Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Did you think you would never be able to eat another ice cream sandwich? Think again...

Julie's Organic Ice Cream with gluten-free cookies from Glutenfreeda Foods has made it all possible.

They are delicious and you would never know they are gluten-free.  They are a little expensive at just over $5.00 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods, but definitely worth every penny!  

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kona Grill

I wandered into Kona Grill in West Palm Beach this weekend and discovered a great restaurant.  We were spending the weekend in WPB and visited CityPlace for lunch.  The restaurant we were planning to go to was closed so we decided to check out Kona Grill.  Much to my surprise, they had a gluten-free menu

I ordered the chicken and shrimp romaine wraps (without the sauce) and it was delicious.  It was an appetizer but it was a nice size portion and just right for lunch.  Aside from appetizers, the gluten-free menu also includes salads, sandwiches (without the bread), entrees, approved sides, and desserts.  I think I will try the jerk chicken sandwich (no bread) next time with the white cheddar mashed potatoes (instead of fries).

Of course I had to check out their website when I got home to see if they had any locations closer to me, but this is currently the only location in Florida.  They have one opening in Tampa soon, and have locations in 14 other states.  

If you live near one of their locations or are just passing by, you won't want to miss this.  Enjoy!   

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beef and Mushroom Lasagna

1 box gluten-free lasagna noodles (10 oz.)
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 small container of diced baby portabella mushrooms
8 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan cheese - as desired
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large can spaghetti sauce

1. Cook lasagna noodles following the directions on the box - stir frequently, then drain.

2. Heat garlic in olive oil, then add ground beef and brown.  Mix in mushrooms and cook for approximately 2 minutes.  Add in 3/4 can of sauce and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Cover bottom of shallow baking dish with layer of sauce (1/2 of remaining sauce in the can). Arrange first layer of noodles on top of sauce. Add layer of meat sauce.  Arrange 2nd layer of noodles.  Add layer of ricotta cheese. Arrange 3rd layer of noodles.  Add another layer of meat sauce.  Arrange 4th layer of noodles.  Cover with remaining sauce from the can.  Add shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese.

4. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes.  

5. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before eating.

Makes 8 servings.  

This was my first attempt at gluten-free lasagna and it turned out delicious!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our Baltic Vacation

We just got home a few days ago from a 2-week Baltic cruise.  This was our third cruise with Oceania Cruises and we had a fantastic time.  We visited beautiful sights and enjoyed amazing food. Our cruise started from London (actually Dover), and from there we visited Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Finland, Russia (St. Petersburg), Estonia, and Sweden (Stockholm).

We had planned to get to London a full day early so we could enjoy some time before having to go to the ship.  Unfortunately, with flight issues that came up (more details about this later) we only had a few hours in London and we were exhausted.  I had done some research for gluten-friendly restaurants in London before the trip, but by the time we got there we just wanted to eat at the closest restaurant we could find.  We came across Nar Restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant in South London.  The food was delicious and the staff was knowledgeable about special diets. The menu actually identifies vegetarian dishes, as well as dishes containing nuts, and specifies to notify a Manager with any food allergies.  I had grilled chicken with basmati rice.  The portions were very generous and the chicken was packed full of flavor.

The food on the ship was amazing.  I mentioned in a prior post (Traveling Gluten-Free) that Oceania Cruises does a wonderful job making accommodations for special diets.  Just like my previous trips with them, I gave them advance notice of my gluten-free diet and they didn't skip a beat.  I had gluten-free bread at all my meals, and was able to review the dinner menu each morning to provide my selections for that evening in advance in case my meal needed to be prepared differently.  The chef was available to review the buffet items with me when necessary (we usually had lunch at the buffet).  They also have tea time every afternoon where you can enjoy small sandwiches, desserts, and a cup of tea.  I rarely went to this on our prior trips thinking there wouldn't be anything I could eat. However, I decided to go this trip for some tea, and was so surprised when I was greeted with a special tray of gluten-free sandwiches.  We ended up going to this almost every afternoon and I was able to enjoy a variety of sandwiches including egg salad, shrimp salad, chicken salad, cream cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Some of my favorite dinners on board consisted of Lobster Risotto, Filet Mignon, Veal Chop with Mushroom Porcini Sauce, Vegetarian Bean Chili, Seabass with Crushed Potatoes, and Herb Crusted Rotisserie Free-Range Chicken.  My favorite treat on board was the Triple Homemade Marshmallow Dessert.  It was out of this world!

