Crazy Summer!

Crazy Summer!

My summer began with a scheduled trip to Nashville TN for a faith-based conference on body image and eating issues, Hungry for Hope. This *would* have been my 4th year in attendance, except that the kidney stones that had been plaguing me for 5 months decided to cause problems and my trip was cancel, surgery scheduled instead.

Between kidney stones, braces, and general stress related to family, my weight dropped and I am trying to stabilize. This is a daily challenge, as is the challenge of continuing to eat GF.

It has been ONE YEAR! And it is fantastic! Clearer head, depression pretty much gone, even with the issues mentioned above, I feel great! Productivity uP, I’m getting work done!

I’m taking a vacation and will bring back pictures and stories from far away. I’m hoping that I’ll have lots to share about GF eating while I travel. No internet or phone service (too expensive) so will sign out and be back after my trip.

Top Five Prepackaged GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Top Five Prepackaged GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies! Thank you, GFG!

Gluten Free Gus

A warm cookie for the landscaping guy ;-)

Our best recommendation for  good GF cookies is to make them from scratch. Please try our special recipe which we happily shared for the first time last month: http://glutenfreegus.com/2013/03/19/guss-chocolate-chip-cookies-dog-food-sandwich-solution/; satisfaction guaranteed!

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Restaurant Review: Dona Esther’s “Gluten Free” Menu

When my husband and I went to Dona Esther Mexican restaurant in San Juan Bautista http://donaesthermexicanrestaurant.com to enjoy their Artichoke Enchiladas this past May, it was my first visit since going GF last August.

Whenever I eat out, I always ask, “do you have a GF menu?”, but I was surprised when the waitress said, “yes” and returned with a 2-sided fully laminated menu! Unfortunately, as I looked it over, I saw discrepancies in what I thought was correctly, or incorrectly, deemed as gluten-free. Flautas gluten-free? Tostadas gluten-free? This was too good to be true! So I asked, “do you have a dedicated fryer? A separate fryer for your gluten-free items?” She said, no, they had only one fryer. I told her these items can’t be gluten-free if they are fried in the same fryer with everything else. To which she responded that they weren’t. I asked about the chips on the table and she said they were fried in the same fryer, so then the nachos on the menu were not gluten-free either.

We should have just left, but I ended up ordering their Veggie Fajitas (pictured), with corn tortillas, which was delicious. Although I did not have a reaction, you must question whether there is cross-contamination in their kitchen because they really don’t know what “gluten-free” means.

Be cautious, even when a menu is provided.

Great combination of fresh vegetables in their fajitas!
Great combination of fresh vegetables in their fajitas!
Restaurant Review: Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove

Restaurant Review: Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove

This last week, my hubby & I went to Monterey to celebrate our anniversary. Had a great meal at The Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove (as usual). Our favorite waitress is familiar with GF eating and is always helpful; they are willing to substitute and change any menu item (“…Please be aware that many of our dishes have ingredients which are not listed on the menu. If you have any restrictions, please inform your server.”) I got the Grilled Lamb Chops, served with sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes, but no au jus sauce (flour). I cannot remember the last time I had lamb, and it was delicious, perfectly grilled with just the right amount of charred flavor, mmmmm! Ate only one of two on my plate, so I had leftovers to enjoy when I got home.

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Unfortunately, they didn’t have any GF desserts. Maybe next time! And while you are there, check out Miss Trawick’s Garden Shop which is basically behind and under the restaurant on Lighthouse Ave.

Party Food

Party Food

Let's Party

We had a recent party for 20, some light refreshments after a graduation. Since I am the only GF person, we compromised on what we served.

  • We ordered some sushi from TGI Sushi (ask for Chris).  Making sure at least some was GF. With any sushi, BEWARE any soy sauce and the fake crab. We ordered a huge platter of sushi. TGI Sushi claims their rice is GF. I only ordered cucumber rolls and asparagus rolls for myself, I did not trust the fake crab that they said was GF, so no California rolls for me. The platter was gorgeous, heaps of wasabi, and bowls of ginger which I shoveled into.
  • Trader Joe’s Smooth & Creamy Hummus GF- we served the Roasted Red Pepper, very good, with Crunchmaster GF crackers. The crackers you can buy at Costco. Someone said they liked them not knowing they were GF. That is a compliment!
  • My husband thinly sliced some tri-tip and chicken breasts, marinated them (Tri-tip marinade recipe- Tamari Lite GF Soy Sauce, freshly grated ginger, black pepper, powdered garlic, and brown sugar/chicken marinade- from Costco, GF Organic Ville Sesame Teriyaki Sauce) and put them on skewers the night before to BBQ. He BBQd them in the morning, refrigerated them, reheated at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour and then served as needed on a platter. This was the food highlight of the party.
  • Vegetable platter and fruit platter.
  • And Nothing Bundt Cake bundtinis. These are not GF, but my husband got me a GF Bundtlet (this is the only size they make in GF, only flavor is “Chocolate Chip Cookie” which actually tastes like cookie dough, not all locations carry GF. Call to ask.) Also, check Groupon, they sometimes have coupons.

