I am having a frustrated gluten-free week. There doesn’t seem to be any easy to grab food out in the world that I can eat, except fruit and most dairy, which doesn’t fill me up as well. I have to carry snack bars with me because there are no friggin fast food places that skip the gluten. Taco Bell even puts wheat flour in their meat, so even though many of their bread products, being corn shells, are safe for me to eat, the things they stuff then with aren’t. (Not that Taco Bell is the bastion of fine dining but Come On!! Wheat in the meat?)
I have been hungry this week. Starving. All the time. I eat an apple, and then half an hour later I am listening to my tummy grumble again. I am Grumpy and stressed out too. I am working a lot and I can’t seem to pack enough fruit and granola bars to make up for the lack of available fast food options.My grumpiest evening was the night I ordered Chinese. I had worked hard all week and I wanted to relax, pour a glass of wine, and feed the children and myself something cooked by others. I called the very helpful staff at the take out placce and learned that all I could get were the lettuce wraps because everything else contained soy sauce, which contains gluten. Resigned I sat at home eating rice, tofu, and chicken in lettuce leaves longing for a hot dog on a bun Chicago style, or a thick and steaming slice of pizza, just the perfect mix of gooey and crisp.
This morning I woke up to discover that the kids had polished off my gluten free waffles and that my favorite Easter treat ever is loaded with the evil gluten demon. (Cadbury how could you?)
So I am grumpy. And hungry. And longing for bread.
Entering my second month of the gluten free diet and I am feeling pretty good about it. There are exceptions, I miss Dim Sum and really good pizza but I am getting better at finding gluten free choices at various restaurants. The past month I discovered a few places where being gf is not going to limit you to a side salad with vinegar and oil;
Hard Rock Cafe in the Denver Pavillions is a good place to eat GF because the staff will find out your options and then walk you though their whole menu with you so you know what you can and can not eat. Sadly they make their creme brulee with a malt based chocolate sauce and none of their other fancy desserts are gluten free, but they have a delicious walnut pear salad and they are anxious to see you happily fed.
Three Sisters, on 17th and Stout, makes all their own soups and the owner personally pointed out all the GF choices. They were all creamy and delish and very satisfying. Further he told me he is going to research GF issues more so he can learn to make even more GF choices available. I wouldn’t eat there if you are a celiac yet because they aren’t following all the quarrantine rules but they do intend to do so in the future so keep your eye out!
Watercourse foods on 17th and Emerson has delicious and delightful gluten free muffin, cookie, and cake offerings and a handful of things on the menu besides salads. However, their salads rock, so even if you don’t want their other main course offerings you are well set with their wide ranges of leafy lunches.
My best find this week was Panzano located at 1717 Champa. This upscale restaurant actually carries a full gluten free menu printed on it’s own fancy paper and offered in it’s own leather cover. The chef makes all her own sauces and avoids using rues whenever possible allowing her to stretch the majority of the restaurants meal choices into gf options. When you arrive at Panzano and ask for gluten free options they present you with a full menu containing several appetizers, a large choice of entrees, and a big salad selection. They also keep a tasty sorbet on hand for a gf dessert. The best part of this treasure is what they bring you with the menu. Instead of handing your dinner date the bread basket and glancing at you apologetically Panzano servers bring you your own basket of flaky gluten-free focaccia bread. Hot and delicious this rich bread is made on site and is the best tasting thing I have eaten all month. I ate so much of the bread that I had to take most of my dinner home. (They do sell the gf focaccia if you want to have it at home with a thick slice of cheese. It’s well worth the cost, $7 for a half pan roughly the size of a frozen pizza.)
I have been told that Pizza Calore offers gluten-free versions of each of their pizzas and that there is a gf italian restaurant really nearby. I haven’t had a chance to check these options out yet but they are on my to do list.
Moving onward in the gluten-free food reviews;
I have tried three kinds of gluten free bread so far. Udi’s is the best hands down and I strongly advise buying it. You can get it in the freezer section of Vitamin Cottage or check out their website for closer distributers. (I wouldn’t bother buying it from them online directly as it would cost about $20 a loaf to send it before it went off.) It makes a really good toast and a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich.
Ener-G Brown Rice bread on the other hand is revolting. It tastes like burnt rice. Their tapioca bread is moderately better, but only because it has no flavor, instead of a bad flavor. Skip this brand. Trust me.
One of the things I thought I might do as I wander my new gluten-free path is review the GF products I try and let you know whether or not you should bother spending the additional cash for something that may just taste like sawdust. To that end I present my first GF review:
Week three of the no gluten diet started with a day where I was tormented by a box of double chocolate donuts at the office. All day long when I went to get coffee I could smell pure chocolate rising out of the box. All day long I watched the number of gooey donuts decrease. All day long I felt irritated that most gooey chocolate treats are made with wheat and that even chocolate itself often has barely malt in it.
That irritation ended today.
Today I made Namaste gluten-free brownies and smothered them in Nutella.
I have eaten three so far, the kids love them, and my girlfriends enjoyed them too. They aren’t traditional brownies with chocolate frosting, but they are good enough to be something delicious on their own instead of a poor replacement!
So! Namaste gluten-free brownies are a go for this gluten free newbie and are good enough to offer to guests without apology for their lack of traditional ingredients.
Namaste Foods, Gluten Free Brownie Mix, 30-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)
*Disclosure: I am not paid by Namaste to review their brownie mix but the above link is my Amazon affiliate link so I will get a small kickback if you feel the sudden desire to order 6 bags of brownie mix from my website right now.