16 March 2015

Traveling for Work on a Gluten Free Vegan Diet is Not Impossible

16 March 2015 0
While traveling with food allergies might be a pain - it is not impossible.

Here is an example of my most recent work travels

Location, Inner Harbor, MD at the beautiful Gaylord Convention Center.

Breakfast, I bulked up on fruit and tea! There was fresh cut fruit at the beginning of the buffet stations, I made sure I was there EARLY and was one of the first to grab the fruit. While I really do not make it a habit to combine melons with any other fruits, a girl has to eat!

Additionally, for breakfast, I actually "spoiled" myself and had some roasted potatoes with hot sauce and chives. I don't typically start my day with potatoes, as they tend to wear me down, but again, a girls got to eat!

The best part about the tea stations was that there was always fresh lemon and I could still start my day with a cup of warm lemon water. Then, as I brought to-go containers, I was able to eat my breakfast at a later time... I know, I looked like a homeless girl scrounging for food - but I know what makes me feel good and what upsets my stomach and when breakfast is only offered at certain times, you need to get creative and not worry what others might think.

Break Stations, for the most part, I avoided these snack sessions. For one, I didn't need the additional food and it was typically not a GF-Vegan friendly offering. However, I must say, the one day, they did provide a green juice, which I enjoyed and found myself annoyed they hadn't been offering the green juice for breakfasts.

Lunch, lunch varied slightly from day-to-day but for the most part there was greens of some sort and then grilled / sauteed vegetables. While I would have preferred steamed vegetables, I can't be too choosy. I would ask the waitstaff to bring me some mustard and hot sauce to add a little flavor to the dish

Afternoon Break Stations, I LOVED these stations - this is where I would bulk up on fruit (oranges, apples, pears, bananas).

Dinner, Dinner I skipped their offerings and stuck to a fruit salad or oatmeal in my room

Keep in mind, when you have to eat buffet, try to be one of the first ones there!!!

While my stomach was not the happiest it has ever been - there was food for me to eat and I did survive!

18 February 2015

Raw Almond Butter

18 February 2015 0

05 February 2015

Banana Whip Perfection

05 February 2015 0
I am beyond obsessed with Banana Whips! Honestly, they make for a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Banana Whips taste just like ice cream - and if you don't like bananas or the typical banana-flavor, you are in luck because you can't taste the banana at all!

These babies, are 100% customizable. You can add carob, berries, pineapple, mangoes, beets, mint, anything and everything you enjoy about ice cream without the guilt!

I feel that I have finally perfected the recipe, although I do like to try new things and switch the flavors up here and there...I find my body / digestive system is taking very well to banana whips so I have had plenty of opportunities to practice!

I pull out the Vitamix, toss some chopped ginger in the bottom (this way it has time to puree) - next, I move onto the cranberries and a piece or two of mango, then about three frozen bananas, cinnamon, and carob powder -- Tada, that is it!

Now turn the Vitamix on and use the tamper to push everything down. Once the mixture begins to whip itself you are good to go. Just scoop everything out, add some soapy water into your Vitamix container and place it back on the base, so that it can clean itself.

It's that easy. Toss everything into a container, turn it on, mush it around, scoop it out, put some soapy water into it, run it again, rinse, and enjoy a quick snack, or meal, that is healthy for you!

03 February 2015

Simply Shabu

03 February 2015 0
Simply Shabu is the one and only hot pot in Philadelphia! I had never been to a hot pot before and I wasn't entirely sure how they worked, but I thought it would make for an interesting adventure! Upon arrival, I did my research and double checked they could accommodate gluten free and I was impressed to hear that more than 95% of their menu was naturally gluten free!

When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff and seated early! We ordered a couple of appetizers and a pot of tea to share with the table. The tea was okay - not sure what type of tea it was, but it wasn't a table favorite and I found it odd, they filled out classes and then removed the tea pot from the table - I like
to have control over my own hot tea, thank you very much!

