Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream is my new favorite obsession. The secret to making a silky smooth cashew cream is soaking the cashews overnight in cold water. Cashew cream makes vegan and dairy-free foods taste buttery and rich. I love using it to make macaroni and cheese or to give a creamy flavor to tea or coffee. It’s also quite good poured over granola or berries for a not too sweet but satisfying dessert.

  • Put 2 cups whole organic cashews in a 4 cup glass bowl or large jar
  • Cover with cold water
  • Cover the bowl or jar
  • Let sit overnight
  • Strain and rinse cashews
  • Put in a Vitamix or high speed blender
  • Add 1 cup of water
  • Blend for 2 minutes until creamy
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Refrigerate

For a sweet cream add 3 soaked dates and blend or 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
Or leave the cream unsweetened so you can use in savory or sweet dishes. You can sweeten the cream as you use it depending on the dish. If you want a thinner cream--just add water.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Favorite Gluten Free Restaurants in NYC and The Hamptons 2014

by Ansley Lester

These are Ansley's favorite gluten-free restaurants in NYC and The Hamptons in 2014...

Risotteria  (Gluten Free Menu)
270 Bleecker Street
(212) 924-6664
The breadsticks are amazing! With a cheese tasting party planned, I didn’t know what to do about bread. I stopped by Risotteria and got a dozen  for $18, a little price--but the breadsticks are very long. I sliced them in half and had 12 for the party and then froze the other half. They freeze easily and are great heated up.

Lili and Loo  (Gluten Free Menu)
792 Lexington Avenue
(212) 421-7800
Chinese delivery when I am on the UES. They label everything GF on the packaging and it always satisfies my cravings for Chinese food.

Jennifer’s Way (Gluten Free Menu)
263 E 10th Street
(646) 682-9501
This place is great! EVERYTHING is Gluten Free and many things are Vegan. I am not Vegan, but my boyfriend’s father is on a no egg/dairy free diet and this was our go-to for his birthday sweet! I have taken many of my friend’s here and later tell them that everything is GF/DF and they are so surprised! My favorite things are the Sea Salt bagels and chocolate cupcakes. Both happen to be Vegan too!

Chipotle (Gluten Free Friendly)
Many Locations
My go-to fast food restaurant! I get them to change their gloves before preparing my food. It is so satisfying and filling. Usually, I request that they to change gloves "because we are allergic to wheat". To see the list of allergens, go to the Chipotle: Special Diet Information.

Dana’s Bakery (Gluten Free Menu)
For Valentine’s Day, I got the Valentine’s Day themed macarons. They were so cute and were a huge hit with my boyfriend whom grew up in Paris.  I think that says it all!  They are a perfect gift for anyone gluten free or not. Call or visit online to order.

Wei West (Gluten Free Menu)
235 Murray Street
So many options! There is a gluten free menu and non-gluten free menu. I was so excited about Tangerine Beef and General Tso Chicken. Delivery was so quick and delicious! This is one of my top delivery places.

Most of the time I am with people that are not gluten free. Because of this, I am always going to restaurants that don’t necessarily have GF menu, but are accommodating to me. Here are my favorites:

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita (Gluten Free Friendly)
267 Elizabeth Street
I love this place for the cheap good food and fun atmosphere. They do not have a GF menu, but they can tell you everything on the menu that is GF. I had no problems enjoying chips and guacamole, and tacos.

Café Sage  (Gluten Free Friendly)
108 John Street
(212) 925-7440
Does not have a Gluten Free menu, but is very knowledgeable about GF allergy and helps me choose naturally GF options or options that can be GF. My favorite is the Green Curry with white rice or Drunken noodles.

Cowgirl Seahorse (Gluten Free Friendly)
259 Front Street
(212) 608-7873
This is a place I visit a lot because of location and casual atmosphere. I started going here when I was not gluten free and loved it. When I became GF I was scared that I was not going to be able to enjoy one of my favorite restaurants. I was SO wrong! They were so nice and went through the menu with me to help me figure out what I can have. It is hard to find restaurants that accommodates allergies and inexpensive. I am super impressed! My favorite things are the grilled chicken wings and nachos!

