Saturday, November 4, 2017

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Make a Traditional Thanksgiving Menu ... Completely Gluten-Free

It's that time of year again, when people begin to panic about the Holidays. Everyone wants to know how on earth can they make their traditional Thanksgiving Dinner totally Gluten-Free?  Trust me, it’s not that difficult.  Thanksgiving Dinner is primarily Gluten-Free to begin with…and super easy to create your old recipes safely.  The trick to serving a 100% GF Thanksgiving to a mixed crowd is to not tell anyone it’s Gluten-Free.  Aside from a discreet mention to those who need to know…no-one else need know.

THE TURKEY:  You can't go wrong with a fresh Turkey. Fresh Turkeys are always Gluten-Free, just watch for any basting juices added. Otherwise, there are many brands out there that are safe…some even provide safe GF Gravy.  Just to name a few…Butterball, Honeysuckle, Jennie-O, Perdue, Shady Brook…all have GF Turkeys.  Keep in mind, stuffing a Gluten-Free turkey with gluten stuffing contaminates the entire turkey. Don't open any Gravy packet that's included with a Turkey unless it specifically states Gluten-Free.

STUFFING:  It's extremely easy to make Gluten-Free stuffing. Simply replace the bread in your favorite recipe and it's likely to taste almost exactly the way you remember it. If you don’t have a traditional recipe to work with, or you simply prefer not to make your own, there are plenty of GF packaged stuffing mixes on the market now.  Ian’s, Rudi’s, Whole Foods, Gillian’s, Glutino, Trader Joe’s, all have Gluten-Free Stuffing mixes that are easy to prepare.

CRANBERRY SAUCE:  There's no reason for cranberry sauce to contain gluten.  Read the label just to be certain and then check this one off your list. Or you can make your own. Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen Cranberries into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup Sugar, 1/2 cup Honey, some Orange or Lemon zest and 1/2 cup Orange Juice to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Sugar dissolves and the Cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the Cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low for another minute or two and mash the Cranberries a bit. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving. 

MASHED POTATOES:  This is another no-brainer…Mashed Potatoes should be naturally Gluten-Free.  Whether you like your Potatoes mashed, smashed, au gratin, baked or broiled…even Dairy Free…it’s just a matter of choosing alternative ingredients to match your recipes.  There are even some brands of instant mashed potatoes that are Gluten-Free as well, just make certain to check the label first.

SWEET POTATOES:  If you’re working with real ingredients you’ll have no trouble recreating your favorite Sweet Potato dish. If you need Marshmallows for your recipe, several different brands of marshmallows, including Kraft, Campfire, Jet, and even store brands are safely Gluten-Free. I actually prefer a simple roasted Sweet Potato...cubed Sweet Potatoes, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, even touch of Honey and Cinnamon if you like...then roasted to perfection.

GRAVY:  I remember Mom making the Thanksgiving Gravy using the Turkey pan drippings, plus Corn Starch…there was no need for flour there. Or you can use a GF Gravy mix, there are even some great jarred Gravies that are safe. McCormick's has a packaged mix that’s clearly marked Gluten-Free. And don’t forget, some Turkeys even come with a GF Gravy ready to heat and enjoy…just check to be certain it’s Gluten-Free. 

DINNER ROLLS:  Now this one can trip you up if you let it. We all know how difficult it can be to find a decent GF Bread for sandwiches…Rolls are no exception.  So I’ll share my favorite Secret Ingredient Biscuits, from Cook’s Country.  Try them, your guests won’t be disappointed.

2 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour mix
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (not non-fat)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (not “fat free”)

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking
powder, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk and mayonnaise until smooth. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Dough will be sticky. Lightly grease a 1/4-cup measure or an ice cream scoop and scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving, but these do taste best while still soft and warm from the oven. Makes 12.

Also, instead of rolls, you might consider deviating a little from the traditional menu and trying a Gluten-Free Cornbread recipe.

DESSERT:  The trick to making a decent Gluten-Free pie is placing the emphasis on the filling, not on the crust.  For years I’ve made my pies without the crust.  It doesn’t’ serve up the same…but hey, it’s all about the filling right?  And a scoop of my favorite pie in a bowl leaves plenty of room for Whipped Cream, or Ice Cream.  And if you’re really desperate for a Gluten-Free crust you can occasionally find them in the freezer section of a local Health Food Store.

