Product Review: Pao Bread

Pao Bread is a Brazilian cheese bread snack that is commonly sold by street vendors. Now, thanks to Portland entrepreneur Jewelie Schultz, you can get some gluten free and much closer to home. Pao bread, known as pao de queijo in Brazil, is normally made with tapioca starch, cheese, and eggs, so Schultz didn’t have to modify the recipe to make it gluten-free. She did have to discover the right kind of cheese combination to get an authentic flavor. The product is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility here in Portland.

The bread comes pre-measured into balls, frozen, and ready to bake. They take about twenty minutes to bake and are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. We got our hands on some samples courtesy of the baker herself (see our disclosure policy) and tried them out. We also gave some to a few of our friends and taste-testers. Here’s what it looks like fresh out of the oven.

After a bite…

What these totally remind me of is a snack I used to make for myself when I would get home from high school. My friends and I would get home, go to the kitchen, wrap some cheddar cheese in a wheat tortilla, and microwave it. If you microwaved it correctly, the cheese would bubble and the tortilla would be delicious. They also taste kind of like goldfish crackers, but are much more of a texture sensation. Everybody we had try them, including ourselves, thought they were good. Schultz lived in Brazil as an exchange student, and did her best to come up with a recipe that tasted authentic.

Here’s a list of the ingredients: tapioca starch, eggs, safflower oil, cheddar cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes, annatto (color)), Parmesan cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), milk, water, kosher salt. The ingredient list is pretty short, and there isn’t any leavener. I was going to say that they’re pretty allergen-free until I noticed that they’ve got egg and dairy. On the minus side, the number one ingredient is tapioca starch, which we’ve discussed before, and has almost no nutritional value. Thanks to the eggs and the cheese, though, this probably isn’t as bad as a lot of the gluten-free breads out there. And hey! – We’re talking about a snack here, anyway.

And as a snack, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with something like this. They’re quick, easy to make, and kind of fun. They’re locally made, which is cool. I always like supporting local small businesses. Paobread is available at the Portland and Lake Oswego Lamb’s Markets, the Eastmoreland Market, and the Alberta Co-Op, among other places. You can also get them at the Moreland and Montavilla Farmers Markets. See their website for more details on where to buy. Here’s their website for more information.

News Bites: GIG Pancake Breakfast this Weekend

Gig Pancake Breakfast at Lingonberries

The Portland Metro Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is having the first of two pancake breakfasts this Saturday (the 17th) at Lingonberries Market in Vancouver. This weekend they will be using mixes from Bob’s Red Mill, Laurel’s Sweet Treats, and Kinnikinnick. Dairy free options will be available. The cost is $5 per person – $12 max per family. (I can’t say for sure as of this writing, but I can only imagine that the proceeds from this event will go to support the Portland GIG.) I wish that I could attend, but I’m still working on losing weight and can’t do the maple syrup! Here’s the relevant info:

Where: Lingonberries Market – 6300 NE 117th Ave – Vancouver WA 98662
When: Saturday, July 17 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Contact: or call (360) 260-4411

The next GIG Pancake Breakfast is scheduled for August 21. We’ll try to remember to give everybody notice the week before.

Gluten Free Event This Saturday

This Saturday, May 22, Midway Farms is having a gluten-free event. Here’s the blurb:

Spend a wonderful afternoon of Wine, Cheese, Raw Chocolate & live Music out on the farm!

Saturday, May 22nd, 2pm-6pm
Live Bluegrass music will sweep you away in the garden at Midway Farms. Enjoy sipping amazing wines from Eola Hills Wine Cellars & savoring award winning cheeses of Willamette Valley Cheese, only to be topped off with decadent raw chocolate by Stirs The Soul Chocolates. Premium organic coffee, teas and gluten free hors d’oeuvres will be provided. Gluten Free Friendly! Tickets are available at Midway Farms in advance for $9.00 or at the door for $12.00. This is an adult event 21 & older please. Midway Farms is located on Hwy 20 midway between Corvallis & Albany.
For more information please contact us at:
visit our web site at:

They also sent us a flier. Click here to view it. If you’re wondering how far away it is from Portland, Google Maps figures it’s about an hour and a half drive. Here’s the map.