I mentioned above that we had some flight issues on this trip.  I had made plans well in advance for special gluten-free meals on the international flights both going and coming from the cruise on Continental. Unfortunately, we had weather delays on the first leg of our trip and missed our connection flight from Newark to London (by minutes).  We ended up on a flight to London leaving almost 6 hours later than our original flight, and of course my gluten-free meal (along with our luggage) didn't follow me on that later flight.  I was able to eat a small meal at the airport, and luckily had some snacks to hold me over on the flight.   Preparing to return from Stockholm at the end of our trip, I was hopeful there wouldn't be any problems with the gluten-free meal I had arranged for this flight.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at the airport we were shocked to find out that with the changes Continental made to our initial flight to London, they accidently cancelled our reservations for our return flight. They were able to make some changes and get us home on the original flight, however the pre-arranged gluten-free meal was long gone. The few gluten-free snacks I had left at the end of the trip just barely held me over on this flight.  

I usually always carry gluten-free snacks when I travel and they definitely came in handy on this trip.  Along with the flights, I like to have them on hand for the days on long excursions.  I also mentioned in the previous travel post that I am not the most adventurous.  I'm sure there are many people on gluten-free diets who travel to other countries and try all of the local food.  I am not one of those people, and cruising allows me to see the world and eat great food that I know will agree with me.  Aside from the flight issues, it was a wonderful vacation.  Thank you Oceania Cruises!     

Monday, June 8, 2009

What is Your Favorite Gluten-Free Soup?

Who doesn't love a nice big bowl of hot soup on a cold rainy day?  Well... we don't have many cold days here in South Florida but we sure have lots of rainy days, and a bowl of soup is a great comfort food on those wet days.  It is also a great comfort food for those days when you aren't feeling all that well.  I had a few of those days last week and went searching for a new gluten-free soup to try.

I came across Health Valley Organic Chicken Rice Soup.  It is delicious and healthy!  It is low in fat, an excellent source of Vitamin A, and has only 480 mg of sodium per serving.

Some other soups I enjoy include:

Progresso Lentil Soup (an excellent source of fiber)
Thai Kitchen Rice Noodle Soup Bowls (I like the Spring Onion and Roasted Garlic)

What is your favorite gluten-free soup?  I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below and share your favorites!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Brown Rice Crisps

I found these today while walking through Target.  They were giving out samples of the Sweet Chili brown rice crisps by riceworks.  The Sweet Chili crisps are full of flavor, yet not too spicy at all!

Some of the benefits listed on their website include:

Natural Ingredients
No Preservatives or Artificial Flavors
Wheat and Gluten Free
No Trans Fat
33% Less Fat than Potato Chips
No Cholesterol

They come in 6 flavors:

Sweet Chili
Sea Salt
Salsa Fresca
Parmesan and Sundried Tomato
Baked Cinnamon

They are sold at Target, Walmart, Jamba Juice, and Costco in South Florida, but check their website for a retailer near you.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes from Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse

The Gluten-Free Bakehouse from Whole Foods has a huge selection of tasty baked goods. Their products (breads, muffins, cookies, scones, and more) are made at a dedicated gluten-free facility and are sold at Whole Foods Markets in the US and Canada.

The cupcakes (they come in vanilla and chocolate) are the latest Gluten-Free Bakehouse products to hit the shelves at my local Whole Foods.  I can't even tell you the last time I had a cupcake, so you can only imagine how excited I was when I found these.  I haven't tried the vanilla ones yet, but the chocolate cupcakes are out of this world!  Make sure you have a large glass of milk ready because they are big and rich!

I have tried many of their other products over the years and there hasn't been one that I didn't thoroughly enjoy.  My personal favorite (aside from the cupcakes) are the blueberry muffins which I have for breakfast on most mornings.

