|March 29, 2016|
This past weekend we visited our relatives in Connecticut for an Easter Celebration. On the way, we stopped at Stop and Shop to get some coffee and snacks for the trip. For us, stopping at a supermarket was a necessity because you can't get a gluten-free snack at a regular Dunkin Donuts.
That brings up today Gluten free topic: Always be prepared when traveling.
Having Celiac doesn't always limit your food choices, but it can limit on where you can eat. There are lots of celiac safe substitutes for many common foods. However, they aren't available everywhere. You need to plan safe snacks in advance.
Whether it's taking an early morning flight or spending a couple of hours in the car, you need to think about food options that will be available. Will you need to bring food and will there be any gluten free options where you are going.
We have found that it’s best to play it safe and have a box of gluten-free Mac & cheese (Annies is great!). Just in case that there wasn't any good gluten free options. Lucky for us, they had gluten free Mac and Cheese and a lot of other naturally gluten free options.
Everyone was happy and had a great time. They even had some gluten free cupcakes made, but my daughter was too full to eat anymore.
In addition, the Wow Baking Company' Gluten-free Chocolate Chip cookies and fruit snacks were the perfect tag along for the trip. They help fix those instant hunger cravings during any long road trip.
It can be tricky when catching a 6am flight out of Logan International Airport. We have to arrive super early, which usually means no breakfast at home.
Many of the restaurants don't open super early at Logan Airport. The few restaurants that are open don't have any gluten-free options. Good luck trying to find something to eat at Dunkin Donuts that doesn't contain gluten.
For this, we have found that the fruit snacks and a couple of gluten free breakfast bars do the trick.
Jet Blue has a gluten free snack option on board, so we can use that if she is hungry mid-flight. All of their chips that they have are also gluten free.
It helps to plan ahead and always be thinking of creative ways to feed the hungry needs. Simply stopping at McDonald's, Burger King or Dunkin Donuts is not an option. It doesn't hurt to pack a snack, as it could save lots of time in the event that the trip takes longer than planned.
|March 22, 2016|
The good thing about the traditional American-Irish dinner (Corned Beef and Cabbage) is that it's gluten free. Yes, then corned beef and cabbage meal is gluten free - for the most part.
Last week we made our traditional Irish dinner in the crock pot. Basically, throw everything in putting a few cups of water set it on low and 12 hours later you have a wonderful meal. The meat is perfect, a simple cut of the meat and then it breaks apart with a fork.
The Food Network has a good version of the recipe. We just set up ours once and didn't touch it all day. This is perfect to make when your not at home, because after a few hours you can start smelling the meat - and it smells really good.
One thing that we always struggle with at the store is which cut to get. Typically you have two choices - Brisket or Uncured Flat Cut Brisket. We got the Brisket and it was really good. The only downside is that you do get a lot of fat on the regular brisket.
Some versions of the Irish Dinner may not be Celiac friendly because some restaurants may pour some Guinness in the pot to add flavor to the meat. We use to do this and found it was a good way to flavor up the meat.
|March 15, 2016|
I like to consider myself somewhat of a gluten free frozen pizza expert at this point. Kind of a silly title. But it's true, over the past year we have tasted almost every type of frozen pizza made for the East Coast market. We have found a clear winner - Freschetta Gluten Free Four Cheese Pizza.
The Four Cheese Pizza is great because you can put any topping that you want on it. You pizza is your canvas in tonight's dinner.
We cook our pizza using a pizza oven pan at 450 degrees. The pan makes the pizza have a bit more of a crispy taste than if we were to use a standard cookie sheet.
We usually make 2 Freschetta pizza's on Friday nights, and end up with some leftover to snack on over the weekend. So it's very handy to have two pizza oven Pans available - you can find them at most Super Stop and Shop and Wegman stores.
Freschetta now makes a single size portion Four Cheese Pizza and Pepperoni pizza! Whoa, this is huge! Now we can make a single serving size pizza for my five-year-old daughter, So now in between Macaroni and Cheese cravings she can have her favorite Four Cheese Pizza.
|March 8, 2016|
The Natick mall is a great place to go if your eating Gluten free. You have the option of getting a gluten free pizza at California Pizza Kitchen, pasta at the Cheesecake Factory or Gourmet Chinese food at P.F. Chan’s. There’s are a lot of choices for those that need to eat gluten-free.
