Sunday, July 28, 2013

When Dining Out Gets Dicey

What do you do when a restaurant--literally--serves nothing you can eat?

This has been a very busy, very family-filled week for me, and it included a number of family get-togethers. Fortunately, I love my in-laws, so the social aspect of it was awesome. Unfortunately, Friday night we met at an unfamiliar restaurant that--gasp!--didn't serve anything gluten-free. Ever been in that situation?

After politely asking the server about gluten-free menu items when we first arrived, I received the above information as I headed to the restroom. My response? I smiled brightly, said, "No problem!" and headed to the bathroom...where I did my best not to freak-out, break down in tears, or throw a tantrum. I knew I needed to figure out a solution, but dragging my husband away from his 30-plus extended family members was not an option, nor was politely requesting we move the whole crowd to another restaurant. (It was a surprise party, after all.) Instead, I sent a text to my husband explaining my dilemma (to avoid an emotional outburst), demanded he read the text when I got back to the table (sweetly, of course), and stewed for a bit while he came up with a plan.

After I snapped at him once or twice, my husband suggested we get permission from the manager to bring in outside food and--knowing how petulant I get in these situations--called the server over to make the request. When he came back with said permission granted, I think our server looked more relieved than me! After--again--calling on my husband to locate the closest Wendy's, I took a 15-20 minute round trip to purchase a nice, safe, tasty meal: a plain baked potato and a small chili. To appease my self-pity and brighten my mood, I also swung into a local "farmer's market" grocery store (Sprout's) and purchased four delicious, gluten-free cupcakes with amazing vanilla frosting. (Did I mention this was actually a surprise birthday party, and everyone would soon be enjoying slices of delicious, gluten-filled, chocolate sheet cake?) At the last minute, I also threw in a copy of my favorite magazine (Real Simple) because, you know, I "deserved" it.

When I got back to the restaurant, my family was just getting their food, my husband had a Sprite waiting for me, and no one thought twice about me eating something different...except my son, who kept begging for one of my cupcakes, which I flatly denied him. (He is not gluten-free and later ate two large pieces of chocolate cake--so don't feel too sorry for him.) I could have handled this situation a lot of ways, but I am glad I put my big-girl pants on and found a way to get what I needed without ruining the party for everyone else.

The take-away? Never be afraid to ask for what you need--even if that means eating Wendy's food in the middle of a sit-down Mexican restaurant. Your family--and your digestive system--will thank you for it.

Looking for more tips on gluten-free dining? 
Check out my wining & dining page for a list of tips, restaurants to try, and places to avoid!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Delicious Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

Delicious Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
a dessert baked with love

My mother is the type of woman who believes in making things from scratch and that everyone should have a delicious dessert at Thanksgiving. When I finally committed to a 100% gluten-free diet, this became a bit of a challenge, at least as far as I concerned. Although I was happy with apples baked in cinnamon and sugar, store-bought gluten-free apple pies, and gluten-free brownies from Betty Crocker's delicious mix, my mom wasn't satisfied until she came up with this delicious treat. It's so good, even the glutenites* at your table will dig in!

*Yes, I am working really hard to coin this phrase, but doesn't "glutenite" roll off the tongue so much better than "people who can eat gluten" or "people who are not gluten-free?"

(Scroll down for complete recipe)

Delicious Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
Yields: one 8x8 pan
Hands on time: 30-45 minutes (includes peeling, slicing and paring the apples)
Total time: approximately 1 1/2 hours

For the apples
  • 4 cups of apples peeled, sliced & pared (about 3-4 medium apples--I use Granny Smith or similar)
  • 2 mounded teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3-4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
For the crisp topping
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
  2. Put apples in a greased 8x8 baking pan, sprinkle with orange juice, and then mix to coat apples.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle on apples and mix.
  4. Combine the brown sugar, brown rice flour, and ground cloves in a separate bowl and mix.
  5. Soften the butter or margarine and knead into the rice-flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Crumble the rice-flour mixture over the apples.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Apples should be soft when you poke them.
  8. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

In the past, I've always weaved the pictures and recipe instructions together. However, I thought placing all of the recipe instructions at the end might make it a little more user-friendly, and it seems to be what most "food bloggers" do. I hope you like it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Coconut Ice Cream Recipe Review

Coconut Ice Cream Recipe Review
WARNING: Deliciousness ahead!

I recently tried this recipe for dairy-free, gluten-free coconut ice cream from Sandi's Allergy Free Recipes, and--WOW--am I glad I did. It was easy-to-make, required few ingredients, and tasted oh-so-good. If you have the double-whammy of a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, it is definitely worth checking out.

The ingredients:
  • canned coconut milk
  • honey (or desired sweetener)
  • vanilla extract
  • egg yolks
  • sea salt
And a few notes:
  1. The recipe directs you to refrigerate the canned coconut milk overnight before using it. Make sure the cans are unopened when you do this, or the milk won't set up correctly (FYI: This is also true if you are looking to make the "coconut whipped cream" that is all over Pinterest). Personally, I used one unopened chilled can and one open chilled can, and it turned out just fine.
  2. I used regular old sugar rather than honey. I am too cheap (and lazy?) for any fancy sweeteners, and I don't mind refined sugar.
  3. I completely forgot to add vanilla extract and sea salt. Oops. It still tasted great.
  4. The recipe calls calls for egg yolks, and I immediately wondered why you couldn't just use whole eggs. I did a quick Google search, and the short answers are a) It's tradition b) Egg whites taste "eggy" c) Egg whites contain water, which may lead to ice crystals in your ice cream.


I know my pint-sized sous chef and I certainly did!