BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s Certified G-free Menu

I had received a flyer in the mail about BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse’s gluten-free for two dinner. I have been a fan of their restaurant for a few years now. It use to be the place where my friends and I would meet up for Friday dinners. They have a wonderful menu filled with pasta dishes, specialty salads, deep dish pizzas, and their super yummy pizookie (vanilla ice cream on top of a warm chocolate chip cookie). Oh, and did I mention their beer menu and large flat screen televisions? BJ’s is the kind of restaurant where you can take date or watch the game with friends.

The flyer sat in our “things to do” pile until  my husband and I finally went for our Friday date night dinner. We were able to get seated  before the dinner rush and asked for the gluten-free menu. It was interesting to see that one side of their menu was g-free offerings and the other was a chart composed of all their dishes and the most common allergies. Making it very simple to see what dish contained what food allergies. I had a verity of items to choose from including their version of a gluten-free pizookie! But I had my eye on the pizza!

My husband and I decided to share the barbe que chicken chopped salad (no onion strings), veggie pizza, and a pizookie for dessert. They didn’t have any gluten-free beer in-house but offered 3 different  ciders. After chatting with my husband and looking over the menu time passed and our food was on its way.

My eyes lit up at the sight of our thin crust pizza as my nose took in the wonderful aroma of my long missed friend. I was so taken by the pizza that I didn’t even look at the salad. Helping myself to a slice of and salad it was time for tasting! Trying the salad first I enjoyed the sweet BBQ ranch dressing against the crunch of the fresh lettuce. It was super tasty and I can image it to be quite filling had it been the only thing I ordered.

Next it was time for the pizza, after tasting a hand-full of mushy g-free pizza I wasn’t sure if it would hold up to my memories. Going into my first bite as a skeptic but after tasting I thought I was dreaming! It was delicious! Bit after bite I consumed my first slice quickly. I was happy to see that the middle of the crust wasn’t a mushy mess  and could hold all the toppings without wilting. Diving into my second piece I took care to enjoy it at a slower pace. I had finally found it! A gluten-free pizza that I didn’t have to make myself or lack in flavor and texture.

Noticing that they are certified GF I inquired about their g-free pizza production. Speaking to the manager, Rich C., he informed me that they have separate pans, refrigerator, bins, and utensils that are only for their g-free dishes. That the cooks are knowledgeable about cross contamination, changing their gloves and sterilizing any surfaces before use. The gluten-free items are stored in their own refrigerator and are covered with green caps. They even use separate cooking pans for the pizookie that are also green. Gluten free ice cream is only scooped with their gluten-free scooper and then booth are covered after use.

After we devoured the bar-b-q salad and pizza it was time for our pizookie. Out came a warm g-free chocolate chip cookie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Again BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse could have fooled me into thinking this was a regular cookie because it flavors were amazing.

I will gladly return to BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse for more of their gluten-free dishes. I would recommend stopping by and enjoying their gluten-free offerings!

Now that I am writing about it… if you’ll excuse me, I have a pizza to order.

2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe

Photo taken at 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe in Encinitas, California

Searching the internet for gluten-free restaurants 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe popped up. Clicking on the link to see what G-free baked goods they offered I was unknowingly in for a real treat!

This special bakery is “always 100% gluten, corn, soy and peanut free”. Reading the bios about Mike Barbanti, Diana Mourato Benedek, and the conception of the bakery I knew I had to make a visit. Viewing their gallery and drooling over images of pizza, french toast, and cupcakes I couldn’t wait to visit. The weekend was fast approaching, my husband and I were looking forward to our upcoming visit to Encinitas where 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe is located.

Finally making our way up for breakfast on Saturday morning we pulled into the shopping center, parked, and jumped out with excitement.Walking into the bakery and looking right there was a display case full of cupcakes! Had I reached the G-free pride-lands? Maybe, but first a taste test. Their menu had plenty to offer including the french toast from the gallery. My husband ordered the breakfast panini and I the french toast. Both of us are fans of cinnamon rolls, so we added one to our selection.

We paid the cashier and took seat by the window. My husband and I had our eyes fixed on the cupcake display case. Feeling a little greedy we decided to pick out some mini cupcakes for home. The helpful cashier told us that if we check-in on facebook we could get a discounted price. After choosing red velvet, chocolate, white chocolate raspberry, and carrot cake our order was ready.

