Gluten Free Italian at Bistango!

I was a regular customer at this charming Italian restaurant in Manhattan’s midtown east before ever hearing the term gluten. Now that I have Celiac disease and eat at restaurants that can accommodate my gluten free needs, Bistango is still one of my favorites. It is a small trattoria-style restaurant with a wonderful owner who knows his regulars and greets them with joy. One of the best things about Bistango is the ambiance.

You can make a reservation for large or small groups even though it’s not a huge restaurant. They are part of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program. While they used to have a gluten free menu, the owner recently changed the kitchen so that virtually anything on the menu can be adapted to be gluten free.

Everyone who dines at Bistango is served bruschetta. Tell any one of their staff that you are eating “gluten free” and you will be served your bruschetta on a piece of fresh radicchio. No awkward explanation is necessary, your needs are immediately accommodated. The food is wonderful but the environment and experience of eating gluten free at Bistango is truly unparalleled.

When you are eating gluten free it’s always a luxury to have more choices than you could possibly consume at one sitting. Broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic and their insalata tropicale with avocadoes, shaved romano and hearts of palm sated my palate this visit.

I am always amazed when I can order gluten free pasta at an Italian restaurant now. The only part of their menu that is truly off limits is the Pizza. They are happy to adjust any of their other dishes.

Some of my favorites are the Mussels with white wine sauce, the Salsiccia with Broccoli Rabe, Il Cantinone appetizer with prosciutto, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, Funghi Tre Follati – cremini, portabello and shiitake mushrooms sautéed with garlic and olive oil. And I haven’t even started on the pasta or main courses that will surely delight gluten and gluten free palates alike.

It’s times like these that I am glad I live in New York with it’s incredible options for delicious gluten free dining.

Bistango 415 3rd Ave, New York 10016 At 29th St Phone: 212-725-8484

Gluten Free Thanksgiving - Continued

Most of the sides I made to accompany our turkey are naturally gluten free. Steamed green beans with toasted almonds, green salad with cilantro dressing, raspberry apple jello, roasted root vegetables, cranberry relish and Graber olives.

If you have never tried Graber olives, I highly recommend them. They are quite pricey, but I love them as a special treat on holidays. The flavor is not as strong as a Kalamata olive; they have a subtle but not too salty flavor that delights the taste buds.

Gluten free dinner rolls have been one of my challenges. I finally found a close replica of the white rolls my family specializes in last year, but I couldn’t find all of the ingredients this year. If you have tried gluten free baking, you understand what kind of experimentation it takes to develop new recipes. I wasn’t willing to risk a new recipe with Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, I decided to make brazilian cheese rolls. I used the original Chebe mix. The directions call for 4oz of cheese. Hard cheeses such as a Parmigiano Reggiano work best. I like to use one cheese for 3oz and a colorful cheese more for aesthetics for the last 1oz. This time I chose Piave (my favorite hard cheese) and a hard black wax Gouda for color. They turned out well and left all of my gluten eating family asking for more.

Roasted root vegetables are an easy autumn or winter side. I tossed, peeled and cut parsnips with baby carrots, cubed butternut squash and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. Roast the mixture at 375-400 degrees for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the veggies.

Have fun playing with your gluten free side choices. Most people won't even notice the lack of gluten if you focus on fresh ingredients and flavorful herbs and spices.

My Quest For Gluten Free Stuffing

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in November two years ago. My first Thanksgiving was a struggle and stuffing was a dish that eluded me for a number of reasons. It’s not something that I eat on a regular basis so I didn’t feel as much urgency to figure it out. I also had never actually made homemade stuffing when I could have gluten – Stovetop tasted fine to me and Mrs. Cubbison’s was a special treat on holidays.

So two weeks into living life gluten free, I ordered the Gluten Free Pantry’s stuffing mix. While many of their products are fantastic, this stuffing mix was not one that I would recommend to anyone. I feared that I would never find a way to enjoy gluten free stuffing. Well, the next year rolled around and I tried two different recipes. One a “classic” stuffing and a second cornbread stuffing. To my delight and surprise, they both turned out well. This year I decided to try both recipes again. I wasn’t sure if either one had been a fluke, and I felt the pressure of cooking for 15 gluten-eating people weighing down upon me.

With multiple successes under my belt, I now feel confident that these recipes will work for others. Gluten free stuffing can be easy and just as delicious as your pre-Celiac days – and even more so if you were accustomed to the pre-packaged stuffings like me.

