Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event, Raleigh, NC August 9, 2014

The Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event will be in Raleigh, NC August 9, 2014 from 10am to 4pm at the Durham Conference Center. This is the largest Gluten Free event in North Carolina and an opportunity to try amazing Gluten Free products and meet other GFAF people like you!

Check out the GFAF Wellness Event Web site as the vendor list is growing daily.

The tickets are only $10.00 per adult and children 13 and under are free!  

Saturday August 9, 2014
Doubletree Hilton Raleigh
Brownstone University
1707 Hillsborough St. 

Raleigh, NC 27702


EAT: True Food Kitchen

Last week, when I was in Santa Monica, CA, a good friend recommended that I check out True Food Kitchen. I was definitely going to check it out, as my friend is a foodie who travels around the country for his job and has had an opportunity to eat everywhere. Imagine my surprise when I hunted down the Santa Monica, CA location to find it in a mall area downtown! Still not deterred, I ventured in to find an inviting atmosphere that felt nothing like a mall restaurant. Focused on healthy, sustainable food choices, True Food Kitchen is truly a find! The menu had vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free items clearly marked, as well as healthy, fun drink options (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
A short 20 minute wait on a Sunday evening led my dining companion and me to the bar. There, we each ordered a beverage. He ordered a gluten free beer called Omission, while I tried the Ginger Margarita, a spicy, yet sweet, margarita, complete with the bartender lighting the orange peel with a match! What fun! We also had time to order an Albacore Tataki as an appetizer. Delicious, especially with the avocado.

After the hostess texted us to let us know our table was ready (great idea in case you wanted to shop around the mall and did not want to walk around with one of those buzzers with a 30 yard reception), we sat outside on the patio. It was a beautiful evening and the patio had a great atmosphere. When the air temperature cooled, heaters mounted above the diners were turned on to keep the area comfortable.

For the main meal, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try the gluten free Panang Curry, a dish of rice, potato, broccoli, ginger, carrot, and mushroom in a coconut milk and curry sauce.  I added shrimp to my dish.  The dish had great flavor. It was a little too spicy for my taste (keep the water handy), but I would order it again with more coconut milk and a little less curry. I really enjoyed the flavor and was pleasantly surprised that my venture into the unknown was rewarded with a delicious dish.

My dinner companion chose the gluten free Street Tacos with avocado, cotija cheese, tomatillo salsa, sour cream, and a side of Anasazi beans. He added the sustainable sea bass to his tacos. Since I am corn free, I could not try them out, but he said they were very tasty. There was a plentiful amount of food atop each taco, and the ability to order the tacos with the sea bass or grass fed steak made the dish interesting and delicious.
I was really impressed with the gluten free selections at True Food Kitchen, as well as their commitment to sustainable foods and nutritional options. I also appreciated their commitment to flavor. Healthy food does not have to be bland. Your senses are definitely piqued throughout your dining experience.

The great thing about True Food Kitchen is that it is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, but with multiple locations. With three locations in California, two in Arizona, and one location in each state of Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia, one can find a healthy option across the country. I am looking forward to checking out the Atlanta location in a couple of weeks!

True Food Kitchen

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Motivation 07/28/2014

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nature's Pearl Muscadine Juice

A while back, I was in search of a new juice.  Something different, not orange, apple, cranberry, or pineapple. A friend introduced me to Muscadine Juice from Nature's Pearl. Wow, really tasty! Muscadine juice is full of over 100 naturally occurring antioxidants, preventing cells from free radicals, and been shown to have positive effects against some cancers.  Better yet, it is free from all major allergens!

The muscadine grape is a grapevine species that grows in the Southeast region of North America. The best part of the grape is inside its thick shell of skin. Nature's Pearl Muscadine Juice has no sugar added. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a serving of 35 muscadine grapes has 105 calories and 7 grams of fiber.

