Friday, August 29, 2008

Olive Garden - Italian Gluten-Free food?

Believe it or not, I was able to eat a Gluten-Free, fairly healthy dinner at Olive Garden last night in Burleson including dessert!  I threw myself on the mercy of the chef and he suggested several dishes I could have.  I ended up with the salad with house dressing, apricot chicken, grilled veggies and chocolate ice cream.  
The wait staff was very patient and I didn't get sick at all.
It's not haute cuisine, but it definitely expands my options.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Make your own Gluten-Free ice cream

Many high quality ice creams are already gluten free - one of my favorites is Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla.  However, I often have a slight fear of cross-contamination in processed foods.

This summer I bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker, although there are several different brands which I'm sure will work fine.

I've made several different kinds of blissfully 100% GF ice cream and sorbet already.  The other great thing with making your own ice cream is you can add mix-ins yourself at the almost-done stage.
So, if you make your own GF cookie dough, or buy some GF oreo cookies, you can crush them up and have a safe, tasty treat.

For the calorie conscious, it's good because you can control the amount of fat and calories and still be safe.  Many of the low-cal products seem to contain modified food starch.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pop Chips - Healthy and Gluten Free

Pop chips are quite tasty.  I was really disappointed when I realized I couldn't have most of the baked chips any more.  These taste tons better and are just as good for you if not better!  
The magic is they are popped with heat and pressure, not fried or baked.  Our local health-food stores like Central Market have trouble keeping them in stock!
Check the ingredients, not all of them are GF!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gluten Free Road Trip Tips

If all goes well, I'll be off on a road trip to Jasper, Arkansas this weekend.  There is one organic restaurant in town that serves food I can eat and has a small supply of GF necessities, but other than that, it's breaded and fried all the way.  Here are some tips for not having to stress when travelling into Glutinous territory.

  1. I make a pot of GF spaghetti and meat sauce and divvy it up into plastic containers and store them in a cooler.  Then, I can eat anywhere on the road and supplement my meal with whatever fresh fruits/veggies I can find.
  2. I bring a box of GF cereal and some bananas.  Then, breakfast is no sweat at McDonalds, Starbucks or anywhere else.  All I need is some milk.  I can even eat at a gas station.  It helps to bring disposable bowls and spoons.  Otherwise, just make do with available materials.  I've eaten cereal out of paper cups before.
  3. Bring an emergency bar of some sort for every day just to have on you.  I like the chocolate Larabars and the chocolate and sesame seed KIND bars, but there are lots to choose from.
  4. If you get really stuck, just go to a grocery store and search the outer ring.  You can always find fresh fruit and cheese for an emergency meal.  Also, don't forget a great alternative of apples and peanut butter.
  5. There are a surprising amount of common junk foods in gas stations that are GF including my favorite - Cracker Jacks.  Don't overlook obvious other snacks like individual serving packs of nuts, even corn nuts and pumpkin seeds.
  6. If you're out with friends, don't forget you won't have bread to soak up any alcohol, so consider that before ordering a cocktail before dinner.  
  7. Keep your eyes and ears open for possibilities.  I went with a friend to a cafe in New Orleans, certain I'd be sitting there salivating as she ate a beignet (tasty, donut-like treat) and wound up with some scrumptious fresh lemonade and a bag of the best meringue cookies I've ever eaten!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Good Celiac info in "You on a Diet"

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but when I started healing on my Gluten-Free diet, I started gaining weight - mainly because all of a sudden I was keeping more of the calories I was consuming.

  "You on a Diet" has a short but very interesting page or two on the changes in people's bodies when Celiacs go Gluten Free.  It answered a lot of questions I had.

Friday, August 22, 2008

G.A.P. Adventure Travel caters to Gluten Free and other diets

Recently, I hiked the Inca Trail with G.A.P. Adventure Travel.  My biggest concern was being able to eat the food the porters would cook on the trail.  When I called the company, they said, don't worry about it, they'll take care of it when you get there.

