Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. There's big changes coming to the site - it will soon be the home of my new health coaching practice! Stay tuned. 

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

Entries in Restaurants (6)


Gluten-Free New York Adventures - or - Kim Eats Manhattan

how much is that blue crab in the window? the one with the big shiny pinchers?

I went to New York City back in February for a check-up with my Lyme-literate MD. I intended to post this travel recap back then, but somehow it slipped my mind. Better late than never, I suppose! 

February's trip to the Big Apple was a victory. I have now gone to New York three times for appointments over the last year and a half, and the difference I notice each time I go in how I feel is amazing. Traveling removes you from your daily routine and the patterns of how you feel - it is such an incredible way to strip you down to a baseline. And you know what? I feel better. The first time I went in December 2009, New York totally destroyed me. I had a great time explore, but I had to take breaks going up the stairs from the subway, felt completely exhausted at the end of each day, and spent the next week after I returned trying to recover. This last trip I found myself skipping up stairs, running down stairs, and walking all day, without feeling like I was on a torturous death march or needing to take breaks constantly. 

Ladies and gentleman, it's official: I really am getting better. I feel so grateful. 

In addition to exploring the city, I met up with my friend Kim Trick from Steph and Kim (formerly Wallet-Friendly Wellness). I stayed with Kim and her sister Steph when I was in NYC last summer. Despite talking a lot online and through the blogosphere, we had never met before I arrived at their doorstep last July. I was touched at their generosity and willingness to invite me into their home, and we really hit it off and had a ton of fun together. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to catch up with Kim again. We spent the afternoon in a cute Brooklyn café, discussing everything from Lyme to nutrition to grad school to religion to boys. Fun!

Other than walking around a lot, I ate. In fact, I ate a lot and drank a lot and pretty much felt like I consumed half of Manhattan. I didn't have a lot of cash flow after paying for my doctor appointment and didn't go out to eat at very many restaurants, my friend Matthew and I mostly cooked at his place for breakfasts and dinners. But, as always, I did my fair share of tourist snacking while wandering the city. 

Oddly, I didn't take a lot of photos during this trip, probably because it was cold and my hands didn't want to come out of my gloves! New York City is weird in the winter because there really isn't snow anywhere other than Central Park. Coming from Minneapolis, where snow collects everywhere and takes over the streets, I saw this was a very strange phenomenon. Look at the difference between Central Park and the Union Square Greenmarket - it looks like two different cities and seasons! 


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Gluten-Free Travel Adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area


I recently returned from a trip to visit a friend in Berkeley, California. I spent 5 glorious days roaming the San Francisco Bay area, hitting up tourist destinations and wandering lesser visited areas too. The Bay Area is a wonderland of gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods places. Put simply: I did not suffer. Quite the opposite, really - I think I ate my way through Northern California!

I wanted to share some of my favorite food destinations with you, as well as some other sites from my trip. I hope you enjoy!

Cafe Gratitude


I have heard about Cafe Gratitude for years. It is a mecca for anyone who loves whole food, gluten-free food, vegan food, organic food, or really good food.  From their website:

"Café Gratitude serves a menu of 100% organic, 100% vegan, local fare.  Our food is free of refined sugar, flour, and additives.  We have an extensive menu of raw foods and have recently expanded to serve cooked foods in many of our locations. We create all of our own food -from the produce bin to your plate - so we can avoid serving certain common allergens like wheat, soy, and peanuts. Over 45% of our produce comes from our Be Love Farm, and the compost from our Cafes is returned to the farm to nourish the next meal."

How awesome is that?!

My burning desire to go there was happily obliged by my friend and host, as we ended up going there three times in five days! Seriously. Two of the trips to Cafe Gratitude involved a meal. Due to the large number of items on the menu that include nuts or other allergens for me, my options were somewhat limited. Thankfully, the item on the menu that looked the best to me was also totally Kim-friendly. Named "I Am Whole", this bowl was a mixture of kale, carrots, quinoa or rice, homemade sauerkraut, sunflower sprouts, and sea vegetables, all doused with a garlicky lemon tahini sauce. I added sliced avocado (an extra charge), and asked for the tamari almond garnish to be left off. The portion was enormous, and it looked gorgeous. The flavor was fresh and clean, and the meal left me feeling satisfied and energized. My friend ordered handmade corn tortillas with beans, avocado, salsa and homemade cashew-almond "cheese". He adored it, and ordered the second time we went back!

