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Eat Gluten Free in Houston: Hugs and Donuts

Tasty GF Donuts!

I love donuts. So much. I think I might be repeating that from the last donut review I did…also, the pure number of donut focused posts may become a clue… The problem,when eating gluten free, is finding a gluten free donut (or anything…) that tastes good ,but I have found one!  I saw Hugs and Donuts on instragram awhile back and saved them for future reference. I was able to go by today, and they were delicious! Sorry for all the half pictures, I might have gotten hungry before taking them…

There is one caveat: they are produced in a normal bakery. They are a normal donut shop that produces a donut made with gluten free ingredients, but they can only get things so clean and there is flour floating around in the air, etc. Hence they call them “Gluten Lite”. If you are ok with that (like I am), then I highly recommend them.

They had 5 flavors when I stopped by, and I believe those are the normal ones that they usually have. Lemon Blueberry, Maple, Green Tea Coconut, Plain Glazed, and Cinnamon Sugar. They are all on the same donut base. The girl I talked to said that she knows for sure there is rice in them, but wasn’t quite sure what else. Which was a bummer because it meant my kids could not eat them, so I just had to eat them all before they got up from nap…

They have a nice texture and are not too chewy. Was it a normal soft donut? Not quite, but it was amazingly close! The flavor was very good as well! There was just the slightest hint of what I call “Gluten Free Flavor” (that slightly starchy leftover taste), but very little. My wife even said that it tasted like a normal donut!

The flavors were all overall quite tasty. The only one that I felt was lacking was perhaps the Green Tea Coconut. My guess would be they use matcha green tea powder in the glaze, which is typically fairly mild. It was simply nothing to stand out though still tasty. My favorite was the Lemon Blueberry, it was SO good! The flavors were bright and well balanced and absolutely delicious!

So the question is: would I go there again? The answer is yes! If you are looking for a donut that is ready to go and gluten friendly, absolutely try Hugs and Donuts out. They also make a keto donut by preorder, but you have to order a whole dozen. I will probably try that at some point as well, so stay tuned for that update!

Make it a tasty week!

Chris

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Update on our Kids Food Allergies

I wanted to give y’all an update on our kids food allergies. One of the biggest reasons I want to do this is because of how it is going to effect the recipes that appear on here. As I mentioned, last time we knew for sure that one of our daughters had some nut allergies and was for sure allergic to rice and dairy. As I’ve been a fan of being more grain free anyway, I took that as a sign that we should just really focus on grain free recipes instead of gluten free.

Well… then the tummy trouble apocalypse came, for all 3 of our kids… My one daughter that we had tested most recently tested fine for almonds, just not some tree nuts. Well, apparently almonds might be on that list anyway. They do NOT do well with almond flour based products. So we are going to transition away from those as well.

There are of course many other options for grain free stuff, almond flour just works really well in my opinion. So in the future, you will see more einkorn based recipes as we know it works for our kiddos. I will be working on trying other recipes that look good and still are safe for our various kids food allergies.

An Inadvertent Review

Also, a minor review that was not supposed to be a review, Katie and I went to Romano’s Macaroni Grill for our anniversary. We wanted Italian food, and we wanted a higher quality than Olive Garden. Well, we ended up with a very mediocre experience, and very mediocre food for too much money.

They do have gluten free pasta, which is great. They do not have a gluten free or friendly actual menu, though. Not even just a sheet of paper someone threw together with the options. So the waiter had to remember what the options were. I did verify off of their allergen chart online after he walked away.

The food was fine, the actual pasta was fairly good, though poorly cooked as it was completely stuck together. For 2 entrees and salads plus tip, I was rather disappointed in what we got for $50.

Maybe you already go to Macaroni Grill and you love it and you can easily navigate the way they do GF items. If so, then great! If not, I wouldn’t bother.  Olive Garden does a much better job of having the proper options laid out and it’s for less money. Maybe you even have a local restaurant that will do a better job for you!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Eat Gluten Free in Houston: Season’s Harvest Cafe

Are you looking for a restaurant that serves the freshest possible ingredients and also has great gluten free options? I think I have found your place! We had heard about Season’s Harvest Cafe in Cypress, TX several times from friends and have wanted to try it, so we decided to go celebrate our anniversary there.

