Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So we put together dinner.  Well my wife started and left everything on the counter for me to cook.  Not only was it good and healthy but the kids liked it and I had leftovers for lunch.

Lemon Chicken
She got the recipe here
Essentially you marinate a whole chicken with salt and lemon juice.  Our lemon tree is full so this was a perfect recipe for us.  Marinate it overnight.

Oven to 425.  Make a Gremolata which is a combination of parsley, garlic and lemon zest and rub over the chicken with butter.

For the gremolata you can zest one lemon, finely chop one bunch of flat leaf parsley and mince one clove of garlic.  You can add more of either ingredient to you liking and add salt as needed.

Cook 40 minutes then cover and reduce heat to 375 degrees.  Baste and cook until meat is 170 degrees

I had a bag of potatoes and 15 minutes.  Into the microwave for 5 minutes.  Cut them into quarters.  Heated a pan with butter and grape-seed oil.  In go the potatoes and brown one side.  I then added about a 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary and 2 cloves of minced garlic and sauteed until garlic was browned.

Heated the water and steamed for 3 minutes.

Dinner on the table.  Kids ate the legs and potatoes.  It was healthy, GF and delicious and I had leftovers for lunch the next day and enough scraps for chicken salad the following day.

Get cooking,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Microwave Muffins

Okay, so I'll have to make them again and take a picture because I ate it.

My wife asked if she could make me a muffin after dinner.  Muffin?  Sure, why not.

"What's in it?"  I asked.

"Flax seed" she told me

She got the recipe from Jorge Cruise, who is an author, nutritionist, weight loss guru.
He was on the Doctor Oz show and presented the recipe here.

He has a few options and she tweaked one for me.

Get a coffee mug - yes, a mug.

Put in
1/4 Cup ground flax seed
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 of a banana mashed

His recipe calls for 1 tsp of coconut oil (we didn't have it) and 1 packet of stevia instead of the sugar (I'm a plain sugar guy).  She also added the banana.

Now put it in the microwave, yes the microwave, for 50 seconds.

Out comes a light fluffy muffin.  Have it for a snack, have it for breakfast, make it at work.

I was impressed and it was good.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, February 27, 2012


VEG or Vertical Earth Gardens is a local Southern California company that specializes in vertical (duh) hydroponic gardens great for growing your own, well, everything.

In going GF I wanted to know where everything that I eat is coming from and even though herbs and vegetables are "safe" it was nice to know that we can grow them in our own backyard pesticide free.  And, nothing is fresher than freshly picked.

We first saw this at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar; we were there actually before I was diagnosed, so I can't comment on their GF food.  Sitting outside we saw a kitchen worker come out with a large metal bowl and they started clipping off herbs.  I walked over to two massive VEG structures full of all sorts of herbs and lettuce.

There was a tiny sign about the maker - The Vertical Earth Gardens.

We did some research and learned more and thought that this would be a great thing for us.  Usually the backyard is filled in the summer with overgrown pots of herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  The difficult part was continually watering them on hot days and keeping animals from getting to them since they were on the ground.  Unfortunately, our backyard is not big enough to put in a large garden.

Enter the VEG.  Freestanding, easy to maintain and it uses a lot less water.

Mark from VEG was helpful in getting us set up.  We picked the colors and he fabricated the whole thing and sent us pictures of it being made.  He sent us a list of the winter plant options (we can fit 28 plants in our 6 x 6) and we picked an assortment.  I came home from work one day and the whole thing was installed.

It took a few weeks to get it right.  Mark was out to test the water weekly and he had to tweak the fertilizer mixture.  Once it got dialed in we were growing in our backyard.

This is a picture of it early on.  It has filled in a lot since things have grown.

We have a few pots of lettuce and regularly go out and fill up a bowl with lettuce leaves for our salad.  We have rosemary, thyme, sage and cilantro.  We have had a few winter tomatoes, cabbage, kale and a fennel plant that is growing now.  I can't wait for summer when we have even more options to choose from.

If you are not in Southern California you can probably find a local company or put it together yourself. But nothing beats eating food you grow.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Well, I'm back.  It was tough, I got glutened, and I found it much harder in Philly to find safe places to eat.  I'll give you a run down of where I went and what I found.

Off the airplane we stopped at Whole Foods on South Street.  They had a small selection compared to our Whole Foods in San Diego, but it is a smaller store.  I was able to stock up on some cereal, bars and other staples.

Presidents day morning we went for breakfast.  First place - no hot food due to a fire in the kitchen.  Second place closed.  Third place - back to the hotel.  We ate at Lacroix.  They were helpful.  Breakfast is an easier thing but I had eggs and fruit.

Dinner we met friends for sushi at Hikaru.  I didn't have my GF soy sauce so it was sans sauce.  I talked to the guy at the sushi counter and he had no tempura or fried pieces up, so no cross contamination.

