celiac

What are the Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet?

What are the benefits of a gluten free diet?

Gluten is a general term used to describe the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt.  

Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet

Cutting gluten from your diet may eliminate the symptoms of celiac disease including

  • Dermatitis 
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Migraines
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Mood Disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reproductive Health Issues
  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss 

A Gluten Free diet may also have health and therapeutic benefits for those with

  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Wheat Alergies
  • Autism
  • Thyroid Disease 
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • ADHD

Other Benefits Include

  1. Elimination of unhealthy oils from your diet
  2. Elimination of unhealthy carbohydrates found in bread products
  3. Less overly processed foods in your diet
  4. Reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes
  5. Improved immune system defense

Gluten and Celiac Disease

 A gluten free diet is necessary for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that leads the body's immune system to attack the small intestine when gluten is digested.  

Only 1% of the population is estimated to have celiac disease.  Celiac is 4x more common today than it was 60 years ago. 

Grains that do not contain gluten

  • Brown Rice
  • Long Grain Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth

Many healthy foods are naturally gluten free including

  • Eggs
  • Chicken/Meat
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Fruits and Vegetables
     

Gluten Free Tel Aviv

Gluten Free Tel Aviv

Israel has been a pioneer in the gluten free international scene.  Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are booming with cafes and restaurants offering loads of delicious gluten free options! 

Read More

Gluten Free Jerusalem

Cafe Aroma

Multiple Locations, Kosher

Anyone who has been to Israel knows that the best place to get blended iced coffee is Aroma.  In fact, I believe that Aroma in Israel makes the best iced coffee in the world.  To be honest, it tastes more like a milkshake than iced coffee.  It is a perfect blend of rich and creamy milk and a sweet coffee flavor with hint of chocolate.  The best part is that you aren’t left with any icy slushy at the bottom of your cup since the drink is blended perfectly every time.  Since I am a coffee obsessed individual, Aroma’s iced coffee would fit into my top three favorite things about Israel.  


What else do I love about Aroma?  They were one of the first cafes in Israel to start carrying gluten free bread.  When I visited Israel in September 2011, before the gluten free craze started spreading, I was pleasantly surprised to see that aroma offered sandwiches on gluten free bread.  I was living in Paris at the time, where if you said you could not eat wheat, they pretty much spit on you.   What a refreshing experience it was to sit and enjoy our haloumi cheese and grilled Mediterranean veggie sandwiches while sipping iced coffees and frozen lemonada!  

The gluten free bread was surprisingly tasty too, almost like ciabatta bread.  Back then, only a few Aroma locations offered the gluten free bread.   Today, every store has gluten free bread and gluten free marble cake (which doesn’t look appetizing at all so I would recommend sticking with the bread!)  

Instead of serving a fully prepared gluten free sandwich to customers, Aroma serves the bread wrapped separately in plastic with the fillings and accompaniments on the side- almost like a make your own sandwich.  I can only assume that they had a bad case of cross contamination since they are not a gluten free facility.  And now, to air on the safe side, they still offer gluten free bread but take every measure they can to keep it separate until it reaches the customer.  It’s a less accommodating way to be served, but safety first!

Moses

Cinema City, Kosher

One of the highlights of our trip to Jerusalem was discovering the Kosher Moses restaurant at the new Cinema City.  Moses is a popular Israeli burger chain with many non-kosher locations throughout the country, namely Tel Aviv.  They are acclaimed for having some of the best burgers in Israel.  Now, they also offer gluten free burger buns at all of their locations.  We ordered a side of chips (French fries) and they prepared those specially gluten free as well.  Casual dining with table service and a young cool ambiance.  

Gluten Free Burger From Moses, Jerusalem

Gluten Free Burger From Moses, Jerusalem

Black Bar n'Burger

Jaffa Street, Kosher

This burger joint is in the center of the city of Jerusalem, right off Jaffa St and close to the Mamila Hotel, Waldorf Astoria and David Citatel.  It offers a full range of beef burgers, but only offers one gluten free beef burger option with a gluten free bun.  I don't know why the other burgers can't be made gluten free- perhaps they use a filler.  It's an easily located and in-expensive restaurant with a trendy vibe.

