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Ask For A Gluten-Free Menu

When I first started eating gluten-free, I never would have imagined I would live long enough to see gluten-free menus in a restaurant!  It is amazing how much the food landscape has changed in just the past few years.  Sure, I still wander into places where I know that they have no idea what I am talking about.  Several months ago I was at a conference, out of town, so really no other choice but to eat at the hotel restaurant.  I was thrilled to see GF items mentioned on their menu, but I had a question about something that I thought should have been GF but wasn’t labeled as such (a basic salad with chicken – I wanted to know if it as the chicken, the salad dressing, or what the heck had gluten in it).  When I asked the waitress, she gave me the look we all dread, kind of that cocker spaniel head tilt, and started talking about how she could bring me something that even she referred to as “faux chicken” which could only be some type of vegetarian thing?  I’m not really sure, I just know I ate very little at that lunch, just in case.

Many of the restaurants in the Charlotte area (where I am living) have finally come around and after one or two restaurants started with their GF menus, many have jumped on the bandwagon.  All good news for us!  I actually eat out very infrequently, but when I do, I still ask a lot of questions and advice everyone else to do the same.  A good restaurant that values your business won’t mind, either will a really professional waiter/waitress.  I have been surprised, on several occasions, when my waiter/waitress actually tells me of something I shouldn’t eat that I was tempted to try.  They always get the best tips!

I also know of a few restaurants that, although they don’t have a specific GF menu, will just help you find something that is suitable and will talk to the chef on your behalf.  Actually, any restaurant that really has a chef should be pretty safe if you can talk with them.  If it is one of those restaurants that serve meals that they buy from a distributor and just heat up for you….. I would make a different choice.

A big thank you to Charlotte Celiac Connection ( for putting together a very comprehensive list of local restaurants with GF menus (click here to see all the places you can eat!)  Another great resource for Charlotte and other areas is Gluten Free Registry who also has a long list of options (click here).

So ask for that GF menu!  Even if your favorite restaurant doesn’t have one, the more you ask, the more they will see the need and maybe by the next time you go in, they will.  If not, there are lots of other places to choose from.  Let’s support the businesses that are supporting us!

Zuma Organics

I’ve ordered a fabulous spice blend from Zuma Organics and, as a bonus, found out that they have a great website with yummy recipes!   I can tell you from experience that the Bag O’Chicken Lemon Love is a really easy, delicious dinner.  Click here for Five Easy Back to School Dinners.

BLT Salad


A perfect meal for this hot weather, and a joyous re-uniting of flavors for those of us who are not eating grains.  I have to admit, that a great BLT is something I do miss, so luckily my sister (Dr. Cary) came up with this easy solution to solve the cravings.

Fry up several slices of bacon (nitrate/nitrite free please!  Trader Joe’s has a great one).  While they are frying, put together your favorite salad ingredients – cool crunchy lettuce, tomato (of course) then add red onion or scallion, cucumber, even avocado is great.

After the bacon is cooked and crispy, let drain on paper towels, pour out leftover bacon grease from pan but don’t wipe out all the yummy parts on the bottom of the pan-that’s where all the flavor is.  Add about two tablespoons (or more if you like a lot of dressing) of mayonnaise, either homemade or straight from the jar and let it warm up and get all creamy. You will probably have to add some water to dilute it, so start with just a bit and add in as you need to thin it out.  As you stir it around, it will pick up all the bits of flavor left at the bottom of the pan.  This only takes a few moments, so just add your crunchy bacon to the top of your salad, pour on the warm dressing and toss.  It’s a BLT in a bowl!!!  Full of flavor and makes a great summertime dinner.

For those of you who really need that bit of bread, use your favorite gluten-free (or regular if you are still eating that) bread, chop it up in big chunks, and toast in a saute pan with some olive oil and salt until crisp and crunchy. This makes the best croutons and would be fabulous mixed in with your BLT salad.

No Excuse Healthy Meal Ideas

Look what I found at Trader Joe’s!

No more excuses for making a healthy meal!  These are great assortments of veggies that are already prepped for you and ready to go.  You can use them in stir-frys, soups, sautes, salad, all kinds of things.  Find them in the refrigerated veggie section and make something heathy (and easy!) today.

Tarragon Chicken Salad

At a recent meeting of our Art Group, we were all enjoying a cool and tasty Tarragon Chicken Salad to go along with the fabulous array of garden salad and veggies Tawny prepared for us.  As much as I’d like to take credit for the Chicken Salad recipe, I have to instead simply direct everyone that wants the recipe to click here, and thank Chef Emeril Lagasse for his inspiration.  It’s a great meal for these dog days of summer.

Portobello and Pesto Egg Scramble

Becky contributed this to our Healthy Breakfast ideas:

In a medium saute’ pan, cook 1 sliced portobello mushroom cap with 1/4 cup chopped red onion in 1 tsp. olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.  Whisk 4 egg whites with 1 tbls. water and add to pan.  Scramble mixture over medium heat until eggs are no longer runny.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before removing from heat, fold in !/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (or omit for a Healthy Priorities breakfast) and 1 tsp. prepared pesto.  Serve with 1 slice of toast (hopefully GF or grain free!)

Spaghetti Squash/Pesto/Sausage

Heather brought us a suggestion for a really quick and easy meal.  Cook and shred a spaghetti squash (roast in oven or steamer).  Saute your favorite chicken or turkey sausage, and toss with spaghetti squash and some store bought pesto.  Healthy and quick!