Carolanne Le Blanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
               Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse
               101 Imperial Palm Drive
               Largo, Florida  33771

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gluten-Free Travel, Safe Travel Kit

Gluten-Free Travel, Safe Travel Kit

JET LAG:  This trick makes your first day seem endless, but it’s so worth the effort.  Where ever you’re going, no matter how long it takes to get there, no matter what time you arrive…DO NOT go to sleep until at least 9:pm the evening of whatever time zone you end up in. We use our first day to settle in, find our rentals, locate the house, unpack our luggage, do a bit of grocery shopping, and talk about our plans for our visit. First time we did this was traveling to Ireland. We arrived at 8:am! By 9:pm that night we were all sitting outside staring blindly at the countryside, not talking or moving. Some of us gave up and went to bed, some stayed awake another hour. In the morning we were all fine and ready to investigate Ireland!  WhooHoo!

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: is very effective adsorbent and helps with diarrhea resulting from getting glutened, food poisoning, bacterial infection, or virus.  When you take activated charcoal, drugs and toxins can bind to it. This helps rid the body of unwanted substances. If you’re taking any medications please be certain to take them at least 2 hours apart from the charcoal.  Also, make sure you hydrate well to prevent constipation after taking activated charcoal.  In addition, be careful to avoid activated charcoal that’s been combined with sorbitol. Sorbitol can act as a laxative! On vacation anything laxative may be the last thing you want to take.

ANTIBACTERIAL WIPES:  I’m not a big fan of antibacterial anything…I feel many of us fear germs far more than necessary.  It may sound contradictory, but exposure to germs is necessary to strengthen our immune systems. HOWEVER, when it comes to using strange toilets I’ve discovered the value of Antibacterial Wipes.  Buy those travel packets, make certain they’re the antibacterial type, then keep some in your purse or backpack, more in the rental car, and the rest in your luggage for future use.

ELECTROLYTE MIX:   Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Raw Sugar added to a glass of Lemonade is great for replacing any electrolytes lost during a ‘bad’ day on vacation. And if you can find those dried lemon crystals even better! Mix equal portions (salt/soda/sugar/crystals) in a small container and toss them into your travel bag.  Then simply add 1 tsp (1/2 tsp for children) of the mix in your bottled water and sip throughout the day. This was my serious rescue after a visit to the buffet on top of Machu Picchu in Peru. I thought I was being extra careful...didn't take long to realize I had not! I spent the day in bed while my travel-mates visited Mandor Pampa without me.

GINGER:  Any way you like it, capsules or candy, it’s great for nausea and sea-sickness. You can also order ginger ale to drink as often as you like.  Ginger has a long history of being used to treat nausea, stomachaches, and diarrhea. I learned my love of Ginger from my Grandmother. She always had some of those sweet/spicy candies handy for a tummy ache...or simply for being good :-) I've also learned to cook with it and both the powdered spice and the sweetened candies have always been a staple in my cabinet.

GRAPEFUIT SEED EXTRACT:  Works wonders for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections including yeast infections as well as those nasty little stomach bugs you occasionally find when drinking strange water.  When I picked up that bug in Peru, this was a vacation saver for me.  I have the liquid concentrate in my bath kit.  All it takes is a few drops in some bottled water.  And apparently now you can even purchase it as a capsule…which is exactly what I plan to do next trip. 

IMODIUM:  Yes, it’s a permanent item in my bath kit. No, I don’t take it any more often than is absolutely necessary. If your system is trying to expel something it doesn’t want inside it’s foolish to try and stop that process. However, it does come in handy on occasion if a long travel trip is planned and you’re feeling a bit iffy.  Or after you’ve already spent the day getting rid of whatever was bothering you and you want to venture out the next day. Please don't go crazy with this selective when you're going to use it.

LATEX-FREE BAND AIDES:  Before I got my Dermatitis Herpetiformis under control I went through hundreds of these. Not so much any longer, but they’re still in my bag every trip. My fingers used to crack and bleed something awful. I used these little babies to 'stitch' things up many times. They saved me from a lot of pain and discomfort. If the bandage is too wide for the area...simply cut one in half lengthwise...then wrap as usual.  This little trick worked great if I had to apply one around a toe or between two knuckles. Thankfully, I don't need these as much anymore. Now I travel with my Grand-kids and there's nothing better for a tearful cut than a Nanna Band-Aide.

