Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Gluten Free Goodness!

9 Dec

Shameless plug time!

www.redrobin.com.png

I’ve worked for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers over ten years now. I know, crazy!

But I have to say, one of my favorite things about this company is the constant willingness to provide options, support and catering to special food requests.

They want guests to be accommodated, and want to create an atmosphere where the whole family can sit down at a table together and eat.

Since becoming Gluten Free all I can say is there really isn’t many places to safely go out and have dinner. Seriously. It’s a craps shoot just to find something that isn’t just a salad with oil and vinegar dressing, (it’s so boring after awhile, isn’t it?) that potentially can taste good… all without feeling like your throwing your server through the ringer with questions.

Not many restaurants have dedicated fryers, or standards to which people make an effort to prevent cross contamination.

Yes, this is changing, but come on. Let’s call a spade a spade, not many really consciously try.

However, Red Robin DOES. I love seeing the expression on someone’s face when I tell them, “Yes, we have a GF bun and YES it’s delicious,” plus, I’m not even lying because I eat it all the time!

Not to mention? Steak Fries (best evverrr) are fried in their own fryer away from being mixed in with that evil wheat gluten.

Everyone can eat at Red Robin. Vegans, Vegetarians, GF which means the entire family, YES can sit down!

For once you don’t have to eat a salad and hope everything went according to plan in the kitchen. Red Robin takes Gluten allergies very seriously and the more people know that they can have an amazing lunch? The more I feel like I’ve done my job!

We all deserve a treat and to feel like we can eat normally without dry weird bread or boring salads with even more lame dressings.

Something Cool:

Check out RedRobin.com once you’re there, click on MENU. What’s cool about this is the interactive Allergen Menu they provide. You can actually go through and click on your dietary needs and bam. A menu just for you will pop up.

It doesn’t get much better than this! I promise!

Aly

 

The Word on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.

2 Dec

With all these holiday recipes and changing just about everything I ever knew about cooking since becoming Gluten Free, finding a reliable flour hasn’t been easy.

The first flour I’ve purchased is Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with it.

I highly recommend this flour for the use of entrees, side dishes and savory foods.

It’s worked wonderfully in my Potato Soup, Mama N’s Corn Bake and other recipes I’ve experimented with at home.

In fact, it’s worked so well my husband hasn’t noticed a difference. Which is fantastic news for those of you out there who are a little nervous about this whole new world of flours. A picky husband not telling the difference? That’s a win.

This is a widely available flour for those of you with a quick need for a reliable substitute in your cooking. I love it and I think you’ll be really happy with it too!

So before you get cooking, or pine for your favorite foods you miss… This flour can fix that!

Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Love it!

 

Aly

 

A Very Gluten Free Holiday Party- Recipes To Keep the Tradition Going

25 Nov

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving. Which deep down I still get pretty excited about the holidays, and refuse to look at them from the point of being a nuisance. I refuse to grow up!

So because I’m super excited about the up and coming days, I’m going to share a few recipes on how to make your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner traditional, special and completely gluten free. Or at least, where you don’t have to give up your favorite things and find yourself sick the next day. Let’s face it, being Gluten Free can pretty much suck. It doesn’t have to!

Here’s what I’ll be fearing this week:

* Sweet Potato Casserole
* Gran Alcorn’s Stuffing (or Dressing whatever you want to call it)
* Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
* Mama N’s Corn Bake Casserole
*Rice Krispies Treats and Holiday Spice Rice Krispies Treats
*Aly’s Creamy and Easy Potato Soup

Not to mention, we’ll talk about the importance of preventing cross contamination and why it’s important for your specialty items to have their own spoons and to be kept in their own section of the kitchen. Sometimes for some of you, a little wheat isn’t going to bother you. Which is fantastic! However, for some, even using a spoon used in something with wheat could cause disaster.

It’s really important to know where the boundaries of your sensitivity are, and why being gluten aware is only going to benefit you in the long run.

After getting married I found myself suddenly in the middle of not just two big families, but four! So the holidays for us are a bit hectic and crazy, something I wouldn’t change for the world. Yesterday, we had dinner with my mother’s side and I did a test run of the first three on the list.

