Sometimes you just need a cupcake!

Have you ever had a day that you just needed a cupcake?

Last week I was wondering around New York City between work and my acting class, and I just started craving a cupcake. Normally you would just go into the next bakery you find (and there are lots in NYC).  If you have Celiac Disease this means you’ll have to go to the store, buy a pre-made gluten free mix (if your local grocery store has them) and bake up a batch yourself. Then…you can enjoy the delicious cupcake you’ve been craving.

But….NYC is also home to quite a few gluten free bakeries.  Here’s a list of the 7 Best Gluten Free Bake Shops in NYC according to CBS News.  I just happened to be only a few blocks from Pip’s Place on 39th street, so I stopped in to see what was ready-to-eat in their bakery window.

Pip's Place Gluten Free Bakery

They have cupcakes, cakes, muffins, cookies and more to choose from that are ALL gluten free.  Some of their options are even gluten free AND dairy free!  Not only were there a lot of options, but the staff was extremely friendly. It was a hard choice, but I settled on a red velvet cupcake with white icing and sugar crystals.  After my experience at Pip’s Place, I will definitely be back for more!

Gluten Free Cupcake

Where’s your favorite place to get gluten free goodies?

Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery

Imagine walking into a bakery and being able to try everything in the display case.  That’s what it is like at Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery.

I almost felt dizzy as I walked into Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery, a 100% gluten free bakery, in Chicago and took a look at the entire gluten free menu!  Here’s a small sample of all the gluten free goodies that laid before me:

Rose's Wheat Free Bakery
Although I was in Chicago for the Miss International pageant and only a day away from the Fitness wear competition, I decided to splurge a little on some delicious gluten free treats.  For lunch I chose the Avocado Chicken Wrap which was absolutely amazing. The gluten free pita was warm, the avocado was ripened to perfection, and it even came with a homemade dipping sauce.

Gluten Free Pita

I stole a few bites of the Rueben sandwich and B.L.T sandwich from my family.  The homemade gluten free bread was great.  It didn’t crumble like most breads.  When you order a sandwich, you also get to choose what kind of gluten free bread you’d like it on.  The options are: bagels, baguettes, challah bread, french bread loaf/rolls, plain sandwich bread and vegan seeded sandwich bread.

Gluten Free Rueben

Gluten Free Rueben

Gluten Free B.L.T.

Gluten Free B.L.T.

Then my family decided to each get a few desserts and share.  We had an eclair, blueberry cheesecake, a giant ‘oreo’ type cookie, and a cinnamon roll.  Yes, they were ALL gluten free.  

Gluten Free Bakery

Here’s a peek at the yummy cinnamon roll:

Gluten Free Cinnamon Bun

After lunch, I got a chance to meet the friendly kitchen team at Rose’s Bakery, too:

Gluten Free Bakery TeamGluten Free Kitchen Team One of the most amazing moments was speaking with Rose, the Bakery’s owner.  She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 17 years ago.   Her story was similar to my celiac disease diagnosis because her mom was diagnosed first then eventually she was diagnosed as well.

Rose Owner of Rose's Wheat Free Bakery

If I lived in Chicago or was planning to move there anytime soon, I would make sure I lived within a 10 minute drive from Rose’s.  I give them a 10/10 for being both extremely well-educated on Celiac Disease and having a 100% gluten free menu for both meals and desserts.  Thank you Rose for an amazing experience at your bakery.  I hope to be back soon!

Have you ever been to Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery? Share your experience in the comments below:

If you offer a gluten free menu, please train your staff

Dear restaurant owners,

If you have a gluten free menu, please train your staff accordingly.

Your ‘glutened’ patron,

Jenna

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some friends to a restaurant called the Chart House in Hoboken.  To my surprise, they offered a dedicated gluten free menu for their diners who have Celiac Disease.  I have to admit that when I go out to dinner, I get extra excited when a restaurant offers a specific gluten free menu – mainly because this means I don’t have to be ‘that person with the gluten allergy’ at the table.

If you’ve ever been to the Chart House (or checked out their menu), it’s a dimly-lit restaurant to set a romantic mood and typically reserved for special occasions like anniversary dinners and such.  In fact, it’s so dark that when our salads came, and I started eating, I was unable to see the croutons hidden just under the first layer of lettuce.  After several bites of lettuce, my fork crunched into the hidden suspect – A CROUTON!  Immediately the waiter was called over and admitted that he had not been paying attention when he served our table and brought the wrong salad.

In an effort to ‘make up’ for poisoning me, they offered to provide free desert.   Knowing that I would most likely make it through dinner without becoming ill, I agreed and shared a Crème Brulee with the table.

