Saturday, May 28, 2011

Katz Gluten Free

Katz Gluten Free has a promotion where if you pay for the shipping ($8 for me), they'll send you a free sampler box of gluten free baked goods.
All of their stuff is dairy and nut free, for those who need that. For me, I like nuts- the people and the food- because they add flavor and texture to life. So, I sweetly asked my Marine to get out his credit card and voila! I received the package in a few days. Since I'm watching my weight, each day I try one small item.
So far I have tried the chocolate chip cookie (heavy on the brown sugar, didn't enjoy it), marble cake (dry, lacking in flavor), chocolate cupcake (superior texture, mild in flavor-I wouldn't buy it since I like to taste the chocolate if I'm eating the calories), and honey muffin (excellent texture, excellent flavor-I'd buy them).
I've yet to try the dinner roll, rugelech (pinwheel pastry?), and slices of bread (challah, wholesome, whole grains and white).

It's not surprise I saved bread for last, because I'm a bit of a bread snob, methinks, and I offer no apology for it. Frankly, in 2005 when I started out, I hated all the breads available to me. I only ate homemade offerings from the retired ladies at my celiac support group in California. So now I pretty much indulge myself- meaning, you will not find me chiseling frozen bread. I only eat the bread that you thaw the whole loaf on the counter, not chiseling a slice and putting the rest back in the freezer. Rudi, Udi, and Against the Grain are my staples.
Occasionally, if there is a brand I've used favorably in the past, and it's on sale for super cheap, I will buy it- Kinnickinnick or Whole Foods (got a loaf on sale last week). My Marine (who is not picky and eats many of the gf pastas, pancakes, and Bell&Evans gf breaded chicken), does not like any gluten free bread at all. He chooses to go without bread and buns at home, waiting to inhale the real deal out in restaurants. He eats a sandwich and soup every day at a deli or lunch cart.
I have baked some good stuff myself, but then I have to freeze most of it (defeating the point of making it fresh-as well as hogging freezer space), or eat it (which is how I gained weight last winter). So, I've pretty much resorted to buying a 4pack of Udi Chocolate cupcakes or muffins, a single cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery (divine!), or a peanut butter bomb or brownie from Buzz Cafe down the street from me. If I can find French Meadow Bakery goodies, I'll get those. Other than that, I eat mainstream indulgences that don't contain gluten (I have never liked cheesecake, creme brulee, meringue cookies, or tapioca, all of which are usually recommended for us and doled out on cruises and in restaurants-I didn't like the food accommodated for me on my cruise). I will try to link to my list of sinful foods later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dear Newly Diagnosed Celiac, Gluten Free Living is a Journey...

Try to remember-it's the rainy days that help us appreciate the sunny ones. Maybe reading gluten free books, blogs, or message boards could help validate your feelings and give you eating ideas. Sometimes, your mind will jump to plenty of excuses of why you can't or why the ideas seem unrealistic, but try to focus on the "can" and the "I'll try" attitude.

Yes, I had a hard time eating the gluten free baked goods and stuff with the flour blends and guar gum (which is a natural laxative!) and xantham gum and all that stuff. Celiacs often suffer from lactose intolerance for a variety of reasons, so maybe avoid dairy at first?

Some quick food ideas that come to mind-that have pure ingredients with minimal processing, or have always been gluten free without substituted ingredients:

Smoothies (I even eat Jamba Juice) If you don't want dairy, use a gluten-free soymilk or rice milk or almond milk
apple with peanut butter and Udi granola
Craisins, make your own gluten-free trail mix
potato chips or tortilla chips (just corn, oil, salt-even baked ones)-make nachos with soy cheese or just salsa
soup-some Progresso soups are labeled gluten free and they just have vegetables and gluten free broth
eggs, egg salad, deviled eggs, omelettes
tuna, tuna salad
jell-o, M&Ms (lots of flavors)
cereal- Rice Chex, gluten free health cereals- I like Nature's Path Organic Corn Flakes gluten free...alone or with milk substitutes above
quinoa- it's a seed, so it shouldn't be that hard on you, especially if you tolerate rice- I cook in Swanson Chic Broth and add peas
brown rice pasta- the ones I use only have brown rice and water as ingredients, so if you can eat rice...

