photo of white woman in glasses holding a drink with a green straw

Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurant: Petit Poutinerie

Introducing the Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurant Series

I’m excited to introduce our new feature: the Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurant series. Each month I will spotlight a local eatery/restaurant that is accessible to those living gluten-free. I want to connect you with eateries that do gluten-free the right way. The debut feature is Petit Poutinerie owned by Ronnie McClive and Lizzie Clapp. You may know of Petit Poutinerie through their prolifically popular food truck that has been a gold standard in Rochester’s food truck scene for over ten years. Lizzie and Ronnie had a hand in building legislation and advocacy for food trucks in Rochester and they have built a formidable brand and now a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They are all-around bad-a** women in business and are committed to equity, quality, and accessibility

A Poutine Origin 

Ronnie McClive met Liz Clapp in college after attending SUNY Brockport. Liz founded and operated the food truck Le Petit Poutine as a solo venture back in 2011/2012. Liz was inspired to start the truck and bring poutine to Rochester after many visits to Canada with her father who is French Canadian. Ronnie knew Liz from college and worked as a fill-in and supporter. Working well together Liz eventually asked her to join the business full-time as a co-owner and the rest as they say is history. They compliment each other well as friends and co-owners; playing off each other’s natural strengths and abilities. This mutual respect and camaraderie is apparent and well encapsulated throughout the fabric of Petit Poutinerie as a business and brand. Contrary to popular belief women can and do get along very well with each other in business. Ronnie and Liz were instrumental in getting early food truck laws established through advocacy and awareness efforts, one truck became two and after about a decade in business they have opened up their first brick-and-mortar fast-casual restaurant; Petit Poutinerie at 44 Elton Street on the corner of Elton Street and Atlantic Ave in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts.  

Committed to Gluten-Free Inclusivity 

In the early days there were just three items on the menu; traditional poutine, vegetarian, and ginger soda. From the very beginning, Lizzie (the chef and recipe developer of the pair) made sure their gravy was gluten-free; testing out various brands of rice flour over the years. Liz has always been committed to sourcing the highest quality ingredients and making everything from scratch. Fries are cut fresh so the fryers have also always been gluten-free. These high standards weren’t lost on customers who would share with the ladies how grateful they were to patronize in many instances the only food truck with quality gluten-free options. As Ronnie shared this feedback with Liz, it became increasingly important to develop new recipes and items that were inherently gluten-free; think breading on chicken french and the batter for their delicious fried cheese curds. 

Unlike many chefs, Liz saw it not only as great for business but as a fun challenge to make sure that Petit’s menu is as inclusive as possible. She realized early on that gluten-free is not synonymous with taste-free and a mostly gluten-free menu can work if you put in the time and effort. Ronnie recognizes that “gluten-free recipe development does take extra R&D, time effort, and money” but thinking creatively and outside the box has really worked out well for the brand. According to Ronnie, doing it as a want to and not a need, makes the ideas and process flow easier and makes development fun. 

Education, Awareness & Training 

In addition to ingredients and recipes, the Petit team is equally as committed to education and training for themselves and their growing team. What many people don’t realize is that gluten-free is not just about alternatives to wheat, rye, and barley but equally as important is understanding hidden sources of gluten. These “hidden” sources are commonly found in processed foods, preservatives, binders, soy sauces, and dressings. Preparation can also be a hidden source of contamination. In mixed kitchens making sure that knives, cutting boards and other supplies are stored separately from one another is also important. Petit is dedicated to making sure that staff understands gluten, celiac disease, and how to avoid cross-contamination in their thoroughly cleaned kitchen and prep line. Everything is scratch made making sourcing and food safety easier to track and manage. When you are cooking whole real food standardization is easier to implement, streamline and maintain. All their breading, batter, and coatings are gluten-free. Additionally having gluten-free staff and cooks add to a high level of understanding and knowledge as well as creating a culture where asking questions (no matter how silly they may seem) is not only valued but encouraged.