Thanks to Midway Farms for sending us this notice.

Gluten-Free Cooking Class & Special Deal at Abby’s Table

Gluten Free Spice Cake

Whole Foods in Tigard is having a gluten-free cooking class on May 8 that looks very interesting. Here is the blurb:

Asian KidKid, Beef Chardonnay, & Spun Sugar Crusted Spice Cake

This class celebrates the cuisine of France combined with hints of Asia fused with wholesome healthy ingredients. These superb dishes boast lively flavors, bright colors, and surprising combinations which are sure to delight your family and friends. A great class for Moms and Daughters! Learn how to work with oat groats while making a quick, healthy meal and an easy flaming dessert.

On the Menu:

Asian KidKid
Zesty appetizer made with a savory mixture of garlic, oat groats, oat bran, spices and fresh chili paste.

Beef Chardonnay
Puts a mouthwatering meal on the table as quickly as waiting in line at a drive-through.

Spun Sugar Crusted Spice Cake
The title says it all. This dessert will delight your senses. Made with eggplant adds delish to the menu and health to you.

When: Sat, May 8, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Whole Foods, Bridgeport Village, Tigard, OR
Chef: Sheila Hanson

To register, Call Guest Services @ 503-639-6500 to pre-register before Wednesday, May 5th

I contacted them to make sure that the oats are gluten-free and they replied that they’re from Bob’s Red Mill and are from a safe source.

Abby’s Table has announced a spring special deal where meals are $13.

Are you doing a elimination diet or detox program? Planning to hit refresh on your diet habits? Be wonderful to your body and join us for dinner. We serve up seasonal produce in deliciously innovative ways so that you can enjoy eating during your cleanse. As always the dinners are 100% vegan friendly, 100% gluten, dairy and soy free with an omnivore option for the main course. The entire month of May features anti-inflammatory menus!


And YES! We are PLEASED to announce that we are teaming with Spud! Organic Grocery Delivery to offer you a special spring price on dinners.
$13 dinners, May and June only!!! In the ‘Special Request’ section of the website enter “spud” and dinner will be only $13!!! Woo hoooooo! Sign up today!

Spelt is Not Gluten Free

We don’t usually do this sort of informational post here, because we tend to focus on restaurant reviews, but lately I’ve noticed a trend where spelt is thought to be gluten-free. Unfortunately, spelt is a variety of wheat and contains the same sort of gluten. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website:

In the context of celiac disease, the term “gluten” is used to collectively refer to gluten in wheat, and to the proteins in other grains that have been demonstrated to cause harmful health effects in individuals who have celiac disease. These grains are wheat (including different varieties such as spelt and kamut), rye, barley, cross-bred hybrids (e.g., triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye), and possibly oats.”


News Bite: Gluten-Free Informational Class at Your Natural Chef

We went to Your Natural Chef last week and really enjoyed ourselves. I haven’t had time to put up a review yet, but I’ll get that up sometime this week. In the meantime, we’ve heard that there will be a class held there on Monday the 21st from 7:30 to 8:45 PM. The class will be on the topic of gluten intolerance and celiac disease and how to live with it. The class will be held by Katie Decker. Admission is $25. For more information see their flier:


Gluten-Free Fair in Salem Oregon

It’s been a while since we posted some news. Summer has been a busy time! We got an email from the Options Baking Company that they would be at a Gluten-Free Fair at LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem, Oregon. After some investigatory work, we discovered that the fair is scheduled for Saturday, September 26, 2009 from 11 AM to 3 PM. Their blurb says “Sample Gluten-Free Products, Educate Yourself & Connect with the Gluten-Free Community.” Those all sound like great things to do. If we weren’t going to be in Italy (!!!) during that time we would probably go join the fun. Here is their contact info: LifeSource Natural Foods – 2649 Commercial St SE, Salem, Oregon 503-361-7973

Did we mention that we’re going to be vacationing in Italy? We can’t wait.

