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Gluten-Free in Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin was a surprisingly easy place to accommodate food intoleraces and allergies. We found the food there to be fresh, healthy, and enlightened, as in menus marked with gluten information or restaurants having Paleo picks (not that we eat Paleo but it is generally gluten-free) and one even celebrating a month of the Paleo diet by offering an entire menu devoted to it. This restaurant, Saba, was right around the corner from our hotel and I could have ordered many things off their menu without having to worry about gluten. When we ate there we ordered rice with our pick which is decidedly un-caveman-ish, so we weren’t beholden to the Paleo diet thankfully, and got an excellent meal out of it.

Another place right around the corner from our hotel was our favorite restaurant of all, a healthy little breakfast, lunch, brunch place called Cocu. There are three locations and it looks like they are even open for dinner at one of two of those places so there are plenty of options for checking it out. Their menus are simple although a little hard to describe so I encourage you to look at them yourself and be inspired. Maybe so inspired that you open up your own version of their tagline “A Healthy Obsession”, and if so, please let it be within 15 minutes of Redmond, Washington because we truly were obsessed and it’s one of the first things I missed when we got back home. Basically, the main lunch items are these bowls where you choose your meat or vegetarian main which is cooked with certain spices/sauces/veggies to complement it, then add two sides such as mixed greens or rice or sweet potatoes or something else, then add a topping such as seeds, nuts, or herbs. It’s all in a big bowl together and works every time, no matter the combination. They also have soups, wraps (not gluten-free), and hot pots which is something like red lentil curry over rice and you add tofu or chicken which was my favorite dish there. Anyway, I could go on because I haven’t even started on the coffee bar area, breakfast items, or side pastries which included many gluten-free items, but unless you are in Dublin right now and can check it out yourself, there’s no point in sharing any more of the obsession.

It’d be a shame to go to Ireland and not get fish n’ chips, and luckily Beshoff Brothers has us gluten-free gourmands covered. This is not a fancy place, just as a proper fish n’ chips place should not be, but it was clean and bright and their gluten-free menu had onion rings on it which I can’t recall seeing anywhere ever before this place. This wasn’t our healthiest meal but it actually wasn’t overly greasy and we both were quite satisfied with our meals, (not gf for my husband, gf for me).

You can even have your sandwich cravings easily satisfied at O’Briens Sandwich cafes. They can make you a sandwich on gluten-free bread which also happens to be egg free, dairy free, and soy free. (Yay!) They use a brand called BFree which isn’t carried in my neck of the woods (yet) but I hope it’s coming soon because they have pita bread which is so hard to find. Do be aware that if you want your sandwich toasted though, it is toasted in the same oven as the traditional breads. I did have mine toasted and felt perfectly fine for the record, but you have to judge for yourself your own level of sensitivity. There are plenty of O’Briens around Ireland so you aren’t ever too far from a sandwich which is a nice change of pace.

Another restaurant that my husband and I found ourselves returning to the very next day after a fantastic dinner and ordering the exact same meals as the night before is Balfes.  They have plenty of gluten-free options and the food is fresh and delicious. I had a salad with chicken on it that used guacamole instead of dressing and oh my gosh, why haven’t I done that before?! It was brilliantly executed and my husband loved his meal also. We even thought about going there for a third night in a row but ended up just being too lazy.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has plenty of gluten free options in their ‘food hall’. They do have a section of gluten-free items such as pastas, cakes, breads, granola, etc, but I only bought the granola because their baked goods all have egg in them. They have a lot more to offer though in their prepared foods sections which seemed to make up about the entire store. I’ve never seen so many individually wrapped meals in my life~ Trader Joe’s has been way outdone. My husband and I got breakfast from there several times and take-away dinner at least once. He was especially fond of the place and kept saying things like, “Look at that lettuce! It’s practically standing up it’s so fresh! It’s like it’s trying to get our attention by waving it’s arms and saying ‘pick me!'”. The fresh produce there did seem exceptionally vibrant considering it was January and I wasn’t aware that Ireland had a robust winter farming industry. I still don’t know what the deal is with their produce~ if it’s grown in greenhouses or imported from somewhere else on some wicked fast plane or what, but they have a good thing going though however they are managing it. Also, I should say that before going I had the impression M&S would be extremely expensive but we found their prices to be quite affordable which was a definite plus.

