Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gluten Free Cooking Class @ Formaggio Kitchen

Have you ever wanted to know how to make those delicious pre-gluten free comfort foods like gnocchi or chicken pot pie? I do! If you are in the Boston area on Sunday March 4th, you should check out this great event being held at Formaggio Kitchen's Annex in Cambridge. 

I used to live around the corner from the Formaggio when I was in the South End. This was one of my favorite places to wander into for a last minute dinner and also the place where I found the epic Salsa Divino from Desert Pepper. If I didn't already have somewhere to be that day, I would most certainly be attending this class.

For more details on the event and to sign up, check out the event's website. Class admission is listed as $45/ person and comes with lessons as well as great recipes and plenty of tasting. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Tale of Two Soups: Part 1 (Kettle Cuisine Review)

A little while back, Kettle Cuisine was kind enough to send me samples of six of their gluten free soup options to try. 

Here is a run down of the soups, their basic nutritional values and of course my comments.

Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans

Calories: 250
Fat: 9g
Sodium: 540mg
Carbs: 21g
Fiber: 8g
Protein: 22g

This is a really tasty soup and probably one of my favorites. For a soup that comes frozen, the steak pieces have great texture and taste. I, of course, shamelessly loaded the soup with low fat cheese. This isn't a commentary on the soup quality... I just like cheese. Overall, it's fairly low in fat and calories for the amount of protein and fiber it packs. This is a great lunch soup that will keep you full well into the afternoon.

New England Clam Chowder

Calories: 310
Fat: 17g
Sodium: 620mg
Carbs: 26g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 13g


I grew up in Massachusetts and am very fussy about my chowder. This clam chowder has a good consistency, the right amount of potatoes/ clams/ onions etc. and it's seasoned nicely. Personally, I like my chowder a little thicker, but this one is still good. However, since it has a high fat content, (like any chowder), this is a sometimes/ special treat soup for me. 

Chicken Chili with White Beans

Calories: 320
Fat: 15g
Sodium: 570mg
Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 25g

This is a hearty stick to your ribs soup that is great after a day of running around in the snow or this season... a winter hike. I shared some with Mike and he really liked it as well. Again, it's slightly higher in fat, but unlike the chowder, it has a solid protein content and a good dose of fiber.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Calories: 190
Fat: 9g
Sodium: 620mg
Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 4g


This soup was good, but it wasn't one of my favorites. It made a good accompaniment for half a turkey wrap and packs a fairly solid amount of fiber, which I keep mentioning is good for satiety and keeping your blood sugar stable.

Thai Curry Chicken Soup

Calories: 330
Fat: 11g
Sodium: 560mg
Carbs: 44g
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 13g

I love almost anything curry related and this soup was no exception. The sweet, yet savory flavor mixed well the basmati rice and chicken. I wasn't too sure about the mushrooms at first, but they seemed to grow on me after a few spoon fulls, (pun intended). 

Tomato Soup with Garden Vegetables

Calories: 110
Fat: 3.5g
Sodium: 710mg
Carbs: 16g
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 13g

This was a fantastic addition to the mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich that I brought for lunch. I seriously can't get enough of tomatoes these days! They are so good. The soup has wax beans and green beans, which add nice texture along with the carrots and other vegetables. For only 110 calories, it gives a warm winter boost to your everyday sandwich.

Overall, I've liked Kettle Cuisine's products from Day 1. Their gluten free options allow me to enjoy delicious soups without having to spend the time to make a full batch myself. Don't get me wrong, I love to make soups, but this is a big time saver when you're in a hurry. I think the only criticism I could give the soups is that most of them have a fairly high sodium content, which isn't really good for you. The tomato soup with garden vegetables has a shocking 710mg of sodium for a little bowl of soup. I think that if Kettle Cuisine ever added lower sodium versions to their gluten free line up, I would be totally smitten.

Kettle Cuisine's Soups can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store and come in little black bowls. They're pretty handy as emergency lunches and good with dinner after a long day out of the house. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How's It Going?

It's been more than a few weeks since my last post. Both product reviews and restaurant reviews have come to a stand still and the restaurant list is in dire need of updating from all of your excellent suggestions!

So, what have I been up? Wedding planning! Our wedding is less than two months away and we're currently in crunch mode. Also, along the way I managed to injure my lower back and have been in physical therapy twice a week. Add that to a commute that is over an hour on a good day and my beloved blog gets put on the back burner in favor of keeping my head above water. 

Please note any food allergies

Fortunately, my soon to be husband has been seriously helpful with grocery shopping and cooking. About a month ago, my friend was helping me into my wedding dress that I had purchased from Vow's in Watertown, Ma last summer. It fit, but was dangerously snug. Amid all the chaos, I had packed on more than a little bit of weight and was on track for seriously letting out my dress or having to buy a new one all together. Panic ensued and an Internet search for a diet began. I wound up finding a diet plan from Women's Health that claimed you could lose 10 lbs in a month if you followed it. I wasn't so sure that would be the case, but I figured I would try it anyways. After the first week of being hangry, (angry because you're hungry), my body adjusted and I've actually never felt better. The diet was easily adapted for my gluten free requirements and the fact that I have a sheet of paper telling me what to eat has taken the extra stress of healthy meal planning off my plate, (pun intended). 

