Monday, December 12, 2016

Low Histamine Maple Oatmeal Cookies

Lately, I have been suffering from sneezing and congestion fits that look and feel a lot like allergy. To date, I have been unable to determine what the culprit is. I am, however, certain that this is related to food. After about a month of food journaling I am suspicious that this may be a histamine problem, as there are simply too many foods – including foods I have been eating for years without an issue – that seem to set off these reactions. (I am also still suspicious that I may have a true food allergy to sunflower seeds – a prospect that makes me sad… no more SunButter cups…)

I have nonetheless embarked on a low histamine diet. Note that there is no way to be on a no histamine diet, as all food contains histamines, some more than others. And two of the highest histamine foods are chocolate and red wine (arguably my two favorite foods). This means no chocolate chip cookies for me. And I have switched to white wine (in moderation). What is a girl to do? Create a new recipe, of course.

Here is a cookie recipe that I have been perfecting for the last two weeks. It fits the low histamine requirements – even down to using vanilla sugar in lieu of vanilla extract – and I think you will agree that it satisfies the snack craving.

These cookies are gluten-free and top-8 allergen-free and meet the requirements of a low histamine diet.

Low Histamine Maple Oatmeal Cookies

128 grams (about 1 cup) gluten-free flour blend
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (see below)
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons applesauce
100 grams (about 1 cup) quick cooking gluten-free oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, xanthan gum (use this only if your flour blend doesn’t contain a gum), baking powder, and vanilla sugar in a medium bowl.

Combine the oil, maple syrup and applesauce in a large mixing bowl.

Add the dry ingredients and blend together well. Add the oats and blend for another 1-2 minutes.

Scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet. Flatten the tops.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-16 minutes.

Vanilla Sugar

To make vanilla sugar, combine ½ cup organic cane sugar with one whole vanilla bean in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until the vanilla bean is completely combined.

Maple and oatmeal shine in these cookies that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and alcohol-free!

In addition to being low in histamine, these cookies are of course gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free. They have just a touch of crunch, and just the right amount of soft-baked. And they smell soooo good while they are baking!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Five Things I Learned About Eosinophilic Esophagitis at The Food Allergy Bloggers Conference

English: Intermed. mag. Image:Eosinophilic eso...
English: Intermed. mag. Image:Eosinophilic esophagitis - high mag.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My son was diagnosed with eosinphilic esophagitis (EE/EoE) at the age of ten, more than a decade ago when doctors were just starting to understand the disease. Today – thankfully – we know much more. And because of that, it’s not too surprising that more people are being diagnosed. In Learning to Bake Allergen-Free I shared the story of our journey to a diagnosis. It wasn’t easy. I like to think that today we would have an easier time getting the correct diagnosis due to the efforts of physicians like Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo.

Dr. Hernandez-Trujillo gave an informative talk on EoE at FABlogCon in November. Here is some of what I learned:

1. This is not an equal opportunity disease. Of the 57 per 100000 patients diagnosed with EoE, males outnumber females three to one. And those who live in colder climates are more likely to have the disease. More than 1/3 of these patients also had an allergic disease (e.g., food allergies, allergic rhinitis, asthma, etc.)

2. EE/EoE is more common than you might think. There are almost as many patients with EoE as appendicitis.

3. Food can be the enemy. Milk is the most common EoE trigger. Wheat, egg, soy, and beef are also common. Yes, beef.

4. Beware the allergy cure. In patients that have been treated with oral immunotherapy for food allergies, up to 10% will develop EoE over time. Is this a good trade-off? I’m on the fence.

5. Treatment options are still evolving. Yes, doctors know more than they did when my son was diagnosed, but there is still a lot left to learn. Some patients must avoid all trigger foods. Some can be treated with medications traditionally used for asthma (e.g., fluticasone) but the long-term effects of steroid use are not yet well understood. And a small number of patients can actually tolerate small amounts of their trigger foods.

For more information on EE/EoE and other eosinophilic disorders, visit APFED’s website. And now is a great time to consider a donation to this non-profit.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Four Things I Learned About Epinephrine Auto-Injectors at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference

The sessions at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABLogCon) are always terrific. There are two tracks and sometimes difficult choices have to be made. This year I made it a priority to hear Dr. Julie Brown talk about epinephrine and auto-injectors (a session that I missed at FABLogCon 2015).

