Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monday Motivation 12/28/2015

"Don't let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours."

~ Unknown

Monday, December 21, 2015

EAT: Gluuteny Bakery, Pittsburgh, PA

Happy Holidays, everyone! Time for holiday treats, gluten free of course! A new favorite place of mine to find treats is Gluuteny Bakery, a gluten free and dairy free bakery in the Squirrel Hill suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA. I have not had a chance to make a personal visit yet, but a friend brought me a couple of sugar cookies. Very tasty! Love the details with the icing and some of the best tasting gluten free sugar cookies I have had! The cookies were a nice thickness with the right amount of crunch. 

There are several ways to get Gluuteny's baked goods: in person, order online or by phone, and several locations carry a limited supply of their items around Pittsburgh. I can't wait to check out the bakery in person during my travels to the Pittsburgh area!

1923 Murray Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Monday Motivation 12/21/2015

"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."

~ Joshua J. Marine

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Motivation 12/14/2015

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

~ Pablo Picasso

Sunday, December 13, 2015

EAT: Recipe: Gluten Free, Corn Free Chicken Stew

Tonight's Gluten Free, Corn Free Dinner

2 Chicken Breasts
4 Chicken Thighs
1 Yellow Pepper, Diced
1 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
1 Clove of Garlic, Diced
5 Strips of Cooked Bacon

1 Package of Queso Fresco
2 Tomatoes, Diced
1 Avocado, Diced

Simmer chicken, peppers, onion, garlic, and cooked bacon on Medium for 20 minutes. Add Queso Fresco to melt for 10 minutes. Serve with tomatoes and avocado.

Serves 4.

Friday, December 11, 2015

EAT: Twisted Vine Bistro, Fort Myers, FL

When in Fort Myers, FL, you must head downtown. Nestled next to the water, downtown is bustling on Friday and Saturday nights due to great dining options and weekly events, like the Art Walk and Live Music. Be sure to check out Twisted Vine Bistro, right in the heart of the historic River District. Although they do not have a gluten free menu, our server was most helpful with suggestions and checked on the menu items we were interested in to make sure they were safe options. 
We started with the Butcher Board with no crostini (gluten). The generous portions of pate, sopressata, pork belly, and duck prosciutto was delicious with olives, cornichons, and apple slices. Great start to the meal and we did not even miss the bread!
I decided on the Pork Belly with celeriac puree, braised red cabbage, sour apple and maple. Wow, the puree is my new replacement for mashed potatoes. So tasty! The red cabbage was a great compliment to the pork belly, which was cooked to perfection.
My dinner companion ordered the Walleye Pike with manilla clams, andouille sausage, swiss chard, fingerlings, and pipperade. The pike was pan seared, then baked and was very flavorful. The clams and the sausage paired nicely with the fish.

With its quaint dining room and soft live music, Twisted Vine Bistro is perfect for date night or dinner with friends. They have an extensive wine list and pride themselves of offering unique and eclectic food options. They grow their own herbs and spices, as well as sourcing local ingredients to bring you the freshest dining experience possible. Even though they do not have a gluten free menu, the server can guide you through the menu and make modifications to the menu. I highly recommend Twisted Vine and will definitely be back!

Twisted Vine Bistro
2214 Bay Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Motivation 12/7/2015

"I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say 'Because of you, I didn't give up.'"

~ Unknown

Saturday, December 5, 2015

EAT: Mission BBQ

I just found a great BBQ restaurant! It is tough for me to find good BBQ restaurants outside of North Carolina (the home of BBQ), but Mission BBQ fits the bill. They have a great selection of BBQ, including pulled pork, beef brisket, Smoked Prime Rib, Chicken, Sausage, and Turkey. What really impressed me was how helpful the staff was to check on ingredients for me to make sure the items I was interested in were gluten free and corn free. Some BBQ restaurants will put a rub containing gluten and/or corn on the meat. And don't even get me started on the sauces...most of those are full of corn syrup. Not at Mission BBQ! The rubs on the meats are gluten and corn free, as well as all but one of the sauces (it contains A1 Steak Sauce in it). Love being able to have variety and the ability to try out the sauces.  They even have fun names, like Memphis Belle, Smoky Mountain, Bay-B-Que, Tupelo Honey Heat, NC Vinegar, and Craftsman Special. The Texas Twang has gluten in it, so please avoid.
The staff was also quick to let me know once they found out my food allergies that the french fries are gluten free and the only thing they fry in the fryer! Yum! I had to try the fries, as well as the pulled pork and beef brisket. All were very good. The pulled pork and beef brisket were crispy on the edges with a nice smoked flavor. I tried a couple of the sauces and they were a nice compliment to the meat.

