G-Free in New England

May 28th, 2010
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I’ve discovered it is not only beneficial to be bold in our G-Free requests when dining out, but in so doing we are helping to raise awareness of the concern. This is all the more important as we travel.

In Wilmington, VT there is a precious little sandwich and ice cream shop (Jezebel’s Eatery)… next door to the Norton House (appropriately subtitled – A Quilter’s Paradise). This small quilt shop had been my destination… and my stay there so prolonged by all the fabulous finds that I had to eat lunch before journeying further. What a delight to find the owner not only aware of Gluten concerns, but she was also most accommodating. I asked for a “sandwich” without the bread to be served over lettuce. She was tickled to share that she has about 30 regular customers who all eat Gluten Free and she does this all the time. My meal was beautifully plated with turkey and Vermont Cheddar slices topped with her own balsamic vinaigrette dressing, with sides of chips and her own (delicious) coleslaw. Locally made gluten free chocolate ice cream in a bowl was the perfect finish to the meal.

After a day of exploring the countryside and marveling over splendid historic covered bridges, we stopped in North Conway, NH at an Applebee’s for dinner. We asked for a Gluten Free menu and the host said they really didn’t have any G-Free offerings, but that there was a restaurant in town that did (wasn’t that nice!!!)… and what a recommendation!

Rafferty's Restaurant and Pub in North Conway, NH

Rafferty's Restaurant and Pub in North Conway, NH

Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub had earned the title of New Hampshire’s best restaurant in 2009 and they have the largest Gluten Free menu in New England (4 full pages). Apparently, the owners, Linda and John Rafferty, first became aware of Gluten issues when both their children were diagnosed with Celiac Disease about the time that they were purchasing the restaurant. John’s brother, Joe, is the kitchen manager and head chef.

Rafferty's Meat Lover's Pizza

Rafferty's Meat Lover's Pizza

The options were so extensive that it was truly hard to choose, but I couldn’t resist one of their home made pizzas. The crust was thin and crispy (just like I like it) and was hands-down the best G-Free pizza I have tasted out thus far.

Rafferty's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Rafferty's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Of course, I just “had” to try their flourless chocolate cake for dessert. (This one was good, but P F Chang’s version remains my favorite.)

The owners of Rafferty’s are serious about raising awareness about Gluten and Celiac Disease. They quarterly host Celiac Disease Information Sessions. For more information, check out Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub online.

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Yes, this post is long overdue.  There is much to tell…

In my recent travels, I discovered that Boston Market is yet another “fast food” chain that has a list of their menu’s Gluten Free food offerings. I ordered their chicken and was delighted to discover that I could get chicken gravy to top my side of mashed potatoes. Tasty!

I have heard from some of you that you are giving the “elimination diet” a try to determine if Gluten might be the underlying cause of your physical ailments. I know it isn’t easy, but it is so worth it to give your body a chance to “heal”. The true test comes when you have been Gluten Free for a few weeks (I recommend at leastfull weeks with absolutely NO gluten). It is then that you can begin to eat Gluten again while watching for how your body reacts. Gluten may not be your only issue, but if you have been 100% Gluten Free for two weeks and you again eat Gluten, you will know if it doesn’t agree with you.
Only when you know how good your body can feel, and how bad Gluten makes you feel when you eat it, can you be seriously committed to staying staying the course for a lifetime of Gluten Free healthy living.

I recently met again with a committee made up of local retirement community residents and their management to discuss progress since our last meeting. Residents there can get meals prepared on site, and yet have had challenges making Gluten Free selections. The management has genuinely become more educated on the seriousness of  Gluten for those who are intolerant and have begun to educate all those who play a role in meal preparation.
One goal is that a symbol be placed on the weekly published “menus” to identify some daily selections as “Gluten Free” and that clearly marked Gluten Free choices and condiments be available throughout the dining facilities. In the mean time, the residents can daily call the dining room ahead of their arrival and make requests for their meals to be made Gluten Free. This does require initiative and persistence at a time when many would like not to have to worry quite so much about simple daily tasks.
If we are blessed to live long enough and to have accumulated the resources enough to reside in one of these independent retirement facilities ourselves… we must consider whether we will be able to make informed decisions there about what we eat and if the facility is able to provide daily Gluten Free meals for us.

Long before that day, we may find ourselves in a hospital or other care facility. The questions begs answering… “Will they be able to provide Gluten Free meals for us when we are not able to make our voice heard or even to make dietary decisions for ourselves?” I know that when I eat Gluten my body reacts violently and should I be in such a place in need of serious healing, even there I need to remain Gluten Free! Any Gluten eaten would be counter-productive to my body’s ability to heal.

I strongly believe we each need to be our own best health advocate, listening to our our body and getting/staying informed on pertinent information that impacts our overall health and general well being. But when we can’t, for whatever reason, I pray we have equipped someone to “stand in the gap” for us. Having been the personal care giver for a loved one failing in health I know how demanding, yet how important, that role can be, no matter the outcome.