Classic Gluten Free Stuffing (adapted from Bobbie's recipe on Delphi Forums)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion chopped
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
¾-1 loaf Ener-G Tapioca Bread
Dried Thyme to taste (about 2 – 3 Tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. cottage cheese

Sauté the onion and mushrooms in the butter in a large saucepan until the onions are translucent. Tear up the slices of tapioca bread into ½ inch to 1 inch squares and stir into the mixture. Add the dried thyme, more than you think you need. Add the salt and pepper. Mix in the cottage cheese, transfer to a casserole dish. Bake covered for 15 min in a 375 degree oven. Remove foil and continue baking for 25-35 minutes.

I doubled this recipe and used a roasting pan from the beginning rather than transfer to a casserole dish this year. Also, do not let the taste of the Ener-G bread scare you off. This bread tastes like cardboard when it’s not in stuffing form. I wouldn’t use it for anything other than a weapon if I had not discovered that it made a beautiful gluten free stuffing.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing (adapted from Health Magazine)

1 loaf gluten free corn bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking
2 large chopped onions
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ - 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used Pacific Foods Brand)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

If time allows, leave corn bread out for a day to become stale. If not, bake in a roasting pan for 20 minutes at 300°, shaking pan occasionally.

Toast nuts in a large skillet over medium heat until aromatic (about 5 minutes), shaking pan occasionally; transfer to a bowl. Heat oil in pan; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add onion and next 5 ingredients to bowl with nuts. Stir the cornbread in last - the gluten free bread tends to crumble easier than regular cornbread. (Make sure that you have enough chicken broth to keep the mixture moist without getting the bread too soggy. Start with one cup in the mixture and pour the rest over the top after it is in the pan.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Place corn bread mixture in dish; cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and stuffing is thoroughly heated.

I used Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse Cornbread to save time on preparing my own. Some of their loaves crumble easily so you may need two to get enough cubes.
Leftovers of the classic stuffing can be stored in the fridge and will stand up to reheating. The cornbread stuffing may or may not – it will depend on the “sturdiness” of the gluten free bread you use. Enjoy!

Roasting A Gluten Free Turkey

Turkey seems like something that should naturally be gluten free. Ah, if only it were that easy. Some turkeys are injected with fillers that could potentially contain gluten. That means you need to check the ingredients even when buying a fresh or frozen whole turkey.

This year we ordered a turkey from our local meat market. We called before picking it up to make sure that there were no additives. The meat market referred us to the manufacturer – Shelton’s. One phone call to Shelton’s was able to confirm that our bird was gluten free.

We picked up our 24 pound turkey the day before Thanksgiving. I am not a fan of turkey and would have preferred to cook ham for the special occasion but my family wanted to stick to tradition so I made sure to put just as much effort into the turkey as any other dish. Once we arrived back at the house I prepared a sugar and salt brine with thyme, rosemary, sliced oranges and bay leaves. Rather than use a brining bag that costs $10-15, I used an XXL Ziploc bag. We stored the turkey, while it was brining, in a large tub covered in ice. The next morning I prepared an herb rub, then removed the turkey from the brine, patted it dry and placed it in the roasting pan. I filled the cavity with chopped onions and herbs. This will make for more flavorful pan drippings rather than using traditional bread stuffing. I then applied the herb rub between the skin and the meat and seasoned the skin with salt and pepper. Finally, I basted the breast with bay butter (butter melted with two or three bay leaves), placed the pan in the preheated oven and began roasting at 325 degrees.

I tented the breast with foil to keep it from burning. After an hour, I removed the foil and put four pieces of bacon on the breast with toothpicks. It's a tradition I picked up from my Aunt Judy and Uncle Rick. In theory, it should flavor the turkey breast. I think it just gives you a tasty treat to fight over while the turkey “rests.” After the turkey is done cooking you should wait 30 minutes before slicing for the meat to reach it’s full juiciness.

2 cups kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 head of garlic peeled
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 branches of fresh rosemary
2 oranges quartered
Dissolve the salt and sugar in two quarts of boiling water. Add remaining ingredients and ice to cool down the mixture. Once the mixture is cool add to the brining bag with the turkey and enough additional water to keep the bird entirely covered once the bag is sealed and the air removed.

Herb Butter (adapted from Rachael Ray’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast recipe)
1 large onion chopped
The zest of two lemons
24 fresh sage leaves
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and chop until it forms a coarse paste.

Make adjustments to the brine and herb rub according to your taste. This turkey was given high marks by everyone at dinner – juicy and delicious with just a hint of the herbs. My favorite part was the incredible aroma that wafted throughout the house while the turkey was roasting.