I learned that it's not just size and form of the auto-injector that matter:

1. Dosage is less scientific than I thought. Epinephrine auto-injectors come in two standard sizes/dosages – the adult version (containing 0.3 mg of epinephrine) and the junior/child version (containing 0.15 mg of epinephrine), for children weighing less than 66 pounds. We have been taught to always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors, as in some cases a second dose is needed. However, we don’t really know what the “best” dosage is. The very simple reason for that is that doctors can only study the data based on what has happened in the past. (No, we really don’t want to be forcing anaphylaxis in humans to study the drug.) Unlike medications for hypertension, for example, the correct epinephrine dose for each patient cannot be found by prescribing a dose, testing, and modifying. Nevertheless, with epinephrine the two-sizes-fits-all approach seems to work well.

2. The size of the needle matters. I never really paid attention to the length of the needle (it is hidden in the auto-injector, after all). But the needle length is designed so that the drug can be injected into the muscle. If the needle goes too far, it hits bone. If the needle doesn’t go far enough it can’t reach the muscle. (Remember that the auto-injector should be placed against the meaty part of the outer thigh.) The adult versions of auto-injectors have slightly longer needles than the kids’ versions. But depending on how much muscle and how much fat you have (yeah, I mean weight) – can affect where the needle lands. The key here is to get it into the muscle. In very lean patients it may be necessary to bunch up the skin before injecting to avoid hitting bone.

3. There is a good reason the instructions for epinephrine auto-injectors have changed. For years we were told to hold the auto-injector against the thigh and count to ten. Ten seconds has been reduced to three. Once the drug is released, there is no reason to hold just for the sake of holding… and holding too long can result in serious injury. Dr. Brown showed us photos of lacerated thighs and thighs with scars from injection accidents where the patient moved quickly or the needle was inserted into the thigh a second time because the person administering the dose wasn’t sure it was complete.

4. The type of needle also matters. Dr. Brown showed us video of a variety of “traditional” pen-like auto-injectors (e.g., Mylan’s Epi-pen and Impax’s Adrenaclick) and we could see the needle going into the lab-fashioned “thigh” (no human subjects were used in this simulation), with the drug being released in about 2 seconds. With these traditional devices, the needle is pulled out of the thigh (and then covered with a cap until it can be disposed of properly). Most revealing to me was the video of the Auvi-Q auto-injector; in this case the needle goes in more quickly, releases the drug more quickly and then retracts – this all happens in what appeared to be an instant. Dr. Brown didn’t have to say anything more to make it clear that the retractable needle is more efficient and safer (avoiding the lacerations noted above). It turns out there is a whole lot more to auto-injectors than meets the eye.

Notes: Epi-Pen and Adrenaclick are currently available on the market. Kaleo Pharma plans to bring the Auvi-Q back to the market in the first half of 2017. Pictured above is the training device for the Auvi-Q.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Granola - Product Review

My breakfast is usually quite predictable, either gluten-free oatmeal (preferably prepared on the stove top) or corn flakes. Throw some blueberries on top, add some hemp milk, and I am set. But sometimes a fast and easy solution is required -- a breakfast bar or something like this new granola from Bob's Red Mill.

 Disclosure: Bob's Red Mill sent me a sample for review.

Can I be a bit of a food snob for a minute? I must admit that I prefer my own homemade granola (recipes can be found in The Allergy-Free Pantry). There's something about homemade that just makes it taste better. But if you prefer an off-the-shelf version, this is a great alternative.

This gluten-free apple blueberry granola is described as "lightly sweetened," and it fits that bill. At 15 grams of sugar per serving, it is not too sweet and yet sweet enough that you won't be tempted to add sugar.

Note the warning for tree nuts and soy. The label also states that the product is "tested and confirmed gluten free in our quality control laboratory." 

As with most Bob's Red Mill products, it tastes quite good. Whereas there are small bits of apple in the granola (they are hard to see, but you can taste them), there are no blueberries. Instead, natural blueberry flavoring is added. I may add some fresh blueberries in my next bowl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Are You Ready for Halloween? These Treats from Free2B Might Help!

Fifteen tears ago, I dreaded Halloween. My son was about 10 and we had just figured out what foods he needed to avoid. And, short of lollipops, there was virtually no safe candy for him. I tried looking for something to swap out for him -- something without milk, peanuts, or possible contamination -- and it just wasn't available. He quickly took on the role of Chief of Handing Out Candy at our front door so that he could participate safely.

So much has changed, and yes! for the better. Most in our community are painting pumpkins teal and collecting their stash of non-food treats. (Why didn't we think of this years ago?) But we also now have delicious, safe, top-8 allergen-free candy options, including these Sun Cups from Free2B Foods. 

Disclosure: Free2B foods sent me a sample pack of Halloween candy for review.

