Review: Portia’s Cafe

Columbus has a little known gem located on Indianola Avenue in the Clintonville area. This gem is called  Portia’s Cafe. I don’t often head to small, local places like this because there are so many foods that I can’t eat. However, I had heard from so many friends that Portia’s Cafe not only serves gluten-free food, but everything they serve is gluten-free. What?! Yes, a dream come true for those with celiac disease, a restaurant that is 100% gluten-free. Portia’s Cafe also serves a 100% vegan menu.

Portia's Blog

The options on the menu at Portia’s Cafe are plentiful. I had my lunch narrowed down to three or four different items, but checked in with our server to see which of those didn’t have any onions in them. Turns out that Portia’s Cafe also has a list of foods/menu items that don’t contain onions, too! I felt comfortable in this restaurant, which is the first time I have felt like that in a restaurant in a very long time. 

I finally decided on the burrito, which can be served in a bowl or in one of Portia’s house-made gluten-free wraps. Of course I chose the wrap since it has been over 10 years since I have had a wrap/burrito from a restaurant. 

Portia's Blog

My burrito was loaded with rice, black beans, Daiya cheeze, house-made vegan sour cream and lettuce. I can’t even begin to put into words how delicious this burrito was. I can tell you that I believe I have found a new favorite restaurant.

My friend ordered the Mediterranean Wrap served in a bowl as opposed to in a wrap. She loves this meal and orders it regularly.

Portia's Blog

Portia’s also has a number of vegan, gluten-free desserts that I am going to have to make a special trip to sample. Cheezecake, Mousse, and Macaroons? Yes, please! If you are missing gluten-free waffles, check out Portia’s on Sundays from 10AM to 3PM when they serve gluten-free waffles! Somebody please pinch me…I may be dreaming!

Weekly Hours:

  • Tuesday – Saturday: 11AM to 9PM
  • Sunday: 10AM to 3PM
  • Monday: Closed

Location:

4428 Indianola Avenue

(between Cooke Rd. and Morse Rd. with the burgundy awning)

Columbus, OH 43214

614-928-3252

The atmosphere in Portia’s Cafe is bright and cheery, which is exactly how I felt after this phenomenal experience. I highly recommend stopping in for bite to eat or ordering take-out if you live in the Columbus area or visiting from out of town. 

Katz Gluten Free Introduces New Donut Flavor

While eating donuts daily is not something I advise, I do like a treat every now and then. Katz Gluten Free makes a pretty spectacular Gluten-Free Glazed Donut, so I have no doubt this new variety is equally as tasty. The new donut variety is one I can’t wait to try… Sea Salt Caramel Glazed!

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Ingredients:Gluten Free Flour (white Rice, Corn Starch, Tapioca), Eggs, Water, Palm Oil, Canola Oil, Sugar, Baking Powder, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, Salt, Natural Caramel extract , Confection Sugar, Agar, Calcium Carbonate.

The donuts are free of dairy, soy, and nuts in addition to gluten. If you aren’t familiar with Katz Gluten Free, take the time to browse their website and consider ordering a free sample pack. I also happen to be a huge fan of their bagels, English muffins, and pies (blueberry is my favorite!).

Do you have a favorite Katz Gluten Free product? If so, what is it?

Workout Tracking – Garmin vs. Apple Watch vs. FitBit Charge HR

Since I began exercising consistently in 2008, I have used some sort of gadget to track my workouts. I started with a Polar watch (heart rate monitoring) to track my workouts, but then switched to a Garmin once I began running on a regular basis and wanted GPS to track my mileage.

Earlier this summer I purchased a FitBit Charge HR. I wore the FitBit Charge HR 24/7. I also wore my Garmin Forerunner 620 along with the FitBit Charge HR when I was running. I found the FitBit Charge HR to be somewhat accurate for tracking distance (without GPS) and within a beat or 2 for the average heart rate when compared to the Garmin. The FitBit Charge HR does have the capability to use the GPS via the FitBit app on my phone for more accurate distance tracking, but I never used it for that.

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On Black Friday I ended up getting an Apple Watch and knew that there was no way I would wear all 3 devices at once, but wanted to figure out which was the best for the information I wanted to track. I knew I would continue to wear my Garmin for coaching MIT and speed work, but I didn’t figure I would continue to wear the FitBit Charge HR. I committed to wearing all 3 for one week to compare data and then I would make my choice.