Gluten Free Thanksgiving in Southern California

One of the great things about having Thanksgiving dinner in Southern California is the perfect weather that allows you to have dinner outside. I decided to have a completely gluten free menu rather than allow a few gluten items to be brought by guests. Even when all of the guests are careful it's difficult to prevent cross-contamination if there is gluten on all of the gluten-gluttons' plates. Serving spoons are accidentally placed in the wrong dish or graze a gluten containing roll. Unfortunately even a tiny bit of gluten can make someone with Celiac sick. I didn't want to worry about that chance and instead chose to prepare all of the dinner to guarantee it's gluten free status.

The final, completely gluten free, Thanksgiving dinner menu consisted of:

Crudités with dip
Cheese platter
Chili Sauce dip with tortilla chips
Rosemary roasted cashews

Dinner and Sides
Roasted Turkey and gravy
Mashed potatoes
Cornbread cranberry stuffing
Classic stuffing

Roasted root vegetables

Green Salad
Chebe cheese rolls
Steamed green beans with toasted almonds
Cranberry orange relish
Raspberry apple jello salad

Pumpkin Pie

I actually eliminated a few items that I had originally planned on preparing. We ended up having more than enough. I am still trying to get a handle on serving sizes for large groups. I wanted to make sure that no one felt that a classic dish was missing because the meal was gluten-free. Traditional Thanksgiving foods are not part of my daily diet, but the holiday just doesn't seem the same without stuffing and Turkey. Perhaps next year I will stray from classics and start a few new traditions.

More tips on surviving the Holidays gluten-free.

The Appetizers

My first large scale completely gluten free Thanksgiving was a resounding success. Of course I had the luxury of taking the three days before Thanksgiving off of work to spend time with my family in California. This gave me more time to shop and prepare for the big event. As much as I love Manhattan, it was great to be able to go to a grocery store in a car, fill up a cart and not worry about how I would carry everything back on the subway.

Recipes and photos of the rest of the meal will be posted next week, but today here is a look at the appetizers. Of course there were plenty of the rosemary roasted cashews I posted about on Thanksgiving. I always have a crudite platter at my parties – this was also one of the few things I was able to ask someone else to bring without worry of cross-contamination. I just made sure to serve a gluten free dip to complement the fresh cut veggies.

I had a great time tasting cheeses at Whole Foods before selecting the four for my cheese platter. I served a smoked gouda, aged gruyere, a goat’s brie (Guilloteau Florette), and my favorite: Kings Isl Seal Bay Triple Cream. To accompany the cheese, there was a quince paste and Dr. Schar’s gluten free crackers - they have a similar consistency to a Ritz cracker and work particularly well with the soft cheeses.

Finally, a party isn’t a party at my family gatherings without this chili sauce platter. It’s Homade brand chili sauce (Heinz will not work) served over softened cream cheese with tortilla chips. This chili sauce was the first item about which I called a manufacturer to check on it’s gluten free status. I was quite relieved to know that as long as I bought gluten free tortilla chips and cream cheese, I could continue to participate in the family tradition.

It’s back to New York tomorrow. Home sweet home.

Gluten-Free Rosemary Roasted Cashews

Rosemary Roasted Cashews III

I am busy preparing my gluten-free Thanksgiving feast today. I hope you are enjoying the holiday with your loved ones. Here is just a taste of what I will be serving this afternoon.

This recipe has become one of my all time favorites. I serve it frequently at dinner parties. My family requests this more than any of my other concoctions. It’s the kind of dish that will have people calling you begging for the recipe. It’s so simple and no gluten in sight.

This recipe for rosemary roasted cashew nuts was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network. (Ina Garten will never lead you astray!)

1 pound raw cashew nuts
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. I like to melt and add the butter to the rest of the mixture about 2 minutes before the nuts are done roasting. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated.

These are best served warm, but they store well and are still quite delicious days later. Just give the mixture a good stir since much of the rosemary will fall to the bottom.
Enjoy this naturally gluten free appetizer or snack.

Gluten Free Cooking at 30,000 Feet

In honor of the busiest travel day of the year, I thought it appropriate to share a recent travel experience. I had the pleasure of traveling to London a few weeks ago for a work assignment.
The cuisine found on a plane usually leaves something to be desired even if you can eat the food they are serving. Some carriers offer gluten free meals, however I have had mixed experiences. On one Continental flight I was given the “vegetarian” meal instead of the gluten free one I had ordered. A different flight returning from Europe included a roll using wheat starch which is considered gluten free by the EU but US tests have shown the gluten content to be well above the 20 ppm normally allowed.

