Gluten-Free Spotlight: Pushkin’s Bakery

Oh, do I have the spotlight for you today. I’ve been saving this one because this is my favorite gluten-free discovery to date. As much as I love cooking and baking, there is something so fun about going to a bakery. I’ve been to a few gluten-free bakeries before that are great, but Pushkin’s Bakery easily became my favorite because everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. Jackpot. This means that I can eat everything in there and don’t have to ask which items are dairy-free. If you haven’t experienced life with food allergies, let me tell you, the opportunity to go into a restaurant or bakery and eat anything there is incredibly exciting and liberating! Pushkin’s is located in Downtown Sacramento which is a bit of a drive from the Bay Area but is totally worth it! For the sake of research for my blog post (ahem, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) I may have tried quite a few items so that I could report back on them.

Pushkins

Walking into the small storefront, you are met with a bevy of options ranging from muffins to cookies to cupcakes to something they affectionately call Awesomes. Spoiler alert: everything that I tried was absolutely amazing. When deciding what to order, my family and I all had things that were on our “must-try” lists. One of those was the Awesome, which is a miniature lemon poppyseed poundcake. I’ll admit that poundcake isn’t something that’s usually at the top of my list, but I wanted to see if they lived up to their name. And oh my goodness, they did. It was perfectly moist and had just the right amount of tart and sweet. Another breakfast-type favorite was the zucchini bread. I don’t think I’ve had zucchini bread since becoming gluten-free, and this was absolutely delicious. The ideal small loaf, this is the type of bread that you cut off a slice of, and then find yourself back cutting another one 2 minutes later. Also worth mentioning was the maple walnut scone which was fabulous and not too crumbly which is often the case with gluten-free scones.

In the cupcake arena, I’ve had some great gluten-free cupcakes before so I was going in with pretty high expectations. Luckily, Pushkins did not disappoint. We tried three of their vegan cupcakes: the Barracuda Cupcake (chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache), the chocolate coconut cupcake and the chocolate cappuccino cupcake and all were winners in my book. Also sense a theme here? Clearly my family likes chocolate.

Pushkins Cupcakes

All of the things I mentioned were fabulous, however, the star of the show was the chocolate crinkle cookie. First, a bit of background story. Of all the cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies have always been my absolute favorite. For about 7 years my Mom, Grandma and I would attend plays together and at intermission they would serve the best cookies. As soon as intermission came, you know I was standing in line for our cookies and hoping that I could get a chocolate crinkle before they sold out. They were perfectly moist and chewy with powdered sugar on top that I had to eat carefully so it wouldn’t get all over my outfit. Needless to say, I have many happy chocolate crinkle cookie memories. I’ve had a chocolate crinkle cookie since going gluten-free from a different bakery that was delicious but didn’t recreate that memory. Well that all changed once I tasted the one from Pushkins. Not only did it look like the ones I remembered from my childhood but it was every bit as good. I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best gluten-free baked good that I have ever had. I know that’s a bold statement but it’s 100% true. A few weeks later, I found out I wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Sacramento News & Review held a blind taste taste with three of their food critics to determine Sacramento’s best cookie. As the only gluten-free cookie in the mix, I think it came as quite a shock to many that it won! But that’s just further proof of what I’m saying- this cookie is the best of the best! (Sidenote: I’d suggest calling ahead and putting a chocolate crinkle on hold if you plan on visiting later in the day. I failed to do this last time and my beloved cookie was sold out. Next time, I won’t be taking any chances!) Also, they are now offering sandwiches that look absolutely amazing and I will definitely be trying one on my next visit!

Pushkins Crinkle Cookie

Paleo Quadruple Crunch Salad

Before I started cooking, I was known for my salad making abilities. People in the office used to see me assembling mountain high salads at lunch and always remarked how good they looked. Back then, my secret was in the toppings. I eat salads on a near daily basis and have a few favorites that I rotate, but this one is so good that I just had to share. This salad is also perfect for Fall as it features Granny Smith Apples which are perfectly crisp and deliciously tart these days. I also really recommend making the dressing that goes with it! I used to use bottled dressings but after finding out I had Celiac, I realized I didn’t like the taste of any gluten-free bottled dressings. Plus, once I saw the ingredient lists for those dressings, I decided to leave them behind and start making my own. I have a few favorites that I’ll be sure to share in upcoming posts, but this dressing works perfectly with this salad as it’s garlic-y, sweet and savory all at the same time. This is also a great one to impress guests with as it comes together quickly but tastes so delicious it will seem like restaurant-quality and will fit any audience as it’s naturally, gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo!

