Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Archive for the ‘Celiac Disease’ Category

A Humble Apology from Me to You

Dear Readers,

I feel I may owe you an apology, as I may have led you down the wrong path concerning gluten-free food at California Pizza Kitchen. I wrote a couple months ago an entry about my pleasant back-to-back experiences eating gluten-free at a West Palm Beach California Pizza Kitchen. Well apparently my experience was a lucky one, as many people have been sickened due to cross contamination at the chain restaurant all over the country; so much so that CPK has pulled the gluten-free crust from its menu.

The last thing I ever want to do is make anyone sick over a recommendation I gave on this blog, and I hope this post will right that wrong. The staff at the location at which I dined seemed very knowledgeable, but I now know that to have been an anomaly.

A Celiac.com article alerted me of CPK’s lack of training for its chefs and workers on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, writing:

…The company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

We can only hope.

Happy reading and pleasant eating,

-Taylor

Fine Dining – Sans the Gluten

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

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Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!

 

-Taylor

Atlanta’s Yeah! Burger is Celiac Heaven

Last week  I spent 8 hours in Atlanta, Georgia (and 10 on the road), and man did I make the most of it.  I had heard about a burger joint called Yeah! Burger from a snippet in another blog, and I didn’t even give my travel companions a choice: we were going.

Yeah Burger! offers two things I really thought I would never order at a restaurant again: a hamburger with a bun and, wait for it…

Onion Rings.

Both gluten-free.

Here’s a quick break down of this gluten-free diner’s dream:

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  • Yeah! Burger has two locations in Atlanta, one in the Virginia Highlands area and one on the west side. We hit up the west side, which was in a gentrified area just outside downtown.  It was packed with young urban professionals.
  • All of the meat (you have your choice of beef, bison, chicken, turkey, or veggie) is all-natural or grass-fed.
  • The fries are homemade and hand cut. And even the fifty-fifty (half fries, half onion-rings) is available gluten-free
  • The buns are locally made, and provide that old burger-eating experience you remember, without taking away any of the taste. It’s nothing special, but it’s a good bun.
  • The GF onion rings seem to be made primarily with rice flour, as the breading tended to dissolve in my mouth rather quickly.  Again, not out-of-this-world, but more than satisfactory.
  • The place is a little pricey, but think about what you’re getting. It’s gourmet food with the feel of a down-home burger joint.
  • They also have a full bar.

Here’s the disclaimer from the menu:

Our gluten-free buns are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and are toasted in a dedicated toaster. Our gluten-free fries, onion rings and wedges are made in a separate, dedicated fryer to maintain purity. Our gluten-free onion rings are made with gluten-free flour. Please note, however, that trace amounts of gluten may exist due to the proximity of the dedicated fryer to our other fryers. If you have severe reactions to trace amounts of gluten, we recommend you skip the fries, onion rings and wedges.

All I know is the staff was highly educated on all things gluten-free, and I didn’t  feel one bit glutened.

Now I just wish I didn’t have to drive five hours to eat there.

-Taylor

Lost in the (Asian) Supermarket

Even before  I went GF, I loved Asian supermarkets.  Asian food is great for gluten-free diets because, with the exception of questionable wheat-filled sauces, many meals are naturally gluten-free.  Sure, the amalgamation of unidentified smells may overwhelm as you first walk in, but as you browse the aisles of countless brands of soy sauce and rice noodle, the smell dissipates and you’re free to enjoy the unbeatable prices these places have to offer.

Quail eggs are a good example.  I once purchased a dozen quail eggs for the price of a dozen regular organic eggs.

Another example is pork belly. I don’t even know if my regular grocery store sells pork belly (which, if you’re not familiar, is basically thick-cut, extra delicious, not-as-salty bacon), but my local Asian market had it.  In large quantities.  For not that much money.  And because you wouldn’t want to eat very much pork belly at any one time (it goes well on top of a burger, say), a little belly goes a long way.

