Good Grub Subs…Gluten Free Sub Sandwiches

 

That’s right, you heard me. That’s not a type-o. Gluten Free Sub Sandwiches!! What are the first things you mourn after finding out you have to go gluten free? For most people it’s pizza and beer and SUBS! No more Subway, no more Firehouse. There is just nothing like a good juicy Italian sub full of ham, salami, pepperoni, Provolone cheese and Italian dressing. And when I was diagnosed and trying to come to grips with everything, I went back for that delicious Firehouse Italian sub “one last time” for about 6 months!

So when I started to hear rumors of a local sub shop serving gluten free subs I knew it must be too good to be true. When I googled “gluten free subs Atlanta”, Good Grub Subs popped up. And, to my extreme delight, I found out that they aren’t even 8 miles from my house! I had no excuse not to hop in the car and give them a try. I loaded up the hubby and the kid and we took off for lunch.

Right when you walk in you can tell that the ordering experience here is a little different than you are used to. To the first timer it may look overwhelming. But the staff is very helpful and will come around the counter to help you if you’ve never been in before. Along the wall as you come in is the sandwich board and underneath are a bunch of laminated menus filed under different headings…soups & wraps, veggie subs &wraps, specialty subs & wraps, salads, kids and of course gluten free. You choose your menu, take one of the dry erase markers and check the items you would like including any sandwich toppings. It might seem labor intensive but I think it makes the whole process much easier. You can order at your own pace and not worry about shouting out what you want while hovering over the counter.

The absolute best thing about this place is the level of care that they put into preventing any cross contamination for Celiacs. The owner’s father has Celiac so they are very educated on the dangers of cross contact. If you or someone in your party orders from the gluten free menu they will prepare that sandwich first. They change their gloves and prepare everything on an entirely separate counter with completely separate ingredients. So, note, they are not just changing their gloves and dipping into the same meats and cheeses. They have completely separate meats and cheeses that are only for the gluten free sandwiches! They use all Boar’s head meats and cheeses. The bread they use is a secret but I know the owner would tell you if you come in and ask. I do know the vendor they use and the bread is some of the best I’ve had. It’s completely gluten free and 100% safe. They do currently toast the sandwiches in the same oven with gluten filled bread. However, they use a fresh piece of tin foil with every gluten free order so your sandwich never touches the rack. They will be investing in a separate oven soon. Once your sandwich is complete, wrapped up and handed to you they will begin the rest of the orders. This process does take a little longer than just running into Subway and leaving 3 minutes later. But it is worth every bit of the time it takes.

Good Grub might be a little out of the way for most people outside of Forsyth County. But, I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed in making the drive. I literally cried the first time I ate there. I was so excited to not only be eating a sub sandwich, but one that tasted REAL! It tasted just like that Firehouse sub I loved and missed so much. Only better.

It is now one of our favorite places to eat. We have recently switched my 8 year old son over to the gluten free diet. For a child, this is especially hard. But we can go to Good Grub and he doesn’t even notice the difference in the bread. He loves the way the menu system is set up because it makes him feel grown up and he can place his own custom order. The owner Alan and his staff are always friendly and remember us whenever we come in. They talk to us like old friends and I watch as they talk and laugh with all of their customers. This is a great family owned business that I truly believe in. We need more people like Alan that are taking the right, safe steps to offering gluten free meals to the public. They would love to expand and open a new more centralized location one day. But it’s going to take loyal customers to support their business and show them that the gluten free community is active and can move mountains.

Good Grub is located at 5905 Atlanta Hwy, Ste 104 Alpharetta, Ga. 30004. All but 2 of their sandwiches are available gluten free. They also have the occasional gluten free milkshake and some of their salads are also gluten free. If you are ordering a salad you will need to specify that you need it to be gluten free. That way they will pull your meats and veggies from the dedicated gluten free counter. They also have a couple of brands of gluten free potato chips and currently have a huge assortment of Lucy’s gluten free cookies in individual sized bags. Please treat yourself and take a little trip to Alpharetta this weekend. Tell them I sent you ;)

Dear Friends & Family,

 

If you are one of the lucky ones and your friends and family get it and support you 100%, then I am jealous!  You are blessed. From what I’ve personally experienced and what I’ve read of others experiences, it’s not always so easy. It boggles my mind that one little word can be so hard for people to understand. Gluten. “What is gluten?” Isn’t that the dreaded question you wait for when you tell someone you have Celiac disease and can’t eat gluten? If only there was one simple answer that we could give. But because Celiac disease is so complicated and far reaching giving a simple answer is sometimes mis-informative.

