Fig & Thistle Restaurant – Inverness

First off, I have to say that The Fig and Thistle was hands-down the best restaurant we went to in Scotland! It was a bit off the beaten path, on a side street. The restaurant is  small and popular, so I recommend getting a reservation. We managed to get a table and were glad we did! We were seated upstairs at a little two-seater table. The ambiance is romantic. Low lighting with a candle on the table. However, there were several groups there, so I don’t think it only targets couples.

They had lots of Gluten free options and the waitress even brought out some gluten free crackers for me to munch on while waiting for our food.

 

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Curried Tiger Prawn and Mango Salad

 

I got the Prawn and Mango Salad as a starter and it was delicious! Very light, but packed with flavor. Sweetness from the mango, tangyness from the lime dressing, and a bit of spice from the curry.

 

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Chicken, Leek, & Mushroom Linguine (Not GF)

 

For mains, My husband got the Linguine, which is not gluten free, but he said it was tasty. I got the Fillet Steak (without the mushrooms). I was super excited to get a dish with sauce on it. Between the gluten and the dairy intolerance, I rarely get sauced items. It was incredible! The steak was cooked perfectly, and was tender. The veggies were fresh and crisp. The hand cut chips were perfectly fried.

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Scotch Prime Fillet Steak in a Red Wine Thyme Sauce with Hand-Cut Chips and Vegetables

 

Honestly I was so impressed, that I had to send my compliments to the kitchen. We also debated going back the next night, but decided to try somewhere else instead. That place was good, but not nearly so great as the Fig & Thistle!

R&B’s Restaurant and Bar

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R&B’s is a casual restaurant and bar in downtown Inverness. It came highly recommended on the Find me Gluten Free app. I was most excited about it because it even stated “Gluten Free Options” on the window. The window! The menu was even marked with what items were available gluten free. However, from experience, I Made sure to discuss my options with the waitress. She seemed very knowledgeable about the gluten free options, but wasn’t sure about what items had dairy. She told me to just place an order and she would consult with the kitchen and tell me if I needed to order something else. She never came back, so I assumed everything was fine. Boy, was I wrong.

They brought out my Cullen Skink soup, which was obviously cream based. I decided to go with the flow and just take a lactase enzyme pill and eat it. It actually was fairly good. Like the New England clam chowder of my childhood. I took one bite of the “gluten free” bread and was suspicious. I had my husband try some to confirm it. Our waitress was no where to be seen, so I flagged down another and asked her if that was their gluten free bread. I got an emphatic “on no! that’s the regular bread.” Great. Glutened 3 days into a 9 day trip. The worst part is that even though she apologized, she tried to blame me. “You have to ask for the gluten free, or you get the regular.” Really? I had a long conversation with the waitress followed by an order, where I said “made gluten free” after each item I listed. So I had to say “cullen skink made gluten free, with gluten free bread?”  My asking for the soup made gluten free didn’t imply that the bread that came with it should be too? Ridiculous.

After all of that, I barely ate the pan fried fish with vegetables, mostly because it looked like it had more dairy on it. Also, frankly, I just wanted to get out of there, so I could find a pharmacy and buy every digestive aid imaginable.

 

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I hate giving the entire restaurant itself a bad review, mostly because I’m sure the waitress put the order in wrong. There may be nothing wrong with the food or the cooks. It would be incredibly bold to advertise your gluten free options in the window, if you can’t actually cook them properly. Regardless, the waitstaff needs better training.  This was the ONLY place, on my entire trip around Scotland, that I got sick eating at.

The Butterfly and The Pig

 

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This little gem of a restaurant/tea room was only a couple of blocks away from the hotel my husband and I stayed at (Double Tree- City Center) in Glasgow. We chose to eat in the tea rooms. It is a lovely little spot with eclectic decor. Even though the dishes weren’t the exact same pattern, they all seemed to go together anyway. Apparently, this place is typically packed, even on a Monday afternoon! We got one of the last tables as walk-ins. I would definitely recommend making a reservation, if at all possible.

The menu was clearly marked with items that had gluten free options and the waitress was very knowledgeable about their offerings as well. We were both very hungry, so we opted for individual meals. We immediately regretted this, as the tables around us had their spectacular tea services delivered. There was plenty on a tea tray for a full meal and they even offered gluten free tea items! Regardless, the food was still delicious. I got the Peri-Peri chicken “wrap” on gluten free bread. It came out as an open faced sandwich. The chicken was very well spiced and tender.  The chips (a.k.a. crisps) were made in house and were very crunchy. The pickles were also very good. The tea was amazing too, of course.

