01 December 2009

happy trails

Tonight we leave for a few days of hiking in Kenya. I'm bringing along a new trail snack to try: Buffalo Guys Buffalo Jerky. I've never really eaten jerky before. I don't know why; it just didn't interest me. But I'm looking for a minimally processed, high-protein snack, so it's time I gave jerky a try. (I've packed plenty of Lara Bars, on the off chance that I end up despising jerky.)

We're also planning to go to the Carnivore restaurant one night for exotic meats. Zebra perhaps? Crocodile?

Despite this post, I actually don't eat a ton of meat. But I do appreciate it when it's done well.

See you in a few days!

21 November 2009

raw revolution

The latest victim in my food-in-bar-form obsession is Raw Revolution. I bought Raspberry & Chocolate, Chocolate & Coconut, and Chocolate & Cashew varieties from Gluten-Free Mall.  

I'm suspicious of "raw diet" marketing. It seems so gimicky. Many healthy snacks are already raw by virtue of them being dried or fresh, rather than processed. But by adding the word "raw" and some flashy packaging (often plastic-wrapped, which bugs the heck out of me), suddenly plain old dried fruit is expensive and trendy. I also have an issue with the use of "live food" on the package, because where I'm living, live food is the mosquitoes that geckos eat (or the geckos that my cat eats).

However, I do like bars for snacks on the go, and you can't beat their convenience when hiking or traveling. So I decided to ignore the "raw" and focus on the chocolate. 

Big mistake. "Health food" chocolate just doesn't taste the same as Ghiradelli chocolate. The bars weren't bad tasting, especially the raspberry one, which had a nice, strong raspberry flavor. But it wasn't like eating a chocolate bar. 

I didn't really like the consistency of these bars either. Remember those slabs of colored clay you used to get in elementary school? It's sort of like that. Only stickier, because of the dried fruit. How "unprocessed" is a food really, when it's all mashed up and forced into bar form? It may not be cooked, but it still had a lot of mechanical help.

Besides food in bar form, another recent obsession of mine is fiber. These bars are fairly high in fiber, so that was my main reason for giving them a couple chances. Unfortunately they are also a bit too high in saturated fat for my liking. I have to admit that these bars kept me full for quite a while after eating one. The Raspberry & Chocolate bar may make occasional appearances in my repertoire, because I do love chocolate, I liked this better than the Jocolat bars, and I like variety and choices. But I enjoy too many other fatty foods to make this an everyday treat.

Raw Revolution bars are sold no where in my neighborhood, except online. You can purchase directly from Raw Revolution, or a number of other outlets such as Amazon.com and Gluten-Free Mall. I don't think I'm going out on a limb by suggesting you can probably find them at your local Whole Foods or REI.

In running news, it hasn't been going well. Mike and I have both been sort of low-energy and flu-like this week. But my arch pain has subsided, my knees feel good, and I'm playing tennis this morning. I'll be back to running again in no time.

Image from Raw Revolution.
I purchased these items on my own from Gluten-Free Mall. This is not a paid review.

11 November 2009


No one can argue that one of the greatest products to come out of Burundi is Fruito fruit juices. Fruito takes local pineapple, juices it, and bottles it. Voila. There's no sugar added. You get a bottle of 100% pineapple juice every time. It tastes magical. They also make a passion fruit juice that has some sugar added. Real cane sugar, which I think is a real treat. 

The Fruito company is also an inspiration for local businesses. A Burundian nurse who used to work at the U.S. Embassy here had an idea for a juice company and applied for a grant from the Embassy. She got it, and with a lot of hard work, she's now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in town. Nearly every restaurant and store carries Fruito. People buy it in cases from the bottle depots. (We certainly do!)

A cold Fruito on a hot day (which nearly every day is) is one of the best things in the world. When I got home from my run this morning, Mike made me a mango smoothie with Fruito passion fruit juice. It was just what I needed as a reward, since I hadn't really been in the mood to run. 

Unfortunately for most people, Fruito does not leave Burundi often. You'll just have to come here and try some for yourself.

09 November 2009

gluten-free thanksgiving

I'm reposting my Thanksgiving post from two years ago, with some light editing.

Thanksgiving can be the most depressing holiday for a celiac. It's a whole day that centers around food. And no one wants to feel left out of the festivities. Part of being a celiac isn't just the food, it's the psychology of standing out in a crowd or having to worry about every bite. I've found that I hate standing out with the "special meal." I want to fit in and eat the same food as everyone else. Thus, the most comforting thing for me is being invited to the home of someone who is aware of the simple steps that can be taken to make a gluten-free Thanksgiving that's delicious for everyone.

Turkey. Make sure it's gluten-free. It seems like a no-brainer, but some turkeys are injected with, I don't know, delicious turkey flavor I guess. Whatever it is, some of those injection juices contain gluten, so check the ingredients on the turkey before you buy it.

Stuffing. If you absolutely must serve grandma's traditional bread stuffing, bake it on the side rather than in the turkey. Gluten can be transferred. If you want to stuff the bird, use a rice stuffing or a pure cornbread stuffing. Check those packages of cornbread mix--some add regular flour. Make sure the cornbread is made from pure cornmeal or corn flour. If you add sausage to the stuffing, make sure it's a GF sausage. Sometimes wheat is used as a filler. MSG is okay, though. It's not gluten, it's a corn-based additive.

Gravy. Use cornstarch instead of regular flour.

Potatoes, squash, and other vegetables. They are inherently gluten-free. If you're adding sour cream or cream cheese to mashed potatoes, though, check to make sure modified food starch is not on the ingredients list.

Cranberry sauce. Check the cans and tubs for wheat, modified food starch, or suspicious "natural flavoring."

Rolls and bread. These can be tricky because most GF bread just isn't as good as the regular stuff. (Although in my family those terrible, tasteless snowflake rolls were always served. I've learned to just skip the rolls altogether.) It's one thing I'd rather politely decline than eat a GF substitute.

Dessert. Traditional pies take a little effort. But I think it's worth it. The celiac doesn't want to be eating plain old GF cookies while everyone else digs in to pumpkin pie. At Whole Foods and many other specialty health food stores you can buy GF pies frozen. Some health food stores also contract with local bakeries for fresh pies. GF pie crust mixes and recipes are readily available if you want to bake your own.

Appetizers/snacks. Corn chips are safe as well as vegetable crudites. Make sure dips are free of modified food starch and wheat. Have two cheese plates: one with GF crackers and one with regular crackers.

If the celiac or the parents of the celiac are making the bulk of the meal, I'm sure you'll be making it gluten-free and none of the non-GF guests will even notice. If you are inviting celiac guests and they ask if they can bring something, tell them "Yes!" Celiacs need to be assured that we have some control over our food.

I give thanks to my friends and family members who help make my life a little easier when it comes to eating.

07 November 2009

bob's red mill holiday baking sale

Two sales announcements in one morning! Bob's Red Mill is having a sale on holiday baking essentials, including gluten-free flours, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, xanthan gum, and gluten-free oats. There's no promotion code, just visit the Monthly Specials page to see the discounted prices. Note that not every product on the specials page is gluten-free, so read product information carefully before ordering. Most products can be ordered in bulk.

