Sunday, April 26, 2015

Artist Point - Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Last night, my daughters and I had dinner with my friend Sarah from Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW at Artist Point, a signature dining restaurant at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

This month, approximately 120 quick service and table service restaurants at Disney World and Disneyland began adopting new allergy-friendly menus.  The menus were first introduced at signature dining restaurants, like Artist Point.  

Even though the menu listed a large number of gluten free options, it stated that guests can still consult with a chef before placing their order.  It also noted what dishes were safe for people with milk, soy, egg, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.  Beyond this menu, there were other dishes that could be prepared gluten free, like the filet mignon.  

I was excited to see that Artist Point serves GNI gluten free rolls, but they were not heated very well, so the texture was not as good as it can be.  

I ordered the smokey portobello mushroom bisque with roasted shiitakes and chive oil, because it was highly recommended by my neighbor.  I had to send back my first bowl when I was told that the white drizzle on top was creme fraiche, which I don't eat, and was not mentioned on the menu.  Minus the creme fraiche, I really enjoyed my soup.  It was not overly mushroomy, and was creamy and full of flavor.  I did have occasional bites with roasted shiitakes that added a little texture and a punch of mushroom flavor.  

For my entree, I chose Artist Point's signature dish, the cedar plank roasted King salmon with sweet potato puree, brussels, house-smoked bacon, and a citrus gastrique.  My salmon was cooked to perfection, and seasoned well.  

The sweet potato puree was incredible, and I loved the citrus gastrique, but there wasn't enough of it for my large portion of salmon. The house-smoked bacon was delicious, but it was in large awkward chunks that I wasn't sure what to do with.  I think I would have enjoyed it more cut into very small pieces that were sprinkled on my vegetables.  I also had some beets and purple cauliflower on my plate, which were good, like my brussels, but nothing special.  I think they could have used some additional seasoning.  Overall, I enjoyed the dish and would definitely order it again.  

For dessert, I skipped the Artist Point cobbler, because I avoid no sugar added desserts, and went with the vanilla bean creme brulee with strawberries and Amarena cherries.  The creme brulee was one of the best I have ever had, and was packed with vanilla bean.  Since the menu mentioned strawberries, I was expecting more than just a half a strawberry, and the one I got had a very medicinal taste.  I love Amarena cherries, but the creme brulee was perfection on its own, and didn't need them.  With a couple of fresh strawberries, I would have been 100% satisfied with this dessert.  

The current allergy-friendly menu lists the following dishes as being safe for those who avoid gluten/wheat:

Appetizers - cold water mussels with crispy kale chips and Riesling nage

Soups and Salads - smokey portobello mushroom bisque; land greens salad with peaches, sunflower seed granola, sheep's milk cheese and ice wine vinaigrette

Entrees - Cedar plank roasted King Salmon; 54 Degrees C Buffalo with buffalo sausage, roasted marble potatoes, broccoflower, and blackberry currant demi; applewood-smoked cornish hen with wild rice, lentils, root spinach, brussels and mountain berry marmalade; roasted Berkshire pork tenderloin with chevre-herb polenta, baby carrots, favas, local peaches and stone fruit reduction; vegan lo mein with sweet chili tofu, brown rice, snap peas, shiitakes and lotus root

Desserts - Artist Point cobbler (a no sugar added dessert) with seasonal berries and house-made raspberry sorbet; vanilla bean creme brulee with strawberries and amarena cherries

Currently, allergy-friendly menus are not available on Disney's website, but hopefully this will change in the future.  

Gluten free kids' options include the mixed field greens salad, seasonal fruit, grilled chicken breast, baked salmon, and grilled petit filet mignon. Katie enjoyed her kid's portion of salmon with sweet potato puree and carrots, but Emma was not crazy about her gluten-filled penne pasta with cheese sauce, which my daughters said didn't have much taste, even with added grated cheese.

I loved the theming of Artist Point, which was inspired by the dining rooms of National Park lodges, and I liked the menu, which features Pacific Northwest fare.  I found that some of the ingredients and flavors of my entree and dessert did not seem to mesh really well, which is unusual for a signature dining restaurant, but overall I enjoyed my meal.  

