Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moonlight Bakery - Birthday Cake Review

My daughter recently had a birthday party.  While she is not required to eat Gluten Free, we try our best to keep our house free from Gluten.  So we went on the hunt to find an awesome GF birthday cake.  We worked with Moonlight Bakery located here in Raleigh to make an awesome princess themed cake for her party.  See below for the pictures.

Overall the cake was excellent - very moist, light and flavorful.  The cake below was big enough to feed about 15-20 guests and still have a few pieces leftover.  Not bad for the price of around $30.  It was great to have everyone enjoy a safe Gluten Free option that was tasty enough for normal cake eaters.  We went with a vanilla cake with buttercream frosting but there are many more options available.

Thanks to Shanah over at Moonlight Bakery!  If you need a special custom cake for your next event, then give Moonlight Bakery a call or visit their Web site for more information on their other products -

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rosie's Plate - Easter Menu

Need a little help with your Gluten Free Easter meal? Then check out the new Easter menu now available through April 2, 2010 @ Rosie's Plate.

The main menu (available until May 1) is here.

Easter Holiday Hours:
Open Saturday
10am - 4pm
Sunday and Monday
April 3rd & 4th

Also, don't forget to sign up for the next Gluten Free 101 Class held Saturday April 24th.  I teach this class at Rosie's Plate to folks new to the Gluten Free diet.  It's a great way to get up to speed on this difficult transition.  The class is highly interactive and includes everything you need to know about being GF (including product labeling demonstrations and more).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rosie's Plate - Big News Update

I've written pretty extensively on this blog about Rosie's Plate.  You can read all the previous posts here.  Obviously, I hold them in pretty high regard, and it's because they keep evolving and growing to meet our Gluten Free needs.  See below for two more great announcements about expanding services from Rosie's Plate.
  1. Rosie's Plate Gluten Free food will soon be available at Rex Hospital here in Raleigh.  Not only will Rex's cafeteria carry some Rosie's Plate food, but safe, Gluten Free food service will also be available to folks staying at the near-700 bed hospital who require a GF diet.  This is simply amazing news and an absolute no-brainer if you are Rex.  In an environment where they have a non-dedicated GF kitchen, why not outsource to a local, trusted, dedicated facility to meet your patients GF needs?  All I can say is kudos to Rose Waring (owner of Rosie's Plate) and her staff for ever-expanding their products/services to more Raleigh area GF consumers.  She is a pillar in the Raleigh Gluten Free community and we are lucky to have this company!  Also a big thanks to the folks at Rex, specifically Jim McGrody, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services @ Rex.

  2. Rosie's Plate Gluten Free food will also soon be available in Raleigh's Brier Creek location of Earth Fare.  Beginning on Thursday, April 8, 2010, many Gluten Free items from Rosie's Plate will be available.  There will be a kickoff weekend event (4/10 - 4/11) that will include tastings and more.
Stay tuned for more from Rosie's Plate!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant - Gluten Free?

    Any motivated entrepreneurs out there in the Raleigh area?  NBC will be in town next Monday (3/22) doing an open casting call for their new show called America's Next Great Restaurant.  Raleigh is included in the 8 city tour and the event will be held at the Chipotle (a somewhat GF friendly establishment - coincidence?) at 6102 Falls of Neuse Rd from 10am - 2pm.  FYI, the first 500 people will be seen so better get there early.  Who is going to show up and pitch a GF restaurant to these people?

    Why not a entirely Gluten Free restaurant concept?  One in each major market would really go a long way to improving the lifestyle of those of us eating Gluten Free.  Is 3 million Americans enough to support a dedicated restaurant chain like this?  Maybe the restaurant concept could go beyond GF and be allergen free and expand the target audience to the 12 million Americans that deal with this?  Just throwing out some ideas - it's up to those of you out there to take the ball and run.  Your pitch should include that we are basically the most loyal customer base ever created.