For restaurants and executive chefs that want to make their menu more inclusive to the gluten-free community, Ronnie says making small simple changes works best. For example corn tortillas instead of flour, source a gluten-free bun for a grilled chicken sandwich, and if a dessert has a crumb topping play around with oats in place of flour. 

All of this accumulates to create a culture and a restaurant that is safe and friendly not just for those who live gluten-free but for those that are vegan and dairy-free as well. Unfortunately, the restaurant does fry with peanut oil so those with nut allergies are best served at another establishment. As Petit continues to grow, Liz and Ronnie are always looking for ways to make new dishes gluten-free and even adding a gluten-free dessert in the near future. In fact, they’ve launched a new vegan sandwich as you read this article a Vegan Friend Green Tomato BLT alongside the Buffalo Tofu sandwich. 

My Review 

Ironically even though I am a frequent patron of the restaurant as a creature of habit I’ve tended to stick to the same menu items.  So far I’ve tried to my delight their Buffalo Tofu Sandwich, Sloppy Joe Nachos,  Bacon Poutine, Fried Cheese Curds, and the Beet Walnut Salad. On this particular visit after my interview with Ronnie, they treated me to a tour of the kitchen where I was able to see the amazing cooks in action and then I tried the Chicken Cutlet Sandwich which can be served on a gluten-free ciabatta bun by Biscotti Brewers a local woman-owned gluten-free bakery. If you like a thick rustic style sandwich then you’ll like the cutlet. Battered to perfection and topped with arugula, lemon vinaigrette, goat cheese, and balsamic the sandwich will without a doubt fill you up. The gluten-free bun is sized in perfect proportion to the chicken cutlet but like most gluten-free buns after a few bites the lack of gluten protein, all the juices, and voracious biting; the bread begins to lose the battle, and switching to using a knife and fork the rest of the way allows you to fully finish getting through the sandwich. This is not an indictment on the quality of the bun — just par for the course when you are as used to gluten-free bread as I am. Gluten-free bread just doesn’t act like traditional bread and after a decade of living gluten-free, this is a fact of life. 

What I love even more than Petit Poutinerie’s food is their A+ service and staff. Every single team member I’ve ever interacted with goes above and beyond to make sure that you feel welcome and accommodated. They are knowledgeable, patient, kind, and passionate –treating you like family. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Zoe, Chris, and Sophie on a number of occasions and at this point, I’m on a first-name basis. This is a reflection of the style and personality of the restaurant’s owners — who have curated an ethos and mission to produce quality every single time with a smile. 

I’m elated to feature Petit Poutinerie as the first restaurant of this series and I exhort you to visit as soon as you can whether you are gluten-free, vegan, or just like good real food made locally by a bad-a
** women-led team. 

If you go

Address: 44 Elton Street (corner of Elton and Atlantic) (NOTA)

Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 11 AM – 9 PM or at the Brighton Farmers Market Every Sunday 

Available for: Private bookings, EVENTS & WEDDINGS 

Website: https://petitpoutinerie.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/petitpoutinerie/

EMAIL: ronnie@lepetitpoutine.com or elizabeth@lepetitpoutine.com For your first visit try: Poutine Flight, Fried Cheese Curds, and a Lemon Lavender Soda.

enjoylife grain and seed bars

Enjoy Life Grain & Seed Bars | Product Review

With 2018 in the rearview every one is slowly getting back into the swing of the New Year and with that setting goals for cleaner, healthier, and better ways of being. Here on theglutenfreechef blog we promote whole plant based foods processed as minimally as possible but this doesn’t mean that busy active lifestyles don’t need a supplement here and there.

This is where our favorite gluten free snack brand; Enjoylife comes into play. As a brand Enjoy Life is all about taste-FULL worry-free snacks that are full of whole ingredients but free of the most common allergens; gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, and more. They have a huge product line that includes baking chocolate, cookies, snack bars and more. Currently, we’re snacking on their newest flavors of grain and seed bars; cranberry orange and lemon poppyseed.