My favorite way to drink Nature's Pearl Muscadine Juice is to add it to my NP Pro Protein Powder to make a delicious protein shake! Even NP Pro has muscadine grape in it for added antioxidant benefits!  Muscadine Juice is also great by itself. Try it out and let me know your favorite way to drink your muscadine juice!

Nature's Pearl

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Motivation 07/21/2014

"It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters."

~ Paul "Bear" Bryant

EAT: Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails

When in Irvine, CA and looking for a nice allergy conscious meal, check out Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails on Main Street. 

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails uses local and organic produce, as well as naturally raised meats and sustainably sourced seafood. They even have gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian items noted on the menu. 
Our server was not well versed in specific menu item ingredients, but was willing to check with the chef to ensure we were ordering safe items. We started with the Cheese and Charcuterie plate minus the French Baguette. Delicious! A nice variety  of meats and cheeses (there was a yummy looking blue cheese, which I passed on since I tend to react to it even though it is technically gluten free). 
For the main course, I went with the gluten free Market Sea Bass.  It is sustainably sourced pan roasted sea bass with asparagus, artichoke, tomato, and Lemon Confit Vinaigrette. It had a light flavor and paired well with the vinaigrette.

My dinner companion ordered the special of the evening, the Hanger Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. The steak was perfectly cooked to a medium rare temperature. 
My favorite part of the meal was sitting outside on the terrace. Andrei's just finished construction of the terrace, and it provided great ambiance for the evening. I loved the heat lamps, not the typical tall, boring heat lamps you see at restaurants.  They were flames inside a glass box. Really cool! Inside the restaurant was a lot of granite and a really pretty floor to ceiling waterfall feature at the front entrance. 
I really appreciate "conscious cooking" with attention to local farmers and food that does not have antibiotics and hormones. I will definitely be back the next time I am in Irvine. 

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails
2607 Main St. 
Irvine, CA 92614

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Motivation 07/14/14

"Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard word gains success. Greatness will come."

~ Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Friday, July 11, 2014

EAT: Oak Steakhouse, Charleston, SC

You know, sometimes you just need a good steak! In Downtown Charleston, SC, the place to find a great one is Oak Steakhouse. Named one of the Best Steakhouses in America by Travel + Leisure Magazine and The Daily Meal, as well as Charleston's Best Steakhouse by The Charleston City Paper, Oak is located on Broad Street. Dimly lit, with branches and birds painted on the walls, the ambiance was great. It is located in the restored 150 year-old South Carolina Loan and Trust Building and has three floors of dining rooms. 

While Oak did not have an allergen or gluten free menu, my server was very knowledgeable about food allergies and the manager even stopped by to check on the table to make sure our dining experience was enjoyable. 

After a long hot day on the golf course, followed by a boat ride, my dinner companion and I were starving so we jumped right into the main course. Our server was raving about the Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad, so we added that as a side. It was delicious! The tomatoes were flavorful and the mozzarella cheese was fresh. 

I ordered an 8oz filet and was assured it would be free of my allergens. It was one of the best filets I have ever tasted. It was cooked to a perfect medium. 

My dinner companion chose the Ribeye and added the Foie Gras. I had never had Foie Gras before and was not sure if I would like it. Its taste was a little strong for me, but I am always interested in trying new things. Foie Gras is goose liver and is only sold in certain parts of the country. This delicacy dates back to the Egyptians in 2500 BC and is very popular in France. 

Oak Steakhouse has a great selection of steaks, as well as other dishes. Like many of the great restaurants in downtown Charleston, Oak sources local ingredients for its dishes. The portions are generous, and we even took home a to-go box of leftovers. I will definitely head back to Oak for another great steak soon!

