Three years ago, after our family moved from downtown Chicago, to across the border in Wisconsin, to a far north Chicago suburb, I felt so far away from access to good food. I had been so spoiled with places such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Treasure Island and other gourmet food stores in the city. Even before being gluten-free, I loved food, and finding rare, elusive ingredients to make some amazing recipe I had just seen in my latest issue of Food & Wine. I was so scared I was going to be stuck with nowhere to go shopping for “interesting” food items.
Shortly after I moved north of the border to Wisconsin, I discovered Woodman’s. I am not even quite sure how to describe the wonderfulness that is Woodman’s. Woodman’s is an employee-owned food store with several locations in Wisconsin, and three in Illinois. Woodman’s is like a combo of a standard grocery store mixed with a Whole Foods and local farmers market. It is a massive store, and you have to allow yourself time when you shop. Even when I run in for one thing, I am unable to get out of there in under 30 minutes. They have an entire store aisle and freezer section dedicated to gluten-free foods! In addition to this, there is another entire aisle dedicated to organic and health foods, many of which are also gluten-free. It can take me 30 minutes to just browse the gluten-free area and check out all of the new items.
It seems every time I go shopping the gluten-free section is expanding. If you are looking for gluten-free flours, baking items, donuts, quiches, black bean pasta, burritos, kosher black and white cookies or beer you will find them here. Of course, many mainstream items are naturally gluten-free, and many of these can be found in throughout the regular store aisles, but for the smaller gluten-free manufacturers of natural and organic gluten-free foods they have their own section of the store. Some of their gluten-free brands include:
- Udi’s (the bakers of my favorite bread, muffins and pizza crust)
- Shabtai (kosher cakes, cookies and other baked goods. Delicious black and white cookies.)
- French Meadow (baked goods)
- Lean on Me baking Company (individual sized cheesecakes and quiche)
- Siempre Rico (burritos)
- Glutenfreeda Foods
- Nature’s Hilights
- Life Beyond Wheat (baked goods – bread, pumpkin squares, cake, muffins, cupcakes, cookies)
- Caesar’s Pasta
- Foods by George (baked goods, pizza and lasagna)
- Conte’s Pasta (pasta and pierogies)
- Sunshine Burger (my personal favorite vegetarian burger)
- Bakery on Main (granola)
- Kingsmill (baked goods)
- Pane Riso (pizza crust)
- Mamma Mia
This is only a limited list as there are many more, including local vendors. In addition to the gluten-free section, they also have an entire section dedicated to international foods, which again contains many naturally gluten-free foods, such as Patak Indian sauces from England, flours from Asia, and items from every country in between. They also have a huge liquor department with liquor, wine and beer from around the world.
I have many friends from Chicago, who will make the 50 min drive just to be able to shop at Woodman’s for the incredible selection and low prices. They only accept debit cards, cash and check, no credit cards. They are open 24 hours. It is definitely worth the trip!