Taking gluten out of one’s diet is a very difficult task. You must keep a gluten-free kitchen, remind friends and family when you’re visiting what you can and cannot eat, have long discussions with servers at restaurants and spend an inordinate amount of time reading labels. I’ve grown accustomed to this way of life, but it took more than a couple of months and more than a few hiccups. That is why it is incredibly important to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.
That said, I am a new mother. As a new mother I am bombarded with information in the form of emails, tweets, posts, pins and so on. Yesterday was one of the infrequent times where a headline actually pulled me in, “Going Gluten-Free” from, Parent Magazine. The article discusses if your child can benefit from going gluten-free. Aside from people with Celiac and people with a gluten sensitivity, there are a couple other groups that have been shown to benefit from a gluten-free diet. The article discusses how symptoms for some people who are Autistic and who have ADHD improved after being on a gluten-free diet for at least 3-6 months. That had me thinking about myself. As a child I was ADHD, or was my behavior really a result of eating gluten? My mom tried putting me on the Feingold Diet, which removes all artificial colors, flavors, nitrates, nitrites and several other food additives. She saw some improvement, but maybe had I been on a gluten-free diet too I would have been a much more focused child. It is an interesting thought for me to ponder since I will never know.
Seeing as this article resonated with me, I thought I would share it. I can’t be the only one that this will hit close to home for.
The other day my girlfriend, who has just discovered that she can no longer eat gluten, asked me about a meal she recently had while dining out. Did I think that her steak au poirve was made with gluten, or can steak au poirve be made without gluten? I can’t remember the exact wording, but that’s the gist. It reminded me of how I felt during the early days of eating gluten-free. It reminded me of times where I assumed there was no way a particular meal could have any gluten in it and sure enough it did. I often found myself nauseous and with an upset stomach for days. Thinking about the challenges my girlfriend, and many people who are just starting out face, I have decided to share some simple and easy ways for you to do your part in avoiding a gluten bomb when you are out to eat.
- Call ahead and tell the host that you are gluten-free & and ask if they have a gluten-free menu
- Tell your server that you are gluten-free
- Ask your server what items on the menu are gluten-free. If they don’t know, ask them to please check with the chef. Better safe than sorry!
- Always ask about sauces and condiments. Gluten lurks in the most unsuspecting spots, salad dressing and soy sauce to name a couple.
- If something arrives and looks like it has gluten in it, never feel embarrassed in double checking that it’s the correct dish. Mistakes happen.
- If you order fries make sure that the fries aren’t dusted in flour before frying. Curly fries are NOT gluten-free.
- Fries are high on the list of foods that can be and often are cross contaminated. If you see lots of fried dishes on a menu assume your fries will be fried in that same oil.
- NEVER ASSUME A DISH IS GLUTEN-FREE ALWAYS ASK!!!
Gluten bombs can happen to even the most savvy of gluten-free diners. Follow these suggestions and you will be doing your part to ensure a nice gluten-free dining out experience.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Motek Treats, a gluten-free bakery with a “Storefront” online at Zaarly. Motek Treats bakes their treats and delivers them to the Bay Area. They invited me to visit their store, and if anything piqued my interest Zaarly delivers to San Francisco for them on Mondays and Thursdays. Motek Treats hand delivered their food to my door. All I had to do in return was review them here, on my blog. I love reviewing freshly baked or handmade gluten-free foods! I’m always looking for a gluten-free food “find,” something that pleasantly surprises me. I went to the site and was very excited to see fresh pasta and pizza crusts. Of course they have cookies, scones and bread, but since I have never had freshly made gluten-free pasta that was something special to sample. Of course I chose the pizza crust, because I love pizza! The only place to get a good frozen pizza crust is Mariposa Bakery, and I’d have to drive to one of their two locations. This place delivers!
In the end I received pasta, pizza crust, a peanut butter cookie and an olive and sea salt roll, still warm from the oven. It looked so inviting that I took a bite. The roll was crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. I dipped it in some good extra virgin olive oil and savored each existing bite. After enjoying the roll so much, I couldn’t help but try a peanut butter cookie too.
Soft & chewy, yum!
My plan for the pasta was make it for dinner that night. However having an infant means that plans always need to be flexible. Pasta dinner didn’t happen. When I finally did get to make it I brought a big pot of salted water to a boil and added some olive oil. I added the pasta and it swam through the water, unlike the dry stuff that clumps together. I poured the pasta in to a colander, tossed with olive oil and tasted it. The texture was exactly what I remember fresh pasta to be like. It was fantastic! I made a nice sauce to go with it and was in pasta heaven.
My husband who is not gluten-free loved the pasta too!
A few days later I tried the crust. I cooked it on my stone at 500 degrees and the crust was crispy. However the center of the pie, where I added sauce, didn’t cook through. I think I must have done something wrong, because everything else they made was incredibly delicious. I wonder if cooking the crust all the way through, and then adding the sauce and cheese, would have yielded better results.
Motek Treats has some great gluten-free food. The pasta and the olive roll were amazing! I truly felt like I was eating pasta and bread and that weren’t gluten-free. Having bread and pasta this delicious delivered to my door was incredible. Baked goods that are fresh from an oven being delivered to your door is a treat, a Motek Treat!
As the gluten-free community continues to grow, more events are being held in and around the Bay area. This is great news! Below are a couple of events I am really looking forward to.
Starting this week Robert Copeland Desserts, is offering a 6 course private gluten-free dessert tasting. I am really excited about their menu and this week’s deal. Enter the code: GGFR on the website brownpapertickets.com and receive 50% off of the dessert portion of the tasting for Thursday, February 7th and Friday, February 8th. Hurry up and order your tickets, because seating is limited.
