Friday, January 30, 2009

Miss Eating Chinese Food?

After I was first diagnosed in June 2005, I went through a period of shock.  Every day I was shocked by the foods which contained gluten.  Blue cheese?  Put me on the couch for hours in agony after I didn't check the label.  Tea?  I didn't think that a collection of herbs could make me feel so terrible.

What I was most surprised by was wheat in soy sauce.  I never would have thought to look at it; luckily an older and more experienced Celiac warned me of the dangers of eating Chinese food because of the soy sauce that is so prevalent in the food.  I was horrified -- I had loved Chinese cuisine before!  Admittedly it was something I was still new to in June '05 (previously being a very picky eater) but I was become a bigger fan with each Chinese meal.

But then I found out that P.F. Chang's had a gluten free menu.  Initially I was hesitant, not believing that a chain restaurant could successfully make delicious gluten free meals.  I was very wrong.

Every time I have eaten at P.F. Chang's I have been very happy with the quality of the gluten free food.  Every waiter has been unbelievably helpful, the restaurant always has gluten free soy sauce available, and the delicious are delectable.  I always go for the Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and then end with the flourless chocolate dome for dessert.  I'm also a fan of the ginger chicken with broccoli, the cantonese shrimp, the... who am I kidding, I love everything here!  The items on the gluten free menu are also on the normal menu, and when I've taken (read: forced) friends to eat at P.F.'s with me they don't notice a difference when they order from the gluten free menu.

Here in L.A. I've only been to the location on La Cienega at the Beverly Center.  It's a wonderful place to have dinner after a long day of shopping through the luxury stores!

 The best part is, all food is served family style so the more friends you take the more gluten free sampling you can do!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Starbucks Going Gluten Free?

I've been hearing a lot of buzz lately from other Celiacs-in-the-know that Starbucks has been testing the idea of offering gluten free sandwiches, pastries, and other items in their nationwide cafés.  This, along with news that the international coffee chain will stop continuously making decaf coffee past 12pm, presents some radical changes for the coffee conglomerate.

While here in L.A. the brand may not be as omnipresent as the ubiquitous Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, there are still enough Starbucks that if the chain were to begin carrying GF food it would be an enormous benefit to all of us gluten-sensitive folk here in L.A.  I know that here where I live in downtown L.A. there are about 15 Starbucks within walking distance.  Yes, you read that correctly -- walking in L.A. Crazy.

I remember when I was in London in January '07 a friend and I walked into a Starbucks.  I didn't expect to find anything other than a protein-laden packaged smoothie, but much to my surprise the Starbucks carried freshly made Starbucks brand gluten free sandwiches!  And they were delicious to boot!

It's up to each of us to go to our local L.A. Starbucks and fill out consumer questionnaires.  Filling just one out can make your voice heard and hopefully bring GF products to Starbucks across the country.

Uno Chicago Grill Introduces GF Pizzas Nationwide

Breaking News!  Uno Chicago Grill hast just issued a press release announcing that it will now offer gluten free pizza nationally!!!  Wow, this is really great.  I have yet to try it but will be going to an Uno spot as soon as possible to try their deep-dish GF pizza as soon as possible.

Unfortunately for us Angelenos, the closest Uno location is in San Diego.  Oh well, guess I'll just have to make a trip down to visit a college friend and indulge in some pizza...!


Z Pizza (Updated)

One of my readers tipped me onto the fact that ZPizza has a gluten free crust. I was really excited to hear that, considering I've just moved into an apartment not three blocks from a ZPizza.

I dutifully called to my local ZPizza and made sure they carried the gluten free crust (check your local shop!) and they did. I waited for a special occasion. Luckily, one presented itself. Two friends from high school drove cross country to LA from NY and stopped in to visit me for a night. We celebrated with two ZPizzas and a night out in WeHo.

The pizzas were amazing! We got a Provence and a Napoli, both on gluten free thin crusts. They were a bit pricey -- the two 10-inch pizzas came out to $26 total. Eek, I know, but for gluten free pizza I guess that is to be expected. ZPizza also has coupons on its website for members of its ZTribe organization (here). As a citizen of WeHo I got the coupons in my mailbox and will certainly be using them soon!

I think that the pizza at Deano's by The Grove (check out my previous post here) was marginally better and a little cheaper. However, since I live right down the street from ZPizza, I'll likely be visiting ZPizza more since I don't even have to drive. Just my 2 cents!

Note that gluten free pizzas are only available in the 10-inch size.

Of course, no trip to visit me here in L.A. would be complete without a visit to Millions of Milkshakes. While it may not have been the best idea at 2am, the three of us still had a good night and I think my visitors enjoyed LA!


