Guest Post: Making Broth for Allergies

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Stephanie Pearson of Daily Nectar. Please check out her bio after the article. Thanks Stephanie!

Making Broth for Allergies

When my son was toddler and we had not yet uncovered all of his food sensitivities, I began working with bone broth soups and stews as a way to clear his symptoms. I found that after a day or two on a very basic eliminative diet of just non-starchy vegetables, nourishing grass-fed meats, and bone broth, my son’s digestive and behavioral symptoms would completely go away. I was then able to reintroduce foods one by one and observe which foods caused the symptoms to reappear. I used this method in combination with herbs and an adapted version of the Coca Pulse Test, which are described in other articles.

Although a lot of us have learned about bone broth from Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, many have not experienced using the broths as a tool for determining food sensitivities. Bone broth provides easily absorbed proteins and minerals, has a healing effect on digestive organs, and stimulates immune function. It is also hypoallergenic, allowing so that we can get a clear view of the which foods are triggering inflammation and/or an immune response. Below, I provide instructions for making nourishing broths and using them to support healing for those with food sensitivities. Include the broths as rich additions to your regular diet or consider using broth to cleanse during an allergy-elimination diet.

Bone Broth Directions

Making bone broth is easy. first, ask your butcher for an organic chicken or knuckles and marrow bones bones from grass fed cows. I prefer to simplify (and keep my hands clean!) by having the chicken and beef bones pre-cut. You may also use lean fish like bass or cod to make a fish broth. A fish based broth makes a delicious base for coconut and other Thai and Asian soups, such as Tom Kha Gai. It all types of broth, the bones are essential, but you can increase nutrition if you also include organs and other parts that we don’t usually consume in our modern diet. Depending on your sense of adventure, you can include none or any of the following: chicken feet, chicken necks and heads, whole fish, including the heads, and organ meats. If this really isn’t really your thing, don’t worry, omitting the less familiar bits will still produce a gourmet, very tasty, nutritious, and healing broth.

It is economical if you can make a habit of keeping all the bones from the meat that you eat during the week. Vegetable scraps and egg shells make great additions to the broth too (make sure that you clean the egg shells well). Keep these spare parts in a labeled jar or freezer bag in the freezer and add them to your pot in within six months time.

To make the broth, place the bones in a large pot and cover with filtered water and a teaspoon or so of apple cider or other vinegar. Within 15 minutes, the acidity of the vinegar will draw minerals such as calcium and potassium from the bones and into your soup. These minerals support the healing of bones and make teeth stronger. Bring the pot to a boil and skim off what collects on the top. At this point you can add vegetables if you’d like. For American soups, I like to use a French mirepoix, a combination of equal parts celery or celeriac root, onions, and carrots. This works fine with Asian soups as well, but it can be nice to also include ginger and other Asian vegetables. Many Latin American stocks are lovely with a bit of cilantro added in the last ten minutes. Next, decrease the temperature to a simmer and cook for between 4 and 24 hours. The longer you simmer the more minerals you’ll extract. During the last 30 minutes, you can add medicinal herbs to your broth. I like to add a few tablespoons of astragalus root to strengthen wei chi, a Chinese medicine concept that describes the protective barrier of our immune system that forms our natural defenses. I recommend that you do not use astragalus if you have an acute infection, least you “lock the thief in the house” (or close the outer barrier with the sickness still inside you), as they say in Chinese medicine). It is also contraindicated in pregnancy. Dandelion and burdock roots can be beneficial to people with eczema or other skin eruptions or to those in need of detoxification. Garlic and ginger are warming and improve circulation which can be especially helpful to those who often feel cold or who have cold hands and feet. Ginger also improves digestion and can double or triple the absorption of nutrients. Fresh nettles make a fabulous addition to broth when added in the last half hour. Nettles can modulate allergic response, are protein-rich, and are highly nutritive (make sure to use tongs to avoid being stung).

