Archive for September, 2010

Celiacs: Beware of Bread-Headed Superheros!

Posted in TV on September 30th, 2010 by Betsy – 5 Comments

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What’s weirder than a freaky anime super hero?  One whose head is made out of bread.  Yes, that’s right, a bread headed superhero.  My sister-in-law, Alden, has introduced me to Anpanman, the superhero whose head is literally, a bun.  His cranium is composed of bread (bread in Japanese is “pan”), filled with bean jam.  Nothing says ‘sexy superhero’ like a hot pocket head.

anpanman

Anpanman & some friends. Our hero is the one on the left.

According to Wikipedia, Anpanman is the most popular fictional character in Japan for children, ages 0-12.  Anpanman’s weakness is water (think Wicked Witch of the West) and anything that makes his head dirty.  He regains strength when his Uncle Jam bakes him a new head.  Obviously.  When Anpanman comes across anyone who’s hungry, he simply let’s them take a bite out of his head.  I sure hope there aren’t many starving celiacs in Japan.

Uncle Jam couldn’t keep making all of those heads by himself so he has an assistant named Butter Girl.  Anpanman is in love with Melonpanna (Her head’s made from melon bread, whatever that is.)  Melon is “soft hearted, affectionate, and sometimes clever,” according to Wikipedia.  Really, sometimes clever?

The Anpanman Museum

The Anpanman Museum

Other characters in this bread obsessed show are Breadheadman, CurryBreadman, and Cheese.  Cheese is a dog that Anpanman met when Cheese was starving, and our superhero saved Cheese by giving the canine a hunk of his head for nourishment.  It all makes so much sense.  And, you guessed it, Meanyman is our villain, who comes from Germ World and is the leader of The Viruses.

My nephew, Chip, getting acquainted with Anpanman.

My nephew, Chip, getting acquainted with Anpanman.

I’m a little weary of any superhero that uses bread to save the world, but I’ve got to admit, I’m a little fascinated by Anpanman, evidence of which is shown by the fact that I read the entire Wikipedia page about him, and I’ve constantly asked Alden about him since I read her blog post about my nephew’s visit to the Anpanman Museum and Playground on her blog, Wattsabi.  I guess the Japanese might find our crime-fighting turtles, named after famous Renaissance artists, who live in the sewer, a little odd too.

turtles

Many New Discoveries at the 2010 GF Vendor Fair

Posted in Atlanta, bakery, event, GF product, local food, Restaurants on September 28th, 2010 by Betsy – 5 Comments

On Saturday, I spent the morning at Atlanta’s Gluten-Free Vendor Fair with my GF buddies, Jen and Anne.  I attended last year and was blown away by the number of GF vendors, but this year it felt like even more options and yummy treats to enjoy.

It’s a bit overwhelming to walk into a room with over 75 tables of GF options.  Where to start?  We decided to begin with savory dishes and end with sweet.  Well, we were really good about following our plan initially, but by the end, we were sampling whatever looked good to us.  We also took a break after about 45 minutes of tasting, which allowed our tummies to semi-digest what we’d already tried and go back for Round Two.  It was really great this year to have all of the vendors in one room, and not allowing strollers inside for the first part of the day, made it much easier to navigate.

There were many favorites this year but some of our top “New Discoveries” were:

My GF buddies, Jen & Anne enjoying PF Chang's lettuce wraps.

My GF buddies, Jen & Anne enjoying PF Chang's lettuce wraps.

P.F. Chang’s: Oh wow.  P.F. Chang’s was our first stop on the gluten-free tour and I could have been sufficiently filled up just from what they had to offer.  I have to admit, I’ve never actually been to a P.F.Chang’s but I now know where I’ll be going when I’m craving Chinese food or on the road and looking for a place that I know will be gluten-free and yummy.  Their chicken lettuce wraps were one of the best savory items I ate all day and their Triple Chocolate Mousse mini-dessert is the perfect bit of GF goodness to finish off a meal.  Check out their gluten-free menu online

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Figo Pasta: A local favorite of mine, I’d never sampled their delicious GF dessert before, Crespelle, two gluten-free pancakes with Nutella in the middle.  So good.  Of course I love their pasta too.

