Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Mellow Mushroom

I had heard from a friend that Mellow Mushroom had Gluten Free pizza so when Nick said he wanted pizza I knew where we were going!

I asked for the GF menu and was given this little yellow sheet.  There is special GF dough from Still Riding Pizza and then it lists the GF toppings.


I went for the GF dough with Ham and Pineapple toppings.

As far as taste goes it was OK but did not taste like regular pizza dough.  It was more sweet and cakey.   They use bean flower which has a pretty bad after taste in my opinion.   So it is a decent GF pizza option if you are OK with bean flower.

Nick loved his House Special and Cali ate toppings and crust from both.

When I compare Mellow Mushroom to Brixx I have to say the pizza actually tasted like pizza at Brixx where Mellow Mushroom's pizza was cakey.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Working Girls Survival Guide to being Gluten Free

It has been a crazy busy week at work.  I have had a lot of meetings, events and projects to fill my days.  This week also included 5, yes 5 meetings involving food.  This used to not be a problem but not that I'm GF it makes social events for work difficult.  Here is how I survived.

Event 1 - Business lunch
We are currently hiring so I scheduled an interview lunch with a candidate so we could get to know them better.  I scheduled the meeting at a local restaurant that I know so I would be comfortable ordering.  This is a bar fare kind of place but they have good salads and GF dressing.  My salad came with pita chips on the side that I gave to my co-worker.  The only challenge was resisting the urge to eat their yummy homemade, fried potato chips and ranch that my boss ordered for an appetizer.  I prevailed and didn't have any.

Event 2 - Associate Meeting
A local trade association had an afternoon meeting discussing an interesting topic.   The meeting ran from 3:30 to 5pm.  The food table included: cheese cubes, meatballs in sauce, nacho dip, salsa, tortilla chips, and a fruit tray.  I went with the cheese and fruit.

Event 3 - Business After Hours Networking Event
This one was the biggest challenge.  I didn't know what was going to be served or who was catering so I ate some GF snacks in the car on the way to the event.  The event started at 5:30 and ended at 7pm.  The food included: cake squares, pizza, bar-b-que sandwiches, and chicken quesadillas.  I had to pass on all of it which also meant no wine :(  I didn't want to drink on a mostly empty stomach.  When I got home I ate some rice pasta and GF Alfredo sauce.

Event 4 - Half Day Board Meeting
This event was tricky because it included breakfast, snack and lunch.  I emailed the organizer to see who was catering the event.  I then called the caterer to see what she was making.  The menu: muffins, fruit tray, biscuits, lasagna, salad, rolls and cookies.  I told her I was a Celiac and wondered if she had any GF salad dressing.  She was so sweet and said she would make some just for me and try to come up with a dessert I could eat.  I ate some fruit, the salad with GF dressing and some yummy macaroons!   She said the macaroons only had coconut, sugar and condensed milk.  I also brought a banana and GF crackers to snack on.

Event 5 - Black Tie Dinner
This was a buffet dinner with a cocktail hour and dancing.   I called the caterer to see what my options would be.  After trying to explain what Gluten Free meant I just told him I was allergic to wheat and flour.  He told me the menu and we decided I could have the chicken, pork and vegatables.   Dessert was a challenge.  I know the ladies who made the yummy desserts and found out it all had Gluten in it.  She told me she was working on some GF options and would love for me to test the results.   I ended up eating the icing off of 3 mini-cupcakes because the icing was safe.

Survival Guide

  1. Find out what is going to be served and contact food provider for GF options
  2. Bring snacks
  3. Plan events at locations you trust that have GF items available
  4. When in doubt don't eat it

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Product Review: Gluten Free S'moreables

I got some GF graham crackers from Whole Foods.  I have been enjoying s'mores for dessert the past few nights.  They taste fabulous!  The crackers do not taste like graham crackers but they make great s'mores.


I used 1 large marshmallow cut in half, a snack size Hersey's bar and 2 GF S'moreable crackers.
I put the pair in the microwave for about 25 seconds.  Let it rest for a minute then enjoy!