The event was perfect, the food delicious, and I had no reactions from the food I ate.

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Restaurant Review: L&L Hawaiian BBQ

Restaurant Review: L&L Hawaiian BBQ

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There is an L&L Hawaiian BBQ close to our house, I pass it and smell the scent whenever I shop at Costco. My son loves their Chicken Katsu and whenever he has it, it is a celebration (for him) and that delicious scent is in my house, making my mouth water. I have resisted the urge to taste it.


The last time I went to Costco, I stopped in to ask whether *anything* on their menu was GF. I got a weird look and the woman wasn’t understanding, as I think most aren’t.

Yesterday, my husband stopped at L&L to get himself & my son dinner (I fend for myself on evenings like this and I’m fine with that). I got a text that he found an employee who understood GF and said ALL their meat is soaked in a marinade that contains “wheat”. I’m out of luck ever eating there, but the scent, the mouth-watering scent, can be mine GF and dollar-free.

Nature Valley Granola Bars GF?

Nature Valley Granola Bars GF?

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My son, who isn’t a GF eater, now prefers Clif bars to be added to his lunches, instead of the dry granola bars I now have in abundance in the pantry. So, as I clear out old soon-to-expire food and move it forward in the rotation to use, this bin of Nature Valley granola bars is staring at me. BGF (before gluten-free), I loved these, but I have avoided eating them now because they don’t say GF on them. I did throw out the box months ago, so I only have the info listed on each individual bar to go by, and there is no mention about wheat, although they do have “whole grain oats” which I always question.

Not really wanting to throw them out, I decided to check online for more info about the bars. I found this blog by Gluten Free Girlfriend very helpful, but after reading the comments to her blog post, I have decided not to eat them. Thank you, GF Girlfriend!

GF Girlfriend’s blog about Nature Valley granola bars

3/28/14- Desperate times lead to desperate measures and I was at the hospital on an emergency, having not eaten, I was in a bind, literally about to pass out. I had 2 packages of these granola bars in my purse, I keep them there to hand to a homeless person if they ask for money. I thought twice but needed something to eat and ate one package (2 bars). I feel fine, although I will go prepared next time so I don’t have to be relying on this product.

Restaurant Review: Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!

Restaurant Review: Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!

The night I first ate GF last August 2013, we ordered a special pizza from Patxi’s Pizza Campbell. I had searched online for local GF pizza places and it had high marks, plus it was close by. Upon his bringing it home, I told my husband the pizza was not correct; they had used real cheese, not soy cheese. I couldn’t eat it.

I called the restaurant, spoke to the woman I ordered the pizza from, she said they would deliver the corrected pizza to us. I confirmed it would take 20 minutes for cooking and then some added delivery time, figuring dinner was coming in no more than 40 minutes, we waited.

Pizza arrived 1-1/2 hours later, close to 9pm! It was one of the worst pizzas I’ve ever had, as well as one of the most expensive 14″ 3 topping thin crusts at $36!

That was a bad first day of being GF and I was afraid for the future of my eating. I love pizza, so going gluten-free put a damper on eating really delicious, covered-with-cheese & meat, thick & chewy crust meals with my husband & son. When they ordered a pizza, I made something else. And with Patxi’s, I’m holding a grudge…we have not, and will not, return.

Since that first horrible experience, I will usually use Udi’s GF Pizza Crusts and put veggies and soy cheese on it when hubby & son order pizza. That’s the quick and easy pizza, and the GF crusts take up little room in my freezer.

More recently, I have found 2 great places that have good GF pizza. One is Top This! Pizza in Los Gatos, an assembly line pizza service that is reasonably priced and occasionally has coupon offers on Groupon. For $10, you get a GF crust to top with your favorite pizza toppings. My husband actually preferred the GF crust to the regular crust they offer. And the Warm Caramel Apple Pie GF crust pizza we took home was incredible! (I am not sure whether the caramel topping was GF.)

And last week, I enjoyed a “real” pizza at BJ’s Brewhouse. Except for the cheese (they do not have soy), I was taken back to childhood with a meaty 10″ pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, and olive ($9.50 for GF crust, $1 per topping). The waitress said she’d add a single item to the pizza, no extra charge because I didn’t have cheese on it, however she charged me anyway (my bad for not noticing before I got home), so the total was $13.50 for this delicious meal, and worth more to me than that. It gave me faith that I can locate great GF food even at places that wouldn’t seem to be GF friendly.

