Archive for Edge Chat

The Gluten-Free Edge Has Moved!

Rita has moved us to our own domain – which is labeled
The Gluten Free Edge (without a hyphen). Please join us there!

If you are subscribed by email:
Rita has reset the address pointer and it should be OK.

If you are using an RSS feed:
you will need to grab the new one and delete the old one.

It looks exactly the same over there
except for a new recipe post for Clara’s Brown Sugar Pound Cake.

Gretchen and Rita

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Ricki Heller’s ‘Good Morning!’ Breakfast eBook

    Several months ago when Ricki requested volunteers to test recipes for her breakfast ebook we jumped at the chance. Rita and I have been fans of Ricki’s nutrition philosophy and her delicious, nutritious recipes for quite a while. Even now, there is a double batch of her Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad  (we live in Texas where I serve it chilled with greens) in the refrigerator right now waiting to go to a potluck later today. The last time I brought this to a potluck I had to scrape the bowl to get a tiny amount to add to my lunch the next day!

Good Morning eBook

Good Morning eBook

Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN
Author of Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without
Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar
Twitter: @RickiHeller
–Honorable Mention, 2010 Cuisine Canada Culinary Awards
–one of only three cookbooks recommended on Ellen DeGeneres’ website!

For a full Table of Contents and photos of many of the recipes, see this post.

Every one of these recipes is:
low glycemic
refined sugar free
egg free
dairy free
gluten free

The recipes are all great for anyone following an anti-Candida diet (ACD); for vegans; those on a gluten free, refined sugar free, egg free or kosher diet; or Type II diabetics.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita
PS – The Gluten Free Edge is moving to our own domain as soon as we sort out some of the technical tangles.

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Reading, Writing, and Reviewing

    Ever since Lori asked if I could put together a class on the topic of ‘gluten-free’ for The Caring Place I have been reading and reviewing books from our local Georgetown Public Library because I believe in quality reference material. At about the same time Barb had sent me a link to a book review and the next thing I knew I was head-over-heels in reading materials both borrowed and purchased.

    Libraries have always seemed like magical places to me. All of those books on so many subjects: if I could read them all then I would certainly know everything. At least that is how I viewed the school library at Meadowbrook Middle School when I first became aware of library passes and the resulting unlimited access to all those books! OK, so now I know better but still there is so much knowledge that can be gained just by going to the library. So I have borrowed books, read books, reviewed books for the local library and on Amazon, purchased books, and donated books. If the class learns nothing from me at least there will be a rich and varied resource to fall back on.

    The assembled collection (below) covers so many related aspects of gluten that I was having trouble narrowing down the information to present. Simple, keep it simple – you can see from the list of books that I have real problems with that.

    So I decided on this approach. On the first day we meet there will be samples of home-cooked pasta and sauce using store brand GF ingredients from HEB and a sample of commercial snack food (Glutino pretzels). We will introduce ourselves and then together we will plan the next meeting around the most pressing needs of the group. And we will continue from there.

Gluten Related Reference Material at the Georgetown Public Library:

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic
Peter H. R. Green and Rory Jones

The Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide: With a 30 Day Meal Plan & Over 100 Recipes
Alexandra Anca and Theresa Santandrea-Cull

The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian, and Mexican Recipes
Vanessa Maltin

Gluten-Free Kids: Raising Happy, Healthy Children with Celiac Disease, Autism, and Other Conditions
Danna Korn

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food: a Practical Guide
Chef Alain Braux

The Gluten-Free Gourmet: Living Well Without Wheat
Bette Hagman

You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free! 500 Delicious, Foolproof Recipes For Healthy Living
Roben Ryberg

Planned Donations Purchased but Currently Out on Loan:

Dangerous Grains
James Braly and Ron Hoggan

The Gluten-Free Vegan
Susan O’Brien

    Rita has been reviewing some of the books with me. Since she is also a Certified Health Coach I hope to have her lead a ‘gluten-free’ tour of a Georgetown grocery store.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    March 15 was the day of the 2011 Soup Supper annual fund raiser for The Caring Place. Every year the best restaurants in Georgetown contribute gallons of their specialty soups and TCP volunteers donate cornbread and desserts. Aside from baking we also put on aprons and serve our guests who come to enjoy the meal.

    There is also a silent auction featuring some of the very nicest things from the in-house Fabulous Finds resale store. Clothing from the boutique is modeled to show off the incredible quality that can be found in that department.

