Sweet treats are one thing, but so many of us living gluten free don’t know where our next meal is coming from … literally! Sometimes the most daunting thing about being gluten free truly is mealtime, and trying to feed our families safe but tasty foods. Luckily I have some easy solutions for you!
If you missed my video interview with LeVeneziane at Expo East in Boston, you must check out this company! I love their pastas and I’ve heard nothing but good things from others about them as well. If you have a good go-to gluten-free pasta (one that’s not gummy, rubbery or gritty!) then you’ve got a great base for so many good meals. (Bonus! I just noticed in the comments to this posting, the company has provided coupon codes for LeVeneziane when you order on-line!)
Another company I love that was exhibiting at Expo West in the GFCO booth is Konriko Rice. This is no ordinary, plain jane boxed rice. They have all kinds of flavors — all of them certified gluten-free and msg-free as well — ranging from Wild Pecan (my favorite) to Aix En Provence (exotic, huh?). Konriko uses Louisiana-grown rice in its mill which happens to be America’s oldest operating rice mill. It’s amazing to see this mill in action, by the way, but all you really need to know is that this delicious side dish or meal base is ready in only 20 minutes and is truly yummy.
Below I’ve listed some other exciting companies with new products from Expo West that might just liven up your next gluten-free meal! If you have other delicious gluten-free meal discoveries, please share in the comment section!
(See my Intro to Expo and my philosophy behind my reviews, as well as my other new product reviews on Granolas & Bars, Frozen Gluten-Free Breads, Gluten-Free Cookies, and Gluten-Free Baking Ingredients!)
Gluten-Free Main Dishes
Feel Good Foods -
Can you say Gluten-Free Dumplings? You can now! Although this company is not certified gluten-free, and they do not use a dedicated facility, one of their owners has celiac disease, which always puts me more at ease. I’d love to see them get certified so that there are no issues with contamination, but for now, they say they are doing their own testing to 2 ppm.
I spoke with a couple folks who felt that this frozen product was difficult to prepare, as the dough could be kind of sticky, but the company recommends pan steaming the dumplings in water and oil first, so perhaps that solves the problem. (Note – I just caught this review on GlutenFreeda which has more information on tricks to make these difficult-to-work-with dumplings, actually work!).
The one I tasted was their only vegetable offering, and I found the dough to be a bit gummy on the finish, but the insides tasted just like the egg rolls I remember. I have a feeling that if these were cooked just right, they’d satisfy any potsticker craving, but I need to experiment with them at home first to be totally sure.
I love the concept, and this definitely fills a gluten-free product need. There was a lot of buzz about this product at the show, so hopefully you can find them soon at a store near you, and put them to your own test! They are going to net out at about $1.00/per dumpling, so be prepared for the sticker shock.
Although I mentioned GlutenFreeda in the “Granola” chapter of my review, I want to mention that they also rolled out an exciting new meal option at Expo West. They are already universally loved for their burritos – even carrying a vegetarian, dairy-free one, but now they have cornered the market on the hand-held pizza — they call them Pizza Wraps. Italian Sausage, Pesto Chicken or Three Cheese are their three current flavors, but Yvonne assured me that they are developing more as we speak.I didn’t taste them myself, as I’m a meat-free, dairy-free girl, but from the looks on the faces of other folks I saw munching these hot pockets of gluten-free love, they’ve made a winning combination! (G.F. Joe even came back asking for the whole enchilada, so to speak!)
GlutenFreeda foods are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Look for them with GlutenFreeda frozen burritos in the freezer section of your organic grocery, and pop them in the microwave for a quick and satisfying “makes you feel like a normal person” meal. If you want to see a dairy-free version, tell them you agree with Jules, and that you’d like to see them add that to their line-up …soon!
A natural product icon, Amy’s Kitchen is a huge company in the natural foods industry, but gluten-free is only a small part of what they produce. Even with that caveat though, Amy’s Kitchen offers a lot of gluten-free foods, ranging from Bowls to Indian dishes to Mexican entrees to Macaroni and Cheese to salsa — approximately 60 products in total. This company does not use dedicated facilities and they are not certified gluten-free; this is their cross-contamination statement: “At Amy’s we take every precaution to ensure that cross contamination of ingredients does not occur in our production facility but we want you to know that this product was produced in a plant that processes foods containing wheat, milk, soy, tree nuts and seeds.” They state that they test their products to ensure they contain less than 20ppm gluten. Read more about their testing protocols here.
While I try not to say anything negative about a company, I do hope that Amy’s listens to the community about their pizza crusts. A while back I asked on my Jules Gluten Free Facebook page how people liked Amy’s gluten-free, dairy-free pizzas, and with few exceptions, folks were very disappointed (here are two other reviews I found after a quick search: one on Amy’s dairy-free cheese pizza and one on Amy’s spinach and dairy-free cheese pizza). When gluten-free and even dairy-free pizza can be so truly delicious, there is no reason they cannot improve upon this recipe. I tasted these pizzas again at Expo and can confirm that Amy’s doesn’t seem to have reformulated this gluten-free crust at all, and in fact introduced something brand new called “Sandwich Rounds” which appear to just be smaller versions of their crust without crisp edges. This is not a product I can recommend, but I don’t want to end on a bad note.
