Rice: Is It Gluten Free?

If you’ve been living the gluten-free lifestyle for some time, it’s not a surprise to hear that rice is, indeed, gluten free. In fact, rice is the most widely-eaten cereal grain on the planet with more than 3 billion people – that’s half the world’s population – relying on the grain each day.

Inexpensive, nutritious, and versatile: The reasons for adding more rice to your plate are plentiful. It’s often a go-to ingredient for many pre-packaged gluten-free products. Also, rice flour is a staple in many gluten-free kitchens.

While unprocessed rice is gluten free, including white, brown, jasmine, and many, many more (there are more than 40,000 varieties), there are some things to consider when shopping or eating out.

Be sure to carefully check the label on rice that is sold prepackaged with spices or sauces. There’ a chance that the ingredients in the spices or sauces may not be gluten free. One common product to watch out for is rice pilaf, traditionally made with orzo, a pasta, which is definitely not gluten free.

Another, perhaps less obvious, concern is cross-contamination. Unless the rice your purchase is certified or labeled gluten free there’s a chance it may have been contaminated with barley or wheat during processing. One thing to definitely avoid is purchasing rice from a bulk bin in the supermarket. It’s all too easy for shoppers to use the same scoop for gluten-filled grains and gluten-free rice. When eating out, be sure to ask waitstaff about how the kitchen prepares the rice and make sure nothing’s been added that would contaminate your meal with gluten.

Gluten-free rice recipes 

Whether it’s basmati, aborrio, wild, brown, short grain or long grain rice, there is a perfect side dish for every meal. If you’re getting hungry, check out these gluten-free recipes that use rice in a variety of delicious ways.

San Francisco’s Great Gold Attracts a Following with House Made, Gluten-Free Pasta

An Italian restaurant that makes fresh pasta is a common sight in many cities these days. But when chef-owner Brandon Kirksey set out to build Great Gold, a modern American Italian restaurant in San Francisco, he prioritized getting fresh, house made gluten-free pasta on the menu. “There is extreme demand for gluten-free,” Kirksey says. “People still want to eat pasta.”

As everything is handcrafted daily in-house, the chef refused to use pre-packaged gluten-free pasta. He purchased a pasta extruder, a kitchen appliance that mixes raw ingredients and, with a flip of a switch, presses the dough through a die-cut brass plate. Add the casarecce plate and short, curled noodles emerge. Add the spaghetti plate and long strands materialize, springing forth from the machine in shape and appearance that is nearly identical to wheat-based pasta noodles.

The recipe is no secret. Kirksey works with Cup4Cup, a flour blend developed in the kitchen of Napa’s French Laundry restaurant to precisely replicate the taste experience of wheat flour. “I like it as it really mimics regular wheat flour,” Kirksey confirms. Though there is xanthan gum as a binder in Cup4Cup, Kirksey adds even more, amping up the binding quality. Eggs, salt, and water are the only other ingredients.  

Like any recipe, Kirksey’s dough recipe is a template, a guideline for working with the unique requirements of that day: gluten-free flours, the size of the eggs in-hand, the humidity in the air that day, the temperature of the water. After a thorough cleaning of the extruder (Great Gold does not have an extruder dedicated to gluten-free pasta making, alternating production with wheat flour pasta), Kirksey first adds the dry ingredients, then the wet, occasionally testing the dough for a just-right dampness, adding a bit more water during the mix.

Unlike wheat flour dough, gluten-free dough in the extruder needs to be drier, more like pebbles, before pressing. The force of the extruder compresses it enough so that a small amount of liquid binds the dough. In his many tests, Kirksey tried damper versions, learning quickly that a wet dough not only won’t fall into the channel that leads to the die-cut plate, the dough comes out too wet and falls apart when cooked.

