Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sammies and Wraps

Now, doesn’t this look good?  Well, it was.  After trying the cupcakes and cookies at Sticky Fingers Bakery, I decided to give something savory a chance.  Enter the Chick’n Ranch Wrap.

Chick'n Ranch Wrap

They didn’t have any gluten free bread when I went (boo), so I was relegated to the wrap section of the menu.  And this was a great choice – really refreshing, and I kind of love the soy chick’n strips?  I don’t usually go for fake meat, but the mix of the avocado, creamy dressing, and crisp lettuce just worked.  The only downside is that it was pretty small (aka normal portion sized), and cost $8.50.  Egads.  It made me miss the humungo wraps from Terri in NYC that only cost $7.

I must find something that doesn’t fit into my hypothesis about DC food vs NYC food.  Which is that everything is either A) half as good or B) twice as expensive or C) bland or D) A, B, and C all at once.

Not to hate on DC or anything.  But, come on, it’s no New York City.

Case and point:the veggie burger from Java Green.

Java Green veggie burger

Looks okay, no?  It was… just okay.  Maybe it was an ordering fail on my part, but when they say “spicy burger sauce”, I expect a giant burger slathered in sauce, this was some kind of appropriately-sized health food?  Also similarly, cost $7 and I ate it in about 30 seconds.

I had such high hopes for you, Java Green.  At least they had an impressive selection of desserts to choose from provided by Sweet n’ Natural.  Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, something with blueberry frosting, and carrot cake – which I will always favor.

And it was good to the last bite.  Not quite as good as the carrot cake sold at Mozarelli’s in NYC (can you tell that I’m a bit homesick for NYC these days?), bust still a great piece of cake.

At least the sandwich gave me enough fuel to get to the outdoor showing of West Side Story in Navy Yard. Oh yeah.

The dialogue in that movie is hilarious.  At the most serious/heart-touching moments the entire crowd was roaring with laughter.  Also after some initial Googling – I found this awesome spoof video “Web Site Story”… oh, the Internets.

 

Gluten Free Infographics

I’ve been doing some research into interesting infographics for work lately, where I found out about the perils of sitting all day and how soda at fast food restaurants is marked up 1200%!  This got me curious as to if there are any cool infographics about being gluten free.  Well, turns out there are!  Which is great because I think they are neato.  Here are three that I found:

What the Bleep Does Gluten Free Mean?  Brought to you by Pure.

Pretty cool simple explanation about what gluten is, how it affects peoples health, and what the dietetic solution is.

The Old School Diet.  Brought to you by The Paleolithic Diet.

I’ve been hearing more about this Paleolithic Diet lately, and the theory is that modern foods disrupt our bacteria and digestion in the gut, causing Celiac Disease.  The only part I disagree with is that it’s lumped in with obesity and diabetes, as if it was something that a person could control or prevent.

Gluten Free.  Brought to you by Hartman Salt.

This is copyrighted.  But it is more about the consumer trends in gluten free foods.

My gluten free pitfall: Chick-Fil-A Shakes

This morning I saw this video about gluten free pitfalls, and it got me thinking about when I may set myself up for a pitfall of my own.  Usually I am very careful about reading labels, talking to waitresses, and avoiding cross contamination.  But, I admit, there are times when I am not as careful as I should be.

For example, last weekend after my tubing adventure, the whole crew headed to Chick fil-A.  I was a-okay with that because I had packed a bunch of snacks, and knew that I could eat Chick fil-A’s waffle fries because I remembered seeing them before on their list of gluten free items.  Which is really all a girl can ask for :)

Small fry for me!

But then I got ahead of myself.  I saw milkshakes on the menu, and impulse ordered one without knowing for sure that it was gluten free.  I know, shame on me.  But since McDonald’s soft serve, Wendy’s Frosty, and most other milkshakes are fine, I just went with it.

But by the time I made it home, I knew that I had eaten gluten.  The catch with Chick fil-A’s milkshakes (according to this post on Gluten Free is Life) are that they make their cookies and cream variety on the same machine (or maybe it comes out of the same spout?  not sure).   So, there’s a high possibility for cross contamination, which I happened to be so lucky to experience right when I got home from the trip.  Not an awful reaction, just my mouth was numb and upset stomach.  But, if I would have just asked them to clean the machine thoroughly before making my shake, it most likely could have been avoided.

