Articles about gluten-free lifestyle has popped up everywhere lately and dubbed as a fad for many. The Wall Street Journal had an article this week titled, “Giving Up Gluten To Lose Weight? Not So Fast“. I read these articles and am glad to know that there is attention to these sensitivities and the need to get the information out there to the public. I do believe that for those looking to lose weight that gluten-free portions of your day may help in the overall plan. In addition for some of those people who may be slightly overweight and have allergies, immune disorders, sleepiness or other odd symptoms that don’t make them feel really alive when they wake in the morning to go get it checked out. It’s not normal and could be related to a food or possibly gluten. I’m not a doctor, so don’t go changing your diet without thorough investigation, but be open to the possibility that what you are intaking could be a problem.

Oh and if gluten is your problem, you’ll likely lose some weight, but most likely water and general bloating from your body trying to protect itself from the inflammations. So yes you will lose some pudge.

Check out this article that just came out from LiveScience.com about the research to pinpointing the causes of gluten allergies. This article makes me so happy that there are people in the world doing the research to understand how it’s effecting the immune system and how to start helping people with it. They have a found that certain gluten peptides are responsible for generating most of their patients reactions.

After reading the article I can start seeing many connections to eczema as a form of symptom to a gluten sensitivity and/or full blown allergy. Finally someone is coming up with the true root cause of a problem rather than just trying to fix the aftermath of a breakout. The research is mainly held in Australia currently and news has spread around the world. Let’s hope they can learn more and come up with some solutions and connections to something like eczema and other immune reactions that people suffer from.

In one of the most anticipated weddings of the year, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky have been making headlines in the foodie world. According to various sources their $11,000, likely NYC based Babycakes or Lulu’s Cake Boutique, wedding cake is gluten-free. It’s also stated that their menu is heavily vegan and gluten-free and the only meat is grass-fed beef. Go Clinton’s for being so bold and showing their guests how it can be done to eat well and go big.

Some articles if you want to read more.

MSNBC Chelsea Clinton: Let them eat gluten-free cake

MNN Chelsea Clinton’s gluten-free vegan wedding cake: Is Babycakes making it?

Check out this cool new product for kids, adults and artists alike called Soy-Yer Dough (http://store.soy-yer.com). The product was made as an alternative to Play-Doh that kids use to play with and model things with. The ingredient is soy based, but if you’re also allergic to that they carry a soy-free version also. This product comes in 11 different varieties so you’ll never run out of colors or scents. Make sure you kids don’t eat it though. That tangerine dangling there is making me thirsty.

Think of all the amazing things you could be making and still be gluten-free. Check out this old Sony Bravia commercial based on stop motion and play-doh and maybe it’ll inspire you to make something cool with Soy-Yer.

Leopard eyes the horizon for something gluten-free...

Before leaving for South Africa for World Cup, I was a bit concerned about what foods I’d have to eat. Turns out South Africa is the most gluten-free friendly place I’d ever been. From the airports to the supermarkets, there were gluten-free options everywhere.

At Cape Town International airport, the international terminal cafe had options of pasta and pizza made gluten-free. Not only was that option amazing but I was more amazed that the cafe took the time to train their staff to properly cook the pasta. I had a gluten-free linguini and there was no gummy texture, tasted just like regular pasta.

All across South Africa there are convenience and supermarkets called Spar (http://www.spar.co.za) . They’re everywhere, from small towns to airports to the big city, you couldn’t get away from it. They have dedicated aisles for organic and gluten-free items, snacks to full meals, everything to satisfy the most discerning palate.

Seafood Platter at Meat and Seafood Mongers, Guateng

Nelspruit we found a little pizza place in the Riverside Mall, called Panarotti’s Pizza (http://www.panarottis.co.za), that made a gluten-free handmade pizza crusts too. The malls have a variety of food from spiced chicken, Indian and Asian fare so it’s not hard to find good options that are gluten-free.

