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.

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!

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We made our visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia at the end of July/beginning of August, which was accidentally perfect timing for Natal Day. It’s the birthday of their city and a bit like a mini 4th of July here in the states. There were musicians, performers, and food stands along the water front which made it a great time to visit! The weather was perfect, while the rest of the US and most of Canada was roasting in unusually high summer heat.  Aside from the tourist recommendation, I know this is a blog about food. That said, Natal Day comes with many restaurants closed and limited menus at others, so this is what we were able to find for dinner at Murphy’s, which was right along the waterfront and was one of the few that I was able to read about beforehand that had gluten free options.20160801_204206

As one might expect, the menu is seafood heavy. I wasn’t starving so decided an appetizer might be best. Appetizers marked gluten free for Natal Day were:
Bacon-wrapped scallops, Mussels, Lobster Dip, and Seafood Chowder.

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I choose the lobster dip and it was a large portion and delicious!

 

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Dinner options include: Nova Scotian whole lobster, Molasses Salmon, and BBQ Chicken Supreme.

Dessert included a chocolate torte that was gluten free, but I couldn’t get a straight answer about if there were nuts or nut flour, so I opted to try one of the ice cream stands we had seen.

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Imagine my surprise when one of the ice cream stands (Black Bear, I believe it was called) had gluten free cones! Even a brand I knew–Edward and Sons. Unfortunately, there servers didn’t have a lot of knowledge about which flavors were gluten free and they weren’t marked, so I stuck to vanilla and chocolate.  They graciously cleaned scoops for me, so all in all it was a good, sweet ending to our first Natal Day!

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!

Crab Louie's Midlothian 2

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.

4 ingredient Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

Easy Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

I apologize this post wasn’t up for Valentine’s Day, but my husband found and tweaked this recipe for me and it is absolutely DELICIOUS! So, naturally, I had to type it up and share it with you all! Now you have it for whatever your next special occasion is (your birthday, Easter, or Saturday–you know, we don’t judge around here!)

My husband says thankfully they’re not hard to make, because I have asked for him to make them again tonight, so I had fresh photos, of course! 😉

Lava Cake GF finished with powdered sugar

  • 8 TBSP butter (or non-dairy alternative for dairy free)
  • ¾ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (Top 8 free)
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks (ideally free-range, just sayin’)
  • 2 TBSP sugar (I prefer Woodstock Organic unbleached)
    Lava Cake GF ingredients
    INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a muffin pan. (I prefer the “If You Care” brand of muffin liners, they are are not bleached. Can be found on Vitacost.com or Whole Foods.)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together over low heat until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture until well combined.
  4. Divide among 9 standard muffin cups and bake until cakes are puffed up, but still jiggly in the center – about 6 to 8 minutes. Lava Cakes GF in oven
  5. Turn out upside down onto a plate, garnish, and serve immediately.
    Lava Cakes GF finished

*This could also easily be made dairy free by using a non dairy butter substitute.

**These can be topped with fruit, powdered sugar, or a Free2B Suncup–that makes it taste like there is a peanut butter sauce on top (but they are peanut & nut free, soy free, shellfish/fish free, gluten free, egg free, and working on dairy free).
Lava Cake GF gooeyness
OR you can take them with you to Outback and have them with their amazing ice cream and homemade fudge sauce (it’s gluten free, as is the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under–but that brownie has nuts, so normally I just have the ice cream and chocolate sauce).
Outback sundae with lava cake GF

Safe, Raw Cookie Dough: Top 8 Allergen Free

Egg-less gluten free Cookie dough

Eggless Cookie Dough GF

I love a good, raw cookie dough but my mother was far too overprotective to ever let us eat it. Her facts about salmonella take all the enjoyment out of eating it. Until now! Simply make egg-less cookie dough so it’s safe to eat in its dough form.

The recipe I use is below.  The only modification from the recipe I use in order for it to be top 8 free would be a butter substitute for dairy free. (Recipe modified from FlippinDelicious: http://flippindelicious.com/2015/07/gluten-free-edible-cookie-dough-egg-less.html):

  • 1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute for dairy free), melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk alternative or water (yes, I was out of milk and used water–it worked!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Cup4Cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (gluten free, nut free, dairy free, soy free)*
    *another option is Equal Exchange–they don’t have mini chocolate chips, but they are fair trade and gluten/soy/nut/dairy/egg free and made in a facility free of those)

The result is a delicious cookie dough that is safe to eat. I’m not sure how this would turn out if you baked it–I just eat it as dough. I have also mixed it with ice cream for a gluten free cookie dough ice cream (pictured below)–YUM!

Eggless Cookie Dough Ice Cream GF

Walt Disney World Review: Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe GF menu cover

Set on the second floor of the Polynesian Hotel (along the monorail from Magic Kingdom) is the Kona Cafe. This was our first visit to this restaurant, but I’d read many good things about allergies here.  It’s open to the walkway and overlooks the Polynesian foyer.  To me this makes it look like a lunch sandwich style place, not fast food but not a normal sit-down dinner place either, but they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a sit down meal (non-quick service).  We dined for lunch.

Kona Cafe GF menu

They are trying out a special gluten free menu, which gave me a starting list of options. However, once I spoke to the chef and we removed the pork, peanut, and soy options…almost no options were left. Chef Amber was very kind and knowledgeable, she offered to make me a salad for the appetizer. The salad was good but be warned, their almond pieces are chopped and spread throughout the salad, which I did not enjoy but were too small and plentiful to pick out. The greens were great, the citrus vinegrette was yummy, and the pear pieces were delightful.

Kona Cafe salad too many almond pieces

The entree was to be plain chicken and white rice for the entree. She served the chicken with a delicious mango puree (not pictured unfortunately!), but I thought being served absolutely plain chicken with rice was a restaurant fail. Could they not have cooked it in the mango puree or added cheese or something? The rice was also hard and dry :-(. The mango puree was heavenly!

Kona Cafe bland chicken with mango puree

We had a reminder here that you must always be diligent for yourself, even with the best chef. I always bring a list of my allergens, since I have several, but the chef still almost missed the chorizo in the soup as pork!  She may have realized it in the kitchen, but luckily I stopped her before that.  My side was just fruit.

Kona Cafe dessert2

For dessert, I had already discovered when the chefs came out with no real offering to suit my needs (they usually offered just fruit or sorbet), I would ask for ice cream and enjoy life cookies.  For some reason, this wasn’t usually offered, but was always available when I asked! So here I had vanilla ice cream and Enjoy Life soft baked brownie cookies!

Overall, I appreciated another safe meal but was disappointed with having no real choice and very limited flavor.  I had bigger expectations, but I would order the salad again without the almonds and perhaps return for the mango puree if it could be worked into the chicken/rice as it was cooked.