Tio Pablo – Totally gluten free Mexican food in Richmond, VA!

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Its humble entrance

Tio Pablo’s Mexican restaurant might not look like much outside and it’s an area of downtown Richmond being rehabbed, but an all gluten free restaurant warrants a try anyways! While some folks have said it’s not the best neighborhood at night, I have not felt unsafe during our several visits during the day. It’s conveniently located just off I-95, within 2 blocks of  the train station (Main Street Station) and the city’s farmer’s market.

The interior of the restaurant is small, but has nice theming.

       Chips brightened

 

The joy of an all gluten free restaurant means the chips are safe!

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Queso dip, chips, side of potatoes, and side of rice.

 

The queso cheese dip is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

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Carne Asada taco

I must say the carne asada taco looks simple, but the flavor is fantastic! They use all corn tortillas and since it’s all gluten free, there are no cross contamination concerns. These corn tortillas blow all others out of the water in terms of taste and texture, too!

The menu has a wide variety of proteins from chicken to carne asada to shrimp and more. There are vegetarian options like sauteed cactus or sauteed vegetables. You can choose to get them in tacos, tostados, or gorditos.
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They also have some other entrees, like this Quesadilla Grande, which uses a thicker and larger corn tortilla and is filled with meat, cheese, and veggies. So yummy! There are sides like rice, beans, or roasted potatoes that are quite good. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday 10am until 3pm also!

Dessert includes gluten free Cheesecake of the Day (habanero pictured–unique but delicious) and gluten free Tres Leches Cake. They also have flan, but I haven’t tried it yet.

In addition to being entirely gluten free, nothing contained peanuts, and the tortillas are vegetarian, so no lard, making multiple safe pork-free options.

I was not compensated in any way for my review, I just couldn’t wait to share such a great place with you! Knock on wood, they don’t make any major changes, because this place is fabulous!  You can view their full menu and find their phone number and address on their website at http://www.tiopablotacos.com.

Boatwrights Dining Hall allergy review

Boatwrights Dining Hall allergy review – gluten free, pork free, nut free (also pumpkin seed, arrowroot, and sorghum free)

A review of Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside table service dinner option, themed with a partially built ship and boat wright tools, pictured here:

Many of your know I love Disney World–not so much for the characters like
many others, but because of their amazing allergy protocols! Most of Disney
World’s owned restaurants do a great job of keep people safe and most of them do it while providing great tasting food. We visit family in the area so we frequently add a few days in Disney World before returning home, specifically because of their generally good allergy protocols (knock on wood they stay that way!). One of the great recent additions that acknowledges the heavy allergy population of visitors is their allergy menus:

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However, sometimes one falls short on taste and that’s how I feel about Boatwright’s Dining Hall at Port Orleans Riverside. They kept me safe, and for that I’m grateful, but the food was horrible! The rolls served were the normal GNI gluten free rolls and were fine, but the appetizer of Colonel Peace’s Pieces were terrible–they had no flavor or spices in the batter and the remulade sauce sadly didn’t help!

I didn’t feel like any of the entrees were good choices (except Voodoo Chicken and waffles, but I can’t eat Disney’s waffle mix because I cannot tolerate arrowroot or sorghum), so I went with steak, green beans, and potatoes–one would think it’s hard to mess that up, right? Wrong. These green beans had no flavoring, were rubber texture, and the steak was rough and flavorless. The mashed potatoes were decent, but not amazing.

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The position of the lights throughout the restaurant also were not good, as the lights on the sides of the wall made both my husband and I a bit dizzy! You can see how harsh the glare is in the photo below. For dessert, I ordered the butterscotch creme brulee, only to find out it was a No Sugar Added dessert! (I avoid sugar substitutes and normally don’t have to mention this on top of my many allergies, because typically the menu denotes it, but this time it did not.)

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I must add that I really enjoyed Port Orleans Riverside as a resort, but this was a major downfall, as we always like to spend at least one day where we don’t leave the resort–a rest day, which means there has to be decently good food for a few meals. There is no sit down location open for breakfast (just the quick service) and this is their sit-down dinner option, disappointing dining for an otherwise great resort!

