Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Off the Menu: Chuy's

I figured since Uncle Billy's, Chuy's and Hula Hut are all under the same company that they would have a gluten-free menu, but it cannot be found online! Here is what they sent me:

Guacamole, no chips, sub corn tortillas
Cheese Quesadillas, sub corn tortillas

Mexi-Cobb Salad, no meat
Large Dinner Salad
** Dressing: Cilantro Vinaigrette

Corn, Blue Corn Tortillas

Guacamole Soft Tacos, sub corn tortillas, no rice

Veggie Enchiladas, no sauce, no rice

#3 Taco & Enchilada, sub guacamole soft taco on corn tortilla, with Veggie Enchilada, no sauce, no rice

As you can see...pretty boring - can't have any meat, sauce or rice...for Mexican food the way to go is definitely Trudy's, Iron Cactus or Cantina Laredo!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CNN giving Celiac's Disease some face time...

Read below - good article about the prevalence of Celiac's. For those of you who need a quick overview or for the gluten-free followers who are interested in following disease progression this is a must read!

The rate of celiac disease is growing and the onset of gluten intolerance can occur in older people, a study in the Annals of Medicine found.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, triggered by eating the protein gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye.  People with celiac disease cannot tolerate foods containing gluten and can experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage and other complications.

Researchers from the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and their colleagues found that the incidence of celiac disease has doubled every 15 years since 1974.

Blood samples from more than 3,500 adults showed that the number of people with blood markers for celiac disease rose from one in 501 in 1974 to one in 219 in 1989, according to the study.

The study detected a rising prevalence in celiac disease as the study participants aged - and two of them developed celiac disease in their late 60s. 

"We provide evidence that [celiac disease] autoimmunity may develop at any age, even in the elderly," the authors concluded. "The sharp increase of CD prevalence observed in the US between the time window investigated in this study (1974 – 1989) and current time was apparently related to an increasing number of subjects that, in their adulthood, lost the immunological tolerance to gluten. The reasons for these changes are not clear but should be investigated among the many environmental factors favoring CD."
The findings challenge the frequently held notion that the disorder develops during childhood. “This increase was due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood,” researchers wrote.  The cause remains unclear.

The rate of the autoimmune disorder in the United States was estimated in a 2003 study to be  one in 133.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Wildwood Art Cafe

So, basically I think the huge draw to this place is that you know it's safe and they do a LOT of marketing to gluten-free customers. I feel like a lack of marketing is the problem for most Celiac's because restaurants who do cater are hard to find online (where most of us gather information). Anyway, I wanted to try it out because I'd been hearing rave reviews.

I'll give them credit, they definitely have the sweets if you don't want to make them yourself and they do make full cakes for birthdays and parties...but the regular menu for lunch is nothing to get excited about. I personally just wanted to order a sandwich that someone else made (I miss Subway and Schlotzskys), but was less than impressed.

The sides were fairly typical, fruit and chips, but the meal itself was nothing to write home about, and the rest of my group agreed as well. I appreciate the effort to be a completely safe environment but mix it up and use some seasoning!! If you are new to Celiac's or gluten-free eating you will probably try it anyway because you hear about it so often...but I give it a C+ and definitely prefer other locations with g-free menus.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Top 5 G-Free Menus

So I eat out fairly frequently and I have found that there are about 5 places that I prefer to go because the menus are just that extensive and tasty. I figured I would share them with you here...

1.) Brick Oven (of course)
2.) Trudy's (the chips AND queso are g-free)
3.) P.F. Changs (Spicy Chicken)
4.) Hyde Park Grill (umm...all I have to say is french fries)
5.) Chili's (it sounds lame but its got variety)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Off the Menu: Uncle Billy's BBQ

Okay, so I'm not a huge BBQ fan, but Uncle Billy's is convenient, has good happy hour and is honestly very "Austin" so of course I have been invited to dine there since my diagnosis. Thanks to Charles Dowd the Kitchen Manager for sending me this helpful information:

Our menu does have a number of items that are glutten free, and a few that you would need to stay away from at all costs. Make sure you tell the waiter about your g-free and they will relay this information to the kitchen.