There are health food stores called Nourish around Dublin that have gluten-free options such as crackers, cookies, etc. The one I went into on Grafton Street didn’t have a huge selection but I did buy some crackers and chocolates from there which were tasty. But here’s a warning to take to heart~ if you rely on melatonin to help reset your body clock and beat jet lag, bring your own because we were told at Nourish that it is illegal to sell it in all of Ireland.  Fortunately I did bring some along but we were hoping to get more there and were sorely out of luck. What does Ireland have against melatonin? Another mystery to solve I guess.

Before going to Dublin I found a lovely listing of restaurants that are gluten-free friendly. I was so thrilled with finding it but in all honesty I didn’t have to go back to it often because it seemed everywhere I checked out had gf options. I made it a habit to look at every menu that I passed just to see how gf friendly it was and I found Dublin as a whole to be extremely aware and accommodating on that front as well as on all fronts really. It was a friendly, polite, energetic, and open place that I hope to return to soon and maybe get a chance to see the countryside a bit. If you are wondering where to take your next big vacation and gluten matters feel like a confinement, rest assured that Dublin will embrace you and your gluten issues with open arms and fantastic food.

One last thing to mention, before going I made sure to request gluten-free foods for our Delta airlines flights. They actually did a great job with the meals and I always got mine before they delivered the other passengers’ meals so I never had to wonder if they’d remember or not. I actually couldn’t even eat all the food they brought me which always included fresh fruit and/or salad which is so nice to have on a long flight. I was impressed.

To see more pics, check out my instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/dragonlilyherbs/ and please comment below on any experiences you have had in traveling through Ireland~ I’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated Easy Gluten-Free Peasant Bread

Even though food intolerance can be cured, it takes time which means time avoiding the trigger foods, and of course allergies are a different story all together. The most visited post on my site is the Easiest Gluten-Free Peasant Bread Ever post which is understandable, because it truly is easy and it’s different than anything you can buy. I’ve worked with this recipe so many times now that I finally feel I can update the recipe which is not only gluten-free, but also dairy and egg-free, and now, xanthan gum free too. Of course, feel free to use butter instead of olive oil, and if xanthan gum doesn’t bother you, go ahead and add it if you wish. I’m using ground psyllium husks instead which helps with the smoothness because I’m just not convinced xanthan gum is a good choice for our family with multiple food intolerances. Also, I make up a big batch of the flour and store it in my pantry for ease of use, and I make up extra once-risen dough to store in my fridge for a week or two. If you find you can’t digest oat flour well, or don’t have access to certified gluten-free oat flour like Bob’s Red Mill, then replace it with Teff or Millet, or a combination of both. Here’s the recipe:

Flour:

3 1/4 C Oat flour

2 C Brown Rice flour

2 C Millet Flour

2  C Sorghum Flour

1 3/4 C Tapioca flour

1 1/4 Potato Starch

1/4 C Ground Psyllium Husks

Mix all together for your flour blend.

Dough:

4 T Flax Meal + 3/4 C warm water

6 1/4 C Flour blend (This is half of the flour blend from above.)

1 T yeast

1/2 T kosher salt

2 T sugar

Put the flax meal and water in a large measuring cup b/c you’ll be adding more water to it, but first let it sit for about 10 minutes. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add enough warm water to the flax mixture to get to 3 3/4 Cups liquid. I use a glass 2 cup measuring vessel in which the flax and water set for 10 minutes, then add water up to the 2 C line which I pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients, then add another 1 3/4 C of water to the mixture. If you have a 4 C measuring cup then it is even easier. Blend all together and let it rise for about 2 hours. I do this in the oven~ warm the oven up for a minute on high, then turn it off and let the dough rise with a damp towel over it. Once it has risen, it can be stored in the fridge for a week or two. This is enough dough for 3 loaves of the peasant bread baked in the pyrex glass bowls though you could also use this basic dough in another recipe if you wanted.

To bake the Peasant Bread

First oil or butter a pyrex bowl, or spray with a non-stick spray like Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray. However you choose to do this, make sure it is good and thick because the dough is sticky and I’ve ruined many loaves’ crusts by not making a good enough non-stick barrier. In other words, grease it well, then grease it again. I actually find the cooking spray works best. Take about 1/3 of the dough and plop it in the glass bowl to rise another hour or so. I do this in the oven again, which means I have to take it out of the oven when it is time to preheat.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Stick a shallow pan of water on the bottom of the oven for steam. Bake the bread for 10 minutes before turning the heat down to 375 degrees F for about 22-25 minutes. Take the bread out of the bowl and if you like a crustier loaf as I do, put the bread sans bowl back in the over for another 5 minutes.

