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Chick-fil-A launches gluten-free bun nationwide

Chick-fil-A’s gluten-free bun trial in Washington, Idaho and Mississippi in 2016 was a success making the fast-food chain the first to add one to its menu nationwide on June 19th. The restaurant, which worked with more than 30 companies over 3 years, created a gluten-free bun for customers who follow a gluten-free diet because they should not have to sacrifice taste due to dietary limitations.

Made with a blend of ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth, the bun is an extra $1.15 and is enriched with vitamins and mineral. Buns are 150 calories, individually wrapped, and stored frozen. Once thawed, the bun is heated and served in its sealed packaging alongside a separate container with grilled chicken and condiments. The customer assembles the sandwich, which is just one more safeguard to prevent cross contact with wheat in a shared kitchen. DC3VEkJVoAETHDG

I had my first grilled chicken sandwich on a gluten-free bun and it was hearty and delicious. The bun is soft, but retains its texture and doesn’t crumble or tear when eating. It is also big enough to hold a chicken breast without it spilling off the sides. The bun was a little cold when I got it home, so I heated it in the microwave for a couple of seconds to get it super warm and soft before assembling my sandwich. DC3WthKUIAAJ59E

Although the ingredients for the bun are not listed on their website yet, they can print them at the register, if asked. Here is the ingredient list:

Water, corn starch, potato starch, modified tapioca starch, garbanzo bean flour, millet flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, cellulose powder, sugar, dried egg whites, psyllium, salt, modified cellulouse gum, cellulouse gum, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, niacin (Vitamin B3), reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), folic acid, yeast, canola oil, tapioca flour, rice flour, molasses, maltodextrin, quinoa, amaranth, chia seeds, millet, teff, soluble raisin solids, granulated sugar, tapioca starch, degerminated cornmeal, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin.

Are you likely to try the new gluten-free bun at Chick-fil-A?

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Celebrate the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer at Summer Solstice Yoga at Life Time Fitness. On Saturday, June 24 from 7 – 9 p.m., members and non-members are invited to visit the Atlanta or Peachtree Corners clubs for a yoga program on the pool deck that includes a 90 minute meditation, yin, roots and vinyasa to live music. Beginners and pros are welcome and will enjoy chilled kombucha and fresh fruit following yoga. The event costs $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Register on location at Life Time Fitness activity desk.

oldfourth_where_ad_7x4.875Stop by the fifth annual Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival on Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25, 2017  held in Atlanta’s picturesque Historic Fourth Ward Park. Live music, local food vendors, drinks, a children’s area, hands-on art demonstrations, games, and much more await festival goers where paintings, photography, ceramics, glass, jewelry, woodwork and handcrafted items will be available for sale. The event is free to attend, open to all ages and dogs are welcome.  The festival will also provide additional bike racks for bicycle storage.

The 1910 building in the heart of historic Flowery Branch is home to Abstruse Pastry Company, Georgia’s newest dedicated gluten-free bakery. All of their products, breads, cookies, muffins, and upside-down cupcakes, are made with freshly ground, gluten-free whole grains, natural sweeteners like raw local honey, organic dehydrated cane sugar, organic pasture-raised eggs and nothing artificial.

Are you an Atlanta United Fan? Bezoria, Atlanta’s favorite Mediterranean fast-casual restaunnamedurant, is offering fans a delicious way to save. On game days through August, fans can bring in their Atlanta United ticket stubs to both locations (Midtown and Alpharetta) and get 10% off the entire menu. This includes Bezoria’s famous house-cut fries, steak shawarma and more.

Double Dragon opened at 350 Mead Road — the former home of Italian restaurant Saba — in May. The good news for gluten-free diners is that they use a lot of cornstarch, rice flour and tapioca starch in fried items and they can substitute tamari for soy sauce in stir-fried dishes. Their gluten-free menu is loaded with Chinese options you can’t get just anywhere, like General Tso’s Chicken, Lobster & Sweetbreads Cantonese, and Pepper Steak.

