Friday, October 31, 2014

Uncle Steve's Pasta Sauces Review

After a super busy Natural Products Expo East a month ago, I have slowly but surely been working my way through the many samples I was generously provided. Of the more unique samples I've tried so far are organic marinara sauces courtesy of Uncle Steve's Italian Specialties.

The Steve of Uncle Steve's is Steve Schirripa, known for playing Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos. According to Uncle Steve himself, the sauces were inspired by his Brooklyn upbringing and Italian heritage. Surrounded by the aromas and tastes of authentic recipes, he learned to appreciate quality Italian cooking which ultimately led him to start Uncle Steve's to bring the comforting taste of home-style marinara to the masses. 

Currently offering three varieties (marinara, tomato basil, and arrabiata), each is USDA certified organic, kosher, non GMO, gluten-free, and contain no added sugars. Given the scary ingredients in conventional jarred pasta sauces lining grocery stores, Uncle Steve's really impressed me with their attention to top quality ingredients. For this review, I selected the tomato basil and arriabata sauces to contrast a more traditional flavor with one that had a little more spice.

One Dish Cuisine Review (Part 2)

Even as I made my first visit to One Dish Cuisine in Ellicot City last month with my mom, I knew I'd be back sooner rather than later to sample their non-baked good offerings. As public transportation is a bit difficult to get from where I am to where they are, I had to wait until I had reliable transportation to make the trek to Ellicott City (aka, a visit from family or friends). Luckily, my aunt made the trek up to visit me earlier this month which provided the perfect excuse/opportunity to make a return trip to One Dish Cuisine. 

Since this review comes so close on the heels of my first one, I'll direct you to that post (at this link) for the scoop on the restaurant's intuitive take on allergen free dining. I'll go ahead and reiterate that this bakery, cafe, and deli is a 100% dedicated gluten-free establishment. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

FARE's Teal Pumpkin Project

This Friday is a big holiday for kids young and old: Halloween! While there are many ways to join in on the fun from costume contests to candy galore, there are nasty tricks to many treats that could ruin all the fun for kids with food allergies, sensitivities, intolerances, and other dietary restrictions.

This year, advocates, parents, and communities alike are banding together and giving Halloween a teal-tinged makeover to raise awareness of these very dietary challenges and promote an inclusive atmosphere so that everyone can join in on the fun. FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), a leading food allergy advocacy group spearheaded the Teal Pumpkin Project campaign this year to bring allergen awareness from coast to coast. 

Enjoy Life Foods Not Nuts! Seed & Nut Mixes Review

When it comes to allergen friendly grocery items, I trust well-known allergen friendly companies such as Enjoy Life Foods. Already a huge fan of their boom choco boom dark chocolate bars and dark chocolate baking morsels, I love that all of their products are free from the top eight allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish. 

As a college student constantly on the go, I'm a big fan of portable snacks that are quick and easy to transport but are filling and made with quality ingredients. When invited to sample Enjoy Life's not nuts! seed and fruit mix, I was intrigued to see what they were all about. True to their name and containing no nuts, these snack mixes are great for sharing with friends with multiple allergies and intolerances and are actually good for you because because they feature healthy fats, lower sodium, and other benefits from the real fruits and seeds that lend their name to the package.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ginnybakes Dreamy Vegan Delight Cookies Review

Even though a month has passed since I attended the Natural Products Expo, the expo effect has continued as I have slowly worked my way through the many samples I picked up on the show. After tasting and placing ginnybakes on my list of top sweets I spotted on the show floor (see that post here), I was contacted to see if I would be interested in giving their dreamy vegan delight cookies a full review. Eager to give them a second look- and taste- I agreed. 

What I love about ginnybakes is that their cookies are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility with care and awareness of the integrity of each little ingredient. Each cookie they produce is organic, non-GMO, kosher, and certified gluten-free so cookie lovers of all tastes and preferences can find something to love. It should be noted that among all of the cookies they make, the dreamy vegan delight cookies are the only ones that are vegan and dairy-free. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

On the Hill Cafe Review

After a whirlwind weekend of errands, chores, and catching up, my aunt and I exhausted ourselves over the course of her weekend visit. Waking up tired and chilled by a cold front that dipped temperatures into the mid 50s, breakfast was the first and only order of business for the morning. 

Though I've had some good breakfasts around town, I seized the opportunity for one more excursion off campus and selected On the Hill Cafe, a restaurant that has been on my to-do list for awhile now. This cafe keeps it local with locally sourced items and efforts to minimize their environmental impact while maximizing their impact in their Bolton Hill neighborhood.