Try a variety of fruit- blackberries, kiwi, starfruit, pineapple, guava, mango, etc. Put on skewers like a fruit kabob

Norpro 5-Piece Garnishing Tool Set
Corn tortillas- buy the fresh kind with just corn masa flour and water and salt- top with black beans, soy cheese, salsa, etc.
Hummus, salsa, pico de gallo, and other gluten free toppings

There's also a list online called 50 gluten-free Things You Can Eat Right Now
This has been described as the toughest diet there is, and I've read it takes 3 years to get a good handle on it, so be patient with yourself. It's a journey. You will buy expensive things that you end up throwing away, spend lots of time making things and shopping for things that you won't like. Lots of gluten free stuff doesn't have preservatives, so it goes bad quickly, too. You may even "poison" yourself unwittingly. It's a long road, so educate yourself and be patient.
SPOIL YOURSELF in ways that you can. Buy fancy bath stuff, go to the cooking store and buy a garnishing tool set (mine was $7) to make the foods you can eat (like fruit) look special and appetizing, buy yourself some flowers, start an herb garden to use on your salads, buy new dishes, toaster, utensils, so you know it's "safe". Call yourself and your diet "special" and others "regular" (not normal) or mundane or plain or run-of-the-mill or white bread. Change your language and change your thinking. Attend a support group (ask at your doctor or search online). I learned so much going to a cdf celiac convention and found so many products and resources. Do a celiac 5k or run and raise money and awareness for your new cause! Be glad you don't need shots or medicines or dialysis, just a diet! Dump your shampoo with hydrolized wheat protein and questionable makeup and buy new, gluten free ones! Express your feelings, coin fun terms for your new circumstances (my friends call me silly-as$, a play on the word celiac), write a poem or journal about it. And on and on!
Best wishes to you on your path...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gluten Free Dining Out: WILDFIRE and dining in: fried chik n pancakes

The 5k runs we did in April and the almost daily workouts are wearing me out like Steven Tyler wears out sticks of eyeliner or Gallagher wears out sledgehammers or undiagnosed celiacs wear out toilet paper. So, when I twisted my ankle the other day while walking, I took it as a signal to rest.
Aside from playing Scrabble online, we have tried some new recipes. Check out my recipe box here. Note: I rate them after I make them, so they aren't all favorites. I don't generally repeat the 3 star or lower ratings.
Seth has come a long way in his cooking abilities and found and made his first recipe without any help-Baked Chicken with Saltine Crackers. Well, I guess he did ask me to help him find our gluten free crackers (Glutino). He LOVED it, rated it five stars, and devoured the leftovers the next day. (Sadly, the picture got lost on his half-broken, cracked up iphone.) I'm not big on chicken, but I did like it. The buttery, crunchy chicken coating was comfort-food savory, and the fact that it was baked and not fried helped me eat it without guilt (I lost 4 lbs in April). I take the skin off when I cook chicken, but I was not the cook. I stay out of his way! I'm just tickled to see my marine (whose middle name used to be Applebee's) become more confident in our little gluten free kitchen...or any kitchen.
Today I gave him a respite from pancake duty (he makes the BEST banana pancakes with Barbara's mix or Bisquick or The Cravings Place mix), and I tried the Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake Mix

. The ingredients are healthier than chemical-laden Bisquick, and they baked up fluffy, but the taste was lacking and the texture was dry. I only ate half my pancake. He ate two, but said his fave is still Bisquick.
Since I enjoyed Wildfire in Atlanta, Seth obliged me here at Tyson's Corner, and we both enjoyed a fabulous meal. Since they were running a half hour late for our reservation, they comped us an appetizer, so I chose the pizza. It was light, crisp, and flavorful. The crust was so thin, it was perfect for an appetizer to share. Then I had the prime rib (juicy and divine), a gluten free roll (thick, warm, great texture, and delectable) and the roasted vegetables (abundant variety and deliciously drizzled with basalmic).

