Gluten Free in Alaska

My husband and my daughter both have Celiac and making sure they have safe food can be a challenge sometimes. I am going to put all our GF Alaska resources here for anyone that happens across this page.

Joyous Celiacs

Jo : May 26, 2012 1:36 pm : Gluten Free, Travel

While I was up on the Slope, I stopped paying attention what new gluten free things restaurants were doing. We pulled into Prince George, BC after a very, very long day and immediately headed for Red Robin. Why? Because we had discovered the night before that they were now offering gluten free buns.

Dave was in burger heaven! It had been a long, long time since he was able to eat a burger with his hands. It sure beat using a knife and fork on a bun-less piece of meat.

Not to be outdone, Laura just as overjoyed has her daddy.

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More Adventures with Quinoa

Jo : May 1, 2012 12:48 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes, Life Here

These flat little things began life as part of plan to recreate these Quinoa Pizza Balls. I knew from the outset that I would not be able of fully follow the recipe, as it also included directions for homemade yogurt ranch sauce. There is simply is no plain yogurt at the little store here…but there is Hidden Valley, so that is what I used for the dipping sauce.

I also did not include the beans that the original recipe did. No one in the family like kidney beans and the store did not have black beans. Those are not hard to have shipped here via Amazon, but I simply did not have any on hand at the moment. Since cheddar goes with everything, I threw that in. Probably lowered the overall nutritional value and raised the calorie count, but it was good.

Let’ see…what else did I change? Oh yeah, no fresh parsley on hand. so i just ignored that part of the recipe. I didn’t have fresh basil either, so I used dried I also did not have tomato paste. That is one thing you can definitely get at the little store, but alas I decided to cook these on Sunday at the spur of the moment.

Unfortunately, I did not end up with balls. I ended up with patties. They held together well enough once they cooled a bit. I think the cheese was the biggest culprit. As it melted, it probably helped the ball spread out. I would use less cheese next time (lowered cheese amount is in recipe)…or plan ahead and make them more like the original recipe. The store doesn’t usually have dried parsley, but that is something we have ordered in the past from Amazon. Anyway, here is what I came up with for the bush.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (what I would have added, if I had it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan, add quinoa, cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, mix cheese, dried basil, Italian herb mix, salt and garlic in a bowl. Set aside.

Add quinoa and stir together. Mash the ingredients together as much as possible to make it stick together.

Make 1-2 inch balls and put on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Flip the balls, or more likely patties at that point, about halfway through. Remove when they are lightly browned. Let cool. They are best close to room temperature.

My husband loved the texture. My youngest gobbled them up. It has really surprised us how much she has taken to quinoa recently. I am glad to finally find something healthy that she really likes!

 

 

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Adventures with Quinoa

Jo : April 29, 2012 6:44 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

After reading some of the literature on this South American grain, I expected the quinoa (keen-wah) in my pan to don a cape and fly around the room. It seems that this is the new cure all super food. It does have protein, good fats, and fiber, as well has a host of vitamins and minerals. That all sounds pretty beneficial since I suspect we are all pretty nutritionally starved at this point. Seriously…I have to hold myself back from licking pictures of fresh vegetables!

We first tried quinoa after Laura and Dave were diagnosed with Celiac. I guess we bought the unwashed kind or didn’t cook it right or something, but it was NASTY! I walked away with the impression that this was on of those “Emperor’s New Clothes” kind of fads…ya know everyone wants to look cool, so no one will admit that it sucks kind of thing.

As we start getting ready to leave the North Slope for the summer, I inventoried the pantry to see what I would need to order over the summer for next school year. I came across several packages to quinoa that ordered last summer/fall. I figured what the heck…lets see what we can do with it.

