Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

Recent Posts

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Site Search
Subscribe

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. 

Free Shipping on Vitamix

The Vitamix is my favorite kitchen tool for blending perfectly smooth sauces and smoothies, making my own nut and seed butters, grinding fresh gluten-free flours, and more. Interested in purchasing one? Check out the great deals on reconditioned Vitamix machines, or investigate new Vitamix machine packages. Payment plans are available!

Receive FREE SHIPPING to the US and Canada when you order a Vitamix with my affiliate code 06-004943. 

Save at iherb.com

Save $5 on your first order from iHerb.com with coupon code QAB040.  Visit iHerb.com now to browse natural products and supplements. 

Love it here?

                                

Entries in Shopping & Grocers (5)

Thursday
Jun232011

Gluten-Free New York Adventures - or - Kim Eats Manhattan

how much is that blue crab in the window? the one with the big shiny pinchers?

I went to New York City back in February for a check-up with my Lyme-literate MD. I intended to post this travel recap back then, but somehow it slipped my mind. Better late than never, I suppose! 

February's trip to the Big Apple was a victory. I have now gone to New York three times for appointments over the last year and a half, and the difference I notice each time I go in how I feel is amazing. Traveling removes you from your daily routine and the patterns of how you feel - it is such an incredible way to strip you down to a baseline. And you know what? I feel better. The first time I went in December 2009, New York totally destroyed me. I had a great time explore, but I had to take breaks going up the stairs from the subway, felt completely exhausted at the end of each day, and spent the next week after I returned trying to recover. This last trip I found myself skipping up stairs, running down stairs, and walking all day, without feeling like I was on a torturous death march or needing to take breaks constantly. 

Ladies and gentleman, it's official: I really am getting better. I feel so grateful. 

In addition to exploring the city, I met up with my friend Kim Trick from Steph and Kim (formerly Wallet-Friendly Wellness). I stayed with Kim and her sister Steph when I was in NYC last summer. Despite talking a lot online and through the blogosphere, we had never met before I arrived at their doorstep last July. I was touched at their generosity and willingness to invite me into their home, and we really hit it off and had a ton of fun together. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to catch up with Kim again. We spent the afternoon in a cute Brooklyn café, discussing everything from Lyme to nutrition to grad school to religion to boys. Fun!

Other than walking around a lot, I ate. In fact, I ate a lot and drank a lot and pretty much felt like I consumed half of Manhattan. I didn't have a lot of cash flow after paying for my doctor appointment and didn't go out to eat at very many restaurants, my friend Matthew and I mostly cooked at his place for breakfasts and dinners. But, as always, I did my fair share of tourist snacking while wandering the city. 

Oddly, I didn't take a lot of photos during this trip, probably because it was cold and my hands didn't want to come out of my gloves! New York City is weird in the winter because there really isn't snow anywhere other than Central Park. Coming from Minneapolis, where snow collects everywhere and takes over the streets, I saw this was a very strange phenomenon. Look at the difference between Central Park and the Union Square Greenmarket - it looks like two different cities and seasons! 

IMG_0868IMG_0863

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102011

Gluten-Free Travel Adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area

 IMG_1775.jpg

I recently returned from a trip to visit a friend in Berkeley, California. I spent 5 glorious days roaming the San Francisco Bay area, hitting up tourist destinations and wandering lesser visited areas too. The Bay Area is a wonderland of gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods places. Put simply: I did not suffer. Quite the opposite, really - I think I ate my way through Northern California!

I wanted to share some of my favorite food destinations with you, as well as some other sites from my trip. I hope you enjoy!

