The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen {Review}

If you follow Creative Cooking Gluten Free on Facebook or Twitter you have probably seen my recent posts about receiving a review copy of Laura B. Russell’s cookbook The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen.  When I first received the book in the mail, I don’t think I put it down for about thirty minutes (okay it was probably longer than that). It is simply beautiful.  Bryan’s first response was “the cover looks so good I could eat it”. Thankfully Bryan loves Asian food as much as I do.  The majority of the food we eat is Asian inspired.

I was more than excited to receive this cookbook.  If you read through my recipes or take a look at my “pantry” page you have probably noticed the large selection of Asian inspired dishes and ingredients.  Since I can remember I have had a deep fondness of Asian foods and their cultures.  My mom used to tell me that while she was pregnant with me she craved Chinese food all the time.  That statement there could probably be the root of my love of Asian food, however it grew even more when I had the opportunity to live in China for a little while in 2003 (yes right in the middle of SARS).

While living there I had some pretty interesting foods but also some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted.  People used to make fun of me saying I could live off of Chinese food and eat it for every meal, well I had the opportunity to do so and I have to say I would do it again.  My breakfast usually consisted of the following: fresh made wonton soup or red bean porridge , scallion pancake (cōng yóu bǐng), fresh hot soy milk ( dòunǎi) which has a slightly sweet flavor to it.  Lunch was a number of different options (sadly most of which I can’t remember their name): kung pao chicken (gōng bǎo jī dīng), egg flower soup (dàn huā tāng), the most delicious spicy cucumbers, steamed dumplings (xiǎo ​lóng ​bāo) – either veggie or meat filled, and for the occasional dessert some Mantou (mán ​tou)  which is steamed bun that is served either steamed or deep-fried with condensed milk. For dinner my favorite dish was Peking Duck (Běi​jīng ​kǎo​yā), Hot Pot (shuàn ​guō ​zi) was another favorite of mine, although they tended to order mutton (yáng ​ròu) I opted for the chicken (jī​ ròu​) and Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans with some ground pork.

As I’m looking and every recipe and every picture in The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen I am taken back to my time in China.  All of my wonderful memories came rushing back, not just about food but all the places I had the opportunity to visit, the amazing friends that I made, and the beauty of the country.  As I mentioned above I was there during SARS so I was unable to travel very far. I was fortunate enough to visit, The Great Wall (twice) (Bādálǐng), The Forbidden City (Zǐjin chéng), Tiananmen Square (Tiān’ānmén), The Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán), Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (Máo Zhǔxí Jìniàntáng), Ming Dynasty Tombs (Míng shísān líng), Temple of Heaven (Tiāntán), Temple of Confucius, and many more. The best part about it was I was there pretty much by myself.  Not many people were out visiting and there were definitely not tourists around. You can view some of my photographs from China on my Flickr Page (this was pre-digital so I have a ton to scan still)

Sorry for being side tracked on memories of China, I just couldn’t help it.  Now back to the book. After I looked (drooled) over the recipes and photos I handed the cookbook to Bryan and asked what he wanted me to make first.  With out much hesitation he asked for the recipe on the cover: Gingery Pork Pot Stickers with the Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce.  Thankfully I had enough of the flours the recipe called for to make them. You can get the recipe by ordering The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen on my Amazon Store! (This is still available for pre-order, release date is August 23rd! so order now for only $14.50)

Over all the recipe its self is pretty simple with simple ingredients that most of us (especially if you are gluten-free) already have in your pantry.  The only two items I needed to pick up were the pork and the green onions.  We don’t normally cook with any form of onion in our house because of Bryan’s allergy, but we decided to give these a try to see how he felt (he felt fine after eating them, woo hooo). I read the instructions a few times because I didn’t want to screw anything up…I had my heart set on these dumplings and probably would have shed a few tears had they gone wrong.  Due to the heat and humidity I had a bit of a hard time “rolling” out the dough, but I just made it work.  We ended up with a few less dumplings than the recipe yield but we devoured them all regardless.

