Recently we spent a few weeks visiting friends in the Chicago area. I knew one of the foods I had to try in chicago was italian beef. My friends husband is celiac and reccomended Portillo’s as a must try spot. During my googling of the best gluten free italain beef places I found a thread debating weather Buona Beef or Portillo’s had better gluten free italian beef. Of course we had to try both places.
Since our thoughts on each place were the same I thought I would approach this post a little differently. I wrote the review on Buona and let Alan write the review for Portillo’s. Here’s what we thought.
First things first, Buona Beef has gluten free flat bread that can be used for all of theier sandwiches and as crust for their pizzas. I’ve read it is good but due to other allergies I did not want to chance trying it. That’s ok though. We wanted to order the exact same meal at both restaurants for a fair review.Alan and I both ordered the Naked Combo Bowl. This comes with Buona Beef, sausage, peppers (I got sweet and hot) and mozzarella cheese.The restaurant was quiet and comfortable when we walked in. When we ordered I almost forgot to tell the cashier I had Celiac. Thankfully Alan spoke up. The cashier said he was glad we alerted him since they take special precautions to keep things gluten free. He went on to explain that they change gloves, clean surfaces, and a few other things that I have since forgotten. I was very confident that my meal would be safe.
At Buona Beef your order is taken and you pick a table. The cashier brings the food out to you when it is ready and checks on you for drink refills etc throughout your meal. This was a nice touch at a semi fast food restaurant (they have a drive thru).
On to the food.
I have never eaten italian beef and did not know really what to expect. The bowls came out smelling wonderful. The beef was tender and there was quite a bit of it. I had to ask the cashier where the cheese was and he informed me that they put it between the meat so it melts really well. I thought that was a neat trick. The beef came in a thin gravy that was so flavorful Alan drank his, and mine, when we were done eating. I kept saying throughout the meal how I wanted to eat this and only this for the rest of my life.
I loved both the sweet and hot the gardineria as well. They were full of sliced carrots, green olives, onions, and sweet and hot peppers.
We will be back in Chicago area in a few weeks and along with Chicago’s Pizza I am definately going to be stopping back at Buona Beef.
We aren’t quite sure why this place is as busy as it is. Perhaps our experience was unique, maybe other people enjoy this place. Our visit, however, made this one of the worst places we have ever eaten.We were staying with some friends, one of which is also a celiac, and joined them for dinner at Portillo’s. When we arrive, the drive through line was backed up at least 20 cars deep. Inside, the wait was much shorter, and we were placing our order almost immediately. The greeter took our order of Beef Combo in a cup with peppers and cheese, written on a brown bag – not very green of them – which we handed to the cashier a minute or two later. A manager had to assist in translation, and stated what was written on the bag was “all wrong”. After making corrections on a new bag, and telling the cashier how to enter the order, the manager left; leaving the cashier to stumble through entering the information into the order screen.We made sure to mention that the order was gluten free, which Portillo’s website states they can handle, assuming at least glove changes would be done, but the cashier informed us after paying that the manager stated “gluten free could not be guaranteed”. Normally, this is where we would ask for a refund and eat somewhere else but, as our friends have never had an issue, we decided to press on.
Next, we waited for our food. And waited. And waited. Our friends were at the table with their food, and we waited. Number 70 was called all throughout our waiting process, we were number 78. We waited. The contents of number 70 were read out – hey, that sounds like our order. We showed the employee our ticket, and found out “they must have wrote the number wrong”. So… our food was ready for a while. We were not happy, but they did at least offer us cake for the problem. You know, cake, to go with the gluten free meals containing an allergy warning on the ticket. Cake.
At this point, we wanted out of the crowd of people waiting on their food, and to eat – we were pretty hungry. We joined our friends, and tried our food. This is where Portillo’s lived up to everything we had experienced thus far. There was no gravy to speak of in the bowl. There was some greasy sludge, but even it was limited. The sausage was dry, with burnt ends, and not very good. The mystery meet in the meal was the same consistency and flavor as steak-um – in fact, if we had to, we would venture to guess that it probably was some off brand frozen beef slices. Very, very greasy off brand beef slices.
The extra peppers – which costs – consisted of two or three small, greasy pepper pieces. As far as the double portion Alan ordered, it looked and felt the same size and weight as the smaller order. Either they screwed up there too, or an extra portion means one slice of steak-um.
Normally, this is where we would some things up in a nice sentence. With Portillo’s, that is simply “Wow.” Wow that any one visit could have everything go so wrong. Needless to say, we won’t be going back. We’ll stick with Buona.
