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Mar 1, 2008 04:17 PM

Any other hounds interested in Gluten Free eating in MSP?

So, my chowpup has been eating gluten and dairy free for over the past 6 years. As he gets older, we have had more interest in going out to eat as a family. Of course, the food restrictions can make that difficult. We have a slim few places that we have been able to successfuly rely on. Just wondering if anyone else has any experiences with this they would like to share.
Our go to restaurant right now is big bowl - not the most exciting, but family-friendly, consistent, and always get that extra special touch to know the restrictions are taken seriously - order is flagged in big letters, manager always seems to bring out our son's entree personally, etc. Would love to branch out into other ethnic cuisines, because that naturally seems to be where these restrictions take you, but have concerns about language barriers causing problems in figuring out what is safe to eat. Anyway, not sure if anyone else on this board is living gluten free, but i just thought I would throw it out there and see if I learn anything new.

Big Bowl Asian Kitchen
516 Rosedale Ctr, Saint Paul, MN 55113

Big Bowl
3669 Galleria, Minneapolis, MN 55435

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  1. I'm afraid I'm not that familiar with gluten-free living, but I will most certainly keep an eye out for you. I've been very intrigued by Cooqi on Marshall, I think, nearish to to Cretin Ave, in St. Paul. It's a gluten free bakery. Good luck--I understand some of the challenges that come with having strict dietary restrictions (family members with serious allergies...).


    19 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Here are another couple of places I noticed in a google search when I was looking for the Cooqi link;


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Yep - was recently in to Cooqi - picked up some double chocolate fudge muffins as a v-tines treat that got thumbs up. Pizza crust was "okay" but not as good as the one we get at the health food store, bread is still up in the air - our toaster oven just died, and I haven't gotten our new one out of the box yet (Not a fair test if it's not toasted). We often buy treats from Bittersweet at the Fresh and Natural in Shoreview, and have been pleased. Ecopolitan looks to have a lot of choices, but I think my boy may write it off as "too wierd". Best place we have ever been to in terms of gluten free (or dining with allergies in general)? Disney World (believe it or not). They do an awesome job! Unfortunately it is 1300 miles away...

        1. re: autmommy

          Here's a link to a listing of a bunch of places that are "gluten-free" friendly... I don't know if you're familiar with this list, but it might be another place to start researching. Funny about Disney World!


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I don't have deadly allergies to gluten and dairy, but I do feel better if
            I avoid them. I think you shouldn't reject Ecopolitan- maybe go there
            just for dessert or one of their shakes. They do a great frozen parfait
            dessert and almond shake made with frozen bananas. I've taken
            non-health food friends there and they've loved both of those. And
            they do some fun things like zucchini 'pasta' with a very good red
            sauce that has strawberries in it- what kid would say no to that?

            1. re: faith

              Ooh - thanks for the menu suggestions - sounds like a place that would be fun to try when the weather is a wee bit warmer! And thanks for the resources TDQ - I have seen that list before, but I think I'll bookmark it now that you've made it so handy!

      2. re: The Dairy Queen

        I have been wondering about Cooqi too, and have started a gluten free diet recently. I tried it this weekend, and had the best loaf of gluten free bread yet, and very tasty brownies, molasses cookies and choc chip cookies. The bread is much lighter in texture than most GF breads. The best part about the bread is that it actually tastes like something!

        I have not gotten tests back to determine whether I am Celiac, but I know for people with Celiac disease Asian restaurants can be difficult because there is wheat in most soy sauce, some wasabi pastes have wheat in them, even sushi rice vinegar can consist of partially wheat based vinegar. And the wrost part is, restaurant staff may sincerely believe their meals to be gluten free because they don't know those products I mentioned contain wheat. People who are not Celiac probably don't need to be quite so vigilant.

        I hope to hear of more first hand accounts of enjoyable gluten free meals!

        1. re: zennenn

          This is not a meal, but I saw the most inspiring gluten free muffin yesterday @ the wedge... too bad I was stuffed from a meal I had just eaten.

          I am guessing you could try most INDIAN or mexican restaurants & be kind of sure you're gluten free. I have been gluten free for one week and it's been red lentils or garbanzos served every way possible (today was mexican refried red lentils with an egg & corn tortilla) with brown rice as its sidekick.

          Also, greek food sans pita... no sneaky soy sauce in there, either, right?

