Friday, July 8, 2011

G-Free NYC: Foodtrainers Gluten Free Favorites

Some women are excited by jewelry, others favor shoe stores or clothing boutiques. A few months back, after a long run, I was walking home via West 85th St and saw a blue and white striped awning with “g-free nyc” written on it. At first I thought I was hallucinating from dehydration. When I realized this soon-to-open store was dedicated to gluten free items, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to tell the nutrition nerds about it. Melissa, who does our Market Foodtraining tours, is here to tell you about her favorite g-free nyc finds.

I have counseled many gluten intolerant clients.  It wasn’t until going gluten-free myself that I realized first hand how difficult finding good substitutes to everyday items can be. While I do promote naturally gluten free foods such as produce, lean protein and gluten free grains,  I wouldn’t be Market Melissa  if I didn’t like a good product find. You can scour the shelves of your local grocery store to find gluten free foods.  Trader Joe’s has all of their gluten free products labeled with a (g), which is great, but there is nothing easier or better than a whole store dedicated to gluten free food. Enter: g-free nyc

While g-free isn’t a large store, it is packed with topnotch products. Lynn, g-free’s owner,  was tired of tasting terrible tasting gluten-free food and decided to start a business to showcase her selections. Every item in the store has been taste tested by Lynn and her loyal customers. Finding delicious gluten-free products is one thing; finding ones that aren’t heavily processed is another. I think many people associate gluten-free with being healthy and that is not always the case (potato flour anyone?). Here are some our Foodtrainers’ Favorites from g-free nyc:

The staff at g-free nyc told us this was their top pick and seller when it comes to bread. It wins for heartiness, which many gf breads often lack.

This wins the best pasta award. While there are many gf pastas on the market, this corn-based choice will fool even your toughest wheat tolerant family member into thinking it’s the real thing. Lynn imports this product in from Italy (which interestingly happens to have a high rate of celiac disease). We will assume Italy knows what they are talking about when it comes to pasta. If you want to go the brown rice pasta route, Tinkyada is a great brand. The key is to rinse the pasta in cold water immediately after cooking to prevent clumping. Top with heated sauce or olive oil and garlic.

For the sushi lover (like me), I love these tamari travel packs. After one too many restaurants saying they didn’t have tamari (and choking down a dry sushi roll), I now bring along with me one of these packs just in case. The same company also makes a great Teriyaki sauce that is a best seller at the store. This is great for stir-fries or marinating meat or fish.

I was happy to spot some familiar products. I spotted the Purely Elizabeth Granola that Lauren enjoys before her long runs. And while searched and taste tested many gf crackers Mary’s Gone crackers will always take the prize. You can find them at g-free nyc as well as at Foodtrainers. That is how much we love them.

Don’t worry we have something for the chocolate lover too. This is not just any chocolate, it's a GF "crunch" bar.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Pop in the store on Saturday mornings for freshly baked gluten-free bread or on Sunday for “Sample Sundays” where you can try some of the staff’s favorite items. A different product is featured each Sunday. On any given day you will also find freshly baked gluten-free goods from tu-lu’s bakery downtown. While the Upper West Side is currently the only g-free nyc location, they hope to expand soon. Stay tuned for delivery options around Manhattan in the coming months. For all of our New York City readers, Lynn has graciously offered one lucky reader a free gluten and dairy free cake that she promises won’t disappoint. Post a comment here and mention you would like to be entered into the drawing. *Applicants must be able to pick up the cake at the store.

As always, Foodtrainers is here to help. Join us on a Gluten-Free Market Foodtraining tour or come in for a Gluten-Free Foodtraining session. 
Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite gluten-free products? Do you find it hard to find gluten-free substitutes to some of your favorite foods?


  1. CAKE! CAKE! CAKE! (yes, please.)

    OK, I have to visit this gem! Thank you so much for sharing. 85th on the West Side is a bit of a trek from Astori, but luckily I will be up that way toward the end of the month for my doc appt and will certainly make a special stop! *and if I win the cake I will happily make the commute!*

    I personally stick to naturally GF foods just because when I look at the ingredients on most "GF" breads, pastas, cereals, pretzels, etc - they are so not healthy! I am very curious to try the bread that Melissa recommends - I haven't had bread since 2010!