There you have it guys. Buona Beef is the clear winner in our eyes. They had better customer service, better attention to detail, better ability to handle our gluten free meal, much larger portions, and most importantly much much much better tasting food.
Hi everybody! I have been away for way too long. My health has changed drastically as have my allergies.
When I began my Facebook page and my blog I had recently been diagnosed with Celiac. That diagnosis was a three year long road full of multiple wrong and a bevy of specialists.
I began to feel better immediately after going on a gluten free diet. That lasted about 6 months and then the horrible stomach aches, brain fog, and body pain came back.
Since that time I have been taking my healthcare into my own hands. I have a distrust of doctors after the arduous road to my celiac diagnosis.
I narrowed my new issues down to a corn intolerance. At first it was just any ingredient with the word corn in it that I could not tolerate. Then as corn intolerance’s usually do I became more sensitive.
Today, I can not have any corn products or derivatives. Things that seem benign to many people wreck my body. Vinegar, dextrose, xanthan gum, etc. all send me into excruciating stomach pain and affect my mood. If I can not buy it from the perimeter of the grocery store I can not eat it. Even the perimeter is tricky due to some meats and cheeses containing hidden sources of corn.
You can quickly see how my world became a limited and scary place.
Sometime during the corn elimination process I began having heart palpitations and then extreme lethargy from my morning black coffee. I could no longer have any form of caffeine. Good bye chocolate!
Then I began noticing that sugary foods were causing extreme lethargy and the need to sleep soon after eating them. Good bye sugar!
I thought fruit was still my friend. My one source of sweet foods. Wrong!
One morning after eating my breakfast banana I was shopping alone in Walmart. I got dizzy and fell to the floor. I had to call Alan to come help me. I was seeing stars and the world was moving yet I was sitting still.
I tried bananas again before shopping at Walmart we RV and often stop there for breaks from driving. Ten minutes after eating them I could not form words. I became a stuttering mess. I could not get my thoughts from my brain to my mouth and out. It was the scariest thing I have ever had happen to me. Goodbye fruit sugar!
Since February 2016 I have adopted a low carb high fat diet. At first I did it in an attempt to lose some weight. I quickly found that I felt better than ever before on this grain free diet high in meats, dairy and veggies.
As most of my food journey has happened thus far, I was soon feeling ill again. This time it was dairy. I had never been a big cheese eater before LCHF way of eating. Now I was quickly realizing that dairy was also my foe bringing on bloating, stomach pain, and constipation. Goodbye to most dairy!
At this point I have a very limited diet.
I never know how I will feel from day to day.
I have many pain issues as well. I was born with a club foot which threw off the mechanics of the whole right side of my body. This lead to back spasms and spine pain that leave me in tears. My corn intolerance keeps me from taking anything but Goody’s powders as corn is a major ingredient in almost all medications.
During our last two years on the road, both Alan and I have developed fragrance allergies and sensitivities to chemicals. Everything is more difficult when avoiding scents. Perfume, shampoo, laundry scents all cause symptoms for both of us. We often can not enter stores or go to events because of this. Headaches, burning eyes and nose, burning itchy skin, sore throat, and breathing problems are some of the symptoms that fragrances and chemicals give us. Because of this I make many of my own all natural fragrance free products.
Alan and I travel fulltime in our RV and have been on the road for almost two years. We love it! But, travel and healthcare do not get along.
I am not a rich woman by any means. To get a healthcare plan that works in all 50 states is near impossible to find and totally impossible to afford.
We just became residents of the state of Florida where we spend every winter. I look forward to beginning my journey back to health once I get there. But navigating the healthcare system also frightens me. I know how hard it was to convince doctors something was wrong with me for three years before my Celiac diagnosis.
I am sure I have left out many major details here, but you get the picture. I am really truly awfully sick and I don’t know what is causing it. It seems as if my body is creating new intolerances faster than I am able to weed them out.
This brings me to the real point of this blog post. I have not posted here in about a year. My Gluten Free Girlfriend no longer feels authentic to me. I am so much more than that. I would love to continue this blog to include my healthcare journey, my travels, and to highlight my new allergies. I would like to take this blog away from being just recipes and reviews. t can be so much more!
Is my medical journey and my fight to find out what is causing these scary food issues something you all care to read about? Will you follow me through a name change etc?
This post is for the busy people. People like me who love to save money but do not have time to clip coupons. This post is also for the avid coupon clipper who just wants to save even more money on groceries. This post is for celiacs. This post is for everyone who has a food allergy or intolerance and loves to save money. This post is for, well… everyone.