    Why not go pay NBC a visit with this idea?  You don't even have to have restaurant or kitchen experience, just your idea.  Hey - maybe you'll get to meet Bobby Flay!
    Do you have an idea for America's next great restaurant? Are you sitting on a billion dollar concept? If you think your restaurant idea has what it takes to go national and bring in millions of hungry Americans, then apply now to NBC's new reality competition series, "America’s Next Great Restaurant ." It could be one of the biggest prizes in reality show history and you don't have to have any cooking or restaurant experience . . . just one great idea!
    Don't feel like pitching in person, you can also pitch your idea by mail using this Web site

    For more information, see Andrea Wiegl's blog here.  Or check out's page here.

    Jules Shepard GF Cooking Class Reminder

    Just a quick reminder of the return visit of Celiac author and expert, Jules Shepard to Raleigh this Saturday (3/20) for a Gluten Free cooking class.  The class will be held at Earth Fare's Brier Creek location from 2pm - 430pm.

    Please see my previous post for details and to sign up.  I was told that there are still some seats available.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Uno Chicago Grill Closes Raleigh Location

    I've written before on this blog about Uno Chicago Grill and their extensive Gluten Free menu which included Gluten Free pizzas and much more.  In a blow to the Raleigh Gluten Free pizza market, Uno has closed their only Raleigh location @ Brier Creek.

    The nearest Uno is located in Richmond, VA - so if you're really in the mood you'll have a 2 hour drive to suffer through.

    Hopefully we will hear something very soon from Mellow Mushroom!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Mark Your Calendar: Whole Foods Raleigh Gluten Free Vendor Fair 4/10/10

    Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 10th, 2010 for the next Gluten Free Vendor Fair at the Raleigh Whole Foods location...  The fair will be held from 11am - 3pm at the Wade Avenue store and will be held outside weather permitting...

    More details (you can keep checking this blog or the WF Raleigh store page here) to come but you can expect a great event featuring many of our local GF companies as well as product demos and information booths/tables.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Moonlight Bakery Review

    I was finally able to get to taste some of the products available from Raleigh based Gluten Free bakery Moonlight Bakery.  I've wanted to get ahold of some for quite awhile and was fortunate to finally try some.  After speaking with bakery owner, Shanah, I placed my order which consisted of the following items.
    • Peanut Butter Cookies
    • Reese Cake Cups
    • Peanut Butter & Chocolate Muffins
    • Sandwich Bread Loaf
    Let me start off by saying I have a huge sweet tooth and I generally enjoy just about any bakery product for this reason.  Moonlight's products were very good, even for someone who likes just about any sweet.  I have to say that the consistency of the muffins and bread were very near normal - nice and spongy, not too dense.  The taste was really great too.  I also enjoyed the peanut butter cookies - they reminded me of a Christmas time treat we make in our family called buckeyes (I have roots in Ohio) which basically consist of peanut butter and chocolate - so a little nostaglia there.  But, I'd have to say my favorite was definitely the Reese Cake Cups... these little treats are basically a peanut butter cup wrapped in graham-cracker cheesecake like crust then topped off with an excellent cream cheese topping.  If you like cheese cake, this is for you big time!  I'll definitely be back for more of these.

    If you take a quick peek at their Web site (, you'll see a ton more products available - can't wait to try some more.  Moonlight Bakery will also make custom Gluten Free cakes for pretty much any occasion.  We are ordering one for an upcoming birthday party and are pretty excited about it.  I'll post another review later this month about that.  They take online orders via Paypal but will also accept payment upon delivery.  You'll need to place your order by 5pm Monday evening in order to make the Wednesday delivery.  Seems like bakery operator Shanah is pretty willing to work out the details with you.  If you have any questions on this process, you can use the Contact Us page.

    In line with GFR's Product Testing Policy, I did test Moonlight Bakery's products using an EZ Gluten test kit and am very happy to report a negative result for Gluten.  I have to admit that I had no doubts about this company after having talked with the owner about her (and her family's) experience with Celiac Disease.  If you read my previous post about Moonlight here, you'll see that Shanah has been a Celiac since 1986 (America's third diagnosis).  Doubts or no doubts, a policy is a policy - so the test was conducted. 