When the broth is ready and has cooled, strain it through a colander or fine mesh strainer and into another pot or a large glass container. The marrow within the beef bones will be red to yellow in color and is extraordinarily healing to gut lining. You can boost the healing power of the broth by scooping the marrow out and returning it to the broth. Share the bones with your dog or bury them in the garden. After straining, you can use the broth to make soup, serve it on its own with sea salt, freeze as it is, or reduce it further by boiling it down, letting it cool, and freezing it in ice cubes trays (which should later be transferred into a freezer bag). Add the cubes to meals to improve flavor, contribute to healing, and increase the nutritional value of what you are eating. I add cubes to water when making grains, sauces, and even biscuits.

Ingredients

This recipe makes approximately 64oz of broth depending on how much water you use and how long you leave it to cook.
4 quarts of filtered water
1.5- 2 lbs of beef marrow bones, chickens with necks, etc., or whole fish cut up
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered)
chopped vegetables, such as 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 3 celery ribs
1 tsp. unrefined sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
1-2 Tbs. of herbs such as garlic, ginger, astragalus, burdock, or dandelion root (optional)

As I found in the case of my son, bone broth, with its easily assimilated minerals and gut-healing gelatin, is perhaps the ideal food for those suffering from allergies. When intestinal lining becomes overly permeable, as is common with conditions such as food and environmental sensitivities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, we are left with a condition descriptively called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome can develop as a result of high levels of stress, chronic maldigestion, undiagnosed food sensitivities, or with the use of birth control pills, antibiotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen).

The small intestine is highly specialized to absorb certain molecules and keep others, such as toxins, out. Increased permeability leads to increased toxicity, decreased nutrient absorption, and a greater susceptibility to acquired allergies- or proteins tagged as antigens because they have seeped through the gut with other allergens. Gelatin-rich bone broth has a nourishing and curative action that is reparative to permeable lining and can dampen the allergic response. In addition to its benefit to atopic conditions, bone broth has the overall effect of enhancing the natural functioning of our bodies, boosting the immune system, and preserving and strengthening teeth, bones, and joints. All other the world, broth was traditionally served as a first course or along side meals. Take a lesson from tradition and put it on your table.

Stephanie Pearson is a mother of three, nutrition consultant, herbalist, and community educator. She is also a member of Slow Food Portland and holds an appointed position on the Multnomah Food Policy Council. She is up and coming for her work with Daily Nectar in nutritional education and consultation, specializing in herbal and nutritional support for Autism Spectrum Disorders, sub-acute gluten sensitivity, and digestive imbalances. Stephanie is committed to spreading nutritional awareness and works diligently to offer free education and affordable nutritional support to individuals and parents nation-wide.

Daily Nectar is based in Portland, Oregon. Stephanie offers telephone consultations nationwide. www.dailynectar.net, 971-678-4280

Veggie Grill Opening Event

Among other Portland bloggers, we were invited to an event to celebrate the opening of a Veggie Grill in Beaverton, Oregon. Both of us have been vegetarian and vegan in the past, and we definitely do our best to add veggie-friendly info to Gluten Free Portland, so we were really happy to be invited. Here is part of the invitation they sent us:

Restauranteur of the year and native Oregonian Ed Casey is bringing Vegan restaurant Veggie Grill to town! Veggie Grill has hearty comfort food that really brings a new twist to vegan and vegetarian fare. The Veggie Grill menu is satisfying food for vegetarians and vegans and traditionally meat loving folks alike. The restaurant is located at 3435 SW Cedar Hills Blvd Suite D, Beaverton OR 97140.

We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but the website makes it look kind of like a more pricey vegan American fast food joint. That is pretty much what we discovered when we attended the event. I also heard it described as “vegan American comfort food” but it’s definitely not “comfort food” in the collard greens & grits sense of the word. So yeah, I’m going to stick with more pricey vegan American fast food joint. They are a chain that started in Los Angeles, and there is one in Seattle as well. Comparisons to Chipotle, Baja Fresh, and/or Noodles & Company would definitely be fair.