Lately I have been traveling fulltime in my rv. That makes trying to keep up with which stores have the best deals tricky and makes finding and matching coupons impossible. Thankfully some amazing coupon apps have come along. I have tried many over the last three months. A few were great and some were downright time wasters. I have compiled a list of the best ones and am happy to share them with you.
I challenge you to try a few of these apps and let me know how much you saved over the course of a month!
This is my favorite grocery rebate app. It is simple to use, has great rebates on items I actually use, and has saved/made me a ton of money (95.00 so far in a little over 2 months). My favorite things about this app are the “Any Brand” rebate offers. I am able to save cash on things like veggies, fruits, meats, cereal, and bread, sauces, etc. Since I can use them on any brand I like, I save money on gluten free items that usually do not have coupons available. Ibotta has rebates on alcohol as well. The wine and liquor rebates are on popular brands and are often 3 to 6 dollars off per bottle. Ibotta has many beer rebates as well which helps me save cash on Alan’s non gluten free beers. The amount of rebates and variety of stores available is expansive. Right now at Walmart alone there are over 250 available rebates. Ibotta has a social aspect where your Facebook friends that use the app are on a “team” with you. This helps you complete extra bonuses for even more cash faster.
This app is incredibly simple to use! Just scan the barcode on the item, snap a photo of your receipt, and that’s it! Once you build up 10 dollars in savings Ibotta will transfer your cash to Paypal or you can turn that money into gift cards at tons of stores.
You automatically receive 2 dollars for signing up and redeeming your first rebate within 10 days of signing up for Ibotta.
This app is fantastic for saving money on gluten free goodies. It is full of name brand rebates from places like Sunbutter, Kind, Cup4Cup, Pamela’s Gluten Free, Beanfields, and many more. Most rebates are between fifty cents and 3 dollars off. For anyone who shops regularly at Whole Foods, World Market, Fresh Market, or Target, this app is a must have. It has saved me a ton of cash on usually expensive gluten free brands.
This app works similar to Ibotta. Scan, snap, and that’s it. After you have redeemed 5 dollars in rebates, you may transfer you earnings to PayPal or use the money to buy gift cards from top retailers.
Shrink combines the best of both Ibotta and Berry Cart. This app is definitely one to have in your grocery arsenal. Shrink does exactly what the title says, it helps shrink your grocery bill. There is a section titled “Shrink Exclusives” that contains “Any Brand” rebates on milk, eggs, fruit, and veggies. The best part about using Shrink along with the other apps covered here is the ability to overlap the savings. If Ibotta has 20 cents off tomatoes and Shrink has 25 cents off tomatoes you can use both apps on the same purchases. That means you have saved 45 cents on your purchase. All of these grocery apps can be overlapped and I often get free products this way.
Besides “Shrink Exclusives”, Shrink also has rebates for brands like Smart Flour, Purely Elizabeth, Dr. Praeger’s, and more.
You can download shrink here. Don’t forget to use referral code OOCHPR in the Shrink Exclusive section of the app for exclusive deals!
SavingStar gives rebates on a few “Healthy Offers” a week and offers a “One or Many” style rebate that is easy and fun to use. With the “Healthy Offers” you can save even more money on fruits and veggies by stacking the offers with other apps.
The “One or Many” offers are unique. These offers are cumulative. Example: You can save 5 dollars when you purchase 30 dollars’ worth of SC Johnson Home Care Products. Most of us don’t plunk down 30 dollars on cleaning supplies at once. But with this app you don’t have to. You have a time limit, usually 30 days, to reach that goal. Anytime you purchase an SC Johnson product, you just scan your receipt. Once you have hit the 30 dollar mark the 5 dollars will be added to your account. You can cash out to Paypal when you have redeemed 5 dollars in rebates.
SavingStar also has many rebates on single items that most of us use every day.
Shopmium is a newer grocery rebate app. Although they do not currently have a large variety of rebates, I still save money and even get free products using this app. Shopmium often has completely free products available. I got a free Chocolate Bar just for signing up. I have also gotten free dish soap and a free bag of salad mix. Often times the Shopmium rebates are the same as ones in the other grocery apps. That means you can double your savings by using both apps on the same product!
This app can save you large amounts of money, but there are a limited amount of each rebate available so sometimes you need to move quickly. The rebates are on popular products like Wonderful Almonds, Coca Cola, Clorox, etc. Most rebates are over a dollar savings each.
The payout is not as convenient as some other apps. With Snap you need to redeem 20 dollars in rebates before cashing out. The cash out comes in the form of a check as well. But the fact that the rebate amounts are over a dollar a piece makes this app worth using.