    Look for more from Moonlight Bakery as the farmers market season kicks off this spring.  You'll find them weekly at the North Hills Farmers Market.  NOTE -> Take a quick survey here and receive a 25% off coupon off your next Moonlight Bakery purchase.


    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Twin Cakes Bakery Update

    I wrote a week ago today on some upcoming changes from Twin Cakes Bakery... Some of those things were still in flight but have now become more final...

    • Their new Web site ( is now live and ready to go.  You can read all about the bakery and you can also order dry mix versions of some of their most popular products -> dessert items like vanilla and chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies as well as breakfast mixes like scones, pancakes and muffins.  You can ship these products nationwide.
    • Twin Cakes Bakery will officially be starting at the Durham Farmers Market on April 3rd.
    • There are also some St. Patrick's Day specials as well.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    New Poll Questions

    Please click here to take some new poll questions I have created.  The poll questions are centered around the effectiveness and use of skilled Dietitians in the practice of consulting those with Celiac Disease or those following the Gluten Free Diet.  If you have not taken the other poll questions listed there, please do so.  They help guide me in what I research and post about on this blog.

    Just as an FYI - Gluten Free Durham author and Gluten Free Dietitian, Debbie Jongkind will be presenting a breakout session at the upcoming North Carolina Dietetic Association 77th Annual Meeting and Expo entitled "Navigating the Gluten Free Diet with Confidence".  The meeting will be held April 18-20 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham.  Debbie can use the information from the two new poll questions to help in her speech to other area RDs so please provide your feedback.

    P.F. Chang's Update

    I've written before about my great Gluten Free experience at P.F. Chang's China Bistro.  They sent out an update yesterday that they are now offering 5 additional Gluten Free menu items; Mongolian Beef, Hong Kong Beef with Snow Peas, Beef a la Sichuan, Pepper Steak and Beef with Brocoli.  The P.F. Chang's GF menu (found here) now boasts 28 items.  Yum!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Useful Resources - EZ Gluten At Home Test Kits

    Looking for validation that the Gluten Free products you consume truly are Gluten Free?  Looking for an easy at-home test you can easily perform in a matter of minutes?  Then, you may be interested in EZ Gluten test strips from Elisa Technologies.  Elisa Technologies is based in Florida and was created in the early 90s to develop enzyme immunoassay technology for use in the food industry - or more simply stated - to create tests to validate what is actually in the food we consume.

    EZ Gluten test strips are easy to use, at home test kits that detect the presence of Gluten in food or beverages.  I've personally used some of these in the past to help determine the status of Great Specialty Products bread items. Of course, the tests I conducted on those products came back as High Positive.  The application of these tests could really help folks determine what is safe and what is not safe if they are in doubt.  In light of the fact that the FDA still has not made a ruling on what a Gluten Free label claim means, along with the lack of enforcement (it's up to each company), leaves us wide open to gluten filled foods to be incorrectly labeled Gluten Free.  EZ Gluten tests are sensitive enough to detect down to 10 PPM.  In the EZ Gluten Test, a food sample is ground to a fine consistency, added to the gluten extraction solution, and then mixed. A few drops of the sample extract are placed into a test tube. The EZ Gluten® test strip is placed into the test tube and allowed to absorb the sample extract. After 10 minutes, the test strip can be read visually for the presence of gluten in the sample.  Click here for a brochure with some more details.  Click here to see the product usage instructions.

    The other common application of these tests is for food manufacturers.  I've seen several local companies employ these tests to verify the ingredients they are being supplied as well as testing the final products before delivery.  Companies that perform this kind of testing (due to the expense involved) should be treated differently than companies that don't in my opinion.  Nothing in your Gluten Free life is 100% all the time, but this is a great step in the right direction if companies perform this kind of testing.  If you are not sure if a company tests, you should ask them directly and refer them to this blog post if they are not aware of the EZ Gluten product.

