Sunday, August 31, 2014

EAT: Lulu California Bistro, Palm Springs, CA

When in Palm Springs, CA, be sure to attend the weekly Thursday night VillageFest in downtown. Palm Canyon Dr. is closed down and vendors set up in the street, allowing people to browse their goods, as well as browse the shops on the street. 
Lulu California Bistro, located on South Palm Canyon Dr., is a hot spot on Thursdays. I have walked past this funky, modern restaurant for years when attending Villagefest, but when I found out they have a gluten free menu, I had to check it out!
The gluten free menu is expansive. Lulu's has an Early Bird Special and a three course special with several gluten free options available. My dinner companion and I opted for the three course meal, which was reasonably priced, but was not labeled with gluten free options. We had to flip between the two menus to see what gluten free options were offered. 
We started out our meal with a soup, the Wild Mushroom Soup and the Vichyssoise Soup (a cold potato and leek soup). Both soups were pretty tasty, but both were very watery. I thought there would be chunks of mushrooms or potatoes in each. We both ordered the Filet Mignon as our main entree. The description on the menu was a little misleading, as it stated the 10oz filet was served with a light roasted garlic topping, sautéed mushrooms, mashed red skin potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. I envisioned some roasted garlic finely chopped on top of the filet with mushrooms and that was confirmed by the server. Instead, it had a thick brown sauce with capers and no sight of mushrooms. After asking the server and he standing there with a blank stare, I nicely asked if he could find out for me. He returned from the kitchen with "um, white wine, capers, uh, and I think beef stock. It is gluten free." Now, as someone with other food allergies besides gluten, my alarm bells went off. It still frustrates me when people don't really care about the severity of food allergies, but eating out is risky. I requested a filet with no sauce and was brought another one quickly. The filet was grass fed and cooked to a nice medium. I have found that grass fed meat on the West Coast has a much different flavor than East Coast grass fed meat. 
By far, the best part of the meal was dessert. Rich, fudgy flourless chocolate torte was small, but plenty. 
Lulu has a fun, modern decor with crazy chandeliers and modern decor table and chairs. On Thursday night, the bar is the place to be with an interesting mix of people. 
The outdoor seating is also spacious, but don't worry about the desert heat. There are misters cooling the area. 

My take: I don't recommend eating lunch or dinner if you have food allergies. Even though Lulu has a gluten free menu, the staff I encountered was not knowledgeable about ingredients and I did not feel safe. In fact, I was sick within a couple hours, but cannot 100% verify if it was from Lulu. Enjoy a drink at the bar and people watch instead!

Lulu California Bistro
200 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bristol Farms Grocery Store in Southern California

Grocery shopping during travel can be a difficult task sometimes. With my food allergies, not every grocery store can satisfy my allergen free needs. I came across Bristol Farms when I was in Palm Desert, CA. What a great store! It has a Whole Foods vibe with its great selection of fruits, vegetables, meats, and baked goods. Since there is not a Whole Foods in the desert (yet), this store is my go-to. 
With 12 locations across Southern California and a location in San Francisco, the store was named after a street in West Los Angeles. It has been rated Best Market by Zagat. It is known for its fresh products and homemade quality with its careful attention to product selection. I saw several products I have not seen carried in other health food stores.
What I liked was the gluten free options available. Cookies, cake mixes, soups, frozen treats, etc. All the allergen free products were mixed in with regular products, which made finding what you are looking for a little more difficult.
Most of the gluten free items were labeled to make browsing a little easier.
Unfortunately, there were not a lot of allergen free selections on the hot bar, but they did have a nice salad bar and a sushi station. I was hoping for gluten free dessert options in the bakery area (from a local gluten free bakery, perhaps?), but was out of luck.
Bristol Farms has a great fresh meat selection with grass fed and free range options.

Be sure to check out Bristol Farms the next time you are in Southern California or San Francisco. It has great allergen free options, as well as a good selection of naturally allergen free products. 
They even carry my favorite gluten free and corn free sports drink, Body Armor!