As far as distance is considered, the Garmin and the Apple Watch were pretty much spot on. The downfall is you have to be carrying your iPhone in order for the GPS to work with the Apple Watch, just like GPS for the FitBit Charge HR. For me that isn’t a big issue, as I always run with my phone. As far as heart rate data is concerned, all 3 devices were within a beat or 2 of each other when comparing averages. The big deal here is the method of monitoring the heart rate…both the FitBit Charge HR and Apple Watch have wrist heart rate monitors and don’t require the chest strap the Garmin 620 does. It is important to note that the device must be tight on your wrist in order for the heart rate to be accurate. 

The device you choose is dependent upon what your preferences are. For my daily runs, I have been wearing only my Apple Watch and have been completely satisfied with the data it tracks and records. As I stated above, for coaching MIT and speed work, I use my Garmin. I no longer wear my FitBit Charge HR. My daily activity tracker of choice is the Apple Watch. It has more capabilities that I use than the FitBit Charge HR. The only missing piece is the sleep tracker, which you can do using an App on the iPhone if it is important to you.

  • FitBit Charge HR – Monitors steps, heart rate, sleep, and has caller ID. Recently received some bad press regarding a lawsuit about inaccurate heart rates. MSRP = $149.99
  • Apple Watch – This is the only one of the 3 that measures how much you stand throughout the day. It encourages you to stand for 1 minute out of an hour 12 times per day. You can also use Siri, the alarm clock, your calendar, maps, instant heart rate, weather, texts, emails, and a number of apps. MSRP – $349 (38 mm – women’s version); $399 (42 mm – men’s version)
  • Garmin Forerunner 620 – Lots of bells & whistles, including GPS, heart rate, recovery time, and VO2 Max predictor. Does not monitor other daily activity or sleep. MSRP – $399 w/ heart rate strap

So there you have it. If you have any questions regarding any of the devices I shared above, please leave a comment below.

Review: Arbonne Protein Shake Mix

A couple of months ago I shared a list of all of the foods that I cannot eat. The list is lengthy, and while it is frustrating, I am trying to focus on the foods that I can eat. Since I run 4-5 days a week and lift weights 2-3 times a week, it is imperative that I am fueling properly before, during and after my workouts. It is also important that what I am using to fuel my body is not upsetting my stomach or gastrointestinal system. After a lot of trial and error, I have finally found a product that agrees with my body: Arbonne Protein Shake Mix

Arbonne Protein Shake Mix comes in two different flavors:

More about the Protein Shake Mix:

Provides 20 grams of vegan protein, plus more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals per serving, delivering a 100% amino acid score. Clinically tested and certified to have a low glycemic index, which has little effect on blood sugar levels and does not cause a spike in blood sugar.

The best thing about Arbonne products is they are gluten-free, vegan and kosher certified. I have had issues with so many different similar products on the market, but have had zero issues with this product. The taste is great, the texture is smooth, and the powder mixes well with water or almond milk in a protein shaker. I have also used the Protein Shake Mix in a smoothies and have fallen in love with this Pumpkin Smoothie. The Protein Shake Mix is sold in a 2 lb 15.6 oz package for $69.00. While that does sound like a lot, it is comparable to similar products on the market, but is sold in a larger, re-sealable bag. 

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The Arbonne Protein Shake Mix is also sold in individual packets and Ready-to-Drink Shakes

In the spirit of full disclosure, while I do purchase the Arbonne products I reviewed in this post, I am now a consultant for Arbonne. I became a consultant just a little over two weeks ago because I believe strongly in their products. You will begin to see some posts in the future about different Arbonne products that I now use and why I use them. I am happy to answer any questions you many have. If you would like to order the Protein Shake Mix, or any other Arbonne product, you can do so by contacting me through the “Get in Touch” button on this page or by ordering through the links posted throughout this post. 