  2. I've been meaning to get to this store since it opened but I live in FiDi and it's a bit of a trip! Thanks for the review and tips. I try to stick to natural foods, but I do get cravings for a good veggie sandwich sometimes!

  3. I too was so excited when I saw this store for the first time! Like Cameo, I tend to stick to naturally GF foods and I also avoid processed foods so I haven't shopped here as often as I thought I would've. But the bread above sounds delicious and I'd love to see how it compares to Udi's which is currently my favorite.

    My favorite pasta is Tinkyada brand which my gluten eating friends can never identify as gluten free and I also use the Trader Joe's GF pasta which is on $2 a bag!

    Um, cake? YES PLEASE! ;)

  4. This is so interesting. I am very curious about how Gluten Free would effect athletes that do not have a known gluten problem. The recent Wimbledon winner, Novak Djokovic, who is 41-1 this year, credits his success with going gluten free. It may be worth a try.

  5. This is great! My Mom suffers from Sjogren's and would love these tips!

  6. Thanks for highlighting these great choices, Melissa! Going gluten-free can be daunting for a number of reasons. Sometimes it seems like there's "nothing" you can have, them sometimes the number of gluten-free products on the market can feel overwhelming. It's really helpful to get recommendations like these. I cannot wait to try this dark chocolate quinoa bar....

  7. I'm loving the sound of the dark quinoa chocolate bar! I had a mini-scare a few years ago about possible celiac disease and learned at that time about the dearth of tasty GF products. Thankfully I don't have to avoid gluten now but I think it's great that this store is available for those wishing to be gluten-free.
    I'd love to be entered for the cake!

  8. I recently learned that most gluten-free foods bother me more than just eating foods with gluten in them. I think this is because they utilize tapioca flour and other random things I never normally eat. So I've basically stopped buying anything gluten-free at this point and I eat...rice. Lots of rice.

    But I have had good luck with quinoa pasta...I can't think of the brand but it comes in a turquoise box. Super helpful, aren't I?

  9. Ameena, it might be Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta. I have tried that too and personally like the brown rice pasta better, but I know many who like quinoa pasta better. It is just nice that there are a few choices out there!!

  10. What a great store! I'm with you. Naturally gluten-free foods are far better than gf substitutes. But sometimes you just need a mix to make a pan of gluten-free brownies.

    Dark Quinoa Chocolate Bar??? I need to find one of those!

  11. Now I want to come visit NYC! Here in San Diego I'm able to find a lot of gluten-free foods at the local health stores, but we don't have a dedicated gluten-free grocery store like you do. I'd love to try the pasta and dark quinoa chocolate bar you mention! Mary's are my favorite gluten- free crackers too :-).

  12. I'm really hoping that Nick gets invovled with a new gluten free restaurant that his friend is planning on opening. Seriously, I think it would be a HIT!! So many people choose to eat gluten free, for one reason or another, and if you can make the food good, why not sell it?! I LOVe Mary's Gone Crakcers, and in fact today at work I'm holding my first GF Support Group. I hope it's a good turnout!

  13. I am the same way about food! I would be excited about this store as well.
    I love that they are providing more (tasty) gluten free products out there.

  14. So, after i read this post my biggest gluten free customer comes in that evening. I run a buffet style snacky pupu thing every night and have plenty of made without gluten options for everyone. Cant call it gluten free because i serve crackers and the like. So, every year this customer comes in and see's that there are options but constantly asks for more. Now, this is a free benefit to our customers/donors. It's not a restaurant and I feed 500 people in a clip every night. I have NO idea what to do with her request. It's a "open to the public thing" and people are greedy and get touchy dippy with things. any thoughts or suggestions?

  15. Great post! Keep it up the good work and also keep posting.