Hot

Phew, it is hot!! I know, a few months back I was complaining that I was cold, but that was when I was at home in Ohio. It is really hot here in NC, humid too. Heat index is 103. The ocean is even warm, which is odd this early. We have been coming here for years in early June and the water is usually still chilly now. Not this year. I was reading Heidi’s post on Aguas Frescas earlier that made me wish I had her here right along with me! LOL!

Normally on Sundays I write my menu plan, but I am on vacation, so no plan. We play it by ear and hit the grocery store daily or every other day for supplies. Tonight’s menu – Shrimp Scampi or Shrimp & avocado salad. Tomorrow – tacos and margaritas. Can’t go wrong with margaritas, right?

While I am here, a little update on my life as Bootsie. Things are going as well as can be expected. My foot has not hurt and I have been able to walk across the street to the beach sans boot with no pain. I find myself even walking fast and slow down. Good signs. I suspect that the boot was possibly prescribed to protect me from myself. Meaning that if I have to wear this I am less likely to do more than I should and when it is off, I am less likely to attempt something I shouldn’t do. It is all good. 11 more days. I am almost half way there.

  • Some new observations from my life as Bootsie:
  • When grocery shopping, I can stand on the front of the cart, Titanic style, and Aaron can push me around.
  • People are very curious why I am wearing the boot.
  • Sunburn on the top of my foot and then inside the boot is not a pleasant feeling.
  • I can cook and do dishes, but bending over to pick up something off the floor is near impossible from a standing position, unless I do it one legged.
  • Thinking I should do a series called “Where in the world is Bootsie” and give prizes to those who can tell me. πŸ˜‰

I hope to blog about another restaurant later on this week, though I doubt I will find one that tops our Margaritaville the other day. I see a repeat visit later this week. Date night with the hubby coming up,too! :)

What a Day!

Yesterday I spent the day with my kids hanging out in Myrtle Beach, SC. We scoped out some places online to eat gluten-free and settled on Margaritaville. Talk about a cool place!! We have eaten many times at the Cheeseburger in Paradise in Myrtle Beach, but never Margaritaville. I can’t even begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our lunch. I had heard that Margaritaville may have gluten-free buns, so that automatically put it at the top of my list. I have been gluten-free for over 4 years and have never had a gluten-free bun while dining out. Yes, I eat plenty of bread, bagels & such at home, but never in a restaurant.

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The kids asked to eat outside and I completely agreed. We were seated at a table right on the water.

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There seemed to be some other hungry kiddies around, too.

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A little girl was happily sharing her French fries with these guys. :)

When I asked about the gluten-free buns and was told that they did indeed have them, I about fainted right there. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. Jon and I then proceeded to drool over the gluten-free menu.

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Talk about choices!!! I love that I am having a harder time picking out what I want to eat these days at more & more restaurants. I remember many times having only 1 or 2, if I was lucky, gluten-free options when dining out. This place was heaven on earth. You know I ordered one of these…

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I am happy to report that the Redbridge was only $4.25. I have seen them marked as high as $6 for 1 beer in some places.

We ended up ordering the Volcano Nachos to start. The chips are fried in a dedicated fryer, as are the French fries. I had also asked about onions in my meal, so the kitchen automatically put the chili on the side because it does contain onions. Funny thing is I hadn’t even asked about onions in the chili because I was not really planning on eating any of the nachos with chili, just picking at the chips. I forgot to mention that the chef came out to the table to speak with us about the gluten-free menu before we ordered. He answered questions for us and assured us that he would oversee our food to ensure we were safe.

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The nachos were outstanding! I did dip a little in the chili and I was super impressed with the flavor. Nice big chunks of meat & beans. Jon really enjoyed the chili. We had to stop eating so we would have room for our meals. We wanted to try to save room for dessert, too.

Jon ordered the Cheeseburger in Paradise for his lunch. The burger is made sans Heinz 57, as it is not gluten-free. Mr. Picky also got the burger without lettuce & tomato, so really he had meat & cheese on a bun. Bun is the key word of the day, in case you were wondering. πŸ˜‰

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LOOK at that!!!! Can you believe it???