It is amazing what a huge flavor impact just a few ingredients can have.  I had a little bit of the sausage mixture left over so I added it to a skillet, cooked it up and then tossed it with my spicy green beans as a side dish.  I’m not joking when I say I almost cried when I first tasted them.  Between the dumplings and the green beans/sausage it brought me right back to China.  I was in love with this cookbook when it arrived and after tasting this first recipe I am even more in love with it.  Laura did an amazing job with this recipe and the whole cookbook.  My next recipe to try is her Kung Pao chicken.

We plan to make these again but I have to order some flours first.  However, when I do make them I will be making a triple batch and freeze the majority of them.  That way we have them for a quick dinner and something that Bryan can just make while he is home for lunch and I am at school.

Seeing as this is the recipe Bryan choose I asked him what he thought of it (I usually do this anyway but he still can’t stop talking about them) and his response was “these are fucking delicious – anything more would just take away from its deliciousness”.  Now who said you can’t have gluten-free Asian food and it taste like the real thing?

Laura,  I know we’ve been chatting back and forth and I have said this a million times to you but thank you for creating such a beautiful cookbook with amazing recipes that take me back in time.  The recipe that we tried truly made me feel like I was back in China with my friends at a dumpling restaurant or on campus at the dining hall.  You also made my non-gluten-free boyfriend one happy person.  We are both looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

Please visit Laura’s website at: You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

Also, Are you in the Portland area? Laura will be doing a  book signing for “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen” at Crave Bake Shop on Wednesday, September 7th in the evening. Lots of treats involved!

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items Part 2

On June 29th I posted some potentially good news: California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items.  There was a bit of mixed reviews regarding this post, which is completely understandable.  You never truly know if your meal will be 100% gluten-free (and free of any cross-contamination) when you are eating out in a non-designated gluten-free restaurant.  Many restaurants take extra precautions when preparing gluten-free menu items and will train their staff regarding the gluten-free diet and cross-contamination.

I will admit at first I was a bit skeptical about trying the new pizza but I asked a few other bloggers and readers who had tried the new pizza and they all said it was delicious and didn’t have any glutened symptoms.  When we went to Boston a few weeks ago with our dear friends Warren and Joyce we found a CPK and decided to give it a go (when you sign up to receive their e-mails you get a $5.00 coupon!).

Out of the four of us I am the only one with celiac disease so I ordered off of their Gluten-Free Menu! (which is actually just the real menu with “gf” notations next to the items that are gluten-free”). I also asked to speak with a manager about the process of the chefs making the pizza and serving it.  She did assure me that they use a “foil boat” to cook the pizza on, use a separate paddle, separate knife, and serve it right away to avoid any confusion.

I decided to go with what they are known best for – The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza (Invented here in 1985. BBQ sauce, smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, BBQ chicken, red onions and cilantro).  This was always one of my favorite pizzas before I went gluten-free and it was as delicious as ever.  The flavor combination may seem a bit odd when you are just reading about it but the sweetness of the BBQ sauce goes so well with the smoked Gouda and red onions.  Best part of all? I didn’t get sick from eating it!! It was so nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant. Sadly though the closest CPK to us is Boston so we won’t be going there very often.

Again, this is obviously a personal judgement call but I can say that I ate there with absolutely no problems and it was delicious, the staff was very friendly, helpful, and well-informed.  A nice change from my last visit to a CPK.  Again, please come back and let me know if you have tried CPK’s new gluten-free options and what you thought about it.

Panera Bread – Gluten Free Options

I love Panera Bread and that we have one not too far from us! Even if we forget that it is there half the time, it is nice when we remember it.  Bryan loves their bread and their creamy tomato soup and I truly miss their bread but love their salads and their creamy tomato soup also.  We went to lunch there last week, and like I always do before going somewhere to eat (even if we’ve been there a million times) I went online and checked to see what their gluten-free options were.  However, when I was searching the only updates that I found were from 2008 and 2010 so I decided that I would order something I knew for sure what gluten-free and also e-mailed Panera Bread and asked for an updated list.  Below is the list and e-mail that was sent to me.  The customer service people over at Panera Bread are just awesome – quick in responding, friendly and very informative.

Dear Jenny,

Thank you for contacting Panera Bread. I have included below a list of our menu items that do not contain gluten-containing ingredients. However, because we bake fresh bread daily in our bakery-cafes and bread is core to our menu, we simply cannot ensure that there has been no contact between these items, or any other menu items, and gluten.