Cookie Cream

Machneh Yehudah, Kosher, Dessert Bar

Cookie cream is an ice cream shop that makes Belgium waffle sandwiches and sundays.  They don't advertise anywhere in the store that they offer gluten free waffles, but we went inside just to check the ice cream flavors and Josh asked just out of curiosity if they have anything gluten free.  The gluten free waffles are not readily available, but can be made fresh on the spot upon request.  We had to wait about 15 minutes for the gluten free waffle.  When it was finished, we picked our ice cream filling and toppings.  The halva flavored ice cream was insanely good!  The waffle on its own was a bit dry but with the ice cream filling and chocolate sauce and whipped cream toppings to moisten it up, it was delicious.  The manager was very accommodating and was eager to get our feedback on the gluten free waffle and the gluten free chocolate chip cookies (pictured in the jar).  

Crave Gourmet Street Food

Machneh Yehuda Markets
Kosher, Meat

Crave was opened by the former chef from Herzog Winery in Nappa. Crave has lots of gluten free options with a cool vibe.  The menu at Crave is based off ‘upscale street food’. You will find carnitas, fish tacos, brisket tacos, sliders, beer, cocktails, and more. Sandwiches include a kosher Rueben: house cured smoked brisket pastrami, spicy Korean kimchi, pickled onions, truffle sriracha mayo, and vegan cheese. There is a gluten free slider bun option and the tacos are served on homemade gluten free corn tortillas.  We went to town on some beef sliders on the gluten free burger buns & pulled brisket and chicken tacos on the house made corn tortillas. The burger buns were just ok.  They were slightly crumbly and were not very flavorful.  The tortillas did not look so appealing because they are hand rolled, but looks can be deceiving!  They were really delicious and soft.  The brisket taco was especially tasty!  The chicken taco had great flavor and nice accompaniments, but it was served with baby chicken (pargiyot) which I wasn't a huge fan of because it was chewy.  

Sabayos

Machaneh Yehudah Market

Kosher Dairy

Walking inside the machaneh yehudah markets (The Shuk) we passed by this creperie that had a big sign in English and Hebrew that said "Gluten Free Savory and Sweet Crepes."  It's a cool little stall with a few small tables outside.  We were too full to eat a crepe there and then but will keep it on the list for next time.  If you try it before me let me know how it is! 

Hasandak 

Machaneh Yehudah Market
Kosher Dairy

We went on a search for some grub while we were waiting for our gluten free waffles from Cookie Cream to bake.  We spotted Hasandak Pasta and Pizza restaurant nearby at the Machaneh Yehudah Markets (The Shuk). We were excited to see that the menu has gluten free pasta and pizza, especially since there are not a lot of gluten free pizza options in Jerusalem.  They told us that they never got their delivery and so they didn't have any gluten free pasta or pizza available.  We asked them if they normally have it available and they said yes, but they were a bit sketchy and evasive in their reply. I am suspicious that they may not always have the gluten free options available , since what are the odds that they were completely out of pizza and pasta.  But if they were telling the truth, this restaurant is a great win for the gluten free community and visitors to Jerusalem!  We'll try to check it out next time and try it out.  Hopefully they'll have the product available! 

Gluten Free Vietnam

The Asian population in general has a very low rate of gluten intolerance.  This is likely because the majority their diet is based on naturally gluten free grains, namely rice.  They don’t eat a lot of bread like we do in Western societies, where gluten intolerance is all too common. 

The gluten free industry in Vietnam exists because of tourism.  At all of the hotels we stayed at in Vietnam, the staff aimed to please.  Especially the 5 star hotels and international hotel chains like Hyatt and Accor attract travelers from the US, Australia and Europe, with a high rate of gluten free guests.  The good news is that Vietnamese food is naturally gluten free friendly.  Two of the most well known Vietnamese dishes are Pho, which is a soup made with rice noodles, and Vietnamese spring rolls, which have an outer wrap, made of rice paper.   