I ordered the California Chicken Sandwich. My sandwich came with Monterrey jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & watercress mayo (which I had them put on the side) on top and French fries.

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I have no words. I almost cried, seriously. I know I am being melodramatic, but people, I had a GLUTEN-FREE BUN on my sandwich in a restaurant! LOL! The fries were pretty darn good, too! I was only able to finish half of my sandwich and half of my fries. As you see, we didn’t even put a dent in those nachos and were stuffed. So sad that we didn’t have room for the Chocolate Hurricane. :(

The food was not only gluten-free, but it tasted great. It is one thing to serve gluten-free food, but another to have it taste phenomenal. I was skeptical about the bun, but it was very good. It was slightly reminiscent of Kinnikinnick’s English Muffin, but I can’t say for sure if that is what it was.

In my opinion, more restaurants need to take a look at what Margaritaville is doing. Not only do they have a great gluten-free menu & food, but their service was 5 star. It is hard to find customer service like that these days. From the time we walked in the front door, until the time we left, we had excellent service. Everyone was well trained – not only in their particular job, but in gluten-free service & safety. My only complaint is there is not one in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the coolest things, aside from the gluten-free menu, was the “hurricane” that happened while we were there. At 12:30, a “weather report” came on the TVs and over the speakers warning of a hurricane. The song “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere” came on and a large cloud looking prop starting spinning on the ceiling in the middle of the restaurant. I went into the bathroom with Hannah and missed some of this (GRR) and when we came out, a large blender and margarita were spinning around in the middle of the restaurant – as if they had come out of this huge cloud from the ceiling. It was a Margaritaville Hurricane and the song “Margaritaville” was playing right along with it. I wish I had my camera out then!!

After our lunch, we rolled ourselves along the shops at Broadway at the Beach. We didn’t have any specific plan, which sometimes makes the best days. We hit Ron Jon Surf Shop, many various T-Shirt & silly stores and finally, Pepper Palace. Jon had a bit of fun at Pepper Palace. There were samples out all over the store and while you are supposed to be over 18 to sample, if the child is with their parent, they can sample away. I gave my permission, so Jon went to town. We checked to make sure the chips & all salsas & dips he tried were gluten-free. He was particularly interested in the “hottest salsa on the planet”. He went back & forth several times trying to decide if he wanted to try it and he finally did. Here are some pictures of how that went.

Keep your eye on the guy in the white – he starts to pay attention to Jon soon.

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The burning got progressively worse as time went on. Also, the store employee warned him that milk would be a better chaser than the Mountain Dew he purchased, but you know, he is 14 and does what he knows is best.

The culprit.

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I forgot to mention that we also went to Ben & Jerry’s. Perhaps we should have done that after the salsa? LOL!

We all had a great day! I was a little slowed down by my boot, but not too bad. I could have done a lot more damage to my wallet had I not been in the boot, so I am sure that Aaron appreciates that aspect! LOL!

Jo-Sef’s Winner

Sorry that I am posting so late about this today. We had a very busy day today. I can’t wait to share it all with you very soon.

The winner of the Jo-Sef’s giveaway is…

Anna Aspnes
June 7th, 2010 at 12:52 pm
Smilin’

CONGRATS Anna!!! Please email me with your address.

Thank you to all who entered!!

Until I have a chance to post about our day, can anyone tell why Jon is making these faces?

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And no, it isn’t due to the Mountain Dew. πŸ˜‰

Gluten-Free Chatter

Lots of little things I want to share are running through my head, so I am going to combine them into one post so that it is easier to read for you all.

The kids and I went out to dinner last week at Bonefish Grill. We had a gift card, so what better excuse to not cook dinner? Jon ordered his old standby – Saucy Shrimp appetizer, as his main course. He loves this and I do as well, though I rarely get more than a taste. Anyone who has raised a teenage boy knows that food magically disappears once it is put in front of them.

