Friday, February 20, 2009

GF Blueberry Muffins at Harris Teeter

What a lovely surprise to find Gluten Free Blueberry Mini Muffins at Harris Teeter this week. They are made with Eragrostis Teff flour--something that I was not familiar with.  A little online research taught me that Teff is a tiny grain sometimes called "lovegrass" that is very important in Ethiopia.  It is high in fiber and protein. 
The muffins were moist and delicious.  My daughter has had them with breakfast every morning this week.  

At the Apex Harris Teeter on Hwy 55, the Gluten Free Blueberry Mini Muffins by eragrain are available in the bakery section.  Look for the small green Gluten Free tag on the shelf.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grocery Review: Cary Trader Joe's - Part 1

I love the funky feel of Trader Joe’s in Cary at 1393 Kildaire Farm Road.  I also love the prices—some pretty great deals throughout the store!  They have an extensive list of “No Gluten Ingredients Used” (it is seven pages long). The list is available online at or you can ask for one at the store.

You will find this information at the top of the list:

"Our dedication to you as a valued Trader Joe’s customer is to provide you with helpful information to make informed buying decisions because we know that you have specific dietary concerns. We have made every effort to be accurate and cannot be held responsible for individual reactions to any product (Private Label or Branded). Please use this guide at your own risk. Unless a brand name is specified, it is Trader Joe’s Private Label.

Please Note - this guide is a sampling of many of the products we carry in which No Gluten Ingredients are used, but it is not a comprehensive list. We do our best to keep the information as up to date and as accurate as possible, but we do introduce and discontinue products all the time, and some products may be available based on season or region, so keep your eyes open and always read product labels. To contact us with product inquiries visit the Trader Joe’s website at

A set of universal dietary guidelines for Celiac Disease does not exist. The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) uses criteria based on the latest scientific research and advice from its’ Medical Board of Advisors. For information about Celiac Disease please contact the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) at (818) 990-2354, via email at or on the web at

  • Our suppliers follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s) to segregate ingredients on shared equipment and/or in the facility.
  • Always read the label - ingredients and suppliers may change.
  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and their derivatives such as malt or spelt.
  • As a general rule of thumb, dairy, juice, meat and produce do not contain gluten or any gluten derivatives.
  • Under Trader Joe’s Brands, ingredients listed as “natural flavors” or “spices” do not contain gluten or gluten derivatives.
  • Use common sense and remember the motto: When in doubt, leave it out.

I like the last bullet point: “When in doubt, leave it out.” 
I think that will replace my regular response to my daughter: “I’m just not 100% sure about this…”  

Today, I just ran in to get some supplies for our Valentine’s Day Dinner and dessert.  I do want to point out that the Flourless Chocolate Cake which appears on the No Gluten Ingredients Used list has the following note on the package:

"Made on equipment shared with wheat and tree nuts." 

I didn’t notice this until I got home and am wondering about the rest of the items on the list.  I will go back on a fact-finding mission to report on the rest of the items.


Happy Gluten Free Valentine’s Day to everyone!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza Update - ZPizza

I have previously written about a pizza place called Z Pizza which was rolling out Gluten Free Pizza choices. I have spent the past few weeks working with the franchisee of the ZPizza locations in Raleigh and Cary to further discuss their GF Pizza offerings. I met with the owner recently and was walked through the entire process of making a GF Pizza and would like to share the details with all of you. After reading this, I hope you'll feel safe about eating at ZPizza. They have taken some extra steps to get it right that some other local places have not yet taken. Let's hope ZPizza can be an inspiration to them and a safe place for us.

ZPizza is a California based franchise with over 100 locations in the US. They have been in the Raleigh market for about 3 years.

From the time you order at the counter until the time you are delivered your GF Pizza, meticulous attention is paid by the staff at ZPizza. Their Point of Sale computer system has a special marking for Gluten Free which causes your order ticket to be printed with a Gluten Free label. The cashier then goes to the kitchen staff area and highlights the Gluten Free label on the ticket to make it stand out further. They then notify the manager (or owner if he is present) about the Gluten Free order. The manager/owner will either make your pizza or directly supervise the entire process.

Gluten Free Crusts
Gluten Free crusts are pre-made using all GF ingredients (including Damato Living Flour) and are sent to the store and kept frozen on site. No GF dough is mixed or made at ZPizza. In addition, to reduce cross-contamination issues when regular wheat pizza is prepared, all wheat flour in the restaurant has been replaced with rice flour. When wheat pizzas are pressed/tossed and prepared, it is using rice flour. This eliminates wheat flour from entering the air and eventually landing on your GF pizza and making you sick. Also, the dough for the wheat pizzas is not made on site further reducing the risks. Wheat flour was replaced with rice flour for about a month before any GF Pizzas were made in the restaurants. The kitchens were also thoroughly cleaned after the switch.

Cooks are instructed to wash their hands and put on brand new latex gloves before beginning the preparation. Then a special sealed box is retrieved from the cooler which contains all the necessary tools for making the GF Pizza. It contains pizza pans, cutters, tongs, GF Cheese and GF tomato sauce (along with some other ingredients). Next, your GF crust is taken from the freezer and placed into the GF pan. GF Ingredients are added (they have many choices for pizza - not just cheese!) and the pan is placed in the oven in a dedicated area to the side. A separate paddle is used to place and remove the pizza from the oven. All kitchen staff are notified when a GF pizza is placed in the oven so they do not place wheat pizzas near it. When cooking is finished, the pan is removed and the pizza served.

