Month: May 2016

Burger Bar Chicago: Restaurant Review

I’ll admit it: I got really excited when I saw an email from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center inviting me to the first-ever Chicago meet-up for people with celiac–like might have jumped out of my chair excited.

Okay, now you may be asking what I asked myself–how the heck does a big city like Chicago not already have a celiac meet-up?! Well, who knows.

Nonetheless, I’d never been to the meeting spot {Burger Bar Chicago} and even glancing at their website/menu had me a bit weary of whether they were celiac safe, or gluten free fad safe. The menu simply has a gluten free bun option, without indication of precautions taken/not taken, etc. I had to stretch outside of my comfort zone and put my trust in the fact that my own celiac center picked the darn place but I still called to ensure other allergens could be taken care of.

They were able to give me anything other than the french fries (made in soybean oil, but 100% gluten free for others who are curious!), so I customized my hamburger {see that stack below!} and had a side salad. I requested my hamburger be made on foil, out of an abundance of caution for my hyper-sensitive celiac stomach, and the request was easily accommodated.

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It was a tasty, fun time and over FIFTY PEOPLE showed up!

Celiac people+family/friends/kids all chowing down on some delicious, safe hamburgers is my kinda night.

I’ll definitely be returning.

Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

GFAF Expo Chicago– Top Finds!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at live-streaming anything, regardless of the social media platform. I get wrapped up in talking, eating, looking around, and the photos/videos/tweets/snapchats, etc.  just sorta fall by the wayside. Despite lack of visual evidence, I have some fantastic finds and old favorites that I gobbled down last weekend at the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois to share with you.

{Needless to say, the blood sugar day was a nightmare between all the eating and being on a CGM vacation, but one day a year–absolutely worth it to me.}

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Let’s start with the go-to favorites that I was munching on last weekend:

Smart Flour Foods Pizza {review here}, Whole Note Crepes {review here},  San-J Sauces {review here; they sponsored the bloggers this year!}, Allie’s Gluten Free Goodies {review here}, Sweet Note Bakery {currently revising recipes and rebranding, but previous review here}, Path of Life {review here}, Simple Mills {absolutely loving the new crackers; review here}, and of course the big player favorites like Glutino (oh those animal crackers!), Enjoy Life Foods (chocolate chips and crunchy cookies are my favorites!), Canyon Bakehouse (hello everything bagels), and Chebe Bread (fun to make into shapes!)

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Finally met CMO of Enjoy Life, Joel!

How about the favorites that I’m yet to review on ADSG? I couldn’t stop eating Beanfields Chips {I love the nacho flavor!}, Glutenfreeda products {purity protocol oats! And more than just oatmeal now!}, MyBread {that pita…yum.}, Three Bakers {some of the best bread for toast, in my opinion}, and plenty more I’m probably forgetting!

And for the new ones to me and/or the gluten free scene that I enjoyed sampling:

  • Freedom Foods: Yes, I know this one has been around the block a few times, but I rarely can find safe cereal that is also relatively low carb (21g/1 cup; also purity protocol oats!). This company did it! Check it out here.
  • Isola Imports: Definitely a top find at the Expo for me. They have delicious flavored butters {that taste like cheeses, but less lactose=happier stomach!}, gorgeous balsamic vinegars, and brand new gluten free gnocchi that was to die for! Look out for an opportunity to hear more about them and perhaps even get some for yourself!
  • Jovial: A curious brand to me, as they have a full and successful gluten line as well as a safe gluten free line. I did finally get my hands on some bow tie pasta (can I get a heck yes for gluten free pasta shapes?! Where were these in my childhood?!) that I’m looking forward to making.
  • Kiki’s Gluten Free: This company actually won several awards for innovation in food as they’ve created a pouch that their delectable deep dish pizza can be delivered in to larger universities/restaurants/etc to keep it 100% safe and away from cross contamination!
  • La Brea Bakery: Apparently well-known for their gluten breads {I had no clue, of course!}, they’ve begun a gluten free bread line in a separate facility. Their loaves are counter stable for an entire 7-10 days and the most squishy, pliable gluten free bread I’ve found yet. Loved it.
  • Milton’s: With an entire line of crackers and a line of chips, this booth was happenin’. They were kind enough to provide me with lots of different flavors to try, and I’ve been enjoying tasting them all!
  • Osteobroth: Just getting myself onto the bone broth trend a little late–and still hating the name of the category, so I’ll call it broth from now on–the individuals with Osteobroth were excited and kind and their broth was delicious! Though hard to believe, a warm cup of it was so refreshing after all the samples I’d had on the floor so far that day.
  • Sun Krunch Granola: A local small business, this couple is producing the most flavorful, simple, and low carb granola I’ve ever had! Working on getting some bags sent to me ASAP!

