Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gluten Free Life

I received a new magazine subscription as a gift - Gluten Free Living.

The third issue of 2012 just arrived, but the magazine has been around for decades.  The editor, Amy Ratner, has a daughter with Celiac Disease.  The magazine is a great source of information, articles, recipes and living.  They have a board of physicians and dietitians.  I also for the first time ever find myself looking at the ads.  I have found some new GF products that I had not heard of, and turned out to be pretty good.

 I learned about Whirl butter substitute.  Avoid it.  It is a butter substitute that contains gluten.  It is mainly a European product - be cautious when abroad.  I have asked restaurants if they use it but have never come across it in the States.

This month is pizza month.  They have dough recipes and different pizza combinations to try.

The also have a section called In the Mix.  I give special attention to Pure Tacos.  The magazine featured this 100% GF taco stand on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.  They just opened another site in Center City Philadelphia.  It was started by a lawyer who was diagnosed in 2003 with CD and opened the restaurant.

They also had a story about GF Food Trucks - yes, Food Trucks.  In San Diego, we have lots of Food Trucks.  One thing I miss is the inability to walk into a store or up to a truck and order a taco, burger, etc.  It is great that Food Trucks are going the GF route.  The only one in California is Soho Taco in Orange County - but hopefully we will see more.

They now have an app for your iphone or iPad or you can sign up for a new subscription.  This is a magazine that will be useful to you in many ways.

Keep Reading,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Simple Gluten Free Breakfast - Steel Cut Oats

Breakfast during the week is quick - hard boiled egg, a yogurt, sometimes instant oatmeal.

On the weekend its pancakes, waffles, eggs or sometimes - Steel Cut Oats.

What I do is cook the Steel Cut Oats (we use Bob's Red Mill GF Oats).  When they are done I remove the pan from the heat and mash in a banana.

I heat up some butter and blend in some honey or agave necter.

To plate, pour the oats with the mashed banana into a bowl.  Top with your fresh berries (add granola if you wish).  Then drizzle the honey butter over top and grab a spoon.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Urban Solace

Urban Solace in North Park, San Diego was one of the first restaurants I went to after being diagnosed.  They offer a GF menu, and that was my main reason for going.  Our first trip out was educational too, because the waiter let us know about the fryers and cross contamination and even avoiding salads that are dressed in wooden bowls (they can be contaminated from croutons).  So obviously we have been back.

Look for their GF menus on their webpage on the bottom right.

We stopped in for lunch.  I let my server know about my dietary restrictions and got the GF menu from the hostess as we were seated.  I also spoke with the manager and he let me know that everything is GF except those main ingredients that are not.  For example, they use no soy sauce.  They also switched their worstechires sauce to a GF and vegan (no anchoivies) version.

I had the Creamy Tomato Fennel soup.  As always it was delicious.  It is topped with a bit of creme fraiche.  The non-GF version comes with a crouton (obviously, mine did not).  It is warm and filling.  A thick texture like a nice bisque.

For my entree I had grilled marinated chicken.  It is marinated with garlic, herbs and olive oil and not cooked on a surface that has any contact with bread.  It was accompanied by fresh roasted vegetables and quinoa topped with goat cheese.

It was delicious as always.  I also have been to and recommend their sister restaurant Solace.  They do not have a separate GF menu but I have been told that almost everything is GF and what is not GF can be made GF.  You need to work with the waiter and/or manager to get everything right.  I have been there only once but did not have any issues.

You can see other reviews on findmeglutenfree.com/urban.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mrs. Crimble's Cheese Bites

We are always on the lookout for new food or treats.  We stopped into our local Fresh & Easy to look around.  In the GF section we found a new brand of snacks.

Mrs. Crimble's is an English company that has been around for 25 years.  Looking through their website I saw other cakes and cookies that all appear to be Gluten Free.

We found a bag of their Cheese Bites.  They are made from cheese, potato starch, egg yolk, yeast extract, milk protein, salt and cheese flavoring.  Obviously, not good for those sensitive or intolerant to dairy.