PEPPERMINT:  I love Peppermint, tea or candy they both work great for many tummy issues.  Thanks to its calming and numbing effect, peppermint relaxes your stomach muscles so that bile can break down fats and food can move through the stomach quickly.  However, if you have GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you should not use peppermint. 

TOILET PAPER:  Yes, Toilet Paper. Just because you love your comforts of home, doesn’t mean you’ll find them everywhere you travel. Get a roll of your favorite Toilet Tissue, unroll it, and break it down into 3 or 4 packets and put them into Ziploc baggies. Keep one in your purse or backpack, another in the rental car, and the rest in your luggage for future use. These days you can also find those little travel-sized packages of toilet paper. They cost a bit more but are easier to tuck into a purse or backpack and still come in very handy when out and about.
VITAMIN C:  Great for burns…even sunburns.  Make certain you pack the capsule form…not the chewable ones. Dissolve a capsule or two in cool water and apply generously to any burn. Try to use distilled or filtered water only…remember you’ll be applying it to damaged skin so you honestly don’t want to be introducing more germs than necessary. I keep Vitamin C capsules in my spice cabinet at home. Yes, I do get careless on occasion while cooking...and these little jewels have saved my hands or arms from scars more times than I care to count. When my Granddaughter burned her ear on the curling iron some Vitamin C dissolved in water and generously applied was the only reason she did not end up with a scar.

                                             Carolanne LeBlanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
               Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse
               101 Imperial Palm Drive
               Largo, Florida  33771

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gluten-Free Travel, Cruising

Cruising Gluten-Free

When you live a Gluten-Free lifestyle traveling or eating out can be a bit tricky. Food becomes a real challenge. I’m the sort of person who accepts responsibility for me. I’m the only person responsible for my disease; I can’t blame that on anyone else. When others are preparing my food I’m cautious, I’m careful, but I don’t expect them to fully understand, or care, about my needs and I certainly don’t expect them to take responsibility for me. They may prepare my food but no-one forces me to bend my elbow and open my mouth. I accept those risks and forge bravely ahead in search of my next great vacation!

Cruising can one of the simplest, most cost effective ways to travel. And if you follow a Gluten-Free lifestyle it can also be the safest way to go. I’ve been cruising for 30 years now and I’ve been on most of the cruise lines at least once. They all do things a bit differently, but over the years they’ve certainly learned how to do Gluten-Free with class.  And price-wise you can’t beat a cruise – a warm comfy bed, food nearly 24-hours a day, extraordinary entertainment, swimming pools, hot-tubs, dancing, library, movies, games, activities – all generally included in the price of your ticket. There are tons of ways you can spend your money once on board, but you don’t have to. If you only take advantage of all the complimentary options available you can still have an incredible vacation. PLUS…if you’re Gluten-Free you’ll be assigned an incredible Food Hero (my words, not theirs) to take care of you.

As soon as you book your cruise contact them online or by phone and speak to their Special Needs Customer Service.  Let them know right away about your dietary restrictions. They may have a form they’ll want you to fill out…or they may just take your information over the phone. But let them know you’ve booked your cruise and that you’ll need to eat Gluten-Free.  Every ship that I’ve ever been on has a dedicated, Dietary Restriction, kitchen with dedicated chefs and staff. If you eat in the Main Dining Room your food will always come from that kitchen. If you eat anywhere else on-board your food may come from that kitchen, or a secondary restricted area kitchen.

On the very first day of your trip, once you’ve gotten through all that boarding hoopla, all your bags will be taken away from you and you’ll be welcomed onto the ship. But you won’t be allowed into your room right away. So everyone heads up to the Lido Deck for some food and entertainment while waiting.  This will probably be the riskiest 60-90 minutes of your entire cruise experience. But don’t panic yet! Even the Lido Deck Buffet can be navigated with a bit of caution.  Iced Tea, Water, Lemonade, Hot Tea and Coffee are all complimentary and generally pretty safe. Everything on the Buffet is also complimentary…so take your time. I’ll normally hold the table while everyone else fills their plates first. They’re always much faster than me…so I wait…and watch to see what’s available. There’s almost always fresh fruit, cheese, deli meat, hard boiled eggs, lots of simple, basic options. I usually take mine from an undisturbed area or the back of the platter. That first day I don’t even bother with the hot food options. Everyone is just crazy busy so I like to wait until I can talk to someone who’s not overwhelmed with people. Once that first day rush is over don’t be afraid to ask to speak to a manager or chef. They’ll be better able to guide you to safe options you can enjoy.