Paleo Quadruple Crunch Salad

Serves 4 Large, entrée size salads

Paleo Quad Crunch Salad GGGF

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch Lacinato Kale
  • 1 Bag Shredded Red Cabbage (or approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 Large Granny Smith Apples
  • 1/3 C. Roasted Unsalted Almonds

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 C. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 1/4 t. Honey
  • 1 1/4 t. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Meyer Lemon, juiced (or approx. 3 T)

Directions

1. After washing and drying the kale, remove kale leaves from the stem. If you haven’t done this before, hold the kale leaf by the stem with one hand, and using your other hand pull the leaves from the stem in an upward direction. It sounds more complicated than it is but I promise it’s really quite easy.

2. Cut your kale leaves into thin slices. I like to do this by layering a few leaves on top of each other, bunching them up a little and cutting them in small strips with a sharp chopping knife.

3. Next, cut your apples into matchsticks. This shape works perfectly with the salad and ensures the apples still keep their crunch factor.

4. Roughly chop almonds and combine all ingredients into a bowl.

5. Now it’s time for the dressing! First, juice a Meyer lemon in a bowl, so you have approximately 3 Tablespoons worth of juice.

6. Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to the lemon juice.

7. Next, combine honey and Dijon mustard with dressing.

8. Slowly add in olive oil, whisking the mixture together with a fork or whisk. At this point, I like to taste the dressing and make sure it’s got that perfect ratio of sweet and savory and make any adjustments as needed.

9. Pour dressing over salad and massage the dressing into the mixture with clean hands. This is a crucial part so don’t skip this step! By massaging the dressing into the kale, the cellulose structure breaks down and wilts the kale slightly so it is much softer (but still crunchy) and takes away the bitter taste.

10. Plate your salad and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Pressed Juicery

One of the things I miss the most from my pre-food allergy days is frozen yogurt. I have loved frozen yogurt since before it was “a thing”, always opting for soft serve as a kid over ice cream. Then frozen yogurt became uber popular and I was in heaven. Living in LA I would alternate between Penguins and Pinkberry and am not even embarrassed to say that fro-yo happened at least once a week. So when I found out that I had celiac and was allergic to dairy, I had to say goodbye to fro-yo (and without even a proper farewell)!

But that all changed this week when I went to Pressed Juicery for the very first time. In addition to their delicious cold-pressed juices that they are known for, they are also offering something new and very exciting… The Pressed Juice Freeze. They offer 6 amazing flavors and all of them contain no gluten, dairy or added sugar. They also are made with the same real ingredients as their juices. I may have sampled almost all of the flavors and here’s the breakdown:

Pressed Fro Yo Machines

Greens: Like their popular green juice, this flavor contains kale, spinach, romaine, cucumber, apple, lemon, dates and coconut meat. If you are skeptical of having a green juice in fro-yo form, I can assure you that it is absolutely refreshing and delicious!

Roots: I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about this flavor because I’m not a fan of beets in my juice, but you don’t even taste them! Instead what really comes through in this flavor is the ginger and it contains carrot, beet, fuji apple, lemon, ginger, dates and coconut meat.

Citrus: This was the only flavor I didn’t sample but as I’m typing this I wish I did because it sounds delicious and contains orange, apple, pineapple, coconut meat and dates.

Fruit: I wish I could adequately describe this flavor, but it’s difficult- it doesn’t taste like one particular type of fruit, rather just “fruity” and like the perfect summertime treat. This one contains only fuji apple, strawberry, coconut meat and dates.

Chocolate: Oh my goodness. I would have this every day if I could and it tastes indulgent and rich with only almonds, dates, sea salt and cacao!

Vanilla: I’m not one to usually choose vanilla (I’ve always been more of a chocolate girl) but this flavor is absolutely perfect. It tastes like a rich, creamy vanilla and contains almonds, dates, sea salt and vanilla and would pair perfectly with any of the other flavors!

*Also, if you aren’t a fan of coconut, I can assure you that you don’t even taste the coconut meat in the freezes, rather I think it just gives them the consistency.

Pressed Juice Freeze

Of course, I couldn’t leave with just a sample, so after much debate, my Mom and I both decided to get two flavors each for the full experience. Her pick was Greens with Chocolate, topped with Cacoa-Nut Freezing Drizzle (which was apparently amazing), shredded coconut and sunflower seeds. I went for Fruit with Vanilla, topped with almond butter, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Both were unbelievably amazing and they went entirely too fast! I really enjoyed the Fruit but I think next time I would go for the Vanilla, Chocolate or the Greens!