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I had the Chilean Sea Bass. I love, love, love sea bass and quickly bypassed any thoughts of salmon when I saw it on the menu. I decided to give the Chimichurri Sauce, a sauce made with extra virgin olive oil, Italian parsley, flavored with garlic and red pepper, a try (once I confirmed it was free of onions). I asked for it on the side for a couple of reasons. First, I hate how restaurants drench food in sauces & dressings when only a small amount is needed to add good flavor. Second, I wanted to make sure I liked it before it was all over my sea bass. I was not disappointed. I loved this dish!

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I was a little disappointed that the green beans still same in seasoning, though I asked for it without. It was gluten-free, so I didn’t send it back for fear that other things would then come out incorrect. The meal was outstanding.

Of course we couldn’t leave without a little chocolate, right?! The flourless chocolate brownie is amazing!

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It is supposed to come with berries on it, but since Jon was the one eating 95% of it, I let him order it the way he wanted it. It was TDF!

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Do you like brownies? You know I do! Get ready -this coming Friday, June 11, 2010 you can get free brownies! All you have to do is order any Better Batter gluten-free product and you will get a free brownie mix with your purchase. Be sure to check out my review of Better Batter Brownies. They are amazing!

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Jason’s Deli is adding gluten-free bread to their menu!! You can read more about it here.

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Redbridge Beer has been reformulated. Check out my review of it here.

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There has been a lot of buzz about an article announcing the contamination of some gluten-free grains. Tricia Thompson writes about a study that was conducted on naturally gluten-free grains (these grains were not labeled “gluten-free”, they just didn’t contain gluten). The study found many of the gluten-free grains to contain levels of gluten ranging from 25 to 2,925 PPM. It seems that much like oats, those following the gluten-free diet may need to strictly stick with grains that are labeled gluten-free. There is a lot more information in Part 1 and Part 2 of Tricia’s articles. I don’t know about you, but I could do without the added confusion, but at the same time, am grateful for any information that will help keep Jon and me safe.

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Katz is offering assorted gluten-free samples for just the shipping cost – click here for more!

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Looking for a great nutrition bar? Give NuGo a try. I really enjoyed these bars. You can get a sampling of 3 bars for $5 including shipping.

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I am off! Time to relax with the family. I will leave you with a picture – it is possible to play Putt Putt as “Bootsie”. πŸ˜‰

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Reflections

My original plan was to come here today and write another funny post about life as “Bootsie”, however, I am just not feeling it. As much as I have been trying to keep a positive attitude, because that is who I am, I haven’t been able to. I would love to tell you all that I am coping just fine with my injury, but that would be a lie. The truth is that yesterday was a very hard day.

I don’t know why it was so different than the previous days. Maybe it was just that it all had time to sink in and now that I was settled into life in the boot for the next 3 weeks, I realized how much it sucked. I feel bad that the kids are asking to do things and I have to tell them that I can’t. They want me to come out in the ocean and jump waves with them. Probably not the best idea. I do have permission from the doc to go to the beach sans boot, but I am certain that jumping waves didn’t come along with that. I have been wading into the water, but for short periods of time so that I am not on my foot too long without the boot. Then they want to walk to get ice cream. It is a tradition. Again, I have to tell them “no, I can’t”. I am not an “I can’t” person.

I did a lot of soul searching last night. I also did a lot of crying. What I realized is that I don’t want to look back on this vacation with my family as a time I regret (Thanks, Mom). I want to look back on this time spent with my kids and husband fondly. I want to be able to giggle about the fun times we had. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself & move on. Focus on what I can do. Be thankful for a number of things:

  • This situation is temporary – others are not so lucky
  • I am allowed to walk – again, others are not so lucky
  • I have a wonderful, supportive family & group of friends
  • I completed a marathon (thanks for pointing that out, Kelly)
  • I am alive

So, I have a plan. I am taking the kids out to lunch at a place of their choice when it rains later this week or when we are too sunburned to withstand any more beach time. We may also hit up a few stores for our shopping fix. A movie might also be on the list of fun things to do, as is Putt Putt, which I am sure will be very amusing in my condition. πŸ˜‰ I feel that I always feel better when I have a plan. When I start to act instead of just brainstorm. I also feel better just getting this all down on paper (or my laptop).