I visited the Fort Myers, FL location, but Mission BBQ has 21 locations up and down the East Coast in Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. You order at the counter and then wait for your number to be called. Another thing about Mission BBQ I really liked is all the service men and women memorabilia from police departments, firefighters, soldiers, and first responders everywhere in the restaurant. Fun fact, Mission BBQ opened on September 11, 2011 and the owners want to make sure our service men and women are represented and appreciated for all of their efforts. Giving back and good BBQ? A winning combination! God Bless America!

Mission BBQ

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Motivation 11/30/2015

"Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up."

~ Elon Musk

Sunday, November 29, 2015

EAT: Bloom's Deli, New York, NY

When in New York City, one must stop by one of the many Deli's for an authentic New York Deli Sandwich. But what is one to do when he/she is gluten intolerant? No worries, head over to Bloom's Deli on Lexington Ave., where they have a gluten free menu. You will find pancakes, rubens, fries, salads, and even desserts! Bloom's Deli was the only deli in NYC I found that has a gluten free menu and can make a gluten free ruben on bread!

After taking our order, our server brought us a large bowl of pickles. They were delicious and a great accompaniment to lunch!
I ordered my Ruben sandwich with pastrami. Each sandwich comes with sauerkraut. I checked with the manager and found out that the gluten free bread carried at Bloom's Deli is not corn free, so I had to pass on the bread (it is brought in from an outside source, not made in house). That did not matter, as it was still the largest sandwich I have ever seen! There was so much meat on the plate, I am definitely glad NYC requires so much walking to burn off that delicious lunch.
My lunch companion ordered the Ruben with Corned Beef. He also ordered sans bread so I could try it as well. Again, the amount of meat on the plate was outrageous, but super tasty and definitely something not to miss while in NYC. 
As if the Rubens were not enough, I asked the manager about the fryer and if the fries were fried in a dedicated fryer. She said that they have a dedicated fryer just for the fries, so we had to order them. They were great! I did miss enjoying them with ketchup, due to Heinz having corn syrup as an ingredient. 

I am really glad we found Bloom's Deli. With its convenient location in NYC and its gluten free menu, it was great to enjoy an authentic Ruben sandwich while visiting New York City. Be sure to check it out on your next trip!

350 Lexington Ave. 
New York, NY 10016

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Motivation 11/23/2015

"Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions."

~ Will Smith, Actor

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Motivation 11/16/2015

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive: and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

