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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Reviews (15)

Tuesday
Dec152009

New York, New York! Gluten-free, allergy-friendly travel adventures.

 

I just got home from a long weekend in New York. Yep, that’s me in the photo, relishing in the weird madness of Times Square, my plaid coat swimming in a sea of black jackets. This was my first trip to NYC, and let me tell you, I drank it up. Site-seeing and aimless wandering aside, the main reason for going was my appointment with Dr. Bernard Raxlen, a well-known LLMD who specializes in the treatment of tick-borne illnesses. The appointment was wonderful; the office was private and quiet, and he was supportive and knowledgeable. In short, it was a great relief to finally feel like I have answers to all those questions I had. I realized, once again, that I have a whole lot of stuff going on that I had learned to ignore or write off to “other things”, whatever I thought those things were, who knows. I now have a fist full of prescriptions to fill for antibiotics, thyroid medication, anti-yeast medication to add to my already full pill schedule.  If you want to know more about my treatment, check out my post  on my other blog, The Healing Journal.  It feels amazing to have answers, finally.

 

But, as the Buddha said, all things in moderation; I also made sure to have lots and lots of fun. It was my first trip to New York, and I completely and totally fell in love.

I ran on adrenalin.

I absorbed New York big time. It is a city of many cities, each neighborhood unique. I was staying with a dear friend who lives near Columbia in the Upper West Side. He was a total darling, and gave me the grand tour. I’m a wanderer when I travel, not a planner, and he has the same approach, so we travelled together swimmingly. We went all over the city, hitting up his painting studio, checking out films in Harlem and Chelsea, hitting up all the tourist wonderment of Times Square and Rockafeller Center, and wandered over to the East Village for vintage shopping. We shared a table with a stranger at dinner, got invited to a party at his apartment that evening, attended the party, and had an amazing time. We wandered Chinatown, Little Italy, saw the South Sea Harbor, the site of the Twin Towers, and the Financial District. We walked through Central Park. I learned to use the public transit system there, even navigating it on my own! I combatted my blood sugar crashes by packing a ton of me-friendly snacks and carrying them around with me on our adventures (an extra big purse beats passing out anyday). I worked around my dietary restrictions by seeking out restaurants with menus I could negotiate (I love Google). I dragged myself up stairs, stairs and more stairs, taking breaks when I needed to (I get winded and totally exhausted with stairs these days…thanks, Lyme Disease). I had fun and felt totally confident with new people at that apartment party without drinking a drop of alcohol (I stopped drinking a couple years ago because it was making me feel terrible). I felt more like my old self again; adventurous, carefree, spontaneous.

Amidst all the fun I fit in my admissions phone interview with the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.  I will hear this week regarding my acceptance - fingers crossed!!!

Of course, I wanted to provide you a round-up of my gluten free, allergy friendly culinary adventures.  The hardest part about it, honestly, was asking questions at restaurants.  New York has a huge immigrant population, and many of them work in food service - some of my servers and people working at the counters didn't speak English well, and my questions were misunderstood and required a lot of clarification.  New York has tons of great choices for those of us with restrictions, so with a little  homework, you have lots of options.  So here goes, starting with the dinner I packed in my carry-on for the flight there...

Where: Milwaukee Airport (I don't think was is a gluten free, allergy-friendly meal in the entire airport other than mine)
What I ate: some very tasty, very travel friendly chickpea salad, my fallback travel food

 ON THE ROAD CHICKPEA SALAD (gluten free, vegan)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
handful parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
pinch dry mint
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp coriander
splash ume vinegar and olive oil
optional: other veggies, other spices

Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and take with you.  Lasts well unrefrigerated for up to 4-5 hours. Delicious!
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Where: Saga Grill (Vietnamese and Japanese)
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights, 1268 Amsterdam Ave (between 122nd and 123rd st)
What I ate: pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup - broth, rice noodles, beef, with bean sprouts, basil, onion to garnish)
What it set me back: about $8
How GF/allergy-safe was it? To be honest, I was a bit nervous.  Pho should not contain any gluten at all, since it is made with homemade bone stock and uses rice noodles, but to be safe, I asked. The server did not speak English very well and did not understand my question when I asked about gluten or wheat, instead answering that there wasn't any corn starch.   While that was good to know, it sure didn't answer my question.  I decided to go for it, relying on many other positive pho experiences out in the world - it is my fallback food, since most metro areas have at least one quality Vietnamese restaurant.   The food came, and I didn't have any reactions, so it all worked out - but there was definitely an element of risk involved.  The rest of the menu was pretty standard Vietnamese and Japanese faire - broken rice plates, lots of sushi, bento lunches, stir fries, spring rolls.  Many options that seemed like they could be GF (rice plates, sushi, etc), but many options that also probably contain lots of hidden gluten (soy sauce!!!!!), corn starch, and other potential allergens.  This place is risky...unless you're eating the pho!
How did it taste? It was passable.  I've had better tasting pho many places.  But it was warming and rich, and came with lots and lots of very tender beef, which is very important.  The basil was wilty, but the bean sprouts were fresh.  Plus, it was the cheapest meal I ate in NYC, and our green tea was free.  I think it tasted even better because it was only 12* F outside and we were freezing our butts off out there in the cold.