Well, of course I worried about it!  I had all kinds of gluten free bars, peanut butter, etc.  But when I got out there, I could understand why they were so confident.  I explained my situation to our guide and he made sure that there was more than enough GF food for me at every meal.  One morning, they even made me pancakes from quinoa flower!  It was the most worry-free trip I've had in a long time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Central Market has Gluten-Free cooking classes

Central Market recently posted it's Fall cooking class schedule.  You can download it here.
They have a wide variety of classes, but one particularly interesting one is Gluten-Free Bking with Christine Llarraza on Wed. Sep. 3 from 6:30 - 9:00 PM at the Fort Worth location.

The description for the $60 class states:
"In this class designed to introduce you to the wonderful gluten-free products featured in our store, Chef Christine will demonstrate and you will sample: Chile Cornbread; Red Onion & Rosemary Pizza; Lemon Drizzle Loaf; Spiced Apple Scone Round; Basic Gluten-Free White Loaf; and Sticky Spiced Loaf."

Central Market also has Dallas and Southlake locations.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gluten-aware at Spring Creek Barbeque

Recently, I ate at Spring Creek Barbeque in Bedford at: 1509 Airport Freeway (817) 545-0184.  
It's on the access road at the intersection with Forest Ridge. 
When I told one of the guys behind the counter that I had an allergy to wheat, they pleasantly surprised me by asking if I were gluten intolerant. 
I said I was and they sprang into action.  New knives and cutting boards were brought out and the manager quickly identified which side items I could have.  
There was a wide variety of foods that were gluten free, including, Bluebell ice cream (Homemade Vanilla is GF) for dessert!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sublime Bakery in Fort Worth is a fabulous source for Gluten Free Goodies

Sublime Bakery
5512 Bellaire Dr. South
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 570-9630

Sublime offers a variety of baked goods and a limited lunch menu, all of which have gluten-free options.  
On a daily basis, they say they have at least one Gluten-Free baked goody, like the Lemon Sugar cookies pictured above.  A package of four costs $5.
Starting Aug. 19, 2008, they say they will offer Gluten-Free cupcakes ($3.25 each) in either chocolate or vanilla. They ask that people looking for specific items call ahead to make sure the treat they are looking for will be available.
On request, Sublime will also make Gluten-Free custom cakes or bakery cakes.  They also cater to vegan and dairy-free diets.

Garlic Jim's coming soon

I called Garlic Jim's a couple of times and couldn't get through, so I drove out there Sunday morning.  It's in a new strip mall and doesn't look open yet.  Unfortunately, there was no sign saying when it is supposed to be open.

Nancy A. Gordon said that Palio's Pizza Cafe in Colleyville will make a Gluten Free Pizza for you if you bring the crust.  

Gordon brings several rice crusts at a time and says Palio's charges her slightly less than they do for a full pizza.  She said she has never had problems with cross contamination.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Possible Gluten Free Pizza in the metroplex - Garlic Jim's in Flowermound

There was a recent article on Pizza News about the Garlic Jim's Famous Gourmet Pizza chain carrying Gluten Free Pizza.

There is a Famous Jim's in Flowermound at 5801 Long Prairie Road (972) 691-8800.  I've tried calling to confirm, but so far, I haven't gotten through.  This weekend, I plan to drive out there and see if I can pig out on some delightful Gluten Free slices of heaven.
I'll report back!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The new Vivanno at Starbucks is Gluten Free

I called the Starbucks info line 1-800-23LATTE to find out if their new smoothie-like product the Vivanno has gluten.  One of their customer service reps told me that it is gluten free - I didn't ask what was in the fiber powder, but at least I know it's not wheat.

A commenter on this post reports "There is a possible cross-contamination issue with the protein and fiber powder for the Vivanno drinks." - So if you want to be super safe, ask them not to put the powder in the drink.