          1. re: reannd

            can you tell more about the inspiring muffin at the wedge?

            1. re: faith

              the wedge has a great bakery with g-f options and vegan options. you can also buy g-f bread (frozen) and other g-f grocery items. very helpful staff.

              1. re: faith

                it was citrus pistachio! i think it was vegan & gluten free as the only fat was in the canola oil (no shortening or butter.. hooray). it had orange, lemon, and lime rind in it. i love when they do that =) wish i could remember what flour mix it was, but i imagine it was one similar to bob's red mill to make it rise up.

                since we're talking gluten free in MSP: anyone know where i can get xantham gum in bulk? i don't want to pony up $11 for a 2lb bag as the recipes i am looking at require 1/4tsp each!

                1. re: reannd

                  A quick google search showed even bulk amounts (e.g., 50+ lbs) at about the same $/# ratio. Maybe a more thorough search would turn something up. Good luck with your search! (BTW, you probably know this already, but you'll get more hits with 'xanthan'.)

                  1. re: Enso

                    thanks for the 2 bits, enso. =) my fingers go too fast & i usually don't bother to check (google helps me sometimes).
                    basically i have no use for 50 lbs.. i really just want 1/4 cup or so =) i think i'll look @ fresh & natural today. if gluten free folks haven't been there i totally recommend it...

                    1. re: reannd

                      Fresh and Natural is where I do all of our "speciality shopping". I heartily second that rec. I do believe that I have seen xanthan gum in their bulk section there. I want to know where you found 2lbs for $11.00 though - that seems cheap!! The package I have in my cupboard is 6oz, and I believe I paid $9-10 for it - but I did buy it at Lunds... Honestly though, I can't even get through 6oz in 1 year, let alone 2 lbs! Some of the flour blends in the stores now, also have the xanthan gum pre mixed in, which is a nice option for an AP substitute without springing extra for the xanthan.

                      I had heard that the Wedge sets aside one day for gluten free baking, those muffins sound ab fab - will have to check more into this.

                      One other interesting thing I found out about (from Dara Moskowitz's blog) is that local chef Marianne Miller offers a gluten free cooking class at the saga hills cooking school. (it does sound like its geared to cooking for kids that are gluten free, but I bet any person cooking gluten free would find the info useful)

                      1. re: autmommy

                        bummer.. i almost went there for a class last night (& i secretly thought they had it xanthan there, too.. i know i've seen it somewhere), but it was canceled so no go.

                        sorry for my guessing.. but i don't really know how much was in the bob's red mill bag.. i was just guessing. it's one of those standard sized bob's red mill bags.. $10-11.. ;)

                        1. re: reannd

                          boo.. no bulk xanthan @ F&N bloomington :( :(

                          lots of other good things, though. chunks of energy are my new favorite product... on sale @ F&N this month (

                        2. re: autmommy

                          Went to Wedge just to try the gluten free muffins. Not following a gluten free diet but have experimented in the past. I had a banana muffin that was pretty good; it had chunks of banana in it and seemed to have some sort of cinnamon crumble on top. If I were to experiment with gluten free again, I would definitely recommend these. They have a link on their website that lists what is available in gluten free daily. Those citrus pistachio muffins are a weekend thing it looks like :(

                          Wedge Community Co-Op
                          2105 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                          1. re: mkmadness

                            Great tip about their website - thank you! I'll have to make a special trip for those citrus muffins.

                            1. re: zennenn

                              zennenn- so sorry, when I went back to look for where the list was specifically on the website....I can't find it! However, I do know that there was also a list at the bakery showing when they make each item. I do hope you did not waste hours looking for said page.

              2. re: zennenn

                I carry wheat free soy with me - that allows me to eat at most sushi places - I can do Thai too is Im careful. I find if I carry salad dressing or soy ( depending where Im going) it greatly expands my dining options.

            2. What about French Meadow? They should have lots of stuff. We just ate there last night, and I had a spinach salad with goat cheese(easily removed, for the nondairys), onions, blueberries, pecans, and bacon, with a blueberry vinaigrette that was absolutely out of this world. In the evenings, they go from a counter service bakery (all organic, many gluten-free items) to a table service restaurant. We hadn't been there in months, and our server (Mike) was wonderful.