This app is very different and one I use every single day! With Receipt Pal all you need to do is snap a photo of your receipt after you buy something and you earn points towards gift cards. You only need to snap photos of 16 receipts a week to get your points. Anything after the first 16 receipts gains you entries into a weekly drawing of $250. This app is great because you can use it to make cash from your everyday shopping trips.
I have saved so much money and had a ton of fun in the process of writing this post. I hope you will try all of or at least a few of these apps to cut the cost of your gluten free grocery bill.
Are you up to the challenge? Try a few of these apps and drop a comment with how much you saved in the first month!
If you have any favorite money saving apps that are not listed here, please post them in the comments below. I would love to try them!
Who doesn’t love large fluffy pancakes every once in a while? I have tried many recipes for gluten free and even grain free pancakes. I actually came across this one on complete accident.
I have never been a great pancake maker. Mine come out oddly shaped from cramming too many in a too small pan. We like to call them UFO cakes around here. I was searching out a sorghum based pancake recipe since the Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Flour I had lying around was mostly sorghum based. The recipe I found sounded perfect. The title boasted easy tasty no fail gluten free pancakes or some such wonderful sounding wording… Everything was going swell until I had finished mixing the ingredients and got to the end of the recipe. The blogger had put a “cute” little note at the bottom saying that they did not come out as expected and were tasty but crepe like. This is obviously not what I was looking for. Not wanting to waste all of those ingredients I added to and altered what was in my bowl noting my changes for later.
The pancakes turned out way beyond my expectations. I remade them the next morning to see if I could duplicate that success, and once again they worked! These pancakes Are light, thick, fluffy, and perfectly pancakey. plus they are a cinch to whip up!
I served them to Alan three times that week alone. I had trouble getting any because he liked them so much he couldn’t stop eating them. You should have seen his “I love pancakes” grin!
I served his with pure maple syrup and mine with my favorite pancake topping mashed bananas microwaved for a minute or two.
Have you ever had a similarly frustrating recipe attempt turn into something magical? I’d love to hear about it.
In September of last year I put together a coconut flour guide highlighting 7 different brands of coconut flour. I tested each brand using my Best Coconut Flour Chocolate Mug Cake Ever. Since then I have had many people email me asking if I had tried their favorite brand. Once I got enough responses like that I knew I just had to do another coconut flour roundup.
I love testing new products and sharing my results with you all. I have been making my Low Calorie Banana Muffins for breakfast most mornings, so I decided that I would test out the new brands using that recipe. These days I only make the chocolate one on occasion for dessert as it is incredibly rich and decadent.
I originally planned to test these flours using my 108 calorie banana mug muffins, but my diet has changed and I have adapted the recipe to fit my new dietary needs. Over the past few months I have had to cut out all added sugar and sugar substitutes. Sugar has been making my heart race and then making me incredibly sleepy until 20 minutes after consumption I’m out like a light. I believe it may be reactive hypoglycemia. If any of you have experienced this I’d love to here from you in the comments. I’m still looking for answers and gave up on doctors a long time ago.
As most of you know I have had to cut out corn products and derivatives as well. I am still learning how corn affects me and what products I can and cannot tolerate. So I eliminated my favorite stevia due to it containing dextrose and eliminated vanilla extract due to possible corn as well. If anyone has a good corn free stevia recommendation I’d love to hear it.
So, I will be making these simplified added sugar free Banana Bread Mug Muffins for this test.
Here are the brands you all asked me to compare in no particular order. Coconut World, My Elixir of Life, Nuts.com, Honeyville, Shiloh Farms, Earth Circle Organics, Yankee Trader, and Mercola. I emailed all of the companies but only got responses from the first three. I didn’t want to wait to get this information out to you guys. Here are the three companies that responded. If I get responses from the other companies I will update the post with their information and a test of their flour as well. If you have a coconut flour you would like me to test, or are interested in a comparison of any other gluten free food or product please please let me know. I love doing these tests for you guys and sharing my results!
I began with a control group muffin using my go to coconut flour Nutiva. You can see my results of my last coconut flour comparison here.
I made two cute mug muffins using the Simple Banana Bread Mug Cake recipe I eat for breakfast every day. It is quick, healthy, added sugar free, and uses few ingredients. For the rest of the testing I decided to make the mug cakes as I do every morning; in a cereal bowl. They may not be as pretty, but they take less time and effort than dirtying two mugs or microwaving two separate cakes.
All of the flours in this test came in close and tasted great. Here’s how they stacked up.
Overall out of this test I believe Coconut World Organic Coconut flour to be the best. It has a sweeter flavor than the other brands which I consider a plus for mug cakes and added sugar free baking in general. Alan is not a big coconut flour fan. He says it is gritty. He tolerated this brand well and said it was the least gritty of the flours in this test. I found Coconut World to have the best texture, rise, and flavor. The recipe worked with no modifications to ingredients or time.