 

 

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Where: Chop't (made to order chopped salads)
Neighborhood: Midtown, other locations in NYC as well
What I ate: custom chopped salad of arugula, roasted turkey, peas, snow peas, sunflower seeds, white beans, carrot, and cucumber, with a little olive oil, and a bag of Terra Chips (no potatoes, baby!)
What it set me back: about $13
How GF/allergy-safe was it?  The ingredients are all lined up deli style in the prep area, and there is definitely cross-contamination between some of them - I had to pick some corn out of my peas, for example.  If you are severely nut allergic, there would be some MAJOR risk here.  On the plus side, they use a fresh cutting board with each salad.  Unfortunately, gluten is not called out in the salad dressings. And without calling it out on the menu or asking  me, I was served my salad with a big fat piece of pita bread smashed in on top.  I had them remake my salad, since I wasn't willing to pick it off and just eat.  They obliged apologetically, and I told them they ought to ask customers if they want bread, or put a sign up that bread is included with each salad.  This place had some risky elements.  If you are severely reactive, it may not be the place for you.  If you're okay as long as you don't eat the allergen, I'd totally recommend it.
How did it taste?  Awesome.  The vegetables were very fresh, very flavorful, and the chopped nature of the salad made every bite perfect.  I loved it. I would totally go back.  No reactions either, which is cool.
Side notes: I wanted to go to Just Salad (another salad place with GF callouts on the menu), but came across Chop't first.  Walking 3 more blocks and navigating Rockafellar Center on a busy Saturday just to get a salad when Chop't was right in front of me seemed silly.  but next time, I'm going to try Just Salad; based on their menu, they just seem more GF aware.

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Where: S'Mac | Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese (made-to-order mac and cheese, has a dedicated GF menu)
Neighborhood: East Village
What I ate: custom pasta dish of brown rice macaroni elbows, chicken, broccoli, and roasted garlic
What it set me back: about $13
How GF/allergy-safe was it? Sarita's claims to be very GF friendly.  They have GF brown rice macaroni noodles and GF bread crumbs (rice and corn-based) for an extra cost, and since the pasta dishes are customizable, you can get what works for you and what doesn't.  Since the kitchen is filled with gluten, there is some risk for cross-contamination.  The only oil they have in the kitchen is corn oil, so if you have corn allergies, ask for it to be prepared without oil.  Since everything normally comes with cheese, my cheese-free order got a bit of flack from the young and rather unknowledgeable staff person working at the counter.  However, my order was totally right, completely delicious, and I did not have any reactions.
How did it taste?  Great.  I had dry pasta that was tossed with roasted garlic, steamed broccoli, and chicken, but would have loved some kind of sauce or something.  Regardless, it tasted great, and I had leftovers (I got the Mongo size).  Hooray!  No reactions, no belly ache (other than eating too much...)

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Where: Quantum Leap - East Village (vegetarian, organic, whole foods)
Neighborhood: East Village, another location in the West Village
What I ate: the Salmon Plate (steamed seasonal veggies, brown rice, and broiled salmon ordered without the regular glaze) and a fresh carrot-beet juice
What it set me back: about $18
How GF/allergy-safe was it?  They were very receptive to all of my questions and concerns.  However, the kitchen is teaming with gluten; whole grain pancakes are their claim to fame.  They use the same grill for everything - so I made sure my veggies were steamed and the fish broiled, not grilled.  I felt they were the most knowledgeable and accomadating to my questions and needs.  They offer GF ale on their menu too (I don't drink right now, but it looked tasty!).  My receipt called out no gluten, no sauces, broil, steamed etc - hooray for being clear on the order directions.
How did it taste?  Amazing! The vegetables were perfectly steamed, the rice was tender, and the HUGE filet of salmon melted in my mouth.  It came without any sauces or marinades - just like I ordered - and was hot, straight from the kitchen.  Since it was pretty much plain, whole food, I pulled some wasabi powder from my purse and stirred in a little water, making a tasty wasabi paste to eat with the fish.  Perfect!!!  The carrot beet juice was refreshing and vitamin-packed, just what I needed.  This was a great meal, and I will definitely go back the next time I am in NY.  Then menu was extensive and wonderful; lots of vegan options, and for peopel with a few less allergies than me, you'd have a TON of choices.  They have more items than what is on their menu online.

