Sunday, December 11, 2011

High Level Diner

After the couple hours spent at the Butterdome Craft Fair ~ we decided to go for lunch at a nearby Diner -
The Highlevel Diner ~ We have been to this diner in the past and the experience eating there always leaves us with a great experience and a desire to come back. 

The Highlevel Diner is always a full and busy place, usually when going in there is a line up - but it moves along and you are not waiting for long.  The owner is a friendly guy who always touches base with you, finds out how many are in your party and I find we are usually seated within 10-15 mins at the most.  The atmosphere is not new or modern, but it is clean, warm and cozy filled with antique furnishings ~ and  just as they "take pride in serving fresh, wholesome food from local producers, they also take pride in presenting original art works created by talented local artists."  Always great works to view from paintings to stained glass hangings.

They are very celiac friendly ~ have truly undertaken the "art" of accommodating those who require eating gluten free.  They have not only separate a separate "Celiac Breakfast & Brunch" Menu but also a "Celiac Lunch and Diner" Menu  - as well as being accommodating for their special "Turkey Tuesdays", "Thursday Ukrainian Diner" and the "Sunday Prime Rib Diner".

We decided to choose from the Lunch and Diner menu today - and I spied that they had "Home cut Fries" (made in a dedicated gluten free fryer) so I choose their "Gluten Free Diners Clubhouse" ~ (Locally raised chicken breast, bacon, tomato, lettuce & mayonnaise on toasted gluten free bread. Choice of fries, green salad or steamed veggies.) with the side of the Home cut Fries.  It was very good, they brought me heinz ketchup (as their locally made brand is not gluten free) and I enjoyed my clubhouse and fries.  Tasty.  The fries were really great, not greasy perfectly fried and just a little crunch to them.  Delicious.  Kevin had the "Jambalaya" ~ A Cajun Classic! A spicy combination of sausage, chicken, rice, tomato and shrimp slowly simmered.  They served it with crispy corn tortillas ~ he said it had a nice kick to it and enjoyed his meal.

And though they do not have a dedicated "wheat free" kitchen - they use dedicated gluten free fryers and toasters and take the care and attention needed as I have not felt ill after eating at the Diner.  I recommend if you like the artsy, antique, bistro feel of a great place to eat - High Level Diner would be a good stop.  :)

Butterdome Craft Fair

Yesterday we took some time out to go to the Butterdome Craft Fair - It was my first time at this event so I do not have a comparison to other years, I went with my guy and his mom and she said it seems to have more variety this year and one thing she noticed was the GLUTEN FREE signs on so many more of the vendors.  It really was nice to see - hard to find items like rubs, spice mixtures, dressings, sauces, marinades - if it hadn't been so crowded it would have been nicer to really take a good look at more than the few we stopped at.  All in all it is quite the place - the craft fair - definitely on the whole a lot of very talented people and so many different and quite unique items, mostly pricey but you could also find a surprising find or two. 

Two of the gluten free vendors we purchased from:  First the "Daksha Gourmet Spices" - in which all their spices and spice mixes are gluten free.  We bought 4 different spice mixtures to try: Tandoori, Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, and Chicken Curry.  As we use them in different dishes I shall write up a piece on each, looking forward to incorporating some Indian tastes into our meals.  Daksha Narsing also has written a cookbook "Tastefully Indian"  while I didn't get this one at the craft fair I am going to order it online, she was explaining to us that she also even has included a few bread recipes, gluten free ones, that she found with testing worked very well with Indian foods.  As I would like to incorporate more Indian Food tastes into our menu - Celiacs long for variety :)  I think this cookbook will be a good add. 

The other company we bought from was the Blue Kettle Specialty Foods. From this company we bought some Vegetarian Antipasto, and a few marinades/vinaigrette - the Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, Greek Dressing and Herb Vinaigrette ~ looking forward to seeing the how these tastes change up the routine of cooking. :)  They have a number of products that are now Gluten Free but not all are ~ so definitely have to check with the manufacturer, bottle label, online information before you buy these products.

Next year I hope there are even more vendors and I will come even better prepared to buy and take home some more great gluten free products to change up the taste and routine of cooking meals.  So hope the great trend continues at other craft fairs and farmers markets - I do believe there is a huge market out there for them, and from talking to a few of the vendors they can feel this growing as well.  Cool. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Ponder about this Disease ...

Seriously ...  Sometimes I think that those who have Celiac Disease or some sort of Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity are their own worse advocators ... if the people who actually have the disease or intolerance can not get it right, and don't understand the seriousness of their own actions, and those who have Celiac their own disease ... what hope do we have with everyone else being able to understand? It's a bit alarming.

I caught a show a couple nights ago called "Two Broke Girls" - which had a negative joke/comment made about Gluten Free - which set me off on a deluge of reading - one to first read what others thought of the comment made on the show.  The version - one of the girls comes up to the other and says "There is a woman needing to eat gluten free in my section - what do I do?"  the other flippantly replies "Tell her she is not allergic to gluten ... she is masking an eating disorder".  Now I am aware that I was watching a sitcom and they are notorious for making light of serious issues, making jokes about race, color and cultures ~ but I was still a bit shocked and taken a back.  And surprisingly quite angry ... because even though it is just a sitcom ... It breeds laughter and contempt for a serious matter, and makes light of a subject that in this time period is a wash with controversy, misinformation and one that has become a real struggle for anyone who is living with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or sensitivity to be taken seriously.  It just frankly pissed me off because I have a hard time just helping family and friends to understand a smidgen of what I go through on a daily basis without another misinformed show or person "tumbling my cards" - so to speak.  That's my vent ...

