September 14, 2011

Gluten free air travel: which company to take!

"Living" in three different locations I travel a lot. My new routine has become spending 10 months in France, 1 month in Alaska (sometimes fitting in a trip to see my relatives in Washington), and 1 month in Quebec. Unfortunately all of these trips require travelling by plane and spending time in airports, which is always difficult for celiacs. However, after travelling so much I have some tips on which airlines provide can off you a good gf experience

Airline companies:

Alaska Airlines: Do not provide free meals anymore, but what airline does?? However, they do offer a gluten free option. Check out the link below! I am pretty excited about this option, as I frequently use this airline to travel between Alaska and Montreal.

KLM: This company provides gf meals and they are very careful about CC. They give you your meal before anyone else, it is completely wrapped in plastic and takes a bit of time to open! I have flown this company two separate times. Once to Africa, and once to Dallas, TX. The first time to Africa the food was amazing. However, this last time, which was only 3 weeks ago, the food was almost to the point of disgusting. Definitely gf, but I had to force myself to eat some of it so I wouldn't be hungry on the 10 hour flight.

Airtransat: GF meal available upon request. However it is also the kosher meal. For breakfast I was served veggies, cheese and NON gf crackers. I was also served a meal for dinner, which was decent and I didn't get sick, so I am assuming it was gf even if there was a mix up wiht the crackers.

XL Airways:
No gf meals available. Bring your own snacks!!

British Airways: Good gf meals available. However, they forgot my meal on one flight (Seattle to London). Instead, they offered me a really good salad from business class, which did kind of make up for it and thankfully I had eaten before getting on the plane. But I was left with just a yogurt and gf brownie that some lady gave me in the plane. However, had no problems on the return flight.

Luftansa: Good food, great service. But forgot one of my gf meals on the flight Frankfurt to Seattle. Found another meal and made sure it was gf, so I was able to have something thankfully.

Condor: AMAZING gf meals. You pay extra for them, but definitely worth it. I had a way better meal than my husband. In fact he wished he was eating mine!

Kenyan airways: GF option available.

September 4, 2011

Gluten free eats in Anchorage, AK

Let's be honest...I love to eat. I really think eating is one of my favorite activities in life. So being gluten free, I really look to obtain that ultimate gf eating experience. Sure now at most restaurants you can easily eat gluten free. But does that mean you are eating the same thing as the person next to you? Probably not. Often times you are served a chicken breast with nothing else, maybe some sautéed veggies if you are lucky. Which makes me immediately think "why did I eat here and why am I paying 15 dollars for this??" So over the past couple years I have eaten my way (gluten free of course) through my hometown of Anchorage. Now whenever I head home each summer I know exactly where to eat and I have secretly made a list of places that I have to eat at before I leave. Although I can't guarantee this mad rush of restaurant eating as healthy, I can guarantee that it is absolutely worth the experience. So folks here is my "secret" must eat at restaurant list in Anchorage.

This place has NEVER let me down. You can really order whatever you want and if it isn't gluten free, they will deliciously modify it to be gf. And trust me it is pretty much the same thing if not better than what the person next to you is eating! I recommend the bacon wrapped dates and any fish dish.

I have eaten a lot at this place since being diagnosed. They have always catered to my needs and now they have a whole gf menu! Great atmosphere and great location downtown. I recommend the red curry dish.

Bear tooth
Moose's tooth's brother. This place probably will go even more gf in the next year since Moose's tooth now offers gf pizza. I imagine Bear Tooth will integrate it shortly. However, as of now you can get a lot of gf dishes at this place, without modifications. Just ask and the server will be able to check for you. On the grill side I enjoy the enchiladas. However on the theater pub side I recommend the Mandarin Chicken Salad. Seriously where else can you eat gf while watching a movie for 3 bucks?

Snow City Cafe
The BEST breakfast place ever. And now they mark which items are gf on their menu! There is a big wait time for this place, especially on weekends. But you can choose to do the call ahead option (call and put your name on the list as you leave your house). This usually saves you about 20 or 30 minutes of waiting.

Ray's Place
Great Vietnamese restaurant where you can bring your own soy sauce! They will cook with it to make your dish gf. Just make sure to ask them to use clean utensils, and avoid cross contamination. I recommend their Pho soup, it is to die for!