Cafe Gratitude

IMG_1727.jpg

I have heard about Cafe Gratitude for years. It is a mecca for anyone who loves whole food, gluten-free food, vegan food, organic food, or really good food.  From their website:

"Café Gratitude serves a menu of 100% organic, 100% vegan, local fare.  Our food is free of refined sugar, flour, and additives.  We have an extensive menu of raw foods and have recently expanded to serve cooked foods in many of our locations. We create all of our own food -from the produce bin to your plate - so we can avoid serving certain common allergens like wheat, soy, and peanuts. Over 45% of our produce comes from our Be Love Farm, and the compost from our Cafes is returned to the farm to nourish the next meal."

How awesome is that?!

My burning desire to go there was happily obliged by my friend and host, as we ended up going there three times in five days! Seriously. Two of the trips to Cafe Gratitude involved a meal. Due to the large number of items on the menu that include nuts or other allergens for me, my options were somewhat limited. Thankfully, the item on the menu that looked the best to me was also totally Kim-friendly. Named "I Am Whole", this bowl was a mixture of kale, carrots, quinoa or rice, homemade sauerkraut, sunflower sprouts, and sea vegetables, all doused with a garlicky lemon tahini sauce. I added sliced avocado (an extra charge), and asked for the tamari almond garnish to be left off. The portion was enormous, and it looked gorgeous. The flavor was fresh and clean, and the meal left me feeling satisfied and energized. My friend ordered handmade corn tortillas with beans, avocado, salsa and homemade cashew-almond "cheese". He adored it, and ordered the second time we went back!

The environment at Cafe Gratitude is really soothing and calm, and I very much enjoyed it. It is, in some ways, what you'd expect - unbleached cotton napkins, glass water carafes etched with inspirational words, dialogue cards on each table. And on Fridays a darling, purple-clad woman named Ari gives angel readings. She read my angels and was pleased to find out that they totally have my back and are supporting all kinds of things I want to do in life. 

IMG_1729.jpg IMG_1730.jpg

I also tried their housemade kombucha. I tend to prefer a bitier, more sour kombucha, and although theirs was a little more sweet, I still enjoyed it. It had a very gentle fizz that was present but not very aggressive.

In addition to a full menu, Cafe Gratitude has a bakery/dessert case, a cooler case of packaged edibles, and a wide variety of specialty ingredients, cookbooks, apparel, and home goods. So, the other trip to Cafe Gratitude was merely for treats. I purchased the "Be Love" ice cream bar, made of coconut milk, cashews, agave nectar, vanilla bean, and dunked in a raw cacao chocolate shell. Honestly, I wasn't totally wowed. The texture of the ice cream wasn't as creamy as I would have liked - it was hard and full of ice crystals - but the flavor was good. I loved the chocolate shell, a dark and bitter chocolate that wasn't too sweet at all. By the time I was almost done with it, it had softened up to a more desirable texture, so maybe the trick is to let it sit out a bit before eating. Either way, it satisfied my craving for something cold and sweet.

I also purchased a package of Lemon-Coconut Raw Cookies (no photo, sorry). These things were fantastic, made of shredded coconut, lemon juice, agave nectar, sea salt, and a few other ingredients and dehydrated into a sweet and chewy treat that is absolutely addictive. I don't remember how much they cost, but they were absolutely worth it. 

IMG_1819.jpgIMG_1820.jpgIMG_1827.jpg

I absolutely recommend Cafe Gratitude to anyone looking for a wholesome meal. Next time I visit the Bay Area, I'd like to visit Gracias Madre, the sister restaurant in the Cafe Gratitude chain. It specializes in organic vegan Mexican-inspired food, which sounds like a winning combination to me.

Cafe Gratitude

1730 Shattuck Ave (@ Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: (510) 725-4418

Other locations in California listed on their website: http://www.cafegratitude.com/

 

Philz Coffee

Voted the best coffee in San Francisco by SFWeekly, Philz Coffee was an absolute revelation. My friend and host proudly names this establishment as his favorite coffee indulgence, so we made sure to go the first morning I was in town (and also the last morning I was in town, actually). I walked in the cafe to find a wall of coffee beans, cheerful baristas, and a bakery case full of fresh baked goods (including vegan options) and two shelves of packaged, locally made gluten-free cookies and brownies. What makes Philz so special is that each order is brewed one cup at a time, to the patron's specifications. There were probably 20 different types of roasts and blends, both regular and decaf. It takes a little longer than your average cup of joe, but the results are breathtaking.