Most people think.. “Oh, you can’t have wheat. No bread or pizza for you.”  UGH! That statement is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. If only it were that easy! But it’s not. So then you have to sit and explain for them all of the ingredients and ingredient derivatives that you have to look for and worry about.  Not to mention trying to convey cross contamination to them. It’s often too much for people to understand.

There are different camps on this dilemma as with anything. Some people will just say tell them you can’t eat gluten, smile and move on. Others, like me, really think it’s our duty to educate people. If they think something is gluten free just because they don’t see wheat as an ingredient, then we are all in danger of being fed something that is poisonous to us.

I have devised a letter to help you out. Hopefully this will give you a way to explain things to your own friends and family.

I do also want to clarify that for the most part I try to be a positive person. All of these things that I am sharing recently are an important part of the healing process. It’s important to point out the realities that most of us face. If you are feeling down, angry or hopeless it is totally normal and you are not alone. You never have to be alone. Once we get through the hard parts, then we can figure out how to deal with the obstacles and get to the other side. You just can’t  jump the fence before you are ready.

My open letter…

“Dear Friends and Family,

If you are reading this, then please know you are someone very important in my life. That is why I am sharing something that is very hard, sad and challenging for me. I need your help. I also need you to be open to the information I’m going to share. It may be confusing and foreign to you. It was to me when I first found out. But, with your help, I hope to have a bright and wonderful future full of love, happy memories and great meals.

I have Celiac Disease.

What IS that?

By medical definition Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder in which damage to the lining of the small intestine leads to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients.

  • The destruction of the inner lining of the small intestine in Celiac disease is caused by an immunological (allergic) reaction to gluten.
  • Gluten is a family of proteins present in wheat, barley, malt, rye, and sometimes oats.

What is gluten in?

Almost EVERYTHING!! Unfortunately it’s not as simple as looking at a label and not seeing the word gluten. Gluten is not just one little ingredient. It is MANY!  Anything that is processed has a chance of containing gluten because it is so overused in this day and age. Gluten can hide in terms such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, malt, vinegar (certain kinds can contain gluten), dextrin, modified food starch, Bulgar, kamut, semolina, farina, smoke flavoring, natural flavors (try to find a processed food that doesn’t contain this one!) And this is only an eighth of the list!  Sadly, sometimes even if a product says “gluten free”, it’s really not. At least for a Celiac. There is currently no law for gluten free labeling. So, irresponsible companies are allowed to label foods as such with no repercussions. Oy vey

How do you know if something is gluten free?

I do a LOT of research. As in, almost every day of my life I am looking something up to make sure it is safe for me or my family to eat. There are many safe companies out there but it takes a lot of work on my part. I send e-mails and make phone calls all the time to verify ingredients and the manufacturing processes of companies. It’s not always as easy as putting the right question into a google search. I have my smartphone with me at all times so I can look up every item that I am about to put in my shopping cart.

Why do you have to check manufacturing processes?

Because, even if a product has no gluten containing ingredients in it, that product could have been made on the same equipment with other products that DO contain gluten. That “gluten free” product is now contaminated. I cannot eat it. If one speck of the gluten manufactured in the other product makes it into my mouth it will make me sick.

Sick.. how?

Well, I am one of the many Celiac sufferers that does not have an immediate severe reaction to gluten. Not one that you can see anyway. This is almost more harmful than a Celiac that has an immediate response. Why? Because it takes me a little longer to know that I have been “glutened” and I don’t always know what it was that got me. Many Celiac sufferers have immediate and extreme intestinal symptoms, migraines, vomiting, and dizziness. The list goes on and on. For me, a day or so after I have been “glutened”  I will feel like I am slipping into a coma. My body becomes slow and unresponsive. I get so extremely tired that I can barely function. I have extreme anxiety that I cannot place and I am in a horrible mood. I cry at the drop of a hat and if you are within 10 feet of me you will probably feel my wrath. My anxiety is on high and my anger is uncontrollable. It can take me several days to recover. Recently when I’ve been “glutened” I’ve started to have more severe reactions than before. I’ve started slurring words to the point that a couple of times I thought I was having a stroke. Not fun! Many people will suffer horrible pain for weeks. And though I may feel better after a few days, the damage is still occurring inside my body for a very long time. Just because you cannot see my pain on the outside does not mean that my body is not being slowly destroyed on the inside.

So gluten just makes you feel bad right? Then can’t you cheat once in a while, enjoy having meals with us and eat the things we make for you? That’s really the polite thing to do.