Barbalu (Gluten Free Friendly/ Gluten Free pasta)
225-227 Front Street
Went here with a bunch of people---no one was gluten free. The owners are from Italy and take great pride in having gluten free options. They have gluten free pasta that you can substitute in for any dish. It was so great!! All my non-GF friends loved their food. My favorite thing was the eggplant and mozzarella appetizer (natural gluten free).

Hearth  (Gluten Free Friendly)
403 E12th St.
(646) 602-1300
This was the first restaurant I went to when I became completely gluten free. I was so nervous, but my fears were quickly dissolved after my phone call with the hostess. One of the chefs spoke with me over the phone before my reservation going through everything that was GF or could be GF. It was beyond accommodating. Once there the waitress also was knowledgeable and was happy to help in any way. Coming with a party of ten, I was nervous that my allergy would be overlooked and I would get sick. This was not the case!

Antonucci’s  (Gluten Free Friendly/ Gluten Free Pasta)
170 E. 81st Street
My parent’s favorite Italian spot on the UES--Very traditional dishes with naturally gluten free options and gluten free pasta substitute for pasta dishes. My favorite thing is a seasonal salad. Can’t wait for summer to be here to eat the corn, avocado salad.  Beware of the breadbasket it is so tempting. I usually bring my own bread so that I can dip it in the marinara sauce with cheese. 

The Hamptons

Townline BBQ (Gluten Free Friendly)
I love BBQ and this is perfect place to fill that craving. My boyfriend use to work here, so I know all the ingredients that goes into everything and how it is prepared. The wings are gluten free and are fried in their own fryer. The smoked salmon and chicken are juicy and perfectly prepared.  The brisket is gluten free and dairy free.  They also have free popcorn to snack on while waiting for your food. All the pulled meat I would stay away from because the sauce might contain gluten!

Fresh Hamptons (Gluten Free Friendly)
203 Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
(631) 537-4700
Everything comes a la carte and everything is made with simple  ingredients. I love this place for that sole reason. You are able to choose that way you would like your meat, fish and veggies prepared.

Bay Burger (Gluten Free Friendly, Gluten Free Fries and Hamburger Buns)
1742 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike
They have gluten free buns and fries. Not the best bun I have ever had, but ask them to heat it in the microwave and then put it on the grill—this helps tremendously

Friday, February 21, 2014

NOT so Gluten-Free at the Ocean Club Beach Bar and Grill in Key Biscayne

Every year we travel to the Ocean Club on Key Biscayne to escape the cold weather of NYC. The Ocean Club is a beautiful condo complex and private club on the beach between the Ritz Carlton and the state park. Before we had to go gluten free seven years ago we enjoyed many meals at the two lovely restaurants. 

For the last six years, we went to the Beach Bar and Grill with the kids and would try to order gluten-free meals for lunch. It was always a struggle and there really weren't many options for the kids. The kitchen at the poolside restaurant is super busy and very small which made it even harder. I would usually order a salad with shrimp or chickpeas and the kids would have a burger no bun. Ordering was always a huge negotiation with the staff and, curiously, my son always got sick when we were in Florida. Finally, a friendly remark that "Your son is always sick on vacation" made me realize we ended up in urgent care every time we went to Key Biscayne. So this year I told everyone we were going to try not eating at the Beach Bar and Grill at the Ocean Club for lunch. Instead we went home for sandwiches, salads,  cold cuts, gluten-free mac and cheese, chips and fruit. (I am happy to report Winn Dixie now carries Organic Applegate Farm products and gf mac and cheese.) So, I am happy to report this year no one got sick and we had an amazing vacation.

