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A Celiac Must-Have for Eating Out

As “Celiac Awareness Month” comes to an end, I’ve decided to share with you my way of making others aware of our disease. We all know going out to eat can be a challenge. Whether it be at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, allowing others to cook for us is literally putting our health in their hands. I know when I’ve tried to explain the severity of my disease to my family and friends when they’ve offered to cook for me (this is after I’ve begged to cook for them,) they look at me several ways, #1. Like I’m crazy. I don’t choose this. My brother-in-law is a classically trained chef, and even he isn’t aware that certain products contain wheat. My husband and I went to a demonstration and cookbook signing by a Food Network chef. When I asked if any of his samples were gluten free, and explained I had Celiac Disease, he stated Celiac Disease was really rough (I was thankful he was aware of the disease,) and in front of the entire audience offered to make me something “safe.” I was honored he was making ME something special, but even he had to ask about EVERY ingredient he put in and whether it was “Celiac Safe.” So the answer to #1 is no, I’m not crazy, you may think you know what gluten free and cross contaminated is, but I rather be safe than sorry (when it is my next 72 hours in bed, with a 102 degree fever, nausea, vomiting, intestinal distress, etc.) If you felt the effects of Celiac Disease, you’d be extra protective of your body too! #2. Have you ever been to a restaurant (usually a family owned, or located in a smaller town,) when you communicate your allergy/disease to your server and they A. Pretend to know what it is, yet still bring bread on your plate/croutons on your salad, or B. Tilt their head to the side and a glaze comes over their eyes? I believe I have come up with a method to help limit, not only our cross contamination or gluten risk at restaurants and family and friends’ homes, but also help educate them for those who come after us. I realized I was communicating everything to my server “I have an extreme reaction/allergy to wheat and gluten (such as bread products,) due to an autoimmune disease. Because of this, my food needs to be prepared separately, with clean hands/gloves, surfaces, and utensils.” The question was, though I was communicating this to my server, were they communicating it to the kitchen? But that wasn’t my only concern. I don’t know about you, but every business dinner, work meal I attend with my husband, or first time eating with new friends, I’m almost embarrassed. I feel like I nearly harass our server, forcing them to take multiple trips to the kitchen (delaying our dinner, drinks, etc.) Again, we understand the need for special precautions; however, those we share a meal with aren’t always as understanding. I feel like I spend more time apologizing to servers, friends, and coworkers than I do enjoying my meal. This is why I’ve created the Celiac Card. This card doesn’t guarantee a complete gluten free experience; however, it is meant to reduce the risk of cross contamination by educating your server, chef, friends, etc.

Celiac Restaurant Card Spanish

Celiac Restaurant Card Spanish

Celiac Restaurant Card Spanish

Celiac Restaurant Card English

Celiac Restaurant Card English

Celiac Restaurant Card English with Table

My card:

The Gluten Free Wife Restaurant Card

The Gluten Free Wife Celiac Card Sample

Directions:

  1. Copy and paste images on a text or word document, or print the photos (or download the word/pdf document I have provided.)
  2. Use the Blank Table for yourself, referencing my table to fill in your “Can’t Eats.”
  3. Insert a Text Box into each table square with each ingredient you cannot have (gluten ingredients are in BOLD.) If you print the photo directly, you may handwrite your “Can’t Eats.”
  4. Print card, fold or paste sides together. Laminate or use clear tape to seal. (This card will pass through many hands.)
  5. At every restaurant, hand it to the server (when they take your drink order,) and ask them to take it to the kitchen and find out which dishes would be safe for you to consume based on your “Can’t Eat” ingredients.

**Disclaimer, not meant to prevent cross contamination and gluten ingestion 100%.

I’m no longer as worried the message isn’t getting to the kitchen, that I’m consuming unlisted (from the menu) hidden ingredients, that the location is uneducated on Celiac Disease vs. the gluten free diet, and that I’m embarrassing the non-family members that I’m dining with.

If you speak (and write) another language, other than Spanish, and would like to translate the paragraph for me to post for others, please email it to me at: theglutenfreewife@gmail.com and I will be sure to post it! I know many of you overseas travel, and it would be helpful to have it in as many languages as possible. I hope this helps all of you as much as it has helped me!