Well, I guess that would seem polite, right? And if I put a little arsenic in your coffee every day it wouldn’t really kill you right away. You might feel a little yucky but hey, if that’s how I make my coffee you really should drink it so as not to hurt my feelings. Sounds ridiculous and callous right? Well, that’s how it sounds to me when you ask if I can just eat a little gluten right now. Gluten is like arsenic to me. A slow poison that will eventually kill me if I continue to eat it. Even a little bit. A crumb will do enough damage that it will take months to heal.

Why it’s NOT ok for me to have just a little, just this once….

The symptoms of Celiac disease can range from mild weakness, bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Further, gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma  develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory Celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly treated. The big “C” is just not something I wanna mess with.

As you can see, this is serious stuff. This is not a fad diet I am on to help me lose weight (because obviously that’s not happening). It’s not “cool” to be gluten free even if that’s what you see in the media. Just because a celebrity does it, it does not make my disease any less deadly or real.

Are people going to think I’m crazy? Do waiters roll their eyes at me when I have to ask a million questions at restaurants? Will I have to go without eating when there is no safe food available? Will I have to bring my own food to your parties and dinners? Will there be places that I cannot eat anymore? Will I have to decline invitations sometimes?

Yes

Does that mean I don’t want to be asked to events anymore? Does it mean everything will center around me and what I have to eat? Does it mean that I can never eat out again? Will the food at my house taste weird?

No

Just because I have to be careful of everything I eat doesn’t mean that I want to stop living. I still want to be involved in all of the same social events as before. And it doesn’t mean that I expect you to cater to me. In fact, it is much safer and easier for me to bring my own food. As amazing as it is that you might want to cook for me, it is a scary thing. And what I have to do to stay safe may offend you. I have to inspect every ingredient you use to see if there is any hidden gluten. I have to check on the butter, cheese, mustard, mayo, dressing, spices, even nuts can be dusted in wheat flour! Anything made in a manufacturing plant CAN contain gluten. I also have to worry about the meat bought at certain grocery stores because they have a disclaimer that says some of the meat may be contaminated with gluten within the butcher area. I would have to know what type of pan you cooked it in because surfaces like cast iron harbor hidden gluten like crazy. I have to worry about your cutting boards, scratched up cookware and even your knives. Cross contamination is a constant worry.

I know it seems like I am being over the top. But believe me when I tell you, I’m not. I would not choose to have to go through this if it weren’t 100% MEDICALLY necessary.

Please don’t take this as my way of saying that I never want you to try. Because, if I have friends and family that are willing to make me a safe gluten free meal I will count myself as truly blessed. Please understand that it will break my heart if I can’t eat what you’ve made because it might have an uncertain ingredient in it. It will break my heart, but I still can’t eat it.  I can’t do it just so that I don’t hurt your feelings. If I do that, then I am only hurting myself…in ways that the medical field cannot even 100% understand yet.

Thank you for making the effort to understand. I am happy to answer any and all of your questions. In fact, your questions show me that you do in deed care and want to know what is going on with me. I apologize now if anything I ever say or do offends you. I do not mean to. It is scary what I have to deal with sometimes. And I have to keep myself safe. I want to be around for a long, long time so that I can also support you in anything that you need from me. Now, let’s eat! “

No matter where you are in your journey, you are going to have to deal these issues over and over again. There is simply not enough education or understanding out there. Feel free to use this letter if you need it. I hope it helps!

 

scallops provencal (“ish”)

I LOVE scallops. As in, I want to bury my face in the plate and motorboat them. I love how a good scallop can literally melt in your mouth. When made well they are so delicate and flavorful. It’s like cutting into butter. Just looking at these pictures brings back the taste of this dish and I wanna go make more!

One thing that I have found with high end restaurants that are gluten free friendly is that they always have a scallop offering. And 9 times out of 10 that is what I order. I totally judge a restaurant based on how good their scallops are. There was one such restaurant that I wanted to love so badly. They brought me out a plate of 10 (!!) scallops as my main course and I almost passed out. Usually you get 4 and are always wanting just one more. But 10! I was in heaven. Until I had the first bite. They were overcooked and soaked in the saltiest butter sauce that made me want to gag. Those beautiful scallops were mutilated by overpowering flavors.

When it comes to scallops I believe that simple is always better. They have such a great flavor all on their own. Any sauce that accompanies them needs to be light, delicate and clean. Then you can truly savor the natural flavors of the meat. A great scallop can be just as satisfying as a good steak. That is this humble seafood lover’s opinion anyway.