Oak Steakhouse
17 Broad Street
Charleston, SC 29401

EAT: High Cotton, Charleston, SC

The last night of my trip to Charleston, SC was sad because it is such a great city and I had an amazing trip. Therefore, dinner that night had to be memorable. High Cotton Restaurant, part of the Maverick Kitchens, on East Bay St. in downtown Charleston, did not disappoint! I have been amazed at how many downtown Charleston restaurants have gluten free menus or very knowledgeable staff. High Cotton had an extensive gluten free menu as well! The best part, it looked like an official menu with "Gluten Free" in large letters, not some afterthought print out piece of paper. Our server confirmed our need for gluten free, and I addressed my other allergies. Not a problem, she said, and answered other questions we had. 
My dinner companion and I decided to start out the meal with the Seared Foie Gras Mousse. Yes, I gave it another try. This time, compared to my taste test at Oak Steakhouse, also in downtown Charleston, was different. The mousse at High Cotton was much milder and paired well with the beets and blueberries that accompanied it. 

All of the items on the gluten free menu looked delicious, but I decided to try the Grilled 12oz Strip Steak with Potato and Gruyere Gratin and Baby Carrots. I choose to be dairy free and tolerate aged cheeses. I love gruyere. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium and really tasty. 
My dinner companion also ordered off the gluten free menu. The Roasted Duck Breast came with the Potato and Gruyere Gratin, Mushroom Conserva, and Marsala Sauce. Perfectly prepared!
High Cotton is part of the Maverick Southern Kitchens Group, which includes  Slightly North of Broad (see my review), Old Village Post House, and Cooks! Maverick Kitchen Stores. 

I really liked the atmosphere at High Cotton. Brick walls, dark wood, cool arches, and not too loud to have a good conversation on a busy Saturday night. I will definitely stop back in on my next trip. I hear High Cotton has a great brunch.

High Cotton
199 East Bay St. 
Charleston, SC 29401

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

EAT: Hank's Seafood Restaurant, Charleston, SC

I was in search of some great seafood in Charleston, SC. I mean, I am at the coast, right? Hank's Seafood in downtown Charleston on Hayne Street is a great option. It did not have a gluten free menu, but my server was very knowledgeable about food allergies. What a relief since there are a lot of yummy sounding fried gluten-filled seafood items on the menu!

Hank's was packed on a Thursday evening and has a fun and "happening" atmosphere. Thank goodness we had reservations!

To start the meal, my dinner companion and I shared the Ceviche, a concoction of shrimp, smoked salmon and tuna, marinated in lime juice, cilantro, jalapeƱo, onion, and garlic with jicama and tomatoes. It was so tasty (and we were so hungry) that I missed a photo! Sorry!

For dinner, my server recommended that the Roast Grouper was one of the best dishes on the menu and the safest for my food allergies. The grouper was served with English peas and Lobster Risotto. Very tasty!
My dinner companion also went gluten free and ordered the A La Carte Seafood of Blackened Grouper with Spinach. Tasty as well!

Hank's Seafood has a great selection of seafood options to please anyone in your party. Even though they did not have a food allergy menu, the knowledgeable servers made the experience enjoyable. I can't wait to dine there on my next trip to Charleston. Oh, and be sure to try out the Hispaniola Cocktail! Simply divine!!

Hank's Seafood
10 Hayne St. 
Charleston, SC

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

EAT: Sweet Radish Bakeshop, Charleston, SC

Sweet Radish Bakeshop is a dedicated gluten free bakery in Charleston, SC. I was excited to check it out when in Charleston. A small storefront located on St. Philip Street in downtown, the Bakeshop had a good variety of gluten free options. 

The Bakeshop also does custom orders to accommodate all allergens and requests. A variety of muffins, doughnuts, cookies, and quiches were on display the day I stopped by.
I tried the chocolate chip cookie and the peach strudel muffin. Yum! The cookie was moist and chocolatey, as well as being a good size for a snack or dessert. The peach strudel muffin was delicious! Great crumble topping and the peach chunks were a welcome surprise.

My only issue was the limited hours of operation. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open Wednesdays through Fridays from 9am to 4pm, and open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Not being open for the after-work crowd or for those wanting to grab a quick dessert after dinner downtown could be problematic, but being open on Saturdays and Sundays is a good compromise, as many gluten free bakeries I encounter on my travels are not open on Sundays. 