Adventurous Eating on Alberta: Francis Restaurant

We reviewed Francis Restaurant for their gluten-free brunches back in January of this year. Recently, they emailed us to let us know that they were open for dinner and that they had a lot of gluten-free items on their menu. We decided to check it out. (Note that we dropped in unannounced and anonymously for this review.)

First off, it should be noted that in January we didn’t think the line-up at Francis was perfect, but we did admire them for being adventurous and (of course) also liked that they had some gluten-free brunch items. We came away feeling about the same this time, but feeling less enthusiastic about their offerings.

Lots of Gluten-free items on the menu

There are a lot of adventurous items on the new dinner menu. For example, Buffalo-style Frog Legs, Pan Fried Chicken Livers, Breaded Pan Fried Oysters, and Buttermilk Crusted Rainbow Trout are among the items that are also available in gluten-free versions. Along with that theme, they are also going with “comfort food” and enormous servings. We ordered the Caesar Salad. Sienna got the gluten-free breaded Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with arugula, and I got the Braised Lamb in Marsala with potatoes. I also tried out their gluten-free blueberry pie.

Our server was friendly and answered questions about their gluten-free items. It sounded like they use the same surfaces to cook the gluten-free items, but they scrape them before switching to cook gluten-free items. As always, you should ask questions and not eat somewhere if you don’t feel comfortable. See our restaurant rating system.

Gluten-Free Corn Bread

One thing that I could really get used to was that they brought us a small loaf of cornbread when we sat down. Yes, that is almost a half stick of butter on top of that. They actually had to do this twice. They brought us out a loaf and when they discovered that I was gluten-intolerant they brought us a gluten-free one. This was really nice, because I usually get to sit and watch everyone else enjoy the bread and butter before meals. We both felt that the cornbread could use some work. It had a characteristic gluten-free density to it that your regular cornbread doesn’t have. As for flavor, it was not sweet. Instead it was more savory and had pieces of vegetable and corn kernels baked in.

Caesar Salad at Francis

Next came the Caesar Salad, which, with its blue cheese, pears, and tomatoes, didn’t strike us as much like a traditional one. It did taste good, however. The tomatoes and lettuce were fresh and the flavors were nice.

Gluten-free Braised Lamb

So far so good, but unfortunately, our entrees left a lot to be desired. I got the Braised Lamb. I didn’t think that it would be like a lamb shank but it was. The lamb was seriously overcooked. Half of the lamb was dry and leathery. The other half was cooked to the point where it seemed like it had been stewed. My main problem, though, was that the marinade took over the dish and it tasted kind of unpleasant. I tend to like the flavor of lamb so I don’t see the need to cover it. Sienna had a taste and agreed that it was kind of strange and unpleasant. In the end, however, I do have to admit that I don’t normally like this sort of dish, so you might take it with a grain of salt. If you love lamb shank you might like this.

Sienna got the trout. They take a whole trout, split it in half, bread it, fry it, and serve it up, head and all. The flavor was very nice, but since it was breaded, it was a little difficult to see what was what. Sienna ended up with a mouthful of bones when she put a piece in her mouth and started chewing. We’re thinking maybe she accidentally put a fin in her mouth? She bravely kept at it but kept running into bones, which ended up ruining the dish for her. I think that maybe, besides being more careful de-boning the trout, they should decide to either bread the fish or, alternatively, serve the fish whole, but not both.

Gluten-free Blueberry Pie

At the end of the meal we decided to look at the dessert menu. They have a lot of gluten-free items there, too. Among them is gluten-free blueberry pie. The “pie” is actually more like a lemon coffee cake with a lot of blueberries served with whipped cream. I thought it was a really good idea, but felt like it should have been a little more sweet. On the plus side, I’ve never really had anything like it, and it was really perfectly prepared so that parts of it were crunchy and other parts fluffy.

This is the second time we’ve been to Francis restaurant and our second experience sort of solidifies our feeling about it. It’s adventurous and interesting, but maybe needs some fine-tuning. When I rate restaurants I try to keep in mind that good restaurants have bad nights, and I’m hoping that our experience (the overcooked lamb and bones in the trout) is the result of that.

