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GF Celebrations… German Chocolate Cake!

2017 May 24
by Nicole Wang
GF German Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

Our family really loves cake…  well, who doesn’t!  Until now, it has always been either vanilla or spice cake that steals their hearts.  Recently, I made an awesome German Chocolate Cake that stole the show.  They may never go back… it is that good!  Trader Joes has a Dutch Process Cocoa that is the key ingredient to this cake.  Their cocoa is safe for those with nut allergies, which can be hard to come by.

The finished cake is not too chocolatey or fudgy in any way.  Just the right balance of chocolate.  I hope you find this just as good as we did…
German Chocolate Cake


  • 15 Tablespoons (level) Dutch Process Cocoa
  • 5 Tbls butter
  • 2 ½ cup GF Flour Blend
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil or butter
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbls milk of choice
  • 1 Tbls apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Lg eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Add Dutch Process Cocoa and stir constantly until smooth and melted together with the butter.  Be careful not to burn the mixture!  Once smooth, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a large bundt pan (oil with shortening and then dust with rice flour, tap out excess rice flour) and set aside.  Note:  You can use two 9 inch round layer cake pans lined with parchment paper if you wish to have a traditional layer cake.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the GF Flour Blend, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk of choice (we used coconut milk) and apple cider vinegar.  Set aside for 1 minute.  Then add melted coconut oil.
  5. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until lemon yellow in color.  Slowly add sugar a little at a time and beat until mixture turns pale yellow and thickens.
  6. Beat in cooled, melted chocolate and vanilla.
  7. Add flour mixture alternately with liquid mixture to the egg/sugar batter in two additions, stopping to scrape down sides each time.  Mix at medium speed for one minute more.
  8. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Place pan in center of oven and bake for 70-80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  (baking time for round layer cake would be about 40-45 minutes).
  9. When finished baking, remove from the oven and turn upside down on a cooling rack, keeping the bundt pan on top of the cake.  This will help the cake cool slowly, release from the pan clean and keep the cake moist.  Cool completely before slicing.

Once completely cool, the cake can be drizzled with frosting or dusted with powdered sugar or sweetened cocoa powder.  This version of German Chocolate cake does not include the sweet coconut/pecan frosting, but you will not miss it!  It is awesome served with vanilla ice cream or salted caramel ice cream…  even whipped cream and berries would make any celebration memorable!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2016 December 31
by Nicole Wang
GF Cheesecake Cranberry Jewel Cookies

Gluten Free Cheesecake Cranberry Jewel Cookies

I hope you had a great Christmas and are ready for the new year!  This Christmas our family spent the week back in Chicago.  It was a great time as we have been missing the snow and frosty weather we know during Christmas time!  While we were away, I was able to bake some of our favorite Christmas cookies at Grandma’s house (shortbread and gingerbread cookies for sure!) It truly is great to have all the resources on line through our site and many others to call upon when away.  We all wanted a sugar cookie to add to the festivities.  So, I did a little looking around and found this great Cheesecake Sugar Cookie recipe at Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  The dough was really easy to work with and we all really enjoyed them.  I kept remembering a Cranberry Jewel Cheesecake from long ago and wanted to see how the cookies would turn out with a “jewel” topping.  So, upon our return, I got to work and look at the result!  Just the right amount of tang from the cream cheese in the cookie, married with the tart cranberry topping was perfect.  These will be a great addition to our Christmas Cookie lineup for years to come.  Merry Christmas, 2016, to all!

Gluten Free Cheesecake Jewel Cookiesgfgcheesecakejewelcookie3



  1. Combine all four Cranberry Jewel topping ingredients in a small saucepan.  Set the saucepan over medium heat and cook until the cranberries begin to pop.  Remove from heat and cool.  Once cool, strain the cranberry sauce through a fine sieve or food mill to remove the berry skins, making sure to press down on the berries to extract all of their juice.  Cover topping and set aside to cool completely.  Topping will thicken when it is completely cool.
  2. Make and bake the sugar cookies according to directions, set aside to cool completely.
  3. While cookies are cooling, make your favorite icing and place in a parchment decorating bag with a small round decorators tip.
  4. To frost the cookies, line the entire outside of the cookie with an icing border.  This will help the cranberry jewel topping stay in place.
  5. Then add two teaspoons of Cranberry Jewel topping to each cookie.  Use the back of a spoon to gently spread the topping smoothly over the surface of the cookie and up to the icing border.
  6. Set aside to allow the icing and topping to stiffen.  Store cookies on counter for two days or in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap.


