Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gluten Free PSA #10: April Celiac Events, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bob's Red Mill GF Pizza Crust...And News Thrown In For Good Measure

If there ever were a time for indecision, it's April. 

Not quite spring, yet not quite winter, April is a month brimming with ambiguity. If you need further proof, look only to the fact that temperatures soared to nearly 60 degrees earlier in the week, later there was a nose dive in temperature and an accompanying unexpectedly picturesque blanket of snow covering my lawn, and then today rain, so much so, opening day at Jacob's Field (or what "progressive field? are we really supposed to call it that?) was rained out.

Oh April. You do enjoy playing rough, don't you? 

And speaking of rough, I don't talk about it much, but for me, celiac disease has always been my "fun" autoimmune disease. Those five other autoimmune conditions that have constant turf wars in my body? Yeah, they don't really lend themselves to clever blogging or excuses for baking, and as such, they rarely have any reason to be written about here. (At least not yet, and when there's a way to treat connective tissue disease with muffins, believe you me, my blog will be the very first place in the world to report it!) 

I guess I bring these other illnesses to say, I apologize for the slow down in posts. All this screwy weather has screwed with my rheumatism and when I don't feel well, all of my cooking senses melt away faster than the snow we had last week. While I continue to make attempts at greatness in the kitchen, I'm sorry to say that the brownies and muffins I made left something to be desired, good, but not great, and so aren't quite reading for generally blogging consumption. 

Till my cooking karma returns, I give you April Celiac Updates and a few yummy things that have been taking up space on my digital camera: 

Gluten-Free Things to Do This April

April 13 - Gluten Free Pasta Class at the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking (click here for registration information) 
Mid April - The Greater Cleveland Celiac Association meets at the Solon Public Library, please contact Cindy Koller-Kass for details
April 26 - Celiac Disease Conference and Vendor Fair! Perhaps the most exciting gluten-free event of the spring season, this event will have programs for all ages, speakers, doctors, and of course, a sampling of delicious gluten free food from many great vendors. Click the link for registration information and mark your calenders! 

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Carrabba's gluten-free menu is pretty much common knowledge around celiac circles, and well, if you're savvy enough to use the Internet to find my little piece of gluten-free Internetland, you've probably heard of their GF menu or even made use of it yourself. 

But in case you haven't....

Carrabba's Italian Grill is one of those prefabbed chain restaurants that's about one indoor gondola ride away from being a theme restaurants. Pictures of large Italian families on the wall, fake trellises with faker vines and grapes hanging over head, wine glasses standard on every table - it's like Italy, if Italy came at $15.00 a plate. 

All that said, there's a reason Carrabba's dot the Midwestern countryside. The food is good. The menu is good. The ambiance, though fabricated, is good. (Though I've always thought the shrubbery atop the roof was more than just a little silly.) And they have a gluten free menu, a good one. 

Of course, the only vegetarian celiac thing on are a few salads. But still, they're good salads. I'm really partial to the grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, artichokes, and hazelnut encrusted goat cheese atop mixed greens salad. Oh, it's a good as it sounds. Drizzled in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, it's the kind of salad that actually is a great GF dinner salad, not just some lettuce on a plate. 

Now sure, it's a bummer you can't have pastas (but if you're not vegetarian, you can have your choice of some 10 beef, fish, or chicken dishes), but this salad really wont make you feel like you're going without. 

Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust

I like pizza. I like it's smell. I like it's texture. I like the sauce, the cheese, and boy to a like a good chewy - but not too chewy - crunchy - but not too crunchy - crust. Yyyyyum. 

But finding a great GF crust is as much of an art as making a perfect topping to cheese to sauce ratio (for the record, I like spinach, garlic, and eggplant, you know, in case anyone is planning some GF pizza fan mail...). I've done the whole foods pizza crust mix (great for thick french bread pizzas, but not quite an every day crust), I've made use of the little 6" glutino crusts (they puffy up beautifully and are wonderfully crunchy, but really don't yield that perfect pizza slice), and I've even recently tried Joan's GF pizza crust (good, pre formed and rolled out makes for incredibly easy use, but the middle took forever to cook, and considering you have to special order it's not something I'd do again). 