Seth had filet mignon (great), mashed potatoes (good), and a starter salad loaded with chopped veg and a delightful house dressing he raved about. The salad and cornbread filled him up so much, he brought half his meal home for leftovers. The key lime pie (not gluten free) passed muster for my native Floridian marine, also. I love Wildfire's menu. They even noted the gluten free options on the separate 3 course "deal" menu. However, they didn't list the fish sandwich here, which is what I loved so much at the Atlanta location. The waiter said the manager has to sign off on every gluten free order and that they take major precautions in the kitchen with very specific procedures. It shows. Bravo, Wildfire! Funny, that their location here is next door to Legal Seafoods and P.F. Chang's, so I could eat at any of them, but I'd choose Wildfire every time! In fact, I'm lusting to try the pasta with shrimp sometime soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gluten Free Grocery Products

Against The Grain BaguetteAmy's Gluten Free Chocolate CakeIan's Frozen French Bread PizzaConte's Gluten Free RavioliAmy's Gluten Free Choc Cake on Plate

Some of the gluten free grabs from Wegman's. I won't buy the Amy's cake again, but I liked the ravioli ok, and the Ian's french bread pizza (good, low-cal, and convenient) and Against the Grain baguettes (crisp outside, chewy inside, high in calories) are my longtime FAVORITES!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Seafood Chips and Dip at Legal Seafood

I won't be ordering this again! Legal Seafood is only a mile down the street from me, but these chips were like seafood-infused styrofoam-yuk! The dip was mediocre. I'll stick with the shrimp cocktail or salad or clam chowder (although it's a broth, not creamy kind). I love their gluten free rolls, tho!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Atlanta Home-Finding Expedition: Gluten Free on the Go

My Marine was committed to a time-consuming motorcycle safety course all weekend (he has had a retro bike for a year that he isn't licensed to ride yet), so I packed up some Glutino pretzel sticks and crackers, Lara Bars (pb&j, peanut butter cookie), apples, Bunny Organic fruit snacks, and leftover Starburst jelly beans and jetted off to Atlanta. Once here, this perfect little inn Seth booked for me has a mini fridge and microwave, so I stopped at Trader Joe's and picked up some grape tomatoes, goat cheese, and carrots. For $69 a night they have a free gym, parking, and internet, all of which cost extra last time at the pricier Midtown 'W' Hotel. This place rocks!

Spent day one touring trendy Buckhead apts and relishing the 75 degree sunny weather (pleasantly absent of humidity I was expecting) in the popular and updated Piedmont Park- such a tranquil gem with the water and magnolia trees, but look up and the skyscrapers are peeking from behind the trees, reminding you that you're in a city!

I ate the Trader Joe's fare the first night in my cozy hotel room. The second day, I worked out and ate an apple, then had a mango "tea freeze" at SanFranCoffee, which was dee-lish! (I am fully aware how calorie dense these things can be, so this was lunch.) After an awful day (I got a ticket for failing to stop at a sign I didn't see when I was oogling mansions at "tuxedo row", had itchy mosquito bites all over from the park, carefully navigated to appointments where I got stood up to not see 2 homes, and just when I was calling my boyfriend to whine, a giant locust-like bug with excellent timing fell out of a tree and hit me hard), driving around and learning that Virginia Highlands was out of our housing budget, my pal from middle and high school picked me up to go to a crawfish boil with her family for dinner. They were out of crawfish! She is so sweet-she must've researched gluten free-because she said Moe's Southwest Grill has gluten free food! The gluten free items are marked on the menu, so she insisted that she order for us while I watch her baby. My first time not ordering food for myself! This took trust! So, even as they shared nachos and burritos family-style, I had a pork rice bowl and it was spicy and filling! And I didn't get sick. :)
Mission accomplished! The following day I found and put a deposit on a house that is simple, yet homey and spacious, in a neighborhood that's easy to hop on the freeways and full of large trees (near my hotel that I'd gotten familiar with driving all weekend)! We'll move soon and Seth's commute will go against the flow of traffic, so I hope we truly enjoy it there!

I tweeted what I ate that day (highlighted by Wildfire dinner)and plan to eat somewhat the same today, then back to VA until it's time to move here! Oh yeah, he passed the motorcycle licensing test. oh. joy...ahem.

Gluten Free Favorites