Having the memory of how good french toast use to taste I was ready to give this gluten-free one a try. After tasting my first bite (with my husband eagerly awaiting my reaction) I couldn’t help but smile. It was just like how I remember it… maybe even better! I happily took another bite and offered my husband a taste. After seeing how pleased I was he dove right into his breakfast panini.

Taking bites of each others meal has always been something we love doing. Each ordering a different item on the menu allowing us to taste different flavors. Since being diagnosed with gluten intolerance we have not been able to share. But not here, it was safe to share and not be afraid of my husbands fork contaminating my food. He did stop himself a few time out of habit.

Photo taken at 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe in Encinitas, California

Finishing most of our meal we moved on and tasted the cinnamon roll. I stuck my fork right in middle for a taste; it was so moist and delicious. Normally I expect the outside of the roll to be dry. That was not the case here, it was moist all the way through, my husband said it just might be the best cinnamon roll he had. Feeling stuffed we took the rest of our food, mini cupcakes, and half our cinnamon roll to go. Fully satisfied and with treats to go we got into the car and head back home.

After breakfast we meet up with my sister; I let my nephew and niece have the mini cupcakes. They ate them up enjoying each bite. On my next visit I will have to buy some for them and me too. Along with about a dozen of their delicious cinnamon rolls.

Visiting 2GOOG2B gave me a new outlook on eating gluten-free. I don’t have to sacrifice flavor to be gluten-free and healthy. I am lucky to have such a great bakery and cafe so close to me. I look forward to stopping by for their dinner menu!

Dinner in Downtown

Photo taken at Yard House Downtown San Diego, California

After a long crazy week my husband and I decided to have dinner in Downtown, San Diego. Meeting up with friends we made our way to Yard House. Having three sailors in our party, happy hour at an establishment offering a variety of beers on tap made it an obvious pick. Walking through the door I was getting ready to jump, doge, and zigzag from gluten like in an obstacle course. As soon as our server came out take our drink order I informed her of my gluten intolerance. My fellow friends were still drooling over the larger beer menu, the server said she would get me their G-free menu. The menu listed plenty of options and what to omit if you have a certain allergy. I went ahead and ordered the chicken sandwich (hold the bun), side of veggies, and Wyder’s raspberry cider. I am a huge fan of cider and very happy that it’s gluten free! My husband and friends ordered half yard of dark beers.

While we were laughing over conversation the manager came out to speak with me. I was really suprised by this. She said that my server told her I was gluten free. She wanted me to know that my order would be taken care of to provide me with a safe meal. Also asking if I had tried some of the gluten free beer they offer. I told her that I was enjoying a lovely glass of cider but hadn’t tried the beer yet. She offered me a bottle free of charge so I could try it since it’s not on tap. We were all impressed with the amount of care they were taking with  my meal; making me feel very comfortable.

Moments later the manager came out with a really cute bottle of Brunehaut Amber Ale, gluten free beer. I was super excited to taste it. I use to love a tall glass of beer at the end of the week. After pouring I took a few sips and was delighted by the flavor! It tasted just like real beer! Pyramid Hefeweizen use to be my beer of choice. Since waving good bye I haven’t welcomed another beer to my glass. But I will now happily welcome Brunehaut. My husband and his friends were interested in tasting a G-free beer so I let them share a taste in my old cider glass. They are fans of darker beers and stronger flavors but were impressed by this little bottle. They said it was a little light for them but it did have a good flavor to it and would have never guessed that it was G-free.

A few beers later and out came out food. My chicken sandwich with bacon, cheese, avocado, wrapped in lettuce, and a side of steamed veggies found its way to me. My meal tasted wonderful; followed by a sip of beer you just can’t go wrong. Our server came out to make sure that every was alright with my order and if we needed anymore drinks. It was really great how much attention they gave my meal. I will gladly visit Yard House in San Diego again.

A special thanks to their wonderful staff for giving my meal a little extra love.

Gluten is like Raw Chicken

One of the biggest problems I deal with is cross contamination. It seems like it can happen everywhere and anyone can cause it. I am so picky when it comes to making my meal. And going into restaurants is like walking into one of those spooky haunted mazes during Halloween. You are scared and a bit reluctant because you don’t know what is going to pop out and get you.