I am sooooo excited about these. I will note that the bag has been sitting on the kitchen table for a few days and my husband has asked every night if he can have one. Nope, he's not getting any, even after I finish this review. I am saving them for Halloween!! And, if there are any leftover, they are going in a care package to my son (who is allergic to dairy and peanuts, among other foods).

These treats are every bit as good as I expected. They come in both dark chocolate and "plain" chocolate varieties. The lighter chocolate is simply made with a lower percentage of cocoa. Care to guess which is my favorite?

If you are looking for more options for Halloween candy, check out the allergy-friendly Halloween candy guide by Kids with Food Allergies.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yes, There Should Still be Epinephrine in Our Schools

I will get right to the point. I am worried that the recent discussions on Epi-pen and Mylan Pharmaceuticals could set us back a decade on access to epinephrine.

Four years ago I wrote a piece that appeared here and on, titled, “Of Course There Should Be Epinephrine in Our Schools.” During those four years hundreds of advocates, medical professionals, and legislators have come together to ensure that there is epinephrine in our schools – a place where food is served every day and, unfortunately, where some children will have their first anaphylactic reaction.

This is progress.

And yet, I worry. Yesterday I watched a portion of the Congressional Hearings on Epi-pen pricing. What bothered me most were the questions about epinephrine in schools.

Nearly every state now has a law that allows undesignated (meaning not labeled for a specific child) epinephrine in schools, and many states require it in schools. Mylan has helped with their Epi-pen for Schools program that gives schools free Epi-pens and sells them additional pens at a discount. I assert that without this program, many of the 65000+ schools that stock undesignated epinephrine would not have it.

This is progress.

And yet, many of the senators questioning Heather Bresch at the hearings wanted to focus on how she went about getting the Epi-pens into the schools, the role her mother (who happens to be the head of the National Association of State Boards of Education) played in getting the legislation passed, and whether she was ensuring a monopoly while getting this legislation passed.

This is where it gets scary.

Heather Bresch was berated for walking down the halls of Congress to help pass legislation for undesignated epinephrine. Of all the things we can be angry about, passing this legislation should not be one of them. Yes, Mylan had a great a marketing plan to expand the market. But it was a win-win. The company expanded the market while increasing access to a life-saving drug.

Every food-allergy advocate, parent, and health care professional that I know supported these laws. Many of them worked to ensure that the wording stated “epinephrine,” to allow all types of auto-injectors (including the Auvi-Q, then on the market, and any to come in the future) to be covered under the law. Any of us would have drawn on our network (personal or otherwise) to help pass this legislation. Because it was the right thing to do.

But we’re not finished.

Yes, epinephrine still needs to be in our schools. But it also needs to be on airplanes, in ambulances, and in restaurants. Epinephrine needs to be everywhere there is a defibrillator or where food is served. Let’s not take a giant step backwards by focusing on the wrong issues.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Skinny and Company Coconut Oil Beauty - Product Review

If you have been following here for a while you know that I am on a constant quest for the best allergen-free skin care. For me, that means products that don't contain wheat or soy proteins, or chemical sunscreens. If I use them I may break out in a rash, and I will be itchy, for sure. Preservatives and fragrances also sometimes cause problems. So I was very excited when Skinny and Company asked if I wanted to try their coconut oil beauty products. Yes, yes, yes! They sent me a complimentary samples of the facial oil and body butter, along with some good oil coconut oil (for baking, cooking, eating).

Skinny and Co's coconut oil products are 100% raw, cold-pressed, and never heated above 97 degrees.

I have been using the beauty products for about a week, and I am thrilled with them. I must point out that they are expensive (as beauty products go) but a little goes a long way. You will need far less facial oil (just a few drops a day) than the dollop of traditional cream products you might use.

You will also notice that the products truly are oils. Even though they start solid (but on a warm day they might melt) they will liquefy quickly as soon as you touch them. No worries though, just rub them in and go.

I know what you're thinking... they must be greasy, right? Nope, not at all. Within minutes your skin absorbs the oil, leaving it soft and smooth.

I must point out that the body butter combines coconut oil with almond oil, therefore inappropriate for those with tree nut allergies. But for me, these products are winners!

To get 15% off your Skinny & Co. order, use code: SKINNYCO15. I plan to try the shampoo bar and the lip balm next!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels Now Made in a Peanut-Free Facility – And a Giveaway

A box full of pretzels arrived the other day, from Snyder’s of Hanover. “Ooooh, pretzels, can I have some?” asked DH. “Not until I take pictures and do my review,” I replied. That’s a standard response in my house.

Disclosure: Snyder’s of Hanover sent me pretzels for review, and is sponsoring this giveaway and blog post.

