Friday, March 26, 2010

Gluten-Free Products For Passover 2010 - Part I - Including Gluten-Free Matzo & More

[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.


Anonymous said...

I bought the lakewood matza only after buying 3 boxes of the one from england and then found out they had some contamination this year...lakewood was very accommodating, and we are looking forward to trying the matza.

i also purchased the cheese and we'll see how that tastes. i only wish the packages of "bread" crumbs came in a larger size.

amazing saving in kew gardens hills, ny is carrying a lot of the gf pesach cookies and nosh.

chag pesach kasher v'sameach

ByTheBay said...

to clarify, you mean kestenbaum's had contamination, not lakewood? my understanding is it's not contamination, it's just that they can't get certified as GF due to the way equipment is being used... they are still following all the standard safe manufacturing procedures. but yes, lakewood is very accommodating. i hope the cheese & roll is tasty!

chag sameach and thanks for commenting

Anonymous said...

I emailed Kestenbaum's for confirmation since the box I bought said "gluten" and the retailer said it was gluten-free. This was their reply:
"This year, there were unforseen changes in the factory where we produce the matzo - the oats were under 5ppm, but the factory was less insulated against outside contamination than it had been in previous years.
The matzo lab result was 80 ppm (parts per million) which is 0.008%, which is above the 0.005% that the British standards go according to. If you compare the 0.008% to the 8-12% gluten in regular matzos, you can see the miniscule amounts we are talking about.
Hopefully next year, we have all the pieces in place to be universally considered officially gluten-free."
Hope this helps.

Lafianza.doula said...

I got the Osem pound cake and almond cake. I've already eaten the pound cake and I'm about to break open the almond cake. I always bake from scratch (which honestly tastes a lot better!) but... I couldn't resist all these kosher gluten free foods. I'm allergic to like everything and I try to stay kosher (it's so difficult when you're allergic to everything) as much as possible so it is a HUGE treat, store bought goodies!! (I try to ignore the heavy preservativey after taste and remind myself how nice it is not to have to clean the entire kitchen after hand making everything for a change :)

as weird as it might sound to some, i wish it was passover more often.... *sigh* but for all the wrong reasons! lol

ByTheBay said...

Nibblesandvittles: Are you on the AllergicJews e-mail list? It can be a useful resource when trying to stay kosher and stay away from allergens because there are a lot of people on there who know what brands are both safe and kosher, etc. I am on a low-fiber diet for medical reasons currently, so I totally get what you're saying - I'm gluten-free, (temporarily) low-fiber and kosher... so my food options do feel limited sometimes. The packaged Pesach stuff does tend to be extremely chemically flavored - Some of them so much so I can't tolerate them. But yeah, just to be able to keep some shelf-stable cakes & cookies on hand is nice. After Pesach I will be relieved to be eating only home-cooked food again, with no preservatives or trans fats (which are also in a lot of Pesach foods).

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aaron said...

Your food photos are amazing! I’ve been lurking on your blog for awhile and finally thought I’d say something…. your photography is excellent.

ladydi115 said...

I looked at the ingredients at the market of the cheese blintzes photo you posted. They list "modified food starch" so I'm weary even though it's non-gebrokts. I did buy another brand that has fewer, more natural ingredients and has no questionable ingredients. I got them last year as well. They're "Frankel's homestyle" brand.
I also picked up new Yehuda gluten free matzo and it's not oat. Also Liebers has nice yum yum crackers and kneidel mix.