Friday, August 27, 2010

Gluten Free Menus - Toolbar on the Left!

Today I added a new gadget on the left hand side of the blog that will now feature restaurants that publish gluten-free menus!  This will be an easy resource for you to find places that can accomodate G-Free Diets. The locations are mainly Chicago joints but some may be national chains.

The first gluten-free menu I ever saw was at Ben Pao's. I came here in October 2006 for job interviews and meet up with a bunch of my girlfriends for dinner.  Ben Pao was the spot of choice and when I told them I had a gluten intolerance, the helpful server whipped out a separate menu!  I was so amazed and my friends all still remember our dinner together there.  I'm so happy that more restaurants are now following suit and have separate menus so we don't have to ask all the questions about ingredients and how it's prepared.

Yay for g-free menus!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Triumph Dining - a Gluten-Free Resource

Has anyone ever bought these Gluten Free Dining Cards and/or Restaurant Guides from Triumph Dining?  The idea sounds great - an easy resource to give to the chef letting them know what you can/can't eat when you live a gluten-free life. But they seem kind of expensive ($18.95) for some laminated cards... Can't I just make these myself? Maybe it's not worth the hassle especially when they're offering free shipping.

I'm debating whether I should buy these before our trip to Munich and Paris in September.  But if we get on the Amazing Race (I know, it's a LONG shot), maybe that will be the perfect time to make the purchase!

The story of the Triumph Dining company is kind of cute and I love their mission "we want to make gluten-free living as easy and stress-free as possible for all of us (not to mention our friends, co-workers, and significant others)."  As we all know, it can often be difficult for our friends and significant others to help us live gluten-free!

A Gluten-Free Restaurant in Paris!

I'm headed to Paris in just a short month away!  As I was doing some research, I came across this completely gluten-free restaurant in Paris. Seems like the doors opened in Oct 2008 near Monmartre.

It's called Des si et des mets.  The restaurant's website makes the place look very contemporary with clean lines, purple and red decorative details and an awesome bathroom.

Hopefully we'll be able to check this place out so I can post the deets for you to enjoy!

You might be wondering what the name means... well I found that it means "with buts and ifs" to joke about the way we have to order in restaurants! I'd like the hamburger BUT without the bun. I'd like the falafel IF you make it without wheat.  Sheer brilliance!

Des si et des mets
63 rue Lepic
75018 Paris
Metro Abbesses ou Blanche
Tel: 01 42 55 19 61
Hours: Tues-Fri: 19-22:30 Dinner
Saturday: 12-14:30 Lunch, 19-22:30 Dinner
Sunday: 12-15 Brunch, 19-22:30 Dinner

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Free Screening for Celiac

A friendly reminder from reader, Sandra, to get your FREE screening for Celiac!

Click here for more information. It's free but pre-registration is required!

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Article on Compartment Syndrome

As some of you may recall from "My Diagnosis," I was diagnosed with a mild form of compartment syndrome.  Here's an interesting article Ernie forwarded to me about some Football Players in Oregon.  I wasn't on any steriods nor creatine but I was taking a lot of protein shakes!  I still think it has something to do with all that Gluten.

Compartment Syndrome Hits Football Players: 5 Questions Answered

David Knowles

AOL News Surge Desk (Aug. 23) -- For the moment, it remains something of a medical mystery.

Last week, 30 high school football players in McMinnville, Ore., were sent to a hospital and evaluated for compartment syndrome, a little-diagnosed ailment that affects the body's soft tissue. Of those examined with injury to their triceps, 14 were admitted and three required surgery.

Why such a high number of football players would suddenly come down with what has been described as an "extremely rare" condition is a question that got Surge Desk looking for answers. Here's what we've learned about compartment syndrome.

What causes compartment syndrome?

A more serious variant of the condition known as rhabdomyolysis, compartment syndrome occurs when pressure builds up in the so-called "compartments" where muscle, blood vessels and nerves meet. Often induced by exercise, swelling increases the pressure in these areas of the body, potentially damaging the nerves and muscle, the Mayo Clinic reports. Repetitive exercise that works the same muscles is considered a risk factor for compartment syndrome.

On a semi-related note, AOL FanHouse reported this weekend on the ongoing debate over whether Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis. Teammates say that yes, he was, while Coach Mike Shanahan says he hasn't heard that. Haynesworth has been missing off-season practice, ostensibly because of his poor health, and Shanahan has been struggling to get him in line. He has reportedly recovered from the ailment, as have many of the Oregon players. As of Monday night, the hospital was considering holding the three who underwent surgery overnight for observation.