Our go to place, a bit pricey but safe, was Smith and Wollensky Steakhouse in the Rittenhouse Hotel.  Damian, the manager was great.  I found that shrimp cocktail, asparagus, baked potato and a steak were all safe.  I probably ate more steak this week than I do in a three month period.

Stay away from Vietnam.  This is a place I used to love for Pho, Bun and other tasty food.  I thought we were okay.  The waiter knew which sauces had soy and let me know that I could not have it.  He seemed knowledgeable and the manager too.  Within minutes of walking out the door I was sick and it lasted the rest of the trip.  All I can think is that the rice paper wraps may have been made at the same place as wonton wraps and was cross contaminated or the broth was contaminated in the Pho.  Either way it set me back.

I was referred to Sweet Freedom Bakery on South Street.  The only GF bakery in town.  We had some cookies that were good - still soft.  The muffins were special order; we ordered a dozen of blueberry and apple.  They were okay, a bit flat and dense.  The cupcakes were not a hit with the most sophisticated palates - my kids.  But in the city its the only option.

Parc on Rittenhouse was fine.  They didn't have a GF menu but without missing a beat the waiter was able to tell me what items were GF.  I had a warm shrimp salad and a chicken dish.  I questioned the sauce and the waiter returned from the kitchen with a full list of ingredients - all GF.

Rouge is another restaurant on Rittenhouse.  We had lunch.  No GF menu and the waitress had to check with the kitchen but they had some options for me.  I had chicken with sauteed spinach.

Melograno is an Italian BYOB we had dinner at at.  No GF menu and my options were pretty limited.  I had a pan seared skate.

All in all I was surprised that there were not GF menus at the restaurants.  I was happy to get home and I look forward to heading back to 2 Good 2 Be GF.  I was happy to have some Udi's toast.  I can't believe how many Southern California Restaurants offer Udi's bread compared to Philadelphia - I had zero in the way of bread.  I had access to a kitchen for the last few days but since I wasn't feeling well I didn't eat much anyway.  Well, that was my trip - I survived, barely.  I happy to be home in my own kitchen, eating my own food and sleeping in my own bed.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Travel Anxiety

So I have a trip coming up.  Used to be the difficulty was in booking flights, car rental, a place to stay and packing.

That's easy now.  The real issue - what am I going to eat?  Where am I going to eat?  When can I get to the supermarket and will they have what my market has?  How much food should I bring?

The plane ride is easy.  I always bring food, but now instead of a sandwich its a GF buffet.

I'll pack nuts, some GF bars, and fruit.  I'm also going to put together a quinoa salad with some tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and a vinaigrette.

But like you have done I've already browsed the internet for restaurants, checked the hotel dining services, looked for local blogs and lost some sleep thinking about it.

But I'll let you know how it goes.  If I can find a few restaurants that can serve up a protein with some vegetables without cross contaminating my plate I'll do fine and hopefully find some cool restaurants in the meantime.

Time to pack,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, February 11, 2012


The one thing I miss are a cabinet full of snacks.  I was keen for Triscuits and Cheez-Its but obviously those are out now.

So we went on the hunt for new varieties and as you can guess some are better than most.  I am really sensitive to a Gluten Free label is not always enough, when they are made in factories that process wheat I sometimes react.

We tried Blue Diamonds Nut-Thins and they taste good.  Thin, crunchy and nutty and the cheese one is tasty (kids like them too).  Unfortunately for me every time I eat them I react a bit.  They are labeled as made in a factory that processes wheat - so I'm not sure if that is it or something else but I stopped eating them.

Glutinos' crackers are a hit.  Think of a Ritz cracker.  Crispy, light and a few flavors.  My wife loves them.

Hol-Grain was one I found recently.  Not a hit.  Dry, not very tasty.  I'd skip it.

Crunchmaster is my new favorite.  Crispy, crunchy and tasty.  I'd eat these and not even know they are GF.  I would have no problem offering them to a friend with a disclaimer that they are GF.  Definitely pick these up.

Sesmark rice crisps.  Not bad in taste and much better that the Edward & Sons.  My concern is that they clearly state that they are made in a facility that processes wheat although they routinely test batches to make sure that the gluten is less than 20 ppm.  Me, I choose not to even take the risk.

The Winner, in the cracker aisle sporting the yellow bag - Crunchmaster (they have a $1 coupon on the website).

Good Eating,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A New Look

Well, I topped 1000 views of my blog.  Since I don't track my own views and I don't have 1000 friends and family members it must mean that someone else is looking too.  Thanks.

I changed the look around a bit so I hope you like it.  People wanted a way to be a follower and see when I update it without having to keep it in your bookmark and I set it up to view on your smartphone.

Don't forget to look back at older posts.  There are some great recipes (mango quesadillas, pasta, steak and fish dishes).  There are a lot of good reviews of GF food products too.

More to come so keep checking back.  More restaurants, more reviews and more recipes.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 5 Stages of Grief

Every so often we run into a problem that leads to grief.  Death is the most common scenario where we hear about the 5 stages of grief.  Grief may be due to  the loss of a loved one, the loss of a pet or a particular diagnosis.  For me it was my diagnosis of Celiac Disease.

