Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Burbank's Gluten Free Market, Pam MacD's

After seeing Pam MacD’s Gluten Free Market featured in Los Angeles Magazine’s article of gluten free places to check out in Los Angeles, I decided to do just that! I had been in this Burbank store before but the sparse shelves seemed sad and empty. Since it was featured in the magazine along with two other gluten free stores I figured, maybe it was worth a second look.

I learned that Los Angeles Magazine is not the only ones giving Pam MacD’s attention. Tia Mowry dropped by to pick up some ingredients to make her son Cree a gluten free birthday cake for his first birthday. The Cake Divas in Beverly Hills were used to craft baby Cree’s amazing gluten free vanilla cake adorned with a real sized Elmo on top.

The idea behind the store:

When I paid Pam MacD’s a visit, I had a chance to speak with the proprietor Pam Macdonald and her staff. A main hope behind the store is to normalize the shopping experience for people with food allergies. This store allows people with gluten intolerance and celiac to have everything, from cakes to cookies to prepared meals. There is nothing that people with food allergies cannot find.  

Samples of some of the products to try
To assure the safety of all her products, Pam and her staff puts each one through a strict “illicit test.” Pam MacDonald explains that much of the gluten free products sold in stores are junk. The labeling laws for gluten free products in the United States fail to require a low level of gluten. Countries across Europe have stricter labeling laws because gluten intolerance and celiac disease are more prevalent. Most notably, in the United Kingdom all manufacturers have to comply with the labeling laws passed. The labeling law in the UK had a grace period which expired two weeks ago. Now all residents of the UK with gluten intolerance and celiac can enjoy products labeled gluten free without the worry that they will experience repercussions of hidden gluten in their products later on. Products certified as gluten free in the UK can contain up to 20mg of gluten per kg of a product, which is a tolerable amount for celiacs according to studies.
Megan recommends the
almond cookies 

Until the United States finalizes its gluten labeling laws, Pam provides her shoppers with some pointers for taste and safety. She said to avoid chips that can have gluten in the flavoring and other cookies and breads. When asked which bread she prefers flavorwise, she said without hesitation, Kinnikinnik. I picked up a loaf of this Canadian company and found that it is better than the Udi’s brand that I prefer. The loaf is actually a normal size and suitable for making sandwiches that look like regular sandwiches.

Gluten free gift baskets are a great
gift for the holidays 
What to look for in the future:

Pam MacD’s will make access to gluten free products all over Los Angeles more available. She plans on expanding to locations including Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, northern San Diego, and possibly southern Orange County. Also, there is talk of branding special Pam MacD’s products. Now that they have a good idea of the product mix that is tasty and safe they plan on picking it up and dropping it into the other locations across southern California.

In March Pam MacDonald will be speaking with Robyn O’Brien, the author of “The Unhealthy Truth” at the Natural Foods Expo West. Robyn received a Fulbright grant for her work and her exciting studies featured in a Ted Talks Forum. Look for her and Pam MacDonald at the convention in Anaheim. It is one of the largest conventions for natural food in the country.

Pam MacD’s is a great place for nutritionists to meet with their clients or browse through the aisles and recommend a food regimen. A comfortable lounge in the front provides a location to hang out and read current literature on celiac’s disease. The community bulletin board in the entrance of the store is also full of useful information.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goat Cheese and Chive Latkes

Last year, I made these gluten free latkes for a friend’s holiday party. I barely got to eat one and they all disappeared. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

I have tried a few iterations of this delicious Hanukah treat, including a zucchini strings version, and found that this is the tastiest one so far.

Goat Cheese and Chive Latkes
-          3 large potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
-          2 large egg whites
-          ½ cup rice flour
-          ½ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
-          2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
-          1 teaspoon salt
-          ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-          Grapeseed oil for frying

Fry latkes until just golden brown
Grate the potatoes and rinse them until the water running through it is clear. Squeeze the potatoes dry and pat down with a kitchen towel. Put the potatoes in a large bowl and add the egg whites, rice flour, goat cheese, chives, salt and pepper.

Heat grapeseed oil in a pan on medium-high. Scoop ½ cup of the potato mixture and drop into the pan. Flatten the potato mixture with whatever you used to scoop it. Repeat spacing the cakes but filling the pan as much as possible. Fry the cakes until golden brown, three to four minutes. Flip and fry on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sweet Broom of the Intestines

The broom of the intestines, otherwise known as shirataki noodles in the US seem to have swept the gluten free diet community. What are these “miracle noodles”?

My sister recently made a batch of clear noodles with some soy sauce and splenda. She says she has been eating it all the time while she is away at school. With zero calories, it’s satisfying effects fit right into her low calorie diet. I have to give her credit for her ability to keep the calories down, but now I know her secret. These noodles are great!

I experimented with some recipes [1]and this is what I came across. Replacing the soy sauce with tamari sauce makes the dish gluten free.

Shirataki noodles are high in a soluble fiber called glucomannan[2]. The noodles come from a vegetable called a Japanese yam or kannyaku in Japanese. They have been used for centuries in Japan for weight loss and constipation. You can find these noodles at Asian markets or in the tofu aisles of most super markets for around $1.29. Make sure to choose the pure yam noodles and not the variety with tofu if you want to make a zero calorie meal.

Sweet Shirataki Noodles
-          1 cup cloud ear mushrooms
-          ¾ cup tamari sauce
-          4 tbsp brown sugar
-          1 tbsp pepper
-          7 oz shirataki noodles
-          A stalk of chives
The noodles out of the bag will have a fishy smell. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them for two minutes in cold water.
Dry fry the shirataki noodles in a frying pan. Add the tamari sauce and cloud ear mushrooms. Allow the soy sauce to evaporate as you finish dry frying the noodles. Add the sugar to the mixture and allow the crystals to melt.
Dice the chives and mix half into the noodles. The other half can be used to garnish the dish.
Easy as pie and delicious. Serve while hot. Can be reheated.

[1] http://www.livestrong.com/article/279267-are-shirataki-noodles-gluten-free/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucomannan

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Goodies 2012

Here are some fun Halloween treats that I made for my Halloween party.

Graveyard Brownie

Multicolored Modeling Chocolate
Bob's Red Mill gluten free brownie mix
One chocolate cookie (for headstone)
Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Black and purple decorating sugar

Sculpt a skeleton, mouse, mushrooms, and pumpkins from modeling chocolate. Place modeling chocolate in the refrigerator to harden.

Bake the brownie cake according to the package instructions. Let cool for half an hour. Frost with fudge frosting. Sprinkle black and purple sugar to make the frosting look like earth.

Remove modeling chocolate from refrigerator and assemble atop the cake to look like a grave.

Scare Cakes
Gluten-free Cake Mix
8 oz. Cream Cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks butter
Halloween themed candy sprinkles
Halloween decorations on toothpicks

Prepare cake mix in cupcake wrappers according to baking instructions. Let cool for half an hour.

Cream cheese frosting: Add the cream cheese, sugar, and butter to a bowl. Mix until even and creamy in texture.

Using a spatula, spread the frosting over the cupcakes. Decorate with Halloween themed candies. Push the toothpicks into the top of the cupcakes for the finishing touch.

Dried Zombie Skins

This one is simple. Buy some dried sea weed and put it on a plate with a sign marked dried zombie skins. It looks cool, is easy to prepare, and people can wrap cheese and veggies inside.