Come play trivia with me! Have fun and raise funds for Food Allergy Research & Education

What could be better than drinking cheap booze, playing trivia, eating snacks, challenging your friends in free shuffleboard and pool, and possibly winning sweet prizes?

Making a difference in the lives of 15 million Americans. That’s what!

That’s right – 15 million Americans are living with food allergies, many life-threatening. I hope you’ll join me in supporting a cause that affects me and my family every day.

Event details: 

Drink deals: $4 Beer of the Month Drafts; $4 Glasses of Wine; $4 Champagne, $4 Rail Cocktails; $4.50 Pounder Cans; $3 PBR Cans; $5.50 Rails

How much it will cost you: $8 if you RSVP and pay ahead using Eventbrite, or $10 in cash at the door, which allows you to play trivia and get a wristband for drink deals.

Proceeds donated to: Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), www.foodallergy.org

Please invite friends and family. Rocket Bar has generously donated their back bar for this event, and I hope to fill it to capacity.

Find the event on Facebook here! https://www.facebook.com/events/222899177898677/

Remember to bring cash to buy food and raffle tickets!

Stop saying cross-contamination – I beg of you.

I’ve had this topic on my list of things to write about, but I just can’t take it any more. As a community, us celiacs need to stop saying the phrase “cross-contamination when we’re referring to a gluten free food coming into contact with gluten, thereby rendering it unsafe to eat.

That’s called cross-contact, people!

It’s not just semantics, it’s a matter of communicating in an accurate way what we’re trying to prevent. Using the wrong word can confuse kitchen staff, waiters, and anyone else cooking for you.

Any trained cook or chef is taught that cross-contamination refers to food borne bacteria and diseases. They are taught to properly handle foods like raw meats by storing them correctly and heating them to a high temperature to prevent food-borne illness.

So if you ask a cook, “You know how to prevent cross-contamination, right?” They might think that as long as they wash their hands and cook your food enough, they’re all set.  If they use the same tongs/utensils, they might think it won’t matter if they used it for something with gluten in it as long as they cook it enough then the gluten will “burn off” or something.

Cross-contact occurs when a residue or trace amount of an allergenic or gluten-containing becomes incorporated into another food not intended to contain it, according to the FDA.

You’re probably thinking, “Fine, that’s the correct definition, but everyone says cross-contamination!” I thought that myself at one point as well.

I’d venture a guess that we are getting glutened more for that very reason. You have to talk the talk to be taken seriously. Being able to explain the difference between cross-contamination and cross-contact can help clear up people’s questions about how to safely prepare meals, and can help keep you from getting sick.

So, get with the program – start saying cross-contact. Even if it’s just to make me happy.

Who’s Who in DC Gluten Free Blogging

Me with Gluten Free Foodies Review’s Sean Dillon and Kelly Sajonia.

Last week I attended The Hour happy hour event for the second time and met a few new gluten free bloggers based in DC - so I thought it would be a good time to put together a listing!

City Life Eats (Valerie) - “I am passionate about thriving in all aspects of life – professional and personal. For me that means working long hours as an attorney and strategizing to balance the demands of job with my interests in food, healthy and mindful living.”

Glutie Foodie (Shira Kraft) -”This blog is a place to critique my dining out experiences in Washington DC and beyond and to provide a platform for conversation. Knowledge, experience, and outreach are the best defenses for us gluten-challenged. With your help, my mission is to reclaim fellow gluties’ culinary freedom, one reservation at a time.”

Gluten Free D.C. (Lauren Katz) - “Follow along as I discover gluten-friendly (and some not-so-friendly) spots in the District.”

Gluten Free Foodies Review (Sean Dillon and Kelly Sajonia) - “Here you will find reviews of restaurants, products, GF-focused websites, and travel. Additionally, articles with tips for living a gluten-free life are published. Our goal is to enrich the lives of those who are gluten-free.”

Gluten Free Goodness (Cheryl Harris) - “This is the spot for my recipes and musing on food and self-care.”

Gluten Free Jet Set (Anna) - “Gluten-Free Jet Set is your resource for locating the most delicious gluten-free food around the world. Here you’ll find tantalizing food photography, thoroughly researched restaurant reviews, and tried-and-true advice on staying healthy by eating right while traveling. Don’t let your gluten-free lifestyle hold you back from traveling anywhere or tasting [nearly] anything!”

Jules Gluten Free (Jules Shepard) - “Jules is one of the top experts on gluten-free living in the Washington area; Time magazine, ABC, and other major media outlets line up for her advice. The Celiac patient got her start five years ago by sending out a newsletter that featured new gluten-free recipes and products; now she has her own blog, website, and line of gluten-free flour, and has penned three books.”

Tayler Made (Tayler Lofquist) - “I started Tayler Made in 2011 to share my experiences in living with food allergies. Since then, I have been fortunate to reintroduce some of those once-forbidden foods back into my diet, but I will always have a passion for good, allergen-friendly cooking.”