Gluten-Free Sides
Potato Salad
Cole Slaw
Green Beans

Gluten-Free Meats (NO BBQ Sauce - it contains soy)
Habenero Sauce is OKAY

Gluten-Free Appetizers
Wings with either buffalo sauce or sauceless

Pulled Pork
Chopped Beef
BBQ Sauce
Mac N Cheese
Cream Corn
Baked Beans
Fries (not flour dredged but have no guarantees)

Hope this helps some of you meat-eaters!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

G-Free OUT of the City

I travel a lot, whether it be for pleasure or work, and I have found that this is the #1 hardest thing about eating gluten-free. Here in Austin I have numerous menus to choose from and know where everything is and whether or not it is safe for me, however when I travel this all goes out the window.

There are tools out there, don't get me wrong. But I've found that I tend to starve because it is difficult to not only find these places but know where you are in a city that is unfamiliar to you. UrbanSpoon and Gluten-free registry will give you options but you have to know what neighborhood you are in, etc. On top of that if you are traveling with other people it becomes an even bigger decision because a group is involved and they are short on time and patience.

For those of you who are familiar with the city you are going to try and go to gluten-free friendly in the "special options" - be aware that these may not have g-free menus. Also, gluten-free registry and Yelp are helpful.

My solution for this is to just bring my own food. There are a couple places here in ATX that are perfect for getting these meals to go (just make sure you have a cooler!) They are REALLY tasty (I'm not just saying that) and there are options for all meals of the day, even for us picky eaters.

Snap Kitchen
Best Meals:
Spinach and goat cheese scramble
Curry chicken salad
Spaghetti w/ bolognese
Turkey meatloaf
Turkey chili

Mel's Meals (not as much variety)
Best Meals:
Apricot stuffed pork loin
Chicken salad w/grapes
Southwest chicken frittata
Turkey scramble

Other great travel goods...
Kind bars
Suckers (Blow-Pops specifically are good and g-free)

All of these meals last about 3-4 days, can be microwaved in just a couple minutes and are great nutritionally. Enjoy and don't forget that if you WANT to eat take it with you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off the Menu: Trudy's

So, I'm heading to Trudy's tonight for dinner with some friends and they don't have a gluten-free menu online. I submitted a feedback form to get some more information and they got it back to me within a couple hours...awesome! I received the following VERY HELPFUL information from Mike Jackson, thanks Mike!

Here is a list of menu items that our gluten allergic guests have had success with eating at Trudy’s.  Unfortunately, we can not guarantee that any food item we serve is100% gluten free.  We do our best to avoid any issues with these items but due to the large number of products we carry, there is no 100% guarantee

  • all salsas
  • Queso
  • chips
  • All enchiladas with any filler (see notes below about fajita meat)
  • Homemade corn tortillas
  • any tacos, no FT (flour-tortilla)
  • guacamole
  • queso especial
  • nachos
  • dinner salad
  • migas, no FT
  • Motulenos
  • All breakfast tacos no FT
  • migas enchiladas
  • dave omelet
  • jalapeno & poblano omelet
  • chilaquiles
  • estufato

Other Items that contain small amounts of gluten but have worked out well for gluten sensitive customers in the past:
  • fajita dinners, no FT
  • migas and fajitas
  • ciro's special
  • chicken chipotle
  • mixed grill
  • fajita omelets
***the 6 items above all contain fajita meat.  Trudy’s fajita marinade has a small amount of soy sauce in it.  During the cooking process, the majority of the soy is cooked off and our gluten sensitive customers have had no reported issues eating the above in the past 5 years.  However, these particular items are NOT 100% gluten free due to the fajita marinade so any extreme gluten allergic or sensitive people may want to go with other items that do not come with fajita meat.  

I look forward to having a very full and tasty meal tonight, whoo!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Off the Menu: Third Base Sports Bar

For those of you who love to watch football (or any other sport) out with the fans...I suggest Third Base. One of their managers has family members with Celiac's so he was very helpful when I emailed asking for suggestions...thanks Ben!

Chips and queso/salsa/guacamole
Chicken Diablos
Chicken Kabobs

Soups and Salads
All salads with the exception of the spinach and goat cheese (goat cheese is crusted in bread crumbs before it is cooked)

Tortilla Soup

Buffalo wings in all flavors (except teriyaki because it contains soy sauce)

Any of the 4 varieties of tacos when ordered on Corn tortillas
- Tuna
- Spicy BBQ Chicken
- Tilapia
- Grilled Shrimp

West 6th Steak
Back wrapped in pork loin (change the side from mac n cheese to a salad or potato item)
Tilapia Veracruz

All sandwiches without the bun

Enjoy and hook 'em!

Status Update: 6 Weeks G-Free

Okay, so it's been 6-weeks of gluten-free eating and I've noticed some very specific things...

