June 28, 2008

GF Beer Review: Shakparo

Presently, the best place I know of to stock up on  gluten free beer in Philadelphia is The Foodery.  The location I go to is on 2nd and Poplar. They have an entire shelf of gluten free beers, ranging from New Grist, Green's, Sprecher to Nick Stafford's Hambleton Ales.  The staff are super friendly and are completely in-tuned with the needs of us beer loving celiac sufferers.  On the day I picked up a variety of GF beers to review for this blog, the manager informed me of his intention to host a GF beer tasting, possibly in conjunction with Mr. Ritt's GF bakery.  How cool is that?!  I told him to keep me informed so that I could advertise it to the readers of my blog.  
One of the beers I tried out happened to be Shakparo Ale from the Sprecher Brewing Company in Glendale, Wisconsin.  

The description on the bottle states: "Shakparo style beer originated in West Africa and is brewed with sorghum. This beer is light and refreshing with hints of fruit and spice, and is presented unfiltered as is traditional with this style."
I couldn't have described it better myself! This is a sweeter beer, but is really refreshing! It's kind of cloudy like a Hefeweizen, and similar on the palate, but without the clove 
 I love it! Super Yummy!  And it's not too expensive, at $3.95 per 16oz. bottle.

On the Sprecher Brewery website, they have this to add about Shakparo Ale:
     "Sprecher's gluten free Shakparo Ale is a West African Shakparo-style beer brewed from sorghum and millet. An unfiltered, light, crisp ale with a cider or fruit profile and a dry vinous aftertaste, it is best characterized as an easy-drinking or session beer perfect for summer gatherings. This beer pairs nicely with lighter fare such as sandwiches, salads, chicken, fish, and spicier foods.
     Originally conceived of in an effort to provide a traditional African style beer for Milwaukee's African World Festival, our Mbege and Shakparo have won the hearts of people here at the brewery and have been promoted to year round beer status.
     Because barley and wheat are not grown in large quantities in sub-Saharan Africa, traditional Mbeges and Shakparos are brewed with sorghum and millet and are therefore able to be brewed gluten-free since neither sorghum nor millet contain gluten.  Being gluten-free make Shakparo an Mbege excellent alternatives for those suffering from celiac disease, a genetic disorder that inhibits the digestion of gluten. Our Shakparo and Mbege offerings have been brewed with celiacs in mind and are carefully crafted to ensure they remain gluten free."
I haven't seen the Mbege beer yet, but when I find it you'll know:)!  

Also, for all of you in the area looking for places to find GF beer. My good friend Eli informed me that his local hangout "Dock Street Beer" stocks a Limited Summer GF Brew.  Dock Street Beer is located in West Philly on 50th and Baltimore Ave. 

I'm meeting up with a few friends to check out the Manayunk Art Fair today, and then after some studying, will be heading there to try out their GF Beer offering.  I'm pretty excited, since this will be the first time since finding out I have Celiac Disease, that I'll be ordering a beer from a bar!  For all of you Philly-locals, please let me know if you ever find bars that stock GF beer in our area.  I'd love to discover and promote as many celiac friendly establishments as possible.  Till next time, keep smiling!:)

June 20, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies

Oats scared me for a while.  When I first found out what my problem was (celiac disease), the jury was still out on the safety of oats.  Soon it was discovered that the reason why so many people with gluten sensitivities had problems with oats was due to cross-contamination. Although that should have made me feel safe, it didn't.  Having celiac disease can make you pretty paranoid about what you eat! Nowadays there are a number of companies offering gluten-free oats.  The certified gluten-free oats I used for this recipe were made by Gifts of Nature, Inc.  But there are a lot of different companies doing GF oats like: Lara Scudder's Oats, Gluten Free Oats, Bob's Red Mill, Only Oats, and Gluten Free Oat Matzos.

After making these, I gave them to a bunch of my friends.  When I handed my friend Katie a container full of these cookies, she looked at me with a bit of apprehension in her eyes.  Katie has to be GF as well, and she too was nervous around oats.  I assured her that they were safe, and that I had used myself as a guinea pig the day before and had eaten quite a few cookies without any negative reaction.  After the first cookie was slowly eaten, the next few were practically inhaled!  I love these cookies, and they remind me of how much I missed eating oatmeal and Cheerios. The following recipe came from the book: Martha Sterwart's Cookies.
I used my own GF flour mix for these. You are going to love these cookies!

