Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Products of 2015

My year-end round up comes down to one last top 10 list: my favorite products of the year. Although it was difficult to narrow down my favorite restaurants of the year, this list definitely ups the ante because I have tried so many fabulous and truly ground-breaking products this year. Some I found through gluten-free expos and trade shows and others by keeping my eyes peeled on every grocery run I take. 

I am really excited to reveal my top ten picks and look forward to a whole year of new products to emerge next year. What will be the next big gluten-free thing? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 10 Orlando and Central Florida Gluten-Free Restaurants of 2015

Assembling this list of my favorite gluten-free and dairy-free restaurant finds of the year was a far more difficult task that I thought it would be. After all, I have had so many amazing and diverse restaurant experiences over the year. The list as you read it now represents Orlando's complex foodie culture that encompasses theme parks, the farm-to-table movement, food trucks, and excellent ethnic cuisine. While other cities can claim a diverse restaurant scene, few compare to the sheer variety we have in Orlando thanks to the convergence of locals and tourists alike. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Artichoke Red Vegan Market

When it comes to your local gluten-free shopping in Orlando, the stores I mainly rely on are Whole Foods Market, Hoover's Market and local farmers' markets. While other health food stores exist in the area, those three are the vast majority that seem to have the greatest selection to fit my needs.

While grabbing lunch at Hubbly Bubbly (see review here) in the College Park neighborhood, I decided to stop by Artichoke Red Vegan Market after I saw a sign advertising gluten-free items in the window. Located along Edgewater Avenue, Artichoke Red is conveniently located near downtown Orlando and definitely is a neat place to check out for those with dietary restrictions of all types be it allergies, intolerances, or special diets (paleo, vegan, etc.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tapa Toro Review

When it comes to eating out gluten-free, one of the worst experiences I've ever had occurred last Christmas when a trip to Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant on International Drive in Orlando turned into a total disaster. What promised to be a festive meal with my family soured as I quickly lost faith that I could eat safely there. 

This Christmas, I was determined to find a restaurant that would allow my family to try something new and simply enjoy being together on the holiday. After consideration and extensive research, I suggested Tapa Toro on International Drive for it's extensive menu which featured both gluten-free items and those that would appeal to my gluten-eating family. While we all were excited about the opportunity to check Tapa Toro out, the restaurant proved to be a wonderful Christmas surprise for us all.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Boardwalk Pizza Review

Although Orlando does have its foodie niches (food trucks, pho restaurants, theme park fare) its gluten-free pizza scene is sorely lacking. Having eaten around the region trying gluten-free pizzas of all shapes and sizes, I consider Boardwalk Pizza in Winter Park as my favorite independent pizzeria in the Orlando area because their pizzas are consistently good and the staff are knowledgable. 

Although I've eaten at Boardwalk Pizza countless times over the years, I realized I had never formally written up a review on the blog. After reading my friend Alexis' review over on her blog Gluten Free in Orlando, I definitely made sure to put Boardwalk on my must-do list over winter break because I have not eaten there in over a year. Although I knew my past pizzas were excellent, I wondered how Boardwalk would compare to my new favorite pizza spots in Baltimore.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pepa's Arepas Food Truck Review

One of my favorite features of Orlando's foodie scene is food trucks: mobile gourmet restaurants on wheels that pop up all over the Central Florida region. Found at farmers' markets, local hotels, and special food truck bazaars that collect dozens in one place, food trucks are easily accessible, but often have limited options for gluten-free diners.

Luckily, there are a special few food trucks who work to make sure their offerings are both delicious and gluten-free. Because of them, those with food restrictions can join in on the fun. Although I've found a few trucks in the past (see those here), I was excited to find Pepa's Arepas by way of Sarah from Gluten Free and Dairy Free at Walt Disney World. From afar I couldn't wait to return to Orlando to check out their delicious take on Venezuelan street food.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 5 Chain Restaurants and Top 5 Out-Of-State Restaurants of 2015

Since I am based in Orlando and Baltimore, my reviews disproportionately cover the two metropolitan areas. However, I cannot ignore the excellent restaurants I featured on the blog that don't quite qualify as local to either city. In this restaurant round-up I want to give a shout out to both the big chain restaurants and independent out-of-town restaurants that made the year memorable. 