Turns out the best way for Our Gluten Free Family to be gluten free at the Ocean Club is to NOT eat at the Ocean Club.

(I tried to contact the Ocean Club by phone for a response and they weren't able to give me one. I am hoping by writing this that one day they might have a few options that are truly gluten free for their members who have celiac and gluten intolerance. If they ever do, I am happy to let people know!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

By the Way Bakery--NYC's newest gluten free (and DAIRY-FREE!) Bakery

If you are gluten free (or dairy free or gluten free & dairy free) in NYC and you haven’t tried the cherry morello cake from By the Way Bakery you should immediately stop reading this post and head over to NYC’s newest gluten free/dairy free bakery. (If you are at work and you have a boss maybe get out your calendar right now and pencil in a visit.) I got a chance to meet owner/head baker Helene Godin at Erin's NYC Celiac Disease meet-up last night and sample the brownies, chocolate chip cookies, apple cake, ginger cookies and almond cookies.

The morello cake is still my favorite, but the chocolate chips cookies and brownies are also fantastic. I can’t think of a thing I tried that wasn't delicious. It is really hard to believe that everything Helene makes is gluten-free and dairy-free and I am still in shock that I can have everything in her shop. If I have to go anywhere to visit anyone I will now have to head over to the westside to purchase the large size morello cherry cake. I am already thinking of all the places I can take this cake to—of course I will bring it to Florida next week to visit my parents and then again when I go visit my in-laws in Brooklyn. And it would be perfect as a coffee cake for brunch, too.  It is an all purpose versatile item that tastes rich and buttery and not at all like any gluten-free, dairy-free pastry I have ever tasted. And it comes in a large, impressive size to share and a small mini size that is a perfect for one or two to share. So, in order to make this a balanced review, of course, I will have pros and cons…

PROS: Really outstanding gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods in a charming, small bakery that feels welcoming and warm. An impressive number of items to choose from.

CONS: Maybe they will eventually carry one savory item. I know it is not their thing but one cute little popover would be nice at some point. I don’t want to deflate from all the cakes and cookies and sweet treats that are outstanding. This comment is more about how good EVERYTHING tastes at By the Way Bakery. It just makes you want more!

2442 Broadway (between 90th and 91st St)
New York, NY 10028
(212) 877-0806

My favorite, the Cherry Morello Cake
don't these look delicious?

Chocolate chip Bundt cake...
The brownie has chunks of chocolate in it.

Helene Godin, the owner with Erin of Gluten-Free Fun
Helene with her happy and helpful staff

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chickpeas--My New Favorite Anytime Snack

Chickpeas are my new favorite anytime snack and salad topping. I soak the beans overnight in cold water for 8 hours. Before I am going to cook them, I drain them and then bring them to a boil in water. Cook them on medium for 60-90 minutes until soft and tender. Then I add salt to taste. Chickpeas can be kept in the fridge for up to three days or frozen for a quick lunch or dinner. Use them as a topping for salad or to mix in to veggies to add a healthy, vegan protein. Chickpeas are full of folate--which is the food source of the synthetic folic acid prescribed to women women who are pregnant to prevent birth defects. Recently I even used my taco spice mix to make chickpea tacos--which would be a great recipe for meatless Mondays or my vegan and vegetarian friends.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wrapping up the Superbowl (Cupcakes)

We aren't huge football fans --I usually watch the halftime show and the commercials, but my son was sad he was too sick to go to a Superbowl party so we made some quick Superbowl cupcakes. He only ate one chocolate cupcake so we had a bunch of leftovers. 

A good trick for wrapping up cupcakes and cakes is to place two perpendicular long pieces of plastic on the counter and place the items to be wrapped on top. Place toothpicks in the top around the outer edge of each cupcake closest to the plastic. Then lift each side up so the cupcakes are completely covered. 

Cakes and cupcakes can also be frozen like this. If you are freezing the cakes or cupcakes, you can remove the toothpicks once the frosting is completely