The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in August

September 7, 2016

My rich, gluten-free chocolate birthday bundt cake dusted with sugar

August was a bit of a tough one for me. Early in the month, I took a chance eating out - and lo and behold, I was glutened. It's bound to happen (hell, I've been glutened at a place that claimed to be 100% gluten-free!), but it always crushes my confidence with eating out, along with the resulting weeks of health struggles. So this month has been mostly eating in, as well as experimenting with vegan baking for all my new derby friends. It's been a challenging month, but as you can see, I don't have too much to complain about.

Iguana Bonita Berlin gluten-free tamale

1. Iguana Bonita's Tamales and Homemade Chips

Ever since Ta'Cabrón stopped making its tamales - my very favorite thing - the state of Berlin's Mexican food scene has left me cold. We make tacos and even our own tortillas at home regularly, but homemade tamales just feel a little out of reach. Enter my savior: New to the Berlin food scene Iguana Bonita! Good texture, tasty meat fillings, this place was what I had been searching for! Rather ravenous after skating practice one day, I ordered their corn chips as well and was blown away. Notoriously bad in Germany, these crispy triangles of perfection with spot-on guacamole warmed this California girl's heart. They are by far the best I've had (save the not-gluten-free ones at Dolores) and if I were rich, I'm pretty sure I would pay to keep myself in a steady supply of these every week.

Gluten-free peanut butter oat chocolate chip cookies

2. Vegan Peanut Butter Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

For those of you who follow me on IG and Twitter, perhaps you've seen my lamenting over the steep learning curve of baking gluten-free and vegan for my plethora of vegan friends. It's not an easy task and I feel like I have yet to bake a vegan cake that even comes close in texture to what I can usually achieve. When I finally reached my breaking point, desperate for something that I could be happy to present to others for their birthdays, I made a pivotal discovery: Cookies are where it's at. Not having to work as hard to rise or match that very specific cake crumb, cookies are much easier to satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike - and this recipe is definitely a winner for everyone.

The Sausage Man Never Sleeps Kaesekrainers, jalapeno-cheddar sausages and thick-cut bacon

3. The Sausage Man Never Sleeps Streaky Bacon

My husband and I visit Simon the Sausage Man regularly, indulging in his pork products that are so unlike any of their German counterparts more often than we should. Being too singularly-focused, we had neglected to pick up his thick-cut, real deal breakfast bacon until just a few weeks ago. Now we're hooked. This is by far some of the best bacon I've had, perhaps ever. If you don't want to develop a serious bacon habit, stay away, I warn you. There is no going back after this.

My rich, gluten-free chocolate birthday cake recipe

4. My Special Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

This recipe is one of my pride and joys, one that is truly my creation. I adapted a childhood favorite, which called for boxed cake mix, into a gluten-free, from-scratch cake that I think might be even better than the original. The cake that I often requested for my birthday - then called 'Almost Better Than Sex Cake', because it is - has joined my celiac lifestyle with relative ease, save lots of recipe testing, which let's face it, means lot of cake eating (darn). So when one of my first non-vegan derby friends had a birthday last month, I jumped at the chance to make this for her. Rich and moist, with a bit of alcohol to add some depth, this simple-looking chocolate bundt is outshines its modest appearance.

Jones blood orange-strawberry and cucumber-tonic sorbets_Schoeneberg, Berlin

5. Jones' Cucumber & Tonic and Blood Orange-Strawberry Sorbets

Gabrielle just can't stop coming up with fantastic ice cream flavors. These ones are technically sorbets (and I technically enjoyed them in the first days of September, shhh), but no less satisfying, especially on a warm summer day. While the blood-orange strawberry was her special, limited edition flavor, it was the cucumber and tonic, reminiscent of one of my favorite cocktails, that really got my attention. Cucumber, so often a rather light and lackluster flavor came through powerfully and perfectly in this dreamy sorbet. The only thing that could possibly make it better? The addition of gin, of course!

Don't forget to share your gluten-free eating wins with the hashtag #celiacdoesntsuck on Twitter and Instagram! Whether you're celiac, intolerant or just eating GF because it makes you feel better, let's spread the positivity of how good gluten-free eating can be.

Another year older, more stuff to love

August 31, 2016

A birthday wishlist
It's almost that time for me to turn another year older. Every year, I swear that I have too much stuff and I don't need more... but I inevitably find things that I fall in love with. It doesn't help that my birthday falls at the gateway to my favorite season of the year. Cozy sweaters. The perfect berry lipstick. Cold-weather house shoes. Filling in a fresh new agenda with all the fabulous plans for the new year. Staying in with some of the delicious food - and drink! - discoveries I've made this last year. But hey, birthdays are all about indulgence anyway, right? Or perhaps I'm just greedy.

Don't worry, I still wish for world peace and shelter dogs to find good homes when I blow out my candles.

