Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"No Gluten Ingredients" @ Trader Joe's

Confession: I love Trader Joe's. I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's. If I could, I would marry it.

OK, maybe I wouldn't marry it, but I think it is one of the best grocers in L.A. because of its wide variety of unique, well-priced items.

And today I fell even more in love with Trader Joe's. The market has for some time published a list of all of the items its produces that do not contain gluten. Today, however, I noticed that it now also marks such items with the "G" symbol to the left, which also includes the text "No Gluten Ingredients Used" along with it.

A warning: "No Gluten Ingredients Used" does not mean that the product was made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. If you have a severe allergy/intolerance then you should eat at your own risk. Personally I have no problem eating foods that are not made in facilities that also produce wheat items.

Today I picked up chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, Dark Chocolate Mocha Crunch Squares, and pineapple salsa for stir fries, all with no gluten ingredients used.


Trader Joe's L.A. Locations

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Present

When I first started this blog I joined Twitter (follow me here!) to try and get the word out about it. Luckily, I was not alone in navigating the website as I had a great guide in Christine Harding, a fellow 1L at USC Law. Coincidentally, Christine's brother and father are both Celiacs and live in Orange County, so my blog was particularly useful to them.

Yesterday Christine asked me if I loved chocolate peanut butter cookies. Of course I said "YES!" and she drew out three homemade gluten free peanut butter bites. They were absolutely delicious! Christine sent me the recipe and I've included it below.


Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian
Whole Foods Market

1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Beat together egg, sugar, baking soda and vanilla in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand held mixer. Beat in the peanut butter. Stir in chocolate chips if using.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, pressing lightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly set. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Nutrition Info:
Per serving (3 cookies/42g-wt): 200 calories (110 from fat), 12g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 6g protein, 19g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 16g sugar), 20mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium

Monday, February 23, 2009

There's Always Time for a Milkshake

I've mentioned before that I am a sucker for treats. Give me a bag of Peanut M & Ms (as my sister recently did for Valentine's Day -- thanks Alyssa!) and I'm happy as a clam. I moved out to L.A. in August and in the beginning of my time here I was going out all over the city. I was spotted in Downtown at The Standard, Venice at a friend's housewarming party, Newport Beach at The Arches, and West Hollywood. I'm looking forward to moving out of downtown and getting close to the bar strip on Santa Monica Boulevard, and my craving for milkshakes is one of the main reasons...

One of the first nights I went out in West Hollywood I met up with college friends at Fiesta Cantina. We imbibed in a bit too much "fiesta" and naturally had the late-night munchies when we left the bar. Lucky for us, Millions of Milkshakes had just opened up down the street. Frankly at first I was repelled by the milkshakes. It was inconveivable to me why anybody would order a milkshake with gummy bears, Nutella, and Peanut M & Ms mixed in.

Six months later, I found myself drawn back to the land of milkshakes after having my fill of Robeks. I recently went back, albeit not after a night of drinking. No, instead it was after an exhausting day on Robertson (the clothes won't buy themselves!) with a friend visiting from New York. I had to try and show him a little bit of L.A. flavor and I thought it best to take him to Millions of Milkshakes. The moment we walked in we were greeted to blaring Britney Spears singing about the paparazzi. The menu was a bit overwhelming at first, but when I set my eyes on the options displayed a la Pinkberry I knew what I wanted. I ordered a Soy ice cream base with Peanut M & Ms, Nutella, and gummy bears as "toppings." Yes, I know, exactly what I said I didn't want above, but I decided to just go for it. My friend only went halfway crazy and ordered a yogurt base with banana and Peanut M & Ms as toppings.

In spite of the Miley Cyrus playing in the background (this place is one of her favorite stops), we waited excitedly for our drinks. When they were served up, we were not dissapointed. The gummy bears were not as chopped up as they could have been, but my milkshake was still drinkable. My friend's was delicious (and probably more healthy!).

The best part is -- the milkshakes are entirely GF! The staff was very helpful in showing me the ingredients of the Soy ice cream used to verify that it was gluten free. In WeHo and looking for a late night GF snack? Millions of Milkshakes is your spot.

Millions of Milkshakes
8910 Santa Monica Blvd,
West Hollywood, CA 90069 (Map)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can Tea Contain Gluten?

In a word: Yes.

I know it sounds crazy, but there have been plenty of times when I drank tea and later felt gluten sickness. That was in the early days of my Celiac diagnosis and since then I'd like to think I have become much more savvy in my gluten free ways.

As a law student, I need to be soothed quite frequently. Between the overwhelming reading and the minutely detailed writing assignments, sometimes I just need a break. My friend Elien taught me the values of tea in college. I can't begin to count the number of times that I would go over to her apartment to eat tea and rice cakes while musing over the intricacies of life. I miss those nights...