Once Kirksey found a recipe that worked for shorter shapes like rigatoni and orecchiette, he set out to make strands.  “The elasticity of a longer noodle is an issue,” he noted; The noodle turned brittle when lengthened into strands. Fresh wheat flour pasta is often twisted for compact storage–not an option for gluten-free. It breaks. So Kirksey and his team learned to hold the spaghetti as it emerges from the extruder, lifting it out straight and flat before placing it on a perforated tray to air-dry for a few hours before use. Chef suggests using it within a few hours but no more than two days out. “The longer it sits, the more dried out it gets,” he says.

The Great Gold kitchen serves dozens of plates of gluten-free pasta each night. As with wheaten pasta, these noodles need just a minute or two in their boiled water bath before they are sauced. Kirksey plans a sauce based on that day’s noodle shape. In Italy, the noodle a blank canvas for the sauce, its shape designed to hold on tight to the sauce. “Spaghettis are usually slippery when they come out of the water. They are paired with a thick sauce because those stick to the noodle. Thin sauce calls for a pasta in a cup shape so sauce hangs in there,” chef says. Rigatoni’s hollow interior and ridged exterior “grabs” the sauce.

Kirksey works each day to match the pasta shape with its sauce ideal, cooking sauces down to achieve a similar binding consistency on gluten-free noodles as on their glutenfull bretheren. It is a detail that is helping the chef gain notice in the passionate gluten-free community and the equally passionate pasta-eating community. These pastas, precisely paired with sauce, are a complete expression of pasta.

 

Going Undercover With Undercover Chocolate

A diploma from the University of Pennsylvania can take people far, but sometimes they do not end up where they planned to be.

After graduating from UPenn, Diana Levy worked for CBS News, then went into the realm of political public relations. After that, Levy tried her talented hand at options trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and then went to law school. As is so often the case, parenthood focused her attentions and led her to her current (and potentially most satisfying) venture — the revelation of Undercover Chocolate.

“Once I found myself with three kids in diapers,” Levy recalls, “I became a stay-at-home mom…and ultimately started a small chocolate business.”

Though she admits that Undercover started as “something between a business and a hobby,” when two of her daughters were diagnosed with celiac, Levy knew she had found her calling.

“I decided I wanted to develop a better-for-you gluten-free, allergy-friendly snack,” Levy explains.

As her daughters had been diagnosed when they were already teenagers, Levy understood that it would be difficult for them to change their eating habits. She therefore made it her business to create something they could enjoy that was not too far different (and in many cases tastier) than what they had been enjoying to that point.

With inspiration from her daughters and support from her husband (who had worked with food companies for most of his career), Levy decided to combine their needs, his expertise, and her own love of food (especially chocolate) to make a product that would be more than just another sub-standard gluten-free snack.

“At that time,” Levy remembers, “there were growing options in the gluten-free category, but they were mainly regular foods which were altered to have a ‘gluten-free’ variety…. I wanted to create a line of snacks…that were truly better than anything else on the market, but just happened to also be gluten-free.”

The result is a line of delicious snacks that combine quinoa goodness with the tasty addition of premium chocolate sprinkled with currants, seeds, sea salts and other flavorful fixins.

“This is still the absolute go-to, favorite snack not only for both of my daughters,” Levy says proudly, “but for all of their friends who have no dietary restrictions.”

While Undercover started small, Levy soon realized that, in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the product, she would have to build her own factory.

“I went from mixing by myself on the weekends in a rented commercial kitchen to my own tiny commercial kitchen in six months,” she recalls, noting that she had moved again to a 12,000-square-foot space within a year and is now looking for even more space to keep up with demand from gluten-free and unrestricted fans alike.

“We can currently run 40,000 bags per day,” Levy explains, “and project needing to double that relatively soon!”

In addition to offering more chocolate snacks, Levy also hopes to expand Undercover to other flavors so she can satisfy even more people.

“We want to offer additional snacks… that are better-for-you [and] actually taste better then anything else you might already be snacking on,” Levy explains. “We want to make better-for-you snacking fun, silly, part of every day life with products that you choose not only because the ingredients and nutritional information is better, but because they tasted better!”

