Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Udi Gluten Free Frozen Pizza: A Quick Gluten Free Dinner

Went easy on the cheese, plucked herbs from my planter, and piled on veg, and pineapple.
The Colonel was in town, so my Major had to take him to dinner.  What to eat myself- without a big production?  Try that Udi Pizza Crust!  

It was super easy to make- just preheat oven, pile on sauce and toppings, and bake for 7 min.
I bought it at Whole Paycheck Foods.  There were two in a package, frozen.
The crust was quite pitiful thin (especially for a Chicago native). Additionally, although I delighted in the crispy edge, the middle tasted like I would imagine cardboard to taste (if I were ever to munch on a pizza box).
I won't be buying these again.  I prefer Against the Grain pizzas.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Turner Field Gluten Free

Turner Field Gluten Free Food stand in section 106-112.
**2014 update food & pics @turnerfield (scroll to Monday section of this post  here).

Originally from the Chicago area, I'm a Cubs fan. However, living the migratory military life with The Major, I bandwagon fan whatever teams are nearby (except when they play Chicago teams)!  I have collected caps, tank tops or shirts for the Angels, Lakers, Dodgers, Cubs, Bears, Redskins, Wizards, and soon will add Braves and Falcons!
Gluten Free hot dog, gluten free beer, and bun at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. June 30, 2012.
Update July 2012:  The gluten free food booth at Turner Field is still in the area between section  112.  The sign is a tomahawk slashing diagonally through a stalk of wheat in a circle as pictured.  
Gluten free hamburger at Turner Field Summer 2011.  

My boyfriend's gluten dog, that  dwarfs the gluten free one.
The first time I had forced down a substandard hot dog.  I dunno what brand it was, but it didn't taste like Hebrew National, I tell ya.  Better the second time, but too much bun for a puny dog.  The second trip offered gluten free buns with chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  Previously, they had chili dogs, but this time, no chili.  Sides consisted of Lara Bars, Brownies, chips, cookies, and Cupcakes from American Gra-frutti.  They were temporarily out of hamburgers, so I had to wait (you know I'm not a big chicken eater, and if it's cheap, processed chick chick....iiiick!)

 A jarring moment occurred when an unobservant, preoccupied fan lugged his giant, foot-long, gluten-laden dog protruding on either end of a standard glutenous bun from a regular food stand, slopped it on the gluten free counter, and proceeded to dig in the basket of packaged ketchup and condiments with his gluteny paws to dress his dawg.   I sure wish the server, who was not busy, would've been more aware of cc and shooed him away.  Who wants crumbs of glutey bun in the basket of gf condiments?

My gf burger was fair (equivalent to any fast-food burger), and the tapioca bun sort of held together enough for me to eat it, but it did crumble at the end and I did have ultra-messy hands after.   I plan to get it again next time.

I also got a chocolate chip cupcake at the stand, it's American Gra-frutti brand and, in my opinion, it was not a cupcake.  It was scrumptious, but it was a muffin.  It was dense and oily, like a muffin, not light, soft,  and airy like a cupcake.    

Finally, there are other "regular" foods that can be ok for gluten free people- cotton candy, Dippin' Dots, Ice cream, chips, smoothies, peanuts, etc.  And they DO allow you to bring your own food and water into the stadium.
Braves Game Cupcake by American Grafrutti:
Deeelicious, but it's a MUFFIN
and thumbs-down on the frosting-cake ratio!

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to cook gluten free meals

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch. 
Orson Welles

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. 
Julia Child

I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something. 
Mitch Hedberg

More food quotes can be found on this website.

I should have this printed on business cards and hand them out when necessary:

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent. 

Like Julia Child says, keep it simple.  I'm no fancy cook.  I don't keep a gadget-filled kitchen.  I don't make up my own recipes.  My honey likes a duality of protein-rich grilled/baked/steamed dinners and unhealthy diner/American food.  (What is American food, you ask?  I believe it's the American versions of foods immigrants brought over, along with foods from the farm.  For example, there ain't no burritos in the real Mexico, and pizza in the U.S. ain't nothin resembling what you find in Italy, if you get my drift.)
So here are some pictures of foods we prepare at our house.  
Rachael Ray's Honey Chicken w/Spicy Lemon Rice: Tasty, but labor-intensive- I elaborate here

Stuffed cabbage from allrecipes website- tastes way better than it looks!