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Dine at Farm to Ladle during the week of June 26th and enter to win a free trio meal. The restaurant is celebrating its one-year anniversary at Avalon in Alpharetta. Many of their soups, salads and sides are gluten free and they carry local gluten-free goods in the prepared food section.

And the good news keeps coming for Peachtree Corners. A new Italian restaurant serving steaks and seafood is opening in the space formerly occupied by Double Eagle. Osteria di Mare, owned and operated by Andrew Hoppen of Taqueria del Mar, will makes its debut this fall serving fresh inspired Italian cuisine including gluten-free pasta.

Sally’s Gluten Free Bakery has added brownie bites to its menu. Available in 4-packs, these almost-paleo brownie bites are made with coconut flounnamed (1)ur and flaxseed meal creating a healthful brownie that is higher in fiber, protein, and healthy fats than regular brownies. Ingredients: Pumpkin, Enjoy Life dairy free/soy free chocolate chips, coconut oil, palm sugar, coconut flour, cocoa, flaxseed meal, vanilla extract, psyllium husk flour, aluminum free baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, stevia.

Have a safe and tasty weekend!

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Arepa Mia is closing its Decatur location June 30th and moving to Tudor Square in Avondale Estates. They are hoping to open in mid-July or early August in the space formerly occupied by The Market. What a great move for this dedicated gluten-free restaurant serving up outstanding Venezuelan fare. The parking is ample and the larger space will allow for comfortable in-store dining.

According to ToneToATL, HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern plans to open their second location at TOWN Brookhaven July 10th. Their menu features many gluten-free options, such as gluten-free pizza, gluten-free bread and desserts.  HOBNOB Short Rib and Arugula Pizza 2

Now everything on Willy’s Mexicana Grill’s menu is gluten free with the exception of the flour tortillas and cookies. More information on ingredients can be found here.

Marlow's Grilled Chicken StackOne of my favorite items to order at Marlow’s Tavern is the grilled chicken stack because its plating is gorgeous, it raises comfort food to a new level, and the price is right. Two herb marinated chicken breasts sandwich a bed of roasted fingerling potatoes, blistered grape tomatoes, artichokes, baby arugula, and green beans, topped with lemonette and parslied olive oil. As always, it is best to speak directly with the chef or the manager to alert them to your dietary needs prior to ordering. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to celebrate its new Tuesday hours, Mediterranea, Atlanta’s first gluten-free full-service restaurant and bakery in Grant Park, is offering half-off appetizers from 5:30-9:15 p.m. Appetizers include baby peppers stuffed with eggplant caponata; turkey feta meatballs; Mediterranean stuffed eggplant with pine nuts; and seasonal toast sampling.

Table & Main continues to deliver with paleo goodness every Wednesday. Here are the menus for the next two weeks:
June 21 | Squash and zucchini noodles with sundried tomato pesto, with Georgia peach wood smoked bacon chicken sausage
 
June 28 | Brasstown Grassfed beef smokey burgers, with spring lettuce, first of the season tomato, paleo beet ketchup, paleo avocado mayo, and plantain fries

Taqueria del Sol’s newest location in Chamblee’s Peachtree Station complex opened for lunch service June 14th. The restaurant is located in the multi-use complex of Peachtree Station at 5001 Peachtree Boulevard. Lunch service only is available June 14th through June 17th. Going forward, the restaurant will be open for regular lunch and dinner service. All of their tacos can be served in corn tortillas, upon request.

Stop by Venkman’s Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m. until close for a special Late Night Menu. Of course the bar is always open, so sit back, relax, and choose from four items – three standard items and one rotating each week. Their menu is very accommodating for those with a food allergy or intolerance and the staff is more than helpful. Here is the menu:

  • Assorted House Pickles, Smoked Trout Dip with BBQ Chips, House Hummus with Garlic Chili Oil and Crudités, and the Crock of the Week.

Enjoy a safe and tasty weekend!