This best-of list would be a good one to bookmark whenever travel is in your future. It's a reminder that delicious restaurants can be found in almost any city or town, but also that chain restaurants also play a vital role when alternate eats cannot be found. Whenever I travel I like to include a little of both types of restaurants. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top 10 Baltimore Gluten-Free Restaurants of 2015

It is hard to believe that 2015 is rapidly coming to a close. As I prepare to welcome in 2016, I cannot help but look at what a year it has been on Eating Out Without Gluten and Dairy. This year marks my blog's first full calendar year in operation, and in the past 12 months I have discovered many a great gluten-free restaurant along the way. 

As I did last year, I wanted to reflect on the year at was and round up all of the Baltimore restaurants that I have featured on the blog. It definitely was an arduous task to narrow down the best of the best new Baltimore eats, but I think this top ten list is a pretty good representation of the new-to-me restaurants I discovered this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Vivo Italian Kitchen Review (Universal Orlando CityWalk)

It's no secret that my favorite of Orlando's "big three" theme parks is Universal Orlando. As a devoted Harry Potter fan, Universal totally won me over with their truly breathtaking recreations of the Wizarding World. However, another feature I really love about Universal is CityWalk, a collection of shops, eateries, and night life venues that ensure a day at the park truly turns into an experience.

Since I have been away from Orlando for months, I was way overdue for a trip to my favorite park, especially since my annual pass is expiring early next year. Once my plane touched down in Orlando, my dad and I headed of for a night of wandering around the park and grabbing dinner. After seeing some positive reviews of Vivo Italian Kitchen online, we decided to try it out, as I have been on a gluten-free pasta kick lately. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Cheesecake Factory Review

When it comes to restaurants I really enjoyed before gluten and dairy were off limits in my life, the Cheesecake Factory holds a special place for me as it was the go-to place for any special occasion my family would celebrate. 

Until recently, I had no idea if the Cheesecake Factory was gluten-free friendly because their online menu and website does not have a mention of gluten-free items anywhere. However, some holiday shopping at the Towson mall led me to check out the Cheesecake Factory to see if anything on their massive menu would be safe. I was happy to find that they had plenty of delicious options on hand, and decided to give them a try.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gluten-Free Options at the Cheesecake Factory

Before visiting and reviewing the Cheesecake Factory, I had a really difficult time finding out what, if any gluten-free offerings they had. The only information I could find was pretty outdated and the Cheesecake Factory's own website was decidedly unhelpful in my quest. 

Luckily, the in-restaurant menu was a lot more informative with symbols to alert to guests which items are gluten-free adaptable on request. Of course it should go without saying that the Cheesecake Factory is a shared kitchen environment and not 100% gluten-free. Make sure when you order that you specify your specific dietary needs with the staff, and ask questions about shared fryers, clean pasta water, and other little things that make big difference in keeping gluten-free food actually gluten-free.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Our House Baking Mixes Review: Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part review covering Our House baking mixes. To see part 1, click here.

Back in September at the Natural Products Expo East, Our House baking mixes caught my eye because they were gluten-free, top allergen-free, and vegan. The company generously sent me a sampling of mixes to taste and try, and have been hard at work putting each to the test. 

This review covers the chocolate brownie mix, pancake and waffle mix, and all purpose four, the three mixes that are the sweetest of the assortment.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sabor Latin Street Grill Review

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my plans to spend Thanksgiving in Orlando were disrupted, sending me to North Carolina to be with my family there. Relishing the opportunity to cook and bake with my family, I did not get to do much restaurant exploration. Realizing that I'd have an opportunity to explore Charlotte, NC before flying out the next day, I decided to research gluten-free restaurants to check out.

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile might remember that I passed through Charlotte earlier this year for the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event and discovered the gluten-free friendliness of Maggiano's Little Italy and Zoe's Kitchen. Returning to the city, I wanted to find a non-chain restaurant to check out, especially since I visited on Small Business Saturday. Sabor Latin Street Grill caught my eye on Find Me Gluten Free with several positive reviews, so I decided to try them out.