My Marine made dinner- Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage gluten free on Rudi's bun (so-so), veg and fruit.   He also selects the dishes, lol.

When I plan meals for the week I consider:
  • protein variation (one fish, two poultry, one beef or pork or buffalo(buffalo has a pleasantly soft texture, and not a strong gamey flavor you might expect), one tofu/beans/vegetarian); I hate lamb, venison, etc.
  • prep time/ease of preparation (with just 2 of us, we try to cook at home at least four dinners a week, and a fifth leftover or frozen night.  I eat out 0-2 dinners and 1 breakfast  or lunch a week.)
  • price (having lived in CA where avocados are sold on the side of the road 4 for a dollar, I won't pay $2 for one; shop coupons/sales; we buy organic when it's affordable.)
  • freshness of available ingredients (I like to buy unfrozen fish and fresh cilantro and garlic, for example.)
  • flavor variation (if one meal has soy sauce, we won't pick another one with it that week) 
  • food pyramid/plate guideline (my mother taught me to shop for the 4 food groups, and I've adjusted it to be sure a plate is half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter brown rice/quinoa/starch/bread.  We mostly eat yogurt, broccoli, and drink orange juice for calcium.  I also try to limit processed foods.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Traveling Gluten Free: BYOF and What to Pack Travel List

This is what I brought for a 4 day trip to Florida---Taking the grub out of the boxes/packaging obviously reduces the bulk, and I pack some in my suitcase for during the visit and some in my carry-on bag for en route, especially if there are delays. (Remember I got sick at the airport once by eating yogurt I bought in a shop there.)
Traveling gluten free: BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)!

Toasterbags:  If you want to toast your own gluten free bread in a public toaster, you can re-use the toaster bags up to 50 times.  It's extra fun when you're at Best Western in the self-serve free continental breakfast area with other hotel guests pouring cereal and cooking waffles, and as soon as you put the bag in the toaster, some type-A do-gooder with a savior complex swoops over and shouts that you're going to start a fire by putting plastic in the toaster.  I always say, ask! Don't assume.  Assuming makes an ass out of u and me -->ass-u-me.
For BREAKFAST I often boil water in the hotel coffeepot (unwrap a sanitized cup they provide and use my own spoon) to make Instant Grits. Or I'll have fruit. Or I'll have a bar: Glutino breakfast bar, Glutino Granola Bar, LaraBar, or EnviroKids Chocolate Crispy Rice bar.
Out for breakfast: I'll quiz the server: What surface are the eggs cooked on? Can my eggs be cooked in a clean pan? Do you place the bacon on bread to soak up the grease? Be sure to tell them if they use the same spatula on my food as they do to flip pancakes, I'll get sick. Clean gloves, clean pans, clean utensils. So, I order eggs, fruit, sometimes bacon, and bring my own bread. If I have toaster bags available, I'll ask the server to use those on MY bread.

LUNCH: Udi Bread or Glutino Crackers, Justin's Peanut/Almond butter packets OR StarKist Tuna pouch, jelly packets, fruit, chips, etc.

DINNER: I bring uncooked brown rice pasta, in case I can talk some restaurant into using a clean pot, strainer, etc. to make it for me with a little olive oil and garlic on it. Or I search on my cell phone internet-finder-doohickies to find a place to eat. In Miami we ate at Texas de Brazil (used a coupon), pricey seafood at The Place on Ocean, and twice at Pizza Fusion.

ANYTIME: I bring my own hot cocoa packets, fruit, individual puddings, jell-o, and fruit cups, Glutino pretzels, Smoreables gluten free, Chips, Fruit snacks, Crunch N Munch, frozen baked goods that I made previously (or that my mother sends me home with), etc.

Other Gluten Free Travel Tips:
**Generally, I like to stay in cushy hotels, to avoid grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning like people do when they rent condos, timeshares, etc. Not only is it more of a "vacation feel" than it would be to cook and clean, but we are often pretty spontaneous on vacay and it would likely be wasteful to buy food because we wouldn't be sure we'd have time to go back to eat during or after an adventure. I also enjoy seafood and steak on vacay and don't want my place to stink like fish or whatnot during the trip.

**I try to stockpile the food I lug along- preferring to eat out when I happen upon "old reliable" food out-and-about, such as Wendy's chili and TGIFridays in the airports. On the way home, if I'm out of fruit- I'll ante up the big bucks to buy fruit at the airport.