Let me wrap up this post on a brighter note… yesterday, oh my!!! I delighted again in a fabulous Gluten Free meal and dessert at a nearby PF Changs. My loved ones treated me there for Mother’s Day. Yes, I know I am truly blessed that they both understand and care about my dietary restriction. I wish the same for each of you living G-Free and healthy!!!

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Last night we visited Fireworks Pizza in nearby Leesburg, Va. A friend referred me there, having heard they served Gluten Free Pizza.

Their menu does notes that all items with an asterisk can be made Gluten Free… though at first glance that fact was easily overlooked (small print).

Fireworks Gluten Free Pizza

Fireworks Gluten Free Pizza

All pizzas are cooked in the traditional way in a firewood brick oven. I was going to order a large pizza and share it with family, but learned they do not make their own Gluten Free pizza crusts. Rather, they purchase readymade crusts from Still Riding Pizza. Fireworks uses the Still Riding 9″ mini-crusts, so I had to go with a personal sized pizza.

The service was quick and the pizza, hot and tasty. I loved the thin and crispy crust! (It has always been my favorite.)

Fireworks has a wide variety of Gluten Free pizzas to choose from you, or you can select your own toppings. You can eat inside or outside on the front porch, weather permitting.

I loved Fireworks! I will return there again soon, and often… a nice treat when eating out.

At home, though, I will stick to making our own pizza crusts using Pamela’s mix which cost about $1.50 per pizza.

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Starting over again…

April 12th, 2010
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It was, of course, with the best of intentions that I began my 28-day wellness program. The first week went splendidly. Then came multi-family Easter celebrations. It was fun to share Gluten Free delights with family members who, I imagine, thought I was suffering having to eat Gluten Free. Surely any pity on my “condition” vanished.  ;)

And yes, certainly there is room in any program for occasional splurges. I should have stopped there, but the stresses of the week (not the least of which was finishing my part to turn in with our taxes) afforded me little time for enjoying meal planning and preparations. I again turned to the grabbing Gluten Free bars and snacks, and before I knew it I had lost a week.

So here I am, starting over again. I don’t think I will step on the scale today, rather I will give my full attention to delighting in focusing on eating well and see where I land at week’s end.

Whew, I am so glad perfection is not the goal!!!

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The elimination diet is key to determining any allergy or intolerance to foods. Like Gluten Free Momsense blogger, I, too, noticed a difference almost right away when I first eliminated Gluten from my diet… but even more telling was when Gluten was added back in. She notes,

Some people don’t feel a difference during the elimination phase but do feel terrible when they reintroduce the food. It’s a simple test to do, does not require blood to be drawn or biopsies to be performed but can make a big difference in how you feel!

For her full post on the subject, check out her site.

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Butternut Squash soup

Boil peeled and cubed butternut squash in organic Chicken Broth. When soft and mushy blend squash and broth in a blender until smooth. Put mixture back on the stove top and add coconut milk until creamy. Add sea salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

Brown Rice Sushi

(I hear it is easy, though it is not “my thing”) In nori sheet roll rice, seared ahi, avocado, sesame seeds.

Broiled Polenta with Marinara Sauce

Saute garlic in EVOO. Add chicken broth and tomato puree. (optional sprig of rosemary) Leftover polenta works great for this. Cut polenta into slices. Broil to warm.

Veggie Chili

Sauté garlic in EVOO. Add organic tomato puree and chicken broth. Use all leftover veggies, add any others like green beans, sweet potato, zucchini. Add corn and black beans. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Serve over quinoa or cornbread.

Fennel Salad

1-2 bulbs Fennel chopped, slivered almonds or pecans, green onion, fresh cranberries, EVOO, lemon, salt, and pepper

Minestrone Soup

Stewed Tomatoes
Zucchini & yellow Squash
Hominy
Beans (optional)

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Polenta with egg

Boil 1 cup polenta with 3 cups water or broth. Stir often. When thick add 1 egg. Stir.

Quinoa Salad over Mixed Greens

Cook 1 cup Quinoa to 2 cups organic chicken broth (bring to boil, simmer 20 mins) Cool. Add EVOO, sea salt, cracked pepper to taste Add diced green apple, chopped tomato

Shrimp Scampi

Add garlic to EVOO in frying pan. When garlic is cooked add thawed, precooked shrimp to warm. Just before serving squeeze juice from one lemon into it. Add fresh, chopped parsley.

Jicama Salad

1 Large Jicama Root, julienned (long thin slices)
1 Red Bell Pepper, Julienned
1/2 Red Onion, diced
Napa Cabbage cut into thin strips
Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
Sea Salt to taste

If you like a little bite you can add some jalapeno or Serrano peppers which are diced.