My husband didn’t even notice that the packaging said “gluten-free,” and he definitely missed the big news. Yup, there’s news! Take a look at the labels:

In addition to the certified gluten-free labeling on the front of the package, check out the “no peanuts” label near the ingredients label. That’s right, these pretzels are now made in a completely peanut-free facility. Woo-hoo! And kudos to Snyder’s!

Note that I received only gluten-free pretzels in my package but Snyder’s also makes traditional wheat pretzels,  also produced in a peanut-free facility.

It’s important to note that Snyder’s pretzels never “contained” peanuts; i.e., the ingredients list never listed peanuts. But making the production facility completely peanut-free means the risk of cross-contamination has been minimized and makes these snacks safe for just about anyone or anywhere. Send them to school with your child in a peanut-free classroom or take them on an airplane without worries about your own child or the person sitting next to you.

And the best news is that they taste great! The formula hasn’t changed – you will still be eating the best pretzels around.

Now you can try the new pretzels too! Snyder’s of Hanover is giving away a product prize pack and a $25 VISA gift card to one lucky winner. Enter here:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share, share, share (use hashtag #PretzelsBaby) and spread the #PeanutFree news!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Raise a Pint Recipe Contest – Chocolate Dipped Frozen Dessert Sandwiches

The sound of the ice cream truck means summer is truly here. I remember standing on the corner with a quarter (yup, it was a long time ago) trying to decide – should I get the chocolate dipped ice cream bar, the ice cream sandwich, or the chocolate ├ęclair bar? For sure, my choice would include chocolate.

When Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free asked me to participate in the Raise a Pint Dairy-Free recipe showdown (sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free), I knew that I wanted my treat to bring back some of that nostalgia, but I also wanted it to be easy to make. Who wants to heat up the oven in the middle of the summer? So I picked some of the my favorite allergen-free products to create this treat.

Make these allergy-friendly ice cream sandwiches using off-the-shelf ingredients! Gluten-free, dairy-free, allergy-friendly!

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Dessert Sandwiches

This recipe makes 6 sandwiches

1 pint So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Frozen Dessert (Any flavor may be used, I chose cookies and cream.)

1 box Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies (Any flavor may be used, I chose Double Chocolate. You may substitute any homemade or off-the-shelf cookie you prefer – flat, crispy cookies will work best.)

1 bag dairy-free Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life or Pascha semi-sweet chocolate chips are my choice.)

2 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Shortening (If you need to avoid soybean oil, substitute Earth Balance soy-free buttery sticks.)

Let the frozen dessert sit at room temperature until slightly softened (20-30 minutes).

Line a small baking sheet with parchment. Line up six pairs of cookies.
(If you are using Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies there will be fourteen cookies in the box – save two to create the crunchy topping, if desired.)

Slide the frozen dessert onto a cutting board (if it doesn’t slide out of the container it isn’t soft enough yet). Slice the frozen dessert into six slices. Trim the larger slices so they fit the cookies.

Place one slice of frozen dessert between each pair of cookies – keep the flat side of the cookies on the inside. Trim and/or smooth the edges as needed. Use any extra frozen dessert to fill gaps. Refrigerate for at least two hours. The ice cream and the cookies should be completely frozen before dipping.

When you are ready, make the dipping sauce. Melt 2 tablespoons of shortening in a small saucepan (or double boiler) over low heat. Add the chocolate chips (the full package) and stir until completely melted. Let the sauce cool for about 20 minutes. (It should still be warm but not hot when you dip the sandwiches.) If the cookie topping is desired, crumble the remaining cookies. (Be sure to do this prep step before dipping the cookies – the chocolate coating will freeze up quickly after you dunk.)

Take the frozen sandwiches out of the freezer and dip them in the sauce. This can be very messy so I recommend having a wet paper towel nearby. Dip the treats on all sides and around the edges. Return the dipped sandwiches to the baking sheet. If there is any chocolate sauce remaining, pour it over the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle the crumble cookies on the top of the sandwiches.

So easy to make these allergy-friendly ice cream sandwiches!

Return the baking sheet to the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store sandwiches that won’t be eaten soon in an airtight container in the freezer.

Did I mention this is a contest? Here’s the scoop…

Watch for amazing recipes by 21 talented bloggers, authors and recipe creators in this summer’s Go Dairy Free recipe contest, sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free. The entrants will use So Delicious Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts or Cashew Milk Frozen Desserts to create the Coolest and Creamiest treats. All recipes will be shared between July 10th and July 24th (follow the hashtag #RaiseAPint on Twitter and Instagram), and then you will be able to vote on your favorites, including my entry into the Coconut Milk section!