    So what's the downside you might ask?  Well, obviously it's the price of this product.  If you were to simply order 2 kits (smallest package for sale), you'd be set back $25 ($12.50 each).  Did I mention that the kit can only be used once?  The price per test gets a little better the more you order but even ordering a package of 10 will cost you $110 ($11 each), a package of 25 runs $262.50 ($10.50 each) and a package of 100 runs $950 ($9.50 each).  I guess the real question is this - what price do you put on knowing your GF products are safe?  A simple $10 - $12 test back in November when I first wrote about Great Specialty Products would have saved a lot of people (including me) time and trouble.  I personally am still being affected with a DH rash (and who knows what other more hidden health problems) from the products I ate from GSP almost 4 months ago.  I'd venture to say the $12 is worth it.  I'd especially employ this test if the product had not formal packaging with an ingredient statement.  I've also now incorporated these tests in a Product Testing Policy here at GFR.

    On that note, I had the idea that maybe if we pulled our resources together and ordered a large number of these test kits, the cost for each of us would be minimized?  I am planning on ordering some of these kits anyway but thought I would offer up the opportunity for you to jump in.  So, if you are a GF consumer out there and want to test some of the products you eat regularly and might be worried about or if you are local company looking to begin a new Product Testing Policy of your own, please let me know via email or a comment on this blog post.  I'll gather feedback on the order until the end of March and then will place my order.  We can also establish some way to share the results with each other so that duplicate tests are not done - still thinking about this...we could really test a ton of products if we did this in a well organized fashion.

    Click here to email me with your order.

    UPDATE 3/7/2010
    So far I have emails from folks requesting a total of 45-65 test kits.  Please keep your emails coming.  If we get enough folks, we can really organize a mass testing of the Raleigh market - something I don't think has been done before anywhere in the US!  Also, the current batch of kits expire in November 2010.  If you want to order but would rather wait for a fresh batch of kits (they have expiration dates of 1 year when they are first manufacturered) please let me know.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Custom Choice Cereal Now Offering Gift Certificates

    Just wanted to throw out a quick update on Custom Choice Cereal - your local, custom Gluten Free cereal company... They are now offering the option of purchasing Gift Certificates from the Web site.  This is great for folks who want to buy this as a gift for others but aren't quite sure what someone would like in their cereal... Good for birthdays, Christmas, any holiday really.

    To purchase a Gift Certificate, visit and click the Gift Certificate button on the homepage.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Twin Cakes Bakery Update

    Just wanted to pass along a couple updates from Twin Cakes Bakery...
    • The twins are beginning to sell dry mix versions of their products... buy the dry mix, take and bake yourself at your convenience.  Cool idea!
    • You can now find Twin Cakes Bakery at the Durham Farmers Market on Saturdays & Wednesdays - exact start date (sometime in April) to be determined soon. 
    • Twin Cakes Bakery Online site is about to be launched.  You can find the site (still under development) @  More to come on this.
    You can find Twin Cakes Bakery this coming Saturday (3/6) at the Carboro Farmers Market from 9am to 12pm.  They will have the following Gluten Free items for sale.
    • Carrot bundt cakes
    • Orange blueberry scone
    • Cranberry Orange scone
    • Lemon Raspberry scone
    • Three seed scone (sesame, poppy seed and sunflower)
    • Brownies sandwiches (strawberry filled)
    • *New Apple Cinnamon coffee cake
    • *New Mini Cinnamon Sugar doughnuts 
    Dry Mixes that will be available this week:
    • Chocolate chip cookie
    • Muffin
    • Pancakes
    • Cheez cracker

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Gluten Free Cooking Class Featuring Lee Tobin

    As a follow-up to a January Gluten Free Cooking Class, Lee Tobin will be hosting another one on March 10th @ 6:30pm.  Lee let me know that the class filled very quickly last time and had a waiting list so they decided to have him back for another.  If you are not familiar with Lee (shame on you), then check out this interview I did with him in February 2009. Lee Tobin is a great guy and has really been a pioneer in the Gluten Free world which has led us to the marketplace we enjoy today. If you get the opportunity to attend this second class, you definitely will learn a lot from Lee.