The environment at Cafe Gratitude is really soothing and calm, and I very much enjoyed it. It is, in some ways, what you'd expect - unbleached cotton napkins, glass water carafes etched with inspirational words, dialogue cards on each table. And on Fridays a darling, purple-clad woman named Ari gives angel readings. She read my angels and was pleased to find out that they totally have my back and are supporting all kinds of things I want to do in life. 

IMG_1729.jpg IMG_1730.jpg

I also tried their housemade kombucha. I tend to prefer a bitier, more sour kombucha, and although theirs was a little more sweet, I still enjoyed it. It had a very gentle fizz that was present but not very aggressive.

In addition to a full menu, Cafe Gratitude has a bakery/dessert case, a cooler case of packaged edibles, and a wide variety of specialty ingredients, cookbooks, apparel, and home goods. So, the other trip to Cafe Gratitude was merely for treats. I purchased the "Be Love" ice cream bar, made of coconut milk, cashews, agave nectar, vanilla bean, and dunked in a raw cacao chocolate shell. Honestly, I wasn't totally wowed. The texture of the ice cream wasn't as creamy as I would have liked - it was hard and full of ice crystals - but the flavor was good. I loved the chocolate shell, a dark and bitter chocolate that wasn't too sweet at all. By the time I was almost done with it, it had softened up to a more desirable texture, so maybe the trick is to let it sit out a bit before eating. Either way, it satisfied my craving for something cold and sweet.

I also purchased a package of Lemon-Coconut Raw Cookies (no photo, sorry). These things were fantastic, made of shredded coconut, lemon juice, agave nectar, sea salt, and a few other ingredients and dehydrated into a sweet and chewy treat that is absolutely addictive. I don't remember how much they cost, but they were absolutely worth it. 


I absolutely recommend Cafe Gratitude to anyone looking for a wholesome meal. Next time I visit the Bay Area, I'd like to visit Gracias Madre, the sister restaurant in the Cafe Gratitude chain. It specializes in organic vegan Mexican-inspired food, which sounds like a winning combination to me.

Cafe Gratitude

1730 Shattuck Ave (@ Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: (510) 725-4418

Other locations in California listed on their website: http://www.cafegratitude.com/


Philz Coffee

Voted the best coffee in San Francisco by SFWeekly, Philz Coffee was an absolute revelation. My friend and host proudly names this establishment as his favorite coffee indulgence, so we made sure to go the first morning I was in town (and also the last morning I was in town, actually). I walked in the cafe to find a wall of coffee beans, cheerful baristas, and a bakery case full of fresh baked goods (including vegan options) and two shelves of packaged, locally made gluten-free cookies and brownies. What makes Philz so special is that each order is brewed one cup at a time, to the patron's specifications. There were probably 20 different types of roasts and blends, both regular and decaf. It takes a little longer than your average cup of joe, but the results are breathtaking.


I actually moaned a little bit when I took my first sip of Decaf French Roast. Their only non-dairy milk option is soy milk, so I opted for a splash of organic whole cow's milk in my order. It was the most divine cup of coffee ever; bold, dark, earthy, bitter, and almost a little smoky. I also indulged in a pre-made gluten-free Peppermint Chocolate Chip cookie. It was an absolutely indulgent way to start the day! Then we went to Cafe Gratitude and I ate my body weight in that I Am Whole bowl.

Oh, and just as a side note, there is an amazing shop full of beautiful jewelry next door...