Crow's Nest
Great place for a romantic evening. The chef will cater to your needs. It is a bit pricy, but between the delectable treats and breathtaking view, you won't be disappointed.

Even though this place is Italian and Italian for me flashes a big read NO sign, this place is very aware of catering to gf needs and allergies. They have delicious food and an awesome bar atmosphere. Great bar area to go on a date or meet up with friends.

And finally for Mexican food you can really eat anywhere. Alaska has the most amazing Mexican restaurants. Waiters are usually very knowledgeable and I can almost always eat fajitas or enchiladas (just ask about the sauces). I recommend La Cabana in downtown or Hacienda. For those of you who live in AK you can always find great coupons for these places on the backs of receipts. So enjoy and don't be afraid to eat your gluten free way through Anchorage!!

August 15, 2011

Montreal: Gluten free / sans gluten at Marche Jean Talon

This summer we rented an apartment in Montreal so I had easy access to McGill to finish up a program. We lucked out and found a place in walking distance to the Marche Jean Talon and the metro. A definite good find! If you have never been to Montreal, you may not heard of the Marche Jean Talon, which is an outdoor market where you can find EVERYTHING and it is a gf gold mine. Fresh veggies, meats, ethnic foods, etc.

Make sure to check out these places:

Creperie du Marche
I didn't eat here, as I had already eaten way to many sarrasin crepes in France last year. However they advertise their gf crepes! Just check about cross contamination before you eat here as they are making wheat crepes as well.

Saussicerie (sausage store)
many gf options here and delicious sausages! It is located at the back part of the market to the right about 5-6 stores of the bio store.

July 24, 2011

Gluten Free/ Sans Gluten in downtown Montreal

Ahh the McGill ghetto. For those of you who are familiar with Montreal, you know exactly what I am talking about! Well tucked away in the McGill ghetto is a little Jem called the Lola Rosa Cafe....

I ate at this place last summer when I was downtown and could not have been happier with the place. It is a cute little cafe tucked away on a street next to McGill. The vegetarian menu provides healthy meals, plus they label their menus for GF items, which is ALWAYS a plus in my book. It makes it a breeze to order rather than playing 20 questions with the waiter. So I highly recommend this ethincally influenced vegetarian's dream.

The best way to get there is get off at the McGill metro stop on the green line. Walk up University st and take a right on Milton. You will see it on the left with the big open windows in the front. Enjoy!

Note-French and English spoken here!

July 22, 2011

Montreal: must try this bread!

For me gluten free bread has just never been that unbelievable. It is kind of like a vessel that you put delicious things on so that it somehow tastes better. In fact I never really used to put so many things on my sandwiches, hamburgers, etc, but that was BEFORE I was celiac and forced to eat this "bread" which is somewhat reminiscent of cardboard.

However, my annual trip to Montreal has changed my mind. My mother in law bought me some bread before my arrival and informed me that it was the new "hot" gf bread in town. So I smiled and nodded thank you, but really in my mind I thought uh yeah right, it probably tastes just like all the other ones.....nope, I was wrong. It is seriously that good and when it thaws out it is actually moist like normal bread. And no, I am not joking. So now you are probably dying to know the name! It is called Maison Cannelle. I have been able to find it at most natural food or bio stores and even grocery stores!

Besides the bread, the compagne is my favorite kind, you MUST try their kaiser rolls. They are legit hamburger buns that do not crumble and fall apart after the first bite. And the best part is they aren't 3 inches high, so that by the time you put your stuff in there you can actually take a bite without having your mouth as wide open as you can get it.

Finally since becoming celiac I have not been a huge muffin eater. I thought most of the ones I tried were dry, crumbly, bland, half to a quarter the normal size, you know what I am talking about. Well again my mother in law bought me some muffins and I thought hmm ok the bread was good and these guys are BIG, so let’s try them out. I wasn't disappointed, in fact both my husband and mother in law thought they were delicious. I insisted after I tried one that they must try a bite to confirm my hypothesis that this muffin in fact tasted like a "normal" muffin. And they agreed with seriousness (I can usually tell when they are just saying yes to make me feel better!). So all I can say is go out, try this product, and promote it because all the Celiac's and intolerants and allergic folks need to know about this!!!!

I have also included their website, although it is in French.