Needless to say, I went home and crawled right into bed as the stomach pain began.  The next morning is when the ‘gluten’ really hit me.  As I tried to sit up out of bed, I became dizzy and needed to sit down. After I put on my shoes and stood up, I became dizzy.  As I got out of my car to walk to work, I became dizzy.  I felt nauseous for days. My skin broke out into a rash.  My mood was affected and more.  I can’t even begin to imagine the havoc the cross contamination causes with my insides!

This terrible scenario occurs again and again for my fellow gluten free diners – mostly because food service staff is untrained on how to handle food allergies and autoimmune diseases like Celiac Disease.  They may go above and beyond to provide a specific menu, but if the staff (from servers to cooks) is untrained on ingredients, cross contamination, and more then it’s a waste of time.

If you are a restaurant owner committed to offering a safe environment for those with food allergy and gluten free diet concerns, then I highly suggest the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness’ GREAT Kitchens certification program.

Have you ever been glutened at a ‘gluten free friendly’ restaurant?  Share your story in the comments below…

Gluten free bagels at Einstein Bros Bagels

I’m currently in Houston for work running a sponsor booth at the Latism 2012 Conference at the Hyatt Regency. On the first day here my co-worker and I were wondering around for a breakfast location but wound up at a little shop eating yogurt an hard boiled eggs. Nothing against hard boiled eggs (I love eggs), but I needed something a little more substantial for a day on my feet.

We stopped by the Einstein Bros Bagel shop in the hotel lobby expecting another slim breakfast. However, I was pleasantly surprised by finding gluten free bagels offered in the case!

Unfortunately once they removed the bagel from the protective plastic it was ‘no longer certified gluten free’ according to the staff. This is probably due to the fact that there is lots of opportunity for cross-contamination. Regardless I was pleasantly surprised finding a gluten free bagel!

Tell me, do you have any favorite gluten free restaurants in Houston? Share them with me – I’m here until Sunday.

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A Night in Paris – Paris 66

Last night, we dined at La Paris 66 in Shadyside. I’ve been wanted to go there for a while now to try their gluten-free options! When we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly “bon soiree” by the owner and led to a quaint table on the back patio under the festive lights. The mood wasn’t stuffy or pretentious at all – simply a relaxed South of France atmosphere.

The restaurant was BYOB, so we brought our own bottle of red, Spanish Tempranillo/Shiraz mix (yes, I know what you’re thinking…Spanish wine to a French restaurant). After it was corked, we made our first ‘chin chin’ to travelling to France in one year’s time.

Our first course was a shared La Paris 66 galatte, made from buckwheat and filled to the brim with ham, cheese and a sunny-side-up egg with mushrooms, tomatoes and salad on the side. It was absolutely delicious and reminded me of the months I spent in France.

My next course was the evening’s special, roasted lamb with potatoes and bacon-wrapped green beans (he had me at bacon). Now, before I ordered, I told the waiter of my gluten intolerance and he went to speak with the French chef. When the waiter returned, he said the potatoes on the side were not gluten-free, but the chef would be happy to prepare something else that would be gluten-free. The chef specially made me a second side of pablano peppers stuffed with a rice and rosemary blend which was more amazing than the original side. I had forgotten the aromatic and complexity of French meals!

We finished the meal with a shared a chocolate mousse made with 65% Belgian chocolate. I felt as though with each bite, I was dipping my spoon into the most delicious dark chocolate bar I had ever tasted.

Thank you Paris 66 for the fabulous tastes of France right here in Pittsburgh, PA.

Mozzarelli’s Gluten-Free Options in NYC

Mozzarelli’s is a pizzera located near Madison Square Park in NYC. During the week, Mozzarelli’s offers gluten-free pasta options. I went on a Sunday afternoon, and they still had some delicious pizza by the slice and by the pie. Out of the cheese, pepperoni and spinach & mushroon, I picked the spinach and mushroom slice…I definitely wasn’t dissappointed!

Not only does Mozzarelli’s offer entrees and pizza, but they have an entire wall dedicated to My Dad’s Cookies. There is also a little sample cart of almost every cookie offered on the wall! Mmm…

If this wasn’t enough, across the wall there is an entire cooler full of gluten-free desserts. I mean amazing desserts: carrot cake, chocolate cake, cheesecake, red velvet cake, and many more!

Thank you Mozzarelli’s for understand our gluten-free needs!

Through Celiac Disease Awareness, I hope to empower Indiana to embrace the needs of the gluten-free community!