo is from a display at an ALDI in St. Louis, Missouri. Normally, their gluten-free products are spread throughout the store, marked so they’re easy to find. This ALDI is trying a new approach with all their GF products in a large, separate end cap. Check out their offerings — everything is under $5 per box or bag. More importantly, their GF products are tasty. They’re not the best on the market, but they are above-average in taste and texture. I got this grocery cart full of GF products and other household necessities (pictured below) for $180. In my area, this same cart full of food would have cost me around $300 at my mid-range grocer.

If there is no ALDI near you, your best bet is your local Asian supermarket. I can get 16 ounces of rice flour there for $.99, compared to the $4.99 I pay for 24 ounces of it at my local mid-range supermarket. All the products at the Asian market in my neighborhood have ingredient, allergy, and nutrition information stickers in English on each bag or box. Many products are marked if they’ve been prepared on shared equipment as well. Read labels carefully to decide if a product is safe for you.

We have discovered some delicious GF snacks at our Asian markets that neither ALDI nor any other area grocers carry, like these adorable sweet rice crackers pictured below (it’s basically a cookie, y’all). They come in packages of two, so they’re perfect for my daughter’s lunch box.

What grocer is your favorite for GF products?

 

P.S. ALDI did not pay me to write this blog; I’m an actual fan.