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Alpine Bakery in Alpharetta is making the new drool-worthy gluten-free desserts at Cibo e Beve. Chef Linda selected them and thinks they are divine too. Choose from: Death by chocolate, Chocolate with peanut butter mousse, and Chocolate with hazelnut praline.

Brine Modern Seafood Shack at Avalon is ‘the’ place to dine on fresh seafood in Alpharetta. While gluten-free diners can’t indulge on fried seafood, chowder, lobster mac and cheese, or sandwiches, they can have all the cold seafood, entrees minus the pasta, crab and lobster rolls minus the bread, lettuce wrapped tacos, and a variety of tantalizing sides, like slaw, braised kale with bacon, haricot verts with with garlic, soy (gluten-free soy sauce), and chili flakes. I hope they will consider bring in gluten-free sliced bread, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns from local allergen-friendly bakery Pure Knead.

Chick-fil-A has rolled out two new items perfect for enjoying the soon-to-be hot summer nationwide. Starting May 15 until August 19, customers can order a new Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich and Watermelon Mint Lemonade. The Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich features Chick-fil-A’s signature grilled chicken along with new ingredients, including bacon coated in a brown sugar pepper blend, colby-jack cheese, green leaf lettuce and a zesty Smokehouse BBQ Sauce crafted specifically for the sandwich. No gluten-free bun yet, so bring in your own or eat it a-la-carte.

Did you know that Cobb Galleria runs a self-operated culinary department. Supported by a full-service kitchen, where all sauces, dressings, marinades, entrees and desserts are made in house, they are more than capable of accommodating multiple food allergies and intolerant. Schedule your next meeting, expo, or party at Cobb Galleria and rest assured knowing the staff has got your food allergy/intolerance back.

A new Dave & Buster’s is open in Alpharetta in North Point Market Center, across from North Point Mall, at 6500 North Point Parkway. They offer a full bar, a gluten-free menu, and hours of game playing options for the whole family. Hours of operation are SundayThursday 11 a.m. – Midnight and FridaySaturday 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

There is another reason to head to Krog Street Market. Richards’ Southern Fried has reformulated its fried chicken coating to be free of gluten. This glorious and unexpected change came about because Chef Todd Richards wanted to make sure the chicken was just as crunchy when you got it home as it is at the restaurant. The new chicken blend is made from a combination of corn starch, potato, rice and tapioca flours. And nothing goes in the fryer that contains gluten making the fries a safe bet too. The cornbread, waffle and bun are not gluten-free, but all of the sides are, so you can enjoy a full meal.

Marlow’s Tavern serves up gluten-free cuisine from a dedicated menu, but did you know they used Nima Sensor to create it? Purchased by the R&D department, the Nima Sensor served as the litmus test to ensure staff could manage safe handling procedures during busy times and produce dishes that test negative for gluten. The result is a menu crafted to produce safe and tasty gluten-free cuisine. If you are as sensitive to gluten as I am, speak to the general manager or chef when placing an order.

Atlanta’s first Sweet Charlie’s, a hand-rolled ice cream and yogurt franchise, is set to “roll into Atlanta” Thursday, June 8th.  The shop is located adjacent to Superica in Buckhead Court on Roswell Road in north Buckhead. Thanks TonetoATL for the deets.

If you happen to see the Super Tot Truck out and about – stop and indulge. All they make are tots from real potatoes and spices, then top them with scratch-made sauces, hand shredded cheese, local meats, and seasonal vegetables. Nothing goes in the fryer except tots, so they are safe but not all of the toppings are, so ask when ordering.

Table & Main continues to deliver with paleo goodness every Wednesday. Here are the menus for the next two weeks:

June 7 Paper-baked red snapper, asparagus, first-of-season tomato, herb salad, ginger beet relish
June 14, Grilled salmon, spring vegetables, avocado salad, lime honey dressing

Venkman’s is kicking off summer the right way with rosé on tap and seasonal Frosé and Ecto-cooler slushies. Rosé on tap is $8 per glass and the boozy slushies are $7 for a small or large for $9. What a perfect way to stay cool.