Philz Coffee

1600 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar

Berkeley, CA 94709

There are other locations in the Bay area as well, they are all listed on their website:http://www.philzcoffee.com/


Ikaros Greek Restaurant

I arrived in California hungry and tired. I needed food immediately! My friend and I decided on a Greek dinner at Ikaros Greek Restaurant, which he had never been to but had heard good things about. In short: it was wonderful. The server was friendly and knowledgeable and very accomodating with my dietary needs. While the kitchen certainly is not gluten-free, they were allergy aware and I was able to get a very wonderful meal. We started the meal with dolmas (stuffed grapeleaves), which were freshly prepared and flavorful. For my main course, I had marinated lamb chops, sauteed vegetables, and herbed rice. My friend ordered a lemon roasted 1/2 chicken, which also came with rice and vegetables. We also got a simple salad of shredded cabbage, carrot, lemon juice, and olive oil. The meal was heavenly! My lamb chops were so tender and flavorful, perfectly done and just a little charred. My friend's roasted chicken was moist inside with a wonderfully crisp, flavorful skin. The rice pilaf was buttery and flavorful, each kernal of rice perfectly done. The vegetables were the low point, which were a little too oily and overcooked for my taste. On the flip side, the cabbage salad was very good, a welcome light and crisp addition to our heavier meal. 

I would definitely recommend this restaurant - the prices were reasonable and the quality was excellent.

Ikaros Greek Restaurant

3268 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 899-4400

webiste: http://www.ikarosgr.com/




The Turkish Kitchen

I don't have any food photos to share, but this place was very good. The only Turkish restaurant in Berkeley, The Turkish Kitchen serves a wide variety of authentically prepared Turkish foods. While it wasn't extremely safe for gluten-free folks (no dedicated fryer, wheat everywhere in the kitchen, and a limited understanding of allergy needs), I was able to find a good and safe meal after a little trial and error. The falafel was fantastic (with no wheat in the mix), but is fried in a fryer that is shared with gluten. I also had hummus and a very nice salad. Beware, however - the rice is actually a rice pilaf, and contains orzo, a fact that wasn't made clear to me until it arrived at my table. If you have a wheat allergy, please don't eat the rice. In addition to a wide variety of delicious meat dishes, The Turkish Kitchen also had lots of options for vegans and vegetarians. The food was delicious and affordable, and it worked for me, as I can share equipment/fryers/etc with wheat from time to time and be okay. But if you are extremely reactive, I wouldn't recommend it. 

The Turkish Kitchen

1986 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

website: http://turkishkitchenberkeley.com/


Grand Lake - Oakland Farmers Market

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is find the local farmers market. In the case of the Bay Area, my friend presented me with four different markets we could attend that were near to his home. We chose to attend the market he frequents most often, the Grand Lake Farmers Market. 

Located near Lake Merritt, this market is in a very urban, busy location in the city, just off the highway. But once you enter the tent community, you feel transported into an agricultural wonderland. This market had it all: fresh fruit and vegetables, locally raised cuts of meat and locally produced charcuterie, freshly prepared tacos and tamales, honey, breads and other baked goods, locally grown dry beans, mushrooms, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and more. I was impressed at the wide variety of unique this as well - Easter egg radishes, unusual wild greens, foraged mushrooms, flavored honeys. Also, it was so amazing - alarming, really - to see so much fresh fruit at the market. It's cherry season, so there were cherries everywhere, and fresh locally grown avocados. 

The notion of being able to get fresh, locally grown avocado is somewhat of a miracle to this northerner. 

Beyond the wide variety, I was truly wowed at the presentation. Most vendors went out of their way to produce a beautiful display for their foods, and I found myself charmed on a constant basis. Since we were on the move that day and not cooking, I had to limit my purchases. Nonetheless, I left with Duck Rillettes, a Smoked Cured Duck Breast, fresh pea pods, and dry gigante beans. I don't know what I was thinking not getting a big bag of cherries for snacking!  

Grand Lake - Oakland Farmers Market

At the Splash Pad Park on the corner of Grand Ave and Lake Park Ave.