First I came across this Kid Friendly Quinoa Fritter . WTH…everything tastes good fried, right? Well it was sorta true in this case. Of course, living in the bush meant that I had to change things up a bit. The first time I followed the recipe the best that I could and they turned out so-so. The second time, I accidentally put in an extra egg, so I had to add extra GF Bisquick to firm the mixture back up. They were so airy, that I am keeping it. I also changed a few things to match what I can get at the local store, if I am out of something at the time. Well aside from the quinoa… They definitely don’t carry that.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (actually I just threw an Herb-ox chicken cube into 1 1/4 cups of hot water)
  • 3/4 cup gluten free Bisquick (I am sure regular would work, if GF is not your thing)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 eggs (I used the powdered equivalent)
  • oil for frying (use what kind you like, in the amount you like for frying)
  1. Heat sauce pan on medium and add a bit of oil, or cooking spray. Add quinoa and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently or it will burn. Add the chicken broth and bring back to a simmer. Reduce to low and cover…though on my stove Low is practically hypothermic, so use the equivalent of low. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for five minutes. Let it cool off some.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, combine flour, cheese, onion, salt, pepper, basil and garlic powder.
  3. Add cooled quinoa and stir ingredients together. Then add the eggs and thoroughly mix together.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Make 2 inch patties with the mixture and carefully add to hot oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side. Patties should be golden brown. Drain paper towels or a rack.

Really, this recipe can be whatever you want it to be, as long as the fritter holds together. I love recipes like this. It can easily be vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or none of the above, without much work at all. The best part of all is that my very pick, GF child loved them. That is high praise!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jo : March 18, 2012 12:25 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

These are straight from the recipe on the bag of Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. I wish I could be paid for promoting them because I love, love, love their mix. Anyhoo-the recipe is as follows:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/ 4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Pamela’s mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat mixture. Add Pamela’s and mix. Finally, add chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Place 1 TBSP scoops of dough on lightly greased baking sheet and back for 15 minutes* or until edges start to turn brown.

*My oven cooks quickly and my cookies are done on 10 minutes.

 

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Anchorage Restaurants

Jo : March 11, 2012 4:49 pm : GF Eating Out in AK, Gluten Free

My husband spent a week in Anchorage in November for a conference and ate out the entire time he was there. Really he did…I saw the credit card bill. These were his favorite places:

Sacks Cafe

He said that they were extremely “gluten knowledgeable.” It is very spendy, but very good. So good that he ate there twice. His favorite dish was the duck confit. He also said their cheese plate was very good. He was even able to eat a dessert that was not vanilla ice cream or sorbet!

Ginger

They do have a gluten free menu, but it is not posted on their site, so I cannot provide the link. He said it was delicious. He ate appeziters there. He had the pomme frites and steak bites. They fry their pomme frites in a dedicated fryer, so there will not be cross contamination with other gluten containing fried items.

Spenard Roadhouse

My husband ate there when he was alone in Anchorage and liked it so much that he took us all there over Christmas break. They do have a gluten free menu, but it is not posted on their site. The first time he was there he ate the roasted chicken with sauteed winter vegetables and a garlic-olive oil polenta. And guess what…he liked it so much that he had it the second time too!

 

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Merry Gluten Free Christmas!

Jo : December 25, 2011 5:00 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

merry christmas tree

This was a post that I wrote about Christmas last year in my old, defunct gluten free blog. I am including it here because it has links to some really yummy dishes.

Merry Christmas! It was the usual Santa pandemonium around here. The younger two woke up at 5:20 am! They had gone to bed early the night before, so there was no convincing them to go back to sleep. Needless to say, our day started early. Our oldest woke up at her regular time. Once we got her dressed and downstairs, she had her Santa moment as well.

After Santa was done, my parents arrived at 9:00 am so we could skype my brother in Thailand before he went to bed. It was fun to say hello to the other side of the world. Then we had the family gift exchange. I had made pumpkin muffins from a recipe that I found on Celiac.com. They were super easy to make since they use Pamela’s baking mix. We thoroughly enjoyed them while opening gifts.