So naturally, my trip to the Asian supermarket led to an Asian-inspired meal the next day.  A simple but filling breakfast-for-dinner: rice seasoned with sesame seed,salt and sugar (a $2 seasoning from the market!), and a pork belly-stuffed egg, with a side of edamame.  Delicious and protein-packed, it was a a satisfying little mid-week meal.

So be adventurous.  Go check out your local Asian supermarket – every city has at least one.

-Taylor

Having Fun with Farm Fresh Salad

Salad is one of the most versatile foods around. Appetizer or full meal, a nice salad can be filling and healthful or filling and super fatty, depending on the toppings.   We’ve been having a lot of fun with salad lately. Topping it with bacon and hard boiled eggs, or chopped roasted chicken from the store.  Even fresh CSA-provided blackberries make a delicious topping.

I know many people with Celiac refrain from making salad at home because it is so often the go-to meal at unaccommodating restaurants. But I’m of the belief that salads at restaurants are overpriced and underflavored.  Often we have to order them sans dressing to be extra careful, and there are few things less satisfying  than a dry salad. To make things easier, there’s even a list online of gluten-free salad dressings.

Just look at that rainbow of a salad (above) to see how tasty, nutritious, beautiful, and fun homemade salads can be.  Fruit and nuts? Extra veggies? You can even make your own GF croutons.

Think of the plate as a blank canvas and the many farm fresh fruits and veggies that are currently in season as your palette and get chopping!

 

-Taylor

Help Make Gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies Happen

Earlier this year, I posted a recipe for homemade gluten-free girl scout cookies, Trefoils to be exact, that didn’t really taste like the real thing, but were an admittedly delicious substitute.  Yet all the while I was thinking of how nice and convenient it would be to bring home a box of real gluten-free girl scout cookies, along with some Thin Mints and Tagalongs for my gluten friendly pals.

Now, a troop mother in Long Island is looking to make that happen.  Her daughter, Elle, has celiac disease, and though she has sold numerous boxes of the annual treats, she’s never tasted one herself.

[Stacy] Malinow said, “When my daughter is asked what’s your favorite cookie, she has a tough time with that, because she can’t answer that. She generally says Thin Mints, because she knows she likes mint, but she’s never had the cookies.”

I think she should start answering honestly – that no cookie is her favorite because the organization doesn’t feel like there’s enough demand.  If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings as you stand there buying cookies from a girl who’s never had them, you don’t deserve them.
Malinow estimates that 131,000 girl scouts have food allergies that prevent them from eating the cookies that fund their girl scout troops activities.  Malinow has started a petition to prove the demand is there.  You can sign it here.
-Taylor

Frontier Soups Makes Weeknights Easy

Finding a full-time job is tough and a little bit soul-sucking.  I apologize for my continued lack of tri-weekly updating.  I plan to get back into at least bi-weekly posts next week. I’ve also been spending a lot of my time on my second project.  Click it. Click it!

Onward…

About six months ago, my mom picked up and presented me with two packages of “soup mix” she’d found at one of those specialty shops in small historic  towns.  I was skeptical.  It just looked like dried herbs and corn, and the packaging was a little cheesy.

Then one Sunday night I was super lazy and tried one of them.  I added a pound of ground beef and some soup stock (as well as a couple of other required ingredients) and like 30 minutes later – Goulash.  The brand was Frontier Soups and it was delicious. And simple.

So even though they run at about $6 a pop, I tracked them down at my local Fresh Market and picked up some more.  This time I added bay scallops, shrimp and cream to the “Florida Sunshine” Red Pepper and Corn Chowder and we gobbled it down, briefly pondering how excellent the addition of BACON would have been.

And if you think $6 is a lot for a soup mix, think about the fact that it serves 4-6, which lasts me about a solid week when I don’t feel like sharing.  Plus if it’s not available in your area you can order directly from the site.  Win.

-Taylor

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