Spinners Will Spin Me Right Round

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If you want to start selling Mediterranean food in a city dominated by its own breed of Mexican food, the best thing you can do is take heed of the city’s obsession and work your flavors into something the locals are always craving. That’s why the people behind Spinners in Rancho San Diego are so damn brilliant. They offer all the traditional Mediterranean specialties -tabouli, gyros, felafel, hummus, etc., but tapped into the heart of San Diego cuisine by adding taco shop favorites with a Mediterranean twist.

Pita bread is cut into triangles and fried, then covered in tabouli, jalapeno hummus, feta, tatziki and chicken or gryos meat, to become “nachos.” A basic wrap is made into a burrito with a flour tortilla. Perhaps most fitting to San Diego’s taste buds are the Spinners Fries, which essentially combine the brilliance of carne asada fries with the Spinners flavors. Unfortunately, for the gluten free food lover, pita bread is off the table along with flour tortillas and even the fries are covered in batter.

But there is a saving grace for those with wheat issues -the tacos. Enjoy a corn tortilla with chicken or gyros meat (I prefer the chicken, it’s amazing), feta, tatziki and the cabbage and quinoa salad. You can even ask them add on some jalapeno hummus to give it some spice. It’s all delicious and, you don’t have to worry about any issue with wheat. Best of all, they’re only $1 on Tuesdays.

Image courtesy of Yelp user Cat A.

Spinners - Fresh Mediterranean Salads & Grill on Urbanspoon

Don’t Get Contaminated At BJ’s

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Years ago, before I started suffering ill-effects from gluten, I was a huge fan of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. After my gluten issues popped up, I resigned myself to no longer enjoy their pizza -until I heard they not only had gluten free pizza, but even gluten free pizzookies (delicious massive cookies fresh out of the oven and served with ice cream). Unfortunately, things that sound too good to be true usually are and this was certainly one of those cases.

The gluten free pizza crust was flavorless and had a terrible texture that was chewy and hard at the same time -probably one of the worst I’ve had so far. While the toppings and cheese tasted good, they were spread on a little thin considering how expensive the pizza was -$9.50 for a 10″ pie, plus $1-$1.50 for each topping.

At least my pizzookie was still as heavenly and rich as I remembered it. Between the pizza and dessert, I gorged myself and soon started feeling tired and bloated, but as this was when I had first started my gluten free lifestyle, I was convinced it was just from overeating.

The next day, I had one slice of leftover pizza and within an hour, the familiar feelings of cramping, bloating and exhaustion set in -I felt sick the rest of the day. This was definitely from cross-contamination, not from being too full. The worst part was that because I had only recently started eating gluten free, I still wasn’t extremely sensitive to the effects of gluten, which means that for only one slice to have affected me that drastically, it had to be covered in wheat flour.

My guess is that while the company uses gluten free crust, they don’t bother to teach their employees how to safely handle food for celiacs. Given how bad the contamination was when I was still not overly sensitive to small quantities, I believe they actually rolled the dough out in regular flour before putting it in the pan to bake.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that this was the worst contamination of gluten I’ve had since I started eating GF and I would never trust the restaurant again. Whether you’re a celiac or just have a minor intolerance, I certainly recommend avoiding BJ’s at all cost unless you want to feel miserable for the next 24 hours.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

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Can’t eat cream of mushroom soup from the can because of the flour? Try making your own -it is not only GF, but also tastier than the canned stuff too. It’s also pretty easy, even if the ingredients can be a little more pricey than buying a can of the pre-made stuff -and quite a bit more rich. It’s also great for making your own green bean casserole during the holidays -just reduce the amount of milk by half.

Ingredients:

1 half stick of butter
1/2 onion diced
2 portabella mushrooms
8 ounce box of white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 sticks of celery
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water (and more as needed)
2 cups cream
2 cups milk
1 tbsp corn starch

Steps:

Melt butter in a medium pan over medium heat, then saute veggies until the onions start to turn translucent. Add in Worcestershire sauce and enough water to cover the vegetables and then an extra cup of liquid and the spices. Cover the pan and let sit for half an hour to a full hour until the broth has turned a dark shade of brown.

Turn down the heat and add the cream. Bring the soup to a boil. Mix the milk and corn starch together and then add it to the soup. Heat, stirring regularly until the soup thickens.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to a safe temperature to eat. If you’re using in green bean casserole, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days until needed.

Chocolate Fruit Omelet: A Perfect Option for Sweet GF Breakfasts

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For those of use who grew up on French toast, waffles , muffins and other tasty, gluten-filled treats, finding sweet breakfast options can be a bit of a challenge -especially if you don’t have access to GF breads or flour mixes. But chocolate omelets are a delicious option that can be made without any special gluten free ingredients. While the idea of a chocolate omelet may sound weird, you’ll be surprised at just how delicious these treats can be -they might even become your favorite sweet breakfast treat.

Ingredients:

2-3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1  tbsp chocolate milk powder or Nutella or chocolate syrup (I prefer Nutella, but it is harder to blend in with the eggs)
1 tbsp butter
Fruit of your choice (I prefer tropical fruits such as mango, bananas and kiwis, but stone fruits or berries are great too)
Goat cheese, cream cheese, jam or chocolate syrup for the filling

Steps:

Mix the eggs, milk and chocolate flavoring together in a cup. Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat, then pour the egg mixture into the pan.

Cook like a regular omelet and flip when the egg is almost all solid except for the top. Pour chocolate syrup, jam, cream cheese or goat cheese crumbles (or both) on the omelet surface and then add fruit.

Scoot the omelet on a plate and fold like a traditional omelet. Enjoy!

Mountain Mikes: The Best Gluten Free Pizza In San Diego

Reviewed by Jill Harness on July 5, 2012.

It’s widely known that most gluten-free pizza crusts have the flavor and texture of cardboard. As if that weren’t bad enough, plenty of the restaurants serving them make no attempt to actually keep the GF pizzas free from contamination.

Mountain Mike’s (found in San Carlos and Clairemont) is different in just about every regard. The texture and flavor is amazing -in fact, their crust actually tastes and feels like a regular (gluten-filled) thin crust pizza. Because the owner’s daughter has Celiac’s Disease and still regularly eats in the restaurants, they maintain a truly gluten free environment. In fact, if you order a pizza that happens to have a topping with gluten in it, the staff will politely inform you of that fact. For example, their cheeseburger pizza comes with thousand island dressing, ground beef, tomatoes, red onions and pickles -order it gluten free though and they leave the pickles off since they are made with a wheat vinegar (the pickles in the thousand island dressing are gluten free).

When it comes to toppings, Mike’s has a great selection and they load them on. Their creamy garlic sauce is one of the handful of white sauces that I actually enjoy on pizza -most just taste like processed, flavorless lard. Wash down your meal with a nice gluten free brew and enjoy eating a meal that tastes like it’s full of gluten-y goodness.

For those dining with the gluten-tolerant, the restaurant’s lunch-time pizza buffet is an incredible deal with all you can eat pizza and salad for only $7.99 (available Monday-Friday 11-2). Otherwise, their regular pizzas run a little expensive, but with their thick, chewy crust they’re still a great value given how filling they are and how many toppings are piled on. As for the gluten free pizzas, they typically run about $14 for a 10″ personal pie, which will certainly leave you with leftovers.

When it comes to pizza, Mountain Mike’s deserves a perfect 5 out of 5.

Image courtesy of Yelp user Rachelle S.

Mountain Mike's Pizza on Urbanspoon