Gluten Free Blog Posts
Gluten Free Chocolate in Boston
If your looking for some good Gluten-free free chocolate ideas for your Valentine, you don't have to look far in Boston's Bay Bay. There are a couple of unique places to shop from.
tesuscher chocolatier is the place to go to get authentic Swiss Chocolate. All the chocolate is made in Switzerland and flown over so that Bostonians can enjoy some really good treat.
I stopped by last week and saw all types of creative flower gift boxes ready to be filled with whatever chocolate your valentine desires. Simply pick the chocolate you want, and they will create a basket for you.
They have a large selection of Gluten-free chocolate and the person working the store told me that they would let me know how it was made if there was any concern.
This is certainly the place to go if your looking for something way beyond the "traditional" box of chocolate that you would get at CVS or Walgreens.
This store is located on 230 Newbury St. About a 2 block walk from the Apple store on Boylston street.
LA Burdock is one of my favorite chocolate shops. They have the best hot chocolate in Boston. It taste very rich and creamy, almost like you are drinking pure chocolate. This is a far cry from Swiss Miss Chocolate and if that's the only hot chocolate you ever had, you need to come to LA Burdock.
You can take a break from shopping and enjoy your hot chocolate in their little cafe. On my last visit, I didn't see and Gluten-free snacks in the cafe. You can always get a chocolate bar and snack on that for a true chocolatey experience. Personally, I like to get some hot chocolate and take a walk around Copley Square.
There's lots of gift box options here, simply let the people know that your looking for Gluten-free chocolate boxes and they will point you to the right ones. You can also make your own box. Try something different and add some chocolate penguins to your box.
The store is located on Clarendon Street, between Boylston and Newbury. There is no parking around, the best way to get here is to take the Green line to Copley and walk down a block and a half.
Max Brenner Chocolate?
Just across from Ring Road on Boylston Street is Max Brenner Chocolate, tasty chocolate place and a desert restaurant. Did you think that the Cheesecake Factory was the only desert restaurant in town?
Sad news is that it isn't Celiac friendly as per their website:
What allergens do your chocolates contain?
Our chocolates are produced in a manufacturing facility that also produces items containing peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, sesame, eggs, wheat and/or gluten. We recommend that individuals with sensitivities to any of these allergens do not consume our products.
Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies
This is the second year that the Girl Scouts of America are offering a Gluten Free cookie option to their cookie offering. You can find Toffee-tastic (buttery cookies with toffee bits) and Trios (made with real peanut butter, chocolate chips, and whole-grain oats) from most Girl Scout councils. Not all varieties are available in every market, so contact your local council to inquire about the cookies they're offering this season.
This past weekend a table was set up at the local Stop & Shop where they were selling all the classic flavors and they had the 'Trios' Gluten Free option. I thought it would be an opportunity to purchase the Gluten Free Trios and see if my 5-year-old daughter would like it. (it's the only Gluten Free flavor they had) The Gluten Free version cost just as much as the regular version - $5 for the 5oz bag.
Juliana was very excited when I brought the Girl Scout cookies home and couldn't wait to try it. After she tried one, she said it tasted yummy and gave it a thumbs up.
A few minutes later, she was hungry for some more cookies. I asked her if she wanted the Girl Scouts version and she said no she wanted the cookies in the bag in the cabinet. That bag was the 'Wow Baking Company' Gluten-free Chocolate Chip cookies.
Juliana really likes those cookies over the Girl Scout versions. I asked her why and her response was, "They just taste better." So while she initially said that she liked the Girls Scout version, she loved the 'Wow Baking Company' version.
I took a picture of the two cookies side by side with a quarter for a size reference. They are about the same size. When it comes to taste, the 'Wow Baking Company' Chocolate Chip cookie is much than the Girl Scout Trio version.
My 5 year old daughter recommends to get the 'Wow Baking Company' Chocolate Chip cookie and donate money to the Girl Scouts instead of buying their cookies.