WOW Flies With Coop: Coop’s Microcreamery

Boston-based gluten-free ice cream topping company supports women in need

Boston has been the site of many revolutions. From the one that made the United States an independent nation to the one that got our nation’s industry humming, the City of Champions has been the hub of many major movements.

Nowhere is this more true than in the food industry, where the “home of the bean and the cod” has also become the home of the chocolate chip cookie, the Parker House roll, Boston cream pie, clam chowder and of course, Dunkin’. As MA is also the world’s leader in per capita consumption of ice cream, it may be no surprise that some of the best ice cream toppings (which just so happen to be gluten free!) come from here. What may be a surprise, however, is who is producing them.

WOW Flies With Coop: Coop's Microcreamery

Though he started his career as an engineer, Marc “Coop” Cooper moved into electronics production management and then hospital administration before he decided to take off his white collar, put on a white apron, and dig into the world he truly loved — ice cream! Learning the ropes from local legend Steve Herrell — the man behind both Steve’s and Herrell’s ice cream — Cooper opened a few of his own stores in 1984. He immediately developed a following that resulted in being named the best in Boston a record 12 times and also being asked to produce over 2 million ice cream bon bons for another MA food magnate — Legal Sea Foods’ CEO Roger Berkowitz.

Though he eventually parted ways with Herrell’s, Cooper was not ready to throw in the chocolate-soaked towel completely. Since 2008, he has been producing his own line of gluten-free, preservative-free, GMO-free and corn syrup-free toppings under the banner of Coop’s MicroCreamery.

While he credits his wife with a great deal of support, Cooper has seen fit to find other strong women to support his ice cream topping habits.

Fortunately he did not have to look far from his South End apartment to find a team of talented women who were eager to contribute.

Just a few blocks from Cooper’s home is Project Place, a social service agency that provides resources to people who want to find meaningful work and a place to call home.

“First Project Place’s clients complete a full career assessment of their job experience, create a resume, and learn interviewing skills. Each client works with a case manager to create a plan tailored to the student’s individual needs. We offer computer training and a variety of industry-recognized certificates like Serve Safe, customer service, and OSHA. If our clients are interested in working in one of our social enterprises, they participate in an enterprise-specific internship. Then they are hired by one of our enterprises and gain transitional employment that helps them secure on-the-job experience, gain additional skills, and strengthen their resume. Our clients use their new skills and experience to secure permanent employment. Our case managers support our clients throughout their time at Project Place and for two years after they graduate,” explains Director of Finance and Social Enterprises Alan Lehman.

Among Project Place’s many ingenious initiatives is Working Opportunities for Women (WOW), which focuses on supporting women in the Greater Boston area. In addition to providing shelter and support, WOW offers work training and strives to transition its members from public assistance to financial independence. “WOW hires and trains women experiencing homelessness and joblessness,” Lehman explains, noting that the program is “focused on helping single mothers.”

When WOW launched in 2016, the administrators at Project Place began to seek partners who could train the women and provide them with meaningful work opportunities. As soon as they found Cooper, they knew it would be a sweet pairing!

“About four years ago,” Cooper recalls, “I approached a friend and neighbor who founded Haley House — a 50+-year-old Boston nonprofit that trains disadvantaged and operated two restaurants. They had a kitchen that supplied their and other restaurants. We explored the idea that I would license them to make and distribute Coop’s MicroCreamery [products].”

Despite their valiant efforts, however, the Haley House kitchen could not accommodate all of Cooper’s creations. Fortunately, the folks at Haley had friends in the neighborhood, including Project Place Executive Director Suzanne Kenney. After a brief meeting with the Project Place team, Cooper realized that it was a match made in hot fudge heaven!

“Project Place hires and trains women who…have no or poor work experience,” Cooper explains, citing these among the many benefits of his production partner. “There is constant training of new women who thus receive hands-on work experience.”

WOW Flies With Coop: Coop's Microcreamery“The conversation started about producing ice cream,” Lehman recalls, “ and transitioned to producing Marc’s truly delicious dessert topping…[which] would better fit the agency’s model for job training and placement.”