Disclaimer: I'm just a fan so spreading the word to others. As of yet, I'm not accepting free samples from Bob, but Bob, if you're reading, I wouldn't say "No."

glutenfree.com sale

This morning I received an email saying that for the month of November glutenfree.com is offering 10% off orders of $75.00 or more. Enter the code "november" at checkout for the discount. Unfortunately I cannot find a definite end date for this promotion, and the email I received says "DISCLAIMER: Please verify this information before applying it to your situation." I don't know if they're referring to the promotion or the presence of non-gluten allergens in the food, quite honestly. So, if it's near the end of the month, shoot them an email or call them first to confirm the sale is still going on. It's a bit of work, but you get a discount that pretty much covers the cost of shipping. Sometimes every little bit helps, right?

Glutenfree.com has a huge selection of products, including the brands Glutino and Gluten-Free Pantry.

A disclaimer of my own: I'm not getting anything from glutenfree.com; I'm just a fan who shops there often.

06 November 2009

gluten freeda's instant oatmeal

When I'm traveling I like to pack instant hot cereal for breakfast. Whether I'm at a hotel breakfast buffet or firing up a camp stove, I can get hot water, which means I can get a decent breakfast if I have my cereal with me. 

But my last few trips haven't been successful, breakfast-wise, because I've been unable to find single-serve packets of instant, gluten-free hot cereal. For awhile I was eating a quinoa flakes cereal, but I haven't seen it lately. Everything else I saw wasn't instant, or wasn't in single-serve packets (which really are the best for traveling). I was excited when I finally found Gluten Freeda's gluten-free instant oatmeal.

I bought the variety pack, which includes two packets each of the flavors Banana Maple, Maple Raisin, and Apple Cinnamon. I've been testing them at home this week in preparation for a trip to Kenya next month, part camping, part hotel stay. They all smelled great when opening the packets, so I was certain I'd found a substitute for my Quaker Oats instant oatmeal packets.

The actual taste wasn't as flavorful as the scent led me to believe. All I could taste was oats. No apple, no cinnamon, no maple. If I wanted plain oats, I would have bought plain oats. They definitely need a boost of honey, brown sugar, or cinnamon. 

On the health and nutrition side, all three flavors have a good amount of fiber, 4 grams per serving, and they all contain flax. They kept me pretty full on both running and non-running days. I'll be having a bowl as pre-hike breakfast this weekend. And I'll be taking them along with me to Kenya next month. The convenience and the fullness factor more than make up for the lack of flavor (which is something I can fix on my own easily enough).

My sources indicate that Gluten Freeda's instant oatmeal is becoming more available in mainstream grocery stores. (Since I live thousands of miles from the nearest mainstream grocery store, I can't see for myself.) I ordered mine from Gluten-Free Mall

Image from Gluten-Free Mall.

04 November 2009

gluten-free fitness

Hey, I've been profiled as a gluten-free athlete! Check it out at the Gluten-Free Fitness blog. Thanks Erin!

Be sure to bookmark Erin's blog for lots of gluten-free fitness information.

01 November 2009

netrition.com, lara bars, and choices

My running hasn't been particularly stellar lately. A series of busy late nights and poor food choices drained my energy this week. I'm getting back on track today, starting with a nice breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and nuts. I'll drink a lot of water and maybe treat myself to my cook's gluten-free vegetarian mini-pizzas for dinner.

Earlier this week I received my first Netrition.com order. It included a huge supply of Lara Bars. I generally try to save them for an occasional snack, and no more than one a day for a regular work day (i.e., a day I'm not hiking or traveling). But several times this week I gorged on two or three at a time as meal replacements for quick breakfasts or lunches on the go. Busy. Poor food choices. Too much of a good thing. Cue the sugar crash. I love all the dried fruit packed into each bar, but too much of it makes me burn out. And while they are a decent source of fiber, they can also be high in fat (especially the ridiculously yummy coconut cream bar).

A friend turned me on to Netrition.com as a cheaper supplier of Lara Bars than Amazon.com. Netrition.com sells the Lara Bars at one flat rate, unlike Amazon, which sells different flavors at different prices. They have a huge selection of flavors and they're all included in the flat-rate shipping (unlike Amazon, which gets different varieties from different sources, and thus has various shipping rates). So until an even better deal comes along, Netrition.com is my new source for Lara Bars.

They have a small selection of other gluten-free goodies as well. I'm not big into the supplements and weight-gain or weight-loss scene. I don't need or want low-carbs. So a lot of their gluten-free items are useless to me. However, I did find some gluten-free vitamins, which I often take with my post-workout snacks. I also tried a new brand of corn chips (new to me at least). 

Like many gluten-free searches, they only include products that advertise themselves as gluten-free. If you know of a specific brand that's gluten-free, but doesn't necessarily scream it at you from the label, you may still be able to find it by searching for that specific brand. The brand of chips I was looking at are all gluten-free, but only one variety of them popped up in the gluten-free search. Overall, though, since they had my main shopping need, I was satisfied with using the site.

We can't always make the best food choices. Other parts of life get in the way. But we have to be able to recognize those choices and allow ourselves to make the bad ones when they're unavoidable, then reset ourselves when time does allow us to make those better choices. Lara Bars are yummy, but they are not a meal. This last week proved that I cannot survive on them alone.

25 October 2009

cheese fest

I run so I can eat cheese. 

Last night we didn't just eat cheese, we celebrated it. The Belgian community organized a feast of European cheeses and cold meats, like parma ham and hard salamis. It was phenomenal. We met some friends, shared some wine, and ate all the cheese we could. Most of the cheeses were soft, like brie and the most amazing chevre I've ever had. High-quality soft cheeses are hard to find here and expensive when you do find them, so a whole table piled high with them was quite a sight. 

I unfortunately forgot to bring my own crackers or bread so watched the others indulge in artisan breads while I picked at my cheese with a fork. Of course it wasn't the same, but I did what I had to. When it comes to cheese, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

Image from Jupiter Images.

23 October 2009

spicy thai beef salad

My run yesterday morning was fueled by the spicy thai beef salad I had for dinner the night before. I'm not an early morning eater. In order to run before the heat of the day sets in, I wake up at 5:30 to be out the door before 6:00. I'm awake long before my stomach is. Regardless of the length of my run, the most I can eat that early is about half a Lara bar, and most days I don't even eat that, I just drink a little water. I must rely on my dinner the night before to get me through the run.

I've become very particular of those pre-running dinners. In the old days, when I was in college and high school, I could pretty much eat anything and go running at any time. Not anymore.

That's where beef salad comes in. I can't go wrong with high protein and tons of veggies. We have a fresh pineapple juice here--simply juice, no sugar or anything else added--which is a nice, sweet complement to a healthy meal.

I wish I could take credit for this salad. While in Europe a few months ago we bought some French-language cookbooks for our cook. He actually doesn't read very well, but he can take a list of ingredients and turn it into something yummy like nobody's business. The salad is courtesy of him and a French-language Thai food cookbook. The ingredients are strips of beef, tender and rare, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, sometimes basil, crushed red pepper, garlic and a soy sauce dressing. (I brought tons of the San-J wheat-free soy sauce with us.) It's served cold.