Have a safe and tasty weekend!

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Event Review: Chef’s Table at Cobb Galleria Centre

Most of us have made the trip to Cobb Galleria Centre for a social or corporate event, but did you know it has its own culinary department with a full-service kitchen? This kitchen, run by Chef Nick Walker, serves anything but the typical bland and uninspired food one expects from a convention center. Chef Nick’s fresh approach means everything from condiments through dessert is made in house with local and seasonal ingredients. Serving as a make-it-from-scratch kitchen, they are well equipped to handle multiple food allergies/intolerance with creativity and flair.

As a member of the Atlanta Food Bloggers Society, I was fortunate to get a seat at the chef’s table, which happens to be in the kitchen of Cobb Galleria Centre. We were treated to a coursed dinner with craft beer parings from Monday Night Brewing. Six courses, great service and a plethora of information was served by Chef Nick Walker and his team of talented chefs.

Nicholas WalkerChef Walker’s innovative approach to cuisine pulls from his Georgia roots and his pure enjoyment of good southern and fresh ingredients. This passion for food can be tasted in every bite. If I hadn’t been sitting in the kitchen, I would have sworn I was in a five-star restaurant because the food, the artful presentation, and the service was impeccable.

Because I have celiac disease, my dishes were modified slightly, but I didn’t DAEI0eRXYAA4HR4miss out on anything, except the beer. The first course, or amuse bouche, was crab meat salad with red onion, cilantro, and yuzu. A literal seafood party in my mouth. Everyone else had a Ginger Crab Fritter with Spicy Banana Purée Paired with Fu Manbrew – Belgian Style Wit.

The secDAEM8cuXcAAgePUond course, Duck and Blood Orange Salad with Frisee, Fennel, and Blood Orange Vinaigrette, introduced me to a new preparation of duck – duck ham that was brined in blood oranges and sliced thin. This course was paired with Blind Pirate – Blood Orange IPA.
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I can’t decide whether the third or the fifth course was my favorite, but the pineapple bouillabaisse was definitely a first for me. Serrano Eye Patch Bouillabaisse with Monkfish, Clams, Snapper and Fresh Rock Shrimp, seared Pineapple, Saffron, Serrano Aioli was paired with Serrano Eye Patch Ale – Indian Pale Ale. This dish was so light and refreshing with buttery fish and perfectly cooked seafood that came together with a smooth Serrano aioli kick!
Chef Nick threw in a palate cleanser for the Fourth Course with a Bosch Pear Sorbet, Dried Lemon, Honey Kissed Pear made with Gun Show – Belgian-Style Golden Ale. I got to sample the diced pears sans beer and they cleaned that fish right out of my mouth.
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The Fifth Course of Vanilla Braised WagyuBeef Cheeks with Trumpets, Carolina Rice Grits, Heirloom Carrot, Wilted Greens, Cocoa paired with Drafty Kilt – Scotch Ale was very rich and hearty with a smoky and slightly sweet sauce that had reduced for hours.
DAExw8FXoAAfdu2Dessert is always pretty iffy for me, but Chef Nick brought out the big guns with their signature light and fluffy chocolate mousse enrobed in chocolate topped with toasted hazelnut caramel that I got to pour. Everyone else had a Hazelnut Cigar with Smoked Dark Chocolate, Malted Sweet Cream, Caramel, Hazelnut Powder paired with Toasted Hazelnut Imperial Stout – hence the ashtray presentation.
Cobb Galleria Centre Exterior
Thank you team for a memorable and delicious event. Schedule your next corporate meeting, event, or party at Cobb Galleria Centre knowing your guests will leave raving about the food.

 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review; however I did receive a free meal. In no way did it influence my opinions and views, which are derived from my personal experience.

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The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo-Atlanta  (GFAF Expo)  took place this weekend at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. I attended with my daughter on Saturday and solo on Sunday and managed to zero in on new-to-me products and refrain from eating everything in site – a common problem at an event where nothing is off limits.