GF Vanilla Angel Food Cake

2016 September 4
by Nicole Wang
GF AngelFood Cake

Gluten Free AngelFood Cake!

I almost forgot to share this recipe with you after our awesome 4th of July ice cream cake!  The vanilla angel food cake is delicious on its own, with a warm fruit topping or layered in the ice cream cake recipe.  It is a lesson in patience to make angel food cake from scratch… building the egg whites first to soft peaks, then stiff peaks… sifting and folding the small amount of flour very slowly, multiple times over.  It is all worth it when you have such a light cake to enjoy at the end of the day.  Give it plenty of time to cool.  Perfect for your Labor Day grill festivities!  Enjoy…




Gluten Free Vanilla Angel Food Cake


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 11 large egg whites (about 1 1/2 cups) – reserve yolks for another use
  • 2 tsp warm water
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered Sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set aside a clean, dry angel food cake pan (tube style pan with a removable bottom)
  2. Sift the first 3 ingredients into a medium bowl 5 times (yes, you must sift it 5 times!)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a wire whisk, whisk the egg whites until frothy.
  4. Add 2 tsp warm water and the 1 tsp cream of tartar.  Continue to whisk until soft peaks form.
  5. Then, gradually add the remaining 1 cup sugar and vanilla, whisk until stiff but not dry.  Batter will be almost to the top of the bowl by now!
  6. Remove the work bowl from the stand mixer, gently sift the reserved flour mixture over the stiff egg whites in 1/4 cup increments.  Then, using a spatula, gently fold the sifted flour into the stiff egg whites.  Here’s where you need patience!  Don’t go too fast or hard with your “folding motion” or you will deflate the stiff egg whites.  Slow and gentle is all you need.
  7. Transfer the batter to your prepared angel food cake pan.  Bake in center of the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when touched lightly.
  8. Remove cake pan from oven and turn the pan upside down, place the center tube of the pan over a narrow bottle neck or funnel.  Cool upside down completely.
  9. Once completely cool, use a serrated knife to cut around the sides and center of the tub to loosen the cake.  Then remove the bottom from the pan and cut the cake away from the bottom of the cake pan.  Transfer to a platter, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

We also enjoy this wonderful dessert with blueberry sauce or mango lime sauce.  It is awesome!

Happy 4th of July!

2016 July 4
by Nicole Wang
Red White & Blue Ice Cream Cake… Happy 4th of July!

Red White & Blue Ice Cream with GF Angel Food Cake… Happy 4th of July!

Today we celebrated the 4th of July with friends and asian barbecue!  It was a nice time, slowing down… sharing a meal and friendship.  The best part was the ice cream cake!  I had not made an angel food cake in ages, but just had a taste for it this weekend.  Since my husband had the grill covered, I decided to focus on dessert…  check out this awesome cake!

GF AngelFood Cake

Gluten Free AngelFood Cake!

It is the “star” in this ice cream cake recipe and very easy to make.  If you are fortunate to find a GF AngelFood cake at your local grocery… that makes it even easier!!  I was not so fortunate, so had to turn on the oven; however, it was well worth it.  You can use any combination of your favorite ice cream and/or sherbet flavors.  Since it is the 4th of July, I chose a Strawberry Coconut Milk ice cream and Vanilla Bean Coconut ice cream.  It would have been equally good with a raspberry sorbet or sherbet! You will also need a version of whipped cream.  Since we are dairy free, I went with CocoWhip topping.  Then to make it festive… assembled the whole thing in a star shaped cake pan I had purchased a long time ago.  Why not!  After all, we are in Texas now!

gfg4thofJulyIceCreamCakeI let the cake setup in the freezer overnight and then let it thaw for just a few minutes on the counter when we were ready for dessert.  You could use any pan and as many layers as you want.

Once the crowd was ready, we sliced the cake and enjoyed, topped with a fresh wild blueberry sauce.  Hope you enjoy the fireworks tonight!

4th of July Ice Cream Cake

4th of July Ice Cream Cake

Happy Birthday America!!