Is the Oregon compartment syndrome outbreak caused by steroid use?

As a report published in the journal Orthopedics noted, there is a correlation between anabolic steroid use and compartment syndrome. The players on the McMinnville team have denied taking steroids, and, as yet, no testing for steroids is planned, The Associated Press reported.

What are the symptoms of compartment syndrome?

Known commonly as "The Five P's" of compartment syndrome, the following symptoms are common to those who suffer an acute form of the malady similar to that experienced by the McMinnville players: pain, pressure, paresthesia (numbness), paralysis and pulsenlessness.

How did so many players on the same high school football team get compartment syndrome?

In the case of the McMinnville High School players, a combination of high temperatures and dehydration during preseason workouts is also being looked at as a possible culprit for the mass hospitalization. According to The Oregonian, the players attended a workout session in an enclosed room where temperatures were said to have reached 115 degrees, and focused specifically tricep exercises. Each of the 18 football players was found to have increased levels of the enzyme creatine kinase, which the body releases after muscles are injured, CBS News reported.

Tests are also being conducted on the players to check for the presence of creatine. A legal muscle-building supplement, creatine has been associated with other sports-related injuries, The Oregonian newspaper reported. The players have reported using protein shakes but said they were not sure what was in them, the AP reported.

Is there a cure for compartment syndrome?

If left untreated, compartment syndrome can lead to debilitating muscle injury and even kidney failure. For that reason, it is important to seek medical intervention. Treatment options depend on the severity of each case and range from a cessation of exercise to massage and surgery, the latter option being the most commonly used.

According to the Mayo Clinic, surgery for compartment syndrome involves the removing of some of the connective fascia tissue, which results in the releasing of pressure.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels

OMG. So exciting!!! I have missed my big soft pretzels since going gluten-free! I think it’s going to be super challenging for me to not eat any pretzels when we go to Germany for Oktoberfest next month. But yesterday brought me a lot of joy and happiness when I walked into Kim & Scott’s Café Twist.

We were on a “Pub” crawl of sorts for work yesterday. It wasn’t a crawl that stopped at bars, but rather, we stopped at various businesses throughout Chicago. We had a great time exploring Google, Threadless, Flirty Cupcakes and others. Lunch was at Kim & Scott’s Café Twist where we sat down with the owners and they told us their story.

The couple is adorable. They named their company "Kim & Scott" like "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream" since Scott's dad used to own a B&J Franchize in Lincoln Park.  Clearly Scott loves Kim and will do anything for her, including selling a ton of pretzels! He seems to be putting his Acting skills to good use in those sales calls.  Kim was from a big ad agency (I think Ogilvy) and had a passion for twisting pretzels. They boot-strapped the business back in 1995 and today, 15 years later, they are in retailers across America (Kroger, Meijer, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart) with their gourmet pretzels and have finally opened their own Café. There was so much to learn, but you’re probably waiting for the details on how yummy the gluten-free pretzel is!

It took two years to develop a good tasting pretzel and I have to say, it was worth the wait. We went to Twist Café for lunch, after everyone devoured Flirty Cupcakes (no gluten-free ones my fellow glutoids. Disappointing). I was worried I wouldn’t be able to eat anything but luckily there were some salads. I got a tuna salad – but be sure to order it without the croutons that are made of pretzels. As I was standing in line to order, my co-worker exclaims, “they have a gluten-free pretzel!!!” I was giddy with joy as I usually am when I find an unexpected gluten-free food product. Of course, I added this to my order.

The gluten-free pretzel was served warm with my salad. It was soft, buttery and tasted like those tasty little Pillsbury crescent rolls but definitely more dense than flaky. I sure did miss that buttery-biscuit flavor since going gluten-free. There's no gritty or cardboard aftertaste with this pretzel - not even the slight chalky film that some gluten-free products leave on your tongue. At first, I thought I wanted a sprinkle of sea salt on top, but the flavor was excellent without the additional sodium. Kim said the pretzels were difficult to twist since the gluten is what gives regular pretzels elasticity. I planned to eat only half the pretzel and save some for later, but I honestly couldn’t put it down. I’m ecstatic to say that they just got authorization for national distribution at Whole Foods for their gluten-free pretzel! Look for it in the frozen aisle in a few months!