You can read more about Artist Point, view their menu, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.  My friend Sarah's review can be viewed on her blog Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Artist Point?  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli

Last night, my plan was to make my Pasta with Roasted Vegetables, then my husband and I decided we wanted to make something easier for dinner.  While I was doing some research on classic Italian dishes yesterday, I ran across a recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, which means pasta and beans.  

Pasta e Fagioli is traditionally a meatless Italian dish with cannellini beans, some type of small pasta like ditalini or elbow macaroni, and a base of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, minced onion, spices, and tomatoes.  Some variations also use pancetta, which I might use instead of bacon the next time I make this dish.  

I decided to stray from tradition and use spinach in my Pasta e Fagioli for some added color and vegetables.  My whole family loved my Pasta e Fagioli last night, and it was great left over for lunch today.

Pasta e Fagioli


4 pieces of bacon - chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion - diced
1 tsp (2 cloves) minced garlic
40 oz chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans - rinsed
1 can (28 oz) peeled San Marzano tomatoes - drained & chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 C baby spinach - chopped
1/2 lb (8 oz) gluten free pasta - ditalini or elbow macaroni
kosher salt + coarse ground black pepper - to taste
Grated or shaved Parmesan, Romano or Asiago - to taste


In a soup pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until it is crisp.  Add the olive oil and onion, cooking until the onion is soft, then add the garlic.  Stir for about a minute, until the garlic begins to brown, then add the chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add about 1/2 the beans to the pot, then use a potato masher to mash them before adding the rest of the beans, tomatoes, and oregano.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to package directions until it is al dente.  Drain and set aside.

Remove the soup pot from the heat and add the spinach and pasta.  Stir and let sit, still covered, for 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and garnish with Italian cheese.

Serves 6

Recipe Notes

I used a whole box of Le Veneziane gluten free ditalini in this recipe, which is a little over 1/2 a pound.  I purchase it from or  Le Veneziane is currently our favorite brand of gluten free pasta.  My entire gluten-eating family loves it, and says it tastes just like the gluten-filled pasta they eat at restaurants.  While my husband was eating the leftovers today for lunch, he made a point to tell me how well the pasta had held up overnight.  I always cook my pasta with one tablespoon of kosher salt, so that it has some flavor.

Make sure your chicken broth is gluten free.  I used one 32 ounce container, then had to add an 8 ounce container when I realized my Pasta e Fagioli needed a little more broth.

I used my favorite 3 cheese shaved Italian blend from The Fresh Market, which contains Parmesan, Romano and Asiago.

We served our Pasta e Fagioli with Rudi's gluten free ciabatta rolls.

This dish was inspired by a Queen of Green recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spaghetti with Romano & Black Pepper

After seeing a picture of spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and black pepper on Instagram, and hearing Mario Batali talk about it on The Chew, I knew I had to make it.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

1900 Park Fare Breakfast - Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

This morning, my friend Jennifer and I met at 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort for their Supercalifragilistic Breakfast.

Our server started us off with some juice, which was a mix of orange, guava and passion fruit.  

Chef Christopher came out to talk to us about gluten free options and gave us a tour of the buffet.  

Jennifer and I both have celiac, and we dined towards the end of breakfast service, so we asked Chef Christopher if he could bring us freshly made food from the back, so we wouldn't have to worry about cross contamination.  The only food I ate off the buffet was the Floridian strawberry soup and fresh fruit.  If you enjoy strawberries and strawberry mousse, you will love this soup, which is also served at dinner.  

Chef Christopher brought us gluten free Mickey waffles with a side of bananas foster, sausage, bacon, hash brown casserole, cheese grits and potato puffs (tater tots).  

The Mickey waffles were made with Bob's Red Mill.  They were a little heavy, so I mainly ate the ears and the parts around the edges.  The bananas foster was good, but not as delicious as the bananas foster at Boma.  

I enjoyed a couple pieces of bacon, but ate way too many sausage, because they were so delicious.  Dipped in syrup or eaten with a tater tot, I might have enjoyed the sausage more than anything else I ate this morning.