After looking at the many of options on the menu, I decided to go with some a' la carte options.
I went with the spicy broth, vegetable bowl (substituting out the corn and mushrooms), seaweed, daikon, taro, and lotus root.

Once you place the order, your filings start to trickle out pretty rapidly. Not knowing what we were doing, I just started dumping everything in. I have since learned, some things need a longer time to cook than others....hey, practice makes perfect!

Overall, everyone enjoyed the experience. Flavor wise, I wish I would have had a bit more spice in my broth, however, adding some additional garlic did help and my seaweed made the dish!

Experience wise, the staff seemed to be a bit of the short side, I didn't like that they held onto our tea but pricing was very reasonable and the food was fresh!

01 February 2015

Cooking with P.S and Co Philadelphia

01 February 2015 0
Since P.S and Co opened it's doors back in the spring of 2014 - I have had my eye on this place.

I have tried to drag just about anyone into the city with me - but I had no luck - life got busy and I had to just put it to the back burner for now. Then came along my birthday and it happened to fall on one of P.S and Co's dinner nights - however, Nick informed me that we could definitely go, as it was my birthday and whatever I wanted, he would gladly oblige, but he made it very clear that he would go, but would not eat the dinner. His reasoning you ask, simple answer - there is no meat.

Needless to say, the birthday dinner at the long-awaited P.S and Co became the wait-even-longer for the P.S and Co experience. I kept on hunting for an excuse to drag someone with me and then came along noodles and dumplings cooking class - hmmm....sneaky me... I immediately think, Nick might actually go for this one - two of his favorite dishes, noodles + dumplings, I am pretty sure I can sell him on this one. Just in case that doesn't work, I have looped in a good friend to attend and BOOM - I won, everyone was in - we were scheduled to attend the Noodles and Dumplings Cooking class at the long awaited P.S and Co.

The day has arrived - will I find myself, as usual, very high-hoped to only be let down by unhealthy and tasteless food? Come join me for journey with P.S and Co to find out if they are worth the hype or not.

We arrived slightly early for our scheduled class, so we just took our time finding parking (oh Philly parking - how I have a love, hate...oh wait... just a hate relationship with you) and then meandered throughout the store checking out their to-go offerings, fresh pressed juices, and homemade spices. The space has a welcoming industrial-like feeling to it with a friendly staff!

Once our class was setup, we found our way to the table and welcomed the offering of a warm beverage, as they seem to keep the space on the slightly cold side.

Now, we knew we had signed up for noodles and dumplings, but what we did not know was exactly what we would be making - and I was still a little nervous to see how Nick would handle the 100% gluten free and plant-based menu.

Here goes nothing - we are diving right into Dan Dan noodles - which I LOVE! Andrea took us through each step and welcomed any questions throughout the process. The entire cooking class was around the theme of "You can do this, everyone here can find the time to make healthy and delicious meals". Which is true, with a little prep work and creativity - everyone has the power to make their own beloved food. The Dan Dan noodles hold a nice spice in the back of your throat but the creamy tahini slowly masks the
spice and adds another flavor profile to the dish.

Moving on to our next noodle dish, Cilantro Noodle Salad. This dish was a cold brown rice noodle salad and I have to say, although I couldn't pick out a favorite dish of the day, later
that night I was craving the light freshness of this dish and telling myself that I could probably eat it every day! I''m sure the house made caramelized tofu was part of that love... adding another project to the diy list!

Finally, we made it to the Vegetable Dumplings that Nick was long awaiting. The filing from the dumplings was recycled from the Cilantro Noodles, making it easy to meal prep for your weeks!

While the dumplings did exactly what I thought they would, being a brown rice wrap, the bottoms fell apart - but I think I work on this a tweek it a bit... either way, the group LOVED the dumplings and began brainstorming some additional dumpling ideas. Side note, the dumplings where not served with a sauce, we were on the creative side and soaked up the last of the Dan Dan Noodle sauce - perfect accompaniment.

