Saturday, September 28, 2013

Glutino's Cinnamon Bagel Chips

YUM! That’s the best way to sum up. Glutino’s Bagel Chips. They come in 3 flavors, plain, garlic Parmesan and Cinnamon Sugar. I LOVE the cinnamon Sugar ones. I’m not even entirely true… Though I do love things made with cinnamon, this could be why. Rudi’s cinnamon raisin bread, Glutino cinnamon apple toaster pastries, I use to love the cinnamon bagels from Panera.. Ok so there is a theme. 
Taste wise they are very similar to full size bagel chips you can buy in the deli section of the grocery store. But in true gluten free style, they are mini. Take your hand, form a circle with your index finger and thumb, that’s about the average size of a bagel chip in the box. They are crispy, so watch out if you have sensitive teeth; the first bite is a douse.
Taste wise, I felt the garlic parmesan ones were lacking in overall flavor, I was really hoping for more of a punch of taste and flavor.  I haven’t tried the plain ones, but I’m thinking those would rock with some cream cheese on them, and maybe help soften them up a bit! The cinnamon sugar ones have the most flavor, some of them are almost entirely doused in sugar.
The back of the box gives a serving size of 7 chips. HA! I don’t think I’ve even sat down and eaten just 7 chips. I’m not sure I could refrain myself to just 7 chips at a time. I think of Pringles, “Once you pop, you just can’t stop” that’s how the bagel chips are for me. On the back they also have a couple dip recipes that go with the flavor, so the cinnamon sugar ones have 2 sweet dip suggestions. I keep the dip recipes for my collection of dips to make for potluck parties and the holidays! Any of the recipes would go great with glutino pretzels as well! 
My favorite way to eat them, for breakfast with my coffee, which is probably why I now want to dunk them in cream cheese to eat them like a regular bagel!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lindy's Landing Gluten Free in Wauconda

I talked my boyfriend in to checking out The Worlds LargestCorn Maze, up at Richardson Farms, in Spring Grove, IL. I had been there several years back, I think 2007 was the last time I was there, they have so much to do up there, and you can do the corn maze at night! In his witty ways the best comment of the night was "this is fun, thank goodness it's a corn maze and not a wheat maze!"

I talked him into Friday night we’ll drive up there, and check it out, but we’ll want to eat before we go. I decided to check out Find me Gluten Free to see if there was anything up Rand Rd, North of Deer Park worth checking out, or else we’d just eat at Deer Park. (Biaggi’s, Chili’s, Chipotle, Red Robin, we’d have a few choices there.)
I found Lindy’s Landing and read the reviews. The first said they did have a gluten free bun, but it was horrible, don’t try it… the 2nd said they had a new bun, and it was good, try it. What ultimately sold me was the description of their award winning hamburger, the Ham-Dogger. It’s a burger stuffed with all the Chicago hotdog toppings, and topped with hot dog bacon and cheddar cheese. Plus it was available on a gluten free bun!?!! My mind was set; it was time to get adventurous.

Their menu is super cute, it’s a little newspaper with all the items that are gluten free marked with a symbol next to them stating no wheat, as well as all the vegetarian options were marked. They had a great listing of fresh fish and steak dishes, as well as burgers and sandwiches that could be prepared on a gluten free bun. Their gluten free bun has poppy seeds on top. There were some good looking options on the menu, but I had to stick with the Ham-dogger. My curiosity was peaked so I had to bite. My boyfriend got a burger as well, he went with a non-gf bun so we could make sure mine showed up on a different looking bun. (We try and come up with as many tricks or safe guards as we can when ordering out to try and make sure I my meal comes out correct.) Burgers come with a variety of options on the side, Fries, Fruit, pasta salad, Cole slaw, or cottage cheese. I love options, for sides, cottage cheese it was for me!