Veggie Grill - the view from the bar

The place was clean, the help was friendly, and the food arrived very quickly. The decor is slick and the restaurant has an upbeat and energetic vibe. Basically the entire menu is salads and various kinds of veggie burger. And here’s where we introduce the unfortunate fact: we’re not really going to be the core audience for the Veggie Grill. The sandwiches are served on wheat buns and the vegan chickin’ and veggie-steak meat substitutes are made with wheat (among other ingredients). The burgers can be served on a bed of kale, and they do have tempeh, so that opens the options up a little bit, but really, almost everything on the menu needs some fiddling to make it gluten-free.

Veggie Grill All Hail Kale

When asked about the gluten-free options, all the staff were able to make suggestions, and it was obvious that the restaurant took the time to educate everybody about gluten issues (which we always really appreciate). The items on the menu that were suggested were the All Hail Kale (pictured above) with tempeh, the Thai Chickin’ salad (but without the chickin’ and wontons), the Bali Bliss Sandwich (but on kale), and the Papa’s Portobello burger (also on kale).

Veggie Grill Portland Bali Bliss on Kale

We sampled the All Hail Kale, Bali Bliss on kale, and the Portobello burger. We both quite enjoyed the All Hail Kale, which is basically a marinated kale salad with cabbage, salsa, and a vinaigrette. It was fresh, light, and flavorful. The veggies were obviously fresh, and the dish was satisfying. Sienna found the Portobello burger disappointingly bland. The Bali Bliss was basically as good as a tempeh patty can be when served on a bed of kale. I like tempeh, and if you’ve had a lot of tempeh, then you probably know what I mean. The tempeh itself was good but not particularly flavorful. It was served with an interesting lightly spicy aoli-like sauce, which helped quite a bit.

The final analysis: We both left with the feeling that we weren’t really the intended audience of the Veggie Grill. Although they’ve definitely done their homework to be gluten-free friendly, the menu isn’t marked, and I think that there’s enough room for ingredient confusion with fakin’ chicken and beef that it probably should be marked. I will say that if we lived in Beaverton and some of our vegan friends wanted to get something to eat, it would be on our list of possible places to visit. Check out Portland vegan blog Get Sconed for more coverage.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly but Ask Questions
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: same

Veggie Grill
veggiegrill.com
3435 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton OR 97140
(503) 234-7437

Tula Gluten Free Bakery – New Kid in Town

Gluten Free Berry Scone at Tula

Our friends started raving recently about a new gluten-free bakery that opened up on NE Alberta. We just went there for the first time two weekends ago, and went back for some pizza the night that they had their opening celebration. Tula Gluten Free Baking Co. is located at the corner of NE Martin Luther King Jr. and NE Alberta. Besides being a bakery, they also have lunch and breakfast items, pizza, and espresso drinks. The bakery itself is good-sized, featuring a nice area to sit and eat gluten-free baked goods.

Goodies behind the glass

Tula has a number of treats available. As mentioned above, they have pizza. Behind the counter they usually have a couple different kinds of scone, a few different tart-sized quiches, cookies, cupcakes, breads, and hand pies. You can also pick up some par-baked focaccia bread and/or delicious olive bread. Because baked goods are a particularly sore spot for the gluten-intolerant, we see it as our duty to eat lots and lots of baked goods. We do it out of our sense of duty and in a spirit of altruism. Especially when it comes to cookies.

gluten-free baked goodies

Here we have, starting at the cookie and moving clock-wise around the box: A chocolate-chip salt cookie, a mixed berry pie, a curried vegetable hand pie, and two mini quiches. The cookie ended up being the least popular item we sampled. None of us were particularly excited about it. It seems strangely greasy and besides the grease flavor, there isn’t a lot to it. We’re happy to report, however, that everything else here was really amazing. They all benefit from a little time in a toaster oven to get them warm again. We were especially fond of the berry pie, the curry hand pie, and the tomato dill mini quiche there. These all had great flavors, and the pie crust at Tula is really excellent.