My strategy is to order the gluten free meal if it is offered but not to depend on eating anything that is served. There may end up being some fruit or a macaroon; Jennie’s brand was served with two of my gluten free meals.
Delta airlines recently eliminated their gluten free meal option so I knew that I was dependent upon what I could carry on the plane for the entire trip. I brought various snacks, fruit, veggies etc. I also brought on a package of shaved turkey breast and a package of Indian seasoned chicken breast.
While the airline industry is not currently known for it's customer service acumen, I hoped to find a flight attendant in a pleasant mood. I asked if I might be able to keep the two packages in the fridge so that I would have something to eat later in the flight without worrying about the meat spoiling. Well I have never experienced such amazing customer service in any capacity. Not only did she put the packages in the fridge, but then as the flight attendants were heating the rest of the passengers’ meals she let me use a large clean bowl to heat up my veggies and the chicken.

I was able to eat my completely gluten free hot meal at the same time everyone else was being served. She then made sure that I had extra fruit and nuts since I couldn’t eat the other sides that they were serving. It was such an extraordinary experience. I haven't tried cooking again at 30,000 feet, but I know that I can if the need arises.


I left behind the safety of my gluten free kitchen in New York to spend Thanksgiving with my family in California. I have a set of inexpensive cooking utensils and supplies at my Mom’s house for whenever I visit.

Before I arrive, she “de-glutens” the kitchen: wiping down counters, putting silverware and dishware through the dishwasher. I am lucky to have a family that is so accommodating and understanding of my gluten free needs. (A more detailed listing of how to “decontaminate” a kitchen is available on the Delphi forums.)

Thanksgiving is always an interesting adventure for someone with Celiac disease. There are so many emotions and memories associated with this meal that it can be a particularly tough event. This year, since I love to cook, we decided that I would prepare the meal for the five us. Well invitations ended up going out to the extended family in the area and now I am cooking a complete gluten free thanksgiving for 20 people. Now this should be fun! Pictures and recipes to follow.


I have been eating at Candle Café regularly since I was diagnosed with Celiac. The more upscale, Candle 79, sister restaurant is part of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program, but Candle Café has a menu with the gluten free items highlighted.

Up until a few weeks ago there were a couple appetizers, salads, main courses, sides and desserts that were gluten free. There were great options, but it wasn't an extensive offering. Well, the new winter menu has so many new gluten free items I struggled to choose.

I decided to start with the “Good Food” plate which allows you to pick four sides and two dressings from a list of over 12 gluten free sides and 7 gluten free dressings. My plate included Quinoa salad with black beans, Carmelized Onions, Steamed mixed veggies, Steamed Greens, with Carrot Ginger and Toasted Cumin Dressings.

As an Italian, I chose to get my salad after the main course. Roasted beets with shaved fennel, candied pecans and an almond nut cheese with cinnamon fig dressing. It was just as exquisite as it sounds.

For dessert I shared the Pumpkin Cheesecake with my friend. It was light and fluffy, more like a pumpkin mousse than a cheesecake but luscious nonetheless. (UPDATE April 2007: unfortunately they have changed their ingredients and the Pumpkin Cheesecake is no longer gluten free)

If you make it to Candle Café (or Candle 79) just ask for the gluten free menu; their regular menus are not marked. Some other favorites that didn’t make it into my dinner this week are the Paradise Casserole made with sweet potatoes, millet, black beans, greens and a country gravy. A new addition to the menu is a cashew crusted tofu – if it’s half as good as the cashew crusted tempeh at Candle 79 it is definitely worth trying. Other dessert options are a chocolate mousse pie, vanilla rice pudding or assorted soy ice creams and sorbets. Organic food doesn’t get any better than this.

Candle Cafe is located at 1307 3rd Ave, New York 10021 At 75th St Phone: 212-472-0970


I work in corporate America during the week, but one of my true loves is yoga. I finished a yoga teacher training program in June and started an apprenticeship program in September. Our Spring training was 200 hours over the course of ten weeks. We spent all of Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday at the yoga studio. Most of us brought our lunch. Sitting with a bunch of health-minded yogis for lunch was an interesting change. As I sat there, snacking on my string cheese, yogurt, cauliflower or other gluten free foods, I was surrounded by people choosing similarly healthy options.

It was great to “feel normal.” A lot people never even knew that I couldn’t eat gluten. I’m not shy about talking about gluten or celiac. In fact I think it’s important for us to educate others so that more people are aware of the condition. But it was nice to not feel like a high-maintenance person who needs “special food.”

The mentorship program isn’t nearly as intense but it still involves some long days. Last week I ran down to the deli (not something I normally do) to see if there was anything that I could eat. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few bars, yogurts, cheese and snacks that were gluten free. I chose a flavor of Soy Crisps I hadn’t tried before. It felt like such a luxury to be able to grab something quick from a deli.