GF AngelFood Ice Cream Cake


  • 1/2 Gallon Vanilla Ice Cream (milk, coconut, almond… your choice)
  • 1/2 gallon strawberry ice cream or sherbet (again your choice!)
  • 1 large container whipped topping (CocoWhip or other variety)
  • 1/2 large GF Angel Food Cake


  1. Line pan of choice with parchment paper, making sure to let it overhang the edges (this will help you to remove the cake from the pan later!)
  2. Soften the strawberry ice cream and spread 1/2 the container on the bottom of your prepared pan.  Place back in the freezer to harden again.
  3. Meanwhile, soften the vanilla ice cream and slice half the GF Angel Food cake into bite sized pieces.
  4. When the vanilla ice cream is soft, mix 3/4th of the container with 1/2 the container of whipped topping.  Then gently fold in the bits of GF Angel Food Cake.
  5. Remove the pan from the freezer, spread the vanilla/cake mixture on top of the strawberry ice cream and return to the freezer.
  6. Soften the last 1/2 container of strawberry ice cream.  Remove the pan from the freezer and spread softened strawberry ice cream on top, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
  7. Cover the top with plastic wrap or more parchment paper and return to the freezer.  Let freeze for several hours or overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let thaw a few minutes.  Invert onto a serving dish and slice.  May be served with more whipped topping or fruit sauce.


GF Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

2016 June 26


Yes, you heard that right! Widlflours has moved to TX!  While we miss the familiar surroundings of the Fox Valley Illinois area, we are getting to know new places in the DFW area.  It has been quite an adventure so far!  You may remember my article about soaking oatmeal a while ago… seems as the summer wears on, I tend to seek out ways to eat oatmeal without the “hot temperature required”!  I am not a fan of cold, cooked oatmeal.  Don’t mind it cold, raw though!  In that article, I shared with you an Oatmeal Cookie recipe.  This time, I would like to share one of my kids favorite breakfast muffins.  The star in these muffins is the gluten free oats.  Our oldest teen especially loves snatching up 3-4 of these morning glories on the way out the door to school or whatever is planned for the day.  Seems to fill what that growing teen needs to get through the morning!  I don’t feel bad about these muffins in the morning either as the sugar is so low and I know they will provide plenty of good fuel for the start of the day.  These are versatile, make them with just about anything you have in your gluten/allergy free cupboard kind of muffins!!  By far, my kids love the banana/chocolate chip version the best.  However, here are many of the other combinations that have been shared around our table to get you interested:

  • Banana (with or without chocolate chips!)
  • Apple Cinnamon (with or without golden raisins) – increase cinnamon in recipe by 1/2 – 1 tsp depending on desired taste
  • Blueberry
  • Blueberry BananagfgOatmuffin1
  • Blueberry Coconut
  • Coconut Lime – make sure to add the zest of the lime
  • Coconut Pumpkin Seed – toast the pumpkin seeds lightly first before adding to the batter
  • Raspberry or Blackberry (or both!)
  • Cherry
  • Pear Cranberry
  • Fig
  • Dates with Orange Zest
  • Homemade granola with dried fruit and seeds
  • Pumpkin Pie – use pumpkin pie spices in place of the cinnamon
  • Savory Bacon & Cheddar (!!!) – use dairy or non dairy cheddar cheese and either lower the sugar or omit it altogether

The list could go on, seriously!  We are a nut free family, but I am sure there would be wonderful combinations with walnuts or almonds if we could.  The other really great thing about these muffins is they are forgiving.  That is essential when baking without typical allergy ingredients.  It is also awesome when the pantry is bare but you still want muffins the next morning!  So many times I have started making these and found I am missing one or more ingredients on the list (say, coconut milk!…) Yes, these even work substituting plain ‘ol water for the milk (use less water than milk if you try this)!  Only have one egg, no problem!  No ground flax seed, that works too!  Just remember to save your leftover oatmeal, that is the star here… but wait!  YES, you can make them with another cooked grain.  I have used cooked millet and quinoa successfully.  Cooked rice may make the muffins very dense, but if you try it, let me know how that goes!

Anyway, here’s the recipe… Enjoy!

GF Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour (whatever you have on hand!  Just make sure the flour to starch ratio is just about 1 to 1).  Here is my favorite GF flour combination for these muffins:  3/4 cup sorghum flour, 3/4 cup millet flour, 1/4 cup teff flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 3/4 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (if you don’t have it, use regular sugar or brown sugar… I have even made these with NO sugar!  The fruit is often enough to sweeten!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 Tbls baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon – can be omitted or increased depending on the other ingredients you choose to use
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup coconut flakes or ground flax seeds, or a combination of both.  You can omit if needed!