We still have a lot to do, so articles may still be sporadic until April, but keep your eyes out. I recently received samples from Kettle Cuisine that I'm in the process of writing the review for and there's also going to be an article written about my very gluten free wedding shower and of course a final review on Willowdale Estate's gluten free wedding capabilities. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Product Review: Peanut Wonder Wow!

It has been a super busy past few months and my "get fit" for the wedding plan took the back burner somewhere between moving, working full time, teaching a night class and injuring my back sneezing, (not even from doing something cool like doing jumps on my snowboard... sneezing...). There are only two and half months to the wedding and I'm mildly desperate to not out grow my very fitted wedding dress. In comes "the diet" or as I'd like to call it, "the torture". I can't stand being told what I can and can't eat. It's odd that I've managed to stay staunchly gluten free since day 1 with Celiac Disease. Anyways, my super awesome fiance has agreed to help me implement a healthy eating plan that I found. He's been kind enough to do all the grocery shopping and help and/ or prep most of my meals. 

On his last trip to the store he brought home what he thought was "natural peanut butter". Natural peanut butter if you haven't had it tastes kind of blah. It's just ground peanuts. Done. I first noticed that he had something different when I read the fat content on the back of the jar. 2 1/2 grams of fat.... what?! I started reading the ingredients and found that it was gluten free and contained peanut flour and other natural non-hydrogenated scary ingredients. So, what is this magical peanut butter like substance that won't add junk to my trunk you say? It's called Peanut Wonder!

Most manufactured "diet" foods are pretty scary. They come with all sorts of junky fillers and in my opinion are just as bad for you as their non-diet counterparts. I usually find myself grumbling at the grocery store because most of the food for sale is just artificial and chemical laden. Peanut wonder is not the case. It's low fat, smooth and pretty darn tasty. Don't get me wrong, you couldn't spoon this into your child's mouth and smuggly grin when you get a 35 minute break from them talking. 

If you're looking for a lower fat alternative to peanut butter that tastes good and isn't loaded with artificial ingredients, give Peanut Wonder a try.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Restaurant Fridays - Wild Willy's (Worcester)

Welcome to Restaurant Fridays - My Friday reviews of gluten free dining options in Boston, Worcester and their surrounding areas.

Wild Willy's - Worcester

I have no idea how it's taken me this long to write about Wild Willy's. I think it's because the burgers and sandwiches are so good that I usually scarf mine down before I remember to take pictures. Wild Willy's is a restaurant chain that has a several locations across New England. The owners of the Worcester location, (Bob and Jan Stein), have chosen to take gluten free to the next level.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Product Review - Choice Batter

About a month ago, Mike proudly came home with a new gluten free find, Choice Batter. I generally don't fry things, but we decided to give this product a try at least once out of curiosity. We decided to make buffalo chicken salads for dinner using this mix. One batch of chicken we fried with light olive oil spray and the other we pan fried in peanut oil.

Choice Batter

Upon opening the package, I was immediately hit with the rather zesty smell of the mix. It definitely had some spices mixed in. This worried me a little bit because sometimes the spice mix in gluten free products can leave a lot to be desired. I think some companies must use the heavy spice mixes in an attempt to mask the gluten free taste and texture...

Dry Batter

This mix was fairly easy to use. We just added water, let it sit for a little bit and dunked the chicken pieces in. After that, we tossed it in the frying pan and cooked it until golden brown. The batch that we made with the light olive oil spray came out a lot cakier, whereas the version we fried in the peanut oil came out nice and crispy. If you plan on pan frying your battered items , be careful! The oil spits a lot more than I've ever see another product spit. Make sure you aren't wearing nice clothes and make yourself a frying shield with foil if you need to. Also, you could use a fryer if you have one, which would probably take care of the spitting problem all together.

Fried with light olive oil spray

Pan fried in peanut oil

After we cooked all the chicken, I saved two pieces to try sans hot sauce. My earlier fears of the spice mix being gross or overpowering were thwarted by the tasty fried chicken. It was good without the buffalo sauce and even better with it. If and when we decide to treat ourselves to a buffalo chicken salad with batter fried chicken again, we will be using this mix for sure. We had some left over after the chicken, which sent me cruising for more stuff to fry, but we opted against it since the fried chicken was enough for the evening.

Next time though.... bloomin' onion!

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Week Only: Donate $2 To Help Send Children To A Gluten-Free Summer Camp!

I was recently contacted by the folks at to help them promote a really great fundraiser that's going on this week.

For one week only, donating $2 will go toward providing scholarships for children to attend a gluten-free summer camp hosted by the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) in Southern California.

The summer camp will be held in San Bernardino from July 30 to August 3, 2012, and is open to all 7-15 year old gluten intolerant and gluten-sensitive children – not just those diagnosed with celiac disease.

Van's Natural Foods has paired with Gluten-Free Saver and has generously agreed to match peoples' $2 donations up to $1000, making your donation actually worth $4!

The fundraiser runs from this past Monday December 19th through Sunday 25th.

The goal is to raise $2,000 and they are already half way there after two days of fundraising! Any excess funds over the goal will be put towards scholarships at other camps across the United States. 100% of all donations will go directly to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

**Donations aren't limited to $2. If you are able to and would like to donate more, please do because this is a great cause.**

Please go to Gluten-Free Saver's website to check out the details and donate today! Thank you and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.