Showing posts from 2013

Gluten Free in NYC, the Butcher's Daughter

On a Sunday afternoon, a group of family and I decided to head into Little Italy. Oddly enough, a vegan and gluten free gal was really looking forward to the this trip. I know, I know, you are thinking, "what could she possibly be looking forward is not the pasta, it is not the sausage or the meatballs, what the heck is she talking about?"  I'm talking about a wonderful raw food restaurant just on the outskirts of Little Italy called Rawlicious. 

As we were getting closer to the city, I went to pull some last minute directions up to Rawlicious, only to find that my allltime favorite place had closed. Arg! I was really looking forward to a good meal. 
In desperation mode, I did a little gluten free, juice bar, and vegan app searches. I came up with The Butcher's Daughter. I couldn't successfully pull up their brunch menu on my iPhone, but I could see they had fresh juices and figured, if nothing east I could grab a bunch of juices for lunch. 
I made…

Gluten Free in NYC, LiLi's 57

Ever so often my sisters and I decide we need a trip to NYC. Do we have a particular agenda, not necessarily, but we know it's about darn time we have a visit. We always stay with an Aunt in NJ and then train into the city.

This trip, the twin and I decided we would take the boyfriends in and share the NYC holiday spirit with them. 
I have to admit, I was actually against this visit. The weather channel was calling for a winter weather storm, and after having spent 3 hours for a 30-minute drive on 76 the weekend before, I was really not welcoming another snow and ice storm. However, I was voted out, so the trip was still on. 
We drove up on Friday night and woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland! After layering myself up...legit, I felt like the michelin marshmallow man. It was somewhat difficult to move and my  peripheral vision was definitely affected! I'll be damned if I was going to spend the day freezing cold. 
We walked around all day. We saw the Empire State Building,…

Gluten Free & Vegan Thanksgiving

Holidays are always a challenge with food allergies, but even more so when you are traveling to a crazy, rambunctious, Italian family - I swear, it is as if the the Italian bread and pastas are flying across the room. I would never change a thing, I love the family and how loud we are - but it does provide an additional challenge.

This year, I decided I wanted to make a seasonal holiday dish for myself. Last minute, I was not confident that I would get everything ready for the Holiday - but with a deep breathe, I managed. I successfully created a pretty awesome seasonal gluten free and vegan dish for my own Thanksgiving meal.

Now, keep in mind, I am limited to what I can make because the food I bring either has to sit indoors or on a porch with the possibility of freezing.

I went all out of on the seasonal squash this year. Oh, and I tried to incorporate cranberries in all of my dishes!

The star, presentation wise, was the stuffed acorn squash. It was so simple. I roasted a number of …

Vientiane Cafe, A Gluten Free Delight

Vientiane Cafe in West Philadelphia is a secret little hiding spot for healthy, gluten free, vegan Lao- Thai cuisine. Seriously - I'm not sure why this place does not get more press. Perhaps, that is part of why the Vientiane Cafe experience was as wonderful as it was, because I knew that I was embarking on a hidden treasure. I felt like I could take claim to it and call it my own.

It was the boyfriend's birthday and I was trying to do something nice, yet low key (he specifically requested low key). My first attempt for dinner was Vietnam Philadelphia. I have walked around this restaurant a million times and the smell was always so alluring, but after a discussion with the staff, I did not feel comfortable enough that I would find something gluten free that was not cross-contaminated. I do appreciate the honestly of the staff and will still continue to encourage those that are not gluten free to visit their location.

 When I first walked into Vientiane, my impression was, it i…

Max Brenner, Not Very Accommodating to those of us with Allergies

This past Saturday night, I was honored to have my little cousin staying with me. I thought long and hard, what can I do that would be fun in the city? I'm looking to impress, right?

A couple of coworkers tossed out some suggestions but I wasn't loving anything, until the suggestion to try Max Brenner came up. I figured, why not? How cool does this place sound, and very kid-friendly!?

Chocolate. Chocolate. More Chocolate.

We had dinner reservations for 6:15pm and our reservations had changed from 5-6 people earlier that day. I of course called in advance to let them know and discuss my allergy-free food options.