I still find myself cycling through these stages and thought about the Kubler-Ross model one day while in the Supermarket of all places.   I found myself angry while walking down the aisles because there were so many things I can not eat anymore.

For those of you that don't know Dr. Kubler-Ross wrote a book "On Death and Dying" that was published in 1969.  She was a Swiss Psychiatrist that passed in 2004 and was most well known for this model of the 5 Stages of Grief.  She found that most people when faced with death go through these phases but not in any particular order.

I found that I was going through these same phases.

Phase one is Denial.  This was a short phase for me after hearing about my biopsy results.  I thought "Can't be, must be a lab error."  Occasionally I think maybe this is not real and I can eat whatever I want but then reality sets in.  I remember the symptoms I had when I was eating gluten and I don't want to revisit them.

Phase two is Anger.  This I get from time to time and the supermarket experience was one of them.  "What did I do to deserve this?"  I was angry at the liquor store the other day because to get to my GF beer (New Planet Off Grid Ale) I had to walk past all of the chips, Doritos (which I used to love) and beer (I was a huge fan of Fat Tire) that I used to enjoy before my diagnosis.  "Why can't they put my beer right by the front?" I thought.

Phase three is Bargaining.  I'm sure we all have done this.  Can't I have just one day to have that favorite pizza or pasta or cake?

Phase four is Depression. It is a symptom that we have all had from time to time when looking at the difficulties of dealing with the disease.  For me, it is the difficulties that I now have in traveling abroad.  I have been to Spain and Italy but had visions of traveling everywhere.  "How am I going to safely travel to foreign countries without risking contamination?"  I know it will be hard by I'll figure it out.

Phase five is Acceptance.  I have come to this phase but cycle back to the other ones from time to time.  I have directed more of my energy to other things, like this blog.  I want to get more restaurants in San Diego aware of the disease and the NFCA is a great way to do this.  Our house is now 95% GF and I have figured out how to eat at work throughout the day by doing a lot of cooking and preparing at home.

Hope this helps by letting you know that you are not alone.  Everyone goes through this, no matter what 'thing' you are dealing with.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is a great new organization and web resource that I found.  Someone sent me page out of a magazine with a story about Alice Bast and her diagnosis of Celiac disease and the effort that followed in getting people, doctors and restaurants aware of Celiac Disease.

There is a whole section for kids, too.

They have information about the disease and symptoms for those that are curious or still searching for a diagnosis.

They have 90 minute web-based course for restaurants, chefs and staff that goes over the disease, cross contamination and how to adjust recipes.  I am going to start getting the SD restaurants aware of this.  I hate being somewhere and having to pull out a GF bar while my family eats or whip out my cell-phone to search the web to find a nearby GF restaurant.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a GF symbol (hey, its SD maybe a GF inside a surfboard) to know that I could walk in and have a GF meal. - There is an idea.

They have links to recipes, blogs, shopping and more.

Definitely check this site out.  Awareness is huge.  I know that friends and family now call me or email me when the find a new restaurant with GF food, see GF food at the store or see an article or recipe that is GF.  They now notice it because they are aware.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saltbox Restaurant (update 2.11.12)

So we visited SALTBOX inside the Hotel Palomar in the Gaslamp district in downtown San Diego.

All I have to say is "you have to eat here."

Not only was the food great, the atmosphere cool but they were the most Gluten Free accommodating restaurant I have been to.

So my wife called and spoke with the manager, Nic, who said that they can accommodate someone with celiac and they will put together a menu of what I can have.  Well when we arrive the waitress, Lygia, lets me know she was made aware of my Celiac disease and that they were bringing out a special menu.

The sous chef, Neil, had gone thru and highlighted what was GF and crossed out thing that would be changed to make it GF.  He came to the table, was super nice and has a family member that has to eat GF.

I started with the Hamachi Crudo with vanilla scented picholine olives, local citrus and arugula.  This was delicious, light but complex with the different flavors and textures.

Next we split the Scallop special that was done with a pork confit over a romenesca like sauce.  The scallops were cooked to perfection and paired well with the salty pork and acid of the tomato sauce.

I then had the Devil's Chicken - a half Jidori chicken with market vegetables.  Usually they make it with a dijon breading but on mine they just used the country dijon and it was succulent and tasty.

I was still a bit hungry (I had gone on a long bike ride earlier in the day) so I finished with a salad.  Our waitress steered me to the Roasted Sprout Salad.  This was out of this world.  First off it was the leaves of brussel sprouts (I always wondered what to do with the large leaves when I was them) and they were warmed and roasted with scallion aoili and a coriander vinaigrette.  Plated with the salad was pear that had been cut into small rounds and lightly seared.  A salad is a salad until it is something different and rememberable and this was both and incredibly delicious.

A very full and content,

Un-Gluten Guy

Update 2.11.12
Even after a great experience I heard back from Nic that they put together a Gluten Free Menu - and here it is.