July 5, 2011

My go to Thai dish

I always forget how much I love eating when I am back in the states. Don't get me wrong I love eating in Europe too, or France more specifically. But there are many items you simply just can't find over there. Take gf thai kitchen microwavable meals, or even chips and salsa, and of course my go to peanut sauce. San-J company makes an amazing peanut sauce that goes on to make an even better stir fry when paired with oh so creamy and delicious coconut milk. This winning combination has been tried by many of my friends and after the first bite each one of them was hooked.

-1 can coconut milk
-1 jar San-J peanut sauce (found at most grocery stores in Canada and America)
-1 lb chicken, cut into small chunks
-1 bell pepper, cut into pieces (any size, your preference)
-1 onion, chopped
-Mushrooms, cut into pieces (your choice on the quantity)
-1 head broccoli, cut into pieces
-any other veggie you feel like throwing in there, sometimes I use celery, fresh tomotaos, carrots, zucchini, really anything I have in the kitchen at the time.

Add about 1-2 T olive oil to a deep frying pan or wok. Saute chicken for 3-5 minutes. Then add in chopped veggies and more olive oil if needed, saute for another 3-5 minutes. Then add in cocoonut milk and peanut sauce. I personally add the whole jar, but it is up to you. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve over your favorite kind of rice. Enjoy this simple meal!

July 3, 2011

Gluten free pizza and beer at the same restaurant?

Oh yeah, that's right. Seriously, I am not trying to tempt you into thinking of your non-celiac days of gorging on pizza and beer; I am stating the absolute truth. I recently made a month long trip back to the great state of Alaska, my home. Each year that I return I am joyous with the new developments in not only gluten free products, but in all the locally owned restaurants in Anchorage. I love spending the first couple of days browsing the stores for new gf products, new gf producers, and purchasing some of my favorite gf products that I simply cannot find in France. I also eat out way too much, insisting almost every night on hitting one of my fav restos for dinner and lets just say the list isn't short. For me, eating out gf in Anchorage has become a breeze.

Let me also bring up why eating gf has become so well-known in really, well the last year in Anchorage. For this, I would like to thank all the doctors, especially my doctor, who continue to diagnose people with celiac disease, gluten allergies, and gluten intolerances. I would like to thank Mrs. Alaska 2011 for bringing Celiac awareness to the community of Anchorage (she also has an excellent blog!). I would like to thank the world renowned tennis player Novak Djokovic who eats gf due to a gluten intolerance (although now everything thinks a gf diet is the breakfast of champions), and I hesitantly thank those who have made the gf diet so "hot" right now. Yes gf has become the new fad diet, with this diet came many new gf products and now many other products are starting to put gf labels on! So this is a positive thing. However, one must be careful at the restaurant when ordering gf, as waiters think it is a weight loss diet, rather than a lifetime, no choice diet. So cross contamination is probably not the first thing on their mind.

Ok enough about eating gf being the new atkins diet. Back to pizza and beer! In Anchorage there is a wonderful place set in mid-town overlooking the mountains to the East, that brings back so many memories for me and that place is called The Moose's Tooth. It is a locally owned pizza place with pizzas to die for that come with every topping imaginable. Not to mention the homemade sauce is in a league of its own. I can specifically remember the last time I ate Moose's Tooth pizza before realizing I was Celiac. It was a cool spring day spent at my Aunt's house up by Flattop Mountain. We all gorged ourselves on "backpacker" and "white pizza". I drove home contentedly full until about half way to my house I almost had to pull over from the pain in my belly. Literally I was almost in tears, sound familiar anyone? I arrived home, rolled around on the floor in front of my parents, and finally that is when my dad said "we have got to send her to the gastroenterologist". So yes, that was my very last memory of my beloved Moose's Tooth pizza....UNTIL 3 weeks ago! Oh yeah, that's right. The Moose's Tooth has jumped on the gf bandwagon and I could not be happier. I learned about this life changing news from one of my best friends who sent me a text something like this "by the way, Moose's Tooth has gf pizza now". This was my reaction.... WHHHHHATTTTTTT! Upon learning this news I quickly googled the website, found nothing. But then found a link to Mrs. Alaska's blog and she had thankfully written about the new gf pizza. So what did I do after this? I promptly informed my husband and family that we were going to Moose's Tooth that night, no questions asked.