===> Order Arbonne Protein Shake Mix Vanilla

===> Order Arbonne Protein Shake Mix Chocolate

A Letter to Restaurants Offering a Gluten-Free Menu

When I first started the gluten-free diet almost ten years ago, there were only a handful of restaurants offering a gluten-free menu. I dreamed of the day when it would be easier to eat out and when people wouldn’t look at me like I had two heads. However, that day has come and it isn’t anything like I imagined. The masses of people following the gluten-free diet because it is the latest “fad” has increased the number of restaurants offering a gluten-free menu, but hasn’t done much to teach these establishments the serious risks of cross-contamination. There are more people being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance thanks to raised awareness, and that is great!  However, I don’t feel that those are the people many restaurants have in mind when they begin to offer a gluten-free menu. Unfortunately, those are the people that may suffer the consequences of so many establishments jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon and not taking the necessary steps to educate their staff and minimize the risks of cross-contamination. 

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After another not-so-great experience this past weekend, I decided to write the letter below to all restaurants offering a gluten-free menu. 

To Whom it May Concern,

Thank you for including a gluten-free menu in your offerings. I appreciate you taking any and all precautions in your establishment to keep me and my family safe. However, if you overlook some of the following basic, common-knowledge facts concerning serving gluten-free food and how to avoid cross-contamination, please don’t bother to insult me. Educate yourself and your staff. This is not a fad diet for most people, this is our life. We don’t choose to eat like this. 

  • If you use a common fryer, your fries are not gluten-free, and neither are your tortilla, potato chips, or anything else you fry in your fryer. 
  • This also goes for common toasters, ovens, utensils, etc 
  • Picking the croutons or bread off of the salad is not acceptable
  • Change your gloves before touching any food that should be gluten-free
  • If you are using condiments with a utensil that has touched gluten, you must use new, uncontaminated condiments and clean utensils
  • If you cook gluten-free pasta in the same water as non-gluten-free pasta, it isn’t gluten-free
  • If you steam vegetables with pasta water used to cook non-gluten-free pasta, those vegetables are not gluten-free
  • If you dust the cake pan with regular flour, your cake is no longer gluten-free (I’m looking at you Cheesecake Factory)
  • If you thicken your omelettes or eggs with pancake batter, they are no longer gluten-free
  • Most soy sauce is not gluten-free, so dressings, sauces, and marinades made with soy sauce are not gluten-free
  • Gluten-free pizza cooked on the same surface as non-gluten-free pizza (many establishments do this)
  • Beer is not gluten-free, so if it is used in any dish, dessert, etc, said dish is not gluten-free

Of course accidents do happen, but an accidental cross-contamination is much different than one that results from blatantly ignoring the items listed above. I choose to accept the risks of accidental cross-contamination and do so willingly so that I can have a social life. 

Respectfully,

Kim Bouldin

Diagnosed with Celiac Disease in January 2006

Please help make gluten-free dining out safer for those with Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance and share this letter. Feel free to copy and remove my name and sign yours…maybe if enough of us call these restaurants out, they will make the necessary changes or stop offering their gluten-free menus. I would much rather a restaurant not offer a gluten-free menu and know that upfront, so I can choose someplace that has my best interests in mind. 

Must Read: Cheerios Recall

So it begins. General Mills has issued a recall on certain Cheerios (yellow box) and Honey Nut Cheerios cereal. The cereals that are included in this recall were produced at the Lodi, California location on specific dates. Yellow Box Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced on different dates or in different facilities are not affected. So what happened? It seems that wheat flour was added into the gluten-free oat flour system

Facepalm Girl

Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced on these dates at the company’s Lodi, California facility are being recalled because an isolated incident resulted in wheat flour being inadvertently introduced into the gluten free oat flour system at its Lodi facility. As a result, the products may contain an undeclared allergen – wheat – in products labeled as gluten-free.

Perhaps this explains why some people have reported getting sick from “gluten-free” Cheerios. The recall issued by General Mills is a voluntary Class 1 recall. What does that mean?

Class I recall: a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

Check your pantries for the following “gluten-free” products:

Honey Nut Cheerios

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Yellow Box Cheerios

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If you have one of the aforementioned boxes of “gluten-free” Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios, please contact General Mills at 1-800-775-8370. 

Do you eat Gluten-Free Cheerios? Do you have one of the affected boxes? Will you continue to eat Gluten-Free Cheerios if you have been?