~ Maya Angelou

Monday, November 2, 2015

EAT: Senza Gluten, West Village, New York City, NY

I still can't believe I have not spent any time in New York City, despite being near the city all the time! I was really excited for my first visit to explore and find some great allergy free food. Senza Gluten did not disappoint. Located in the West Village, Senza Gluten is a 100% gluten free restaurant. How exciting to know that everything on the menu is gluten free. Now, to narrow it down to a couple choices was going to be tough. We dined outside on the sidewalk, which was perfect on a warm evening. Great people watching opportunity! 
Ellieona, our sweet server, was prompt and checked on all the questions we had. I inquired about the corn free status of the gluten free bread. She found out that the Vegan Bread, not the bread they normally served, was corn free as well. She informed us that Senza Gluten does not bake their own bread, but gets it from Everybody Eats, a local gluten free bakery from Brooklyn. The Vegan bread was delicious dipped in olive oil. A great start of what was to come.
Spotting Fried Calamari on the menu, we had to try it. Gluten free fried foods are hard to find. Gluten free, Corn free fried foods are even harder to find. No worries, as Ellieona told us the flour used is fava bean flour. Oh my! It has been a long time since I have had fried calamari and this dish was super tasty. Two dipping sauces complimented the calamari nicely.
I could not pass up the Risotto Zafferano with shrimp and asparagus as my entree. It was tasty, but not as impressive as the bread and calamari. It could have had a couple more shrimp. The portions at Senza Gluten are nice size. I was disappointed I could not try the pasta dishes since the pasta was corn-based. The lasagna sounded amazing. Let me know if you were able to try it, as how often can you trust a restaurant to cook the gluten free pasta in a separate pot? At Senza Gluten, this is a non-issue!
My dinner companion opted for the Filetto Di Manzo, seared filet mignon in garlic, rosemary, sage, balsamic and red wine reduction, served with soft polenta and sautéed escarole. It was quite tasty. It was nice to sample some protein after all those carbs! The escarole really enhanced the flavor of the filet. We asked that the polenta to be on a separate plate, so I could taste the rest without worry of cross contamination with the corn.
We could not get to dessert fast enough. Ellieona checked and all of the desserts were corn free, as well as gluten free! Time for a splurge! We were stuck between the Tiramisu and the Torta Al Cioccolato. Ellieona talked us into the molten chocolate cake with toasted almond cream anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream. Who could do wrong with chocolate? It was awesome! The ice cream is from a local homemade ice cream shop (they made a delivery during our dinner). Perfect ending to the meal. Thank goodness, NYC is a walking city, as we needed to walk off this great gluten free meal! Definitely check out Senza Gluten on your next visit to NYC for a safe allergen free meal!

Senza Gluten
206 Sullivan St.
New York, NY 10012

Monday Motivation 11/02/2015

"When life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars."

~ Unknown

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Motivation 10/26/2015

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"

~ Robert F. Kennedy

Monday, October 19, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

EAT: Angus Barn, Raleigh, NC

Looking for a great steak in the Raleigh area? And you are gluten free too?! Head over to the infamous Angus Barn. They have an extensive gluten free and dairy free menu. The binder is a different color than the regular menus. 
Many of Angus Barn's favorites are gluten free. A great selection of steaks and seafood. I promise, you won't feel deprived eating at The Barn!
I ordered the Spinach Salad with no egg to start and the Ribeye with Asparagus. The Barn does not have gluten free bread, so nothing to spread the yummy cheese on (spoon, please?). Don't worry, there are plenty of other safe options to fill your belly.

The Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Ave. 
Raleigh, NC

Monday, October 5, 2015

EAT: Limones Mexican & Californian Cuisine, Asheville, NC

With so many great restaurants in Asheville, it is so hard to decide. When you want something a little different, check out Limones in downtown Asheville. Even though Limones does not have a gluten free menu, our server was very knowledgeable and checked ingredients for us to make sure we had the safest meal possible. Limones has great small plates and with so many great choices, we could not decide on just one entree, so we ordered a bunch of small plates!
Limones is known for its ceviche and lucky for us gluten free eaters, they are gluten free! Be sure to try the sampler. Ceviche Verde (at the top) has papaya and avocado. Spicy Ceviche (bottom left) complete with manzanilla olives, tomatoes, roasted Anaheim peppers, avocado, and cilantro. The Ceviche Del Mercado (bottom right) has fish of the day (shrimp), marinated lime juice, guacamole, and red onion. 
Since Limones has so many small plates, we continued the trend and ordered the Arugula and fig salad with roasted beets, habanero-lime vinaigrette, marcona almonds, and goat cheese. Beets have become one of my favorite foods, and these beets were roasted, not pickled, to give them a nice change of flavor.
Not a huge Brussel Sprouts fan, but the Brussel Sprouts with bacon, balsamic-fig glaze, and Pecorino-Romano cheese were great. A great mix of flavors. More cheese on top, please.
Finally, (wasn't that enough food?!), we ended with the Mussels with Chorizo, Chipotle, Basil, and Grilled Lemon. OMG, that was a ton of food! Thank goodness, downtown Asheville is so walking-friendly. The mussels were tasty with some spice.

Limones is a very popular spot (rightfully so), but has limited seating. Be sure to make a reservation on Open Table to ensure a table on the day and time you want. Check with your server on allergy issues. In fact, I made two trips to Limones during my visit to Asheville for the ceviche and both servers were very knowledgeable. Also, be sure to order the Basil Refrescante, a fresh and tasty gluten free drink. Unlike anything I have ever tasted. 