**On boat trips/camping/all-day excursions I bring along my own insulated lunch bag with plasticware in the pocket and fill it with lunch stuff pictured above. If I'm staying a week or longer and my hotel room has a fridge, I might stop by a Trader Joe's or Costco and pick up some chilled cooked shrimp, tortilla chips, avocado, and salsa that I pack in baggies and bring on the trip. While everyone else is gnawing on the cheapo, dried out sandwiches provided on the trip, they eyeball and maddog my delectable entree. The tables are turned, for once.
**Research restaurants prior to the trip- especially if you are going out to eat with a group for an occasion. Try to be knowledgeable enough to offer up your own choices in where to eat.

**Ask restaurants to accommodate you- especially in nice hotels, they are accustomed to accommodating special requests from weary travel warriors every day.

**Bread- I carry Udi's green or Against the Grain baguette in my purse everywhere. It makes a small meal more satisfying. Plus, it lowers the mental anguish watching your comrades devour the warm bread basket offerings at restaurants.  Sometimes I run out after the first couple days, and that's ok.

In case you didn't get the planning gene, or if you're curious by nature--here is the list I've used for years to pack- I keep it in a clear page protector folded in my travel toiletry bag, which I keep stocked. It has helped me pack in record time for last-minute trips. I only pack pertinent items, but it helps to see the list no matter what type of trip it is. You can use a wipe-off marker to check it off through the plastic, or you could put it on your iphone:
Gifts for those I'm Visiting
Extra suitcase folded up to fill with stuff I acquire on the trip to bring back
Beach Bag/sunscreen/hat/coverup/swimsuit/flipflops/towels
beach toys
rash guard for in the ocean
carry-around bag for water/map/sweater/magazine, snacks,etc
games, leisure activ.
copy of passport/credit card cancel #, health card
money belt
stamps/addresses for postcards
camera with batteries/charger/uploader cord or card
cell phone/charger
zip loc bags
sports accessories: snorkel gear, camping gear, ski gear, etc.
romantic stuff
dental floss/toothbrush/paste
safety pins/sewing kit
emergency kit/band aids/etc
travel pillow
flashlight (or iphone app)
antibacterial gel
toilet paper (esp for camping)
water bottle w filter
important phone #s of people you stay with/pick you up, etc.
confirmation #s for hotel, itinerary
tickets for shows, travel, etc.
passport, dr.license
guide books, bus schedules
money/ATM/cc/change for tolls
GPS for car, if not using phone app
personal hygiene feminine products
day outfits/night outfits
maps/tourist info/travel coupons
book/reading material/travel book light
tea/hot choc and snacks for plane
purse: day and night
iron/hairdryer if there is none at destination
socks, nylons, tights, slips
Shoes: walking, going out, flips flops, matching to outfits
earrings, jewelry coordinated with outfits
hair ornaments, clips, bands
undergarments- bras: strapless? Sports?
nail polish, file
kleenex, deoderant (keep on carryon)
makeup, tweezer, powder
shower soap, face soap
shampoo, cond
Earplugs and Eye cover (for plane)
Medications: allergies, Lactaid, pepto, Tylenol, cold, eyedrops
Dramamine, airborne tablets
Hairbrush/comb/sprays/curling iron
pen, paper
snacks, gluten free foods (separate list)

On short trips, I only carry a small carryon with my purse (phone, money, allergy pills, etc), reading material, cell phone AND charger (they have free charging stations at airports and I've also plugged in inside the restrooms), snacks, eyeglasses, chapstick, sunglasses, sweater, ear plugs, antibacterial gel, airborne tablets, eyecover, and ear phones. Usually valuables: jewelry, camera
On longer trips/overseas, I carry on MORE in case my bags get lost: deoderant, toothbrush&paste, hair brush, concealer, powder, spare outfit, camera.
If I'm traveling with someone, I split the packable necessities with my companion. My mother once agreed to carry on the toothpaste and mini shampoo on a trip to France when her luggage was lost and we were on a tight tour schedule. The next morning, the found luggage still hadn't been dropped off, and I remember racing to find a store to buy toothpaste "dentifrice" and having a hard time even locating it WITHIN the store. I looked at my mother and said, I thought you agreed to carry it on? She said she changed her mind at the last minute and shoved it in her checked bag. Ugh.

Gluten Free Favorites