The American Grafrutti folks and their assortment of treats.

The American Grafrutti folks and their assortment of treats.

American Grafrutti: Known for their vegan and gluten-free cakes, this Marietta based company, introduced me to their caramel crunch this weekend.  I love trail mix/granola/sweet and savory combinations and that’s exactly what their caramel crunch was.  I could have eaten the entire bowl, and sort of wish I had.  You will soon be able to find their caramel crunch in Whole Foods.  I’ve mentioned this before but you can get American Grafrutti cupcakes at the Atlanta Braves

Pure Knead: The makers of Yeah! Burgers' buns...now serving GF hot dogs too.

Pure Knead: The makers of Yeah! Burgers' buns...now serving GF hot dogs too.

Pure Knead: The Pure Knead folks are bringing gluten-free baked goods to the restaurant world.  They are the people that bring you the Yeah! Burger buns and now serving Farm Burger in Decatur as well.  You can order directly from Pure Knead.  Hands down, these are the best buns I’ve ever tasted.

Creators of the "Flaxy Lady Cookie."  What a great name.

Creators of the "Flaxy Lady Cookie." What a great name.

Mrs. Madewell: These sweet, yet savory cookies are gluten, dairy, soy and egg free.  I loved their Hummingbird Cookie and Mrs. Madewll also had the best named cookie: “Flaxy Lady Cookie.”  I love a good dose of flax any day.  Why not slip it into something sweet.  Their Amazing Oat Bark was another crunchy, sweet and salty treat.

Peacecake: Best new baking mix discovery

Peacecake: Best new baking mix discovery

Peacecake: This company’s baking mixes make incredible gluten-free treats, from brownies to cookies to muffins.  When I tasted these bites of deliciousness, I couldn’t believe they came from a pre-packaged mix.  I will definitely be ordering some online.  You can also order frosting too!

Thanks to everyone who worked hard to make this event happen, especially the Atlanta Metro Celiac Group.  I know many hours go into making this a successful event.  Thanks to the vendors for all of the yummy free samples!

This is just a ‘taste’ of what we sampled at the Gluten-Free Vendor Fair this weekend.  What were your favorites?  Please share!

A Day of Gluten-Free Dining in Jackson

Posted in local food, Restaurants, travel on September 27th, 2010 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

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I now understand why people love Jackson Hole, move out there and never want to return. I never could grasp why, after college, people would transport their lives to Jackson, and support themselves by waiting tables, working at a wine shoe or being a bell hop.  Now I get it, and I don’t even like to ski.  I love Atlanta, but I have to confess, I would stay in Jackson if I could.  No shortage of outdoor activities, with great options for GF food in between activities.  What more could you want?

For those of you who have never been to the great state of Wyoming, I thought I would give you a taste of “A Day in Jackson:” jh org ext

In a post last week, I went on and on about Lotus Café, but Lotus is not the only Jackson spot that makes gluten-free dining easy and enjoyable.  Another wonderful discovery in Jackson Hole was J.H. Organics, an organic café and health food store.  In close proximity to our hotel, we enjoyed walking over for a leisurely breakfast.  J.H.Organics offers a variety of gluten-free options.  It was at J.H.Organics that I was first introduced to “quinoa before noon.”  Their quinoa porridge was so yummy and the perfect hardy breakfast before a day full of activity.  The combination of blueberries, strawberries, cinnamon and raw honey gave it great flavor, making it taste so different from the salty/savory quinoa dishes I’m used to making in my own kitchen.

jh quinoa

J.H.Organics also sells homemade gluten-free sandwich bread and some yummy, sweet treats.  I bought a chocolate peanut butter brownie that was so big, it lasted me a few days.  Definitely a good purchase!

jh horse

Are those two cowboys? Nope, it's the Metcalves.