Also, the Starbucks representative reminded me that all of the Starbucks beverages are Gluten Free except for Frappuccinos with chocolate chips and any blended beverage using the Vanilla Bean Powder.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gluten-Free Beer in Dallas at Trinity Hall - The Irish Pub & Restaurant

It was to my great surprise and pleasure that I discovered - count 'em - four Gluten-Free Beers available at Trinity Hall - The Irish Pub & Restaurant.  They also have a good variety of ciders.
The pub, which is in Mockingbird Station is at: 
5321 E. Mockingbird Lane in Dallas
(214) 887-3600

I tried the Green, Endeavor (Triple Style), which was quite hearty and satisfied my craving for something resembling Guiness.  

Also available are: Green, Quest (Dubbel Style), Green, Discovery (Amber) and Red Bridge (Sorghum).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting twiggy with it: New gluten-free snack hits the spot

Mary's Gone Crackers, notable for their whole-grain, gluten-free snack crackers in a variety of flavors has introduced a new product called Sticks & Twigs.  

The flavor and texture of the sticks and twigs is, well, stick-like.  However, don't let that dissuade you.  If you are a fan of the crackers, you'll definitely enjoy this very portable version with fun new flavors like curry and sea salt.  Some of the Sticks & Twigs are also soy free, for those of you with an allergy to soy.  

I offered them to several friends who enjoy eating healthfully or have food allergies and we all enjoyed them.  However, I have yet to make it through a whole snack bag.  After a handful, I'm stuffed.

The sticks and twigs are also listed as kosher, vegan-friendly, heart healthy, whole grain.

Angel Pie and the Gluten-Free miracle of meringue

If you like meringue, chocolate, coffee and whipped cream, you will certainly want to try the chocolate angel pie from Miss Grimble’s, a bakery loved by New Yorkers in the ’60s and ’70s that still has a wholesale operation. Miss Grimble’s original proprietor, Sylvia Balser Hirsch, said of the pie:

"Dieters fall off their diets and strong men go weak at the sight of it. It is beautiful to behold and luscious to eat."

Miss Grimble’s chocolate angel pie

Serves 8

Meringue crust:

4 large eggs, separated, whites at room temperature (refrigerate the yolks and reserve for the filling)

Large pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

5 teaspoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia D’Oro

Pinch of salt

4 large egg yolks (reserved from meringue crust)

1 cup very cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons Kahlua


1 cup very cold heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar (superfine is preferable)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, or fresh raspberries (optional)

1/3 cup shaved semisweet chocolate (optional)

Meringue crust:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan or a pie pan with a removable bottom and line the bottom with parchment paper; butter paper.

2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites together with salt on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating. When whites are opaque and beginning to stiffen, increase speed to medium and begin adding the sugar. Beating constantly, add it very slowly so as not to deflate the egg whites. When all the sugar has been added, add vanilla and increase speed to high. Continue beating until egg whites are very stiff.

3. Spread meringue mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan, building up the sides about 2 inches to hold the filling.

4. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.


1. Place chocolate, instant espresso powder, salt and 3/4 cup water in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat until chocolate has just melted, stirring frequently.

2. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Set aside to let the mixture cool completely.

3. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Beat in Kahlua, then fold the mixture into the completely cooled chocolate. Refrigerate.

Assembly and topping:

1. Spoon the chocolate filling into the meringue shell, smooth the top and refrigerate until set, for at least 4 hours. The pie can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours at this point.

2. When ready to serve, carefully remove the pie from the pan and place it on a serving platter.

3. Whip the 1 cup cream together with sugar and vanilla until fairly stiff. Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate filling and decorate with berries, if using. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 639 calories, 40 grams fat, 69 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 294 milligrams cholesterol, 100 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 54 percent of calories from fat.

— "Lost Desserts," by Gail Monaghan; adapted from Sylvia Balser Hirsch’s "Miss Grimble Presents Delicious Desserts" (Macmillan, 1983) Amy Culbertson is the Star-Telegram food editor, 817-390-7421

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gluten-free friendly chain restaurants

It's good to have options when you're out and about.  These are some chain restaurants in the metroplex that are GF friendly.  