One thing that I noticed and happened to love was this sign on the wall, comparing the Chocolate Freeze with similar products from Yogurtland, Pinkberry, Skinny Cow and Baskin Robbins. I was especially surprised with how many fake and unnecessary ingredients the Pinkberry Chocolate yogurt contained, especially because Pinkberry is known for being the “healthy” option and yet it contained carrageenan which is known to cause inflammation in the body and is linked to cancer! Also shocking was the exceptionally long ingredient list from Yogurtland which contains pretty much everything under the sun, not to mention wheat and soy! Seeing these ingredients list for what they truly are, makes me all the happier that there is now an option out there like Pressed Freezes which offer clean, natural ingredients!

Pressed Juicery Comparison

After we enjoyed our freezes, we had to stop back at Pressed to pick up some fresh juices! At Pressed, they cold-press their juices daily, so although they are bottled, none of them have been sitting for more than a few hours. Another great thing is that they let you taste any flavor that you wish! I really appreciated that because sometimes I have purchased fresh juice from the grocery store with a hefty price tag and been disappointed with the flavor. But that didn’t happen at Pressed! We each got a Greens 3 (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon and ginger)  which was the perfect green juice in my opinion, as well as a Chocolate Almond Milk which is out of this world good and puts store-bought almond milks to shame! I plan on enjoying mine this evening for an after-dinner treat!

Pressed Juice Cases

Gluten-Free Chocolate Macadamia Tortilla Torte

I’ll admit it, I’m a sweets gal, through and through. And sometimes at night there comes a time when you need a treat and your usual square of dark chocolate just isn’t going to cut it. A time when you want to sit on the couch, watch your favorite mindless entertainment and have something that is going to require more than 1 or 2 bites. But maybe you also don’t feel like making a batch of cookies or cupcakes. Enter this dessert- it can be customized using whatever you have on hand and is so delicious that your friends or family will want one too! That’s why this recipe serves 3, but can easily be customized to a single serving. Once heated in coconut oil, the tortillas have a fluffy and chewy texture and the combination of melted chocolate and nut butter is delicious! If you don’t have any chocolate on hand (sad!) you could use jam instead and call it breakfast… or you could make the recipe as written and call it breakfast too, no judgement here!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Macadamia Tortilla Torte

Serves 3

Tortilla Torte Close-Up GGGF

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Gluten-Free Tortillas*
  • 3/4 T. Coconut Oil
  • 3 T. Cashew & Macadamia Nut Butter (Or any nut butter to your liking)
  • 2 T. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1/4 C. + 2 T. Enjoy Life Chocolate chips

*Note: I recommend using Udi’s gluten-free tortillas versus a brown rice tortilla which tend to be drier and won’t become fluffy. If you aren’t gluten-free, you could easily use a flour tortilla!

Directions

  1. Cut 3-inch rounds from tortilla using cookie cutter, or glass, setting scraps aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat and pan fry tortilla rounds until golden brown on each side.
  3. Continue process until all tortilla rounds have been heated and place on paper towels to dry.
  4. In microwave, heat chocolate chips in bowl for 1 minute in 20 second increments or until melted.
  5. On first layer, spread macadamia nut butter on round
  6. Next, spread melted chocolate on tortilla round and sprinkle with shredded coconut.
  7. Stack rounds, alternating chocolate and nut butter tortillas until full stack of 5.
  8. Drizzle remaining chocolate and nut butter over stacks and top with coconut.

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Mariposa Bakeshop

With Celiac and a host of food allergies, it can be really hard to go out to eat. But luckily I’ve found a few places that are safe to eat at and are delicious! So welcome to a new series on the blog where I’ll tell you about the best gluten-free restaurants, cafes and grocery stores! The first one I’ll be featuring is Mariposa, which is easily one of my favorites and one of the best GF bakeries in the Bay Area. I first visited their outpost in the Ferry Building in SF but then a few months ago was able to visit their restaurant/bakery location in Oakland.

Me at Mariposa

Mariposa1

It’s hard to describe, but when you are used to walking into restaurants and bakeries and not being able to eat anything, the experience of walking into one where everything is safe feels a little surreal and very exciting. In addition to snapping the pictures, I took my time examining each product and deciding what I was going to choose to eat. I may have wanted to get one of everything but I controlled myself. Also, not only does Mariposa offer amazing baked goods, but they also have a small section of grocery items as well! I always love when gluten-free places do this because it’s the best way to find out about new great gluten-free products on the market. As it was lunch time, I decided to split the empanada plate with my mom.

