Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad Luck w/Gluten Yesterday

So, rarely do I eat out twice in one day, but yesterday was an exception. For lunch my co-worker and I went to Mama Fu's, who has a fantastic and large gluten-free menu. Unfortunately, about a half hour after dining I spent quite awhile in the restroom at work (2 hours or so). Something got into my dish and it was not pleasant - I sent them an email to let them know to be more careful but haven't heard back yet...

Second instance: I finished and submitted my MBA application last night so I decided to go get my favorite pasta from The Grove, only to get home and see that there are 2 slices of bread right on top of my gluten-free dish, duh!! I emailed them as well and got a great response from their staff:

Hi Jaime,
Please accept our apology for the bread on your Gluten Free pasta.  It's frustrating to hear we would make such a simple mistake.  We'll make your email an item in our staff meeting today so that we can do a refresher on GF policy.  It may have been just a thoughtless mistake, but we'll take advantage of the opportunity to make sure everyone is aware of the seriousness it requires. 
If you are willing to provide an address I would like to offer a gift certificate to help cover the cost of another pasta dish the next time you come in.  We really do care about our GF guests and we would like to try and make things right when given the opportunity. 
Matt Berendt
Managing Partner
The Grove Wine Bar / Lola Savannah Coffee Lounge
P.S. Have you tried our new GF Penne Pasta(the noodle, not the dish)?  I think it's the best one we've found yet.  Nearly indistinguishable from regular pasta.  Took us a long time to find, but we're very happy with it:-).

I hope to continue alerting companies to any mistakes and hope that I can help others avoid the same!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Favorite Appliance - The Microwave

So, I have been gluten-free for almost three months now and have been determined from the beginning to find some items that I am able to microwave. Now please note - for the most part these items are not labeled as "gluten-free" because most of those meals tend to turn to mush in the microwave and everything has the texture of something whipped up in the blender (follow the oven instructions).

However, I have found a few choice items (I'll warn you it is a FEW) that can be quickly and easily microwaved, and I have come to eat these things more often than I'd like to admit.

These include:

- Thai Kitchen 'Take-Out' Meals - there are 3 flavors that are labeled as gluten free, they are the Pad Thai, Thai Basil and Chili and the Ginger and Sweet Chili. These are awesome!
- Amy's Frozen Rice Macaroni and Cheese
- Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage Patties (check the label there are multiple) - I have now used these in breakfast tacos and as the meat for my marinara sauce

** I forgot one in the first post: Ian's Wafflewich breakfast sandwiches, yumm

Some items which you CAN microwave, but as I said earlier taste a little funky and I wouldn't recommend it:

- Ian's french fries and turkey corn dogs
- Any gluten-free frozen pizza (personal size)
- Chicken Nuggets (covered with non-wheat breadcrumbs)
- Van's waffles

I'll keep looking, as I said 3 months and just a few items - my mission continues. Let me know if you find something that has microwave directions and is g-free!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Restaurants

Dear Restaurants,

Please note that those of you who have a gluten-free menu - you are awesome. Taking the extra time to cater to those patrons who have a hard time finding tasty food is much appreciated and trust me I have gone out of my way to promote you to everyone I know (as well as eat at your establishment very often).

For those restaurants without a gluten-free menu, a solid email response with menu items that are safe for me to eat is so helpful and I thank YOU as well. The problem I have is when restaurants respond to my email inquiry with the following, "hello we will cater to your every need with your dinner choices and can substitute side dishes that will be gluten free. just let your server know and we will take care of it."

This is not okay. First of all, I'm very concerned about the risk of eating something, so when you are leaving the responsibility in the hands of a random waiter (who probably doesn't not care at all if I spend the next 48 hours in the bathroom) it worries me. Secondly, without any specific menu items listed it makes me think that I will starve if I come to your establishment so I'm going to eat beforehand and not give you my business. All you have to do is take a couple of minutes, sit down with the kitchen manager and give me one or two dishes that I can ask for specifically.

With the instances of Celiac Disease and other food allergies growing all of the time, it is worth knowing these details for your own menu...for the health of your business and your customers. Please, please, please throw me a bone here and give me some help. I only write this to help you!

In a city such as Austin where we are way ahead of the curve when it comes to specific diets and eating habits you would benefit greatly. Thanks for listening and good luck working on your g-free menus :)


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ACL Weekend

So, the great staff with ACL returned by email within an hour to let me know that with a doctor's note I would have permission to bring my own food into the festival (NOT allowed otherwise). Therefore, I packed up a small cooler and hauled it in my backpack. The first two days I didn't get more than a second look when presenting my note, but the third day I got a novice bag checker who was a little more difficult...luckily security was on my side!

Friday - took with me some chicken salad from Snap Kitchen, carrots and hummus and almonds - this was a good amount of food (although I probably should've filled my stomach with more of it)

Saturday - I was not smart - I assumed I'd be okay with just craisins and some nuts and granola bars, I was not and starving by the end of the night, I left a little early to order the gluten-free pizza from Austin's pizza to eat

Sunday - took a mental note from Saturday and decided to bring some wrap fixings, came in with grapes, cheese, honey ham and corn tortillas - this was a fantastic idea

I will now be prepared for any future festivals, concerts and the thanks ACL for a cooperative team and a great weekend filled with music!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Celiac Blood Panel Results = SUCCESS!

So, I just finally got the details of my blood test back - I had known that it went down but didn't know about the numbers until going into the gastroenterologist today. So, there is one specific level that shows the levels of gluten the ranges are as follows:

0-4 Negative (Good)
4-10 Weak Positive (OK)
>10 Positive (Bad)

When I started I was at 39.2 (WHOA) and today I was at 7!! My diet is working, good thing I'm diligent :)

Off the Menu: Vivo's

Can you tell I like Tex-Mex? The truth is I've found that it is generally the best type of food for Celiac's. Although the options vary by restaurant you can almost always find something to eat that is tasty!

Vivo's has two locations and it is great for dates, birthdays and special occasions. They give each girl who dines a rose! We are heading there for my friend Melissa's birthday so I reached out to their management to get a list of safe foods, here is what I received back: - Full Menu - Use to look up dishes

Verde Enchiladas
Taco Salad w/out Tortilla Strips
Fiesta Salad
Tortilla Soup w/out Tortilla Strips
Steak Jalisco
Pollo Vivo
Rice & Beans

Can't wait to celebrate!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

8 weeks down...forever to go...

So, it's been 8 weeks since I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease - just as a reminder to all of my readers that means no wheat, rye, barley, oats or any derivatives of those ingredients. To prepare for my 8 week appointment I had to get blood drawn to measure my levels and see how I'm doing...according to the doctor they have definitely gone down but are still inflated :(

After some research I learned that most doctors don't test until it has been 6 months because it takes that long to really bring the levels of gluten in my system down. I did learn that my next blood test won't be until 6 months, phew. For anyone who doesn't know I am VERY phobic of needles and it is always a production to get blood drawn/shots, etc.

I have decided that I officially need to start vitamins. A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I have had some absentmindedness and eye twitching. I learned that the absentmindedness comes down to a lack of some essential B vitamins while the eye twitching is a lack of magnesium which is unfortunately found mainly in seafood and wheat products (figures). My mom has ordered me a gluten-free vitamin through Shaklee so I'll let you know in a couple weeks if I think it's working!!

To summarize, all of the research I've been doing has paid off because my body is responding positively. Hopefully I can keep it up :)