The menu did not appear too safe to me and when asking about additional options, the lack of knowledge in cross-contamination freaked me out. I was then given permission to bring a manufacturer-sealed item to be heated in their microwave.

When we arrived at the restaurant  it was over-crowed, loud, and hectic. We were seated late - which is a big pet-peeve of mine - e…

Gluten Free at Corporate Events

Every time I have to attend a corporate lunch or dinner event I cringe. Seriously!

No one knows how frustrating it can be to attend these corporate events when dealing with food allergies.

Not that I am blaming anyone, if you yourself do not have a food allergy, it can be difficult to remember those that do. Which is why, when accommodations are made for us folks with food allergies, we are all that much more appreciative - or at least we should be.

I recently attended a corporate event for the Global Women's Leadership Forum, which was hosted by Ashland. Prior to the event I contacted the event's coordinator so that I could either retrieve permission to bring my own food or make some sort of accommodations for lunch. I typically lean towards just bringing my own food, because I know it is safe and it is not just a plain wilted salad - but I always go along with whatever the sites offer.

In this particular case, Ashland's corporate chef went above and beyond! Lunch was buff…

Sweet Freedom Allergy Free Bakery in Philadelphia

I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. This year for my birthday, I was surprised with some wonderful treats from Sweet Freedom Bakery.

Sweet Freedom is one of the very few places that are not only gluten free and vegan, they are also corn, soy, dairy, egg, peanut, and refined sugar free!!

One might read this and say, "I bet Sweet Freedom's products taste like cardboard since they have taken out all of the good stuff (gluten, eggs, dairy, etc)."

Well, my good friend, you are wrong. The baked goods are a little on the dense side - as are all gluten free baked goods but the taste is there. Also, here is the real shocker - the baked goods do not crumble upon being touched. They actual withhold their shape.

The only complaint for Sweet Freedom's product offerings, maybe add something a little less sweet to the product mix. Some of these baked goods were a but too sweet for me -the pumpkin whoppie pie was the biggest culprit on this one.

Rudi's Plain Gluten Free Tortillas

To me, this product looks amazing, all expect for the corn. I really wish these gluten free companies would start loosing the corn in their product offerings and replace it with a healthier alternative.

The review for Rudi's Plain Tortillas was favorable. The wraps are thin, but tasty - a little doughy, but not rubbery. These wraps have the ability to be stuffed and rolled without falling apart - something new for those of us that are gluten free. Typically gluten-freeers are used to attempting to wrap something in a dedicated gluten free wrap and the outcome is a mushy mess.

Birthday Celebrations at Zahav

It is no secret that I am madly in love with everything that Chef Solomonv has to offer! I even toss out my vegan ways to enjoy his masterpieces!

This year, for my quarter life crisis birthday - nothing could have been more fitting than all-out celebration at Zahav.

My guest of the evening was a bit less of a foodie than I, so when reviewing the menu, I could see his face screaming, "what am I going to eat, these items are foreign to me and not very appealing!"

I offered a suggestion, why don't we order a variety of dishes and share them. This way, you get to try some things that you may have never tried before and vice versa.

Casually suggesting that the hummus was a must but that he could select which of the hummus varieties he would like to try - we went with the Hummus Tehina. Mine came out with a side dish of cucumbers and his with the infamous laffa. To ensure this would remain gluten free I just took my half of the plate before the laffa had the opportunity to con…

Banana Leaf

October is month of birthdays in my family! So my sisters and I claim the month as ours and we celebrate as often as possible!

For my sister's birthday dinner, she selected Banana Leaf.I tried to pre-call and discuss my food allergies, but I could tell it just was not 100% understood. It being my sister's birthday dinner, I decided to just roll with it. When I got there and reviewed the menu some more, I took my time and asked questions - but did not mention that I was gluten free because that seemed to be the confusing factor. I asked questions like, is there soy sauce or fish sauce contained in this meal

I decided I would try the Achat - a pickled vegetable and the Pad Thai. The Achat was way to sweet and not at all what I was expecting.

The Pad Thai was also extremely sweet. Another dinner guest tried drenching the Pad Thai in hot sauce, and still the meal was too sweet. Some seem to enjoy it, but eh - I was not impressed...there was no really flavor just an overly sweet conc…

K-Toos Gluten Free Cookies

For those of you die-hard Oreos fans, we have found the solution to all your cravings- Kinnikinnick gluten free cookie, K-TOOS.

These cookies offer the same experience as one would remember an Oreo having. Grab a small child, grab a glass of milk and start your dunking and twisting! Maybe I am dating myself here, you twist the Oreos and whomever ends up with the most center cream is the winner and the looser has to adhere to whatever bet was made prior to the twisting.

Way Better Snacks Gluten Free Chips

There are a number of gluten free chips on the market today - most of which are dry, dense, fragile, or just plain taste-less, so when you find a decent chip, HOLD ON TO IT!

If you do eat corn, Way Better Snacks is the way to go. They are full sized chips that don't fall apart with the heavier cheese dips / spreads - but with my personal favorite, the Sweet Chili, you don't even need to smoother on the calorie-loaded spreads, the have a good taste all on their own!

Some of the ingredients used in Way Better Snacks are: sprouted broccoli, sprouted brown rice flour, sprouted quinoa, sprouted flax, sprouted chia seeds, etc. Again, minus the fact that they use corn in their products - these are a pretty "healthy" chip choice.

Cooked Perfect Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

Being a true Italian, there is never anything as good as homemade meatballs. It takes courage for a true Italian to order meatballs and red sauce while out. You know the deal, every restaurant claims to be authentic and have homemade meatballs - but when you bite into the meatball you immediately think to yourself, authentic? Who are they trying to kid?

The situation gets even worse when you begin to talk about frozen meatballs - however, I guess if you are really in a pinch or hosting a party that you just don't feel like make the amount of meatballs needed - then Cooked Perfect is what you are looking for. While not homemade, they are pretty darn close.

The best way to prepare these meatball is to simmer them in sauce - however, note that they absorb moisture so add a little extra sauce or water.

The Farmacy Does Gluten Free & Vegan

When invited for a birthday brunch at the Farmacy, I quickly grew nervous that the seasonal brunch menu was not yet posted for October - I felt completely blind.

I decided to contact Farmacy via email. I stated that I would be attending a birthday brunch on Sunday and was hopeful they could accommodate a gluten free vegan. Seriously, within 5-minutes I had a reply stating they should have no problem accommodating and that they would have the October brunch menu published shortly.

What a relief, they appeared so confident. I was actually looking forward to the brunch.

Then, a couple days later, I took a look at their website once more, to see if the brunch menu had yet been posted, and indeed, as they had promised it had been published.The only problem was I did not see a lot of gluten free AND vegan options. I mean, being gluten free and vegan is well, hard, and I can never be too picky. I should accept that they had at least one option.

Now, it's Sunday brunch time and I am running…

Schar Pizza Crusts

Schar - while heavily reliant on corn for their gluten free products used to be one of my favorite companies. Their texture is amazing (one the best replications of non-gf products), the taste is just right - basically overall their products are consistently good.

I personally hope they are able to remove the corn from their products and still provide the same great texture and taste.

No Opportunity Wasted Energy Bar

NOW energy bars - while the thought of a good healthy gluten free energy bar is great... I don't think this one delivered as much as I had hoped.

The honey and chia filling provided a memory of fig newtons, but the fact that that you get that heavy xanthan after-taste and like many gluten free products, this one fell apart all too easily.

But, not overall, not bad. It just did not live up to my hopes.

Heavenly Organics Chocolate Mint

Heavenly Organics Chocolate Mints are gluten free and dairy free - while they are not vegan because they use honey - they are 100% organic!

The chocolate, being slightly bitter and the center in an almost liquid state. These babies are delicious!!

Home Free Gluten Free Minis

Home Free Gluten Free Mini Cookies

These cookies are nothing special - they resemble the typical "Chips Ahoy!"- aka a good snack for little kids but not exactly what the more mature audience is looking for.

VIDAfree Crostallegra Mini Pies

I try and keep up on my gluten free brands - but surprisingly enough - I had not heard of VIDAfree - a gourmet Italian gluten free company. Their line of products include: mini pies, pastas, biscuits, pizza, breadcrumbs, etc.