So, my bad.

This experience made me think through other times when I wasn’t as careful as I should have been to avoid gluten.  Like:

1.  Group dipping – when I’m at a party or with a group of people, I don’t always feel comfortable asking every person there not to dip their pita bread in the hummus, and instead use the knife to put some on their plate.  So, usually I try to just dip my veggies or gf chips in a place that looks untouched, which isn’t exactly the best strategy.

2.  No gluten free label – there are times when I review a list of ingredients, and there doesn’t appear to be anything in it that contains gluten (this is especially the case with most generic packaged foods).  If I’m really hungry, or there’s nothing else available, sometimes I’ll go for it.  But, until the FDA creates better standards for gf labeling, I should stop doing that.

3.  Mean server – when I’m eating out, if the server seems mean, rushed, or just generally unpleasant, I won’t be as careful as I am when I have a more accommodating server.  Sure, I try to win all of them over with my charming personality, but if they just aren’t having it then sometimes I’ll just kind of cross my fingers and hope that everything turns out okay.  Or I’ll end up having a dry salad because I’m too timid to make them check what’s in their dressings.

So, after this latest Chick fil-A pitfall, I’m going to pledge to myself to work on these three things.

Are there any gluten free pitfalls that you’ve come across?

Shopping Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Style

Trader Joe’s has to be one of my favorite places.  Not even favorite grocery store, just a favorite place of all places.  I love the distinct smell of TJ’s (kind of like sawdust?), the friendly staff, the unique products, and how gluten-free friendly they are.  They even provide a list of all of the gluten free products they have for easy shopping.  Oh yeah, and it’s five pages long.

The store itself can be a bit overwhelming…the one in Manhattan on 14th Street is basically like a small underground bunker, filled with food, and stuffed with hundreds of people trying to loot it and get out as fast as possible. (See below)

So I decided to document what a typical trip to Trader Joe’s looks like for me, which is usually grabbing a few specialty gf items, things that are cheaper there than anywhere else, things that are unique to TJ’s, and then getting the heck outta there.

1.  Wasabi Mayonnaise – great on sandwiches and in tuna salad

2. Onion and Chive Corn Crackers – amazing with cheese, or just plain out of the box.  They’re kind of like really fancy fritos, and everyone who tries them loves them.


Speaking of cheese…

3.  Sharp cheddar and rosemary asiago cheese – Forget whatever grocery store cheese you buy, TJ’s cheddar is way better and comparably priced.  And the rosemary asiago is my secret cheese BFF.  I love him.

4.  Almond butter and Better n’ Peanut Butter – Yes, that is almond butter for $4.99.  I refuse to buy it anywhere else (plus it seems like Whole Foods prices are going up for almond butter? Might just be my imagination…).  And Better n’ Peanut Butter is perfect for those of us who like to eat peanut butter out of the jar, but feel regret after consuming a full meal’s worth of calories on nut butter alone.

5.  Granola – I can’t choose which one I like more between the Cranberry maple, loaded fruit and nut, or tropical. This oat-less granola is a perfect out-of-the-cupboard snack, and is chock full of toppings.

6.  Ginger snaps – these are great for making crusts for desserts (like in Pretzel Strawberry Jello , I’ve also used it as a crust to a pumpkin pie) or just right out of the bag.  They’re crunchy and very gingery, but are also good when they’re a little stale and chewy (is that gross? oh well.)

6. Frozen pancakes – these are a staple at my dad’s house in Michigan and they make for a super simple breakfast.  Just pop them in the toaster, spread on a topping (bananas and Better n’ Peanut Butter for me).  They’re not as good as homemade gf pancakes, but they’re very convenient.

7.  Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal – this is absurdly cheap at TJ’s.  $3.69 is a crazy price for flax meal – I put a tablespoon in my oatmeal and cereal.

And something I don’t buy, but I figured I’d include, are Udi’s products (usually on the bottom shelf in the bread section).  I don’t typically buy gf bread, but helpful and cheap to buy at TJ’s if that’s your thing.

So, that’s my must have list.  There are so many great gf products at Trader Joe’s (including those not pictured here like their brownie mix, chocolate-covered cherries, ice cream, Think Thin bars, etc.) and they keep expanding their line. For more groceries, check out my grocery cart.