Not all of the items listed are currently on our menu and some new menu items have not yet been evaluated for the purposes of inclusion on this list. However, you can find complete ingredients listings for current menu items on our website. (When you choose a menu item in our online Nutrition Calculator, click on the “ingredients” link for ingredients information for that item.)

Please note that nutritional information on our website is updated periodically. New products may be available in our bakery-cafes before a periodic update of this site. In addition, some menu items may be available only on a regional, test or seasonal basis. Nutritional information about these menu items is available at the participating bakery-cafes. Tests of new recipes of existing products may be conducted from time to time in certain markets. These new recipes may contain different/additional ingredients, including allergens, as compared to the original version. For the most update-to-date information, please call or visit your nearest bakery-cafe to speak with a manager.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Customer Comment Coordinator

List of menu items that do not contain any gluten containing ingredients

**Although we try to meet your special requirements, we cannot ensure that these items have not come into contact with gluten in our bakery-café.

** Gorgonzola and bleu cheeses are commonly made with mold incubated on wheat.  Some may choose to avoid these cheeses for this reason and you may substitute another cheese if you prefer. Items containing these ingredients are indicated below with (G) or (BC).

Salads:    (including the salad dressing)
(source of modified food starch is corn)
Greek Salad Caesar Salad (without croutons)
Grilled Chicken
Caesar Salad (without croutons)
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (without Won Ton noodles)
Classic Cafe Salad
Fuji Apple Chicken Salad (G)
Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad (G)
Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (without croutons)
BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad
Fruit Cup – Watermelon
Seasonal Mixed Fruit Cup

Salad Dressings:
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Poppyseed Dressing
Asian Sesame Vinaigrette
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
BBQ Ranch
Light buttermilk ranch

Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean
Creamy Tomato (without croutons)

Juice, both apple and orange
Soda, fountain and bottled
Tea, regular and Chai Tea

All lattes & Frozen beverages
Low-fat Strawberry Smoothie
Low-Fat Black Cherry Smoothie
Low-Fat Mango Smoothie
Low-fat Wild Berry Smoothie
Frozen Strawberry Lemonade
Frozen Lemonade
Hot Chocolate

Panera Bread Potato Chips

If you have a Panera Bread around you – it is a great place to eat if you are gluten-free.  The staff is always very careful about cross contamination and they also an allergen list at the registers for you to double-check anything – especially new items on the menu.

Hope this updated list helps everyone out as much as it has helped me.

Also don’t forget that my 3 Year Blogiversary Giveaway is going on until June 30th so head on over and enter today for your chance to win a box filled with a bunch of gluten-free and kitchen goodies.

EvaRuth’s Wheat Free/Gluten Free Bakery

We live on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island and around us we have limited options for gluten-free items.  There is one specialty grocery store near us, but we can’t afford to shop there very often, but if there is something specific that I need for a recipe, I would go there first.  Over the past six months we have realized that shopping at just one store for groceries isn’t going to cut it, you need to go to at least two…and if you want any form of gluten-free baked good, well you are pretty much out of luck and have to make it yourself.  Which I don’t really mind but somedays I want someone else to bake it for me.

About a month or so ago I was searching for a gluten free bakery or anything of the sort around me, thinking that like all my previous searchings I would come up with nothing, or if I did find something it would be about 45 minutes away.  To my surprise there was a gluten-free bakery, EvaRuth’s not that far from us!! Yesterday Bryan and I had an afternoon date to the movies and an early dinner but before we headed there we stopped over at the bakery to check it out.  It is located on Aquidneck Ave in Middletown, RI, located behind a little shopping center.

EvaRuth’s is owned and operated by Ruth herself.  Ruth is a very kind and inviting woman who also has celiac disease.  Here is a little information from her website about her and EvaRuth’s:

EvaRuth’s Foods, Inc. is owned and operated by Eva Ruth Flynn, CEO. The mission of EvaRuth’s is to create delicious wheat-free and gluten-free desserts that are convenient to eat and capable of satisfying even the choosiest of customers.

In 1995 Ruth was added to the ever-growing population of people diagnosed with celiac sprue disease. She experienced firsthand the difficulty of finding authentic tasting gluten-free desserts. So combining her love for business with her love for cooking, Ruth dedicated herself to creating true-tasting GF cookies, cakes, muffins, and brownies and the company from which they are sold. Prior to owning and operating EvaRuth’s, Ruth worked as the New England cardiovascular sales representative for GE Medical Systems.

