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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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.

Gluten free: Where do I begin?

Snacks, Quick-n-Easy Meals, and Packed Lunch Ideas

By Shannon

 

When my daughter was diagnosed at age 6 with Celiac Disease, we decided to go completely gluten-free at home so that she would have one place in the world where she didn’t have to worry if what she was putting in her mouth was going to make her sick.

I sat in my kitchen for a many minutes staring at my pantry that was full of my favorite snacks and baking ingredients. I had an encyclopedia of recipes in my brain that used these ingredients – no cookbook necessary. That collection of recipes in my mind had been hard-won after many hours spent at a counter teaching myself to cook. And now they were all useless. I wouldn’t be making them anymore except on rare occasions while staying with family members for holidays.

I was beyond relieved that we had finally found out what was making my daughter so sick, but I was overwhelmed at the prospect of learning how to cook in a whole new way. Frustrated, I threw out my sauce-splattered recipe binder. I gathered everything in my kitchen with gluten in it – any and all derivitives of wheat, malt, barley, or rye – and took them to my friend’s house. And then I thought: “I have no idea what to feed my family.”

I started researching and, while there are some wicked good gluten-free recipe blogs and lists of great gluten-free restaurant menus out there, I just needed some lists of quick-cook meal and snack ideas. And lunches. My daughter’s school was nut-free and, for her, now gluten-free. What on earth was I going to pack her for lunch?

I couldn’t find what I needed online, so I made myself a list of go-to food ideas. The meals aren’t the healthiest, but for a busy family, everyone once in a while you need to just throw food on the table and go. These ideas are for nights like those.

Snacks

Ants on a log

Apple Butter on a rice cake

Caramel rice cakes

Carrots with Ranch dressing

Chips and salsa

Chocolate-dipped dried apricots

Chocolate-covered nuts

Dried chick peas

Dried fruit

Edamame

Frozen Grapes

Fruit, any and all fruit

Fruit Snacks

Fruit Strips

Golden raisins or Craisins

Guacamole with tortilla chips

Hard boiled eggs

Kind bars

Nuts

Pepperoni or jerky

Pesto on Nut-Thins or rice crackers

Pirate’s Booty or Cheetos

Popcorn

Popsicles

Apples dipped in Nutella

Smoothies

Sorbet

Sweet Potato Fries

Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds

Tomatoes with rosemary and sea salt

Yogurt or Go-Gurt

 

Quick and Easy Meals

Baked Potatoes with chili and cheese

Corn tortilla quesadillas

Boxed GF macaroni and cheese

GF chicken nuggets

GF frozen pizza

Sliced hot dogs served with freezer fries

Nachos

Scrambled eggs with fruit and freezer sausage

Tacos

Lettuce wraps tuna salad

Black beans and rice

Lettuce-wrapped burgers

 

School Lunches

Go-gurt, whipped berry cream cheese on GF bread, Blue Machine smoothie

 

Sliced turkey wrapped around cheese sticks, fruit cup, potato chips

 

Hummus with tortilla chips and baby carrots for dipping, chocolate milk, dried fruit strips

 

Tuna salad, rice crackers, applesauce, GF cookie

 

These lists are by no means comprehensive, but they’re a good start if you’re feeling as lost as I did right after my daughter’s diagnosis. Good luck, and I promise, it gets easier. Soon you’ll feel as competent making GF pizza dough and cookies as you did making wheat-based versions.