I would agree with Juliana assessment if you're going to spend $5 on a bag of cookies, at least, get something that worth eating. I tried one of the cookies and could taste a difference in quality. Her feeling about the cookie wasn't that she didn't like Peanut Butter, it's because the other cookies tasted better.
Perhaps when Juliana is old enough the Girl Scouts will have some cookies that she will enjoy eating. I certainly hope that they make a thin mints version as I am sure she would like that.
This past Sunday we ate dinner at the CheeseCake factory in Natick. We arrived at 4 pm and we waited for a half hour to be seated. It wasn't too bad my daughter got to spend some quality time at the American Girl next door.
Our table server was very nice when we told him that we needed to eat Gluten-free. He told us that he would have the manager come over to answer some cross contamination concerns.
We wanted to know if the Gluten-free pasta cooked in a separate water than regular pasta. You can't assume that they do. We have learned that how they respond to 'basic' questions can tell you a lot about their understanding of eating gluten-free. The answer they give you a sense of how they do their best to avoid cross contamination.
The manager at the Natick Cheesecake factory had a very positive response and ensured us that the pasta would be cooked in a separate container than regular pasta. He didn't seem to rush and we seem to have his full attention while he was at our table.
Once our dinner arrived, we took a few bites of it and something didn't taste right. We ordered a gluten free Farfalle (with Chicken and Garlic) and Kids Pasta with white sauce. Perhaps the regular sauce used in the Farfalle has some flour base which makes the sauce creamier and tastes better. The Gluten-free sauce version wasn't all that good and the meal was a lost. My daughter did like the kids pasta, she had a few bites and said it was yummy.
Saved by the Dessert!
The best part of going to the Cheesecake factory is the desert and thankfully the CheeseCake factory has one really good gluten free option - Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. We have had this in the past and it's really good. Nothing like eating pure chocolate as a dessert. I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for an extra rich chocolate desert.
Would we return? Maybe. It's not on the top ten places that we would return to. We have had better experiences with their burgers. The dessert were very good, and certainly worth going back to enjoy again.
Chucky E Cheese
This past weekend we had a couple of birthday parties and one of them was at Chucky E Cheese in Natick, Massachusetts. Going to kids birthday parties can be challenging since she has to eat gluten free. I checked out Chuck E Cheese website and was happy to see that they had a gluten free pizza. I wasn't sure that it would be available for birthday parties, so I brought along a slice of pizza and a cupcake from Whole Foods. (More on the Whole Foods experience later)
When we got to Chucky E Cheese, I informed the birthday boys family of my daughter needs and she informed the waitress that was assigned to them. They said there would be no problems getting the gluten free pizza.
After playing around for a while, it was time to eat. The waitress brought out the pizzas and then served my daughter an individual size pizza in an oven cooked bag. They could have taken the bag off in the kitchen but it was nice that Chucky E Cheese take extra care to prevent any cross contamination. It's something that we haven't seen in any place before. This is what the gluten free pizza looked like out of the bag.
The pizza was slightly burnt but my daughter loved it. She had her usual slice and was too excited to eat anymore, she just wanted to play.
When it came to eating cake, there was no gluten free option presented. After the birthday boy blew out the candles on the cake, my daughter wasn't given any gluten free option. I had to run back to the car and get the cupcake that I brought. I was nervous because Chucky E Cheese specifically said no outside food on their website. When I came back inside, the host at the door didn't say anything and simply welcome me back in.
Tip for Chucky E Cheese: In the future if someone orders a gluten free cake that its safe to assume that they will need a gluten free cake will be needed.
We had a lot of fun at Chucky E Cheese and it's nice to see that they now have gluten free options.
Whole Foods Follow-up
The night before we visited Whole Foods in Framingham to get some gluten free cupcakes. Apparently the store in Framingham only has them in the freezer section, they didn't have any 'fresh' gluten free cupcakes in the bakery section.