My favorite thing to do when cooking gluten free is not to tell anyone. Trust me, once you’re confident in your cooking, it’s seriously amazing to watch people’s expressions when they realize something tastes good and IS gluten free! So many misnomers exist about gluten free food out there, that it’s a great time to see that barrier broken down! They tasted no different than the traditional long standing family recipes I’ve known since I was a child. Which is an amazing feeling, by the way!

Tomorrow will be three recipes and Wednesday will be the rest, to insure they are there if and when you need them.

Lastly and most importantly… Let’s talk about the grocery store. No really. You’ll want to read this.

During the holidays I always thought it strange to hear my mother getting up at six in the morning on a Wednesday and returning by seven thirty, only hear her tell my father, “it’s starting to get crazy out there”.

For a long time I never thought anything of this, I just thought she had a million things to do and needed a lot of time to get them finished.

Though that is partially the case… Let me tell you… the scariest place to be isn’t always the department stores… No, the grocery is almost worse.

The best advice on your grocery shopping? Do what my mother did! Or do what I do and go to Giant Eagle (or whatever you local decent chain is) at around, ten in the evening.

To me there is nothing worse than grocery shopping and having people all in your business, in your bubble and just miserable crankiness surrounding you. This should be a fun time of year! Not be angry and nasty over food items. Seriously.

So the advice goes: “The earlier the better, or wait and go later!”

As for the groceries you’re going to need (and I am NOT ashamed of this!):
Lots of butter!
Milk
Sour Cream
Cream Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
2 Green Peppers
2 onions
2 Stalks of Celery
1 Bunch of Carrots
1 Green Apple
1 Package of Cubed Hash Browns
Bacon!
All Natural/Organic Mild Italian Sausage (not in link form)
Organic Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
Can of Creamed Corn
Can of Whole Kernel Corn
Can of Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Can of Pumpkin Pie
Corn Meal
Gluten Free flour (all purpose works best)
Betty Crocker white or yellow cake mix Gluten Free of course!
Gluten Free Rice Krispies
Marshmallows
Marshmallows in a jar
Vanilla
Brown Sugar
Pecans
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves
Udi’s GF White Bread

That should do it. A general idea of what you’ll need to make all this deliciousness happen.

I’ll be back in the morning!

Aly.

Baked Fusilli and Moz: The Return of Comfort Food to the GF Kitchen

29 Oct

Everyone who cooks has their own style, much like we do every day with fashion. My style is comfort food.

So when I found out I could no longer have wheat gluten, I was pretty bummed out. However, this girl loves a challenge. Which is how I still see it.

Hungry? Here’s what we’ve got for dinner tonight.

Aly’s Baked Fusilli and Moz

Preheat Oven to: 350 degrees

1 1lb bag of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli Pasta

1 Jar (1lb) of Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce or your favorite sauce

1c-1 1/2 c of Mozzarella Cheese

1/4 c of Shredded Parmesan Cheese

* Now I’m not one of those fancy, smancy pants who says you have to follow a recipe to the exact product. I think that’s silly. What’s great about cooking is your freedom to create. So adjust this to your own taste!

Since you’ve got the oven warming up, start with a good sized pan you know all this pasta will fit in, fill it with water and add a dash of salt to the water.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta.

Now this next part is REALLY IMPORTANT!

The back of the bag is going to tell you to cook the pasta 7-10 minutes.

DO NOT COOK IT THAT LONG.

Cook the pasta 5 minutes, pour out the hot water into the drainer and immediately rinse with cold water.

Why am I doing this? Rice pasta when cooked too long will get SUPER slimy and weird. Not to mention gross.  So, when you do this to the pasta stops cooking and since you’re baking it in the oven, you will finish cooking it there. See what I’m getting at?

So now, take a 9×13 baking dish and pour a bit of the sauce on the bottom before pouring in the pasta. Make sure you mix the sauce and pasta together well, before sprinkling on your cheeses.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Some ovens are rude and temperamental so adjust your time accordingly to your oven.

Once the dish is bubbling and hot, take it out and let sit for about 2-4 minutes. (This way you don’t burn your face off).