My warm quinoa was the perfect breakfast to keep me energized for our busy day.  After a lazy start to the day at JH Organics, we then went horseback riding, along the Snake River with friends.  When we finished up our ride, It was nearly 2:00, and we were ravenous, so we didn’t feel like dealing with a sit-down restaurant.  Instead we went to the The Jackson Whole Grocer, where they offer a great salad and soup bar, as well as foods to order.  Their salad bar is relatively simple so there aren’t too many gluten items out to contaminate the veggies, cheese, beans, etc.  Also, Whole Grocer’s soups are labeled gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. And they also sell homemade GF cookies.  I didn’t purchase any because I was still working on my peanut butter brownie.  I also stocked up on yogurts, cereal, and other snacks at the Whole Grocer, since our hotel room had a fridge and kitchenette.  (Always a plus when traveling!)

We devoured our lunches while sitting in our rental car and then headed to the Teton Village to check out the tram that takes you to the top of “The Mountain.”  The 2-mile tram ride was beautiful and worth the trip, despite some obnoxious tourists that accompanied us.  Once at the top, we decided we couldn’t deal with any more “tacky tourists” (and we like to think we’re better than those people), so we hiked the 7-mile trail down the mountain.  While yes, this was a downhill hike, it was still hard and long. Major blisters from this hike, but it broke our feet in for the hiking we would do for the remainder of the trip.

The tram we took to the top of "The Mountain."

The tram we took to the top of "The Mountain."

The path we took down "The Mountain."

The path we took down "The Mountain."

As we neared the bottom of the mountain, we talked to our friend Beanie, who met us at the Snake River, for a late afternoon fishing lesson.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  And I caught my first fish.  I had no idea catching a fish could be so exciting.

The student (me) learning from my wise guide (Beanie).

The student (me) learning from my wise guide (Beanie).

After a few hours casting our fly, we were all starving so we reconvened at Teton Thai for dinner.  Beanie was eager to show us Teton Thai because their menu lists every item that can be made gluten free.  I love Jackson!  Of course I ordered chicken pad Thai, my favorite.

teton thai menu

Teton Thai's Helpful Menu

My pad thai.  (Apologies: photo taken outside, in the dark, on the iPhone.)

My pad thai. (Apologies: photo taken outside, in the dark, on the iPhone.)

Delicious!  The noodles were thinner than I’m used to, but it was yummy with a kick of spice.  If you’re in Jackson, gluten-free or not, I highly recommend Teton Thai.  In a town that thrives on its tourist industry, Teton Thai feels like a local spot.  The only seating is outdoors and it’s BYOB, which always saves money on your meal.  Prepare to wait a little while for your table.  We went at 9:00 and we still had a bit of a wait.  A great place to wind down and enjoy people watching, good food and drink after a day full of action.

David's dinner: Also GF!

David's dinner: Also GF!

Are you convinced yet that you need to book your ticket out west?

Gluten-Free Vendor Fair Tomorrow

Posted in Atlanta, event, GF product, local food on September 24th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

If you don’t have plans tomorrow (and maybe even if you do), you need to go to the Gluten-Free Vendor Fair.  Atlanta Metro Celiac Group is putting on this fabulous event and you can get more information here: 2010 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair

There will be local and national vendors, but I must say that I’m pretty impressed by the large number of Atlanta vendors who make gluten-free food.  Make sure to check out:

Sallys Bakery Logo

Sally’s Bakery: Sally’s pumpkin bread is one of the best and I love using her sandwich bread to make my Saturday lunch specialty, grilled cheese.

grilled cheese

Figo Pasta: One of the best GF pastas I’ve tasted, and they’re so close to my house.  A great weeknight dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.

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Roswell’s Outback Steakhouse: Please have those doughnuts again this year!  Who doesn’t love a gluten-free, Bloomin’ Onion?

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Hilton Atlanta Northeast, Norcross (hotel website)
5993 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Norcross, Ga. 30092 ,770-447-4747

See you there!