Gluten Free focaccia bread

Focaccia bread is one of those things I really miss, and until now haven’t been able to replace it. The focaccia at Tula comes par baked. So you take it home and finish baking it right before you want to eat it. There’s enough focaccia there to make 4 good-sized sandwiches. The ingredients are millet flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, agave syrup, xanthan gum, sea salt, olive oil, and rosemary (so it’s vegan). To finish baking, you put it in the oven at 375 degree and bake 11 to 15 minutes. Fresh out of the oven, this focaccia is soft, springy and delicious. It’s good dipped in oil and vinegar, but it’s even better with some honey!

gluten-free pizza at Tula

We also tried the pizza at Tula. The good news is that the pizza here is totally safe, since it’s made in a dedicated gluten-free bakery. I’m used to crossing my fingers every time I set foot in a pizza place that has gluten-free pizza available. Half for good luck, and half because I feel like I’m testing my fate. Many places around town are careful about cross-contamination, but to me, it’s really nice to get a pizza that you know definitely hasn’t been dragged through a pile of wheat flour. The crust style is thin, and soft. So if you’re into pizza with soft crusts, this one is for you. I found the lack of topping variety a little disappointing (they only have vegetarian options) and also Sienna and I were dissatisfied with the flavor. The sauce seems more like a ragu and is sweet. Although the cheese and other toppings are good, I felt like the sauce was seeping into the crust and losing its flavor. I think a lot of pizza places fight this by rubbing the crust with a crushed garlic piece and applying a bit of olive oil before adding the sauce.

We’ve been back a couple of times, and every time we’ve had great experiences with the people at the counter. Everybody is friendly and ready to answer questions about the items there and the bakery itself. Did we mention that the place is vegetarian-friendly? They also have vegan options. Last, they serve sandwiches.

Our final verdict: We’re really excited to have another retail gluten-free bakery open in town, and especially happy to have one that has such a wide range of products. We took the focaccia bread and made grilled cheese sandwiches out of it. This is my new favorite thing to do.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Dedicated Facility
Times we have visited: 3 (So we feel pretty good about our score.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: 1 or 2 bucks, depending on the item

Tula Gluten Free Baking Co.
Tula on Facebook
4943 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Ste 101 Portland, OR 97211 / 541.306.1250

Allergic Girl Book is Out

I just wanted to very quickly mention that Allergic Girl’s book, Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies is out. When I was starting this blog, she was kind enough to give me a boost, and has always been an interesting read. You can check out her blog here.

Gluten Free Controversy on Dr. Oz

We were notified that Dr. Oz was doing a segment on gluten free diets on his TV show today. Naturally, we had to tune in. Here’s the executive summary: If you’re sensitive to gluten, then you should probably stop eating it. 99% of the people who are gluten intolerant still don’t know it. However, the gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthy, and is not a good way to lose weight.

For the curious, you can watch the episode online here on the Dr. Oz website.

I wasn’t actually aware that anybody was touting the gluten-free diet as being great for weight loss. So that was news to me. On the show they did some product comparisons, and the basic gist of the matter was that gluten free versions of many popular foods are more caloric and contain less fiber. Of course, we ARE talking about a TV show here, so they might have just picked out the most egregious offenders, because that makes for good TV. At the same time, we’ve spent some words on this blog talking about gluten free products and health. Mostly it’s been me complaining about how most all gluten free breads are made of starch and rice flour.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. If I could eat wheat, I would. First off, there are some items that you can’t get gluten free. Like a good brioche, a divine sourdough, or good bagels. Second, there is a reason wheat has been cultivated and eaten by mankind for all time: It’s good for you. Whole wheat is high in protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. It’s an aid to digestion, and has countless culinary uses.

The segment on Dr. Oz struck me as having a dual personality. On one hand, Dr. Oz kept talking about how gluten does cause inflammatory problems in people who are sensitive to it. He even went so far as to recommend that people who have inflammatory symptoms try a two week elimination diet to see if they might have a sensitivity. But then he kept bashing the diet as being unhealthy and fattening.

It was interesting to hear the list of health problems associated with gluten sensitivity. Among the items I heard mentioned were fatigue, inflammation, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heart disease and cancer. Also, they mentioned that the inflammation caused by gluten can increase the insulin in your body, which can lead to weight problems, among other things.

Also interesting, there is a one week diet plan on the Dr. Oz website, here. Also, he has a couple of pages on celiac disease and gluten, here.