IMG_1726.jpg

I actually moaned a little bit when I took my first sip of Decaf French Roast. Their only non-dairy milk option is soy milk, so I opted for a splash of organic whole cow's milk in my order. It was the most divine cup of coffee ever; bold, dark, earthy, bitter, and almost a little smoky. I also indulged in a pre-made gluten-free Peppermint Chocolate Chip cookie. It was an absolutely indulgent way to start the day! Then we went to Cafe Gratitude and I ate my body weight in that I Am Whole bowl.

Oh, and just as a side note, there is an amazing shop full of beautiful jewelry next door...

Philz Coffee

1600 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar

Berkeley, CA 94709

There are other locations in the Bay area as well, they are all listed on their website:http://www.philzcoffee.com/

 

Ikaros Greek Restaurant

I arrived in California hungry and tired. I needed food immediately! My friend and I decided on a Greek dinner at Ikaros Greek Restaurant, which he had never been to but had heard good things about. In short: it was wonderful. The server was friendly and knowledgeable and very accomodating with my dietary needs. While the kitchen certainly is not gluten-free, they were allergy aware and I was able to get a very wonderful meal. We started the meal with dolmas (stuffed grapeleaves), which were freshly prepared and flavorful. For my main course, I had marinated lamb chops, sauteed vegetables, and herbed rice. My friend ordered a lemon roasted 1/2 chicken, which also came with rice and vegetables. We also got a simple salad of shredded cabbage, carrot, lemon juice, and olive oil. The meal was heavenly! My lamb chops were so tender and flavorful, perfectly done and just a little charred. My friend's roasted chicken was moist inside with a wonderfully crisp, flavorful skin. The rice pilaf was buttery and flavorful, each kernal of rice perfectly done. The vegetables were the low point, which were a little too oily and overcooked for my taste. On the flip side, the cabbage salad was very good, a welcome light and crisp addition to our heavier meal. 

I would definitely recommend this restaurant - the prices were reasonable and the quality was excellent.

Ikaros Greek Restaurant

3268 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 899-4400

webiste: http://www.ikarosgr.com/

 

IMG_1688.jpg

 

The Turkish Kitchen

I don't have any food photos to share, but this place was very good. The only Turkish restaurant in Berkeley, The Turkish Kitchen serves a wide variety of authentically prepared Turkish foods. While it wasn't extremely safe for gluten-free folks (no dedicated fryer, wheat everywhere in the kitchen, and a limited understanding of allergy needs), I was able to find a good and safe meal after a little trial and error. The falafel was fantastic (with no wheat in the mix), but is fried in a fryer that is shared with gluten. I also had hummus and a very nice salad. Beware, however - the rice is actually a rice pilaf, and contains orzo, a fact that wasn't made clear to me until it arrived at my table. If you have a wheat allergy, please don't eat the rice. In addition to a wide variety of delicious meat dishes, The Turkish Kitchen also had lots of options for vegans and vegetarians. The food was delicious and affordable, and it worked for me, as I can share equipment/fryers/etc with wheat from time to time and be okay. But if you are extremely reactive, I wouldn't recommend it. 

The Turkish Kitchen

1986 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

website: http://turkishkitchenberkeley.com/

 

Grand Lake - Oakland Farmers Market

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is find the local farmers market. In the case of the Bay Area, my friend presented me with four different markets we could attend that were near to his home. We chose to attend the market he frequents most often, the Grand Lake Farmers Market. 

