Monday, August 27, 2012

Traveling Trials

This past weekend, I headed out on to the open road.  Friday afternoon found me situated in my black tin can of a car, hurtling down the turnpike toward a family reunion.

I love traveling. I really do. I also really like traveling alone, so this solitary trip was right up my alley. Until I realized that I hadn't thought ahead about gluten-free options for food while driving. And let me tell you, the Ohio Turnpike is not a gluten-free-friendly place. I suppose if you want to stand and read labels for ages and only eat trail mix, it would be relatively simple. However, if you're leaving straight from work and looking for something to hold you over for the next four hours, you had better pack everything for yourself.

Einstein Brothers, Panera, Carvel/Cinnabon (combination), Burger King, Popeye's. The list goes on and on. The closest thing to gluten-free I managed to get was a drink from Starbucks which, as you may know, can be disastrous if a) you don't know what to order or b) you are one of those unfortunate people with an extreme insensitivity to gluten.

My two days on the Turnpike were made more difficult by the lack of options, but it made me wonder when or if things will ever change.  Some doctors speculate that as many as 1 in 3 people in the world have a gluten sensitivity. What would it take for us to make changes in our fast food marketplaces?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Family Dinner

I come from a big Italian family. And when I say Italian, I mean Italian. The two most important things in this world for this family seem to be family and food (no big argument there from me).  As such, family dinners every Sunday are a big deal. A really big deal.

They're also a really big gluten-fest filled with booby traps and delicious, but deadly pitfalls. I usually end up making something for my self on the side and just having to look longingly at the pasta, meatballs, and Nonna's amazing homemade sauce. And then I got a big surprise this morning. Grandma (Nonna) informed that not only had she picked up gluten-free penne rigata (by Pasta Si) and even made sure that she had a gluten-free sauce on hand (Lidia's Marinara). While it still isn't Nonna's homemade sauce and meatballs, it means the world that she would think of me and go out of her way to make sure I felt included --and of, course, well-fed because that is the main love language of Italian grandmas everyone.

Along with this, I've thrown together a roast chicken piccata based on this recipe. It's in the oven now and it smells delicious!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Race to a Million #5K

So, I have a cause that hits close to home for me. I love the Cleveland Foodbank and what they do for our community. In this day and age and with this economy, all of us are a lot closer to hunger than we realize.

This year, I get the awesome opportunity to do a 5K and raise funds for the Cleveland Foodbank though the Race to a Million. I did put my fundraising widget up there (you can see it just to the right), so if you feel led to donate, I know that the Cleveland Foodbank would really appreciate. Just $10 can feed 40 in need. The money donated through the widget goes straight to the Cleveland Foodbank through Crowdrise and you can even get a receipt of your donation for tax purposes.

On a side/gluten-free note: I got to volunteer at the Cleveland Foodbank a couple months ago and I was really excited to see how many gluten-free products that were available in the shipment we were sorting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Hipp

My cousin was in town a few weeks ago and because of this, we spent a good amount of time eating out and exploring the city. Eating out is always a bit of a trap for the gluten-free, but I have it a little easier than most as mine is a "simple" allergy and not Celiac.  But it is still hard. So hard.

One of my favorite new restaurants is The Hipp. They're pretty awesome. Besides having fantastic, fresh food, they are pretty gluten-free friendly in my experience. They also have an awesome food truck, but mostly I'm here to brag about The Hipp itself.  Their food is good. Really. It's fresh and it's fast. It is one of the few places where I can walk in with only an hour lunch to spare and get a real meal and back to the office in no time flat.   When I first started going to The Hipp, I'd simply order a sandwich or an entree sans gluten (i.e., one of the great hamburgers without the bun). Then I heard word of a gluten-free bun. Yes, folks, a gluten-free bun. And I tried it and it was amazing. It's what I like to call a "I-can't-believe-it's-not-gluten" moment. It really is the best gluten-free bun so far.

Also, I have to speak very highly of the staff as well. Very gluten-free friendly. I've called, emailed, and even just walked in off the street with gluten-related questions and they've been super helpful and well-informed about which of their items have gluten and which can be customized to be gluten-free.

If you're in the Midtown area, give them a try. I hope you'll like them as much as I do!

Burger with gluten-free bun

Fatty BBQ Sammie, sans bun and with brussell sprouts