A new phase…the celiac high schooler

Raising a celiac child really adds a layer of trial and error to an already full plate of trial and error.  And thus, my son and I enter a new chapter as he figures out high school and celiac disease.

The daily lunch routine is no big deal and his social life is pretty easy since all of our pizza places have a gluten-free option and Chipotle is every teenagers dream meal.  The movies do not present a problem and as far as I can tell, the drinking scene is not that appealing to him yet.

Where I am worrying is all the team bonding dinners around athletics.  He is a very good athlete so I never worry about him getting picked on or teased for his diet.  But, at the kick off BBQ for football, he literally had a plate of meat.  To me it was gross, I put a chicken breast on a salad and had a balanced meal.  He had a chicken breast, a bunless burger and two bunless hot dogs washed down with a couple of sodas.  Yuck.

The first team dinner was a carbo load, gluten-avoider’s total nightmare.  Three types of pasta, breaded cutlets, brownies and garlic knots with a small tray of caesar salad with croutons.  I volunteered to bring a tray of penne alla vodka and brownies so that he could eat something.

My son and my husband thought I was nuts to go to so much effort.  My son insisted he would just get a pizza later.  But what I explained is that the mom who was hosting would feel so bad if the kid who had three touchdowns the week before had nothing to eat and was just sitting there…even if he looked like he was having fun.  What I said was that he would stick out more if there was a huge fuss made around preparing something different from her kitchen that he could eat.

In the end, the hostess has two nieces who are celiac so she understood the whole thing and asked some great questions about keeping the spoons from the other pasta out of the gluten-free pasta.

Yesterday I stocked up on gluten-free brownie mix and gluten-free pasta.  I think I will just bring a dessert and a 1/2 tray of some sort of pasta to the team dinners.  I might even work out a special football order with one of the local pizza places so that whomever is ordering can just order the “GF Football Dinner” for one.

First dinner went off without a hitch.  He ate and had a blast with his team mates.  I will have this all perfected after a bit of trial and error.

Kendall Egan

 

Gluten-Free Cracker Alert

I have waited and waited for really good gluten-free crackers to come along.  Rice snaps are really good with cheese, but sometimes you just want a snacker-cracker.  A snacker-cracker is the type that you just reach you hand into the box, pull out a couple and eat them.

I bought a box at Fairway and I have to say, at long last, this is a cracker that fits the bill!

crackers

I could have eaten the entire box.  They are flaky and crisp with the right amount of salt and toasted onion flavoring.  I could have used them for a dip or paired them with cheese but they did not last in the pantry long enough for those opportunities.

Absolutely Gluten Free crackers, find them! Ask your grocer to order them!

Kendall Egan

Summer Sandwiches

As gluten-free menus become more prevalent, eating sandwiches and burgers on toasted bread or a roll become a delicious option!

Toasted gluten-free bread.  Cream Cheese. Basil. Sun ripened, juicy, sweet tomatoes.  At the beach house in Cape Cod.  Tomatoes and Basil from Capabilities Farm.

summer lunch

Toasted gluten-free bread.  Tuna fish with grapes and celery. Bowl of Carrot-ginger soup.  Lunch at Five Loaves Cafe in Charleston, SC

five loavessoup and sandwich

Philly cheese-steak with sweet potato fries at 97 Lake in West Harrison, NY

97lake

A GF Football Question for Drew Brees

What does the team chef and nutritionist prepare for you during the season to keep you from starving?

My son is a 14 year old celiac in two-a-day preseason football right now and I can not believe the copious amounts of food he is shoveling into his mouth.  He is absolutely FAMISHED, but not quite all of his choices are “optimal” for good nutrition.

Here is what he had consumed so far today:

A bowl (more like a trough) of Chex cereal with milk for breakfast before session one.

A G2, grape flavor, during a break.

Then home for the following for lunch:

Almond milk, banana and peanut butter smoothie….approximately 16 oz., an apple, an Udi’s Lemon Muffin (inhaled in two bites), a ham and cheese sandwich on Udi’s white bread, a Glutino Strawberry toaster pastry, an Enjoy Life S’mores bar and a bunch of Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle cookies.

There is a lot of nutritious stuff in the mix but a lot of sugar in there too.  I just get out of the way when he comes in the door with that “I’m-so-hungry-I-could-eat-the-furniture” look in his eye.  But, I would LOVE some guidance on some better gluten-free carbohydrates or snacks to fill him up before going back out for session two.

Anyone have some good ideas?

Kendall Egan

Cosi has GF Options!

cosi rice bowlCosi #1

I love it when “fast food” restaurants become aware that they are able to offer gluten-free food options and serve dishes that are labeled with a GF for the consumer.  Cosi, for me, is a “fast food” option right up there with Chipotle…good, fresh, simple food.  I just wish the flatbread was gluten-free because the smell is so enticing.