Springbok Carpaccio

All over the country I found cheap and delicious seafood. In a small area just outside of Johannesburg, Guateng, I stayed at a little B&B called Outlook Lodge. Just around the corner from it I found this wonderfully priced place called Meat and Seafood Mongers in Benoni, Guateng area. Check out the picture of the Queen Platter I got and it was only about $10 US dollars. Impressive to say the least. I ate, loved it, and had leftovers to fill me up later.

Heading south to Cape Town by the V&A Waterfront there are a host of seafood and local fare fine dining. We stopped at Karibu (http://www.kariburestaurant.co.za) and enjoyed this Springbok carpaccio special. The meat was very tender and not very gamey at all. Local foods like Bredie often consist of rice, meat and vegetables, so for the g-free foodie, you’ll do just fine. I ordered a Waterblommetjie Bredie (try saying that 3 times) which was lamb and a sea flower. Tasted soo healthy and hearty I loved it, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

There’s so much more I brought back from SA, but I’ll save it for another blog. Stay tuned. Congrats to Espana, they were my favorite to win!

I’m heading out to South Africa to catch a few games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On this trip I’ll see a ton of soccer, the big 5 animals in Kruger and find out how gluten-free eating in South Africa fares. Maybe some good seafood, bush food and mix of European tastes. As I go, I’ll try to post messages, but I’m not really sure whether I’ll be able to get my Wordpress mobile working well enough.

I’m rooting for Spain and USA of course. The last game against Slovenia was awesome.

Living Without Magazine

I recently have been checking out Living Without magazine online. It’s a great resource for those living with food allergies and sensitivities. The magazine both online and in print is a great resource on food choices, allergy news and just everything to make living without certain foods a lot easier. You can also find the actual magazine at health stores and even at our favorite Whole Foods market.

The latest issue has tips on gluten-free dining out tips, and a cool article on gluten-free beer. Whether nuts, dairy, gluten or even soy is your vice check out this well designed magazine to help you get through the day.

Danielle Honey Banana Chips are lightly crisp, slightly sweet and hugely delicious.

I love chips, they’re crunchy, salty and there’s just something about eating something fried in between lunch and dinner. On one of my afternoon chip cravings I ventured out to try something a little healthier and even tastier. Danielle Honey Banana Chips screamed out with its’ cute packaging, wholesome 2 ingredients of Fresh Bananas and Palm Oil, and well of course, being gluten-free! Not sure where the honey comes into play, it tastes like its’ in there but it’s not on the ingredient list.

The package looked fairly large, but inside only had what seemed like just one bananas worth of chips. The texture was quite peculiar, peculiar in a good way though. It wasn’t like a standard banana chip that is dense and hard, but rather it was almost puffed like a Cheetoh is. After checking out their website, I found out that there was some special way of cooking them with “selected fruit pieces are put in a vacuum chamber, and a fine mist of heated non-hydrogenated palm oil is sprayed on the fresh fruit pieces under very low pressure and high temperature. This process retains pureness and flavor of the fruits and absorbs less oil than conventional frying methods.”

Each 28g serving has – 130 calories, 4g fat (1 sat fat), 22g Carbs (7% daily value, with 2 g dietary fiber and 13g sugar), 15% Vitamin C and 2% Iron.

Danielle Chips are part of the New England Herbal Foods company, which has prided itself on being a premium snack brand with a bit of a small farm charm. The prices are a premium but you cannot deny the quality in these chips. There’s about 11 varieties of chips from this company to try including jackfruit, okra and spicy carrot, but it’ll cost the months rent. Chip away.

Over the past several months my diet and finding an attentive dermatologist have dramatically changed my condition. I have recently seen a lot more messages and articles about how severe each years allergies are getting and how children and getting more asthma and eczema. My site has even gotten a lot of searches for eczema and people trying to find any sort of answer. Finally I have gotten a small handle on my eczema and it started with going to the dermatologist, keeping running lists of food sensitivities, and having past allergy tests on hand. The answer was simple to the eye of a good dermatologist.

The Symptoms

  1. Severe itching and rashing from the neck up.
  2. My eyes have been itchy and watery.
  3. I live in a place where I am allergic to all, yes all, the trees that exist here.