Just when I thought we had completed our cooking class, we were moving onto some additional favorite comfort foods of mine, Basil Pesto, Lasagna, and Mac and Cheese.

The Basil Pesto consisted mainly of pine nuts and basil, but I felt it need more. Perhaps the missing component of the pesto dish was some additional garlic or maybe it was that it was missing the acidic aspect of this dish - where was the lemon? However, once the Arrabbiatta sauce was added ,I was a happy camper! I can't wait to try making this dish when tomatoes are in season!

Lastly, due to timing, we skipped over the lasagna and went right into the Mac and Cheese demo. The Mac and Cheese was made of the three main vegan Mac and Cheese variations: Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, and Cashews. The dish was not very mac and cheese tasting, but it was still held a special place in each of our hearts. I do recall later that night, on a trip to Capogiro's, a couple of us started digging into our award-winning gelato and wishing it was P.S and Co's Mac and Cheese instead.

The overall experience was wonderful. While I wish it would have been a bit more hands-on, it was a lovely setup, with a great group of participants and the tastings made it all worth it - although, I wish there would have been either larger tastings or a couple take homes.

Can't wait to return to P.S and Co, but in the meantime, Nick and I will be cooking up a storm making some dumplings!

20 January 2015

Homemade Almond Butter Made In A Vitamix

20 January 2015 0
Every time I go into a store and pickup a nut/seed butter and begin to read all the added ingredients, I grow sick.

Those that are pure nut/seed butters can cost you an arm-and-a-leg - which is worth it, as you do get what you pay for.

Rather than purchase overly-processed store bought items, I try to make as much as I can at home. This is where my homemade almond butter journey begins.

I first started this journey with a hunt to find almonds in bulk.

 Check. Almonds, in shell, purchased at a local farmers market and at a decent price.

Now, to crack open all these almonds.....

Check. The family pitched in and we made it a nice bonding experience. There was only one nut cracker causality. :(

Now, this is where the process gets fun. I took my Vitamix, dumped in all of my almonds, and turned the Vitamix on full-blast. I let it run for a couple seconds, using the tamper to push the nuts down and then I added a touch of honey and cinnamon. I continued to let the Vitamix blend for an additional minute and then I scooped out the fresh almond butter and added it to my oatmeal! YUM!!!

06 January 2015

Finding ones self

06 January 2015 0

05 January 2015

Han Dynasty is a gluten free safe heaven!!

05 January 2015 0
I have been wanting to try the hyped-up Han Dynasty for some time now and I found the perfect opportunity, New Year's Eve.

I had my twin and younger sister coming in with their significant others and we already determined that we would be enjoying the 2015 countdown to some salsa dancing at Cuba Libre  I didn't feel like forking out a $100+ just to enjoy a New Year's dinner and I didn't want to be too far from Cuba Libre - so I went with good-old reliable Han Dynasty. I made my reservation for 6 rather easily and we found front row parking as well!

Even though the restaurant was busy (which is expected for New Year's Eve), we were seated on time and waited on with attention and care. There was not one moment where we felt rushed.

Now, because I was eating with a group and we decided we wanted to try a little bit of everything, I had to go non-vegan this night... but honestly, it was worth it and some of my favorite dishes were the fish and meat ones.

Note, their tasting menu (typically for a party of 8 or more) can be ordered from a price range of $20-30. We choose to go with the $25.00 price range and get the mid-range quality of meats and fish.

The dinner started with the famous spicy cucumbers. The first bite was not too overwhelmingly spicy, but as you continue to nibble on these little guys, you do get the pockets of heat!

The cucumbers actually ended up on pretty much everyone's favorite list, but no worries, there was no need to fight over them, as we were given two huge portions to share with the group!