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Let it cool before cutting.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Canyon Bakehouse Breads

Canyon Bakehouse Breads

We recently had the opportunity to try the entire line of Canyon Bakehouse goodies and we now have some new favorites in this house. The seven grain bread is the closest thing we have had to whole wheat bread. The texture and taste are surprisingly familiar to the whole grain breads I grew up on and altogether different from any other gluten-free bread I’ve had in these past 10 years of being completely gluten-free.

7 grain bread

The other new family favorite is the focaccia. Both my sons loved the taste fresh out of the bag or warmed up in the oven under the broiler. This is a perfect bread to add to the side of soup or salad although really my sons will eat it along anything. This bread is also a unique offering in the gluten-free field and I appreciate the fact Canyon Bakehouse also makes these breads dairy, soy, nut and gmo free.

focaccia

Life is short~ be kind, be wise, and try some new bread.

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Lunchtime

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Even when I eat salad or soup, I always have a hearty carb to accompany it, which might take the form of rice with soup or corn tortillas to wrap up my salad, but lately most of my lunches involve Schar Classic White Rolls. These taste delicious with a sourdough flavor and a real classic bready texture that leaves no issues with unseen holes that gluten-free loaves are apt to hide. They are free of dairy and eggs too and make excellent hamburger buns although usually I just use them for regular old sandwiches. They are too big for my toaster even though I have one of those bagel toasters so I always just put them under the broiler for a few minutes each side before adding the extras, unless I’m using cheese and then that goes under the boiler too, just for the last-minute or so. My favorite sandwich does involve cheese, mozzarella to be specific, plus tomato and basil with extra greens and a little olive oil and vinegar for a caprese-inspired sandwich. Yum!

Yesterday I had this salad I’d gotten from PCC’s deli called something along the lines of ‘ravishing radishes’ with my roll and it was so delicious and healthy that I had to see if they had the recipe posted…but, unfortunately I don’t see it yet on their recipe page yet. It was full of radishes, garbanzo beans, feta, cherry tomatoes, herbs and a light vinaigrette. Definitely going to try something similar…Here’s a pic so you can too:

Salad with Schar roll

 

And here’s one with the salad on the roll:

Salad on Schar Can’t you just taste it? So good! If you are tired of your gluten-free loaves surprising you with little holes in your slices of bread, try these rolls instead. They are guaranteed to make your lunch a fulfilling one!

 

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Gluten-free Travel in Maui

Maui Beach

We just took a trip to Maui, my sons and my first to Hawaii, and I was of course nervous about what we were all going to eat. The good news is that it wasn’t actually that difficult, but the bad news, I have to say, was it was food-boring. On the first night we got in late and ordered room service because it actually pointed out their gluten-free foods on the menu (Westin Ocean Villas at Ka’anapali). Their gluten-free buns were dark and awesome, though I was much more enthusiastic than my boys who prefer whiter breads. They must use teff or some other flour that isn’t in heavy rotation in the gluten-free bread circles because they were darker than I’d ever seen any gluten-free baked good, and hearty like a dark whole wheat. The next day we went to a typical grocery store and bought gluten-free pasta, corn tortillas, refried beans and a few other things plus fruit and veggies. We ended up eating those things just about every single meal of every single day of the week, hence the food-boredom. We went out to two other meals, one, a Mexican restaurant so more tortillas and beans, and then another to an open-air sports pub kind of place where the boys and I got…tacos. Thank goodness for corn tortillas but it will be a long time before I care to make anything with them again. My youngest son found a bread he adores though, so he actually ate toast, plain toast nothing on it, for part of many meals. Ener.g tapioca bread was a big hit with him and about as white as you can possibly make any bread. tapioca loaf

I had brought with me pumpkin seed butter by Omega Nutrition and my other son spread that on all his toast and Udi’s bagels which I had brought with us. pumpkinSeedButter-12oz-MediumThat pumpkin seed butter is really good~ it tastes closer to peanut butter than sunflower seed butter does, and less salty. If you have a nut-free child, or are nut-free yourself, I definitely recommend trying it if you haven’t already.

I suppose people don’t go to Maui in November for the food, but it made it a little easier to go from 80+ degree weather to 30 degree weather when we were so bored with our meal times. It is nice to be home with our warm kitchen, even if the weather outside is back to the typical Fall drizzle and there are no oceans nearby. It was good to see that so many gluten-free things could be found in a regular grocery store though~ I suppose traveling anywhere in the U.S. would be fairly easy at this point, as long as you had your own toaster and stove-top to use.