And then I went in and started to read the forums and comments that people were making about this show, and that lead me to forums and blogs about people who were commenting on others misrepresentation or misinformation about Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance ... and I just felt well mildly alarmed and a bit disheartened, because like I started - if those who have Celiac Disease do not understand it and misrepresent it ~ what hope do we have for others?  It has left me thinking - how can we get proper information out about what Celiac Disease is?  How do we educate the world?  Especially ourselves?  How do we properly inform family, friends, others with the disease or intolerance of what it means to be gluten free?  How do we not closet ourselves up in our homes - be
afraid to go out with the fear that we will run into prejudice, ignorance, rudeness?  How do we grab life and live it to the fullest without constantly battling with "the world" (I know maybe an over exaggeration) about our health and safety? 

And then I took a big breath ... I guess it has to start with each one of us individually. 

I also read of everyone's struggle ~ Celiac Disease is not a simple disease ~ there is a host of symptoms that people may or may not have, sensitivity can range from mild to severe and everything inbetween and this has caused a huge gap in the learning curve out there - medical, personal, commercial ~ debates, talks, shows, article after article you can listen, watch, research ... it is mind boggling and often overwhelming.  

Again I breath ... I think one of the number one aspects we all need to learn - (that would be us living with the Disease or Intolerance, those who have family members or friends doing so ... and even the general public who are often irritated that this has become a highly talked about issue - but then again folks look at those numbers - 1 in 133 - pretty high odds and makes for a lot, a lot, a lot  of people) is that it is a huge learning curve for everyone ~ so much is known, so much is not yet known, so much is out there yet to be learned ... need to read and give each other the praise of making efforts where we see them, and try to help those that don't ~ and at the same time figure out our own path.  

I know myself - that when first diagnosed about three and a half years ago - well then I didn't know what Celiac Disease was, what an auto immune disease was, what even gluten was ~ I am learning.  I know that after diagnosed and going on a gluten free way of eating - I felt like I had been given a new lease on life ... but now I am struggling to find a balance, to figure out what other intolerance I have and to what ... words and issues I never knew come to the for front to research and learn about - lactose intolerance, leaky gut, probiotics, intestinal flora and on and on ... so I need to take a breath - give myself a break and yes ... give the same to others ... 

It starts with ourselves ... and then we can learn ... and we can pay forward ... and others will too.
One day at a time ... 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Keg ...

Invited out by an old friend for supper this week and one of her favorite places to go is The Keg ~ I haven't eaten at The Keg since diagnosed but as I am always up to expand my list of places "safe" or "accommodating" to eat out - especially with friends who are not Celiacs - I said yes ok to her and then did what I needed to do to start "the process" of checking and re-checking a restaurant where I am going to put my health in their hands.  :)  So I called the restaurant and was encouraged by the gentleman that answered the phone - that he was familiar with the term "Celiac" and "Gluten free" and the words "Cross Contamination"  - yeah off to to great start.  My dear friend also grilled the staff when she made our reservations - stressing that she does not want her friend sick and also "checking" with them on their knowledge and ability to serve me a "safe" meal.  I was also touched and encouraged by this step ~ as we all know the struggles at points where those who are our friends or family may not understand the serious "issues" we have when putting our trust in an establishment to eat out.  And how though we have to go through these steps - time and time again - they acknowledge the importance and so when they (our friends) actually take on some of that responsibility - well it is truly touching.

I know The Keg does not have a dedicated Gluten Free menu - but I have to say I was impressed by the staff - waiter / manager on duty - to check with the kitchen, give me options of what I could and could not eat, and then provide me with a tasty well seasoned meal - and tasty it was.

We had the shrimp cocktail and the bacon wrapped scallops to start - they served both with a spicy sweet ginger garlic sauce (she said they ran out of the cocktail sauce without the Worcestershire sauce) and she felt this was a great alternative - for the hot appetizer, wasn't sure how it would go with the cold ~ well it went well with the bacon wrapped scallops but I wouldn't suggest it with the shrimp cocktail - that really needed a cocktail sauce.

For my entree I chose the Filet Mignon - Tenderloin wrapped in applewood smoked bacon - with a side of the oven roasted beets, steamed fresh asparagus, and a side of the cremini mushrooms.  The Keg knows how to grill a steak, it was delicious ~ the vegetables passable.  All in all I had a lovely meal and the dining experience was one I would repeat ~ as the staff were knowledgeable (meaning they went directly and talked to the chefs with all questions and then came back with answers) and pleasant ~ they made my dining experience with them comfortable and we had an enjoyable evening.