So now you are wondering how my experience went? Let me just say it is one of my top three gf eating experiences. Upon entering the restaurant, I sat down to the smells I thought would never snuggle into my nose again. I quickly found the gf menu and was giddy as a child on Christmas. Gluten free salads (I quickly moved on, as I did not come there for a salad) followed by gf pizza choices and I mean choices upon choices!!! Followed by a gf dessert, chocolate cake no less, and wait, wait, gf BELGIUM beer. Oh yeah, it was official. I was in a gf heaven! My mom decided to also order a gf pizza, so we shared both an Aloha and Backpacker pizza, definitely two of my past favorites! And let me just say I was not disappointed with the beer or the pizza. In fact our server gave me a whole other pizza for free because apparently the first one that came out stuck to the pan a bit, so the chef wasn't happy?! Little do they know that gf cooking never comes out normal haha. But hey, I wasn't one to complain since I received 3 small gf pizzas for the price of two!! Unfortunately, after stuffing myself I was too full to try the delicious chocolate cake complete with coconut frosting, but on a separate occasion I did try it and it was by far one of the best cakes ever. So my hats off to you Moose's Tooth! And to everyone else, your days of pining for Moose's Tooth pizza are over, so get your butts down there STAT!!!

May 16, 2011

30 minute Gluten Free meals

Ok so I have to be honest, this year I have not been the cook that I was last year. This is mostly due to the fact that I am no longer a stay at home gf cook. I have a job, I am taking French classes every week, and to top it off am doing an online grad certificate program. So let me just say that it is not me that you can find in the kitchen these days. It is either my dog cleaning up the floor in there or my amazing husband who has taken over my job. But, when I have the time, I am right back in there whipping up something (in 30 minutes or less). That's right, I have tried to become the celiac Rachel Ray and time my dinner to 30 minutes or less (but I must be honest that sometimes it takes about 40-45!), I like to call this efficient cooking because really those of us that work, who has time to spend hours in the kitchen?? So I would like to share with you my go to recipe that seriously does take 30 minutes and to top it off it is easy to clean up and you don't need a professional to organize your ingredients! It is a Rachel Ray recipe and one of my favorites. I first made it with one of my best friends when I was home over Christmas break many years ago. However, this was before I knew I was celiac. But the one thing I do remember about making this sauce was the fact that I could not stop tasting it! It is a crowd pleaser and more importantly one of the easiest sauces ever to make! But again let me credit Rachel Ray for this one!

Sasauge Fennel Pasta

*1 lb (500g) ground sausage
*1 fennel bulb chopped
*1 onion chopped
*3 cloves garlic
*1 cup white wine
*2 cans (400g) diced or canned tomatoes
*some spice-either sirachi sauce, cayenne, or whatever you use to bring on the heat!
*Fresh torn basil leaves

Brown sausage in a sauce pan or wok. Line plate with paper towel and place cooked sausage on plate. Sauté fennel, onion, and garlic in pan until slightly tender. Add in canned tomatos, wine, cooked sausage, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste and add your ``heat`` in. Simmer for as long as you like. You can simmer this sauce for hours if you like or you can boil water immediately for your pasta, after turning it down to simmer. I have simmered this sauce 15 min, 30 min, an hour,etc and it made no difference. Sometimes I also like to add other veggies in such as mushrooms. But it is totally up to you, make it your own! So cook up some spaghetti al dente with this bad boy sauce and maybe even top it off with some garlic bread or ``g-toast`` as I like to call it.

May 1, 2011

Thailand, a paradise for Celiacs

Well I just got back from the vacation of a lifetime. Yup, that's right, Thailand! One of those places you dream about but think you will never really have the opportunity to go to. Well thanks to living in Europe and for cheap flights, it is possible!!! So after the long and wonderful hockey season, we decided to celebrate not only my husband's team winning the cup, but also the fact that he got a 3 year contract deal. So that means we get to stay here for another three years, which I could not be more thrilled about! I have a job and most importantly I have made a life here.

Ok now back to Thailand. This place is paradise and an EATING paradise for Celiacs. Thanks to the Thai diet which mostly consists of rice based things, you can eat without any major worries. I will say though that before I embarked on this journey I did quite a bit of research. My biggest question was does Thai soy sauce really contain gluten?? Well I couldn't answer that before I left and I still can't answer it after coming back! I would also like to thank my fellow Celiacs who have posted about visiting Thailand, especially the blogger from Fort Worth who blogged about her experience. All of it was very helpful.