21 October 2009

halloween candy

It's the time of year for candy. It's everywhere you look and it's too tempting to say no every time. But some of us have to say no to certain treats. There's just no getting around it. 

Gluten-free candy lists have been circulating the 'net and I think they should be repeated. I've combined lists from different sources and added some of my favorite chocolates that hadn't been included. (References are at the bottom of the post.)

Halloween isn't the only time for candy. Christmas and Valentine's Day will soon follow. We'll be dodging candy landmines for the next several months.

Remember, ingredients and labeling change. And many products have warning labels saying that facilities or equipment may be shared with wheat products. It is up to you to read labels, contact manufacturers, and decide for yourself if you want to eat these products or not. Also note that many candies contain nuts, soy-based products, and other allergens. I have not noted them below.

Airheads Bars regular and sour
Airheads Pops
Whistle Pops

Cadbury Adams
Swedish Fish
Sour Patch Soft and Chewy Candy Kids

Ce De Candy
Bubble Gum Smarties
Candy Money
Smarties in a Pouch
Tropical Smarties
X-TREME Sour Smarties
Smarties Parties, Double Lollies, Mega Lollies, and Pops

Boo x2 Chocolate Ghosts
BinGo! Divvine Chocolate Bar
Benjamint Crunch Bar
Halloween Jelly Beans

Enjoy Life
Boom CHOCO Boom Dark Chocolate Bar
Boom CHOCO BoomCrispy Rice Bar
Boom CHOCO Boom Milk Bar

Fannie May
all candy bars
English Toffee
all solid chocolate novelties
Hostess Mints
Apricot Bon Bons
Apricot Cream
Assorted Nuts, Cashews, Chocolate & Pastel Meltaways
Chocolate Toffee
Chocolate Wafers
Citrus Peel
Dark Filbert Clusters
Irish Toffee
Ivory & Chocolate Bark
Milk & Dark Almond Clusters
Milk & Dark Walnut Clusters
Milk Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
Pastel Toffee
Pastel Wafers
Peanut Clusters

Farley's and Sather's
Super Bubble and Super Bubble Blast
Rain-Blo Pops
Atomic Fireball
Trolli Gummi Bears
Trolli Sour Brite (Frite) Crawlers
Now and Later regular
Now and Later Soft
Jujyfruits and Friends (Heide candies)

Ferrara Pan
Chewy Atomic Fireballs
Red Hots
Chewy Lemonhead and Friends
Applehead, Grapehead, Cherryhead

Milk Chocolate Bars
Milk Duds
Heath Minis
Kisses, Special Dark Kisses
Almond Joy
Mr. Goodbar
Baby Ruth
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy and Hard Candy Sticks
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Jelly Belly
Jelly Beans

Just Born
Mike & Ike
Hot Tamales
Peeps Marshmallow Candies
Peanut Chew Brand candies,
Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans and
Just Born Jelly Beans

Mars and Wrigley
M & Ms Plain
M & Ms Peanut
3 Musketeers
Skittles and Skittles Sour
Lifesavers Hard Candy, Pops, and Gummies
Hubba Bubba Gum, Glop, Max, Pop
Wrigley's Spearmint gum
Freedent gum
Doublemint gum
Extra gum
Big Red gum
Eclipse gum
Juicy Fruit gum
Winterfresh gum
Orbit and Orbit White gum
Altoids Mints, Sours, and Gum

Milk Chocolate bar
Milk Chocolate with Chopped Hazelnuts bar
Milk Chocolate with Cream Filling bar
Chocolate Dessert bar
Milk and White Chocolate Cow Spots bar

Oh Henry
Butterfinger (not Butterfinger Crisp)
Baby Ruth
Nips Regular and Sugar Free
Treasures, including Treasures Bars

Necco Wafers
Mary Janes
Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
Sweethearts Conversation Hearts (Valentines only)
Canada Mint & Wintergreen Lozenges
Haviland Thin Mints and Candy Stix
Clark Bars
Haviland Peppermint & Wintergreen Patties
Necco Candy Eggs (Easter)
Talking Pumpkins (Halloween)
Squirrel Nut Caramels and Squirrel Nut Zippers
Banana Split and Mint Julep Chews

Ritter Sport
Alpine Milk Chocolate bar
Dark Milk Chocolate bar
Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts bar
Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts bar

Dum Dums
Chewy Pops
Circus Peanuts

Surf Sweets
Gummy Worms, Swirls, and Bears
Fruity Bears
Jelly Beans
Sour Worms
Sour Berry Bears

Charleston Chew, including minis
Charms Blow Pops and Flat Pops
Dots, including Bat Dots, Candy Corn Dots and Ghost Dots
Tootsie Pops
Tootsie Rolls
Tootsie Fruit Rolls
Junior Mints and Inside Outs
Junior Caramels
Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum
Sugar Babies
Sugar Babies Caramel Apple
Sugar Daddy

Gobstopper, Everlasting and Chewy
Runts and Runts Chewy
Fun Dip, Fun Dip Sour
Pixy Stix
Sweetarts (regular), Chew, Giant Chewy, Mini Chew, Chewy Twists, and Shockers
Tart N Tinys and Tart N Tinys Chew
Laffy Taffy, Rope, and Stretchy and Tangy

Yummy Earth
Candy Drop
Gummy Bears
Gummy Worms

Some popular treats that do contain gluten:
Airheads Xtremes Rolls
Annabelle’s Rocky Road
Kit Kat
Hershey Miniatures in bulk bags
Milky Way
Butterfinger Crisp
Nestle Crunch
Sweetarts Gummy Bugs
Sweetarts Rope
Rice Krispy Treats


Image from Jupiter Images.

18 October 2009

carrot cake with sweet cream butter

When our cook put this down on the table many thoughts went through my head. Carrot cake? How did he spontaneously learn how to make carrot cake? We've lived here over a year and no carrot cake. But one of the first American recipes I taught him was banana bread--with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour substitute of course--and he came up with the carrot idea after leafing through my Martha Stewart magazines. 

Then I got excited over the marscapone cheese on top. I'd imported some from South Africa and been trying to explain to our cook that it's sort of like a dessert cheese, un frommage douce, that's good with fruit. I was impressed with his initiative to put it on cake. (We've never fully adjusted to having a cook and having to give him direction. We rely on him to read our minds sometimes.)

But when I tasted a little bit of the "cheese" it was less sweet and more greasy than I expected it to be. Mike agreed. It turned out to be sweet cream butter. Genius! Carrot cake with thick, fresh, creamy butter. It was quite a large pat so I only spread about half of it on my slices of cake. I run so I can eat things like creamy fresh butter, but I do have my limits.

I'm exhausted today so I just plan to do some yoga. We went on a long, mountainous hike yesterday and my abs are still a little sore from my Friday workout. Lately I have not been successful in bringing my mileage up to a good base to start a half marathon training plan. I'm starting the running regime fresh tomorrow. 

15 October 2009

olympic marathoner with celiac disease

Women's Running has an article that opens with the story of an Olympic marathon runner who has celiac disease, Eat Like a Pro.
Amy Yoder-Begley won her first state track title in the 3200 meters as a sophomore at East Noble High School in Kendallville, Ind., in 1994. Two years later, she could barely run at all...

