14 July 2008

rice chex

Have you heard the news? At first I thought there was a mistake in the search results on Amazon.com Groceries. But then I read it on another blog and I finally saw in the store for myself. Rice Chex are now gluten-free. It's about time. There's no reason for Rice and Corn Chex and Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes to not be gluten-free, but for some reason General Mills and Kellogs insists on using malt. But that is no longer the case for good old familiar Rice Chex. It says so right on the font of the box and the ingredients list confirms it.

It's such a relief to walk into any grocery store now and be able to buy a box of cereal.

07 July 2008

amazon.com groceries

Excerpted from my Where in the World post today:
Aside from the toiletries and cleaning products from Costco we also placed a gigantic order with Amazon.com Groceries. They have bulk discounts on, surprisingly, most of the gluten-free foods I eat on a regular basis. My favorite crackers, cookies, and pasta plus some of the Bob's Red Mill baking mixes are available for much cheaper than specifically gluten-free shopping sites. Who knew that something as mainstream as Amazon.com could be such a gluten-free paradise? If you shop smartly and choose only items from Amazon and not outside sellers, you'll get free shipping on all of it, too.

02 July 2008

lara bars

I heard about Lara Bars when I was searching the forums at celiac.com for energy bars. Any sort of energy or snack bar is suspect because they usually have oats in them or a long list of bizarr-o sounding compounds of indeterminate makeup. Also, even when I could eat those energy bars, I just didn't like them that much.

In comes Lara Bar. The ingredients are simple: nuts and dried fruit. The flavors are amazing. The cherry pie flavor, while not gooey with pie filling oozing from under a flaky crust, actually tastes like cherry pie. Because it's made of cherries. Somehow the cashews in the banana cookie bar mimics the taste of cookie crumbs. The only ingredients though are the cashews and bananas.

While the flavors are amazing and I've been buying them by the case, there's one drawback to these bars. They're somewhat high in sugar and fat. That's to be expected when there's nothing but fruit and nuts I suppose. They do give you the quick burst of energy with a shot of flavor that's better than any Balance or Cliff bar. But I wouldn't want to make a full meal out of them. I keep them as snacky treats for when I'm traveling.

I've seen Lara Bars at Trader Joe's, REI, and other grocery and outdoors stores. You can order cases directly from the Lara Bar website, but they're cheaper from Amazon.com.

(Image from FitSugar.com.)

20 March 2008

lilit cafe, bethesda, maryland

I now know that I don't have to go all the way to Edinburgh for gluten-free pizza and beer! Lilit Cafe in Bethesda, Maryland, offers a partial gluten-free menu with baked goods from Sweet Sin Bakery.

It's a funny little deli-pizza parlour-liquor store. They don't serve alcohol or other beverages, but you can walk to the convenience store section and choose from water, sodas, beer, and wine (which they'll uncork for you free of charge), and bring it back to your table to drink. For beers and sodas you can buy a whole 6-pack or single servings. We knew we were back on the east coast when we saw Old English 40s along with the selection of "fine" wines and beers. They offer a gf beer, Redbridge, which isn't my favorite gf beer but will do in a pinch. I think they also had Woodchuck ciders, which are gf.

The gf menu features pizzas and deli sandwiches. I decided on the margarita pizza. When it was served, it looked and smelled delicious. But one bite proved the crust to be mediocre. It was obviously a frozen crust that had been reheated, poorly, with toppings. I considered sending it back but I was so hungry, and the cheese and sauce were tasty hot, so I plowed on. When I brought the leftovers home and heated them up later, I was able to get a hot, crisp crust. The leftovers were better than the in-restaurant pizza. I wasn't completely turned off by the pizza experience though and will go back to try again (especially once we move closer to the Red Line--too much hassle to go from where we live now). The mental aspect of sitting down in a restaurant and ordering pizza and sandwiches is so positive that it outweighs a less-than-perfect meal in my opinion.

Desserts! I was so stuffed from my pizza and beer that I could barely sample the gelato. They have a wide range of freshly made gelatos and I'm looking forward to going back to try some of them. They also have packages of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and breads from Sweet Sin Bakery for sale. I bought a 6-pack of chocolate brownie cupcakes. They. Were. Amazing. So moist, which is rare for gf baked goods. We were there for dinner on a Friday night... by Sunday I was eating my 5th cupcake for breakfast (I let Mike eat one). Hey, I don't get to eat chocolate cake often, so I indulged.

Lilit Cafe also has a full "regular" menu and plenty of vegetarian choices on both menus. Sandwiches and pizzas can also be made to-go, and since you can buy beverages there and other convenience store items, you can get everything you need in one stop. Even smokes!