 

 

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Where: Organic Forever (grocery store)
Neighborhood: Harlem
Great little organic grocery store, with a TON of gluten free, vegan, and whole foods options.  I can't believe all the specialty items shoved into such a small space, everything from bulk grains and legumes to Chinese herbs and homeopathics to a nice deli and a whole bunch of packaged foods.  All the basics plus more - perfect!  Their produce was fresh, just basic offerings, but enough to make good meals.  They even had SoDelicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream, Grainnaissance Mochi, local sprouts, and a loads of GF stuff.  Awesome, highly recommended.  My friend Matthew says their coffee is very good.  If you're in the Upper West Side and need a place to grab an energy bar, stuff for a quick meal, a snack, or some herbs, this is a good choice.  I got a bunch of groceries to make a few meals for under $20.

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Where: WestSide Market  (grocery store)
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights, other NYC locations
Great 24/7 market with an amazing deli and hot bar, salad bar, loads of fresh produce, and a huge amount of specialty items and GF grocery offerings.   I got the grilled carrots from the hot bar, and it was amazing.  Other ready-made basics like rice with veggies, roasted asparagus, sweet potatoes, all ready to go.   This is the kind of place you and your friends/family could go to for a quick meal, regardless of who can or can't eat what.  Plus, it was cheap - I got a container of roasted carrots, 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, and a HUGE zucchini for about $3.30.  This place was incredible, so many speciality items, so many fresh veg, such fresh deli options - AWESOME!

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A few other places I came across that looked hopeful...next time!  
Angelica's Kitchen (vegetarian - some GF options)
Candle Cafe (vegetarian - GF menu)
Pala (pizza & pasta - vegan menu, GF options)
Just Salad (made to order chopped salads - GF menu)
Shake Shack NYC (burgers, shakes - GF menu)
The Organic Grill (vegan - some GF options)
Sacred Chow Vegan Bistro (vegan - some GF options)
Sambuca (Italian - GF menu)
Risotteria Ristorante (Italian - GF menu)
Rice (rice-based dishes)
Rice to Riches  (mix-n-match rice pudding - everything includes dairy and eggs, so it doesn't work for me - but everything looked GF, so if you tolerate eggs and dairy, go go go!)

 

Great resource for dining in NYC with dietary restrictions: Allergic Girl

There are many many many more restaurants in NYC with GF and allergy-friendly offerings, this is just scratching the surface.  This link has a few additional offerings. Do some research, and see what else you can find!

This post would be remiss without mentioning that I was in the hometown of Babycakes , the ubiquitous bakery that published the self-titled cookbook of mostly GF, mostly agave-sweetened baked goods last year.  They are very transparent about their ingredients, and list the full ingredient and nutritional information for all their basic baked goods on their website.  In a bittersweet turn of events, I found out in my research that they use lots and lots of potato starch and corn starch in their baked goods, as well as xanthan gum, which I try to avoid most of the time (I tolerate it in very small quantities occasionally, but don't make a habit of eating it regularly).  So, no Babycakes for me.  But if you tolerate corn and potato, and want some pretty impressive looking gluten free baked goodies head on over to Babycakes.
Of course, I took along food for snacks, breakfasts, and dinner supplementation.  As someone with dietary restrictions, I always travel with food.  Since i was staying with a friend, I was able to cook in his kitchen for some meals at home; that allowed me to stop at the local markets and get veggies and other things, and cook up wholesome, satisfying meals.  But much of our day was on-the-go - bringing food that could travel during the day with me was key.  I packed more than I needed, but when it comes to travel and GF/allergy-friendly living, I think being over-prepared is best.  Here's some extra stuff I brought along to eat on the airplane and while bopping around NYC:
  • Cashew Cookie LaraBar (dates and cashews - that's it!)
  • Enjoy Life Sunbutter Crunch Bars (these are a bit of a cheat, with both cane juice and xanthan gum...but I seem tolerate them and don't have any reactions, so in cases like this, they are useful)
  • homemade Nut Free Super Food Trail Mix 
  • homemade Power Nuggets, my answer to Chunks of Energy (this recipe will be in my cookbook...stay tuned!)
  • homemade energy bar of quinoa flakes, flax, sunflower seeds, and shredded carrot (I'm working on perfecting this recipe....)
  • raw cashews
  • rice cakes
  • a few homemade muffins (packed them frozen, perfect for breakfasts!)
  • dehydrated split pea soup mixture (mix with hot water, done!)
  • UltraClear Plus protein powder and a small mason jar (put the powder in the jar, throw your bag, and just add water when you want it!)
  • a big bag of me-friendly tea bags
  • cornstarch-free wasabi powder: to make my own for spicy dressings/sauces at restaurants
  • dulse flakes: adds flavor and nutrition on restaurant salads, veggies, etc
  • a bag of baby carrots
  • a bag of snow peas (came in handy on my unexpected flight delay!)
Sounds like a lot, right?  Well, I was there for 4 1/2 days, and knew I'd be walking a lot and would get hungry hungry hungry.   I packed it all in a bag, shoved it in my suitcase, and I was totally well-prepared.  Anytime we were out wandering the city (for 12+ hours per day), I could reach into my bag whenever I felt a little low blood sugar moment, and know I had a safe snack.  It even came in handy for my friend - he loved my Power Nuggets. I also brought along some other stuff to make for breakfasts and have for meals at my friend's apartment - quinoa flakes, kasha, a can of soy-free tuna, split mung dal.   I was totally prepared, and ate a whole lot more of it than I thought - walking all day gave me the serious munchies.