Most of the time I don’t have a problem with adhering to the gluten free diet, it’s the convenience I miss more than anything else. As more and more gluten free foods become available and labeling laws improve I can feel a shift that hopefully with continue. Wouldn’t we all like to bring back some of the freedom to choose we had before living gluten free?


My favorite sandwich growing up was egg salad. I still remember the first time I tasted it at Joel’s house when I was four years old.

I rediscovered hard boiled eggs shortly after being told I had Celiac. They are easy to take with me during the day. I sometimes grab travel packets of gluten free mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper and make egg salad on the road. You might not be able to confirm what is in the pre-made egg salad in a deli but you can usually find hard boiled eggs and know that they are gluten free.

Beware of how much cholesterol is in the yolk. Many people have their cholesterol increase after being diagnosed with Celiac so excess yolks could compound the problem. I limit myself to no more than one yolk a day and supplement my egg salad with egg whites.

For a sweeter treat that’s easy to make with egg whites try meringues:

Egg White Meringues Recipe
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
4 egg whites room temperature (I haven’t had much success with the pasteurized egg white products designed for “whipping”)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of sugar or equivalent of Splenda granular (the consistency won’t be as crispy with Splenda but they will be low-carb and more diabetes friendly)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
Optional: any combination of cinnamon, chopped nuts, vanilla, chocolate or butterscotch chips

Beat the egg whites with the whisk of an electric beater. Continue beating and add the cream of tartar. Gradually add the sugar or splenda and vanilla. When the egg whites form shiny, stiff peaks add any of the optional items.

Drop heaping spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in preheated oven.

After one hour, reduce heat by 50 degrees and cook for one additional hour. Turn oven off and leave overnight or remove. (they will have a crispier consistency if you leave them overnight with the oven door closed)


My office building has a beautiful cafeteria overlooking central park. The food offerings are plentiful, but I am a creature of habit. Before and after celiac entered by life I would get a salad with grilled chicken and an assortment of veggies. I had checked on the ingredients and determined that the chicken was cooked on a dedicated grill. I felt safe.

Imagine my horror when I stood in line and watched the server reach his gloved hand into the croutons and then place the crumb-covered glove into the various containers of veggies. I hadn’t started feeling 100% healthy on the gluten free diet and now I knew why. I had been warned not to eat from any buffets or salad bars by the wise participants at the Delphi forums, but I hadn’t heeded their advice. Watching the crumbs contaminate my precious salad toppings was enough for me to stop eating at the cafeteria. I tried talking to the supervisor, but in the end I decided that it just wasn’t worth the risk.

Now I keep an array of frozen veggies in our break room freezer. I have a Rubbermaid container in my desk that I fill up with different combinations of edamame, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach and pop it in the microwave. I keep yogurt, apples, chicken soup broth, and mustard in the fridge. For protein, sometimes I bring in grilled chicken from home or grab a few pieces of sashimi from Whole Foods. Low fat hot dogs or Gluten Free Garden burgers are great options too. If you are craving something sweet when everyone else is eating birthday cake try keeping Jello or pudding cups in the fridge. Salt and pepper shakers are easy to store in my desk drawer with the Rubbermaid container. Make sure when using a common microwave that anything you place in is covered to prevent any gluten crumbs from dropping in your food. Other areas to watch for potential contamination include the countertops and cutlery drawers. Try to place your items on fresh paper towels, bring your own cutlery or wash the cutlery provided by your office.

Of course you can always prepare lunch at home the night before and bring it with you to the office, but with all of my travel I found that to be quite cumbersome. This allows me more flexibility and options each day and the frozen items won't spoil.

As I'm "cooking," coworkers frequently comment on how delicious my food looks/smells and then they add with surprise “and it’s so healthy!”


I grew up in Southern California. I had access to gorgeous Haas avocadoes; there were family members with avocado trees. There was always Mexican food accented with tender and sweet avocados and perfectly seasoned guacamole. I never ate them. I thought I didn't like avocados. I kick myself now for the years of enjoyment I missed.

Many foods have been eliminated from my diet as a result of Celiac, but I have also discovered and enjoy so many new flavors that I probably come out ahead. Of course I would be glad to have the convenience of eating in a restaurant or at a friend’s house without worry. But I have always enjoyed cooking and food experimentation and my Celiac diagnosis has actually facilitated it. I don’t feel guilty buying a new type of gourmet cheese or a buttery piece of Chilean Sea Bass.