They were light, crispy and tasty.  The bag only lasted a few hours on a Sunday afternoon between the four of us.  We will have to go back and pick up another bag and try some of their other products.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Test your Gluten Free IQ

Answer these 4 questions

1.  Celiac disease is a genetic, auto-immune disease that is triggered by glucose.  True or False?

2.  Gluten is a protein found in what 3 common grains?  Can you name all 3?

3.  What kind of oats can be used in a gluten-free dish?

a. Steel-cut
b. Irish
c. Organic
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

4.  Look at the list of pantry items.  You have read the labels, but some ingredients might contain gluten.  Find the trio that most likely needs verification by the manufacturer or distributor.

a.  Cornstarch, Romano tomatoes, lentils
b.  Olive oil, oregano, walnuts, apple cider vinegar
c.  Rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, curry paste
d.  Canned pears, basmati rice, tomato juice

This was a test given by the NFCA at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show.  They quizzed 150 chefs and restauranteurs and only 95% of them passed the test.  Less than 50% of chefs could name a gluten-containing grain other than wheat.

You can read the entire bulletin here.

The answers are at the bottom of the press release but for instant gratification
1.  False
2.  Wheat, barley, rye
3.  e
4.  c

Alice Bast, the founder of the NFCA, summed it up best "It confirmed our fears...They don't know what they don't know."

The Un-Gluten Guy

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's for Dinner (Gluten Free)

Guess?  Really, guess?

So, its summer.  Time for fresh food.  Simple is sometimes better.  So what is it?

Locally caught rockfish and asparagus.  Yes, asparagus.

What you need:
One lemon juiced
1 Clove garlic - minced
Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

The Fish
1.  Make sure to remove any bones from the fish and season with salt and pepper.
2.  Heat a skillet and add a bit of olive oil.  Cook each side and remove to a plate.
3.  Wipe the pan clean and add 1 Tbsp butter and about a tbsp of capers then add the lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.  Return the filets to the pan to coat both sides.
5.  Plate the fish and pour a bit of the remaining liquid and capers over the fish.

The asparagus
1.  Using a peeler, peal off shavings of the asparagus.  You could also use a mandoline.
2.  Heat a skillet and toast some walnuts then remove and set aside.
3.  Add some oil to the skillet and add the garlic.  Before it browns add the asparagus and toss to coat and cook until it is al dente.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.  Add the toasted walnuts and toss.
5.  Plate and grate some fresh cheese over top.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Addison Restaurant (Update 8.8.12)

Addison Restaurant at the Grand Del Mar is the only 5 star restaurant in San Diego.

DO NOT go there.

I have been there before and had a great dining experience and food to match.  The last time I was there they were working me up for Celiac but I was still eating without restrictions.  This time we called in advance, informed them the day before and when we arrived that I had Celiac Disease and therefore a gluten allergy.  Each time I was informed that it would be taken care of.

Although Chef William Bradley has high acclaims for his food and menu.  I think he and his kitchen brigade need some serious education about allergens and Celiac Disease.  I did hand the manager a flyer for the GREAT Kitchen education program from the NFCA.  I carry them with me when I go to any new restaurant hoping that some places in San Diego will take the course.  The manager had a smug expression as if my request was no problem - he was very wrong.

If you don't know, this is a french restaurant.  You can choose from the menu a four course dinner or let the chef prepare a six or eight course meal.  We choose the six course tasting.  Each dish is brought out with a server from each patron and presented.  One server that explains the dish.  I specifically told my waitress that I will have questions and I will want to know the ingredients of the sauces and how things were prepared.  The servers were not prepared and appeared to have the knowledge base of a GED equivalent.  It appeared that they memorized what they were told but did not really know the menu.

Four bread courses.  For each course spread throughout the meal I received nothing.  They did not offer a GF bread product, they did not substitute it with a vegetable or fruit.  So for those courses I sat, watching my party enjoy their bread.

Amuse bouche.  This was a grape juice with raisins.  My waitress brought this out, knew the ingredients and it was good.

A crab dish poached in butter with asian pears.  This they knew and it was good.

Shrimp with green curry.  The servers didn't know the specifics.  We asked what the sear on the shrimp was.  I was told it was tempura style.  WHAT?  Back to the kitchen they went.  Out came my waitress looking scared, took my dish away, returned later with a new dish with shrimp - no coating, no frying.  I ate it alone because my party had finished their dishes.  I was told it was a rice flour coating, mixed with what they would not tell me.  They could not tell me where the rice flour was from.  They said it was pan fried but could not tell me if the pan or flour or breading station was free of cross contamination.  Luckily I never tried the first dish - but really.  I did not expect that from this restaurant.

