Take Me Out to the Ball Game…Gluten Free Style!

As I write this post, the Red Sox, my home team, sit in the cellar of the American League East with a record of 2-9,  not such a good start to the season.  A season where they are predicted to win 100 games and make the World Series.  Right now, you might be asking yourself, “When did the Yoda’s change this into a sports blog, I wanted to learn about gluten free living.”  Well we didn’t so don’t worry.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend two Red Sox games this week, unfortunately they lost both games, which is now why they sit in the cellar.  OK, that is enough complaining.

Here is the information that you came here for!

As they are finding that Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance are far more prevalent than they thought, many ball parks that are now offering gluten free options.

Here are just a few of them with some examples of what they are offering:

  • Citi Field : Hot dog and hamburger on gluten-free bun, gluten-free snacks, gluten-free beer
  • Citizens Bank Park : Hot dog on gluten-free bun, gluten-free beer
  • Coors Field : Hot dog, hamburger and chicken sandwich on gluten-free bun, potato chips, cookies and brownies, gluten-free beer
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards : Gluten-free crab cake, Asian noodle salad, hummus and vegetables, hot dog and sausage on gluten-free bun, gluten-free beer
  • Turner Field : Grilled sirloin burger served on tapioca-organic rice roll, hot dog on gluten-free bun, potato chips and popcorn, cookies and brownies, gluten-free beer

You will notice that Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is not on this list.  Needless to say I was a little nervous about what I was going to eat and I didn’t have time to grab something at the house so I knew that I would be hungry.  The park does advertise that they have a selection of gluten free snacks which basically consisted of  a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie and two kinds of chips that are gluten free.

The funniest thing about their gluten free section is the woman who works there who tries to talk you out of anything that you try to buy because they are expensive ($5 for the cookie, $3 for the chips).  I actually asked her jokingly if it was part of her job to talk people out of buying this stuff! 

Since I was a little anxious about not being able to eat, I talked to my “Yoda” Jason about his experiences and he told me that popcorn was OK, and that he has asked for hot dogs and burgers without rolls.  Where I was not thrilled that I had to ask this at the concession stand, I gave it a go anyway.  He was also reminding me to watch out for cross-contamination, of course.

I was lucky enough to find someone from the company that operates the concessions in the park and he explained that asking to have it “your way” was perfectly OK.  He also explained to me that there are concession stands throughout the park that sell only fries so their fryers are dedicated and their french fries are not battered and therefore ok.  When I say they sell only fries I mean they do not prepare chicken fingers or fried dough at that stand.  So things were definitely looking up.

I did order a burger without the bun the first night.  The second night I brought two pieces of Udi’s bread and put the burger on that - very delicious!  I also had french fries, and the best thing was I didn’t have a bad reaction to any of it.  The only bad reaction was from a woman sitting a row in front of me who looked at me a little funny for eating a burger with my fingers (trust me I could not find a fork or knife anywhere, I searched and searched).  So other than that one thing…no problems.  Watch the game lady, not me!

If you go to Fenway, the concession stand I was told about can be found under the bleachers between sections 37-42.  The best way I can describe it is that it is to the left of the “big” men’s room.  Don’t be scared that it says Fried Dough on the sign, they prepare that separately in a different fryer.  So where Fenway Park does not scream “gluten free” there are things availble that you can make gluten free just by asking a couple of questions.

My advice to newbies (like me) who are going to any sporting venue would be to go a little early, take a walk around, survey the situation and see what they have to offer.  They may, like Fenway, have a few gluten free options, but as you walk around you may find many more options that you can make gluten free just by asking.

So its root, root for the the home team, they have to starting winning sometime, don’t they?  I wonder if any of the players are gluten free?

I have a personal Gluten Free Chef…and it isn’t my wife????

…And to be honest with you she’s OK with it.

Time is just not something that I think anyone has a lot of these days.  Especially with two teenage boys who go to school miles away from our home and a wife who works full-time.  So when I was diagnosed I thought OK, I will go out and buy whatever I can get my hands on and my wife and I can start baking/cooking gluten free, WRONG!!!

With limited time, there never seems to be those few extra minutes to try to figure out how to make the best GFree brownies, or how to work with GFree flour, never mind sit down and create a gluten free meal plan for the week.  Therefore, I have relied on a lot of gluten free prepackaged food from one of my favorite local places Allcaneat Foods.  (I promise to review them sometime in the near future-they’re awesome and if you’re in the area you need to check them out).  I must also confess that I believed that once I was diagnosed that we (my wife and boys) were in this alone. I thought we would deal with this as a family, much like we did when our youngest son was diagnosed with a milk protein allergy as a baby and a red dye allergy as a toddler.  We weren’t thinking about all the supporting cast members in our journey.

