Saturday, November 14, 2015

Birthday Week and Veterans Week with Food Allergies

So birthday week usually falls at the same time as veterans week. Not my fault, of course. But with food allergies, it can be quite challenging. However, the wonderful thing about birthdays is being able to try some restaurants you might not otherwise be able to try. Sign up for their loyalty clubs! You will be treated like royalty. Most of the time. 

For the Birmingham, Alabama area, I have compiled a list of somewhat safe places to eat that have excellent service to boot. Bear in mind that safe is contingent upon what you feel comfortable with and how severe you are.

These are my safe places:

1. Ruby Tuesday. Did you know they now offer gluten free buns? That's right! You can now get a bun for that delicious and juicy burger! It costs $1 extra, but what the hey, it is well worth the cost! I would however like to mention that the servers may need more education about what gluten is and they do need to compile a printed allergy free menu for perusal. I asked if the fries were gluten free and she said she did not know. I substituted a baked potato and she assumed that gluten free meant no butter or sour cream. However, I would say that they are pretty great with food allergies. Especially if you get the chance to speak with a manager.

2. Red Robin. The sad thing is there is only one about an hour away in my area. But they have gluten free buns and gluten free sides. The only thing I am not liking is the new Ziosks because at Red Robin they do not have the allergy free menu on them. Maybe soon.

3. Chick-fil-A. The grilled nuggets. I never get the fries because I am the weird one that is allergic to peanut and peanut oil. So fries are a no go for me.

4. Joe's Italian is my new local favorite here in the 'ham. Why? Let's just say that up until I won that gift card this summer from summer reading, I would have never given them a try because I did not know they had gluten free on the menu. And when I arrived, they had an accordion player, gluten free ravioli (get out of town with that!), and every sauce was gluten free including a creamy pesto. No meatballs here though. They are made with flour. My second time was with some new people working so there was confusion about the sauces, but I did get official confirmation. The sauces are made with corn starch instead of flour. I also had the chance to try this amazing new flourless brownie they have! Had to give my mom the strawberry (allergic) and whipped cream though. Next up for Joe's Italian will most likely be the gluten free pizza. If the prices on the menu are any indication, the gluten free should not be too expensive. 

5. Bonefish Grill. Mom, when are we going back?!? I need that flourless brownie of theirs. Their gluten free options are pretty good, but they are on the pricey end of the scale. 

6. Mellow Mushroom. This place offers a gluten free and dairy free pizza option!!! And they use separate counters. At the table, if two pizzas are ordered and one is regular and the other gluten free, they will put the gluten free on top and there will be separate cutters provided. They minimize the risk.

7. Chipotle Mexican Grill. The bowls mostly. 

8. Moe's Southwest Grill. Pretty much everything except the tortillas here is safe, like with Chipolte, but the bowls are the best choice for that. 

9. Scholtzsky's. Okay. Did you know they use Udi's gluten free sandwich rolls now? Yep! Found that out last year. 

We have a few other places as well that have great service and gluten free options, but these are the ones I will gladly go to again and again.

Some not so safe places: 

1. Chilis - pretty much what threw me here was peanut oil. Apparently my location uses it? 

2. O'Charley's - this place is a disaster if you have food allergies. We thought it would be nice to give them a try. Little did I know what to expect. Never again. Not that the service was bad, but they just did not have very many safe options. 

3. Olive Garden. Anyone else ever have their location run out of gluten free pasta or find a rogue gluten noodle? Typically I will order the steak tuscano or they now have a new chicken entree that is not on the kid's menu. However, our last visit this year was a disaster all around. THREE servers. No cheese offered for the salad. No cheese offered for the entree. No drink refill. Overcharged on both tickets for tip. And overcharged for the meal itself and no discount was applied for the veteran's day promo on my ticket. Yeah. It was pretty bad service overall. They failed to meet the expectations we had of them and mom said never again. 

4. Applebee's - remind me why you have steak on the gluten free options then not have steak in the restaurant? Yikes!!! This was the Ozark, Alabama location. I refuse to go back to one. 

I have a dream though. And I hope it is a good dream. But one day I would love to own a restaurant free of the top 8 and employ individuals with special needs. 

Oh, we also have some movie theaters selling the Go Picnics and some of those are gluten free as well. 

Also, I have to say this here where I know I cannot be attacked by cyber stalking cyber bullies, but Facebook really needs to reign in the bullying. I posted about the negative experience to Olive Garden and immediately got attacked by multiple bullies. I posted a POSITIVE experience on Ruby Tuesday's page and again I was immediately attacked by the same bullies. Then I posted the question to Joe's to confirm about the sauces and got attacked by some of the same bullies. Seriously. To the bullies out there, GROW THE HELL UP. People have the right to post experiences, compliments, feedback, and questions to restaurants without being attacked. Matter of fact, if not for the Facebook posts in many cases, restaurants would not know how they can improve things. I am going to keep posting away so my companies will know why I like them, why I am frustrated with them, and what they can do to improve. And bullies will be blocked and dealt with to the fullest extent the law says they can be dealt with. Creating a fake page after being blocked just to continue stalking and harassing someone is disgusting and mentally sick. 