“I had no energy,” recalls the now- 30-year-old who represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. “I had stomach aches, anemia, hypothyroidism, severe GI problems and dehydration during running and osteopenia.”

She was shuttled back and forth to doctors for months before she received a definitive diagnosis of celiac disease, an intestinal autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gluten, a protein in cereal grains. Gluten-containing foods were removed from Yoder-Begley’s diet, and “within three weeks all of my symptoms went away,” she says.
Well there's my inspiration for the day. I certainly don't aspire to be in the Olympics any time soon, but I have no excuses for not getting up and racking up a few miles several times a week.

This morning my run was sluggish. I'm trying to eat a little before I go out, but I wake up so early my stomach's not awake yet. I wasn't as hungry as I usually am throughout the day on a running day, either. I just feel off. But, I guess even Olympians can feel that way sometimes.

13 October 2009

gluten-free pantry favorite sandwich bread

Lately my favorite post-run snack has been toast with peanut butter. On a work day I eat one slice right away and bring another with me to snack on later in the morning. On other days I lounge about, eating my peanut butter toast at a leisurely pace whilst blogging and watching CNN.

I really like the Bob's Red Mill Wonderful Sandwich Bread mix but I'd been eating it for over a year with no other bread variety. I was sick of it. A few weeks ago I found a long-forgotten box of Gluten-Free Pantry Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix in my cupboard. Someone had sent it to me in a care package and since it was never really my favorite bread, I let it sit. But I was desperate for bread so I decided to give it another try.

And of course it was great, this second time around. The Bob's Red Mill bread mix is heavy and beany while the GF Pantry mix is lighter. I'm not a huge fan of white bread in general, but when I don't have other options, I'd like as light a bread as possible. 

In theory, making bread is easy. Add ingredients to bread machine and turn on. In practice, it actually takes me a little effort and one of the reasons I avoid it is my irrational resentment toward not being able to run out to the store and buy a loaf of bread like a normal person. Since my bread machine is for a 1.5-pound loaf but the GF Pantry mix is for a 2-pound loaf, I must halve the recipe. I also have to pray that the electricity stays on for the three consecutive hours necessary to run the machine nonstop. 

One adjustment that I make that I find not to be a chore, because it makes a difference in the quality of the bread, is the yeast preparation. I've found the yeast that's included in the mix is often flat, or else it's not even there. I learned a trick to yeast prepping that's been working quite well in my bread machine. Measure out the required amount of water and make sure it's warm. Then add the required amount of yeast with a small amount of honey. Do this before you start assembling the other ingredients. Just before you turn on the bread machine, add the yeast mixture. It should be foamy and smell deliciously yeasty. I've found that starting the yeast reaction early makes for a more successful loaf. (Maybe it's just my machine, but if your machine makes bread that hasn't risen enough, try this method.)

This morning I went running for the first time in about a week. I really need to get back on the road, but I couldn't make my bread. Which meant that I couldn't have my favorite snack. Which really affected me psychologically. I'm still trying to figure out combining the runner's diet with the celiac's diet.

Gluten-Free Pantry mixes are available online at GlutenFree.com and Amazon.com Groceries. They can often be found at Whole Foods and even mainstream grocery stores such as Safeway.

12 October 2009

oktoberfest bujumbura

For several years now, the small German community of Bujumbura has been hosting an Oktoberfest. This year's event was a few weeks ago, coinciding with Munich's Oktoberfest. Mike and I went for the second year in a row. It was even better than last year.

Last year we liked our dish, but didn't love it. This year we loved our food. We had the eisbein, which is a cured pig leg. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. I'm not a huge sauerkraut fan, but I ate a little to be festive. Potatoes and lentils topped with crumbled bacon where on the side. (What goes better with cured pig leg than bacon? Yum!) 

Me and mein eisbein

They unfortunately didn't import any German beers, but they had the local Amstel on tap, which isn't always available here. And they did import a lovely German Gewürztraminer white wine. Staying away from beer, I was quite happy with my half-bottle of wine.

The simplest foods are made better with good friends. I can't remember the last time I stayed up so late enjoying myself with friends and food. 

It certainly was not one of the healthiest nights of my life. Between Oktoberfest and Lebowskifest, I've done very little running and very much eating and drinking of junk. I need to get back on the road and back on the fruit smoothies.

hain gluten-free products

Now through the end of October, select Hain gluten-free products are on sale at Amazon.com Groceries. Hain products include Arrowhead Mills cereals and baking mixes, Imagine soups, Rice Dreams and Soy Dreams milk, and DeBoles rice and corn pastas. 

The DeBoles rice pasta elbows with cheese is one of my favorite macaroni and cheese mixes. It's a white cheddar cheese mix and it's a neutral base that you can add seasonings and fresh shredded cheddar to mimic a baked macaroni and cheese.

Enter code HAINGF25 at checkout for 15 percent off, through 31 October. 

Image from Amazon.com

11 October 2009

white russians

Last night we had our much anticipated and much planned La Fete Lebowski, a celebration of all things Big Lebowski. We wore robes, we (Wii) bowled, we watched the film, and we made white russians, a drink with which no Lebowski celebration can be without.

We stockpiled vodka and Kahlua for months. When I traveled through Nairobi earlier this week I grabbed an additional bottle of each from the duty-free shop and it's a good thing, because we opened those last two bottles. They can both be purchased here but can be quite expensive and may not be top quality.

When making white russians in a country where  you can't run down to the Ralphs for some half-and-half, it's important to test your recipe ahead of time with the different milks you have available. As far as I'm concerned, white russians made from irradiated pouch milk are utterly disgusting. We decided to use our fresh milk source and everyone raved about how great our white russians were.

In a place where beverage options can be mind-numbingly limited at parties--Coke, Fanta, Primus, Fruito, Amstel grande and Amstel petite--expect that more people will choose to drink your signature drink than, well, you expect. We bought a lot of extra milk for the party and didn't think we'd go through it all. We assumed that the cream, sugar, and alcohol content would keep folks to one or two white russians each. (I certainly couldn't have had more than two without yakking.) But a novel beverage choice was extremely popular and by the time the movie ended we were out of milk; folks were adding dry milk powder, Lebowski-style, to straight Kahlua.

Mike and I took turns tending bar and used a simple, basic recipe:

1 part Kahlua
1 part vodka
1 part full-cream milk
over ice

Some people added additional splashes of their favorite ingredient.

Vodka and other distilled beverages are widely regarded as gluten-free. However, if you're unsure, find a potato-based vodka with no additives. Most sources state Kahlua as being gluten-free. (It sneakily contains dairy, which is what gives some people a reaction; however, if you're drinking white russians I certainly hope you are dairy-tolerant.)

I actually didn't get to drink much white russian. The one that's in the photo is one I made earlier in the day, while we were prepping for the party and testing proportions. I only took a few sips because I didn't want to be wasted before the party even started. Then, later, I made one to drink while watching the film but I put it down on a table for a minute and it disappeared. After the film I tried for the third time, just to discover we were out of milk. And I didn't relish the thought of milk powder so I gave up for the night.

