Tag Archives: lunch

Frozen meals: a necessary evil

Since starting my new job, I’ve had some growing pains figuring out what I can eat for lunch. My old job was smack dab in the middle of downtown DC, so there were tons of options around me, including a Whole Foods within walking distance.

Now that I’m working in more of a business district, there are only a few restaurants that are close by enough to quickly get something healthy (and gluten free, of course) to eat. So, I’ve had to get creative and rely more on leftovers, canned soups, and frozen meals.

I’ve found a couple that meet my requirements, which are: low in sodium (relatively, they’re all ridiculous), contains some vegetables, and as high in protein as I can get it.

1. Evol bowls

All four Evol bowls are gluten free, and they also sell three gluten free frozen burritos. While it’s definitely not the same as making it from scratch, it’s definitely a good option if you want something hot that’s made out of better ingredients.

evol frozen

2. Cedar Lane Natural Foods Egg White Omelette

I was admittedly skeptical of microwave eggs, but I’ve gotten about five of these so far and I kind of love them. The filling is cheesy and I always end up feeling satisfied when I’m finished. While it may not look very pretty, it tastes way better then you’d expect. They also sell three gluten free frittatas (mmm roasted chile and cheese) and a three-layer enchilada pie.

IMG_1488

 

I’ve vowed to start making meals ahead of time more, but until that day comes I’m happy to have found these two companies!

Any one else resort to frozen meals during the work day? Any suggestions for ones you like?

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Eating Rice in Brooklyn

Last month I attended a social media workshop in Brooklyn, which was great because even when I lived in NYC I didn’t go over the bridge very often. It doesn’t hurt that this was the view from the office the workshop was in in Dumbo.

For lunch, the restaurant Rice happened to be just a few blocks away, and I’d been wanting to try it after seeing it pop up on a few blogs.

I started with a bowl of butternut squash soup, but it was really nothing to write home about. What is something to write home about were their veggie meatballs.

It takes a lot to make tofu taste indulgent, and not like health food. But this did it. I really don’t know how they make these things. I’m guessing they put the tofu and some kind of spices in the food processor, then reform them into balls, fry them, and coat them in this delicious sweet and sour type sauce.

If I would have known better I would have gotten something other than boring brown rice. Having black rice or sticky rice would have made it all the more delicious.

Rice
Locations in Nolita and Dumbo
www.riceny.com

Cafe Green – bad service, good cheesecake.

It’s a shame that when you’re looking for brunch places in DC with vegan and gluten free options, there are really only a handful of places that come immediately to mind. Cafe Green is always top on the list because of their menu and central location, but they’re also notorious for having bad service and being a bit discombobulated.

When I met up with Katelyn (New Kid on the Vegan Block) there this weekend, they were certainly true to form. The first mistake was our bad – we assumed they served brunch on Saturdays, but it’s only on Sundays. The rest were their bads.

There was a mix up with our food order, we didn’t get our “superfruit” cocktails until after our meal, and they kept trying to take our coffee away.

Either way, their “famous” veggie burger was pretty darn tasty, and the coleslaw was great piled on top. I love daiya cheese for its Velveeta-like creaminess, and the peppers were also a nice touch. You can see Katelyn’s tempeh sandwich on her post.

Now I will commence a rant on Udi’s bread:

I really need to stop ordering sandwiches at places with Udi’s bread. It’s not good, I end up paying extra for it, and it’s small and not flavorful. Why don’t more restaurants have local gluten free bread? Or at least attempt to make their own? The bread that comes out of my breadmaker is approximately 900 times better than Udi’s. I get that Udi’s is probably the cheapest option for restaurants, but it’s just so…lame.

K, rant ended. My hatred for Udi’s bread grows stronger every time I eat it though.

My recommendation for going to Cafe Green? Don’t go with someone who is going to complain about the service, only easy going people who don’t mind waiting/dealing with weirdness. Also order the mac and cheese and the cheesecake. They’re the best things on the menu. Also make sure if you want brunch you go on SUNDAY.