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, it is possible to do a Power/Body Pump class, with a little modification, as “Bootsie”. πŸ˜‰ My final thought for the day – where there is a will, there is a way.

Jo-sef’s Cookies Giveaway!

A couple of weeks back, I reviewed Jo-sef’s Cookies on Celiac-Disease.com. Now I am here to share some great news!! Jo-sef’s has offered to send an assortment of cookies to one lucky reader!! YAY!!

Want to know what you have to do to win? Each comment counts as an entry. Okay, here goes:

1. Follow Gluten-free is Life on Facebook if you are on Facebook. If you already follow me, just let me know in the comments.

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment. If you already follow me, just let me know in the comments.

3. Visit Jo-sef’s site and leave a comment about which product you would most like to try.

4. Smile. :)

Deadline to enter is Wednesday at midnight. Good luck!!!

Gluten-free Travel

I have done a few other posts on gluten-free travel over the past 2 years (yikes, it will be 2 years since I started my blog in August!). I always find that I am learning something new, so I have to make sure to pass it all along to you guys.

There are so many safe places to eat now that bringing a ton of food along on the road is really not necessary. I did bring my stash of Udi’s bagels & bread, though, as I was not sure I could find my beloved carb-loaded delicacies in North Carolina.

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Yes, I did bring 6 packages of bagels (well, 1 is missing out of one package) and 2 loaves of bread with us. I may end up taking some of it home with us, but I would rather have it then not.

Other than the bread/bagels, the food that I brought, I brought because it was already open and we don’t eat out a lot on vacation. We cook big beach house meals and drink cold cocktails. It is much cheaper this way and we have a lot of fun.

To find gluten-free restaurants, I either google “gluten-free restaurants in….” or I will check to see if there is a support group in the area and try to contact the group for some ideas. I used to prefer not to eat at chain restaurants, but now I tend to choose those more often than not to be safe, unless I get a good recommendation for a non-chain restaurant in the area. As always, I chat with the manager & servers to ensure safety & to see if they grasp the concept of gluten-free. Nothing like getting the blank stare or the “oh, yeah, you can’t have sugar” comments. An example of a place that would most likely not be safe to eat at:

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Now, while the food may taste just fine, I am pretty certain that it isn’t gluten-free.

Here is my core list of standbys (all links are in the right hand margin):

  • Panera
  • Outback
  • Bonefish
  • Chipotle
  • Moe’s
  • Pei Wei
  • P.F. Chang’s
  • First Watch
  • Cold Stone
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Uno’s Chicago Grill
  • Wendy’s

That being said, there are many places that are willing to accommodate you, you just have to ask & make your needs known.

Another good reason to get in contact with the local support group is to find health food stores or mainstream grocery stores in the area that carry gluten-free food. I don’t usually seek out the health food stores because I really have found that you can find enough gluten-free food in mainstream grocery stores these days. Even if you have to sub brown rice for pasta or skip the bread, there are ways to tweak any meal. If you need a sub for bread, try corn tortillas. They are cheap & work wonders. Amy’s Meals are easy to find and have many gluten-free varieties. Blue Diamond Nut Crackers are also very easy to find. Make breading, snacks, “Lunchables”, etc using these. They are also inexpensive when it comes to gluten-free crackers. Wrap deli meat around string cheese, top a sweet potato with baked beans and have a salad, spread tortilla chips over a baking sheet, top with refried or black beans, cheese & tomato & toss in the oven – easy, gluten-free food.

Keep this in mind: We eat to live, not live to eat. Make your time on the road about family & friends, not about food. Enjoy conversation and activities. Enjoy yourself. :)

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Boo Hoo….

As most of you know, I ran the Cleveland Marathon on May 16, 2010. I did great through my training up until my 20 mile training run. I developed plantar fasciitis 3 weeks before the race. Thanks to Max Sports Medicine and my amazing doctor, I was able to run the marathon. YAY! I got a cool purple t-shirt, a really cool medal and now this:

Yep, a boot on my foot that I have the pleasure of wearing for the next 3 weeks. I had an MRI done on Tuesday and while there isn’t a definite fracture, there is damage to the 5th metatarsal bone.They treat it the same as a stress fracture so that I can hopefully avoid the full blown fracture. Dr said he hopes to have me back running in 4-6 weeks. I can’t wait! I am allowed to swim or bike with no resistance now, but that is it. No elliptical right now. Hopefully after I go back on the 24th I will be able to start the elliptical back up. Looks like it is time to concentrate on arm and core work.