 

Phew, there you have it. GFAF Expo Schaumburg in a nutshell. What’s your long-time favorite brand? What product do you wish would hit the market in a gluten free/allergy friendly form?

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Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

 

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Disclaimer: I was a sponsored press blogger for the GFAF Expo, meaning I was asked to write a pre- and post-event blog piece and was given extra product from vendors/the blog sponsor, San-J. All opinions are my own.

Summer House Santa Monica Chicago: Restaurant Review

Moving back to my hometown of Chicago at the start of this month meant it was time to take on the task of finding 100% safe places to eat [especially after 4 years in Ann Arbor, with a total of a whopping 3 safe places].

As most of you know, I am practically the most sensitive celiac that exists, according to my physician and world renown celiac specialist at least. Cross-contamination takes on a whole new meaning in my life, as even as molecule of gluten and I’m down and out for a week. On top of my strict gluten free eating, I’m anaphylactic allergic to shellfish and severely intolerant/allergic to soybean oil, peanuts, pistachios, and cashews.

I called Summer House Santa Monica, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, after seeing they’d be serving food at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease benefit, and  I was assured they could safely prepare a meal for every single one of my food needs. They mentioned that I would speak to a manager, chef, and my  waiter upon arriving for a full allergy protocol to take place. I’m usually quite anxious when it comes to dining out, but after arriving at Summer House, I knew I was in good hands.

Upon being seated with a personal friend as a waiter (which is so much fun!), I spoke to a manager who explained that all soy sauce used in marinades was wheat free tamari and that no soybean oil was ever used in the kitchen. Additionally, shellfish was never placed on the grill and the grill was kept 100% gluten free. I couldn’t believe my ears! He simply explained that the investment in the small changes was worthwhile to be able to serve individuals with allergies more simply and effectively. Amazing!

I ordered from their extensive gluten free dinner menu (they have gluten free brunch and lunch too!) and chose the Ahi Tuna Toastadas and Roasted Jalapeno Cauliflower to share with my family for appetizers and the Ancho-Marinated Amish Chicken Taco Platter for dinner. All dishes were stunning in presentation and flavor.

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Ahi Tuna Toastadas
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Roasted Jalapeno Cauliflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ancho-Marinated Chicken Taco Platter

 

Of course, I waited a full week to write this review to ensure I was feeling 100% well. Summer House took utmost care of me and my needs–there’s nothing better than delicious food that leaves you feeling absolutely perfectly. I cannot wait to return.

What’s your favorite celiac-safe/food allergy friendly restaurant in Chicago? I’d love to review.

Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

gr8box Review–Top 8 Free Subscription Box!

*I was lucky to receive a fun box in the mail this week from gr8box, in exchange for my honest review. *

So, moving in back home for the near future meant my mom slowly realized exactly what my apartment building knew me for–there will be lots of packages every week with my name on them. Whether for a review, new product to try, or due to my minor {read: major} love for Amazon instead of shopping, I think the UPS/FedEx guys know my face and name already–considering I stalked the door for him today…

This week I received a box from gr8box–a monthly subscription box free of the top 8 allergen and no shared equipment or facilities. Amazing! Take a look at the great teal color representing the food allergy community used right on the box!

This month’s box came with a variety of goodies–some from the expected pros, Enjoy Life Foods, and some from companies I’d never heard of. I so appreciate a box that requires no label reading on my end–takes away any element of stress.

However, the items in the box were primarily very high carb–which, for this type 1, means I couldn’t try very many at the time I opened them/will use some for low BG treatment.

This box would make an incredible gift for someone you love living with food allergies, especially a kid who can now open a box and eat everything inside!

Thanks for sending it my way, gr8box!

And guess what! One of my fellow bloggers is running a gr8box giveaway on her blog this week–check it out here!

Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

Celebratory Sea Bass+Lentils Recipe

As many of you saw on my Instagram (@breezygfreezy), my sister/gluten free chef extraordinaire created the most incredible dish to celebrate my graduation and return to Chicago. I’ve had a few requests for the recipe, so here it is–

*Celebratory Sea Bass+Lentils a la Ellory*

Lentils:

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup dry lentils

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper

Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp dill weed

1/2 lemon, juice

Instructions:

Chop the onion and garlic. Combine the coriander, cumin, mustard seeds and olive oil in a bowl, and in a medium sauce pan for 5 minutes. Add in the onion and garlic, stirring often until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the lentils and 3 cups of the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir lentils every 10 minutes, adding 1/4 cup of the remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth until lentils are softened and cooked (40 minutes to add the 1 cup of broth). Stir in the red wine vinegar, and top with greek yogurt sauce.

Sea Bass:

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

4, 4-oz filet of sea bass

Instructions:

Combine and spread evenly over filets in a baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until cooked through. Check often!

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