Joe Squared Review

Although I'm a pretty dedicated pizza lover, Joe Squared is rare exception from the rule for me because I went there with the intent of ordering something other than pizza. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a slice (or the whole pie) Joe Squared is a locally renowned pizza place that serves up a variety of gluten-free and vegan offerings, but has no pizza option for those of us who don't do wheat.

Nevertheless, I decided to give Joe Squared a visit after reading through what menu options were available to me as a gluten and dairy free diner. Soups, wings, salads, and risottos were all available to me and I had a hard time narrowing down exactly what I wanted. After a busy day shopping, doing some chores around the dorm, and visiting a local dog park with Locke, my aunt and I arrived for dinner with our appetites peaked. Battling the whipping winds of an incoming cold front, we were craving true comfort food to warm us up as the setting sun was quickly dropping the temperatures lower and lower.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lost City Diner Review

When it comes to gluten and dairy free places to eat, Baltimore is proving to be a treasure trove of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries off all shapes and sizes. While Orlando still holds my heart as my hometown, I'm finding myself more at home each and every day in Charm City. In the rare mood for a milkshake this week, a quick Google search for a non-dairy milkshake turned me onto Lost City Diner in the Station North arts and entertainment district. 

Luckily, a visit from my aunt this weekend timed up perfectly with my desire to pay Lost City Diner a visit so we set off milkshakes and more on a wonderful Friday afternoon. Since we are nearing the peak of Fall's beauty, it was a treat to be able to get off campus and relish the last of mid 70s degree weather and fall foliage, both which will soon be gone with winter just around the corner.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Smart Flour Pizza Crust Review

As a college student, I have rightfully taken to my role as a dedicated consumer of pizza. Unlike my peers who can eat several slices every day for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I have to be more careful with my choices and often reserve indulging in this all-American treat for my excursions off campus to trusted restaurants. As my dining hall stocks gluten-free- but not dairy-free- options in the pizza department, I realized early on that I needed a back-up option in my dorm for whenever I needed a quick fix. After all, studying has a mystical ability to induce an appetite when performed at length. 

Already a fan of Smart Flour Foods' crust since it's used as the base for Mellow Mushroom's gluten-free pizzas, I was so excited to find these amazing crusts at a local Whole Foods Market. Back home in Florida, I've seen their frozen cheese and pepperoni pizzas, but never the crusts by themselves so this find was a real treat.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sweet 27 Bakery Review

After a lovely meal in gluten-free wonderland, I wasn't quite ready to leave Sweet 27. Located just around the corner from their main dining room, their bakery cafe warmly welcomes visitors morning, noon, and night and beckoned me with the promise of gluten and dairy free sweets.

100% dedicated to a gluten-free environment, Sweet 27 specializes in cupcakes but also serves up sweets of all shapes and sizes. Vegans and those who are dairy free can also partake in some their treats as they are well aware of the prevalence of multi-dimensional aspects of allergen-free baking. Since I could not scale the flight of stairs leading to the bakery, the staff showed me a shortcut through the restaurant that they opened up to allow my mom and I to set foot into the bakery. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

One Dish Cuisine Review (Part 1)

Read my part 2 of this review at this link.

Recently, it feels like everywhere I turn I am discovering new products and restaurants that are turning my head and expanding my culinary horizons. My mom's recent weekend visit allowed me to check out many restaurants I have been wanting to visit for a while now. While most of our itinerary was well-planned and strictly structured, my visit to One Dish Cuisine in Ellicott City was more of an accidental affair as I decided to pay them a visit on a whim after enjoying pizza at Peace A Pizza in nearby Catonsville. 

One Dish Cuisine is an allergen friendly deli, bakery, and restaurant that really understands the complexities of serving allergen-free consumers with a variety of needs and allergies.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Dad's Cookies Gluten Free Review

Artisan Cookies. I'm talking bakery case quality cookies that are just as beautiful as they are indulgent. For the most part, artisan, quality, and indulgent are three attributes not associated with gluten free cookies but that all changed when I met My Dad's Cookies at this year's Natural Products Expo East. Suddenly confronted with a table laden with picture perfect, yet totally gluten and dairy free cookies I could not really believe my eyes until I sampled my first cookie... then several more. The cookies were simply divine which earned them a spot on my list of top five picks from the show. But the accolades do not stop there. After generously allowing me to take several of their varieties with me to sample, I've decided to dedicate a whole post to their cookies to expand my thoughts on each variety.