In the end, I did appreciate the show, although I thought that it sensationalized the subject matter in a way that may not have been very productive. It is a bit of a double-edged sword. I wouldn’t recommend a gluten-free diet to anybody who doesn’t need to be on it. BUT, for those of us who do, it’s truly life-changing. AND, just because something is gluten free, it doesn’t mean that it’s not junk food.

News Bites: Portobello Opening and FAAN Walk

Portobello Grand Opening

Vegan and gluten-free friendly restaurant, Portobello Trattoria, has been closed for a month while moving and will be hosting an opening celebration at its new location this Wednesday. See our review of Portobello, here.

Hello Peoples!  We will be opening up on June 9th in our new digs at 1125 SE Division Street.  It’s right on the corner of 12th and Division, in the “Banana Building”…the one with the big Andy Warhol banana inspired mural (ya’ know…like on the Velvet Underground album…anyway…).  So! Come on down for din-din or a cocktail/mocktail and have a nice time with us. We’re opening around 5ish.

FAAN Walk

Reader Kristal notified us about a walk to benefit the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The Portland Oregon walk for food allergies will happen August 28th, so mark your calendars. The location will be at Kenilworth Park, SE 34th and Holgate Blvd. More information here. Says Kristal:

This is going to be a great day for everyone who is affected by food allergies… There will be a lot of fun stuff for the kids and lots of Sponsors with booths and freebies. I am also having a donation raffle of yummy food allergy sensitive treats!!

About FAAN (from their website):

Founded in 1991 by Anne Munoz Furlong, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially life-threatening medical condition that affects approximately 12 million Americans, or one out of every 25, and is rapidly increasing in prevalence.

FAAN continues to lay the groundwork for a brighter future for those with food allergies. We work throughout the year on initiatives that will improve the quality of life for those with food allergies. Our focus is to provide advocacy and education while advancing research on behalf of those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.

Gluten Free Class at Hipcooks

Hipcooks will be offering their gluten-free cooking class Saturday, July 11 from 1-4pm. Check their Portland class schedule for more details. (See our review of their cooking classes here and here.)

June GIG Meeting is this Saturday

Mike & Maria Smith of Bavaria Mills Gluten Free Bakery will be presenting at this month’s Portland Metro Gluten Intolerance Group meeting this Saturday, June 12th. The GIG meetings are currently held at Legacy Emanuel Hospital – 2801 N Gantenbein Ave., Portland, OR 97227, in Conference Room 1075. More information on the Portland GIG here.

Lots of Additions to Our Restaurant Lists

We have heard from a lot of readers and restaurant owners and have added a bunch of new entries to our gluten free restaurant list and gluten-free pizza list. So if you haven’t looked at them recently, you should take a gander. Also, with each restaurant on the list, there is a place to leave your own comments. We’ve had a great response with this, and hope that more people will leave comments with their experiences.

And note that it’s become much more easy for restaurants to submit their information with our handy restaurant submission form.

Whew that’s it. Hope everybody has a great week!

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Drink Non-Dairy Milk

I’ve been debating whether or not to cover this item. It’s not like there aren’t already a whole lot of gluten-free milk options in the world! At the same time, there are a lot of people who can’t (or won’t) drink cow’s milk, and who might be allergic to soy milk. This leaves some less-than-exciting options like rice milk, hemp milk, or making your own almond milk. This milk has millet, amaranth, and quinoa, which is interesting. When we first saw this item, we thought that it sounded like a good idea, and we decided to give a try.

Here are the ingredients for the unsweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Tapioca Starch, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

And here is the sweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

The main difference between the two is that the sweetened one has evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup solids. The unsweetened has tapioca starch. Those of you who are used to reading ingredients will be struck by two things: 1) The presence of amaranth, millet, and quinoa at the very bottom of the list means that they don’t really make up any real part of the milk and are more there as flavors at best. And 2) What the heck is inulin?