Saturday 9 am-2 pm, year round

Click here for website


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Restaurant Review: Columbia Restaurant, Tampa, Florida

First of all, happy new year! Can you believe it is 2011? A new year, a new decade. May the new year bring you much inspiration, happiness, health, and peace of mind, and in doing so, allow you to heal the world and bring joy to those around you in small ways everyday. We all have the power to make positive change this year, for ourselves, for each other, and for our planet! here's to a great 2011, for all of us.

Now, let's talk about food. Really good Spanish food, to be exact.While in Florida for Christmas, my parents and I went to the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, the historical neighborhood located in the city of Tampa, Florida.  The Columbia Restaurant was founded in 1905 and is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. 


Founded by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., it began in Tampa’s Ybor City, as a small corner café known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. Over the years, the restaurant has grown. It expanded to five other locations in Florida: St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, the Historic District in St. Augustine, The Pier in St. Petersburg, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Central Florida’s town of Celebration, and the Columbia Café at the Tampa Bay History Center, Channelside. All Columbia Restaurants are owned and operated by 4th and 5th generation members of the founding family (read the entire history here).  The Columbia has been named an All-American Icon by Nation's Restaurant News, one of only fifty restaurants in the U.S. chosen for this honor.

The Tampa location is lovely to behold. The exterior is covered in Spanish tile, a reference to the Moorish tiles of Southern Spain. Inside, there are multiple opulent dining rooms, each offering a different environment and feel. After glancing in the old café room, and walking through the richly decorated Don Quixote dining room (outfitted with a large crystal chandalier and dark woodwork), we were shown to the Patio Dining Room, a sunny and bright room designed to mimic the patios of Andalucia. It was built in 1937, and I felt as though I were being transported back in time. Waiters busily hurried about the dining room in black tuxedos, scraping bread crumbs off tables and adjusting the folded cloth napkins. Large green palms dotted the room, providing lovely contrast to the white marble floor, crisp white tablecloth, and white walls. A fountain in the center provided the soothing sound of running water. Holiday greenery tastefully hung from the railings of the second story, providing a festive touch. 


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New York, New York: Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Travel Adventures, Part II

Vox Pop cafe, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

I just got back from a long weekend in New York City. I was traveling to see my Lyme doctor, do a bit of siteseeing, and catch up with a handful of friends who live in the city. I had the pleasure of staying with Kim of Wallet-Friendly Wellness and her sister Steph. We had a wonderful time together talking about food, health, and catching up on general girl talk.  Staying with Kim and Steph was such a blessing, and I felt lucky to be be welcomed into their wonderful home with open arms.  

Most of my time in New York was spent in Brooklyn, and it truly stole my heart. Oh Brooklyn, how you charmed me with your beautiful restaurants, quirky boutiques, socially conscious coffee shops, awesome co-ops, beautiful parks, and wide assortment of hip young urban people.  It is much more calm and feels much more authentic than Manhattan - it was a relief to only go downtown on one day, and hang out in the slower-paced environs of Brooklyn most of the time.  I only ventured into downtown for my doctors appointment, which went very well. My doctor is pleased with my progress - hooray! - and things are looking good thus far. I am so thankful. Between spending time with such amazing women, having a great appointment, catching up with other New York-dwelling friends, and having lots of time to explore the city by myself on foot (my favorite thing about traveling).  And thankfully, I felt well enough to explore, which made me very, very happy.

New York is such a vibrant, amazing city. It is beautiful, ugly, energizing, exhausting, frustrating, and inspiring all at once. The diversity of people is incredible; I could ride the tubway all day long and never tire of just observing the people around me (I'm a recreational anthropologist).  Although I have now been to New York twice, I haven't yet set foot in a theater, museum, tourist attraction, landmark, or very many shops. Yes, I those things are great and I will go eventually.  But right now I am finding endless satisfaction in the richness of the neighborhoods and people that make New York New York. I love walking the streets and taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of wherever I am traveling, and New York is perfect for this kind of thing.  Where else can you walk down a single street and encounter a Jamaican restaurant serving ital food next to an Italian trattoria across the street from a Columbian cafe, a Caribbean market, and a Chinese take-out place, while hip hop blares from a boom box on the shoulder of a young African American man standing on the corner? And let's not forget two schoolbuses of Hassidic Jewish children playing in the park, followed shortly thereafter by a spontaneous discussion and photo exchange with a friendly Brazilian tourist named André and an amazing meal at a raw, vegan restaurant. 

