Wednesday, April 14, 2010

our fave restaurants

Eating out can be sooooo frustrating when you have a food allergy. (*Please note, I understand that celiac is not an allergy, but I use the term because it's the one that everybody seems to get, and for the benefit of those here who are gluten free for other reasons) Even if the restaurant has something you could eat sometimes it's impossible to find out for sure because the staff is not educated on the issue. I get so upset when we encounter people in the food industry who lack the knowledge needed to answer our questions about the menu. I continually meet people who honestly don't even understand what wheat is! If you don't believe me, here is an example:

One time in a burger place I ordered my youngest daughter a burger without the bun, the waitress looked at me confused so I told her that my daughter couldn't have wheat. She replied, "Oh, we don't have wheat buns, we only have white buns." No joke.

Our worst experiences have taken place while traveling. It's so hard to go someplace your not familiar with. For a very long time after going gluten free, we didn't eat out at all. We still don't eat out as often as we used to, but it is so nice to be able to go out to eat sometimes, especially in social situations and on special occasions.

Here's a list of the places we frequent because they have gluten free options and are knowledgeable about it. Click on the name to visit their website.

Noodles - They really only have one gluten free entree, Pad Thai, but it's Lily's fave dish. I think some of the soups and definitely the salads are gluten free. They have great allergy info both in the store and on their website and when you order you tell them 'gluten allergy aware' and they will flag the order so that it is prepared separately from any gluten ingredients. Get a punch card, every 10th meal is free and be sure to sign up for their email list. They will send you a coupon for FREE noodles from time to time.

Qdoba- They actually have a lot of gluten free options. My kids love the gumbo soup. You can get any of the burritos 'naked' and have chips instead of the flour tortilla. If you go, make sure you get their loyalty card because every 8th entree is FREE! They also send good coupons to your email.

Marie Catrib's- What a great local place! They always have the best gluten free options, including gluten free bread for the sandwiches! They have both rye and white. The first time Rich went there and ordered a sandwich on Rye, he panicked after the first bite because it tasted sooooo good he couldn't believe it was gluten free and assumed they had made a mistake. The waitress reassured him it was gf and he enjoyed every bite! They also make really good hummus!

Brick Road Pizza - has gluten free Pizza! It's good and we love the atmosphere of the place but think it's quite pricey. But can you place a value on pizza night? Our eating habits have changed a lot over the years, and we don't crave pizza very often, but everybody deserves a pizza party from time to time!

Palace of India- Oh, soooo yummy. We have come to love Indian food, especially after discovering that the breading on the vegetable pekora is not wheat flour, but chickpea flour! Mmmmmm, fried califlower! Our favorite dish is the curry chicken.

I just bought a bunch of coupons for Brick Road, Palace of India and a few other local places at They are having an 80% off sale till tomorrow, so hurry over there to buy yours! It makes eating out a whole lot more affordable! If you miss this sale, become their fan on Facebook to find out when they go on sale again!

One place we don't eat: APPLEBEES! and we learned that the hard way. I don't think I have ever had good service there and they are not very gluten free friendly. The last time we went there (we were traveling and didn't have a lot of options), poor Daisy had to sit sadly coveting me and Rosie's (glutenous) food, waiting for her dinner because they brought her food on a bun even after a lengthy conversation with the waitress about wheat and the fact that she couldn't have it. She obviously had no understanding of what your basic foods are made out of cause while ordering, AFTER I explained, she offered us pasta! Really. I just think if your gonna work in the food industry you should be required to have a basic knowledge of food. Maybe I'm asking too much.

Flour Mix Update

I want to share again how I make my gluten free flour mix that I use for most of my general baking because I have developed a new system that is much cheaper and easier than buying flours at a health food store. These days I shop at ethnic markets.

On this journey of learning to eat gluten free in a culture that seems to think wheat is the only grain that exists we have learned that most other cultures in the world use a lot of other grains. We have always loved ethnic food. These days we eat a lot more of it and we have grown to love our local ethnic grocery stores.

For only about $1 a bag, I buy the flours for the flour mix at either the Wei Wei palace on Division Ave. near 44th St. or at Adong Asian Market also on Division near 36th st.

To make a batch of the flour mix, combine 3 16 oz bags of White Rice Flour

three 12 0z bags of Potato Starch

and 1/2 the bag of tapioca starch

stir the flours together well and store in an airtight container.

I usually mix up a double batch and it fills my BIG yellow tuperware container that I keep in the pantry and a smaller canister that I keep out on the counter.

I also buy sweet rice flour (glutinous, but don't worry, it contains no gluten) to use in cookies. Using 1/4 or maybe even less sweet rice flour of the total required flour amount for a cookie recipes makes them a little chewier. Don't use too much cause then it makes things very sticky.

We have also been shopping at the Indian market and expierimenting with Chic Pea flour. It makes the BEST batter for fried cauliflower by the way!

Hope this helps! Let me know what you bake and how it works for you!