you can’t catch me, i’m the gfbread man

Exhausted every strategem for deflecting potential in-law advances this holiday season? Good for gfs, gf advocates, and even the most adamantly gluten-full great uncles, you’re sure to get a reprieve during dessert hour upon the presentation of these bad boys.

Total prep time: 1 hour

Total glasses of grandma’s nog allowed during prep time: 3

Total of conveniently missed “ring” references while mixing: 4-6

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Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixer, blend (until creamy) 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar. Beat in 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup honey, & 1 egg.

In a separate bowl, sift 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour. Resift flour with 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground All-Spice, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, & 1 tsp ground ginger.

Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in about 3 parts alternated with 1/4 cup water. This should be a fairly thick dough, but if it seems too sift to roll out, add a little more water.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness (thicker cookies should be rolled to 1/4 inch). Cut out desired shapes.

Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Cookies are done when you push down on them with your finger and they spring back to their original shapes!

When finished baking, remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on wax paper. (If you need to store cookies before icing, they will keep for a few days when covered with plastic wrap and left at room temp).

For icing mixture: Sift 1 pound Confectioner’s sugar. Place fine sugar into a deep, round bowl. Add 3 egg whites & 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. Beat ingredients until mixture is firm. (If you need to store, cover bowl with damp cloth & refrigerate.)

For painting: Separate icing into small bowls, add food coloring if desired (Americolor is a great GF brand found at specialty stores). Add a few drops of water until desired consistency–best if the icing is a bit stiff so it doesn’t run, but soft enough so it doesn’t indent.

Aunt Carin’s GFbreadmen recipe makes about 24 honey gingerbread cookies and are great for any occasion…

 

 

look ma two hands

After finally emerging from my apartment last Saturday afternoon, the doorman’s emphatic nod at his watch and the ping of another “are you seriously still asleep?” double text were enough to send me right back to the Lower East to continue the previous night’s antics. However, the grumble of an empty stomach urged me to prioritize more important things: brunch.

Following the results of a groggy yelp search for “aca bowl slash health nyc open now,” I hopped off the 6 at Canal Street and soon found myself face-to-face with a man’s camera. After a couple of seconds of “Oh my God, how can he…” while also making sure my good side was closer to the camera, I realized that my good side hadn’t been captured at all. Instead, I saw that this man was trying to get the best angle on a brightly colored bowl of food in front of him. Good sign for a food blogger. I was committed. And also about to pop in a third piece of gum to stave off starvation, so I approached the host stand while craning my neck to get a better look at my photographer’s grub.

An Aussie accent (good sign for even non-GF gfs) called me out for “loit-uh-rang” outside of the restaurant. I couldn’t muster the energy to clarify that I had been posing for man-at-the-window-bar, and instead followed my “mate” (jeez, buy me a bowl first) obediently through the threshold.

Inside, the decor is quite hipster. Waitresses sport an effortlessly chic uniform of high-waisted jean cut-offs and high-top converse reminiscent of the racks at the nearby Vintage Twin, sitting down next to customers or leaning on the table as mesmerized customers order rounds and rounds of matcha just to get more of the accent.  Giant cotton-ball clouds hang from the ceiling and abstract, colorblock paintings protrude from the north wall, while a glance at the room’s ubiquitously constricted napes had me happy that I had opted for the Urban choker.

While its cool decor sets the scene nicely for a new insta–at the end of the day–the promise of cotton orbs did not get me out of bed. Two Hands Cafe is a beacon of hope for celiacs situated amongst the shops and restaurants of Little Italy. While your friends stop by an old pastry shop for an eclair, you can elbow a preteen or two out of your way (I was there at 2 pm and I just barely squeezed into a corner table) and soon find yourself sitting in front of a menu that even codes for gluten free and vegan items. My waitress didn’t blink an eye at my allergy, and my acai bowl was soon delivered. Portions are medium-sized, and that–coupled with the deprivation I felt far from the Bare Bowls of Palo Alto–meant that my pretty, chocolate-y, well-balanced bowl was soon merely a picture on the camera roll.

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While on my next visit it may be hard to resist the urge to fill the pangs of deprivation I feel without acai bowls on the East Coast, I definitely want to try some of the other GF eats.

Order like a GF would:

Fruit bowl, granola bowl, acai bowl, dans chia pudding (which looked BAE), corn fritters, and all salads. GF Baked goods include almond vanilla, chocolate walnut, and chocolate chip cookies, and their signature banana/walnut bread! While there is no boozy brunch to help you forget about your failed crowd-surfing attempt at LPR, a large menu of coffee, tea, hot/cold matcha, smoothies, juices, almond milk, and kombucha will help to nurse your body back to health.

Bottom Line:

Two Hands’s is the best GF acai bowl I’ve had in the city. While small portions make this spot less than ideal for a date with your muscle-man bf (but apparently ideal if interested in man-in-the-window), it’s perfect for a shopping snack or a ladies’ lunch. And although they lack a GF bread option, you can’t beat the labeled menu and the tasty GF granola. Be prepared to wait if you go for brunch on a weekend or grab some of their raw GF baked goodies to-go with a matcha latte as you head to Nolita to spend window-shop with your (nonexistent) paycheck. Hipsters and insta-famous alike will flock to this mecca for trendy posts, while your GF gf will simply be back for the accents.

 

sweet mash & kissin’ ass

Running to dinner with the GF parents? This sweet mash and raspberry-glazed, garlic salmon is sure to get you across the threshold (and the next rose at this week’s hometowns @jordanrodgers).

Total prep time: 25 mins

Total wine consumption allowed during prep time: 2 glasses (ok..maybe mugs..)

Total interrogation time: you’re on your own, bud. better make the mash extra sweet.

Peel skin and cut up yams into quarters and fully submerge in boiling water. (Resist urge to place head in boiling water.) Reduce heat to simmer and place lid back on. Let yams simmer for 20 mins. Drain the water from the potatoes, mash with a fork.

While yams are simmering, toss filets of salmon in garlic salt, pepper, chili flakes, and a splash of lemon juice. Spray pan with coconut cooking spray (GF–thanks Pam). Cook salmon 4 mins each side until flaky and opaque at the thickest part of the filets.

Place salmon on top of the mash, rim dish with salad or steamed veggies. Drizzle Annie’s Raspberry Vinaigrette across the entire dish. Serve immediately. Couples well with riesling.

 

*Extra GF Dating Tip: Ball with a GF (on a Budget): Worried about GF dinner with the winey in-laws?  Head on over to Trader Joe’s Wine Shop in Union Square before you start cooking and pick up a bottle of my favorite, top-rated riesling Kung Fu Girl for under $13.

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can I get a side of christian bale with that sushirrito?

Can’t agree with your date on the night’s fare? Feeling indecisive (and in need of a drink) after a day out sightseeing or excelling (or merely excel-ing) in your cube? Reach back to that middle school game, and take your GF to the food court.

Yes, you heard me. In recent years, NYC has seen the rise of the luxury food court. At places like Gotham West Market, Urbanspace, and the Plaza Food Court, good eats take  center stage of the shopping experience. No longer is the food court solely synonymous with Orange Julius or Cinnabon. Instead, gourmet street eats anchor down and fine dining restaurants try trendy, converging to form a mix-and-match “fast casual” experience that cannot be missed.

To check out this new scene, set your Google Directions to the Gotham West Market on West 11th street and you won’t be short of delicious options for your GFs, your foodies, and your boozers alike. The market boasts booths of gourmet street fare, from tacos to sushi to ramen to indian (100% DF GF–stay tuned for a review) to tapas to hot dogs and jerky. They even have your “dinner accessories” taken care of with a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, and expansive wine, cocktail, and beer varieties around the large, warehouse-like room. So for all you daters who struggle to plan, put on a little Hollister cologne for nostalgia’s sake and head over to Gotham West Market for a complete, one-stop date night!