Do you have any other favorite gluten free products that can be found at Trader Joe’s?  Or anything that’s just dirt cheap?

Good Things Sunday

Some good things from this weekend:

1.  Floating down the Shenandoah River in a tube with a box of wine fun friends.

Complete with some gf traveling snacks in the form propel and coconut water (for hydration), an apple, string cheese, sweet potato chips, and gf pretzel sticks. Oh, and a Larabar, you know, just in case I got lost and needed it for survival.

2.  Awesome friends who bring you gluten free treats for the car ride.  And not just any gf treats, but a super tasty cookie from Hoff & Holmes.  I will be finding them at the Grey DC Market soon, because this cookie was buttery, chewy, and may turn you into a cookie monster.

Me want cookie

3.  The perfect way to start a morning. Coffee, crossword, and some tunes courtesy of Spotify.

Now off to bottomless mimosa brunch at Vinoteca.  Yes, life is good.

Fried Yuca/Yuca Fries

A while back, I found yuca fries at my local Whole Foods (the Chelsea location in NYC).  It was the start of a love affair.  They were light brown, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and were made of only two ingredients (yuca and canola oil).  They looked kind of like this:

Since I go to Whole Foods, oh, like, nearly every day…I figured they would add yuca fries to their usual rotation and I could eat them all the time.  Because why would you not want to have those delicious things around all the time?  But alas, that was the last that I saw of the fries :(

Until yesterday!

The P Street Whole Foods in DC pulled through and had fried yuca in their hot bar!

Good to see you again, old friend!

These fried yuca pieces looked different from the fries, but were made out of the same two ingredients, and tasted almost exactly the same.  Crispy, light, and way better than normal french fries in my opinion.

I don’t think I would ever attempt to make either at home, since it requires frying things and that’s way too complicated/messy for my everyday – but I did find this recipe if you’re so inclined.

The best gluten free in Detroit

Whenever I go home, it’s always an adventure trying to find something to eat.  Luckily my family is amazing and always has something special for me at family gatherings, like gluten free rice krispy treats, brownies, or fresh fruits and veggies.  They’ve also managed to rework some of our old family recipes to eliminate the gluten in them: like swapping out the cream of chicken soup in Party Potatoes for a can of gluten free cream of mushroom.  Some family recipes happen to be gluten free already too – like this winner from my grandma’s cookbook for NACHO PIE!

Doesn’t that sound healthy, fresh, and light?  Well, not at all.  But I’m sure it’s dang delicious.

Now of course you’d need gf versions of all of the ingredients (usually I substitute slow cooker chili seasoning for the taco seasoning, since gf packets are hard to find).

Back to the point of this post though.  Even though Detroit is still behind the pack as far as gluten free restaurants, there are some that are emerging and some great non-gf restaurants that are very accommodating.

I’m trying to keep this list to Detroit proper, with a couple additions in outlying areas.  And also not including Buddy’s Pizza, because their gf pizza should not be promoted.

Atlas Global Bistro (Menu) $$$$

3111 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

Great reviews on this place, and their menu has a ton of fresh seafood, salads, and fancy words.  The paella and Jamaican jerk grilled shrimp sound right up my alley.

Cottage Inn Pizza  (Menu) $$

19222 Mack Ave (this location has gf pizza)
Grosse Pointe, MI 48236

Cottage Inn thin crust pizza used to be my favorite pizza ever.  We would eat it backstage at dance recitals, and some people may have even eaten half of one savagely in the car while driving.  They carry gf pizza at some of their locations – check this map to find out where.

Greengos

Last time I was home I tried to go to Greengos, but they are closed on Mondays (?) :(  Oh, Grosse Pointe.  There is basically no information on their website, but the menu in the window looked really fresh and they have some great yelp reviews.

Mudgie’s Deli (Menu)

1300 Porter St
Detroit MI 48226

For 75 cents extra you can have gluten free bread substituted on your sandwich.  Most of the ingredients are homemade, plus they have Better-Made potato chips, ice cream from Calder’s Dairy, Sander’s hot fudge, Michigan berries, and lots of other local ingredients, which I <3.  If I went there I would totally get the Sorry Charlie – Mudgie-made albacore tuna salad, Dill Havarti cheese, cucumber, tomato and mixed greens, served with a side of honey mustard dressing.