Once you’ve been allowed into your rooms at some point they’ll deliver your bags.  You’re allowed to pack things non-perishable if you want. I did that the very first time I cruised. I ended up taking it all back home with me when the cruise was done. So I’ve never bothered since. Now it’s just one box of protein bars so that I can carry one with me when we leave the ship. That’s it…I’ve never needed more. So unpack your bags, settle into your room and go explore the ship! It’s no secret that food is a major part of any cruise. And you’ll find tons of places to try…from tiny little coffee or sushi spots, casual BBQ or grill areas, mile long buffets, pizzerias, ice cream parlors, bakeries, all the way to formal dining and dating rooms. Most of it is complimentary, but be certain to ask before ordering. And not all of it is off-limits to Celiac’s or Gluten Intolerant. On many ships you’ll be able to find dedicated fryers, GF buns, pizza, cookies, breads; you name it, nearly all of it complementary. I’ve even purchased some tasty GF cupcakes straight from the bakery. They were a bit expensive, but so worth it. And don’t think you’re alone in your Gluten-Freeness. If the ship has 2,000 passengers then there are at least 20 others in the same boat with you; s0 don’t be shy, ask!

That first night you’ll want to eat in the Main Dining Room just so you can meet your own, personal, Food Hero. Nearly everything is complementary except for soda and alcohol. I prefer the Dining Room for dinner and breakfast anyway because I find the food is fresher and much better prepared.  PLUS…I have my Hero available to me. Generally the dress code for the Main Dining Room is business casual or better. That means no flip-flops, bathing suits, shorts or t-shirts for dinner.  In the morning they tend to be much more casual but they still discourage flip-flops and bathing suits. When you arrive at the Dining Room let them know who you are and that you’ll be eating Gluten-Free. They’ll be expecting you, but it’s nice to put a face to your name. Chances are you’ll all be escorted to your table and introduced to your Wait Staff. Every table has assigned Wait Staff, anywhere from 2-4 people depending on the size of the table. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to sit at the same table each night. Because when they know who you are they’ll be able to take better care of you. I can’t guarantee it will happen on every cruise line…it has on every one that I’ve ever been on…but this is where you’ll be introduced to your Food Hero for the cruise.

Food Heroes (often a Head Waiter or Maitre D') are specially trained in many types of dietary restrictions and they’re very familiar with all the menu items and many of the ingredients. That first night you’ll receive the menu along with everyone else. Lately, many ships are now clearly marking GF and DF choices right on the menu. Your Hero will guide you to choices that are available and already safely prepared just for you. Often times it’s as much as 50% of the menu choices. Every night they have standard ‘comfort’ choices available for the less adventurous. Then they have Starters – usually soups or hors d'oeuvres.  They often have Didja’s for the more adventurous – such as frog legs, shark, alligator, snails and such. Main course choices cover everything from vegetarian to beef. And all of that is followed by some of the most decadent deserts you’ll ever find. And the menu changes every night.
When everyone has finished their meal, and you’re all enjoying dessert and coffee, your Hero will bring out the menu for the next evening. It varies from ship to ship – some have a selection of choices, others will make anything safe on the entire menu. They always ask me not to share the menu with anyone at the table; they love to keep the element of surprise for what’s next. You’ll also be asked if you’ll be eating breakfast at the Dining Room. Don’t worry if your plans change last minute…they simply want to be prepared for you should you show up for a meal. There are so many other food options available that you can try…I’m simply spoiled by the quality of the food in the Dining Room.

Unfortunately, when you leave the ship to explore one of the port stops you won’t be able to take your Hero with you. Grab one of those protein bars that you packed and enjoy your day. Many ports frown on you bringing fruit off the ship. You’re allowed to return to the ship and leave again as often as you want while in port so going back for a quick snack or lunch is super easy. If you’re going on an excursion you’ll probably want that protein bar and something to drink. I’ve often eaten at the port stops or on excursions but I’m also super careful. I have my Triumph Dining Cards in several languages so they always go with me. Several of the larger ships also have privately owned port stops and those are much easier to navigate food wise. Everything they need is brought to shore from the ship so that you’ll not only have plenty of food and drink available, but you’ll also have the ships staff available for questions. They do this a lot at privately owned beaches and small islands. Again, nearly everything is complementary except for soda and alcohol. 