Lilit Cafe
7921 Old Georgetown Road (about 1km from the Bethesda Metro stop)
Bethesda, MD
(301) 654-5454
10am - 9pm, Mon - Thus
10am - 10pm, Fri - Sat
10am - 6pm, Sunday

24 February 2008

E Mart International Supermarket

(I wrote this on Yelp! first.)

The produce here is phenomenal and it's the best reason to go. It's so fresh and the selection is huge. There are Asian fruits and vegetables that I'd never heard of before. There are also things I'd heard of, read on restaurant menus, but had never seen what it looks like before. And whenever I take something home and cut into it, the fresh scent is amazing. Cucumbers, mango, avocado, you name it--it can be found here and it will be great.

This is an international grocery store focussing mostly on Asian foods, so you'll find a huge variety of rice and soy products, anything you'll need for Asian cooking. My husband lived in Okinawa and traveled through South Korea and has found some of his favorite brands here. I'm gluten-free so the abundance of rice products makes shopping and cooking a breeze for me.

Neither of us are seafood eaters, but they have a huge selection of fresh critters from the water. Some are still alive! There's often a bucket of clicking-clacking blue crabs hanging out for sale.

There are limited Mexican, South American, and Middle Eastern brands and a handful of familiar American brands. (If you can't find an American brand you're looking for, check out the CVS on the other side of the shopping center.)

Downsides: The dairy is iffy. All the cheese and milk I've gotten from there has gone bad much sooner than it should have. (But it was great for the first day or two.) Some of the dairy is beyond expiration dates on the shelves, so check carefully. Also, the smell of the fish market wafts throughout the whole store. It can be distracting. It's somewhat disorganized--coffee and coffee filters are in two different aisles on opposite ends of the store. The selection of beer and wine isn't great. And if you're wary of products from China, read the labels carefully because a lot of stuff is imported from there.

But all the fresh stuff is so cheap! The bill is never as high as I think it's going to be. And fruit is healthier than cheese, so maybe I shouldn't be buying so much dairy anyway.

E Mart International Grocery
8100 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA

24 January 2008


A few days before moving to HotelLand I decided to try making onigiri, or rice balls. I'd bought some onigiri wrappers at Daiso Union City and was anxious to see what they were all about. Also, I thought it would be a good food to have on hand in my hotel.

Between the instructions on the package and the tutorials from Lunch in a Box, I ended up with some pretty decent little rice balls.

Onigiri wraps
See the instruction figures on the bottom left corner? There were more detailed figures on the back, but they still weren't that helpful. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong because the wrapped onigiri just didn't look as nice and neat as I expected them to. (Click the image to be taken to the full size on flickr.)

Making onigiri 1
Spread the cooked rice on a flat, foil-lined surface to cool. Toss with some rice vinegar while it's cooling. Short grain rices work best, but you don't have to use specifically sushi rice. Anything with a little stickiness to it will be fine.

Making onigiri 2
There's a triangle diagram on the wrapper to let you know where to place the mold. The wrapper opens in back and I think you spread the opening and place the onigiri on the inside.

As you're working with the rice, keep a dish of warm water nearby. Rinse your fingertips to keep the rice from sticking to them.

Making onigiri 3
Remove the mold and figure out the best way to wrap and seal the plastic.

Bento 5
One of my hotel feasts. I found that the onigiri had to be removed from the wrapper and microwaved for the best taste and texture. So I'm not sure how well a wrapped onigiri would work in a bento if you're not microwaving the rest of the lunch. But they are awesome to have for adding to steamed veggies or leftover-based meals.

04 January 2008

Mini mac & cheese casserole

When Mike saw this photo on my flickr page, he practically started drooling. Unfortunately for him, I made and ate them on the sly. Next time I'll share!

This is my way of sprucing up a boxed mac-n-cheese mix and creating a super-satisfying comfort meal. I usually buy the Annie's gluten-free macaroni and cheese, but it should work for just about any kind, gf or regular.

I prepared the mac and cheese per the package directions. I ate about 1 serving as is, then divided up the rest into 2 Corniware 16-oz dishes. I let them cool to room temperature, then lidded and put in the fridge.

When I was ready to bake one for lunch, I took it out of the fridge and topped with fresh-grated cheddar cheese and Gluten-Free Pantry's Herbed Bread Crumb Coating. I put it, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Here's a trick--if you don't preheat the oven, you can put a casserole dish in cold from the fridge. Then it heats evenly and you don't have to worry about cold dish / hot oven disasters. (I learned that from an over-eager Le Creuset sales lady.) It takes a little longer to warm through, but with such a small dish the time is minimal.

The fresh cheddar and the bread crumbs melted then crisped together for a delicious crust. Eating this for lunch on a cold winter's day warmed me all over. It's not particularly healthy, but it's totally yummy.



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