  • Lower anxiety
  • No more stomach aches
  • Nausea is gone
  • Never feeling full (that's what happens with mainly proteins, fruits and veggies)
  • Less joint pain

Bad: Please note, I have a doctor's appointment in 2 weeks and will report back what she tells me. I have a feeling that some of these things have to do with an adjustment to the new vitamins and nutrients that I'm getting and from taking away some that I was used to.
  • Eyes are twitching (?)
  • Absentmindedness - I've been just completely oblivious to some very obvious things!
  • Less energy when it comes to working out (not used to having fewer carbs)
The thing is that I know she'll tell me to take a multivitamin and everything will even out. The problem is that I'm already trying to work out what to eat, where to eat and how to cook so I don't have the time or energy to think about eating when I need to take my vitamin and remembering another pill...that will come with time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Suprise! Ingredients I NEVER would've guessed have gluten....

Okay, so new Celiacs know the wheat, rye, barley or oats...but I found out that the American processing companies are out to get us and they use so many ingredients that are tricky! No wonder our sensitivity to gluten is getting worse and worse.

Please understand that 40% of Americans carry the gene for Celiac's Disease but it takes an event, sickness or lifestyle change to kick it into gear, but once you know you have to stay on the strict diet because your intolerance continues to rise.

Here they are:
Soy Sauce (bring your own if you go for sushi, etc.)
Worcester Sauce (includes soy sauce - as do a number of Asian sauces) 
Maltodextrin (this is in almost everything with seasoning that is processed)
Distilled vinegar (had no idea)
Malt (derivative of barley)
"Moldy" cheeses (including blue cheese and Gorgonzola)
Anything that has -glu in the name except for glucose (it is not the same as gluten)

Good luck and read the labels, there are NO assumptions or generalizations. One brand could be fine and another give you quite a problem the next day. Glad I figured this out prior to that happening...

G-Free Birthday Spot - Brick Oven on Brodie

So, if nothing else, on my birthday I want a HUGE unhealthy meal with a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio to wash it down. When I found out I couldn't eat my favorite food, Italian, I was crushed (that is an understatement). I was determined to find Italian food in this city that I could eat AND tasted good. Here are my rankings...

  1. Brick Oven - Brodie Lane - the general manager is a Celiac and they have mirrored their ENTIRE menu (minus 1-2 items) in gluten-free form. If you know anything, this is a feat, especially since they have a separate kitchen which avoids cross-contamination. When I say everything I mean pizza, pastas, sandwiches, salads and desserts! Here I come 27 :)
  2. The Grove - 360 and Bee Cave - okay although this is called The Grove wine bar I have to admit that it's more Italian than anything else. They not only make all but a few pizzas g-free but also their pastas. They have g-free crackers if you want cheese...and of course a fantastic wine selection.
  3. Austin's Pizza - The pizza is great AND their BBQ and hot wings are also g-free. Great for delivery and drunk eating (think after a long day of tailgating and football)
I've heard a couple other options in Romeo's and Southside Flying Pizza but don't have a personal opinion - so watch out!

It's Easier NOT to Eat

Six weeks ago I was eating Lean Cuisine's for 2/3 meals a day and counting on Starbucks reduced-fat very berry coffee cake for breakfast. That all changed when my doctor FINALLY diagnosed all of my symptoms as Celiac's Disease. What was I going to do??! Not eat? That seemed like the best option...but being the Type A personality that I am I decided to hit the web.

To give a little back story, I'd been having symptoms such as severe stomach aches, fatigue, nausea, headaches...the works really. After ruling out ulcers, gall bladder diease, thyroid, pancreas and liver disfunction and even cancer (phew) my biopsy showed possible Celiac Disease. After a very simple blood test (I have a VERY strong phobia against needles so no blood work is simple) it was official, that was my future.

I learned that I had to stop eating gluten right away, and that I wouldn't be able to eat it the rest of  my life or I could get a plethora of diseases ranging from cancer to infertility...the doctor definitely instilled the fear in me. So...the easiest place to start was Google, but I found that my odd eating habits did not = the pages of recipes (I can cook spaghetti?) and the fact that I don't eat beef or seafood really put in a tough spot.

For all of the picky eaters out there, and those who just want to feel better (I'm still skeptical), I wanted to start this blog and share everything I've learned from not only the chain restaurants but the local restaurants in Austin that offer gluten-free and are very helpful when you show up to eat there. I'm a fitness buff on top of it so I'll share how my diet changes have changed my body and its reactions to working out.

Enjoy and I hope this helps Celiac's both new and old!!