 

All in all, it was a great success.  I loved New York.  I need to go back in March for a follow up with my doctor, and hope I am feeling well enough at that time to do more site seeing.  I feel my body crashing now from running at such a high velocity for 4 days, but it was worth every second.

I am working on a post about how to travel gluten free and allergy free, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, enjoy a few photos from my trip.  If you want to see more, check out my photostream on Flickr.

 

 

 

Thursday
Nov052009

"Under Our Skin", Under My Skin: A Lyme Disease Documentary and My Test Results.

 


Under Our Skin is a documentary about Lyme Disease, and has received large amounts of critical acclaim from critics and at independent film festivals across the country.  The Minnesota premiere of the film is happening November 8,9, and 10 here in Minneapolis, at the Oak Street Cinema, and this is my shameless plug.

Here's a synopsis of the film:

"A gripping tale of microbes, medicine & money, UNDER OUR SKIN exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease, one of the most controversial and fastest growing epidemics of our time. Each year, thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, often told that their symptoms are "all in their head." Following the stories of patients and physicians fighting for their lives and livelihoods, the film brings into focus a haunting picture of the health care system and a medical establishment all too willing to put profits ahead of patients."

 

Why am I so interested in this Lyme movie? 

Lyme hits home.  Since learning of my cousin's diagnosis of late-stage Lyme Disease earlier this year, my family and I have delved into researching and learning what we can about the disease in order to better understand what she is going through.  My aunt obtained a copy of the film on DVD, and she lent it to me a few months ago.  I was totally engrossed in it, and watched it a few times.  After watching the film, it struck me more deeply that I should listen to the concerns my aunt, uncle, and cousin had about my symptoms echoing those of Lyme.  I didn't want to be tested - fear! denial!  But after reading more about the disease, talking more with my cousin, and seeing the stories of the individuals in the documentary, I fully accepted that Lyme was a distinct possibility.    Contemplating a future with untreated Lyme Disease became much scarier than just getting the test done and learning the results.  My naturopath and I talked about my concerns, and she thought testing was a good idea.  So, I got a Western Blot test done through IGeneX, Inc. , a state-of-the-art laboratory that specializes in Tick-borne illnesses.

Results?  Positive marks for IgG and IgM, those darn "+" signs on multiple bands, with a few indeterminate marks on others.  I keep hoping that the more I look at those results something will change.   I need to say it out loud to believe it.  I have Lyme Disease.

Do I really have Lyme Disease?  Yes, I do.

According to CDC/NYS, my test results are borderline; the two indeterminate bands in my test result add an interesting twist.  But combined with the bands the are undoubtedly positive, and my health history and symptoms, my naturopath says it is Lyme, and worth treating.  I've heard of false positives, and this is certainly a concern - especially with my borderline results.  But, according to my new Lyme-specialist ND that I'll be seeing for the first time next week, Lyme it hides in the tissues, and easily evades testing.  Once treatment is started, and it starts to emerge from the tissues, and shows up more clearly with testing.  So, people with cases that look borderline at initial testing (showing weaker bands) have test results that go crazy once treatment has started, with more bands of more intense strength. She believes this may be the case with me.  The combination of test results and symptoms seems undoubtable.