I recommend serving with either steamed veggies, or a perfect side salad with italian dressing.

Ta-Da! Dinner in less than a half hour.

So this is SUPER simple and easy, and not to mention a great cozy dish on a cold fall night. I love melted cheese, so to no surprise it’s one of my favorites. Not even my picky husband could tell the difference in pastas, so I’m sure it’ll please the toughest of crowds.

Enjoy dinner!

xo,
Aly

Side note: This can be made vegan just as easily. Substitute the vodka sauce for another delicious choice from garlic to veggie or even mushroom! And for the cheese? I recommend Daiya Mozzarella or Follow Your Heart Mozzarella cheese to top it! Now the whole family can be happy. Or your friends, too.

Wheat Is Literally In EVERYTHING!

29 Oct

No, I can’t make this up if I try. Even if you think— “Humm, it’s just potatoes, french green beans, mushrooms, onions… I should be good,” Don’t! NEVER ASSUME.

Ugh, talk about frustrating. My husband pretty much saved the day today, by stopping to read the ingredients label from the packaging of Trader Joe’s ‘Country Potatoes with Haricot Verts and Wild Mushrooms’ at breakfast this morning.

What I think you all need to understand, know and accept is how important it is to constantly read every last detailed word under labels of food. This sounds silly and ridiculous. But if you don’t want to feel like your stomach is suddenly starring in the film ‘Aliens’, it’s a must.

Some people get really stupid and nasty about this, i.e., “Really? Even if there’s a little in it, you can’t have it?”

Correct. This is extremely frustrating as well, so rule number one kids? Ignore the haters. They just don’t know what it is like to feel like your stomach is being ripped to shreds and then spending the next two days on the couch feeling like you have the flu.

It feels a little overwhelming at first. I by any means am not an expert, I hardly have a grasp on this new change myself, but—! One thing you cannot be afraid to do is read, learn and experiment.

I started going through my recipe book and cookbooks to find my favorite things and figuring out how to make them again. Now here’s the kicker, my goal is to make them so deliciously… You won’t believe it’s gluten free! Ha. Get it?

Yeah, that was bad. Sorry.

Anyway! Back on target…

So, we went to Trader Joe’s yesterday. My poor husband needed “normal” food and I was curious to see what kind of things I could have from there as well. Now, Trader Joe’s isn’t like Earth Fare, or Whole Foods or even The Mustard Seed or Raisin Rack (these are all mostly northeastern Ohio and local) but! They’ve got a few things that I think you need to be aware of.

#1- Udi’s GF White Bread, Buns and Bagels- this stuff is the jam! It’s my favorite bread I’ve found so far, and even though it can taste a little dry at times, it still toasts well and is a good substitute for when you just want a sammich!

#2- Pasta! I mean, who doesn’t love this stuff? What is cool about their cheaper pasta section is the fact there are so many choices. Everything from brown rice, brown rice and quinoa, corn (which I haven’t tried yet, the verdict is still out) and a few others that I was surprised to see. Check out my post Baked Fusilli and Moz for a comfort food recipe you’ll be crazy not to try.

#3 Brownie Mix- Now… I’m not a huge fan of prepackaged mixes. But since I’m still in the discovery phase of this whole new world, I decided to try it out and see what happens. I’ll be sure to post the play by play and pictures for when this DOES happen. again, the verdict is still out on this, too.

I really believe in making things from scratch even though people swear it takes up too much time. This is false, it does not. Do you watch Top Chef? Or work in a restaurant? Something as simple as Mis En Place and prep can really save the day. Just get your shit together! It won’t take long, I promise!

By baking and cooking that way, you can really control what’s going into your food and obviously, you know what’s in it. You put it there. I like that kind of control now a days, since I feel like we just throw gluten and his friends into things they have no place being! Not to mention other baddies who are simply just out to kill you.

So sick around for my next post,  it’s a recipe for delicious comfort food that will make you cozy and happy on the inside. Plus, you won’t even know you’re not eating real pasta!

 

xo,

Aly.

The Revolution Cannot Begin, Until the Civil War Is Won.

15 Oct

Since I was in high school, I’ve been a big fan of the band Anberlin.