Fish dish.  My table mates had salmon in a dashi broth.  I'll assume that it included soy because I got a different dish.  A slice of white fish topped with a leek that was grilled.  I sat and waited and finally got a server to check.  Where was it grilled?  When they returned from the kitchen I was told that no bread products are cooked on the grill.  My party had finished their dishes at this point and I was unsure of the kitchen and therefore did not eat it.

Next was the waygu beef.  My dish looked different - no breaded mushrooms.  I asked our server how the meat was prepared.  Braised, they said.  Braised in what?  Back they went to the kitchen.  Out came my answer and it was okay.  What about the potatoe?  On top was a flat crunchy thing.  What is this?  Back to the kitchen they went.  Out they came to tell me it was a fried slice of potato in olive oil that was done for me.  Separate, I asked?  He believed so.  I didn't eat it.

Cheese course.  Out come crackers for the table.  They informed me they were not GF.  Really? as if I couldn't guess at this point.  Two cheese samples were presented.  One had a green coating.  I asked what it was.  I was told it was a vegetable ash.  What exactly is a vegetable ash and what did it contain.  Back to the kitchen they were.  Out they came and took my plate away and returned with two cheeses without any additional ingredients.

There was a dish with uni, oyster and caviar over creme fraiche.  This was good and all ingredients were safe.

For dessert I received a different dish from everyone.  My dish was a flan like dish with caramel that they prepared on site from scratch from sugar topped with orange.  I don't really enjoy flan or creme brulee but I do enjoy chocolate which is what everyone else enjoyed - I watched.

At 165 dollars per person it was not worth it.  I expected more from a 5 star restaurant.  They need some serious education from the top down.  To take dishes away that were already presented to me is scary.  They had ample warning that I was coming in.  I would have been more impressed if they said it would be hard to prepare the tasting for me and instead make me two or three dishes that were simple - a protein and a vegetable or starch.  For the experience of their guest, offering something to me while the other diners enjoyed their bread courses would have been a kind gesture.

As for my Star Rating
GF menu: 0 stars
Staff Knowledge: 0 stars
Presented the dish as GF: 0 stars (although some were presented GF others were presented as safe and they taken away due to lack of confidence of it being truly GF)
Food taste and presentation: 1/2 star (What I ate was good, some things I wasn't even able to taste, and some things that were served to me left questions as to the safety of the ingredients and I avoided)

1/2 star, my lowest rating for the highest rated restaurant in San Diego.


The Un-Gluten Guy

P.S. I came home a had a slice of toasted Udi's with peanut butter and a glass of milk.

Update 8/8/12  After not feeling well for days I was trying to find out what it was that contaminated me.  After a number of emails the head chef emailed me an answer to my question.

He said that the green curry was not gluten free.

They poisoned me.


Saturday, August 4, 2012


We went to Delicias in Rancho Sante Fe for dinner.  I had called in advance because I did not see a GF menu online but was told that they will work with me and can go over all of the ingredients and adjust almost anything to make it GF.  I spoke with Alex, the manager, and he said he would look for us when we arrived.

We were seated outside - the nice thing about San Diego is that it is always nice outside.  We were given menus and an IPad.  The IPad had the wine list, by the glass or by the bottle.   Click on the wine and you are treated to more info about the wine, where it was from and a description of the flavors.

Alex came out to the table and said that he spoke with Chef Paul McCabe about my food allergy.  Chef was voted one of the top 50 people in 2012 to watch by San Diego Magazine and previously worked at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar.  Chef came out to the table and told us about how he was willing to help make my meal safe.  This was so nice and reduced the apprehension that I get whenever I eat out.  We went through the menu, discussing things I was thinking about ordering.  Some dishes were made with items that were not GF but would have detracted from the overall dish if omitted so we moved on.  He even let me know that he was concerned they cook pizza and flatbreads in a wood burning oven in the kitchen and there is a chance that flour could be in the air.  This really demonstrated that he understood Celiac Disease and he cared about preparing a meal that was not only tasty but safe.

For my star rating which gives up to 1 star for a GF menu I give Delicias 3/4 star.  Yes, they did not have a GF menu to hold in your hand but the fact that the Chef was willing to come out and discuss the menu is a huge deal.  I do like some restaurants that have a key on their menu for vegan dishes, vegetarian dishes and GF dishes; that may be an option for them in the future without having to print out two separate menus.