Then it was time for our Christmas brunch. We started with a divine butternut squash soup ,courtesy of Alton Brown. It is naturally gluten free, as long as you make sure your chicken or vegetable broth is OK. It is especially good with fresh grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

We followed that with a delicious sorta frittata, wild rice salad, and cantaloupe. I adapted the fritatta recipe from one I found in Cooking for Isiah.

Ingredients:

  • 7 slices of bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finally chopped
  • 4 ounces mushroom, chopped(basically about 1/2 of an 8 ounce package)
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes (peel, grate, and wrap in paper towel and squeeze out moisture)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup of milk (could easily use a milk substitute if necessary)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a cast iron skillet if you have one, or an oven proof one if you don’t. Cook bacon until done, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Pour about half of the bacon drippings out of the pan. Save the rest in the pan.

Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan and cook on medium-high heat. Cook unto onions are softened and mushrooms are done. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the paprika and 1/2 tsp salt into the grated potatoes. Spread the potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Spread evenly and cook, without stirring, until crisp.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk the egg whites until nearly stiff. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks, milk, Dijon mustard, reserved bacon, onions and mushrooms. Fold in egg whites and pour over potatoes. Put skillet into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

The wild rice salad was a Gluten Girl find. It is also vegan, so it would be perfect for not only vegetarian/vegan guests, but also for guests that are sensitive to dairy. Since we live in Minnesota, it is also perfect as wild rice is easily found locally. The recipe called for dried sour cherries, however I couldn’t find any that were guaranteed to be gluten free without making the trip downtown. So I substituted them with dried cranberries that I found at our local health food coop. They worked perfectly.

After our yummy brunch, we relaxed and chatted over hot cups of coffee while the kids played with their loot. It was a very successful first gluten free Christmas!

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Cookie Success!

Jo : December 10, 2011 10:44 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

gluten free sugar cookies

My youngest was begging me for cut-out cookies. I had no idea what I was doing as I still hadn’t tried any “real” gluten free baking. Bicuits from a mix with a recipe off the box don’t exactly count. But I decided to give it a whirl.

It was a Cooking for Isiah, meets Gluten Free Girl, meets Jo’s pantry kind of moment. I found a sugar cookie recipe on Gluten Free Girl, but didn’t have all of the flours on hand. So I looked up Silvana’s all purpose flour blend in Cooking for Isiah since I had purchased the flours for that. I mixed up part of the mix, but left out the salt and xanthum gum(don’t worry, I added it later).

The gluten free girl recipe called for margarine and butter. I don’t remember the last time I bought margarine, but I did have a ton of butter on hand. I also added half a teaspoon of salt to the recipe. The final change was using cinnamon in place of nutmeg. The final product goes as follows:

Partial Silvanna’ blend:

  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 3 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 cups potato starch

There has to be a way to make less if you need less. I happened to use it all and made more once we realized the cookies were yummy. We made them for teacher gifts.

  • 2 1/2 cups of the flour blend
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients (flour mix, baking powder, xanthum gum, salt, cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Then mix in dry ingredients.

Since this is a cookie cutter recipe, the dough will be crumbly at first. Keep working the dough together until it is fully incorporated. Then put in the fridge for at least an hour. I ended up putting it the freezer to cool it faster. Then roll out between wax paper(or flour up your counter) and cut into shapes.

Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool on a rack. I sprinkled our cookies with powdered sugar, but you could certainly decorate them with icing when they are fully cool.

 

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Frittata in the bush

Jo : November 4, 2011 10:17 am : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

We rarely get fresh eggs here. They are too expensive. We have come to rely on powdered eggs…I know..ewwww right? Not really. They do smell slightly sulfurous in the can, but I think my baking is actually turning out better with them. Who woulda thunk? We use Deb El Whole Eggs which we order in bulk from Amazon. I know it won’t go bad because the cans I got this fall won’t expire until 2014.

