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.

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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Gluten Free Pancakes with Our House Mix

I was happy to be given the opportunity to try out the Our House brand of pancake mix and AP flour. The AP Flour is fairly straight forward: long grain brown rice flour, rice flour, sorghum flour, & xanthan gum. Nothing that would affect taste or texture over much. What I enjoyed the most, though was the pancake mix! I love pancakes! I have tried many recipes and mixes before, only to find their taste or texture sub par. The Pancake & Waffle mix has a few more ingredients: Rice flour, long grain brown rice flour, cane sugar, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, & natural flavor. Aside for the “natural flavor” (which always makes me wonder), the ingredients are recognizable.  You also add similar ingredients as you would to a glutenous mix. Eggs, milk (almond for me), oil, water.

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The ingredients blended pretty easily and formed an initially liquid batter. Because of this, I mixed in in a large measuring cup. I learned this trick from my Mother-in-Law. It makes it easier to pour the batter into the skillet. Less mess!

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However, as you can see below, the batter thickened while I was waiting for the skillet to heat up. It ended up being too thick to pour, so I had to use a measuring cup to portion out the pancakes anyway.

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The end result was spectacular! The pancakes cooked much like glutenous pancakes do, with bubbles rising to indicate doneness. They cooked way lighter (not golden) than wheat pancakes do, so you have to keep an eye on those bubbles to judge when they are ready. As you can tell from the photo below, they have an excellent crumb structure. Light and fluffy, not dense or grainy. They tasted great too! I made both plain and chocolate chip and served them with my whipped vanilla “butter.” So yummy!

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Our House offers a complete line of baking mix products, including: all-purpose flour, brownie mix, cookie mix, pancake and waffle mix, corn bread mix, and baking mix. Please visit the Our House Website for more information on their products and where to purchase them.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free 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.

5 Reasons Why Your Gluten Free Recipe Failed

Ever try baking a gluten free cake, only to have it fall flat? Maybe even bread or cookies too? It isn’t your fault! Bread, cake and cookies are staples in our lives and you shouldn’t have to give them up when you go gluten free. Even though it is becoming increasingly easy to find pre-baked GF alternatives in grocery stores and at bakeries, it is still much more expensive than making your own. They also aren’t always made the best way with the best ingredients. However, when the GF foodie ventures into making their own baked goods, they often fail at first and give up. No one tells you that the rules of GF baking are different. Not even the online or cookbook recipes. Here the top 5 reasons why your recipe fell flat:

  1. You opened the oven to check on it before it was done baking. 
    • The most common mistake that no one tells you to avoid is opening the oven to check on it before it is fully cooked. I grew up opening the oven to check on goods and had to break my self of this terrible habit. GF products are naturally less stable. The missing gluten is what holds up the bread or cake during baking. Even the slightest temperature change when baking GF goods will cause the fragile structure to breakdown and your bread/cake/etc will collapse.
  2. You didn’t let it bake long enough.
    • GF baked goods generally take longer to bake through. If your cake or bread has a gummy center, chances are you took it out of the oven too soon. For example, my glutinous bread recipes took around 25 minutes to bake, but my gf bread of similar size takes 45-60 minutes to bake through. This is why several brands of store bought GF bread have dark burnt-tasting crusts. Cooking GF items low and slow always yields a better result.
  3. Your oven temperature is off or you baked it at the wrong temperature.
    • Again cooking at a low temperature for longer is better. You cannot get away with rushing GF items by cooking them at a higher temperature, like you can with glutinous ones. If you are cooking at the suggested temperature, but still have issues, your oven may need to be re-calibrated.  When I first went GF, it blew my mind that my cakes took 1 1/2 hours to bake. I found out my oven was FIFTY degrees lower than indicated. You can buy a simple oven thermometer like this at any grocery store. Hang it from the rack you plan to cook on and watch it through the oven window to see if the temperature matches what your oven tells you.
  4. You used old ingredients. Especially baking powder/soda.
    •  Because the GF flours lack the elasticity of gluten, you usually need stronger or more leavening  products to create those lovely air bubbles you see in bread and cake that makes them so light and fluffy. Old or expired leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda have lost some of their leavening power, so you won’t see the product rise as well.
  5. The altitude or weather was different when the recipe was created. 
    • I know this sounds bizarre, but it was one huge takeaway I got from culinary school. Altitude and weather affect your baking. Even more so for GF products. Ever try baking macarons on a rainy day? What about proofing bread on a cold one? It never turns out right. Heat, humidity, and distance from sea level are huge factors in baking. Some factors cannot be controlled, but often you simply need to adjust your recipe to the weather. Most often it is an issue with liquids. On a wet day, reduce liquids, but on a hot day add more.