One day after work, I called upon a celiatonic date to join me to check out Uma Temakeria‘s stand in this Hell’s Kitchen “food hall”. Yearning for the buddha bellies & lava nachos of my past life (brb, Sushirrito!), I was dying to try the NYC equivalent. Although not explicitly noted on their menu, a quick note to the owner before our visit helped guide me through the menu. The safest (and most fun) bet for a gf is to assemble your own bowl or sushi burrito, which is assembled as follows:

  1. Pick your base. | GFs can choose either white or brown rice for the bottom of their bowl. Kale is also offered, but be sure to explicitly inquire as to whether it is undressed (no soy sauce) before ordering.
  2. Pick your protein. | Yellowfin Tuna, Atlantic Salmon, Blue Swimmer Crab, Marinated Tofu, and Zesty Tofu are all safe! Again, just be sure to specify your allergy as to avoid contamination with soy sauce.
  3. Pick your veggies. | This is where it gets fun! All veggies are gluten free, and you can pick up to 4 in your burrito or bowl. I opted for the carrots, daikon, cucumber, and green apple (which was amazing). Pickled daikon and carrots, avocado, red pepper, and seaweed salad round out the possibilities for gfs.
  4. Pick your sauce. | While the California in me blocked traffic for the Avocado Lime, the Creamy Miso and Tobanjan Mayo are also non-soy sauce, gf options for those less crazed avocado fans…

While the picture below shows the bowl that I ordered, the seaweed-wrapped sushirrito is a totally valid option for the handsy gf in all of us. While I do recommend making your own burrito as the easiest way to ensure a safe and delicious gf meal, the staff seemed extremely willing to tweak ready-made rolls to avoid gluten. In addition to the bowls ($12) and sushirritos ($11), smaller tasting rolls can be ordered for $6 apiece. Just for an idea, I was content with a cider and a bowl, while my studly non-gf date (you’re welcome, bæ) regretted not ordering the deal of two smaller rolls + 1 side for $13.

For our young, responsible gfs, the void of Orange Julius can be filled with ginger iced green tea, lemonade, and coconut water. Although alcoholic drinks at Uma could not be tweaked for gf happy hour (menu items included sapporo, sake cocktails, and sake), a nearby restaurant boasts an expansive case of beers and ciders, the latter of which are mainly gluten free! As a newly legal GF, I rounded out my fruity green apple bowl with a fun, ACE pineapple cider which boasted gluten-free certification right on the label. Other options included wine, Crabbie’s ginger beer (another non-malted beverage), and a whole shelf of ciders.

The Bottom Line:

Although this food court experience is devoid of the scent of an overly saturated bag of Abercrombie clothes on the plastic chair next to you, I promise that Gotham West Market will take your junior high food court date to a whole new level. The atmosphere in the Gotham West Market makes for a hip, casual date night of fancy street fare and drinks (while you secretly swivel ever so slightly for Batman sightings). While your indecisive date wanders around the food court ogling the menus, GFs should head to the Uma Temakeria for a casual alternative to typical Japanese food. Its make-your-own style allows sushi-loving GFs to control for soy sauce usually rampant in sauces, rolls, and salads, while also offering yummy choices for any date regardless of allergy.

You can make your own, you can sit for hours without feeling pressured by a waiter to give up your table, you can go back for coffee or another round (of ice cream, what were you thinking…), and it’s extremely grammable. What more could you ask for?

So pull up a chair to a corner table, crack open one of the board games waiting on the tables, and take a picture of your super cool pineapple cider while your sushi chef goes to work. You’re sure to be happy and satisfied when you leave Gotham, whether or not you confirm if it’s your date or Christian Bale who flawlessly extracts a Jenga piece while you munch on your ‘rito (and sip a little too much cider).

 

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Pro Dating Tip: Can’t get enough of the Temakeria? Check out their stand-alone NYC location at 64 7th Ave, open 7 days a week from 11 am to 11 pm! Late nighters should stick with the Gotham West Market, open Sunday-Thursday 11 am to 11pm and 11 am to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

wheat it & weep

You roll your eyes as you ask the worker at Chipotle to change their gloves, you playfully push away the beer that’s been shoved near your mouth, you frequently follow careful orders at restaurants with a self-deprecating rendition of the refrain from Beyonce’s “Diva.” You may–like me–even see yourself waving a hand and insisting, “I’m really not hungry,” rather than explaining against a friend’s urgings to “just get a salad” in a possible danger zone. We may do these things to lessen the seriousness of the diagnosis we’ve received, to “fit in” to the non-gf crowd, or to avoid killing the mood with technical, medical jargon or gastrointestinal gruesomeness.