The Diagnosis

The doctor knew the eczema was likely due to environmental factors due to the rash centralizing above my neck. She ordered me to consistently take and increase the dosage of antihistamines. She had seen this too many times and confident it would work. Of course I was in the office irritated, literally my skin was irritated, and I was frustrated too. Apparently the itching causes the rashing, which causes the eczema, which causes the restless nights and insomnia which causes stress which causes more rashing and it’s an infinite loop. Previously I’ve tried taking two (2) 24 hour Claritins in a day and nothing had happened before. But now I’m up to 2 in the morning and another at night. Prescribed ointments including Protopic, Clobetasol and Desonide Lotion for topical healing. Occasionally I take a prescribed antihistamine if it’s getting worse. Zyrtec and Singulair don’t have much of an effect on me some reason. Others have mentioned it working better for them.

The Results

So after the first week, there were dramatic changes. The rashing and itching reduced incredibly and I was sleeping a ton better and in turn my sleep deprivation and stress were reduced. Some prescribed Protopic ointment has helped in some of the healing as well. Protopic is incredibly expensive and not covered by many insurance companies, and even if they put it through, you will likely need to pay a deductible. Anyways, it’s been getting progressively better as the scars are slowly disappearing and dark spots lightening up. I’m not sure how long might be too long to be taking so many antihistamines. They say it’s fine, but I’m just not big on having to rely on medications and truly hope my body will become resistant to the pollens here over a few years. With the recent incredible changes I have snuck in some gluten and am seeing that the itching tends to increase with more gluten. I would not say it’s a full allergic reaction but it is clearly a high sensitivity towards it. Being gluten-free really does help and not to mention helps with ridding belly fat.

Other remarks towards food allergies related to eczema is the notion of reducing beef and dairy products as several people have mentioned before, yet I have not found that connection. Possibly it would have to be a longer trial of that food elimination in order to see the effects.

I truly hope people who are suffering from red scaly, flaky itchy eczema and any sort of inflamed skin reads this and hopefully gets a good dermatologist and allergist to figure this out. It will take some time to figure out the symptoms and creating a food diary or food blog to help find the culprits. Make sure to check with your doc before taking higher doses of over the counter medicines and remember that each person reacts to medications differently and are allergic to different things, so one persons remedies might not work for another. Good luck to all!

Skillful hands make lots of gluten-free options at Ame, SF

Several nights ago I had a fantastic dinner that hit high marks at Ame (pronounced Ah-may) Restaurant in San Francisco, CA. It wasn’t hard deciding to go to this Michelin rated restaurant that serves up California Japanese fusion. Located in the St. Regis Hotel in downtown makes this dining a great place to meet up before a night out. They have a full sushi bar, lots of sashimi, but don’t expect California rolls, it’s just not that kind of place. Fresh seafood dishes and an extensive wine list make this place completely gluten-free friendly.

Here are some of the items that I savored.

  • Special crudo of the day, Red Snapper with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt – So fresh, amazingly melt in your mouth light and fantastic olive oil to let it slide into your belly.
  • Carpaccio of Wagyu Beef with Arugula Salad and Fried Drakes Bay Oysters – The oysters are not gluten free, but everything else is delectable, I still don’t know how they get that beef so thinly sliced.
  • Special main course of Halibut with a lemongrass coconut foam with puree of potato and veggies of radish and roasted cauliflower – The cooking technique was excellent. The fish was insanely moist all over, light, flavorful and the sauce not as strong as one might expect.

While dining here I couldn’t stop thinking about Le Bernadin in New York and how similar some of the techniques and delicacy towards fish there was. It’s a tough comparison, since both really delivered on food. For me it came down to the service. Le Bernardin is a lot more fussy, brighter environment yet less intimate setting. I loved that Ame was a bit darker, felt more casual and the tables were more spread out so you weren’t just placed in a large dining room. For San Francisco, I am shocked at how there isn’t as much talk about this place. There isn’t a week where someone isn’t mentioning Gary Danko, yet a superb place like Ame never gets thrown into conversation. High marks for Ame and next time I’ll know to spend some time at the lounge having a drink beforehand to really soak up all of the St. Regis.