Some of you may feel that the cupcakes are expensive ($7.69 for a 4-pack), however individual cupcakes at a bakery will cost you at least that much. These cupcakes make a great dessert any night of the week or for a special occasion.  Look for them in your local Whole Foods and enjoy!      

Monday, May 25, 2009

KinniKritters Animal Cookies

I have been purchasing gluten-free products from Kinnikinnick Foods for several years now.  I am a huge fan of their donuts, chocolate chip muffins, and the KinniToos sandwich cookies (the closest thing to an Oreo cookie that I have been able to find).  However, today while browsing the cookie aisle at Whole Foods, I came across their KinniKritters Animal Cookies.  I haven't had animal cookies since I was a kid and thought I'd give them a try.  I opened them as soon as I got home and ended up eating half of the box.  They were delicious and tasted just like the regular ones I remember eating so many years ago. Kinnikinnick Foods is right - Gluten Free Has Never Tasted So Good!   

Friday, May 15, 2009

Penne Pasta with Asparagus, Peas, and Sage

I discovered this recipe recently from a fellow gluten-free blogger (GLUTEN FREE SOX FAN), and just made it last night for dinner. It was out of this world.

As I've mentioned before, I'm just your average cook, so I was a little nervous about all of the ingredients in this recipe. However, I love pasta and asparagus so I thought I would give it a try.  It was actually easier than I thought.

This could really be a meal on it's own, but we grilled some chicken breasts with it so we were sure to have plenty of leftovers.  I had some for lunch today and we still have more left for lunch tomorrow. 

Please visit the link above for the full recipe.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Lunch at Carrabba's Italian Grill

Much to my surprise, lunch at Carrabba's Italian Grill was very good today! I had eaten there several years ago when I initially started my gluten-free adventure and was not very impressed. I don't recall them having an actual GF menu at the restaurant other than the paper from the internet, and the staff didn't seem very aware of celiac disease or gluten-free.  I even recall our server making some comment about not understanding why someone would bother to eat the chicken without the grill baste. Needless to say, I never went back... until today.

Knowing they had a gluten-free menu, my sister suggested eating there for Mother's Day because she had a gift certificate and one of their locations is right across the street from my 96-year old grandmother's apartment.  Since someone always goes to pick up my grandmother when we all get together, we figured this time we would just eat closer to her home.  I was still a little skeptical about going back there, but I knew everyone else would enjoy the change (we don't eat out at Italian restaurants that often). 

As soon as we arrived and I noticed the gluten-free menu the hostess had placed on the table, I knew this experience would be very different than my last visit.  The GF menu actually looked just like their regular menu but it was clearly marked gluten-free.  When I started to order, I told the server that I had the gluten-free menu and I got the impression that he clearly knew what that meant (well enough to know how to enter the order so my food would be made correctly).  It was tough to make a decision with all of the options on the menu, but I ordered the Insalata Carrabba with grilled chicken (without the grill baste).

My meal tasted delicious and the rest of my family enjoyed their food as well.  I will definitely not wait as long to return for my next visit, and I think I'll try the Sirloin Marsala with garlic mashed potatoes.

I want to thank my sister for suggesting we eat there.  I hope my mother and grandmother (and all you moms out there) had a Happy Mother's Day!  


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pei Wei

We ventured out to Pei Wei today for a nice relaxing Sunday lunch.  If you have never been to Pei Wei (P.F. Chang's is their parent company), it is a casual Asian Diner serving Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese inspired dishes.

You will notice the contemporary-Asian decor as soon as you enter and see the menu boards posted along the entry wall.  Once you have reviewed the menu, you can go straight to the counter to place your order.  They have a gluten-free menu available at the register which includes:

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls
Asian Chopped Chicken Salad
Pei Wei Spicy Chicken Salad
Pei Wei Spicy Chicken or Shrimp
Pei Wei Sweet & Sour Chicken or Shrimp

Once you place your order, you can go sit down at your table and wait for the server to bring your meal (which doesn't take long at all).

This was only my second time eating here.  The first time I had the Asian Chopped Chicken Salad.  The gluten-free menu advises to substitute the dressing on this salad with a lime vinaigrette dressing.  It was a nice size salad and the chicken tasted great, but I wasn't a big fan of the dressing.