They are a farm to table restaurant, and they get a significant amount of their food from local vendors in the area. What they cannot find local, they strive to at least get organic. Their menu does rotate, though I am not sure exactly when it changes. They work to make their dishes available to different eating styles as much as possible. If you eat Raw, they have that, Vegan is covered, and gluten free they can do. Their menu is full of whole foods, so it is easy to adapt any item to your diet and they are familiar with all the different allergies/diets and can work easily with you!

That is always the beauty of focusing on fresh ingredients, prepared from scratch. Things become super straight forward when you focus on basic ingredients, and it can be extremely flexible to work with different diets. Here is the one caveat: They are not a gluten free kitchen. So while they use primarily fresh ingredients, and there probably is not a ton of flour floating around, there is a risk of cross contact happening. I would characterize this as more gluten friendly than totally gluten free, but they are way beyond many other gluten friendly restaurants. They bring in all of their breads and desserts, so they don’t have flour all over the kitchen from any of their cooking.

The Environment

First off, I totally wasn’t thinking about this from a blog post perspective. I did not take anywhere enough pictures, so we will have to make do, sorry!

Season’s Harvest Cafe is set on 2-3 acres of land in North Cypress. It is in a rustic, “cabin” setting. Lots of exposed wood, log façade etc, it has a great farm feel to it which both my wife and I enjoyed immensely. It is a very peaceful environment with very little road noise.

They do have some gardens and a chicken coop, though I am unsure how much food they try to get off their own property. We sat outside for our first cool front of the year and it was quite pleasant. There’s trees, lots of birds and other small wildlife, and a little pond next to the deck we were eating on. They also bring in live music once a month which would be great fun to go for!

The Food

The main dishes were excellent! They do keep their menu small, but each item is made carefully and well. They had 6 options to choose from. Chicken salad as a sandwich or a salad, a fall garden vegetable soup (fantastic), a quinoa bowl, a humus dish (so good), a fall harvest salad (yummy!) and a raw marinated veggie plate. You can probably tell which ones we tried haha.

Katie got the jalapeno humus with a side of chicken and their vegetable soup. It came with gluten free lavash, local feta (most amazing cheese!!), soup, homemade glazed walnuts, and some fruits and veggies. I do NOT like humus, period. I don’t like the flavor, and I really despise the texture. This stuff was good, though. I would totally eat their humus any time! It was a very pleasant level of spiciness as well. Katie does not really like chili heat and said she would still not choose to have it in there but it was enjoyable and not overwhelmingly hot.

The Harvest Salad was excellent, also. It came with cranberry goat cheese, local veggies, glazed walnuts, and I added on a delicious chicken breast to it. While it was a fairly typical fall harvest salad, it was all quite tasty and satisfying other than the dressing. The dressing was fine but not amazing.

Let Them Eat Cake

Or maybe not… So here is their one downfall, though it’s fairly minor. They had 3 different gluten free desserts available. All their desserts are produced by a local bakery and brought in. Since it was our anniversary anyway, and we have to make sacrifices for all of you good people, we went ahead and tried all 3. They have a carrot cake, an espresso chocolate cookie and an almond butter bar.

They serve them warmed, if you like. We went that route and they got a bit too warm and got crunchy on the outside. They were all fairly “meh”. The cookie was probably the best, but it did not really have any espresso flavor. Both the almond butter bar and the carrot cake were fairly plain, and all the flavors ran together. I at least have to say none of their desserts were dry or crumbly. If you have been eating GF very long you know that’s a big risk you take with many gluten free baked products. Theirs were moist, but just not great.

I would not spend my money again on their desserts; I would rather go without or make something at home afterwards. Something like our brownies would be great… Had to throw in the shameless plug sorry. Frankly, this is why we have spent so long working on our recipes. We want them to be amazing, not just ok.

