Thursday, September 30, 2010


Yes, that is correct, I am writing about an Italian Cafe.  I know I avoid anything Italian with a 10 foot pole because there are very few items that are gluten free.  However I was wanting a really hearty salad and passed DePalma's on Timothy Road and decided to try.  It wasn't hard finding the salads on the menu and I ordered the chopped italian salad without salami.  The salad was AMAZING!  I think there was more turkey on it then lettuce and it was so flavorful!  I got it to go so I asked the bartender what dressing she liked.  She said she mixes the gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette and I would only be charged for one dressing.  I decided to go for it and it was delicious!  I know sometimes people worry about gorgonzola but since they make everything from scratch I didn't worry too much.  Definitely a very dense salad but it was so good I ate the entire thing!  The italian chopped salad is $9.00 but it has so much in it, it is well worth the $9!!!
The lovely box- the best part- it's not styrofoam!  It's some kind of paper product.

YUM!  The amazing salad- even stayed nice on the drive!  LARGE helpings of dressing too!

As I was waiting on the bar I questioned the bartender about gluten free.  She flagged over the manager who was more knowledgeable than the layperson on gluten free.  He told me all the items he could make gluten free and I was very surprised.  After talking some more he grabbed my take out menu and offered to circle all the items that were or could be made gluten free.  I let him and I am happy to say many items are circled.  I will offer the disclaimer he did- not all three DePalma's have the same menu, so I will have to ask at each location.  However, at the Timothy Road location all the salads are or can be made GF.  The chicken scaloppini can be made GF if you ask, grilled pork dish is GF, grilled steak is GF, and chili glazed salmon.  He said the stuffed mushrooms are gluten free, but I would double-check if ordering since there are meatballs in it.  The Mozzarella and Pomodori salad is also GF.  No it's not a lot, but it is more than you can have at most italian restaurants.  The manager also offered to try to alter anything on the menu if I knew what needed to be changed and if it was possible.  I am grateful for those restaurants that are open to those of us with dietary restrictions and who are willing to meet us half way!

I will definitely be returning and I encourage everyone to go there.  Support those businesses that support our dietary needs!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sweet Pepper Deli Letdown

Sweet Pepper Deli just opened off Broad St in Athens.  This is their 19th store so I was super excited about eating there with some friends today.  I got there a bit early to find out about dietary items and that is when I was hit with sadness.  I asked the lady at the register if she knew if anything was gluten free.  She asked me to repeat my question 3 times and then asked if I was diabetic.  Hilarious!  She finally pulled over a manager who brought out the head manager.  He informed me that they don't have any nutritional facts or ingredient lists for ANY of their products and the only thing he knew that is gluten free is their chili and baked lays.  I've become accustomed to people being unaware of the gluten free diet here in Athens so I had a few follow up questions.  First, did he have any of the ingredient lists for salad dressing?  Nope.  Are there any dressings he knew were GF?  Nope, probably the balsamic vinaigrette.  After he walked away I stood looking at the menu trying to decide if I could alter ANYTHING so I could enjoy food.  I found the chicken ceasar salad and figured I could just get it with oil vinaigrette.

The manager came back over and asked if I had found anything.  I told him I was thinking of altering the chicken ceasar salad.  He mentioned to remind them not to put croutons on it (really?  you know croutons have gluten in them?)  Then he said he was unsure if the sundried tomatoes had any gluten in preservatives in them.  Sounds like my lunch is going to be yummy :-/

So basically I got lettuce with "grilled" chicken that was definitely previously frozen with pieces of fat still on it and oil and vinegar for $7.  The best part?   Packets of crackers were on the plate!

Both managers at Sweet Peppers told me a "nutritionist is working on" nutrition facts.  I thought it was illegal not to have ingredient lists available but I later find out it's state by state.  All my friends enjoyed their meals but mine was definitely a BUST!  I will be avoiding Sweet Peppers until their website reflects GF options.  With all the food allergies in the world and opening their 19th franchise, they are WAY behind on the times.