Located near Lake Merritt, this market is in a very urban, busy location in the city, just off the highway. But once you enter the tent community, you feel transported into an agricultural wonderland. This market had it all: fresh fruit and vegetables, locally raised cuts of meat and locally produced charcuterie, freshly prepared tacos and tamales, honey, breads and other baked goods, locally grown dry beans, mushrooms, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and more. I was impressed at the wide variety of unique this as well - Easter egg radishes, unusual wild greens, foraged mushrooms, flavored honeys. Also, it was so amazing - alarming, really - to see so much fresh fruit at the market. It's cherry season, so there were cherries everywhere, and fresh locally grown avocados. 

The notion of being able to get fresh, locally grown avocado is somewhat of a miracle to this northerner. 

Beyond the wide variety, I was truly wowed at the presentation. Most vendors went out of their way to produce a beautiful display for their foods, and I found myself charmed on a constant basis. Since we were on the move that day and not cooking, I had to limit my purchases. Nonetheless, I left with Duck Rillettes, a Smoked Cured Duck Breast, fresh pea pods, and dry gigante beans. I don't know what I was thinking not getting a big bag of cherries for snacking!  

Grand Lake - Oakland Farmers Market

At the Splash Pad Park on the corner of Grand Ave and Lake Park Ave.

Saturday 9 am-2 pm, year round

Click here for website

IMG_1795.jpgIMG_1802.jpgIMG_1797.jpgIMG_1794.jpg 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May122011

Raw Coconut Cacao Bites and a Tropical Traditions Giveaway

Updated on Thursday, May 19, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

Raw Coconut Cacao Fudge

 It's no secret I love everything from Tropical Traditions. Their coconut products are made from fresh organic coconuts, grown by dedicated family farms in the Phillipines. Everything is produced small batches and tested for quality, ensuring that we receive the freshest, highest quality coconut oil possible.  I feel confident that when I'm using their products, I'm supporting a good manufacturing practices and getting the most nutrition possible for my money.

One of my favorite products is their Coconut Cream Concentrate, a delightful product that goes by the name of coconut butter by other brands and in the blogosphere. I've made my own coconut butter before (shredded coconut + food processor + patience), but the texture is always a little gritty. While the dollar amount is much friendlier on homemade coconut butter, I really prefer the creamy smooth texture of the storebought. So, sometimes I splurge and buy a jar. Or, I agree to do a giveaway and take part in a little complimentary coconut goodness.

Coconut Cream Concentrate is made from the flesh and fat of raw coconuts. It is white, thick, and fragrant, full of coconut goodness. When chilled, it is very firm, almost like candy. When softened, it is creamy and smooth, like a delectable spread. It can also be mixed with hot water to create a natural coconut milk or used in soups, stews, and daals to create a wonderfully rich coconut broth. Because it is naturally sweet, Coconut Cream Concentrate is also the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth on a sugar-free diet. A little chunk on its own is a wonderfully satisfying treat, and it is brilliant included in sweet treats from pie to truffles, cookies to smoothies. Because it hardens at cool temperatures, it is great to use when you want a firm consistency in raw desserts.  

In addition to being delicious, Coconut Cream Concentrate offers all the awesome nutrition of raw coconut, including fiber, protein, medium-chain fatty acids, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and lauric acid (a naturally occurring acid with potentially antimicrobial and antiviral properties).

Please note that Coconut Cream Concentrate or coconut butter is different than coconut oil. Coconut Cream Concentrate contains fiber and fat, while coconut oil is just oil.  Since they have very different properties, the two cannot be used interchangeably. Coconut Cream Concentrate should never be used as a cooking oil, and cannot substitute coconut oil in any recipe.

Inspired by my love for Coconut Cream Concentrate, I made a recipe for you. It is kind of like fudge, kind of like candy, and totally delicious. Even better, I'm giving away a 32-oz. jar of Coconut Cream Concentrate to one lucky reader! 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan042011

January SOS Kitchen Challenge Kick-off and a Great Giveaway!