With this knowledge under your belt, you will be baking GF goodies like a pro! Please comment below or email me if you have any further questions or would like advice on a certain situation. I would be happy to help!

Almond Butter Cookies

So, the Body Ecology Diet is still rough. As a pastry chef, it is hard to avoid sugar, wheat, dairy and vanilla extract! I was about a month in before the cravings started. It also doesn’t help that Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us. I couldn’t fine any recipes for sweets on the body ecology diet, so I adapted a recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies to suit. Unfortunately the attempt at peanutless/flourless/sugarless cookies didn’t work so well! It took a couple of attempts, but the end result is worth it. I really like the salty/sweet taste. You can adjust the salt and stevia to suit your palette. For those of you on the BED, you will need to make your own almond butter from sprouted almonds, use alcohol free vanilla, and use ground flax seed instead of almond flour in the early stages of the diet.

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Almond Butter Cookies

Yield: 12-15 cookies (depends on size)

1 cup Almond Butter

1 Whole Egg

1/4 cup Almond Flour

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

Stevia or monkfruit powder , to taste (I only did 1/2 a packet)

 

  • Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer or a fork.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls.
  • lightly press with a fork to flatten.
  • Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool (will crumble when warm), then eat!

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Ancient Grain Bread

 

Multi Grain Bread

Unfortunately, there are few breads allowed in the beginning stage of the BED.  The only approved bread seller sells only locally in California and online ($10 per loaf + S&H!). Because of this, I have been going through bread withdrawal. Therefore, I decided to make my own. The following bread recipe is my adaptation of the Stage 1 Body Ecology bread. I am still working on making it more sandwich bread-like, but for now, it is a better option than what is offered on the body ecology website. If you have several days, you can opt to both soak and sprout the grains before using them. I didn’t think that far ahead, so they are simply soaked overnight in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup millet
  • ½ cup amaranth
  • ½ cup buckwheat
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds or psyllium
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

-Soak quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds in just enough water to cover them. Let sit at least 8 hours or overnight.

-Carefully drain off excess water.

– Blend them in a food processor, gradually adding in each of the other ingredients. Make sure to separate baking soda and vinegar, so you avoid the foam. Blend until you have a loose paste. Add more water if paste is too thick.

– Pour into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan (8×4 will work too, but will be a tight fit). Top with seeds, if desired.

-Bake at 325°F for 60-90 minutes, until top springs back when pressed.

-Allow to cool 10 minutes, before removing from pan.

-Allow to cool entirely before slicing.

Beef Stew

With winter upon us, nothing satisfies me more than a hot bowl of beef stew. It goes back to my child hood, when my mom would make it and serve fresh baked bread along side it. Of course now, I can’t make it the same way she does. After some experimentation, I found a good basic recipe, and will now share my dietary restriction friendly adaptation with you! I use beef bone broth for this, as it is considered very healing for the digestive tract. You can use other broths, if you do not want to make your own. everything in parentheses are the original ingredients that I swapped out for BED friendly ingredients. Use whatever is right for you. Also, I apologize for no photo. Beef stew is not very photogenic.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbl coconut or olive oil
  • 1 pound stew beef
  • 1 medium onion, white or yellow, rough chopped
  • 1.5 quart beef bone broth
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed (or potatoes)
  • 1 cup green beans, cut to bite sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 each bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt (reduce or omit if using store bought broth)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbl coconut aminos (or 1 tsp Worstershire sauce + 1/2 tsp sugar)

Fast prep, slow cooking method:

-Put everything in a 4 quart or larger crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

 

Slow prep, fast cooking method:

-In a 4 quart or larger stock pot, saute onion in oil until translucent, then remove.

-In same pot, sear beef, then drain off fat.

-Add all into stock pot, and simmer until vegetables are softened & meat is cooked through.

 

Middle ground (what I did):

-In a medium saute pan saute onion in oil until translucent, then remove.

-In same pot, sear beef, then drain off fat.

-Put everything in a 4 quart or larger crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours.