June 28, 2010

OMG...It's Gluten Free!!

That's right, how cute is that?! There really is a little gluten free cafe with that name right here in the Chicagoland area. This past Saturday, OMG...It's Gluten Free! held their Grand Opening celebration from noon until 2pm. Alexandra and I have been dying to visit the little cafe since we heard they opened their storefront back in the spring. With grand opening celebrations planned, this weekend was the perfect time to finally get out to Frankfort.

Inside, the menu board and order counter.

From the second we got there until we left, the store was jammed packed with allergenistas lined up to get pizzas, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it. As Alexandra and I perused the menu, we sampled some delicious gluten free blueberry muffins and brownies. I couldn't get my hands out of that muffin tray, they were phenomenal! Flavorful, moist, and topped with large sugar crystals, I was instantly brought back to my pre-celiac days when I would love getting the giant blueberry muffins from the Jewel bakeshop. The large sugar crystals were my favorite and I haven't had a muffin like that since. Needless to say, when I got up to the counter, I bought a muffin.

Blueberry muffin and Banana Nut Muffin

We finally decided to split a personal pizza and a single serving of lasagna. We topped our pizza with fresh basil and stuck with the plain cheese lasagna. We even split some more desserts by ordering another muffin - this time a banana nut and three cookies - chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, and butterscotch. Fortunately for OMG, their little cafe was filled, unfortunately for us there was no where to sit. The cozy cafe has only a handful of tables and all were taken by the time we arrived. Luckily there was a wonderful smoothie shop just a couple doors down where we ordered some refreshing fresh fruit smoothies and the owners were nice enough to let us enjoy our food there.

OMG, it's Alexandra and me at Paradise Smoothies! THE MOST AMAZING smoothies! I had a grape, cherry, watermelon smoothie....sooooo good!

The pizza was delicious. You would never know that it was gluten free. The crust was thick and buttery. Just the right amount of sauce and ooey-gooey melted cheese. Yum! The lasagna was tasty too, but we both decided that the pizza was our favorite.
6" Personal Cheese Pizza with Fresh Basil and Single Serving (half eaten) Cheese Lasagna

The desserts?! Now I knew were the cafe got their name. First bite and the words, "OMG! This is gluten free?!" were uttered. Alexandra and I couldn't get enough of that butterscotch cookie. In fact I'm still dreaming about it now. That cookie alone is worth the hour drive from the city. I enjoyed the chocolate chip and white chocolate chip cookies as well. They are just a smidgen undercooked so they are still soft and chewy...I love my cookies that way. Alexandra likes her cookies crunchy, so I got those flavors all to myself. :)

Chocolate Chip, Butterscotch Chip, and White Chocolate Chip Cookies!

All in all, this place is great! It's a great place for south suburban gluten and peanut free folks to get high quality gluten free products. It's the cutest little store, all of the staff was very knowledgeable and nice, and the selection of gluten free offerings is great! Right now their hours are limited, so if you do live in the city it's hard to get out there after work, but definitely plan for a Saturday trip to OMG...It's Gluten Free! You won't regret it!

June 23, 2010

Site news and whatnot

A little delayed "spring cleaning" as the first day of summer was earlier this week. If you view my site in Google Reader or through RSS feed, you may want to pop on over to the actual site so you can see the lovely changes I've made. :)

For those of you who display my button on your site, first of all, thank you! You guys rock! I truly appreciate your support. Secondly, I've redesigned the button so it's a bit smaller (I was a bit clueless when I originally designed the first one!) Feel free to update. If you aren't wearing my button, I can't think of a better time to start! ;)

I've also made the list of events a little easier to find. A lot of people commented on how they loved my run down of upcoming events. While I no longer list them out in the beginning of the month, I compile events in my public calendar. I never really liked the link to the calendar, as it got lost over in sidebarland, so I've made a pretty image to link you up to the calendar. Be sure to check it out.

And while your perusing the calendar you'll see one super exciting event...Gluten Free Betsy LIVE! OMG, I'm on tour! Kinda....

Come join me at my very first speaking event, Thursday, August 5 at 7pm! The kind folks at the Chicago Ridge Public Library invited me to speak about living gluten freely and offering some of my recipes, tips and tricks, and favorite resources. I can't let my guests leave empty handed. I'll have samples of my favorite products (think Oprah's Favorite Things episode...on a much smaller budget) along with handouts, recipe cards, etc. It's a free event, but if you'd kindly register so they can give me a number for samples, etc. that would be great. You can register at their circulation desk or call them at 708-423-7753. Hope to see you there!

June 21, 2010

An Ode to Oats

Last summer I attended one of the Chicago MetroCeliacs cooking classes at Whole Foods. The topic was summer brunch and we learned how to make healthy versions of traditional brunch fare. My favorite recipe I took away from the class was granola. I've made several batches over the past year and continue to mix it up adding lots of different nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and gluten free cereals. Warm, fresh granola is so delicious! Here is one of my favorite variations:

Gluten Free Granola

2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 cup of Nature Path's Mesa Sunrise cereal
½ cup of Enjoy Life's Perky's Crunchy Flax cereal
½ cup of Blue Diamond Sliced Almonds
½ cup of Raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup shredded coconut
2 egg whites
¼ cup agave nectar
2 - 3 tbsp maple syrup
several shakes of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oats, cereals, almonds, raisins, cranberries, and coconut in a large bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together egg whites, agave nectar, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Pour egg white mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread mixture out evenly on a greased cookie sheet or casserole dish.

Bake 20 - 30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly and transfer to large bowl.


Recipe adapted from Vicki Gainsberg, RD, LDN

Granola on Foodista

June 8, 2010

Chicago Farmer's Markets in Full Swing!

Well almost all of them, but several have been underway for a few weeks now with the most delicious strawberries, asparagus, and other various produce. Booths with beautiful flowers and pots of fresh herbs are scattered throughout the marketplace, as are several speciality booths with soaps, cheeses, jams, and whatnot. Among those are lots of bakeries. Mmmmm!

Last year I didn't have much luck with finding any gluten free goodies. This year? What a turnaround! I walked away with a giant cookie from one vendor, bought some marzipan macaroons from Delightful Pastries, got my flourless chocolate walnut cookie from Misericordia's Hearts & Flour Bakery, and my new favorite find: Ivy Upper Crust!

As I walked up to beautifully displayed baked goods, I hoped there was at least a gluten free cookie, because everything looked beautiful. Low and behold, there was an entire gluten free section to the Ivy Uppercrust Pastry booth! I was ecstatic! There were graham crackers, energy bars, cookies, bread, and cupcakes! Ohhh...such gorgeous cupcakes!

Ivy Tact was the sweetest little thing too, showing and explaining each item to me as I tried to decide which to chose. She had samples of most everything she was selling and after a bite of her wonderful gluten free seeded bread, I was sold with a promise of return to try the other goodies. She told me there was more and gave me the menu with all of her gluten free offerings. Um...pie? Yeah...I'll definitely be back.

MmmMm....gluten free & dairy free seeded bread!

You can find Ivy at the Prudential Plaza Farmer's Market on Tuesdays and Daley Plaza Farmer's Market on Thursdays now through October.

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