On their album, New Surrender that was released not too long after my diagnosis with PCOS, the song “Breathe” has a very profound line that has always stuck with me.

“Revolution’s not easy, with a civil war on the inside”

Let that sink in for a moment.

Time to face the monster I’ve hid from for years. Something I’ve never wanted to deal with because the frustration and helplessness.

To take back control of your life, of your weight, you have to face the things you don’t want to. You have to face the things you hide from.

The Wake Up Call

So, I’ve been sick. Not like, blargh, puke everywhere sick. But the kind of sick that runs you into the ground, makes you unable to focus and never feeling rejuvenated. Run down. Miserable. Gross. Oh, and sleeping? Ha. Yeah right.

I think what scared me the most was realizing I felt the worst after eating.

Now, we all know what the goal has been of late. Eating right, taking control of poor eating habits! Let’s do this!

Well that was all fine and dandy, going swell until I realized I felt terrible after eating breads, or creamy soups. Certain types of whole grain breads to be exact and not to mention, pizzas or the most disappointing… beers. My husband first realized this a few nights ago when we out on a date. I can’t drink more than roughly twelve ounces nor can I even finish a pint. I pretended like he was crazy though.

Talk about the silence of devastation. That’s what happened while I was on the phone with my husband eariler this evening when he finally told me his thoughts. It’s time to let it go.

You all know the back story… blah, blah, blah. PCOS is a bitch. Sorry Mom, but it is. I also don’t think people understand how debilitating it is, to not just your body, either. It messes with your emotions, causes depression and anxiety… It’s a train wreck in and of its self and it’s something that I have always treated like the pink elephant in the room. It’s the monster. My monster.

PCOS is my civil war on the inside, preventing the revolution on the outside. It’s something I pretended didn’t exist, which probably, psychologically is just as destructive as denial for anyone else. That IS what I am doing, and admitting it hard enough. Not sure why I chose to do it publicly  as well, but deep down? I hope somewhere out there, there’s a girl who was like me once. I want her to read this, and I want her to know it’s going to be okay.

I’m pretty anxious about this whole discovery. The more I read about PCOS, the more I understand that no one has a freaking clue about it. My doctor? Is just like any other doctor, not out to find a solution, but to find that perfect combonation of drugs. We have to keep the drug companies happy, right?

Ugh. Metformin. All this bullshit they want us to take. For what? Does it really work or suppress the symptoms? I mean, it’s the diagnosis version of denial. Or, I have no clue what to do for you so, here! DRUGS! You’re a guina pig now!

Sorry. We’re not playing that game.

The PCOS DIVA

Sometimes the internet disappoints me. Well, actually all the time it does. But that’s another story.

While doing research on PCOS and how to properly address the problem I discovered something.

She knows what’s up. This at least gives a general guide line if you are looking for help, trying to find a result. I know once I found this site, I’ve spent the entire evening reading up on her advice. It’s fantastic!

Girls, get on it! Dudes, if you hung on this long to help your girl… You deserve a gold medal, gold star… and I’ll keep it classy. You rock.

Educate yourself: The PCOS Diva

She also has interesting words on letting go of gluten and how it’s beneficial for women with PCOS. Could there possibly be light at the end of this tunnel?

 

Tomorrow morning I’m going to write more about what I found, and how the hell I’m going to incorporate my daily meals into… control and hopefully without gluten. Yikes!

Hooray for recipes, though!

My poor husband. All of the mad scientist experiments that are going to happen. I promise, you’ll only get the good ones. Ha!

 

Well, here goes nothing!

xo Aly

 

 

The Psychology of Weight Loss: Why It’s Stupid. Or Mostly Annoying.

23 Sep

I’ve been really debating on the whole “diving right in” idea for this blog. You know, just start throwing recipes and ideas at you at lightning speed and lose you half way through a post on why pie crusts are important. Then while cleaning my house today, I really thought of something. We’ve got to slow this down. I mean, let’s be real for a minute. Do you just wake up one day and think, YES I AM GOING TO CHANGE EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE! RIGHT NOW!