Starting on July 25th you will be able to vote on the Go Dairy Free Facebook page. The recipe contest winners will be announced in August, and will include two $500 grand prize winners and two $250 runner-up winners.

Along with the contest, you can join in the #RaiseAPint Event, which will run from July 11th to August 5th. During this time, So Delicious will award 20 entries with an ice cream party prize pack. Simply share your moment on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and be sure to use #RaiseAPint! Full details here.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hampton Creek Salad Dressings

I have been a fan of Hampton Creek's Just Mayo since I was able to try a sample of their mayonnaise-like products last fall. A big fan. So much of a fan that I asked Hampton Creek if they would send me some of their new products to try, and they did!

I love, love, love these products! I love everything about Hampton Creek. All of the new dressings you see here are top-8 allergen-free and gluten-free. Like the original Just Mayo, these new products are based on pea protein. The ingredients lists are longer than the "mayo" products, so be sure to check the entire list before trying them.

Also, please note that these new products should be kept refrigerated (in contrast to the Just Mayo which should be refrigerated after opening). I usually find Just Mayo in the condiments aisle, I expect I will find these (when available in my local store) in the refrigerated section.

Now, for the real test, will my husband be able to tell that these are not traditional salad dressings? I served him a side salad topped with Just Thousand and he loved it.

Next up, we tried Just Ranch. I made a "whatever we had leftover in the fridge" dinner salad and topped it with this creamy ranch dressing:

It was just delicious!

These dressings are dead ringers for the traditional versions -- in most cases better, because they have less sugar than your standard off-the-shelf dressing.

A special note: Hampton Creek has also recently introduced cookies and cookie dough. Please be aware that these products contain wheat and gluten.

Disclaimer: Hampton Creek sent me complementary products to review.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The New Milks -- Cookbook Review

So many cookbooks, so little time.

I love cookbooks, and I love that the cookbooks coming out lately are so unique and compelling. Here is a selection of cookbooks that I have been sent review copies of, sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to have the time to do a proper review. I will get to them all.

But today I am writing about The New Milks; 100-Plus recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks.

To be sure, this book has recipes that use nuts and soy. Coconut, as we all know, is not really a nut. And yes, author Dina Cheney actually makes her own coconut milk from whole coconuts (in contract to my cheating version). The author does seem to have a preference for soy, almond, and cashew milks, but there is absolutely no reason why you can't substitute your own favorite non-dairy milk in most of the recipes. I know that I will be choosing hemp milk and coconut milk in most cases.

Many of the recipes are gluten-free (and some can be easily adapted). Some recipes use eggs (including some egg dishes).

All disclaimers aside, there are some delightful recipes in this books that I will be trying. Shepherd's Pie with Beef, Mushrooms, and Butternut Squash sounds yummy and reminds me of a dish I had recently in Dublin. Dina's version uses almond milk, I will substitute hemp.

The book covers recipes for breakfast, entrees, sweets, dressings, and smoothies. One of my favorite parts of the book is the introduction where it covers how to make all types of milks and has a chart of flavor profiles and uses. Even I (having been making my own milks and cooking and baking dairy-free for years) learned a few things. Did you know you could make milk from tigernuts? Right about now I am wishing I still had some samples of tigernuts (not a nut) from Fablogcon!

For me this book is largely inspiration as it does use ingredients that are off-limits, but it is a lovely book and chock-full of great ideas!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Aquafaba French Toast

Aquafaba is hot! Not literally, you will nearly always use it room temperature, but the liquid from a can of beans (yup, that's aquafaba) can be used for so many things it's a wonder we haven't heard more about if before now.

My latest invention is Aquafaba French Toast. I've been yearning for an egg-free French Toast. I have tried it with flaxseed gel, but it's messy and sticks to the pan. Aquafaba, on the other hand, works beautifully!

Aquafaba French Toast

Start with any safe bread. This can be homemade (top-8 allergen-free bread recipes are available in The Allergy-Free Pantry and Learning to Bake Allergen-Free) or off-the-shelf. French Toast tends to work best with slightly stale or stiff bread.

Use the liquid from one can one chickpeas. Instead of pouring it down the sink, drain the beans and preserve the liquid. Aquafaba can be refrigerated or frozen and used later. Whisk the liquid (as you would whisk eggs if you were making traditional French Toast) until it is frothy:

 Soak the bread until the liquid is absorbed:

Cook in a pre-heated skillet with a safe oil, until browned on both sides and serve with real maple syrup. Powdered sugar is optional:

Try it, I think you'll love it!

For more aquafaba recipes, see Aquafaba Mayo and Aquafaba Meringues.

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...