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Friday, March 30, 2012

A Very Important Web Site

There’s a saying that goes, “I know what I know and I know what I don’t know.”  That’s kind of the way I was when I was told I had to be gluten free.  “Ok, no bread…that means no pizza, pancakes, French toast, sandwiches…how am I gonna do this?”
That weekend, I spent a great deal of time on the internet.  The first site that I found that gave great information was Gluten Free Living.
First, they have a magazine that you can subscribe to that has extremely informative articles. The articles have a wide range of topics, including foods and cosmetics.  On their site, they also offer a list of ingredients you can have, and those you should avoid.  I would never have guessed that Dextrose was something I couldn’t have!  Tremendously useful and extremely important for someone who is just starting the gluten free lifestyle.
They also have a gluten free blog.  Again, very informative, with up to the minute news.  As an example, a recent post had to do with their experiences at the Natural Foods Product Expo. 
They follow an impressive group of blogs, and you can’t go wrong reading any of them.
This web site is without a doubt one of the most important you can read.  If there is only one blog you can read (besides mine of course), Gluten Free Living is the one you can’t do without.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Restaurant Review - EVOO

Okay, let me just come right out and say it: I Love EVOO.   The owners use local, organic and sustainable ingredients.  The menu changes daily, so you know everything they cook with is fresh.  And I think the owners are awesome. 

I went to EVOO for years while they were in Somerville, and a couple of years back, they moved to a new location in Kendall Square.  EVOO was the first restaurant that I went to when I discovered I had gluten sensitivity, as I trusted Chef/Owner Peter McCarthy to take care of me.  Needless to say, he did.  EVOO does not have a gluten free menu, but they do accommodate.

Last night, my wife Cathy and I went out with friends, Leslie and Jan.  Cathy and I have not been eating dinner out nearly as much as we used to, so we hadn’t been to EVOO in quite a long time, and I was excited to go.  It is Restaurant Week in Boston, and I couldn’t wait to look at the menu.  For an appetizer, I zeroed on the mussels and potatoes in a green Thai curry broth. 

Sometimes curry can blow your pallet away so you can’t taste anything the rest of the meal.  This curry had just the right amount of spice and just the right amount of heat to enhance the mussels.  The mussels were very meaty and succulent.

The entrée I had was a chicken dish that had an enchilada and sweet potatoes, in a red chili sauce. Now, our waitress told me that the sauce had some soy sauce in it.  She told me that for every five gallons of sauce, there were three tablespoons of soy sauce.  Our waitress told me they could do something else…as I said, they are very accommodating, but I made a quick calculation and figured if they put a quarter cup of sauce on my plate, there would be a little less than ½ a teaspoon of soy sauce.  I decided to go for it.  (REMEMBER: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH!)

The chicken breast was served with the skin on and cooked perfectly, moist and tender. The enchilada, made with a corn tortilla, had goat cheese in it, and was unlike any enchilada I had ever had before. The slaw that came with it added a nice crunch for texture.

For dessert, I had two kinds of ice cream, pistachio and salted caramel.  I would show you pictures, but I ate it so fast, I never had a chance to take the picture.

So, EVOO, I’m so happy to say I still love you, and we need to see each other more often.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Love These Whoopie Pies

I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I found out I had to become gluten free, I immediately wanted to eat things I never cared to try in the past.  Corn dogs for instance.  I had never wanted a corn dog before.  I mean, who would want to eat a hot dog surrounded by corn bread on a stick?   But all of a sudden, I craved them.

The same could be said for chocolate whoopie pies.  Never had one, never wanted one.  They seemed way too much like Devil Dogs, and I was never a big fan.

So one day a few years ago, when I was walking through My Low Carb Life, I saw gluten free whoopie pies, and I immediately had to have one.  Since then, I’ve had my share of good gluten free whoopie pies, and not so good gluten free whoopie pies. 

Today, I tried a chocolate whoopie pie made by a company started by two sisters from Stoneham called Something Sweet Without Wheat.  According to their website, they started in August 2010, and became successful enough to have to move their business from their kitchens to a commercial bakery in Woburn.  Now their products are sold in over 16 locations, including Market Basket, which carries their cookies.  So I bought some and anxiously waited for Saturday to try them. (I diet the other 6 days…another story.)

Cream filling is cream filling, y’know?  Not much you can do with it, except make it way too sweet.  Not the case here.  However, in my opinion, what makes these chocolate whoopee pies stand out from others I’ve tried is their cake.  The chocolate cake has flavor... a dark chocolate taste.  In addition, the cake didn’t crumble as some of them tend to do.  Their cake stayed together and was pretty moist.