NUTS.COM Organic Coconut Flour
2 tbsp = 14 Grams (0.5 oz)
Fat: 1.5 Grams
Carbs: 10 Grams
Protein: 2 Grams
Fiber: 6 Grams
Nuts.com fared well in my testing. In fact all of the other brands came in so close that I will be listing them in no particular ranked order.
Nuts.com was the second sweetest out of the flours I tested. It was slightly gritter than the Coconut World flour but not in a way that would negatively affect baking. The nuts. com coconut flour did not need any adjustments in ingredients although I must note that it did take an additional 30 seconds in the microwave. it was not set at the three minute mark. This flour makes a denser yet still amazingly tasty bread than Coconut World or My Elixir of Life. I can see it working well in brownies or other baked goods that need a denser less fluffy result.
My Elixir Of Life Gluten Free Organic Coconut Flour
My Elixir of Life Coconut Flour was less sweet that the other brands. It would lend itself fantastically to Coconut Flour Buttermilk Biscuits or other savory coconut flour baked goods where sweetness is not as desirable. This flour produced an edible muffin with good flavor. My Elixir Of Life flour produced a muffin that was lighter in color and did not rise as much as the other flours in this test. Alan thought out of the flours tested that this one was the grittiest. I enjoy the texture of coconut flour. While this may have been slightly grittier I still quite liked it.
I love Pb2 and found it on sale at our local Big Lots of all places. I had never tried the chocolate flavor and found this to be the perfect opportunity to to grab a jar. I usually mix Pb2 and coconut oil to use as a dip for bananas. If you haven’t tried it it is divine.
I know the combination of chocolate, peanut butter and bananas is a popular one so I tried my fave snack with the chocolate PB2. I found the chocolate PB2 to be less peanut buter flavored and not as chocolatey as I thought it would be.
I knew I needed to use it up as I hate to waste ingredients. I started out attempting brownies, but ended up with an amazing protein packed chocolate peanut butter cake. I have tried protein cakes before and not cared for them as they were gritty, chalky, dry or wierdly flavored. This has all of the protein of a whole jar of PB2 and all of the flavor of rich chocolate peanut butter. The chocolate flavor really blossoms when more PB2 is used.
This recipe only has 1/4 cup of sugar in the whole thing. I still found it to be quite sweet for me and am sure the sugar amount could be decreased to 2 tablespoons if you like very lightly sweet desserts. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I was offered my first cookbook for review. I told myself if I was offered a review I would only accept if the product was something I really thought you guys would enjoy. When I found out that Debbie Adler’s Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats Cookbook was full of healthy whole foods recipes containing no gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, or nuts I was on board and super excited to share it with you all.
The first thing I noticed about this cookbook was how scrumptious the cover looked. The photography throughout the whole book is just gorgeous. You will want to eat every page. The book also contains a ton of great information. I really enjoy how Debbie goes into detail about each specialty flour, ingredient, and tool needed to make her recipes work.
Debbie has plenty of experience in baking luscious treats. She started out trying to bake sugar free sweets at home and once she got it right moved on to having her own bakery. Once she realized her son had severe food allergies she revamped all of her recipes to make them allergen free and better than ever. She converted her bakery over to allergen free only baking as well. I would love to pop in for a visit but she’s clear across the county from me. That is one of the reasons this book is so great. Now I can make some of her fantastic goodies in my own kitchen. If you enter my giveaway you can too!
Due to Old Man Winter keeping me from the store lately, I have not had a chance to try any of these recipes so far. My local grocery stores do not carry items like teff flour and coconut nectar. Many of them stand out as must try as soon as a trip to Whole Foods can be made.
Here are some of the recipes that are begging me to make them.
Sweet Debbie’s Salted Caramel Apple Muffins sound divine. I had Alan go through the book with me and he agrees these are at the top of our must make list.
When I saw Debbie Adler’s recipe for Lemon Parsnipannies I added them to my list of fantastic treats to try. I have recently fallen in love with parsnips and I had never thought to use them in such a way before.
The third recipe that really stood out to me was her Caramel Glazed Fakin’ Bacon Brownies. She uses an awesome secret ingredient to make vegan faux bacon that sounds so amazing!
Lastly I know I will have to try her Coconut Crunch Donut Holes. Everyone knows about my insane addiction to all things coconut.
This book is really packed with awesome healthy sweets. I really can’t wait to try them all. Debbie Adler is a super genius for figuring out how to make all of these everyday treats vegan and allergen free without sacrificing taste.