    Once again I baked gluten-free cornbread. Last year I made one batch of scratch cornbread and one batch from a mix. The scratch gluten-free version was no doubt the favorite. So this year I baked two double batches of scratch cornbread.

    I made a test batch a few weeks ago just to be sure I would not mess up a lot of expensive ingredients and I am glad that I did. I found that the cornmeal remaining from last year, carefully stored in the freezer, had developed an ‘off’ taste. So every year that I make this I will be sure to buy a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal.

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    Astigmatism makes cutting straight lines a challenge so I got out my ancient, trusty forms ruler from data processing days. Yes, the little sticker has my name on it. Back-in-the-day Don and I had his-and-her forms rulers; definitely a geeky household here.

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

    It is wonderful how many people turn out to support this organization. By the time I gathered my few remaining wits together we were winding down, most of the cornbread was gone, but I did manage to snap a photo of Amanda. She was charming and cheerful throughout the evening and the time passed very quickly.

Amanda Serving Cornbread

Amanda Serving Cornbread

    We were wearing the yellow construction ‘hard’ hats to call attention to the fact that work has already started on the new food pantry facility at The Caring Place. Donation boxes on the tables were another subtle reminder.

    Those of us who work in the pantry are delighted that this construction has begun. We are also anticipating a better warehouse area for managing the storage of food and more efficient stocking of the pantry.


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HEB Gluten Free Products

    HEB is a Texas-based company with headquarters in San Antonio. This organization is very generous in support of The Caring Place (TCP) in Georgetown with their daily donations of bread and support of other TCP programs. They have also been long term suppliers of my most basic gluten-free grocery needs.

    I needed to replenish my Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornmeal in order to make several pans of GF cornbread to be served at the Annual Soup Supper to benefit TCP (where Don and I both volunteer). Our nearby HEB on Williams Drive carries a good selection of these products.

    While I was shopping there I decided to check out their brand of pasta that Clara had tried and told me about. I was really curious because Don and I had been on the HEB product taste-testing panel quite some time ago. Also, as a volunteer in The Caring Place food pantry I often hear comments from people trying to manage gluten-free about how expensive it is. This is what I found.

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

Prices on March 1, 2011:
Gluten Free Fusilli $1.99
Gluten Free Spaghetti $1.99
Garlic & Herb Pasta Sauce labeled Gluten Free $1.89
Traditional Pizza Sauce labeled as allergen: milk $1.50
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Meal $3.58

    I also picked up Udi’s Whole Grain Sandwich Bread while I was there since there were only three slices remaining at home from the previous loaf. Price wise this one is in my ‘luxury item’ category. But it is handy to keep in the freezer for when I don’t have time to put together something else for the carb portion of a meal or snack.

    For staying healthy, whether you must eat gluten-free or not, a balanced diet is always in order. It takes planning ahead so that the right stuff is always available: in the fridge, in the pantry, in the car, wherever. It is critical to prevent a tumble over ‘The Gluten-Free Edge’ that lurks nearby. Given that criteria I can always rationalize a ‘luxury item’ 🙂


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Gluten-Free Princess Cruise to Panama

    Once again Don and I were off on a cruise. Don’s sister, Pat, flew in from Maine to meet us at the ship terminal in Fort Lauderdale where we were to board the Island Princess for our ten day trip. This meant airline travel and it was my first experience in coach on a 737 with seats jammed six across each row. I am not a large person but this experience was extremely claustrophobic. We are strategizing for our trip to visit Pat and other family in New England later this year. So far it will involve a Kindle pre-loaded with a lot of books and Dramamine which will give me several hours of total unconsciousness.

    Again I tried to prepare for gluten-free travel. It was not one of my better efforts. Success on previous travel left me overly confidant. Basically I had a Larabar for every day of travel plus some of my flax meal biscuits for bread-type carbs. I started the trip with a hearty breakfast of Giant Upside-Down Apple Pancake  that I had saved from recipe testing for Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs plus an almond milk latte and that sustained me all through the morning.

   A surprise dining bright spot was the one hour layover at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. At the Au Bon Pain Deli I found a nice little boxed salad with ultra-fresh veggies and four small rolls of ham with a savory cheese filling plus a Black Cherry Dragonfruit SOBE life water beverage. It was satisfying without bogging down the digestive system.

   We met up with Pat at the ship terminal and once aboard we all headed to the Horizon buffet for a snack. Fruit and a slice of cheese would get me through safety drills, setting sail and planning our activities. It was at dinner and asking questions of the Horizon staff that I discovered that gluten-free was only guaranteed in the Bordeaux dining room. Line server asked someone else who fetched the chef who called his supervisor. No one spoke fluent gluten-free.

