Gluten-Free in Hawaii (Maui and Kauai)

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by Alison | Comments Off on Gluten-Free in Hawaii (Maui and Kauai)

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I was so pleased to find that almost every restaurant we went to had a menu with a GF symbol next to each menu item, had a separate gluten-free menu, or had a knowledgeable person taking our order (never a blank stare). In general, the restaurants in Hawaii are expensive. I’m sure locals have places they go, but we didn’t really go off the beaten path this trip. What I was impressed with was the Keiki (children’s) menus. Many went beyond the usual chicken fingers and french fries to include fresh fish, steak, fresh fruit and other healthy options at a reasonable price.

MAUI
Mama’s Fish House
When we arrived on Maui, our first stop was Mama’s Fish House, a longtime favorite spot of my husband’s family. Just as the name indicates, Mama’s serves fresh fish, brought daily to the restaurant by local fishermen. The menu can change during the day depending on what fish comes in. Even though they do not have a gluten-free menu, the staff is very knowledgeable about their dishes. Our server was also great about my daughter’s multiple food allergies and pointed out that the purple flower is on the plate to indicate that it is a special dietary accommodation. Two dishes I loved that were recommended by our server were:

Beef Polynesian — seared tenderloin in a grilled Hana papaya
Beef Polynesian

Ono (a local Hawaiian fish) marinated in Tahitian lime and coconut milk, served in a coconut
Ono in Coconut

Maui Whole Foods
From there we headed to Napili, on the northwest side of Maui, where we stayed in a condo with kitchen. On the way, we made a stop at the Maui Whole Foods to stock up on some basics like GF bread, rice cakes, cheese, fruit and other snacks. There are a few other natural foods markets in the area also that carry gluten-free foods.

Maui Sugar Shop
Maui Sugar Shop TreatsMaui Sugar Shop is an entirely gluten-free bakeshop on Maui! The owners, Zane and Cynthia (shown below with me in their shop), are so friendly and their baked goods are delicious. They use all natural, organic, locally-grown, non-GMO ingredients like liliko’i (passionfruit) in the muffin and banana in the mini banana and chocolate loaf shown in the picture. My daughter with multiple food allergies was able to get something also — an oatmeal cookie whoopie pie with cinnamon frosting!

Maui Sugar Shop

Gluten-Free Soy SauceSea House, Kimo’s, Hula Grill
We ate many meals at Sea House Restaurant, located on Napili Bay. They have a gluten-free menu for every meal with many options. Because we were staying there, kids (12 and under I think) ate free at every meal! The food was good and easy for us during the day on the beach when we didn’t feel like getting in a car. When we did venture out with the entire family (9 of us), we went to the well-known Hula Grill in Ka’anapali and Kimo’s in Lahaina, which both also had GF markings on their menu. It seemed that most places had gluten-free tamari if you asked (the common brand was Yamasa).

Tobi’s Shave Ice (and Ahi Poke!)
Shave Ice is naturally gluten-free and allergen-free and a common treat all over Hawaii. A friend recommended Tobi’s Shave Ice in Paia so we stopped in on a very hot day. The shave ice really was good — the texture of the ice was very light and the syrups were also light and flavorful (much lighter than some other shave ice places that have thick sugary sweet syrups like you put on a snow cone). I actually craved Tobi’s shave ice later in the trip! But the best part of Tobi’s was the fresh ahi poke that I was surprised to find there. Made to order, the poke is a combination of fresh, raw ahi tuna with a variety of additions, like tamari, sesame oil, seaweed, Maui onions, hot chili sauce, and roasted crushed kukui nut. Not all the combinations are gluten-free, but the woman making the poke was very knowledgeable and made me a GF version. She even packed it with ice packs for me to keep it as fresh since we had to drive about an hour back to the condo. My husband and I ate it for dinner that night with brown rice on the side and the GF crackers we had.

Tobi's Shave Ice

Hyatt-Island-Resorts-For-Kids-By-Kids-Menu-1KAUAI
Grand Hyatt Poipu

We were only in Kauai for a few days, and stayed on the south shore in Poipu.

At the Grand Hyatt, every menu is marked with “GF” – there is a great children’s menu on the Seaview Terrace and room service that includes gluten-free chicken tenders and gluten-free pasta that comes with a protein (my daughter chose grass-fed steak and it was delicious!)