This weekend, February 9th and 10th, the country’s largest gluten and allergen free expo is being held in Burlingame. There will be local and national vendors, classes, guest speakers and more. You can get all the information regarding this event at gfafexpo.com. Be there or be square!
It’s winter again and that means it is soup season. It has been kind of warm in San Francisco, but that hasn’t stopped me from whipping out the pots and cooking it up anyway. Any excuse to make soup, is what I always say. Soups are easy, tasty and last for more than one meal.
This soup is based on a curried zucchini & leek soup from the book, “for the love of SOUP” by, Jeanelle Mitchell. Her soups always start out pretty good, but I feel that they lack flavor. The vegetable combinations work very well together and then I add some extra seasoning.
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Large leeks, white parts only. Cut lengthwise then thinly sliced.
1 tsp. curry paste (I like Patak’s hot curry paste)
2 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ginger minced
1 Large Russet potato peeled and cubed
2 Large or 4 small zucchini halved and cut in to 1/2″ pieces
4 Cups stock or broth (I use chicken broth or homemade stock)
1 tsp. salt
1) In a medium size pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger cook for 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
2) Add zucchini, potatoes and broth or stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Let soup cool.
3) When cool puree soup in pot with immersion blender, or transfer to blender or food processor in batches and blend until smooth. Once soup is blended return to the pot, add salt, and simmer until heated.
Since having my beautiful daughter pizza has been off the menu. As it turns out, she is lactose intolerant. Her pediatrician says this is common, and that she should outgrow it by the time she is one. All of this is well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that I love pizza and miss it tremendously. For me it is a limitation, but for many, living dairy-free is a choice. There are a few options out there that are both gluten-free and dairy-free, and Bold Organics is one of them.
I had never heard of Bold Organics until I was contacted by them and asked to try their pizza. Their pizza can be found in most Whole Foods stores and at Rainbow Grocery, in San Francisco. Since Rainbow does not sell any meat products, they only sell the vegetarian version. That is the one I chose. Never having had a non-dairy cheese I was a little nervous about what to expect. Nevertheless, I tried the pizza desperate to have an old favorite food of mine. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The crust was possibly the best gluten-free frozen pizza crust I have ever had. I do not know if it had anything to do with cooking it on a pizza stone, but it was crispy. Many frozen pizzas, non-gluten-free included, have a doughy bit in the middle even when they are heated through. This pizza did not. The vegetables were a good consistency, not soggy, and the mushrooms were nice big pieces. The sauce for the pizza was also pretty darn tasty. The only part of the pizza I did not really enjoy was the cheese. It was gooey, the texture was right on the money, but it wasn’t very flavourful. I am not sure if this is consistent with all dairy-free cheese, or that I prefer cheeses with strong flavors and a bite rather then American cheese or shredded mozzarella in a bag. I suspect it as being the latter, since the rest of the pizza was very good.
If I was going to be living dairy-free the rest of my life, it is a pizza I would put in to my rotation. For now though, Bold Organics definitely goes in to the category of going to try again. This time however it will be the one with meat.
After almost 5 months I am still having trouble losing that baby weight. I have started eating more salads, not just with dinner, but for lunch too. After something like a million salads they are getting kind of boring. Today I decided to take the initiative and make a really tasty, colorful salad. It was easy to make, incorporated leftovers, was quick to make and filling too. Since I am doing Weight Watchers I have to watch my points. All told this salad was 7 points before adding dressing. If I used chicken breast instead of thighs it would’ve been less, but I used what was already in the house.
A Big Lunch Salad (7 weight watchers points)
3 C. chopped Romaine lettuce
1/4 Orange bell pepper
1/4 C. cucumber chopped
1/8 C. grape tomatoes cut in to quarters
1/2 oz. French feta (any feta will do it’s just my favorite)
1/2 oz. dried cranberries
2 1/2 oz chicken thighs sliced
Cover a plate with chopped lettuce. Layer veggies over lettuce. Topped the salad off with the feta, cranberries and chicken. Measure out dressing of choice if you’re on Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers tip: Measure dressing and put in side dish, then dip the fork tines in to the dressing before the salad.
Now that I have a new baby I simply do not have time to cook. I cut up lettuce and other salad makings when I have a free minute and I try to figure out easy veggies to serve with the protein of the night. My husband and I often cook on the weekends and freeze meals, but that doesn’t always cut it. For a nice hot meal that I can quickly make I turn to chicken thighs. From start to finish it takes me 30 minutes to make and they are just about impossible to screw up, because of how juicy thighs are.
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. kosher salt
black pepper (from the grinder to your taste)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sumac
1/2 tsp. seasoning powder/salt of your choice
Wash & dry chicken thighs thoroughly. Season both sides of chicken. Heat pan over medium heat until pan is hot, but not smoking. Spray with cooking spray then add chicken. When you add the chicken the pan should sizzle. Cook chicken for 5 1/2 minutes and flip. Cook for another 5 minutes then remove from the pan. The chicken should be a beautiful brown color when you remove from the pan.
I serve my thighs with a nice big salad, because like I said, that is always cut up and in the fridge. Mashed sweet potatoes are a nice side dish as well.
Filed under Recipes, Salad
It’s been a while since I have posted anything to my blog. That isn’t to say I haven’t been busy enjoying lots of gluten-free foods, because I have. What that means is that I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl. August 26th, my daughter Maya was born, and I have been busier than I ever imagined possible. She is now four and a half months old and giving me time to finally sit down and compose a post or two. Coming up expect to see some gluten-free and dairy-free food reviews, recipes and wonderful pictures.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and gluten-free 2013!