New York, I love you.

I wanted to share a few images from my trip, as well as my experiences navigating the gluten-free and allergy-friendly food world of New York. I hope you enjoy!


Carousel at Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

Park Slope neighborhood, Brooklyn

razor wire along Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

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New York, New York! Gluten-free, allergy-friendly travel adventures.


I just got home from a long weekend in New York. Yep, that’s me in the photo, relishing in the weird madness of Times Square, my plaid coat swimming in a sea of black jackets. This was my first trip to NYC, and let me tell you, I drank it up. Site-seeing and aimless wandering aside, the main reason for going was my appointment with Dr. Bernard Raxlen, a well-known LLMD who specializes in the treatment of tick-borne illnesses. The appointment was wonderful; the office was private and quiet, and he was supportive and knowledgeable. In short, it was a great relief to finally feel like I have answers to all those questions I had. I realized, once again, that I have a whole lot of stuff going on that I had learned to ignore or write off to “other things”, whatever I thought those things were, who knows. I now have a fist full of prescriptions to fill for antibiotics, thyroid medication, anti-yeast medication to add to my already full pill schedule.  If you want to know more about my treatment, check out my post  on my other blog, The Healing Journal.  It feels amazing to have answers, finally.


But, as the Buddha said, all things in moderation; I also made sure to have lots and lots of fun. It was my first trip to New York, and I completely and totally fell in love.

I ran on adrenalin.

I absorbed New York big time. It is a city of many cities, each neighborhood unique. I was staying with a dear friend who lives near Columbia in the Upper West Side. He was a total darling, and gave me the grand tour. I’m a wanderer when I travel, not a planner, and he has the same approach, so we travelled together swimmingly. We went all over the city, hitting up his painting studio, checking out films in Harlem and Chelsea, hitting up all the tourist wonderment of Times Square and Rockafeller Center, and wandered over to the East Village for vintage shopping. We shared a table with a stranger at dinner, got invited to a party at his apartment that evening, attended the party, and had an amazing time. We wandered Chinatown, Little Italy, saw the South Sea Harbor, the site of the Twin Towers, and the Financial District. We walked through Central Park. I learned to use the public transit system there, even navigating it on my own! I combatted my blood sugar crashes by packing a ton of me-friendly snacks and carrying them around with me on our adventures (an extra big purse beats passing out anyday). I worked around my dietary restrictions by seeking out restaurants with menus I could negotiate (I love Google). I dragged myself up stairs, stairs and more stairs, taking breaks when I needed to (I get winded and totally exhausted with stairs these days…thanks, Lyme Disease). I had fun and felt totally confident with new people at that apartment party without drinking a drop of alcohol (I stopped drinking a couple years ago because it was making me feel terrible). I felt more like my old self again; adventurous, carefree, spontaneous.

Amidst all the fun I fit in my admissions phone interview with the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.  I will hear this week regarding my acceptance - fingers crossed!!!

Of course, I wanted to provide you a round-up of my gluten free, allergy friendly culinary adventures.  The hardest part about it, honestly, was asking questions at restaurants.  New York has a huge immigrant population, and many of them work in food service - some of my servers and people working at the counters didn't speak English well, and my questions were misunderstood and required a lot of clarification.  New York has tons of great choices for those of us with restrictions, so with a little  homework, you have lots of options.  So here goes, starting with the dinner I packed in my carry-on for the flight there...