Also at the Grand Hyatt is a restaurant called Tidepools, which was where my husband and I had our only date night of the trip. It is a pretty setting on the hotel’s “lagoon” which is filled with koi fish. The food was really good and our waiter was very knowledgeable, friendly and accommodating. They offered us GF bread at dinner, which was Udi’s and though I am not a huge fan of Udi’s and have gotten used to not eating bread before dinner, it did really hit the spot at that moment with the delicious butter they served with it!

Aloha Aina Juice Bar
Acai Bowls, Juices and Smoothies can be found at the Aloha Aina Juice Bar located inside the Kukui’ula Grocery Store in Koloa.

Da Crack
If you are craving Mexican food in Hawaii, then make a pit stop at Da Crack. I am pretty spoiled when it comes to Mexican food so I thought the food was average, but if you are really hungry and looking for a fast casual meal, which is what we were looking for after a morning at Waimea Canyon, then I would say try it out. You order at the counter which is pretty much a crack in the wall, and there is only a nearby bench to sit on… we ate in the car. I got a bowl with pork, my husband and daughter got tacos and my other daughter requested quesadillas made with corn tortillas. Everything was gluten-free except the flour tortillas for the burritos.

The Beach House Restaurant
Although I wasn’t terribly impressed with the lunch at The Beach House (am I hard to please, or what?), they did have a separate gluten-free menu and the view of surfers was really fun. Right next to the restaurant is a good snorkeling spot, so it was a convenient place to eat before we ventured out to peer at the fish. There is supposed to be a very nice view of the sunset at dinnertime. I have a feeling the gluten-y things on the menu might be better than the gluten-free items… at least that’s what our server told me many times. I would probably go back and give this place another chance.

Have you been to Hawaii? Where did you eat? Please share your recommendations!

 


Orgain Nutrition Shake, a healthy alternative to Ensure

Posted on May 14th, 2015 by Alison | Read 6 Comments - Add Your Own »

OrgainMy younger daughter (8 years old) recently had a piece of food get stuck in her throat. She was shaken by the event more than I realized, and she had trouble eating. I thought that her anxiety would pass more quickly than it did and that she would begin eating normally, but a day turned into three, and the doctors found ketones in her urine.

I learned that ketones in urine can indicate that a person isn’t getting enough calories or nutrition. I knew she needed more calories, but she was refusing to eat foods with any texture at all. The doctor recommended that she drink Ensure, the most popular brand of nutrition shakes. I headed to the pharmacy, read the ingredients on the cans of Ensure, and thought to myself, “I am not putting this crap in my baby.”

A trip to Whole Foods and a talk with the employee in the vitamin aisle led me to Orgain, a brand of a nutrition shakes with all natural, organic ingredients. I was so relieved to find this product and over the next few days, these shakes were a life-saver for my daughter. These got her through the psychological hump from only being able to drink liquids and eat soft foods, to introducing foods with texture back into her diet. It has been three weeks since she choked, and she is still not back to eating all the foods she used to. She still likes to occasionally drink the “chocolate milk” (Orgain Creamy Chocolate Fudge nutritional shake) and now I use the vanilla Orgain as a base in smoothies for both of my children.

I have no personal stake in this brand — I just thought I would share this information in case someone else is ever advised to drink Ensure. There is a healthier alternative! Once I read about the founder, a cancer survivor and doctor, I felt even better about my choice.

Compare the ingredients…

Ensure Original Milk Chocolate:

Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Sucromalt, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Canola Oil. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Corn Oil, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Cellulose Gel, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Potassium Hydroxide, Liquid Sucralose, Ferric Orthophosphate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Acesulfame Potassium, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin, Phylloquinone, and Vitamin D3.

Orgain Organic Nutrition Shake Creamy Chocolate Fudge:

Water, Orgain Organic Protein Blend (Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Organic Grass Fed Milk Protein Concentrate), Orgain Organic Carbohydrate Blend (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rice Syrup Solids), Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Cocoa, Organic Inulin, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Arabic Gum, Xanthan Gum, Organic Rice Bran Extract, Sodium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan Gum, Sea Salt, Organic Stevia
Orgain Vitamin Blend: Tocopherol Acetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Zinc Gluconate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cholecacalciferol, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Sulfate
Orgain Organic Veggie Blend: (Organic Kale, Organic Beet, Organic Spinach, Organic Carrot, Organic Tomato) 50mg.
Orgain Organic Fruit Blend: (Organic Blueberry, Organic Banana, Organic Acai, Organic Apple, Organic Raspberry) 50mg.