Next we started getting an array of dishes and to be honest, I have to guess on what was which menu item, as I found myself at one point in time ignoring the server and just drooling over the dishes!

We tried the Beef and Tripe in Chili Oil - not a huge table favorite. The girls did not care for it and two out of the three boys enjoyed it, but never marked it as one of their favorites.

I was a little afraid that being gluten free and requesting an entire tasting menu be gluten free, that we would miss out on the famous noodle dishes, but Han did not fail me - we were brought the Dan Dan noodles modified with rice noodles and pork tidbits on the side so that I could enjoy the gluten free Dan Dan noodles.

Our tables was given two jumbo bowls of Dan Dan noodles and there was almost a fight over who got to finish them, the fight was settled by the fact that some of the participants had filled up on everything else, that there was just not enough room to enjoy anymore food.

The Dan Dan noodles are full or flavor with a bit of heat. The heat rating is a 6 and that is probably accurate.. because some bites are a bit more spicier than others.

We had the Dry Pot Style Chicken, with a heat rating of 10. I did not agree that this was our spiciest dish, but it was enjoyed! It was a sweet spicy!

Next we tried the Chicken as a Dry Pepper Style. This dish had a heat rating of 8. It was good and flavor was decent, but the table agreed, there was too many dry peppers - we either wanted them to remove some of the peppers or crush them up more so you were not biting into mouthfuls of dry peppers.

Additionally we had the Cumin Style Chicken with a heat rating of 7. Funny enough, I found this to be one of the more spicier dishes. So maybe the heat ratings are just guidelines? Or perhaps the waiter was being kind to our participants that couldn't handle the heat. I on the other hand, I welcome to heat! I love when you bite into something and the spice level makes you teary-eyed.

We enjoyed some sort of Lamb dish, it was suppose to be the spiciest but we found other dishes to have a heavier spice level. This was 2 out of the 6 guests favorite...I wish I could remember which dish it was!!

For the fish dishes we enjoyed a Salt and Pepper Style Shrimp with a heat rating of  1. While this dish did not pack a punch, for some it was too spicy, but for the majority of the table, it was listed as one of the favorites and did not make it to the leftovers bag.  We had the Hot Sauce Style Fish, with a heat rating of 7. This one, I am pretty sure this was on everyone's favorite list!

Lastly we had a side of white rice, cooked to perfection and a great combat for the heat as well as the green beans. I didn't LOVE the green beans but the remainder of the table enjoyed them!

The night was enjoyed and everyone walked away satisfied and planning their next visit!

Thanks HAN!! I am looking forward to coming back and trying a 100% gluten free and VEGAN dinner!

04 January 2015

Raw Can Roll, Wayne PA Adding Cooked Foods

04 January 2015 0
I have been to Raw Can Roll a handful of times - but this time I went to see what all the new buzz was about - that's right, the RAW, vegan restaurant has added cooked meals to their menu. We all know their raw food is good, but can the raw foodists cook?

We started with the famous hummus and guacamole. The hummus is always enjoyable - smooth and filling - I just wish they would offer flavor varieties (maybe roasted red pepper, I mean, just a suggestion... wink, wink.).

The guacamole, was fresh as always and full of flavor. Nick never cares for guacamole and the good sport that he is, he gave it a try and said...well, it is fresh and it is one of the better guacamole dishes I have had. This might not seem like it, but this is a true compliment for Raw Can Roll.

You can see Nick had some fun with his food and started to create "sandwiches" with the raw crackers and hummus.

For our cooked dishes, Nick went with the BBQ Bowl. He really enjoyed everything about this dish - NOTE THIS IS COMING FOR A PICKY MEAT EATER! Additionally, he noted that the portion sizes are large, filling, and fresh. The only complaints from this food-critic is that there was not enough of the BBQ sauce and he, remind you is a picky eater, does not care for sweet potatoes.