Shrimp Louis Salad

Lettuce, shrimp, avocado, boiled egg, tomato, olives, green apple, onion, lemon, EVOO

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Day 1

  • Breakfast – Salad, boiled egg, flaxseed crackers
  • Lunch – Hummus and raw veggies
  • Dinner – Quinoa salad over mixed greens with organic baked chicken

Day 2

  • Breakfast – Polenta with egg Swiss chard stir-fry
  • Lunch – Baked butternut squash with green apples and pecans, leftover chicken
  • Dinner – Shrimp scampi, brown rice, fresh spinach, mixed berries

Day 3

  • Breakfast – Lettuce wraps with leftover shrimp scampi and brown rice
  • Lunch – Jicama salad
  • Dinner – Brown rice sushi, wasabe, Bragg’s liquid aminos, cucumber & asperagus

Day 4

  • Breakfast – Garbanzo bean salad
  • Lunch – Shrimp Louis salad
  • Dinner – Broiled (leftover) polenta with marinara, baked salmon, roasted veggies

Day 5

  • Breakfast – Brown rice with scrambled egg and bell pepper, pico de gallo
  • Lunch – Fresh green beans with leftover salmon
  • Dinner – Veggie Chili, quinoa

Day 6

  • Breakfast – Spinach stir-fry with leftover quinoa and slivered almonds
  • Lunch – Rice pasta with marinara, organic chicken, mixed green salad
  • Dinner – Baked salmon, baked sweet potato, fennel salad

Day 7

  • Breakfast – Spinach stir-fry (using all leftover veggies), poached egg
  • Lunch – Minestrone soup with brown rice
  • Dinner – Seared Ahi and stir-fry, warmed mixed berries with stevia
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Fried Rice

Saute spinach, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, and carrots. Add 1/2 c. cooked brown rice. Scramble one egg into side of frying pan. Add pine nuts.

Turkey Burgers

Season 1/4 pound of lean turkey meat with salt and pepper (can add chili flakes for a “kick”). Mold into patties and cook in frying pan about 5 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms.
Place 2 large ice berg lettuce leaves on plate. Layer patty, mushrooms, sliced red onion, avocado, and tomatoes. Wrap with lettuce and enjoy.

Firecracker Shrimp

Serves 6. This shrimp is spicy and vibrantly flavored with a fiery almond pesto made from cilantro, jalapenos and scallions. It’s a quick flash in the pan before you’re ready to enjoy this delicious dish. Ingredients 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed 1/3 cup sliced or whole almonds 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons ground cumin 6 green onions, roughly chopped 3 cloves garlic 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved 2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined 2 tablespoons lemon juice Salt to taste 1 small avocado, thinly sliced 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Set aside 6 sprigs of cilantro for garnish. Put remaining cilantro, almonds, 2 tablespoons of the oil, cumin, green onions, garlic, jalapenos, and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.

Arrange shrimp in a wide, shallow dish and spread cilantro paste over them. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt, and stir a few more times to scrape up any browned bits.

Transfer shrimp to a platter and garnish with reserved

Mexican Salad

Romaine lettuce, tomato, green onion, olives, avocado, corn, kidney beans, (jalapeno), EVOO cilantro, avocados, and tomatoes.

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Chicken Vegetable Brown Rice Soup

Can or cooked organic chicken Organic Chicken broth (fresh, canned or bouillon cubes). Add brown rice (cook until soft). Fresh Vegetables (carrots, onions, green beans, etc) Cook until Brown Rice is soft.

Coconut Chicken, Fish, Shrimp, or Scallops

1 Tbsp of sesame oil 3 cloves of garlic, chopped into small pieces 1 shallot, chopped into small pieces 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into small pieces (Note: You can buy these 3 already chopped together at Trader Joe’s if you don’t have time to prepare)
2 boneless organic, free range chicken breasts OR Wild fish filets OR Wild shrimp OR Scallops 2 large bunches of organic broccoli Organic coconut milk Sea Salt
In skillet, on medium heat, put in sesame oil and let heat up and then add garlic, shallot and white onion pieces. Cook until onions start to caramelize. Take out of skillet and set aside. Place protein into skillet you used to cook initially and if they are thick, filet them (cut them open and spread out), sprinkle sea salt lightly over them and cook on medium heat.
Add 1/4 can of organic coconut milk and to let protein cook and turn frequently. When starts to cook through, place another 1/4 can of organic coconut milk over the top of cooking chicken.
Put the garlic, shallot, onion mixture on the top of the chicken and let cook the milk cook down until it is absorbed into the meat. Keep turning frequently until chicken is no longer pink and reduce to lower temperature while you are preparing rice/quinoa and broccoli. Fish, shrimp and scallops are generally faster cooking.
Steam broccoli until done. Serve chicken and broccoli with a 1/2 cup of brown rice or quinoa. For extra flavor you can add a small amount of Bragg’s to the rice or quinoa.

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