Thanksgiving is next week already and all the recipes I’ve seen going around all look so tempting! I think I’m going to stick with a few side dishes I know though while my husband deals with the turkey. So far this is the plan:

Marinated goat cheese appetizer (Café Flora cookbook) with crostini and rice crackers

Gluten-free, vegan corn bread muffins

Rolls from Wildflour

Roasted Winter Vegetables from Whole Living

Husband will make (or buy!) Turkey and Mashed Potatoes and probably cranberry sauce which no one ever actually eats at our house

Some kind of pie with (non-dairy) ice cream

(Please ignore my ‘creative’ capitalization.)

What’s on your menu?

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Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup with Gluten-Free Breadsticks (Nut Free)

When I looked for recipes online for vegan cream of broccoli soup I found a lot of recipes with cashews. My oldest and I do not do nuts very well, or at least our stomachs don’t, so those recipes obviously wouldn’t do. I looked at regular cream of broccoli soup recipes but was reluctant to try a complicated recipe with so many substitutions required, so I was pleased when I finally found a recipe that used white beans for the ‘cream’ part. I tweaked the recipe a bit because it was a simple recipe and easy to add to it, but the bulk of it comes from Tasty Yummies, so thank you TY!

vegan cream of broccoli soup

It’s hard to make green soup look good, but trust me, it tastes like a dream. My oldest was so excited he ate it every day for three days straight and loved every drop. I served it with garlic bread sticks which I make almost every day anyway, by taking Trader Joe’s flat breads

Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Gluten Free Pizza Crust

or a gluten-free baguette if we happen to have one, (if we do it is Olivia’s Super Free or Wildflour brand).  Whether I use the flatbreads or baguettes, I preheat the oven to 425, spread about 1/2 t olive oil on a piece of bread, add crushed garlic and Tuscan Sea Salt which has Italian herbs added into it, then bake for 10 minutes, or less if the baguettes are room temperature. Truth be told, I make breadsticks so often I actually just have all the ingredients in a jar of olive oil so I can just scoop it out and rub it on the bread, no garlic crushing or salt sprinkling required. Anything to get dinner on the table faster, right?!

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup:

1 head of broccoli

1 chopped leek

1 chopped yellow onion

enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot

3-5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 15oz can of cannelloni beans

2.5 C veggie broth

Sea Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 t. Herbs d’Provence

First steam the chopped broccoli for about 3 minutes, until nice and bright green. Sauté the onion, garlic, and leek in a soup pot until translucent, sprinkle with the Herbs d’Provence, then add in the beans and broth. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and add in the broccoli. Once cooled a bit, puree in a blender until smooth~ it doesn’t take long. Add salt and pepper to taste, then scoop out with a bread stick and eat your fill guilt-free since this is one ‘creamy’ soup that is low in fat and high in fiber as well as highly nutritious. For a blended soup, this was exceptionally quick and easy. Definitely will go into my week night meal rotation.

 

 

 

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Schar Sandwich Bread

This is just a quick note to say we have a new favorite gluten-free everyday bread at our house. Schar Classic White Bread:

Schar Bread This bread surprised us for two reasons. The first being that the second ingredient listed is sour dough, made with rice flour and water. When I bought the bread I had only looked at the area that says “contains: soy” to see if it contained dairy and or eggs, so I happily bought it when I saw that it didn’t. I had no idea I was buying a sourdough bread! But as soon as I tasted it I could taste the sour dough and was so excited~ a dairy free, egg free gluten-free, sourdough sandwich bread is something we haven’t had since….well, ever, actually. We are eating a lot of sandwiches these days.

The second reason this loaf surprised me was because it isn’t in the normal spot where I shop for bread at the Whole Foods I frequent. I imagine this is one of those things probably debated among store employees, vendors, brokers, and merchandisers. At the Whole Foods I go to there is a dedicated gluten-free aisle, but there are also gluten-free items throughout the store. Normally when I buy bread, I go to where all the bread is and pick up a loaf or a bag of bagels or rolls. Schar bread is not there. It is only in the aisle dedicated to gluten-free items and by the time I hit that aisle my cart is usually already filled with bread products I got from the bread area. Hm. I know it is difficult to set up a store, I’ve worked in several myself, so I’m curious what people think…Do you like your store to have the gluten-free items mixed in with the other food, or do like it all in one specified space? Or mixed, with a dedicated gluten-free area but with other gluten-free items mixed with the other food in all the other aisles?