I know we’ve all been there, but it’s important to recognize that a) a quick explanation of your diagnosis is not a burden to the people you’re with b) if they don’t want to hear it or diminish your diagnosis to nothing more than that of a “monthly pass soul-cycler” (not sure how that relates to food but I’ve gotten it), they’re not worth your time anyway, and c) It’s important to embrace your CD diagnosis not only for your own self-confidence, but also for your safety & the safety of your fellow celiac gfs.

That eye roll at Chipotle or the flirtatious giggle that masks your strong aversion to an approaching, foaming red cup may succeed in making your friends subject to one less, painless ten-second explanation, but it could also cause those prepping your food to be less careful in avoiding gluten. The man on the barstool next to you–trust me on this–would rather grab you an alternative drink and keep schmoozing you by the bar, than have a sloshed beer result in your quick exit from the scene.

So, what’s the best way to approach these explanations to ensure your safety, but also allow you to remain calm, collected, and comfortable in any social setting? First, I rely heavily on pregame research. I use internet sources such as findmeglutenfree.com and nobread.com (great for my coastal city gfs) to read reviews by other celiacs about their experiences so that I’m prepped before I go out. Don’t forget to check the restaurant sites either, especially those for chains, because some even provide allergen information for their menu items right on their own websites!

Now, although research can be very helpful in reducing pre-meal anxiety, this is not always an option. If  your friend’s picked a restaurant that doesn’t have reviews or your normie gf is taking you on a surprise date, it’s still very possible to have an incredible, stress-free night out! In these situations, clear communication is major key…And I’ve found that it’s not so much what you say, but how you say it.

When ordering at a restaurant, I always inform the waiter of my celiac disease diagnosis, adding in the words “gluten allergy” just to make sure that they fully understand. By using the specific medical terminology, this conveys the seriousness of our condition in just a few words, while telling a food staff about an allergy will also trigger careful procedures from trainings for dealing with more common allergens like nuts.

What happens if the waiter gives you a blank stare? Have a few extra phrases in your back pocket. Without getting into the nitty, gritty details, I will say that “any contact of my food with gluten during preparation will make me very sick.” This is straightforward and to-the-point. Again, if the waiter seems unsure, it is worth either passing on prepared foods, asking for the chef, or ordering something with minimal preparation (i.e. no frying or grilling).

Waiter cut you off midway through your sentence with a “ya, ya we’ve dealt with that”? While it could be easiest just to accept his word, this can be the most dangerous! Make sure that he understands that you’re telling him to do more than just hold the side of sourdough.

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it’s your waiter’s job to feed people safely & per requests, so us gfs have to take the time to confirm that he or she understands our relationship status

While the chatty gfs among us may be comfortable having a dialogue with the staff, there are options for those of us who are quieter, newer to the diagnosis, or for any of us in those situations in which you really would rather not draw even the most minimal attention to yourself. Feeling shy on a blind date? Trying to seal a deal with a judgmental client? Even just unsure of your waiter’s comprehension? There’s a solution for that! Many websites have developed “restaurant cards” which communicate the basics of celiac disease and food prep protocol. I’ve found great, free versions at glutenfreeeasy.com, but there are numerous sites (& apps) that provide the same service. All you have to do is hand the waiter your gluten free easy restaurant card and ask him to bring it to the kitchen staff when he informs them of your order. These even come in various languages, so that gfs are honeymoon ready…

With your informative, direct catchphrases and backup restaurant cards, dining out will no longer be a source of anxiety. Yes, certainly, we have to be careful when eating out, but that doesn’t mean we should hole ourselves up in our kitchen for days on end… As long as your willing to speak up and/or carry a restaurant card for when the going gets tough, you’ll be dining out on the daily.

Have specific questions, stories, or comments about eating out? Leave me a message & I’ll get back to you before your next night out!

(Stay tuned for next week’s post in the beginner’s guide “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting,” a guide to dealing with a surprise glutening.)

 

 

brexit or tex mex it

With two weeks of work (& a few too many microwaveable dinners) under my belt, I asked one of my celiatonic gfs to meet up for dinner tonight. As is usual these days, my amazing normie date put the power in my hands. I searched online for options in her neighborhood in Midtown, once again reveling in the sheer number of possibilities for gf date nights in my new home.