IMG_1389 My tasty Udi’s.

IMG_1362 BJ’s Brewhouse pizza.

Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in San Mateo

Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in San Mateo

Last weekend, I attended the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in San Mateo CA. I was willing to pay the $30 to go ($20 for entry, $10 for parking, + gas to get there), because I knew from the last event I attended in September, that the freebies would be plenty. I wasn’t disappointed!

I went prepared this time, with a folding crate cart to hold my stash, so my hands didn’t get overly tired from holding bags for 3+ hours like last time. At Fort Mason, there were less than 20 booths in a smaller room, but the food demonstrations and information talks were right there, easy to hear and see. In San Mateo, it was huge and the classes/talks took place in a separate room outside the main expo hall. I heard there were over 100 booths at this event and I’m not surprised by that number; compared to my first expo, the size was impressive and the people you had to maneuver through was sometimes difficult. There were many more free edible samples, although the free take-home packaged samples were much less; in September, at the Fort Mason/San Francisco event ($10 + $8 parking), my friend, Julie, and I left with whole loaves of GF bread, cans of GF boullion dry mix, and deep discounted GF pastas. Except for the Sprouts Market booth at the San Mateo expo which at the end of the weekend was handing out cases of single-serving GF popcorn, most of the goodies were single serving only. Samples to eat there included bread, crackers, pasta, and snack bars, and were in abundance. My head was swimming trying to remember what I liked best, and I left with an overly filled stomach.

At the Katz booth, I found a piece of heaven! I haven’t had a donut since August when I went GF. I’ve seen the GF packages at Sprouts in the freezer section, but was not willing to pay the price when I wasn’t sure how I’d like them. Also unsure about having the package in my house to tempt me. So, when I saw samples of the cinnamon donuts, I grabbed a bite to taste. I stood there like a crazy person, actual tears in my eyes, savoring it! The 2 women manning the booth paid little attention to me until I moaned over how good it was. I grabbed another bite and walked away, embarrassed.

Later in the week, when I shopped at Sprouts, I went straight to the freezer section to check out the donuts, and there they were. I haven’t tried them yet, they are sitting in my freezer for the perfect morning treat. I’ll give a review later.

One of the highlights of the expo was seeing Amy Fothergill of The Family Chef again. I first met her in Fort Mason where she did a talk and where I purchased her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen . I had just looked through it the previous night to see if she had any tofu recipes, and found none. She assisted me and gave the page numbers for *7* recipes that I could make with tofu! Now I can use that 4-cube package I just bought at Costco! Amy even remembered my name!

The Expo was a great afternoon of gluten-free food and fun, and I look forward to the next time it’s local.

Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

I usually check the ingredients on cans and packaging before I purchase, so I didn’t look at the label before making my enchiladas. Unfortunately, the sauce was poured before I realized that its ingredients, though none showed wheat, did have a “warning” that it “contains: soy and wheat”. From the ingredients themselves (and I did check my “Glutencheck” app), this was not obvious, and rather than dumping my artichoke & chile enchiladas, I cooked and ate them, with the delusional mindset of “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”.

Next day, I emailed the distributors, B&G Foods, through their Las Palmas products’ link…

Message: “I am gluten sensitive. The (sauce) can says it contains soy and wheat but I can’t tell from ingredients where the wheat is. Is it processed in a factory with wheat? Because I don’t recognize any ingredients as containing wheat.”

Their response-  “Thank you for your email and interest in one of our products. This Las Palmas sauce contains a wheat ingredient in the “spice” blend used in its formula. As a result the sauce is not gluten free.”

So, I learned a valuable lesson- continue to check labels, even if I purchased it and looked at the ingredients prior to buying…I might have missed something in my rush at the market.

Also, the Las Palmas site, in their FAQs pages, says “Las Palmas Red Chili Sauce, Las Palmas Crushed Tomatillos and Las Palmas Red Enchilada Sauce are all gluten-free.” So next time, I’ll go with the red sauce rather than the green.

Happy eats!

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Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Yesterday was January 1st and I celebrated with my favorite gluten-free meal- soft tacos, this time fish (Swai) that my husband barbecued. We regularly go to a local taqueria for Mexican food (Super Taqueria); my husband and son get burritos and because they are with flour tortillas, I get the soft tacos with corn tortillas, so I’m not feeling left out. And Mexican food seems to be the easiest to find gluten-free. I’ve found that this is my staple- soft tacos or anything that can be made with corn tortillas, even pizza.