We have enough Kahlua and vodka so that the next time we buy milk I can make a white russian to sit and enjoy quietly.

Cross-posted at Where in the World Am I?

04 October 2009

blue duck tavern

It may seem like a post about a restaurant in Washington, D.C., where I haven't lived for over a year, comes from out of the blue (ha ha!). But I read at Obama Foodorama that the Obamas recently went to Blue Duck Tavern to celebrate their wedding anniversary and it brought back memories of Mike and me dining there. During our last week in the States we wanted to treat ourselves to some of the finer points of American life. We lived close to the restaurant and knew of its celebrity sightings. So we thought, why not?

It was downright delicious. Mike had their signature duck and I had chicken roasted in buttermilk and herbs. The waiter and the chef were both aware of the gluten-free diet and because of the open kitchen design, I could have spied on the chef while he prepared the meal if I'd wanted to. But I trusted him.

I honestly can't remember what we had for appetizers, salads, sides, and desserts, but I remember being full and satisfied at the end of the night. Looking at their menu the only thing that rings a bell is the hand-cut triple fries; I think Mike got them. It's possible the menu has changed. Blue Duck Tavern prides itself on using locally available ingredients. Most of the meats and vegetables come from farms in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Seasonal harvests and other natural issues will have a tendency to change menus that rely on local goods.

Blue Duck Tavern is located at the Hyatt at 24 & M Streets NW, Washington D.C., a couple blocks from the Foggy Bottom Metro.

28 September 2009

what I eat while running

I’m toying with the idea of combining What I Eat with how my running is going. I feel like I need an outlet for some running thoughts and everyone knows that food and fitness go hand in hand. So for the time being, this is What I Eat While Running. I have a backlog of product reviews and many notes on how my eating habits have changed with my recent return to running. Please bear with me while I find the time to write all this stuff. I have an exam coming up in a week and after that I’ll be back to the blog.

16 August 2009

amazon.com groceries goodies on sale

My favorite mail-order supplier of gluten-free goodies is having a sale on some of my favorite brands.

Lesser Evil potato chip and kettle corn snacks: Save 20% when you enter code SNKEVL35 at checkout. Offer good through 30 August.

Enviro Kidz and Nature's Path cereals and breakfast snacks: Save 20% when you enter code NATPAT67 at checkout. Offer good through 30 August.

Arico cookies and chips: Save 25% when you buy any eligible Arico Foods products sold by Amazon.com. Use the following promotional code when you check out: ARICOFDS. Offer good through 30 August.

Funky Monkey fruit snacks: Save 10% when you enter code FMONKY55 at checkout. Offer good through 30 August.

These products also have free shipping when a minimum amount is purchased.

Note that not every product that's on sale from these companies are gluten-free. Always check the ingredients list before eating.

tropical fruit smoothie

One of the greatest benefits to living in Bujumbura is the abundance of tropical fruits: bananas, pineapple, mango, and papaya. Sure, it's not a huge selection and occasionally I crave an apple, but it's available year round, it's always delicious, and it's cheap.

Our cook has a standing order to keep fresh tropical fruit salad in the refrigerator at all times. We eat it for breakfast most days and sometimes for dessert after lunch. And several times a week we make fruit smoothies with it. With some of the local passionfruit or pineapple juices and a bit of dry milk powder, we have an amazingly sweet, creamy treat.

We have a five-cup blender and I fill it about halfway with the fruit salad. I add about a half cup of dry milk powder (I prefer Bob's Red Mill nonfat or buttermilk powders), a bottle of fruit juice (250 mL -- and the pineapple is sugar free; the passionfruit has cane sugar added), and six to eight ice cubes, and blend.

When a friend from the States was visiting, I made these smoothies for him and Mike after they'd gone for a run. He exclaimed, "You'll pay seven dollars for this back home!" And here seven dollars buys you more than enough fruit to make a smoothie every day for a week. The juice and milk powder are optional. At the very least all you need is the fruit and the ice.

On Sunday mornings the fruit smoothie makes the weekly malaria pill go down, well, smoothly.

18 July 2009


No, I didn’t eat hibiscus flowers. Hibiscus is a restaurant in Bujumbura that is the closest thing to fast food we’ve found here. Most places take over an hour to serve lunch (don’t even ask about the dinner wait), but if you sit down in Hibiscus and order the plat du jour, you’ll be served a Coke and a heaping plate of rice, beans, bananas, greens, and meat in no time at all. When I first noticed this restaurant I laughed at the take-out window, labeled “Hibi-quik,” because nothing is quick here. But now I believe in the quickness.

And the food was gooooood. Mike and our two friends cleared their plates in no time at all, then dug in to help me clear mine. There was so much food! We all stumbled out with pleasantly full stomachs, and pleasantly full wallets as well. Four plats du jour and four Cokes cost less than $9.00. Before heading back to work, we took a peek behind the building. There is a beautiful garden bar back there! I think we’ve discovered our new Friday lunch spot.

11 July 2009

fresh milk

When we first started doing research on Burundi one thing that worried us about the food situation rather than excited us (fresh mangos and pineapple!) was milk. We were under the impression that the only milk available would be very expensive powdered or irradiated, shelf-stable milk-like products. I resigned myself to two years of nondairy creamer in my coffee.

However, soon after arriving we noticed there were a lot of cows here. And a lot of tasty, fresh beef. Naturally we began to wonder if there wasn’t fresh milk available somewhere as well. (Just look at those happy, delicious, albeit thin, cows.) One day a coworker of Mike’s pointed out a place to buy fresh milk. It was as if we’d been inducted into a secret club. A building with a sign-less white façade has a grated door that leads you into what Mike calls the “Milk Bar.” There’s a counter, where if you bring your own bottles, a woman will fill them for you, asking “Pasteurize ou non pasteurize?” The first time we went, we decided to get unpasteurized milk and boil it ourselves. That was a disaster, so since then we’ve always filled up our three Nalgene bottles with lait pasteurize.

The reason Mike calls it the Milk Bar is this: In a separate room there are tables and chairs where men (and the occasional woman) sit and order milk by the glass. Cows are a sign of wealth and only the healthiest, wealthiest people can afford to drink a big glass of milk. It’s like a status symbol, to be seen sitting at the bar drinking a glass of milk. The women working behind the counter spend more time processing the receipts of the customers drinking milk by the glass than they do filling bottles for folks like us.

We love our fresh milk. It’s so wonderful in coffee. Our cook makes the creamiest ice cream and other desserts with it. There’s no such thing as a choice between non-fat, skim, and whole milk. It’s all full-fat milk, all the time. When we get back to the States, we’re going to be snobby fresh milk people who won’t be able to stand Stop & Shop homogenized milk by the carton.

05 July 2009

mango cobbler

Mango cobbler is the best term I can come up with to describe the wonderful dessert our cook made recently. (Yes, we have a cook. That’s why so few entries are about my own cooking adventures these days.) He goes into the pantry and riffles through my gluten-free flours and presents the results to me. Some of his creations are fantastic; some need work. But that’s the way it is for all of us gluten-free bakers. I think it’s great that he’s up to the challenge and he keeps trying. 

