Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things I Miss the Most

Since switching to the gluten-free lifestyle, there are certain things that I miss the most. I'm sure I'm not alone here, so I've compiled a list of most-craved items, and how I satisfy that craving.

1.) Fried chicken. I have yet to try fried chicken-on-the-bone at home yet, but I did make delicious fried chicken tenders using corn flour. I dredged the tenders in corn flour, then egg, then more corn flour.. then more egg, then more corn flour. The corn added a really nice texture and flavor to the chicken, actually. It was better than the ones I used to make with flour.

2.) Pasta. This is a common one. But the more gluten-free pasta I try, the more that I like. We really enjoyed corn pasta, and brown rice pasta. My next goal is to try to make homemade fresh pasta, gluten-free. I have a pasta press, so I will be sure to blog about that when I give it a shot. I am planning to give Paparazzi a try -- I hear they have gluten-free pasta dishes.

3.) Pizza. I. love. pizza. Who doesn't? Cheesy and wonderful, crispy crust.. there's nothing like it. I miss it. However, there are plenty of good gluten-free options out there. The best one I've found is at The Grilling Greek in Natick, on Route 135. This place quite frankly deserves its own review, because it is my favorite place to order takeout. The tiny unassuming shack churns out some of the best food you will ever have -- pita baked to order, fresh gyros, all for incredibly reasonable prices. But now with my gluten allergy, I order their gluten-free pizza, especially the White Greek pizza -- feta, roasted red peppers, grilled chicken, and roasted garlic. The pizza is wonderfully crispy and chewy all at once, and the best part? It heats up well the next day. I have yet to find another gluten-free pizza that lasts a day. If you aren't in the area, Wicked in Dedham also has excellent gluten-free pizza that heats up well the next day. It's pricey, but tasty.

4.) Toast. I didn't think I would miss a simple thing like my slice of toast in the morning. I used to eat, every morning, multi-grain toast with peanut butter and dried cranberries. Instead, I now eat oatmeal. Be warned, many oatmeals are processed with wheat. So I had to order the Glutenfreeda brand from Amazon. There are also some celiacs who cannot eat oats. However, research shows that the majority of celiac sufferers can tolerate oats just fine -- it's best to check with your doctor. Either way, I get a packet of plain oatmeal, add honey and dried cranberries, then some boiling water. Breakfast is restored!

5.) French fries. Who doesn't love a crispy crunchy fried potato? I am a sucker for French fries, and giving them up has really sucked. Admittedly, it makes me order a healthier side when at a restaurant, but most restaurants simply don't have a dedicated fryer for their fries, meaning they are contaminated with gluten from the other battered items in the fryillator. However, the saving grace? McDonald's. That's right. The best French fries in fast food are, in fact, gluten free. McDonald's does in fact list a gluten byproduct in the beef flavoring put into the fries (yeah, they put beef flavoring in their fries... why do you think they taste so good?). However, tests have shown that the beef flavoring is SO processed that the amount of gluten left is negligible and not enough to trigger a reaction in celiacs. And Mickey D's has dedicated fryers for just their French fries! Amazing. I'll stop into McDonald's for a hot fudge sundae (also gluten-free) and a big side of fries for a treat. Obviously, this is a once in awhile thing.

6.) Burgers. I love burgers so much. They are my favorite comfort food, a nice burger and fries. I am sick of restaurants saying "We have gluten-free burgers!" and what they really mean is "We can serve a meat patty with no bun and call it a burger!" I've tried the gluten-free burgers at several restaurants at this point. BBC is well-known for its gluten-free menu, but the burger bun is terrible. It tastes like drywall. Not Your Average Joe's also has a gluten-free menu, with a very good bun (they also serve the bun as a bread basket in the beginning of the meal), but disappointingly, the burger itself sucks. My server didn't even take a temperature, and it came out medium well and dry. If I could somehow combine BBC's meat patty with the bun from Not Your Average Joe's... So, in lieu of this, I turn to The Cottage in Wellesley. The L.A. Burger is very tasty, and it is actually served on bread.

7.) Wings. Every Valentine's Day, my husband and I have a tradition. We watch terrible movies on the living room floor, with a gigantic order of chicken wings. We love Wing It in Allston, and even the Wings Over... chain. I just love chicken wings (on the bone, of course. Don't give me that fried chicken tender crap and try to tell me that's a wing. If it ain't flapped, it ain't a wing.) and I love getting all gross from the sauce and working for the meat on the bone. Unfortunately, most chains fry their wings in the same fryers as their boneless (and covered in gluten) counterparts. It just isn't safe to eat. Luckily for me, we live near the BBC in Framingham. They have an expansive gluten-free menu, which includes their wings -- they oven roast them in lieu of frying. So not only are they gluten-free, but they're technically better for you anyway! BBC does takeout, so we will order their buffalo wings plus entrees, and it's an affordable and delicious dinner. Do they taste as good as deep fried wings? Well, no. But they are extremely satisfying, and as close to the real thing that I can get without busting out my Fry Daddy at home.

8.) Cupcakes. I do not normally have much of a sweet tooth, but I love cupcakes. Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham has fantastic gluten-free vegan cupcakes, but more importantly, they have varying flavors. There are plenty of good bakeries with gluten free cupcakes (Glutenus Minimus, for example) that are delicious, but they only ever come in chocolate with vanilla frosting. Treat has an entire menu of gluten-free vegan cupcakes, and they do custom orders. I've even emailed with the baker to discuss their practices to avoid cross-contamination. In this picture, you can see the varying flavors they have -- chocolate with orange frosting, mint chocolate cookie with mint frosting, cookies 'n cream, pumpkin with cinnamon frosting, mochaccino, chocolate with coconut frosting and chocolate ganache.. so delicious.

So, that's it so far. Any other substitutions people out there recommend? Is there any craving you're having a hard time satisfying? I'd love to hear from you!


  1. The best gluten-free pasta I've tried is the Bionaturae brand, which uses a blend of rice, soy, and potato flours. You can get it at Whole Foods. I like it much, much better than the straight rice or corn kinds. I think the texture is better and it also *looks* more like regular pasta, which has some kind of psychological effect.

    Burgers were the food I missed the most when I went vegetarian ... now I'm eating meat again, but I still can't eat burgers!! Boo. The loss of sandwiches, in general, is almost too much to bear. (I hate most gluten-free bread.)

  2. Ooh, good to know! I usually get all of my GF stuff from the Market Basket in Ashland, which has a great dedicated GF section, but I am going to try that pasta!

    I totally feel your pain on the burgers. I have yet to find a really good gluten-free bread. I do like the gluten-free buns at NYAJ's, but the burger sucked so much that it wasn't worth it. I have been so far okay with Udi's, as long as I cover it in cheese or avocado or something equally moistening. I was never crazy about sandwiches, to be honest, so I don't feel like I'm missing out there. I do get very sad when we're at a nice restaurant and an incredibly awesome looking bread basket arrives, however.

  3. Yes, it sucks when you're starving and everyone else is chowing down on free bread. This is why Mexican restaurants are awesome (though I guess you run into the same problem with chips coming from a shared fryer -- I'm not that strict).

    I also like the Udi's pizza crusts for a quick meal!