Reno Work Trip: Take 2!

A couple of weeks ago I headed back to Reno for a work trip.  It was an exciting trip as we were getting training on a system that I was already familiar with, and love, so I was looking forward to it.

After getting up at 3:30am to catch our flight and a few hours in the air, we arrived at the Peppermill Resort.  The Peppermill is a Vegas style casino and resort although we found out that it didn’t start that way.  The resort actually started as a coffee shop and restaurant and the rest has been built around it.  Very impressive.  They were kind and allowed us early check in as our meeting started at 11:30am.  This gave us a chance to freshen up and get to our meeting in time.  Our rooms were spacious with a great view of the city.

Peppermill Tower Room

Peppermill Tower Room

I had contacted the Peppermill in advance to talk to them about my gluten free needs.  I got a response from the head of the catering department explaining that they would cater to my needs.  I sent an email back thanking him and got another response saying that he had already talked to the person in charge of our group’s catering and that they would be watching out for me.  Holy smokes…I was impressed.

We arrived, changed and went to our lunch.  As promised, they were waiting for me and had food ready.  At our dinner that night, the same thing.  This time is was super amazing since I got both fish and chicken…everyone else got prime rib.  I do like prime rib but everyone said that mine looked better!  The next evening at dinner I had my choice of fish or chicken again and went with the Mahi Mahi.  It was cooked to perfection with jasmine rice and veggies.  Way better than the pizza everyone else had!  I would say that the Peppermill did amazing on the food for me!

Of course, we had to hit In N Out Burger.  I love the protein style burgers, the natural fries and the fact that everything is fresh.

In N Out Protein Style Burger

We also hit up PF Chang’s so I could get my Chinese fix.  We started out with lettuce wraps.  As they came out, I asked if they were gluten free, as I always do.  The server took one look at them, took them off of the table and returned them to the kitchen.  Soon she returned, apologized but said that she was also gluten free and knew how important it was to not serve the wrong food.  I was impressed with their attention to detail.  The egg drop soup was amazing (and it is always gluten free) and the GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken with brown rice.  All of it was amazing.  We also got the Chocolate Dome, a flourless cake.  It was an amazing experience.  A day later this article came out explaining a lawsuit against PF Chang’s.  It’s ridiculous and I feel that PF Chang’s does an amazing job with their gluten free, even a separate area for prepping foods.

GF Chang's Spicy Chicken and Brown Rice PF Chang's Egg Drop Soup

All in all, it was another successful trip to Reno!  Thanks for the gluten free hospitality!

Review: Feel Good Foods Egg Rolls

Heaven…I’m in Heaven…

Yes, that song is dancing through my head tonight.  You see, last week my parents went through Fort Collins and, finding that there was a Whole Foods there, asked them to stop by.  Why?  Because they carry Feel Good Foods brand and I was hoping that they would carry their egg rolls.

While Feel Good Foods is carried here in Grand Junction, they only have the Vegetable Dumplings at the locations where this brand is carried.  I’ve requested the egg rolls but…no luck yet.  I’m pretty persistent so it won’t be long but I wanted to try them anyway.

I held off for a week.  Between my schedule and wanting to pair the egg rolls with an actual meal, it took until tonight for me to try them.

They are much easier to make than the dumplings.  You can do the oven version (bake for 20-24 minutes) or nuke them in the microwave which makes me cringe.  Maybe they are ok that way but I feel like it’s disrespecting the egg roll.  Yup, the egg roll has a hierarchy.

I decided to make the egg rolls with a chicken and veggie stir fry which is one of my co to foods.  It’s easy and fast and healthy.  Until I pair the egg rolls with them.

I had the chicken and vegetable as well as the vegetable egg rolls.  I made the chicken and veggie ones.  The egg rolls were AMAZING.  Just like the real deal.  They were light and flavorful and turned a beautiful brown.  I savored every bite and wasn’t sad that I ate two of them.  I still have 2 1/2 boxes in my freezer and, sorry fellow Grand Junction GF peeps, I won’t be sharing.  I will be savoring them!

Feel Good Foods Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

Feel Good Foods Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

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Staying on the Positive Side

Let’s be honest, sometimes life gets us down.  This is a story of getting down and then getting over it.

I have a pretty positive outlook on having Celiac Disease, having to eat gluten free and not getting to eat things like egg rolls and Chinese food in Chinese restaurants.  About once a year I get PF Chang’s and satisfy my Chinese craving for a bit.  It’s not as much as I used to eat it but it helps.  Eating gluten free isn’t really that bad either.  It could be worse, I could be allergic to dairy, avocados, and almonds.  Things that I eat EVERY day.  But it’s just gluten, right?

Well, last Monday was my “feeling sorry for myself” day.  I had been at JUCO (the Junior College World Series) which happens every May in Grand Junction.  It’s basically a week of sunshine, baseball and more sunshine.  I spend as much time attending games and chillin’.  Memorial Day I got to the stadium at 11 and stayed there all day.  I had brought my usual snacks to tide me over and had plans to jet at 6 to grab a bite to eat before the 7:30pm game.  Plans changed and I ended up taking photos of the team the Grand Junction Lions Club hosted (every year we host one of the teams) and not going to eat.