   We tried the Bordeaux at noon the following day. The menu is published each afternoon at four o’clock for the next day. You are supposed to negotiate your gluten-free meals for the next day from that menu. While the impromptu meal they served me was totally delicious and artistically presented I was not pleased and neither was Don. Pat was OK with the dining room option. She is such a happy person by nature that there is not much that she cannot deal with. While ‘anytime’ dining was the option in that dining room it was much more formal, white tablecloths, ordering from a menu selection (the day before for me), someone else putting your food on your plate and then several waiters hovering, refilling your beverage every few sips, and asking ‘is everything is all right?’. We did not plan to do that.

   Ships that traverse the Panama Canal have a size restriction. Most of them squeak by with only inches to spare. The ship sides are constantly repainted to repair the damage caused by scraping the canal walls while passing through. With a smaller ship there are fewer facilities and amenities as well as passengers. And so it was with the galleys and chefs.

   And then there was the weather. In Costa Rico we were advised that they do not have seasons as we know them but there are seasonal variations in wind and rainfall. The Caribbean was smooth by most standards except that of my own personal gyroscope. Most of the time it was marginally queasy but a couple of days were mostly sea sick. This limited my interest in eating at all and when I did it was mostly the very plainest and safest options. Fried rice with steamed vegetables with small selections of anything that was plainly prepared sustained me. Some prepared salads met that criterion as did the build-it-yourself salad bar. The vinaigrette dressings were creamy in appearance so I avoided them and chose a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and Pepitas to add flavor. For dessert I tried an individual baked flan that was not at all tender with a thin syrup layer on the bottom. Everything else was cookies, cakes, pies, and tortes.

   All-in-all the buffet food on this trip was disappointing for me after last year’s trip on the Ruby Princess. Don and Pat enjoyed themselves and by walking the decks for several miles every day managed to only gain a couple of pounds. I was a bed and/or balcony slug and lost a pound.

   On the balcony we read, planned excursions, and chatted while watching for flying fish. During one of those times we spotted a sea turtle swimming off to the side of the ship. We were not quick enough to get a picture. Instead we came home with a sea turtle image from the clay works in Jamaica as one of our trip souvenirs.

Wassi Arts Sea Turtle

Wassi Arts Sea Turtle

   We managed several shore excursions and several of those were outstanding. The butterfly farm in Aruba is simply a delight. Don and Pat were all over taking pictures while I wandered around in awe at the beautiful butterflies everywhere. The banana plantation tour in Costa Rico was a university level education in local topography, wildlife, vegetation, transportation, business planning and earth friendly processes thought out in detail. All of that was packed into a 3.5 hour excursion by bus. In Jamaica we visited at Wassi Arts pottery works where nothing is automated. Their clay is delivered as burlap sacks of dry stick and rock contaminated clods about the size of softballs. Outside on a terrace the clods are soaked, pounded in barrels, strained through about a 15” sieve, and poured into cement troughs for evaporation to reach a workable consistency. The troughs must be covered when it rains.

   It really was a wonder filled getaway in spite of my grumpy comments. Don and Pat are great companions for me and each other. And I do look forward to visiting with Pat as well as my family later this year. At least it will be on land once we arrive.


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Ricki Heller’s Recipe Books

    Can you imagine ‘tastes great’ and ‘healthy’ as describing the same recipe? Ricki Heller with her PhD in nutrition and love of good food manages to create recipes that do just that. Living in Toronto and backed by years of experience teaching, running a bakery, and veteran of  television demos, she uses her imagination to create new and innovative recipes to nourish the body and delight the spirit.

    As I began to follow Ricki’s blog ‘Diet, Dessert, and Dogs’ I drooled over the recipes, admired the photography, and enjoyed the saucy comments allegedly from said dogs, Elsie and Chaser. I decided ‘what the heck’ I’ll just sub in some gluten-free flours and see what happens. Somehow that first attempt was a winner and I began cooking more and more recipes from Ricki’s blog. Before long I was following along the trail that Ricki was blazing and gluten-free wasn’t so bland anymore. 

    Ricki’s first recipe book, Sweet Freedom, was published in 2009 and in April 2010 made it to Ellen DeGeneres ‘bookshelf’.  This recipe book is filled with wonderful healthy vegan dessert treats. Vegan? I never thought to go that way until I realized that when family and friends mentioned egg and/or dairy allergy that the vegan recipes automatically cover those conditions.