Limones Mexican & Californian Cuisine
13 Eagle St.
Asheville, NC 28801

EAT: Rhubarb, Asheville, NC

I love Asheville! Even though most people come to Asheville for the fall leaf color or the Biltmore House, I do to Asheville for the fabulous food. Downtown Asheville has so many great restaurants, and many are allergy friendly. Case in point: Rhubarb. I now love Rhubarb even more because I found out that Chef John Fleer is a native of my hometown, Winston Salem, NC and a fellow alum of UNC (Go Heels!). John wants Rhubarb to be a special place, and it is.

Even though Rhubarb does not have a gluten free menu, it is very gluten free friendly. Just ask your server and surprise, a basket of gluten free bread will be delivered to your table.
My dinner companion and I could not resist trying the Rosemary-Sea Salt Pecans. So good! They arrived warm in a metal tin and were so tasty with the hints of rosemary and sea salt. Who does not love warm nuts??
For dinner, I ordered the Blackberry Glazed Duck Confit with Sweet Potato Anna Cake, Swiss Chard, Sweet Garlic, Wet Walnuts, Coffee-Cured Duck Ham, and Blackberry-Shiso Salad. The duck was cooked to perfection and all the flavors paired well together. Love the presentation as well.
My dinner companion decided on the Pinchito Roasted Heritage Pork Collar with Sweet and Sour Collard Greens, Sea Island Red Peas, Peach-Red Onion Marmalade, but no Crispy Okra. The pork was tender, definitely a southern dish. Our server was great about letting us know what was gluten free and what was not, in fact, most of the menu was naturally gluten free.

Even though Rhubarb does not have a gluten free menu, the restaurant prides itself on accommodating gluten free and allergy free diners. It is always so cool when the restaurant does not feel it needs to make a splash about accommodating, but gladly does so and surprises diners with gluten free bread and makes most of the dishes automatically gluten free. As an added bonus, I highly recommend sitting out on the patio to enjoy the live music played on the sidewalk by local musicians nightly.

7 S Pack Square
Asheville, NC 28801
Closed Tuesdays

Monday Motivation 10/05/2015

"The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude."

~ Dennis S. Brown

Sunday, October 4, 2015

EAT: French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Asheville, NC

Who wants dessert??  How about some chocolate?  Lots of chocolate?? Then, head over to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, NC. There, you will find chocolates, chocolate cakes, chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies, chocolate bars, chocolate drinks, everything you can imagine chocolate!  It is not a completely gluten free establishment, but if you notify your server of your allergies, they have a big allergen notebook they can look up ingredients of items. I had great success eating gluten free at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.
Decisions, decisions. It is hard to choose which chocolately treat to indulge. The items in the glass case have a "gf" listed on the tag if they are gluten free.Once again, this is not a gluten free establishment, so please verify the status of each item before eating.
I decided on the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse. Delicious! And so rich! Just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth. Also, their chocolate turtles are gluten free.
The ice cream is corn free, with many being gluten free as well. The milkshakes are super yummy, but be sure to ask for a clean blender to avoid any cross contamination. Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake on left and Salted Caramel Milkshake on the right.

Another note about the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is that it has moved locations to a much more accessible location right in the middle of downtown Asheville. It is practically right across the street from gluten free restaurant Posana and gluten free friendly Rhubarb. Also, depending on when you visit, prepare to wait in line! I found that it is most crowded on weekend nights from 8-10pm. The staff does a great job of making sure the line moves regularly, so the wait is not too bad. You can even pick out what you want before you get inside the door. It is a must visit on your next trip to Asheville!