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Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Gluten free, nut free, soy free

Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Gluten free, nut free, soy free

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This past week was Snowmaggedon 2017 for Virginia Beach and so it was a great time to bake!  I’ve been craving oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for a long time and haven’t made them! I don’t think my body likes oats (even gluten free ones), but I was too tempted and had to try again!20170107_184932

Since I was already snowed in, I didn’t have the ability to get additional ingredients, so I searched the internet for an easy recipe using what I had on hand. Many called for addition xanthan gum, which I didn’t have.  So, I modified a few of the recipes and combined them for a winner:

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0.5 cup butter, melted
2.5 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
1 cup Betty Crocker Gluten Free all-purpose rice flour blend
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1.5 cups chocolate chips*
*(I mostly used Enjoy Life mini chips and threw in some No Whey NoNos for a monster cookie taste, both of which are top 8 allergen free)

1. Melt butter.
2. In medium bowl, mix oats, flour blend, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (These are the ingredients in blue and underlined above, to make it easier.)
3. In large bowl, mix brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add melted butter. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Stir in oat mixture (from medium bowl) until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Let dough stand 15 minutes.
4. On parchment paper-line cookie sheet, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
5. Bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Store tightly covered.

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Now these cookies do spread out a lot and end up fairly thin, but they stay soft, which is amazing!  They also feel like an even bigger treat per cookie because they’re so big, but it’s because they are quite thin, so don’t feel too bad!

This does make quite a lot of cookies (35-40), so feel free to share some with a neighbor or co-workers (they’ll never know they’re gluten free)!

I think you could easily sub raisins for chocolate chips, if you prefer. You could also half the amount of chocolate chips and add nuts, if you don’t have a nut allergy.

Additional Allergen adjustments:
I think you could make this dairy-free easily with non dairy butter substitute.
I’m not sure how egg-free would work, but let me know if you try it!

Enjoy!

The Wooden Monkey: Gluten free in Halifax, Nova Scotia

As I said in my other post, recently we made a trip north to Canada–more specifically to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Now, Halifax may not be a gluten free paradise like some cities or Disney World, but it can hold it’s own for a small city/big town! It’s also beautiful, here’s a view of the waterfront from a boat:
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There were a few places on the water with safe options for lunch and dinner, but having done my research before I came, I saw there was a gluten free bakery (that I’ll cover in another post) and a celiac-friendly (not just gluten free, celiac-friendly!) restaurant called The Wooden Monkey.

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The Wooden Monkey has two locations–one in Halifax a few blocks uphill from the waterfront boardwalk area and one across the water at the ferry landing in Dartmouth, near Evan’s Fresh Seafood. The one in Dartmouth was closed on Mondays when we wanted to visit, so we went to the one up the hill in Halifax.

They are focused on local and healthy, they don’t even have a deep fryer, but they do have safe fries that are baked and delicious! They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options in addition to gluten free and their menu has entrees with nuts, soy, and dairy marked on the menu.

For their starters, they have lots of gluten free options, we opted to order the nachos and a side of their version of fries, called “Roasties.” It was a large order, flavorful, and plentiful. Truth be told, this with an order of their fries would have been enough food to skip an entree and then have dessert.
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The entree menu is entirely gluten free but largely seafood based, as many menus are in this fishing town, but as I don’t love fish, I opted for the braised beef with mashed potatoes. It had good flavor though a little strong on the onion flavor, but it was too heavy for me to finish after the hearty appetizer. They also had gluten free pizza and buns which sounded great, but they had sorghum (which I also can’t tolerate). The full menu can be viewed on their website.
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Dessert holds two gluten free options–tofu pie and local, organic dairy ice cream. While the Tofu pie comes highly recommended, I avoid most forms of soy and the crust is made from nuts, so I simple had the ice cream which was good.

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I’d recommend the Wooden Monkey to anyone visiting Halifax or Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but especially anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions, as they know their ingredients and mark the top 8 allergens, too!

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, just trying to share what I know to help others with food allergies enjoy their trip more!)

Gluten free fish and chips in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)

Evan’s Fresh Seafoods and Restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Recently we took a short trip to get away from the heat of Virginia and ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada, above Maine).  I’ll be posting the gluten free places we found to eat.

While there, every time gluten free came up, it seemed one name was mentioned consistently: Evan’s Fresh Seafoods and Restaurants. They are located a short 10 minute ferry ride over the water from Halifax to the town of Dartmouth.  They are located right on the water.  So we took the ferry over and immediately saw them at Alderney Landing.