The atmosphere at the Skyview Keg is also a huge plus to a dining experience ~ the way the tables are set up makes for a restaurant where you can enjoy a private conversation and meal, and the decor is warm and inviting.  I am definitely putting this location on my list and thumbs up to the whole dining experience.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Feeling not well ... and hoping it's the Flu ...

I am at home from work today ... that does not happen often ... but today when waking up and still feeling my stomach roll, groan and pitch ~ knowing I will need to be near the facilities all day, and feeling the horrid fatigue and headache ... I just was not up to the challenge to even get showered and dressed.  Seriously.  And I am hoping it's the flu ... why?  The main reason being ... the flu passes a lot quicker than trying to get over a bout of eating something that has not agreed with my system, that has once again reminded me full force I have Celiac Disease ... that I have to watch, and check, and double check foods that I even have been eating all along.  Days like this make me realize my life has indeed changed since being diagnosed ~ we all want to feel like it has changed for the better right?!  That we are over joyed that we are not silently destroying our bodies, that we have a chance to feel healthy, vibrant, full of energy once again (I do believe way back there was a time when I was a child I felt that way haha) ~ well much like the feeling when I was first diagnosed - man I thought then I could take on the world - when I first started eating gluten free I could not believe the change in my body, mind and spirit - it was like a weight had been lifted off my "life" - I had energy, I felt crazy wonderful - I felt like I had been freed from whatever "hell" had possessed my body and I could really live.  At first. 

Now I struggle daily it seems ~ struggle with finding my way back there, struggle not to make mistakes that now effect my body in different ways, struggle to find out what else among the food groups that I think I can eat - I can't, what else out there I need to change.  Struggle with the viewpoints, criticism, and often ignorance of those around us who do not understand, or just plainly condemn the issues of having to live life gluten free.  And I know I am no different from the thousands and thousands that are living with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance, or the many also living with dairy/casien/lactose intolerance ~ I read their struggles too - we all read each others paths to find insight on our own - a glimpse here and there - thinking "hhmmm maybe that will work" or nodding in understanding the frustration and weariness that comes along with this disease.  

Today I am struggling to stay positive ... and hope I have the flu ... so that it will pass, and it won't be something I ate, something I enjoy, another thing to put on the ever growing list.  So that it truly passes so that I can once again pick up the energy to find ways to make the foods I love, to build on what I am learning about Celiac Disease, to pass on my little "bit of insight" to inspire myself and hopefully inspire others ... 

I want to learn to love and live and eat and enjoy life ... Being a Celiac ... showing others by my own example that it can be done, like those women and men who inspire me so much ... that I read daily for encouragement and tips and yes too their disappointments and struggles ... but that it can be done, we can educate others, we may or may not change the world ... but we certainly can change "our world, our space" ... I want to do that ~ 

So Today I hope I have the flu.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Udi's inspiration ...

I have to give a big hand of applause to Udi's for figuring out how to make a delicious gluten free and dairy free bun - whether they come in their hamburger or hotdog (as above) I have not found a more tasty gluten free option out there.  I love the crust and the slightly chewy texture you get ~ we have all had buns that when you bit into them not only were they white like a piece of copy paper (truly that actually turns my appetite off) but then crumbled at a touch or first bite.  Udi's buns not only stand the aesthetic test - but when you add all the goodies that should go into one of these buns - they stay together and taste divine.  As you can see I am a real fan ~ :)  I love how because these buns are so tasty you have so many options, below is a picture of my own take on a philly cheese steak sandwich (minus the cheese haha) - and with the help of the one of the new products from M&M Meat Shops it is a meal that is delicious and quick to put together.  
It's a quick pull together - I used the pre-formed patties (Philly style beef steaks) from M&M Meat Shops and the classic Hot Dog buns from Udi's Gluten Free  Products -

Placed the beef steaks in their patty form in a pan (frozen) and started to cook them at a medium heat - adding some spices and peppers as it cooks - once you can see it is starting to brown then a quick flip over - let the patty cook almost all the way through and then lightly separate all the layers.

I saute and caramelize some white onions and peppers in a separate pan.

We leave the Udi's buns frozen until just before serving - defrost them in the microwave from 45-60 seconds - they are the best just freshly defrosted - still warm and moist - add the philly beef steak and then the onions and peppers on top - use a little mustard and wow - it's a quick and simple sandwich - to make into a fuller meal, add a salad or some gf fries and you have a very tasty meal.

I love the texture and the taste of the Udi's buns - and have found so many more combinations of sandwiches that they have inspired.

mmmmmmmm ... good eats :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's been a while ...

Wow looking at the last date I posted I realized it  has been a while since I have been on my site ~ life has made a few dramatic changes in the last couple months ~ the largest change and adjustment is that my guy and I decided to combine our living spaces ~ so it meant selling condos, buying a house, packing and moving two places and now the huge job of combining two households, two family units - me and my son with my guy, and being busy with all the hundreds of things that come up, need repair, or just need changing.  It has been chaotic ... but seriously one of the best decisions I have made in my life to date.  :)

So it is time though for me to get back at blogging, back at creating a site that still is in a large part part of a dream.  I know how much inspiration and insight I find from reading blogs and I truly feel the only way we can pay amazing bloggers back is by paying it forward ~ to make the most of our experiences, our mistakes and our successes, our sickness and our health ~ to share with each other.   On facebook I am part of the "Celiac Disease Support Group" and I was touched and inspired by a young woman - Cecilia who posted a video that she made up for a class and has also now posted to You Tube so that more people can view it - it really strikes a cord with some of the struggles (emotionally) to being an individual with Celiac Disease:

Cecilia's video:

It is worth the watch.

