YOLO – Buffalo, NY

Even though I now call Mississippi home, I was actually born and raised in Buffalo, NY. This surprises people who now see me wearing scarves and jackets whenever it drops below 65 degrees, but it’s true.

Lucky for me, my job takes me all over the country. From East Coast to West Coast, I am fortunate to visit lots of amazing cities throughout the year. But most of all, I am especially lucky that my job brings me back to the great city of Buffalo every once in awhile.

This past week, I spent several days in Buffalo, followed by a few nights in Albany, NY. And it needs to be said: I was never hungry for one minute throughout that entire visit. I haven’t eaten so much amazingly delicious food in one week in a long time.

Where was my favorite stop on this food adventure? Definitely my dinner at YOLO in East Amherst, NY. First thing I love about Yolo is the ambience. This place screams fabulous, with it’s sexy lighting and modern décor. The second thing that makes it so great is the incredible staff. All night long, my drink was constantly full (something I seriously paid for the next morning) and my every request delivered.

Let’s talk about this gluten free menu at YOLO. Tell me this is not the most extensive menu you’ve ever seen:

So many options!

So many options!

From incredible appetizers like stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms and knock-your-socks-off spinach and artichoke dip, to incredible sides including macaroni and cheese, this menu is loaded with awesome gluten free options! And we didn’t order a single thing that wasn’t absolutely perfect!

Insaaaaanely Good & Gluten Free!

Insaaaaanely Good & Gluten Free!

Headed to Buffalo anytime soon? Be sure to stop by YOLO. And don’t forget to try the stuffed peppers, which were definitely my favorite!

Better Late than Never: GF in San Diego

So first let me address what a major slacker I have been lately. It’s been an entire month since my last blog post! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve missed writing over the last few weeks. But, the bright side of taking a break is that I have LOTS to share with you!

Whenever I travel, I love to test out new restaurants and gluten free menu items that I normally don’t get to try here in Mississippi. Our trip to San Diego a couple weeks ago was definitely no exception. Even though I could EASILY give you a play-by-play of every single meal we ate while we were there, I’ll make it easy and narrow it down to the top 3.

3. The Melting Pot – I know what you’re going to say – “That’s not even a local restaurant to San Diego!” – and you’re right. It’s definitely a national chain. It’s just a national chain that my husband and I had never tried before with a gluten free fondue menu that is delicious enough to make anyone’s mouth water. So we tried it out. And let me tell you, we were NOT disappointed.

Best part: Dessert. Hands down! Chocolate/Peanut Butter fondue with gluten free brownie bites, cake, strawberries and marshmallows for dipping? Yes please! Bonus: our awesome waitress even brought us two chocolate covered strawberries with a sweet “Welcome to San Diego” note written in icing and sprinkles. How sweet is that?

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Worst part: The meal itself. Cooking your own meat in a boiling pot sounds easier than it actually is. It was hard to get the temperature of the food just perfect.

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Take away: If you’re thinking of going to the Melting Pot, grab a cheese fondue (because who doesn’t love dipping gluten free bread IN CHEESE?!) and dessert (because it will rock your world). But in my opinion, you can skip the main course. It’s nothing too special.

2. Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza – You know those days when you wake up really feeling the aftermath of your night before? Well, our third day in San Diego was exactly like that. After a wine tour all day Saturday, which was incredible and so fun but clearly involved a lot of wine consumption (thank goodness wine is gluten free) and then a late night out in the Gaslamp District, we were desperate for something delicious and loaded with carbs. What could be better for that than a gluten free pizza?

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I ordered the Five Cheese pizza. Because cheese can make any day a little bit better. My husband stuck with the traditional pepperoni. Classic. Both were incredible! The crust was thin but perfectly cooked (not always the case with gluten free pizzas out there) and the toppings were fantastic.

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Take away: Sammy’s isn’t playing around when it comes to their gluten free pizzas. They have Redbridge on the menu as well – so you can top your pizza off with an ice cold beer!

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1. Nobu – Let me be clear. I did not like sushi before meeting my husband. In fact, I still don’t really love sushi. But this restaurant changed the way I think of sushi completely. Not to mention our waitress had Celiac Disease so she was incredibly knowledgeable about menu options for us as well as preparation of every item.

I wish that I could give you a list of all of the menu items that we tried that night. But our waitress was so good that we basically just ordered every item that she recommended that was gluten free. And not one of them disappointed us!

Take away: If you’re into sushi, and planning a visit to any city that Nobu is in, be sure to check it out. But make sure to get a reservation well in advance! They stay pretty packed.

BONUS RESTAURANT: 1500 Ocean at the Hotel del Coronado. We visited during San Diego restaurant week so the menu was extremely limited, but everything we ate was delicious. Not to mention, the gluten free bread we enjoyed before our meal was probably the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant!

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In all the cities and states that I have visited, San Diego is pretty high up on my list of favorite cities now. If you’re considering a getaway to California, you should definitely check it out! Just be sure to save room for lots and lots of delicious meals!