I’ve heard a lot about Something Sweet Without Wheat, and I’m glad I finally had the chance to try one of their products.  I can’t wait to try more of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gluten Free Registry

So, the other day, I wanted to find a restaurant that served gluten free chicken parm, so I went to the Gluten Free Registry, and….
What?  You never heard of the Gluten Free Registry?
Okay, the Gluten Free Registry is a MUST favorite site on all of your computers and your mobile devices.  Why?  Simply because it is a gluten free person’s guide to Gluten Free Restaurants, among other things.
For instance, say you want to go to dinner some place in Burlington.  You won’t have to guess what restaurants have gluten free food options, and what restaurants don’t.  How awesome is that?!  They also have reviews, so your friends who aren’t gluten free can have good food as well.
And if you discover a place that offers gluten free food, but isn’t in the registry?  You can add it in and share your experiences.
This site is important to anyone who is gluten free or friends with someone who is gluten free.  Check them out!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

We take a timeout from the story of my gluten free life to tell you about a store and a product.  I mean, my profile does say I love food.

The first store – at least that I found – that was able to give me any real information is a small family-owned store in Danvers.  My Low Carb Life specializes in two different things.  First, obviously low carb items, but second, gluten free items.  I highly recommend a visit there.  They sell lots of different products, and they can give good sound advice as well.

While looking in their store one day, I came across a gluten free jelly roll, specifically a lemon jelly roll.  I LOVE lemon!  So, I took a chance.

This jelly roll has ended up being one of my favorite desserts!  It is made by a company in Randolph called ALLCANEATFOODS Ltd.  As it urns out ,they have a bakery and a café!  I will be trying the café soon and will give a full report.

In the meantime, you must try this jelly roll!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Did I Go Gluten Free

So, why did I go gluten free?

Well, about 20 years ago, I started to see a chiropractor for a severe neck issue.  I did this because I went to my regular Dr. for years with this problem and all they would do is give me muscle relaxers.  On a suggestion, I went to a chiropractor.  She fixed it, and I've gone back for adjustments when I have felt out of alignment ever since.  Everything was wonderful until six years ago.  I woke up one morning, everthing was ok, and then my back started to spasm in what I guess you would call the right flank.  I went to my chiropractor, who didn't seem to understand why I was in so much pain.  "Mike, it doesn't make sense to me, you aren't that far out of alignment."  Eventually, the pain went away.

Two years later I had horrific pain in my kidney area.  Again, I went to my chiropractor and again, I was not that far out of alignment.  My chiropractor had gotten into Nutritional Therapy a year earlier, and suggested I do some tests with her.  "No thanks..."

And then it happened again the following month.  The pain was so bad, I missed work.  I NEVER miss work.  So, feeling desperate and not quite ready to trust doctors again, I agreed.

She did some tests called Nutritional Response Testing, or NRT.  Rather than me trying to describe it, you can see a You Tube video for it here:

Yeah...I know.

Anyway, at the end of the NRT, my chiropractor felt I had a gluten issue.  She did not know if I was celiac.  All she was able to surmise was, I had a gluten issue.  She felt gluten was clogging up my kidneys.  She said the pain should happen two to three days or so after I had a large amount of gluten.  Oddly enough, both attacks came on a Tuesday, after going out to breakfast with my wife on Saturday and having a large carb filled meal.

Quite frankly, I felt this was a lot of hocus pocus, but I was in so much pain, I figured, "What have I got to lose?"

I have been essentially gluten free for a little over four years now.  No back pain, except for the time I had what I thought was gluten free pasta and it turned out it wasn't.  That's another story.

As I mentioned in my first blog, I occasionally have gluten with no problem.  I also mentioned what I have to do isn't exactly pleasant.  It isn't a cure, it isn't a supplement really.  It's something that I drink in order to clear my kidneys.  But I'll save that for my next blog.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am gluten free

I am gluten free.

Mind you, I am not a Celiac.  I was "diagnosed" as having a gluten sensitivity just over four years ago. 

The purpose of this blog is not to preach about the virtues of being gluten free.  In all honesty, I give myself a little "cheat" every now and then.  I don't recommend that.  That is my personal decision.  I'll tell you in the future how I get away with it (not pleasant...but on occasion worth it.)

So what is the purpose of this blog? 

One of the purposes is to tell you my story.  We all have different stories about how we ended up gluten free, and they all are pretty interesting.  Mine is a little least I think it is.

The other is to give back.  I found a TON of information on gluten free products, restaurants, and other assorted information along the way.  Heck, I'm still learning!  So if reciprocity is the key to learning, who am I not to join in the fun!

Does Boston need another gluten free blog?  As Becky from Gluten Free Boston and Beyond wrote to me when I asked her that question, "...the more resources available to people, the better"

So here's my first suggestion.  Check out Becky's blog.  There is some awesome information on it.