In addition to being advantageous to WOW, the agreement works well for Cooper as well.

“I reimburse Project Place for labor costs,” Cooper notes, “[but] I am freed from hiring/firing and supervision, allowing me to concentrate on the facility, testing and buying ingredients, selling products and developing new products.”

Speaking of new products, in addition to his original hot fudge, Coop’s now offers also a vegan variety, and a salted caramel sauce — all three of which have won coveted sofi™ awards (essentially the Oscars of the food industry) from the Specialty Food Association. The latest additions to the family are a cold brew mocha sauce and a non-dairy hot chocolate mix called Cocoa Felice that is named after Marc’s wife.

When asked why he got into the toppings business, Cooper cites the obvious — New England’s changeable weather. As ice cream is not as popular when it can be stored outside, Cooper wanted to offer products that would allow his employees a more steady work cycle and income. By partnering with Project Place, Cooper has not only been able to expand his business but to also expand the horizons for women and families in need.

“Project Place is focused on increasing the skills we teach and serving more people,” Lehman maintains. “Increasing sales of Coop’s products will enable us to train more women in production, inventory management, sales, customer service, shipping and computer skills…. Our relationship is truly a win-win!”

Going To Singapore? These Restaurants Have the Best Gluten-Free Food

Singapore’s culinary scene is a melting pot of Asian influences that results in unique flavors and interesting dishes sure to satisfy even the most jaded of palates. And while most tourists may think that going gluten-free in the country may be a challenge, it’s refreshing to see that interest in having a gluten-free lifestyle has increased by a whopping 900 percent in the last decade. Moreover, a growing number of Singapore dining establishments have begun offering gluten-free options and are proving that healthy food can taste so good. If you’re going on a vacation in Singapore, check out these restaurants for the best gluten-free food that will keep you coming back for more.

The Butcher’s Wife – 19 Yong Siak Street

Restaurants in Singapore are known for their diversity and ever-expanding range. This is why it’s common to see hot pot places alongside Italian or Korean restaurants, and it’s perfectly acceptable to have a street food market or hawker stands in front of swanky food joints. The variety of food choices means that every craving is satisfied, and if what you’re craving for is comfort food, then head to The Butcher’s Wife on Yong Siak Street.

This cozy bistro serves up comfort food influenced by Asian and Italian cuisine, and everything on their menu is gluten-free. For starters, try their goat cheese with honey and walnut bread, then for your main course, get The Husband’s Favorite Beef Burger which is served with bacon jam, provolone cheese, and sriracha mayo. End your meal with a sweet treat and order the Lemongrass Pannacotta or the Warm Chocolate Cake, which is served with a rich caramel-miso ice cream and sprinkled with pili nuts.  

Kitchen – 28 Stanley Street

This cafe advocates clean eating and it caters to vegans, vegetarians, and those with food intolerances. Kitchen has menus for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, as well as an organic wine list for those who want to indulge a little while feasting on their offerings. Try going on a Saturday morning for their weekend brunch and enjoy their gluten-free options, such as the Rendang Egg Benedict and Bolognese Sweet Potato Fries.

For lunch, there’s Beef Bolognese made with zucchini noodles, Sustainable Barramundi with Asian Sesame Greens, and the Rebel Pie, which is Aussie Beef Bolognese topped with a sweet potato mash. Pair your food with a glass or two of organic or biodynamic wines, and you can take your pick from a white, red, or a gorgeous rose from their selection.

Summer Palace – Regent Singapore, Cuscaden Road

Finding a Cantonese restaurant that serves gluten-free food can be a challenge, as most authentic Cantonese dishes contain soy sauce, which is made from soy and wheat. But those who are gluten intolerant will be happy to know that Summer Palace, a restaurant situated inside the Regent Singapore, has a special gluten-free menu. Try the Garlic Fried Chicken with Plum Sauce, or their Fried Beef Cubes with Lily Bulbs and Asparagus. Another must-try is their Brown Fried Rice with Wolfberries and Pine Nuts, and this dish pairs well with their meat or fish dishes. 