It is a gooey, mess, but very tasty.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gluten Free Chicken and Rice Slow Cooker Recipe

For dinner Nick made Gluten Free Chicken and Rice in the slow cooker!  It was super yummy and Cali even ate of bowl of it.


What you will need:
1 lb chicken breast cut into pieces
2 tbsp butter
1 packet Italian seasoning
1 container GF Cream of Chicken soup
1 package Philly Cream Cheese
1/2 bag frozen broccoli

Put cut chicken, butter and Italian seasoning in slow cooker for 4 hours.  Add cream of chicken, cream cheese and broccoli.  Cook for another 30 - 60 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Super easy meal on a busy day and it tastes great!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gluten Free Trader Joe's Shopping

After dinner Cali and I headed to Trader Joe's to find some more Gluten Free products.  It is 30 miles away so it was a good little trip.

Here is our haul:
- Gorilla Munch (This is my 3rd box of this stuff!  Love it!)
- Tortillia and Sweet Potato chips
- Rice crackers
- Udi's Bagels!!!
- Larabar, Think Thin and Kind protein bars

I took in our iPad so I could use our fun GF app, Is that Gluten Free?  It lists grocery stores and what GF products they sell.  As we were walking around an employee asked if I had our grocery list on the iPad.  I told him I was using my app to look for GF food.  He said they had a list that I could use as well.  So he brought us a 6 page list of GF foods divided by sections.  It was super helpful!  I could find a product on the shelves I was interested in, reference the list and know if it was GF or not.

My only issue was that the product labels were not always marked at Gluten Free, so I had to check the ingredients lists to make sure.

It is nice to be able to continue to fill our pantry with GF foods and know I have options.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Product Review: Brownies, Chicken, Mac n Cheese

Dinner and dessert Saturday night included 3 new GF products: Betty Crocker Brownies, Anne's Mac-n-cheese, and Southern Homestyle Corn Flake Crumbs.  

I followed the directions on the can for the Corn Flakes and added some seasoning.  The chicken came out tender and juicy.  The breading was tasty.


The Mac-n-cheese tasted good as well.  It had a milder flavor than good old Kraft Blue Box.  It was also easy to make.

The brownies for dessert were also very good and close to actual brownies.
The batter was thicker than normal brownie mix.  This made it a little difficult to spread.  The brownies tasted like dark rich chocolate brownies.  They were pretty rich so I wasn't able to eat much in one sitting

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The ups and downs of Gluten Free

The past two days have been tough.   Not because I ate Gluten and felt bad, but because I didn't eat any Gluten and mourned yummy foods I won't be able to eat.   I made good food choices but I feel like I see food as fuel not something that is enjoyable.

How it went down.  I had a ton to do at work friday so I never left for lunch.  By 1pm I was starving and had already eaten my Gluten Free snacks.  I called a co-worker to see if he had already eaten and if he could bring me back something.  He was on this way to Subway.  This meant all I could eat was a salad with meat on it.

Fast forward a few hours to dinner.  My sister was watching Cali so I was going to join them for dinner.  The menu - Pizza.  Knowing their was a Pei Wei close by I called in an order of Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Chicken with white rice and picked it up on the way.  When we sat down for dinner I noticed they had given me regular breaded chicken.  I called, they apologized and credited by debit card.  So while everyone was eating pizza, my brother-in-law ate the Pei Wei and I had cheese, yogurt and turkey slices.

Today I was still bummed about being Gluten Free.  My husband is home from his trip so we wanted to all go out for lunch.  After looking up a few restaurants online I decided to go with Chick-fil-A.  It's easy, I can eat the fries and Cali likes it.  The ray of hope came when I asked about getting my nuggets grilled instead of breaded and fried.  The manager came over and confirmed this was an option!  It took a few extra minutes and cost $.20 more but I did get grilled, un-breaded nuggets!


We then went to Lowe's Food to hunt for Gluten Free products.  Nick spotted these tags to help us find good GF products.

While we were walking around two ladies talked to me about being Gluten Free!  It is so good to know I'm not alone in this journey.

Here are some of our finds from Lowe's.
I'm pumped about the Corn Flake Crumbs!  I'm going to use them for breaded baked chicken for dinner. The Betty Crooker mixes were also on sale half-off!

