Consistency–A Good Thing

When gluten-free restaurant chains have a gluten-free menu, you have to wonder how consistent the process is across the country or their areas of service.  Sometimes you find that things are done by the book and don’t really vary from place to place much at all.  Other times, even though there is a gluten-free menu in place and that menu is the same at all of the locations, the consistency or quality of the food is not. 

One of the places that I have visited in multiple states that appears to be extremely consistent is Mellow Mushroom.  I have now been to locations in Ohio, Georgia & South Carolina.  All of the locations use Still Riding Pizza crusts as their base and have a list of ingredients printed up on the menu that are gluten-free.  Due to the way their kitchen works, ingredients that aren’t on that list are not guaranteed to be gluten-free. 

Mellow Mushroom Myrtle Beach, SC


Mellow Mushroom always has the most unique designs and I have yet to see 2 alike! 

The menu:


Because we were not going straight home and there is no way I can eat the pizza by myself, I opted for a salad.  The staff was very knowledgeable and even informed me that they didn’t guarantee the greens were gluten-free due to how the salads were prepared.  They went above & beyond (as all MM locations have) and opened new packages for me and made my salad in a separate area. 


They certainly didn’t skimp on ingredients….there was plenty of chicken (3-4 oz), tomatoes, mushrooms, banana peppers, avocado and I asked for the feta on the side because I knew they would bring a lot – it was a huge bowl!  I had oil & vinegar on the side, which our server informed me she also got from a brand new container.  A++ on the experience, as always!  I love how they offer the opportunity to “Build Your Own Salad”.  Mine ended up costing under $12, which is standard for a large, dinner salad in most restaurants.  Additionally, this kept me full all afternoon, which isn’t a small feat.  Winking smile

Do you have a restaurant that consistently provides a great experience?  If so, what is it?

Eating Away From Home

As you all know, eating gluten-free while traveling can pose certain challenges.  In these days, it is not hard to find something to eat that is gluten-free, but it is hard to find the things you want to eat that are gluten-free.  Any convenient store has Fritos (only has corn, oil and salt) or Snicker’s bars, also gluten-free, but we all know that while those may be good occasional treats, they aren’t meals. 

If you have a lot of space when you travel – such as taking your own car with plenty of room – packing gluten-free necessities isn’t a big deal.  However, if you are flying or are limited on space, bringing a lot of your gluten-free “staples” may not be possible.  Thankfully most mainstream grocery stores have some sort of gluten-free pasta, cereal, bread, etc – they just may not be the brands you prefer. 

We recently ran across this in North Carolina while vacationing.  Other than Ener-G bread, we weren’t able to locate any bread.  No Udi’s, no Kinnikinnick, nothing.  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some Van’s Gluten-Free Blueberry Waffles at the second grocery store that I hit, so we used those for sandwiches in addition to Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas.  I thought that we would be able to find Gluten-Free Bisquick, but struck out there as well. 

Obviously we had access to plenty of produce, rice, protein, dairy & such – it was just the extras and specialty items that we were missing.  It really goes to show you how spoiled we are here in Columbus, Ohio with the selections of gluten-free food we have. 

We ate most of our meals at the beach house, so dining out wasn’t a big issue.   We did visit Margaritaville and got ice cream out from a couple of different places.  Margaritaville does have a nice gluten-free menu, including buns for their burgers.  However, after the introduction of Udi’s, Rudi’s and Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free buns, these were horrible.  I hate to say that, but they had no flavor, bad texture & crumbled easily.  I ended up taking the bun off of my sandwich and focusing on the amazing french fries and stealing bites of Jon’s gluten-free brownie sundae. 



Volcano Nachos


A lot of the little shops in North Carolina carry Blue Bell ice cream.  I was concerned that I hadn’t contacted them previously, but was able to find this list on Gluten-Free Appetite:

Blue Bell Products Suitable for Those Avoiding Gluten

Standard Ice Cream Flavors:

  • Banana Split
  • Buttered Pecan
  • Butter Crunch
  • Candy Jar
  • Caramel Turtle Fudge
  • Century Sundae
  • Cherry Vanilla
  • Chocolate Chip
  • French Vanilla
  • Homemade Vanilla
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Mocha Almond Fudge
  • Mocha Madness
  • Moo-llennium Crunch
  • Natural Vanilla Bean
  • Peaches & Homemade Vanilla
  • Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream
  • Peppermint
  • Snickerdoodle
  • Southern Hospitality
  • Strawberry
  • Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla
  • Tin Roof
  • White Chocolate Almond
  • Standard Ice Cream Flavors
  • Banana Split Buttered Pecan
  • Butter Crunch Candy Jar
  • Caramel Turtle Fudge Century Sundae
  • Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chip
  • French Vanilla Homemade Vanilla
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Mocha Almond Fudge
  • Mocha Madness Moo-llennium Crunch
  • Natural Vanilla Bean Peaches & Homemade Vanilla
  • Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream Peppermint
  • Snickerdoodle Southern Hospitality
  • Strawberry Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Tin Roof
  • White Chocolate Almond