The tater tots were great, but the hash brown casserole was dry and not worth eating.  The cheese grits were a little bland and unexciting compared to the cheese grits I have had at The Wave.  

Before we left, I cleansed my palate with some fresh fruit from the buffet.  In addition to pineapple and grapes, they had watermelon, strawberries, honeydew and cantaloupe.  There were other gluten free options on the buffet which I did not try, like the smoked salmon, and omelets and eggs made to order.  I did not ask about the hickory-smoked ham at the carving station or gluten free pancakes.  My family dined at 1900 Park Fare for breakfast almost seven years ago when we moved to Orlando, and the only thing I remember eating was gluten free pancakes, so they might be available.  I am sure they would have also brought us a selection of gluten free muffins, donuts and bread if we had asked, but I don't have much interest in eating Udi's muffins and Kinnikinnick donuts when I am eating at an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast buffet.  

I definitely prefer the food 1900 Park Fare serves for dinner, but I enjoyed the Disney characters at both meals.  Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter paid us a visit while we dined, and they were all quite entertaining.  

Comparing the all-you-care-to enjoy breakfast buffets at Disney, I much prefer the food and atmosphere at Boma and Tusker House Restaurant.

Adult meals were $26.99 and children ages 3-9 were $14.99, but prices can vary depending on the time of year and day of the week.  We were able to use my Tables in Wonderland card to save 20% off our meal, but be aware that 1900 Park Fare has blackout dates for the discount at peak times of the year.

You can read more about 1900 Park Fare, view their menus, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at 1900 Park Fare?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gluten Free in Bellvue, Washington

Bellevue is the second largest city in Washington, and is located across Lake Washington from Seattle.  When we visited in March, I was really impressed by the beauty of the city, and their wealth of gluten free options.  We could have eaten at some of our favorites from Orlando, like Maggiano's, P.F. Chang's, California Pizza Kitchen, Red Robin, Chipotle, and Red Mango, but we like to choose local restaurants with gluten free options when we travel.  

Using the Find Me Gluten Free app, we discovered Cactus and Din Tai Fung, which are both located in downtown Bellevue.  Cactus offers Seattle innovative Southwestern, Mexican and Spanish cuisine at five locations in Seattle, Bellevue and Kirkland, Washington.  

The tortilla chips are not safe at Cactus, because they don't have a dedicated fryer, but their gluten free menu has plenty of great options.  For our first entree, we chose the Tacos Carne Adovada, which is classic New Mexico braised pork with avocado and Cotija cheese, served with Spanish rice and cumin black beans.  My husband and I agreed that the house-made white corn tortillas were the best tortillas we have ever had.  They were a little thicker and not as dry as corn tortillas usually are.  The braised pork had a nice spicy kick, and was perfectly complimented by the avocado and Cotija cheese.  We also enjoyed the sides of rice and black beans.

For our second entree, we picked the skirt steak Cactus Fajitas served in a sizzling skillet with Spanish rice, cumin black beans and caramelized onion.  The fajitas came with sides of guacamole, sour cream, Jack cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and warm corn tortillas.  We loved our fajitas, which were nice and flavorful, but agreed that the Tacos Carne Adovada was our favorite entree.  

Din Tai Fung, like Cactus, is located in Bellevue Square, but also has restaurants in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Orange County, California.  Gluten free options are marked on their regular menu.  To start, we shared an order of sauteed spinach with garlic with our friends.  It was a healthy and delicious way to begin our meal.

While everyone else shared gluten-filled dumplings and buns, I had the shrimp fried rice all to myself.  The portion was extremely generous, and I enjoyed the simplicity of this dish.

The star of my meal though was my dessert, the red bean sticky rice wrap.  I have been a fan of red bean paste since I was a teenager, because of the fish shaped pastries they used to sell at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.  These pastries stuffed with red bean paste are no longer available at Disney World, and I couldn't eat them anyway, because of my celiac diagnosis, but the dessert I had at Din Tai Fung brought back a great food memory for me.  The red bean paste was just a little bit sweet, and was so incredible combined with the sticky rice.  