My (Gluten-Free) Holiday Gift Guide

There’s always that one person on your list that is super hard to shop for. For me, it’s my grandmother. Ultimately, she has pretty much everything that she needs and she genuinely would rather give gifts than receive them. (Gotta love that woman). Maybe you have someone like that in your life. Maybe that person is gluten-free. Or maaayyybe not. But either way, check out ten of my most loved gifts for this holiday season:

1. Breville Juicer

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Whether that special someone just loves to drink freshly squeezed orange juice or they’re looking to kick up their health a notch and try out juicing to get more of their daily fruits and vegetabls, I am loving this juicer from Breville. Durable and so fast, this baby makes juice like it’s nobody’s business.

2. Williams Sonomoa Goldtouch Non-Stick Pizza Pan

Honestly, I couldn’t be more obsessed with this pizza pan. Every single time I use it, my pizzas not only come out perfectly, but they are also the perfect size!

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For sharing of course. Did you think I ate that whole pizza on my own? 😉

3. Cup 4 Cup Flour

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While you’re at it, just grab the entire line of Cup 4 Cup mixes, because this stuff will rock your world. Substitute the gluten free flour for regular flour in ANY recipe and I promise you’ll be impressed with how delicious it is. Bonus: the pancake and brownie mix are amazing – and so easy – too.

5. Gluten is My Bitch

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Long story short: This book is hilarious. So is it’s author, April Peveteaux, the mastermind behind the Gluten is My Bitch Blog. The title alone says it all. Need I say more?

6. This basket of GF goodies from Tate’s Bake Shop

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One cookie is a great gift. A whole basket of treats though? That’s really showing someone that you love them.

7. A Subscription to TasteGuru

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I’ve been scoping out Taste Guru for a while now, but haven’t managed to bite the bullet and purchase a subscription of my own yet. But getting a box of gluten free goodies in the mail every single month… How amazing is that!?

8. Riedel Wine Glasses

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Because wine tastes better when it’s in an awesome glass.

9. This Talking Minion

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If you know me at all, you know I talking/dancing animals – and I often assume that everyone in the world should love them as much as I do. A talking minion though? That really takes things to the next level. Try Amazon for a good deal on one of these little guys!

10. A Waffle Maker

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Seriously, who doesn’t love waffles? Gluten free or not, this gift is fun AND functional! Include some gluten free pancake and waffle mix to really rock it. Bonus: This Chef’s Choice model will make your waffles heart-shaped! Nothing says “love” like a heart-shaped breakfast food!

Alright, now get out there and start shopping! Happy Holidays!

Our Freedom isn’t Free

{This post has absolutely nothing to do with gluten free living. Consider yourself notified.}

I’m not a veteran. Neither is my husband. In fact, nobody in my family is. But Veteran’s Day has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe it is because I grew up in a household where the American flag was flying in multiple locations in our house, front and backyard at all times. Maybe it is because I grew up with a mother whose company actively worked with police and military personnel throughout my entire childhood. Maybe it is because I have friends who have family members and loved ones who have served. Maybe it is because I have friends who have served.

Or maybe it’s just because I am an American.

As an American, I enjoy the benefits of this great country every single day including the right to speak my mind, the right to vote, the right to work, the right to walk freely down the street without fear or worry. You know who protects those rights? Our veterans. And all the military personnel currently serving.

Every day I am thankful for their service – and thankful that they are protecting me and my loved ones while their loved ones are often thousands of miles away. I am thankful that they put their lives at risk, and so many make the ultimate sacrifice, to protect all of the things that are so great about America.

So today, on Veteran’s Day, take a moment to do something special for the military personnel in your life. Whether it’s a prayer, a note, a hug or even just a smile; let them know how much you appreciate them and all that they do for you today and everyday.

To all of our veterans: thank you from the bottom of my heart.

With love…

GFAF Wellness Event: In Review

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Gluten Free & Allergy Free Wellness Event in Baton Rouge, LA. Just a three hour drive from Vicksburg, MS, I felt extremely lucky to have an event like this so close to home! Even though I had been on the road for 9 days prior to the event, I convinced my husband (who is also gluten free) that we just could NOT miss this event. So we hit the road together on Friday evening to ensure our early arrival on Saturday.

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So, now that I’ve been, you must be wondering what I learned there? (Even if you weren’t wondering that, I’m gonna tell you anyway!)

My favorite speaker was Brandy Wendler, also known as Mrs. Northwest, who spoke on living heart-healthy while eating gluten free. As a nurse practitioner, who has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Brandy brought a unique perspective to the gluten free lifestyle and helped to raise awareness about the foods we are actually putting in our bodies. We all know that often gluten free pre-packaged foods are extremely high in sugar; Brandy spoke on the importance of eating fruits, vegetables, “good fats” and protein, while avoiding those pre-packaged foods when possible. After all, we all want our hearts to stay healthy, don’t we? 😉

Now I can’t make any promises that her presentation changed my life forever. I just went grocery shopping today and found myself grabbing for some Udi’s Snickerdoodle Cookies and Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Crust. But, we also loaded up with some chicken breasts, fruits and veggies. One step at a time I guess….