  • P.F. Changs has a GF menu
  • Pei Wei has a GF menu
  • Cheesecake Factory has a GF menu
  • Outback Steakhouse has a GF menu
  • Chili's has a master list of what's in everything.  I often eat their children's grilled chicken - it's not marinated - and mashed potatoes
  • Chipotle - Everything is GF except for the flour tortillas, so just get the bowl.
  • Q-doba - check their online menu
  • Wendy's - Their fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer and their burgers are GF.  They have a master list in the store.
  • Sonic - They have a comprehensive list online
  • Chick-fil-a - Their fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer and their grilled chicken (not the breaded one) is GF without the bun.

Tips for dining out in the Dallas Fort Worth area

  1. Be nice to your server, he or she is the only one standing between you and gluten!
  2. No matter what happens, leave a nice tip and thank the server for his or her patience.
  3. If the server does something above or beyond the call of duty for you, thank his or her manager.
  4. When you sit down, tell your server that you have a serious allergy to wheat and gluten.  If you get a blank look, let them know, that means flour, soy sauce and modified food starch.  Some restaurants have an allergy protocol, so as soon as you say "food allergy" they know what to do.  Some don't.
  5. Have a couple of ideas in mind for dishes you think are likely to be gluten free.  Some usually safe bets are: grilled chicken salad with no croutons, curries, mexican food made with corn tortillas, steaks, pork chops, baked potatoes, etc.
  6. Make sure the server checks with the chef on every sauce and dressing on your food.  Most creamy looking dressings have modified food starch or wheat.  Clear dressings and vinaigrettes are a good bet, but always check.  Also, ask if anything has been marinaded and if the marinade contains soy sauce.
  7. Don't be disappointed if your first choice is a bust.  If you get upset, they'll get anxious and might not tell you if there's gluten in your second choice so they don't upset you further.  Also, it's not fun for the other people at the table if you have a melt down.
  8. Ethnic restaurants often offer a greater variety of GF food than traditional american bar and grills.  Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Sushi (dipped in tamari) and Mexican restaurants often have more options.
  9. If you order french fries, make sure they are cooked in a dedicated fryer.  If they are cooked in the same oil with breaded items like fish sticks or chicken nuggets, there is a huge danger for cross contamination.
  10. You don't have to give up dessert.  Blue Bell vanilla ice cream is safe as well as most jello, creme brulee and flan.  The Cheesecake factory even has a GF cheesecake - their all-chocolate Godiva.
  11. Be patient and try not to be too hungry when you go out to eat.  Remember, the first thing they usually bring out is bread!

Rise - An elegant restaurant with tasty surprises in Dallas

Inwood Village at 5360 West Locers Lane, Suite 220 in Dallas.
(214) 366-9900

Rise specializes in souffles, some of which can be made gluten free.  This cozy, intimate restaurant seats a modest amount of people.  I went on a Sunday afternoon and had no wait time, but I have heard that if you go at a breakfast, dinner or brunch time, you should be prepared to wait up to an hour or two.  They do accept reservations for parties of six or more.

When I sat down, I let my waiter know that I was eating gluten free.  He talked with the chef, who came to the table and discussed the menu with me - what service!  They were able to prepare the mushroom souffle without wheat flour.  Also, I enjoyed the naturally free creme brulee and a decadent chocolate souffle for dessert.  The meal came to about $25 per person, but was worth every penny!

Helpful books about Gluten Free living

Ack!!!  I've just been diagnosed with Celiac disease, what do I do?

Here are some books that can help answer some of your most pressing questions:

This is just a sampling, there are now hundreds of cookbooks and guides out there including books that involve other specialty diets, like gluten free and vegetarian or gluten free and low sugar.

Welcome to Gluten Free DFW

I'm a multimedia producer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Recently, I wrote an article about 5 specialty GF items I can't live without.  Since then, I've gotten lots of phone calls and emails asking for info about a gluten free lifestyle in the metroplex.

This will be a round-up of area info.  I'll include GF friendly restaurants, grocery stores, doctors, etc.  Feel free to add to this.  Hopefully, this can become a central place to store all kinds of DFW gluten free tidbits!