ZPizza Corporate has thoroughly analyzed all their ingredients and know which are GF and which are not. Any veggies you would like on your pizza are kept in the cooler area and not pulled from the main area where wheat pizzas are topped. ZPizza has a large list of GF ingredients/toppings at the store so please ask when you arrive. Toppings include pepperoni, sausage, cheese and numerous veggies. They also can offer tomato sauce, pesto sauce or chipotle pesto sauce. They are currently working on developing a GF Menu which will be available both online and in the store.

Other items of note
The GF pizzas only come in 10" sizes at this time and cost about $3 more than their wheat pizza counterparts. ZPizza is also looking to add other GF items to their choices including salads, desserts from the Whole Foods Bakehouse and Gluten Free Beer like RedBridge. Please provide feedback to the staff when you visit about what other options you would like to see offered.

My experience
During my tour of ZPizza, the owner made me the following pizzas - Pepperoni with Peppers and Mushrooms, Chipotle Pesto Sauce with tomatoes, corn and roasted red peppers and finally a pesto sauce and cheese pizza. All 3 pizzas were excellent. ZPizza uses high quality ingredients which taste great. For the GF crust, it was very thin and crispy but had a nice flaky, buttery taste to it. Overall, it was a great pizza and I would dine at ZPizza again.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness - GREAT program
Please see my earlier post about the NFCA's GREAT program here. ZPizza as a franchise has gone through the GREAT training program and has been verified by the NFCA. Look for the window decal when entering the store. See my previous post for all that is included in this verification/certification process.

ZPizza Information
Web site -

Raleigh location
9630 Fall of the Neuse Road
Falls Pointe Shopping Center
(Next to Starbucks)
Phone - 919.844.0065

Cary location
96 Cornerstone Drive
Stone Creek Village
(Corner Davis and High House)
Phone - 919.465.9009

Bella Monica Flatbread Company Update - Whole Foods Cary

Exciting news for Bella Monica Flatbread Company and their fans... I have just received word that their Gluten Free Pizzas are now available in the Cary Whole Foods location on Waverly Place in Cary! This is good news that they are expanding and will become more widely available to Raleigh area consumers. This is a sign of a successful product! Looks like they will also be moving into the other Raleigh area locations very soon - Stay tuned for those release dates!

See my previous posts about their GF Pizzas here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grocery Store Review: Whole Foods, Cary

We do most of our GF shopping at Whole Foods in Cary located in the Waverly Shopping Center at the corner of Tryon and Kildaire Farm Road.

Whole Foods has a green label on the shelves for items that are advertised as Gluten Free. They often have gluten free information right at the entrance. Their brand, 365 Everyday Value, has many gluten free offerings (including our favorite bread machine mix).

 Terrific selection of GF items are easy to find in the Freezer section, Cereal and Chips aisles, Baking aisle, Cookies and Pasta aisles, and Meat and Produce.

 An entire freezer of baked goods: sandwich breads, corn bread, cakes, pies, biscuits, and muffins is located on an end cap in the freezer section.  Some of our favorites are the corn bread and the pies. In addition to these items, gluten free pizzas, waffles, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks are available in the freezer aisle. 

In the cereal aisle, we stock up on Panda Puffs and other EnviroKidz products.  They are reasonably priced (much cheapter than Glutino) and they also have a wide selection of cereal bars (berry rice, peanut butter rice, peanut butter and chocolate rice).  These bars are great to have as snacks or to put in lunches.  Many cereals are clearly labeled gluten free and the selection is pretty extensive.

We often indulge in Glutino pretzels. They are relatively expensive but they taste great and even friends and family who do not require GF foods like them!

The baking aisle has lots of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking mixes and flours.  They also have a variety of brands of bread machine mixes, cakes, frosting, and cookie mixes.  The only problem is that the selection goes fast. 

Did you know about buying by the case at Whole Foods? If you buy things by the case, you get a discount. Check out the label on the shelf. For instance, if you see 8/16oz, it means a case is 8 of the 16 oz packages. Just be sure to get 8 of the exact same item.  I believe this is why it is sometimes hard to find a large selection of the baking mixes—people buy a case at a time (I know we do!). 

 In the cookie aisle, we can choose from Nana’s Cookie Bars (banana, chocolate, berry), Glutino’s chocolate and vanilla cookies, and a range of GF animal crackers, pecan cookies, and macaroons. 

The pasta selection has grown in the past few years.  Our favorite brand is Tinkyada PastaJoy Ready.  Great taste, texture, and variety.  They even have “fun” shapes for kids, which is unusual to find!

And of course, a beautiful meat selection and an extensive produce and cheese section lets us do all our shopping here.  Although some items at Whole Foods can be expensive, often prices are comparable or even cheaper than other grocery stories. Look for signs that compare prices to let you know you are getting a good deal.

Also, be sure to check out: the whole deal newsletter that can be found at the entrance of the store.  The recent issue (January-March) highlights the 365 Everyday Value Gluten Free Pancake Mix.  In addition,  you can get coupons for:

$1 off EnviroKidz Products

$0.50 off Nut-Thins

The best thing about Whole Foods is that the employees know what Gluten Free means. No one looks at you like you are speaking a foreign language. They will help you find items and even look for items in the back to complete a “case.”