The great thing about Twist café is that they make sandwiches with flavored pretzels as the “bread”. Next time, I might just get a sandwich on the gluten-free pretzel!  But, the best part of the whole operation is Kim & Scott’s commitment to giving back to the broader global community and to the environment. I also love the picture of their three kids in aprons and chef hats twisting up pretzels! I’m so happy for gluten-free soft pretzels!

2218 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

On a side note, an amazing way to close out the evening was by meeting up with the STANLEY CUP at Epic!

Cloud 9 - Snow Ice!

Cloud 9 has been on the “want to try” list for some time and recommended by Ernie’s Dad (thanks!). It’s a short walk away from the condo and we went after a LONG day of IKEA shopping and building furniture. On a side-note, Ernie and I survived building a lot of furniture from IKEA. This is a major step in any relationship and for those of you who know the stresses of furniture building, our experience was pretty easy!

Right on Belmont just east of Broadway is a little brightly lit with a variety of fun colored bubble lamps hanging from the ceiling. There are two front doors (not sure way, maybe it was once two separate store fronts). We walked up to the register to check out what the whole situation was.

For those of you who don’t know about Snow Ice, it’s a delicious Chinese treat that can replace your traditional ice cream, sorbet or gelato dessert. The set up is similar to Pinkberry and all of their knock-offs meaning that you pick your flavor of ice, then add a drizzle and some toppings. It’s not frozen yogurt like Pinkberry, it’s literally ice. The ice is frozen into cylinders and then shaved by a machine that slices it so fine that the snow ice comes out fluffy, puffy, kind of like cotton candy.  I forgot my phone/camera when we went so I pulled this image off google so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

I ordered a strawberry flavored snow-ice with a chocolate drizzle with blueberries and crushed heath bar bits. The young Chinese guy who runs the store told me I was the first person to request such a combination. (And the IKEA delivery man told me I was only the second person in his seven years of delivering that asked for the furniture to be put in the bathroom!)

The family that owns the store is from St. Louis, MO most recently. The parents were in the store hanging out and waiting til closing time. The son is the guy who runs the joint and they were all very friendly.

The snow ice was something else! The “snack-sized” serving came in a bowl and stacked about 10” tall! Not to worry, it’s super fluffy and melts in your mouth like cotton candy but doesn’t taste so sugary. The texture is difficult to describe so you just have to taste it for yourself. Cloud 9 is better than Korean Ice which has a consistency more like Icee drinks or blended ice. This serving size is less than 180 calories (not including toppings) and plenty for an evening snack.

Get out and support Cloud 9! It’s great to see small family owned shops making a splash and bringing innovation to desserts. I hope the shop can survive the winter. Sadly, Café Latika (amazing pistachio ice cream) just closed its doors around the corner.

Cloud 9
604 W. Belmont
Chicago, IL 60657
773-857-1255 (the website is kind of broken)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

back to NATURE crackers

I picked up a couple of varieties of gluten-free crackers from Back to Nature.  The recycled paperboard box didn't jump off the shelf at me but I still noticed that something was different about this product.  There's a whole line of foods ranging from crackers to granola (the granola is quite good as well).  I tried the two gluten-free products: Multi-Seed and Sesame Seed.  The label nicely prints "Gluten Free Crackers" on the front panel clear as day. 

The first one I tasted was the Multi-Seed.  This was just OK, or as Ernie's brother would say "this tastes like cardboard!"  Yes, it did taste quite like cardboard, but if you eat gluten-free all the time, you'll just about settle for anything that resembles their gluten-counterpart.  I was a little disappointed that the crackers didn't taste better.  Plus, they seemed to get stale rather quickly.

On the other hand, the Sesame Seed Rice Thin was much better!  It actually tastes like a cracker.  I had a box on my desk and it lasted less than 48 hours.  Don't be alarmed - it was only 4 servings in the box (130 cal/serving) so it wasn't that unhealthy to eat. Afterall, a very small cookie would be 130 calories and those delicious Potbelly cookies are 850 calories! 

There are very few ingredients: Rice Flour, Safflower oil, Sesame Seeds, Sea Salt, Garlic Powder.  The taste of garlic combined with the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds was a delightful combination. The cracker has a light, crisp texture.

Bottom Line: Try the Sesame Seed Rice Thin Gluten Free Crackers from back to Nature.  It won't disappoint.  But don't settle for the Multi-Seed variety that 'tastes like cardboard.'

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bistrot Margot

Saturday Brunch at Bistrot Margot was a great way to enjoy the open air and fill our tummies with yummy French food.  After an Insanity workout, biking along the lake, dipping into Lake Michigan and then dropping off our bikes at Village Cycle for a tune up, we stopped over at Bistro Margot on Wells street for a quick bite to eat. 