I started think about how to explain to family, friends, and restaurants servers about how important it is for me to stay away from gluten contamination. I mean just telling someone I can’t have gluten isn’t always taken so serious. Some people think that I am on a fad diet to cut out carbs and lose weight. I could go into a long explanation about how gluten is a protein found in wheat, malt, barley, and it makes me blah blah and so on for days. I really don’t mind talking about being gluten free with anyone. But sometimes there is no time for a long explanation. If I am having dinner with new friends having a quick explanation would be great. So I thought up a quick and easy way to explain how serious it is to keep from getting contaminated.

During a  conversation about cross contanimation with my mom the light bulb in my brain went off. She was telling me how she cleans the counter tops after raw chicken touches them. And that is when it hit me! Raw chicken is just like gluten! We all know the dangers of uncooked chicken and how it can make you sick as a dog on Sunday. And how you have to be extra careful to clean your cooking station to prevent illness. Not just wipe the counters but CLEAN them. And that you can’t let raw chicken touch everything because it could infect other areas. That is exactly how I see bread crumbs or reading gluten on a label. It’s like little pieces of raw chicken just waiting to jump inside my gluten free dish. Especially after myself or family members have worked so hard to keep my food away from gluten. And that’s it… how to quickly explain the importance of staying way from cross contamination. Just how raw chicken can make one sick gluten will make me sick. I know that they don’t have the same symptoms but it does give a quick understanding. So the next time I need a quick explanation I will say… think of gluten like it’s raw chicken.

In-N-Out Burger

Image courtesy of www.in-n-out.com

Image courtesy of http://www.in-n-out.com

Ever since my husband moved, from Louisiana to California, his favorite places to eat has been In-N-Out Burger. And I, being a native Californian, grew up on In-N-Out. I have wonderful memories spanning my lifetime of their one of a kind burgers and shakes. Going on midnight trips for fries and a shake or grabbing burgers before heading to the beach. What’s a summer in California without a burger animal style, extra spread, vanilla shake, and fries well done? I’ll tell you what kind… its a bad summer.

After discovering my wheat allergy I sadly have not been back to In-N-Out. I was worried that their oh so yummy spread contain gluten. I just could’t bare another one of my favorites being banned. Finally, I got up enough nerve to call their customer service and ask the important question. Is In-N-Out gluten free?

After speaking with a customer service representative I found out only the bun was not gluten free. She said to inform the cooking staff of my food allergy because they use the same spatula to apply the buns to burgers. So they would use a new spatula for my burger to prevent cross contamination. Although I am concerned that bread crumbs might fall from the buns onto the grill. That is something I will be looking into when I go. Since I have to ditch the bun I can always order the protein burger that comes wrapped in lettuce. I was so happy when she confirmed that, my favorite, their beloved spread is G-free! I even double checked and asked her again. I just wanted to make sure my ears were working right. Now my husband and I can go back to one of our favorite places to eat and enjoy. So, next time I am hungry for a treat I am making my way to In-N-Out!

Open Faced Hummus Sandwich

Image courtesy of http://www.eatliverun.com

I find some of the best blogs on pinterest. While looking for new recipes to try i came along a picture of a open faced hummus sandwich. After clicking on the pic I was sent to the blog but sadly whoever pinned it from this blog just did the picutre and not the recpiep page. When looking through all the amazing recpies this blog had to offer I still couldnt find the one I wanted. So just based on the picture I tried to mimic the sandwich.

(Not until after I made the sandwiched did I find the recipe. I can’t wait to try Eat Live Run‘s recipe next time.)

I noticed that  Eat Live Run used a tomato but I decided to use red bell peppers because that is what I had in the kitchen. And I wasn’t sure what kind of hummus was used so I used a spicy one. I thought the bit of heat would be a good complement with the cool flavor of avocados.

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados

2  red bell peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 container store bought spicy hummus (you can use regular)

gluten free bread (I used Kinnikinnick brand)

1 lemon

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

Directions:

Sorry for not taking pics when making this dish. But it was so quick and easy that it was finished before I knew it. Clicking on the image above will provide helpful images from Eat Live Run.

Wash, core, and slice your bell peppers while you heat a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil in it. Once the oil is heated start to saute your peppers. While those are cooking working on the avocados. Take the meat out of the avocados into a small bowl. Add a squze of lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. Samsh the avocados with a fork until it is chunky. Toast your bread and open your pack of hummus. When the bell peppers are soft and ready take your slice of toasted gluten free bread and get ready to make your sandwich. Take one slice of bread and layer the hummus, avocados, bell peppers and serve.

Thank you again to Eat Live Run for this super yummy recipe! This sandwich was perfect on a hot summer day.