Your not out of luck if your wondering around the mall looking for a gluten free snack. You should stop at Charlie Cupcakes. Located in the middle of the Natick Mall, where Crumbs bakery was, is one of New England's best cupcake company - Charlie Cupcakes.
On the top of their cupcake case is a small display of gluten free Cup Cakes. They are in a small dish, with a pudding stirred in with a cupcake. They actually looked better than the regular cupcakes. They currently cost $2.50 each, which seems reasonable to premium cupcake prices.
When you check out you'll also see some gluten free chocolate chip cookies. These are nice and big! There's two cookies per bag and certainly will help overcome any snack attack while shopping at the mall. The cookie bag cost $5 and look too good to pass up.
The cupcake was very good, and we'll certainly go back for more. The lady behind the counter told me that they get a fresh batch every Friday. I was disappointed that they didn't have any chocolate cupcakes, but perhaps those go really quick.
So now we know a great local place to get some gluten free dessert.
|March 1, 2016|
The past weekend I stopped at the Tennessee Real Bar-B-Q restaurant in Framingham. The restaurant is located in the Route 30 Mall on 341 Cochituate Road. As soon as you walk in you know you're not in Framingham anymore, the decor is very south and all you can smell is the fine Bar-B-Q.
I ordered the BBQ Memphis Ribs with three sides - French Fries, BBQ Baked Beans and Cucumber salad. I didn't have to wait too long for my order, I got my drink, found a seat and checked in using Swarm. A minute or so later they called my number and I was ready to enjoy my meal.
The food was scrumptious. I enjoyed the ribs and sides and pretty much ate everything on my plate. I don't eat ribs all the time, but these were juicy and tasty. The sides were 'ok' nothing too extraordinary. The ribs certainly seem to get a lot cooking attention.
While I didn't intentionally eat gluten free on this trip, for the most part, my meal was gluten free. The only thing that I needed to confirm was if the french fries were subject to any cross contamination. Even if they were, there were certainly plenty of other gluten free options to try.
The restaurant wasn't busy for a Saturday night. During my stay, I saw several take out orders being placed. On the way out, I noticed that other restaurants nearby were busy, such as Boston Market and Five Guys, so I was a bit sad to see Tennessee Bar-B-Q not all that busy. Hopefully, it was because people didn't have BBQ on their mind on a cold winter night.
There's nothing like a good Bar-B-Q meal to start thinking of summer.
|February 26, 2016|
If you do a search around the internet for instructions on scanning documents directly to Evernote on a Macintosh, you'll find that many are out of date. You may think it's no longer possible. Well it still is...and it's very easy to set up.
Here's my simple instructions on how to capture scan images and put them directly into Evernote using Image Capture version 6.7 (OS X El Capitan)
Scan file items will appear as individual notes in Evernote. Immediately after the scan, you will have an opportunity to make some notes. This is a good time to comment on why you scan the item.
Evernote recommends to use Color as the "Kind:" and to scan at 72 dpi resolution. (See the example screenshot)
If you have Evernote Premium, the text in the scan items will be searchable. This includes photos. This means if you have a photo with an inspirational quote, you can search for it.
Note: This is backward compatible, which means that if you upgrade to Premium today, anything that you already have in Evernote account will be searchable. Make sure to give Evernote some time to scan and index all your document and photos after you upgrade.
|February 23, 2016|
Did you know that someone proposed a new Emoji graphic for Gluten Free?
What's an Emoji you might ask? Well, it's those little graphics that you see in text messages and on Twitter. The most popular one is the smiley face, Slack has a display of frequently used Emoji:
The Unicode Consortium - the people that decide on what the emoji standards should be, is considering a request by Hiroyuki Komatsu for various food allergies. They proposal is for version 9.0 of the Unicode standards.
Hiroyuki Komatsu is a Google engineer and he put in the request with a hope that that people would use the Emoji allergies as shorthand expression. In his request, he points out that there are no viable alternatives to illustrate various known allergies.
If the community approves the recommendations this could be the next Emoji you will be seeing for Gluten Free:
Note: If the committee accepts the proposal, it could be some time before you see them adopted everyplace. Apple tends to implement new Emoji quickly into the iOS library.
If you would like to voice your opinion about these, the Unicode Consortium would like to hear from you. In addition, if your crazy into Emoji and have some cool ideas to add in the next version, submit your own proposal.
|February 16, 2016|
Yesterday we had a very good gluten-free lunch at the Chateau in Westboro. The Chateau is located 95 Turnpike Road (Route 9)in Westboro, MA. If you have any questions, feel free to call 508.366.5959 and they will be happy to assist you.
Owned and operated by the Nocera Family, the Westboro Chateau opened in 2007 and has been providing the tradition of Italian family dining, friendly service and quality food at reasonable prices for its customers.
The Chateau has a very good gluten free menu with a lot of options for lunch and dinner. Many of their popular dinner entrees are available in lunch size portions.
Once seated, the waitress came by noticed that we had a gluten-free menu and offered to bring gluten free bread to our table. This was a nice request that we rarely get at restaurants, as most places don't have any "freemium" appetizer options.
After we placed our order, a manager came by our table to inquire about our gluten free order. For this particular sitting, we told him that it was a preference and not an allergy.
The meal was great and we certainly will be visiting back again. The service was quick and we were able to leave within an hour after walking in.
We stopped by for lunch on President Day, a holiday for some local companies, and the restaurant was fairly quiet. I don't know if our experience is typical lunch hour, but it certainly worth going back again.
|February 9, 2016|
Check out princessjulianasmom.wordpress.com a great site that just launched with some creative ideas about going Gluten-free. While the site has been idol for a while, I got word that there I going to be adding content on a regular bases.
I really like the "Allergy Friendly Valentine" idea, it's perfect for classrooms. Here're some things already posted:
I find myself often thinking of things I would write in a blog so I decided it was time to start one. Finally, get some of this stuff out of my head and into the world. Could be products I like, recipes, mom stuff, situations that happen - oh the possibilities are endless. I just hope that someone, somewhere finds something on here useful or helpful. Happy reading!
|February 2, 2016|
If your looking for some good Gluten-free free chocolate ideas for your Valentine, you don't have to look far in Boston's Bay Bay. There are a couple of unique places to shop from.
tesuscher chocolatier is the place to go to get authentic Swiss Chocolate. All the chocolate is made in Switzerland and flown over so that Bostonians can enjoy some really good treat.
I stopped by last week and saw all types of creative flower gift boxes ready to be filled with whatever chocolate your valentine desires. Simply pick the chocolate you want, and they will create a basket for you.
They have a large selection of Gluten-free chocolate and the person working the store told me that they would let me know how it was made if there was any concern.
This is certainly the place to go if your looking for something way beyond the "traditional" box of chocolate that you would get at CVS or Walgreens.
This store is located on 230 Newbury St. About a 2 block walk from the Apple store on Boylston street.
LA Burdock is one of my favorite chocolate shops. They have the best hot chocolate in Boston. It taste very rich and creamy, almost like you are drinking pure chocolate. This is a far cry from Swiss Miss Chocolate and if that's the only hot chocolate you ever had, you need to come to LA Burdock.
You can take a break from shopping and enjoy your hot chocolate in their little cafe. On my last visit, I didn't see and Gluten-free snacks in the cafe. You can always get a chocolate bar and snack on that for a true chocolatey experience. Personally, I like to get some hot chocolate and take a walk around Copley Square.
There's lots of gift box options here, simply let the people know that your looking for Gluten-free chocolate boxes and they will point you to the right ones. You can also make your own box. Try something different and add some chocolate penguins to your box.
The store is located on Clarendon Street, between Boylston and Newbury. There is no parking around, the best way to get here is to take the Green line to Copley and walk down a block and a half.
Just across from Ring Road on Boylston Street is Max Brenner Chocolate, tasty chocolate place and a desert restaurant. Did you think that the Cheesecake Factory was the only desert restaurant in town?
Sad news is that it isn't Celiac friendly as per their website:
What allergens do your chocolates contain?