Rumi’s Passion

41120 5 Mile Rd
Plymouth, MI 48170

Even though this bakery is in Plymouth, I must include it because they have gluten free bumpy cake cupcakes.  Say WHAT?  If you don’t know what bumpy cake is, it’s a Sander’s delicacy.

There also are, like, NO recipes online for a gluten free version.  So I may have to work on that ;)

Other than that, I sometimes get the nachos at Shore’s Inn, thai food at Sy Thai, soup at the Sprout House, and omelettes and bananas and cream at the Original Pancake House.

This post is making me home sick :)

In conclusion, Detroit hustles harder.

Do you know of any other Detroit gluten free hot spots? Suggestions and additions are welcome.   I know it’s difficult to find information on anything gluten free in Michigan :)

New Cascadia Bakery – Portland

I have so many posts to make from my trips that I don’t even know where to begin.  But, I suppose the most impressive place that I went should go first.

After a thrilling trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where I kicked some butt in old school video games, I headed to the one spot in Portland that was a must-go gluten free place…

New Cascadia Traditional ” The Gluten Free Artisans”

What a pretentious fitting name.

We had just missed sandwich time, which they serve until 3pm, so that was disappointing.

But they had so many other choices that I had to try a few things, one for now and one for later.

For now = asiago bagel with cream cheese.

When was the last time that you could order one bagel from a store, and have them make it for you the way you like?  For me, probably about six years.

It was definitely a great bagel, but I think I may have lost my bagel lust somewhere along the way.  It just doesn’t do the same thing it did for me in high school when I got a bagel with butter on it nearly every day after school (oh the shame).

For later =this amazing pizza with asparagus, mushrooms, blue cheese, and hazelnuts.

Yeah – who knew about the deliciousness of hazelnuts on a pizza?

I ate this for dinner, and then as a snack, and then as another dinner.  I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting though, but it was really rich, so I managed to hold off.

The only thing lacking at New Cascadia was the customer service.  The girl behind the counter looked like she wanted to kill me every time I asked a question, and heaven forbid I ask for my bagel toasted.  But luckily their food made up for it.   I could have spent $100 on food here easily – blueberry pie, fresh bread, scones, cookies – you name it, they had it.

New Cascadia Traditional

1700 SE 6th Avenue at SE Market (two blocks South of Hawthorne).

Buddy’s Pizza – Detroit

I figured while I’m home would be a good time to post about Buddy’s gluten free pizza in Detroit (the location I went to is the one in Grosse Pointe on Moross and Mack Ave).

Buddy’s used to be my favorite pizza as a kid.  Their square crust pizza was a must at birthdays and had this amazing slightly-sweet tomato sauce and chewy crust with little pieces of almost-burnt cheese on it.  Ah to wax nostalgic on my gluten-filled and fancy-free days.

So when I heard that Buddy’s started making gluten free pizza, I was stoked.  I figured that they would try to make it as close to their regular version as possible, and couldn’t wait to try it. Plus I haven’t heard of anywhere else making gf pizza in Michigan.

So my friend and I arrive and order our pizza with green peppers and mushrooms, and sit down to wait the 15 minutes they say it will take to make special.  Fifteen minutes later, they come to tell us that the crust stuck to the aluminum foil that it was baking on (?) …and they used the wrong kind of cheese (?)…so they are going to have to remake it.  Obviously gluten free pizzas aren’t requested very often.  They were very sweet and offered us free drinks and a Greek salad while we waited for Pizza #2, so we sat back and waited some more.

Eventually the much-anticipated Pizza #2 made its debut.

This picture actually looks better than it looked in real life, if that’s possible.  It was pretty small, with thin crust, and had the look of those little pizzas they used to put in school lunches.

And it kind of tasted that way too…

It’s not that it was totally inedible.  But not something that I would order again, and definitely not as good as I can make at home.

Now I will defend Detroit until the day I die for a thousand reasons, but gluten free pizza is not yet one of them.

Maybe next time!

Coast to coast

This is what I’ll be doing for the next week and a half.  Expect lots of gluten free traveling posts when I return :)