I was an Official GFAF Blogger, which means I was treated to a lovely breakfast of bagels, fruit and juice by BFree Foods before the show began. BFree Foods was the blogger sponsor, so I left with a bag full of their vegan and gluten-free breads to try at home. This is the first year there has been such a great blogger turnout. It was lovely to meet Amy Fothergil in person finally. I also got to meet: Belinda of GFree Genius; Brittany of A Southern Celiac and her gorgeous daughter; Jereann of Celiac Mama and the list goes on.

While I didn’t have the time to listen to any of the speakers or take a walk through Enjoy Life’s new interactive candy land (line was too long), I did find some great new products and got to catch up with friends.

  • BFree Food’s vegan pita bread is just like I remember. A small bite of this warm, pillow-y bread had me wishing for lamb, fresh hummus, and some stuffed grape leaves. And it can be cut and stuffed too!
  • DAX3osZXgAEPAE3 This was my first time trying anything from Perfectly Free. Those salted caramel vanilla non-dairy frozen bites were quite tasty and pack a whopping 30 calories per sizable bite – not bad. And they are free of the top eight allergens.
  • The new blueberry and regular waffles from Garden Lites are made from butternut squash and carrots. They toast up nice and crunchy and offer yet another way to get more veggies into your diet. I already love their muffins, so I am not surprised to find another quality product from the company.
  • The new vegan cheese bars from Go Veggie are a first for me. Available in white cheddar and white cheddar and meatless bacon are fantastic and portable, they are thick and salty and creamy. I haven’t seen them in stores yet, so I was stoked to get to try them. I have been eating their shredded cheeses for years and love to watch as they add new and innovative products to their vegan line. DASAf68XgAEa3kk
  • Magnolia Mixes, out of Birmingham, AL, brought their line of mixes wrapped in gorgeous packaging to the show. The lemon pound cake produced a loaf that reminded me of Sara Lee – yes, it is that good. The mixes aren’t available locally, but they can be ordered on Amazon.com
  • O’Doughs added muffins and cakes to its line of vegan baked breads. Choose from blueberry, banana chocolate chip and double chocolate muffins and banana chocolate chip and chocolate cakes. The muffins and cakes are not vegan and contain eggs and dairy.
  • DAXsoUTW0AIhCJi Path of Life’s new Cauliflower and Pea Curry features tender cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro in a light curry sauce. Delicious and would pair nicely with pasta or rice.

Thank you GFAF Expo for making a stop in Atlanta! See you next year!

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unnamed (1)Take Mom to Mother’s Day Breakfast May 13th from 9-12 at Gluten Free Cutie. The menu includes: Raspberry French Beignets, Waffles with Blueberry Syrup, Sangria Mocktail (non alcoholic), Orange Julius, and an array of gorgeous cupcakes (Vintage Floral, Peach Blossom, Raspberry Delight and Lemony Lemon).

Gluten Free Cutie is hosting  Garden Tea every Wednesday starting May 10th through the end of July. Enjoy tea on the Garden Porch served on vintage china and linens. Tea for two includes: tea, mini C_LdB1dXgAECEC8cupcakes, scones, cheese straws, mini southern biscuit sandwiches and more. Tea service is $22.50 per person, or $24.50 per person for dairy-free requests. Reservations are required: 770-518-7858

18198753_10158730167475311_410570803864115994_n PeachDish’s meal kits can be found at two Atlanta area Whole Foods stores: Ponce de Leon and Buchead. Their ingredients are sourced directly from small-scale Southern farms and the meals are nutritionally balanced by their registered dietician. The super food tofu bowl kit is free of gluten.