The kitchen currently smells like Brownies.  I'm making the Gluten Free Brownie mix from Betty Crooker.  I will post later how they came out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gluten Free Restaurant Review of Qdoba

Cali and I went to Qdoba for dinner.   Before we went I looked up the Allergen menu online.  We had the naked chicken burrito with cheese, sour cream, pica de gallo, black beans and rice.  Cali had a bowl of rice, beans and chicken from my big bowl.



The meal tasted great but when I got home - trouble!  Not sure what had gluten but something DID!  The meal didn't stay with me.  Not sure I would feel confident to go back at this point.

I haven't knowlingly had gluten in 12 days.   I have to say I really DO feel better without the Gluten.  So to have a night like tonight it helps remind me why I have been saying no to cookies, bread, and other yummy Gluten food items.  Hopefully tonight won't set me back too far.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gluten Free Care Package

It turns out one of my best friends has had Celiac Disease for a year and a half.  She sent me this amazing Gluten Free Care Package!


She also put post it notes on the books with helpful tips.  She has helped me know where I can eat and what to order.

It is always so nice to know I'm not alone on this journey.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gluten Free Chicken Fried Rice

We love to eat Asian food, but since wheat is in a lot of sauces I have stayed away from it at restaurants.
Tonight I wanted some fried rice so I made a Gluten Free version!

Chicken Fried Rice - Gluten Free

2 large chicken breasts
1/3 cup Gluten Free Soy sauce
1/2 bag of frozen stir fry veggies
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 egg
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 tbsp butter
Pepper to taste



Heat oil and butter in skillet on medium high heat.  Put onion and chicken in skillet and cook for 4 minutes.  Add frozen veggies to skillet, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Move contents to one side of the skillet, put the egg in and scramble.  Add rice and soy sauce to mixture.  Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.



The finished product was very tasty!  My mother-in-law, Cali and I loved it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Product Review: Bisquick Gluten Free

For breakfast I made pancakes using the Bisquick Gluten Free mix.  I followed the instructions on the box and then added a tough of cinnamon and vanilla extract.  I left Cali's plain but put a few chocolate chips in mine!


The finished product had a lighter color than regular Bisquick pancakes, but this was the only difference I could find.  The taste was great!  They tasted like Bisquick pancakes!  I didn't even have to use syrup.  I just put some margarine on mine.

I made a full batch and put the leftovers in the fridge so I can heat them up this week for breakfast before work. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gluten Free Brixx Pizza

After reading this blog post I was inspired to try my first Gluten Free pizza.

I love pizza for many reasons: it tastes awesome, it is easy to eat, most everyone will eat it, it is usually cheap, and it makes for an easy dinner.  So when I learned I had Celiac I wasn't looking forward to giving up pizza.  I have seen Gluten Free pizza dough mixes in a few stores but they are always so expensive so I have passed.

We were out running errands today so we stopped in Brixx to try my first every Gluten Free pizza.


I asked the waitress about a Gluten Free menu and she said all the pizza could be Gluten Free just by selecting the Gluten Free crust.  Easy!  I decided to go basic and went with the Margherita pizza with roma tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil.  It came in its own tin pan which reassured me that they cared about avoiding cross contamination during preparation and cooking!


The pizza tasted great!  The crust was slightly sweet and what I would call thin crust style.  The toppings were very yummy as well.  I controlled myself and didn't eat the whole thing (even though I could have!) so I could bring some home for dinner.

The menu clearly states that the Gluten Free crust is an additional $2.00 so just be aware of that.  However, for a pizza lover like myself it was well worth it.

I'm so glad to know that all pizza isn't gone forever being Gluten Free.

One week of Gluten Free eating down - a life time to go!

**UPDATE**
For Valentines Day we went to Brixx's for dinner.  It really is the best Gluten Free pizza I have found.

I had the Hawaiian Pizza this time.  Amazing!  This time I ate the whole thing!

Another favorite is the BBQ Chicken pizza!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gluten Free Restaurant Review of Evos

After our Whole Foods shopping trip Cali and I went to Evos for dinner.  It looked like a health food place so I figured I would be able to get something Gluten Free to eat.