Enjoy Life Grain & Seed Bars

The Cranberry Orange Grain & Seed Bars re packed with purity protocol certified gluten free oats, three types of sorghum, plant-based protein, and fruit including tangy orange and sweet cranberries. They are the perfect am pick me up right as you get up in the morning or a lovely mid-morning snacks with a serving of greek yogurt or almonds. Even better this flavor or one of the other five including:

can fill the sneakiest late night sweet tooth craving. Each bar has only 5 grams of suga, 4 grams of protein, and only 120 calories. Whats’ better is you can literally see the real whole ingredients that make up each bar and with a simply ingredient list you can know what you are putting into your body.

Scratch Bakeshop Does Gluten Free (and Vegan) Flawlessly | Gluten Free Restaurant Review

Scratch Bakeshop…

The female owned and operated boutique bakery founded on Park Ave continues to sling out “tough” cookies, naked cakes, french macarons and other pastries from their airy and trendy space now located in the Neighborhood of Art’s Russell Street.

Since their move to Russell, I’ve made my visits to “Scratch” a bi-weekly ritual of sorts on Sunday mornings where I stock up on their big chunky chocolate chip cookies, cherry chocolate chip muffins, and other confections that go well with brisk fall days and hot tea. However, Scratch is more than a boutique cakery nor is it your every day neighborhood baker. These ladies do it all from trendy layered naked cakes with fig fillings and instagram worthy cut out sugar cookies, to friendly moist muffins, pop tarts, and raspberry rhubarb donuts.

As the gluten free chef I look for all local bakeries to be able to do gluten free well and Scratch passes the test with flying colors. Gluten free and vegan at Scratch is not just a after thought or happenstance. It’s clear that these pastry chefs have studied and mastered the art of baking free of eggs, dairy, and gluten. I love that they create gluten free and vegan versions of many of the traditional favorites that most of us love but also infuse creativity and flavor into their gluten free -vegan creations with selections like cherry, blueberry lavender, apricot, and pumpkin fudge.  

A recent Saturday after dinner visit found me salivating over the Vanilla Cream Cheese Fig layered gluten free cake while my (also gluten free) brother tried his hand on this same cake with the addition of the delightfully delicious mini rice crispy treat. He was just as delighted as I was with his selections. Naturally it wasn’t a Scratch Bakeshop visit for me without the addition of a chunky gluten free chocolate chip cookie which in my view is the best chocolate chip cookie ever gluten free or otherwise.

In 2018 restaurants and bakeries need to be thinking about inclusion and food allergies. More than a trend for those like myself with the autoimmune disease celiac or other life threatening allergies; taking the time and the consideration to create food and pastry selections “without” the most commons allergens shouldn’t be an afterthought but just good business. Scratch Bakeshop is one of the few that takes the cake in this arena.

Rating 5/5

Photo credit: Scratch Bakeshop

Gluten Free Book Review: Blend: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lover’s (REPOST)

Spring is finally here in Rochester, NY and I’m breaking out the summer fruits and my tried and true e-copy of Faith Gorsky & Alyssa Brantley ‘s Blend: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lover’s . This is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time

The moment I learned about the release of Faith Gorsky & Alyssa Brantley ‘s Blend series I knew that these e-cookbooks would become part of my collection. Already an avid follower of Faith’s stunning food blog: An Edible Mosaic the combination of artisanal, fresh, natural and whole ingredients mixed with stunning food photography and meticulously crafted flavor combinations delighted the foodie in me.

 Blend: The Basics

&

Blend: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lover’s

For several years now , I have been dipping and dabbling in fresh/organic smoothie creations as well as raw juices. Since being diagnosed with several chronic illnesses including IBS and celiac disease for several years now; simple, fresh, whole and organic juice and smoothie blends have become regular part of my diet.