Check store shelves for two new flavors of So Delicious’ yogurt – peach and key lime. Made from coconut milk, these creamy dairy-free yogurts are loaded with real peaches and tropical key lime puree. unnamed

Snack Factory®, the makers of snack favorite Pretzel Crisps®, have introduced a brand new product line of Fruit Sticks and Veggie Sticks. Created from fresh fruit and vegetables, light and crispy Fruit Sticks and Veggie Sticks are gluten free, Non-unnamed (1)GMO Project Verified and free from added sugars. Veggie Sticks come in five flavors: Apple Fruit Sticks, Apple Cinnamon Fruit Sticks, Apple Strawberry Fruit Sticks, Snap Pea Veggie Sticks and Pea & Carrots. Thanks for the intel Gluten Away!

 

According to TonetoATL, Steel City Pops, a Birmingham based popsicle business, is planning its Atlanta debut later this summer in Decatur at 312 Church Street. Handcrafted in small batches from all-natural ingredients, the popsicles are sweetened with organic cane sugar and contain no artificial colors or flavors. All of the pops are gluten free with vegan options too.

Have a safe and tasty weekend!

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Top 10 Celiac Disease Myths – Debunked!

Regardless what the media, your best friend, or the chiropractor says, there is no reason to try a gluten-free diet when there is no medical benefit. Since May is celiac disease awareness month, I feel it is my duty to educate the misinformed and put a stop to the spread of inaccurate information.

Here are 10 of the most common myths:

  • Yes. celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disease that can lead to the development of other autoimmune diseases (i.e. diabetes, Crohn’s disease, etc.).
  • Yes. celiac disease is a disease. It is a serious medical condition and can be life-threatening.
  • Yes. On average, it takes 6-10 years to receive a medical diagnosis of celiac disease.
  • Yes. There is no cure for celiac disease.
  • No. You can’t outgrow or defeat celiac disease.
  • Yes. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. There is no pill to take. Eliminating gluten is the only way to heal the gut and body.
  • No. You should not start a gluten-free diet prior to running tests. This move can result in a false negative. You need to be eating gluten for the test results to be accurate.
  • Yes. There are other gluten-related illnesses, like non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy  and other autoimmune diseases (diabetes, Crohn’s disease) that benefit from a gluten-free diet.
  • No. If someone goes gluten-free and feels better, they must have celiac disease. It could be they are gluten sensitive or have a wheat allergy.
  • No. Everyone should not try a gluten-free diet. No one needs to follow a gluten-free diet unless they are medically required to do so.

Let’s work together to spread accurate information and stop the prevalence of false and misleading information.

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

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According to Gluten Free Philly, baseball goers can enjoy the following gluten-free fare at SunTrust Park – hot dogs and Enjoy Life Foods snacks at Centerfield Market (Section 149), beer at Field of Greens (Section 148), and Cracker Jack, peanuts, fruit and veggie cups at various stands throughout the park.

2B Whole Gluten-Free European Bakery will begin selling Revolution Gelato’s vegan (dairy-free) gelato on Cinco de Mayo. Choose from: Triple Vanilla, Chocolate Fantasy, Nekkid Espresso, and Orange Dream. Made with cashews and coconut cream, this gelato’s creamy, velvety texture practically melts in your mouth. unnamed

May is the month that Aldi’s expands its liveGfree line to include: ravioli, skillet meals, General Tso’s Crispy chicken, cheesecake sampler, bagels, hot dog and hamburger buns, baking mixes, and loads of snacks. These items are only available in May and tend to run out, so take advantage of their low prices and stock up.

According to ToneToATL, just days after closing their Dunwoody restaurant, Applebee’s  has also closed their Johns Creek / Suwanee restaurant. This location was on Johns Creek Parkway, just off Peachtree Parkway, in Johns Creek / Suwanee.

Bezoria is heating up Friday’s this summer with a special offer at their new Alpharetta location. Now through the end of summer, receive a free order of fries every Friday with any order placed between 1 and 2 p.m. Their hand cut fries covered in a tasty sumac can’t be missed and of course they are gluten free! unnamed

Crab CakesHead over to Brooklyn Café in Sandy Springs to enjoy their most popular menu item – jumbo lump crab cakes. They are one of the few restaurants in metro Atlanta serving crab cakes made without breadcrumbs or crackers rendering them free of gluten. Each order is served with whole grain mustard sauce and green beans.