Gluten-Free Flavorful and Fabulous Flatbreads

glutenfree-flatbread-text-finalHere in Atlanta, we have such an amazing and diverse community. When my husband called me to say he was asked to transfer to Atlanta, and what did I think, food was truly one of my first thoughts. Coming from Orlando, FL, we lived in a tourist community. Now, one would think, that would make it easier for a Celiac to find gluten-free options, etc. But the fact is, most “chains” don’t necessarily cook fresh to order. Much of their sauces, marinades, dressings, etc., come in pre-prepared/frozen. This means MSG, sulfites, and gluten/wheat, are likely ingredients. Many people, also do not understand that just because they have gluten-free, doesn’t mean they know they have to wash their hands, use different utensils, clean cutting boards, etc. I have a family member, and a friend who both went to culinary school. They know I have Celiac Disease and said they wanted to cook for me. I was timid, at first, but I conceded. Then, they brought home a Teriyaki Pork Loin with the actual package reading…

Containing Up to Thirty Percent of a Flavoring Solution++ Ingredients: Pork, Pork Broth, Teriyaki Seasoning (Sugar, Dehydrated Soy Sauce [Wheat, Soybeans, Salt], Maltodextrin, Salt, Garlic Powder, Spice), Contains 2% or less of Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Soybean Oil, Cultured Dextrose, Dried Vinegar, Seasoning (Yeast Extract, Citrus Extract), Flavoring. Soy ingredients present, Wheat ingredients present, Gluten present

Needless to say, my husband went with them shopping this past year, when they came to visit. The moral of this story is, just because they know what they’re doing in the kitchen, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing when it comes to our health. (Luckily, this was over a year ago, and they’ve since educated themselves greatly on the subject.)

Now, back to the food here in Atlanta…I was so excited when we got here, to find that it was real…gluten-free menu options were nearly everywhere! To top it off, there are many different local producers of gluten-free bagels, English muffins, breads, pita bread, and my new addiction…FLATBREADS!!! One day my husband and I were running errands, and he had to drop off something for his job at the convention center downtown. That usually means a gluten-free lunch date, so I was all in! We did a search (thanks to Find Me Gluten Free,) and found Flats. This is my new favorite place to eat whenever we go downtown! They make the best flatbreads. You can design your own, and pick what sauce, toppings, etc. They have breakfast, lunch, smoothies, salads…literally fresh, tasty, and amazing in every bite! The gluten-free flatbread holds its form, actually gets crispy, and is so tasty, you wouldn’t expect that it’s gluten-free. Now I know, that’s what we all say, but my non-Celiac husband said it too! If you’re local to Atlanta, or just visiting, check out Flats Atlanta. So, since we can’t go downtown every day, or even every week, I had to do something for my new addiction. I found O’Dough’s. (Bonus: If you live in Canada, they offer a $15 Sample Box to give them a try, AND give you $15 in coupons, so it’s like you’re getting all that gluten-free goodness FOR FREE!!) I’ve only managed to find these flatbreads at Kroger supermarkets, but if you live somewhere that does not have a Kroger, and happen to find who carries them, please comment below with the location? These flatbreads are so delicious! I put them in the oven (direct from freezer) without any toppings on them, sprayed with cooking spray and garlic powder on both sides, for 5 minutes, and flip for another 5 minutes. Then they’re perfect and ready for toppings!

Flatbreads work for any meal. They can be cut into finger-food size for a party dish, topped with eggs and bacon for breakfast, chocolate sauce and sautéed pears with cinnamon and brown sugar for a dessert, appetizers, dinner, lunch…so many choices!!! Below you will find a few of my favorite flatbreads, but get crazy with it! The options are limitless…If you find one you love, please add your recipe in the comments section? I would love to give it a try! Flatbread night is my husband’s favorite night of the week (and yes, we pretty much have flatbreads once a week in our house.) His favorite flatbread would have to be…

mexican-flatbread
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Mexican Bean and Beef Flatbread

Ingredients/Toppings:

Sauce Base:
1 can Black Beans (I use low sodium)
1/2 can Water
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
1 tbsp. Seasoning Blend
3 tbsp. Sofrito
1/4 c diced Yellow Onion
Directions:
  1. Pour in can of beans into medium saucepan on Medium heat. Add 1/2 can of water.
  2. Add Minced Garlic, Diced Onion, Chopped Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Fresh Parsley, 3 tbsp. Sofrito (see recipe,) and 1 tbsp Seasoning Blend.
  3. Bring to a boil. Lower to Simmer and cook for 20 mins.
  4. Taste. Most of the time, as beans cook, you lose the seasoning you’ve added up until this point (so you may need to add more.)
  5. Once desired taste is reached, blend to a paste consistency (like refried beans.)
Or
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
4 Cloves Garlic
1/4 tsp Seasoning Blend
Directions:
  1. Place roughly chopped Parsley, Garlic, seasoning, and olive oil into food processor or blender. blend until liquid consistency is reached.
Ground Beef:
4 tbsp Sofrito (see recipe)
1 tbsp Seasoning Blend
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 cup Yellow Onion
Directions:
  1. Marinate Ground Beef in Sofrito (see recipe,) chopped onion, and seasoning blend in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  2. Remove from refrigerator and let sit on counter for 10-15 mins. Brown beef. My secret is let it sit in juices before you stir for at least 5-6 mins. Then chop/stir.
  3. Drain grease.
  4. Taste. Season more if necessary.