When this dish was first placed in front of me my initial reaction was “Peach cobbler!” But I quickly remembered we don’t have peaches here. Mango? Yup. Cobbler? Sort of. I think it’s a pie that may have gone wrong and then salvaged. 

Because of the language barrier, I can’t always get a great explanation about the food we’re eating. But I know it’s gluten-free (sans gluten) because I’ve forbidden him from buying local flour; he’s only to use what I provide.

06 June 2009

hotel oberland restaurant

We were wandering the alpine meadows of the Interlaken region of Switzerland when we came across the town of Lauterbrunnen and decided to have lunch. It was surprisingly warm outside in those meadows, under the glaring sunshine, and all I wanted was a refreshing green salad and a sweet apple juice (sussmost; I’m not a huge apple juice drinker but I can’t get enough of it when I’m in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria).

We sat down at an outdoor table at Hotel Oberland and I was delighted to see little gluten-free symbols next to certain items on the menu. Unfortunately I didn’t have much appetite for anything more than a salad. But one of the traditional meals from the region, rosti, is inherently gluten-free because it’s potato based. It depends on what’s added to the potatoes that determines the gluten-freeness of the specific dish. Two of Hotel Oberland's four rosti dishes were gluten-free, as well as all their salads and a number of other entrees. 

I still ordered the salad, but my husband had a rosti that I took a few bites of. It was cheesy, potato deliciousness. (I did get rosti for dinner on another day. More on that in a future post.)

05 June 2009

chez paul

One restaurant during the whole vacation was definitely tops over all the others. It's Chez Paul, in Paris on rue de Charonne, and we ate there our first night.

Chez Paul has hearty, bistro-style food. As I sat down and started reading the menu, I made note of a couple dishes that would probably be safe. When the waitress came by, we explained my gluten-free requirement and I pointed out a few things on the menu. She went back to talk to the chef and when she came back she said, "Don't worry, the chef will take care of you."

We had a crudite plate of vegetables to start with (and of course my husband had bread). For my main course I had a steak encrusted with peppercorns and a dreamy cheesy potato dish to substitute the usual potatoes au gratin that comes with the steak. My dessert was an amazing creme brulee.

I can't remember the last time I ate so much, especially at a restaurant. The chef certainly did take care of me. The waitress was also ready with some wine suggestions and the bottle we chose was perfect with my steak and my husband's lamb.

Our friends recommended Chez Paul as their favorite restaurant in Paris. Now it's our favorite restaurant in Paris, too. It's a casual place. By the time we finished dinner it was crowded with more locals than tourists. The entire waitstaff was cheerful and helpful.

Chez Paul is at 13 rue de Charonne, close to the Bastille. Reservations are recommended, particularly during peak hours.

29 May 2009


Galettes are savory crepes that are traditionally made with buckwheat, salt, and water. And I found them in Paris. Some people will tell you it's hard to track down restaurants that serve them. I think that's because few people have heard of galettes and call them crepes. I know I hadn't heard of the alternate name until I started doing some research.

Before leaving for our trip I made notes of some specific restaurants, but they were in neighborhoods we hadn't otherwise planned on visiting. On our last full day in Paris we made a point to travel to one of those areas and seek out galettes for lunch. 

Along the way we got distracted. We were in Montparnasses after having visited the cemetery. We decided to wander around a bit before getting on the Metro to seek out lunch. And low and behold we came along a boulevard full of lunch-seekers and cafes and creperies to accommodate them. I started reading the posted menus carefully. I quickly discovered that galettes and crepes were two different foods, to the French. Galettes are often posted as salee, and crepes are sucre. That means galettes are savory and are supposed to be for your meal and crepes are sweet and for dessert. And many places make the galettes in the traditional way with just buckwheat. 

I had one of the great French food experiences completely by chance. I ordered my galette salee avec jambon et fromage (with ham and cheese). And it was great. It was so delicious that I felt bad that I couldn't finish it. It was just too filling. 

Later that same day I found a grocery store that sold packaged plain galettes. I bought some and a jar of orange marmalade. The person at the checkout register tried to stop me from such a heretic combination. Galettes salee shouldn't be mixed with a sucre filling. It just isn't done. He had a look of true sadness on his face when I told him I couldn't eat ble, wheat. He said, "It won't be the same." 

It wasn't the same. But they made for light breakfasts that were good enough some mornings on the road.

Buckwheat has two different names in French. Buckwheat flour can be farine du sarrasin or farine du ble noir.

13 May 2009

savanna dry premium cider

I don't get a lot of ciders to drink here. The supply of Woodchucks I brought with me ran out a few weeks ago but soon afterward I had the opportunity to place an order for Savanna Dry Premium Cider from South Africa. They arrived last weekend to much anticipation.

I'd read a couple reviews and I hoped they would be drinkable at least. And that's about what they are. I like my ciders to be a bit darker and dryer than these are (despite the fact they are called "dry"). I think they are more light and sweet. Apparently you're supposed to drink it with a lemon wedge stuck in the neck, like a Pacifico or Corona. I haven't had the chance to try that yet because lemons aren't always available here.

I do enjoy them for the sake of trying a new African beverage. Savannah ciders are made in South Africa from Granny Smith apples. You can taste a little bit of the Granny Smiths in the aftertaste. 

So, not the greatest, but certainly not the worst. I'll gladly finish my case, but I may not be as protective of them as I was my Woodchucks. I'll share them to spare others the fate of buying them by the case and paying shipping fees from South Africa for a beverage that they may not find phenomenal. 

12 May 2009

perky's nutty rice crunchy cereal

Right now one of my favorite cereals is on sale from Amazon.com Groceries. When I first saw the ad for Enjoy Life products being on sale, I figured I’d glance at the list of products but probably not buy anything because I haven’t loved anything I’ve had from them. But I can’t let any gluten-free stones go unturned.

I’m glad I took a few minutes to look. I had no idea that Perky’s Nutty Rice Crunchy Cereal came from Enjoy Life. I love this stuff. I mix it with granola or other sweet cereals. I eat it plain. Per the serving suggestion on the front of the box, it's amazing with fresh blueberries or strawberries.

The back of the box has a recipe for an easy crumb pie crust with jam filling. Mmm, cereal and jam in a convenient pie formation.

But I digress. Now through 31 May you can get 20% off selected Enjoy Life products, including Nutty Rice and Nutty Flax cereals, when you enter the code ENJOYLIF at checkout. Note that neither of these “nutty” cereals actually contain nuts. I think they are trying to cash in on the Grape-Nuts fans who had to go gluten-free. (Although, these cereals are much easier on the teeth and gums than Grape-Nuts.)

And from the Enjoy Life website you can download a coupon to use at your favorite grocery store.

18 April 2009

starbucks orange valencia cake

Another mainstream gluten-free sighting. I first read it at Gluten Free Post, then I saw it in Forbes and finally from the horse's own mouth. Starbucks is introducing a gluten-free pastry. Those of us who have been unable to indulge in the sugary empty-calorie food display finally have our day! From the Starbucks Ideas in Action blog:
Hi, it’s Erin on the Food team. I am so excited today to share an update on our blog about Gluten-free offerings. Starting May 5 we will be launching the Gluten-free Orange Valencia Cake with Almonds. And even better you are among the first to know! Who better to get the first scoop than you who helped make it happen? This product was inspired by the passionate responses we heard from you on My Starbucks Idea.