Our chocolates are produced in a manufacturing facility that also produces items containing peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, sesame, eggs, wheat and/or gluten. We recommend that individuals with sensitivities to any of these allergens do not consume our products.
|January 26, 2016|
This is the second year that the Girl Scouts of America are offering a Gluten Free cookie option to their cookie offering. You can find Toffee-tastic (buttery cookies with toffee bits) and Trios (made with real peanut butter, chocolate chips, and whole-grain oats) from most Girl Scout councils. Not all varieties are available in every market, so contact your local council to inquire about the cookies they're offering this season.
This past weekend a table was set up at the local Stop & Shop where they were selling all the classic flavors and they had the 'Trios' Gluten Free option. I thought it would be an opportunity to purchase the Gluten Free Trios and see if my 5-year-old daughter would like it. (it's the only Gluten Free flavor they had) The Gluten Free version cost just as much as the regular version - $5 for the 5oz bag.
Juliana was very excited when I brought the Girl Scout cookies home and couldn't wait to try it. After she tried one, she said it tasted yummy and gave it a thumbs up.
A few minutes later, she was hungry for some more cookies. I asked her if she wanted the Girl Scouts version and she said no she wanted the cookies in the bag in the cabinet. That bag was the 'Wow Baking Company' Gluten-free Chocolate Chip cookies.
Juliana really likes those cookies over the Girl Scout versions. I asked her why and her response was, "They just taste better." So while she initially said that she liked the Girls Scout version, she loved the 'Wow Baking Company' version.
I took a picture of the two cookies side by side with a quarter for a size reference. They are about the same size. When it comes to taste, the 'Wow Baking Company' Chocolate Chip cookie is much than the Girl Scout Trio version.
My 5 year old daughter recommends to get the 'Wow Baking Company' Chocolate Chip cookie and donate money to the Girl Scouts instead of buying their cookies.
I would agree with Juliana assessment if you're going to spend $5 on a bag of cookies, at least, get something that worth eating. I tried one of the cookies and could taste a difference in quality. Her feeling about the cookie wasn't that she didn't like Peanut Butter, it's because the other cookies tasted better.
Perhaps when Juliana is old enough the Girl Scouts will have some cookies that she will enjoy eating. I certainly hope that they make a thin mints version as I am sure she would like that.
|January 19, 2016|
This past Sunday we ate dinner at the CheeseCake factory in Natick. We arrived at 4 pm and we waited for a half hour to be seated. It wasn't too bad my daughter got to spend some quality time at the American Girl next door.
Our table server was very nice when we told him that we needed to eat Gluten-free. He told us that he would have the manager come over to answer some cross contamination concerns.
We wanted to know if the Gluten-free pasta cooked in a separate water than regular pasta. You can't assume that they do. We have learned that how they respond to 'basic' questions can tell you a lot about their understanding of eating gluten-free. The answer they give you a sense of how they do their best to avoid cross contamination.
The manager at the Natick Cheesecake factory had a very positive response and ensured us that the pasta would be cooked in a separate container than regular pasta. He didn't seem to rush and we seem to have his full attention while he was at our table.
Once our dinner arrived, we took a few bites of it and something didn't taste right. We ordered a gluten free Farfalle (with Chicken and Garlic) and Kids Pasta with white sauce. Perhaps the regular sauce used in the Farfalle has some flour base which makes the sauce creamier and tastes better. The Gluten-free sauce version wasn't all that good and the meal was a lost. My daughter did like the kids pasta, she had a few bites and said it was yummy.
The best part of going to the Cheesecake factory is the desert and thankfully the CheeseCake factory has one really good gluten free option - Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. We have had this in the past and it's really good. Nothing like eating pure chocolate as a dessert. I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for an extra rich chocolate desert.
Would we return? Maybe. It's not on the top ten places that we would return to. We have had better experiences with their burgers. The dessert were very good, and certainly worth going back to enjoy again.
|January 12, 2016|
This past weekend we had a couple of birthday parties and one of them was at Chucky E Cheese in Natick, Massachusetts. Going to kids birthday parties can be challenging since she has to eat gluten free. I checked out Chuck E Cheese website and was happy to see that they had a gluten free pizza. I wasn't sure that it would be available for birthday parties, so I brought along a slice of pizza and a cupcake from Whole Foods. (More on the Whole Foods experience later)
When we got to Chucky E Cheese, I informed the birthday boys family of my daughter needs and she informed the waitress that was assigned to them. They said there would be no problems getting the gluten free pizza.