I went with the Macrobiotic bowl - What called me to this dish? Without a doubt, the sweet potatoes and seaweed. First bite in, I could taste the coconut oil on the sweet potatoes, the rice was cooked to perfection - but I felt like the dish was lacking the flavor I had hoped for. Maybe we need a hot-sauce and tahnini dressing for this dish?! Furthermore, I was a bit disappointed that the seaweed was more of an accent piece than actually incorporated into the dish. All in all, the dish was not bad - I did finish my plate - I just don't think I would order it again...

For our juice portion, because let's be real, you can't go into Raw Can Roll and not get a juice or smoothie! Nick choose the Tutti Fruitti (Strawberry, Banana, and Apple juice) - which he quickly became in love with. I am pretty sure, I would be safe to say that the Tutti Frutti was Nick's favorite part of the meal.

I asked to try the most popular shake, the Peanut Butter Cup. I have to say, it was filling and delicious! Maybe too filling to try after the appetizer and the full meal - but heck, you only live once!

My recap of Raw Can Roll is as follows - their juices and smoothies are great! A little expensive, but let me remind you this food is local, fresh, and made to order! The price is worth it!

The raw food is good - I mean obviously, because they seem to have a strong clientele. The cooked food, I would like to see them expand on the options and have a bit more sauce and flavor to their dishes. BUT if you are that person that typically likes their food a bit more on the mild side, then Raw Can Roll has you covered!



29 October 2014

Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Soup

29 October 2014 0
With fall approaching very quickly, my love for soup is shinning ever-so-brightly.

While I debated stealing my decorative pumpkins, I figured it well worth the cause to make some homemade vegan and gluten free pumpkin soup.

This recipe is one of my simplest recipes yet!

  • Roasted Pumpkin
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Roasted Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tumeric
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
Simply place everything in the Vitamix, turn it on high and let it do all the work for you!

This recipe provides a very filling and creamy treat! You could try and add some nut butter or almond milk for a more diverse taste!

20 October 2014

Addiction to Banana Whips

20 October 2014 0
I'm beginning to adopt an unhealthy addiction to Banana Whips! I just tell myself that everyone deserves a treat now-and-then and banana whips are mine! Listen, I could be addicted to worse things...

 This particular recipe is two frozen bananas, a handful of frozen cranberries, a handful of frozen blueberries, one overripe banana, and some cinnamon -oh and can't forget the carob powder!

I literally just toss all of these ingredients into my beloved Vitamix and smash everything into a nice ice cream consistency and then wallah!

Despite the weather starting to get a bit chilly - I still find myself craving this treat on a daily basis!

03 September 2014

Le Virtu, Gluten Free Italian

03 September 2014 0
The boyfriend and I decided we could use a nice night out on the town to celebrate our 1-year anniversary.

I went through my hand-dandy list of gluten free restaurants that I would like to try. I had a hard time picking just what I wanted. A couple of the locations I was hopeful for had decided to close an extra day for the Labor Day Holiday.

For some reason or another, I knew I was craving some good old-fashioned Italian pasta. It had to have been a good year or so since I have had some authentic Italian food, and being 50% Italian, it was imperative that I correct this as soon as possible. I had already been to Giorgio's so I decided to try something new. Le Virtu has been getting a lot of attention recently, so I decided why not see what all the hype was about.

We arrived much earlier into the city than we had anticipated - you really can't time traffic! Thankfully, Le Virtu was able to accommodate and take us in early with no problem at all. As we walked into the restaurant I wanted to desperately sit outside, but Nick pleaded that it was still 90 degrees at 6:30 at night. He won the battle and we sat inside in the cozy, somewhat romantic dinning area.

The hostess provided us with some menus and when the server arrived, I quickly notified him of my allergies. The server was great throughout the entire night, constantly remembering the gluten allergy and making every accommodation possible.

Nick and I decided to share the Lamb Skewers with the Mint Pesto - which we really couldn't decided between that and the lamb sausage but with the waiters recommendation, which I always enjoy getting, we went with the skewers.