One of my favorite restaurants serves a scallops provencal with a simple mushroom and tomato sauce. It is so simple to make that I was able to duplicate it within the first couple of tries. The key is to start with the best ingredients, most importantly the scallop. You must buy the expensive scallops. There IS a difference! It is not going to be the cheapest dish to make but it will satisfy any foodie craving. You know. The one you get while watching Top Chef or The Biggest Loser. It’s always at 10:00 at night that I want to rummage in my fridge for goat cheese and foi gras.

Scallops come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. You may be tempted to save a little money and buy the cheaper bay scallops, but I promise you will regret it. For one, they just aren’t large enough for pan searing. And secondly I think they taste way too fishy and spoiled. I purchased the scallops for this dish at my local Whole Foods and they were a whopping $24.99 a pound. I thought since I was only purchasing 4 that I’d be ok, but my total was still over $12. I won’t lie. They were worth every penny and were a well deserved treat to myself. I only bought 4 because nobody else in my family eats them. I decided to make a nice lunch that day. I definitely recommend buying them and making them right away. This is not a food that you can just keep on ice for a couple of days. If you’ve never purchased scallops before, here is a great article explaining the differences in sea, bay and diver scallops…how to buy fresh scallops

When researching provencal sauces I found so many varieties and it was honestly hard to pinpoint what a true provencal sauce really is. There seem to be two camps. One calls it a tomato based sauce. And another says it is a sauce based around herbes de Provence (a blend of marjoram, savory, fennel, basil, thyme and sage). That is why I have called this my “ish” sauce. I am sure someone will come along and harangue me for misuse of the definition. They would also probably harangue me for use of the word harangue. Haters. My version is a fresh tomato based sauce. The great thing is that you can tweak it to your own tastes adding or subtracting a number of ingredients. As with any dish, make it your own.

I would like to add that lately I have been doing a TON of research into the Paleo lifestyle. I am not going to use the word diet because as a Celiac that word leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I’m not on a diet. I live a certain lifestyle in order to merely survive. I have come across Paleo in search of what I hope will be an answer to many issues that I am still having even while being gluten free. Constant bloating is at the top of my list and just not feeling 100%. I have read so many success stories of fellow sufferers whose lives have been transformed by this new way of eating. I will delve more into it in a separate post. I’m only mentioning it now because I had Paleo in mind when making this meal. It fits (I hope!) all of the guidelines and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all. In fact I feel like I’m being self-indulgent whenever I make this. It will be baby steps for me but with steps like this I think I can do it!

Here is the recipe…PLEASE tell me what you think and be nice enough to leave a comment. Good or bad, this is what it’s all about. I’m still learning after all.

scallops provencal (ish)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

One

This recipe can be changed in so many ways. You can sear the scallops and top with any number of sauces. And if you are not Paleo friendly or gluten free, use any type of flour or fat to your liking. Leave out the wine if you are on a Whole30. You won't miss it at all.

Ingredients

  • This recipe is for a single serving. You may double or triple based on servings needed
  • 4 large sea scallops
  • 4 large button mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
  • 1 large roma tomato, diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. ghee (or butter)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or your favorite GF flour)
  • dash of kosher sea salt
  • dash of pepper
  • lemon wedge

Instructions

  • Start by rinsing and thoroughly patting dry your scallops. Most scallops are treated with a liquid solution to keep them white. If you purchase them "dry-packed" (preferred) there is no need to rinse them. I would still pat them dry for the best results. You need your scallops to be very dry in order to give them a good sear.
  • Next, prepare your dredging dish. Sprinkle the almond flour, sea salt and pepper on a plate. Make sure the ingredients are evenly mixed and then set aside.
  • Heat a small pan on the stove and start to melt your ghee. Add in the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add your tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. Once everything has started to cook down, I slowly add in a little bit of wine at a time. This part of the dish is very subjective. You may use all of the wine or very little. Mix a little in, simmer and then taste. You will know if it is just right or if it can use a little more. You may also add some salt and pepper to taste. Remember we want this sauce to be simple and clean and not overpower the scallops.
  • Once your sauce is almost ready, turn it down to warm and begin working on your scallops. Your scallops will literally take under 5 minutes and need to be served immediately. So you do not want to be waiting on your sauce to finish.
  • Melt some coconut oil (or your preferred oil or butter) in a pan and make sure it gets very hot. If the pan is not hot enough the scallops will not sear properly. While you are heating the pan, take the scallops and lightly dredge both sides in the flour mixture. You want just enough to coat the tops and bottoms. Throw a little flour in your pan and watch for the sizzle. When the pan is hot enough, place the scallops in, spacing them a little bit apart. If they are too close together they will bring down the temperature of the pan and they will steam instead of sear. The time for cooking will depend on the heat of your pan and it may be different for everybody. Typically it will only take a minute and a half to two minutes per side. Watch closely and do not touch the scallops until they are ready to be turned over. They are very easy to overcook. When the scallops are done they should be springy to the touch and have a nice caramel coating. They will also be slightly translucent (see image).
  • When you turn your scallops over remove your sauce from the heat to let it cool slightly. When the scallops are ready, plate them, pour the sauce over the top and add a squeeze of the lemon. Voila! A restaurant quality lunch for half the price and without the crowds!
http://trulymadlyfreely.com/scallops-provencal-ish/