Test tasting the Strawberry Crostallegra, these whole-grain pies are soft and a little on the crumbly side (but, what can you expect, they are gluten free...).  The only side note on these, we would like some more vanilla flavoring!

Van's Gluten Free Cheese Crackers

I'm excited to begin a guest post series. These guest post series will provide reviews on gluten free products that are not necessarily dairy, mushroom, corn free or vegan.

First product review:

Van's Say Cheese! Gluten Free crackers. 
For gluten free crackers, these offered a nice durable texture - good for dips - good for a crunchy snacks. These crackers were also tested on non-gf ers and given the "not-bad" look.

The only negative here is that they really are not that cheesy.

Rawlicious, NYC

During a recent visit to my Aunt's - she had her heart set on traveling into Little Italy for a free tour. We arrived in the city around 1:00pm ish and I was already starving. The plan was to join a 2:00pm tour... which theoretically gives one plenty of time to sit down and eat somewhere, the problem now - where to eat in Little Italy that is gluten free safe and free of contamination.

To be very blunt, there was a number of places that offered gluten free dishes, but they just did not look like they would pass my cross-contamination test. I was sort of in panic mode and trying to not freak out - I pulled out my phone and was using my favorite app - I found a raw food place a block or so out of Little Italy. Now, my Aunt was not super pleased that we were stepping out of Little Italy, not even more a moment, but a girl needs to eat!

After a short walk, we found it! Rawlicious was just sitting there - as if it had been waiting for me! I'm still rather new …

Miracle Noodles

As always, traveling with food allergies can be a pain in the rear! That's why it is always important to come prepared, but when your hostess is insisting you bring, it makes life a little, well, interesting.

I knew better than to come with absolutely nothing, so I brought meal "additions" - so I wasn't necessarily bringing anything...but then I still had my basis covered.

My hostess was rather excited because she had found these "miracle noodles" that are gluten free.

I found some spinach and salad fixings within her fridge - so I made a basic salad with lemon dressing and then I made these noodles with roasted red pepper sauce that I brought with me.

I wasn't sure what to expect because when you first open the noodles they have an off smell - almost like a fish-like smell. But after rinsing them and boiling them for about a minute, the smell goes away and the noodles re virtually taste-less. So it is a darn good thing I brought my sauce!


Arnold's Way, Lansdale PA

When I first moved to the Philadelphia area and began investigating in raw food restaurant options, Arnold's way was my first discovery - but for one reason or another, I just never made it out to Lansdale to check it out for myself. Which really, this is no an excuse because I have family that lives maybe 10 minutes away - such is life, you just get too busy and excuses become easier and easier.

Despite my work and personal schedule getting even more chaotic recently, I have decided to start making small moments for myself and since I was in Lansdale, supporting my little cousins at their football game this weekend - I was literally 10 minutes away from Arnold's Way and was in need of some lunch.

Arnold's Way, located within a corporate complex right off the main street in Lansdale, PA. Parking really wasn't too bad for being a main street, but then again, I was arriving at an off-time. Not knowing what to expect - I mean, I have eaten at raw food places before, but y…

Recap on the GFAF EXPO, Secaucus, NJ

Best T-Shirt Award: This one goes to the taste guru! When I spoke with Andrew from taste guru he informed me that these t-shirts were hot-off-the-press!

Best Bread Award: Without a doubt this award goes to Jac's Bakeshop & Bistro. Gluten free bread is typically a product I steer clear from. It tends to be heavy on the calories, dense, tasteless OR too strong of a taste, etc. Jac's, on the other hand, has this amazing Bistro Bread (which sold out before I had the chance to purchase it) that is allergen free! This bread was moist, flavorful, and honestly the best gluten free bread I have ever had! 
Stay tuned, as they will begin selling from their online store in November 2013.
Best Vendor Award: The folks at ZipFizz were definitely a little "zipped". Proof that they drink mix really does provide energy!
Best Packaging Award: While I am not a big beer drinker, Brunehaut Beer provided an adorable bottle.

Thank you to all of the vendors, volunteers, and participants for …