Avocadoes are just one example of a food I hadn’t fully explored until recently. Now I can’t imagine life without the Chicken soup accented with avocados at RICE, or the fig and avocado salsa I learned to make in one of my cooking classes. Below is the makings of the salad that I ate almost on a daily basis this summer:

Mixed Green Salad (serves 2)
Mesclun greens
1 medium diced tomato
1 medium cucumber sliced
½ ripe Haas avocado diced
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
¼ cup crumbled low fat goat cheese
Chopped cilantro to taste (I like a lot of cilantro)
Season with salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Serve with a balsamic vinaigrette

Play with the portions and ingredients. If you hate cilantro (people tend to feel strongly about this herb) try it with basil or cut it out altogether. The key is finding a few ingredients that you can easily throw together and that you love eating. It's such a waste to buy ingredients and then have them spoil in the fridge.


I had an Indian-style crepe last night for dinner. It’s called a dosa. It was delicious AND gluten free. Hampton Chutney Co. now has a location on the Upper West Side. It was a slow night so I was able to have a detailed conversation with the lovely young lady (YL) working the cash register.

Me: “Are all of your dosas gluten free?”
YL: “Yes, our dosas and uttapas are made with just lentil flour, rice flour, water and salt”
Me: “Great, what about the fillings?”
YL: “Ummmmm, probably, are like vegetables gluten free?”

Clearly she was well-trained on the ingredients in the dosas and uttapas (thicker and more like a pancake than crepe) but wasn’t educated about the ingredients in the various fillings. She was able to tell me that their griddle was used only for the dosas and uttapas and not for the Naan bread that is made with wheat flour. She called over a manager, who double checked on a few things for me including the presence of asafetida in the restaurant.
[I know, asa-fa-whata? Asafetida is an Indian spice (sometimes called hing) that contains wheat. While Indian food is a cuisine that lends itself towards being gluten free, some restaurants use asafetida in every dish. I have found the Indian food dining card from Triumph Dining to be quite helpful in avoiding this spice and explaining my needs to the restaurant. Though eating out is always risky]

After the manager checked over everything with the owner – no they do not use asafetida at Hampton Chutney Co. – I selected a seasonal dosa filled with roasted butternut squash, portabello mushrooms, spinach, jack cheese and avocadoes. All of their dosas are served with a chutney of your choice, in keeping with the season I picked pumpkin though their cilantro chutney is my favorite (which they also sell at certain Whole Foods if you can’t make it to Hampton Chutney).

After the extended conversation with the manager and employee, my friend commented that he couldn’t believe how flip the first employee was about the fillings “probably” being gluten free. I don’t blame her; it’s hard to understand that even a small contamination could cause serious damage until you learn about Celiac disease. I hope that as the community of people diagnosed with Celiac grows that understanding will accompany that growth. Then maybe we will hear more often “Yes, I’m sure it’s gluten free” and be able to trust that it’s true. But in the meantime, don't risk it until you get all of your questions answered.
Hampton Chutney Downtown: 68 Prince St, New York 10012 Btwn Broadway & Lafayette St Phone: 212-226-9996
Hampton Chutney Uptown: 464 Amsterdam Ave, New York 10024 At 82nd St Phone: 212-362-5050
Hampton Chutney Amagansett: Main Street, Amagansett Square P.O. Box 273 Amagansett NY 11930 Phone: 631-267-3131

TARTAN WEEK - Gluten Free Scotland

In one of the more fantastic turns of fate, last year I won a free trip to Scotland. I entered a contest online through Time Out NY magazine and was informed the following week that I had won airfare, lodging for four nights, a rental car and free entrance to every museum throughout Scotland. Can you imagine being able to go into a museum, see the few things you are interested in and then be able to leave without feeling pressure to ‘get your money’s worth’? It was fantastic. Every time my mom (yes I took my mom) and I arrived at the next destination to find x,y or z already paid for we giggled with delight as if we had won all over again.

This was my first extended trip with Celiac that I wouldn’t have access to a kitchen. I had heard that the UK is much more familiar with Celiac Disease and would be more accommodating to my needs. We decided to extend the trip and travel a few extra days throughout Scotland. The scenery and beauty of Scotland is truly something to behold. Though I probably enjoyed my visits to the grocery store as much as anything else we did. It was like a dream world for someone who is unable to eat gluten -- whole sections of regular grocery stores dedicated to an array of gluten free goodies. Plus in the rest of the store I was able to shop without as much effort. Stricter labeling laws mean gluten is not hidden the way it can be in American goods.

I brought protein bars, canned chicken and beef jerky in my suitcase along with a bag of food for the plane. I always come prepared and hope that my back-up supplies can be just that. When we had the chance to stop at a grocery store I would buy a couple days worth of fresh produce and items that could survive without refrigeration. We usually ate lunch on the go so I kept supplies in the car: a can opener, plastic cutlery, canned veggies and Indian food, spiced garbanzo beans, gluten free crackers and pappadums.