Cheers :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Energy ...

I can remember back - most days it seems way back - when I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, when I first removed all the gluten out of my diet - then basically eating very simply (as I knew so little about gluten, what it was, how much it is a part of our daily food intake) - meats & veggies, rice - not much else.  I remember how my body felt in that first initial start of cleansing my system from gluten - how I had this "energy" to spare, felt ready to "tackle" anything, motivated, clear-headed - my emotional state felt more stable, and even for the first time in a long time felt simply - strong, of body, spirit and mind.  My goal is to find my way back to that state ~ for it seems I have so much more yet to learn about this disease, my body and life.  I am amazed daily at the connection of food & system (entire - mental, physical, spiritual) and how this directs our every action in life.

It has been three years of living - of ups and downs - of slowly learning and changing things to get myself back to that first "blush" of becoming gluten free.  Life has been full of constant change, many disappointments, new joys, and a lot of stress in varying levels.  Stress is harmful to immune systems - it is a fact that stress plays havoc with the systems of those with gluten intolerance, celiac disease, anyone with intestinal and stomach issues - and even that stress is one of the major "activators" as it were of Celiac Disease and full-scale symptoms.

Over the last three years I have been doing a lot of researching, reading, learning about Celiac Disease - I have had some major "downs" when being exposed to "gluten" - and I am still amazed at the long lasting negative effects something that could be in such a small amount - a mere micro-organism can create a for lack of better term "crash" of my entire system, not for hours, days or weeks even but the inflammation/auto immune reaction can depress my system for months, and during that time it is a struggle to keep that "goal" of total health in mind and a priority.  It boggles me, and at times frustrates me to a point where I doubt I can do both - live - live the way I want to - exploring life and food in and outside the confines of my "safe home" and still be healthy and happy.

Lack of energy and motivation:  an energy "crisis" as well put by Gluten Free Chickie
I appreciated her tip about being patient and gentle with and to ourselves ~ especially when we are exposed to gluten and suffering the reaction to our entire systems.

I find I struggle being patient with my body, and the lack of energy and motivation - knowing how I could feel and how I want to feel, all I would like to accomplish and become frustrated and yes - let's say the word - "depressed" in spirit that I can't "force" myself to be well and happy.  I have much I want to do, to live, to accomplish ~ and I "selfishly" want to feel well enough to do it - NOW!  :)

I started my blog - my living gluten free blog - because I was motivated by the amazing men and women out there that are food bloggers especially ones that write about gluten free living - people like me who like to "weirdly" take pictures of their food and food experiences and write about it.  I appreciate when they also write about ALL of it - the upside and downside of living life gluten free - of living life as someone who has Celiac Disease. 

So I need to give a shout out today to a few amazing bloggers - and thank them, and there will be more shout outs in the future - because we only all benefit by staying connected to all the information and viewpoints out there!!  :)

So THANK YOU - and keep on blogging because we are out here reading and being inspired :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dreams ...

"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again." ~ Flavia Weedn

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Udi's ... loving the options :)

And the taste ...

I seriously have so many posts I want to write - from products we have tried to restaurants - some revisited some new ones visited ~ even one I never should have visited ~ to more info on traveling in Jasper, some more great memories ... so awesome to be able to travel safely.  :)

I am going to start with an Udi's Gluten Free Foods  product post - I even have a few of these ~ I truly have come to appreciate the quality and taste of Udi's products.  This post is about making an easy peasy pizza!!  On their pizza/flat bread crust ~ we were shopping in a local Save On Foods and I actually came across this product in the bakery section in a cooler, separate from all the gluten containing breads.

Along with the pizza crusts we picked up some Hunts tomato paste, Grimms sausage - ham and garlic sausage and the ham sausage rounds, some lactose free cheese and some fresh mushrooms. 

Threw them together:

Baked for about 8-12 mins at 350 degrees -

And ta da - a quick supper, or awesome side, and actually the next morning cold a great breakfast treat!  The Udi's pizza / flat bread crust is a thinner crust - would make awesome pizza bread sticks also - has a slightly chewy and pleasing texture and is delicious!!

The Udi's Brand has some great products - and with more being researched and baked up all the time -GLUTEN FREE - and for us even better Lactose free - the best of both!  I love the consistency of the Udi's products - the crusts on their breads, pizza crusts and buns are slightly chewy.  Their products do not crumble away in your hands as I have found with some other brands, hold quite well when adding cheese and condiments to burgers and such and have a delicious taste I have yet to find something comparable to.