Artisan Roast

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This kitchy little coffee shop near the University of Glasgow was the perfect place for us to stop on our first day in Scotland. Our overnight flight landed at 6 am Glasgow time, but our hotel wouldn’t check us in until 3 pm. Needless to say we were exhausted, but had to keep moving. This cafe was the perfect place for us to caffinate.

They offer the basic European coffee styles (cappuccino, latte, etc.), but they also have soya and oat milk available for lactose intolerant people and vegans. They also had some light food and pastry options, though we didn’t get any. The pricing was reasonable too, even for the soya/oat milk up charge!  The coffee was delicious and strong. Just what I needed.

The staff was pleasant. The atmosphere was excellent. It was definitely geared towards the University students. The decor was eclectic. The tables and study nooks were closely packed to maximize seating. My favorite bit was the random books scattered around the cafe.  My husband quizzed me on interesting beer facts he found in one of the books. Oddly I got most of them right, even though I don’t drink beer!

Overall, I think it’s a great little place to stop if you are in the area.

Gluten Free in Scotland

I just got back from an amazing trip in Scotland!  The cities are jam packed with spectacular historical sites, great shopping, and awesome restaurants. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous. My favorite part of any vacation, though, is eating delicious local food. Unfortunately, for those of us with allergies and intolerances, it can be dangerous too. Happily, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scotland is a great destination for people with dietary restrictions!

Many of the restaurants I went to had disclaimers on their menus that said to ask the server for options. A few had gf, gfa (gluten free available), or gfi (gluten free ingredients used) labels. Almost all menus had vegetarian labeling. Even the restaurants that didn’t have labeling or disclaimers, had knowledgeable staff that could give you options. The only places I found that had no options were small hole-in-the-wall fast food joints. One caution though, is that the places with gfi on the menu, often had cross contamination. For instance, I really wanted to try gluten free fish & chips while I was there. Every place I tried that had gluten free batter on the menu, still fried the fish & chips in the same fryer as the glutenous food items. Even though I didn’t get my fish & chips, I still ate some pretty delicious gluten food while I was there!

I felt it only right that I honor my trip with a series on the food I ate while I was there.

Ebook – Vegetarian Quick & Easy in Under 15 Minutes by Jonathan Vine


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Even though I am no longer a strict Vegetarian, I still enjoy vegetarian meals quite often.  I have previously reviewed another book by Jonathan Vine called Vegetarian Weightloss. I loved that book for it’s low-calorie, healthy veggie dishes. This new book focuses much less on calorie count and more on speed of preparation. While I would love to spend less time on food prep, I found far fewer appealing recipes in this book than in the last. Most recipes involved lots of dairy and/or carbs. Many things were fried.

While I can substitute gluten free or dairy-free alternatives for most of the ingredients that I cannot eat, I find I do not want to. When I decided to eat more vegetables, it was because I wanted to be healthier. The sad part is that Vine gives the same “vegetarianism is good for you” diatribe that he did in his previous one, including arguments that it reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity, and skin conditions. However he goes on to provide you with artery and pore clogging recipes that do the exact opposite. Bread and cheese are not healthy and frying your food is most definitely not. Preparing foods this way also removes many of the nutrients. The few appealing recipes I found in this book were:

Coconut and Date Bites – a fairly healthy dessert

Colorful Quinoa – a quinoa and veggie salad that would be good cold or hot

Lentil and Cucumber Salad – a nutrient-dense side dish

That being said, if you are vegetarian for reasons other than health (such as to combat animal cruelty), than this book would be great for you. You can also use them sparingly as “comfort foods.” I do not recommend you making these recipes on a frequent basis.

Disclaimer: I received this product through Tomoson for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I was not compensated for my review and all my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

Refreshing Bean and Corn Salad

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I know I have been a pretty absent lately and that is because I got too complacent in my cooking! I got in a semi-unhealthy rut and only just recently pulled myself out of it. What better way to get back into clean, healthy eating than to make a delicious refreshing cold bean and corn salad? It is plant-based, protein-packed, fiber-rich, and easy to make! I am seriously considering making this my new pot-luck go to item.