When we got to the counter I stated that I was looking for Gluten Free Menu options.  The employee stated the french fries were Gluten Free and I could get any of the wraps without the wrap and be fine.  I got Cali the Airbaked Chicken Strips and the Avocado & Turkey wrap (without the wrap) for me.


Cali loved her chicken strips and the fries.  It was nice knowing she wasn't eating a greasy meal.

The Turkey for the wrap was actually their Turkey burger.  I wasn't sure if it was totally Gluten Free or not so I emailed the company.  I'll give you an update if they get back to me.  I cut up the turkey, lettuce and tomato.  I made a salad like meal and dipped it into the avocado spread.  Again not sure how Gluten Free the meal was, so far my tummy is good though!

I have to say their EVOS Airfries were yummy.  They tasted like regular french fries but didn't have all the grease.

After some further research I think we will go back. I want to try one of there cheeseburgers (no bun of course).

***UPDATE***
This is the email response sent from Evos.


Hey Pam,

Thank you for taking the time to write.  It means very much to us as we have not gotten this far without feedback from our guests.

Currently, we are compiling detailed information regarding nutrition & allergens in our menu.  We hope to have it completed soon.  Please check out our website www.evos.com  from time to time for news and updates. 

Thanks for your patience. 

PS:  We have attached a draft version to help you in the meantime.


Please Note:  Attachment(s) forwarded
 
  
Have a Healthy Day!   EVOmaniacs Response Team

The draft version of the nutrition and allergy menu looks good.  It clearly shows what part of each menu item has what allergens in it.  We will defiantly go back now.  Good Customer Service goes a long way!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gluten Free Shopping at Whole Foods

After I got home from work Cali and I headed to Whole Foods to find some good Gluten Free items.  It is a 30 minute trip to the closest one!

One we walked the store and got a feel for the place I put Cali in a cart and off we went.  I was able to find some good items on my own that were Gluten Free.  My main reason for going was to get some Udi's bread.  Some of the blogs I read have made mention of it and they have a $1.00 off coupon deal right now!
Our Gluten Free haul!

However after walking the bread section twice I couldn't find it.  Frustrated I went to the bakery counter to ask for help.  It turns out all the Gluten Free bread is in a special freezer.  Luckily a very friendly woman was at the counter next to me who mentioned her husband has had Celiac for three years.  I told her I was just diagnosed last week and she took pity on my.  So Cali and I followed her and her two adorable kids around the store as she gave me the quick tour of the Gluten Free products.  It was great to have an insider show me what brands were good and what to avoid.

Some of the big finds were:



Whole Foods seemed to have a lot of Gluten Free products but they were not all clearly labeled like at the Fresh Market.  For my next trip I will need to go by myself so I can take my time to look for items or bring Nick so he can entertain Cali.

I will give you my input on the products I bought as I try them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gluten Free Spaghetti

We made Gluten Free spaghetti for dinner.  It turns out the spaghetti sauce we already had in the pantry was Gluten Free!  We had the Classico Tomato Sweet Basil.   For Nick and Cali I made regular thin spaghetti pasta from Wal-Mart.  For me I made the SamMills Pasta d'oro Spaghetti.  It is made with 100% corn.
The pasta was pretty good.  It did smell like corn which was a little confusing as I was eating it.  The taste was very close to regular pasta but the texture was a little more chewy than normal pasta.  Overall I feel it was a good alternative for a good Gluten Free meal.

However, I think I made a mistake with dessert.  I had some Breyers ice cream that upset my tummy.  I read the ingredients but there is a bunch of stuff in it I didn't recognize.  The dietitians office called today and I have an appointment for the middle of February.  I am trying to do this whole Gluten Free diet on my own until then.  So I think ice cream may be off the list until I know more about all the words that mean Gluten but don't look like Gluten.

Anyone out there know a brand of ice cream that is Gluten Free?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gluten Free Lunch at Chick-fil-A

Today's Gluten Free lunch came from Chick-fil-A.  I had business training out of town so I had to grab lunch in a mall food court.  I knew they had a Chick-fil-A so I pulled up the Gluten Free menu on my phone.  

Here is what I ordered: Chargrilled chicken filet no bun, medium waffle fries, bottle water and polynesian sauce.  You can also ordered GRILLED NUGGETS!!


