Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gluten Free in Hilton Head - 2015

My extended family has been taking yearly trips to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for almost 35 years.  After I was diagnosed with celiac disease seven years ago, I started my gluten free journey on our summer vacation to Hilton Head, where I had my first experience dining out gluten free at Bonefish Grill, which has a lot of great options on their gluten free menu.  

Because the villa we stay in at Marriott's Grande Ocean has a kitchen, we rarely eat breakfast or lunch at restaurants on the island, but I do like to go out to dinner every other day during our week stay.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Disney's Wilderness Lodge Allergy-Friendly Menus

Starting in April, table service and quick service restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland began adopting allergy-friendly menus.  By the end of September, you can expect to see these menus at all Disney-owned and operated restaurants.  The allergy-friendly menus cover the top 8 food allergies - gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, peanut/tree nut, and fish/shellfish.  This post will focus on the gluten/wheat allergy-friendly options on the menus at Artist Point, Whispering Canyon Cafe, and Roaring Fork.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Best Thing I Ever Ate At Disney - Gluten Free Breakfast

Last summer, I wrote a guest blog post for the Food Allergy & Celiac Convention about my favorite restaurants for breakfast at Disney World.  In the past year, I have discovered a couple of new favorites that I wanted to share, so this is my updated list for 2015.  Having breakfast at a Disney restaurant is an experience that should not be missed when traveling to Orlando.  Where else can you be visited by Disney friends while eating gluten free Mickey waffles?  Whether you are in the mood for an all-you-care-to-enjoy dining experience or a more budget-friendly breakfast, characters or no characters, I've got you covered.  You don't even need a Disney park pass to dine at most of the restaurants on this list.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Trail's End Restaurant Dinner - Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

Last night, my family had dinner at Trail's End Restaurant at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort.

Trail's End serves American favorites at an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet for breakfast and dinner, but lunch is a la carte.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Scratch & Grain Baking Gluten Free Baking Kits

While watching Shark Tank, I learned about Scratch & Grain Baking and their gluten free cookie kits.   When I started my blog two years ago, I was baking all the time, and enjoying it, but I have really lost interest in the last year.  I thought these kits would be a great way to rekindle my love of baking, and share the experience with my daughters.   

Scratch & Grain's cookie kits contain pre-measured ingredients that are all packaged individually.  My daughter Emma enjoyed cutting them open and adding each one to the mixing bowl.  The ingredients are labeled and numbered for ease of use, which definitely helped us put together our cookies.  The kits contain all natural and organic ingredients, and even sneak in some healthy items like organic ground flaxseed. They are also free of GMOs and preservatives, and are certified kosher. For all of the kits I ordered, all we need to prepare the cookies are an egg, butter, cookie sheet, and a bowl and spoon.  Each kit makes 9 to 14 cookies, which is great for portion control.  There is also the option to customize your cookies, and each kit has suggestions for customization on the box.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Luce's Gluten Free Artisan Bread Mix - OMG Flatbread

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease seven years ago, the foods I missed the most were pasta, bread, pizza, and cannoli, all Italian foods of course.  Since then, I have found several brands of gluten free pasta that even my gluten-eating family loves, and we make great pizza and cannoli at home.  The problem has been bread.  At Disney, I have been able to get my bread fix with the amazing gluten free naan at Sanaa, and the focaccia at Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC.  When I am in the mood for a bagel, I have a stock of Sweet Note Bagels in my freezer.  I have also been very happy with the Easter Bread and dinner rolls recipes I make, but I have missed ciabatta, French bread, and Italian bread that actually tastes like the gluten-filled bread I still remember.  

Last night, we made Luce's OMG Flatbread Mix, and I was amazed by how easy it was to make, and how good it tasted. The mix is manufactured in a gluten free facility, and is dairy free, egg free, nut free and soy free.  There is no kneading and no rising, and all you have to add is water.  Ingredients: potato starch, brown rice flour, modified tapioca starch, millet flour, sorghum flour, gluten-free oat flour, xanthan gum, salt, yeast, sugar, baking soda, and dehydrated garlic.  