Today I had the Pei Wei Spicy Chicken which they were able to make mild for me.  This was also a nice size portion and it comes with rice (brown or white). Everything was delicious today and I will definitely be going back for more! 

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

There has been a lot of discussion in the gluten-free community about the release of Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book and the attention it will bring to Celiac Disease.  The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide is being released tomorrow! 

Elisabeth Hasselbeck will be discussing the book on Monday's episode of The View on ABC. 

You can also visit Sure Foods Living for an insightful review of the book.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kozy Shack Pudding

I don't buy pudding all that often, but I have had Kozy Shack chocolate pudding many times. Along with chocolate, they also have tapioca and rice pudding (all labeled gluten-free). Their website also lists some seasonal flavors for their regular pudding including Key Lime, Country Peach, and Pumpkin.

This past weekend I received a coupon for their new Simplywell pudding so I thought I would give it a try.  The Simplywell flavors (all listed gluten-free as well) include Dark Chocolate, French Vanilla, Green Tea Chai, Lemon Ginger, and Pear Mangosteen.

They are all available in a 4 pack (4 - 100 calorie cups) and list the following health benefits:

> Good source of Antioxidant Vitamin E
> Good source of Calcium and Vitamin D
> Good source of Prebiotic Fiber to Help Promote Digestive Health

I bought the dark chocolate Simplywell pudding from my regular grocery store and tried it last night.  It was delicious!  I have 3 cups left before I have to run back to the store to get some more.  I may have to try the French Vanilla next!

Kozy Shack also sells Flan, No Sugar Puddings and Soy Puddings.  While these are all listed as gluten-free as well, the Soy Puddings include organic wheat starch.  According to their website, the protein fraction (where the gluten is contained) is separated from the carbohydrate fraction during processing and only the part without gluten is used.  Please visit their website for more information on the Soy Puddings.

If you haven't tried Kozy Shack puddings before, I would definitely recommend checking them out.  Enjoy!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ortega Yellow Corn Taco Shells

I usually buy a different brand of taco shells, but tonight I tried Ortega. We used these shells to make tacos with ground turkey and McCormick Original Taco Seasoning.  

You can find these taco shells in your regular grocery store!
The front of the box is labeled gluten-free!
They taste great!

I'll be using this brand of taco shells from now on.  Be sure to check these out for your next fiesta!  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Don't Forget Your Snacks

Whether you are traveling, going to a long business meeting, or just going to run some errands, always make sure you take a snack along.   While there are plenty of gluten-free snack options out there (not necessarily labeled "gluten-free"), sometimes they aren't always available when you need them. It is best to plan ahead and be prepared so you don't go hungry! Your snack could be a bag of chips or a candy bar, but some fresh fruit is a great healthy option. 

I usually always have some type of snack in my purse because I am always hungry, but I actually didn't follow my own advice today and ended up starving.  I was attending a CEU course in a conference room of a local hotel. The course was from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm.  I had a small gluten-free roll with some orange juice before leaving my house at around 7:00 am.  I just assumed (not a very good idea) they would have some snacks at the course so I didn't bring any food with me.  When I arrived I saw that they had breakfast set up for everyone just outside the conference room. There was a long table set up with tons of bagels and muffins, and one small tray of fruit.  With close to 200 attendees, there was very little fruit left by the time I made it through the line. At about 10:00 am, they brought out cookies for the mid-morning snack, so I was out of luck again. By 11:45 am I was starving, so I made my way to the other side of the hotel to the gift shop and bought some M&Ms from their limited selection of snacks. Clearly this wasn't a life or death situation, but it did make for an unpleasant experience.

The moral of my story is to always be prepared and not assume you will find something to eat right away, wherever you are.  Always bring a snack with you because you never know when you may need it.       

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Favorite Pasta - Tinkyada

Growing up, I was always a pasta girl. Whether we made it at home or went out to eat, pasta was always one of my favorite meals. When I went away to college, I lived on pasta because it was cheap and easy.  After college (when I was actually making a decent living), I continued to make pasta once a week and made sure I had enough leftovers for a few lunches.  So when I made the switch to a gluten-free diet a few years ago, I was crushed at the thought of never being able to eat one of my favorite foods again.

