Sunday, April 24, 2011


Living gluten free doesn't end with reading ingredient lists. Oh no, as all of us know the risk of cross contamination is high when dining out, but it's also high when dining in. But just how cautious do we have to be?

All of us know to keep our serving utensils separate between gluten and gluten free foods, and we don't prepare our foods on surfaces where wheat could have been. But do you need a separate toaster for gluten free breads? Do you need to keep separate condiments (you know, like the jelly jar where people spread jelly on their bread and then dip their knife back in for another scoop-leaving pesky bread crumbs behind)? Can you eat french fries that are fried in the same fryer with breaded chicken? This is where it gets complicated.

The World Health Organization defines naturally gluten free foods as having 20 PPM (parts per million) or less of gluten. According to a celiac can have intestinal damage after consuming just 0.1 grams of gluten-equivelant to 1/48th of a slice of bread! Crazy right? And proves just how important it is to regulate cross-contamination. In my opinion, this information shows it is important to keep separate condiment jars. As for the toaster, if you can't have a designated gluten free toaster, make sure to clean it before use.

I do have to admit I eat french fries and tortilla chips that share a fryer with gluten foods. Most of the time I feel fine with the french fries, but the chips are very hit or miss.  I haven't been around restaurant grade fryers much, but from my own home frying experience I've seen excess batter sink to the bottom-making me feel more comfortable with the risk. How many other celiacs take this risk?

My last thought on this topic is the risk associated with eating something that is gluten free, but is processed in a facility that also processes wheat. Honestly, if we were to avoid all products produced in a shared facility, I'm not sure I could handle the additional decrease in choices. My advice is to research what consumers have said about products with a risk of cross contamination. Usually if a product has a high risk, you can find out easily.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gluten Free in Waco

I went to college at Baylor and was diagnosed with Celiac disease the day before my junior semester started.  Waco was not the easiest place to begin my gluten-free journey, but I hope that my findings help anyone else going through the same situation.

Non-chain restaurants that cater to gluten-free needs in Waco:

1424 Italian restaurant on Washington Ave. Make sure and call ahead of time and verify they can accommodate you. They don't have a gluten-free menu, but the chef has been great on making my plates gluten free. The only thing I've gotten there, because I love it so much, has been the Chicken Picatta with the lemon carrot rice and steamed vegetables.

Zakarta Hut. I wish this place had popped up sooner, but sooner is better than later! The chef is completely aware of gluten and has everything labeled if it is gluten-free. They also have frozen entrees from epicurious chefs, and often have sales.

135 Prime. Nice steakhouse in Hewitt, however, it is a bit pricey. The chef volunteers at the hospital and had to go through an extensive training process on food allergies-so he completely understands gluten and cross contamination. I've been twice and am so in love with the dish I originally got, I've had no reason to order anything else! (Let me tell you now, I haven't eaten beef since the 8th grade-a different story entirely. But nonetheless, this is why I ordered fish at a steakhouse). My favorite is the giant gulf shrimp basted in extra virgin olive oil with basmati cilantro rice and grilled asparagus. The extra virgin olive oil sauce on the shrimp is divine!

Cafe Cappuccino. Although they don't have a gluten-free menu, there are many breakfast items you can choose from and stay safe.  Most omelets are free of gluten, but make sure you tell them no toast! Also, I always tell them to please cook my eggs on a different part of the griddle from the pancakes. My recent favorite is the Breakfast Burrito with corn tortillas instead of flour, and bacon as the choice of meat. I do have to warn you though, awhile back I got really sick from just eating a fruit cup, hashbrowns, and bacon from here. The only thing I can blame it on would be cross-contamination. Since I've started requesting them cook my eggs on a clean part of the griddle, I haven't had problems!

Chain Restaurants with gluten-free menus:

  • Jason's Deli
  • Pei Wei
  • Carino's
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Cheddars (the only thing I know that is for sure gluten free is the baked potato and a garden salad, no croissant or croutons, with honey mustard dressing)
If you're a fan of Pat Green, you've heard of George's bar in Waco. It's a famous restaurant, bar, and meeting ground for people of all ages. I've spent many birthday dinners, celebrations, and nights out at George's, but it's not easy eating gluten free at a bar known for it's fried food.  I've always stuck to baked potatoes and garden salads (no croutons) with ranch dressing. Adding pico de gallo adds some flavor to the potato, and the ranch dressing is gluten free. 