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Warning: Whining Ahead

I apologize in advance for the whining, but I need to get this out. Today I am bitching about my stomach and the foods that seem to bother it. Unfortunately, the number of food that make me feel bad seems to be increasing. Or – maybe it is the same number, but I am just at a higher frustration level? Whatever it is, I’m becoming less willing to deal with my diet limitations. 

 

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These days I truly feel like I am just eating to live. While I love food, I don’t like how a lot of it makes me feel.  I am left with minimal choices that get boring despite trying new combinations of foods that play nice with my body. It isn’t even a matter of finding foods that I like…there aren’t many foods I won’t eat (aside from papaya and oysters), but there are many that don’t agree with me:

  • Gluten – Celiac Disease
  • Dairy 
  • Eggs – ok in baked goods, upset stomach/GI with scrambled/fried/boiled
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes – recent…really flare up reflux
  • Carbonated beverages

 

There are times that I wonder what the hell is wrong with me? How I would love to not have to think about how to safely feed myself! I try to remind myself that at least none of my food issues result in anaphylaxis, but that doesn’t make me feel better or solve my problem. However, it does make me thankful that I haven’t been cursed with a life-threatening food allergy. 

 

So how do I pull myself out of this funk? In the past I would just focus on eating my meals and snacks and not allow myself to skip a meal. Having a history of an eating disorder makes me very aware of what my body needs to not only survive, but thrive. Perhaps eliminating dining out for the time being would be a good place to start. We don’t eat out very often, but enough to know that even while I may not be ingesting gluten or dairy, I am possibly getting some of other things I listed above in some way. Considering how restaurants prepare food, the seasonings and marinades they use, and how some of the foods come prepackaged, the odds are good that I am eating something that will bother me. Making all of my food in my own kitchen is the safest way I can think of to feed myself. I think I am going to go back and re-read my own post on Mix & Match Meal Bowls for some inspiration. 

 

Do you have to avoid any other foods in addition to gluten? If so, please share your experiences and how you cope. 

 

Gluten-Free Mix & Match Meal Bowls

After years of trying to find a solution that worked for meals on busy nights, when the family doesn’t always eat at the same time, I think I may have finally found one. I have been playing around with my meals and sharing them on Instagram and my Facebook page for the past few weeks. I have received several requests for the recipes, but that’s the thing…I haven’t been using recipes! The meals are simple, quick and healthy, cooked with limited ingredients. 

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Sliced sirloin with sautéed sweet potato and frozen green beans

I simply choose a protein, a carbohydrate and a vegetable and get to work. To help simplify things even more, I use frozen vegetables (many come in packages you can pop right in the microwave). Fresh vegetables are another great option, though prep can be time-consuming, so do all of your prep on the weekend or a day when you have the time. As far as prep for the protein, there are several different options. When steak, chicken or pork is on sale, I will buy it and either prep or freeze right away. For prepping my protein, I will trim and slice into bite-size pieces and then freeze in individual portions. This makes it very easy to pull as many servings out as I like and the meat cooks faster when it is sliced in smaller pieces. Leftover protein (pulled pork, ribs, salmon etc) also work great and only need to be heated and tossed in with the rest of the ingredients. Depending on which carbohydrate you choose, there are different ways to prep. Sweet or white potatoes can be cut up, partially cooked in microwave and then sautéed to finish off. Rice can be cooked in bulk and then refrigerated or frozen in individual portions. Pasta can be cooked in bulk and the refrigerated for up to 5ish days. 

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Brown rice, chicken breast and fresh spinach topped with avocado

As far as cooking goes, I choose the ingredient that will take the longest and start there. I use a little bit of EVOO or grapeseed oil and cook until desired doneness. Sometimes I remove the single ingredient while I am cooking another and then add back together for seasoning at the end. My basic seasonings are sea salt and fresh ground pepper. This can be tweaked per individual based on likes/dislikes. 

