Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Motivation 06/29/2015

"If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time."

~ Billy Joel

Thursday, June 25, 2015

EAT: 411 West Italian Cafe, Chapel Hill, NC

411 West was my favorite restaurant in downtown Chapel Hill when I was at UNC-Chapel Hill! The atmosphere and the food were hard to beat. Pre-gluten free, I loved their pizzas and pasta. Now, I and other gluten free diners can still enjoy pizza and pasta. 411 West has an extensive gluten free menu, along with gluten free pasta and pizza crusts. Depending on your sensitivity, the pizzas are placed in the same oven as the gluten pizzas, so beware.

Stopping in for lunch one day, I decided on the Wood Grilled Pear Salad with Salmon. It included walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese. It was very tasty and perfectly cooked. I thought about trying the gluten free Pesto Pizza (my favorite from pre-gluten days), but was apprehensive due to my sensitivity to gluten. I checked on the gluten free pasta and was told it was corn pasta, a no-go for me. I was really impressed by the large selection of menu choices on the gluten free menu, as most restaurants give us only a couple of options. There are even a couple of dessert options of Vanilla Creme Brulee, Gelato, and Sorbet.

Definitely check out 411 West for an Italian experience (and ask to be seated in the atrium). They are very accommodating for food allergies and offer a nice variety of options for any taste buds.

411 West Italian Cafe
411 W. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

EAT: Purest Gluten Free Store and Bakery, Perth, Ontario, Canada

A small town like Perth, Ontario (about an hour southwest of Ottawa) can leave those of us with food allergies thinking that options will be limited, but not in Perth, Purest Gluten Free Products offers a variety of allergen free choices. A bakery and a store in one, Purest Gluten Free has allergen free products not available in grocery stores. Purest even has its own line of products. All of the Purest line of products and all items baked in the bakery are free of the top 12 allergens. Yes, top 12 allergens! It is exciting to find a bakery that eliminates the top 8 allergens, a rarity, but to find a bakery that eliminates the top 12 (adding corn, sesame seeds/oil, mustard, celery, and chemicals, like artificial sweeteners and colors) is amazing! I had to check it out.
Walking into the store, I did not recognize many of the products on the shelf. It is always fun to find new products. The Purest dry goods are sold across Canada. The bakery area had a nice selection of brownies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and lemon bars. It also had a freezer full frozen baked goods and bread.
I sampled the bread and the chocolate chip cookies in the bakery. The bread was pretty tasty, but not the best gluten free bread I have ever had. I decided upon a chocolate chip cookie, a cinnamon roll (for the next day's breakfast), and a lemon bar. The cookie was pretty bland and needed more chocolate chips. However, the cinnamon roll and the lemon bar were really good. The cinnamon roll was perfect for breakfast and had just the right amount of cinnamon. The lemon bar (one of my favs pre-gluten free) was just like I remember the gluten filled ones. So lemon-y, but the texture was a little crumbly (did not affect the taste, though).

FYI, the bakery is closed on Sundays and Mondays (Google says that the bakery is open on Sundays and I made the 30 minute drive over on a Sunday), which prevented me from visiting more than once. Also, the only seating at the bakery is outside, which can be limiting based on weather. Otherwise, this bakery has potential. I wish I had a chance to visit more than once to see more variety of the bakery selection. The fact that they take such great care to make sure the products are free of the top 12 allergens (one of the owners is allergic to corn so they expanded to the top 12) is wonderful for people with food allergies. 90% of all food allergies are covered with the top 12 allergens. Definitely check out Purest Bakery when in Perth!

Purest Gluten Free Products and Bakery
105 Dufferin St.
Perth, ON

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Motivation 06/15/2015

"There is only one thing which makes a dream impossible to achieve; the fear of failure."
~ Paulo Coelho

Saturday, June 13, 2015

EAT: Big T's BBQ and Smokehouse, Calgary, Alberta

Calgary, AB is known for its beef, but don't count out its BBQ. Being from the capital of BBQ, I am always apprehensive about trying BBQ from other places. Sometimes they are not even close in comparison to North Carolina BBQ. However, Big T's BBQ does a great job. I had to laugh when their beef brisket beat out the pulled pork! We are in Calgary, right?

Big T's BBQ also does a good job of disclosing food allergens in their food. Gluten free items are clearly labeled on the menu. 

I ordered the Two Meat Meal with the gluten free pulled pork and brisket. I was a little limited with the sides due to my food allergies, but was able to get a side salad and marinated coleslaw with vinegarette, not mayo. Very tasty, and like I mentioned earlier, the brisket was better than the pulled pork. 

My dinner companion ordered the Two Meat Meal as well. He decided upon the gluten free brisket and Dusty Rib Ends with spicy coleslaw and Burgoo Soup, a gluten free Kentucky style soup with lamb, chicken, and brisket. The soup does have corn in it. He also enjoyed his meal. 