Bristol Farms

Sunday, August 24, 2014

EAT: Royal Tea and Treatery, Costa Mesa, CA

I am always looking for a fun, allergen free place for lunch in my travels. I found a super cute place in Costa Mesa, CA called the Royal Tea and Treatery! Every thing is gluten and dairy free!
The owner of the Royal Tea and Treatery, Bridget Reilly, is gluten and dairy free and is happy to accommodate other allergies. She took the time to verify ingredients to see what was also corn free for me. I tried a delicious, moist, not crumbly macaroon! The cupcakes are not corn free. 
My favorite part of the Royal Tea and Treatery, besides the allergen free food, is the whimsical decor! Bright colors and cute furniture, I felt like I had stepped into Alice in Wonderland!
I stopped by mid morning and Bridget invited me to attend a Mad Hatter Party later that day. More gluten free and dairy free goodies? Yes, please! I was also excited to meet some people from the area since I travel to the area several times a year. 
I arrived a little late and I missed the crowd, but Bridget welcomed me and pointed out which goodies were also corn free. I had the most delicious turkey avocado sandwich. The bread was soft, spongy, and full of flavor. Some of the best gluten free bread I have tasted! Zucchini salad, stuffed mushrooms, a sugar cookie, and a mimosa rounded out the meal. Everything was great!
Joanna of Queen Tut Events decorated for the party. With the added decorations, it really had an Alice In Wonderland feel. 
The Royal Tea and Treatery is the perfect place for your bridal shower, baby shower, engagement party, or birthday party. Bridget also carries gluten free and dairy free products to purchase and take home, including snack bars and cake mixes. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, I will definitely stop by for lunch on my next trip to the Costa Mesa area!

Royal Tea and Treatery
2950 Grace Ln
Costa Mesa, CA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WIN: Never Miss a Match, Tournament, or Game Again

We have all had that fear (or nightmare) where we miss the start of a match, tournament, or game and get disqualified or let the whole team down. Never miss another with the Waze app for iPhone and Android. Sure, most phones these days have a GPS, but what if there is traffic or a road closure?

The Waze app takes submissions from other Waze users about traffic, road closures, objects in the road and on the shoulder, and police. It is current and you have the ability to confirm prior submissions to keep information up to date for fellow users. You can also add your own submissions, but please refrain if you are driving. 
The Waze App requires your location and also has a GPS to route you to your event. It is free in the App Store and easy to download. 

I have found that Waze works great in large cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles. The reports are more scattered between cities, but no less helpful. 

Note: Please use extreme caution while driving. Have a passenger use Waze or turn it on prior to your trip and pair your phone with your car for hands free driving information. Safe travels and good luck in that match/tournament/game!

Waze App

Sunday, August 17, 2014

EAT: Sixth and Vine Wine Bar and Cafe, Winston-Salem, NC

Sixth and Vine Wine Bar and Cafe has been a staple in downtown Winston-Salem, NC since its revitalization several years ago. A fun wine bar with an expansive wine list and a great outdoor patio, Sixth and Vine has always been pretty aware of food allergies. Now, it has a new menu with Gluten Free items clearly labeled!
My most recent visit was on a Thursday evening. The weather was great, so my dinner companion and I ate outside on the back patio. The patio has quite a bit of seating and was packed that night. Thursday night is also DJ night, where a DJ comes in to spin tunes in the bar area and gathers quite a crowd, as well as some dancing. I was going to stick to my "usual," the Grilled Chicken Caprese, as I had inquired a while back about whether it was gluten free. It was my "safe" meal. This time, however, once I saw the "GF" clearly marked next to items (and the Grilled Chicken Caprese), I thought I would branch out and try some of the new menu items. We ordered the Antipasti Platter and Cheese Board, minus the crostinis, as an appetizer. It was a nice mix of meats and cheeses, with nuts, fruit, and olives served on a large wood board.
For my dinner, I stuck with appetizers and ordered the gluten free Caprese Skewers and the gluten free Scallops. The Caprese Skewers had tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pesto, and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. I love caprese salad, so it was a perfect fit and great new addition to the menu. The Scallops had a blueberry compote and crushed walnuts on top. Very different flavor combination, but I really liked it.  The nuts helped balance the blueberry and added a slight sweetness to the scallops. Another great new addition to the menu.

My dinner companion wanted to order the ribs, which were not labeled gluten free on the menu. After chatting with our server, who gladly checked with the kitchen, we found out that the sauce on the ribs is not gluten free. He was able to order the ribs sans sauce and enjoy a gluten free meal, complete with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

It is great that Sixth and Vine has taken their food allergy knowledge to another level and added gluten free to the menu. I always felt safe eating there prior to the menu addition, but now others can take advantage of their good selection of gluten free menu items.

Sixth and Vine
209 W. 6th Street
Winston Salem, NC 27101

Friday, August 15, 2014

EAT: Primal Food and Spirits, Durham, NC

I always get excited to try a completely gluten free restaurant. The dedication and preparation to run a gluten free restaurant is quite a task. Even though I have multiple food allergies besides gluten, I can at least feel safe from gluten and know the staff will be more knowledgeable about ingredients and allergens. This was no different at Primal Food and Spirits in Durham, NC.  It is conveniently located near the Streets at Southpoint Mall on NC-54.
Primal hosted the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event Blogger and Speaker Dinner. Thirty three gluten free "fanatics" descended upon Primal on a busy Friday night. Open only two weeks, the staff did an excellent job taking care of us with multiple food allergies in their private room as well as a few tables in the main dining area since we had so many people. Primal also has a nice bar area where natural ingredients are mixed into cocktails from a large ice chest in the middle of the bar.

