In honour of Celiac Awareness Month this May I have a really exciting gluten-free event in the works. You’ll hear it here first! Be sure to follow me on Twitter and this blog to find out all of the wheat-less details!
While my gluten-free journey started in November, this blog started as an assignment for a course in Digital Strategy. Now the course is over – but the blog lives on!
It’s been a real challenge sourcing and contributing content for two very distinct blogs (this is my other corner of the internet), but a challenge that I have really been enjoying. I really like sharing my gluten-free eating journey and tips for others who are making or may make the same changes in their diet. Judging by the site traffic and all of the people following this little blog people are certainly enjoying reading about my adventures in gluten-free gluttony too.
What’s coming up:
- restaurant reviews
- product reviews (because I’ve tried like, every gluten-free pizza crust option)
- more guest posts
- more personal posts on how I’m feeling and what I react to
Before I left for Austin I was pretty concerned about what my gluten-free options were going to be while I was there. On my last trip, I indulged in
terrible delicious comfort food like chicken-friend steaks and burritos that were neither healthy or gluten-free. Plus, no one wants to spend their vacation being a picky eater or clutching their bloated stomach for the rest of the day because it was just easier to eat whatever the food truck had.
Lucky for me (and my host/bff/tour guide), it’s actually really easy to eat gluten-free in Austin. It was so easy that I actually only slipped up once (with the exception of some cheap Texan beer).
Chips and salsa are served as a complimentary appetizer at almost every restaurant in Austin. This was at El Alma, just off South Congress. Their Queso was absolutely delicious, but more on that later. The chips served are (in my experience) always corn chips!
Torchy’s Tacos is a place you just have to eat at when you visit Austin. What started as a food truck with experimental goodies has turned into multiple locations across Texas. What you see here is a “Trailer Park” (chicken, cheese, lettuce, green chiles, pico de galo) and a “Crossroads” (beef brisket, grilled onions, jack cheese, avocado, jalapenos, cilantro). Both came on a flour tortilla but I substituted for corn tortillas at no extra cost!
Juan in a Million is a hip breakfast taco restaurant in Austin. It promises cheap food, quick service, and high fives from the owner, Juan. This was what was left of my Don Juan breakfast tacos when I was done. While we were ordering our coffees I asked our server if they had corn tortillas and he looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently EVERYWHERE in Austin has corn tortillas! Step up your taco game, Toronto!
Roll on Sushi Diner was a special treat while I was away. Yes, I know soy sauce is not gluten-free. And yes, I know those fried slices of heaven (called “fire sticks”) are also probably not gluten-free because of their breading. But this was my one cheat and let me tell you – it was worth it! Roll On had a number of other options that were gluten-free but who could turn down these specialty rolls? I think we ended up going with the Guaca Rolly (pictured here) Cholesta Roll, and the Beefy Texan from this menu.
Thank god BBQ is gluten-free. This delicious plate is from Stiles Switch which is one of the top 3 BBQ joints in Austin. I decided on pork ribs, beans, and potato salad. But only because I was being good and not ordering the Mac n Cheese.
Best. BBQ. Ever.
And the best part about eating gluten-free is that I never get those “so full my stomach hurts, roll me home, I’m going to be sick” feelings.
Salad joints! LEAF in downtown Austin made fresh salads to order and since they made either own dressings, it was really easy to figure out which ones I could have and which ones I couldn’t.
The good news is, if you can’t find any gluten-free options in Austin, you can always find a good margarita!
Imagine if someone told you, as a gluten-free snacker, that there was something delicious, gluten-free, and not terribly unhealthy? Would you get really excited? Because I sure do every time I see popchips in the grocery aisle.
popchips are just that: popped chips. Compared to the traditional fried or baked choices in the chip aisle, popchips provide a guilt-free snacking option that you can enjoy guilt-free.
They have recently announced their new line of popped tortilla chips. Made using stoneground corn masa (the same ingredient in traditional corn tortillas) seasoned with natural ingredients. Nothing artificial. No trans fat. Gluten free. Lower fat and calories. Did I mention they were gluten-free too?
Have you tried popchips and will you be adding the new popped tortillas to your snacking regime?
This is a guest post by Kristen. Kristen can normally be found blogging on her uber-inspiring home renovation and DIY blog, Storefront Life, but I asked her to contribute a piece on her experience adjusting to her recent celiac-diagnosis.
My name is Kristen and I am a Celiac.