 

img_20170117_191414_819
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Beef and Garlic Flatbread
Mojo (SEE PORK RECIPE– may put into refrigerator overnight):
1/4 cup 100% OJ
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar (the GF brand I use is Nakano “All Natural” No Sodium No Sugar)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp organic Lime Juice (it is sulfite-free. If no sulfite-intolerance, any lime juice concentrate.)
4 lg cloves Garlic
2 cup Cilantro (chopped)
1 cup Parsley (chopped)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper (or 1/4 tsp White Pepper)
Directions:
  1. Measure all liquid ingredients into your blender/food processor.
  2. Add all dry ingredients, and roughly chopped herbs.
  3. Blend well until liquid consistency is reached, then add marinade to protein. (All proteins should sit in marinade at least 2 hours in refrigerator before cooking.)
  4. Take Mojo Pork out of refrigerator and put on stovetop on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, lower heat to simmer.
1 cup Shredded Chipotle Gouda Cheese
1 cup Sour Cream:
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
Directions:
  1. Mince Garlic, Chop Parsley and Cilantro, and whip into sour cream.
1 Package Wholly Guacamole
Pico:
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp lime juice
2 oz rice vinegar
1 oz olive oil
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 can southwest style (or fiesta) corn
2 Roma tomatoes
Directions:
  1. Chop Parsley, mince Garlic, Drain Corn, and put all together in bowl. Add liquid with seasonings. Mix well.
20170107_144642-1
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Veggie and Cream Cheese Flatbread
Ingredients/Toppings:
Sauce Base:
1/2 cup Whipped Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
Directions:
  1. Combine Cream Cheese, Chopped Parsley, and Minced Garlic. Whip together.
Toppings: (or Veggies of Choice)
2 Roma Tomatoes
3/4 cup Chopped Broccoli
1/2 cup Chopped Cauliflower
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
Ranch or Poppyseed Dressing
Directions:
  1. Chop Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Herbs. Slice Tomatoes.
grilled-capicola-and-cheese-with-kale
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Grilled Capicola and Muenster Cheese Flatbread topped with a Kale, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad drizzled with an Italian (Rice) Vinaigrette

     Whichever Flatbread you choose, bake your flatbread in the oven at the directions it states (or find your own best…if using O’Dough’s, I suggest spraying with cooking spray and garlic powder both sides, place in oven at temp it states for 5 minutes, then flip for another 5 minutes.) Then sauce/spread, toppings, and any drizzle or dressing you decide. Welcome to my world of flatbreads!! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Don’t forget to get creative, and share your ideas. And as always, enjoy the tasty life, with the gluten-free wife!

 

 

Chick-Fil-A

One of the only fast-food restaurants I will trust! I have yet to have a reaction (when sticking with my normal menu options,) and I have eaten at many Chick-fil-A restaurants between Atlanta, GA and Orlando, FL. Not only do they have a dedicated fryer for their hash browns and waffle fries, but every time I have been in, they have had a dedicated prep/packager at that station. This encourages no cross-contamination. Their potatoes are cooked in allergen-friendly Canola Oil, unlike their chicken (which is in peanut oil.) We Celiacs’ know that finding French fries in a public setting is a rare find, and these waffle fries are worth every bite! Now, because of my high risk of cross-contamination, I always stick with the same (safe) meal: 8 (or 12) piece grilled chicken nuggets (they come pre-sealed in a plastic container, so they won’t touch the rest of the food in the bag,) and waffle fries, with buttermilk ranch or Polynesian sauce (both sauces are gluten-free and MSG free.) If you’re wanting a healthier option, you can always substitute the waffle fries with a side salad. However, I would stay away from the superfood side, because it contains soy sauce (even though wheat is not listed on the website as an allergen ingredient, I had a horrible 3 days after first trying it out!) I asked if it contained wheat/gluten, and they said no (common mistake people make is not knowing soy sauce contains wheat!) After becoming violently ill, I did some recon, and noticed the soy sauce in the ingredients. So my advice is, if you have a high risk of cross-contamination, stick with:

Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Waffle Fries/Hashbrowns

Side Salad

Dipping Sauces: Buttermilk Ranch or Polynesian Sauce