I cut up the chicken and dipped it in the polynesian sauce.  I made a mini salad out of the lettuce and tomatoes.   Overall it was a tasty and filling lunch.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole

My wonderful hubby made a Gluten Free Mexican Casserole for dinner tonight.  We are a "one-dish" meal kind of family.  Throw a bunch of stuff in a dish, bake it for a while and eat.  It will be interesting so see how that changes now that I'm Gluten Free.

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole

Sorry about the picture.  I didn't think to take a picture until we had put the leftovers in tupperware.
1 pound ground beef
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
Taco seasoning recipe off AllRecipes.com
1/4 of an onion
1 cup of cheddar cheese
6 Guerrero Tostadas *These are Gluten Free*

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brown beef with onion, drain fat, add seasoning mix, corn and tomatoes to skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Layer 2 Tostadas on the bottom of a casserole dish.  Cover with a layer of the meat mixture and then cheese.  Repeat till you have 3 layers.  Bake for 20 minutes.

It came out very yummy and our toddler even ate it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gluten Free at a Mexican Restaurant

After church we headed over to a local Mexican Restaurant for lunch.  Before going I checked with my new Gluten Free iPad app for some ideas.

I typically order the chicken fajitas with corn tortillas   Make sure you ask to make sure the house corn tortillas do not have flour in them!  We have one restaurant chain that puts flour in theirs so we don't go there.  I also bring my own corn chips with me to eat with the salsa.  The ones at the restaurant are cooked in a shared fryer so they aren't safe.

If I don't order fajitas I go for an enchilada meal.  Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas and aren't fried.  I always ask about the sauces to make sure they are safe.  Our local restaurant knows me by now so they know that I will still ask just to make sure nothing has changed.

Another option is to order quesadillas made with the corn tortillas.  This took a look explaining with the waitress but in the end it worked out.  

I do eat the spanish rice and have not had any issues but I know of other Gluten sensitive people who have had problems.  So I would suggest eat the rice at your own risk.

Eating at Mexican restaurants to be a good addition to a Gluten Free eaters dining out options.  Just make sure you ask questions and come prepared.

Enjoy!

My first 100% Gluten Free Day

Yesterday was my first totally Gluten Free day!  Here is what I ate:

Breakfast

  • 2 scramled eggs
  • bacon
  • peaches 
Lunch
  • Salad with Ham and Gluten Free dressing
Snack
  • Pirate Brand Potato Flyers
  • Pamela's chocolate mini cookies
Dinner at Olive Garden
  • Garden Fresh Salad without croutons
  • Pennine Rigate with Marinara with gluten free past
It was difficult to say to no a few things today but it felt good to know I wasn't eating any gluten!  The pasta at Olive Garden was pretty good.  It tasted close to regular pasta and the sauce was tasty.

The Olive Garden Gluten free menu is here.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Gluten Free Shopping Trip

We headed out for our first Gluten Free shopping trip this evening.  We had dinner at a cute cafe that we had a Groupon for.  Like a good little Celiac I had a chef salad.

After dinner we went to The Fresh Market.  Five minutes in my clever hubby, Nick, realizes they have helpful blue signs that say "Gluten Free" in front of Gluten Free products on the shelves.  We went up and down the aisle looking for the signs and got a few fun things.

We grabbed a few essential items like pasta, salad dressing, and snacks.  I will let you know how they all taste as I try them.  I did open the Pamela's Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies.  They were good but you could tell there was something different about them.  

It's official

I have Celiac Disease.  I received the official diagnosis on January 4th, 2011.  And to be completely honest - I was bummed.  After 15 years of "tummy issues" I finally had the answer, the reason why I often "rented" my meals, why certain foods were no-nos, why I always needed to know where a restroom was, why I struggled with depression and infertility.  I just didn't like the answer.

The Dr. sad to feel better all I need to do is stop eating gluten.  This is so easy to say and much harder to do.  Gluten is flour, wheat and barley.  By the way, those three things are in MOST foods.

So now that I finally have my answer, I have to come to grips with my new life: a GLUTEN FREE LIFE.
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