Sifting through my favorite search engines, I finally settled on the Mexican restaurant Toloache after looking through their menu–love you lots, nobread.com! I eventually arrived at the unassuming storefront after weaving through the Midtown jungle of suited financiers & ticketholding tourists. The host confirmed our reservation (very recommended, as the restaurant was full on a Monday night!) and led us to a cute table in the hoppin’ center of the bottom floor. Nearby, non-reservation holders enjoyed margaritas and ceviche at the full bar, while the couple next to us watched a chef at his station in the center back of the dining room.

My non-gf gf and I agreed on a guacamole starter. After initially picking the spicy “roja” option of the three possibilities, the waiter objected right away, citing its soy sauce content as the reason for the lack of gf symbol on the labeled menu. Without even allowing me to fumble for another option after my oversight, the waiter offered to spice up the mild formulation to make what he insisted would be equally tasty. The bus boy brought the corn chips (which he affirmed as GF) & the guac, and we ordered our food as we downed the entire bowl in minutes. When my date ordered a non-gf dish, the waiter even went above and beyond to reiterate that mooching was not an option from her flour-based plate.

But I could only focus on how good hers looked for a few seconds before my plate arrived. I ended up choosing the carne asada tacos (no cheese for GF DF), which come a la carte in a small but scrumptious set of two. In addition to this option, the restaurant boasts some very creative, Americanized Mexican food, with traditional dishes like tacos, carne asada, & paella receiving unexpected twists like cactus salad, Thai basil sauce, avocado fries, kale-jicama slaw, squash, quinoa, and potato gratin. I have to say I’ll surely be going back to try the menu’s expansive options for gfs, but will do so with an additional side of rice and beans.

Bottom Line: Although a little pricy for the serving sizes, the premium is worth it for the confident, knowledgeable staff & ability to alter menu items even if not inherently gluten free. The guacamole was a delicious starter, and the ambience could be equally doable for a date night with a foodie, after-work guac & margaritas, a girls’ night, or a client lunch or dinner. Take your GF gf here and she’ll choose from guacs (no, that plural is not a typo), ceviches, salads, tacos, paellas and more. Your dating life taking a back seat to Brexit? Minutes away from major banks and offices, this place would be perfect for a work lunch or dinner. You’ll be able to guarantee your non-glutened A-game while you seal the deal with your client over gourmet, quick grub! Offices across the city? Be sure to check out Toloache’s 2 other restaurants in Manhattan.

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pictured: gf corn chips, gf specially made spicy guac, and one v gorge guac background 

snackin’ & mackin’

Getting nervous for date night after you let your normie gf pick the restaurant? Never underestimate the power of the gluten free snack. Whether I’m traveling to a foreign place with minimal online gf reviews & recs or going to a critically acclaimed gf restaurant I’ve been to numerous times, I always carry a couple of snacks in my bag just in case. The worst feeling is when you reach a situation when you don’t feel safe eating, but feel that you must risk it because you have no other option.

It is my hope that you will never go hungry in the face of a fear of contamination or lack of gf options. Similarly, it is my hope that you will see the myriad options that we have from grocery stores as normal as Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Stop N Shop. On this page, I will keep a running list of my favorite grab & go gluten free snacks & quick meals so that you can always have something to fall back on. Check back for periodic updates as I keep munching my way through the aisles!

  1. Tate’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies | Originally made in a bake shop in the Hamptons, these cookies are so delicious that my normie gfs buy them over the leading non-gf brands!
  2. KIND bars & granola | KIND prides themselves on producing an array of products that are all gluten free! These bars & granolas can be great for a burst of energy midday, a pre-workout snack, or a small dessert (best served with a glass of almond or coconut milk). The list of KIND products is constantly expanding as simple oat bars have expanded to include breakfast bars and protein bars in sweet and savory flavors (and sometimes both in one!).
  3. Annie’s Rice Mac & Cheese | As a college student, I’m always looking for quick, junky foods to ease the stress & fuel that 5th hour of studying. This gf version of Easy Mac is fast, creamy, delicious, and tastes no different from it’s non-gf counterpart! It even comes in individually packaged microwaveable cups to get you back in the library in a moment’s time.

big shrimpin’ up in nyc

With the majority of dishes ridden with soy sauce, breading, and flour noodles, Chinese cuisine is often viewed as a red hot danger zone for celiacs. Although there are admittedly very few safe options for dining out (unless you want a meal of plain rice and steamed veggies), there are an increasing number of products that make romantic, home-cooked gf Chinese dates easier–and tastier–than ever! Tamari soy sauce, gf teriyaki sauce, gf panko crumbs, rice noodles, rice flour: all these replace the celiac’s nightmares of Panda Express assembly lines with happy realities of safe and delicious home-cooked eats.