After spotting a See's Candies shop in downtown Bellevue, I knew the perfect gift to get my parents for watching our daughters while we were away.  While buying them a box of nuts & chews, I spotted my personal favorite, See's Toffee-ettes.  They are made with crunchy, buttery toffee and whole almonds drenched in milk chocolate and chopped almonds.  They might be the most addictive candy on the planet.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

One of the best things about See's Candies is that everything is gluten free, so I could choose any of the boxed candies, or the individual candies in the display cases.

While in See's, we bought a bag of chocolate lollypops for our daughters, which are definitely the best lollipops we have ever tried.

We also came home with a box of candy from Fran's Chocolates, which is local to Seattle and Bellevue.

Everything we tasted was creamy and delicious, and all of Fran's candies are gluten free.  

Our final gluten free find from Bellevue was Wildflour Gluten-Free Baking Co.  Sadly, because it was closed on the days we were there, we did not get to go to the bakery, but when we arrived, I was greeted with two boxes of baked goods that had been picked up for us the day before.  

I was really impressed with their chocolate chip cookies, molasses ginger cookies, and chocolate-orange hazelnut biscotti, but the blueberry streusel muffins would keep me coming back at least once a week if we were locals.  The muffins, which are made with fresh berries and a hint of lemon, were so delicious with their crunchy cinnamon streusel crumble on top.  They are definitely the best muffins I have had from a gluten free bakery in the seven years since my celiac diagnosis.

Wildflour Gluten-Free Baking Co. is a locally-owned family business that maintains a gluten-free and peanut-free environment, and they do not use any bean, corn or soy flours.  Most of their products are also made without dairy and casein.

What are your favorite gluten free options in Bellevue, Washington? 

The Turf Club Bar and Grill - Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

On Saturday, we had dinner at The Turf Club Bar and Grill, which serves American cuisine in a racetrack clubhouse setting at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.  

The Turf Club is open daily for dinner, and sits alongside the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course clubhouse.  

You can dine outside on the covered patio, which I would have enjoyed had it not been so hot, or inside in the dimly lit restaurant with its wood-paneled walls. 

The Turf Club does not currently have a gluten free menu, but Chef Eric went over the menu with me.  He offered me gluten free bread, which ended up being Ener-G rolls.  I am always amused that my gluten-eating daughters ask to sample my bread at every Disney restaurant, even when they are in the midst of devouring their own bread.  These Ener-G buns got a thumbs up from both of my girls, and I thought they were pretty good, because they were well heated.  Update - The Turf Club now has an allergy-friendly menu, which you can view here, on my friend Sarah's blog Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW.  You can read her most recent dinner review here.  

I did not ask about gluten free appetizers, because I knew I wanted to get an entree and dessert.  Chef Eric told me that the grilled lamb chop, grilled salmon, spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, and the grilled New York strip entrees were all naturally gluten free.  

I decided to order the spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with butternut squash risotto and fried sage.  My pork was nicely seasoned, tender and cooked to temperature.  I enjoyed every bite with a little piece of the fried sage and the risotto, because I loved the marriage of all the flavors on this dish.  The butternut squash risotto was not as creamy as I expected it to be, but it tasted great, and I enjoyed the Parmesan it was served with.

My husband ordered the grilled salmon with teriyaki glaze and cilantro jasmine rice with green peas.  When I asked Chef Eric about this dish being naturally gluten free, he told me they use a tamari-based teriyaki glaze.  I sampled a couple of bites while Mitch was distracted cutting our daughter's chicken, and was impressed with both the salmon and rice.  

Nina, our international student, ordered the Turf Club Pasta with shrimp, garlic, and fresh vegetables tossed in a spicy Italian herb-infused olive oil.  She really enjoyed it, and Chef Eric told me I could have ordered it too with gluten free pasta.  He also said he could modify the sustainable fish of the day to make it gluten free.  My gluten-eating daughters loved their crispy free-range chicken breast with three-cheese macaroni & cheese with green beans almondine.  If I had ordered this dish, the chicken would not have been fried, and it would have been served with mashed potatoes instead of mac & cheese.  The Turf Club definitely has plenty of gluten free options.  