But what mix really gets my pizza needs going? Bob's Red Mill. Oh Bobby - or Roberto i guess if we're going to be Italian - you do make a great crust. It doesn't taste like rice, or potatoes, or weird tapioca pudding. It tastes like pizza. It bakes like pizza. It chews like pizza. 

Because the bag comes with it's own package of yeast, when you decide it's pizza night, be aware you're going to have left over dough for another night. Ah well, pizza twice in one week -- yeah, I don't hear any complaining either. 

And finally...

I wanted to take an opportunity to thank for naming me one of their top health bloggers and adding me to their ranks of featured bloggers. (Look for the new badge, with my picture, on the side bar.) Wellsphere has a wealth of information on a variety of wellness, health preservation, and disease related topics, so it's an honor to be counted among some of the truly great blogs (many of them in the celiac disease community!) who are featured there.

If you still haven't had enough of me and my gluten-free writings, look for my article on Celiac Disease and the Jewish Community in an upcoming issue of the Cleveland Jewish News (it should appear by then end of April) and check out my recipe for gluten-free mandel bread. ...Though you might not want to try it out 'till the end of passover. And let's forget that I posted about pizza during pesach. Oy. 

And finally, finally, if you've had enough of all things celiac disease and gluten free related for one sitting, I invite you to check out my friend Kali's site and her quest to raise enough money to bring her service dog home to her. Kali, a young lady with elhers-danlos syndrome, is a brilliant and determined future lawyer (look only to how forcefully she pushes her way through law school despite her condition) and her love for the dog she has never met is quite touching.  Hers is a great story, an inspiring read, and a worthy cause. Should she be able to raise enough money to bring Hudson, the adorable service dog paired up with her, home, her quality of life will improve dramatically. Best of luck to you, Kali! 

Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon


VeggieGirl said...

GREAT STUFF!! I also found some new GF products at Whole Foods a few days ago.

Linda said...

That pizza looks great. Thanks for the review.

GFE--gluten free easily said...

I'd say that's a pretty awesome write-up for someone under the weather. I'd agree about April. We don't have snow here in VA, but it's definitely cold enough to keep our woodstove going and wear winter clothes. Yesterday was rainy and gray and I was feeling grumpy as a result. So, my sympathies.

I have yet to make it to Carrabba's. I agree that the shrubbery on the roof is a bit silly, but in a town of brick, metal, and asphalt, it can also be very welcome to the eyes. ;-) Of course, we also considered building a subterranean house with turf as our roof one time, so I may be biased. LOL I think I'd like to go there now, just to taste that salad. Eggplants, artichokes, goat cheese ... it all sounds wonderful.

Congratulations on your wellsphere award!! That's wonderful. :-) It's always so nice to get recognized for work one is passionate about and which helps others.


Sophie said...

I am so out of the loop; I didn't know about Carrabba's! I also didn't know you had 5 autoimmune diseases, I am so sorry to hear that--I hope you feel better soon!

Dana aka Gluten Free In Cleveland said...

Thanks all :)

I'm sorry to be so caviler about carrabbas! I really thought most people knew, and I guess I felt silly writing about something I'd read about so many times - but hey, if you two were honest enough to say you hadn't heard there definetly have to be more, so I say I've done my blogger job!!

And Sophie, thanks for the well wishes. As I mentioned, I generally try to keep the rest of my health and my fun gluten free blogging separate, if only because I don't want to be such a downer, but the truth of it is, I developed all those other autoimmune conditions due to not being properly diagnoised with celiac disease when I developed it. (I was diagnoised some 16 years later by a neurologist once I had a whole score of other problems.)

That's the reason why I'm so passionate about proving that gluten-free life can be rewarding, easy, and yummy, because no one should have to have the medical hand I've been dealt if they can help it!

Okay, enough seriousness. On to gluten-free cupcake frivolity!!

Janessa Goodfellow said...

Thanks for the pizza info! I haven't yet found a gf pizza pre-mix that I've been completely satisfied with. I definitely look forward to trying this out!

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Absolutely Not Martha said...

congrats on being named top health blogger!

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