Welcome to the new year, and to the first  SOS Kitchen Challenge of 2011! Ricki and I are both refreshed from a relaxing holiday season, and ready and rarin' to kick off this year's challenges with a bang.

Our featured ingredient this month is something that both of us use almost daily in our kitchens.  In fact, we're both so coconuts for it that we want to share some with one lucky participant through a giveaway at the end of the month. This ingredient is versatile for cooking, baking, and bath and body applications, and has some impressive nutritional and medicinal characteristics. It is a solid at some temperatures, and a liquid at others. And it smells like the tropics.

What could it be?  Drum roll please...

COCONUT OIL!

Beautiful, white, fragrant chunks of oil. Cold temperatures mean very firm coconut oil!

Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the meat of the coconut. High in lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin K, coconut oil is definitely at the top of the "healthy fat" category. Don't worry about the high saturated fat content - the high concentration of medium chain triglycerides  are supposed to assimilate well to the body and convert to energy.  

Although we can't technically say that coconut oil has specific medicinal or curative properties, keep in mind that many of the naturally occurring properties of coconut oil - such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid - function as natural antimicrobial agents, and may help strengthen the immune system. Coconut oil is also very versatile for health and body applications - it can be used for oil pulling, topically a moisturizer or massage oil, as a carrier oil for essential oils, and as a hair treatment.

Unlike olive oil or other popular plant oils like flax, sunflower, or canola, coconut oil is NOT destroyed or changed chemically in any way when used with medium or low heat. This makes coconut oil one of the best oils to use in cooking and baking, because it does not break down easily.   It can be used as a replacement for butter in any recipe, since it often behaves much like butter since it is solid at room temperature and liquid when hot.  It is also wonderful spread it on bread or muffins instead of butter, add a dollop to smoothies or hot chocolate, or melt it over cooked vegetables or grains.  The uses are endless!

Coconuts on a coconut palm tree in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lovely coconuts like this give us wonderful oil!

Since many of  Ricki's and my readers have food allergies or sensitivies, we want to share a note regarding the allergenic potential of coconut.  Coconut must be labeled on food packaging as a tree nut, according to regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  On the other hand, neither the EU nor Canada considers coconut as a tree nut for food labeling purposes.  Botanically, coconuts come from coconut palm trees, are not closely related to most other tree nuts, and technically, they are the seed of a fruit - not a nut. While you can't simply rely on botanical relationships to determine the potential cross-reactivity between two foods, those foods who are close biological relatives generally share related allergenic proteins (like cashews, mangos, and pistachios). That being said, there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between coconuts and hazelnuts and between coconuts and walnuts, which is strange, because those trees are not at all closely related.  However, allergies to coconuts are believed to be far less common than allergies to many true tree nuts, such as walnuts, cashews and almonds, a point to which the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network agrees. A June 2007 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology indicated cross-reactivity between coconuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts in one patient. Your allergist can advise you on the suitability of coconut for your diet.  I am allergic to most tree nuts, but tolerate coconut just fine, but I know that many readers have commented on previous recipes that they have allergies to coconut and require substitutions.  It will be different for everyone! But for many of us with dietary restrictions, coconut is a nourishing addition to our diet, and it makes an excellent substitute for dairy in most recipes.  [see References at bottom of post for sources]

This Month's Giveaway

DISCLAIMER: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

While there are many brands of coconut oil available, my favorite is made by Tropical Traditions. I love the fresh flavor, good texture, and high quality of this unrefined, natural oil.  Tropical Traditions creates their Gold Label Coconut Oil from fresh organic coconuts, grown by dedicated family farms in the Phillipines. The oil is produced in small batches and tested for quality, ensuring that you receive the freshest, highest quality coconut oil possible.  I feel confident that when I'm using this oil, I'm supporting a good company and getting the most nutrition possible for my money.

To share in the coconut oil love, Tropical Traditions is generously offering to giveaway 1 32-oz jar of their Gold Label Coconut Oil to someone that enters the SOS Kitchen Challenge!