You can make flatbread with the mix in a skillet or on a BBQ grill, but we chose to make our flatbread in the oven.  Before I started making my bread, I preheated my oven to 400 degrees with my USA Pans 13 x 18 non-stick baking sheet in it.  I used two cups of OMG (oats, millet, garlic) flour, and mixed it with 1 1/2 cups of warm water, until the flour was incorporated. After letting the mixture sit for 5 minutes, I stirred the bread as directed with 50 vigorous strokes of my spatula.  According to the directions, I prepared enough mix for 8 flatbreads, but I chose to make four, because I wanted them to be thicker and more substantial.  

I cut a pre-cut 12 1/2 x 16 parchment baking sheet into four rectangles, one for each piece of bread.  I dusted the parchment sheets with the white rice dusting flour included with the mix, then divided the dough equally between them.  I used the spatula I mixed my bread dough with to spread out the dough on the parchment sheets, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch on each side, before sprinkling the top of each piece of dough with a little bit more of the dusting flour.  

I took my baking sheet out of the oven while I was shaping my bread.  I then carefully flipped all four pieces, dough side down, onto my baking sheet.  I left the parchment paper in place, and put the baking sheet on a  rack in the top third of my oven.  After 18 minutes, I removed the parchment paper, and flipped each piece of bread over to bake for 14 more minutes, for a total baking time of 32 minutes.  Allow the bread to sit on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.  

Sadly, it was pretty dark last night in our house with our crazy rainy season weather, so I didn't get a great picture of the bread we made, but it definitely looked and tasted like gluten-filled bread, and reminded me of ciabatta.  My entire family loved it with butter on top, or some Caprese Salad.  For the first time in seven years, I felt like I had the bread I love best back in my life, because it's easy to acquire, easy to make, and tastes great.  I already ordered three more bags.

You can read more about Luce's Gluten Free Artisan Bread Mixes on their website here.  Shipping is inexpensive, and the order I placed last night has already been shipped.  If you happen to live in my hometown of Pittsburgh, you can find Luce's mixes at Soergel's in Wexford.

June 29, 2015 Update

The second time I made flatbread with Luce's OMG Flatbread Mix, it was not pouring outside, so I got a better picture.

On Saturday, I made this recipe with Luce's New Italian, which I bought in bulk, instead of the flatbread mix.  My whole family thought it turned out great, but we were split on which mix we liked better.  If you buy the mixes in bulk, they do not come with dusting flour, but I just use Cup4Cup instead, my favorite all-purpose gluten free flour.  

What are your favorite Luce's artisan bread mixes?  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Las Ventanas - Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

This morning, my daughters and I had breakfast at Las Ventanas at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.  

Las Ventanas is a table service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The dining room is beautiful, small, and quiet, which made for a nice, relaxing meal.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Disney's Port Orleans Resort Allergy-Friendly Menus

Starting in April, table service and quick service restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland began adopting allergy-friendly menus.  By the end of September, you can expect to see these menus at all Disney-owned and operated restaurants.  The allergy-friendly menus cover the top 8 food allergies - gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, peanut/tree nut, and fish/shellfish.  This post will focus on the gluten/wheat allergy-friendly options on the menus at Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, Riverside Mill Food Court, and Boatwright's Dining Hall.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Captain's Grille Breakfast - Disney's Yacht Club Resort

This morning, my daughters and I had breakfast at the Captain's Grille at Disney's Yacht Club Resort.

The Captain's Grille, a table service restaurant, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves American fare in a nautical setting with a New England yacht club theme.  You can read my lunch review here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Columbia Restaurant - Celebration

Earlier today, we had lunch at Columbia Restaurant in Celebration, a planned community near Disney World that was originally developed by The Walt Disney Company.  