Sad day for food.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Big City Bread

Big City Bread is a great place to go and eat or study.  They have a huge cement patio that is amazing and covered by large trees.  They have wonderful tea and coffee as well.  However, they are not gluten friendly.  All they carry that is gluten free (other than salads) is a chocolate truffle star or truffle cake.  When I asked the salesperson if they thought BCB would carry gluten free bread they told me they doubted it as it's not in "high demand."  I told them I lived in Nashville and loved all the gluten free options.  Their reply was "Nashville has a population of how many million and Athens as a small population of what?  We can't be like Nashville."  To say I wasn't pleased was an understatement.

However, I got the chocolate star truffle ($2.65) and a sweet tea.  The tea was great, and the star tasted good but it was very rich.  It was also TINY.  The size of a small cookie maybe.  It was so rich I ended up leaving with a headache.  With that said, although I'm not a fan of their offerings and their inability to provide for those with food allergies, it is a nice place to study outside as the picture below shows.
Outside patio at Big City Bread

Your Pie, Athens, GA

A bit blurry but you can still see the yummyness!

When I mention being gluten free most people ask me if I've tried Your Pie.  I have been twice and I am very grateful for them!  The concept is simple- you pick everything for "your pie."  They have a gluten free crust option for $1 more which means it is $7 for a pizza.  First you pick your sauce- there are a few different tomato ones, olive oil, pesto, etc.  Then you pick your cheese- FRESH mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, ricotta, and many others.  There is then a selection of free toppings which includes most veggies and herbs.  You can also add premium toppings like meats, artichokes, and other odds and ends for an extra $1 each.  I LOVE it!

Today I got a pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, green peppers, tomatoes and olives.  YUM!  The crust is a bit dry but very good for gluten free!  I end up thirsty after eating it, but that happened when I used to eat regular pizza so I can't complain.  Just have lots of water handy!  

The location in downtown Athens actually has a separate area to make pizzas for those with a severe gluten allergy.  They have all the toppings back there which is great for those with Celiac.

I'm just grateful I can have pizza.  The whole premise is great and I will definitely enjoy this many times while I live here!
The pizza box which also has the logo and website for your convenience!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Root Beer Float Popsicles

I love making my own popsicles.  I also love that little bit of icy goodness that forms around the icecream when you make a root beer float.  After a bit of research and experimenting I made an AMAZING root beer float popsicle!

I found these molds on Amazon and I LOVE them.  They are Tovolo 80-4579 Green Groovy Ice Pop Molds and I love that each mold is individual and not all connected.  To make the pops I placed vanilla icecream in 1/4-1/3 of the mold first.  Next I poured in A&W root beer.  Quick tip: Make the root beer FLAT before pouring.  I didn't do this and had to deal with the bubbles and air.  I was able to get rid of some of the bubbles by lightly hitting the molds on the table, but as you can see at the bottom of the popsicle I did miss some.  Next time I will use flat soda.  

Result: WOW!  They are the consistency of that icy part when you make a root beer float and the taste is fairly similar throughout.  I actually prefer these over an actual root beer float now!  You must let these freeze overnight for the best consistency and so they do not pull away from the stick.  Even if they do you can still enjoy them!  Can't wait to try these molds with other concoctions! 

Earthfare Freebies and Picadillo

I LOVE Earthfare.  It helps that there is one within 2 miles of my house.  If you sign up for their newsletter, you can many "freebie" coupons.  Last week I received a coupon for 1 free pound of ground chuck with any $5 purchase.  Free meat is amazing!  Not to mention I did their lunchbox project and had another coupon for a 3 lb bag of honeycrisp apples free.

You will soon learn I'm not a fan of cooking meat.  However I had a free pounds of ground beef so I needed to cook it.  I googled and found a recipe on food network for Picadillo.  I had never had Picadillo but it sounded good so I made it.  The recipe says to serve it with rice or tortillas, but a friend and I decided nachos would be better.  The only alteration I made to the recipe was I added a can of petite diced tomatoes.  We both thought it was weird that it called for green olives, but it added an amazing flavor to the dish!  Anyways, we dished out the picadillo over a bed of tortilla chips and cheese.  We also topped it with a bit of sour cream.  YUM!  I forgot to take pictures of the nachos because we devoured them right away!