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs (you can use 1 egg plus 2 Tbls of applesauce or egg replacer of your choosing, eggs give a nice rise so note that without eggs the muffins may be a bit more dense)
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled oatmeal (leftover is best as it has had time to absorb extra water)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups milk of choice, divided (favorite here is coconut milk; however other milk or milk alternatives work just as well!)
  • 1 lime, juiced (can use the zest of the lime if you wish! If you don’t have lime, either apple cider vinegar or lemon will work, or substitute buttermilk or yoghurt for some or all of the milk)
  • 4 Tbls coconut oil or ghee, melted (or you can use butter or palm oil shortening… even olive oil will work!)  NOTE: don’t skip the fat, your brain needs fats for fuel to think and grow, so keep this one in there for sure!

Mix In’s:

  • 1/2 cup or more of your favorite pantry mix in’s (see suggestions above – just make sure to dice large fruit or dried fruit into small pieces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 24 muffin tin cups with paper muffin cup liners or spray liberally with GF pan spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large work bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix together with a fork to combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs.  Then, add the rest of the wet ingredients to the eggs, using only 1 cup of milk to start.  You will want to mix the wet ingredients together and break up the cooked oatmeal as much as possible.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with fork or spoon by hand to combine.  If muffin batter is very stiff, add the additional 1/2 cup milk and mix to combine.  No electric mixer required here!
  5. Mix in your pantry mix in’s (diced fruit, etc) gently by hand.
  6. Fill muffin cups with batter and bake in the preheated 400 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes.  Tops should be golden brown.
  7. Remove muffins from muffin tin quickly and cover with a towel, let them sit for 10 minutes to cool.

Recipe makes 24 breakfast muffins…  Enjoy with butter or cream cheese if you wish… or just straight from the basket as you dash out the door in the morning!


Happy Father’s Day!

2016 June 19
by Nicole Wang
Frosty Chocolate Pie with Graham Cracker Crust!

Frosty Chocolate Pie with Graham Cracker Crust!

It’s been a while since I have had anything creative to photograph!  This weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day with some great Texas barbecue and a simple, frozen dessert… chocolate graham cracker pie!  It has been so hot now that WildFlours has moved to TX.  Didn’t want to turn on the oven, but still wanted my hubby to have something decadent to finish off the day.  Settled on this very simple dessert, dreamed up from something from my childhood.  I made some modifications to my mother’s recipe for heath bar deluxe and we had a cool treat to round off the day.

Happy Father’s Day!



  • 16 Gluten Free Graham Crackers
  • 3-4 Tbls butter or coconut oil
  • 1 container So Delicious CocoWhip
  • 2 pints Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream


  1. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers to a fine crumb, remove 1/4 cup and set aside
  2. Pulse the rest of the cracker crumbs with the butter or coconut oil, just to combine
  3. Line an 8″ spring form pan with parchment paper
  4. Pour the graham cracker crumb/butter mixture into the prepared pan and press to form a crust
  5. Soften the ice cream and the CocoWhip at room temperature for a few minutes
  6. In a large bowl, combine the ice cream and 1/2 container of CocoWhip (place the rest of the CocoWhip in the refrigerator to use as a topping later)
  7. Mix the ice cream with the CocoWhip gently, just to swirl together
  8. Place the ice cream mixture on top of the graham cracker crust and spread out with a spatula
  9. Sprinkle the outside edge of the ice cream with the reserved graham cracker crumbs
  10. Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours
  11. When ready to serve, remove spring form pan and let the pie thaw for a few minutes
  12. Serve slightly softened with the remaining CocoWhip and extra graham crackers


Celebrations… Allergy Free

2015 April 5

Gluten, Dairy, Nut free Celebration Cake filled with Trader Joes Super Fruit Jam!


Happy Easter! It has been a beautiful weekend after such a long winter to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  Recently, we have enjoyed several celebrations with family and friends.  Milestones at the end of sports seasons, achievements in school, family holiday celebrations… they all matter and it is important to celebrate them.  What’s a great celebration without food… dare I say, without dessert?!  Is not dessert the crown on any achievement?  For those with gluten intolerance or allergy restrictions, navigating the offerings at any celebration can be daunting.  A long time ago, I made the decision to always show up with cake everyone can eat.  Tall order, I know.  Well, a few years back I came across the most versatile cake recipe that just about everyone can enjoy!  With a little creativity, this gluten free, allergy free white cake is adaptable and goes with just about any frosting you can think of… chocolate, plain white, jam with “butter”cream, marshmallow, coconut, fresh fruit with whipped cream (even non-dairy if you need it!), even caramel to name a few.