My daughter and I went to the frozen aisle to get the cupcake. Once we got it, she wanted to play with the price scanner nearby. She scanned the cupcake and I looked over to the shelf and notice that the price on the shelf was lower than the scanned price.
Instantly my previous grocery experience kicked in and I knew that because of the prince discrepancy the cupcakes would be free. That's the law in Massachusetts.
So I picked up one more thing and went the register. When the cashier scanned in the cup cake, I calmly pointed out to the cashier that the shelf price was 7.99 not the 9.99 scan price. The bagger, who I believe was the assistant night manager, went back and checked and confirm the price difference. The cashier then voided my cupcakes and I only had to pay for the one only thing.
I noticed that the assistant manager had pulled off the shelf tag so that no one else would encounter this price difference.
The moral of this story is that it doesn't hurt to once and a while use the aisle store scanners. You may discover somethings are not priced correctly and will be aware when you get to the register. Most people won't look at the price at the register, or take action and the store is counting on that.
Skitch and Evernote
If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?
Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.
Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.
Your Screen Capture on Steroids
The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.
That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.
Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.
The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.
I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.
Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.
Gerardo's European Bakery
This past weekend we ordered a Gluten Free birthday cake for my 5 year old from Gerardo's European Bakery, 22 Turnpike Road in Westborough Massachusetts. The cake came out really good:
Note: We had to provide the bakery with the Disney princess. We simply ordered them on Amazon, washed them and gave it to the bakery a couple of days before we schedule to pick up the cake.
They did a great job decorating the cake, and everyone enjoyed it. We didn't tell everyone that it was a Glueten Free cake, since some of the kids frown on having to eat Gluten Free. Nobody complained about the cake.
Normally we have a fancy cake from The Icing on the Cake in Newton, but now we have to have a Gluten Free cake. Maybe someday we'll be able to return to The Icing on the Cake.
In addition to the cake, we also got an assortment of Gluten Free pastries, just in case that everyone wasn't in the mood for a cake. They had a good selection of Gluten free pastries in the display case. It was a bit hard to see what was Gluten Free, but the lady behind the counter was able to point out which ones were Gluten Free.
The cake and pastries went very quickly and there was very little left over. The cookies and brownies were certainly a big hit with the kids!
If your in the Boston's MetroWest area and looking for a great place to get a Gluten Free child's birthday cake, we certainly recommend trying Gerardo's European Bakery.
Driving Tip: If your driving on Route 9 west bound (From Boston/Framingham) - don't listen to your GPS! You should take the 135 South exit off of Route 9 and drive under Route 9 and then take the on ramp to get back on Route 9 east bound. Gerardo's European Bakery will be first building you see when you get back on Route 9. (If you follow the way Waze wants you to go, you'll add about 5 minutes of extra driving time just to do a u-turn at the set of lights further down the road!)
McDonalds French Fries
Whenever we wanted a quick snack for my daughter we would head over to McDonald's to get some french fries. Now it looks like we'll be taking fewer trips.
Turns out that McDonald's French Fries are not Gluten-free. Here a brief description from their website when they answer the question, What are the Ingredients in your fries?:
In order to maintain texture, our suppliers partially fry our fries in an oil blend containing canola, soybean and hydrogenated soybean oil. Our suppliers add natural beef flavor, which includes hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk, to the par fry oil to contribute to that World Famous Fry taste. Citric acid is also added to preserve the freshness of the oil, as well as dimethylpolysiloxane to reduce foaming and oil splattering.
Hydrolyzed wheat protein is not gluten free.
For many years, McDonalds French Fries were thought to be made Gluten-free. Everyone perception changed when McDonalds volunteered to list the ingrediants.
What about other fast food vendors?
If your sensitive to Gluten, when you visit your favorite restaurant make sure to always ask if they have a dedicated fryer.