Lotus Cafe: Dining in Jackson Hole

Posted in bakery, GF product, local food, Restaurants, Thai, travel, vegetarian on September 23rd, 2010 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Normally, when I travel, my anxiety levels rise, as I’m far away from the restaurants I love and the safety of my own kitchen.  While we were out west, however, I didn’t find myself worrying about food.  Everywhere we went in Wyoming and Montana, people knew about gluten and were willing to accommodate me if they didn’t already have their gluten-free items listed on the menu.  We also didn’t feel limited to only eating at really nice restaurants, as there were plenty of more casual restaurants that had a wide range of options for me.  Particularly in Jackson Hole, I don’t even feel like we began to tap into the dining world, but we did get a great sampling of the yummy (and gluten-free) flavors Jackson Hole has to offer.

lotus exterior

On our first afternoon in Jackson, we took a stroll around the downtown.  I spotted the Lotus Cafe immediately and was hopeful that there would be options for me at this quirky spot.  Fortunately, my hunch was right.  Serving everything from Pad Thai to burgers to Indian food, Lotus’ huge menu indicates every item that can be made gluten-free. Basically everything on their menu can be ordered gluten-free, and I really mean everything.  (Their website indicates 99% of the menu can be made GF.)

lotus interior

Many GF treats greeted me in the glass case!

After enjoying drinks at Spring Creek with my friend Beanie, (and attempting to adjust to the altitude) we returned to Lotus for our first dinner in Jackson.  I was immediately overwhelmed by the plethora of options…what a rare treat!

One of my favorite menu items was the gluten-free samosas with spiced peas and potatoes.  This dish, which is basically a large breaded dumpling, is always a no-no for me.  At Lotus, however, they use a combination of brown and white rice flour in their samosa recipe.  Delicious!  The sauce accompanying the dish is amazing too.

lotus samosa

GF Veggie Samasos

For our entrees, David and I decided to share, since I could actually know for sure that his meal was gluten-free too.  He ordered the chicken tikka masala (one of our family favorites) and I went with the ‘Fiesta Bowl’ with bison.  The fiesta bowl consisted of a mix of bison, cheese, lettuce, corn chips, lentils and other yummy goodness.  I always like to combine everything on my plate so this dish was perfect for me.  The tikka masala also received positive reviews from both of us and I loved getting to reach across the table and grab a bite off David’s plate and not worry about contamination, gluten, etc.  It’s the simple pleasures in life, right?

Fiesta Bowl with Bison

Fiesta Bowl with Bison

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

What a meal!  Oh, and the best part is that Lotus also serves breakfast and lunch.  All of their sandwiches can be prepared on their homemade gluten-free bread.  The whole time I ate my dinner I was planning when we could return to try their other food!  Unfortunately we never got back to Lotus for lunch but we did go for coffee and breakfast a couple of times.

GF & Vegan Zuchinni Muffin (even David loved it!)

GF & Vegan Zuchinni Muffin (even David loved it!)

If you’re in Jackson, Lotus is the perfect place to go just for a cup of coffee.  We brought our books and would make a morning of it until we got motivated to start moving and hiking.  (More about the hiking and reading later.)  All of Lotus’ baked goods (cookies, muffins, etc.) are vegan, making them dairy free and egg free.  Many of their items are also gluten-free.  Fortunately, I didn’t realize the muffins were vegan until after ordering.  (Usually I shy away from foods that are missing milk, eggs, and butter!)  These muffins were delicious!

lotus cashew rasp

Raspberry Cashew Muffin

I have a much more positive attitude towards vegan items now that I’ve sampled these amazing treats.  During our time in Jackson, I enjoyed Lotus’ raspberry cashew muffin and zucchini muffin.  So good.  One morning I also ordered the ‘Maya,’ steamed quinoa with apples, cinnamon candied walnuts and organic milk.  Sweet quinoa is quite possibly my favorite culinary discovery while out west.