I have been gluten free for three months. I feel like I should get a medal for that, or at least a small trophy… three months of gluten free has been a hard road. The thing is, I didn’t want to give up gluten, heck I didn’t even think I had issues with gluten.
Here’s some back story; I had been having problems with my vitamin and nutrient levels for quite some time. I had be fighting (and losing!) a battle with severe iron deficiency anemia for three years. After rounds and rounds of tests, they finally discovered that I had Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease wherein your body thinks gluten is the devil, and tries to destroy it. The problem is that your body also destroys everything else around the gluten, which means some pretty heavy damage to the gastrointestinal (GI) system. My body was so badly damaged, that I was unable to absorb any of the vitamins and nutrients from my food. Hence the anemia. I didn’t have any GI symptoms, or any issues with food. Heck I LOVED any and all food. So being diagnosed Celiac, and given the task of eating gluten free for the rest of my life was a bit of a shock, and a huge learning curve.
When you get diagnosed they tell you to eat plain, simple foods. Don’t drink alcohol, don’t go out to eat, give up your social life and cry alone on your sofa every Saturday night (okay, so they didn’t say that last part, but the rest is true.) The problem is, I didn’t want to give up going out with my friends, eating out, and enjoying my food. So I researched, asked a lot of questions, and I have figured out that with a bit of planning, I can still go out with my friends and have a good time.
So here’s Kristen’s (not so scientific) guide to how to be gluten free while maintaining your social life and loving your food.
Liquor: Alcohol that has been distilled (regardless of whether it was originally wheat based) is gluten free. Beer and any malt liquor are not safe, nor is anything that has had gluten ingredients added in after the distilling process. Wine and cider are inherently gluten free as they are fermented fruit (just check that label and make sure gluten wasn’t added in as a flavor). However, I find that if I am exposed to even a bit of gluten and have had some alcohol my reaction to gluten is much stronger. You will find me upchucking in the bushes like a high school kid who drank a bottle of Jäger. So just be careful when it comes to drink.
Now for food: Some genres of food are mostly out of the question (Italian, Chinese etc.) but at any restaurant you can often find at least one thing safe to eat on a menu (even if it’s the salad, which sucks but hey it’s better than starving). Thai, Indian, Mexican and Steakhouses will most likely have quite a few things you can eat. Still beware of stocks, gravies, seasonings, oyster & soy sauce, and anything malted, all of which may contain gluten.
Fast food & chain restaurants: Don’t even bother asking a fast food employee whats gluten free on the menu. They are not apt to have any clue whats in the food they’re making. However, most chains have a nutritional information and allergy guide on their websites. I have a little stack of printed out allergy charts for all the chain restaurants near my office. As much as I’d love to say that I bring my lunch every single day, that just isn’t reality. At least I know that the chilli at Tim Hortons is GF and almost everything from Chiplote (except the flour tortillas) I can safely eat. Check websites ahead of visits, and know whats safe for you.
Dine at smaller restaurants where the chef actually knows what he’s cooking. Most of the time when you tell the waitstaff that you cant eat gluten, they’ll grab the chef and he will come talk to you about the menu. I have had chefs even offer things off menu, that would be safe for me to eat. If you’re making reservations call ahead and let them know that you have dietary restrictions and they will be prepared for your arrival.
Invite friends to your house rather than heading to theirs for dinner. Most people who aren’t gluten free really don’t understand the breadth of items that contain gluten, what cross contamination means, or how sick it can make you. Its awesome that they want to feed you and that they want to accommodate your special needs, but it’s safer to indicate that its easier to cook GF in your own kitchen. If they really want to contribute you can get them to bring things you know are GF (like the steaks, cheese or wine) or just to give you a hand cooking in your gluten free kitchen.
Keep a Larabar (or three) in your purse at all times: The reality is that sometimes there’s just nothing you can eat. I also recommend getting a gluten ingredient app on your iPhone. I use one called GFShopping, which has an ingredient list with green or red labels. Green is safe to eat, red is not. This is super helpful when you’re roaming the isles of the grocery store unsure what an ingredient is.
So don’t fret, it does involve a bit of work, but you can still have the social life you love, just with a bit of effort.
My newly adopted gluten-free lifestyle comes with it’s own set of drawbacks. Life without pastries, fluffy fresh breads, and pizza is pretty rough. But life without Dufflet is downright depressing. On my worst nights, I have flashbacks of Dufflet‘s signature carrot cake with creamy frosting melting in my mouth after a hard day at the office. And then I saw this:
Dufflet has announced a line of it’s popular desserts including the chocolate cake, carrot cake, and chocolate chunk brownie all made gluten-free! I can’t wait to head down to the Queen Street location and sample one of each! If I do it in the name of the blog then the calories don’t exist, right?