EvaRuth’s is what is called an “old fashion bakery” which simply means, if they don’t have any seats, sell drinks and don’t offer you a fork/knife they don’t have to charge sales tax!! How awesome is that?  Well it gets better…They offer a great selection of freshly baked wheat free, gluten-free and many dairy free options: Cupcakes, Muffins, Scones, Cookies, Brownies and yes fresh-baked Bread. They also make cakes and pies that you can order. I was in love. I had the opportunity to taste some of EvaRuth’s Italian Garlic Herb bread, Pumpkin Muffin (dairy free!), Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Scone and I bought a Cranberry Muffin to take home with me.


The Italian Garlic Bread (they also had available yesterday some tomato herb bread and white bread) is very delicious and super moist.  Ruth said that all the breads slice well and are good as is for about 3-4 days or you can pre-slice it and freeze it like that. Next up with the pumpkin muffin – fresh out of the oven and perfectly flavored, not too over powering of pumpkin but just perfect, very moist and you could still taste the cinnamon, so good.  The Chocolate Chip and Cranberry scone was great too, I really enjoyed the combination of the two flavors.

Along with Ruth yesterday were two students from Johnson & Wales.  The bakery was very clean (which is always nice to see!), everything was measured out on scales to make sure that everything would bake evenly.  Also one of the staff was making a fresh batch of scones, measuring all around the dough with a ruler! I was impressed to say the least.

I had my cranberry muffin for breakfast this morning, and I can’t believe I actually waited until today to eat it.  It looked so pretty and smelled yummy yesterday but I restrained myself. This is probably one of the best gluten-free muffins I have had.  Hands down, awesome.  Fresh cranberries, moist and delicious.  I will definitely be back for more gluten-free goodness and some of that delicious bread.

If you are living around Aquidneck Island and are gluten-free, have a family member who is or are looking for a treat to bring to a friend’s house who is this is the place to go.  EvaRuth’s 796 Aquidneck Ave, Unit D, Middletown, RI 02842 (View Larger Map)

Garlicy Green Beans – Share Our Holiday Table

I am honored to be one of the many bloggers participating in a virtual dinner by Share Our Strength – Share Our Holiday Table to raise awareness about childhood hunger in the United States.  For a week bloggers around the country will be setting their virtual tables with holiday dish ideas starting with Appetizers (12/6), Drinks (12/7), Salads (12/8), Soups (12/9), Entrées (12/10), Sides (12/13) and finally Desserts (12/14).

This event really hit home for me.  Growing up we didn’t have much money and were brought up to be resourceful not just with money but also with food.  I grew up in a family of hunters (not for sport but for survival), so we grew up eating many different types of meat.  If it wasn’t for my dad hunting we would have gone with out a lot more often.  Our freezer would be stocked with meat from deer, bear, wild boar, turtle and moose amongst others. My mom would make some amazing tasting meals including soups/stews, roasts etc.

Even now we, like many other families struggle to put food on the table some days, but we are making the best of it.  Bryan is a huge support and encouragement when I have my mini breakdowns about being so financially strapped right now.  I made a meal one night that almost brought me to tears, it wasn’t a horrible meal but it reminded me so much of my childhood I could barely eat it.  Do you ever have moments like that? Where a smell or taste brings back such a strong memory?

I am very thankful for programs/organizations such as Food Stamps, The Knights of Columbus and The Elks because they provided many holiday meals and presents for our family. When the holidays came around, our meals were much more traditional with turkey and ham being served instead of the game meats.  We had all of the sides to top it off – mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and my favorite; green bean casserole! I love green beans.  I will eat them pretty much anyway – fresh, with almonds, steamed, sautéed in a little sesame oil and chili oil and if you’ve been reading my blog you will have seen the following recipe pop up once or twice already.  My garlicy green beans recipe has replaced the green bean casserole on our family table.  It is beyond simple and extremely quick to make.  Bryan loves it just as much as I do and I even made it for Thanksgiving this year with his family – we received no complaints.