For dessert, I could choose the mango sorbet, warm seasonal fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream (minus the streusel topping), or the chocolate espresso torte with raspberry sauce and vanilla-port wine ice cream.  Four out of five of us decided we wanted the torte, which got a big thumbs up from all of my ladies.  It was smooth and creamy, and very rich, so thankfully there was plenty of ice cream, whipped cream, fruit and raspberry sauce to go with it.  

The Turf Club was highly recommended to me by a couple of my blog readers, and I can see why.  All five of us were very happy with our entrees and desserts.  From The Turf Club, it is a short walk or boat ride over to Downtown Disney.  

You can read more about The Turf Club, view their menu, and make advance dining reservations on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at The Turf Bar Bar and Grill?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Smoothie Bowls

The three day juice cleanse I did two weeks ago has motivated me to eat healthier, so I have been making a lot of smoothies and smoothie bowls.  

I have been hearing about smoothie bowls for a while, but wasn't completely sure what constitutes a smoothie bowl.  If your smoothie is so thick that you can't really drink it, and you're better off putting it in a bowl and eating it with a spoon, you have the beginnings of a smoothie bowl.  Next, add some toppings, which make eating a smoothie a lot more fun.  

One of my favorite things about smoothie bowls is that they are a little sweet, but not overly sweet, and I feel like I am eating ice cream or frozen yogurt for breakfast.  

Topped with my homemade granola, smoothie bowls are my new favorite way to start my day.  

This morning, I used a combination of frozen peaches, mango, blueberries and banana in my smoothie bowl.  The other pictures show smoothie bowls made with mango, peaches and banana.

Smoothie Bowl


1 1/2 C frozen fruit (I like to use no sugar added peaches, mango, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C plain kefir or plain yogurt
1 T raw honey
1/2 T golden flaxseed meal
1/2 T chia seeds
3/4 tsp goji berry powder
Toppings - granola, fruit, nuts, chia, flaxseed, hemp seeds, etc.


Blend all the ingredients together in a high speed blender.

Recipe Notes

I make my smoothie bowls in my NutriBullet, one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  It incorporates the flaxseed and chia seed in a way our regular blender cannot do.

Sometimes I use one cup of  kefir or one cup of almond milk, depending on what I have in the house.  I like a mix of flaxseed and chia, but you could just use 1 tablespoon of one of them.

I have been peeling and freezing bananas, breaking them into four equal parts, and putting them in sandwich bags.

You could also add some greens to your smoothie bowl, like kale or spinach.  Avocado would add healthy fat, and make your smoothie bowl super creamy.

When I buy almond milk, kefir, flaxseed and chia seeds, I make sure that they are labeled gluten free.

Kefir (pronounced kee-fer) is a cultured milk product, like yogurt, that contains probiotics, and is a rich source of a variety of different vitamins and minerals.  You can read more about the health benefits of kefir here.  I purchase it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Publix.

I use orange blossom raw honey from Winter Park Honey.  We purchase it at The Fresh Market or the Winter Park Farmers' Market, which is held every Saturday.  You can read about the many health benefits of raw honey here, and the possible benefits of local honey for fighting seasonal allergies here.

You can read about the health benefits of chia seeds and flaxseed, two superfoods, here.  I use Spectrum Chia Seeds and Bob's Red Mill whole ground golden flaxseed meal. 

You can view my homemade granola recipe here.

April 21, 2015 Update

My new favorite mix of fruit - 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, 1/2 C frozen mango & peaches mixed, and 1/2 frozen banana. I also love to use 1/2 cup each of frozen blueberries, mango and peaches, with 1/2 frozen banana, and 4 or 5 frozen blackberries.   

August 21, 2015

This week, I have been loving my latest smoothie bowl creation using 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 C frozen raspberries, 1/2 C frozen blueberries, 1 Sambazon original blend acai berry superfruit pack, about 6 frozen blackberries, 1/2 C plain kefir, 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk, 1 T raw honey, 1/2 T golden flaxseed meal, 1/2 T chia seeds, and 3/4 tsp goji berry powder (purchased from  I top it with my homemade granola of course, which I add a little bit at a time so it doesn't get soggy. 

What are your favorite smoothie bowl ingredients?