A definite thumbs up for Udi's Gluten Free Foods and for the Pizza/flatbread.  :) 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

RE: Trip to Jasper - in Nov 2010

RE:  Our trip to Jasper - November 2010

Our trip to Jasper was lovely - too short ~ but lovely to get completely away, the mountains are always a good for my soul experience, for I find them so majestic, awe inspiring ~ I am a nature lover anyway, nothing pleases me more than to go for a walk down by the river valley or on some forest (or mountain) path and just take in all that is around me. The weather in Jasper was not that great - actually a blizzard on our way in on Friday night, cold and wet for the most part ~ but when we went for our jaunt to Athabasca Falls on Saturday the weather cleared for a few hours and it was so beautiful. Really humbles a person and trully makes you thankful for the simple beauties we have around us, we are very blessed to live in a place where there is so much natural beauty and breathtaking views a few hours away.

Eating in Jasper - or I should say eating out in Jasper gluten free was a 50/50 crap shoot this trip - the first lunch we had at a restaurant called Papa George's (it was on the internet as a gluten free choice) unfortunately the staff on that day were not as careful (?) or knowledgable (?) to gluten free eating ~ and both of us were a bit unwell after our meal. Surprisingly my guy (not a diagnosed celiac but we believe definitely has a Gluten sensitivity - and an already known Lactose intolerance) even more than I. So we were a bit skittish when it came to choosing a supper place, we were tired and cold from our few hours out in the beautiful fresh air, so we took a chance ~ went and talked to the front desk at our Hotel (The Amethyst) and they said the restaurant in the hotel (Anthony's) was very aware of gluten free eating and would be accomodating. So we went to our room and made the choice to stay in the hotel and eat ~ and it was lovely. They were more than accomodating, felt very safe in the knowledge of the staff and the chef ~ our meals were delicious and we felt no ill effects at all afterwards - I would go back and eat there anytime - no matter where we would be staying. So the get away was lovely ~ did have a few ups and downs but then doesn't everything?

ADD:  I am looking forward to going back to Jasper - they did have more options for dining out that I would be interested in trying, as well as there is a  Nutter's in the town that had some great options for gluten free snacks AND items for cooking or preparing (if you had a kitchenette or were camping).  I think as this was one of our first trips as a couple away and having to find options eating gluten free - it did not go too badly ~ and look forward to going back - Jasper is a beautiful area.  :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Somedays I just get tired ...

This past year and a bit has seemed to be a tough one _ in the living and feeling healthy being gluten free world, for me at least, but it also has been a time of some momentous changes in the world and definitely a lot happening in the Celiac/Gluten sensitive community.   My thoughts are a bit scattered today ... I am not having a good day ... for all my efforts with last nights supper something did not sit right with my system and my body is talking ... no shouting at times ... that whatever it was is not good.  Some days on days like today I feel incredibly tired ... tired of being a Celiac, tired of having a disease that while at the same time dealing with it has improved my life and was like a huge breath of fresh air has also seemed to open up a whole can of problems, of issues ... of "things" "foods" "stuff" that seem to hurt my body ... some days like today I just want to sit down and cry "make it stop" ... and I feel frustrated at life and my inability to heal myself. 

I think one of the hardest things to explain to people is how "food" really affects our systems, we spend most of our lives learning that food satisfies hunger, when you are hungry you find something to eat.  Now we all know that let's say certain foods are not the best for you - that a high fat diet can lead to serious complications, a bad diet to obesity ~ but do we really really stop to think how food affects our systems - in it's entirety?  People with Celiac disease do, people with gluten sensitivity do. 

It can be exhausting and frustrating how much time and effort goes into food and the study of what food/s do to the body, mind and spirit.  And that is just one part of a busy life ~ yet for many of us - it's one huge important part that plays a part in everything else in life - our health, our relationships, our work, our play - every interaction or avoided interaction is linked to what we put in our mouths, what we consume, even what we may use to wash our hair or brush our teeth with, from the moment we wake till we lay our heads down at night - it's there with us.  Knowledge that we can not stop gluten from affecting every aspect of our lives, we can only have a small control in how much it does ~ and continue to "try" to do what we need to do everyday to stay healthy and sometimes I think just plain sane.

The world has been a place of upheaval lately - seems we all look around us and there seems to be more sadness and turmoil and strife ~ and not as much peace.  Some days this weighs heavier than others ... I know in my own family there is all sorts of issues that are in various stages to be looked at ... to be dealt with.  Leaves me feeling overwhelmed ... leaves me feeling lost.  When you add the stresses of health and diet on top of that ... well that is just not the best day.  So I read ... I get on the computer and search and research and read some more ... forums, facebook pages, articles, etc.  and I look to be informed, and to feel a part of something - connect and communicate, learn and share.

I have found lately more and more I have turned again and again to the celiac/gluten sensitive community ~ that I have a growing need to be more involved, to be connected and to be a part of the growing community that is shouting out to be heard ~ We want the basics just like many gluten eating folk ;)  We want to be happy, we want to be healthy and we WANT to be safe.  It's hard to explain the feeling that comes over you when you actually eat or drink something that is not only tasty and filling - but that you don't react to it in a negative manner - that you actually feel great!  I am working on this feeling to happen more often ~ it's a work in progress.  Some days I get tired ...