I brought home with me some chocolate banana cheesecake (amazing), and some of Katelyn’s homemade granola bars! (also amazing). I know she’s been working on perfecting her recipe, but I can’t imagine them getting much better. They’re my favorite kind of granola bars – moist, flavorful, and addictive.

Now I still have to go back to Cafe Green for brunch at some point, because they have a few pancake/french toast plates that sound delicious. Maybe I’ll bring them some of my bread so they can think about replacing that Udi’s with something more…edible.

36 Hours in NYC – Chinese food and Terri love

Over the last week I’ve been in and out of NYC for work, and tried to visit as many of my favorite places as I could. I didn’t quite get everywhere that I wanted to go, but here are a few highlights:

Terri Vegetarian – Flatiron

I’ve raved about Terri before, and since it’s right by my office I went there twice. They also recently created a menu that has all of their sandwiches reworked to be gluten free (just ask for it, they have it behind the counter). It’s basically just replacing any other fillings with their soy “chicken” strips, but still helpful to have.
I got the “Chicken” “Cheddar” “Ranch” wrap (so many quotation marks!) one time, and the Buffalo “Chicken” wrap the other.

I know that it weirds some people out, but I love Daiya cheese. It tastes like Velveeta to me, and I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. And the “ranch” dressing is really good, there’s a ton of flavor in it and I think I like it more than the bottled stuff.

Lili’s 57 – Midtown

This was a new one for me – gluten free General Tso’s shrimp! I haven’t eaten Chinese food like this since I was diagnosed, so it was a real treat. I can’t say that I really miss eating food like this, because it’s really heavy, but it was definitely delicious. And a side roll of sushi made it feel a bit healthier. They also carry Redbridge and have a full gluten free Chinese food menu.

Bluedog Cafe – Chelsea/Flatiron

I wouldn’t say that Bluedog caters to gluten free diners really, but they do almost always have a really yummy gluten free salad of some kind. This one was roasted carrots, butternut squash, and chickpeas. Holy Vitamin K.

Not pictured gluten free eats included a piece of cake from Mozzarelli’s, a bag of cookies from Babycakes, and a salad from the Birreria at Eataly, and a surprisingly fabulous bag of gluten free animal cookie from Duane Reade.

Being back in NYC sure did make me miss having all of my favorite gluten free places right around the corner, not to mention skylines like this:

I think that I can manage with my new DC skyline though. Nothing beats looking at this on your way to work every day.

Where would you go with 36 hours in the Big Apple? What are your “must-go” places in NYC?

Mudgie’s Deli and a Detroit Wedding

My favorite meal when I was in Michigan hands down was the triple decker tuna sandwich I got from Mudgie’s Deli in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit (where the cool kids live). It was love at first site for Mudgies and me – they only serve Faygo pop, they use local ingredients, and they have Udi’s bread to substitute in any of their amazing sandwiches. Too bad they can’t find a Michigan-based gluten free bread provider – I may have to suggest one to them.

Do you want to know the last time I had a sandwich in a restaurant?

Couldn’t tell you. A year ago? Two? Never?

Enter the Sorry Charlie: tuna salad with capers, Dill Havarti cheese, cucumber, tomato and mixed greens, served with a side of honey mustard dressing. And a McClure’s dill pickle (love).

Then I got a side of coleslaw to add to my sandwich. You know, since it obviously wasn’t big enough.

Yum – I love coleslaw when it’s like this, nice and crunchy. They also have some interesting soups every day, which they update and let you know if they are gluten free on their Twitter feed.

Runner up for my favorite meal was the reception dinner at the wedding of my friend. I waited patiently as the rest of the table enjoyed the bread basket, and was excited to see an interesting salad as the first course (no ice burg and ranch dressing for this girl!). This one had roasted pears, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and endive.