Uh… No. Not really. I mean, some people do, but then again I call BS on that. You can wake up and decide that you’re ready for a life change, but you don’t immediately start making it happen the second your feet hit the floor. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

Here’s the realistic aspect of this, yes, you woke up and decided you wanted a change. However, walking into your kitchen and realizing you have nothing proper to eat or get you through your day is a little defeating. Also, not having a planned exercise routine also throws a wrench into the whole DO IT RIGHT NOW.

We are a society of instant gratification. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t use Google 50,000 times a day?

So when something like eating better, balancing your lifestyle, changing that lifestyle and then throwing exercise into that whole mix, we expect results the next day. We expect to immediately feel better, feel lighter and suddenly be able to wear that little black dress.

It isn’t going to happen. I wish I could sit here and sell you something amazing that works like that, just to make you all feel a little better on the inside. But I can’t lie to you. That would be doing you all an even bigger disservice.

I’m here to be real, to be supportive and to create a discussion on how this can work by still living your life. Really! I know it can be done, I’ve seen it.

Quick story: My Aunt Sue is one of my heroes. (She’s actually my aunt in law, but who’s keeping track?) She started her own successful business from the ground, works like a machine, is an incredible mother to three adorable children and has been happily married for over twenty years to awesome Uncle Len. She’s my rock when I feel disheartened, like I can’t do it or disappointed in myself. Aunt Sue has lost more than sixty pounds, and worked her ass off to get there. Literally. Did she starve herself? No. Did she do some crazy diet that’s widely popular on TV? No. She counted her calories, watched her portions and works out like a beast. Still. It’s amazing how she’s kept off the weight, ran a 5K and still doesn’t give up on her work outs. When I see all that she’s accomplished and her own personal determination, it reminds me that it CAN be done. You don’t have to starve yourself, deprive yourself or make your life miserably crazy to become healthy. (I use the word healthy because “thin” isn’t the goal. “Thin” can connote negativity, or unrealistic goals, when in reality, we all just need to be healthy!)

Self control was a huge benefactor in my aunt’s success in weight loss. If she wanted ice cream, she had a (SINGLE) serving size. Was it a lot of work and dedication? Yes. Did it happen over night? No. But the results are long lasting, and the first time I saw her in a little black dress for an event with one of her clients… It was indescribably incredible. The expression on her face was priceless and amazing. It only makes me want to know how it feels, because she did this for no one else but herself.

Take a lesson from Aunt Sue, and make this change all about you. Not about your husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, kids, friends, family… No. No one else but you. Once you start to put yourself first when it comes to bettering yourself, you’re going to start feeling better. It’s the first result you’ll see, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like that sensation of control.

So take a moment and just stop. Create a spark people account and begin to educate yourself about why it’s important to know what you’re eating. We’ll do this together, I promise. But I do have to say… we are going to have to get off the couch for this. I know, I hate working out just as much as the next girl, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling we’re all going to like the results if we stick to it.

Somedays you’ll wake up hating that exercise video, or your workout clothes. Hell, you’re going to hate that salad sitting in front of you, too. It’ll be worth it.

Something that my mother in law always says to keep me motivated at the right times is, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”.

She’s totally right, and I love it when she reminds me of that quote because it keeps my head on straight… Or at least harbors away that desire for a second piece of pizza.

However, I’m going to make that quote my own for a moment, “Nothing is going to taste as good as being healthy will feel”.

So before I start getting into cooking, how-to’s and all that fun stuff… This change is something that I want ease into. I want you to ease into it, too. Sometimes people have to go all out, balls to the wall just to get it done, but I’ve tried and failed this whole weight loss thing so many times… This new approach is going to be something I think, will be most beneficial.

One day at a time, one work out at a time and one meal at a time. This change is going to be amazing, and totally worth your weight loss in gold.

Make today the day you check out SparkPeople, write some short term and long term goals for yourself.

Plan, plan, plan! Make a grocery list and plan your meals out for the next five days. Set yourself up for success, so when you’ve got all your aces in places, then you begin to change all the while having complete control yourself.

That’s my advice for today, so start there and get your own ball rolling. I know mine is!

Cheers to healthy and taking back control!
Aly

If you’d like to follow me on www.sparkpeople.com, my user name is alynpond. Friend me there, too!

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