Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birthday Cake Blues

Do birthdays get you down when you have food allergies? I can relate. Being gluten free for eight years, I think I have only had a birthday cake three times during those years. The first was a disastrous attempt at baking myself a gluten free cake. I was determined to feel “normal” and have a birthday cake like everyone else, which turned out to be more of a door stop than a cake. The second, a couple years later, was another homemade attempt that was much tastier, but still not exactly like the gluten filled birthday cakes of my past. The third, yesterday, was one delicious slice (Strawberry Cake Roll in photo above with the super tall unlit candle. Where is a match when you need one?), made at Camino Bakery in Winston-Salem, NC, one of the local bakeries that takes great care in making a gluten free cake or two once a week for its gluten free customers (and sell out every week, I might add!). The funny part is that I am kind of over the whole birthday cake is mandatory for a great birthday idea. I had a great birthday and now focus more on spending time with family and friends instead of chowing down on a birthday cake, even with all of the wonderful allergen free options available these days. If I was kid in grade school, I know I would not feel deprived with the options available today. Having a yummy cake to share with friends is still important for young children and I am so glad that allergen free kids do not have to feel left out thanks to the extra efforts made by their parents. 
If you don’t live near a bakery that can accommodate your allergen needs and you are looking for a good cake mix, I recommend the 1-2-3 Gluten Free Cake Mixes. Each mix is certified gluten free, GMO free, made in the USA, and contain no sugar to allow you to add the sweetener of your choice. Another thing I love about 1-2-3 Gluten Free is the generous size of the cakes the mixes produce. No small loaf pan for these mixes! My favorites are the Hint of Lemon Pound Cake and the Chocolate Bundt Pound Cake. They are gluten free, wheat free, soy free, egg free, corn free, dairy free, casein free, tree nut free, peanut free, and sugar free.  They also have a yellow cake mix, devil’s food chocolate cake mix, brownies, cookies, pan bars, biscuits, muffins, pancake mix, and an all-purpose flour, all free of most allergens. 

With all of this talk about cake, I may have to turn my birth-day into “birth-week” and crank up the oven and break out the mixing bowls!  A trip to Camino Bakery for a slice of their gluten free cake of the week may be in order too... right after I hit the gym… ;-)

Camino Bakery
310B West Fourth St.
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

1-2-3 Gluten Free

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Motivation 05/26/2014

"Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
~ Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

EAT: Food For Thought, Williamsburg, VA

Looking for a fun, allergy friendly restaurant that is not a chain restaurant in Williamsburg, VA? Food For Thought has an upbeat vibe with a plethora of great quotes on the walls and thought-provoking questions to contemplate with your fellow diners while waiting for your meal! It also has a gluten free menu with a good selection of options.

I visited on a Monday, a day when most restaurants are slow, but found myself with a 20 minute wait at Food For Thought at 7pm! My thoughts were either this place is good or there is a tour group. No tour group or big parties, other than a table or two of eight. 

When I asked the server about a gluten free menu, she said she would bring one along with some gluten free rolls. Gluten free rolls?!? With my other food allergies, I have to be careful with gluten free breads, so I asked about ingredients in the rolls. My server brought back a list of ingredients. Unfortunately, I had to pass on them since they had corn and flax, but they are made with Anna B's blend. My mom, who dined with me, said they were pretty tasty. 

Food For Thought had a dinner special of bacon wrapped filet, and I was planning on ordering that, but was told it was sold out (at 7:30pm on a Monday?!?). My mom and I both ordered the Cilantro Lime Chicken. Mom opted for a side salad with hers. I got an extra vegetable.  There were also several interesting gluten free dessert selections such as a brownie, creme brulee, and a chocolate torte, but after a long, hot day on the golf course, we both passed.

Cory, the manager, stopped by our table to see how our meal was.  I took the opportunity to thank him for having a gluten free menu and how helpful it was for those of us with food allergies.

