Thursday, February 21, 2013

eating out

Growing up, we didn't eat out much.  But, when we did, my favorite places to go were those little hole in the wall family-owed Italian restaurants.  I couldn't wait to get my iced tea and have lots of bread with dipping sauce or butter.  I would choose a vodka penne, and be set... until about 15 min into dinner when my stomach would start to ache, but it tasted so good!  But, now that I know I have to eat gluten-free I can be smart about what I eat!

One of the hardest things about being gluten-free is eating out.  The first time I was shopping at the mall after I started my new diet, I got hungry and decided to go to the food court.  I searched all around and had no idea what I could eat.  I asked a few cooks if they had anything gluten-free and one pointed to the NO MSG sign, so I had to laugh and said thank you and went about my way.  The days of Auntie-Ann pretzels are over but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy being out.  One thing to keep in mind if you are having a long shopping day or day out and about is to bring snacks.  Nuts are great to snack on, just make sure they aren't cross-contaminated in a facility that also produces wheat products.  I've found gluten-free snack bars are also great to have on hand - my favorite? Larabars:

My favorite are the peanut butter cookie ones [as seen above in light tan].  I even eat these for breakfast, they are delish, filling, and only have natural ingredients: dates, peanuts, salt... that's it!  And the best yet, they're GLUTEN FREE!  Amazing:

In fact, I now have a homemade Larabar recipe you can make.  

What about when you eat out?  What should you do?  Let's face it, you can't hide under a rock and only eat at home just because you can't have gluten.  So #1 rule: make sure your waiter/waitress knows you have a gluten allergy.  Most restaurants now have their own gluten-free menu.  However, most are noted as "gluten-friendly" which simply means they will prepare you food gluten free but can't guarantee cross-contamination.  #2: Ask for a gluten-free menu.  #3: When you order, make sure you tell your waitress/waiter you want it prepared gluten-free [this may sound redundant but this way they can write on the order GF].  

Just remember, cross-contamination can happen anywhere, anytime!  This week I ate out twice and got cross-contamination both times.  Burgers can be made on the same surface as something breaded, flour is often used to coat meat and surfaces, strainers can also have been used to strain pasta before your meal, not all chefs know what contains gluten and what does not, pans could have been used to cook other's food before yours that had a gluten sauce... the list can go on and on.

Just be safe about eating out and be prepared to be in pain just incase because, just like me this week, it can happen!  But do not let that deter you from eating out.  Enjoy life and enjoy spending time eating out and being out with friends and family, and remember, you are never alone!


For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
-- Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quinoa Taco Dish

Happy Wednesday!!

It's the day before Valentine's Day, so hopefully you all can spend time with someone special tomorrow or this weekend and let others know how much they mean to you! :) Sometimes those 3 little words can mean so much.

Not only do we have to care about others but we need to care about ourselves.  That means eating right.  Tonight I experimented with quinoa!  Quinoa is a gluten-free food and is considered a grain/seed.  It is cooked as if you'd cook rice, about 3/4 cup water to 1/2 cup quinoa, for 15 min.  It is very healthy for you, providing 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  I love making quinoa and incorporating it into dishes, so I will have more to share later on as well.

Tonight I was hungry for tacos but wanted to involve quinoa in the process.  Here is what I came up with, a gluten-free taco dish:

Here's what I used:
  • 1 pound organic turkey breast
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup quinoa [I like to use Alter Eco or Arrowhead Mills USDA Organic quinoa]
  • 1 packet Ortega taco seasoning [from what I've read in ingredients is GF]
  • 2 - 3/4 cup water [one for quinoa one for taco seasoning]
  • Pinch of Sharp Cheddar Cheese 
  • Salsa [most is GF]
  • Xochitl Chips - which are GF!

Here's what I did:
  • In a medium sauce pan, I added a few drops of olive oil and started browning the meat
  • While it was browning, I graded a medium onion and added it to the meat
  • While stirring the meat, I put 3/4 cup water into a small sauce pan and brought it to a boil
  • Next, I cleaned the 1/2 cup quinoa [running it under cold water and soaking it until the water comes clear/almost clear]
  • I added the quinoa to the boiling water and turned the heat to a simmer and let it cook for exactly 15 minutes
  • Once the meat was browned, I added the taco seasoning with 3/4 cup water, and let that simmer while the quinoa was cooking
  • Once the quinoa was done, I added it to the meat mixture
  • I plated everything, added the cheddar cheese & chips and salsa to complete my meal!
  • You can add veggies to the side if you wish instead!
I have added quinoa to other meat mixtures but this was pleasant yummy surprise.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Happy Tuesday!  I came across this article and wanted to share it with you all:

New York Times - Gluten

A few takeaways...

-If you are gluten sensitive or are trying to be gluten-free but are not sure if you should be, I urge you to get tested to see if you have the antibodies up in your system.  Knowledge is power!

-Know that just because food says Gluten Free doesn't mean it's healthy.  Make sure to read labels and still eat healthy.  Stay away from foods that have lots of sugars in them, even if they say GF.

-Many are becoming GF as a diet change, others have to.  Either way, make sure you are doing what feels right to your body.

Enjoy! - mel