Monthly Archives: May 2008

Gardening Gluten-Free

corn_gluten.jpgWhen I recall moments from childhood, time spent in my father’s vegetable patch inevitably races to mind. Splashes of green cabbages rotund like pregnant bellies and strawberry red tomatoes fat and full like starbursts on hyper active drugs strap my memory. These memories invade the same way stringy weeds overtake gardens at the height of late Spring.

Weeds. Humph! The stringy nemeses to plant life the world over. Little do these vegetation invaders know that they have an enemy in gluten-free.

According to the blog, Prairie Road, corn gluten meal is currently being promoted as a lawn fertilizer and weed killer. You can use this natural weed preventative, which contains 60% protein, from Spring to Fall.

More than a dozen companies sell this gluten-free agent.

So, why not fight the weeds in the months ahead, whatever their form, and do it gluten-free.

How to Dine Gluten Free in Restaurants – Tip #9

Notify the Restaurant Beforehand.

Think back to when you were in school (for some of us, that’s a harder challenge than others): Did you prefer when the teacher popped a quiz, or when you had advanced warning to review materials and make sure everything was in order? When dealing with the gluten free diet, most restaurants are going to prefer the latter.

When you can, it’s best to make reservations and let the restaurant know about your special dietary needs in advance. This gives the restaurant time to get up to snuff on the details of the diet, look into what might be gluten free for you, and (sometimes) even make special accommodations.

One of the best gluten free experiences I had in Philadelphia was at a restaurant called Lolita. They didn’t have a gluten free menu, but were recommended as well-versed in the diet. When we visited (after calling a few days in advance), the kitchen had gone through the menu and marked everything on it that was gluten-free for me (about 90% of the menu, btw). It felt great to have so many options to choose from, but it was even better that the whole exchange was seamless and hassle-free.

Mother's Day Dining Delight

famf0500bagel_bagels.jpgThe day we designate for mom arrives but once a year. We can show our moms how much we appreciate them this year by doing something that they do for us daily–cooking.

Cooking often becomes a perfunctory task for mothers. They prepare meals without thinking and we sometimes eat without thanking.

So, why not reverse this trend for the one day of the year that honors mom’s title. According to www.glutenfreeceliacweb.com, FamilyFun.com allows you to do just that by featuring several gluten-free Mother’s Day dining options. The site’s Bagel Family Portraits emerges as one of their most original.

Essentially bagel halves covered in creme cheese and adorned with raw vegetables arranged as hair and facial features, these portraits can serve as a fun family breakfast or snack project on Mother’s Day or any other day.

Consider the following ingredients and materials to design a bagel for each member of the family: 1 large bagel, cut in half, toasted or raw, mini bagels, cut in half, as many halves are as there are kids in the family, raw or toasted, smoked salmon, sliced into strips, small black olives, sliced in half, 1 large leaf of curly parsley, cut in half, red pepper, cut into the shape for the mouth, 1 large carrot, a handful of chives, green pepper, sliced into two circles of equal size, about 1/4-inch in diameter, 2 or 3 peanuts, finely chopped, and cherry tomato or small, red grapes.

Enjoy taking the cooking reigns this Mother’s Day (It’s not chiefly a woman/mother’s task afterall). Your younger brothers and sisters should especially enjoy this project.

You can find gluten-free bagels at Whole Foods, your local supermarket or any general health foods store. A couple of options include Glutino Premium Plain Bagels and Enjoy Life Foods Cinnamon Raisin and Classic Original Bagels.

You can find preparation instructions here.

The Gluten-less Smokey Bones

smokeybones.gifThe smokehouse stench of barbeque will soon invade nostrils nationwide. From late May to early September, miscellaneous meats lathered in a gooey, brick-red tinted sauce will dot t-shirts, hands and mouths alike and invite the familiar buzz of bite-happy mosquitoes and scrap-hungry flies.

Those of us who love BBQ but opt out of cooking it ourselves can look to restaurants for gluten-free alternatives. In her newest blog entry, Gluten-Free BBQ, celiac blogger Suzanne Mangini points to Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill as a possible option.

“I love BBQ!” Mangini exclaims. “While the best BBQ around comes from our backyard smoker, we [haven't yet fired it up] this season.”

She goes on the explain that she dined at Smokey Bones last week for the first time in a year. Mangini knew that their meats, sauces and rubs were gluten-free, but was “unsure about their sides.”

Luckily, Smokey Bones keeps a current, in-store list of gluten-free items available on their menu. Mangini chose baby back ribs, mashed potatoes, and apples.

“I always enjoy sautéed apples,” Mangini adds, “as they are like apple pie but without the crust.”

She warns against the restaurant’s garlic toast and baked beans as they contain gluten.

Even with those exceptions, it remains possible for celiacs and non-celiacs alike to enjoy a good summertime BBQ. A little carry-out from Smokey Bones can help make that possible.

How to Dine Gluten Free in Restaurants – Tip #7

Reward Extra Service with an Extra Tip.

Another no-brainer. I generally tip between 20-25% when someone handles my needs well, though I’ll go higher for exceptional service. The reason is that waiting on a Celiac requires far more effort than waiting on a typical patron. If you tip like everyone else, the waiter actually makes less money for the time invested with you than he does elsewhere. That can actually create a disincentive for the waiter to invest in serving you well! But, a good time can remove that disincentive, and a great one can actually incentivize him to go all out for you on future visits.