Ernie ordered delicious looking french toast which made me envious.  I had a bite of sausage from his plate and it was so juicy and tender that I considered ordering side of the links.  I had a plate called "Pomme de Terre Farci".  These were potato shells (like the all-time favorite snacking food: potatoes skins) stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits.  It was served with a drizzle of horshradish and a pinch of chopped scallions. On the side was "roasted shallot haricots verts", er, green beans with onions. Yum!

I would guess that this breakfast wasn't on the low-cal list of the menu. However, the portion size was smaller than the usual "American" portions and you don't feel overly stuffed after finishing the entire plate.  The twist on potato skins was delightful. The scrambled eggs were cooked to a fluffy perfection - not too hard and not runny. A light portion of cheese and the drizzle of sauce rounded out the flavor with a bit of creamyness.  I am not a big bacon fan, but the hint of flavor really finished out the layered flavor.  I liked that this was a new way to serve all of my favorite breakfast-skillet item foods without the serving size of a 300-lb man.
Sitting in the street side cafe under shady umbrellas was relaxing despite the protesters (OK already! I won't buy a pet-store dog!) and the bees bouncing from flower to flower.  This was a little slice of French charm right in Old Town (only with clearly non-French servers).  The bonus: our meals were each under $10!
Bistrot Margot
1437 N. Wells Ave.
Chicago, IL

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Some days are more difficult than others

Yesterday was a difficult day for me being gluten-free.  Sometimes I just really wish I can eat something with gluten (like pizza). Othertimes, I am just reminded how challenging this lifestyle can be.  Yesterday was both.

At work we were having a taco tasting. But knowing that taco seasoning has gluten (wheat flour) in it, I didn't have the meat.  I felt badly because our "chef" commented that I didn't eat meat. Normally people don't notice when I don't have a bit of something - but this time was pretty obvious. I felt bad because we don't really know each other because I'm the new kid on the block.

My stomach hurt later that day anyway.  Maybe it was the MSG in the taco toppings.  This is why I usually don't eat packaged foods, but now that I work at a food company I occasionally don't have a choice. 

On the drive home, I began to feel more nauseous and those hot/cold flashes and pains that feel like your vessels are getting pinched.  All I wanted to do was lay down and have some toast to calm my stomach like I did when I was younger.

We went to the grocery store where I saw these delicious looking pretzel rolls.  Ernie bought a pack to make sandwhiches. Next to it was a gluten-free bread and I figured I'd try it. I'll give the full review of the bread during a later post, but I was thankful that I could have a little slice of bread for dinner.  I couldn't stomach much else.

Last night, we also made our lunch for today. We bought some asian sauces to spice up chicken and I was really looking forward to trying them. I don't know why (maybe just out of habit), but I checked the label and low-and-behold: wheat.  It was a frustraiting gluten-free day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

This article actually made me laugh out loud: Top 10 reasons how women get fatter despite good intent

1. They do spinning classes. That and disco fly swatting will get you nowhere fast in your pursuit of lean physique.

2. They have Kashi for breakfast with skim milk for breakfast. Eat the cardboard box, it is higher in nutrients.

3. They go for coffee after training. Coffee is great pre-training, horrendous post training. You want high cortisol when you train, not after.

4. They follow a low fat diet, fearing that fat makes you fat. In the process, they avoid nutrient dense foods like avocadoes that would help much raster.

5. They consume soy products that shrink their brains not their hips because of the toxic levels of manganese.

6. They eat bagels because they are low fat. Gasoline is also low in fat. Would you drink that?

7. They don’t make time for themselves. Here is the best fat loss tip for women: take a week off just for you, no boyfriend/partner/husband and no kids.

8. They consume grains. Part of a healthy and balanced fat butt.

9. They use beauty products loaded with harmful chemicals such as parabenes.

10. They don’t follow the axiom: You are your schedule.

P.S. Men are dumb, but not that dumb. For example, I can’t believe that women think we fall for the following camouflage combo:

Diversion 1: sweatshirt tied with sleeves around butt to hide the fact that you should actually hang an orange triangle on it.

Diversion 2: 150-350 dollars hair cut.

Reality check:

The 150-350 dollars haircut does not attract our attention from the wide load. We actually don’t even notice when you get your hair done. If a male notices your hair cut, he is gay, or he has not admittedit to himself. Proof? When he gets up from your couch, he rearranges the pillows.

from Charles Poliquin's Blog.