BUT tomorrow or even the rest of today has yet to be lived and experienced ... so maybe just maybe I can work on that for now ...  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matahari - sadly closed

This evening I had a craving for Asian or Vietnamese dining - After taking a look at a couple gluten free reviews on-line - I decided we were going to try out Matahari restaurant on 124th street.  When we walked in I immediately loved the ambiance - the cement fish pond with the koi fish added something unique - the seats that were set in a wooden boat - cool - and the fact that you could reserve a private room and area was a nice add as well.

I do get my first "food" impression when I look at the menu ~ and as a celiac I look for how they have accommodated allergies or sensitivities on the menu.  I was pleased to see that the menu included (did not need a separate menu) celiac safe choices, and the fact that they used the word celiac instead of just gluten free was great also.  I was excited to see that in each category from appetizers, soups to entrees they had choices under each heading that were celiac "friendly" - I was excited to order and dig in.

Though my son does not eat gluten free he joined us (my partner and I) in having a couple appetizers - I chose the Pork Satay and the Shrimp Rice Wraps - both came with sauces on the side.  The Pork Satay was cooked just right, and the seasoning on it was very tasty, I would like to try the other choices in the future - the beef and chicken.  :)  The Shrimp Rice Wraps - was like a little shrimp salad wrapped in a bundle, it came with a slightly sweet sauce for dipping that was a very nice light add.

My man decided to have the Vietnamese Vermicelli
(lemongrass grilled pork and beef, Vietnamese spring roll, rice vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, julienne carrots and lettuce, crushed peanuts, and green onion oil)
- The vermicelli noodles were very nicely cooked - and the pork and beef were nicely spiced - green onion oil was a nice light flavorful touch on the dish.  He gave it a thumbs up.

My son had the Cashew Nut Chicken - and though it was not marked on the menu as celiac friendly ~ and he didn't order it so, she did ask him if he wanted it that way ~ this made me realize that they were very accommodating to whatever you wanted to order off the menu - that most dishes could have substitutes added or things removed to make it safe to eat.  Nevertheless - I didn't try anything off his dish as it was not a celiac friendly dish - but he really enjoyed it and said it was another thumbs up.

I decided to try the Sambal Prawn dish -
(shrimps in an exotic Malaysian style shrimp paste blend sauteed with onions and shallots – served with coconut rice, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber)
- Very tasty - the waitress asked both my son and I how much spice we wanted, he said mild for himself and I said not spicy please.  The dish still had a touch of a bite to it, obviously the Malaysian flavor requires a bit - but it was delicious.  I loved the add of the tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber that touch of salad really helped offset the richness of the sauce on the shrimp - the onions and shallots were sweet, the shrimp cooked just right.  I really was impressed with the amount of the good sized shrimp in the dish, the servings were filling and delicious and we left satisfied and full.

I look forward to our next visit and trying a few more things off of the varied menu.  The bill for the three of us (we had ice tea and sodas for drinks) came to just over $60 - which I found more than reasonable.

Good food, great service and awesome people to be sharing it with.  Matahari is a thumbs up.  :)  

Matahari - South East Asian Restaurant
10108B - 124 Street
Edmonton, AB
Ph: (780) 452-8262

Ample parking at the rear of the building.  :)  With an entrance to the restaurant in the back and the front.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August long weekend ... festival city and more ...

Well I really do admire bloggers that can get on and update post regularly - I look at other blogs and I sometimes get lost in all you can do and share on a blog ... really it could be a full time job!  ha ha - sigh maybe one day I can turn my passion of health, gluten free life, good eating and love of life and where I live and turn it into something ... for now I work a full time job, live between two homes and kitchens, and just have the drive to get this all going.

I love my city and the fact that it comes alive with it's festivals - especially all the activities during the late spring to early fall months - a weekend with two of my favorite events just passed us by - The Taste of Edmonton and Heritage Days -

I was cautiously optimistic in attending Taste of Edmonton this year - An event where a taste of a generous handful of restaurants prepare two or three small dishes for the public to basically "sample" what they are about - It was exciting in the fact that the Taste Of Edmonton had a celiac approved menu - that was posted on line that you could print off before you even attended the event - there seemed to be a good sampling of different dishes so we were prepared to give it a try.

Side note: (It does make it a little more tricky as we are also lactose intolerant - sometimes frustrating that more restaurants do not have a wider span of knowledge on celiac disease or the fact that a lot of people who have celiac disease or even a severe gluten intolerance often have lactose intolerance as well - in my case I was so hoping that once my villa was restored and my intestines on the way to health from gluten damage - that I would once again be able to tolerate dairy / lactose - no such luck.)

We did notice (we went on the last day of this event) that there were booths that though originally on the list that they had celiac friendly dishes - had crossed this out, I can imagine with the cross contamination issue being so high at an event like this - there were some that decided that the risk was too great and took their items off.  

Restaurants and the dishes we tried:

Zinc - Alberta Beef Petit Tender w/Blue Cheese Potatoes - The beef was extremely tender and very tasty - and the Blue cheese potatoes a very nice accompaniment - this dish was a fair size for the cost and was so delicious we went back for seconds.  :)

It's All Greek to Me - Chicken Souvlaki - Simple meat on a stick (without the break accompaniment of course) - tasty.