Before I get to the recipe I want to share a little about Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry Program (borrowed from their website):

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign is working to ensure that no child in the United States goes hungry again. One dollar can help connect a child with up to ten healthy meals.

No Kid Hungry™, an unprecedented, five-year effort designed to end childhood hunger in America. Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against: The stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by access to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive. For 25 years, Share Our Strength has been confronting hunger head-on to break down these barriers. Together, with your support, we can put an end to childhood hunger. Will you join us in the No Kid Hungry campaign?

Please consider helping out by making a donation at No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength

Garlicy Green Beans

1-2 pounds of fresh green beans

3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Lightly steam the green beans until bright green yet still crispy (if you get the steam in the bag fresh green beans – found in your produce section, it makes this recipe even easier!!).  Drain well.  In a medium-large pan melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir in the green beans.  Toss the green beans so they are all coated in the garlic butter sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

This side dish is easy, quick, tasty, cost efficient – I really think your family will enjoy it.  You can adjust the garlic to your preference and even add some slivered almonds (I would lightly toast them and then toss them in the pan).

Happy Holidays to you and your families. Below is a list of the other bloggers taking part in todays “sides” post – also if you are looking for posts from the previous categories, click HERE (you dont’ want to miss these – so many great recipes have been shared).


Family Friendly


Gluten Free

October – Celiac Awareness Month

Last month we celebrated National Celiac Awareness Day on September 13th and now its October – Celiac Awareness Month (also Brest Cancer Awareness Month!!) I just wanted to take a few seconds to put this post up and share with you some great resources for celiac disease, including some of my favorite blogs.  There are so many great bloggers out there and a fantastic gluten-free community on facebook and twitter.  Please take a few moments to check out the Special Report on Celiac Disease posted by The Chicago Tribune.

Websites and Blogs to check out for great information on Celiac Disease, Resources and Amazing Recipes (many are also dairy free, egg free etc.):

Celiac Central

Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac Disease – Mayo Clinic

Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom

Art of Gluten Free Baking

Celiac Teen

Elana’s Pantry

Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Gluten Free Easily

Cook It Allergy Free

Simply Gluten and Sugar Free

Simply Gluten Free

Gluten Free Goddess

The Whole Gang

Triumph Dining

She Let Them Eat Cake

Celiac Scoop

And Love It Too

I Made Toast

Gluten Free Home-Maker

Oh The Places We’ll Go

Today is my last day of work and on Friday I’ll be taking my one way flight back east!! We’ll be spending a few weeks in New Jersey with Bryan’s family before we head on up to Rhode Island and get settled into our first place together.  While in New Jersey, we’ll be making a few trips to Philadelphia, New York City and almost a week in DC (we are beyond excited about that…neither of us have been).

With being gluten-free I decided to do a bit of research for our little adventures of places where we could possibly try out.  Of course I had to try to locate a cupcake place in each city!  So here is our potential stops as of right now…if you have any other suggestions PLEASE leave a comment and let me know of them!!


Sweet Freedom Bakery

New Jersey

Gluten Free Gloriously

New York City

Babycakes NYC (been here already and LOVE it)

Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery

Bloom’s Delicatessen

Friedman’s Deli

Lilli and Loo’s




Red Mango

D. C.

Hello Cupcake!

Kavanaugh’s Pizza

Lilit Cafe

I want this!!

I love cupcakes – as I have said many times. I just came across this blog – Cupcakes Take The Cake and instantly fell in love.  Not only is this site cute and fun and full of cupcakes but check out this post about this awesome calendar!!

Hello Cupcake! 2011 wall calendar for sale

For the early birds out there, who want to make sure 2011 is filled with cupcakes when scheduling plans, the 2011 Hello Cupcake! wall calendar is for sale now. I have the 2010 one and it’s adorable, and I know the year before I waited too late to buy a different cupcake calen

dar and it sold out, so a heads up from us.

You can buy it from:


Info below via publisher Andrews McMeel.

The Hello Cupcake! 2011 Wall Calendar features all-

new photography and all-new designs for the most imaginative and eye-popping cupcake creations you’ve ever seen! Using everyday components available at the supermarket—cake mixes, prepared icing, candies, and breakfast cereals—the best-selling authors of Hello, Cupcake! and What’s New, Cupcake? are back to dazzle your senses and sweet tooth with this irresistible wall calendar.

