Gluten Free Gluttony

15 Apr
Gluten Free Gluttony! Photo by Jess B.

Gluten Free Gluttony! Photo by Jess B.

I’ve been in the US for two and a half weeks now, and have another three weeks of my trip to go. This is both wonderful, and slightly worrying at the same time. Wonderful as it means much more sister time but also worrying as it means lots more opportunities to EAT!

When anyone goes on holiday it is a break from the norm and a chance to take a break from the everyday healthy eating. It is a time to indulge and enjoy food, to try new things and to eat more perhaps than we should. This is certainly the case for me when I’m on holiday. With being in the US for six weeks I’m lucky enough to be having an extended holiday. Such a long holiday would probably have disastrous consequences for anyone’s waist line. Throw in a gluten free diet (and my lack of will power) and you get to my worrying situation! I’m only half way through my holiday and I’m already feeling rather overstuffed, bloated and full. I know I know, I only have myself to blame….Or do I?! I think gluten free is a little bit to blame itself.

Let me explain. Eight years ago when I first started to follow a gluten free diet, it was a relatively unknown food plan. Going out to eat was a nightmare, always having to explain yourself to your waiter who would stare blankly back at you. If I went out for a coffee, I’d have to watch on as my family tucked into muffins in Starbucks, or eat the crumbly cardboard tasting gluten free biscuit I’d bought from home. The only bread I was able to buy was long life vacuum packed stuff that looked like it belonged to an astronaut’s freeze dried food pack as opposed to a domestic kitchen. The only way that bread was edible was toasted and slathered in peanut butter. Mr B used to ask me “why do you even bother to eat bread?” He had a point. There were no pizzas, bread rolls, moist cakes, crunchy breakfast cereals or cookies to be found for the gluten free follower, or at least none that tasted good enough to eat.

Today however things are (thankfully) very much improved. Restaurant menus increasingly indicate which dishes are gluten free and waiters have much better awareness and knowledge.  Supermarkets stock a whole range of gluten free breads, biscuits and cakes, (most of) which are super tasty.  Dominos and Pizza Hut to name but two companies now offer a gluten free pizza base. There are 100% gluten free bakeries and restaurants in London, Paris, New York and Philadelphia (and these are just the ones I know of). National and international coffee chains stock gluten free cakes for you to enjoy with your coffee. No more staring wistfully at your companion munching away apologetically. You could say we gluten free people are now spoilt for choice.

This is all amazing, and I definitely wouldn’t go back to the dark old times. But those times are still very much etched in my memory and I am still always on the look out for a gluten free goody. And when (it’s now more when than if) I come across something I inevitably end up buying and of course eating it. Even though gluten free options are increasingly very prevalent, it still seems to be a little bit of a novelty to me to find something gluten free when I’m out so I can never pass it up and always have to buy and eat it.

Part of planning any trip for me is researching local places that are good for gluten free. Philadelphia it turns out is pretty darn good at gluten free (more specifics to follow in future posts). So far I’ve enjoyed sticky buns, lemon slices, chocolate chip cookies, doughnuts, brownies, oatmeal raisin cookies, bagels, pancakes, pretzels, crackers, sourdough bread, kaiser rolls, multigrain bread, all gluten free! I haven’t even been to Sweet Freedom Bakery yet! The gluten free versions of all these foods are just as fattening and sugar laden as their gluten-full counterparts – sadly! It is wonderful and affords me many gorgeous gluten free taste sensations but is definitely not helping the healthy eating diet and is slowly but surely turning me into gluten free glutton!

In one little visit to Reading Terminal Market yesterday I came across an Amish bakery stall selling a whole range of gluten free cakes and breads and the Pennsylvania General Store stocking chocolate brownies and cookies, all gluten free of course. Although the UK is very good at gluten free now, the US (or at least Philly) still beats it hands down. As I don’t live here permanently the novelty factor of all these treats is high. I can’t not try something, because in a few weeks I’ll be back in Blighty and unable to try these things. You see my problem?! So very tough…

Healthy Salad, Feeling Virtuous. Photo by Jess B.

Healthy Salad, Feeling Virtuous. Photo by Jess B.

In an attempt to be healthy last night I had a nice big plate full of fresh crispy salad for my dinner, with a little hard goat’s cheese as the protein. With a few olives and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, it was delicious.

And I felt so good and virtuous eating the salad that I decided I deserved a little reward for being so healthy. Yep you guessed it, I had a few bites of a few of the gluten free cakes I had found at Reading Terminal Market earlier in the day….but hey I’m on holiday, that means I’m allowed to eat as much cake as I want doesn’t it?!

Really must locate my willpower, know I’ve got some around here somewhere….

Reward for eating salad! Photo by Jess B.

Reward for eating salad!  NB. I only ate half the sticky bun, my mum stole the other half! Photo by Jess B.

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2 Responses to “Gluten Free Gluttony”

  1. E. Milo April 17, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    In Seattle, where I live now (having grown up in Dublin, Ireland), it is almost sacrilege not to have a GF menu and there are many entirely GF bakeries. Dangerous! Although I don’t eat any grains or eggs or dairy anymore, so I can’t indulge. Incidentally, I used to run Tex-Mex restaurants and, when I put together their first GF menu, I was surprised to see just how many menus items only needed very small modifications, so Mexican food is always a good option (not that you’re new to the GF world, obviously, I don’t know about where you live, but there were never any good Mexican restaurants in Dublin, so I didn’t realise the variety until I came here). Have a great holiday!

    • myjourneythrume April 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Okay I need to visit Seattle! Mexican does seem to be really good for gluten free. Here in Philadelphia there are several Mexicans that say their menus are 100% gluten free, or easily modified as you say. I plan to try some of them whilst I’m here. The UK is so much better for gluten free now than it was, but the US is SO much better. I live in London and can’t think of a good Mexican restaurant never mind one that is pro gluten free. Thanks for commenting, nice to hear from you.

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