Singapore is a country that promotes an inclusive eating experience. Check out these restaurants on your next trip and enjoy feasting on delicious, gluten-free meals in the Lion City. 

Is the Keto Diet Gluten Free?

Within the past five years or so, the gluten free and ketogenic, or “keto,” diets have made the jump from medical necessities to mainstream menus as many, many people all over the world have reduced or eliminated grains.

Both diets have been trendy for some time now. Whether that’s a good thing is up for debate, but both have been around much longer than many might realize. The keto diet was first discovered in the 1920s by a doctor who found that the diet was an effective treatment for children with epilepsy. In the 1940s, it was proved that eliminating gluten from the diets of those with celiac also eliminated symptoms associated with the disease.

At first glance, the diets appear similar. Going gluten free requires ditching all forms of gluten and the keto diet calls for a dramatic reduction of carbohydrates while increasing the amount of dietary fat one eats.

Essentially, the keto diet is not strictly gluten free. Generally, those following the diet limit carb intake to 50g per day. Those carbs could come from grains, however, many following the diet opt for fresh fruits and vegetables to reach that limit. Whether or not someone should go keto while living the gluten-free lifestyle is a decision that should be made carefully.

When followed properly, the keto diet drastically limits the number of carbs a person eats each day. The keto diet calls for making fat 75% of a diet, protein 20% and carbs 5%. Following the diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, which forces it to burn fats instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Several studies show that the diet does help people lose weight, keep it off, and lower risk factors for disease.

It’s important to do some research before adopting the keto diet, though. And since the diet causes a drastic physiological change it’s critical to consult a doctor before adopting the diet, especially if you remain gluten free.

“Keto flu” often appears soon after the diet is started. Symptoms include nausea, fatigue, brain fog, and hunger. These symptoms are temporary and should disappear once the body starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Minor side effects may also include bad breath, leg cramps, and an elevated heart rate.

For some people, the keto diet is not appropriate. Patients who have the following conditions in their medical history should discuss the keto diet with their doctor before starting: pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, impaired liver function, gastric bypass, kidney failure and more. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also consult with a doctor.

All that said, the diet’s restriction on all grains makes it an easy transition for those already eating gluten free. So, if you have celiac disease the keto diet may be a smart option for weight loss. But it’s critical to do some research before taking the plunge.

Where to Get Your Gluten-Free Fix on National Glazed Donut Day

With National Glazed Donut Day on January 12, many of our gluten-sensitive friends may be feeling left out.

Fortunately, there is a new way to get in on the fun in an authentic way!

Just outside of Boston, Freedom Bakery is producing a gluten-free donut that is a REAL donut (as opposed to a gluten-free cake with a hole punched through it). 

Created by a trio of families – all of whom were dealing with Celiac and all of whom had more than three decades of experience in food service (particularly baking) – and a registered dietician who was eager to expand options for her clients and friends dealing with this challenging dietary restriction, Freedom has already begun to distribute their donuts (which also come in apple cider and Devil’s food varieties) nationwide and to give other donut shops a run for their coffee money!

In addition to being free from gluten, Freedom’s donuts are also free from dairy, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts, and cholesterol, and are even kosher, in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. Even if your diet is not so restricted, however, you too will surely love the freedom of Freedom Bakery.

Gluten-Free Living recently spoke with Molly Winsten, Freedom Bakery’s director of operations, about its unique approach to gluten-free donuts. 

Q. What prompted you to enter the world of gluten-free foods?

A. Freedom Bakery came about as a result of many years of refining our recipe for an authentic great tasting GF donut. There are many gluten-free bakery items available in the freezer section of specialty stores, but there are very few great-tasting products sold in the bakery. We are proud to introduce our real GF mini doughnuts that have the taste and texture of a freshly made doughnut. Freedom Bakery GF products are sold on the shelf and not in the freezer!

Our products are not just good for gluten free – they are good PERIOD. Our goal was to create a donut that tasted so good you would never know it is gluten, dairy, nut, and soy free.