That's Aroma! - both their items on the menu were listed as celiac friendly - Chicken Satay and Garlic Tomato Salad - we just tried the Chicken Satay (left the garlic for another day ;)  It was very tasty and I am looking to give this restaurant a visit soon - I also heard that they run the odd gluten free cooking class out of the Sorrentino's restaurant groups - I would love to give this a try one day.

The Canadian Brewhouse - Steak Bites - these were delicious - another go back and get another helping - spiced to perfection and tender, looked to be a very popular addition by the line up.

Taste of Ukraine - Cabbage Rolls (Holubtsi) - we had them plain without the sour cream and bacon offered - which she understood as soon as we said celiac - and they were ok.  I am not sure as a celiac how much we could eat at the actual restaurant, but I intend to check it out, being a Ukrainian girl.  :)

Lit Italian Wine Bar - Again both the items on the menu were celiac friendly - Basil stuffed Bocconcini w/ Prosciutto Wrap and the Seared Galliano Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad -  We tried the Ahi Tuna Salad and really enjoyed it - a mixed organic greens with a delightful light and tasty dressing and the Tuna was seared and spiced just right - enjoyed this dish.  Looking at their site - another restaurant I am putting down to try soon, always a good sign when you see gluten free this and that right on the main menu online.

Enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the Taste of Edmonton - and it was good to see the restaurants that made the effort to accommodate therefore encouraging to us to put their establishments on our list of restaurants to research and give them our business.

Heritage Days - was a bit more difficult - we did try a few things from different cultural booths - it is a lot more confusing and a bit of a try and dare situation - you are really taking a risk in eating there - I think maybe some more research would be better for next year, but then again I think the cross contamination risk is very high at this event.

Will post pictures of the dishes at the Taste of Edmonton soon - but for now - I think the foray into gluten free eating at this event a tentative success, and looking forward to next year and maybe taking in a few more dishes.  :)

Cheers :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boston Pizza and the GF Pizza

I decided to take the kids out for pizza yesterday after a hard afternoon of wall climbing at Vertically Inclined - so decided to try the West Edmonton Location of the Boston Pizza once again.  I have had a few shaky experiences there with their new "gluten free" menu and the service, but when I did try this location out it was when they were very new at offering this - so thought as it has been some time now I would once again try.  The kids all can eat gluten and not have the ill effects of it, so finding a place that could accommodate us all sometimes can be a challenge.  It was also mid afternoon on a Sunday so the restaurant was pretty quiet and not busy - the best time to try it out again I believe.

Their gluten free menu is a bit basic - but they have a small offering of salads and entrees to choose from - but they have gluten free pizza!  They use the Kinnikinnick crusts for their pizza, and then add toppings that are gluten free, on the menu you have a decent choice of about 12 pizzas and toppings that you can either mix or order one of their favorites.  I selected the Great White North pizza - gluten free - at this location they only have the one size - which would be the individual size - definitely filling for one person - at a cost of $9.90 so a couple dollars more than the individual I ordered for one of the kids.  And it was good - not a wow factor though and definitely like a pizza you could make at home - but good to have somewhere to go if you all want to have a pizza together and you have a mixed group.

Seriously though I haven't seen the menu at other Boston Pizza restaurants - so I don't know if this changes as to location but I have a few comments on the menu and it's presentation.  Quite use to the plain sheet of paper - this one is laminated so of course any changes to it would require new menus to be run, or as in this West Edmonton location and menu that was scribbled all over - and not of things added to the menu - but of items taken OFF the menu (I guess the new recipe for the wings has now taken them off the entire menu) so this was done by crossing them out in pen) and writing the short explanation on the side, as well as there were two (I believe) other things on the pizza and entree bit also messily penned out.  It was quite disappointing - and had I not had three hungry kids with me that I promised pizza too, I really doubt I would have eaten there as that menu did not give any confidence as to the quality of the service there.  There is definitely a risk at eating a restaurant chains that make changes to "accommodate" a gluten free celiac friendly menu ~ and in truth it is a huge challenge to find ones that are dedicated to serving "all" their patrons equally.

And though I think I did pretty well - and didn't feel any huge ill effects from the menu this go around, I do believe it was largely due to the fact that I went at a time where they weren't busy, would I go when they are busy and trust that I would not be made ill, no ... this location has not given me any reassurances that they truly know what it means to serve to the gluten free population.  So thumbs up for not getting ill, and having a pizza somewhere other than my kitchen (which tasted like it came from my kitchen) but thumbs down for this location to inspire any confidence that this chain location knows how to service a patron with special dietary needs, and all that is included - especially that shoddy ugly menu.