I was meeting someone for a cup of coffee this morning, but I cannot wait to go back and try a rice bowl.  This is particularly great for my celiac son who has ventured into Cosi several times with his friends.  Now he has an option other than a salad, which he doesn’t really like, when he goes there!  Thank you Cosi for adding these items.

Kendall Egan

Um..Which one is gluten-free?

I am almost embarrassed to write this post since it shows the rather processed food dinners I served my kids this weekend BUT the real story is the difficulty I had telling the gluten-free version of the meal apart from the gluten containing meal.

I had “designer dogs” for dinner on Saturday evening.  Fresh from the butcher hot dogs grilled and served on a fresh from the baker hoagie roll.  The gluten-free version was actually an Udi’s baguette from the freezer with a designer dog but I had to mentally remember that the gluten-free bread was “on the left.”  The two dinner plates looked so much alike that it was confusing.

Even the bread texture on the hot-from-the-oven rolls was totally similar.  The gluten-free version was golden, the crust was crackly and crispy when pierced with a knife and the white innards had a fluffy, spongy consistency.  Seriously, my rule of thumb when serving up gluten-free and gluten-containing meals in one household is to stick to my golden rule of gluten-free “to the left, to the left.”

Yes, it does stem from a Beyonce song, but it really becomes more and more important as the food looks more and more similar.

Last night we were home from the beach late and watched the Little League World Series from the DVR and by the time we finished, I was only up for throwing some Belle and Evans chicken nuggets into the oven.  The GF box is black, the regular nuggets have a blue box.

Once you get the packages out from the box, it is time to really pay attention!  I got out two different size cookie sheets to start and I was mentally focused that GF nuggets were on the larger cookie sheet placed on bottom shelf of the oven.  Once cooked, I took them out and placed them to the left.  They do not get as golden as the gluten-containing nuggets but it is REALLY close.

Whatever works for you…way back in the day this was never an issue because the gluten-free version either did not exist, like GF baguettes or GF chicken nuggets, or they looked so materially different (meaning gross) that no one would ever confuse the two.

Nowadays…you need a kitchen strategy!  “To the left, to the left….”

Kendall Egan

Lobster Roll “sans” Roll

SHcafe

For as far back as I can remember, we spend at least one of our vacation weeks in Dennis, MA and for years we have had one or two meals during vacation week at the Sesuit Harbor Cafe.  The cafe was honored this year as a “Best of Cape” winner which was deserved but made the lines for food a wee bit longer.

Each year I stared in envy at the lobster rolls consumed by other members of my family.  No pity party, I typically ordered a lobster plate or some grilled fish…but I really wanted the lobster roll.  I don’t get a kick out of cracking the shell and doing all the work and I get royally skeeved by the tamale if that intestinal gook is in great abundance.

I had considered ordering the lobster roll and just eating it out of the bun, but that is like taking the cheese off a regular slice of pizza (guilty).  It really isn’t the type of behavior I want to model to my celiac son. Plus, ordering a roll-less lobster roll is just weird, it is not the same thing as a bun-less burger.

We went for dinner on our second night of vacation and I had a delicious grilled sea bass.  The way if works is that you stand in line, order your food and then hover over the tables in the picnic area with your cooler until a table clears.  It is a BYOB, so people come in with all sorts of good beverages.  The really smart people bring bug spray and candles too because this is “au naturel” eating and the bugs get fierce and the sun sets!  Many of the picnic tables are what I would call “communal” so if you are open to it, there is fun conversation and a great opportunity to check out what other people are eating.

SHpicnic area

Three young women who were gabbing away about their triathlon training were next to us which was great because I felt myself sitting up straighter and sucking in my stomach.   When they had their dishes delivered by the waitress, one of them had a garden salad with a gi-normous portion of lobster salad heaped on top.

I leaned over and asked if she had made a special request or if that was on the menu.  It was on the menu!  I had missed it all of these years because why would I be looking at the salads when all I really wanted was a lobster roll?

SHblackboard

I turned to my family and said that we were coming back for dinner, not breakfast, because I really, really wanted that salad.  And sure enough, on our last night of vacation, we headed back to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe where I ordered my garden salad topped with lobster and a side order of potato salad.  That seems like a lot, but their potato salad is the best!

I am not exaggerating when I say there were at least three lobster claws….maybe even more because we stupidly forgot our candles…and the lobster was at peak sweetness.  I was in heaven.  Can’t wait to order the same thing year after year after year on future Cape Cod visits!  A perfect gluten-free end to a perfect week.

Kendall Egan