The Orange Valencia Cake is a delicious moist citrus cake bursting with Valencia oranges and topped with crunchy almonds. Not only is it gluten-free, it is also prepared with 7 simple ingredients: Whole Eggs, Valencia Orange Pulp, Almonds, Sugar, Orange Peel, Gluten Free Baking Powder, and Orange Oil. Plus it delivers 30% of your daily value of vitamin C.

Keep on the look out for it in the pastry case with a sign that says “gluten-free.” A single cake will be displayed unwrapped so you can see it clearly, but don’t worry. They all come individually packaged to prevent cross contamination. And with the ingredient list right on the package, it’s easy to see exactly what you are eating. Whether you are gluten-sensitive or not, this product is delicious and satisfying and I hope you will all enjoy it soon.

Want to know how it’s made gluten-free? Come back to MSI in two weeks and Chris, the lead product developer will take you behind the scenes and share how this cake is made with care.
This makes travel throughout the United States a lot easier. I've always found breakfast to be the hardest meal to satisfy me on the gluten-free diet because I don't like eggs. When you take out eggs and gluten, you're left with few other options while on the road. No, this option is no where near healthy, but the mental aspect is almost as important to me. My body can handle the occasional breakfast pastry when it's combined with the ease of going into one of my favorite coffee spots.

Now to see about getting a Starbucks built in Bujumbura.

17 April 2009

riceworks sweet chili gourmet brown rice crisps

My most recent impulsive snack purchase is much better than my last one. Riceworks Sweet Chili gourmet brown rice crisps are my new Doritos. 

I wrote a nice rant about how Doritos aren't gluten-free, even though they should be because they are corn chips. But apparently, most Doritos flavors are gluten-free now; it's just been so long since I've bothered to check on them. That's probably not a terrible thing, that its been long, since Doritos are probably one of the worst snack foods for you; maddeningly they are also one of the most addictive.

Back to Riceworks.

I'd tried other Riceworks chips flavors back in the States so I was confident I'd get a tasty chip. They are salty and crunchy, but they don't taste like corn chips or potato chips. They taste like whatever the flavoring is so it's important that Riceworks gets the flavoring just right.

I didn't expect them to satisfy my Doritos craving so thoroughly, a craving I didn't even realize I had until I started eating these chips. They are triangle-shaped. They are just spicy enough to make my nose run. They turn my fingers red from the chili-flavored coating. They are a bit sweeter than Doritos, which I'm enjoying. 

The Riceworks website is kind of annoying, with lots of moving images that take ages to load on my hamster-run Africa internet connection. But they have a coupon (on the U.S. and Canada sites; couldn't find it on the U.K. site). Saving a few cents is worth a few moments of uploading time, right? 

Riceworks crisps are sold at a store near you (not me). They're also available in bulk from Amazon.com groceries and Homegrocer.com.

Image from homegrocer.com.

28 March 2009

corn chex

Remember when Rice Chex became gluten-free and we were so excited? And remember I said that there's no reason that other cereals can't be gluten-free, too, except the cereal companies insist on using barley malt? Well, General Mills has been listening. Boxes of gluten-free Corn Chex are popping up on store shelves, and according to General Mills, several Chex varieties will be officially gluten-free starting on 1 June 2009. 

It's great the the mainstream food companies are listening to us.

**Read labels carefully. Many boxes of Chex containing gluten will stay on the store shelves until they are sold out.**

Image from istockphoto.com.

25 March 2009

bakery on main granola

I love granola. I don’t care how hippie that makes me sound. I don’t care that it’s one of those health foods that’s secretly laden with fat. When going gluten-free, giving up granola made me nervous. What was I supposed to put in my yogurt now? Dried fruit alone is too much sugar for me. Flax seeds just don’t crunch. No granola also meant no granola-type cereals, too, and cereals were a major source of my whole grain intake. Now what?

While visiting my mom in Rhode Island, she introduced me to a gluten-free granola that she picked up at a local health-food store. I bought a couple bags to bring back to California with me, ate them, and sort of forgot about them. I assumed they were locally made for that one private store. Besides, I was living in California; if I didn’t see gluten-free granola there, it must not exist anywhere except for one little Rhode Island pocket. (And there are quite a few products that exist only in Rhode Island, so it’s not crazy for me to assume that.)

Last summer, while browsing for gluten-free foods to stock up on for our move to Burundi, I rediscovered Bakery On Main. More flavors! And available in bulk on Amazon.com! Now I have my grains and dried fruit and nuts to take with me.

The Rainforest mixes well with the tropical fruit salad I’ve always got in the fridge here. When I tried the Cranberry Orange Cashew, it was like opening a bag of Christmas, with the orangey-spice scent that wafts from the bag. I’ve tried all the flavors and they all suit different snacking moods. Sometimes I mix it with other cereal (the Cranberry Orange Cashew is yummy mixed with EnviroKids Koala Crisp); sometimes I eat it straight up with milk. As I noted before, I mix it into fruit salad. I also mix it into muffin batter for hearty breakfast muffins. I try not to snack on it right out of the bag, because then I’d eat it too quickly. It’s tempting but my fear of not knowing when my next fix will come keeps me at bay.

Bakery On Main gluten-free granola is available from their website and in bulk from Amazon.com groceries. Their website has a store locator to help you find granola near you. Not all their products are gluten-free, so read the packaging carefully.

23 March 2009

lesser evil krinkle sticks

When I saw these on sale from my primary grocery source these days, Amazon.com groceries, I made an impulse buy. I was jonesin’ for some crunchy, salty snack food. Of course the frustrating part about satisfying cravings via internet shopping in Africa is that it takes three weeks for your poison to arrive. By the time my Lesser Evil Classic Seasalt Krinkle Sticks arrived, I’d forgotten that I’d wanted a crunchy, salty snack. (And because Amazon sells in bulk, I had something like twelve little packs to get through before allowing myself another crazy impulse buy.)

Now, if I had taken a bite and discovered they tasted just like Pringles, I would have instantly fallen back in crush with salty, crunchy snacks. But for a product that calls itself “Seasalt,” it wasn’t salty enough. I kind of liked the natural potato flavor though. The crunchiness… it was a satisfying first bite, but ended up getting chewy and stuck in my teeth.

As for the “Lesser Evil” gimmick… it’s still snack food, not health food. For some reason it’s not simple enough to have potatoes, salt, and oil on the ingredients list. Ingredients include: potato flakes, potato granules, potato starch, salt, annatto coloring, sunflower oil, maltodextrin, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, white powder. They claim to have 75% less fat than “regular” potato chips, they have 110 calories per serving, and they are cholesterol free and gluten free. I guess the lesser evil part comes in because all potato chips are bad for you, these just aren’t as bad.

And I’m a potato chip fiend. But I’d rather have less healthy chips that are just a tad tastier. And I do prefer chips to sticks.

I’m almost through my 12 packs. I aim to be finished with them by the time my next impulse purchase arrives.

Lesser Evil snacks are available directly from their website and from Amazon.com groceries. They are also sold at Target, Whole Foods, and Safeway. They have potato sticks and kettle corn varieties. (I don’t care for kettle corn, so I’m not going to try it.)

