Gluten-Free Spotlight: Unrefined Bakery

My usual spotlights are centered around the Bay Area, but I thought it would be fun to tell you about great gluten-free spots in other cities I’ve visited. When I went to Dallas for Thanksgiving, I found some wonderful, safe places to eat, but the best was Unrefined Bakery. When I heard about Unrefined, I knew I had to check it out as they are not only certified gluten-free but they are also soy-free, all-natural and organic! As a rule I generally only eat all-natural, whole foods, so I loved that they specialize in this, making it safe food that you can feel good about. Fellow friends with other allergies, this is the place for you too, as they are 99% corn and dairy-free, as well as 80% egg-free. Basically this is a dream come true for those with food allergies. What really surprised me though, was how paleo friendly they were as well! That was something that I was so impressed with in Dallas in general, and found the city to have many more paleo offerings than the Bay Area!

Unrefined 1 GGGF

As I try to eat mostly paleo, those are the items that I really wanted to try. I’ve had paleo offerings from other places before but they are often very egg-y, due to a high number of eggs and low ratio of coconut flour. As someone who isn’t a fan of eggs, that’s not what I like when it comes to my baked goods! Unrefined got it completely right though. Their paleo pumpkin muffins were absolutely delicious! They were hearty without being dense and had the perfect amount of spice to them. I’d like to say that my family enjoyed them as well, but I didn’t share these. They were just that good! These come frozen, in a 4-pack which is ideal because preservative-free foods don’t tend to last long, so it’s nice to be able to heat them one at a time.

As it was Thanksgiving, the other items I tried were holiday specials. They offered traditional cornbread stuffing and to my delight, paleo stuffing. The paleo stuffing was absolutely delicious and perfectly flavored. It was so good that my family didn’t even realize that it wasn’t the more traditional, cornbread one! Success! Off to a great start with the muffins and stuffing, I was excited to see how their pies would fare. I tasted their dark chocolate paleo pie in-store and it was absolutely amazing, with a rich chocolately flavor and a flaky crust. If there had been room for 2 pies at my celebration, I definitely would have purchased this. Instead, I went for the paleo pumpkin pie and it was one of the best pies I have ever tasted. So good in fact, that I may have had another slice the next day before I went to the airport. And by may, I mean definitely. If you live in Dallas and are gluten-free (or just enjoy really great baked goods) run to one of their three locations. Oh, and please tell me all about it because I’m wishing I lived closer!

Unrefined 3 GGGF

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Lesson Learned

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Mine unfortunately turned out a little different than expected as instead of celebrating my brother’s birthday, I was in the ER. You see, this past weekend I learned a very important lesson: if a food item doesn’t specifically say it is gluten-free, then don’t eat it. Remember how I was testing to see if I had an issue with gluten? Well I got my answer the hard way on Friday.

It all started Thursday night when I reached for a late-night snack. I never eat cereal (I find the one bowl is never enough so I gave it up years ago) but occasionally enjoy eating Crispix or Chex as a snack. Well when I saw Crispix sitting in the pantry, I wondered if it was gluten-free. I looked at the box and in my sleepy daze didn’t check for the GF label, but rather reasoned that because Chex is gluten-free, and because this is made of rice and corn, it must be too. Right? Wrong. Crispix actually contains malt flavoring which is NOT gluten-free.

The next morning I woke up feeling sick but went to work anyway. I knew my stomach felt “off” but I figured that it would go away by the time I got to the office. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I spent the majority of the morning on the floor of my office bathroom, (i.e. public- gross) repeatedly throwing up. As if that weren’t bad enough, I was in killer abdominal pain. My brother had to come pick me up on his lunch hour and my coworkers had to carry me out because I was so weak. I wish I could say that’s where the story ended. Instead, I proceeded to spend the next 8 hours throwing up uncontrollably. It was not a pretty picture and I was becoming severely dehydrated as I was unable to keep anything down- not even a teaspoon of Sprite! At this point, my family was getting worried about me as I was in screaming pain and had to go to the ER.

Luckily, after being pumped with fluids and medicines, the pain decreased and I began to feel a little better. One thing I didn’t realize was that a side effect of the gluten consumption was extreme fatigue (not to mention all I had gone through!) so I basically spent the rest of the weekend sleeping! Thankfully, now that the gluten is out of my system I am feeling much better. Given what happened and my history, it looks as though I have Celiac and I have a lot of emotions about this new diagnosis. On one hand, I feel encouraged and am hopeful that this will be the answer to all of my abdominal issues. But then there are times when I feel a little sorry for myself, that from now on, I’ll have to be conscious of every little thing I eat or drink. That I’ll probably never be able to have bread at restaurants or my Grandma’s Christmas cookies again. And let’s face it… that sucks. But it’s my new reality and I’m trying to have a positive attitude about it. I’m so lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who has been dedicated to finding me great, gluten-free products and is there for me with the range of emotions that follows a diagnosis like this. So from here on out, what changes can you expect to see on the blog? Well, a whole lot of gluten-free recipes and some of my favorite product finds and less french toast and carby brunches at restaurants. (I’ll save those for home!) Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Questions:

-Have you had to make any dietary changes for your health?

-Any other items that seem like they would be gluten-free but really aren’t?

-Positive stories about going gluten-free?