Maya: Hearty Quinoa with a sweet crunch

Maya: Hearty Quinoa with a sweet crunch

Sadly, I did not get to try nearly as many things as I would have liked at Lotus, as we were only in Jackson three short days.  Other dishes that stood out to me on the menu included:

  • The Deluxe breakfast sandwich (David ordered this but got it with glutenous bread…he’d done enough sharing at that point.)
David's Deluxe Breakfast Sandwich (can be ordered on homemade GF bread)

David's Deluxe Breakfast Sandwich (can be ordered on homemade GF bread)

  • Pad Thai
  • Chicken Mango Spring Rolls
  • GF espresso chocolate chip cookie

I guess I’ll just have to go back to Jackson to sample the rest.  When I started this post, I thought I would write about all of the restaurants where we ate in Jackson, but clearly I’ve got a lot to say.  The others will just have to wait.  Lotus definitely deserves an entire post to itself.  Thank you, Lotus Café.  I hope to see you again soon.

PS: Lotus also has gluten-free tamari/soy sauce on every table.  Even labeled!  Who doesn’t want a little soy sauce on their raspberry cashew muffin?

lotus gf tamari

Lotus Café -145 North Glenwood Street in downtown Jackson

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Home Again, Home Again

Posted in meals, travel, vegetarian on September 21st, 2010 by Betsy – 6 Comments

As I write this post, I’m uploading approximately 800 photos from our month away.  Don’t worry, I won’t put you through the pain of looking at all of those photos, (only my mom gets the unabridged version) but I just can’t resist giving you some highlights.  It makes me nostalgic for the west as I watch photo upon photo on the screen.  I still can’t believe we had the opportunity to go away for over three weeks, but the pictures are a great reminder that yes, it really did happen.

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If you’ve never been out west, you must.  I know this is unsolicited advice, but Wyoming and Montana were two of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.  (I find that every time I describe these two states, I come back to the adjective, “amazing.”  I need to come up with a better descriptor, but that’s all I’ve got for now.)

Why do I want to pack my bags and move out west?  Well, I’m glad you asked…

Meeting your gluten-free needs, and beyond: Jackson Hole, Wyoming was one of the most gluten-friendly places I’ve ever been.  Every restaurant accommodated my dietary needs, and most already had something on their menu distinguishing the dishes that could be made GF.  Wow!  Eating out in Jackson was genuinely a treat, each time.  Muffins, brownies, fresh baked bread…oh, and it was all delicious too.

Sweet quinoa, coffee and a good book: What more could one want for breakfast?

Sweet quinoa, coffee and a good book: What more could one want for breakfast?

Gluten-free samosa?  Yes, please.

Gluten-free samosa? Yes, please.

National Parks: Yes, I know this one seems obvious, but no matter how many times I hiked (and David can attest, we hiked a lot), I was still in awe of the scenery, the landscapes, the terrain, the views.  So much beautiful land to take in.  We were in Wyoming and Montana almost three weeks, and I still don’t feel like I saw it all.

Northwest Entrance to Yellowstone

Northwest Entrance to Yellowstone

Jenny Lake: Tetons

Jenny Lake: Tetons

Boiling River in Yellowstone: Yes, we got in the water and enjoyed an early morning dip.

Boiling River in Yellowstone: Yes, we got in the water and enjoyed an early morning dip.

Summits & Altitude: While my lungs were a little confused (and angry) at first, my eyes and legs could not get enough of the many uphill hikes.  Pushing yourself to the top of a peak is so rewarding (even if you almost get hit by lightening as a result).  Who knew a view could be worth hours of sweat and climbing.  Of course, once you reach the top, then “it’s all down hill” and the hard work is done.  Snow makes the descent a little tricky.

Sacagewea Peak in the Bridger Mtns

Sacagewea Peak in the Bridger Mtns

Big Game: Since David did the bulk of the driving, he put me in charge of “finding big game.”  I’ve got to admit, I was terrible at finding animals lurking in the woods, but when the buffalo are right next to your rental car, it’s hard to miss them.  Fortunately, there were no bear sightings for this girl out west.  We did see a Mama moose and her baby, which was a little frightening.

Another buffalo, crossing the road

Another buffalo, crossing the road

Water: I don’t typically think of water when I envision the west, but we saw some gorgeous rivers and alpine lakes.  Very different from the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic, but I’ll take a float down the Yellowstone River any day.