Although rice noodles can be easily substituted for their flour counterparts, spiralizers and julienne techniques make veggie noodles equally interchangeable in Chinese and Italian recipes. In the following recipe, I used my spiralizer to make a zucchini noodle dish that wowed my lovely celiatonic GF (XOXO, mom)!


 

Date Night with Your GF: Kung Pao Shrimp (Makes 2 Servings)

Total delay of Peaky Blinders marathon: 30 minutes

Total time explaining why your netflix account is still your ex-GF’s: ….good luck, soldier.

For the main dish:

  • 2 medium zucchini, about 8 oz each
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 16  de-veined, tail-less shrimp (8 per person)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 fresh mango, cubed
  • 1 tsp sesame or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp crushed dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup half moon slices of canned water chestnuts

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp reduced soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce (check label to make sure it is gf)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek Red Chili Paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. Use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long (unless you’re trying for a Lady in the Tramp). Don’t have a spiralizer? Use your mandoline fit with a julienne blade to achieve a similar effect.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

If shrimp are frozen, place in colander and rinse, remove tails when halfway defrosted. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until orange on both sides (takes very little time).

Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil (or coconut oil), sesame seeds, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the mango and water chestnuts, stir in soy sauce mixture, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for about two minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don’t worry because the zucchini will release moisture. Once cooked, mix in shrimp and divide between 2 bowls (about 2 cups each) and top with peanuts and scallions. Serve while hot. Pairs well with jasmine rice and an ice cold Damm Daura.

*Pro Dating Tip: Kung pao got your tongue? Follow up this spicy stir fry with a quick, delicious GF DF milkshake and get right back to Tommy.

Note: This recipe has been adapted from a GF kung pao chicken recipe that can be found at http://www.skinnytaste.com/kung-pao-chicken-zoodles-for-two/. Bell peppers and other vegetables may also be added to the mixture alongside the mango and water chestnuts! This is what makes stir fry so easy…You can throw everything but the kitchen sink into your wok and your gf will be wowed by your creative genius…

 

brunch for your dimes piece

Nestled in a quiet strip of Canal Street, Dimes Restaurant is an unexpected departure from its neighbors’ typical Chinatown fare. Dimes’s scant signage, lack of reservations, & retro, nondescript interior may have you skeptical, but I promise that this place is a fabulous find for a brunch with your gf. Boasting a health-conscious brunch and dinner menu (which doubles as a gluten-friendly menu), the chic café has the feel of a young, hipster Abbot Kinney eatery and will have you instagramming everything from your breakfast bowl to the quirky postcard that comes with your check. Eager to get the weekend started after a rough couple of days at the office? Dimes has you covered. The brunch menu is accompanied by a pamphlet full of hot-sauce laden hangover cures and sweet, fruity cocktails.

When I went to Dimes this morning, we only waited for a couple minutes to get in, just behind one young couple. Although seeming initially rather blasé, the waiter was very attentive to my allergy the second I ordered–immediately clarifying whether my gluten free selection was due to preference, intolerance, or allergy. He was also able to suggest numerous gluten free selections from the menu (which were also rather easily distinguished with the menu’s detailed descriptions) after delivering our bowl-sized coffees with sugar cubes and almond milk.

Curious for the unique take on a California favorite, I decided on the lavender acai bowl while my normie gfs ordered the magic toast & the big salad to share. The lavender acai bowl was an interesting flip on the classic acai bowl–flaunting a strong lavender flavor in the bowl’s slushy base with juicy blueberries and crunchy gf cornflakes to top. However, the big salad was my favorite of the two things that I tried, with super juicy mango, crunchy almonds, dijon-apple cider vinegar, and beautifully shaved carrot strips garnishing a bed of market greens and candy cane beets.