I found the skewers to have a bit too much fat on them and the pesto was lacking that "BAM" basil pesto flavor. I did use the decorative lemon to flavor the meat. Would I get again, probably not - but they were not horrible.

Next up, I couldn't decided between two dishes so I order both in an appetizer portion. While the portions where not much smaller than Nick's full size portion, my price was pretty much full price - so I should have just selected one item and enjoyed it. Oh well, this way I got to try even more!

I went with the lamb shoulder ragu - because of classic Italian red sauce and I do LOVE lamb! To be honest, the dish was okay, the pasta was cooked al-dente so win-win there. The sauce was a bit on the sweeter side and the meat was a bit dry.

The more enjoyed dish of the evening was the house-made sausage and truffle sauce. This dish was so creamy and flavorful - I could have ate it all night long! I promised Nick that I would save him a bite of each to try and I had a hard time saving some for him - whoops!

Nick ordered the hand-pulled pasta with extra virgin olive oil and pecorino. I was surprised that he actually enjoyed it. He did comment on how small the portion size was for the price - but the pasta was home-made.

All-in-all, the night was enjoyed. The food was okay, the service was great would we go back? Yes, but it is not on our "favorites" list.

Much appreciated that Le Virtu does offer gluten free pasta to their guests!

28 July 2014

Fresh Canada

28 July 2014 0
Finally I found the time to return to Canada for another visit! I was determined to revisit FRESH! This was my favorite place last visit! 

This time around we were dragging the boyfriends with us, who are NOT vegetarian eaters in any way shape or form. Poor kids ;)

The girls started with the fresh platter taster. It consisted of sikil pak, cashew scallion pate, dukkah & olive oil, green pea and tarragon spread, flax hummus with za'atar, marinated olives, cucumber and heirloom grape tomatoes. We just asked that the bread come separately so that I could still enjoy the dish gluten free and my aunt and sister could still enjoy their bread. 

The boys started with the french fries and "cheese" sauce. 

I was surprised by their reaction. I don't think they understood that it was a vegan restaurant - I had to inform them after they ordered that the "cheese" sauce was not really cheese! To my dismay, the boys LOVED IT! They even let me try a quick bite! The sauce was "cheesy" and full of flavor! 

I made the mistake of ordering the exact same thing I did last time, the green goddess bowl - but I say it's a mistake because I truly did enjoy this meal on my last visit. I enjoyed it so much, that I went home and recreated it myself and I have to say, I preferred my version.  So I was a bit disappointed and felt that the flavor was lacking.

Another dish from the table was the buddha bowl. Everyone tolerated their choices but I could tell that everyone felt this was not as enjoyable as last time! Maybe a new chef?

Overall we enjoyed our tasters and this time around, we learned we only needed the baby sizes! 

24 July 2014

Milestones, Toronto Canada can do Vegan and GF

24 July 2014 0
It was a hot summer day and we were looking for a quick bite and a nice cold refreshing drink! My aunt suggested we try Milestone Restaurant for their great city views.

While I had no problem finding a drink, I did struggle to find something of interest on their menu. I ended up going with the waitress's recommendation of the Tomato Basil Penne. Honestly, I was hungry so it was something to eat - but the flavor was lacking! I did enjoy the GF bread that was served with the dish and I thought the allergy toothpick was cute.

In my opinion, Milestones is great for views and a quick drink - but their food is lacking any authenticity or flavor!

Vitamix Obbsession

I have owned my Vitamix for about a month now and it has been utilized far more than I thought possible! I use it on almost a daily basis.

Check out some of my creations:

If you have yet to make soup, you need to! It's so simple - just toss everything in, put the Vitamix on high and let it run for approximately 5 minutes. Soup is pipping hot and nice and creamy!