One more note, the next time I post will hopefully include some pictures from the upcoming vacation. It is a much needed one as it is not only the first one but it may be the last one. Not just due to financial stress caused by my immune deficiency, but my immune system has gotten to the point that I will be having to wear masks soon until and unless infusions get approved. My body is pretty much no longer making the IgGs and my gut is reactive to everything. Constant pain and bloating. The hope is that IVIG might actually help me see some improvements. In the meantime, I will continue to make notes on how the world around is working to help more food allergic people enjoy life in general. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hey, Long Overdue Update

I am now GFCF and peanut free. But I have been through the ringer of late. Testing for ulcerative colitis came back with mixed results. Now being treated for allergies that inflame the gut. I am making a shift on my diet to closer to paleo. Fortunately, my area now has a Sprouts and is about to get a second Sprouts and a Trader Joe's. These complement the other stores in my area that carry limited safe foods: ALDI, Wal-mart Marketplace, Wal-mart, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Super Target, Organic Harvest, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and the occasional trip my mom makes to the commissary. Feedback though: Where do you shop for your dietary needs?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Enjoy Life Chewy Bars Review

 I received product for review. All opinions are my own.

I received four boxes of Enjoy Life Chewy Bars. They come in Cocoa Loco, Caramel Apple, Mixed Berry, and SunButter Crunch. The Chewy Bars are made with Ancient Grains which include quinoa (KEEN-wa) and buckwheat.

All Enjoy Life products are free of the top 8 allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish. They are also free of casein, sesame and sulfites.

Mixed Berry. Both my mom and I tried one. I was hesitant because I had previously been diagnosed with strawberry allergy. And unfortunately, I do not care much about strawberries, so the Mixed Berry was unimpressive to me. My mom said that it was too dry. And too plain.

Cocoa Loco reminded me a little of the cocoa powder and again was a little too dry for my personal preference. But the flavor was a hit.

Caramel Apple was my favorite. It, too, was dry, but it tasted much better than I thought it would at first. It even reminded me a little of apple pie.

SunButter Crunch tastes like sunbutter, which is the allergy free substitute for peanut butter. Although I am not the biggest fan of sunbutter because it reminds too much of peanut butter, I actually liked the SunButter Crunch bars and they were not as dry as the others.

For readers, Enjoy Life has an offer to save 10 percent on the first order of Chewy Bars in the online store. Just visit the Enjoy Life Shop and enter the code CHEWY10 at checkout.

If you would like to connect with Enjoy Life Foods, they can be found on their website, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Enjoy Life Decadent Soft Baked Bars

I received this product for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

With four flavor options, there is sure to be one that pleases!

Chocolate Sunbutter, Cherry Cobbler, S'mores, and Cinnamon Bun.

My family is not a fan of the sunbutter bars because the taste is a lot like peanuts, and we thought the Chocolate Sunbutter bars tasted like peanut butter cups. Sunbutter is derived from sunflowers. 

I found the S'mores to be a little dry. I was pleasantly surprised by the Cinnamon Bun which contains raisins and the Cherry Cobbler both of which are very moist. 

Overall, these decadent soft baked bars are a hit! 

All Enjoy Life products are free of the top 8 allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish as well free of casein, sesame and sulfites.

With no artificial ingredients, these under 150 calories bars are a perfect, guilt free, on the go snack! 

Get a 10 percent discount on the first order of Decadent Bars from the Enjoy Life online store using the code DECBLOG10. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Perdue Simply Smart vs. Tyson

Side by side:
Perdue is the flatter, skinnier, lighter color strip and Tyson is the fatter, thicker, darker strip.

Tyson also now has gluten free nuggets which I look forward to trying. 

I can find Perdue at most local stores. I found the Tyson with coupon attached to the bag at a Target in my area, but they are still not everywhere. 

Personally, I prefer the Perdue because they are more moist, easier to handle, and less spicy than the Tyson. The Tyson has a kick and I needed to use some kind of sauce to add more moisture. 

But both are a great option and much cheaper than previous alternatives. 

Perdue has more strips than Tyson, so Perdue seems more economical. 

I look forward to trying the Tyson nuggets though which I will probably like simply because they are more economical than the alternatives. 

Trying New Things

I saw this in an area Target and had not seen it before I love garden lites so far, so I gave this a try.
I am not a huge fan of cornbread and this was a little spicy, but it was much better than I anticipated!

I also thought I would try this one:

But it was not my favorite one.

Then there was also the carrot raisin and I like the carrot raisin salad at Chick-fil-A, so I figured why not try this?

It was the best one!

I'm still waiting for their new muffins to hit local stores now.

Another good find? Daiya gluten free dairy free pizza. It's well worth the cost and I plan to buy two the next time I find them. Pizza is a frequent hit in my household. I tried the cheese one the night my group had pizza and it gave me a chance to feel and to be more "normal."

Other new favorites:

Van's has new crackers. The Say Cheese! reminds of those other cheese crackers.

And their cereals ? I love both the cinnamon and honey and I like mixing them together for a more varied taste with my almond mill! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Loving Bell Peppers

Decided to pair a raw bell pepper with pulled pork. It was good!

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