Two vegan potato curry empanadas made with organic peas and carrots baked in toasty hand pies and paired with our organic side salad (Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan)

Mariposa2

Oh my goodness, I can’t even describe how delicious this was. The crust was hot and crunchy while also having a flakiness to it (which is uber hard for gluten-free goods) and filled with the most amazing curry filling. The salad also came complete with gluten-free croutons! I admit that at first I had a minor freakout thinking that I’d have to send the salad back because of the croutons but then I remembered that everything here was safe- what a wonderful feeling! I could have easily eaten the full portion of this but was saving room for dessert.

Mariposa5

Mariposa4

Mariposa has a stocked dessert case, but when I spotted the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting I was sold. I’ve had this cupcake in cake form before and it is absolutely delicious. The cake is moist and rich and the vanilla frosting is creamy and the perfect amount of sweet. It’s very reminiscent of the Sprinkles Black & White cupcake but in gluten-free/dairy-free form! The only problem? It was over too quickly! It was accompanied by a delicious new-to-me drink, SolidariTea Blueberry Rooibos Red Tea served over ice! All in all, it was such a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to visit again soon!

Mariposa3

The BEST Paleo Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Let’s face it. Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t like a good chocolate chip cookie? It’s a classic for a reason and the scent alone makes them instantly crave-able. There are a lot of amazing chocolate chip cookies out there, including in the gluten-free world. Unfortunately, a lot of them have sugar and shortening or vegan butter and those are ingredients I’d prefer not to put in my body. Enter- the paleo cookie. I can’t actually take credit for this recipe, as I got it from my amazing sister-in-law Julia, who started making this when she and my brother went paleo. Enter the night before Easter this year, when my brother had a craving for some delicious chocolate chip cookies and he and I whipped these up (ok, so he was mostly my sous chef, but an excellent one). ;) I’ve since made these cookies for various occasions and everyone loves them! I’m talking my Grandma (who’s weary of gluten-free things) as well as friends who had never even heard of paleo. They are a true winner and you’ll feel like one too when you make a batch of these!

Paleo Cookies & Milk GGGF

Paleo Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 C. Almond Meal
  • 1 C. Enjoy Life Mini Chips*
  • 1 C. Chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 t. Salt
  • 1/2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1/3 C. Honey
  • 2 T. Melted Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg

*Any chocolate chips will work, but I love these dairy-free/soy-free mini chips. Also, although tempting, don’t add the whole bag, as it will become difficult to get them to stick together.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients (almond meal, salt, baking soda) together.

3. Add the chocolate chips and chopped pecans to the dry mixture and stir evenly.

4. In a separate bowl, heat oil and honey together to liquify in microwave for 30 seconds.

5. Whisk the wet ingredients together (honey, oil, vanilla extract and egg).

6. Make a crater in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the whisked wet ingredients.

7. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly mixed.

Paleo Cookies Close-up

My Latest Obsession

Hi lovelies! I hope that you are all having a fabulous week so far! I’m so happy that it’s Thursday and the weekend is in sight! I have some fun weekend plans that I’m looking forward to including seeing Jersey Boys with some lovely DGs, a fun brunch on Saturday and lunch and crafting on Sunday! It should be a great weekend and like always, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I feel well! I’ve been meaning to do a foodie finds post lately, but each time I go to write one, I realize that I can’t do my list without including X or Y. But today I’m leaving all that behind because I’m only going to talk to you about one thing. But it’s my very favorite thing. So here’s my confession:

I’m a kale chip addict.

I used to make kale chips years ago before they were popular and they never really turned out right. They ended up burnt, slightly slimy and way too salty. For years, I didn’t touch another kale chip due to my preconceived notions that they would all taste that way. That was until last year, and I noticed kale chips in all my favorite grocery stores and I decided to give them a try. Oh my goodness, I had been missing out. These kale chips are light, crispy and crunchy with the most amazing flavor. And they are seriously addicting. Given that they come in resealable bags, I’m guessing that the companies expect you to eat them on multiple occasions. But not me. That bag is gone in one sitting. I’ve tried a bunch of different kinds, but my favorites are Kale Joy and Kale Krunch.

Don't even try and pry my hand away

Don’t even try and pry my hand away

Both of these products are completely natural, gluten-free and vegan making them a fantastic healthy snack. Plus the coating on both brands contains nuts or seeds, which give them an added protein punch- Kale Joy Original has 6 g of protein per serving! I’m partial to the original flavors of both of them but I’m sure the others are fantastic too. Unfortunately, they aren’t cheap ($6 a bag) but they are worth every penny! At some point I might try my hand at making my own kale chips again, but in the meantime, I’ll be the girl hoarding bags of kale chips at the grocery store.

Questions:

-Have you tried kale chips?

-What would be your favorite flavor combo?