Now down to the details.....We got a package deal, so that meant the flight, transfers, hotel, and breakfast were included. The airline was low cost, so unfortunately no GF meals were available. But I survived by bringing lots of snacks, a sandwich for dinner, and a PB and J sandwich for breakfast. For the way back I was able to bring some thai food with me, that was still just as delicious cold. The hotel was right across from Nai Harn beach. I spent the days sitting in my beach chair eating gf pad thai and drinking numerous banana smoothies. With that being said, here are my tips, thoughts, and experiences on visiting Thailand and most importantly on EATING GF in Thailand.

1. Bring your own bread! I didn't even attempt to look for anything GF there. I brought some bread for breakfast, some crackers (which I never needed), and some of these breakfast biscuit things that British people seem to love. Breakfast at the hotel was completely managable as they provided lot's of fresh fruit, eggs cooked to order, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, a delicious thai porridge made of rice and chicken, and even gf fried rice (although make sure you always ask!!).

2. Don't take your thai restaurant card. I believe that this will only confuse them more. Some thai people don't speak much English, so it is just easier I found to have someone at the hotel write in Thai: No soy sauce, No oyster sauce. I flashed this at the restaurant and food stands and it worked everytime. I was able to order pad thai, fried rice, stir fry, etc. I never got sick and it was much easier than trying to explain what I could and couldn't eat.

3. Most curries are naturally GF. I ate green curries, red curries, and even masaman curry. I even ate some fried spring rolls, which I was not completely sure about, but I didn't get sick afterwards! I believe that most of the wrappers are made from only rice, but you should make sure to ask.

4. Eat from food stands. I had wonderful BBQ chicken that was some of the best I have ever had. The more authentic the Thai food is, the less likely it is going to have gluten in it.

5. If you decide to take a boat trip, you can check ahead of time for what they will be serving for lunch. We did a tour to the Phi Phi Islands that included a buffet lunch. Upon arriving there I flashed my card to the thai waiters, who spoke no English, but they were able to point to things and say no. They had a green curry there, so I knew I wouldn't starve! I also took some snacks just in case. However, the tour itself was somewhat disappointing as our guide was terrible. However, the scenary was beautiful, but if you are looking for some killer snorkeling spots, I recommend somewhere else. The coral was mostly dead here. But if you want to see some white sand beaches and where "The Beach" was filmed, then the Phi Phi Islands are your destination!

6. Drink as many smoothies as you can, I recommend the banana one!

7. Treat yourself, get a massage! The oil massage I got cost something like 6 dollars for an hour. And if you are really feeling up to it you can go for the thai one. Although it is pretty intense!

8. You might feel sick, but remember you are in Thailand and stomach bugs are normal! Just because you are having some issues does not necessarily mean you have been glutenated!

9. Eat outside the hotel!! The hotel restaurants are expensive, westernized, and your chances are a lot higher of getting glutnated at your hotel vs at the Thai restaurant 200m away.

And finally my biggest tip of all is don't let being Celiac prevent you from visiting the world! So get going and pack your bag, book you flights, and enjoy a vacation of a lifetime!

January 3, 2011


Happy New Year! Wow, what a whirlwind these last couple of months have been. I have been neglecting my blog mostly due to the fact that 1. I am working as an English teacher, 2. I am taking French classes here at the university, 3. I am doing grad school online, and 4. FP is cooking more than me! So I have not come up with too many crazy new exciting recipes lately.

Another big thing to mention is that we are not in Briancon this year! Right before we were going to leave Quebec to come back to France, we found out the team in Briancon folded. So for obvious reasons we had to change teams. After a couple frantic days we were told that Rouen was interested in FP, so we packed our stuff and went north past Paris instead of south and into the mountains. Things have been wonderful here and I am enjoying the new experience. We have not eaten out much here, so I have no comments about the restaurants around town, but I do have to say that France is getting way ahead in the GF department. They now carry GF pasta, bread, crackers, cookies, etc at the normal supermarket for half the price of the stuff in the bio stores. I have also applied to the social security to get my reimbursement from the government for being Celiac. Yup, that is right. I am going to get paid 45 euros a month for my GF food! Thank you France!

So for those of you traveling to this area I can point you in the right direction for GF food! And I will include some recipes ASAP!!! But until than Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a good GF holiday season!