22 March 2009

food safety

I was shocked when I read this in a recent New York Times editorial:
Thorough cooking will kill the bacteria, but people often use the same knife to cut raw meat and then to chop vegetables. Or they plop a pork chop on a plate, cook it and then contaminate it by putting it back on the original plate.
Really? People don't wash their knives after cutting raw meat? I thought that was the most basic rule of being in the kitchen. They put cooked meat on the same plate as raw meat? Seriously? 

The major meat-raising facilities aren't going to quit using antibiotics in the feed any time son. It's not realistic for everyone in the United States to go all cage-free organic. We can't trust the FDA or USDA to monitor the health of every piece of meat that's raised. We have to take matters into our own hands and that means washing those hands, and everything else in the kitchen, while we prepare food.

14 March 2009

food meme: how many have you eaten? 38/100

1) Copy this list into a post.
2) Bold or underline all the items you’ve eaten. (Feel free to include comments!)
3) Put an X in front of any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Edit the subject line of your post to reflect your score

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
X 6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
X 26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
X 28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects -- well, I probably have eaten bugs unintentionally
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
X 55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake --In Rhode Island, doughboys would be the equivalent.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Being gluten-free prevents me from eating some of these things, even though I'd really like to try them. (And some of them I got to try pre-diagnosis.)

I realize it's a little too easy to post a meme, but I'm exhausted. Two friends are leaving Bujumbura this week and we've been having farewell parties and receptions since Thursday. We are bumming around trying to sleep this afternoon before the next round of parties tonight. (After just having come home from a champagne brunch.)

07 March 2009

annie's rice pasta & cheddar

I grew up loving the original Annie's macaroni and cheese and I was devastated when I couldn't eat in any more. On the other end of the spectrum, I also loved the fake oranginess of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I found some enjoyable gluten-free macaroni and cheese mixes, but nothing that brought me back to childhood (and college-hood, and first-apartment-hood).

Just before we left for Bujumbura last summer I noticed that Annie's had finally developed a gluten-free macaroni and cheese: Annie's Rice Pasta & Cheddar. It was tasty! It was orange! It was Annie's + Kraft, sittin' in a tree. And I could buy it in bulk from Amazon.com Groceries.

This month, just as my supply is starting to dwindle, Amazon.com Groceries has Annie's products on sale, including the gluten-free Rice Pasta & Cheddar.

Save 30% instantly when you purchase select Annie's products. Enter code ANNHOME5 at checkout. The offer is valid through 31 March 2009. Sold in packs of 12 boxes.

Image from Amazon.com Groceries.

06 March 2009

lunch in a box forums

I've been a long-time reader of the Lunch in a Box blog. It's more than just bento blogging. It's practical food packing advice for kid and grown-up lunches. Time-saving tips. Food recommendations--what works best as leftovers and how to care for them for optimum freshness.

Now Biggie and fans have a place to chat: the Lunch in a Box forums. I've had so much fun the last few weeks "meeting" food bloggers and the lunch-packing obsessed. Check it out if you're looking for fun new ways to pack lunch for your kid or yourself, or if you're just a foodie like me.

03 March 2009

peet's burundi

This escaped me while I was on vacation, but for one last day (today!) you can buy Burundian coffee from Peets:
Discover Peet's Burundi—a berry perfumed and caramel textured East African coffee. This wonderful new treasure is a coffee redolent of Kenya's berry perfume, but with the bold, caramel texture we enjoy in Burundi.

Tucked in between Rwanda and Tanzania, Burundi sits in the heart of that grouping of East African jewels which consistently provides us with interesting African flavors: berries and body, clarity and heft. Given the country's remote location, it is difficult to get coffee out on time to be savored at the peak of the season. Fortunately we did—because Burundi coffees are at their finest this time of year.

This coffee is so good that we are making it the heart of our upcoming Anniversary Blend—but it's a treat to taste alone, so we're offering the top pick of the lot for one last roast.

Order online by Tuesday, March 3rd for the last roast.
Also available in Burundi African sampler.
Cross-posted at Where in the World Am I.


The food on our trip wasn't great, but one night the main meat dish was an interesting surprise. I was going through the buffet, scooping up rice and vegetables, avoiding pasta and bread, and I don't love pot roast, but I figured I'd take a piece or two because I was pretty hungry. A few people behind me in line, I heard someone ask, "What is the meat?" The answer: "Impala." I had mixed feelings about eating one of the little critters I had just watched all afternoon long on safari, but I didn't want to return meat I'd already taken from the chaffing dish. I went back to the table and said to Mike, "Guess what the meat is!"

I sat down and tried it, and it was tasty! It's like pot roast, only leaner. And the roasted veggies on the side were a nice complement. This was undoubtedly the best meal of the whole trip, outside of one night in a restaurant.

08 February 2009

glutino pretzels sale

I'm not really a pretzel fan, but if you are, check out the sale Amazon.com Groceries is having on Glutino gluten-free pretzels. Now through February 28, enter code GLUTPRET at checkout to receive a 40% discount. The pretzels also qualify for free shipping if you spend $25 or more (on items that qualify for the free shipping).

trekking food

I'm a little nervous. We're leaving to start our Tanzania vacation tomorrow, starting with climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. My fate rests in the hands of a tour company. I'm certain they'll get me to the summit safely and soundly. I'm never certain, though, that despite assurances they can feed me properly, they actually will. They say they've had gluten-free trekkers before. They recommended I bring some of my own bread, pasta, and cereal to substitute the "regular" stuff that's usually provided. It can't go that wrong, can it? Taking food responsibility out of your own hands is always a tad risky.

I hope to come back in a couple weeks and report that the trip was a success dietarily!

21 January 2009

kind fruit + nut bars

I discovered these bars over a year ago, at a Whole Foods just before we left California, and I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them before now. Maybe because back then I was just buying one or two bars at a time as special treats, but I just recently bought several cases of them to drag up Kilimanjaro with me.

Kind Fruit + Nut bars are totally yummy. They are mostly whole nuts with some dried fruit and a sprinkling of glucose, honey, and puffed rice to help keep everything together. They are a heartier energy bar than anything I’ve tried in a while. (As much as I love Lara bars for the taste, the Kind bars are more filling.)

I’ve been eating mostly the almond and apricot and macadamia and apricot varieties, but to mix things up a little I ordered some different flavors. Today I had my first sesame peanut with chocolate bar. The chocolate was surprisingly chocolate-tasting. However, I’ve noticed that the bars that are mostly nuts without fruit are hard to bite into. They’re tasty once you do bit though. I liked the peanut sesame bar, and all that biting and chewing will give me something to do while I’m plodding up the mountain.

Kind bars are made in Australia. They are gluten-free and some are dairy-free (some have yogurt or chocolate). They can be purchases individually at Whole Foods and other health food stores. You can buy them by the box at Amazon.com.

I have to say that they are a tad expensive, although buying them in enough quantity on Amazon to get the free shipping helps. If I weren’t living in a place with limited snack food plus planning a major trek, I would still be on my one or two per shopping trip buying schedule.

(Image from healthyreader.com)



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