Each month

features a practical illustration identifying all the components used to transform ordinary cupcakes into rubber duckies, valentines, goldfish, freshly baked pies, playful polar bears, and other seasonal sensations. You don’t have to bake to enjoy these cupcakes—they are a wonder just to gaze upon.

I need one of these for our new place :)  I love finding new blogs to follow!!

May is Celiac Awareness Month!!

Gluten Free

May is Celiac Awareness Month!!  Want to help spread awareness?  Please read the an excerpt from the Triumph Dining Blog

“Celiac Awareness Month (May) is quickly approaching, and we’re looking to get the word out in a big way! Each year, it seems we get closer to the tipping point, with more restaurants offering gluten free menus and more groceries labeled as gluten free. But, there’s more we can do in our quest to truly make Celiac Disease and the gluten free diet mainstream.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to run a website badge campaign to generate awareness. Placing a badge (like the one above) on your website is a great way to get a dialogue started and to let the world know that you support Celiac Disease Awareness.

And, until the end of May, when you add the badge to your website we’re going to give $5 (up to a total of $5,000) to the NFCA, to help them raise even more awareness of Celiac Disease. Participating in this event and using the badge is 100% free for you. We’ll make the $5 donation on your behalf. So, what are you waiting for? The only thing standing between the NFCA and up to $5,000 is a 30 second copy and paste job.

Thank you for participating in these efforts and helping to raise awareness of Celiac Disease. The more we do to the get the word out, the better all our lives become. Together, we can make a difference!

Ross Cohen
President, Triumph Dining

How to Participate

  1. Copy the code for any of the badges below and then paste it on your home page.
  2. E-mail us at with a link to where you placed the badge on your site.
  3. You’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for one of several Triumph Dining Gluten Free Survival Kits (a $50 value!).
  4. Help us spread the word to raise even more money for the NFCA with the sharing tools (e-mail, twitter, and facebook) below.
  5. Celebrate your good deed for the day.

At the end of May, we’ll present a check for up to $5,000 ($5 per person who pastes a badge on their site) to the NFCA.”

Get your Celiac Awareness badges HERE

Gluten Free

For more information about Celiac Disease please visit:

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Celiac Disease Check List

A new take on chicken tenders and fries

A few weeks ago I filled out a form on Tropical Traditions website to be considered to review their coconut oil.  Not thinking that me and my little blog would get picked but I did! Yesterday I received my Coconut Oil in the mail and instantly began to think “what should I make first?”, “should I use one of their recipes or try and create my own?”, “what does it smell like?”, “will it have a strong coconut flavor?”.  Needless to say my brain was on 20 question mode, but I had a photo assignment last night and couldn’t experiment right away, so I did it tonight.  I was nervous and excited to experiment and swore that if my first try came out bad I wouldn’t blog about it.  Thankfully it came out pretty tasty!

I’ve read so many great things about coconut oil, both for cooking/baking but also the health benefits of it.  Below are a few interesting facts that I have found in my research:

  • Coconut oil is very heat stable so it makes an excellent cooking and frying oil. It has a smoke point of about 360°F (180°C)
  • The oil is also used to give movie theater popcorn in the United States its distinctive flavor
  • Made from fresh coconuts, not dried copra
  • Has a fresh coconut fragrance
  • Apart from coconut oil, the only other source of lauric acid found in such high concentrations is in mother’s milk

I had been curious about coconut oil for a while now and been wanting to try it out for myself so I am very thankful to Tropical Traditions for sending me this amazing sample to experiment with and write about.

So back to my 20 questions:

“what should I make first?” – I decided to try and make a play on chicken nuggets and fries.  Instead I made coconut flour dusted chicken tenders and sweet potato fries.  They were fried in a little bit of coconut oil (recipe below).  It was very very tasty.  The chicken came out fantastic!!  So juicy and tender with a hint of coconut flavor (just a hint).  The fries came out great too, however I think I prefer my fries baked instead of fried.

“should I use one of their recipes or try and create my own?” – I went with making my own recipe this time, but Tropical Traditions has tons of great looking recipes that I look forward to trying!

“what does it smell like?”- It definitely smells like coconut but in a good way (not like suntan lotion).