South City Kitchen is putting its mark on Alpharetta with its highly anticipated fourth location. The restaurant, which is scheduled to open in 2018, will be located inside The Hotel at Avalon with a patio overlooking Avalon Boulevard.

According to an Atlanta Magazine article, a health food spot from the Yeah! Burger team, Upbeet!, will open this summer. They will serve salads, grain bowls, acai bowls and protein plates in the Westside Ironworks development. There will be vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free options. Drinks will include smoothies, kombucha, cold-pressed juices, and organic coffee, wine, and iced tea.

Have a safe and tasty weekend!

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The story of my celiac disease diagnosis

My journey with celiac disease began with headaches. I got my first migraine when I was 7 and I had a headache every day after. Taking an aspirin would make me vomit within minutes and then I would feel fine. Puzzling symptoms that would come and go, like muscle pain, bouts of depression, hot flashes, stomach aches and abdominal pain, nausea, pins and needles in my hands and feet, and frequent trips to the bathroom plagued me for years to come.

It wasn’t until I moved cross country to Georgia in 1993 that my symptoms came on like gangbusters and I struggled to live a normal life. I got used to the stomach pain, headaches, hot flashes and a bloated abdomen that occurred after eating anything. I was beyond fatigued and slept more than 12 hours a day on the weekends. My skin was pale, my hair was falling out, and everything hurt. Not knowing how my body would react, I became afraid of food and existed on a jello, chicken broth, crackers, and ginger ale because they didn’t make me sick, or so I thought.

Stomach problems ran in my family, but no one felt as miserable as I did on a daily basis. My father and sister were both diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, so maybe this was the culprit. I avoided a list of ‘trigger’ foods, but didn’t notice any improvement. Thinking things couldn’t get any worse, a new symptom appeared – mental fogginess.

Medically speaking, mental fogginess is a form of impairment that can encompass disorientation, problems with staying focused and paying attention, and lapses in short-term memory. I feared I was seriously ill and possibly dying. It isn’t normal to all of a sudden be incapable of forming a sentence, answering a phone, or functioning as a human being. I felt helpless until the fog miraculously lifted and everything went back to normal. How is any of this normal?

I charged into my doctor’s office with food journal in hand and sobbed for about an hour. The journal showed that my changing reactions to the same foods had no rhyme or reason. The journal, combined with my deteriorating physical state, and a truck load of symptoms led to my celiac disease diagnosis in 1997 at the age of 27. I suffered for 20 years undiagnosed with a daily pain level most people don’t experience in their lifetimes – worse than child birth.

When I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease on 4/4/97, I had barely enough energy to get off the couch to feed and bathe myself. I had to wear clothing that was many sizes too big because zipping up my pants caused shooting pain from my giant abdomen. And I was afraid I would be fired from my job because of frequently going home sick after lunch.

Being diagnosed with this disease left me feeling lost, depressed, isolated and very deprived. No one had heard of celiac disease, or gluten, so I was on my own with no one to turn to for support. I couldn’t find a local support group and even dietitians were of no help.

After the initial shock of having an autoimmune disease subsided, I had to learn how to safely feed myself through extensive label reading and endless trips to the grocery store. There were no food labeling safe guards and no one seemed concerned, or even knew that cross contact was an issue. Many phone calls to manufacturers had to be made to ensure a product was free of gluten before consuming.

Conducting research, plus lots of trial and error helped me find my confidence and many products that are still my favorites. Although a lot of these products had to be ordered direct from the manufacturers (outside of the United States) because there were no online ordering sites at that time.

It has been 20 years since a diagnosis of celiac disease saved my life in more ways than one. Now I am thriving, living a gluten-free lifestyle, and I have taken back my life from this underdiagnosed genetic autoimmune disease.

How long did it take you to get diagnosed? How many doctors did you see? What has the journey taught you? Please share your experiences in the comments.

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