Regional Ice Cream Flavors and No Sugar Added:

  • Banana Nut
  • Banana Split (No Sugar Added*)
  • Black Walnut
  • Buttered Pecan (No Sugar Added*)
  • Coffee
  • Country Vanilla (No Sugar Added*)
  • Lemon
  • Dutch Chocolate (No Sugar Added*)
  • Pineapples & Homemade Vanilla
  • The Great Divide (No Sugar Added*)
  • Pistachio Almond
  • Banana Nut Banana Split
  • Black Walnut Buttered Pecan
  • Coffee Country Vanilla
  • Lemon Dutch Chocolate
  • Pineapples & Homemade Vanilla The Great Divide
  • Pistachio Almond

Light Ice Cream Flavors and Market Specific Ice Cream Flavors:

  • Homemade Vanilla
  • Café con Leche
  • Southern Hospitality
  • Mango
  • The Great Divide
  • Mardi Gras
  • Tropical Paradise
  • Yogurt Flavors
  • Banana Split Nonfat
  • Sherbet Quarts
  • Country Vanilla Low Fat
  • Lime
  • Strawberry Nonfat
  • Orange
  • The Great Divide Low Fat
  • Pineapple
  • Rainbow
  • Homemade Vanilla Café con Leche
  • Southern Hospitality Mango
  • The Great Divide Mardi Gras
  • Tropical Paradise
  • Yogurt Flavors
  • Banana Split Nonfat Sherbet Quarts
  • Country Vanilla Low Fat Lime
  • Strawberry Nonfat Orange
  • The Great Divide Low Fat Pineapple
  • Rainbow

   *The No Sugar Added uses Aspartame.

I had the Peaches with Homemade Vanilla and fell in love.  The peaches were nice, big chunks and the vanilla was one of the best I have ever tasted.  Perfect end to a long day on the beach!

Fun with Udi’s Pizza Crust

When I was training for my marathon/half marathon this spring, I got into the habit of eating the same thing every Friday night.  This is the night before my long run, so the idea is to get into a routine so that I can see if my body agrees or disagrees with the food that I am fueling with.  It is a delicate balance.

When I found a sale on Udi’s gluten-free pizza crusts, I pick up several packages.  Each package contains 2 crusts, so that would last me a while.  Here are some of the recent creations I have come up with:

Chickpea, spinach, roasted grape tomatoes & provolone


Eggplant parmesan pizza


Unpictured ideas:

Mexican – refried beans, cheddar, tomatoes, jalapeno, lettuce & avocado on pizza crust

Super Veggie – adding shredded zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, black olive, banana pepper and mozzarella

BBQ chicken – bbq sauce, rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced potato & a sprinkling of cheddar

I pair all of my pizzas with a salad.  I can usually polish off a large salad and an Udi’s size crust. 

This is a wonderful way to get creative with your food – the pizza crust is a blank canvas – create until your heart is content!!  The beauty of the Udi’s crusts is that they can go right from the freezer to the oven and can be ready in under 15 minutes.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that. 

Do you have a favorite pizza that you make at home?  My kids go for marinara (we usually use Three Cheese Prego) and mozzarella and if they are feeling adventurous, pepperoni. 

Check back later today for the winner of the Betty Crocker giveaway! 

Review: Baked Classics Crisps

When Baked Classics asked if I wanted to sample their chips, I jumped at the chance!  Is the sky blue?  Well, is it blue in most places?  LOL!  They quickly sent me all three varieties of their chips to sample. 


Do you see the middle bag?  Vanilla Frosting chips?  Of course I busted open that bag as soon as I saw it.  What an amazing treat!!  The other varieties were equally as good.  The Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper was a little spicy, but has a great flavor.  The BBQ is spot on without being overly seasoned.  Well done! 

More about Baked Classics:

SAVORY SNACKS WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF GUILT. Baked Classics® popped potato and multigrain crisps are packed with flavor, not fat. These oh-so-satisfying crisps are made with all natural potatoes, whole grains and seasonings, then popped. The result? A snack that’s just what you’ve been craving and a healthy alternative that won’t leave your palate feeling the least bit deprived.