There were so many menu choices and knowing all were gluten free, the group debated what to order. I decided on the Grass-Fed Tri-Tip Steak with heirloom tomato and cucumber salad. I am not a fan of cucumbers and when I inquired about changing my side, I was told I was unable to. The steak was cooked to a nice medium, very tasty and had a tasty sauce on it.
My dinner companion had the Pasture-Raised Pork Chop with arugula and sundried tomato relish.  The pork chop was quite large and the sundried tomato relish was yummy. Other dinner companions at our table enjoyed the shrimp and grits, the 30 hour braised beef shortrib, heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, and the crab cakes.  No complaints all around!  We were delighted to be able to enjoy a gluten free meal with no fuss!
When it came time for desserts, the group eagerly looked over the menu, but only a few decided to indulge! I had a bite of the Flourless Chocolate Cake and wow! Yummy, rich chocolate, with a smooth texture. I heard the pound cake was delicious as well!

The Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event bloggers really appreciated Primal accommodating our large group on a busy Friday night! Everything went smoothly and the food was excellent! I highly recommend if you are in Durham to check out Primal.

Primal Food and Spirits
202 North Carolina 54 #107
Durham, NC 27713

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PLAY: Body Armor Sports Drink

What do you do when you need a sports drink, but all the well-known options have allergens you are allergic to? I have found it is almost impossible to find a sports drink similar to Gatorade or Powerade that does not have high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch (corn), or maltodextrin (corn) until now.  Recently, on a trip to Southern California, I found a sports drink called Body Armor while playing 18 holes at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. I checked the ingredients assuming it would have the usual corn ingredients and to my surprise, it did not.  What it did have, coconut water, pure cane sugar, vitamins, and electrolytes, are great things to hydrate during any sport activity.  Body Armor has no caffeine, no preservatives, gluten free, and nut free. Its tag line is "Upgrade Your Sports Drink," and I agree! Coconut water is great for hydration on a hot day or a long workout. It is offered in six different flavors: Fruit Punch, Tropical Punch, Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry, Orange Mango, and Grape.  Each flavor is smooth and not thick like Gatorade and Powerade where they have gotten syrupy over the years.

Several professional athletes are endorsing the product and are investors. Kobe Bryant, Andrew Luck, Mike Trout, Kevin Love, among others believe in Body Armor and putting the best products in their bodies for performance.

My only issue with this delicious sports drink is its availability. I easily found it at convenience stores in the Los Angeles area, along with Trump National, however, I have not located it on the East Coast yet.  It is available online.

Body Armor

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Motivation 08/11/2014

"Passion is the ultimate time management tool. When you love what you do, you always find time to do it."

~ Jade Teta, Integrative Physician and Author

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Raleigh Recap

This weekend, I attended my first Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Raleigh, NC! What a fun weekend! I was invited to attend the Pre-Event Bloggers Dinner Friday evening at Primal Restaurant in Durham, NC, an all gluten free restaurant. I was a little nervous at first since I did not know anyone, other than following some of the attendees on Twitter. My fears were quickly dispelled when I met everyone.  Hey, we all have "that gluten free thing" in common, right!? Everyone was so friendly and it was great to get to know some of the other bloggers while chowing down on some yummy gluten free food. Also, it was fun to put a face to a Twitter handle! Once we were sufficiently gluten free stuffed, we had to head home to rest up for the big event.
On Saturday, the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event was held at the Doubletree Hotel near NC State University in Raleigh. Approximately 800 people attended to learn more about gluten free products, sample delicious treats, and hear experts in the field speak on important topics. Where do I begin? Everything imaginable gluten free was there, from snacks to meals to spices to health and beauty products to healthy stuff in general. If you did not leave completely stuffed, you missed out!

By attending the Blogger Dinner the night before, it was fun to catch up with new friends and really see how they are using their blogs and products to help the gluten free community they have created.  Be on the lookout for some great blog posts about their creations!