You can find the recipe here

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Agua Linda

Okay I am getting really bad about taking pictures.  I promise the next post will have pictures!

I went to Agua Linda off Timothy Rd in Athens last night with some friends.  Their menu was not online, which always makes me very unprepared when I walk in.  Agua Linda is a sit down Mexican restaurant and I definitely enjoyed it!  I did struggle because the waiter didn't know what I meant when I said gluten so I asked about "flour."  The good thing is they do have corn tortillas and their enchiladas are made with corn tortillas.

My friend decided on their enchilada and taco while I got the tostado with chicken.  Tostados are a great choice for those of us on the GF diet as it lets you see everything you are eating.  For those not familiar with tostados, they are a hard corn tortilla with refried beans, meat, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese and anything else stacked on top of the flat tortilla. Agua Linda's sour cream is amazing!  I don't know what they do differently but it is yummy!  The cook told me they put nothing on their meat, and after looking at it I believe they may just add a little oil and salt/pepper.  We also got the cheese dip and salsa for our table.  The chips seem to be fried in house, so if you have Celiac you may want to pass on the chips, but those that can eat items from a common fryer are probably in the clear.  I am just a happy camper when I can eat an amazing meal and not get sick!

I would not label Agua Linda is "gluten friendly" but if you are knowledgeable as to what you want you can make it work.  Flavors are amazing and definitely different from your ordinary "Mexican" restaurant.   Great prices and great food!  They also have nightly drink specials which is always nice!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Willy's Mexicana Grill

Grad school has kept me a little too busy!  I went to Willy's Mexicana Grill on Friday and it was AMAZING!

Of course, as in the majority, if not all, of Mexican restaurants, they only had flour or wheat tortillas for burritos.  So I opted for the hard shell taco although I do believe they have corn tortillas for soft shell.  I really wanted the chicken, but I was worried about the seasonings.  Willy's is set up like your local Moe's and I was concerned no one would know what they actually seasoned their meat with, but I was wrong!  The line guy called over another guy and he broke down the ingredients, off the top of his head, ingredient by ingredient.  I remember him saying OJ, oregano, salt, pepper, lime, etc.  Nothing scary!

I proceeded to get a chicken and a veggie taco because I had to try their guacamole and veggie comes with it.  I asked for a side of queso as they give you chips, and my total was only like $5.39 or so.  I was loving that price!  I then checked out their salsa bar and tried the green cilantro salsa.  I took the meal to go but obviously forgot to take a picture!

The tacos were great!  The flavor in the chicken was spectacular with a citrus and roasted taste.  The guacamole was very flavorful and definitely NOT from a box.  The queso was a bit thick, but it could have just been that particular batch.  The hard shell taco did not withstand the to-go and fell thru on the bottom, but was very crispy when I used it to eat the tacos like nachos.  The cilantro green salsa had a very light taste and flavor to it but was refreshing after eating a few too many bites of the pico on the taco!

Overall Willy's will definitely be a frequent place for me!  They are CHEAPER than Moe's and I love support the local business.  I especially love that the staff was so knowledgeable!  Staff that are doing more than "just the job" are always an asset to those with food allergies!  BTW tacos are made on tin foil so no touching what flour has touched and you can ask for them to change their gloves if you are super concerned or allergic!

Check out Willy's, including the menu at


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Homemade Roasted Peanuts for Snack, Eggplant and Pepper Fry for Dinner!

Today is the day before I start graduate school.  Let's just say I needed to stay busy so I tried 2 new foods.

Roasted Peanuts
Kroger had "green peanuts" on sale for .99/lb so I decided to buy some.  I wanted to make my own roasted peanuts.  I found a recipe that I then adapted for my needs.  First I unshelled all the peanuts (this is a task best done while watching a good movie or tv show!).  Then put the unshelled peanuts in a bowl and drizzle a little olive oil them and shake on some salt.  Mix everything together with your hands (EVOO is good for the skin!).
Raw peanuts with EVOO and salt

Finally I laid them flat on a baking pan (which I lined with tin foil to avoid a mess) and baked at 350 for 15 minutes.  They came out so nice!  I love the taste of them and it's nice to know that they are fresh and what is on them.
Peanuts out of the oven!

