Over the past few weeks, I have discovered a bunch of awesome companies and restaurants, so I wanted to share a few of my favorites!
Pasta lovers rejoice! I was a little skeptical of how a pasta made from chick peas would taste, but Banza showed me how. Their pasta tastes just like regular pasta but with a little more chew. This pasta is actually magical. A single serving contains 14g of protein, 24g carbs (half of regular pasta), and 8g of fiber (four times regular pasta). Their pasta is also gluten-, grain-, and soy-free as well as vegan, non-GMO, and low glycemic. Basically, my ultimate goal is to have a pantry filled with Banza shell and penne pasta.
Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix
Surprisingly enough, my mom and I discovered this cookie mix at the Walmart in my hometown. My sister convinced me to make them on the day she was finding out if she got accepted into her dream college (which she did – probably because I made the cookies…). I think there are a lot of things that gluten-eaters take for granted, such as the ease of boxed dessert mixes. For us gluten-free folk, making dessert is usually a dance to find the perfect balance of flours in an effort to mimic the glutened version. What’s even better about Pillsbury’s cookies is how amazingly delicious they are. Between my siblings and I, we ate the batch of cookies within a day. The smell, taste, and texture reminded us of the cookies we ate before becoming gluten-free so long ago. Well done, Pillsbury.
Glutino’s Strawberry Frosted Toaster Pastry
My brother absolutely adores Glutino’s toaster pastries, and when my mom discovered these frosted ones, I think he was in heaven. The frosting tastes more like yogurt (he let me taste a crumb). These are as close as we’ll get to the childhood favorite Pop-Tart, and that’s pretty close. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a Glutino product.
I’ve been to Maggiano’s quite a few times, and each time I’m impressed…and I order the same thing: The Famous Rigatoni “D.” This dish is what Italian food dreams are made of: perfectly moist, herb-roasted chicken, cute button mushrooms, and caramelized onions, all mixed together in a creamy Marsala sauce. Once you tell your waiter about your food allergies, he’ll bring the chef out to talk to you about your order and what they can do to certain dishes.
Alfonso’s (Somerville, NJ)
Alfonso’s surprised me. Tucked away on the corner of what appeared to be the main street of Somerville, New Jersey, sits this family-owned Italian restaurant. I’m always nervous about eating out at new places (especially Italian restaurants) because I’ve had far too many errors and bad experiences in the past to be completely at ease. Apparently one of the owners has Celiac disease, so she created the gluten-free menu and eats from the restaurant daily without issue, which made me more comfortable. Despite their impressive menu (which is filled with gluten-free fried food like mozzarella sticks and fried calamari), I was in the mood for pasta, so I ordered the Vegetali dish. I was given two large plates filled with food. One contained a bunch of corn pasta covered in a thin layer of tomato sauce (it wasn’t my favorite; I’m partial to my mom’s sauce). The second plate was piled high with a blend of sautéed vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, and broccoli. I usually can pack away some pasta, but I had to take more than half home for later, where I promptly finished the dish.
The Bald Strawberry (Melbourne, FL)
I had been meaning to make the trek out to Melbourne to try this entirely gluten-free facility that specializes in waffles. So one weekend, I finally did. The time I went, the place was empty, but the service was fast. I ordered the V-Club Sandwich: avocado slices, organic spinach, tomato, red onion, and sweet n’ spicy blackbean hummus all piled atop a gluten-free, egg-free, and sugar-free waffle. The waffle itself is savory, airy, and crunchy. The blackbean hummus was the literal bomb; I wish I had a container to take home.