Vietnamese food is naturally gluten free friendly, but it is not vegetarian friendly.  Most of the Vietnamese cuisine is very heavy in pork and shellfish, so having a vegetarian section on every menu at the hotels we stayed at was also extremely helpful.  

Hyatt Regency, Da Nang

At the Hyatt Regency, the Food and Beverage manager told us that they have increased their gluten free offerings since they have been progressively getting more and more gluten free customers.  They have especially seen increases in the number of children with gluten intolerance.  They have started to educate their staff about gluten free awareness. 

The property has three restaurants.    All menus items are marked with common allergens including gluten free, vegetarian and contains nuts.  On the evening we arrived, we ate at The Beach House restaurant.  We were exhausted after flying in from Ho Chi Minh.  The extraordinary food at this restaurant awakened our taste buds!  There was so much on the menu that we wanted to order and so many delicious items marked gluten free or vegetarian!

Every morning an international hot breakfast is served at The Green House restaurant, which is also open for lunch and dinner as an Italian restaurant.   The hotel staff prepared gluten free "pumpkin bread" for us. Thick pieces of gluten free sliced bread that are yellow in color and smell like sourdough bread, the bread likely had only a teeny bit of pumpkin in the dough to add color.  The texture was dry and fluffy, almost like sponge cake, and the bread didn’t taste like pumpkin at all.  The taste was quite bland compared to the delicious sourdough smell, but definitely does the trick when eaten toasted with an omelet or dipped in olive oil.  The Green House offers gluten free spaghetti at lunch and dinner as a substitute to all pasta dishes on the menu.  In fact, the box of gluten free pasta is on display with the other regular pastas, which is pretty cool!

Vin Pearl, Da Nang

We ate breakfast at the Vin Pearl buffet one morning during our trip.  We were gracious that they have a gluten free bread alternative for gluten free guests.  However, the bread was almost inedible.  It was crumbly and tasted like cardboard- would bring you back to gluten free bread in the pre-historic era (like 1990s!). 

The highlight of this meal was that we got to try salmon Pho for the first time! Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped white rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken.  Pho is traditionally served at breakfast time and is staple of the Vietnamese diet.  Most pho, even salmon pho, is prepared with a chicken or meat stock.  The salmon pho at the Vin Pearl was made with a vegetarian stock, so we got to taste this traditional dish that everyone raves about!  

Angsana Lang Co

During breakfast on the first day of our stay, Josh requested gluten free bread from the kitchen staff.  The issue is that no one seemed to speak English well enough to understand him.  The thing about the Vietnamese people is that they have a very friendly and pleasant manner, but their English is generally very poor.  There were other naturally gluten free items on the buffet including eggs made to order, vegetables and potatoes.  My favorite items on the buffet were the different flavored yogurts.  I especially loved the bircher muesli, the passion fruit yogurt and the aloe vera yogurt!  Of course, every Vietnamese hotel offers traditional Vietnamese breakfast items that are naturally gluten free including congee, pho, shrimp spring rolls, Vietnamese soups and banh chung- a sticky rice cake wrapped in banana leaf and packed with fatty pork and mung bean.  Side Note: We had ordered a vegetarian version of Bahn Chung from room service the first night that we arrived to try to get a sense of this popular Vietnamese dish.  I usually love a dish with sticky rice, but the center filling tasted very weird and reminded me too much of animal fat.   Let’s just say I wouldn’t order it again. 

That afternoon, we met a woman at Yoga who told us that the hotel had been preparing gluten free bread for her every morning at breakfast and that we had to speak with the head chef who spoke English.  The staff was so apologetic about not understanding our request the day before that the next morning, they prepared a special plate of gluten free breads and muffins for Josh.  Josh enjoyed the mini gluten free rolls and said they tasted just like bread sticks.  The sliced bread was not very enjoyable, as it was had a gummy and cakey texture, even after being toasted.   The muffins were dry and crumbly.  But they definitely got an A for effort! 