For this vegetable soup I literally went into the fridge and just started tossing in whatever I could find (squash, zucchini, carrots, onions, celery, etc). I mixed in some black pepper, garlic, turmeric, and red pepper.

This was my first go at the soup and I was nervous on how well it would blend - but this was a big hit and I have made a number of soups following!

Pickle Martini. 
I know this sounds weird, BUT the Vitamix was new and I was trying everything and anything I could!

It was a simple recipe, pickle juice, ice, and Vodka. The taste on the other hand was a bit too rough to actually enjoy!

Complements on the presentation though. The Vitamix literally "whipped" the pickle juice into a nice foam!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Orange and Amaretto Drink

17 June 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

17 June 2014 0
Recently, I have been in a baking mood and while my current living conditions are not conducive for a gf and vegan baking environment, I decided I would make some gf baked goods to share with my coworkers. They have been trying to eat healthier and this way if the gf food was slightly contaminated, no one would have an allergic reaction.

These chocolate chip muffins are beyond easy.

1. Preheat your oven to 350
2. Get your blender out
3. Put 1 egg, 1/2 cup of nut butter, 2 teaspoons of flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 ripe bananas, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and some vanilla extract.
4. Completely mix your ingredients together
5.Add chocolate chips
6. Bake for about 10 minutes in a greased muffin tin.

NOTE: The recipe makes about 9 muffins.


02 June 2014

Down To Earth Cafe, Perkasie, PA

02 June 2014 0
While my initial thought when I found myself unexpectedly spending the night in Perkasie, PA was, where am I going to find food here? I'm much more comfortable when I am in locations that are more "city-like". I tend to find more vegan and gluten free options. Regardless, I found myself in Perkasie so I was determined to find something to eat because I was rather hungry at this point.

I searched my trusty app - Find Me GF - and found Down To Earth Cafe. Nick, being so easy-going, said we should go, check it out and if you do not feel comfortable, we move on.

Upon arrival, I quickly started asking the staff for assistance - what can you provide that is both gluten free and vegan? Should I be worried about contamination? While I was a bit worried, as their menu did include a number of gluten-filled foods and their prep area appeared rather small, the staff seamed pretty confident that they could deliver a non-contaminated gluten free and vegan meal.

I was given the option to have either a gf bagel with nutella (which I do not care for) or a fig jam or a quinoa and sweet potato vegan burger. I opted for the vegan burger with everything on it.

Nick and I moved outdoors to enjoy the great sunshine! The wait time was so-so, but than again, maybe it was because at this point I was starving! When the plates arrived, my dish was served with a side of pasta salad and I quickly asked, "is this also gluten free?". Of course it was not, but it gave the server the time to get me a clean dish with a side of potato salad, which was not vegan - so there was two mess ups that made me a bit nervous on how I would be feeling after this meal.

Again, at this point, I was so hungry I was going to eat it no matter what.

The verdict, presentation was ok. The burger it's self was too difficult to it in it's entire form, I resorted to deconstructing the meal. The burger was decent, full of flavor - but left me looking for more condiments, in particular more of the "humus" - which ultimately looked like smashed avocado to me. Anyhow, the food was alright the pricing was high and I am still nervous on how cautious they are on not contaminating gluten free meals.

Will I return? Perhaps. Maybe next time I should stick with a smoothie to be a bit more cautious.

I also found their food to be a bit on the expensive side and not worth the 20.00+ we spent.

14 May 2014

Gluten Free & Vegan Visit to Thai Kuu, Chestnut Hill PA

14 May 2014 0
With mixed reviews, Thai Kuu has been on my mind. Craig LaaBan slashed Thai Kuu with a one bell rating - while Thai Kuu's customers are rating their experiences on average a 4 out of 5 stars review. You can find these reviews on places like: opentable.com, Yelp!, and so forth. I couldn't help but want to take a peak for myself.