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

Snake River

Snake River

Lava Lake in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness

Lava Lake in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness

Forest Service Cabins: A hidden gem, you can rent these cabins for a night (for about $30) and let me tell you, it’s glamorous camping.  Both of our cabins had wood stoves, which we used to prepare feasts each night for dinner.  Any camping that involves shelter, steak and wine, is good for me.  I still managed to get spooked out but no bears bothered us.

Our cabin in Dillon, MT (not to be confused with the Dillon, TX in Friday Night Lights)

Our cabin in Dillon, MT (not to be confused with the Dillon, TX in Friday Night Lights)

David getting the wood stove started

David getting the wood stove started

Yummy dinner courtesy of the wood stove.

Yummy dinner courtesy of the wood stove.

Rain or Shine: While we were in Montana, we saw nearly every kind of weather possible.  Hail, thunderstorms, ominous clouds, and even snow.  Sure, I would have loved sunny skies every day, but the summer months are short and folks out west take advantage of each day that’s not below freezing.  The weather didn’t stop us, or anyone we were with, from fly fishing, hiking, camping, rain or shine.

Is that a storm behind us?  In retrospect, yes.

Is that a storm behind us? In retrospect, yes.

Snow in Big Sky: I was in the house reading; everyone else was fly fishing.

Snow in Big Sky: I was in the house reading; everyone else was fly fishing.

I’m glad to be back home, but I miss the days out west of hiking, relaxing, and being with friends.  I still have more to share with you though.  ‘Western tour nostalgia’ will continue in the weeks ahead.  Humor me.

This Weekend: Shaun’s Gluten-Free Dinner

Posted in Atlanta, event, Restaurants on September 16th, 2010 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

This weekend (September 17-19), Shaun’s is hosting a gluten-free four-course dinner for only $45.  As always, with their monthly GF dinner specials, you can still order off the regular menu as well. 

  • 1st course: white gazpacho, scuppernongs
  • 2nd course: prosciutto san danielle with gluten free focaccia, wilted radicchio, burst tomato vinaigrette
  • Entrée: steen’s cane syrup marinated duck, ginger, sweet potato, endive
  • Dessert: vanilla panna cotta, fresh cherry sorbet

Yum!  Sounds delicious.  Makes me eager to head back to Atlanta, even after three weeks of an amazing vacation.  I’m coming home.
 
Shaun’s Restaurant – 1027-29 Edgewood Ave., NE – Atlanta, GA 30307 – (404) 577-4358

Save the Date: Gluten-Free Vendor Fair on September 25

Posted in Atlanta, event, GF product on September 13th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Greetings from Madison, Connecticut! After an adventurous (and relaxing trip) out west, David and I are now in Madison, CT. I must say, those of us from the south have been deprived of the beauty of New England. Who knew that parts of Connecticut are on the water? Check out the view from the place we’re staying. Yet another unbelievable setting that I’ve been spoiled by on this trip. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my view of the Wal-Mart in Atlanta, but this is ridiculous.)

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I promise I will have more stories, meals and recipes to share from our travels, but first I want to make sure you know about the upcoming Gluten-Free Vendor Fair in Atlanta, on Saturday, September 25th. From 9 am – 3 pm, at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast, you can check out the free samples from over 70 vendors, serving amazing and creative gluten-free options. All you can eat GF goodies, for only $5! You can’t beat that.

Fortunately I will be back for the festivities! This was one of my favorite weekend events last year. It is so fun to be surrounded by food that I can actually eat. Some of my personal favorites were Roswell’s Outback Steakhouse and Bella Monica Pizza. Check out my post from last year’s Vendor Fair: 2009 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair

To see the full list of vendors and get the ‘official scoop,’ go to this link: Atlanta Metro Celiacs

Hope to see you on the 25th!

What: Gluten-Free Vendor Fair

When: Saturday, September 25th: 9-3

Where: Hilton Atlanta Northeast – 5993 Peachtree Industrial Blvd – Norcross, GA 30092