“will it have a strong coconut flavor?” – A slight coconut flavor is there but its not over powering or anything like that.  I rather enjoyed it.

Chicken Tenders and Fries

1/4 cup of coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 medium to large sweet potato – cut into “fries”

2 boneless/skinless chicken breast – cut into 1/2 inch strips

coconut oil – enough to lightly fry the fries and chicken – about 1/4 -1/2 cup

In a medium bowl mix the coconut flour, tapioca flour, salt and pepper until combined.  Dredge the sweet potato fries in the flour and shake of any excess flour before adding to the oil.  One the fries are finished cooking cool them on a wire rack.  Lightly sprinkle with salt (if you desire).  Next, add the chicken to the same flour mixture, coat lightly and shake of any excess flour before adding to the oil.  Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until fully cooked. I dipped my chicken in a little bit of honey….oooh so good!!

Seeing as I was given this very generous sample to try I have decided that for the next month before packing everything up to ship across the country I will make one coconut oil recipe a week, so please stay tuned for more recipes and reviews. Now…what to make next, hmmmmm  Maybe I’ll try baking something next.

Please check out this video from Tropical Traditions about their Coconut Oil:

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Panang Curry – Gluten Free!

When I first was diagnosed with Celiac I was told that Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s were the best places to shop for Gluten Free items, and I don’t think I will ever forget the first shopping trip I did – it almost ended in tears!  No lie, I about cried in the middle of whole foods.  I was beyond overwhelmed with this new lifestyle.  Which is kind of funny seeing as in my opinion Whole Foods is by far the best place to shop for Gluten Free items because everything is labeled, not just on the package but on the shelves they have these little tags that say what is Gluten Free.   I just wasn’t used to this kind of shopping.  I wasn’t used to having to read everything on the label and learning what many of these ingredients that you need to carry a dictionary around with you to figure out if they contain Gluten Free or not.  If you have Celiac or shop for someone who does, I’m sure you can relate to my experience.  Over the past two years I’ve gotten better with reading the labels and figuring out where gluten “hides” on the ingredients list.

Trader Joe’s on the other hand doesn’t come right out and label everything.  Well they have gotten better over the last two years, but when I first started shopping for Gluten Free items it was so frustrating.  Their Gluten Free list isn’t store specific like Whole Foods is, they don’t put any markings on the shelves and for the most part you had to read every ingredient on the box, do some research online etc to figure out what was Gluten Free and what wasn’t.  Now thankfully they are starting to label many of their products as Gluten Free!  (Thank you Trader Joe’s!).  Their selection is still a bit limited compared to Whole Foods and they aren’t labeling everything but they are getting better.

For the most part I try to buy fresh ingredients, including herbs, meats, veggies etc. and try to avoid many of the processed/packaged foods, but lets be honest, sometimes its just hard to do.  Some days I just want to grab something quick and not have to prepare a whole meal just for myself.  I’ve tried a few of the frozen meals from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s…they are okay for a quick meal, but I try not to eat them too much.  About a month ago I tried this frozen meal from Trader Joe’s and it was very very tasty, however I went to get another one to blog about and they were gone.  Today on my lunch break I tried to restaurants in town and both were extremely rude and unhelpful with my gluten free diet so I decided to run over to Trader Joe’s and see if by some chance they had any in the freezer section and they did!  So I grabbed one to bring home for dinner and decided to blog about it.

(You can find this in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s (items vary by location))

Vegetable Panang Curry with Jasmine Rice

Ingredients: Thai Jasmine Rice, Brown Jasmine Rice, Panang Sauce (coconut milk, Thai Chili, Shallots, Garlic, Basil, Galangal [Thai Ginger], Kaffir Lime Leaf, Palm Sugar  Lemongrass, Coriander, Soy Oil, Sea Salt), Vegetable Blend (Zucchini, Onion, Asparagus, Kale, Green Beans, Snow Peas, Baby Corn and Spinach).

Granted this isn’t the healthiest of meals but its tasty and good for a quick meal as long as you don’t eat it too often!!  So if you are looking for something tasty, quick (takes all of five minutes in the microwave), filling and GLUTEN FREE check this out!  You really can’t go wrong for only $2.49!!

Now if Trader Joe’s could stock my local stores with some Gluten Free baked goods I would be all set!!