Also, there is a Wendy's and McCalister's right off I35 if you're ever driving through and need a quick bite! (Both have gluten free menus) Hope this helps with your Waco gluten-free eating!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Salami, Ham, and Cheese Pinwheels (g/f of course!)

A few weeks ago I started experimenting with gluten free appetizers. Remember those frozen pinwheel appetizers served at parties? They're nothing special really, but for some reason I was determined to find a gluten free replacement. So here it is! These would be great at parties, lunches, and as snacks. I've also made this with homemade spinach and artichoke dip as the filling, delicious as well!

Super Versatile Bread Dough from Better Batter

1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. salt
4 T butter
1 package active dry yeast + a pinch of sugar to activate the yeast
1 egg
3-4c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
Heat the milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a sauce pan until warmed (not too hot).
In a large bowl
mix together, yeast and egg. Slowly add the warm liquid and whisk together.
Add enough Better Batter Gluten Free Flour to be like play dough and beat together well for 3 minutes.
Divide dough into two parts. 

Salami, Ham, and Cheese Pinwheels:
2 Tbs Spicy Brown Mustard
1/2 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
8 (approx) slices of Salami (I love Columbus' Sliced Italian Dry Salami)
8 (approx) slices of Ham
Egg wash or butter

Roll out half of the dough onto a well floured surface. The dough should be about 1/8 thick and in somewhat of a square shape. 
Spread the mustard over the dough. Then layer the ham, cheese, and salami. Keep in mind you want to think horizontally, not vertically when layering the meats and cheese.

My attempt at making the pinwheels look fun, hehe!
Gently roll the dough from top to bottom until you've formed a log with the dough. Then cut the dough log into 1/2 inch slices. Layout the slices on a greased baking sheet. If desired, brush the pinwheels with an egg wash or a tablespoon of melted butter. 
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until brown. Makes 15-20 pinwheels.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My idea of Fast Food

Okay so I know I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but this meal is just so good I had to share! One of the things I miss most about eating gluten is the occasional fast food meal. Today when the craving hit I prepared my own little  fried chicken sandwich complete with french fries. Before you get too excited after seeing the Wendy's bag in the picture, although Wendy's does offer a list of gluten free menu items, they still don't offer a gluten free sandwich. Here is what I did to make my own: I toasted a Gillian's  french roll, threw some Bell and Evan's gluten-free fried chicken in the oven for 25 minutes, add the typical fixings to the sandwich and voila!  I also ran to Wendy's to grab some french fries too! To make the meal quicker you could always order grilled chicken from Wendy's and just add it to your gluten-free bun. For some reason I always feel bad after eating their grilled chicken though-does that happen to anyone else?

Hope you guys try this when that fast food craving hits! Happy faux fast-fooding! :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gluten Free in Houston

Isn't trying to eat gluten free the worst when you're in a different city? It is for me! I went to visit one of my best friends this weekend in Houston and we found some great gluten aware restaurants that I can't wait to share with you (especially the gluten free cupcakes!).  Friday night we ate at Tqla, a southwestern and mexican fusion-style eatery with an entire wall dedicated to their vast array of tequilas. We had called ahead to ask if they accommodate gluten-free requests and although they don't have a gluten-free menu, the chef was very accommodating! He personally came out to talk to me, and found a way to make the dish I was interested in gluten free. I ordered the Ensenada Chicken Enchiladas and a Chambord Margarita-yummy, right? We also enjoyed, maybe a little too much, the huge bowl of queso (which is gluten free), and the two sweet salsas that came along with dinner!

Saturday we ended up at Chipotle for lunch(everything except the flour tortillas are gluten free). Brace yourself for what comes next. We walked out of Chipotle and saw a Crave Cupcakes shop next door. Being a curious girl, I walked in and asked if they by chance had a gluten free cupcake. Bracing myself for the usual "no," I almost started jumping for joy when the chef told me I was in luck! What are the odds, right? They make a special chocolate gluten free cupcake, and ya'll, it was TO DIE FOR! We're talking moist chocolate cake that could have been confused for the real thing! It was rich, moist, and the icing was scrumptious too! If you're around a Crave Cupcakes you have to get one!

My last Houston find was at LoCal's Healthy Joint in Katy. Although they did not have a gluten free menu, they were willing to make just about anything they could gluten free. I ordered the LoCal Migas for brunch. They were very filling, but could have used some salsa. Their menu is diverse offering anything from omletes to Ahi Tuna steaks to buffalo burgers-so you're sure to find something tasty!