Derby Love

August 18, 2016

Roller Derby Love

A place where women are allowed to be both feminine and bad ass? What could be better than that? I feel grateful that all my weekends spent at the roller rink in grade school - and on the ice in my teens - lead me to roller derby... though my mom might disagree. She shut down my desire to play ice hockey in high school, on account of my expensive orthodontics, but my desire for an aggressive outlet has clearly remained.

Now that I'm an adult and I can knock out my teeth if I want to (don't worry Mom, I wear a mouthguard that carries ample dentistry insurance), I'm jumping into this new endeavor with years of pent-up energy that never got expended on anything athletic (thank you, celiac). Roller derby is a pretty hardcore sport, but still, one can't help being a little girly about the whole thing considering the awesome gear and all the cool merch to support what I'm quickly learning is more a lifestyle than just an extracurricular.

I'll be honest, my insistence on the glitter helmet as I bought all my newbie gear might have seemed silly, but there are so many cool additions to consider as I quite literally gear up for derby: fun skate laces, custom toe guards, bad ass looking wheels. Don't even get me started about all the shirts, hats, buttons and the like that proudly displays ones love of derby in the rare off hours not talking about or training for derby. Roll and Destroy out of Hamburg are kind of my favorite right now and I can't wait to pass the MST and choose a derby name, mostly so I can have them custom emblazon it on pretty much anything and everything. Until then, I'll just have to show my dedication with derby kisses (those are bruises, Mom).

Postcards from the South of France

August 16, 2016

Rooftops of Chateaurenard

Ever since I first stepped foot in France when I was 16 years old, I felt all my Francophile dreams come true. I loved the lyrical sound of their language, the slower pace of life and an emphasis on enjoyment of all things: wine, cheese, love. After all, who couldn't deal with a little more of that in their lives? So even with apprehension about how I could eat well as a celiac in this land of croissants and crusty bread, I couldn't say no to what would become my seventh trip to this beautiful country.

In late April, we enjoyed a truly lovely Airbnb within the walls of Avignon's old town, perfectly located for exploring the city on foot. After an unfortunate start with my first day there spent in bed with a raging fever, we explored the city and took several day trips out to the surrounding areas. We saw Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Malemort-du-Comtat, Roussillon, Gourdes, the beach at Carnon, Montpellier and Lyon. There was stereotypical Provence dreaminess everywhere - great cheese and wine, charming crumbling architecture and rolling vineyards - but also many thing that surprised me, like my first-ever sighting of flamingos in the wild, the incredible, 100% gluten-free Montpellier café and Avignon risotto spot we found, and Roussillon's stunning Ochre Trail (more on that in a later blog post). The saying may be 'Paris is always a good idea', but really you can't go wrong anywhere in France. Ahh, la belle vie...

Pigeon taking flight from Avignon windowsill
Avignon Airbnb window with curtains Building with shutters in Avignon
Les Halles market exterior greenery Avignon Rue Peyrollerie Avignon
Doors of Avignon Ornate door knocker in Avignon
Overlooking city of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
VIneyard gate above Châteauneuf-du-Pape Spice shop in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Dramatic archway in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Road to tasting room at Château Unang winery in Malemort-du-Comtat
Vines at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat Dog at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat
Horses at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat Hillside town of Gordes, France
Carnon-Plage beach Mauguio Beach blanket supplies Carnon-Plage Mauguio
Flamingos in Palavas-les-Flots at French coast
Montpellier lit alleyway at night Montpellier building at night
Pont d'Avignon bridge on the Rhône river Spiral staircase in Avignon Architecture in Rocher des Doms Avignon
Lookout over Rhône River in Avignon Statue and church in Avignon
Place du Palais scrollwork gate in front of Musée Du Petit Palais Avignon City of Lyon along the Saône River
Passerelle Paul Couturier Bridge over Saône River in Lyon, France Church in Lyon, France
Light post in sunset along Rhône River in Avignon

Want more? See my Provence album on Flickr.

The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in July

August 9, 2016

Jones ice cream flavor board, Schöneberg, Berlin

Ahhh, July... Those mid-summer months full of sunshine and sandals, ideal for cool salads, ice cream and delicious food you don't have to slave over in your own kitchen. Last month was the perfect culmination of ideal summer eating, both at home and out in the glorious weather. Berlin summer, you spoil me.

Jones lemon-mint sorbet at opening weekend, Schöneberg, Berlin

1. Jones Lemon-Mint Sorbet

This long-awaited shop opening meant even more greatness from my friend Gabrielle, who I also happen to be an enormous fan of. I'm a sucker for anyone with a French accent and the chops to have baked at the Ritz in Paris, but her American-inspired ice cream endeavor speaks for itself. Tart and refreshing, this might be summer's ideal flavor.

