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How to Be Gluten-Free & Vegan (Before 6pm)

gluten-free; vegan; dairy-free

Gracias Madre is the Bomb

As I kick off week 4 of trying the Mark Bittman “Vegan Before 6” way of eating, no one is more surprised than I am. You all have seen me complain through a Paleo diet, then the super Paleo Whole 30 diet, and just a general “I should probably eat healthier” stage as well. Clearly my conscious is telling me to put down the pumpkin cheesecake and try something else. I am great at ignoring my conscious.

However! When a friend told me how she and her husband were digging the Vegan Before 6 situation (which is exactly like what it sounds—no dairy, meat, processed foods or other junk before 6, limit that biz after 6) I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Because I’m the kind of girl who likes to know at some point during the day there will be cheese, it seemed like a pretty good idea. (For more specifics on “unlimited foods” vs. “sometimes foods” check out Bittman’s book.) While I have yet to reject all processed foods (but honestly, being gluten-free I’m already most of the way there) and I probably should limit the fromage a wee bit more, I’m doing pretty darn good.

I’ve limited the amount of food I feel the need to stuff in my gullet, and I’m getting more creative in the kitchen. Although, admittedly, it’s incredibly difficult to dine out on this meal plan. Maybe if I weren’t also in the GF camp it would be easier. Anyhoo!

Here’s some of this action that’s keeping me all up in Vegan Town.

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How to Put Sugar in Sugar-Free Peppermint Mocha Truffles

gluten-free, dairy-free trufflesSomething my dad used to say that was horribly inappropriate, not accurate in context, but yet I thought of this week when I tried to make a recipe from the fab new cookbook using only Sweetleaf stevia* is this: You could fuck up a wet dream.

Yes, he is crazy, Cajun, and a lot of other things I won’t say here, but I was trying really hard to create this amazing refined sugar-free, gluten-free truffle situation and then I fucked it up. Don’t get me wrong—these truffles are freaking delicious, they’re just not sugar-free.

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Gluten-Free Los Angeles: Meet My New Most Favorite Pizza

best gluten-free pizza Do you know what’s super cool? When you stumble upon gluten-free deliciousness, and not at all on purpose. That happened to me three times on a lunchtime walk the other day. Three times! Apparently that’s what can happen when you walk around Los Angeles. Who knew? Who knew you could even walk around Los Angeles? Now, you all do.

So the first gluten-free spotting I had was Caffe, Etc. where I found these awesome signs: Continue reading

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WTF is Gluten Ataxia?

gluten ataxia

Grandma and Tiny E on the farm, circa 2008

Gluten is an asshole.

Those of us who wind up in the pot after a lunch meeting know this, and those of us who came back from the brink of death after going gluten-free know this as well. And after returning from helping to move my mother into a more secure memory care unit in her assisted living facility, I think those who are unlucky enough to suffer from gluten ataxia, really, really, really, know it.

When I first learned about gluten ataxia and connected it to the strange and devastating decline of my mother, I had hope. I did. I now realize that it was too late for that and unlike me, my mom wasn’t going to have a magical recovery simply by following the gluten-free diet.

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I’ll Never Hike the Appalachian Trail

gluten-free bad newsAnd I don’t mean that as a euphemism. This fact just hit me the other day, and I was shockingly despondent for oh, let’s say, 45 minutes.

I was listening to the NPR, as I do, and this segment came on about hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail being pleasantly surprised by some “trail magic” along their 5-month journey. This trail magic comes in the form of a dude who hits Costco and supplies these hardcore hikers with some much needed sustenance as they make their way into Canada, feet swelling up and toenails falling off.

There is nothing about any of what I just described that I can even kind of relate to. Still, the realization that I could never do any type of endurance activity that required me to be more than 5 miles away from a Whole Foods was kind of a bummer.

These hikers who stumbled across the “Sonora Pass Cafe” were positively orgasmic about the chocolate cake and other goodies a man provides out of the goodness of his heart and his love for hiking. Some hikers were on their last bit of dried foods when they came across the booty, and others simply hadn’t seen normal food for some time. There is no getting around the fact that I would die, right there on that trail.

And it made me start thinking about other limits on my activities given my need for gluten-free food. Because, you guys, if I were starving to death and someone offered me a bagel, it would be the final nail in the coffin. I do not want to poop myself to death because I thought it would be a good idea to “get some exercise” and “be in nature.”

I also realized that I could never be cast on a reality show where you have to band together and make food and stuff for survival. I know you haven’t been watching Utopia, because no one is, but they’ve got a bit of a food problem there. They don’t have a homemade hillbilly raisin wine problem, but they do spend their limited funds on foods that have a load of gluten. I mean, I would go on that show and announce that MY version of Utopia was gluten-free and I would be locked in the chicken pen. But again, no one would watch a reality show where one contestant was locked in the bathroom the entire season. Probably.

You know what else I can never, ever, never do? Let me tell you. In list form. Continue reading

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A Celiac Walks Into a Bakery . . .

gluten-free la brea bakeryOh yes, I did.

Look, I know it’s dumb to a) walk into a bakery, and b) expect that one of the most famous bakeries in America would be all, “Oh, you bet. EVERYTHING is gluten-free.” But I was waiting on my kid to finish her Saturday morning class and right down that very street was the incredibly delicious La Brea Bakery. And all up in it’s new digs!

Not unlike that time I was craving burritos and so I went to the burrito place knowing I could not have them, I just walked on into La Brea Bakery like I owned the place. Which I do not. Perhaps I was buoyed by my last trip into the bakery when it was just a lil’ ol’ bakery and they offered gluten-free macaroons. I thought, well, at least they have one thing I can eat. I was also assuming that even if he laughed at me, the waiter would know what had gluten and what did not. This, I was wrong about.

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Gluten-Free New York City: Brooklyn, Beacon & The BEST GF JOINT IN MANHATTAN!!!

gluten-free new york cityWell hello blog readers! You’ve probably noticed a lack of regular posting which (again) I can blame on the book writin’ and a trip to New York that was long and EPIC. I miss that town, and the wonderful people who inhabit it, and it was so much fun to be back for an extended stay. SO MUCH. And one of the best things in the world about my trip is that I did not get gluten’d. Not even once! That, my friends, was waiting for me when I ordered Indian food once I got back to LA. Never stray from your “safe” foods on a menu, people. Never. 

But while I was in New York I ate like a GF Queen (if there was one) and I FINALLY visited the holiest of holy spots, The Risotteria in the West Village. Oh my breadsticks, you guys. You weren’t kidding when you said, “You have to go there. I mean, why haven’t you been there? What is your gluten-free problem???”  Continue reading

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