After playing around for a while, it was time to eat. The waitress brought out the pizzas and then served my daughter an individual size pizza in an oven cooked bag. They could have taken the bag off in the kitchen but it was nice that Chucky E Cheese take extra care to prevent any cross contamination. It's something that we haven't seen in any place before. This is what the gluten free pizza looked like out of the bag.
The pizza was slightly burnt but my daughter loved it. She had her usual slice and was too excited to eat anymore, she just wanted to play.
When it came to eating cake, there was no gluten free option presented. After the birthday boy blew out the candles on the cake, my daughter wasn't given any gluten free option. I had to run back to the car and get the cupcake that I brought. I was nervous because Chucky E Cheese specifically said no outside food on their website. When I came back inside, the host at the door didn't say anything and simply welcome me back in.
Tip for Chucky E Cheese: In the future if someone orders a gluten free cake that its safe to assume that they will need a gluten free cake will be needed.
We had a lot of fun at Chucky E Cheese and it's nice to see that they now have gluten free options.
The night before we visited Whole Foods in Framingham to get some gluten free cupcakes. Apparently the store in Framingham only has them in the freezer section, they didn't have any 'fresh' gluten free cupcakes in the bakery section.
My daughter and I went to the frozen aisle to get the cupcake. Once we got it, she wanted to play with the price scanner nearby. She scanned the cupcake and I looked over to the shelf and notice that the price on the shelf was lower than the scanned price.
Instantly my previous grocery experience kicked in and I knew that because of the prince discrepancy the cupcakes would be free. That's the law in Massachusetts.
So I picked up one more thing and went the register. When the cashier scanned in the cup cake, I calmly pointed out to the cashier that the shelf price was 7.99 not the 9.99 scan price. The bagger, who I believe was the assistant night manager, went back and checked and confirm the price difference. The cashier then voided my cupcakes and I only had to pay for the one only thing.
I noticed that the assistant manager had pulled off the shelf tag so that no one else would encounter this price difference.
The moral of this story is that it doesn't hurt to once and a while use the aisle store scanners. You may discover somethings are not priced correctly and will be aware when you get to the register. Most people won't look at the price at the register, or take action and the store is counting on that.
|January 8, 2016|
If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?
Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.
Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.
Your Screen Capture on Steroids
The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.
That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.
Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.
The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.
I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.
Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.
|January 5, 2016|
This past weekend we ordered a Gluten Free birthday cake for my 5 year old from Gerardo's European Bakery, 22 Turnpike Road in Westborough Massachusetts. The cake came out really good:
Note: We had to provide the bakery with the Disney princess. We simply ordered them on Amazon, washed them and gave it to the bakery a couple of days before we schedule to pick up the cake.
They did a great job decorating the cake, and everyone enjoyed it. We didn't tell everyone that it was a Glueten Free cake, since some of the kids frown on having to eat Gluten Free. Nobody complained about the cake.
Normally we have a fancy cake from The Icing on the Cake in Newton, but now we have to have a Gluten Free cake. Maybe someday we'll be able to return to The Icing on the Cake.
In addition to the cake, we also got an assortment of Gluten Free pastries, just in case that everyone wasn't in the mood for a cake. They had a good selection of Gluten free pastries in the display case. It was a bit hard to see what was Gluten Free, but the lady behind the counter was able to point out which ones were Gluten Free.
The cake and pastries went very quickly and there was very little left over. The cookies and brownies were certainly a big hit with the kids!
If your in the Boston's MetroWest area and looking for a great place to get a Gluten Free child's birthday cake, we certainly recommend trying Gerardo's European Bakery.
Driving Tip: If your driving on Route 9 west bound (From Boston/Framingham) - don't listen to your GPS! You should take the 135 South exit off of Route 9 and drive under Route 9 and then take the on ramp to get back on Route 9 east bound. Gerardo's European Bakery will be first building you see when you get back on Route 9. (If you follow the way Waze wants you to go, you'll add about 5 minutes of extra driving time just to do a u-turn at the set of lights further down the road!)