Where: Milwaukee Airport (I don't think was is a gluten free, allergy-friendly meal in the entire airport other than mine)
What I ate: some very tasty, very travel friendly chickpea salad, my fallback travel food

 ON THE ROAD CHICKPEA SALAD (gluten free, vegan)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
handful parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
pinch dry mint
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp coriander
splash ume vinegar and olive oil
optional: other veggies, other spices

Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and take with you.  Lasts well unrefrigerated for up to 4-5 hours. Delicious!
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Where: Saga Grill (Vietnamese and Japanese)
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights, 1268 Amsterdam Ave (between 122nd and 123rd st)
What I ate: pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup - broth, rice noodles, beef, with bean sprouts, basil, onion to garnish)
What it set me back: about $8
How GF/allergy-safe was it? To be honest, I was a bit nervous.  Pho should not contain any gluten at all, since it is made with homemade bone stock and uses rice noodles, but to be safe, I asked. The server did not speak English very well and did not understand my question when I asked about gluten or wheat, instead answering that there wasn't any corn starch.   While that was good to know, it sure didn't answer my question.  I decided to go for it, relying on many other positive pho experiences out in the world - it is my fallback food, since most metro areas have at least one quality Vietnamese restaurant.   The food came, and I didn't have any reactions, so it all worked out - but there was definitely an element of risk involved.  The rest of the menu was pretty standard Vietnamese and Japanese faire - broken rice plates, lots of sushi, bento lunches, stir fries, spring rolls.  Many options that seemed like they could be GF (rice plates, sushi, etc), but many options that also probably contain lots of hidden gluten (soy sauce!!!!!), corn starch, and other potential allergens.  This place is risky...unless you're eating the pho!
How did it taste? It was passable.  I've had better tasting pho many places.  But it was warming and rich, and came with lots and lots of very tender beef, which is very important.  The basil was wilty, but the bean sprouts were fresh.  Plus, it was the cheapest meal I ate in NYC, and our green tea was free.  I think it tasted even better because it was only 12* F outside and we were freezing our butts off out there in the cold.



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Where: Chop't (made to order chopped salads)
Neighborhood: Midtown, other locations in NYC as well
What I ate: custom chopped salad of arugula, roasted turkey, peas, snow peas, sunflower seeds, white beans, carrot, and cucumber, with a little olive oil, and a bag of Terra Chips (no potatoes, baby!)
What it set me back: about $13
How GF/allergy-safe was it?  The ingredients are all lined up deli style in the prep area, and there is definitely cross-contamination between some of them - I had to pick some corn out of my peas, for example.  If you are severely nut allergic, there would be some MAJOR risk here.  On the plus side, they use a fresh cutting board with each salad.  Unfortunately, gluten is not called out in the salad dressings. And without calling it out on the menu or asking  me, I was served my salad with a big fat piece of pita bread smashed in on top.  I had them remake my salad, since I wasn't willing to pick it off and just eat.  They obliged apologetically, and I told them they ought to ask customers if they want bread, or put a sign up that bread is included with each salad.  This place had some risky elements.  If you are severely reactive, it may not be the place for you.  If you're okay as long as you don't eat the allergen, I'd totally recommend it.
How did it taste?  Awesome.  The vegetables were very fresh, very flavorful, and the chopped nature of the salad made every bite perfect.  I loved it. I would totally go back.  No reactions either, which is cool.
Side notes: I wanted to go to Just Salad (another salad place with GF callouts on the menu), but came across Chop't first.  Walking 3 more blocks and navigating Rockafellar Center on a busy Saturday just to get a salad when Chop't was right in front of me seemed silly.  but next time, I'm going to try Just Salad; based on their menu, they just seem more GF aware.

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Where: S'Mac | Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese (made-to-order mac and cheese, has a dedicated GF menu)
Neighborhood: East Village
What I ate: custom pasta dish of brown rice macaroni elbows, chicken, broccoli, and roasted garlic
What it set me back: about $13
How GF/allergy-safe was it? Sarita's claims to be very GF friendly.  They have GF brown rice macaroni noodles and GF bread crumbs (rice and corn-based) for an extra cost, and since the pasta dishes are customizable, you can get what works for you and what doesn't.  Since the kitchen is filled with gluten, there is some risk for cross-contamination.  The only oil they have in the kitchen is corn oil, so if you have corn allergies, ask for it to be prepared without oil.  Since everything normally comes with cheese, my cheese-free order got a bit of flack from the young and rather unknowledgeable staff person working at the counter.  However, my order was totally right, completely delicious, and I did not have any reactions.
How did it taste?  Great.  I had dry pasta that was tossed with roasted garlic, steamed broccoli, and chicken, but would have loved some kind of sauce or something.  Regardless, it tasted great, and I had leftovers (I got the Mongo size).  Hooray!  No reactions, no belly ache (other than eating too much...)