Gluten-free arepa from El Carrito truck at Mauerpark Flohmarkt, Berlin

2. El Carrito Con Todo Arepa

There's a new arepa in town - and this one certainly lives up to its predecessor. I go all in with the version that packs everything into that perfectly crisp and soft naturally-gluten-free corn pocket: tender beef, gobs of melted cheese, black beans and avocado (but of course they've got veggie-friendly versions as well). Just don't forget the extra napkins!

Gluten-free chopped Thai chicken salad

3. Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Nothing is better than a crisp, cool salad on a hot day. Chopping to replace simmering over sweat-inducing appliances. This cabbage-centric, peanut-sauce doused version is definitely having a moment in my summer kitchen. What takes it to the next level? That amazing peanut butter I've been going on about since Portland in the Spicy Thai version doused on top. On the hottest of days, it transports you directly to Southeast Asia. Well, almost.

Cold melon-cucumber soup at Lykke in Neukölln, Berlin

4. Melon-cucumber soup at Lykke

At my first visit to this relatively new Neukölln cafe, I didn't know what to expect. So I ordered this delicious-sounding soup to have along with my quiche, not realizing the quiche itself was rather large and came with salad as well. Even with way too much food in front of me, I could not stop eating this cool, refreshing soup. Might be time to whip up my own version at home...

BBQ chicken pizza with Minimalist Baker's gluten-free pizza crust

5. Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ever since our Portland trip and all the amazing pizza - both fresh and frozen! - I've lamented at not having truly spectacular gluten-free pizza options here in Berlin. There are good ones, ones that get the job done in a pinch, but nothing I'm clamoring for out of much more than just convenience. So at home, we've been trying various crusts to see if we can't get something more like what we enjoyed in PDX. While nothing is 100% right on yet, we did discover a new recipe that beat out all other pre-made mixes we tried. With the addition of cornmeal on the crust, it was not far off from a classic American, gluten-filled pizzeria. After adding some BBQ chicken and extra sauce, cheese, corn and green onions, it was a pretty tasty replacement for the CPK version from the States I'd been missing.

Don't forget to share your gluten-free eating wins with the hashtag #celiacdoesntsuck on Twitter and Instagram! Whether you're celiac, intolerant or just eating GF because it makes you feel better, let's spread the positivity of how good gluten-free eating can be.

Eating {gluten-free & vegan} in Portland, OR | Back to Eden

July 26, 2016

Citrus-ginger iced gluten-free vegan scone at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon

I didn't try Back to Eden Bakery until my last trip to Portland mainly for one reason: It was vegan. While I have nothing against someone's choice to be vegan, for me personally, I believe my friend Adam explained it best: "If I have to give up gluten, why would I also take great things like dairy out of my diet by choice?". I couldn't agree more and while I have a borderline obsession with French butter (...and French yogurt and French cheese...sorry, vegans), what matters to me most is that food still tastes amazing while allowing me to eat safely with a massively-restrictive auto-immune disease. When I finally conceded and tried Back to Eden, which is both vegan and gluten-free, I was so shocked you could have knocked me over with a feather. This was the best vegan food I'd ever tasted!

As a gluten-free baker, I am very particular about the taste and textures of what I make, working hard to make them feel like their gluteny counterparts. But take out the eggs and butter, and it just feels hopeless. Every time I've tried vegan baked goods, I've experienced what many people do when they taste one of the many sub-par gluten-free treats out there - it just tastes too vegan, in the sense that it's off or unsatisfying. Back to Eden single-handedly proved to me it is possible. Flakey, delicious pie crusts? Check. Fluffy, spongey cakes? Yup. Scones with the perfect crumbly-yet-moist texture? They've got that down too. Somehow they got a buttery vibe in things without using any butter. I was blown away. And my family, who couldn't be further from vegan, was too. Very much like the goal for my cakes is for gluten-eaters to think it doesn't taste like it's gluten-free, everything I tasted here I felt similarly about: I couldn't even tell that it was vegan.

I always feel apprehensive about recommending vegan spots, as it's not my area of expertise, but I am confident in saying this place is a tremendous bakery for gluten-free fare and if you're vegan, then even better. When ordering the biscuits and gravy, I let myself be talked into adding the vegan sausage made of walnuts and was impressed at its non-meat meatiness and satisfying addition to the dish. Having the sweet tooth that I do, my other stand-out favorites were the scones (both the savory pizza scone and the sweet iced citrus-ginger versions), the incredible chocolate cream pie I'm pretty sure my step-father had no idea was vegan at all and of course, that chocolate doughnut topped with root beer icing and dusted with cocoa powder that started it all for me. I dream about those doughnuts!

Until next time, PDX...

Gluten-free and vegan Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Corn chowder and biscuits and gravy with walnut-sausage gluten-free vegan at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Quiche gluten-free vegan at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Chocolate-rootbeer doughnut gluten-free vegan from Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon

Back to Eden Bakery
2217 NE Alberta Street, 97211
also a truck at corner of SE Division & SE 28 Place, 97202
Portland, Oregon
1 (503) 477-5022