Inulin is a food additive that has been gaining popularity. It’s a naturally-occurring fiber that tastes sweet, but that isn’t digested. There are a lot of health claims about inulin, mostly having to do with stomach bacteria. Because we can’t digest the stuff, our stomach bacteria does it instead. Some say this is good. Others aren’t so excited. The Wikipedia page on inulin has good information on it, as does this page – Inulin: Friend or Foe? I don’t know enough about this stuff to be an expert, but I’m one of those people who distrust artificial sweeteners. At the same time, inulin is naturally occurring and can be found in onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, agave, and a number of other plants.

As you can see from the photo, the milk has that more watery sort of consistency that rice milk has. By now you’re probably all wondering how the milk tastes. I thought it was OK. When you look at the ingredients, you see that it’s basically fortified rice milk with a bunch of stuff thrown in and a strange indigestible sweetener. Those of you who are used to unsweetened non-dairy milks will find that both versions are rather sweet. I’m thinking that this is because of the inulin. In fact, I bought a carton of both and although I didn’t exactly perform a taste test on them, I remember thinking that I would have trouble telling which one is which by gauging the sweetness.

What it tastes the most like, to me, is millet. If you enjoy that nutty-corny taste that millet has, you might like this milk. It certainly doesn’t taste bad, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it does offer a bit more variety in the non-dairy milk category. I wish that I felt strongly one way or the other, but instead I was left with the impression that some people might like it. I didn’t really like it enough to switch from my usual milk of choice.

I would love to hear from anybody out there who gave this milk a try. And also, what you think of inulin, if anybody out there has a strong opinion, let us know what you think in the comments!

Spelt is Not Gluten Free

We don’t usually do this sort of informational post here, because we tend to focus on restaurant reviews, but lately I’ve noticed a trend where spelt is thought to be gluten-free. Unfortunately, spelt is a variety of wheat and contains the same sort of gluten. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website:

In the context of celiac disease, the term “gluten” is used to collectively refer to gluten in wheat, and to the proteins in other grains that have been demonstrated to cause harmful health effects in individuals who have celiac disease. These grains are wheat (including different varieties such as spelt and kamut), rye, barley, cross-bred hybrids (e.g., triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye), and possibly oats.”

Source

Gluten-Free Italy: Hotel Gallo in Tignale

Hotel Gallo is in Tignale, which is right on the west side of Lake Garda in Northern Italy. Lake Garda is about an hour drive from Germany, so there are a lot of German tourists and the multilingual menus there are in Italian first, then German, and then English. The popular travel writer, Rick Steves, says to avoid any restaurant with their menu in three languages, but we found a couple of restaurants where that wasn’t solid advice. As for the Hotel Gallo, we enjoyed our stay there.

Hotel Gallo Tignale Italy

I’m going to get our complaints out of the way first. Though the place had a newer feel than most of the hotels we stayed in, it didn’t seem as clean somehow. And the beds and pillows were hard (maybe it’s an Italian thing?). We also had some trouble with TV noise from neighboring rooms on our first night. Luckily, the hotel agreed to move us to a different (and in our opinion, nicer) room. Last, the hotel was definitely not fragrance free. The rooms smelled strongly of perfumed soap. It didn’t bother us much because we didn’t spend a lot of time in our room, but I could see it being an issue with someone who is very sensitive to fragrances.

Other than that, I can definitely recommend the Hotel Gallo. It is a three star hotel, which means that it’s mostly about providing a pleasant roof over your head. The nicer rooms in the hotel have a really stunning view over the lake and a balcony. They cost a little more, but from our experiences with European hotels, it is worth it to pay a little extra for a nicer room. Most of the staff spoke enough English that there weren’t any language problems, and they were very friendly, especially Fulvia, who was there during the morning and afternoons. We were really happy that our complaint about the noise was handled so kindly. I keep having the experience here in the US that, when you complain, a hotel will immediately start treating you like a burden—or worse.

Gluten-free pasta in Italy!

The greatest thing about Hotel Gallo is that they are very accommodating for gluten-free dining! Hotel Gallo has a restaurant on the first floor. For an extra fifteen Euros per person, you can get dinner there. This proved to be very economical AND had the added advantage of being able to eat gluten-free pasta dishes, which I did not once, but twice.