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Where: Quantum Leap - East Village (vegetarian, organic, whole foods)
Neighborhood: East Village, another location in the West Village
What I ate: the Salmon Plate (steamed seasonal veggies, brown rice, and broiled salmon ordered without the regular glaze) and a fresh carrot-beet juice
What it set me back: about $18
How GF/allergy-safe was it?  They were very receptive to all of my questions and concerns.  However, the kitchen is teaming with gluten; whole grain pancakes are their claim to fame.  They use the same grill for everything - so I made sure my veggies were steamed and the fish broiled, not grilled.  I felt they were the most knowledgeable and accomadating to my questions and needs.  They offer GF ale on their menu too (I don't drink right now, but it looked tasty!).  My receipt called out no gluten, no sauces, broil, steamed etc - hooray for being clear on the order directions.
How did it taste?  Amazing! The vegetables were perfectly steamed, the rice was tender, and the HUGE filet of salmon melted in my mouth.  It came without any sauces or marinades - just like I ordered - and was hot, straight from the kitchen.  Since it was pretty much plain, whole food, I pulled some wasabi powder from my purse and stirred in a little water, making a tasty wasabi paste to eat with the fish.  Perfect!!!  The carrot beet juice was refreshing and vitamin-packed, just what I needed.  This was a great meal, and I will definitely go back the next time I am in NY.  Then menu was extensive and wonderful; lots of vegan options, and for peopel with a few less allergies than me, you'd have a TON of choices.  They have more items than what is on their menu online.



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Where: Organic Forever (grocery store)
Neighborhood: Harlem
Great little organic grocery store, with a TON of gluten free, vegan, and whole foods options.  I can't believe all the specialty items shoved into such a small space, everything from bulk grains and legumes to Chinese herbs and homeopathics to a nice deli and a whole bunch of packaged foods.  All the basics plus more - perfect!  Their produce was fresh, just basic offerings, but enough to make good meals.  They even had SoDelicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream, Grainnaissance Mochi, local sprouts, and a loads of GF stuff.  Awesome, highly recommended.  My friend Matthew says their coffee is very good.  If you're in the Upper West Side and need a place to grab an energy bar, stuff for a quick meal, a snack, or some herbs, this is a good choice.  I got a bunch of groceries to make a few meals for under $20.

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Where: WestSide Market  (grocery store)
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights, other NYC locations
Great 24/7 market with an amazing deli and hot bar, salad bar, loads of fresh produce, and a huge amount of specialty items and GF grocery offerings.   I got the grilled carrots from the hot bar, and it was amazing.  Other ready-made basics like rice with veggies, roasted asparagus, sweet potatoes, all ready to go.   This is the kind of place you and your friends/family could go to for a quick meal, regardless of who can or can't eat what.  Plus, it was cheap - I got a container of roasted carrots, 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, and a HUGE zucchini for about $3.30.  This place was incredible, so many speciality items, so many fresh veg, such fresh deli options - AWESOME!

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A few other places I came across that looked hopeful...next time!  
Angelica's Kitchen (vegetarian - some GF options)
Candle Cafe (vegetarian - GF menu)
Pala (pizza & pasta - vegan menu, GF options)
Just Salad (made to order chopped salads - GF menu)
Shake Shack NYC (burgers, shakes - GF menu)
The Organic Grill (vegan - some GF options)
Sacred Chow Vegan Bistro (vegan - some GF options)
Sambuca (Italian - GF menu)
Risotteria Ristorante (Italian - GF menu)
Rice (rice-based dishes)
Rice to Riches  (mix-n-match rice pudding - everything includes dairy and eggs, so it doesn't work for me - but everything looked GF, so if you tolerate eggs and dairy, go go go!)


