Monday, November 30, 2009

GF Menus: A Cautionary Tale

I will keep this short, but here is a lesson recently learned about gluten free menus. A couple weeks ago my husband and I ate at Molly Woo's at Polaris. We choose the restaurant because it has been our experience that Cameron Mitchell restaurants are well prepared to meet my gluten free needs. I was thrilled to find that they had a gluten free menu printed out and gluten free soy sauce in case I wanted anything off of the regular menu (they would prepare it specially with the GF soy sauce).

I ordered the calamari appetizer. I LOVE calamari and had missed it so much. Keep in mind that I ordered from the Gluten Free menu and told the server that I needed her to make sure that it was gluten free (the whole speal). When she brought it to the table, it had two sauces in ramekins on the plate. I hadn't seen the sauces listed on the GF menu so I asked about them. I was SHOCKED to find that one of the sauces contained gluten! and the server knew it! and no one would have told me if I hadn't asked!


I explained the problem with the scenario to the server, but I don't think she got it. Rather than make a scene, I have emailed about my experience to corporate. We'll see if I hear anything back.

Lesson learned. You can't assume that ordering from the GF menu is enough. Speak up. Ask questions.

Important note: I didn't get sick (Hurray!) but it was a close call.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spending Hours On What Used To Be An Excuse Not To Cook

I miss take-out Chinese food. Happy House on 5th Avenue in Grandview was my go-to spot. Their General Tso's Chicken is so good I never managed to order anything else on the menu! If you are not gluten free I suggest you go eat some. Now.

So, after almost a year of no General Tso's, I decided to make my own. I had been sitting on a recipe for General Tso's Chicken and finally set aside an evening to make it. Good thing I had an evening. It took almost 2 hours. Maybe it will be faster next time, but probably not by much.

It was delicious, and I'll definitely make it again, but wow. Deep frying in a wok was easier than I expected, but I had to fry the chicken in small batches. I think that's what took so long... I think next time I make it I will try to convince my husband to do that part. :)

I found the recipe here and doubled it. I used chicken breast, added sliced onion and broccoli, and used pepper flakes. Next time I will triple the sauce and add more red pepper.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ode to Cinnamon Chex

Cinnamon Toast Crunch was my favorite cereal of all time before my diagnosis. It was desert and breakfast and snacks and I'm pretty sure I've even made dinner out of it.
When General Mills announced that they were reformulating Rice Chex to be gluten free and making other flavors gluten free, I (like a lot of Celiacs) was thrilled. I was even more ecstatic when I found Cinnamon Chex. It's not the same as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I won't try to kid myself. But it's the closest thing I've got. And it's healthier. A grown-up version. When I have a bowl of Cinnamon Chex with yogurt, I don't care that I can't eat a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
What I don't like about Cinnamon Chex is the price and availability. Kroger doesn't always have it. Target, Marcs, and Giant Eagle have it sometimes. At Giant Eagle I paid $4.75 for a box! Tonight on a rare trip to Walmart I found it for $2.00 a box. Normally, I'm not a fan of Walmart. I'd rather buy from a local grocery, but in this economy, when gluten free food is already 300% more than the regular versions (I never thought I would consider mac and cheese a luxury), that's a deal I can't pass up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the choices we make

This is a story about my most recent gluten free fail and why I should always listen to that little voice that tells me to step away from the food.

I was at my parents' house this weekend, and they are truly wonderful about feeding me gluten free food. But they can't protect me from myself.

Now, at my house, I am very strict about not double dipping into jars. My husband has been well trained, and if he forgets and there's even a slight potential gluten contamination, we label the jar and he eats the rest (I open a fresh jar for myself). This rarely happens, but if it does, this method has been very helpful for us.

So why, oh why did I think that I should put jelly from the 1/2 full jar in my parents' fridge on my gluten free bread bed time snack? There were many unopened jars in the cupboard for me to choose from. I could have opened a fresh jar and eaten my bread and jelly worry free? why, after putting the potentially contaminated jelly on my gluten free bread and having the thought "I shouldn't eat this" did I go ahead and wolf it down?

Because if nothing else: I am a gluten for punishment.

I told that nagging voice in my head "It will be fine! I don't know for sure that there are crumbs in this jelly. I only have a few pieces of GF bread with me. It would be sacrilege to throw these away..." and it was delicious. I went to bed smug that I was feeling fine.

and then about 12 hours later I felt it. The tightness in my abdomen. the pokey pain around my insides. the rapidly expanding stomach (I looked about 4 months prego by lunch time). the overwhelming feeling of failure. Because this time, I have no one to blame but myself.

My mom did everything right. None of the food she put on the table for me made me sick. It was my choices, my lapse in the vigilance, my gluttony that did it.

So while I didn't dive face first into the donut case at the grocery like I wanted to, I still failed to follow the first and most important rule of gluten free eating: don't assume that what you don't know to be safe will be "ok".