More taste. Less waist. Baked Classics have always been and will always be all natural:

  • No cholesterol
  • No trans fat
  • no saturated fat
  • no preservatives
  • No MSG
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Kosher certified
  • Gluten free
  • Practical and satisfying portion sizes

With three mouth-watering flavors, the scale is definitely tipped in your favor.


Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper: A spin on the well-known potato chip, this 110 calorie snack is the perfect marriage of salt and pepper.

Mesquite BBQ: Now, with 10% less sodium than the original barbecue and only 110 calories, this traditional flavor is sure to spark memories of your annual family cookout.


Vanilla Frosting: Creamy vanilla frosting with just the right amount of sweetness. Feel free to indulge without fear.

I have been eating the Vanilla Frosting chips for dessert!  They remind me a little bit of cereal without being too sweet. 

The chips can be purchased on for $18 for 24 1oz bags. 

Have you tried the Baked Classics Chips?

**I received the chips in this review free of charge.  The opinions expressed here are mine and have not been influenced by anyone or anything. 

Don’t forget to enter the Betty Crocker giveaway!!  It ends Tuesday at midnight EST!

Weekly Menu Plan–June 5, 2011

Summer is here and so is the humidity.  No complaints from me – I was tired of wearing gloves, coats, etc. 

Any fun summer plans going on?  The kids get out of school this week.  It seems that they went much later this year than they have in years past.  It also seems that every other school around us is out already.  My little sister goes to school in a neighboring town and they were out on May 27th. 

Looking forward to running some shorter distance races this summer.  I signed up for my first ever 5K in July!  Seems odd that I have run so many other race distances but have never run a 5K.  I have run a 10K, 3 half marathons and a full marathon previously.  I will also be running a quarter marathon in September before my half marathon in October.  Hoping to set some new goals & PRs for myself.  I will also be focusing on stretching my legs better to hopefully avoid injury.  A running friend on Facebook shared this link on stretching for runners

Being that it is the first week of summer vacation, meals will have to be quick, as there is much going on with us wrapping up the school year.

Sunday – Baseball game

Monday – Rotisserie chicken, brown rice, sesame green beans & salad

Tuesday – Chimichangas, black beans, corn & salad

Wednesday – Garlic shrimp over brown rice pasta, roasted asparagus & salad

Thursday- Bison burgers, sweet potato puffs, corn on the cob & salad

Friday – Sweet Thai Chile Salmon, quinoa, sugar snap peas & salad

Saturday –BBQ chicken breasts, baked potato, fresh green beans & salad

Don’t forget to enter the Betty Crocker giveaway to win one of each of their gluten-free mixes!  The giveaway ends Tuesday night at midnight!

1-2-3 Gluten Free introduces first fortified flour mix

Chebe gets a facelift

Review: Woodchuck Amber Cider

Simple Gluten-Free Eats

Review: Marcella’s Gluten-Free Pizza


I hope you all have a wonderful week! 

Review: Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet

Go get this stuff.  Now.  It is freakin’ amazing!  Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet = heaven on earth.  I know I usually profess my love for all things chocolate here on my blog, but I will make exceptions for items that contain wine.  When shopping at Whole Paycheck Foods last week, I noticed that the pints of Ciao Bella were on sale 2 for $6.  Yeah, not a huge sale, but good enough for me!  I picked up the Blood Orange, which I reviewed here and the Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet. 



The ingredients are simple:


The most important ingredient is in bold face and is the 3rd ingredient listed.  My likey.  I honestly didn’t expect to like this as much as I do.  I expected to like it, for it to be a refreshing treat on a sticky hot day, but not to wake up thinking about it and planning trips across town to Whole Foods to get more. 

Cian Bella offers a wide variety of flavors, but not all of them are gluten-free.  Take care when purchasing and read the label, as it will be clearly marked “gluten-free”.  More ingredient and flavor information can be seen here

Have you tried any of the Ciao Bella products?  If so, what did you try?  Do you have a favorite?

Food Pyramid Gets a Facelift

Have you heard the news about the Food Pyramid? Say “Good-bye” to the old pyramid.


Say “Hello” to the new version and recommendations:


The new recommendations place a larger emphasis on fresh fruits & vegetables and less on grains, protein & dairy.    There is more specific information on tips here and food groups here.  More recommendations that are listed on the site:

Balancing Calories

Enjoy your food, but eat less.

Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Make at least half your grains whole grains.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.

Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

What does this mean for those of us that are gluten-free?  Nothing really.  My plate is typically made up of the following:

3-4 oz protein (lean meats, beans or Sunshine burger)

Large salad – 3-4 cups worth

1 cup of veggies, either roasted or steamed

Small potato (baked or sweet); quinoa, brown rice, etc

I usually eat my fruit for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  I do add fruit to my salad – either dried or cut up pears or berries.  I also add avocado and a nut/seed of sorts.

The new recommendations won’t change the way I eat.  I consider myself a pretty healthy eater.  Sure, I like my treats, but I eat way above my quota of veggies/fruits, get plenty of protein and eat a sufficient amount of grains.  I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but that has more to do with the fact that I am lactose intolerant and can’t tolerate large amounts.  So, the changes that have been made by the USDA won’t change what I do here.

Have you paid much attention in the past to the Food Pyramid?  Will this new design make any impact on the way you eat?  If so, how will it change the way you eat?

Betty Crocker’s Baker’s Challenge & Giveaway

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves, tie those aprons and get to baking?  I sure hope so because Betty Crocker is doing something big!  Betty Crocker is hosting its first-ever gluten-free recipe contest, the Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, and they want you to be a part of it!  How exciting is that?!  To make this challenge a little easier, I am hosting a giveaway that includes the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes to get you started.  How would you like to win these?

bc gf prize pack finalbakerschallenge

More information from MyBlogSpark & Betty Crocker:

We know baking in a gluten-free world poses its own challenges – as well as sweet rewards – so we want to give you a chance to show off the creative solutions and tasty treats that you’ve created for your family and friends.

Now through June 30th, visit for the chance to win a Grand Prize of $5,000. The grand prize winner will also have the chance to be featured on a Betty Crocker® Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick®Gluten Free baking mix package and/or be featured in a Betty Crocker publication! All you have to do is submit an original gluten free holiday-themed appetizer, bread or dessert recipe, using any Betty Crocker Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick Gluten Free baking mix.
Recipes will be judged on five key categories: taste, creativity, ease of preparation, consumer appeal and appearance. Plus, we want you to keep baking deliciously, so if you’re one of 10 selected finalists, you will receive a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Baking gift basket filled with baking items and Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes. Even more exciting, finalists’ recipes will be featured on and voted on by the Gluten Freely community to determine the Grand Prize Winner!

For great recipe tips, ideas, and suggestions, visit to help get you started and learn more about the Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest.
In addition, through the end of June, you can save 20% on the purchase of any of the five Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes. Visit to buy yours today!

All you have to do to enter to win the above prize pack of 5 mixes is leave a comment here telling me what your favorite Betty Crocker gluten-free mix is.  If you haven’t tried them yet, tell me which you would most like to try.  For additional entries, you can complete any or all of the following.  Leave a comment for each additional task completed to help simplify my life, please.   My family will thank you. 

2.  Follow Gluten-free is Life on Twitter.

3.  “Like” Gluten-free is Life on Facebook.

4.  Tweet about this giveaway and make sure to use “@gfreeislife”  and #myblogspark in the tweet.

5.  Blog about the giveaway on your blog & link back. 

This giveaway will run until Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at midnight.  The mixes in this giveaway are being provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. 

***The mixes I received were sent to me free of charge courtesy of MyBlogSpark and Betty Crocker.

Review: Tyson Grilled & Ready Strips

Do you often feel like you have no time?  I know that I can have a nice meal plan all laid out (and shared here) at the beginning of the week and then all of a sudden I have no time.  Things pop up and my plan goes flying right out the window.  Meetings at school, last minute store runs, etc.  Enter: Tyson Grilled & Ready Strips.

These fully cooked, frozen chicken strips are great to keep on hand for quick lunches or dinners.  They can be heated up in a saute pan or microwave in minutes, it is best to undercook at first.  It is important to note that if you overcook them, they can be used as weapons.  We tried these in several different ways – on a salad, in corn tortillas, in pasta sauce, on pizza and in a stuffed baked potato.  Hannah didn’t care for them, but to be fair, I may have overcooked them.  I was careful each time after the first time to undercook and then heat in small time increments.  I especially liked them in my stuffed baked potato. 


In the potato:

Tyson Grilled & Ready Strips

Sauteed mushrooms

Provolone cheese

Frank’s Red Hot

On the side:

Trader Joe’s Duo Romano Beans (these rock!)

The strips are available in most grocery stores across the US.  Only the strips are gluten-free – the grilled whole chicken breasts are not gluten-free

Have you tried these chicken strips?  If so, what did you think? 

***The chicken strips reviewed in this post were provided to me free of charge courtesy of Foodbuzz & Tyson.  The opinions stated here are my own and have not been influenced by anyone or anything.

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