But anyway, even though I've left college and the East Coast behind, Elien's lessons are still with me out here in L.A. My favorite tea brand is The Republic of Tea, perhaps because ALL of their teas are gluten free! Personally I'm a fan of their line of "Be Well Red Teas" which are caffeine free. There is a complete line of them, including my favorites "Get Clean," "Get Relief," and "Get Gorgeous."

Celestial Seasonings is another great choice for Celiacs, as they clearly mark on each box of tea whether or not it is Gluten Free. Their website also labels every gluten free tea.

Maybe the my favorite tea doesn't really help you "Get Gorgeous," but I do know that it is a great, gluten free way to soothe yourself after a stressful day.

Celestial Seasonings is available at most supermarkets (Ralph's, Gelson's, etc.); The Republic of Tea is normally available in Whole Foods and other similar markets.

Oprah's Favorite Burger!

My friend Jon came into town to visit me this past weekend and I had a great time showing him around. He had been to L.A. before but had never been east of La Brea (a crime!) and since I live downtown he was able to see a whole new side to the city. We hiked to the Hollywood sign (beautiful!), walked all over Robertson and Melrose to see the trendy shops, and walked along the beach for a long time. It was a really nice relaxing weekend where I didn't think about law school once-- I think that was the best part!

Of course eating was a big priority. Jon is a foodie to the max and so I knew I had to create a list of places for us to go during his brief stint in L.A. The Counter was the very first place I took him and it was such a big hit that he demanded to go back! We met our friend Marina from college for dinner at The Counter in Santa Monica; there are also locations scattered throughout the country. In February 2006, Oprah named The Counter as her favorite burger shop

The Counter is unique because of its menu. When you walk in you are given a clipboard with the menu and you build your own plate. You can opt for chicken, vegan veggie, beef, or turkey patties that can be served on buns or a bed of lettuce or mixed greens. You choose what you want on your patty -- I usually go with roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, avocado, and hard boiled eggs. You can also choose the dressing!

The restaurant prides itself on its fresh ingredients and the abundant possibilities on the menu. The restaurant is also relatively cheap; it's very easy to spend $15 and still be completely satisfied with your meal!

The website even includes a section for people with allergies! Check it out here. I forgot to bring my printout of the allergen link and my waitress printed it out for me. Note that a check mark indicates that it IS gluten free.

I recommend the fifty-fifty to start -- it's a mix of the restaurant's delicious sweet potato fries and regular fries and is completely GF!

The Counter
2901 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405 (map)

Gwyneth Paltrow's GF Detox Diet

The gluten free lifestyle is no stranger to celebrities. The most vocal Celiac activist is beamed into your home 5 days a week on "The View." Elisabeth Hasselbeck (below right), the conservative counterpoint to the liberal women sitting around the half-table, is a Celiac and has spoken frequently about her favorite GF snacks.

The newest celebrity to go on a gluten free detox diet is Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth adopted the GF diet on the advice of her doctor after gaining weight during the holiday season.

Gwyneth's website, GOOP, has an entire section dedicated to her Detox.

I'm not sure whether Gwyneth's gluten free detox will create a positive or negative impact on the Celiac community. It may hinder people truly offended by gluten's presence in their diet. Restaurants may not be quite as careful if they read articles about Gwyneth's GF detox and assume that people with such "dietary restrictions" are merely on a detox.

I suppose there is no such thing as bad publicity, right? Although the rumors about Gwyneth's marriage to Coldplay's lead singer Chris Martin may not be good publicity...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

GF On The Go

Depending on where you are going, traveling can present a problem to us Celiacs. Luckily, the makers of ThinkThin bars have created delicious snack bars that are also gluten free!

I first found out about these bars way back in the old days, when they still were designed to look like a body builder's delight.

Now, they are have a tres chic design that goes well with everything.  All of the ThinkThin bars are clearly marked as to whether they are gluten free -- my favorites are the Brownie Crunch and White Chocolate Chip. As a grad student I'm often packing a lunch -- I have a full day of classes every day and don't have time to get home to make my own lunch. ThinkThin bars are a great protein-packed substitute when I don't have time to pack a lunch.

I've also used the bars when traveling. I lived in Spain for close to 8 months and practically packed an entire suitcase full of these bars! They were wonderful to bring along with me, as I never knew what kind of food issues I was going to run into while traveling through Europe, particularly when I couldn't speak the language of a country I was visiting. I remember these bars being quite the lifesaver as my friends and I rode a 4 hour bus between Mararkesh and Essaouira in Morocco in the middle of the June heat.

According to US Weekly, Madonna is reportedly a fan of ThinkThin bars -- and if the Queen enjoys them, how can they not be amazing?

 Check out the company's ThinkOrganic line for a nut-and-fruit based bar.  The company also makes a special edition thinkThin Pink protein bar.  The proceeds from the thinkThin Pink sales go to support research for women's cancer research and education. 

So if you are ever on the go, or need something to pack into your bag to take to work, ThinkProducts are a great gluten free go to snack.

Order Directly from the website!
On Sale At: Ralph's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's.