I look forward to returning to Sweet Radish Bakeshop on my next visit to Charleston!

Sweet Radish Bakeshop
207A St. Philip St. 
Charleston, SC 29403

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Motivation 07/07/2014

"If you be all you can be every day, you will be honored as a legend."

~ Mission Statement of WBA Champion James "Bonecrusher" Smith's Foundation, Champion For Kids


Friday, July 4, 2014

EAT: Slightly North of Broad (SNOB), Charleston, SC

Looking for some yummy Southern Low Country food in Charleston, SC? Looking for some yummy gluten free Southern Low Country food? Slightly North of Broad, also known as SNOB by locals, part of the Maverick Southern Kitchens, fits the bill and even has a gluten free menu!

It is always great to have gluten free options in a restaurant, but to be able to enjoy gluten free Southern cooking is an even bigger treat. Most Southern food is breaded and fried, topped with creamy sauces often thickened with flour. 

My server at SNOB was very knowledgeable about gluten free, as well as my other food allergies. I ordered the Pan Seared New Bedford Scallops with butter beans, okra, and tomato hock broth. Delicious, and I am not a butter bean fan! The scallops were perfectly seared and the beans and tomato broth enhanced the flavor of the scallops. 

My dinner companion also chose a dish from the gluten free menu and ordered the BBQ Tuna with no Oysters. The tuna was tasty with a country ham butter. 

Both dishes were fabulous, and I loved being able to eat true Southern Food that was free of my allergens. I highly recommend SNOB and can't wait to go back!

Slightly North of Broad
192 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

EAT: Husk Restaurant, Charleston, SC

I was excited to try out the Best New Restaurant 2011, according to Bon Appetit and Southern Living Magazines, when in Charleston, SC. It did not disappoint! Besides amazing food, the servers were very knowledgeable about food allergies and making the experience memorable. 

Husk was packed at lunch and requests reservations for both lunch and dinner. Even with reservations, there is a few minute wait to prepare the table. A group of 12 walked in, but there was no availability without reservations. Husk has a big board on the wall showing the sources of their ingredients from vendors from across the Southeast. 

Our server was very knowledgeable about the ingredients of each dish. Any questions he could not answer he was happy to check with the chef. 

The menu at Husk changes almost daily. I ordered the Virginia Heritage Pork with Carolina Gold Rice, Smoky Beans, Tuscan Kale, and Pot Likker, all gluten, corn, egg, and dairy free. An amazing fusion of flavors! While at first the pork looked like a piece of tenderloin, it was pork shoulder and so tender.  To drink, I had a refreshing non-alcoholic spritzer called Our Lady of Guadalupe, a mixture of green tea, orange juice, lime juice, and burnt honey. It was perfect for a hot summer day!
My lunch companion ordered the Shrimp and Grits, which was gluten free, but of course not corn free, so I had to take his word on how good it was. His take: the shrimp and grits were fantastic, but my pork was better.

We passed on dessert after the meal, but there were a couple of gluten free options. All in all, Husk lived up to the hype! I can't wait to go back again soon!

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the Bar at Husk!  It is located behind the restaurant in the old slave quarters.  The bar is small, but rustic, and serves a great variety of cocktails and bar food. I always stick to gluten free and corn free (grain free) alcohols when ordering cocktails.  Many people with food allergies have no problem with grain alcohols since it is distilled and should be gluten free, however, I find that I react to grain alcohols. I don't drink often (especially near and during tournaments), but when I have an occasional cocktail, I stick with Potato Vodka or Rum (Cane Sugar) and away from processed mixes, which usually have high fructose corn syrup. We sampled the Charleston Light Dragoon Punch (left) and On Top of the Ol' Sierra Madre (right). 

Husk Restaurant
76 Queen St.
Charleston, SC