It’s crazy how many blogs have come and gone in the last few years. All of these blogs have been updated recently so you should be able to count on them for updates! Let me know if I missed anyone! 

The Hour* DC: Gluten Free Entrepreneurs Start Monthly Happy Hour Event

A long, long time ago, I met up with a fellow DC blogger, Katelyn Sornik for lunch at Cafe Green. She gave me a couple of bags of vegan granola bars that she had been experimenting with as a side project.

Fast forward two years and Cafe Green has closed down, but Kate and her bars are doing anything but. Her “Kate Bakes” bars are getting rave reviews on blogs, showing up on shelves in markets around DC like Society Fair and MENU, and having her on a plan to rapid expansion/world domination in the near future.

As fate would have it, Kate has teamed up with another of DC’s great gluten free bakers! She and Emily Robins of Goldilocks Goodies (and LivingSocial baking class/farmer’s market fame) hosted their first happy hour in their The HOUR* gluten free happy hour series in February. This monthly event combines fashion, art, music, food and drink in a whiz-bang combination of fun-inducing genius.

Last month the event was at Meeps in Adam’s Morgan, where I stuffed my face with goat cheese-stuffed dates, drank Omission Beer, and bought a fantastically tacky Hawaiian print jumper.

the hour dc

This month the event will be on March 26 at Hemphill Fine Arts on 14th Street. Get your ticket here! I plan on being a regular at these events, and I hope you’ll join me!

Check out their next event here!

My Posts in The DC Ladies

This summer I began contributing to the blog “The DC Ladies,” which is a compilation of great articles by women in the Capital Area. I contribute one article a month on a gluten-free topic I think would be of interest to all the ladies of DC. Whether that’s a recipe, restaurant review, or tips for eating healthy, I’m so excited to be a part of such an inspiring group of women.

Here’s a list of my posts thus far:

Lazy Girl’s Guide: Healthy Take-Out Lunches

Try These 5 Easy, Healthy, and Gluten-free Snacks

Soup for Two in 5 Minutes Flat

Gluten-free Holiday Gift Ideas

The DC Ladies Guide to a Healthy (and Gluten-free) Thanksgiving

How to Plan a Gluten-free Wedding

Tasty Ideas for a Gluten-free Tailgate

Where to Find DC’s Best Gluten-free Pasta

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Gluten-free in DC

The best way to find out about new posts is to follow The DC Ladies on Facebook and Twitter. They have lots of great posts on fashion, home decorating, fitness, and more!

Avoid a Glutening: Bring Your Own Food to the Bar

In my experience, about 10% of bars with true “bar food” offer anything that’s gluten free. Even if there is something that’s edible, like chicken wings, bar food is one of the riskiest types of fare for celiacs. It’s typically fried, made in a rush, and kitchens are less likely to make substitutions. If I’m absolutely starving at a bar I typically order nachos, after checking that the chips come from a package and are made from corn, and any toppings are also gluten free. But who wants to go through that hassle when you’re at a bar trying to relax?

That’s why I’m all about going to bars that allow you to bring your own food. In DC, it’s possible for bars to get a “tavern license,” which allows them to sell booze and not food. Then you can order delivery from nearby restaurants that you know you can eat at safely, or bring in your own food, whether it be a bag of popcorn or a box of cereal and milk.

For celiacs, that means that you can 1) ensure that your food is completely gluten free and 2) avoid that whole rigmarole of talking to servers and chefs to figure out what you can eat.

Here are some BYOF options in DC:

Let me know if I’m missing any! Cheers!

The Worst Gluten Free Menu You’ll See Today

As I was updating my “DC GFree Eats” page of recommended restaurants in the District, I began thinking of all of the places that I did not and would not include on that list. Number One offender being Ping Pong Dim Sum (locations in Chinatown and Dupont)

pingpong

Look at all the options on the “gluten-friendly” menu!

Ping Pong Dim Sum has what they like to call a “Gluten-Friendly Menu.” When I asked the waitress upon arrival if they have a gluten free menu, she insisted that they do not have a gluten free menu, but a gluten friendly menu. Also note that when you scroll over the words “Gluten-Friendly” on their website, the tool tip magically changes to say “Gluten-Free.” Confusing much?

When I asked what exactly that means, she said that it’s just “pretty much” free of gluten, only they include items that are fried in a shared fryer,  and a “black squid ink PASTRY” that is possibly gluten “friendly” just because it’s not white in color? Couldn’t tell  you.

There are also multiple dumplings that are on the “gluten-friendly” menu, but they couldn’t tell me why. Did they use a different wrapper? Was the sauce different? No one knew.

I wound up having steamed broccoli, bok choy, and rice – because that sounds like an incredibly filling meal, doesn’t it?

Bottom line: If you can’t provide gluten FREE meals to customers, don’t pretend you can.