We want to know: Have you eaten at Francis? Have a great experience or did yours sound a lot like ours? We want to know! Have you had any of the other gluten-free dishes? Let us know!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Be Careful.
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Francis Restaurant
2338 NE Alberta St., Portland, Oregon 97212 / 503.288.8299

Site News: New Gluten-Free Restaurant Classification System

Over the past two months we’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching about how we look at restaurants and how gluten-free restaurants can be. For instance, we reviewed a certain restaurant in Portland, and someone who went there later reported that their server told them that the fries weren’t safe. When we called the restaurant about the fries, we were told that the fries were safe. Whether or not they were safe hinged on whether or not the fryer was dedicated gluten-free only AND all the employees followed that.

So here’s the deal: We know that some of our audience needs to stay away from all gluten at all times, and we know that others are eating gluten-free for health reasons and are going to be OK with some here and there. We also know that depending on how they’re set up, and how vigilant their staff is, different restaurants have varying degrees of control over how gluten-free their food is.

Sooooo… we have decided to create a classification system for restaurants based on our experiences with them and things we know about them. This shouldn’t replace vigilance on the part of our readers, but I think it will ease our minds a bit. We don’t really want people to walk into the restaurants we review and assume that they don’t have to worry. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

Gluten-Free Mostly Safe – We will use this to designate the few places that have dedicated facilities or who (like the Whole Bowl – except for their cookies) are gluten-free by nature.

Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions – We will use this to designate places at which most gluten-free people should be able to enjoy a meal after they ask a question or two and make sure their waiter or waitress is on board. Usually this will mean that we have asked questions about cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Friendly But Be Warned – A place we might put in this category would be a bakery that cooks wheat goods and gluten-free goods in the same facility and that was unable to convince us that they are safe (Sweet Pea Bakery, we are looking straight at you) and some of the pizza places around town who offer both gluten-free pizza and pizza on wheat dough. While someone who is gluten-free for health reasons would probably be OK eating here, we would not recommend the establishment to people who are very sensitive to gluten.

Obviously what you choose to do with the information is up to you. We’re not doctors, and if you find yourself wondering how much you should worry about cross-contamination, that’s a question for your doctor.

We plan to go through our restaurant listings to categorize everything, but this is definitely going to be a work in progress. If you have any information about various restaurants in town, drop us a line or send us an email. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate it!

Gluten-Free Donuts/Doughnut Recipe!!!

I didn’t mention it at the time, but last Thursday was my birthday and as a present to me, Sienna made some delicious gluten-free buttermilk donuts. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had a donut, but during my donut-eating days I became quite the connoisseur. In fact, that’s one of my complaints about Portland – there are a lot of bad donut places. I’ve heard that there’s a place on NE Sandy that makes good donuts, and of course there is also Voodoo Donuts, whose donuts I like. Of course, sadly, this is all academic at this point.

Future gluten-free donuts

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite donuts is the plain donut. I’m also very partial to glazed buttermilk donuts. If you like these kinds of doughnuts, then I have the recipe for you! The recipe is here: Amazing Gluten-Free Buttermilk Donuts.

That's right: gluten-free donut holes

As you can probably guess from the name, there is buttermilk in the recipe. There are also eggs, some spices, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and xantha gum. The flour mix is made with white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch.

Frying doughnuts

The recipe lists a temperature for the oil, and that’s important. Too high and you burn your donuts before they’re done inside. Sienna used a kitchen thermometer, and found that to get the right temperature, she had to turn our burner up to low-medium. She also found that when she dropped the doughnuts in, the temperature went down ten degrees.

Finished Gluten-Free Donuts

These babies look good. And they were awesome! The only thing we thought could use adjusting was the sweetness. They barely need any frosting or sugar to make them taste good, and are sweet enough just by themselves, which is how we ate them!

For more amazing-looking gluten-free recipes from this same chef, check out her website, Gluten-Free Bay.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite gluten-free doughnut recipe? The last time I was at Whole Foods I noticed that they had gluten-free donuts. Have any of our readers had one? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your mileage may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same (except that gluten-free flour is expensive!)