It was really tasty, and the bun held together Very Well while eating it, it didn’t crumble into a huge mess on my plate, the table, my lap… well you know gluten free buns are not the easiest thing in the world to eat. I notice I tend to pick up the burger, and not put it down out of fear it will crumble all over the place and I’ll be frustrated with my meal. The Ham-dogger itself was tasty, it had all the hot dog topping, and hotdog taste I expected. My only suggestion to them would be to use a sharper cheddar cheese, the hamburger had so much taste itself the cheese was lost in it, and didn’t stand out.
I give them 3 dragonflies, though they have a shared kitchen space, they point it out. Their staff is gluten free aware, and they had a lot of options (pending you like fish) on the menu. But I do worry if it gets super busy how well they handle the gluten free due to the small space.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Da Luciano's

Da Luciano's is another family owned restaurant in River Grove, a suburb of Chicago. Started by the Libreri family from Caccamo, Sicily in 2003, Da Luciano's is a gluten free staple in Chicago, as well as a local hot spot for Italian food. They had found out in 2002 that four of the seven children in the family had celiac disease. In an effort to make sure their children had good tasting Italian food they set out to find a good recipe for bread and pasta. When their restaurant opened the following year they had a gluten free menu as well.

In Chicagoland it seems anyone who has been gluten intolerant for a while knows about Da Luciano's, you can't sit down and talk about dinning out without mentioning them. Like other places I've dined, you'll notice that the gluten free meals are plated differently then regular meals. The gluten free plates are large round plates while the rest of the meals are on a oval shaped plate. Great to help identify the meals for servers, and make the diners more confident as well.

I had been gluten free for about 5 months when I finally got introduced to Da Luciano's, and my first gluten free love began (well maybe it was two of my gluten free loves began). I was there on a date, with my now boyfriend. I was so excited to see all the options, but he was just as excited to find a place with so many great options.

Over the next couple months I found reasons to have my family, and other friends choose to go there for dinner. None of them turn down a reason to go to Da Luciano's for dinner. They had just opened up their little patio out back, it's super cute, and a little romantic.

Recently we had a dinner party of 18 dine there for my birthday. Our group had 2 gluten free diners, one being a friend of mine who is newly gluten free. She was highly impressed with the meal, she was so excited that the food tasted so similar to what she already ate, and was so good. One of my other friends who is Italian said the regular meal was to her "family" standard, and that the only difference with the gluten free pasta was that it was prepared more Al Dente than hers, but she couldn't taste a difference. Her husband thought the gluten free menu was a "special extension" of the normal menu, he was impressed with the selection for gluten free.

Chicken Parmesan
The chicken Parmesan was a meal for 3 days for me! (The GF calamari and Mozzarella wedges as the appetizers probably didn't help) They even have Tiramisu and canoli's gluten free! You can't go wrong with a trip there.  

They get my highest rating, they rank as about as safe as you can get when dinning out. They are super diligent with their foods and take it seriously in making sure your meal is prepared and served correctly.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

PF Changs & Pei Wei Gluten Free Chinese

P.F. Changs a national chain of Chinese restaurants, as well as their smaller, quicker service chain Pei Wei both offer gluten free options for Chinese food. I've heard some very mixed reviews from people saying they've gotten sick after eating at P.F. Changs. My experiences I've never had an issue with any meals at P.F. Changs.
Just about the time I was diagnosed with Celiac disease a Pei Wei opened about 1 mile from my house. It's been fabulous! I know I can go for a quick GF meal, though Pei Wei's menu is limited compared to P.F. Changs, it's still really tasty!

I'll start with Pei Wei. Really they have 2 options with 2 proteins, in 2 styles, so it does turn into a bigger menu for entree's, but you have to be in the mood for shrimp or chicken. They also have 2 appetizers, I think they must like the #2. I LOVE their edamame. I never ate edamame prior to being gluten free, now I'm addicted. They also have Chicken Vietnamese Rolls which could be a small meal on their own, they are tasty, and come with a good sauce too. Do make sure to order emphasizing Gluten Free, as both options are available on the regular menu. 

They have a sweet and sour or a spicy sauce, with either chicken or shrimp (4 options right there). You can also get each option made into a salad instead of getting rice with it. (There you get 6 options!) Or you can get really wild and crazy and get a combo of both shrimp and chicken with each sauce. :) My favorite is the Spicy Shrimp. I've never gotten sick from any meal at Pei Wei, but I have been very explicit with making sure they understand it needs to be prepared gluten free, and when they have brought out a plate and not said "Gluten free...." before placing it down I request it be remade to be certain. The location I visit is often very busy so I get a bit worried that something could be made wrong, or delivered to the wrong table. When you carry out, all items are packaged and labeled gluten free, as well as giving to-go packets of San J Tamari Soy Sauce! (I Never leave home without a packet in my purse.)