Blend: The Basics is a well crafted smoothie how to guide. In an easy to read user friendly fashion Alyssa and Faith give you a college 101 smoothie crash course. In this first book you learn how to select the freshest most succulent fruit to give you the highest quality smoothie, how to wash your fruit, prepare your fruit, flash freeze your fruit, and cut your fruit. This is in the first six pages alone. You learn how to prepare in advance and create individual smoothie kits so that you always have the ingredients ready and on hand to make the perfect smoothie in just five short minutes. Who knew that there was such an art and science to smoothie building? But make no mistake, this science course is simple yet fun to learn and you will find yourself immersed and taking notes as you read through this well written tutorial.

Blend: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lover’s Summer Volume 1 is the second part of the series and really where the real fun begins. Four sections of mouth watering, expertly photographed smoothie blends fill your screen in this section. The recipes that were built using Faith and Alyssa’s expert advice are there in all their glory for you to re-create. The recipes are divided by type: Indulgence, Fruit, Green, and Coffee + Tea. It took me a day or so just to decide where I wanted to begin and once I started, I was instantly addicted re-creating each of their recipes day after day over a two week time span. Just when I thought I had found my favorite the next smoothie I would try trumped the flavor of the last.

(kiwi lime+kale)

These chefs spared no expense when it came to building these recipes. Their time, attention to detail and flavor combinations is displayed upon first sip of each one of these smoothies. It is evident that they built their recipes from the ground up so to speak and the depth and richness of each taste titillate your tastebuds and tickles your senses. This being done using simple, sensible, and everyday ingredients found in most food markets across the country. Their emphasis on fresh, whole, and seasonal ingredients speak to the type of chefs they are and was a welcome point as I read each recipe.

The Blend series are an excellent addition to the collection of any novice or expert foodie or smoothie maker with just enough information to keep an expert interested but not too much to overwhelm the novice. Most recipes contain six ingredients or less with three directions or less; and if you follow the guidelines presented in Part I you reduce your prep time to even less.I have made it my mission to try every single smoothie in the book and with six down I am well on my way. Blend is a must have collection for anyone interested in improving the quality of their smoothie creations or for the casual cook looking to try something new. Either way this is one collection you don’t want to miss.

For more information on how to purchase your copies of Blend: The Basics & Blend: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lover’s visit Faith’s blog An Edible Mosaic & Alyssa over at Everyday Maven

Rating 5/5

Twelve Days of Gluten Free Cookies | Simple Shortbread (Day 4)

Everyone who’s anyone in the kitchen knows that a simple shortbread recipe is a necessity in your recipe repertoire. My easy does it Shortbread Cookie recipe is just that recipe. Easy to make and even easier to bake this cookie can be the base for almost any cookie flavor combination.

Simple Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

½ cup powdered sugar
2 sticks real unsalted butter
2 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Once blended slowly add the flour.
  3. Continue to mix together until mixture becomes a soft dough (it’ll be crumb like at the beginning…keep mixing and it will turn to dough.
  4. If needed, add 1-2 Tablespoons of water
  5. Add flavors, extracts, or accoutrements as necessary.
  6. Roll out and cut into desired shape.

This recipe can be baked according to any standard short bread cookie recipe about 8-9 minutes on a silpat.

 

 

Gluten Free Product Review | Naked Whey by Naked Nutrition

Disclaimer: “Compensation for this post was provided by my friends at Naked Nutrition. Opinions expressed in the review are my own.”

It wasn’t until the folks over at Naked Nutrition contacted me about trying their brand new Naked Whey protein powder that I realized how little I actually knew about whey protein. This realization was ironic since I’ve been using a variety of whey based and plant based protein powders for the past six years. I never really realized that up until now I had only been basing my selection on the grams of protein per serving and not much else.

So, I’m happy to be enlightened and better educated on not only whey protein but the greatness that is Naked Nutrition’s all natural whey protein powder; Naked Whey.

What Is Naked Whey

According to Naked Nutrition’s website: “Grass Fed Whey Protein comes from dairy cows that have a 100% grass-fed diet. The milk from the cows is non-GMO, with no rBGH or rBST, and non-denatured. The resulting whey protein is soy free, gluten free, and grain free. Grass-Fed protein is used to build lean muscle and aid recovery.

