Going Gluten-FreeApril 11, 2012

Dig In! Taste Gluten-Free Inspiration

Several weeks ago, Living Without contributor Jules Shepard scouted out the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, to find the best and tastiest new products. This is her third report on the exciting items about to hit grocery stores near you. Starting with pasta….

Pappardelle’s Pasta

Pappardelle’s has made handcrafted, small-batch pasta for over 28 years. This year, the company enthusiastically brings ten new gluten-free pastas to market.

Based in Denver, Colorado, Pappardelle’s has sold their gluten-free pasta varieties only in farmers’ markets and the Rocky Mountain Region of Whole Foods. After the splash they made at Expo West, however, you can expect to see this brand on many more store shelves (and of course, you can always ask your favorite store to carry it).

What’s so exciting about these pastas is that they introduce new shapes and flavors to the somewhat limited gluten-free pasta choices that have been available to date. Trumpet, Rooster Comb, Mafaldine, Fusilli … have you ever heard of such pastas being gluten-free? I didn’t think so. They even come in flavors ranging from Chipotle Lime to Porcini Mushroom. These gorgeous noodles will impress even the most discerning dinner guest.

While the noodles are brown rice based, they also contain a heavy dose of gluten-free starches, which seem to help the noodles not taste gummy. Pappardelle’s also uses quinoa flour and lots of vegetables and egg, which helps round out pasta flavor and texture.

The gluten-free line is made on dedicated equipment and dried on separate racks in separate drying rooms, apart from the company’s gluten pastas and batches are independently tested to less than 10 ppm gluten.


RP’s Pasta Company

Another pasta company that had everybody talking at Expo West was RP’s Pasta Company out of Madison, Wisconsin. The excitement here was because RP’s offers fresh gluten-free pasta. That’s right. Linguine, Fettuccine, Fusilli, and even Lasagna Sheets–all hand rolled and certified gluten-free (by GFCO).

Brown rice, potato and egg are the main ingredients in this delicious product. My kids and houseguests couldn’t get enough of it. (OK, I admit it. This pasta is so good that I ate it plain and cold as leftovers.)

Because it’s fresh, RP’s pasta cooks in less than two minutes, making it super-convenient on busy evenings. It has a 12-week shelf life. It can be ordered on-line and shipped to your door. Applause, please!


Solterra Foods®

If you read my earlier report for Living Without on the best, new gluten-free pizzas, you’re already familiar with Solterra Foods®. They’re not just pizza makers, though. Pasta is their other passion--and their Gnocchi is delicious!

Potato, Roasted Red Pepper, Spinach and Tri-Color are their current Gnocchi offerings, all equally scrumpteous. Each variety is not only gluten-free, it’s also dairy-free and egg-free. Solterra also makes Spaghetti and Fettucine Noodles (gluten-free and soy-free) but they weren’t sampling these varieties at Expo so I didn’t get a taste.

Solterra is a family-owned company that was started because of a son’s wheat allergy. With family roots in Italy and Germany, they have drawn upon their gastronomic heritage to make authentic, natural, preservative-free foods that are safe and delicious for those avoiding gluten and wheat.


Feel Good Foods

Feel Good Foods™ has made serious traction in a short period of time. Since only January 2011, this company has been on our radar because of their unique offerings--gluten-free egg rolls and dumplings!

Finally, the gluten-free set can enjoy these Asian treasures again. And we can do so with confidence—Feel Good’s products are certified gluten-free by both CSA and GIG. Feel Good Foods’ cofounder has celiac disease and she, together with Chef Tryg, is the driving force behind this brand. They now offer vegetarian, shrimp, chicken and pork varieties.

Twenty-seven ladies actually hand-form their dumplings in the manufacturing facility, while the egg rolls (new in 2012) are formed on a line specially designed for this type of product. Both their dumplings and egg rolls are non-GMO and free of MSG and artificial ingredients. Their distribution expansion has been rapid, so look for these in a specialty grocer (in the freezer section) near you soon or ask your grocery store to carry them. 


Starfish

I’ve always made my own homemade gluten-free fried fish, mostly out of necessity. Happily, those days are over! After returning to the Starfish booth again and again for samples, I can confirm that their gluten-free batter fried fish is delightfully crispy (not oily) and full of flavor.

Starfish offers lots of choices, ranging from Gluten-Free Battered Halibut, Cod and Haddock to Panko-Style Shrimp and Parmesan Encrusted Cod and even Italian Breaded Sole.

All the fish is wild caught; the shrimp is farm-raised. Each of the products in their gluten-free line (the company also makes other non-gluten-free fish products) are certified gluten-free by CSA. Some products contain dairy and eggs but many are free of top 8 food allergens, except for fish or shellfish.

The rumor is that Starfish is working on a gluten-free fish stick. Maybe next Expo?!


The Healthy Pantry/Cook Simple™

This Montana company’s mission is based on the life experiences of its CEO, who lost weight and regained his health in the midst of a busy life. He wanted to give others access to easy, quick and healthy gluten-free meals. So he worked with a chef friend to develop seven different affordable boxed meals (the average price per serving of each finished meal is less than $2), each of which could be prepared in under 30 minutes. All are gluten-free, all natural and have no added sugar.

Grains like Wild Rice, Brown Rice and Quinoa keep things healthy in intriguing dishes like “Cowboy Chili with Quinoa and Cinnamon” and “Punjab Curry with Coconut and Brown Rice.” There are even easy home-style favorites, like “Tamale Pie (Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Topping).

None of the mixes contain dairy, meat or eggs, although these ingredients are called for as additions in some varieties. It wouldn’t take much creativity to use an egg-free replacement, a dairy-free cheese substitute or to replace meat with tofu, for example, if desired. The products are independently verified to less than 5ppm gluten.

Jules Shepard (julesglutenfree.com) is a regular Living Without contributor. She is author of several special-diet books, including Free for All Cooking (Da Capo Press), and is creator of Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour.

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