Carolanne Le Blanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
               Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse
               101 Imperial Palm Drive
               Largo, Florida  33771

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gluten-Free Travel

Gluten-Free Travel

VACATION RENTALS:  From screened huts in Peru, to mobile homes in Florida, log cabins in Tennessee, thatched cottages in Ireland and even a castle in Scotland; Vacation Rentals are a great way to go!  They come in absolutely every size, shape and location you can imagine, from dirt cheap to as extravagant as you can dream, there are very few limits. They're easy enough to find if you can Google.  In the U S use the key words "Vacation Rental" and the location you're interested in.  Outside the U S use the key words "Self Catering" along with the country you want to search.

We have one rule when we travel…we never eat, shop, or explore anything we could do at home. That means when we shop for Gluten-Free food we stick to locally available as well.  And it’s a lot easier than you’d expect if you eat real food…fresh fruits, vegetables & proteins. I’ve also found that countries outside the U S are truly much more Gluten-Free safe than I had imagined. 

MEAL PLAN/SHOPPING LIST:  I always seem to travel with a troop…anywhere from 4 to 40 people…so it’s always wise to have a basic shopping list planned out.  About a month before leaving we begin discussing food of course :-)  Meals are planned around my specific needs and everyone else’s likes and dislikes. Yes, we do eat out when we travel.  But we also love to eat in as well.  I travel with some incredible cooks who love exploring the local cuisine. I will admit spending time with people who love food as much as I do really makes the trip so much more enjoyable.  And we all love to immerse ourselves in the local culture which means local food as well. Thankfully, my travel buddies are not big fans of processed foods…so that makes planning and shopping for real, whole foods that much easier.  If you check out the local stores online you can often find out which brands are safe or offer GF options available in that area.

BREAKFAST:  I never leave the house without eating a good hearty breakfast first. Others may stop and eat whenever, wherever they want...for me it's not so easy so I make certain I'm prepared for my day. So first on the list are potatoes, onions, eggs, sausage, bacon, salt & pepper. If you cook the meats first, then you don’t need to worry about the oil/butter.  Otherwise olive or coconut oil is always on our list…we never use anything else.  Everyone seems to love my GF pancakes so those go on the list as well with either real maple syrup (if it’s available) or local jams or fruit preserves. If the pancake mix might present a challenge I’ll pack my own in the suitcase…just in case.

LUNCH/SNACKS:  We never plan lunches, but we do like to keep something on-hand just in case.  Generally it’s some local cheese, perhaps some deli-meats or roasted chicken, plenty of fresh fruit and chips of some sort.  We don’t even bother with the bread or condiments…we don’t truly need them.  Snacks…don't forget stuff that’s not too tender and can easily be thrown into a backpack or purse for the day. Protein bars, dried fruit, hard cheese, nuts; and trust me I’m not the only one who goes looking for them. It’s easy enough to find everything GF and others don’t even know the difference.  Stay away from the chocolate though…if it’s a warm day you’ll regret it.

One thing we’ve learned is that GF potato chips are pretty much available wherever we’ve traveled. My daughters and friends all know this.  And potato chips are the one food I know I can eat without any tummy upset. So when we’re out and about and everyone is stopping to enjoy a snack or lunch and we find there is absolutely nothing available for me; someone will show up with a bag of chips and a cold drink and I’m a happy camper :-) It doesn’t matter what they may be eating, I’m safe and in the company of some amazing people.  I don’t ask for anything more.

DINNER:  This is always a planned event, whether we shop and make it at the house, or find a restaurant in our travels where we can all stop and enjoy a great meal. I’m grateful that my travel mates will search for a place where I can enjoy my meal with them. We discuss this before we even begin to pack.  If it’s going to be 7 nights we may plan on eating out for 1-3 meals and cooking at the house for the rest.  We always leave 1-2 nights with no dinner planned because we’ve discovered left-overs have a way of making it into the fridge and those become lunch or dinner quickly. 