RULES FOR Participating in the Challenge and ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY

  • Make a recipe using coconut oil, then post it to your blog - NEW recipe posts only please, do not reuse old posts. Then share the link to your recipe in the Linky below by January 31 at 11:59 PM CST.  Make sure your recipe follows the SOS Kitchen Challenge rules listed here- if it does not, it will be removed from the Linky and you will not be eligible for the giveaway.  NOTE: If you do  not have a blog, e-mail your name and recipe by the deadline to soskitchenchallenge@gmail.com. We will post it for you on our blogs and enter it in the Linky, which will enter you in the giveaway.  
  • BONUS ENTRY: subscribe to the Tropical Traditions email Sales Newsletter, and leave a comment at the bottom of this post saying that you did.  To subscribe: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/subscribe_for_special_sales.cfm.
  • After the deadline, we will pick a name randomly from recipe submissions and the bonus entry comments, and will announce the winner in our recipe roundup. We will share your contact information with Tropical Traditions, who will then send you the 32-oz coconut oil jar. 

 JANUARY 2011 SOS KITCHEN CHALLENGE ENTRIES: COCONUT OIL

Friday
Jul162010

New York, New York: Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Travel Adventures, Part II

Vox Pop cafe, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

I just got back from a long weekend in New York City. I was traveling to see my Lyme doctor, do a bit of siteseeing, and catch up with a handful of friends who live in the city. I had the pleasure of staying with Kim of Wallet-Friendly Wellness and her sister Steph. We had a wonderful time together talking about food, health, and catching up on general girl talk.  Staying with Kim and Steph was such a blessing, and I felt lucky to be be welcomed into their wonderful home with open arms.  

Most of my time in New York was spent in Brooklyn, and it truly stole my heart. Oh Brooklyn, how you charmed me with your beautiful restaurants, quirky boutiques, socially conscious coffee shops, awesome co-ops, beautiful parks, and wide assortment of hip young urban people.  It is much more calm and feels much more authentic than Manhattan - it was a relief to only go downtown on one day, and hang out in the slower-paced environs of Brooklyn most of the time.  I only ventured into downtown for my doctors appointment, which went very well. My doctor is pleased with my progress - hooray! - and things are looking good thus far. I am so thankful. Between spending time with such amazing women, having a great appointment, catching up with other New York-dwelling friends, and having lots of time to explore the city by myself on foot (my favorite thing about traveling).  And thankfully, I felt well enough to explore, which made me very, very happy.

New York is such a vibrant, amazing city. It is beautiful, ugly, energizing, exhausting, frustrating, and inspiring all at once. The diversity of people is incredible; I could ride the tubway all day long and never tire of just observing the people around me (I'm a recreational anthropologist).  Although I have now been to New York twice, I haven't yet set foot in a theater, museum, tourist attraction, landmark, or very many shops. Yes, I those things are great and I will go eventually.  But right now I am finding endless satisfaction in the richness of the neighborhoods and people that make New York New York. I love walking the streets and taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of wherever I am traveling, and New York is perfect for this kind of thing.  Where else can you walk down a single street and encounter a Jamaican restaurant serving ital food next to an Italian trattoria across the street from a Columbian cafe, a Caribbean market, and a Chinese take-out place, while hip hop blares from a boom box on the shoulder of a young African American man standing on the corner? And let's not forget two schoolbuses of Hassidic Jewish children playing in the park, followed shortly thereafter by a spontaneous discussion and photo exchange with a friendly Brazilian tourist named André and an amazing meal at a raw, vegan restaurant. 

New York, I love you.

I wanted to share a few images from my trip, as well as my experiences navigating the gluten-free and allergy-friendly food world of New York. I hope you enjoy!

Sisters

Carousel at Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

Park Slope neighborhood, Brooklyn

razor wire along Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

Click to read more ...