In my case, people like my sister who saw GFree bread and boxed Mac & Cheese; and picked them up for me.  Or my mother-in-law who instantly started thinking about how my favorite meals at her house could be adjusted to make them GFree.  And, of course, my Mom (you may remember from an earlier post I told you I am kind of a mama’s boy) who immediately went online to look for GFree cookbooks and magazines.  She even spent a whole afternoon watching GFree day on QVC and was texting me the whole time asking if I wanted her to buy this or that!

apple-pie-ck-709820-l But I think everyone (yup that includes my wife and my Mother!) pales in comparison to who I now refer to as “my personal gluten free chef.”  For the sake of protecting the innocent we’ll just call her Eliot.  Eliot is one of our family’s closest friends and she has been more “into” my diet than me.  On one of my first visits to her house, I was greeted with boneless chicken breaded with mash potato flakes accompanied with white rice, so yummy.  Another time it was GFree risotto and for dessert GFree brownies made with sour cream to make them super moist.  Most recently it was a homemade apple pie, completely gluten free!  This put me right over the top and provided the muse to write this post.  On top of all this, she has a list of items containing gluten on her refrigerator so that when we are planning our next “pizza night” she can make sure there is always something there just for me-and yes she even found a local place that has GFree pizza!  She always has a new type of cracker for me to try along with her homemade hummus that is gluten free for me to snack on.

You are probably saying to yourself, you are so lucky to have an Eliot in your life, and how I wish I had an Eliot too.  And that is exactly my point-I had no idea when I was diagnosed that I would have the supporting cast members I now have to help me figure my way through this new GFree world in which I now find myself.  But, as I am learning to navigate my new GFree existence; I have found that the people who love me really are willing to go the extra mile so that I continue happily on my “crazy” diet.

Just take a good look around and you will find that you too have this support system waiting to help you in any way they can.  And lastly my hope for you is that you too will find yourself an Eliot in your life.

 

 

No toasting required: A review of UDI’s gluten free bread – Yummy!

udisgflogoMy sister-in-law (who is also gluten free) mentioned a brand called Rudi’s to me – she said that their bread was incredible.  “You don’t even need to toast it!” she said.  That’s a big deal when it comes to gluten free bread.  Most of the brands on the market fall short on that point and don’t really taste good or hold up well unless they come straight from the toaster.  So … I went a-lookin’ for Rudi’s bread, but found Udi’s instead (no relation).  Since I didn’t see Rudi’s, I thought, well, maybe I just heard wrong (yes, it does happen), so I bought the loaf of Udi’s.   Come to find out – Udi’s bread is incredible, and equally holds up to the no-toaster-required test.

Bread is very specific in quality and texture.  You need the right combination of yeast, wheat and a bunch of other things to hold it together, get those nice air pockets that burst in the oven, and to have it rise just the right amount.  This is a big cunundrum on the side of gluten free.  The yeast can be there, but the wheat can’t – and the gluten can’t either (which tends to hold a lot of things together).  So … when I pulled a piece of bread from the package and felt it’s spungy texture and quality, I was amazed.  I don’t know what they did, but I’m sure someone in that bakery spent A LOT of time, effort, and money (because GF ingredients don’t come cheap) to come up with just the right balance to make such a clone of its gluten-filled brother bread.

udisbreadI slathered on some jelly and some peanut butter and went to town.  YUM!  No toasting, just right out of the package.  Like a kid pulling a couple slices of wonderbread for his PB&J, I was in heaven.  It had been a long, long time since I had a non-toasted sandwich that I enjoyed.  I handed it to my wife for a bite and she was impressed too.  That week I finished 2 loaves of bread – PB&J, deli sandwiches, grilled cheese (dunked in tomato soup, of course), the list goes on…

Here’s the thing (and I think this applies to a lot of GF foods), I hadn’t even heard of UDI’s until about a month ago – crazy as it seems – because it wasn’t in my local health food store yet.  I’m always hesitant to try any new breads party because they are expensive and partly because nothing really holds up.  I’m glad UDI’s products are now local to me.  It’s interesting how our gluten free world becomes limited by what’s in our local grocery store or health food market.  I’ve not tried to by GF foods online because I like to read the package, smell it if I can, and look at the product, otherwise, perhaps my GF world would grow.  On the other hand, I really like giving my business to my local health food store – the Health Food Corner whenever possible.

One last thing about UDI’s – I really like their GF philosophy.  They are great artisans who want to make sure that even those of us with gluten intolerance can enjoy the simplest of things in life – a good piece of bread.  (My mouth is watering for some bread and butter now!)

So … now you know why I list UDI’s bread on my GF starter’s list.  It’s the best I have had – and I don’t have to bake it myself!  You can buy UDI’s bread all over the place.  Click here to find out where you can find a loaf near you, or you can buy some online at UDI’s Online Store.

P.S.  I still haven’t had Rudi’s yet … at some point I’m going to try it though.  My sister-in-law has good GF taste – so I trust her when it comes to these things!

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