My special gluten free meal was a salmon pinwheel with risotto and asparagus, in some kind of delicious cream sauce. The wedding coordinator had come around before dinner and made sure she knew who I was, so I didn’t have to worry about a thing…besides how I was going to eat all of this food and not pop the zipper open on my dress that is.

It was also great to have such a filling meal. Usually you’ll end up with a plain piece of fish and vegetables, but I couldn’t even finish my plate, which is saying something since I’m usually the chairman of the “Clean Plate Club”.

Mudgie’s Deli
1300 Porter St
Detroit MI 48226
Map

Sammies and Wraps

Now, doesn’t this look good?  Well, it was.  After trying the cupcakes and cookies at Sticky Fingers Bakery, I decided to give something savory a chance.  Enter the Chick’n Ranch Wrap.

Chick'n Ranch Wrap

They didn’t have any gluten free bread when I went (boo), so I was relegated to the wrap section of the menu.  And this was a great choice – really refreshing, and I kind of love the soy chick’n strips?  I don’t usually go for fake meat, but the mix of the avocado, creamy dressing, and crisp lettuce just worked.  The only downside is that it was pretty small (aka normal portion sized), and cost $8.50.  Egads.  It made me miss the humungo wraps from Terri in NYC that only cost $7.

I must find something that doesn’t fit into my hypothesis about DC food vs NYC food.  Which is that everything is either A) half as good or B) twice as expensive or C) bland or D) A, B, and C all at once.

Not to hate on DC or anything.  But, come on, it’s no New York City.

Case and point:the veggie burger from Java Green.

Java Green veggie burger

Looks okay, no?  It was… just okay.  Maybe it was an ordering fail on my part, but when they say “spicy burger sauce”, I expect a giant burger slathered in sauce, this was some kind of appropriately-sized health food?  Also similarly, cost $7 and I ate it in about 30 seconds.

I had such high hopes for you, Java Green.  At least they had an impressive selection of desserts to choose from provided by Sweet n’ Natural.  Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, something with blueberry frosting, and carrot cake – which I will always favor.

And it was good to the last bite.  Not quite as good as the carrot cake sold at Mozarelli’s in NYC (can you tell that I’m a bit homesick for NYC these days?), bust still a great piece of cake.

At least the sandwich gave me enough fuel to get to the outdoor showing of West Side Story in Navy Yard. Oh yeah.

The dialogue in that movie is hilarious.  At the most serious/heart-touching moments the entire crowd was roaring with laughter.  Also after some initial Googling – I found this awesome spoof video “Web Site Story”… oh, the Internets.

 

How to not break gluten free wraps

This question has actually come up twice in the last 48 hours, so I figured it must be something that people are wondering.  I eat gluten free wraps a LOT – specifically the Food for Life brown rice tortillas.  I dip them in hummus, fill them with tuna salad, and make them into quesadillas.  When you get them from the frozen section of the grocery store, they are hard as a rock and sometimes covered in little ice crystals…not very appetizing.  I usually break off half of one since they’re pretty large, and put the rest back for later.

So, here’s the magic trick to getting the wrap not to break when you use it…

Treat them like corn tortillas and use one of these two prep methods.

Method A:

  1. Wet hands with water
  2. Rub both sides of the tortilla
  3. Put on a plate and microwave for 12 seconds
  4. If it’s still a bit too wet, flip it over and add 5 seconds more

Method B:

  1. Quickly run a paper towel under water
  2. Mush it into a ball so the entire thing is a bit wet
  3. Ring it out so the towel is just damp all over
  4. Wrap tortilla in paper towel
  5. Microwave for 15 seconds

If you use one of those two methods, the wrap will definitely not break on you. Now, it isn’t going to stay totally moist and wonderful forever.  But it will definitely stay like that for your meal.  If I’m packing one for lunch, I try to put a layer of hummus on it in the morning (then fill with whatever you want), which seems to keep it moist until lunch.

Hope that helps!