In vendor news, I was excited to see some gluten free products that we have never tried before! My personal favorite new find from the event was the Brazilian Cheese Bread from Say CheezZ. And bonus (!!!), you can even order these online!

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My husband’s favorite new find was this corn-based Roux from Your Way Cuisines – perfect for making gluten free gumbo! Now I am not a big gumbo lover myself, probably because I did not grow up down South, but he was super excited about it! So obviously we had to grab a jar before leaving.

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And let’s not forget about this gluten free hush puppy mix from Palmetto Farms! Another Southern classic, he can’t wait for us to whip up a batch of our own now!

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All in all, we were both extremely glad that we attended the event. We talked to so many great vendors, met some fantastic people and heard some wonderful presentations. Special shout out to Nikki Everett and Jodi Stewart for the invite! Hope to see you both again soon!

Am I Bad at Being Gluten Free?

Ever since I started this blog, I have become more active in the “gluten free community” than I ever imagined I would be. I read blogs by other awesome Gluten Free writers, I follow bloggers and companies that make awesome GF products on Facebook and Twitter… I mean, I am really upping my knowledge here.

But all that reading and research leaves me wondering, am I bad at being gluten free?

I know I am good at eating gluten free foods. When I go out to eat, I know how to order off a menu and if I’m unsure of ingredients in something, I often just order a salad or something I know is “safe”. Sometimes I ask, but I usually stick with the safest bet whenever I can. When I cook at home, I like to make recipes that are fast, easy and of course, delicious. Many of those recipes are naturally gluten free. I mean, anybody can bake chicken in the oven, right? But the ones that include gluten free ingredients, I like to share with others. And that’s the reason I started this blog in the first place. To share gluten free goodness!

Here’s what I am not good at:

I don’t ask every waiter or waitress at a restaurant if my food is prepared seperately from “glutenous” food items so I can avoid cross contamination. In fact, most of the time, I try to keep eating gluten free on the down-low, unless the restaurant has a gluten free menu. Then, I of course order everything on the menu, including dessert, and inevitable gain five pounds with every meal. (dramatization)

I don’t ensure that my recipes are made with ingredients that are GMO free. In fact, I didn’t even understand GMOs before this blog. Even now that I do, I continue to enjoy my GMO-filled foods just fine, as long as they are gluten free of course. To those out there that are conscious of GMOs, I think that is awesome! No really, I do. But in the spirit of making things easier on myself, I find that is one thing I just don’t have enough passion behind to worry about right now.

Sure, I get glutened from time to time. I see my husband get glutened a lot more than me, because he is still not sure what to look out for. (And for some reason the man has a hard time remembering to make sure his tortillas are corn tortillas and not flour before biting in). But to me, it is not the end of the world. I’ve suffered many awful trips to the bathroom after eating something I should not have. And I’ve seen my family members get horribly sick whenever they get glutened. Sure, it sucks. A lot sometimes. But I’m not angry about it. Stuff happens.

I have a lot of respect for those who are more vocal than I am. Or those who are passionate about GMOs. And those who go out of their way to prepare low carb and/or paleo friendly recipes. You guys rock!

Me? I’m just a gluten free girl who likes to eat, write and enjoy life. Take it or leave it, gluten free life is still a learning process for me too. Stick around and we just might learn something awesome together. 🙂

Gluten Free Crescent Rolls

Read any of my previous blog posts and you will quickly learn about my love for all things Chebe Bread. Seriously, the stuff is amazing and makes for some killer gluten free recipes! (Including one of my favorites – the Buffalo Chicken Calzone!) But sometimes, you’ve got to stick with the basics. Chebe Bread is fantastic for basic, delicious dinner rolls.

About a week ago, I decided to put a little twist on my Chebe rolls. I was planning a yummy gluten free pasta night for the Hubs and myself – and what would go better with pasta than cresent rolls with cheese and garlic powder? Sounds great, right? Here’s how I did it…

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What you’ll need:
1 box Chebe Bread Mix (I used the Chebe Cheese Bread Mix)
Ingredients for bread (eggs, oil, water)
Melted Butter
Garlic Powder
Cheese

Follow the instructions on the box to prepare the Chebe Bread mix. I never stray from the instructions except to sometimes add just a touch more water if it seems a little too dry.

Once you’re dough is ready, roll it out into a flat circle. Take your melted butter and brush it over the surface of the dough until it is completely covered. Then, sprinkle on some garlic powder (let your taste buds decide how much garlic is too much!)

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After that, cut your circle into triangles, as if you were cutting up a pizza. Sprinkle each triangle with some shredded cheese of your liking.

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Roll up each triangle into a cresent roll and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes.

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The only thing left to do now is enjoy! 🙂