As for the knowledge of the waitstaff I give them a 1/2 star.  He understood that I could not have the bread and items that were breaded but didn't know in depth details about the food.  For example, he thought I would be okay with the meat dish with potatoes as a side.  Chef Paul told me that the potatoes are pre-cooked in the fryer and therefore contaminated.  I still feel bad asking the server and manager and Chef the same questions but examples like this are why you have too.

I chose to start with the Hamachi crudo.  This was served with cubes of pickled peach and micro basil.  On my dish they left out the fried oats to make it GF.  It was also topped with frozen creme fraiche that gastronomically was put together with tapioca maltodextran.  Visually, you think you are going to bite into creamy goat cheese but the cold material melts in you mouth and coats the palate to enhance the fish and the pickled peach.

For my entree I chose the Mt. Cook Salmon.  This was a delicious piece of salmon cooked perfectly.  It had a nice sear with a bit of crunch, perfectly seasoned with salt and the cook was to perfection - medium rare with flaky meat.  It was served over a bed of greens, peas and a few confit tomatoes.  On the side was drops of what I think was a rhubarb puree.  The bit of acid in the puree with the sweetness of the peas pared perfectly with the fish.

I was served the appetizer from our waiter sans fried oats - a la GF.  When a server brought my entree he let me know it was the salmon "100% Gluten Free."  This completely puts me at ease - the fact that the kitchen is communicating with the servers.  That give them 1 star for serving my dishes stating that they were GF.

As for the overall food experience for a total of two stars for taste and presentation, I give Chef Paul 2 stars.  He said he would personally prepare my food and it showed.  Everything was cooked to perfection and the plating was impeccable.  Both of my plates were cleaned without even a bit of food or garnish remaining.

For my Ungluten Star Rating:
GF Menu:  3/4 out of 1 star.  Not an official GF menu but the time Chef took to go over the menu counts a lot.
Waitstaff Knowledge 1/2 out of 1 star.
Served Stating that food is GF:  1 out of 1 star.
Food Taste & Presentation: 2 out of 2 stars.
TOTAL: 4.25 out of 5 Stars

I will definitely go back and you should check out this restaurant - you will have an incredible meal,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, August 3, 2012


Popcorn - a nice healthy treat.  Easy to make in an air popper, on the stove, even over a campfire.  Pretty easy to be GF unless you add questionable flavorings.  Here is a look at some of the popcorn treats we have had when we were out or didn't want to bust out the hot air popper.

Halfpops I found on display at Bristol Farms in San Diego.  No my hands aren't huge, the pops are small.  There were different.  The flavor was good but I constantly was fearful to bite down too hard in case I got a solid kernel.  All in all an okay treat.

Oogie's is another GF popcorn out there.  We found this at the snack stands at Legoland.  We had the cheddar flavor and it was good and tasty.  Lightly popped corn with the right amount of cheese.  The bag does not make it too far before it is empty.

Next up is Popcorn, Indiana, which has a shipping address in New Jersey.  I found these at my local Von's in San Diego and they carry a Kettle Corn variety, Cinnamon Sugar and Cheddar.  The Kettle Corn bag is just right - the right amount of sweet with salt.  The cinnamon sugar was a bit flat and the kids agreed.  As for the Cheddar - the Oogie's was better.  As far as their GF FAQ page they said:

Yes. Popcorn and other corn varieties are naturally free of gluten. Gluten is a protein typically found in barley, wheat, rye, their cross-breeds (triticale), and by-products such as flour and MSG. While none of our products contain any of these ingredients and popcorn is a gluten-free grain, we had a FDA-affiliated lab analyze our popcorn because we are very concerned about our customers. The test results found no traces of gluten using the AOAC/CODEX Certified R5 method at a 20 parts per million accuracy level.

What about Smartfood?  I used to like there stuff.  The link to their Frito-lay site does not include Smartfood in the GF category but it is listed in the "Does not contain Gluten" category; and they state that they can not guarantee that it is not processed in a factory or on a line that could come in contact with gluten.  I therefore avoid it.

Did you even know that there is a popcorn song.  You can hear it here on youtube.

Sit back with the music or put on your favorite movie and enjoy some popcorn,

The Un-Gluten Guy