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookie Ingredients
  • 3 cups GF oats
  • 1 cup GF flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks  softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (make sure it's GF!)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Cooking Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer (or by hand if you like that kind of workout), combine the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Mix in the eggs and vanilla and reduce mixer speed to low.  Add the oat mixture and mix until just combined. Add the raisins last.
  • Use heavy duty aluminum foil to line baking sheets, or just coat baking sheets with cooking spray.  Using a 1 or 1 1/2 inch ice-cream scooper, drop dough balls onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake until golden (about 13 minutes).  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.  
  • Try not to eat enough to give you a stomach ache, and share with friends.

June 15, 2008

Did you know that Rice Chex has gone GF?

I'm not sure how many of you know this, but Rice Chex is now safe for us to eat.  I view this as a pretty big deal! As far as I know, this is the first "big name" cereal product that has altered it's ingredients with Celiac sufferers in mind.  There are quite a few other cereals, like Corn Pops, Rice Crispies and the like, that would only have to change one ingredient "malt flavor" in order for it to be gluten free.  Hopefully other brands will soon follow suit.  Here is the General Mills website for gluten free recipes using Rice Chex.  How cool is that!?  Now I suggest that if you want to help speed up the process of gaining more gluten free cereal options, write General Mills and tell them how much you appreciate it that they've thought of, us and how great it would be if they gave us more cereals to buy... wink wink.  Here's the link to (customer relations).  It cost about $3.99 per 12.8 oz. box.

My next blog will be a recipe for Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  I'm going to make them tonight to treat my friends David and Cheryl Vermilya, who have drove down from Syracuse, NY to visit for a few days.  They are two of my greatest friends, and they run a great youth center called the Town Shop.  Check out the center's site.  I spend most of my teenage years hangin' with friends there and getting involved in a variety of great activities.  The center is good stuff and the Vermilyas are great people.  

June 8, 2008

GF Restaurant Review: Plaza Garibaldi

So I went, for the second time, to a place in Philadelphia called Plaza Garibaldi. I found this picture of it on Google. It's a little Mexican-American restaurant in South Philly, a few blocks from where my friends live. We were all gathered to see Cirque du Soleil (which was awesome by the way), but first wanted to catch a good meal. I had been to this particular restaurant about a month prior and became really sick as a result. The staff could not speak English very well, and I suck at Spanish, so I don't think the whole "gluten free" concept was understood. Half way through the chicken enchiladas I ordered, I noticed a familiar taste from a not-so-distant past. It tasted a little like KFC! I immediately started dissecting the meal and discovered, much to my horror, that the chicken was floured! I ended up suffering from that for days.

So back to the present... When I realized we were all going to dine at that particular restaurant,  I did a little research to make communication easier with the wait-staff. I found a great website on Gluten Free Restaurant Cards.  Some good person put together  a wide array of cards in many languages for people with gluten sensitivity to use. Each card tells the waitstaff exactly what gluten is, and how important it is for you not to ingest any of it.  This time at Plaza Garibaldi, I was prepared with a Spanish language card I had printed out. When the waitress came to our table, I said hello and handed her the card. She read it and brought it back to the kitchen.  Afterwards she came back out and pointed to a variety of things of the menu I could eat. She even came back to show me the ingredients to the corn meal mix they used to make the tortillas for the meal I ordered.

Although there were a good number of possibilities, I chose to go with the "Bistek Xocimilco," which is "Rib eye with melted cheese and mushroom, served with potatoes, guacamole, rice and beans, and served with large, soft, corn tortillas."  It was simple, and delicious.  But better than that, I ate my meal with no worries at all. That little translation card helped me enjoy a wonderful stress-free night out with my friends.

The cards are great, and essential to any GF person when traveling to foreign countries. They are also useful in a variety of places within the United States with possible language barriers (i.e., Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, Japanese, Mexican restaurants). I just wanted to share this little resource with everyone.  And of course, if you live in or visit Philadelphia, check out Plaza Garibaldi and have a good meal. The food is great, reasonably priced, and the wait-staff are super friendly.  Just make sure to bring your GF translation card:)


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!