Eggplant and Pepper Fry
I could not decide what to make for dinner so I decided to make something up.  First I diced eggplant and sweet peppers I had from the farmers market.  I went ahead and threw the eggplant in the frying pan to cook it (eggplant can burn FAST so be careful) and added the peppers until translucent.  After the eggplant and peppers were cooked I threw in a diced tomato I had and a teaspoon or so of some fresh basil pesto I made the other day.  I turned the temp to low and let it simmer for a bit.  Until it looked like this:
Okay this is only the half I didn't eat for dinner but you see how it looks!
I ate mine with some cheese and corn tortilla chips but this would be great with rice or quinoa pasta!  I plan on making some pasta for lunch tomorrow to finish this up!  I especially loved the colors and flavors mixed together!

That's all for today!  I will get better at writing posts with recipes, just trying to practice!  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jot Em Down BBQ

This little BBQ place is right down the road from me.  At first it looked scary (it is across from a Bowling Alley), but I was told by many people it was very yummy so I had to try it!  I was greeted by one of the staff, Janet, and felt right at home!  I let her know I was gluten free and proceeded to ask countless questions about menu items.  I wanted take out but wanted to make sure everything would be safe.  Janet answered all my questions and even double-checked ingredients for me (potato salad had wheat germ in it and cabbage casserole was not gluten free for obvious reasons).  She warned me that she did not know what was in the sauces you can get on the side as they are "secret" recipes, but she was almost positive the vinegar based sauces would be okay.  I finally settled on 1/4 dark chicken with green beans and coleslaw.  For $7.50 it was a great deal for dinner!  I also tried a mild vinegar sauce.
Yummy meal in the to go box

The chicken was amazing!  Next time I will try the white meat but it was very tasty even without the sauce.  The sauce just added a bit of a peppery vinegar taste to the chicken.  Then I had the green beans- YUM!  They are made "vegetarian" so no pork but they were so delicious!  The coleslaw had both mayo and vinegar.  It was good but a bit too peppery for me but coleslaw is one of those that varies by person.  Overall the meal was worth so much more than I paid!

I will definitely being returning to Jot Em Down BBQ and am very thankful of the knowledgeable staff and willingness to answer my million questions!  Go check them out!  Their website is


My Journey/About Me

Hi all!  Thank you for checking out my blog!  I don't know how you found me but I am glad you did.  Here is a bit about my journey:
I went gluten free July 2009 and started strictly following rules in October 2009.  I always had digestive problems, but never thought it was anything but my body.  Then I started working with children with Autism and realized I had the same digestive symptoms some of my kids did.  Those children had gone gluten free and seen amazing results.  So I went for it!

Going gluten free was harder than I thought it was for the first 6 months or so.  I'm half Polish so I love my breads, perogies, and desserts.  Half the time I wondered what I was thinking!  At the time I was living in Nashville, TN.  Nashville is a WONDERFUL place to be gluten free- most of the restaurants understand the diet and there are even bakeries that make gluten free cupcakes!  I missed gluten but I found alternatives.

In July 2010 I moved to Athens, GA to attend graduate school at UGA.  I am earning my Masters in Special Education.  Moving was a gluten free culture shock!  Everyone looked at me funny when I asked if they had gluten free bread or bakery and offered me yogurt or eggs as an alternative.  One man asked me how I thought he should make pasta without using flour!  However I have also found wonderful local restaurants that are either very open to learning about gluten free or already know.  Eating out is the hardest part for me when it comes to being gluten free so it is refreshing to find those amazing places!

I go in and out of cooking slumps and am hoping this blog will keep me out of them!  I love coming up with new ideas and tasty treats for myself and others that I can eat!  I love eating out and experiencing different cultural foods, no matter where I have to go!  Hopefully this blog can be helpful to those new to Athens or new to the gluten free lifestyle.  Feel free to contact me if you have any ideas, tips or questions.  Thanks again!