How to Borrow a Cooking Tradition

Dining out with food allergies is always tricky. Most of us cook a lot rather than chance an unfamiliar meal and that's cool....most of the time. But sometimes, we get tired of cooking too. Sometimes, we don't want to make every single thing from scratch. And more than sometimes, we crave easy to use, allergy-friendly products that we can just open and heat. Is this possible? Yes. But first, a little bit of how I found Spinato's Fine Foods.

Travel Back in Food Time This year, I attended the Atlanta, GA Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo. This is where I saw them. This is where I stuffed my face multiple times as I walked by, trying to be discreet but saying yes every single time Spinato's Fine Foods asked if I would like a sample. Gluten free pizza slices, gluten free pasta with their sauces...yummm! Plus, they serenaded me. Who can resist someone singing to you?! Don't believe me? (I warn you- I filmed it, not realizing it would be viewed sideways so pretend like you are looking for a book in the library) Watch here :) I ate, I sang, I ate some more and I was happy. Who wouldn't be, right? 

Then, I got a Package I got a bunch of Spinato's Fine Foods products to try!!! I got pizzas, salad dressings and sauces. Where to start? How to share? ...did I really want to share?  Good food makes me stingy ;) However, in this case, I wanted to share. You see, NutriSon has multiple food allergies and is limited in his choices of pizza that he can eat safely. I had a stack of them. I checked and double-checked the product ingredients and processing so I let me guard down and agreed to a pizza party night. But not before I left them in the freezer so he could stare at them each day, waiting, may seem mean but come on fellow parents you know we torment when we can. For those of you not familiar with Spinato's Fine Foods pizzas they are ALL gluten free! They offer Mozzarella, Pepperoni and Tomato, Basil & Garlic. I will say that Spinato's recommends heating them in the oven directly on the oven rack for the best crust outcome. I thought about this and as a food allergy mom (and just plain mom) two things came to mind: A) I'm not really sure how clean my oven racks are and what else may be on them and B) when the cheese melts all down the oven, burns and stinks up my house, who is going to clean it up? Me! But as usual, I came up with a very easy fix. Place a large baking sheet on the rack, then place a cookie cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. Place your Spinato's pizza on the cookie rack and voila- easy to clean up and maximum pizza crust results achieved! The key is to let the heat get to the bottom of your pizza crust to keep it from being soggy. Blah! Soggy pizza crust- no, just no.
Pizza Tasting OK, so the first thing I thought of when I bit into the Mozzarella pizza (bear with me) Steve Martin's movie The Jerk when he's eating "Pizza in a Cup". Is this relevant to the tasting? No, my brain just wandered a bit :) The mozzarella was a decent frozen pizza, no complaints. Pepperoni? Our only complaint was that it needs MORE pepperoni. It's kind of buried somewhere under the cheese and with a family of meat-eaters, we prefer a visual experience to our foods. My personal favorite pizza was the Tomato, Basil & Garlic- oooh my! The flavor mixed with the herbs mixed with the tomatoes that tasted like someone just plucked them out of the garden?! Seriously a hearty, fresh-tasting pizza and with my crisp crust going on, I was a happy, pizza-eating fiend for the night. NutriSon was even eyeing up the slices left on my plate like "You gonna eat that?" Uh yeah dude- can't a mom just have one dinner where she stuffs her face without having to share?? Don't get me wrong- when my kids were smaller, of course I shared (when it was safe to do so). I would make food and give it to them even if it meant I waited to eat but now they are older and I want my own food!!Give a mom a pizza, let a mom have her own pizza and see how happy that mom is at the end of the day, that's all I'm saying.

Dressing Up Your Salad...and Pizza Spinato's Fine Foods also makes salad dressings (which is another plus- how many salad dressings do you know of that are truly allergy-friendly? Plus, pizza and salad is just a food marriage). Three varieties Italian, Balsamic and Pomegranate. Are you wondering about the flavors? Are you a picky dressing connoisseur? Here's a quick rundown:

  • Italian Good, mild taste-just a slight hint of olive. Not greasy or heavy with a bit of vinegar without being overpowering ( I hate when you get a dressing that has too much of anything)
  • Balsamic Creamy (even though it's dairy free) with a slight mustard taste mixed with your typical balsamic flavor
  • Pomegranate Similar to the Balsamic but a bit on the sweeter side
Additional thoughts on the Spinato's salad dressings- a little goes a long way, makes for an excellent pizza crust dipping sauce (which comes in handy while eating their pizzas) and all of them would work well on wraps or sandwiches too. Here, let me show you exactly what I'm talking about. Behold- the Spinato's Fine Foods dressing in action! Now, make sure you look closely as this is a very rare phenomenon to catch on film- most of the time, it's gone before anyone can snap a picture.

Food Should Be Saucy When cooking with food allergies, the number one complaint I hear often is "It doesn't taste good". Use the items that you have in multiple ways and increase your food concepts. Don't be afraid to play and see what happens. Some of my most easy and exciting recipes came from me just seeing what would happen. This was also the case when I tried Spinato's Vodka Cream sauce (not dairy free just an FYI). I prepared it and served it on my pasta. It was good, it was thick and creamy but it was even better the next day. I added it to leftover shrimp, chicken and veggies- ooooh yeah! It melted in my mouth. Did I share? Nope. Am I ashamed of that? Nope.

I still had two other sauces- Tomato Basil and Marinara. So this is how it went down: I opened both to see if they were different, I smelled them, I spooned a bit of them (on the spoon, not, well, never mind) and I had my own mini judging contest early in the day. The Tomato Basil sauce has a mild, hearty taste that's not overloaded with too much of anything and it's not a sweet sauce. The Marinara is slightly stronger. The best thing about these sauces in my opinion? There is no "jar sauce" taste. They taste freshly made.

The Good News As I shared before, Spinato's Fine Foods are gluten free. Their products are also made and packaged in a gluten free facility. If you are hoping to purchase some, they have a store locator located on their website. If you do not live in an area where you can purchase their items, contact them or submit a request at your local stores to carry them. Most stores are more than happy to accommodate their shoppers to make them happy and broaden the allergy-friendly shopping experience. Not sure just yet? Follow them om Facebook and Twitter and see what news they have to intrigue your taste buds.

Whatever you decide, you should always remember that having food allergies is about enjoying the foods that you eat.

Thank you bunches to Spinato's Fine Foods for the wonderful amount of goodies that NutriFamily got to try out. We all hope to see you soon at another expo or (hopefully) in a store near us soon.

As always, never any compensation except for the products themselves to review as all of my reviews are always honest.