We try to stay away from processed foods...UNLESS...we find something particular to the location that is clearly marked Gluten-Free. Normally, I don't eat that sort of thing at home, but on vacation or a break I love to indulge and try new things. And if they all decide to do a pizza night like we did in Portugal then I’ll raid the fridge and find something interesting to enjoy. I think that night I ended up with fresh fruit, local goat cheese, cookies and wine.  I shared the wine. They all had Portuguese Pizza…it was an interesting twist.

THE HOUSE:  Many of these Vacation Rentals will provide some of the basic items needed for our stay…trash bags, soaps, paper goods, some non-perishable cooking supplies…those are a big help.  Not all rental houses provide things like that.  Many are stripped clean after each renter and it’s up to the renter to scramble for supplies that first day. Honestly, houses that are stripped like that are a huge disappointment. 

And the best part? My own kitchen!  Traveling Gluten-Free can be a real challenge at times and I love being able to prepare my own meals on occasion, on my own terms without worrying about someone else’s carelessness.  Generally, the kitchens are pretty clean and neat.  There is NO maid service but they do have a cleaning crew go through the house from top to bottom before you move in and then again after you move out.  So the kitchens have never really been a problem for me.  The first thing we do upon arriving is inspect the house, find our bedrooms and begin making a note of items we’ll need to shop for.  Usually tops on the list are soaps & paper products for the kitchen, bath and laundry.

I check out the kitchen.  Glass is my friend!  I love finding glass and ceramic dishes, glasses, cups, bowls and baking pans!  When in doubt…wash it out!  Plastic gets shoved to the back of the shelf…I don’t like using it.  Pots & pans take a ton of abuse so I inspect them closely.  Scratches, dents, unknown burnt bits…those get shoved to the back of the shelf as well.  If I have to, I’ll purchase my own trusty fry pan to use while I’m there and then simply leave it behind when I’m gone.  I absolutely dislike aluminum…but if needed I’ll sacrifice my dislike and purchase aluminum baking/roasting pans and foil…simply to protect myself.  I’ve also been known to convert the entire kitchen to disposables if absolutely nothing in the kitchen is safe to eat from.

Can this get expensive?  Perhaps.  But not so much when you consider my share of renting the house can be as little as $15.00 a night!  You probably won’t find any hotel that cheap…and if you do you might not want to walk outside alone. And if eating unsafe food puts me into a hospital in a foreign country…well, I don’t think that's very cost effective either.  So I consider the costs for my Gluten-Free safety and put that right into the travel budget too. House, Food, Gas & Car Rental all get put into the same budget and shared by everyone.

When we’re shopping we generally don’t get much that’s not Gluten-Free because we’re always out and about nearly every day and everyone can indulge to their hearts content.  Here are some of the basics we shop for, you'll need to adjust according to your needs - Bacon, Bath Soap, Broth, Butter, Chicken, Chips, Coffee, Conditioner, Creamer, Deli-Meats, Dish Soap, Dried Fruit, Eggs, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Vegetables, Garlic, Hamburger, Hand Soap, Hard Cheese, Juice, Laundry Soap, Milk, Nuts, Oil, Onions, Paper Towels, Pepper, Potatoes, Protein Bars, Rice, Salt, Sausage, Tea, Toilet Paper, Tooth Paste, Trash Bags, Shampoo, Snack Bars, Sugar, Water. 

Carolanne Le Blanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
               Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse
               101 Imperial Palm Drive
               Largo, Florida  33771

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Gluten-Free Meal Delivery

Gluten-Free Meal Delivery

I’ve enjoyed using the Home Chef meal delivery system for many months now.  Once a week I had meals & recipes delivered right to my door.  I enjoyed the meals, and felt safe enough choosing only their ‘Gluten-Free’ options, even though they didn’t have a GF dedicated facility.  The meats all came pre-packaged straight from the processing plant…the fruits and veggies where whole and easily washed.  The only things questionable were the spices and sauces and those were always marked ‘Gluten-Free’ and I never had any issues with any meal I prepared.

That is until they changed their format.  Now they only do ‘Wheat Free’ options.  And I’m noticing my meal choices getting slimmer and slimmer.  Why is it so difficult to prepare decent, real food recipes without the gluten?  I’ve been doing it for 30 years; I simply want someone else to do it now.  So it’s back to the drawing board for me as I search for a new, Gluten-Free safe, meal delivery system.