Gluten Free, Allergy Free White Cakegfgcelebrationcake

  • 2 cups Gluten Free flour mix (click the link for my flour blend or use a GF flour mix without xanthan gum)
  • 1/2 cup Arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (you can substitute coconut sugar but the cake will be darker in color like a yellow cake, not white)
  • 3/4 cup melted shortening (palm oil shortening or coconut oil work well, you can also use butter if dairy is an option)
  • 3 large eggs (for egg free: use egg replacer for 2 eggs, you may need to add a few more tablespoons of milk if batter is too thick, OR 1/3 cup of applesauce and 2 tsp of additional baking powder)
  • 1 tsp pure, gluten free vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of choice)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make sure the rack in positioned in the center or lower third of the oven.  Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray, or spread a thin layer of coconut oil over the sides of the pans.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and melted shortening for 1 minute.
  4. Add one egg at a time, beating each egg in well, then beat until pale yellow.  Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides. Then add the dry flour mix and the coconut milk, beat on low speed until combined.
  6. Turn the mixer off again and scrape down the sides.  Beat for 1 minute at medium speed.
  7. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.  Place in center of pre-heated oven and bake about 40 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes) or until the center springs back when touched and cake has pulled away from sides of the pan.
  8. Remove from oven and cool slightly for 5 minutes. Invert cake layers onto a rack to remove from the pan, remove parchment paper and cool completely.
  9. Prepare your favorite frosting, place one cooled layer on a cake round or serving platter, spread 1 cup of frosting over top and sides of the cake.  Place your second cake layer on top and continue frosting the entire cake.

Note: If filling the center of your layer cake with jam, frost the top of the first layer lightly. Then, use a piping bag to pipe a thick layer of frosting around the edge of the first layer, spread your jam in the center of the first layer and up to the piped frosting (works best with jam or jelly that does not have seeds). Make sure to lightly frost the top of the second layer before inverting it onto the jam. Continue with frosting the rest of the cake. You will need to refrigerate your cake so the jam does not soak into the cake layers completely. You can see the jam in my layers started to soak into the cake as I left it out of the refrigerator for an hour.  If you want perfection (say for a wedding or bridal shower), keep it cold up until you serve the cake!

The next time you are invited to a celebration, show up with cake that you and the rest of the crowd can enjoy. Never miss out on dessert again!

John 3:16 Day: Favorite Song…

2015 March 16
by Nicole Wang

Happy John 3:16 Day!

Lyrics to my favorite song…  Christ is Enough, by Hillsong

Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there’s nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy

Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I’ve been set free

Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need

Christ my all in all
The joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail
Heaven is our home

Through every storm
My soul will sing
Jesus is here
To God be the glory

I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back

The cross before me
The world behind me
No turning back
No turning back

Once In a Lifetime Celebration… PI Day 03/14/15!!

2015 March 14
by Nicole Wang
Once In a LifeTime! Pi Day on 3/14/15

Once In a LifeTime!
Pi Day on 3/14/15


We hope you didn’t miss it!!

Celebrating Pi Day that is…  3.141592653

Today is truly a “once in a lifetime” celebration as Pi Day falls on 3/14/15.  We stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up some ingredients for our celebration and they had this very appropriate display at the pie and dessert section!

If you are a math wiz, challenge your friends to see who can count out the number’s of pi the farthest.  If you just know that pi has to do with all things round… well then, celebrate with lots of festive food!  We made pancake pi, pizza pi, and pear caramel “pi-lets”.  Here is the recipe for gluten free pie crust!  Enjoy!!



Restaurant Review: GF Pizza at Wise Guys Pizzeria

2014 March 20
by Nicole Wang


This post has been a long time in the making. If you don’t know me, I grew up the daughter of pizza restauranteurs. My parents were owner/operators of 13 pizza restaurants for most of my childhood and into my adult life. At the age of eight, I recall being tall enough to stand on a milk crate to help place pepperoni toppings on pie shells and fill customer orders.  By the time I was 12, our family had moved to Illinois.  Working along side my parents in the family business was a daily occurrence.  Along with a strong work ethic, the restaurants taught me a lot about food preparation and just how versatile pizza “pie” can be!  To this day, pizza is at the top of my favorite foods list.  I have given much thought into writing about what it takes to serve gluten free food, especially pizza, so those who do not have a “back of the house, restaurant perspective” could understand the challenges.

