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 their 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 definitely 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.
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.
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!
You can sign up for Shopmiumfor Android heredon’t forget to use the FREE candy bar code kcuchfmm!
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.
I just recieved an email from Tom Hogue Director, Congressional and Public Affairs Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau alerting me of some awesome changes to the TTB regulations on gluten free alcohol beverages. I will share my opinions in a later post. Here’s the official update!
February, 11, 2014
Use of “Gluten‐Free” on TTB‐Regulated Alcohol Beverages
We have completed our review of how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) final rule on the use of the term “gluten‐free” in the labeling of products under FDA’s labeling jurisdiction impacts TTB’s interim policy on gluten content statements in the labeling and advertising of wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages that we previously set forth in TTB Ruling 2012–2.
As a result of our review and consultation with FDA, we are updating our policy on gluten labeling. Given the important consumer health considerations relating to “gluten-free” claims, TTB believes that it is important to adopt an approach on this issue that is as consistent as possible with the regulations that FDA issued.
Under our updated policy, alcohol beverages that are made from ingredients that do not contain gluten (such as wines fermented from grapes or other fruit and distilled spirits distilled from materials other than gluten-containing grains) may continue to make “gluten-free” claims in the same way allowed in the new FDA regulations for inherently gluten-free products.
Consistent with the new FDA regulations, TTB will continue to consider “gluten-free” label claims for alcohol beverages that are made from gluten-containing grains to be misleading to consumers who are seeking to avoid the consumption of gluten for health reasons. However, products made from gluten-containing grains may be labeled with a statement that the product was “Processed,” “Treated,” or “Crafted” to remove gluten, if that claim is made together with a qualifying statement that warns the consumer that the gluten content of the product cannot be determined and that the product may contain gluten.
TTB may revise this policy after FDA issues a final rule or other guidance with respect to fermented and hydrolyzed products. In the interim, we remind consumers that the FDA has determined there is still no scientifically valid way to evaluate the claims that beers made from gluten-containing grains can be processed in a way that removes gluten and that there is inadequate evidence about whether such methods are effective.
Our Revised Interim Policy on Gluten Content Statements in the Labeling and Advertising of Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages (TTB Ruling 2014–2) can be found on our Web site at: http://www.ttb.gov/rulings/2014-2.pdf.