I soon discovered that they made several different types of gluten-free pasta, and I tried several brands.  The more brands I tried, the more depressed I became over the fact that my pasta would never taste the same.  Then I tried Tinkyada...

Tinkyada pasta tastes just like regular pasta!  I was so ecstatic that I was able to make one of my favorite meals again and actually enjoy it.  We usually make spaghetti and meat sauce once a week.  Every now and then for a special treat, we make spaghetti and pan-seared scallops with olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms (I love the large scallops from Costco).  Last night my mother came over for dinner.  We made spaghetti with shrimp. It was actually the first time she had eaten gluten-free pasta and she thought it was delicious.  She said it didn't taste any different than regular pasta.   It was so good, we didn't have any leftovers!

I am fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods right down the street from my house, and they sell Tinkyada pasta.  For those of you who are not able to find this brand in a store near you, it is definitely worth purchasing online.    

Tinkyada pasta is another simple and delicious gluten-free meal!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beef Stir-Fry

As I've mentioned in previous posts, there are many great gluten-free books and blogs with wonderful recipes.  Some are simple recipes and some are more elaborate.  I am just your average cook, so recipes with several ingredients can be a little overwhelming for me.  That's not to say I won't try something new that looks really tempting, but it hasn't happened too often so far.

When it comes to making dinner during the week (especially after a very long day at work), I am all about simple...

Tonight we had beef stir-fry with broccoli, water chestnuts, and baby corn over rice.  I use San-J's Tamari (wheat-free / gluten-free soy sauce). 

My simple dinner was ready in under 30 minutes and tasted delicious!  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Breakfast Sandwich

This egg and cheese sandwich is a simple and healthy breakfast.

1 Ener-G Tapioca Dinner Roll
1 Scrambled Egg
1 Slice of Swiss Cheese

The key to the roll is to slice it in half and then warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds. These rolls also work great as hamburger buns. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Fellow Gluten-Free Bloggers

When I first switched to a gluten-free diet a few years ago, I considered myself pretty internet savvy.  I did my research and thought I had found a significant amount of information about celiac disease and living gluten-free on and, but times sure have changed. These are still great resources, but there is so much more information out there now. It wasn't until I first decided to start this blog that I really became aware of how much more!

There are blogs on gluten-free travel, gluten-free restaurants, gluten-free products, gluten-free recipes, everyday living gluten-free and the list goes on...

After starting my blog, I also joined Twitter.  I was amazed at the number of people on Twitter tagged as glutenfree (over 16,000 as of today) and celiac (over 11,000 and growing).

Since on Twitter, I have learned about so many additional gluten-free blogs including: Guaranteed GF, Switch 2 Gluten Free, Grandma's Gluten-Free Baking N Cooking, and Gluten Free Adventure Girl.

Living gluten-free does have some challenges, but the information and support from all of these fellow bloggers makes it so much easier.  You know you are not alone!

I'm sorry I'm not able to list everyone.  Please feel free to comment on this post and I will add you to my blog list.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Washington, DC

Washington, DC is an incredible place to visit. We were there recently for a long weekend to celebrate a special birthday and had an amazing time. We stayed in Georgetown, but ventured out to explore as much as DC as we could on foot and on the Metro (they have a fantastic public transportation system).  I hadn't been there in many years, so we visited the memorials, monuments, museums, and Arlington National Cemetery.  It was my first time at Arlington, and I would definitely recommend going there when you visit DC.

Before the trip, I did my usual research for gluten-friendly establishments. I did some research online, but also found some great recommendations in The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide from Triumph Dining.  We ended up having some wonderful meals while we were there. We had dinner at The Capital Grille to celebrate the BIG birthday!  We also had dinner at Clyde's of Georgetown and Legal Sea Foods (one of my favorites in many cities).  We also had a great lunch at Mitsitam Cafe located inside the National Museum of the American Indian.  It is set up cafeteria style with different food stations.  Gluten-free options are actually labeled at each station and the staff is very helpful.  You don't want to miss this one!