Boston Pizza
17002 90th Avenue Map.e41dcdd
Edmonton, AB

The Creperie

January 18, 2011

Kevin and I went for supper on Friday night and we happily chose The Creperie to dine at that evening ~ this dining establishment (for it is surely more than a "restaurant") continues to be my favorite place to have supper at ~ and has fit a number of occasions. I have gone there with girlfriends, just having a friendly supper with two, for group dining - either work colleagues or sister and her friends, and my favorite way to go is of course with my man Kevin ~ for a romantic and lovely meal out on the town. :)

For someone who has high standards being a Celiac - I think the service at the Creperie is an established bar set for other restaurants to look at. From the moment you walk in you are not only struck by the pleasing and cosy ambiance of the place, but the fact that they serve patrons with Celiac/Gluten Intolerance right from the "get go". Not only do they place a menu in front of you that looks the same as the other menus with gluten on them, bound and leather (not a binder or sheet of paper) but it is a full menu - they give you plenty of options. Appetizers, salads, full list on entrees and deserts! And the food is seasoned and sauced just like you would do in your own home, not a plain hunk of meat on your plate devoid of taste.

AND they bring you gluten free bread to the table as a courtesy starter ~ like any other patron that receives this courtesy. That from the first sitting at this establishment impressed me beyond any other experience I have had in a restaurant. MY OWN bread!!! Safe, warm, and yummy. :)

We started our meal with a delicious appetizer of Crab, Artichoke and Parmesan cheese dip with tortilla chips and gluten free bread. It's delicious! For my entree I chose one of the dishes that has become my favorites - the Lamb shank, I remember the first time I ordered this dish how it was explained to me the slow process they have for preparing this dish, it's amazing the meat is so tender and tasty, literally falls off the bone ~ and served with a healthy portion of mixed seasonal vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes. Heaven.

The ambiance of The Creperie is so inviting - the front entrance really is nothing to look at and as you come down the stairs you wonder at first what kind of dive you are entering, and then you are swallowed up by old world charm, the cozy and woodsey feel of wine cellar, very private and romantic, or just cozy and intriguing ~ like I said whatever the reason I go to dine there, the atmosphere has always fit the bill. And I should not forget the staff!! From the host/ess, to the waiters and servers I have always found them to be pleasant, accommodating, and professional. And I have to tip my hat to those I don't see, the men/women in the kitchen who bring such talent in making the fabulous food that is set in front of me, bravo and thank you from the bottom of my heart and my stomach haha. :) The Creperie is a top notch experience and the best service in dining that I have found to this date in the city. :)

Definite thumbs up for us ~ and I can see myself dining there again and again for many years to come!

Friday, July 22, 2011

De Lux Burger Bar ...

I have decided that I have a passion to start a gluten free blog ~ and then I was stuck for a way to start things off ... as I learn to navigate and create this blog I thought I would "lift" a couple of my own posts from my other blog that is a mix between personal and what I would like to create - a dedicated gluten free blog - about learning to live and love life gluten free and dairy free and diving in - and about where I live and all the amazing options ~ and maybe about where I travel and the options I have found there. :) Which I hope to do more of ... so first post grabbed -

"As I am a celiac I have really come to have a deep appreciation for good food ~ and since I have become a part of a couple I have found a love of making good food, as now I have someone to share, cook, eat, love and laugh with. We both eat gluten free and both of us have a lactose intolerance so sometimes eating out can be an issue ~ I know I have blogged about my favorite restaurant "The Creperie" but there is another spot that has also earned my commendations because I have never had a bad meal there - and it is honestly the first place I have found that I have had a decent and delicious hamburger at! Yep a gluten dairy free hamburger - really somethings you do crave once you can't have them like you use to ~ anyway I would be talking about the restaurant Delux Burger Bar on 142st (Crestwood) ~ I recently wrote a comment on the blog "Gluten Free Edmonton" - which on a side note has been a valuable and informative resource I have come to enjoy reading - new and old posts have so much information about products and restaurants and just living gluten free it's been awesome!!

Back to my post:
"WE have been to both West End locations ~ and I have to say I have never been disappointed with the burger (the guilt free gf free burger and bun) at the 142nd ave location. The burgers have always been juicy and cooked perfectly and on a soft and delicious bun, we have it with the side salad with a little of the vinegarette and it is awesome! Our West Edm. Mall experience was not even close to as good, maybe they are too busy in that location to show the same care in preparation?? We did comment on it while there, and the waiter and host were very good in saying they would research why the other burger was surperb and that our next dining experience there would be fabulous ... haven't tried it yet. The chef at the 142 ave location knows how to make a yummy satisfying gluten free burger! :) "

I have to say there is a real sincere effort in customer satisfaction at the 142nd street location ~ my guy and I were there a couple weeks ago (we had gone to a movie in the mall and decided we wanted a burger and so traveled to the Crestwood location - it's just never disappointed us) and when I was up paying our bill the gentleman at the till asked how our meal was. We had a nice little conversation - we talked about our experience at the WEM location and he was very interested in our observations and thanked me for my honest opinion - I did not complain just simply stated the fact that their burger at this location far surpassed the one in the mall. He then handed me his card, I found out he was one of the managing partners - Jim Skagos - said if I ever have any more issues or comments please to make sure to pass them along. It is that kind of attention to care and detail that I find refreshing in todays service market and one that keeps me as a loyal patron to a business. I sincerely believe that they would look into both locations and see how the can better service, and I just may head over to the WEM location one of these days soon and give them another try ... cuz every so often just gotta have that burger! :)"