French Broad Chocolate Lounge
10 S Pack Square
Asheville, NC 28801

Saturday, October 3, 2015

EAT: Posana, Asheville, NC

I love completely gluten free restaurants! To be able to sit down and not have to give my gluten free spiel to the server is always a plus. However, with all of my other food allergies, I am not 100% safe in a 100% gluten free restaurant. I still like to support restaurants who go the extra mile to be gluten free and usually, they "get" other food allergies and know the ingredients of their dishes. A great 100% gluten free restaurant in Asheville, NC is Posana. Posana does not even scream "I am a gluten free restaurant" out front, which is nice, but I verified with my server just to make sure. I was really excited about dining here, as I had heard tons of great comments about Posana.
What is a gluten free restaurant without gluten free bread?? Luckily, the bread met my other food allergy requirements and I was able to enjoy the breadsticks. Very tasty, and I liked the addition of the sesame seeds. Butter and Olive Oil was offered for your dipping pleasure.
I ordered the Sea Scallops. I was hoping to try a dish I could not get at non-gluten free restaurants, like pasta, but Posana does not really even offer a gluten free pasta dish. The Scallops had field peas, smoked bacon, Fork Mountain Farms patty pan squash, and French sorrel puree. Great presentation, but I thought the dish was lacking flavor. It left me wanting something more. I did like getting seven scallops on the plate, a gracious number.
My dinner companion ordered the HNG Pork Chop with charred corn, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese cream, basil, and chow chow. The pork was cooked nicely and paired well with the goat cheese. He said the accompaniments were tasty, but I could not sample due to my corn allergy.

All in all, it is great to dine at a restaurant where the servers are well aware of gluten free and other food allergies. The food was good, but maybe due to the "gluten-free-ness" of the restaurant, I was expecting awesome. The ambiance made up for it though, and I highly recommend sitting outside and enjoying the live music from local artists that rotates regularly outside the restaurant. Great talent and fun people watching from Posana's patio!

Posana Restaurant
1 Biltmore Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

EAT: Wildflour Gluten Free Bakery, Bellevue (Seattle), WA

Seattle, WA has great options for people with food allergies. It is even more exciting finding a gluten free bakery. Wildflour Gluten Free Bakery is conveniently located in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle. 
Wildflour had a great selection of gluten free baked goods, which were also corn free. It is extremely difficult to find gluten free and corn free baked goods. From cookies to bars to scones to muffins, it was hard to decide on a yummy sweet treat! I really liked the unusual combinations, Peach Ginger Muffin, Lemon Blueberry Muffin, and Blackberry Lime Daiquiri Scone!
Wildflour also has a nice selection of breads, loaves, and granola. Gluten free baguette, anyone??
Ok, let's get to what I finally decided on. The Coconut Dream Bar was really tasty. The coconut and chocolate were a great combo. The gluten free cookie crust of crumbled cookies was ok, but I liked the top layer better. Perhaps a crushed nut crust would pair better? 

I also had to try the Blackberry Lime Daiquiri Scone. When else are you going to eat that awesome explosion of flavors?? I enjoyed the scone on my flight home and wish I had grabbed a couple more. I don't get to eat scones very often, so this one was a real treat. 

When in Seattle, my top three must visits (in no particular order) are:
1. Chihuly Museum (awesome blown glass exhibit)
2. Pike Place Market (including the original Starbucks)
3. Wildflour Gluten Free Bakery

Wildflour Gluten Free Bakery
13600 NE 20th St. 
Bellevue, WA 98005

Monday Motivation 09/21/2015

"You will see it, when you believe it."

~ Dr. Wayne Dyer (1940-2015)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Motivation 09/14/2015

"Never forget that doing what you love is the cornerstone of having success in your life."

~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

EAT: Sharky's On The Pier, Venice, FL

I have to say, Venice, FL (west coast of Florida between Sarasota and Fort Myers) is not the mecca for gluten free options, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Sharky's On The Pier to be allergy friendly. A lot of the menu items at Sharky's are fried or have bread, but they also have an extensive two page Gluten Free Menu. Salads, Fresh Catches, Steaks, and even Pasta give gluten intolerance diners many options.
I decided on the BLT Salad topped with Grilled Shrimp. I opted to switch out the dressing to the Homemade Dill Ranch. The salad was really tasty and filling, plenty for dinner.
In addition to being known for great seafood, the sunset views over the Gulf of Mexico are spectacular. Located right at the pier, Sharky's has great outdoor seating and all tables have views of the ocean. Be sure to check out Sharky's On The Pier on your next trip to Venice, FL.

Sharky's On The Pier
1600 Harbor Dr.
Venice, FL 34285