    Cooking Class Details...

    Supper in a Snap Chef Series with Lee Tobin
    Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
    Time: 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    Location: UNC Wellness Center, 100 Sprunt Street Chapel Hill, NC
    Cost: $10 for members; $15 for non-members

    Description: Chef and baker Lee Tobin will be presenting Gluten Free Italiano! Lee Tobin has worked as a chef and baker for several hotels and restaurants in Pennsylvania, California, and Canada. Lee moved to Chapel Hill, NC in 1993 where he worked for Whole Foods Market in the bakery and prepared foods departments. After a diagnosis with celiac disease in 1996, Lee began an in store gluten-free baking program to serve the growing number of customers on a gluten-free diet. In 2004 he founded the Whole Foods Market Gluten Free Bakehouse in Morrisville, NC, which provides over 30 products to Whole Foods Market stores across the US and Canada.

    Lee has spoken and given cooking and baking demonstrations at several regional and national gluten free conferences and events sponsored by the Gluten Intolerance Group, Celiac Sprue association, Gluten Free Expo, Gluten Free Culinary Summit, and Whole Foods Market stores across US.

    Please contact the UNC Wellness Center for more information or to register for this program at (919) 966-5500. Registration is REQUIRED for this program.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Raleigh CSA Support Group 2-18-2010 Meeting Recap

    Special thanks to Gail for taking meeting minutes during the last North Raleigh Celiac Support Group meeting on 2-18-2010. Below is a recap for those of you that could not make the meeting.
    North Raleigh Celiac Support Group
    CSA Chapter 108
    February 18, 2010 7:00-9:00 PM
    Rex Hospital Private Dining Room, Raleigh, North Carolina

    For a second time, representatives from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Food and Drug Protection Division (4000 Reedy Creek Road, 1070 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1070) addressed the group. Daniel L. Ragan, RPh, Director and Anita M. MacMullan, Food Compliance Supervisor, reported on the results of their investigation and legal action regarding the Great Specialty Products company. A preliminary injunction has been issued and the website has been taken down. Currently, civil and legal suits are pending. Complaints are still being received (one recently from the State of Iowa) and accepted by their agency. They asked that if anyone still has unused products to save them for possible further testing by their agency. They also thanked Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture, for his help and commitment to food safety in North Carolina. Currently, compliance with g-f labeling is voluntary and no random testing is done by the Department of Agriculture. Their e-mail address for any issues is

    Meeting guest Hajo Engelke introduced the group to his company Custom Choice Cereal, located in Durham, North Carolina. He offers a wide variety of cereal based mixes which can be completely customized. They can be found on the web at All his products are tested with EZ Gluten and produced in a g-f facility. They are in the process of becoming a certified g-f product. Hajo distributed several of his delicious blends to the group. He also noted that we can custom order a blend from the many possible choices and give it a unique ID. The label will display the nutritional content of the entire mix. He is currently redesigning his website but orders are now being accepted.

    Tracy Hoggard, a Lab Corp. employee, discussed several of the current tests that can indicate Celiac Disease and the challenges involved in their utilization. Physicians need education both to the tests availability and the insurance reimbursement status of the results, especially if there is no history of the disease in a family.

    Pat recommended our group check out the Bready Bread Machine website at Harmony Farms has opened a new café. It is located just a few doors down from the store and many gluten-free options are available. It was also noted that El Rodeo Restaurant can accommodate a g-f diet, but speak to the manager first. Some items, such as chips, are not g-f.

    Our next meeting will be held at Rosie’s Plate, 701 Person Street, Raleigh on March 18th. Pat has requested RSVP’s so Rosie can plan enough “tastings” for everyone.  Please RSVP to Pat Berger by 3/8/2010.

    Submitted by,
    Gail Harris