The reality of this is setting in.  It seems that I am now one of many. I have something with a name.   I have a ribbon (it's green).  I have a support network.   This diagnosis doesn't change who I am, nor does it suddenly make me feel worse.  Instead, it sheds much needed light on all the junk I still deal with.  As I write this I have shooting pains down my arms and into my fingers, my knees are achy, my eyes are itchy, and I've got a headache.  Why?!  Well, finally, the "why" I ask myself all the time - the "why" of the fatigue, excessive joint pain, occasional brain fog, random heart palpitations, the hormone imbalances, digestive issues, the list goes on - seems to have an answer.  The more I read about Lyme, the more I read about other people's experiences, the more I see myself, and the more this makes sense.

I've picked lots of ticks off my body over my lifetime.  I grew up in a family that ran around Northern Wisconsin, went camping and hiking, and I loved going to summer rustic camps.   My love of nature is steadfast; the woods are my sanctuary. I lay in the grass, I climb trees, I walk through brush, and I have no intention of stopping.   Nature is our blessed friend and is deserving of the utmost respect and love; it is not something to be feared or avoided!  But the danger of ticks was also something we were cautious of, with tickchecks closing out each day.  Did the fateful tick bite me when I was young, and that's why I've had such weird digestive problems, back and knee pain, and issues with depression since I was a teenager?  Maybe it happened in college, when I started developing all those food allergies?  On the other hand, a few years ago I had a weird red bullseye rash (but no tick) that puzzled doctors, and after that more stuff started going weird with my health.  Could that have been the telltale bite?  Yikes, I could drive myself insane remembering all the ticks, bites,  and rashes I've had.  And really, what good would it do?  Trying to pinpoint the exact time I got it doesn't change anything about the present.  All that matters is that I do what I need to do today to deal with it.

In time, I think I will learn to be more comfortable with this diagnosis than with the grey-colored land of uncertainty in which I had formerly been living.  Uncertainty can drive you mad and exhaust your body, mind, and spirit.  Nothing is more exhausting than working and working and working and not knowing what you're working for.  But knowledge?  Knowledge is power.  Knowledge is a tool.  Knowledge can bring resolve to the whole physiological and psychological self.  This diagnosis may be the center of the enormous f****** onion I've been peeling away at for years.  And that is exciting.

I keep telling myself that all these experiences will make a REALLY good healthcare provider someday; there is nothing quite as valuable as first-hand education, right?  I'm not taking any classes right now, but I think I should just start telling people that I'm a student; a student of life, in all its unexpected and complex glory.  I'll be seeing my new Naturopathic Doctor next week; she specializes in Lyme and works with a Lyme-literate MD in New York.  I'm interested to have her look at my test results and get her point of view.  Even though she has already been in contact with current ND and knows about my symptoms and results, I keep hoping that she'll look at them and be like, "Oh wait no!  You and your naturopath were reading this all wrong!  This isn't Lyme...."

I have no idea what to expect.  I'm feeling so conflicted, a very weird mixture of determination, fear, confusion, relief, and denial.  Fine readers, do you have suggestions?  Advice?  Reassurance?  I'm open, please send it my way.  I think that meditation practice my acupuncturist suggested I start is an absolute must.  Thankfully, I'm armed with a good support network of friends, family, and healthcare providers, and I'm as committed as ever to that good old sense of self-preservation, no matter how this all pans out.   As my dad said, it is time to "Win! Conquer! Destroy!"  Next week, I guess I'll find out more about how I'm going to do that...  At least the dietary restrictions I've become so comfortable with translate to a Lyme diet protocol perfectly; that's probably why I felt so much better once I started to eat this way.

In the meantime, I'll be attending the screening of this film, and rubbing elbows with my fellow, uh, Lymies.

That's what Lyme Disease sufferers are called, did you know that?  I heard that label being thrown around a few months ago by some Lyme folks I Twitter with.  I chuckled at the name at the time; I didn't think I'd ever need to use it for myself.

Anyway, if you live in the Twin Cities area, please come to the film, perhaps our paths will cross!  Seriously, if you live around here and plan on coming, leave a comment with when you think you might attend, I'd love to know!  How timely that this film is showing this weekend - now I can wrangle all my friends to come, and have them all learn about Lyme Disease at once.  How convenient.  [insert a pinch of sarcasm here]  For those of you who don't live around here, check out www.underourskin.com for a listing of other screenings - it is showing all over the country, and you really ought to check it out if you can.