Which on one hand, I kept thinking to myself, I am going to go here tonight, spend too much money and be 100% disappointed, as Craig LaBan and I, are usually on the same page as far as food goes. Still, there was that other half of me that wanted to go see for myself - I mean, the owner is from Thailand so how badly can the food be?

I made my reservations on opentable.com and was sure to add notes that I was both gluten free and vegan. In addition, just to be on the safe side, I also called the restaurant to not only confirm the reservations but to discuss my gluten free and vegan options.

The vegan topics was an easy one for Thai Kuu, like many Thai restaurants, you have the option to pick your protein - tofu and vegetables being one of the options. As for the gluten free options, I was given choices of a curry or pad thai dish.

I arrived a tad bit late for my reservations, thank you Philadelphia traffic, but the other half of my party had arrived and was waiting for us. When I arrived, I walked in with my green apple bottle of wine, and the waiter immediately showed us to our table and got us an ice bucket and wine glasses. P.S there is a $1 charge for BYOB service - which is very reasonable.

The waiter gave us some time to settle in and then stopped by to let us know what the specials of the day were. What I found interesting was, the waiter actually used an ipad to show us the specials and then to describe them verbally - obviously visuals sell! Unfortunately, none where vegan so I opted to stick with the curry or pad thai choices.

We all placed our orders- the waiter was extra careful and even asked if we should try to make each plate at the table gluten free!

All dishes are made to order, so I anticipated a bit of wait time. In the meantime, we enjoyed our discussions, our green apple wine, and the atmosphere. While I can see how on busy weekends the atmosphere would get a bit too tight, it is no different than any other romantic byob in the Philadelphia area. So if you are not down for the crowds and tight spaces, just be sure to check out Thai Kuu on a week night.

After some time, our food arrived. My dish coming out first. I ordered the green curry ( as it was noted to be the spiciest) and I couldn't help but have asked for the Thai Kuu Hot Sauce on side - I like to spice everything up!

My first bite in and I knew already, this was not the spice level that I would like it to be at, but it was edible. The curry was the creaminess that I yearn for in a curry dish and the vegetables where not overcooked. The rice was rice, I don't typically eat rice, but I was lathering it with the Thai Kuu hot sauce. Which, again, in my opinion, was a very mild sauce.

Going back, I think I would stress the spice level that I prefer and see if they can't heighten the level - I mean every dish is made to order, no?

Nick, as always, ordered the Pad Thai. This time around he ordered it without eggs - as we have been noticing an egg allergy that he is just not willing to suffer through the aftermath for the satisfaction of eating an egg.

Nick's beginning to realize that most food is better when you make it yourself. While Thai Kuu's pad thai was not awful, it was missing flavor - it was a bit on the bland side.

However, the presentation was beautiful and even came with an edible orchid.

Another guest of ours decided to try the pinapple himmaparn - which is a stir-fry with chasews, chili pasta, pineapples, scallions, and onions. The protein of choice was chicken.

Platting was on par - what a beauty!

The guest seemed to enjoy the dish and found the sweetness of the pineapple to match perfectly with his expectations.

I don't recall him being brave enough to try the orchid though.

Lastly, the table ordered the teriyaki chicken. Being a rather "picky" eater, Cory seemed to enjoy the dish. She made note that the sauce was full of flavor and she almost cleaned her dish!

Overall, the service that we received was perfect - very attentive. The atmosphere was calm and romantic, but it was a weeknight.... The food, was alright. In my opinion, all the dishes needed more flavor!

Would I return, perhaps, but it is not going on my favorites list!

Gluten Free & Vegan Easy Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

- 1 Pkg of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup of Peanut Butter
- 1/4 cup water
- Some honey
- Red Pepper Flakes
- A teaspoon of gluten free soy sauce
- Crushed Peanuts
- Garlic

- Cook the rice noodles accordingly to the package
- In a blender mix the remaining ingredients. 
- Pour over the rice noodles right before serving. 
- Sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top
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