Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gluten-Free in Dublin

Travel can be hard if you're not sure where or what you will be able to eat.

I recently returned from a trip to Dublin with my husband. Prior to departure I did my research. Would I be able to eat? I need to avoid gluten and soy (making this an easier trip than if the whole family were traveling - then we add dairy, eggs, and peanuts to the list of foods to avoid).

I am happy to report that Dublin is not only a very food-allergy-friendly city, but the food is fabulous!! I'm not sure what I was expecting. I had visions of over-cooked, over-priced, mushy foods, and lots of potatoes. Okay, there were lots of potatoes, but also lots of fish, and well-cooked vegetables.

My very first food stop was a fish and chips place called Beshoff's. I have a thing for gluten-free fried fish and shellfish,  probably because it is so hard to find. Susan Heim Kelly suggested Beshoff's and she was spot on! First I had the haddock, but later in the week I went back for Cod.

Yes, they use a separate fryer for the gluten-free fish and chips!

My favorite place to eat was Rustic Stone. Another friend turned me onto this place with the promise of chocolate soup (yes, please!). Many of the dishes (meats and fish) at Rustic Stone are served on a simmering stone. They arrive rare and it's up to you how long to leave them cooking on your hot stone. Very cool! After an olive appetizer, I had the tuna steak. What a treat!

Oh, and that chocolate soup was divine!

The chocolate soup was a scoop of cool chocolate mousse, with a slightly warmed puddle of chocolate sauce poured around it, and a dollop of whipped cream. I plan to work on a dairy-free, egg-free version so that everyone can enjoy it.

My husband and I liked Rustic Stone so much that we dined there a second time. This time I had the fish-in-a-bag (yummy) and (of course) more chocolate soup!

I was on my own for lunch. I discovered a sandwich chain called O'Brien's that carried BFree bread and was able to make me gluten-free sandwiches. I didn't even have to ask them to change their gloves, they did it routinely.

Another great lunch find was at the Brambles Cafe in the National Museum of Archaeology. They had lots of gluten-free options (and lots of vegan options). I chose the Shepherd's Pie.

Brambles even had gluten-free snack options.

Burgers are big in Dublin. I was excited to find Bobo's on Dame Street (near Trinity College) had gluten-free burgers including my applewood bacon burger.

Another dinner favorite, The Farm, was right around the corner from the hotel we were staying at. All of the food at The Farm is locally sourced. My husband and I shared a veggie and hummus appetizer and then I had the salmon.

Oh my gosh, that was good!

Overall, Dublin is a very food-aware place. I found that most restaurant staff could tell you exactly where the food came from. How great is that? Menus are well-labeled with notations for gluten-free (either as "gf" or sometimes "c" (for celiac) or "ca" (for celiac adaptable), vegan, and top food allergens (although the list in Dublin is different than the US top 8).

Many restaurants had specific notations for dishes that contained nuts. Those with dairy and egg allergies would find it relatively easy to eat due to the preponderance of vegan choices.

More important than the menu and the labels was the knowledge of restaurant staff. I didn't encounter a single restaurant worker who didn't "get it." They understand about separate fryers and are able to articulate how the food is prepared (and they can do this without running back to ask the chef). I was impressed... and very well-fed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cedar Lane Quinoa and Vegetable Enchiladas - Product Review

I did something yesterday that I rarely do. I ate cheese. I know, I know...  but I admit that I do, on occasion, when my son isn't home. These Quinoa and Vegetable Enchiladas were calling to me, and I had to try them. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary sample from Cedar Lane to review.
I must be clear up front that this product contains dairy. It is gluten-free, yes. But the ingredients list includes milk, cream, sour cream, and multiple cheeses.

On the plus side, for those who are gluten-free (and not vegan or allergic to dairy) they are quite healthy. The enchiladas are made from corn, there are 12 grams of protein in a serving, and 7 grams of fiber, with only 340 calories. They would pass scrutiny from vegetarians, with the protein coming primarily from beans and quinoa.

This is as easy as it gets with heat and go meals. Take it out of the freezer, pop it in the oven for half an hour and you have a great meal for one (add a side salad) or a side dish to share. Most importantly, I was pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted. Perhaps it was all that cheese...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Flaxeed Mayonnaise from The Allergy-Free Pantry

Mayonnaise has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially non-traditional, egg-free mayonnaise. And it makes perfect sense. There are so many ways to make emulsions that taste great, no eggs required. But did you know that it's easy to make mayonnaise at home? Yes, it's a lot easier than you think!

Of all the recipes in The Allergy-Free Pantry, Flaxseed Mayo is one I am most proud of. This is also one of the recipes that I make most often, and use to make so many other recipes, including Ranch Dressing, Mock Caesar Dressing, and Potato Salad.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! And if flaxseeds aren't your thing, check out my recipe for Aquafaba Mayo, another great recipe invention!

Flaxseed Mayonnaise

Makes 1¼ cups (300 ml)

Because this mayonnaise starts with flaxseeds rather than eggs, it has the benefit of being both healthier and tastier than traditional mayonnaise. Even if you aren’t allergic to eggs, this might just be the best sandwich topping you have ever tried!

Use measuring cups with a spout to measure the oil; this will allow you to pour the oil directly into the container for your blender when making mayonnaise.

2 Flaxseed Eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (measured after grinding) or flaxseed meal combined with 6 tablespoons warm water)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Mustard, or ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
½ cup (60 ml) light olive oil

1. Combine the flaxseed eggs, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass or the container for your immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Pulse four or five times to combine the ingredients.

2. With the blender running continuously, pour a few drops of canola oil into the container. The slower you pour, the better. The mixture will start to become creamy as emulsification occurs.

3. Continue blending and adding oil in a slow trickle until all of the oil is incorporated; add all of the canola oil first and then the olive oil. If the oil starts to pool on top of the mixture, slide your immersion blender up and down ½ inch, or stop pouring until the oil combines.

4. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The mixture will set further as it chills.

To substitute
A single oil or any combination of oils (up to ¾ cup/180 ml total) can be used to make this mayonnaise, with the exception of coconut oil or palm fruit oil (which behave differently). Use less oil for a thinner spread.

Credit line: Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.