Q. What do you see as the main differences between GF foods and their gluten-ed counterparts?

A. Many gluten-free foods are trying to mimic products that already exist, and therefore they end being “good for gluten free” at best. They are trying to recreate something that already has a successful formula, and therefore the recreated product ends up being “ok for gluten free”. Our goal was never to do that – we just wanted to create a great product that happened to be GF, versus mimic something that already exists.

Q. What is the biggest misconception about GF foods? How do you hope to change the view of GF foods among the general public?

A. There is a misconception that gluten free bakery products will never taste as good as items that are made with gluten. There are however many ingredients that are gluten free naturally. We intend to show that our products made without gluten can be just as good, if not better, than their gluten-ed counterparts. 

Q. What is your favorite GF recipe?

A. We have worked very hard here at Freedom Bakery to come up with a winning formula for our donuts. We want our products to be enjoyed by everyone, not just those with dietary restrictions. Our Old Fashioned Minis and Devil’s Food Minis are the base flavors and will be offering seasonal flavors in the future. We will also be producing a line of full-sized donuts for food service that are individually wrapped and labeled.

Q. What makes Freedom Donuts different?

Gluten-Free Living Taste Test: Ian’s Fish Sticks, Cappello’s Pizza, and More!

Every two weeks or so, we sample new – and new-to-you – gluten-free snacks, meals, and sometimes drinks on Gluten-Free Living‘s live taste test. On Jan. 9, our panel of tasters shared their first impressions on offerings from Ian’s Gluten-Free Fish Sticks, Cappello’s Grain Free Pasta, Just the Cheese and more! See below for the video and more info on all of the products featured. 

Ian’s Gluten-Free Fish Sticks

 

These fish sticks are cut from whole fillets of certified sustainable Alaska pollock, then lightly breaded with crunchy corn breading. Also, there’s no wheat, milk, casein, eggs, nuts, or soy.

Retail: $9.79

 

7 Crowd-Pleasing Gluten-Free Game Day Recipes

Whether you’re a football fanatic or not, delightful dips, hot wings and cold drinks will make any game day memorable. In fact, the Big Game, set for Sunday, Feb. 7, is the second biggest day for food consumption in the United States. What’s the first? That would be Thanksgiving. No matter who you’re rooting for these crowd-pleasing recipes will keep any group of fans satisfied – gluten-free or not.

Need to grab a gluten-free brew to enjoy with these snacks? Download our free gluten-free beer roundup with information on more than 65 gluten-free beers!

If junk food is more your style, check out our Top 10 Gluten-Free Junk Foods for some indulgent options.

Spicy Cauliflower Wings

7. Gluten-Free Spicy Cauliflower Wings

If you have yet to try cauliflower wings, this recipe is a must. These “wings” are covered with a gluten-free flour batter to give a delicious crunch with that perfect kick of spice. While others are enjoying deep-fried chicken wings (in fact, more than 1.3 billion wings are expected to be eaten during the championship), you can get the same crunch and flavor without the guilt. Get the recipe.

Cookbook Corner: 5 Refreshing Recipes from The Defined Dish

The Defined Dish is the first cookbook from lifelong Texan and mother of two young girls Alex Snodgrass, who discovered the Whole30 program, which encourages people to eat whole, natural foods for 30 days, during a bout of postpartum anxiety. She says the change to Whole30 revolutionized her diet and life. This selection of recipes features wholesome, flavorful and gluten-free meals perfect for the whole family.

All recipes reprinted with permission from The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes © 2019 by Alex Snodgrass. Photography ©2019 by Kristen Kilpatrick. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Gluten Free Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

5. Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

“Growing up, something my dad always made for us on busy weeknights was a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. It wasn’t anything fancy—the soup was right out of a can—but we absolutely loved it. It’s still one of those delicious comfort meals that I crave after a long day, which is why I came up with this version of a creamy tomato soup for the family, which is just as satisfying as Dad’s, almost as simple and healthier. Grilled cheese optional!”