Food For Thought
1647 Richmond Rd.
Williamsburg, VA

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Motivation 05/19/2014

Forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart, and success will come to you.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fresh Market Goes Gluten Free!

When I went gluten free eight years ago, there were not many options. I thought my grocery shopping days had been limited to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The Fresh Market, a favorite of mine pre-gluten free, did not seem to carry many options, despite their unique selection. The Fresh Market is a small chain of gourmet grocery stores based in Greensboro, NC with over 100 locations in 20 states. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I visited The Fresh Market in Southern Pines. Wow, I thought it must be the best Fresh Market on the planet with the selection of gluten free items. I checked out the Fresh Market in Williamsburg, VA with fingers crossed that the one in Southern Pines was not just a one of a kind. To my surprise, the Williamsburg location was the same!

The Fresh Market has expanded its selection of gluten free products from many specialty brands we all know and trust, including Blue Diamond, Cup4Cup, and GinnyBakes. They even clearly mark them with a gluten free tag so the products catch your eye. 

Upon closer inspection, I found that the Fresh Market even has its own gluten free brand! How exciting! I can't wait to try out their brand. What really excites me is that many times, there is a Fresh Market when there is no Whole Foods or Trader Joe's (for example, Southern Pines/Pinehurst, NC and Toledo, OH). It can be a long week on the road with limited allergy free options!

The next time you visit the Fresh Market, be sure to thank them for carrying gluten free items and being allergy free friendly. With so many locations covering the US, you are bound to find one near you!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Motivation 05/12/2014

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference"

~ Robert Frost

Sunday, May 11, 2014

EAT: Extraordinary Cupcakes, Williamsburg, VA

Need a sweet treat after a day in Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, or on one of many of the fine golf courses in Williamsburg, VA? Extraordinary Cupcakes is the place! 

They serve a variety of interesting flavors of regular (read gluten filled) cupcakes, but on weekends, the staff prepares a gluten free chocolate cupcake in a separate space using Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour (Edit: Cup 4 Cup flour is NOT corn free). The gluten free cupcake is iced to order with choices like Buttercream frosting, Chocolate Buttercream frosting, and cream cheese frosting. I ordered mine with the Buttercream Frosting, which is also corn free. 

Extraordinary Cupcakes also serves a fun selection of beverages, including Mexican Coke and Mexican Fanta, both made with cane sugar. 

With its fun decor and great cupcake selection, Extraordinary Cupcakes draws a crowd. Be sure to stop in early in the day, as I visited mid day on a Saturday and stood in line out the door. Extraordinary Cupcakes does custom orders as well as cakes to order. 

Extraordinary Cupcakes
1220 Richmond Rd. 
Williamsburg, VA

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Motivation 05/05/2014

"Accomplishment is one of the most fulfilling feelings you can experience. With that being said, what hard work are you going to put in today to live an extraordinary life tomorrow?

~ Fitness expert, Lori Harder

Do You Keep A Food Journal?

Do you ever feel sick and know you accidentally ate something you are allergic to, but cannot figure out how or where you ate it? I recommend starting a food journal, where you track everything you eat.  A food journal is great if you are traveling or eating out at restaurants a lot. Even food you prepare at home can have cross contamination or hidden ingredients that can cause a reaction. I thought I was getting a safe meal at a certain restaurant, but always had symptoms after eating there.  Without my food journal, I may not have connected the two.

Food journals are also great for writing down your symptoms and how you feel each day. Once you pinpoint a food you cannot tolerate, you can also figure out the duration of the reaction.

I have also found that I get hungry faster since going wheat gluten and corn free. I now tend to eat fewer carbs, so my food journal helps me make sure I am eating enough to stay nourished through my sport.

Food journals come in many different forms. Writing down meals in a journal is great. Putting a small notebook in your purse or backpack works as well. For those of you who are techno-geeks, you can download a food journal app to track your meals on your phone or tablet. I use the mySymptoms Food Tracker, which allows you to input food, symptoms, medicines, exercise, and more. It also can provide you a PDF printout to take to your doctor.