Other gf brunch menu items include the breakfast tacos (request corn tortillas) with spicy mango salsa, the salmon plate and the eggs any style (excluding toast), the chia pudding bowl, the carob acai bowl, and the mango pitaya bowl. The fall salad, simple salad, quinoa bowl, and all possible proteins (hard-boiled egg, avocado, chicken, pickled salmon, and seared tuna) are gluten free as well. Dairy free as well? Not to worry! As I mentioned, almond milk and coconut milk are available to mellow out your bowl of Dimes’s strong coffee blend and the fruity breakfast bowls are all made with coconut and almond milks!

Bottom Line: Find yourself one morning or early afternoon despairing because of the lack of gf options in NYC’s Chinatown? Head on over to the trendy, casual Dimes for a healthy brunch. You’ll find yourself leaving happy, caffeinated and comfortably full with your dreams of dim sum long forgotten & your instagram feed full of colorful plates and quirky cocktail menus. Will definitely be returning for a dinner with my gf soon.

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be careful not to miss this stellar spot because of its unassuming approach to curb appeal!

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pictured: lavender acai bowl (bottom) with big salad (top center) flanked by non-gf magic toasts

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our check, accompanied to our table by this postcard of a bull’s bad hair day with the restaurant’s contact info on the back (@dimesnyc)

 

 

 

 

how to: gluten free gamer babe-ing

Since the days of Aurelia, Snow, & Bonds, you have been able to find me multiple times a year keeping score next to the visitor’s bullpen, tuning my headphones to Kruk & Kuip, and enjoying a basket of Gordon Biersch garlic fries & a polish dog while cheering on my Giants.

The 2016 season proved a new challenge for me, not only for dealing with the absence of my beloved Timmy (Lincecum) from the rotation, but also for leaving the once-very-familiar zones of AT&T in search of celiac-friendly sustenance in the ballpark. Nervous to take on the ballpark’s booths for fear of cross-contamination or lack of knowledge, I read up online to locate areas that may be possibilities. I pinpointed three possible attack strategies to excel as a gluten free gamer babe.

Strategy Number One: Pack your Own

Going to the game with your family or close friends? AT&T is very accommodating to those who wish to bring their own eats to the park. Celiacs from south of the city can think about packing a nice Asian Box or a salad from Sweetgreen (reviews coming soon) or just packing up a picnic lunch of leftovers for a day game. Throw in some ballpark peanuts & some M&Ms to share.

Strategy Number Two: Visit the Garden

Running from work for the first pitch with a coworker–or better yet–a hot date you met on Hinge? Get out of your seats around the bottom of the third once you’re convinced that Bumgarner has the lineup in knots to take a visit to the newly constructed Garden area. Past the centerfield fence, The Garden not only has a full bar and options for the healthy “normie”, but also boasts an entirely gluten free booth called the Hearth Table. This booth offers gluten free flatbreads, salads, and GF hot dogs. Because the booth is entirely gluten free, I felt at no risk of cross-contamination!

Over 21 and your throat itching for a nice ballpark brewski? Pair your dog or flatbread with a gluten free beer, of which there are two options. AT&T’s Hearth Table offers the entirely GF Redbridge beer & the Omission beer which is “crafted to remove gluten” and should probably be avoided by those with more severe allergies. When I visited, I went down to The Garden with my non-GF gal pal and ordered a Redbridge. Upon seeing my naked GF glass, the bartender from the center bar threw on a watermelon piece on the rim so that my friend and I would match.

Strategy Number Three: Visit Section 112

Not willing to stray far from your seats behind home plate? In the section 112 Budweiser Stand, the park also offers gluten free dogs and Omission Beer. Caveat: No watermelon on the rim here, though.

In my first trip back to the park post-diagnosis, I elected to adopt a combination of strategies one and two. I brought a salad from home with me on the train and headed down from our seats in the bleachers to grab a Redbridge mid-game & to check out the Hearth Table! Whatever the strategy was, it seemed to work as the Giants took home a walkoff W after a Pence base knock to shallow right  proved too much for the out-stretched Kemp. Next game, I’ll definitely opt for one of the delicious-looking flatbreads they’re cooking up behind Span’s back in the centerfield Garden!

Now the real question is…How many GF beers can Bochy fit in his ball cap?

 

Until next home game,

your gluten free (gamer babe) girlfriend