Throughout most of the trip we stayed in Bed and Breakfasts. I informed each B&B that I would need gluten free dinners and breakfasts. To my amazement, no further explanation was necessary. I arrived at each location armed with my gluten free dining cards and ready to explain every detail to the chef. Each time I was greeted with a delightful Scottish accent telling me that they were aware of my needs and understood cross-contamination. While eating out is always risky, I found a level of comfort that had eluded me since diagnosis. I was almost brought to tears when we arrived at The Culdearn House at Grantown on Spey and were greated with canapés on little gluten free crackers and bread. As the cheery host brought out our dinner, he served us a moist and light gluten free bread. We were the only guests booked that night; I felt like a queen. We stopped at the store Tesco the next day in search of the bread and found numerous other gluten free delights. (Unfortunately most of those items are not yet available in the U.S.)

As our trip was coming to an end, we stayed in Edinburgh. We ate ate at a delicious vegetarian restaurant with a pre-printed gluten free menu. That never gets old! We took a day trip to Glasgow and found the Willow Tea Rooms. My gluten tolerant mother ordered a pastry. As I sat down I knew that I would be limited to a beverage and asked the waitress if all of their teas were gluten free. She went to check and came back to inform me that the teas were safe and that they also had an egg-white meringue that was gluten free. I could hardly contain my joy. It’s amazing how the things I took for granted before Celiac are now the cause for such glee.

Gluten Free Travel Expertise

I travel for work – A LOT. For the last three years I have been traveling almost every week for work. This was challenging three years ago when the only dietary restriction I had was type 1 diabetes. Now that I have been traveling for two years with Celiac I have developed a repertoire of tricks to get me from home to destination and back without starving or contaminating myself.

Carry-on restrictions are constantly changing. That said, since eliminating food service on flights, most airlines allow customers to bring on breakfas/lunch/dinner in addition to the standard carry-on bag allowances. With the recent restriction on liquids juices and yogurts are forbidden, but solid foods are currently A-OK. I find that taking my fresh food in a grocery bag draws fewer questions from TSA and airline personnel. Get a letter from your doctor outlining your food needs just in case.

I put cold items such as hard boiled eggs, meat cold-cuts, hot dogs etc. in one of the hot/cold “TO GO” bags I get at Whole Foods with a frozen bag of edamame as my “ice pack.” Cut veggies, whole fruit, salt and pepper and my plastic fork/spoon/knife packet go in the grocery bag. A few condiment packets fit in my Ziploc bag of liquids.

I take varying amounts of fresh and non-perishable food depending upon the length of my trip and when I will be able to access a grocery store in my destination city. One obvious thing that took me a long time to figure out is that there are grocery stores everywhere. I can get by for a while on what I bring and then get extra food at the grocery store. I put the non-perishables in my suitcase that I carry-on or check.

I call the hotel in advance and request a microwave and/or fridge in my room. If it’s a really short trip I will take the drinks out of the minibar and use that as my fridge, putting the drinks back in the minibar before I leave to ensure I’m not charged for the items. I know that many people on the Delphi forums will order food from, Kinnikinnick or Gluten Free Pantry and have it delivered directly to the hotel so that it’s there for them on their arrival. Think of cooking from your microwave as a fun challenge. After all, didn't Martha Stewart have to make due with a microwave when she was "away" for a few months?

Below is a list of items I have found useful – please let me know if you have any other great tips or ideas. I am always looking for new ways to make travel easier.
Please double check any ingredient lists as formulations frequently change and different flavors may not be gluten free.

Hard-Boiled Eggs
String Cheese
Tuna/Salmon Packets (beware of any extra flavors)

Pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower (good raw or heated)
Apples and oranges
Avocadoes (take them before they are ripe and will be ready to eat in a few days)

Packets of Mustard/Mayo (then make tuna or chicken salad)
Salad Dressing packets
A1 sauce , Tabasco, or BBQ Sauce packets– heat chicken with sauce in microwave
Gluten Free Soy Sauce packets for sushi
Salt and Pepper packets

Dried fruit and nuts or trail mix
Protein Bars – PureFit Nutrition Bars, Lara Bars, certain Zone and Balance Bar flavors etc.
Freeze Dried Food Packets
Indian Food Packets
(if you don’t have a microwave, submerge the packet in hot water at the hotel or eat at room temperature)
Rice Meals

Buy at the Grocery Store
Larger condiment bottles
Water/juice etc.
Fresh cut fruit
Salad ingredients

While in general I don't recommend relying on airport food to be gluten-free, you can check which restaurants are in the airports on your itinerary.