Great resource for dining in NYC with dietary restrictions: Allergic Girl

There are many many many more restaurants in NYC with GF and allergy-friendly offerings, this is just scratching the surface.  This link has a few additional offerings. Do some research, and see what else you can find!

This post would be remiss without mentioning that I was in the hometown of Babycakes , the ubiquitous bakery that published the self-titled cookbook of mostly GF, mostly agave-sweetened baked goods last year.  They are very transparent about their ingredients, and list the full ingredient and nutritional information for all their basic baked goods on their website.  In a bittersweet turn of events, I found out in my research that they use lots and lots of potato starch and corn starch in their baked goods, as well as xanthan gum, which I try to avoid most of the time (I tolerate it in very small quantities occasionally, but don't make a habit of eating it regularly).  So, no Babycakes for me.  But if you tolerate corn and potato, and want some pretty impressive looking gluten free baked goodies head on over to Babycakes.
Of course, I took along food for snacks, breakfasts, and dinner supplementation.  As someone with dietary restrictions, I always travel with food.  Since i was staying with a friend, I was able to cook in his kitchen for some meals at home; that allowed me to stop at the local markets and get veggies and other things, and cook up wholesome, satisfying meals.  But much of our day was on-the-go - bringing food that could travel during the day with me was key.  I packed more than I needed, but when it comes to travel and GF/allergy-friendly living, I think being over-prepared is best.  Here's some extra stuff I brought along to eat on the airplane and while bopping around NYC:
  • Cashew Cookie LaraBar (dates and cashews - that's it!)
  • Enjoy Life Sunbutter Crunch Bars (these are a bit of a cheat, with both cane juice and xanthan gum...but I seem tolerate them and don't have any reactions, so in cases like this, they are useful)
  • homemade Nut Free Super Food Trail Mix 
  • homemade Power Nuggets, my answer to Chunks of Energy (this recipe will be in my cookbook...stay tuned!)
  • homemade energy bar of quinoa flakes, flax, sunflower seeds, and shredded carrot (I'm working on perfecting this recipe....)
  • raw cashews
  • rice cakes
  • a few homemade muffins (packed them frozen, perfect for breakfasts!)
  • dehydrated split pea soup mixture (mix with hot water, done!)
  • UltraClear Plus protein powder and a small mason jar (put the powder in the jar, throw your bag, and just add water when you want it!)
  • a big bag of me-friendly tea bags
  • cornstarch-free wasabi powder: to make my own for spicy dressings/sauces at restaurants
  • dulse flakes: adds flavor and nutrition on restaurant salads, veggies, etc
  • a bag of baby carrots
  • a bag of snow peas (came in handy on my unexpected flight delay!)
Sounds like a lot, right?  Well, I was there for 4 1/2 days, and knew I'd be walking a lot and would get hungry hungry hungry.   I packed it all in a bag, shoved it in my suitcase, and I was totally well-prepared.  Anytime we were out wandering the city (for 12+ hours per day), I could reach into my bag whenever I felt a little low blood sugar moment, and know I had a safe snack.  It even came in handy for my friend - he loved my Power Nuggets. I also brought along some other stuff to make for breakfasts and have for meals at my friend's apartment - quinoa flakes, kasha, a can of soy-free tuna, split mung dal.   I was totally prepared, and ate a whole lot more of it than I thought - walking all day gave me the serious munchies.


All in all, it was a great success.  I loved New York.  I need to go back in March for a follow up with my doctor, and hope I am feeling well enough at that time to do more site seeing.  I feel my body crashing now from running at such a high velocity for 4 days, but it was worth every second.

I am working on a post about how to travel gluten free and allergy free, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, enjoy a few photos from my trip.  If you want to see more, check out my photostream on Flickr.