Mind you, this was my fault…I will admit that.

I had, earlier in the day, started wishing that I could go to the concession stand, pick whatever I wanted and just EAT.  Not have play 20 questions with the gal behind the counter and then hope that she was right.  It’s like playing Russian Roulette, really.  I was tired of being different, of not being able to grab food and go, to have to leave the stadium to get something to eat and then come back, try to find a parking spot and…it was too much.  I’m guessing the sun and heat had something to do with this breakdown as well.

But I had a pity party.  I almost started crying and had to compose myself several times.  Sometimes being gluten free really sucks.  In fact, I found this and posted it to Facebook:

Don't you ever just want to be normal?

Don’t you ever just want to be normal?

I had friends comment on the picture from “Be strong!” to “I have those days” to “I wouldn’t eat normal for the world, I know how it hurts me”.  The support was so good.

I ended up getting fries.  They told me that they were gluten free.  I hope they were right…

So, I had my moment, ate my fries, watched the game, went home, went to bed and the next day I was fine.  My outlook was better.  Sometimes you just have to have a moment and move on.  The sun always comes up tomorrow, I’ve been told…and that is a true statement.

The moral of the story is twofold:

1.  Have a pity party, get mad or sad or whatever and then MOVE ON.  It’s life and the way it is whether it’s Celiac or a dairy allergy or something else.  It could always be worse.

2.  Stay positive.  Negative energy only brings you and everyone else around you down.  The more negativity, the less people will want to be around you and, when you really need support, it won’t be there.

Gluten free isn’t always the most glamorous or the most fun but it’s the most healthy for me.  It could be gluten free or death and I choose gluten free.

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I’m a traveling woman…

I typically don’t travel much and when I do, it’s pretty much to the same locations over and over.  Recently, our company was taken over and that means traveling for trainings.  I’m excited about this possibility since I’m getting to go to a few places I haven’t been before and a few that I haven’t been to in a while.

Last week my travel took me to Reno, NV.  I have never been to Reno so I was excited to go there.  We were staying at the Grand Sierra Resort and it looked like a nice place but I am always a little hesitant eating in cities that I’m not familiar with.

My manager and I flew in on Monday and, after quickly unpacking, headed straight to In N Out Burger.  I’m in LOVE with In N Out as I know the fries are straight from the potato and the protein style burger is safe to eat.  It was everything I’d dreamed of…and believe me, I was dreaming of In N Out Burger.

 

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That night we had our first gathering with the new company at Charlie Palmer’s, inside of the Grand Sierra.  I spoke with the server and explained my need to be gluten free.  He was knowledgeable and was able to tell me what was safe to eat from the salads and appetizers to the dessert and everything in between.  He even made the whole table have the creamed spinach without bread crumbs so that I would be able to eat it.

Two nights later I was on my own as my manager had flown home.  I had posted on Twitter that I was looking for places to eat in Reno.  I got a few suggestions from the Reno/Tahoe Visitor’s Bureau and other people in the Twitter-sphere but got a suggestion from one of my co workers that proved to be a gem.  She told me to check out Great Full Gardens and it was amazing.  They are all organic and used to a gluten free lifestyle so it came as no surprise to me that they would be able to accommodate my needs.  I had the best grilled cheese sandwich and amazing homemade tomato soup.  I could have eaten that the rest of my life, I think.

Amazing from Great Full Gardens!

Amazing from Great Full Gardens!

As I was waiting for my taxi, I wondered around the area and found a cupcakery two doors down.  This place was super special as Batch Cupcakery bakes only gluten free, paleo and organic cupcakes.  Oh, be still my beating heart!  I LOVE cupcakes.  Sometimes more than I love eggrolls.  So I couldn’t help but walk in there and figure out which of their four, yes four, types of cupcakes I wanted to take back to the the hotel with me. They had lavender, pumpkin, red velvet and one other kind.  I took the red velvet and headed back to the hotel to go for a run so I could earn the deliciousness that I was about to have.  It was as amazing as I imagined!

Red Velvet deliciousness from Batch Cupcakery!

Red Velvet deliciousness from Batch Cupcakery!

The last night I opted to go to PF Chang’s as they have a great gluten free menu and I rarely get to have Chinese fare anymore.  Their lettuce wraps were amazing as usual but I opted to try their GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken with brown rice.  It was so good and had amazing flavor.  I went home fat and happy!

The next day I left Reno after having an amazing experience.  I am looking forward to going there again in the future.

Oh, on my way home through Salt Lake City, I ran across this sign in the B Concourse:

Salt Lake City Airport

Salt Lake City Airport

Awesome!  I didn’t get to eat there on the way back but next time I’m in that airport, you bet I’ll be looking to see where I can eat!

Thanks Reno for a great experience!

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It’s not as easy as it looks

People go on diets all of the time to lose weight or, as in the case of my athlete/bodybuilding friends, to do a competition of some sort.  Cutting out certain foods helps you achieve those goals and can help you get much healthier.