Gluten Free Breadfast at Hotel Gallo

Also, they had a separate breakfast table specially set up for gluten-free guests. This is pictured above, and as you can see, they have quite a selection of gluten-free goodies. Packaged rice crackers, some cookies, two kinds of cereal (yes, that’s a bowl of gluten-free cocoa puffs), and coffee cake. The rice crackers were by Schar and called “Fette croccanti.” The gluten-free coffee cake was gluten-free coffee cake!

Gluten-free Coffee Cake

For our two dinners, I had mixed seafood pasta and curried chicken one night, and then penne pasta with zucchini and seafood in an Alfredo sauce followed by some kind of pork steak the next night. The food was very good and all the vegetables seemed very fresh. The house wine was great, and as everywhere else we went in Italy, the espresso was delightful.

Lake Garda Italy

Although we can’t say our stay there was perfect, it was among the best places we stayed in Italy and we would go back again. I think it would be a great place to go and spend a lot of time exploring the beautiful surrounding countryside, going on hikes, and getting a massage. The Hotel Gallo has a fitness center, a hot tub, a hamam (which is like a sauna), and if you’re there in late September, you can catch the Tignale Truffle Week. For the gluten-free traveler, Hotel Gallo is a great place to stay in Italy.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions.
Times we have visited: 1 (One stay, four meals. So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Hotel Gallo
http://www.hotelgallo.com/
Hotel Gallo
via Roma, 30 – 25080 Tignale (Bs)
Lake Garda Italy
tel. +39 0365 73010
info@hotelgallo.com

Restaurant Review: Abby’s Table

One of the challenges we face when covering gluten-free eating is that different people have different tolerances for gluten. Making it even worse is that there are only a few dedicated gluten-free facilities in Portland. People who are very seriously gluten-intolerant probably shouldn’t eat at a lot of the places we review. So it’s a good day when we get to review a place that is dedicated gluten-free. Abby’s table is one such place.

Abby’s table is sort of more informal, family-style eating. It is hosted at a kitchen at SE 6th and Ankeny. Dinner is served by chef Abby Fammartino and her team on a bunch of large stainless steel tables. It’s the sort of place where you show up, pay a flat price ($18 a head at this writing), and they serve everyone what happens to be on the menu that night. The meal is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, and casein-free. Multiple courses are served and everyone starts eating at the same time, which is 7:00 PM every Wednesday. Check their calendar for nights and events.

Gluten Free Roasted pears

Our meal started with baked pears, and…

Curious Salad

continued with a curious but amazingly delicious salad, progressed to fried zucchini with Abby’s own “Nude Ranch” sauce, then moved on over to shrimp and/or beans with marinara over polenta, and…

Raw chocolate treats

ended with raw chocolate truffles with Abby’s “Dream Date” sauce.

The food was great, and everyone in our party had a fun time. Click here for awesome photos of the event by Portland photographer Shawn Linehan. Abby gave us a free sample of one of her sauces. (In the interest of full disclosure here, I have to state that although we paid for our meals, Abby was aware that we were coming. Normally our policy is to show up anonymously. See our disclosure policy. At the same time, since it’s family style, we ate the same food everyone else did.) The zucchini and salad were among the best we’ve had in Portland. While it was good, the quality of the rest of the food made us expect more from the polenta. It would have been better if the polenta had been more crisp. For vegans, the marinara could be had with beans instead of shrimp, and I was amazed at how good the beans went with it. Sienna liked the raw chocolate treats, but I thought they were only OK. Of course, I’m not a fan of raw chocolate.

The menu changes week by week. With our meal, we liked some things more than others. We got the feeling that Abby’s Table likes to experiment and is working to improve their dishes. The food is adventurous and well-prepared by people who obviously love food and care about health. The service was great. If you’re looking for a dedicated gluten-free restaurant in Portland to have dinner, Abby’s Table is one of the few options I currently know of, and we’re lucky to have such a good place to eat.

We want to know: Do you know of any other places to eat dinner that serve only gluten-free food? Have you tried any of Abby’s sauces? Let us know!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Mostly Safe (as far as we know it’s safe.)
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Abby’s table
http://www.abbys-table.com/
609 SE Ankeny St Portland, OR 97214 / 503.828.7662