There is an Italian restaurant on the neighboring Banyan Tree Hotel property that is open for lunch.  On the first day, we brought our own gluten free pasta and asked them to prepare it for us.   They did so happily.  The next day, they prepared a gluten free pizza for us.  Although they don’t normally do this, the hotel is clearly eager to please guests.  The chef used a gluten free bread mix for the base and explained to us that the dough was too soft and kept falling apart.  When she baked it longer, it held together better, but she still struggled with the consistency.  It actually looked AMAZING, which is half the battle!  The pizza had a very funny flavor and chewy texture.  We requested a side of pizza sauce and dipped it in the sauce to mask the flavor.  But since it looked so pretty, we continued to eat every last morsel.  

The Nam Hai, Hoi An

The Nam Hai was not only the most beautiful resort I have ever stayed at but the most accommodating to dietary restrictions too.  Upon check in, reception asks if you have any dietary restrictions and make a note on your room account so that the kitchen and wait staff is aware when they serve you.  

Breakfast is served every morning at a beautiful space overlooking the hotel property, the expansive pool and the quiet beach.  Sitting at breakfast was absolute serenity and I never wanted to leave!  The quality of the food at the breakfast buffet was exceptional and all of the food was laid out so beautifully that it made me want to try everything! 

The hotel had delicious gluten free English muffin style bread prepared for us every morning.  They also prepared gluten free crepes made to order for us that were so incredibly delicious. They tasted exactly like the regular crepes on the buffet.  Other items that they offer made to order for us were omelets any style and Indian Dahl (lentils).  They had an impressive array of cereals, yogurts and fresh fruits.  There was an incredible mix of toasted and caramelized coconut, almonds, cashews, pecans and seeds that paired perfectly with the fresh yogurt.

 

There are two dinner restaurants on property.   One is an Indian restaurant and the other is Vietnamese.   Both are very expensive but the quality of the food and the elegant ambiance at each restaurant helped to justify the bill.  The fish at both restaurants was extremely fresh and sensationally prepared with fresh spices and herbs grown on the property’s garden.  The staff prepared special gluten free bread rolls for Josh at the Indian restaurant.  At the Vietnamese restaurant, all tables are served rice crackers to start.  They actually looked and tasted very similar to Passover matzah and like matzah, they were pretty addicting!  

The gluten free highlight of the Indian restaurant was the gluten free dessert that they prepared for Josh.  It was a gluten free passion fruit soufflé served with coconut ice cream and a crème Anglaise.   Other gluten free dessert items on the menu were crème brulee and home made ice cream, but it was great fun for Josh to be able to eat a soufflé!   

The pool side service at Nam Hai was also exceptional.  As we sipped our delicious cocktails while reading the lunch menu, Josh exclaimed "I wish I could have some gluten free pasta or pizza right now."  We asked the server if the kitchen would be able to prepare gluten free pasta or pizza for us.  Typically for these last minute requests, the hotels respond that they need 24 hours notice to prepare ingredients.  On the contrary, the server informed us that the kitchen would be happy to prepare gluten free pasta to our liking straight away.  If we wanted gluten free pizza, we would have to wait two hours to allow them to make the dough from scratch and let it rise!  Hunger trumped patience and so Josh ordered some gluten free pasta with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.  He finished the bowl before I could blink and said it was some of the best gluten free pasta he had ever tasted.  He said it tasted like they made the pasta from scratch.  Then he ordered another bowl! 

My Teaching Gig

My Teaching Gig

I like to help people out by sharing what I've learned.  I was asked to present to a college class in Small Business and walk the students through some challenges they may face as entrepreneurs. As I am a natural performer and love public speaking, it was a blast! Here are some excerpts of some of the topics we discussed in the classroom.

Read More