I follow a modified Paleo eating plan.  I’m primarily Vegetarian but I do enjoy lots of seafood with the occasional chicken and very rarely pork or beef.  Apparently they now call this Pegan, or Paleo Vegetarian, where meat is only about 25% or less of the entire eating plan. So I found these two delivery plans that seem to work well for me.

Phone:  855-447-2536, Email: 

I love this one because I can order what I want, when I want, and it all goes directly into the freezer so that I can use it whenever I want.  This Florida based company, Paleo on the Go, emphasizes meats, seafood, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. Paleo on the Go offers chef-prepared frozen meals that are gluten, grain and dairy free.  Delivery is available nationwide and you can order online or by phone.  And if you live within driving distance you can pick-up your order and save on the shipping costs…which is exactly what I do.  They do have monthly meal plans available, but I prefer to use them to order from their extensive line of individual meals, snacks & even desserts!

So what are you getting?  All food is chef prepared in a dedicated Gluten-Free kitchen using high quality, healthy ingredients. They don’t necessarily allow ingredient substitutions or alterations to their preset meal plans.  But they do offer plenty of other options that can be purchased separately. Paleo on the Go meals are packaged and stored frozen.  They then get shipped to all 50 states with dry ice in thick coolers with an outer box.

What’s on the menu?  Tons of options!  There are a variety of Meal Plans ranging from Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), Paleo Meal Deals, Strict 30 Meals as well as Sugar Detox Meals. Meal plans, which include 14 complete meals, one soup, two bone broths, two paleo desserts and two bonus items, start at $299 for the month. Individual entrees start at about $5.00
and portion sizes vary from 1 to 4 servings.  There are always plenty of items on sale each month too. Shipping starts at $19.99 in the contiguous United States only. They also offer a rewards program where customers get 2 rewards points per dollar spent. The rewards points can then be used to purchase FREE food of your choice.

Keep in mind while shopping that things can get pretty pricey.  But it’s not unusual for customers to shop for monthly supplies rather than weekly delivery.  And with so many options available it can be hard to say no.  Meals can be stored frozen for up to 1 year and up to 5 days in the fridge.

Phone:  (888) 420-4080, Email:

This is a new-to-me company I’ve decided to try…so I’ll keep you updated.  Fresh n’ Lean is a Los Angeles-based company that prepares and delivers organic, Gluten-Free, fresh, and ready to eat meals directly to your door.  Prepared in a GF dedicated facility, meals never contain GMOs, Artificial Ingredients/Flavors, Preservatives, MSG, or Dairy.  

$27.99/Day:  Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner w/Free Shipping
this is the plan I’ve decided to try out first…mainly because you get the best price break with the 3-meal a day option.  I’m a little leery of the fact that you can’t create an account online to keep track of your orders. I’m also not too tickled with the fact that you can’t pick and choose anything.  What they send is what you get.  But I’m going to stay open minded and give it a try.

What I did do was call the company and ‘pause’ my account immediately after my first order.  The phone call was easy, they answered immediately and I had no trouble pausing my account.  Customer Service also answered all of my questions very politely and I wasn’t rushed through anything.  So Customer Service wins plus points right away.

So what are you getting?  Quality is farm to table, fresh, organic and all-natural ingredients. Meals come fresh and prepared so no more grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, or clean-up.  Cost is about $9.00 per person, per meal with  no waste, tax, tips or shipping charges. They use all recyclable material packaging and 100% plant-based meal plans that are filling and nutrient-rich.

What’s on the menu?  Once you’ve chosen your Meal Plan (Healthy, Diet, Gluten Free, Plant-Based, Senior, Organic, Low Carb, Vegetarian, Gourmet, Fitness, Low Fat, Low Calorie) you then choose how many meals you want per day.  After that everything else is chosen for you.  Fresh n’ Lean’s menu changes weekly and includes options for all three meals. 

So the cheapest option (the one I’m getting) begins with the Standard Plant-based meal Plan, 3 meals, 5 days a week for $139.95 per week.  Or you could go with the most expensive option ION Performance Paleo, 3 meals, 5 days a week $194.85 per week

Just be careful because the fewer meals you get the higher the price is per meal. And to ‘cancel’ your account you’ll need to make that phone call…they don’t accept any cancellations any other way.  All Fresh n’ Lean meals are 100% Gluten-Free, and are prepared in a Gluten-Free facility.