I used all organic or home grown (yay for vegetable and herb gardens!) ingredients to really up the nutrient value and reduce my sugary/processed food intake. When purchasing canned beans, this is very important. Most regular canned beans come packed in corn syrup! Ew! Organic beans come packed in salt water instead. If you want to use dry beans for this recipe, each can equals 1 1/2 cups of soaked, prepared beans. I also used fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf similar to cilantro, not curly) from my garden because parsley is great for detoxifying your digestive system! You can easily use  as a substitute for an equally refreshing, but slightly different tasting dish.

Refreshing Bean and Corn Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Calories per serving: 139

Fat per serving: 8

Saturated fat per serving: 1

Carbs per serving: 17

Protein per serving: 5

Fiber per serving: 3

Sugar per serving: 3

Sodium per serving: 221

Ingredients

  • 1 container (1 1/2 cups ea.), Black Beans
  • 1 container (1 1/2 cups ea.), Field Peas or Black Eyed Peas
  • 1 ear (146 g) or 1/2 can, Corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped (149 g), Bell Pepper, Red
  • 1/2 Small Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 cup Chopped, Parsley, Fresh, Chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 3 tbsp, Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tsp, Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse beans.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Refrigerate.

Notes

Also contains 24% of your recommended daily Vitamin C intake! 10% of Vitamin A and 8% of iron too!

http://thehamperedchef.com/2016/07/07/refreshing-bean-and-corn-salad/

Mr Bros 6 Sided Grater Review #MRBROS


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This grater features 6 sides for fine, medium, coarse, zesting and 2 slicing sides. It is made of durable stainless steel with a nonskid base. My favorite part is the plastic handle that is much more comfortable than a traditional metal  handle. It’s great for shredding carrots or cheese and slicing things like potatoes. I can even zest a lemon on the microplane side. It is a very versatile grater!

To Purchase: Amazon

Disclaimer: I received this product for a discount in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

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I find that I bake cakes/cupcakes more than any other item. It seems to me that almost everyone likes a good cake, but not always cookies, pies, etc. I am also the go to person for birthday cakes. Rather than make the same cake over and over again, I like to experiment with flavors to keep things interesting. This is how I came up with the cinnamon roll cupcake idea. I used by trusty Vegan GF cupcake base, then added cinnamon. Super easy! I also used vanilla icing and candied pecans as a garnish. My favorite aspect of this recipe is that it uses Vegenaise (or mayo) instead of eggs and oil. It makes the batter smoother and the cake much more moist and fluffy.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 18 regular cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 c GF All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar, granulated
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c Veganaise or Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbl Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbl Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. 1. Mix together dry ingredients
  2. 2. Mix in wet ingredients.
  3. 3. Scoop into prepared cupcake tin.
  4. 4. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350ºF.
http://thehamperedchef.com/2016/06/05/cinnamon-roll-cupcakes/

National Grilled Cheese Month with Rumiano Cheese! Bonus: Recipe Contest!

April is National Grilled Cheese Month! Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? I prefer mine served next to a bowl of tomato soup! However with my intolerances, grilled cheese is a bit tough to make. Non-dairy cheeses rarely melt properly, or taste like real cheese. Luckily though, I can tolerate low-lactose cheeses with an enzyme pill. Organic, grass-fed cheeses are also much easier to digest, and healthier too! No added hormones to mess with your body. This is where Rumiano Cheese comes in. Here is a little background on their company:

Rumiano Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California dating back four generations. Rumiano Cheese Company is committed to the organic, grass-fed and Non-GMO movement and continuing to produce the highest quality cheese inspired by their founding fathers’ recipes and cheese making techniques. In 2011, Rumiano launched their Rumiano Family Organic line, which is the first cheese in the US market to receive Non-GMO Project Verification.

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I was thrilled to be chosen to try out this cheese! I found it at my local Whole foods. You can see its placement on the top row of the cooler shelf in the photo above. It comes in many varieties, though my store only carries 3 types: mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack. I was super excited to see that each one of those three listed 0g of sugar (i.e. lactose)! It did not say lactose free on the package, so I assume there may be trace amounts.

I couldn’t wait to get this home to make a grilled cheese! This cheese is great for melting. I used the sharp cheddar for the grilled cheese in the photo above. It had that lovely stretchy, gooey quality I haven’t seen in a low lactose cheese in forever! The taste was great too! I loved not having to feel guilty about eating it, since it is so healthy and doesn’t contain hormones or terrible fillers.

To find it at a store near you: Locator

Bonus: They are also having a grilled cheese recipe contest! Submit your recipe here by the end of April to try to win free cheese!

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