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Leftover BBQ ribs, coconut brown rice and green beans

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BBQ pulled pork, brown rice w/mixed veggies and green beans topped with avocado

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Coconut brown rice with black beans and green beans topped with tomato and avocado

Suggested options:

Protein

  • Salmon
  • Chicken breast
  • Pulled pork (leftover)
  • Tilapia
  • Steak
  • Tuna
  • Beans (black, pinto, kidney or a variety)

Carbohydrate

  • Potato (sweet or white)
  • Gluten-free pasta
  • Brown rice (I love to cook mine in canned lite coconut milk for extra creaminess)
  • Quinoa (again, love to cook this in canned lite coconut milk)

Vegetables (fresh or frozen)

  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Roasted carrots
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Okra
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Tomato
  • Corn

Toppers

  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Pico de gallo
  • Marinara
  • Soy sauce 

The key to success with Mix & Match Meal Bowls is to choose the ingredients that you (or your family) like and will be easy for you to prepare. There is no shame in cutting corners and using frozen, canned or pre-cut food. We have cut back significantly in the amount of take-out meals since I have been doing this. Not only is this saving us money, but it is healthier, too. Don’t get me wrong, there are still nights when everyone is eating something different and eating at different times, but there are always staples around to make a Mix & Match Meal Bowl, even if the picky kids don’t put all of their food together in one bowl. 

Resurrecting the Menu Plan

It has been a long time since I have sat down to plan out our meals for the week. Things have been busy for us between Jon finishing up his first year of college, Hannah finishing up seventh grade and our working with a trainer for our dogs. This is all in addition to our “normal” life, of course. There has been more take-out meals than I like, but what is done is done and today is a new day. I have been slowly trying to get back into the swing of meal planning and feel I have laid a good foundation for this week. Here is the plan:

Monday – Tacos and/or taco salad, refried beans, corn

Tuesday – Pulled pork (sandwiches, wraps, salads, etc), sugar snap peas

Wednesday – Leftovers or breakfast for dinner (fried eggs on toast with avocado and sea salt), fresh green beans

Thursday – Gluten-free pasta with marinara and salad

Friday – NY Strip steak, baked potato, sugar snap peas

Here is the taco salad I had this evening for dinner. It was the first one I have had since going dairy-free (started about 8 weeks ago) in addition to gluten-free. 

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I used Romaine lettuce, chopped Roma tomatoes, corn, avocado, taco meat, refried beans and tortilla chips. I drizzled a little bit of Kraft French dressing over the top before I dug in. So good! 

Hope you have a good week! 

PS…Head over to Celiac-Disease.com to enter to win a box of Qrunch Veggie Burgers

The Game

Are you all set for the big football game tomorrow? Some people are more excited about the commercials than the game itself. Some people may not care about said game or commercials. What about you? Do you watch from home? Go to a friend’s house? Head to the closest sports bar that serves gluten-free food? If you watch from home or are going to a friend’s house, there are all kinds of different gluten-free food ideas. Some people like to make chili and serve with cornbread, chips and adult beverages, while others prefer pizza, subs or a variety of appetizers. 

Crunchmaster, America’s #1 selling brand of gluten-free cracker, has some great party appetizer and snack recipes and ideas. Check out the two recipes below for some mouthwatering appetizers.

White cheddar stuffed mushrooms

White Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

By: Amie Valpone 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Crunchmaster White Cheddar Multi-Grain Crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 28 large white button mushrooms, stemmed 

Directions

1.      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking dish with nonstick baking spray.

2.      Stir the Crunchmaster Crackers, Pecorino Romano, goat cheese, garlic, parsley, sea salt and pepper and olive oil in a large bowl; mix well to combine.

3.      Stuff the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet.

4.      Bake until the mushrooms are tender, approximately 25 minutes.

5.      Serve warm.

Chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatballs

by Carol Kicinski 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Crunchmaster Sea Salt Multi-Grain Crackers
  • 1 pound ground chicken1 one-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 2 small garlic cloves, grated or finely minced4 scallions (green onions), finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 large egg, lightly beaten 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with gluten free, non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Grind the Crunchmaster crackers in a blender or food processor to fine crumbs. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine. Shape into small balls using about one tablespoon of mixture per ball. Place on the prepared baking sheets and spray the meatballs lightly with gluten free, non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are browned and feel firm to the touch. Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra fat. Serve with your favorite gluten-free barbecue sauce or Thai peanut sauce. Makes about 30 meatballs.

However you prefer to watch the big game (or spend your Sunday evening) and whatever snacks or meals you decide to enjoy, have fun! 

*Recipes provided courtesy of Crunchmaster. Look for Crunchmaster crackers in stores across the US

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