Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just Some Random Thoughts

Well, I have been extremely busy and then went to Colorado. I am now back and have been playing "catch-up" for a few days. And let me just say that is always the hardest part of coming back from vacation..........that and trying to get back into your old routine!

So whenever I travel, I always go with a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation. New places, new ways to become glutenized and taken unaware! But anxiety does not seem to be beneficial in my world any longer, so it takes some strategy and common sense to try and navigate through the unrelenting pitfalls of being a stranger in a strange land. When I travel I rarely bring much of my own food.........too much of an inconvenience, a big hassle, possibly no refrigerator available and it is just basically a big pain in the butt!! But I do my homework before I leave on my journey and that makes things much easier. There are so many places that offer gluten-free alternatives now that it is reasonably safe if you know what you are doing. Do some research on line and then call ahead to restaurants that claim they have a gluten-free menu to verify that fact. Make a list and keep it with you when you travel. I had some happy surprises while I was in Colorado. Places like zoos and museums (which I thought would only offer junk food), had wonderful healthy selections. Delightful salad bars, gluten-free pizza, fresh fruit, and many other "safe" choices. Let's just say I never went hungry and that my options were many and varied. Also, as many of you probably already know, Mexican restaurants have many gluten-free options. Just stay away from anything made with or near a flour tortilla! I am still having problems with Oriental restaurants and the wheat-laden soy sauce. I solved that by getting some little to go paks of soy sauce and carrying some with me all the time. One never knows when one could get a mad craving for Oriental food and I am always prepared. They are always more than happy to make the dish you order without soy sauce. And believe this or not some restaurants actually use gluten-free soy sauce.........not many, but a few.

I feel like my trip was successful on several levels including the choices that are now available to us. And just as an aside............I think Colorado is way more cognizent of gluten-free living than Nebraska............I'm just saying...........

HyVee Stores are now carrying Udi's Gluten-free Bagels. They are really good and they make the best sandwiches ever! I am trying to get them to carry Udi's Cinnamon Rolls.........I have heard they are very lovely.

Have you ever been in the grocery store and walked by the bakery section and looked at all the Artisian breads and rolls as the fragrant aroma of their wonderfulness surrounds you with a dizzing sense of longing? Me too...............once and awhile I even get a little crazy mad about it and then I think about people with real problems and keep moving right past the bakery! Then the feeling of being deprived passes and I move on to the gluten-free section! And how often have you ever had someone say to you.............."it must be so hard to try and eat anything good". Most of the time I correct them and say "not as hard as you might think", but sometimes
I just nod my head and say yes, you wouldn't believe the difficulty......sigh.....and then I realize again that some people have real problems that can't be solved by not eating wheat and I just keep smiling.

Have a safe and stupendous 4th of July and keep smiling! Linda

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gluten-free products and where to get them

Well, summer is upon us and what a welcome relief it is! I have been painfully busy with too much work and precious little time to devote to the blog site. However, I am still madly dashing around going to gluten-free samplings, visiting Hy-Vees and Health Markets and eating a continuing stream of cupcakes and other tempting goodies. When I say madly dashing, I should say sprinting in an effort to keep any extra poundage from clinging to my hips and other applicable body parts. It is a daunting challenge believe me..........but, in my attempt to find real quality gluten-free products, I must persevere and march on.

And so first I must give a much needed thumbs-up to Bakers Supermarket at 132nd & Maple. They are starting to feature many more gluten-free products in their health market section......YAY!! They are now carrying Kinnikinnick bagels, English muffins, hot dog & hamburger buns, donuts and pizza crusts. They also carry Amy's gluten-free frozen cakes and some French Meadow gluten-free cookie dough (also frozen). They have acquired a fantastic selection of various mixes and they really seem to be seeking to increase the variety and availability of stuff......good for them!!

One item that Bakers is carrying (in their regular ice cream section) is Graeter's Ice Cream. Now this may not mean much to some, but being an ice cream lover I had heard "stories" of Graeter's and their amazing ice cream. Graeter's started out as a beloved family institution in Cincinnati, OH in 1870. One family started the busines and several generations later, the family is still running the business. They use a very interesting process to make their ice cream called French Pot process. And they make it in very small batches. People have literally been flocking to their ice cream stores for decades. They also ship their delectable pints of ectasy anywhere in the US. So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the pleasing little pints sitting on the shelves in the ice cream section at Bakers! I bought my first pint and took it home with palpable anticipation. I chose Blackraspberry Chocolate could I not? As I took my first spoonful, I was initially taken with the creaminess and richness of the ice cream. Then the bursting flavors of the blackraspberry and deep rich chocolate combined to make the happiest of explosions in my mouth. This stuff is outlandishly good. One spoiler.........I think you could become easily addicted to the quality and deliciousness of this treat and it may cause you to turn your nose up at other brands of ice cream. OK, two could also cause you to spend extra time on the treadmill, but it would be sooooo worth it!

Since it is Summer, I am going to talk about another ice cream treat. Remember ice cream sandwiches?? Yes, well I do, and of course that is all they were to me............a memory. But, alas and take heart, I found a gluten-free ice cream sandwich and it is surprisingly good! It is made by Julie's and it is organic and also goes under the guise of GlutenFreeda's. They too are at Baker's now in the health section. They are a divine and a delightful treat that does not eat up your calorie allowance for the day, but offers you a very satisfying respite of momentary pleasure and decadence. How can argue you with that..........and why would you?? As Rachel Ray says........YUM-O!

OK, and now five minutes to indulge me on the gluten-free soapbox. I have been sampling various offerings at several stores lately and I must say I am not that impressed with many of the new products they are getting in. The mixes are dry and not all that exciting. I have written here before about the fact that you need to jazz up gluten-free mixes and definitely add more butter fat. But, it makes me sad to think that many people settle for ho-hum products just because it is easier or they don't know where really good stuff is hiding. They accept that their new lot in life is to eat semi-yucky stuff if they want anything that resembles bread, cake or muffins. Remember, that is not the case and there are good, quality products out there, but you have to find your voice and you have to speak up. Most stores are only too happy to order in things BUT you have to ask them and you may have to ask them more than once. And restaurants are getting better with gluten-free menus (more show up all the time)..........I understand the Cheesecake Factory will have a gluten-free menu in July. But, we still need to speak up and we need to speak up can make a difference!