Big T's BBQ has three locations in Calgary, one being at the Farmer's Market. I was pleased with the gluten free selection, and our server was nice enough to ask the kitchen when we had questions about other allergies. If you are looking for a BBQ style lunch or dinner, be sure to check out Big T's. 

Big T's BBQ & Smokehouse
2138 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB

Thursday, June 11, 2015

EAT: Charcut Roast House, Calgary, Alberta

When in Calgary, Alberta, head downtown and enjoy a meal at Charcut. I love a great charcuterie board and this restaurant does not disappoint. The menu is laid out in tapas style, but the portions are generous and definitely can be eaten family style, sharing among several people. I also really like that the menu states that most of the items are gluten free or can be made gluten free. Oh, and did I mention they have gluten free bread?!
We had to order the charcuterie board to start. Oh my! It is so massive, it could easily have been dinner by itself. The chef selection (changes daily) was gluten free, made in house, and complete with shredded cheese and stone ground mustard. I would fly back to Calgary just to order it again!
Not realizing how big the charcuterie board would be, my dinner companion and I ordered the sausage burger minus the bun (egg on the side since I am egg free and he is not). Also, for my new love of beets, we ordered the marinated and pickled beets with goat cheese and walnuts. The beets were delicious as was the burger. In fact, most of the burger was taken home as leftovers and was quite tasty the next day. 
We had to order the gluten free bread. After verifying that it was also corn free, we were served some of the best gluten free bread I have tasted. It is from Care Bread Bakery (, made right in Calgary! I was able to find it at another restaurant in Banff, so check their Web site for locations. The bread was flavorful and not crumbly, like gluten free bread can be. 
Also wanted to mention that I celebrated my birthday at Charcut! It was the perfect  place for a great gluten free meal, and they even brought me out a cup of coconut sorbet to celebrate. I definitely enjoyed my meal there and really appreciate the care our server took to ensure we had a safe meal. Can't wait for my next trip back!

P.S. It was hopping on the Tuesday night we dined, so be sure to make a reservation on Open Table (!

Charcut Roast House
899 Centre Street
Calgary, AB

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Motivation 06/08/2015

"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. We must do that which we think we cannot."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

EAT: Melissa's Missteak, Banff, Alberta

Breakfast is my hardest meal as a person with food allergies. Without gluten, corn, and eggs, I am pretty limited. I highly recommend when in Banff, take a short two block trip off the main street, Banff Avenue, and have breakfast with the locals at Melissa's Missteak. 
Melissa's Missteak has a gluten free menu with a pretty good number of options. Our server was even gluten free, but what amazed me was she only told me after we had finished our meal and I thanked her for taking care of us and having a gluten free menu. I have found that food allergies don't seem to be that big of a deal in Alberta. They just accommodate and serve you. 
I ordered the fruit smoothie. Made fresh in house with banana, mixed berries, yogurt, and juice, it was very tasty. 
Gluten free hash browns?!? Yes, please. Also, some bacon would be great too. 
I can't eat eggs, but my breakfast companion can, and this omelette looked great. He said it was very tasty, especially with the gluten free hash browns.  
Side note: Ketchup in Canada is corn syrup free! Be sure to check the label, but I could not find one. Perfect addition to the hash browns!

Melissa's Missteak is a great local breakfast spot in Banff. With its gluten free menu, it makes it easier to eat safely for breakfast, my most difficult meal eating out. They also serve lunch and dinner. 

Melissa's Missteak 
218 Lynx St. 
Banff, AB

EAT: Downstream Lounge, Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB is a quaint town in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. Breathtaking views, yet small towns can seem daunting with food allergies. Downstream, located right in the heart of downtown Jasper, is ready to accommodate. 
Downstream has its gluten free items clearly listed on the menu. Even the Poutine is gluten free (gravy is not corn free). I had to try it sans gravy. Fries (in a dedicated fryer) with bacon and cheese curds were so good. 
The menu stated that the Elk Sirloin was gluten free. I have never had elk, so I had to try it. Lean and not gamey, elk tastes a lot like veal. Very tasty. I had to have the sweet potato fries (dedicated fryer) as my side. Delicious dinner!
My dinner companion ordered the Duck Sandwich without the bun. Downstream does have gluten free bread, but we passed on trying it. The duck sandwich was sliced duck breast smothered in cheese. 

Please note, a bunless burger can be my go to when eating out. However, Downstream's burger patties have panko bread crumbs. I was impressed that our server checked with the chef and told us before ordering. They were all very accommodating to make sure we had the safest meal possible. Definitely check out Downstream when in Jasper, AB. 

Side note: Ketchup in Canada has sugar, not high fructose corn syrup!

Downstream Lounge
620 Connaught Dr. 
Jasper, AB