Chocolate Overload

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend and got to get out and enjoy some sunshine! It was absolutely gorgeous here in San Francisco and in between soaking up the rays, I went to see both The Iron Lady and My Week with Marilyn and both were fantastic. I can really see why Meryl Streep won the Academy Award now and why her make-up artist did too- her aging process was incredible.

And if that all weren’t fun enough, the weekend concluded with a visit to the 5th Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon. Referred to as the premier event for artisan, gourmet and premium chocolate, this event boasted over 50 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and culinary artisans… oh, and did I mention that they were ALL giving away samples?

Ready to start tasting!

We started our tasting extravaganza by visiting one of my favorite Chocolate companies- Alter Eco SF. A fair trade company that makes a variety of foods, their chocolate is made from Fair Trade pure organic cocoa, unrefined organic cane sugar grown by small-scale farmers and is 100% natural, containing no emulsifiers or artificial additives. Plus, they work with an expert independent Chocolatier in Switzerland- the country that in my opinion has the absolute best chocolate. (I actually went to Switzerland when studying abroad and had an excessive amount of chocolate while I was there too!) All of the flavors I tried were delicious, but my absolute favorite is still the Dark Chocolate Quinoa because I love the crunch.

Another of our favorites were Clarine’s Florentines based in Berkeley! Clarine and her mother started baking these as Christmas cookies and then three years ago decided to turn it into a business. I am so glad they did because these were absolutely fantastic, crisp and crunchy and coated in Guittard dark chocolate. I could have easily eaten many samples (or let’s be serious, full cookies) from this booth and apparently I’m not alone in my thoughts because these little pieces of heaven have won numerous awards at last year’s event.

The event was so fun and pretty amazing that there were chocolate samples as far as the eye could see! We tried some crazy combinations like potato chip chocolate and some very dark chocolates (91%!) and basically everything in between. We also sampled a few “chocolate” wines but ultimately decided that neither of us really care for sweet wines. Luckily, there was a stand selling water so we refueled and sampled our hearts out some more. The event lasted 6 hours but after about an hour both Brittany and I could no longer handle any more chocolate… and I never thought I would feel this way! But it was so rich and we both were getting stomach aches so we ultimately retired to the sunny grass near Fort Mason with some friends as a perfect end to the day.

Questions:

-What’s your favorite kind of chocolate or chocolate combination?

-What’s the most unusual type of chocolate you’ve had?

-Do you like sweet wines?

Foodie Finds

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all have had a nice week and are ready for the weekend! It’s a three-day weekend for me (whoohoo!) and I think it is a four-day weekend for some of you lucky ducks out there! I hope that you all have some great stuff planned- I’m actually going into this weekend without too many set plans and am excited to just see where it takes me.

Besides my recent forays into cooking, I’ve been eating some great pre-made stuff lately too! It’s been a very long time since I did foodie finds but it’s a chance to feature some of my new favorite products- and hopefully ones that will soon be yours too!

Falafel Chips

I first discovered Falafel Chips when I was visiting my brother in Dallas at the best grocery store ever, Central Market. I thought they were absolutely delicious, flavorful gluten-free snack but when I came back to SF, I could not find falafel chips anywhere! Then, a few weeks ago when reading my Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer (please say I’m not the only one who reads these cover to cover) I spotted them as a new item. I promptly picked them up and have been hooked ever since. These are a little spicier than the ones I had before, but they are perfect in Trader Joe’s tomato basil hummus.

La Croix Sparkling Water

I love carbonated drinks and in the past have had a bad Diet Coke habit. When I tried to cut Diet Coke out, I found that what I craved the most wasn’t the taste but the carbonation. So I started drinking sparkling water and my absolute favorite is La Croix! It’s free of calories, sweetener and sodium and is just pure sparkling water. It comes in a variety of flavors but my favorites are berry and lime. It comes in a can (which also makes it feel more like soda) and it tastes crisp and bubbly!

Trader Joe’s Gourmet Chicken Meatballs

I’ve never really liked meatballs. They are usually made of pork (which I don’t eat) or beef, which I rarely eat so I’ve always kind of stayed away. Well the other day when I spotted these at Trader Joe’s they just sounded different from things that I usually eat. These are made from chicken and combined with some of my favorite things– tomato, basil and provolone. They come fully cooked and only need to be heated in the microwave for a few seconds. I dipped mine (don’t worry- the above was for 3 people!) into tomato-basil sauce and they were so, so good! Full of flavor and packed with protein, I will definitely be buying these again!

Nature’s Habit Granola

I consider myself somewhat of a granola connoisseur (hint: why I’m Ms. GGGranola) and I have a new granola love. Nature’s Habit granola is made in Napa (my neighbor!) and is one of the best granolas that I’ve tried to date! It’s not just the oats like most granolas, rather, it’s incredibly crunchy and full of clusters. Plus, you get nuts in almost every bite which is always a selling point to me. I’ve tried both the Granola with Almonds and Pecans and the Granola with Cherries and Cocoa and both were incredible! Oh and best of all, I found this gem at Walgreens of all places! Who knew?!

And what else do I love? Luna bars! Enter to win a box here!

Questions:

-What’s your favorite granola/breakfast cereal?

-Do you read the Fearless Flyer from Trader Joes?

-Tell me one of your foodie finds!