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Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category


Gluten is in many processed foods – soups, tomato paste/sauce, soya sauce, mustards, condiments, spices (especially pepper – maintains dryness), malt vinegar, malt, oats, flaxseed oil, canola oil, baked goods, candies, medicine, vitamins, potato chips, chocolate and so much more. Seed oils and oats may contain gluten as when they are harvested, the whole field is harvested, if there is a stalk of wheat growing, well, it is added in to the mix. Some make-up contains gluten and while we don’t usually “eat” make-up, we do eat lipstick, also, although minimal, creams/powders can enter our system through touching our face and then our mouths.

Even if it is labeled Gluten Free it doesn’t always mean 100% Gluten Free. All governments have a labeling standard with percentage guidelines. This means that if there is some Gluten in a product it may be legally labeled Gluten Free. One key word I always look for on an ingredients list is “Dextrose”. It may be from corn or other vegetable or it may be from wheat. It is not always apparent – so if it says “dextrose”, I don’t buy it.In Canada: “Although Health Canada’s regulatory requirements for “glutenfree” foods do not refer to any specific threshold for gluten in products represented as “glutenfree“, Health Canada considers that levels of gluten protein below 20 ppm generally do not represent health risks to consumers with celiac disease.”

The Canadian government link to labelling food products. If you are from another country, please check your country’s labelling guide.


When buying processed GF products, make sure the factory/bakery where the product was made is gluten free or at the very least has a separate section for manufacturing gluten free products.

Dining out is always a challenge due to cross-contamination which is hard because we all like to go out sometimes! Friends, family may invite us to a celebration at a restaurant or at their home – what to do? Personally, I always eat a little before going out. In this way, I am assured some sustenance for the evening and am able to find some vegetable or salad option. There are many restaurants that do advertise gluten free menus and having eaten at several I can honestly say it’s hit and miss. Sometimes I get through the meal without any difficulty, sometimes not. Anything grilled is usually the best choice. Going to a restaurant BEFORE the lunch/dinner rush is highly recommended as they will have more time to focus on NOT cross-contaminating your meal! It is difficult in the dinner rush to maintain a gluten free space to make one meal. When ordering always make it a point to say you are Celiac and very sensitive, this usually puts the kitchen on high alert. Last tip: CALL AHEAD! I do this every time I go to a place I have not been to. Ask the questions – What is on the menu that is gluten free? How is it cooked (with other foods, pre-cooked, marinated)? What is it served with? When is the best time to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination? It is a little embarrassing at first but with time you will think nothing of calling ahead and asking questions. Most places are very helpful – even in other countries!

Many vitamins now are labelled Gluten Free. If not, they probably contain some amount of gluten. Most medications contain gluten and many also contain dairy. Doctors seem to think there is not enough gluten in either the former or the latter to affect you but in my experience, the gluten and dairy present is more than enough to make me quite ill.

Best option when you are Celiac? Cook at home with fresh, natural ingredients, buy organic spices (they tend to be pure and without any additives), cook with dried beans instead of canned (or buy organic – most are labelled gluten free but are expensive), purchase bottled ingredients such as roasted peppers, artichokes, beets, pickles etc. from an ethnic store – I buy from the Greek store here in Calgary. Europe has strict regulations for food growing, preparation and labelling. Always read the ingredients list!

Be wary of health food store items or foods that advertise being healthy, gluten free etc. They are not always as advertised. Just because something is sold at a health food store doesn’t mean it is healthy! If it says Gluten Free there may be a trace of gluten in the product. It is easier, in a way, for me to test products, as I am extremely sensitive and therefore when I see a product I would like, have read the ingredients list and all looks good, I’ll try it. If it makes me sick, (I usually know with the first few bites) I give it away and never buy that product again. For someone who is asymptomatic or not as sensitive it can be very difficult, as any amount of gluten will cause some gut damage to a person with Celiac disease.

Also be wary of beverages – most contain some gluten. Juices, ciders, beer, some sweet wines, vodka (unless you find the pure potato vodka), some tequila, and most other spirits. Read the ingredients list.

Enjoy all the food options you DO have. There are so many fresh foods to savour! Read labels. Try new foods, cooking methods, flavour combinations, restaurants and experiment with your food! This all adds a little fun to the Celiac diet which can seem quite daunting at first.

Some other links for you to read and research:

Celiac Sprue Association


Celiac Organization Canada



Kali Orexi!   Bon Apetit!   Savour the Flavour!



The Eats of San Francisco …

One would think that having a dairy allergy along with celiac disease would pre-empt any gorging of food in a place like San Francisco which has a multitude of restaurants (really, they’re everywhere you look!), offerings of clam chowder, pastas, pizza, deep-fried seafood (every type!), Ghirardelli Chocolates and the famous SF Sour Dough Bread.  Not much choice here for celiacs or those with allergies, one would think …  But!  Difficult to find gluten & dairy-free?  Nope, so easy in fact, I gained 5 lbs (2 kilos) in 2 1/2 days!  Was it the sea air?  Was it the aroma and sight of food EVERYWHERE?  We were constantly hungry … They were very accommodating chefs, willing to prepare any food gluten & dairy-free … what a combo!  The barrage of food photos lining the walls, posts, windows of every building – a 360° view of FOOD!  No subliminal messaging required here!  It was blatant – EAT!  So we did … and it was oh so very good …

Not too much gluten/dairy-free but the aromas are tantalizing!