    When Ricki began designing gluten-free, vegan breakfast dishes for those battling Candida infections I knew that those were automatically good for folks dealing with diabetes. It has been pointed out to me that you cannot cover ALL dietary constraints with one recipe and I agree. However it is possible to share delicious food with people and cover many issues without treating them as a big deal.

     That is why when Ricki announced her new recipe ebook in development and put out a request for recipe testers I jumped right in there. ‘Blended Cereal with a Boost’ was pictured in The Gluten-Free Edge on January 20th right after my Pork and Beans in Pumpkin Sauce recipe. ‘Blended Cereal with a Boost’ is the best hot cereal I have ever tasted!

     The latest test recipe was the multi-serving baked pancake pictured below. I loved it because this is real fuel that kept me going for hours and it was light and luscious. Ricki hopes to have her new eBook, Top of the Morning: ACD Recipes without Sugar, Gluten, Eggs or Dairy, published sometime in March so stay tuned!

Giant Upside-Down Apple Pancake

Giant Upside-Down Apple Pancake

Doesn’t that look delicious?

Gretchen (Mom)

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hCG Experience – Week 1

I haven’t written a post in a while…not that Mom hasn’t been on my case to do so. She is on vacation so I thought I would surprise her and hop back in here again.

I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. Yes, I am very busy but I am learning so much about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that I do eventually want to share it all. I just have to learn how to communicate it!

Yin Yang Symbol

Yin and Yang

I had written before about my journey in trying to regain my health. I moved to Austin last summer and found access to alternative healthcare resources here. I had continued to experience fatigue and anxiety…tried some acupuncture at the AOMA student clinic and had a blood test with follow-up herbal treatment for my liver at a local chiropractor…but these have still continued.

I experimented in November with homeopathic HCG (very diluted version of hormone) as I also wrestle with my weight. The scale creeps up if I don’t watch it. I was on the diet and drops for 18 days and lost 10 pounds, mainly around my torso. But monthly hormones stopped me cold as I was supposed to continue on the drops for a minimum of 21 days to maximum of 41 days. I loved how I looked but could not go the distance or maintain the loss.

During the holidays, I got searching on the Internet and found a clinic that provides the hCG shots (actual hormone) within a comprehensive 12-week wellness program. Well, of course that costs more than just buying the homeopathic version and doing it on your own…but since I had obstacles I could not overcome on my own, I signed up. I was curious when I first started researching HCG weight loss information and I figure I can at least provide others with what actually happens to me. I am excited.

Week 1

The program begins with a four-week cleanse. I am on a restricted diet as to choices, but for most of the time I can eat any amount I want. Highlights of what I cannot have: red or deli meats, eggs, dairy or milk products, gluten or corn products, nuts or seeds and dried fruits. I also drink a powered functional food supplement (chocolate) that I whip up in the blender to make sure it mixes well. I completed this and had a 4.5 loss on the scale for the week. I know, mainly water! I also found out through blood and saliva tests taken at the initial visit that I need some hormone and thyroid prescriptions and Vitamin D3 and Iron Glycinate supplements.

I am happy to have the additional support resulting from these tests. But what also has me thinking is that except for the dairy and gluten, I eat most of the eliminated food items I listed all the time. When I go on maintenance, I am definitely rethinking what comes back in my diet. It is funny how old habits take new forms…so even though eating gluten-free and more simply, I am highly motivated to evolve yet again to eat the kind of fuel that would maintain my now older body, but hopefully lower body weight.

Good to be back and more to come!

Rita 🙂

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Quinoa – Learning to Love It

    Quinoa (kee-nwa) was an ancient food of the Incas – it was considered sacred and referred to as ‘mother of all grains’. Although no longer widely known or used it is gaining in popularity due to its nutritional qualities and versatility.

    Unlike most other grains and seeds quinoa contains all of the amino acids needed for humans to assimilate as a high-value protein. In addition to being gluten-free and easy to digest it is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

    The quinoa seeds, as harvested, have a somewhat soapy and slightly bitter coating of saponins that discourage birds from consuming the seeds. Most quinoa available at your local grocers has been pre-soaked and rinsed to remove this coating. I always soak and rinse my quinoa whether it is presented in bulk or packaged and labeled as pre-rinsed. This insures that the seeds are clean, tender, and ready to accept the seasonings in your recipes be they sweet or savory.  Evidently a short-lived experiment in raising quinoa without the saponins coating resulted in birds consuming most of the harvest. And so I soak  . . . .

1) Measure out the quinoa and add enough water so that the mixture is slushy when stirred.