What are your favourite spots to pick up gluten-free baked treats?
I’m always looking for new gluten-free tricks and treats to make cooking, snacking, and eating out easier. Just yesterday I discovered that my local bakery has amazing gluten-free treats but I had been avoiding it in order to avoid the treats I’m not allowed to have any more! Imagine going to an event or store where you don’t have to read the labels on everything? Well I’ve found just the opportunity:
Gluten Free Garage is a pop-up market place featuring local merchants, bakeries, and restaurants that cater to gluten-free eating needs. You will be able to enjoy gluten-free food prepared onsite by local chefs, sample and purchase gluten-free food and lifestyle products from vendors, and hear from guest speakers who will speak on their experiences and expertise in gluten-free living and take the chance to chat with local health experts. You can also grab coupons for future #glutenfreegluttony purchases!
Want information about gluten-free living? The Canadian Celiac Association will also be onsite to provide information, resources, and support! Proceeds from all ticket sales ($10 for those aged 12 and up!) go to the Canadian Celiac Association.
Sunday April 28, 2013
10am – 4pm
Artscape Wychwood Barns in the Covered Street Barn
Gluten-free beer is made from ingredients that do not contain the grains barley and wheat that normal beers include. These ingredients, even in small amounts, can cause violent health reactions in those who have a gluten intolerance. Brewers who produce gluten-free beers are required to test every batch for gluten and record levels for each batch.
While I have cut down on the amount of beer I consume due to the reaction my body has to do since eliminating gluten, I haven’t eliminated it from my diet completely. I have taken the opportunity to try a couple of gluten-free beers that are available in Toronto and you might understand why I have been putting off eliminating regular beer from my diet:
Nickel Brook Gluten Free
This pale ale is made with a blend of sorghum, demerara sugar and pear juice was the first gluten-free beer made in Ontario!
Available at the LCBO in 6-packs for $13.50 or in 473 mL cans for $2.95 each.
Snowman Gluten-Free beer was brewed for gluten-intolerants who actually like beer, as opposed to a drink to have instead of beer. They have experiemented with a number of gluten-free grains to produce a brown ale, a pilsner, American pale ale, and a British-style amber. This beer is nearly impossible to find in Toronto, though I have spotted it on occasion at the Rhino.
Looking for other ways to get tipsy without getting sick? Stick to distilled spirits or wine. Remember to double-check your labels and don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer if you have any questions.
Just taking care of some blog housekeeping this week and I wanted to draw your attention towards my updated blogroll.
I have updated it to include my fellow #digitaledu classmates and some related gluten-free blogs. Feel free to take a gander 😉
I think I mention my love and fondness for pizza in every post, so maybe you’re starting to get an idea of how much I miss my favourite pies. Enter: TasteAway.com, a sister site of Teambuy.ca. TasteAway is the latest online pick-up and delivery ordering platform to launch with a selection of over 150 restaurants in Toronto and the GTA. Their goal is to provide a more visual marketplace for customers to “eat with their eyes”.
Similar to the other online delivery ordering services, TasteAway.com offers a selection of restaurants based on your delivery address. You can browse through menus and popular dished from local restaurants, order directly from the website, and pay online by credit card or with cash on delivery of your order.
Ordering gluten-free foods online is generally fairly easy when you have a large selection. I lean towards thai or vietnamese dishes because they tend to be rice-based.
While the online food delivery companies generally have the same or at least the same types of restaurants, there is very little room to stand out. So what makes TasteAway stand out to me?
Two words: Magic Oven.
Magic Oven is a Toronto-based family-run chain of restaurants offering pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Their healthy pizzas can also be made to accommodate a large range of dietary concerns by offering organic spelt or gluten-free rice flour crusts and vegan or lactose-free cheese, and organic meats. With over 6 fully licensed locations in Toronto, there are lots of opportunities to treat your gluten-starved brain and body with a healthy pizza!
A few months ago, I treated a fellow gluten-free girlfriend to a special night in with her favourite wine and a gluten-free rice flour crust pizza to try out the TasteAway delivery service. Our verdict: delicious, gluten-free pizza delivered hot in no time! And a new favourite restaurant for us to indulge our carb cravings!