I had a few other recommended restaurants that I wanted to go to, but we were only there for a few days.  I'll have to add them to the list for my next visit!     

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Traveling Gluten-Free

Traveling gluten-free can create some anxiety, but it isn't going to stop me.  I have traveled more in recent years (for business and pleasure) since going gluten-free, and it does seem to get a little easier each time.  Depending on where I'm going and how long I will be gone dictates how much planning I need to do (and how many gluten-free snacks I'm going to bring with me)!  I usually like to travel with some gluten-free pretzels and breakfast bars.      

I have been able to see some amazing places in the last few years that I didn't think I would ever see!  We went on a 14-Day Caribbean cruise and 10-Day Mediterranean cruise, both on Oceania Cruises.  I have heard that many cruise lines will accommodate for special diets (with advance notice), but my cruising experience has only been with this one cruise line so far. They were incredible and are known for their fine dining.  With a few weeks notice of my dietary restrictions, they were able to make accommodations for me.  For nights that I planned to eat in the Grand Dining Room, the menu would be dropped off at my room in the morning.  I would check off what I wanted and return the menu to the front desk so they would be ready for me when I arrived later.  The chef was always available to point out what I could and couldn't eat at the buffet (and there was plenty I could eat), and gluten-free bread and rolls were available for me at every meal.  I ate so well that I never wanted to leave!

The shore excursions were a little challenging at times.  I had done some research about gluten-friendly establishments before our trips,
but when we chose a shore excursion
through the cruise line, we didn't have as much freedom to go off on our own.  I would definitely recommend going on some of the formal excursions, but you may want to bring some snacks on those days just in case!  

The Caribbean cruise was easier because it sailed out of Miami (close to home). For the Mediterranean cruise we had to fly from Miami to Barcelona on Iberia airlines, and then fly back home from Athens on Delta. Both airlines were able to provide gluten-free meals with advance notice (I don't know that Delta will do this on domestic flights), but I am still always a little cautious when it comes to eating and flying (especially on very long flights).  Again, your personal gluten-free snacks can come in very handy for these situations. 

I'm sure there are many other gluten-free travelers out there that are probably more adventurous than I am, but this works for me.  I am seeing the world and LIVING gluten-free. 


Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Taco Night

Tacos are a simple and quick meal for any night of the week for kids and adults.  We made them for dinner tonight and have enough left over for taco salads for tomorrow's lunch. 

This is all you need:

Old El Paso Taco Shells (hard taco shells)
McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix
Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream

Make it a taco night and enjoy a simple gluten-free meal!

Friday, March 27, 2009

San Diego

I mentioned in Wednesday's blog (Going Out to Eat) that there are many restaurants that will make accommodations for special diets, however some cities do a much better job of this than others.  I was in San Diego last year for a conference, and was also able to explore the city and take in the sights.  The weather was beautiful as we walked down the streets lined with shops and restaurants.  Although I had done my research of gluten-friendly establishments prior to the trip, we ended up eating in random restaurants that we came across on our walks.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff in EVERY restaurant we ate at were all familiar with gluten-free requests.

We had lunch downtown at Henry's Pub and at the Harbor House at Seaport Village.  Dinners were at McCormick & Schmick's, Yard House (they have an actual gluten-free menu), and Croce's (my personal favorite). The grilled free-range chicken, risotto, and asparagus dinner at Croce's is out of this world!

The San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park are both probably places you don't want to miss when visiting this great city, but when you do make it to San Diego, make sure to add these restaurants to your list and enjoy the food!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gluten-Free Passover Goodies

It is that time of year... the grocery stores are filled with food for Passover and many items are gluten-free (be sure to check the labels)!  I wish I could find gluten-free blintzes and knishes like those mentioned on Gluten-Free NYC, but if you are lucky enough to have a large selection, these may be in your store.  A few years ago, I came across gluten-free Ring Tings from Shabtai Gourmet.  They were incredible, and they brought back so many memories of eating Ding Dongs and Rings Dings as a kid, but I haven't been able to find them lately. I do however have a large variety of Passover cookies at my local grocery store, and this year I discovered another blast from the past... black and white cookies from Oberlander's.  I had to try them as soon as I got home, and they tasted just like I remembered.  Passover is still a few weeks away, so I think I may need to go back and pick up a few more boxes before they disappear!      