Now, on to some of my favorite gluten free products and foods from the event:
Plentils from Enjoy Life Foods
Ok, so who will willing admit they like lentils? Not me, but these light potato chip-like snacks are super yummy! Free of the top 8 allergens and 40% less fat than regular potato chips.
YoDish App
As you well know, I photograph my food for my blog (is there a 12 step program for that??). Now, with the YoDish app, I can more easily share my hits and misses when dining out with food allergies to help others find great allergen free food. In turn, I can scope a place out before I try it.
Bella Monica
Gluten free pizza is one of the most difficult things to make taste like "the real thing." Bella Monica achieves this with their gluten free pizza, available in your grocery's freezer case, as well as their own restaurant, located in Raleigh, NC.
Allergic Traveler 
How do you convey your food allergies needs when there is a language barrier? The Allergic Traveler has you covered with her International Dietary Alert Cards. The cards are customizable, available in 18 languages, and can come as a luggage tag which is great for kids' backpacks.
Raleigh Raw
A person with food allergies has to even be careful of juices. All those additives and flavorings can contain allergens. Not at Raleigh Raw! They make organic cold pressed juices with no preservatives in yummy flavors and interesting combinations. My fav: Summer in the City, a combination of Watermelon, Celery, Lime, and Chia Seeds.
Almost Heaven Gluten Free Bakery
Located in Cary, NC is the most heavenly bread. It is gluten free and corn free and so spongy and light. It makes the most perfect homegrown tomato sandwich. Another home run from a gluten free North Carolina company!
Whole Foods
One of the first companies to embrace the need for gluten free options on a national basis is Whole Foods, with its Gluten Free Bakehouse in Morrisville, NC.  The Bakehouse has a variety of breads, biscuits, cupcakes, pies, and now, decorated cakes. Can we say no fuss birthday cake?? Attendees were able to taste all four flavors, as well as angel food cake.

I had a great time at the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event. I met some great friends and fellow crusaders in this gluten free journey. Events run throughout the year across the country, so be sure to check out to find events in your area. I can't wait to attend the next one!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

EAT: Water's Edge, Charleston, SC

What is the best way to get to a restaurant? Drive a boat! At Water's Edge in Shem Creek, Charleston, SC, you can park your boat right outside at the dock. Although not dog friendly like several other restaurants along Shem Creek, Water's Edge has great outdoor seating and an outdoor bar. From the restaurants I have visited on Shem Creek, it is a little more dressy, although the outdoor bar is casual, and the first one I encountered with a gluten free menu. 
After a round of golf and an afternoon on the boat, I was hungry for some great seafood. Water's Edge has a great selection of fresh, local catch. Since we were dressed pretty casual from the boat, we sat outside in the covered bar area with a view of Shem Creek. I ordered the gluten free seafood paella, which had lobster, shrimp, clams, scallops, and mussels over saffron rice in a rich tomato broth. Delicious and not too spicy. The best part: there was a whole lobster tail in the dish!
My dinner companion ordered the gluten free Herb Seared Grouper served over goat cheese mashed potatoes and asparagus with a citrus herb beurre blanc. Very light and tasty, but I thought the paella was much better. Must have been exactly what I wanted!
Water's Edge is a great place for a nice dinner or a casual drink and meal outside, whether arriving by car or by boat. Their newly added gluten free menu has a good variety of options. It is definitely on my short list of choices for dinner on my next boating adventure!

Water's Edge 
1407 Shrimp Boat Lane
Mount Pleasant, SC

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

EAT: Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro, Winston Salem, NC

A taste of the Deep South in Winston Salem, NC! Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro not only has great Southern food, but also a great atmosphere! Although the restaurant is small, its prime location, large windows, and outdoor seating make it a fun place to dine. Actor Owen Wilson was even spotted dining at Mozelle's when he was in town shooting a movie last summer. 

Mozelle's even caters to food allergies with its gluten free and vegetarian items listed right on the menu. My dinner companion and I choose to eat outside since it was a beautiful summer evening. Mozelle's is one of the few restaurants that keeps its outdoor seating year round. In the winter months, one can sit outside wrapped up in one of their cozy lime green blankets. 

We started the meal with the gluten free Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée, Snap Pea Risotto, and Chervil. Yum! The scallops had a nice pepper crust on top that made them a little spicy, but the risotto calmed the flame. 

For the main course, I decided on the gluten free Flat Iron Steak, paired with fingerling potato and caramelized onions, rainbow chard, quail egg, and chili garlic bbq sauce. The steak was prepared a little rarer than my usual medium, but was still quite tasty and was flavorful enough that it did not need the bbq sauce. The rainbow chard was quite spicy, with a nice nutty taste. 

My dinner companion choose the gluten free pork chop with the zucchini corn bread and red cabbage slaw. The pork chop was tasty and the slaw had a nice kick. Corn free me was unable to sample the zucchini corn bread, but my dinner companion said it was really yummy... some of the best corn bread he had tasted. 

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro definitely knows Southern food! Its eclectic mix of menu items and fun atmosphere make it a fun place to dine with friends or a date. Check it out on Mondays for half priced bottles of wine, gluten free, of course!

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro
878 West 4th St. 
Winston Salem, NC 27101