Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘Gluten’

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

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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

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

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

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month

It’s May 1, which means your rent is due.

But more importantly, it’s Celiac Disease Awareness month, and in just three days, 1 in 133 will stand up to the FDA about their laziness in setting the standard for gluten-free labels.

Wish I was going to be there to snag a slice of that enormous gluten-free cake.

This WaPo article lays out why exactly this month and this event is so important. The main reason? You could be buying “gluten-free” goods that contain more than just untraceable amounts of gluten.  Canada, Brazil and Australia are already way ahead of us on this – having set the standard at 20 parts per million, meaning a food can be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. That’s the minimum amount of gluten that can be reliably detected.

And as much as I’m the kind of person who believes people will do the right thing, there’s always someone out there trying to prove me wrong.

In North Carolina two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was found guilty of buying regular breads and rolls and repackaging them as gluten-free under the name Great Specialty Products. Dozens of people complained of illness after eating the baked goods, including a woman who gave birth to a 31 / 2 pound baby prematurely, a complication that can result from celiac disease.

“We thought it was fantastic because it tasted just like real bread,” said Rebecca Fernandez of Raleigh, who gave it to her son, Malachy, who has celiac disease.

Within days, an angry rash covered the then-2-year-old’s body. “We thought maybe it was chickenpox,” Fernandez said. He ate the bread for two weeks, as the rash intensified and turned bloody, until Fernandez realized the problem and stopped giving him the bread. Malachy suffered from diarrhea for four more weeks.

And that’s why it’s time to make a decision.

-Taylor

Celiac Disease Causes Canker Sores

Did you know canker sores are a symptom of Celiac Disease? Me neither. When I found out (earlier today while reading an article about other dental issues caused by CD and continuing to procrastinate making that dentist appointment), I couldn’t make myself be surprised. Canker sores have long been a nuisance in my life. I mean, like most people I like to eat, so pretty much any time I get a canker sore (which is all the time lately), it’s a huge pain. (Really though, they hurt!)

But enough parenthetical remarks.

Celiac.com says canker sores might be the sole symptom of about 1 in 20 people with CD, so it’s worth getting tested or trying the GF diet just to see, especially because the people who participated in the study didn’t respond to canker sore medications.

And I know that those little monsters, which I’ve had a lot of lately, can also be caused by too much citrus and too much stress, both of which I’ve also had a lot of in my life lately. But I also wonder if my recurring canker sores are a sign that I may be glutening myself more than I know. So I’m trying my own elimination diet.

Eliminate the citrus? Done.

Eliminate the stress? Working on it.

If the inside of my mouth is still full of these burning white mounds of evil (okay, it’s just two a time, but still)  by my Master’s graduation on Friday, it’s time to stop eating out for a while.

We shall see!

-Taylor

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