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Taste testing gluten-free foods before you buy

Trader Joe's bakes 'em for you to taste 'em!
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Do you ever watch cooking shows on television? Have you ever seen a celebrity chef make a comment like ‘… and this recipe is gluten-free, too’? With approximately 31 million Americans who have a sensitivity to gluten, it would be logical to think that at least one cooking show star would do this. No one does. Here are some ideas to consider when you (or a gluten-free friend) want to make a new recipe.

Many supermarkets have complimentary mini-cooking events that include product sampling in their stores on a weekly basis. Most times, these events are paid for by the company whose product they are using in the recipe they are making. However sometimes, the store is featuring their catering or deli department’s menus available for parties and take-out.

Stores that carry an assortment of gluten-free foods are the best places for people to request a product sampling. Some stores (Whole Foods, Market Street Supermarkets, and Trader Joe’s throughout Dallas and the ‘burbs) may not dedicate an event day product sampling, but they will give you a private sampling or an entire product for free.

These stores care about all their customers and are very attentive to providing outstanding service. It also helps that all three stores mentioned are on opposing corners of the same intersection at Preston Road and Park Boulevard in direct competition with one another.

One product that has been sampled is ‘Silver Hills Gluten-Free Omega Flax’ bread carried in Whole Foods stores. After speaking with the bread department manager at the West Plano store about what great tasting gluten-free breads they offered, this bread was offered as a free sample. It is dark bread with a rich flavor and a nice ‘chew’ (something most gluten-free breads don’t have). Two slices are 160 calories with 6 grams of protein and make a terrific open-faced sandwich. (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com)

Another product sampled and enjoyed by all are the Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies at Trader Joe’s. If you like a crunchy cookie, these are the best. Dipped in a glass of milk, they hold up well for great dunking. Used as a base for a cookie-ice cream sandwich, they freeze well and bring smiles to all who are lucky enough to grab one. Trader Joe’s is happy to open a package and let you taste the goodness before committing to buying a package of any of their products. Try the cookies, you won’t be disappointed. (http://www.traderjoes.com)

Taking to the time to ask stores for a tasting or a sample may seem to be out of place, but stores are eager to earn your weekly grocery shopping business – something that TV cooking shows and their sponsors have yet to learn.