Naked Nutrition’s patented process creates a non-denatured whey loaded with essential amino acids, glutathione, and clean protein. There are no additives like artificial flavors or sweeteners and they work directly with the farmers.

What Makes “Naked Whey” Different

What immediately struck me about Naked Whey is that unlike most whey protein powders that I’ve used it is free from a bevvy of hard to pronounce artificial ingredients, binders, and fillers. In fact, it contains only one ingredient: Grass Fed Whey Protein. That’s it! With 25 grams per serving (two scoops) you can’t get anymore natural than that.

The flavor is definitely very smooth and when combined with smoothie ingredients gives a very thick milkshake like texture. Still I like the overall flavor and mouth feel of Naked Whey. It doesn’t have a chalky or “fake” taste that other whey protein powders add to smoothies.

What Makes Naked Whey Better

Pure taste. Minimal ingredients and a commitment to keeping it clean. Naked Whey is the whey protein that you need in your life if you are someone looking for a standout whey protein powder. What’s even better is that Naked Nutrition has an extensive line of different protein powders and supplements that are a cut above the rest. There’s even two all vegan powders: Pea Protein & Rice Protein that I cannot wait to review very soon.

REVIEW

5/5

P.S: If you like me need a bit of schooling on “whey protein” check out my article: The Truth About Whey here

Photo credit: Naked Nutrition

Gluten Free Product Review | Enjoy Life Baked Chewy Bars

If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time then you know that I love Enjoy Life Foods and their products. From baking mixes, to crackers, cookies, and granola bars since 2001 Enjoy Life has been committed to creating allergen free convenience products for those of us living without.

With an ever increasing product line, Enjoy Life Foods  continues to push the envelope with tasty snacks and products that are free from the most common food allergens. A Brand Ambassador since 2013, it has been my job to taste test products and provide honest feedback so the company can create products that are better and healthier than the competitors. Their newest flavors of their Baked Chewy Bars came to my doorstep earlier this summer and I’m finally able to share my thoughts with you.

About Enjoy Life Baked Chewy Bars

The Baked Chewy Bars launched a few years ago with three flavors (cocoa loco, caramel apple, sunseed crunch) and just recently Enjoy Life released three new flavors:

  • Caramel Blondie
  • Carrot Cake
  • Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed

The new flavors follow their predecessors pattern of packing a lot of natural flavor in a small bar using pure and simple ingredients, featuring real inclusions and a proprietary Pure Life Balanced Dry Blend™ of (hulled sunflower kernels, cassava flour, white pearled-grain sorghum flour, quinoa flakes). As with all Enjoy Life products, the new bars are made in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free bakery, are Certified Gluten Free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher and Halal Certified, and are free-from the top eight common food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy.

Real Flavor | Less Sugar

What I like most about the Baked Chewy Bars is that they actually taste like the flavors they are named after. The carrot cake evokes the flavor of real carrot so much so that it is hard not to feel like you shredded the carrots yourself. The Lemon Blueberry is easily my favorite and has the bright essence of lemon zest and poppyseed. The lemon poppsyeed only has 5 grams of sugar so those looking to watch their sugar intake need not worry. On the flip side, if you are looking for a super sweet snack to replace dessert; these bars are not that. More like a quick pre-workout snack or afternoon pick me up with the addition of a low fat cheese stick. Add a low-sugar greek yogurt and you could have yourself a light breakfast.

Always Free All The Time

What makes Enjoy Life Food the #1 free from brand is that the baked bars like all of  their products are free from not only gluten but:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Peanut
  • Tree Nut
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Casein
  • Sesame
  • Sulfites
  • Potato

and prepared in a facility that is free from contamination as well which means you eat exactly what the ingredient list says and nothing more.

Final Words

Overall these new baked chewy bars are a great addition to an already dynamic product list and give me just what I expect from Enjoy Life | good taste free from what I can’t have yet full of the natural goodness that I need.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received products for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my personal experience with the products.