All Orgain products are gluten-free, soy-free, organic, and non-GMO. The regular shakes have dairy, but there is a line of vegan shakes also.


Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease

Posted on April 22nd, 2015 by Alison | Comments Off on Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease

Pregnancy Photo by Ben EarwickerI have always felt lucky that I began a gluten-free diet two years before I became pregnant with my children. Although it wasn’t easy for me to get pregnant, by the time I did, my body had healed significantly from the effects of gluten that could have led to serious complications like miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight or even stillbirth.

Important nutritional deficiencies (of zinc, selenium, iron and folate) associated with undiagnosed celiac disease may be partially to blame for complications in pregnancy. I was severely anemic before my celiac diagnosis and shudder to think how the lack of iron would have affected my baby.

A new study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology confirms prior research on how celiac disease affects pregnancy by concluding that compared with women in the general population, women with undiagnosed celiac disease have significant increases in spontaneous abortions (miscarriage), preterm delivery and delayed menarche (beginning of menstruation), resulting in fewer successful pregnancies.

Here are the points made by the researchers of this study:

  • Significantly fewer women with celiac disease who tried to become pregnant had successful delivery of one or more pregnancies, suggesting that women with celiac may have a significantly lower rate of fertility.
  • A significantly higher number of spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) occurred in women with celiac compared to controls, with 85% of them occurring before beginning a gluten-free diet.
  • Women with untreated celiac disease are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
  • Women with celiac disease have a higher prevalence of preterm deliveries (premature babies).
  • Undiagnosed celiac disease should be considered in patients with recurrent complications of pregnancy, and these women should be given blood tests to detect celiac disease.
  • (This is my point I am adding: even if negative for celiac disease, consider getting tested for gluten sensitivity or go on a gluten-free diet — gluten sensitivity can cause a myriad of health problems.)

As I mentioned above, these findings are not necessarily new — the study mentions much prior research conducted in this area. Alice Bast, the founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has been sharing this information for years. By the time she discovered she had celiac, she had suffered through the trauma of delivering a full-term stillbirth, multiple miscarriages and a baby born at only 3 pounds. You can read more about Alice’s story here and here.

I encourage you to read the full study I have summarized above: Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease and please pass it along to anyone you know who is having complications with fertility or pregnancy. Feel free to share your own stories here to help others.


NEW cheese alternatives (vegan, dairy-free, soy-free) that taste good

Posted on March 19th, 2015 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

Do you miss cheese? In my opinion, cheese is the hardest thing to replace if you are on a dairy-free or vegan diet. There are good non-dairy ice creams, yogurts, milk and butter replacements, but cheese is a challenge. I recently tried to two dairy-free and soy-free “cheeses” that I feel are worthy enough to write about.

Follow Your Heart ProvoloneFollow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart’s new soy-free vegan cheese in slices and blocks is so good that I ate a whole sandwich made with their Provolone slices at a recent Vegan Sandwichevent. (The sandwich was made with a new gluten-free and vegan brioche bread that they are coming out with also!) This cheese has a great texture, whether melted or not, and does not have a strange aftertaste that I have found in other dairy-free cheeses. In fact, it actually tasted good!

The ingredients are not yet available on the web as of this writing (I will update when I have them), but the cheese is a coconut oil base. Four flavors will be available: Provolone, American, Mozzarella and Garden Herb.

Follow Your Heart is a brand that is available nationwide, so look for this new cheese in natural foods stores soon. You can also check their Store Locator to see which stores near you carry the brand.

Miyoko’s Kitchen

Regular cheese is hard enough to replace, so who would think a dairy-free person could ever enjoy fancy cheese again? Miyoko’s Kitchen, based in Fairfax, CA is changing people’s minds about vegan cheese. Their “cultured nut product” flavors include Double Cream Garlic Sundried Tomato, Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash and several more. All the cheeses have cashews as the base. The Aged English Farmhouse cheese ingredients are: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Chickpea Miso (Organic Chickpeas, Organic Rice Koji, Sea Salt, Water, Koji Spores), Nutritional Yeast, Sea Salt, Cultures.

This cheese is pricey, and for now only available in stores in the San Francisco Bay Area or via mail-order, but remember, this is fancy cheese! I tried several flavors and each one was unique and delicious. I could imagine spreading it on a gluten-free cracker or a gluten-free baguette! These cheeses will definitely fill the void and would also make a great gift for a dairy-free or vegan friend!

Miyoko Farmhouse Cheddar

Smile, and say “Cheese!”