Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gluten-Free Cupcakes and more at Whole Foods

Yesterday I had my first full appointment at Bodhi Body Integrative Medical Center and my first shopping trip at the Whole Foods Market on the 101 and Ray Road. It's a bit of a drive from my house, but well worth it to find a doctor who is willing to look at the whole body situation, and try to find the root cause of the problems. I left with a list of tests feeling empowered, hungry, and hopeful.

We then went next door to Chandler Whole Foods Market to pick up a few things and see if they have a gluten-free section. Turns out, they do! Not only do they have a gluten-free section, and put up gluten-free markers next to the products sprinkled throughout the store which they know are gluten-free, but they also have an entire gluten-free bakery!

We came across the bakery section by accident while looking for meringues and buying a few things to eat for lunch before going home.  A very helpful deli employee stopped and asked if she could help us. I asked if they had a list of gluten-free products, and she wasn't aware of what gluten was, but went to ask. She came back with a THICK stack of papers listing every gluten-free item in that particular Whole Foods, and informed me that I could log onto Whole Foods website to find up to date lists. Just be sure to plug in the specific store you're planning to go to. She then pointed us towards the gluten-free baked goods case.

We picked up some of the cupcakes that she said were flying off the shelves. YUMMY! If you're having a major sweet craving, not bad at all. Just be prepared for a cupcake of the denser variety, not the fluffy puffy variety, but more like pound cake.  Personally I usually prefer the lighter fluffier texture in my cupcakes, but I know plenty of people who like a nice thick batter for theirs and if you're expecting it, this really hits the spot for a sweet treat. So sit down with a big glass of water when you eat these, or milk if you prefer, and prepare your mouth for the sweetest of sweet cupcakes, and texture of something approaching pound cake. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find that yes, it tastes like those store bought cupcakes you were hoping for! Not only that, the mounds of frosting on top took me back to the sugar rush of childhood birthday parties when parents would bring trays of cupcakes in to class.

I think I'll buy some of the 365 gluten-free baking mix and try for some fluffy cupcakes some time. I have been tossing around some ideas with friends who like to bake and I think I have an idea that will work. I'm not ready to mix flours myself... but eventually I may delve into that technique as well. When I finally get the texture I'm looking for, I'll share it here. In the mean time... I will be cutting the 3 leftover cupcakes into quarters and allowing myself the occasional sweet deliciousness for as long as I can make them last. (I'm keeping them in the fridge with the hopes they will last longer. I'll let you know how they hold up.)

By the way, the meringues are delicious as well. We opted for the citrus flavor. Tiny little clouds of joy. I have always loved meringues, so I was happy to be reminded that they are gluten free since meringues are made with egg and sugar. We checked the ingredients list anyway to be sure no one had glutenized the recipe by dusting them with flour or some other horrific mutation. They hadn't! HOORAY!

Now before you think I was just shopping for junk food and desserts, let me tell you of the awesome experience we had in the deli. Patch works in a deli at another store, so she is very aware of all the hard work the people working in the deli do, and is also very aware of the difference between good, great and phenomenal customer service. This was phenomenal! Not only did they direct me to the currently most delicious of gluten-free salads in their cold case, the lady who assisted me helped us to read the tiny print on the ingredients of the foods I was interested in. Yes, they have all the ingredients of every item in the case listed. It is a food allergy avoiding heaven!  I ended up with a citrus kale salad with cranberries and pine nuts. She even picked around the tomatoes leaving a few on the side Patch would eat from. Now that's above and beyond the call of duty!

By the way, I didn't ask her to pick out the tomatoes. I balked at the sample with a piece of tomato on top offering it to Patch, and she noticed. I have had some bad reactions to tomatoes in the past. We'll see if my food allergy test tells me why. The salad was slightly tart if I didn't get a cranberry in the mouthful, but it was so good. We also got some potato latkes, a favorite  food memory of mine. Patch picked up some warm food as well, we payed, and headed outside to sit in the shade of a tree and enjoy our gluten-free lunch before heading home. This is the time of year I most love living in Arizona. The time after our brief winter and spring rain, and before the blistering heat of summer.

It was an exhausting day, but utterly worth every moment. And now not only do we have the supplies for the meals we've been hoping to make, but we also are armed with the knowledge that any gluten-free foods we can't find at Fresh and Easy or the locally farmed produce market down the street, we can always stop by Whole Foods on a day I'm visiting the Bodhi Body center. Now I'm off to attempt creating gluten-free Roman Gnocchi and Pavlova with a dear friend.  Hooray for Whole Foods, hooray for happy discoveries!

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