When our family made the switch to a gluten free diet, oh so many years ago now, I recall the very first food I needed to figure out was pizza.  By that time, I had grown accustom to making my own “artisan” pizza dough at home as well as enjoying pizza at local restaurants or via delivery.  I literally think the first thought I had when the doctor told us to remove gluten from our oldest child’s diet was “but what will we do without pizza?”.  Silly it may seem, but I bet those of you who strictly follow a gluten free diet for health reasons know all too well what I am talking about.  Until this March, it has been almost a decade since I have eaten pizza at a local restaurant or requested delivery.  The last time we ventured into a pizza restaurant was in New York City during the summer of 2005 (a small dedicated gluten free restaurant called Risotteria on Bleecker Street).

“Why so long” you ask? First, finding any restaurant that is able to serve gluten free food is a challenge.  Only recently have we been able to “eat out” with confidence that chefs and restaurant staff will be able to provide us a safe meal.  Second, growing up making pizza for a living, I am keenly aware that it is very difficult to assemble, bake and serve a meal free of any gluten cross contamination out of such a “gluten filled” kitchen.  Pizza kitchen’s have wheat flour in abundance!  There are so many aspects to think of when it comes to cross contamination:

  1. Is the pizza crust made on site or in a dedicated gluten free kitchen?
  2. Where and how is it stored to keep the crust completely gluten free?
  3. Are separate pans/baking equipment used for the gluten free pie so it does not come into contact with equipment used to make the rest of the gluten-filled pies?
  4. Are there separate sauce, cheese and toppings stations for the gluten free pie assembly?
  5. Has the staff been trained in cross contamination awareness and did the staff remember to use a dedicated spatula and pizza wheel (cutter or knife) once the pie has been removed from the oven?

I could go on with more, but those five questions are enough to make your head spin.  They are the top five questions I ask of restaurant staff and chefs when someone tells me about a restaurant that serves “gluten free” pizza.  Until now, no one could answer any of those questions with confidence that their establishment could keep us safe… then I learned about Wise Guys Pizzeria in South Elgin, Illinois.  I was skeptical at first and stopped by to ask questions of the restaurant staff.  Amazingly they impressed me.  This restaurant seems to have it together and understands the serious risks of gluten cross contamination. The front of the house staff waited patiently on me and answered all of my questions (the 5 above plus many more) with lots of details.  Their gluten free pizza crust and bread is made in a dedicated gluten free bakery located in Chicagoland, frozen and stored in their kitchen freezers until a gluten free order is placed.  From there, the staff understands the importance of separate equipment (the pizza crust comes with it’s own pan), sauce & toppings, spatulas & cutters to ensure a consistent gluten free end product.  While the staff at Wise Guys would not be able to “guarantee” absolutely no cross contamination issues would arise (let’s face it, there is wheat flour in the air), they have done their homework!

Wise Guys Pizzeria S. Elgin, IL

Wise Guys Pizzeria S. Elgin, IL

So, after researching the dedicated gluten free bakery a little more, we decided to give it a try.  A few days ago, our family sat down to gluten free pizza in a restaurant!  It was a “pinch me” moment.  While the experience was not without fear, the staff at Wise Guys Pizzeria served a really good gluten free pizza and none of us experienced any cross contamination issues.  Restaurant style pizza can be a reality once again.  Thank you Wise Guys!gsgwiseguys2


Now, I do have a few recommendations for those of you who are like me and even the tiniest amount of gluten causes great distress:

  1. Timing is everything. Plan your dining experience during non-peak times.  We chose a late lunch, around 1:30pm.  This will ensure the staff serving you can have their full attention on the dietary needs for your meal.
  2. Talk to the manager, chef or other knowledgeable staff.  Don’t just take someones word for it.  Take the time and investigate.  It’s your health at stake.
  3. Do your homework. In our case, we had to wait until we could research the bakery where this restaurant purchases their gluten free pizza crusts and bread.  Think ahead so you don’t end up disappointed.
  4. Be polite and don’t have high expectations.  If the staff is not able to accommodate your request, politely offer suggestions for the future (teaching paves the way for success later on) and be grateful for their time.  You might just win a restaurant over towards serving you a meal you can safely eat in the future!

If you do not live in the Fox Valley area, have hope that you may just find a great restaurant that can meet your  dietary needs.  If you have found other restaurants that have been great at accommodating your needs safely, tell us about them!