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

2) Pour the slush into a mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse. If the soaking water is only slightly hazy when stirring then 15-20 minutes is probably enough. These pictures are of bulk quinoa that needed about an hour of soaking and a change of water to clear.

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

3) Dump the soaked quinoa into your pan and cover with water. Turn the heat on medium until the mixture starts to bubble. Then turn the heat down low and put on the lid. Watch it very carefully until it settles down to a steady simmer because like oatmeal or pasta it will make fierce bubbles that climb the pot walls and boil over onto the stove.

Turning Up the Heat

Turning Up the Heat

4) The quinoa is done when it looks something like a sand dune on top with minor dips and valleys that are no longer moving. There should be no liquid visible when you take a spoon and check the bottom of the pot.

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

    Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking pasta in that you may prefer it very tender or ‘al dente’. You may pre-cook it for a recipe or add it directly to liquids in the recipe. It has the capacity to absorb an amazing amount of flavor from added ingredients. I pre-cook it over low heat for 15-45 minutes; then turn off the heat and let it cool slowly on the burner. The longer it was soaked the shorter the cooking time. Also, if there is still water and it is cooked as long as you like then just drain of the excess water. If you cook it without salt or seasoning then you can use a portion of it in a sweet recipe and the remainder in a savory dish like this one.

    This basic recipe was served at a potluck lunch meeting and received very favorable comments. It was prepared with a large, sweet onion and two fresh tomatoes. I included some ground turkey breast to make it a main dish meal.

    When I make it for Rita, who is currently avoiding nightshade plants I use washed and chopped zucchini in place of the tomatoes. The resulting texture is very similar. I also add a small carrot cut in bits to provide some color,

Savory Quinoa Casserole
1 cup of dry quinoa cooked with 2 total cups of liquid = 2-2.5 cups cooked quinoa
(If a can of organic diced tomatoes is used for part of the liquid then omit the fresh, sliced tomatoes.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard (French’s yellow mustard works – it is gluten-free)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional, see above, or zucchini))
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

    Heat the oil on medium or medium high  in a large skillet that has a lid.  Add your mustard and bay leaf to the oil and let it sizzle. Stir while adding your cumin and wait a few seconds before adding the onion.
    Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and turn brown. Add ginger, tomatoes (or zucchini/carrot), and turmeric. Let soften and then add your quinoa, stirring it in gently and sprinkling with salt. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir once, sprinkle with cilantro, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
    If you add meat, tofu, or beans then include it already prepared along with the quinoa. This is a good recipe to extend leftovers from another meal. And any local vegetables in season are excellent options.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Chef Alain Braux

Press Release:
    Edible Austin presents author Alain Braux talking about his new book, Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food at  BookPeople on Monday, February 14, from 7–9 pm. Treat yourself (and perhaps a loved one) to an evening of conversation with Chef Braux (recently named in the Top 10 Food Celebrity list as well as a Best Sweet Bites of 2010 by the Austin Chronicle), who will prepare his bliss-inducing Flourless Chocolate Torte for us. Also meet Sarah Bartholow from Hail Merry, who will be sampling a selection of their scrumptious gluten-free and vegan products. We’ll also have a selection of celebratory beverages on hand. Free!

    Alain’s comment `gluten-free junk food is still junk food’ is such an astute observation. He believes we should eat thoughtfully, be aware, and indulge joyfully on special occasions. Enjoy dessert on Valentine’s Day at Book People and chat with Alain – he loves to talk about food!

For those of you who live in Georgetown you can find a copy of Alain’s book at the Georgetown Public Library – NBNF 641.563 BRAU.

    Alain is also the author of How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Food. Both books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.

Features found in his book aside from the wonderful recipes:
1) Narratives from people about their journey of GFCF discovery – one of these stories might be your `aha!’ trigger
2) Sympathy for the many reasons you may be attempting to self medicate and suggestions on how to find the right doctor
3) Why keeping a food journal is so very important (there may be additional sensitivities)
4) Setting yourself up for gluten-free and casein-free success
5) A comprehensive list of resources for Celiac Disease and Autism including books, magazines, organizations, and online support
6) Those mysterious food additives that could indicate `hidden’ gluten – pages of them
7) `Safe’ and `not safe’; in medication, vitamins, toiletries, household cleaners

    Rita and I visited with Alain recently at People’s RX at the Westlake location where you will find an extensive gluten-free grocery section and gluten-free options in the deli. The North Lamar and South Lamar locations also have gluten-free options in the deli.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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