Granny’s Dumplings

I never got to say goodbye to my Granny’s dumplings. Celiac took them away from me. I wish I could have them one last time without suffering the damage they would do to my body. They are hands down the most comforting food in the world to me. I miss them so much. Her dumplings are filled with so much love and history. Everyone in my family begs for them. They are a staple at every holiday or special occasion. They are perfect for a cold and rainy day. They warm you right down to your toes. They are filled with gluten. They are poison to me now.

My Granny has been making them my whole life. She cooks them in the same kitchen that she has cooked in for 50+ years. It’s tiny and dark and old. Yet, somehow it’s the brightest spot on Earth. It’s the place where memories are made and love is shared.

Dumplings are such a simple, country dish. If you aren’t from the South you will have no idea what I’m talking about or what you’re missing. It’s worth the trip. We just call them dumplings instead of chicken and dumplings because the chicken is only a supporting cast member. These are gooey, doughy dumplings (biscuits) in a thick creamy broth.

My Granny starts by making a huge pot of homeade chicken stock, using the same beat up cheap metal pot that she’s always had. When the stock is ready she removes the whole chicken, shreds the meat and puts a about a quarter of it back into the pot. Then she opens up a few cans of biscuits and starts to pinch off tiny little pieces one by one. She drops them into the stock until the pot is full. She adds salt and pepper and stirs, and stirs and stirs. It’s a process and I’m not even sure how long it takes for everything to cook. Time flies when I’m standing in the kitchen with her. All I know is that when it’s done it’s thick and velvety and tastes of heaven. I wish I had a picture to show you but I was too sad to ask her to cook them for a photo. I’m not there yet.

It’s my favorite dish in the world. When you break it down it’s really nothing special. Canned biscuits in chicken broth. But it’s become so much more than those simple ingredients. It’s everything that it reminds me of and makes me feel. When I ate them I felt at home. They remind me of the way my Granny would always scratch my back as I laid in her lap as a little girl. She would do it for hours it seemed. She would scratch and scratch until she thought I was asleep. Then I would start to wiggle so she would know I was still awake. So she would scratch and scratch some more, never complaining of tired hands.They remind me of how she always smells of Oil of Olay and rose petals. Of the way she wears curlers in her hair every night. Or how I would huddle with her and my Paw Paw around the one floor vent in the entire house on cold mornings. And most of all they remind me of how much I am loved, of laughter and tradition.

I mourn them. Yes, they are food and not people. But doesn’t it feel sometimes as if you are losing a loved one? I love to cook and I have been able to recreate so many of my favorite dishes to be gluten free and still yummy. But there is no possible way that I will ever be able to make those dumplings again. I really don’t even want to try and face the disappointment.

It IS ok to mourn the food you loved. You need to. If you don’t, you will always be tempted by it. I speak from experience. You have to say goodbye in whatever way works for you. I will say that having a food “one last time” did not work well for me. I just wanted to have it one more time and one more time after that and one more time after that. Having it again just made it harder to let it go. Food is not just for nourishment. It’s for enjoyment, for memories, for showing and sharing love. Some of our favorite foods have been there with us during the most special times in our lives.

My Granny shows and shares her love through food. I think I got that from her. I just made a trip to Alabama to see her and my Paw Paw this week. It was hard because they are true Southern cooks. Dumplings, cornbread, fried chicken, apple pie. That is all they know. She kept asking me if she could make me something and I had to decline everything she offered. It was not only hard for me, but I could see it was hard for her too. She didn’t feel like she was taking care of me the way she should because she couldn’t feed me. I think it made her feel disconnected.

Almost 3 years after diagnosis, it’s still a process for us. I’m still mourning those dumplings and so many other family favorites. But I will always have the memory of them. And I still have my Granny who will always smell of Oil of Olay and rose petals. I can squeeze her tight, close my eyes and taste the love in that dish. I can watch as she feeds my children and see the proof that life comes full circle.

What food do you miss the most?

My next post will discuss a little more in length about dealing with friends and family after diagnosis. It’s a rough road and we all need a little support. Stay tuned!