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going Out to Eat

Although my gluten-free diet has gotten much easier over time, eating out was very scary at first and still requires some planning.  However, making every meal in the comfort of my own kitchen was just NOT an option. Going out to eat is a part of life and being on a gluten-free diet shouldn't stop us from living.  Of course I was scared about the "secret ingredients" they use and the cross-contamination, but it is just about making smart choices.  There are so many restaurants that actually have gluten-free menus (the list keeps growing) and so many more that will make accommodations for special diets.  

The information is everywhere... individual restaurant websites, magazine articles, gluten-free forums and blogs, and the list goes on.  The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide (Triumph Dining) is also great if you do any traveling at all.  I have actually packed this in my suitcase on a few trips! But don't stop there... if you are planning on going out to eat and aren't sure they will have something for you, just call ahead and speak to a manager.

Brazilian steakhouses are one of my favorites that don't necessarily have special gluten-free menus, but always have plenty of tasty options.  Some of the more popular chain restaurants with gluten-free menus include P.F. Changs, Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Chili's and Legal Sea Foods. However, be sure to check the menus frequently as ingredients may change.  I usually order the Original Baby Back ribs with mashed potatoes when I go to Chili's, but recently noticed that only the Honey BBQ ribs are now listed as gluten-free. They even removed the mashed potatoes from the list of gluten-free sides.  So it is important to check the menus and ask questions!
I have definitely gone to a few restaurants and simply ordered a plain salad after looking at the menu or talking to a server who seemed completely clueless (sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry), but that is not the norm.  I have enjoyed so many wonderful meals at restaurants and it just seems that more and more places are becoming familiar with gluten-free diets.  Again, it is all about making smart choices and doing a little research.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Welcome to my world... living gluten-free in South Florida!

I've been on a gluten-free diet for a few years now and it has gotten much easier over time. When my doctor first said the words gluten-free diet, visions of my favorite foods that I would no longer be able to eat flashed through my mind.  Donuts, egg rolls, pasta, garlic bread, and the list went on... I jumped on the internet to look for all of the information that I could find, including gluten-free replacements to all my favorite foods, and wondered how I was ever going to eat out at a restaurant again.  I found a few websites that had a ton of information ( and www.celiac. org) and several with gluten-free products including Gluten Solutions.  I also bought a few books.  Many of the books out there were also filled with valuable information (what I could and couldn't eat) as well as great recipes.  Being that I am just the average cook and not into gourmet cooking, some of the recipes were too elaborate for me.  Two of my favorite books are Against the Grain and Wheat-Free Worry-Free.  They covered everything about living without gluten, including supermarket basics, reading labels, eating out, traveling, nutrition, as well as the emotional aspect that comes with this new lifestyle.  These 2 books are must-haves for anyone starting on a gluten-free diet!  However, for those really into cooking, also check out The Gluten-Free Gourmet books. 

I was very surprised how much information was out there and just how many gluten-free products were available.  I initially bought a lot of my new food online as I began experimenting with different products.  This quickly became expensive and I started to look for other options.  Luckily, I have a Whole Foods close by that carries a large supply of gluten-free products (the selection continues to grow over the years).  I also stop off at a few other health food stores nearby on occasion to buy items that I can't find anywhere else (Nutrition Smart and Tunie's).  I even still buy a few items online once in a while (my favorite tapioca dinner rolls from Ener-G Foods).  However, over the years I have changed my mindset somewhat from simply looking for "gluten-free" specialty products to eating simple and healthy.  There are so many options that are naturally gluten-free, that the question is no longer what can't I eat, but rather what should I eat?  Don't get me wrong, there are still a few gluten-free items on my shopping list each week (gluten-free pasta included), but I now buy most of my food in the regular grocery store.  My weekly shopping list includes more fruits and vegetables, and a simple dinner may be grilled chicken and asparagus.

Every now and then, dessert consists of a special gluten-free treat.  Last night was a chocolate cupcake I just discovered at Whole Foods!