              1. I think Ethiopian and Indian are both good for gluten free diets, just stay away from the bread and steer toward the rice. By boss's child has a lot of allergies, including gluten and dairy. They eat a lot of Indian food. One of my best friends has Celiac and we go out to Ethiopian often, he just asks for the food on rice (though most injera is made of Teff, he isn't very trusting.)

                Also, sushi would be good, yet expensive, option. Kids really like sushi and the japanese aren't known as wheat eaters, just be careful of the soy sauce, or bring wheat free soysauce just in case.

                1. Autmommy, what are your other reliables? Would love to know. Thanks!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: zennenn

                    Thanks everyone for a very educational and interesting discussion- Marianne
                    Miller would probably be worth checking out since she sounded like a genius
                    chef when she was at Red-
                    Injera can have some wheat flour in it, depends on who is making it. You have
                    to ask.
                    Nala Pak labels everything vegan or vegetarian, very helpful on their buffet.
                    Thanks for the details on the Wedge muffin. I have a paranoia about canola oil, wish the Wedge wouldn't use so much of it, but they seem to want to put it in just about everything.

                    1. re: faith

                      see.. i have a paranoia bout shortening, and i wish they wouldn't use THAT so much. to each her own =)

                      btw. i also just remembered they had a gluten free ANGEL FOOD CAKE this weekend. i'm not sure why i didn't try all these things. i think i was cranky because it was so busy.

                    2. re: zennenn

                      Reply to Zennen:
                      In terms of going out to restaurants, we don't have much. Of course, there are a few chains that do have gluten free menus, like Outback and P.F. Changs, but they are really not particularly Chow-worthy. This is why I originally posted. I do however, have tons of info as to what brands I buy, and whatnot - but that sounds more like a post for the General Chowhounds board, so I'll take it over there.

                      In terms of health foods stores in the area, you can find good stuff at most of the co-ops, a few things can be found at Lunds/Byerly's, and lately my Cub (St. Anthony) has had a better selection in the Natural Section than Byerly's. But hands down, in terms of selection, and having the best products, get over to Fresh and Natural Foods (four locations in the metro). They have everything that I used to get by mail when I started cooking like this (over 6 years ago)

                      Gluten free bakeries in the area are Cooqui and Bittersweet. I have liked pretty much everything we have tried from these places. Bittersweet seems to have more dairy free options, which is important for us, but may not be for others.

                      Fresh and Natural Foods
                      4234 Lancaster Lane, Plymouth, MN 55441

                      Fresh & Natural Foods
                      8931 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

                      Fresh & Natural Foods Corp Office
                      1075 Highway 96, W St Paul, MN

                      1. re: autmommy

                        Places links:

                        2186 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul, MN

                        Bittersweet Gluten Free Bakery
                        2105 Cliff Rd, Eagan, MN

                        1. re: autmommy

                          Link to the post I made about Gluten free products on the General Chowhound Topics Board


                    3. I tried going gluten-free, I react to it mildly but not anything too extreme. It ended up being pretty futile when I decided to go to culinary school. I keep it out of my diet when I cook at home, but I eat it at school. Gluten-free products are so hit-or-miss I tend to just cook it all myself. Madwoman has a delicious chocolate cake, though, and Cooqi is pretty awesome.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: amgarrison

                        madwoman has some good convenience products. i like her mini-pizzas, haven't thought about them in a few years!

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          are they worth the $5 ? they're so small!

                          1. re: reannd

                            gosh, when you put it that way, i don't know if they *are* worth it, because i have other options-- but convenience is worth a lot, sometimes!

                            i just remember that as an omni-eater i thought they were a good gluten-free product (sampled in the store & ate them at a gluten-free friend's house several times, can't say i myself bought them-- does my opinion still count?). madwoman is also a local small-business, which tends to be a good sell to me personally. i'd like to try more of her products, esp that cake Amgarrison mentions. maybe you could get more bang for your buck with other products, though?

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              As I recall the Madwoman pizza crusts are largely made of cheese-
                              that seemed kind of weird to me, not much healthier than flour.

                              1. re: faith

                                Since when did "gluten free" (or pizza crusts for that matter) equate to "healthy"?

                                1. re: faith

                                  i think you're probably right-- the ingredient list from the website leads with cheese on all the pizzas and not much else. here's the link:


                                  1. re: faith

                                    It sure could be if one is allergic to flour...