AMC Theater Framingham
Earlier this year the AMC theater in Framingham, Massachusetts held a grand re-opening to showcase transformation of the AMC theater to the new AMC Dine-In Theater. This restaurant-in-a-movie-theater concept, called the Fork & Screen, features a menu that goes far beyond the traditional popcorn-and-drink combos.
This past weekend I visited the theater to watch the latest Star Wars thriller. It was really cool to watch it while sitting in La-z-Boy style seating. The auditorium that I was sitting in didn't have the dine-theater experience. Perhaps this was because the shows were expected to sell out and it would cause an issue with all the food orders to the kitchen.
The theater has been a huge success for AMC. Everyone wants to watch the latest movie release in the updated theater. This is certainly the theater to go watch any big hit movie. This is the perfect setting to watch a triple feature.
I remember watching the 'Scream' series at the Camera 12 Cinema in downtown San Jose. The theater was 'ok' but Wow it would have been awesome to have watch the triple feature with the La-z-Boy style seating and stadium seats.
The cool thing about the AMC Dine-In Theater is the reserved seating. You get to pick your seats when you make your reservations. So now you don't have to show up super early to wait in line to get the best seats. I notice that AMC theater don't publish the current seating plans online. I discovered that the rows letters start at the screen and go up from there. So letter 'A' is the front row and as letter 'J' is in the back. (Note: Each auditorium may be different due the size and stadium seating plan.)
Gluten Free Options at the Concession Stand
The AMC theater has all the standard concession food. The popcorn is pretty good. They need to configure the popcorn machine so that it produces more flavor popcorn.
Along with Popcorn, you can get the following candies which are all Gluten Free: M&Ms, M&Ms with Peanuts, Starbursts, Junior Mints, Snickers, Reese's Pieces, Sour Patch Kids and Skittles. Just about everything in the candy display - just stay away from the Oreo and Twizzlers.
Gluten Free Options at the Fork and Screen dinning
The Dine-In Menu on the AMC website offers no Gluten Free indicator on their website. They do have things that could be Gluten Free such as the wedge lettuce cups and the tots. You could always order the burgers and ask for the lettuce wrap.
If you do have a serious allergy, I would recommend calling a head of time and letting them know. I am pretty sure that they will make accommodations if you let them know in advance. (Besides if they can't you technically should be able to bring in your own food.)
If your looking for delicious hamburger dinner, you should check out Smash Burger. They have excellent burger choice and best of all it can all be Gluten free.
When your ordering make sure to mention that you want the the Udis Gluten Free roll, it cost $1 more. If you have any allergy, make sure to mention that too. If you do have an allergy they won't toast the bun since they don't have a separate toaster. The burger still taste good. They do have a dedicated fryer, so make sure to try the Smash Fries as they are very yummy.
Smash burger is a national chain and in the Boston area there's one in Natick and Westwood. The Natick location is just across the Natick Mall and is a good place to stop after a busy day of shopping at the mall. After enjoying your burger you can walk off some of the calories walking around the Christmas Tree Shop next door.
Smash Burger is the perfect 'fast food' for celiacs. A better alternative to McDonalds!
Awesome CupCakes in Boston
If your looking for a really good cup cake in Boston's Back Bay - check out Sweet Cupcakes.
Sweet Cupcakes don't actually make the cup cakes, they simply resell them. This is fine since they are created at a Gluten-free bakery so there are no cross contamination issue. The selection isn't as creative as the regular cupcakes, but at least someone that needs to eat Gluten Free will not be left out!
Sweets must want to have a good reputation as the cup cakes are really good.
On a recent visit the person behind the counter told me that they get a fresh shipment of cup cakes on Tuesday and Thursday, so that would be the best time to go for the best selection.
Sweet Cupcakes is located on 49 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115. You can call the store at (617) 247-2253.
The other place that you can find Gluten Free cupcakes is Whole Foods located near Massachusetts Ave and Huntington Ave. They don't always have it in stock, so your best bet is to call the store ahead of time.