Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘gluten-free’

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

Gluten-free Tennis Pro Attributes Success to Diet

The Wall Street Journal called him “the world’s best athlete of 2011.”  He’s beaten Nadal four times straight.  His first name sounds like a last name.

His name is Novak Djokovic and if you’ve heard of him you’re at least one of the following:

1. A dude.

2. A dude who watches ESPN exclusively even when the “good” sports are off-season.

3. Rich.

4. Over 40.

If you haven’t, you’ll hear of him soon because he’s unstoppable on the tennis court. And I’m thinking his nutritionist got a big raise

See, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered last year that he has a gluten allergy, and since he dropped it from his diet, his life on and off court has taken a turn. Says the journal,

Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand.

The one change in his life? Deleting the wheat.

Even if Djokovic’s newfound confidence stems from going gluten-free only because he told himself it’s the cause (as the WSJ article suggests), one can’t deny the results.  Or the good press for GF dieters and undiagnosed celiacs everywhere–especially the dudes.  The more men who hear the words “gluten-free” and “gluten intolerance” and see the positive effects the diet can have, the more likely they’ll be to get diagnosed, instead of toughing it out in favor of “appearing weak.”

Results may vary.  Going gluten-free may not make you Superman, or the best tennis player the world has ever seen, but it will make you feel better.

-Taylor

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Veggies and (you guessed it!) Bacon

Squashghetti Carbonara

If you follow this blog at all, you  may know that I’ve become a big proponent of bacon lately.  This is largely due to my friend Dennis, who bought bacon for a seafood dish a few weeks ago and has been striving to use it up ever since.  The other night he hit a home run in bacon and gluten-free pasta alternatives in his creation of spaghetti squash carbonara, which I gobbled up, the butter and egg and bacon filling my tummy faster than you can say Alex Trebek.

(We often watch Jeopardy during dinner like septogenarians).

And it only took about 5 ingredients.

What you’ll need:

-1 spaghetti squash

– 3-4 strips of bacon

-assorted vegetables of your choice (we used broccoli)

– 1 egg, beaten with a whisk or fork

-2 tbsp. butter

What you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 375

-Poke holes into the spaghetti squash all around so it doesn’t burst while baking.  You need only to make little notches in the skin of the squash to accomplish this.

-Bake the spaghetti squash for 1 hour.

-Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Gently cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.  Use a fork to to remove the spaghetti-like flesh and set aside.

For the carbonara:

-Crisp up the bacon to your liking, and remove excess grease (as much or as little as you want . The rest of this dish is all veggie so live a little!).

– Steam the veggies any way you like (if you’re like me,  and by that I mean cheap and resourceful,  you put it in a saute pan with a little  bit of water and slap a pot cover on top of it)

– Add the spaghetti and veggies to the bacon and stir it around, making sure to coat that stuff with bacon grease. Go ahead and add a tbsp. of butter and salt/pepper to taste.

– Then, when everything is done, turn off the heat and stir the beaten egg quickly as you pour it slowly.  The residual heat will cook it some, so no need to worry about raw egg issues.  But if you are worried, you can put it on low head and leave it on after stirring for a little while.  The egg, along with a little EVOO and butter, serves as the sauce for this dish, and boy is it tasty.

-Taylor

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