 

UNDER OUR SKIN
Minnesota premiere of the award winning documentary

Oak Street Cinema
309 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, MN
Show Times:
November 8, 2009: 2 PM & 5 PM
November 9 & 10, 2009: 7:30 pm

General admission $8, Seniors $6
Admission $5 with MFA membership or valid student ID

For more information on the documentary and additional screenings, check out: www.underourskin.com
For more information on the screening at the Oak Street, check out:


May you have passion to seek the truth, courage to accept what you find, the strength to change what you can, and an unfaltering commitment to the beauty that is YOU.

 

Hope to see you at the movies.

xoxo, Kim

 

Monday
Mar232009

Portland, Oregon: gluten-free travel adventures

Portland Chinese Gardens

So, I just got back from a long weekend in Portland investigating Oriental Medicine schools. I've decided on the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine - hooray! And Portland was AMAZING; I felt like I walked into a dreamland. The co-ops! The friendly people! The vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free restaurant options! The bike-centric culture! I felt like I was at home. And in a way, that makes sense - it reminds me a lot of Minneapolis. Portland has all the great niche things about Minneapolis, but instead of them being niche, they are commonplace and way more accessible. In a little over a year, I will pack my bags and head westward, and become an Oregonian. I can't wait!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few of new things I found/discovered/ate while there. In preparation for the trip, I did a lot of research on restaurants, co-ops, etc so I would know where to find what I needed and wanted when I got there. I brought along my own safe snacks to make travel on the plane and my all day school student-for-a-day events easier, and bought food to cook while I was there staying with friends. The great thing about Portland is that I could actually eat at restaurants EASILY instead of having it be crazy complicated, even with all my allergies. Amazing! The culture there is very aware of alternative dietary choices, and instead of feeling like the weird allergy girl, I felt completely comfortable. What a sigh of relief.
Research in advance totally makes traveling with restrictions easier - it is worth the work, and made me feel totally at ease and prepared once I arrived. Instead of being stressed out about finding a restaurant for lunch or trying to figure out where I could find some tasty treats, I could just relax and have fun. I hope this information is helpful for any of you traveling to Portland, or at least fun to read about! I can't wait to live there and be able to take advantage of all this stuff. So, here goes - photos to come as soon as I get them off my camera!

Stirs the Soul Organic Raw Chocolate
: holy yum! These chocolate bars are organic, soy free, corn free, vegan, raw, and sweetened with agave instead of sugar. And they taste great. You can find them in natural food markets all over the city. They aren't cheap (like, $2.50 for a 1 oz bar), but for a special happy treat, it was totally worth it. I tried the Goji Berries in Dark Chocolate and the Maca Mesquite. Both were great, but the goji bar was amazing - it was creamy and delicious, studded with tart, chewy goji berries. The maca mesquite had an earthy, smoky flavor that I really enjoyed. I brought home a Lavendar and an 88% cocoa single-origin Ecuadorian variety for later. The single-origin bar is bigger, and also more expensive, but it should be divine! The best thing about these chocolates is that they aren't too sweet and they don't leave you feeling like you just ate some kind of crazy sugar crack bar.
Coconut milk yogurt: I tried a brand of vegan, agave-sweetened coconut milk yogurt that I have never seen
before - it wasn't SoDelicious by Turtle Mountain. It was some other brand that I can't find online anywhere, but it was GOOD. I got it at the Alberta Co-op, and I'd recommend it. I tried the plain flavor, it was relatively low in sugar and carbs, and they claimed to be low on the glycemic index. It tasted really good and had a nice texture. Way better than SoDelicious, which I think is way too sweet, weirdly flavored, and weirdly textured. SoDelicious is still better than Ricera, though, which is terrible.

Eden Organics Brown Rice Flakes
: I have been looking at these online because I can't find them in stores anywhere in Minneapolis. Lo and behold, I found them at New Season's Market - see entry for that below. I have already used some in recipe experiments for brown rice "granola" clusters - check back soon soon soon for that recipe!

Enjoy Life Very Berry Crunch "Granola"
: If you aren't familiar with Enjoy Life, they make food products that are free of pretty much all possible major allergens, which is great. I don't buy their products much, if ever, but I had been curious about this gluten-free brown rice-based granola product. I see it in the stores all the time, but didn't want to fork over the $5 for a bag of cane juice sweetened stuff that I shouldn't really be eating anyway. At my visit day event at the National College of Natural Medicine, they had a bag out on the breakfast buffet table (don't we love natural medicine colleges and their gluten-free offerings?). I tried a handful; it really was too sugary for my taste (ack, cane juice!) and the berry flavor tasted a little too fake, even though it is made with real berries. But, as a special treat granola substitute, it was tasty, crunchy and not all bad. I wouldn't buy it though. Not surprisingly, it has inspired me to make my own brown rice granola, which is looking promising...