Pier 39

Love this Bird!

Cute chowder place. Pelican attracts customers!

This is a long time Pier 39 resident!

Try some scallops at Scoma’s – just order a platter, they are so delectable, soft, creamy, light, perfectly cooked and seasoned.  I had the scallops for an appetizer (wish I had ordered a platterful!) and the halibut for dinner.  The halibut was ok (a wee bit on the dry side) – the sauce they served with it … AMAZING … green olives, capers, peppers, tomatoes … light, aromatic, chunky veggies in a tomato broth, reminiscent of Italy – I could have eaten it as a soup!

Then there were the Thai experiences … Thai restaurants offer a wide variety of foods, vegetarian, vegan, pork, fish, chicken, many varieties of noodles, curries, salads, wings … the list is endless, and so are the menus!  The flavour combinations were different from any Thai food I’ve tasted before.  A cross between Vietnamese and Indian food, in my opinion.  There are 175 Thai restaurants in San Francisco proper.  That’s a lot of Thai food to sample.  Ask if they can accommodate you before you are seated – best to speak with the chef to be sure he/she understands the importance of cross-contamination and how to avoid it.  Look at the menu and ask if they can make the dishes that appeal to you, gluten/dairy-free.  Don’t forget to mention Soya Sauce as an allergy – most brands contain wheat, not everyone is aware of that.

Fresh, crisp, tangy Mango Salad ... or what's left of it! 🙂

Crispy, spicy, sticky wings - 12 of them ... oh sooo good!

Presentation is so cute! Crispy, fresh, tangy sauce, savoury inside. Savoured each lovely, little parcel.

We enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Thai restaurant in the Parc 55 Hotel, consisting of crispy, spicy, sweet and sticky wings, light, cleansing mango salad and a red curry with 6 large prawns and many vegetables served with rice and a chili sauce.  That was just for me.  I had wanted to order more but was stopped in my tracks by the owner … Too much food!  You order too much!  Stop!  Much laughter followed those comments.  And not just from our table.  What can I say?  Was starving and it all looked sooooo good!  Khan Toke, a popular Thai restaurant, replete with traditionally dressed servers and decor, was repeatedly recommended.  We planned on a lunch visit to Khan Toke on our last day in San Francisco, unfortunately we didn’t know that they only opened for dinner.  Next time!  Instead of Khan Toke, the next day (our last in SF) we enjoyed a delicious, very large lunch at Suriya’s with a couple of lovely friends.  Chicken & prawn parcels, wrapped with rice paper and served with peanut sauce and chili sauce … best sauces ever!  A platter of sesame & coconut encrusted sweet potatoes – these I did share but not exactly freely nor liberally.  🙂  Those were my appetizers.  Each of us enjoyed a selection of yummy appetizers, chatting, laughing … all so very pleasant.  And then came the main dishes.  Oh right, we did order more … There were four bowls/platters, each offering a different culinary masterpiece … well … we each ordered one that appealed to us at the time.  Could this have been a case of “eyes bigger than belly?”  How were we to know these lunch offerings would be so LARGE?  No photos of those dishes are available … really … who can think of taking photos when your mouth is watering as dish upon dish of steaming … hot … delectable … delights is set before you, the aromas flavouring the very air you breathe, tantalizing, mesmerizing, inviting you to partake in the richness of their offerings!  Oh YES!  Ahem … hence not many photos.  It was all so delicious, so much food … though we did manage quite well.

It was all impressive!  The sights, the food, the company, all blended into a lovely, interesting, relaxing, albeit short, getaway!

A few tips … Although the thermometer read 23°, it was chilly enough to merit wearing a sweater, if not a coat and scarf!  The wind blowing in off the Bay is cold! And it is windy!  The temperature drops significantly at night.  So if you are traveling to San Francisco … (according to San Franciscans, the best months are September & October – something to do with weather patterns & fog … ???), do bring warm clothes – layers, lots of layers, a small back pack – for shopping is also handy.  Work out/detox to lose some weight BEFORE you go – guaranteed you will gain weight there – no matter what your particular dietary needs are … there are a myriad of restaurants to choose from, most are very accommodating and reasonably priced.  Stay away from the “street” food though, unfortunate (the aromas emanating from these places are mouth-watering), but cross-contamination is an issue in those tiny kitchens.

One final tip: wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing … make some room for all those scrumptious eats … you’ll be happy you did!

Beautiful aerial ballet in a picturesque setting. Lovely.

Raucous, lively dock denizens!

If I had stayed a week ... with all that food ... 🙂

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