1 day down, 20 more to go. What I have learned in the first 24 hours of wearing the boot:

  • Hubby has taken to calling me “Bootsie”
  • The kids still expect me to perform at my previous levels
  • It is hard to walk up & down stairs
  • The boot makes a lot of noise when you are trying to be quiet. For example, when everyone else is sleeping.
  • My sister offered up a matching boot for the other foot; I declined. I am all about fashion, but gotta draw a line somewhere.
  • Carrying anything up & down the stairs is darn near impossible; check back 10 days in, I hope to be a master.
  • Driving with the boot is possible, but should be avoided. The cops will automatically blame me if I should get in an accident & then they see the boot. Keep alternate footwear in the van to drive in.
  • It is not possible to chase & catch a 2 year old wearing the boot and she knows it. πŸ˜‰
  • I can still floss my teeth while wearing the boot. If you read my post on True Blogger Confessions, this will make more sense.
  • I can still do laundry. Damn.

This all has nothing to do with living gluten-free, other than yes, I can still eat & cook with the boot on. πŸ˜‰ Watch for more things I learn about life as “Bootsie” over the next few weeks. I will most likely have more time on my hands than I normally do, which should make for interesting reading.

Gluten-Free Pantry Products

MamboSprouts provided me with a generous package of gluten-free goodies in May. Some of those goodies included several mixes from Gluten-Free Pantry. When I first started the gluten-free diet, GFP was my go-to company for mixes. Not only were they relatively easy to find, but they tasted good, too. Gluten-Free Pantry is part of the Glutino Food Group.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Glutino & Gluten-Free Pantry Mission is to provide a healthy lifestyle to all those with Celiac Disease and those who follow a gluten-free / wheat-free diet.

Glutino & Gluten-Free Pantry are the two brands of gluten-free foods made with the goodness of home. You can trust Glutino & Gluten-Free Pantry to use quality gluten-free ingredients, so your family can enjoy great tasting 100% gluten-free meals that fit today’s busy lifestyles.

We are sensitive to the often over-looked population of allergy sufferers and cater to their needs for healthy, delicious products.

Keys to Glutino & Gluten-Free Pantry:
Quality, Service, Trust, and Variety

The mixes I received are the Chocolate Chip Cookies & Cake, Chocolate Truffle Brownies and Brown Rice Pancakes. We have always been huge fans of the brownies! They were one of the first foods that I ooohed and aaahed over after trying several other not-so-tasty gluten-free brownies. I plan on taking the pancake mix on vacation with us and hope to make the cookies to take with us in the car. Long car rides make me cranky and cookies make me happy, so I am hoping to balance it all out.

The French Bread & Pizza and Favorite Sandwich Bread mixes are very good. The sandwich bread was my staple bread for a long time. The French Bread & Pizza mix was our pizza base before I discovered Udi’s or Bob’s Red Mill. I don’t mean any offense by that statement at all, but everyone has their preferences.

The Yankee Cornbread is outstanding. This is the mix I use to make my cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving & Christmas!

In addition to the 11 baking mixes, GFP also has croutons. Jon really enjoys his salads with croutons, so I try to keep these around for him.

Gluten-Free Pantry and Glutino products can be purchased at Glutenfree.com and in many stores across the US. Most mainstream grocery stores have some of their products stocked on a regular basis.

Do you have a favorite Gluten-Free Pantry mix?

Feeding America Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway last week! I would have posted this sooner, but my internet service was not cooperating yesterday.

The winner is……

Karin
May 28th, 2010 at 12:51 am
Pledged to lose 10 lbs– Wish me luck!

CONGRATS Karin!!! Please email me so I can get your information to MyBlogSpark.

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