Alberta Co-op
:
located in the quirky Alberta neighborhood, this co-op was really nice. Nice bulk, lots of specialty items, smaller produce section but good selection. Tons of seaweed in bulk, lots of bulk teas, and a good selection of local sauerkrauts.

People's Co-op:
located in SE Portland, this co-op won my heart in an instant. Great bulk selection, beautiful produce, nice selection of raw and vegan items, as well as locally produced sauerkrauts, misos, and grab-and-go options. It is so charming, the staff were really friendly, and they have a little trailer parked out in front that serves up fresh fruit and veggie juices, freshly brewed teas, and fair trade coffee. Awesome. I had a cup of yerba mate and ate a chocolate bar while sitting outside watching cute boys and girls ride up on bikes with homemade trailers to buy avocados and fresh salsas. Plus, they offer a year-round farmer's market at their store, and have a bunch of community classes and workshops, from yoga to Spanish. And if I lived in Portland, you can be damn sure that I would be attending the upcoming square dance on Wednesday night from 7-9 pm.

New Season's Market
:
Imagine a locally owned hybrid of a more affordable Whole Foods, a normal grocery store, and the best deli/salad bar you've ever seen. This is New SEason's Market, located in multiple locations around Portland. In addition to the impressive grocery area of their store, they have an AMAZING salad bar/deli/grab-and-go with tons of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. You can make big salads, or throw everything in a bowl and they stir-fry it up in a wok for you. For the bread eaters, they make sandwiches too, and they have a variety of other hot bar entrees. They even have a seating area! I ran through one afternoon between appointments and made a rice noodle-lettuce-bean sprout-black bean-bamboo shoot salad to eat on the run. It was $3.50 and I was in and out in under 10 minutes. Amazing. As for the grocery area, they have everything you could ever want and more, from fancy raw stuff to Australian rice cakes to specialty ethnic items (flavored ghee!) and more Bob's Red Mill and Eden Organics products than I have ever seen in one place. The produce section was beautiful, it had a nice health and beauty department, and they even carry a bunch of really cute home and kitchen stuff.

Laughing Planet Cafe
: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and allergyt friendly fast food, in multiple locations all over the city. Whoa. They were really accommodating and had a big binder with ALL of their ingredients that they were willing to pull out for me in an instant. I got a beautiful bowl of steamed vegetables with happy chicken and brown rice for $8, and had enough to take home leftovers. And it was served up in, like, 5 minutes. Amazing. Gluten-eating, meat-eating, dairy-eating, egg-eating people will like this place too; they have some really good looking burritos, sandwiches, and soups. All in all, a great variety of options, and totally affordable. And for you beer and soda drinkers, they have lots of beers and BlueSky sodas on tap. Cool.

Hawthorne and Corbett Fish House
: Wisconsin-style, gluten-free fish fry in Portland; they have two locations. This place rocks; it was a total dream come true. Let me explain: I'm a total Wisconsin girl. And while you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, you can't ever take the Wisconsin out of the girl. Sure, I like clean, fresh food full of vegetables and wholesome ingredients. But sometimes I want to return to my roots and eat some fried fish. A perch and walleye fish fry is as Wisconsin as you can get; and where better to get it than Portland?
gluten-free fried walleye - amazing!
The only restaurant to serve walleye and perch on the West coast, the Hawthorne and Corbett Fish Houses use rice flour and rice bran oil to create a light, crunchy batter around perfectly moist fish. Amazing. I substituted fries for a salad, and had the most satisfying fish meal in ages! Get the walleye, it is tops. The best thing about this place is that it actually FELT and LOOKED like we had just been teleported to Wisconsin, from the tacky fish and Green Bay Packer paraphanaglia hanging from the walls, to the crop of oddly Midwest-looking clientele that seemed to be pouring in the door. If you've ever been to a fish fry at a Wisconsin supper club, you know what I mean. Go here!

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery
:
their gluten-free breads and confections looked beautiful. But sadly, most of the breads contained yeast, everything except the vegan chocolate cupcake contained eggs, and the vegan chocolate cupcake contained soy, so I didn't try anything. But definitely try it out if you can! It is a little tricky to find - it is located in the entryway to Trader Joe's. They also had a large ingredient book that they were willing to pull out when I asked about ingredients.
I didn't get the chance to eat or stop at the following places, but came across them in my research or while driving around - so I thought I'd share! These all have gluten free options as well as vegan and vegetarian friendly menus.

