Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mindful Ordering From "Gluten-Free" Menus

Wow! I can't believe my last post was so long ago! I guess I've been busier than I thought! Summer is finally here! The past few weeks, I have eaten out at several restaurants with either gluten-free menus or gluten-free "options". I have had good experiences along with some not so great ones! A couple of weekends ago, we visited Uno's Chicago Grill. Now, I love Uno's. What's not to love? They have gluten-free pizza and Diet Caffeine-Free Coke. Well, on this occasion, it was lunch time and my husband, daughter and I stopped in for a bite before going to a movie. I didn't want to order the gf pizza, because I didn't want to eat the entire thing and I couldn't doggy bag it and take it into the theatre. So, I ordered the Cobb Salad. I made sure I pointed to the gf menu and told the waiter I was ordering from it. Well, when it came, I didn't even think to really look at it. I should trust them right? About three bites into my salad, I saw it. Blue Cheese. I stopped dead in my tracks. Hmmm. I've never seen a gf salad with blue cheese on it! I thought, well, some blue cheese is safe, others aren't. So, usually I would ask the waiter about it and probably send it back. This day, I just decided to eat around it. Luckily, I didn't have any adverse reaction from it, but it was still bugging me. So, I decided to email Uno's customer service. I don't have the email I sent, but I described what happened and asked if they could confirm whether the blue cheese they serve in their restaurants is gf or not. Their response follows:
Dear Lisa,
You should not be having the blue cheese dressing. Sorry. Sincerely hope you did not get sick. We should have known better if you told the server you are ordering from the gluten free menu.
Kacey Bogue
Senior Hospitality Representative
Mon-Fri 8:30-4:30 EST
Now, aside from the fact that it was crumbled blue cheese and not the dressing, I'm assuming that neither are gluten-free. That was not the only restaurant I had an experience at this month. This past weekend we visited Chili's. Chili's doesn't have a gluten-free menu, but they do have gf "options" listed on their website. Now, I have had other experiences at Chili's, for instance, they brought me a salad with croutons on it and soup with crackers, so I know that this particular Chili's doesn't really get it. Sometimes the family wants to go there, so I suck it up and go. In any case, when we got there, we asked for a gluten-free menu. They pulled a dirty, dusty binder from a little cabinet under the hostess stand. I immediately got a bad feeling about this. The hostess flipped to the "Suggested Menu Items for those with Gluten Allergies" page and plopped the dirty binder on the table in front of me. I ended up ordering the grilled salmon with broccoli and rice. When the plate came. There it was. A huge gluten-laden french fry sitting right on top of my broccoli. Argh! So, we sent it back. The waitress said she would replace the broccoli with fresh, but who knows whether she did or if they just plucked the fry off the plate and returned it to the table. At this point, I really wasn't very comfortable about my gluten-free meal at all. So, I ate the salmon, which was very good and left everything else. To top it off, my daughter got down to the bottom of her mac n' cheese only to discover a huge piece of artichoke heart at the bottom. What the heck were they doing back there in that kitchen??? So, bottom line. Be careful at EVERY restaurant, even the ones with gluten-free menus.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Product Review - French Meadow Bakery Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

As you know from my last post, I scored a French Meadow Bakery Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake at the GF Food Fest I attended last night. Well, of course, we waisted no time trying it!
My husband's birthday just happened to be today, so I stuck a candle in that cute little cake! My husband blew out the candle and my daughter and I scarfed it down! Hubby had been treated to cake and ice cream at work, so he wasn't really interested in having any more! There was just enough cake for two people.

I haven't had real chocolate cake in quite a while and let me tell you, this one was wonderful! The frosting was very fudgy and there was plenty of it! The chocolate cake was a little drier than I would have liked, but still terrific! I would definitely buy one of these cakes again. From their website, I see that their products are available at our local "Green Grocer" and "Honest Weight Food Co-op". I could have sworn that I picked the cake up at the "Price Chopper" table, but I can't remember, it's all a GF blur! By the way, I didn't see the chocolate cake on their website...maybe it's new? Also worth mentioning, the cake is dairy and peanut free as well!

Gluten-Free Food Festival

I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Gluten-Free Food Festival, put on by the Albany Celiac Support Group at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, NY last evening. I found out about it through the local newspaper and also from their website.
http://www.celiacresource.org/ - (Hmmm. Something is going wrong with my computer and I'm not able to be fancy and link it in anywhere!)
This was the first event I have ever been to since being diagnosed. Boy, was I ever surprised. I had no idea how many vendors or how much food there would be! If I had known, I surely wouldn't have eaten so much dinner before I went! There were many, many GF food companies represented, several local restaurants and several local health food stores and grocery stores. Lots and lots of gf goodies!
Luckily, I brought a tote bag. That baby was loaded up when I left! I couldn't fit another yummy snack in there to save my life! When I got home, I unloaded my loot onto the dining room table to take inventory. Whoa!

In my bag was:

2 pkgs. EnerG Wylde Pretzels

5 pkgs. Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal

1 pkg. Pamela's Chocolate Chunk Pecan Short Bread

1 pkg. Pamela's Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 pkgs. Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix

2 Larabars, 1 Pecan Pie and 1 Cinnamon Roll

2 French Meadow Bakery Fudge Brownies

3 pkgs. Bakery On Main Extreme Fruit and Nut Granola

2 pkgs. Mary's Gone Crackers, 1 Herb and 1 Caraway

3 pkgs. Food Should Taste Good Multigran Tortilla Chips

and the bonus score:

1 French Mountain Bakery Chocolate Cake!

We will be opening this cake tonight for my husband's birthday. Great timing, huh? I will get better pix and a review out as soon as I can.

This doesn't even count the unwrapped, homemade and restaurant goodies I ate while I was there!

The support group apparently holds these events once a year and you better believe I will be attending next year's!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Product Review - Wallaby Organic Yogurt

I found this Wallaby Organic Yogurt in the local Hannaford Supermarket. I had never seen it before, but I thought the name and the packaging was irresistibly cute, with it's little kangaroos jumping around on the front! The fact that it was organic and low fat was also a bonus. I didn't, however, know if it was gluten-free. I ended up putting two containers in my cart anyway and decided that I would look up their website when I got home. Wallaby Organic Yogurt is indeed gluten-free! (Even if you don't like yogurt, you have to check out their cute website!) I tried the Maple flavor first. While being a little bit "soupier" than some organic yogurts I have tried, it was so sweet and mapley that I just fell in love with it. This afternoon, I got to try the Blueberry. Again, a little thin, but delicious! I would definitely recommend this yogurt if you come across it in your grocery store!