The Verdict

Other than the desserts, their food is quite delicious, and I highly recommend Season’s Harvest Cafe. Their menu can be easily made to work with almost any diet, and I feel like the whole family can be happy with whatever they get. They also serve breakfast, and I am excited to go back and try it out. Here is also an important part. Their silverware is not giant, it’s properly sized for a normal human. I find this to be a very important to enjoying our meal! What is up with the giant, heavy, clunky silverware that’s in style right now ?! Anyway. More on that rant later, but go check out this restaurant and make your mouths and bodies happy at the same time!

Let us know in the comments, have you ever been to Season’s Harvest Cafe and what did you think? Is there somewhere else you would like us to try?

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Gluten Free in Houston: River Oaks Donuts

Donuts. Doughnuts. Either way you choose to spell this delicious word, they are high on my list of favorite foods. Sadly, they are not easily accessible for gluten free people. Donuts, even more than most things, are certainly best served fresh. I have very rarely found a local place that has a gluten free donut. While there are numerous brands of frozen gluten free donuts at the grocery store, it is nice to be able to have something available right when you want it. While they are not my favorite and could use improvement, in my opinion, if you are in the Houston area and looking for a gluten free donut go check out River Oaks Donut.

They offer, I believe, 4 different mini gluten free donuts every day. They did say that they tend to run out early on weekends. When I went, they had sprinkles and toasted coconut of both chocolate and vanilla gluten free donuts. When I say mini, I do mean mini. They are about 2 inches wide. The nice thing is, though, that they are only .55 cents apiece. That is a pretty good value proposition, especially if you just want to try them to see if you like them.

Gluten Free Donuts in Houston

Taste and Texture

Taste was, I would say, reasonable for gluten free. It was not amazing, frankly, just a bit bland for the donut itself. It was not bad, though. They do contain both garbanzo and fava bean flours which typically lend a bean flavor but they did not have any of that.

The texture is where these fall short in my opinion. They are still fairly gummy, probably due to the large amount of bean flour. I really do not like things that are gummy; I realize it does not bother others as much. My wife was not bothered nearly as much by the gummy-ness as I was.

The Conclusion

While I do wish the taste and texture were better, I think these are still an excellent option if you need a ready-to-go gluten free donut or sweet breakfast option in Houston. These are especially a good idea if you have a family where some eat gluten free and others don’t.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Eating Gluten Free in Dallas: HG Sply CO

HG Sply CO

Doing restaurant reviews feels a bit strange since I know many of y’all are not in Texas to begin with, and those who are in Texas are spread around. We all do travel, though, and I do think it’s helpful to know of places to stop in different cities. I was traveling myself for work last week up in the Dallas/ Ft Worth area. For dinner we went to HG Sply CO. We went to the location in Trophy Club.

I would describe it as higher end casual. The prices and food are a bit higher; average was $15 a plate, but a very casual atmosphere. I neglected to get many pictures – something to work on for future blogs! They have a large covered outdoor bar/patio area. When I have large, I mean LARGE – probably 6000 sq feet just by itself if not more.

Their vibe seems to be centered on getting together with friends, having a few good drinks, getting some good food, and having fun. It was a great family friendly atmosphere.

What Matters Most

The food was really good. They seem to have put thought into their menu and offer tons of options with quality ingredients. They use classic recipes but with a slightly varied take on things. The best part about it is that they said on their menu that they can make any dish gluten or dairy free. The staff seemed to have no issues with this and made sure my specific plate got to me even though several of us ordered the same dish.

HG Sply CO Menu

I ordered a steak, which is always a fairly safe bet for gluten free eating, which was pretty tasty. It wasn’t necessarily the best steak I’ve had in my life, but it was good. One of my coworkers is eating Keto and was able to grab something right off the menu. I believe it was salmon with fried cauliflower “rice”. He said it was really good. so this would be a great option for families or groups of people with different allergy needs!

In the end I highly recommend HG Sply CO if you are in the Dallas, TX area.  The food was good, and the prices were reasonable. Most importantly I feel like they are competent to adapt to whatever you food needs are. Let us know what you get and how it tastes if you stop by there!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris