[This is part one of a two-part series. See Part II here.]
I am in that part of the semester where midterms commingle with final projects and papers until the whole last month of school feels like one long midterm. In the midst of it all comes Pesach (Passover)! And as many of you have noticed, and e-mailed me about, I haven't posted new Pesach recipes or matzo information yet this year. Some Jews finished their Passover meal planning a month or more ago (if you fall into this category, I envy your motivation & organization) and have already done all their shopping. Some Jews will be at the store Monday afternoon buying their groceries (I'm downright motivated compared to you all, as I got my shopping done today!. And for the non-Jews? Well, you lucky ducks have the whole 8 days and beyond as an opportunity to buy lots of gluten-free products not available the rest of the year, but without the stress of having to plan seders!
This year I'll be using certified gluten-free matzo from Lakewood Matzo Bakery, as I have blogged about in years past. The owner is kind enough to send me samples each year to review on this blog, and I like supporting a business that's in my region. The exciting thing is this year they have machine-made shmura matzo in addition to the handmade round shmura matzo. Why is this exciting? Well, I'm not sure yet but I think it may be a bit thinner in addition to looking more like the matzo I grew up with. Here are some pictures of the boxes:
I like Lakewood's matzo more than the other brand available (see brand and ordering info here) and it's cheaper, but because I find that gluten-free oat matzo tastes pretty close to cardboard, I only eat as much as is halachically required (required according to Jewish law)... the rest of the matzo I turn into tasty matzo pizza in the oven.
As for other gluten-free Pesach goods, most years I avoid them because they tend to be loaded with trans fats, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. But this year I am on a very restrictive diet - for medical reasons I must avoid not just gluten but any high-fiber foods. For this reason I have a heter (permission) to eat kitniyos. I don't normally get permission to eat kitniyos because being gluten-free isn't all that restrictive on Passover... but trying to avoid most vegetables and fruits certainly is! In addition, the highly processed, potato-starch- or tapioca-starch-based Passover products are actually great for me this year because they're mostly very low-fiber. So I spent a lot of money on foods I would normally never eat. Here is a sampling of what I found at my local ShopRite (Paramus, NJ), Fairway (also Paramus, NJ) and Glatt Express (Teaneck, NJ.) Keep in mind a lot of these foods will be available until the 8-day festival of Passover is over, and some stores will even put them on sale afterwards.
One of the more exciting finds:
That's right, that's gluten-free chow mein noodles... Those thick, crispy, fried noodles that are served as an appetizer at Chinese restaurants! They aren't quite as tasty as the gluten-y kind, but they're still nice and crispy, salty and greasy... and taste great dipped in duck sauce. Apparently I liked them enough that I couldn't wait until I took a photo to open them. This year is the first year they're being sold, and they're being manufactured by several brands including Paskesz and Leiber's.
That's Pao de Quiejo (Brazilian tapioca-cheese bread), now kosher for Passover! There's no consumer brand of kosher l'pesach tapioca starch but there is a commercial version that more and more manufacturers are using, which is opening doors to awesome products like this one, which allow us to eat cheesy bread-y rolls during the holiday. They are gluten-free and I bought a few packages so I can enjoy them during the year.
Hoo Lachmu flats are expensive, and not the most tastiest things ever - They taste pretty potato-y to me. They are chewy, and not particularly bready. But they serve as a flatbread surface that you can top with tuna salad, or butter and jelly, or even turn into french toast (supposedly). So I bought a box.
Kosher gluten-free chicken nuggets? Yes please! Were they madly expensive? Yes. Do I think they'll be worth it? Absolutely. I get to relive my memories of my treyf (non-kosher) and pre-gluten-sensitivity days when chicken nuggets at Burger King were one of my favorite treats. I doubt they'll be as good, but with enough BBQ sauce they can't be too terrible.
Clockwise from upper left, that's another brand of Chow Mein noodles, Gefen's Cinnamon Cookies (which I really like, especially dipped in milk), two types of blintzes (make sure you look for ones that say "non-gebrokts" as that means they don't contain matzo meal), and three types of Osem cakes that are shelf-stable and will stay good for a long time in the cupboard. Blintzes are one of my favorite things to stock up on at Pesach because they're so good cooked in butter on the stovetop. I prefer the cheese ones, which I eat with fresh strawberries or a spoonful of good jam.
Gosh, there are more products and photos than I can fit in one post. Click here for Part II!
See more gluten-free Passover recipes and product information here.