I finally decided to try them in a frittata…basically we call it the Celiac’s quiche. I have yet to make a crust for a quiche or any pie for that matter, so this is what we do instead. I found that making the equivelent of 6 eggs (there is a handy chart on the egg can) and adding all sorts of filling works perfectly for my pie pan. I use whatever I have on hand. I have used canned mushrooms, grated cheese and frozen chopped onions (thawed). One time I was lucky enough to have some bacon that I brought back from Fairbanks in my cooler. That was a delicious addition!

One of my favorite frittata recipes, though I don’t know if you really need one since they are a kitchen sink kinda dish, is one that would be harder to make up here. If you are in the bush, you could probably use frozen peppers and spinach, but I have yet to to justify the expense of ordering fresh Parmesan cheese. I suppose I could replace that with the stuff in the shaker.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 med, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (be careful, I grated my thumb in the process)
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with the cooking spray.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper. Cook until softened. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Combine eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk together until lightly beaten. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add the vegetables and pour mixture into the pie pan.
  • Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and center is just set. Remove and cool on a rack. Best served hot or room temperature.
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Easy, peasy, blueberry muffin

Jo : November 2, 2011 9:58 pm : Gluten Free, Gluten Free Recipes

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Check out this muffin recipe from Pamela’s. It is a yummy Blueberry muffin recipe that we make often around here. I am not the best baker, so I rely heavily on Pamela’s and have yet to be disappointed. Luckily we do not have dairy issues in our home because the Pamela’s baking mix does contain buttermilk.

 

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GF Restaurants in Alaska

Jo : November 2, 2011 2:15 pm : GF Eating Out in AK, Gluten Free

Here is a list and review of restaurants that we have visited so far. I am sure this list will grow the longer we live here.

Homer

Fresh Catch Cafe

4025 Homer Spit Road

907-235-2289

Their food was delicious!!! They were also very knowledgeable about what items were gluten free. We were told that the owner has some GF folks in the family. It was a little pricey, but really what isn’t in Alaska? Did I mention it was soooo good? I am getting hungry just writing about it. Here…maybe you will get hungry too when you see this fabulous scallop salad that my husband had.

Harbor Grill

4262 Homer Spit Road

We had a delicious meal there. The clams appetizer(GF) was such a hit that my non-GF daughter ordered it for her entree. I had a fresh salmon and halibut sampler that happened to be GF, as well. Before going, I would call or stop in and talk to the manager on duty. We had a great experience because the manager really knew what GF was about. The restaurant was aware of Celiac, but I am not sure how deep their training goes. When we go back to Homer, I will be calling ahead as well to ensure we have a fabulous repeat experience.

Wasilla

Chili’s

3100 E. Parks Highway

907-373-9646

What can I say…Chili’s is our old standby when we eat out while traveling. The food was good and no one got sick. My only concern that neither the Chili’s in Wasilla or Fairbanks had a current copy of the GF menu. Chili’s puts a new one out monthly. Some things never seem to change on it, but it is better to be safe. I print the newest one out whenever we travel. This link should take you to the most current version.

Talkeetna

Mountain High Pizza Pie

907-733-1234

Seriously good stuff! And they knew their stuff! My husband and my daughter were delighted with their pizzas.

Denali

Salmon Bake

907-683-2733

This is a very limited recommendation for this place. We did have to send my daughter’s elk burgers back once because they put sauce on them that contained gluten. We did have a very knowledgeable server for dinner who had a GF girlfriend. I think that helped a lot because he made sure that their meals were cooked in separate pans and that the elk burgers were started again from scratch. The next morning, we went back for breakfast. We are fairly sure that they cooked my husbands meal on the common grill top. He was OK, but he doesn’t show symptoms from cross contamination very often. I am not sure how a more sensitive person would do, nor do we want my husband getting CC’d even if he doesn’t show symptoms. My daughter insisted on bringing her own cereal and I am glad she did. Just be careful if you do decide to go. I think next time we go to Denali, we are going to picnic it the entire time.

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