P.F. Changs, Their parent company does a fairly extensive gluten free menu. Theirs covers all proteins and a bunch of different sauces, and fried rice.They will also bring out gluten free Tamari Soy Sauce for your meal as well as their pot sticker sauce, which is gluten free.

I loved P.F. Chang's prior to being gluten free, so this was a nice treat to keep in the "normal places we can go with friends" category. They are pretty awesome in my book, all gluten free meals come out plated differently than regularly prepared meals. All gluten free meals comes out on a round plate that says P.F. Chang's around the outside. They will also take your order on a bright colored ticket to signal the chef that it's an allergy situation. I like places that help add steps in to make sure the correct dish is delivered to the right place. The gluten free is in the same menu, so you don't need a separate menu to order from, plus they have appetizers and desserts in addition to main dishes!

All and All I give them 4 dragonflies, I've had quite a few meals here, and none of them have turned out bad for me. Though I have heard stories of others who can't handle eating there, most of them have deduced they have another allergy or food sensitivity that causes them to get sick.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trattoria 225

Trattoria 225 is in the Arts district of Oak Park on Harrison St. offers vegan and gluten free old world style Italian dishes. Their menu includes a multitude of dishes including pizzas made in an wood burning pizza oven. They believe in using local and organic products as much as they can.

The menu has asterisk's to the left of the items that they are able to make gluten free.(which is most of the menu, including pizza's) They even offer 2 gluten free beers on their drink list. Their wine list is fabulous, and priced very affordably.

I love places that have appetizers that are gluten free, and a good selection of them. Again (our second visit) we had choices, and had to debate what to get for an appetizer. I miss having that many options, you have to figure out what you want to try. We got the prosuto wrapped mozzarella w/pesto sauce. I could have eaten a full meal of this and been happy.

If you are dinning on the weekend, I would recommend making a reservation, since this area can get pretty busy with the art galleries when the weather is nice. Their weekly specials are listed on Facebook, and if you join their email listing, they will email them to you the week before.

What I really enjoy when I dine here is the exotic art that is hanging on the walls. They have spaces for local artists to display their works of art, that are for sale. So you can always see something different when you go in there. Which gives the place so much character. The staff is very knowlegable about gluten free.

Overall dinning I give them a rating of 4 dragonflies. There is always a risk of cross contamination, but their dedication for food, and the knowledge of the staff makes me feel safe eating here, they will even present the meal to you stating it's gluten free.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jimmy Johns, Quick and Easy Gluten Free

Jimmy John's a Midwestern favorite for submarine sandwiches started out in Charleston, IL, in 1983. Their headquarters are now located in Campaign, IL. They were really popular around the college campus scene when I was in college in the early 2000's. All the small college towns in IL had a Jimmy John's. I was excited when I got back to Chicagoland, that they had expanded up here as well. 

Now in my GF life they can be a total quick life saver meal. They do an Unwich which is a sandwich that uses large lettuce leafs to wrap your meat and veggies, instead of bread.  

When Ordering I always ask them to make mine on the same paper when moving it down the line, and ask the sandwich maker to change their gloves before working on mine. They always oblige and understand it's for a gluten intolerance. One thing to note is when asked their corporate headquarters say to avoid the Beef and Cheese when ordering gluten free. That's no problem for me, I always get one of their turkey unwiches, No Mayo (same mayo use on the bread), extra veggies for extra filling. Their chips are also gluten free, so you can grab a bag to help fill you up if the unwich isn't enough for your meal. I have learned you can get mayo packets on the side, so if you miss mayo when you're ordering out, you're set! Ladies can even keep one in their purse for emergency condiment additions when out and about, seriously I keep San J Tamari packets in my purse. 
I love their random humor on the walls.
With JJ's being so common in Chicagoland these days we didn't even think that they weren't a completely national chain. While in Los Angles last year we were trying to find a quick meal, other than Chipotle (my bestie isn't a Chipotle fan) we opted to find a JJ's.... Not so much.... She had to deal with Chipotle. :) 

JJ's is on my safe to visit list that we use when going to Ravinia for a concert, packing a lunch for a bike ride, or a quick meal before heading to a party. Their slogan "subs so fast you'll freak" - They make them fast, and their quick to eat. They get 3 dragonflies, from me, There is a cross contamination risk when making things quickly you have to make sure they are aware to take extra care with your sandwich. Also I don't understand how their cheese contains gluten... But that's a topic for another day.