I did sample their new “Sonoma Veggie Burger” and thought it was definitely a welcome addition to the gluten-free market. There aren’t enough gluten-free veggie burgers out there, in my humble meatless opinion, so I was glad to see them introduce one of their own. This one is made with organic quinoa, walnuts, mushrooms and other veggies, and the nibble I had at Expo was very tasty. With their broad distribution, it should be much easier to find a gluten-free veggie burger in the future, and with any luck, restaurants will start making the switch to veggie burgers like these that we can all safely enjoy!
Amy’s also has a new gluten-free burrito – one is cheddar cheese flavor, and the other is dairy-free. I was excited to try these, but they were not sampling them when I went by the booth. As with their veggie burger, we should expect wide distribution, and they are probably worth a try for a meal-in-a-hurry, pack-in-your-lunch option. Who knows, they could knock your socks off and be your new favorite GF thing!
Bahama Rice Burger-
These rice-based vegan burgers are relatively new to the marketplace, and are pretty unique, as they are comparatively low-fat, nutritionally dense, flavorful burger alternatives. Until recently, there were few gluten-free veggie burgers on the market, and Bahama Burgers are quite different from the others. The primary ingredient is a unique rice-based mix including brown, black and wild rice, and the remaining ingredients are also dairy and soy-free. As with many companies new to the gluten-free market, they are not yet certified gluten-free, but they are certified vegan, so we can hope they will soon see the benefit in certification for gluten-free as well. Read their allergen statement here.
They have several flavors and varieties, including such flavors as Pineapple Mango and Jerk Burgers, as well as Sausage and even Meatballs — all gluten-free and vegan. I was glad to see them at Expo, but they were not sampling any of these newer flavors, so I can only say that I have enjoyed the Original and the Mediterranean Burgers I have tried.
Some of you may have already tried Kettle’s offerings, but they released a new Thai Chicken soup (gluten and dairy-free) that got lots of people’s attention this year. I love the folks from Kettle: they’re a family-owned business that later got into gluten-free to suit their family’s needs. They are certified gluten-free by the GFCO and their ingredients are fresh and top-notch.
If you haven’t seen my video interview of them from Expo East, take a look. There are a lot of options with Kettle, and all of them are pretty darn yum!
Pacific Natural Foods-
This well-known company has long been a great place to find ready-made and condensed gluten-free soups and broths (their products are not certified gluten-free). I tried some new flavors at Expo though (maybe they were just new to me, but maybe they’ll be your new favorites, too!). Cashew Carrot Ginger was my favorite of the creamy soups they offered as samples – its creaminess comes from coconut, so it’s also a great dairy-free option, and it’s low fat (bonus!). Creamy Butternut Squash Soup has been in my repertoire for a while, making a yummy base for other whipped up soups and even casseroles (again, dairy-free as well). Curried Red Lentil, Spicy Black Bean and Thai Sweet Potato Soup are others in their gluten-free offering that are also dairy-free.
I hear from lots of you who are interested in a base for casseroles like Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving. If you can do dairy, their Cream of Mushroom soup is a nice option; if not, look toward Imagine Foods’ Creamy Portobello Mushroom, dairy-free, gluten-free soup (their products are not certified gluten-free).
Go Picnic -
Another in the category of “makes you feel like a normal person” foods, the concept behind Go Picnic is a good one. A full lunch packed in a neat little box that is handy for school lunches or picnics, alike. Not all their offerings are gluten-free, so be careful when selecting, but the new gluten-free ones they released at Expo included Tuna & Crackers and Hummus & Crackers (vegetarian). Each meal has several pieces, the Hummus and Crackers for example, has hummus dip, Crunchmaster’s chips (one of my favorites!), edamame, fruit and nut trail mix and an organic dark chocolate square. Each component has its own allergen statement, so consult each meal for the information relevant to your needs.
I’m all about handy, so this is definitely a product I’m happy to see expand its offerings! The Hummus & Crackers meal is only $4.99; other meals including meats or fish are $6.99 each. Sales and specials are always changing, so see what great deals they have by checking there before ordering. The Hummus meal right now is on special for $1.99!
I think I’ll go place my order now …!
Simply Shari’s (Gluten-Free & Fabulous™)-
Simply Shari’s sells a variety of CSA-certified gluten-free foods from cookies (which I’ve tried – see Review #2 in this series) to pizzas, which I have not tried, as well as quick and easy macaroni-and-cheese and marinara pasta mixes made with quinoa noodles – a move I applaud. Getting my kids to eat healthy foods is hard enough, if I can fool them with quinoa noodles in their macaroni and cheese, I’m not above that.
So the report? My kids ate up Shari’s Macaroni and Cheese like there was nothing new. Fooled ‘em – thanks Shari!
Look for my upcoming new product posts on
Frozen Gluten-Free Breads, Gluten-Free Snacks & Chips,
Gluten-Free Baking Ingredients, Dairy-Free Cheese & Nut Butters!