We have dined at Columbia Restaurant locations in St. Augustine and Clearwater Beach, but this was our first time dining at their restaurant in Celebration.  According to their website, Columbia Restaurant, which was founded in Tampa in 1905 by a Cuban immigrant, is Florida's oldest restaurant, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience - Disney's Hollywood Studios

Last night, we had dinner at the Rebel Hanger: A Star Wars Lounge Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  

The Rebel Hanger, which opens daily at 4 p.m., is set up inside the Backlot Express, a quick service restaurant located next to Star Tours.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Earlier today, my daughters and I stopped at the Trader Joe's in Winter Park.  While we were shopping, we ran across several new gluten free products that we had never seen before - hamburger buns, white sandwich bread, whole grain bread, chicken breast nuggets, chocolate chocolate chip cookies, coffee latte & cream bars, mango & cream bars, and raspberry & vanilla cream bars.  

I almost resisted the gluten free chocolate chocolate chips cookies, but my girls talked me into buying them.  When we were checking out, the employee that bagged our groceries mentioned how good the cookies were, and that they tasted like brownies.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Trail's End Restaurant Breakfast - Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

This morning, my daughters and I had breakfast at Trail's End Restaurant at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.  

Trail's End serves American favorites at an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet for breakfast and dinner, but lunch, the only meal I have previously eaten there, is a la carte.  You can read my lunch review here.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Biergarten Restaurant - Epcot

Yesterday, my daughters and I had lunch at Biergarten Restaurant at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot.  I was a little leery to dine there after reading my friend Sarah's latest review of Biergarten on her blog Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW, but I wanted to try German food again, because ethnically, I am half German, and I wanted my girls to experience a new type of cuisine.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Heartsong Cookies

I first read about Heartsong Cookies on my friend Amanda's blog Eating out Without.  When she posted that they were at the Winter Park Farmers' Market on Saturday, my girls and I headed over to buy some. 

Heartsong Cookies is not a dedicated gluten free bakery, but they take precautions to protect against cross contamination, like sanitizing their equipment, and baking gluten free cookies before any gluten-filled cookies are made.  On the day we stopped at Heartsong Cookies' table, they had three gluten free vegan cookies to choose from - dark chocolate with a hint of espresso, chocolate chunk, and lemon blueberry.  

Because Amanda raved about the chocolate chunk, I had to try it, even though I am a less is more kind of person when it comes to chocolate chips/chunks in my cookies.  The first thing that amazed me about this cookie was the texture.  It was soft in the center, and had a little bit of chewiness around the edges, just like a cookie should have.  I didn't even mind the massive chunks of chocolate in the cookie, because it was just so delicious.  My gluten-eating daughters said it was just as good as any gluten-filled chocolate chip cookie they have had.  I usually don't like products made with Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour, but I could not taste any aftertaste from the beans in the flour at all.  

The lemon blueberry cookie had the same wonderful texture as the chocolate chunk, but it was bursting with lemon and blueberry flavor.  I love that the cookies are a little undercooked on the inside, and browned about the edges.  Two days after I purchased it, the lemon blueberry cookie still tasted great this morning.  I passed on the dark chocolate espresso cookie because I try to avoid caffeine, but I highly regretted that decision as soon as I got home and started sampling my cookies.  

June 6, 2015

This morning, we visited Heartsong Cookies and Peak Season Pops at the Winter Park Farmers' Market.  I sampled the dark chocolate espresso cookie, which was very good, but ended up buying the banana walnut chocolate chunk.  When we got home, I decided to try a small bite, but ended up eating the whole cookie.  The banana chocolate walnut is definitely my new favorite at Heartsong Cookies.  It has that same wonderful texture and chew that their other cookies have, and the perfect amount of chocolate and walnut, with a nice subtle banana flavor. 

Besides the Winter Park Farmers' Market, Heartsong Cookies can be found at Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux, Dandelion Communitea Cafe, Kappy's, and the Maitland Farmer's Market on Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm.  They can also be ordered on their website.  You can follow Heartsong Cookies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What are your favorite flavors of gluten free Heartsong Cookies?