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They are most well known for their gluten free fish and chips, so naturally that’s what we ordered.  They are celiac safe and made in gluten-free dedicated fryer.  The fish were very good, made using Schoolhouse brand bread crumbs-which don’t have sorghum (I emailed Schoolhouse, located in Nova Scotia, before I went)! Much of Evan’s menu is in fact gluten free in addition to their fish and chips, like their gluten free lobster poutine, which I wanted to have, but was too full to try!

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They also have gluten free Digby (local) clam strips (pictured below) and gluten free dessert cakes–however, beware if you don’t tolerate sorghum, the cake and the clam strips are in a different bread crumb mixture that has sorghum.

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I did ask what kind of oil they use and it’s currently canola oil (although be sure to check if that’s a concern).  After that, I didn’t ask specifically about nuts or pork (my other allergies), because I didn’t see any of either on the menu. Check their Facebook page for their hours and the most recent information.

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When the weather is great, like it was on this day in early August, there are nice picnic tables to sit at outside.  If the weather isn’t good, there is a seating area inside.

Crab Louie’s – gluten free in Richmond

If you’re looking for a fantastic gluten free place on the south side of Richmond (technically Midlothian, Virginia), be sure to check out Crab Louie’s!

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While unassuming in this historic building in a shopping center, this place has a HUGE gluten free menu. It’s not all seafood either! They are pretty well aware of the gluten free needs to keep it safe in the kitchen, but the servers can be a little hit or miss, so do stay vigilent.  Also, be prepared–they have several complimentary homemade sweet breads they serve, these are not gluten free!

Crab Louies salad Martha Vineyard

The Martha’s Vineyard salad comes with greens, onions, tomato, mushrooms, dried cherries (my favorite) and a maple vinaigrette that is delicious! Be sure to specify gluten free because there is usually croutons on the non-gluten free version.

Crab Louie's baked potato GF

For some reason, I don’t have a picture of the chicken dish I sometimes get (grilled chicken dijon), with a baked potato as my side.

Crab Louie's GF crabcake 2   Crab Louie's GF Crabcakes Dec. 2014

But the real charm here is the gluten free crab cakes!! And the delicious sauce that comes with them is amazing–I even use it on my baked potato too.

Crab Louie's GF bananas foster

The Bananas Foster Sundae is heavenly, BUT you do have to be careful that they make it fresh and it’s gluten free, as it is usually served with a gluten-ful rolled wafer stick stuck in it. As a celiac, I have had to ask them to re-make it, but it is so worth it!
Here is the link to their very large gluten free menu: http://crablouies.com/site/gluten-free-dinner-menu/.  As always, all opinions are my own and to the best of my current knowledge.

Lynchburg, VA gluten free dining

Recently I had to travel to Lynchburg, VA for work. It’s a large town/small city but before I went it seemed like a middle of nowhere place. Naturally, I did lots of research as to where I could eat safely. Aside from chain restaurants, one of the very few recommendations was La Villa–a small, local Italian restaurant.  (I often find authentic Italian restaurants to be celiac-friendly, likely because Italy is!)

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The owner was actually the one who sat us and when I asked for a gluten free menu, he took quite the interest. He asked how I learned about the restaurant and proudly shared with me how many options they have and how the chefs are fully trained in Italy. He told me they fully understand celiac and gluten free safety. They essentially have a whole second kitchen area where they do the gluten free prep!

Normally this much tomato sauce would scare me–I like some, but heartburn appears often with too much…or so I thought. The owner convinced me I should try my dishes the way they come–with lots of housemade tomato sauce, made fresh and boiled down 6 hours EACH DAY! (It also didn’t have added onion, another suspect.) Surprise–no heartburn!

Above on the left is the gluten free cheese-stuffed ravioli. On the right is the gluten free chicken parmesan (grilled instead of fried) with Bionature GF pasta. I did not ask about nuts, but I did not have any issues.

La Villa table

The atmosphere was very casual–it reminded me of a remodeled interior of a Pizza Hut, but the food was of a much higher caliber. So know, if you’re ever in the Lynchburg area (for Lynchburg College, Liberty University, or the nearby Appomatox Courthouse) in search of gluten free, be sure to stop in to La Villa! (and tell em Gluten Free VA sent ya)