Happy travels!


A new celiac diagnosis means much more than eliminating bread and pasta made with gluten from your diet. It also means learning to read EVERY label of anything you buy each time you go to the grocery store. A trip to the grocery store takes significantly longer as you juggle the ALLOWED and FORBIDDEN ingredient lists and voraciously read the labels looking for “safe” food. It means learning the difference between maltodextrin (safe in the US unless specified as wheat), modified food starch (potentially from wheat or corn), and natural or artificial flavors. As a diabetic I was already trained to examine the Nutrition Facts outlining fat, protein and carbohydrate content but I had never paid attention to all of the extra stuff in our food.

It takes a while to learn the language of the food labels. Start with lists of mainstream gluten free products available from local celiac groups, the Delphi forums or the grocery store (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have them, though they aren't exhaustive). Double check the ingredients; sometimes the lists are out of date. As you slowly start to understand the difference between malt and distilled vinegar, maltodextrin and modified food starch you will become less and less reliant on the lists and the trip to the store will go more quickly. Unless you are like me and just love grocery shopping – then you just end up with more in your cart.


No, it's not!

One of the most confusing parts of being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue is sorting through the myriad of sources of information on the disease. The doctors and nutritionists aren’t really sure what’s ok and what isn’t. Some people with the disease will tell you it’s ok to eat the cheese off the top of a pizza or take the meat off a sandwich made with gluten filled bread. Unfortunately, activities like that will keep your antibodies high and slow your body’s much needed recovery. But how do you know who to trust? I received a list of “forbidden” items from my incredibly capable Gastroenterologist that included “distilled vinegar” “millet” “quinoa” “amaranth” and “teff” – all of which have been deemed safe on a gluten free diet. Then there is the debate about oats. Which ones are safe? Are any safe? What can I do?

In the last two years the public, the medical community and those living with celiac have received more and better information. However, the general US population and restaurant community have little understanding about the seriousness of the condition and the affect that a mere crumb from a crouton can have on someone living with celiac. I was still shocked upon my diagnosis to find that some people refused to ever eat outside of their home. How could I work? I was traveling almost every week for work – was I going to have to give up my job to survive without gluten? What kind of life is it to never be able to eat out with friends or go to a dinner party? Was I going to be trapped in my apartment for the rest of my life? What kind of a life would that be?

Well I knew one thing for sure. I was a problem solver. I was on the math team in junior high. I could figure this out. It took some time, and I am always in search of new products and techniques, but there is a way and you shouldn’t give up.

Since being diagnosed, I have: traveled to Amsterdam to visit my best friend, been to Scotland for 10 days with my beautiful Mom, gone to London for work and play. I have traveled extensively for business and fun: Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC to name a few. I have “de-glutened” my own and my mother’s kitchens. I have thrown “gluten free” dinner and dessert parties where some guests had no idea that I had any sort of “allergy.” I hope these tips will help you to relish the beauty of finding a new recipe or discovering a way around the challenge. After all, isn’t life more fun when you have to figure things out?

DUMPSTER DIVING and Celiac Disease

The first time I heard the terms “celiac” or “gluten” was six months before I ever started feeling sick. My newlywed cousin and her husband were at my apartment for a large dinner party. She asked me what the ingredients were in the chips that I had out as an appetizer. I naturally had no idea. As I saw her digging through the garbage (an activity I have since engaged in at dinner parties myself) I thought, “wow this celiac thing is so much more of a hassle than my diabetes, man am I glad I don’t have that!”

Fast forward six months: I am laying in bed after being so sick for a month that I don’t care what I have to do start feeling better. I’ll cut out gluten; I’ll cut out ANYTHING from my diet just to feel some sort of relief.

I received my official diagnosis of Celiac Sprue on November 10, 2004. I immediately made it my goal to find a way to get back to my “normal” life as quickly as possible. My travel schedule for work, my inquisitive, problem solving nature, and a supportive family facilitated a great if not immediate recovery.

I spent the first six months after my diagnosis buying practically every available gluten free alternative to mainstream products. I tested, adjusted and pulled my hair out trying to find recipes or mixes for cupcakes, breads and cookies that tasted as good as their “gluten relatives.” I didn’t rest until I found a way to make it work. Cookies came first, dinner rolls were the most elusive. I decided to start this blog to share what I have learned over the past two years and help the many people who are diagnosed with celiac only to discover that not even their doctor or nutritionist is really sure about all of the details. If no one else reads this that’s ok with me; at least I have one place to find all of my links and recipes!

This is a place to find all of the gluten free tips and products that help me to live a healthy lifestyle free of gluten without being trapped in my gluten free apartment.