Blossoming Lotus
: located in the Pearl disctrict, inside Pearl Yoga studio. They have a lot of raw stuff, and some really tasty looking grain-bean-veggie bowls.
Chaos Cafe: vegan/vegetarian place in SE, cheap, good looking menu, and looks cool from the outside. I want to try their cashew sour cream!
Proper Eats: looks good, vegetarian and vegan, some gluten-free options on their menu
Papa G's Vegan Organic Deli: this place looks fantastic and quirky, and although I drove by it twice, I didn't have the chance to stop. Next time! They have hot entrees and grab-and-go, by the looks of it, some is gluten free. They make gluten-free gravy that sounds tasty.
Food Fight Grocery: all vegan grocery store - for real
Bellagios Pizza: if you can eat eggs, they have a gluten free crust, so check it out
The MIssissippi Pizza Pub: not sure what is in their crust, but they also have gluten free pizza options
Picazzo's Pizza: more gluten free pizza options
Grolla Restaurant: Looks fancy, higher priced, tasty looking menu
Old Wives Tales Restaurant: lots of different gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. Looks great, especially if you can eat eggs or soy - their brunch looks good
Francis Restaurant: they have a separate gluten free, vegan menu that looks pretty fantastic.
And here are two great resources with even more info, written by people that actually live in Portland and know the place. Hooray!

This link is especially awesome - it has TONS of links and information, check out the link for Grandma Leeth's restaurant, it looks great :http://www.glutenfreeportland.org/restaurant-list/

Also good:

So, if you travel to Portland, I hope this information helps! It is a great town, and I can't wait to make it my home. 2010 will be here in no time!
chrysanthemum tea with goji berries at the tea house in the Chinese Gardens
The fine city of Portland, with Mt. Hood in the distance
Monday
Nov102008

Soy-free, gluten-free fabulousness: South River Miso's Azuki Tamari


Soy free, gluten free "soy" sauce? It's true!

The friendly folks at South River Miso make a soy-free, gluten-free tamari! Miracle of miracles.

Tamari is the liquid collected from the vats used to make miso. Normally, it is made with soy. But South River Miso collects tamari from the vats used to make their delicious azuki bean miso, and voila! Azuki tamari. According to the friendly customer service representative that responded to my email inquiry, the stock of azuki tamari is almost gone, and they will be making a chickpea tamari next. I was assured that both the azuki miso and chickpea miso are completely soy-free and gluten-free, so you can buy it with confidence if you have intolerances or allergies to either!

So, rejoice! And check out their website and go order a bottle. It is pricy, but worth it. I am currently waiting for my bottle to come in the mail! If you've never tried any of the South River Miso products, I would highly recommend them. I've never had the opportunity to try their soy misos, but I have been a fan of their chickpea and azuki misos for quite some time now. Many food co-ops and natural grocers carry their products, and you can order all their misos, including special misos, through their online store. I ordered a tasty looking jar of special Garlic Red Pepper Chickpea Miso, and a charming little book of miso recipes.

Yay! Soy-free, gluten-free tamari!

 

Monday
Oct132008

New favorite cookbook: The Natural Gourmet

I would highly recommend "The Natural Gourmet" by AnneMarie Colbin. I am borrowing this book from a dear friend of my mom's, who lent me a number of cookbooks. This cookbook is my favorite from the stack - is a goldmine of incredible recipes that are easy, nutritious, delicious, and based on vegetables, legumes, and grains. I don't have to substitute a darn thing in half the recipes, which given my current dietary restrictions, is incredible. Pulling from various food traditions, she provides a lot of useful information about food combining, flavors, and the five elements theories, discusses different ingredients, and gives suggestions on kitchen tools and equipment. Most of all, I love her soup recipes - I am a soup person, I could (and, basically, do) live on soup. This weekend I made three batches of soup from her book with my purchases from the farmer's market: carrots, turnips, onions, squash, parsnips, to name a few. All three were delicious: Hungarian Asparagus Soup, Squash-Carrot-Parsnip Soup, and Japanese Red Bean Soup. My freezer is bursting and ready for winter.

Check it out on Amazon: CLICK HERE

Her recipes do use some gluten containing grains (wheat, barley), and she does use butter, natural sweeteners, and other items that are on my no-no list. But, some of those can be substituted. And besides, no cookbook will ever match your needs 100% on every recipe. Overall, this cookbook is a winner, I need to get my own copy! She also has written other cookbooks that sound just as enticing.

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