But there is a difference between choosing to cut out a food group or just a couple of foods and being forced to cut out foods.  When you choose to cut foods out, you have the option of bringing them back into your life when, or if, you choose to.  When you HAVE to cut a food out it’s not quite as easy.  Especially when the item you have to cut out of your life is in EVERYTHING.

Which is where the bet comes into play.  I was out with some friends a couple weeks ago watching football and enjoying an adult beverage.  When it came time to eat, my friend Kim and I discussed what we wanted (we are quite familiar with local restaurants and what we can and can’t have) and ordered.  Somehow the topic turned into an “it’s not that easy” discussion.  Now, Kim is right, eating gluten free can be challenging and frustrating.  Gluten is in all different types of foods, most you wouldn’t think.

So Kim and Craig bet.  Kim bet Craig that he couldn’t go a full week of eating gluten free and he accepted.  Then I told him where wheat was and what he couldn’t have.  First, beer.  He looked at his beer sadly but decided he could give it up for a week.  Then I moved into the liturgy of “you can’t have pasta, bread, breaded foods, certain kinds of ketchup, certain types of soy sauce, most Chinese foods, cereals…” and the list went on and on.

I think finding out that “little” things like ketchup, soy sauce and salad dressings can contain wheat is surprising but wheat is a binder, and thickener, in almost everything.  I mean, a friend of mine made chili with a seasoning packet that had, yes, wheat.

Well, the bet lasted under eight hours when Craig decided it wasn’t going to happen.  I don’t blame him, if I wasn’t Celiac, I wouldn’t be gluten free either.  I would be feasting happily on my Chinese food with soy sauce.  I won’t lie, though, I helped enjoy the spoils of Kim’s winnings and was happy about it.

Go on guys…bet again.  I’m ready for it!

Staying on the Positive Side

Last week I was out with some of my friends watching football and somehow the topic came around to eating gluten free.  Ok, let’s face it, almost every time I’m around the topic comes around to gluten free.  I don’t try, it just happens.  It just so happened that this day it was double trouble:  two of us are gluten free.

I’m used to being gluten free and although it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I’m ok with it.  Yes, I have times when I really want an egg roll (yes, I’m back to the egg roll) but overall, it is what it is.  My friend Kim misses certain things in life like Bud Light and Taco Bell.  I don’t blame her, it sucks somedays.  The topic turned into “eating gluten free sucks” which turned into a bet between Kim and my friend Craig.  The bet?  That Craig (not gluten free) was to eat gluten free for a whole week.  The loser to buy dinner and pay an monetary amount.  While it sounds easy (cut the bread, pasta and beer) it isn’t that easy and is quite tricky.  That topic, and the results from the bet, will be in another blog so stay tuned.

What got me thinking was that we too often look at the negative side of things.  We look at what we CAN’T have and aren’t thankful for what we CAN have.  I’m super thankful that my friends bought gluten free buns last night so I could have a normal hamburger.  Was the bun like a normal bakery bun?  No.  But it was the kind of bun I CAN have.  Do I miss Bud Light?  Yes but there are gluten free beers that are good.

I’ve started hearing it more and more from those that are gluten free.

“Oh, I can’t have that.”

“This gluten free diet is too expensive.”

“I hate to read every label.”

“The gluten free diet is hard.”

While all of these might be true, let’s try to be thankful that eating gluten free is SO much easier than 20 years ago, even five years ago.  Let’s be thankful that there ARE foods out there that we can eat, no matter the cost.  Let’s remember what we CAN have and not feel restricted by what we can’t.  Let’s adjust our way of thinking and see the positive side of things.

Make it a point this week to listen to how you talk, especially about eating gluten free.  When you want to say something negative about eating gluten free, make it into something positive and I bet your whole outlook will change.

Don’t forget you can find me on Facebook or on Twitter by following @MissSillyYak.

We don’t always get what we want

Today is one of those days where I want what I can’t have.  This doesn’t just apply to food but I’m going to write about that.  Tonight after work all I wanted was some Chinese food:  Kung Pao Chicken, fried rice, egg roll and crab rangoon.  Mmmm…my mouth is watering right now!  But I can’t just walk into a Chinese restaurant and order because ALL of that could harm me.  I’m sure some of you are thinking “well, just run to the grocery store” and while I can get Chinese food at City Market (frozen food), I can’t get the rest of the meal…sigh…being gluten free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  And, ok, I could make it but that would take more time than I’m willing to put into after a day of work.

It’s amazing the “little” things that I crave sometimes:  jalapeno poppers, KFC, real pizza.  I shouldn’t complain because it’s JUST food, right?  But sometimes having to watch every little thing you put in your mouth just plain sucks.  For example, I really wanted a brat and beer at Oktoberfest this past Saturday but not knowing what was in the brat, and knowing what was in the beer, put that out of my reach.

And it’s hard to explain that to people sometimes:  the cravings and the sadness at not being able to have what you USED to have.  It makes it harder trying to explain to them how just a TEENY bit can cause me a lot of damage.  It sometimes makes it hard to go out with friends since you have to smell their yummy food as they drink their beer.  I always wonder if it would have been better to be gluten free from the start so I wouldn’t know what it was missing.

The good part is that at least I know what hurts me and how to take care of it.  Some people aren’t so lucky.