UPDATE: ZPizza sent me a gift certificate recently so I went back to try the pizza again.  You can read my previous review above -- I liked the pizza, but was definitely turned off by the price.  It's great for a treat every once in blue moon, but with a gift certificate in hand (and a membership in zTribe) the pizza became instantly affordable.  I invited a friend over and we indulged in two pizzas -- a Casablanca and a Tuscan.  As before, I really enjoyed the flavors.  I think that I enjoyed the flavors more this time than I did last time, they really popped off the crust.  The price is still tough for me to justify; I was told that they are looking to introduce larger size gluten free crusts instead of only offering the crust in a 10-inch size.  I really do like ZPizza and think they offer a great product, but it isn't my favorite pizza.  I do appreciate their creative flavors -- I'm dying to try the Mexican.  It's infrequent that I find myself craving pizza, but it is great to know that ZPizza has various locations in L.A. and one right down the street from me.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
8869 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069 (Map)
CA Locations

Monday, January 26, 2009

Churros by the Beach

In Spain one of the national treats are delicious gluten-filled confections called churros.  I lived in Spain for 8 months during college, and it was always heart-wrenching to go with my friends to the late-night churros spot in central Madrid and watch them delve into a plate of warm fritters served with piping hot melted chocolate.  Lucky for us gluten free L.A. folk there is a fantastic new place serving up gluten free made-to-order churros in Santa Monica.

Xooro is a very modern cafe serving up amazing gluten free fritters, hot chocolate, espresso, and ice blended drinks only two blocks from Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.  The best part is that everything on the menu can be made gluten free.  I've ordered the Black & White, Jordan's Special, and the Triple Chocolate and loved every single bite of each.  The best part about Xooro is the helpful staff.  Whenever I visit Xooro the staff is attentive and answers all of my gluten related questions.  

So go take advantage of the spectacular L.A. weather by ordering some Xooro and bringing your fritters along for a walk on the Third Street Promenade, down to the Santa Monica Pier, or for a stroll on the beach.


125 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Rationalized Treats

My friends who know me well know that I like to rationalize what I eat, especially candy.  I'm a candy fiend.  I could eat candy all day, every day.  I made it a point after being diagnosed with Celiac to call candy companies to inquire about the possible gluten in their candy.  

I was relieved to find out that my favorite candy, Peanut M & Ms, is gluten free.  Let me count the ways I love peanut M & Ms:
1) Chocolaty goodness
2) Crunchy (I love crunchy foods)
3) Peanut filled
Whenever I indulge in a bag of Peanut M & Ms, I allow myself to rationalize it.  Well, it's not really a candy -- there's peanut in it!  And peanut has protein!  And antioxidants!  It has tons of health benefits!  It's not just junk food...!

My roommate recently introduced me to a more sophisticated gluten free treat: Trader Joe's chocolate dipped bananas.  Anybody who has been to Trader Joe's knows that it is the ultimate snack shop.  I remember buying Trader Joe's brand chicken tikki masala flavored potato chips during college.  Even though they ultimately backfired (potato chips should be plain in my opinion), from that day forward I respected Trader Joe's for its ingenuity in snack food.  Their gluten free chocolate covered bananas are absolute pure heaven and allow my irrational rationalization of gluten free treats to run wild.  Well of course this is healthy -- there's a nutritional banana inside.  Bananas are a good source of fiber! And potassium!  It helps fulfill my required fruit servings of the day!

      Woops, I almost forgot-- I live in L.A.!  I can't believe I almost left off part of the L.A. culture -- Pinkberry and its assorted competitors.  I'm a sucker for Pinkberry, even more now that they have taken the "Coffee" flavor off of their menu in lieu of the much more delicious Pomegranate.  I'm also partial to Red Mango's competing Pomegranate flavor, which is a bit less tart.  The best part is that Pinkberry and Red Mango are gluten free and have plenty of gluten free toppings available!
      Even though a one-episode character on "Sex and the City" dissed L.A.'s frozen yogurt ("Frozen yogurt is not culture" I believe was the quote), like it or not Pinkberry, Red Mango, and all of the others seem here to stay.  Pinkberry is just as easy to rationalize -- well there are active live cultures, so it helps in my digestion!  If I get fruit then it will be healthy!  This line of rationalization may have worked for some time, but after a recent lawsuit I think reality has set in: Pinkberry may not actually be healthy.  Oh well, I'll continue to fool myself for the time being.

Look for me to rationalize more GF treats soon...

Sunday, January 25, 2009


It's about time there was a blog dedicated to gluten free life in Los Angeles.  I've spent too long living vicariously through New York's CeliacChicks and their gluten free adventures in Manhattan.  The blog will be a list of restaurants, stores, and gluten free events in the L.A. area to help those afflicted with Celiac Disease (or those who are sensitive to gluten).  

Disclaimer:  Everybody has different levels of sensitivity to gluten.  Make sure to always read ingredient labels and eat at your own risk! I am not as sensitive as others (even though I do have Celiac Disease) and some of my restaurant or food recommendations may not work out perfectly for you. Please use appropriate caution!