Gluten-free Chicago

It has been a LONG time since I posted here! Not sure when life got so busy, but it has totally derailed my blogging schedule. I am wrapping up an online course this week and looking forward to having some extra free time {anyone else work full-time and go to school? I feel ya!}. Last month, I surprised my cousin and maid of honor in Chicago to meet her new, sweet baby girl! This was my first trip to Chicago. It was a short weekend, but luckily I was able to find some good gluten-free eats!

Disclaimer: I am participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All opinions/recommendations are my own.

Summer House Santa Monica

We went to Summer House for breakfast on Saturday morning. It is such a cute restaurant! The decor is light, airy and as the name suggests, makes you feel like you stepped into the summer season. It’s a pretty big restaurant, but from what I could tell, it fills up quickly. You should definitely make a reservation beforehand. We made ours the night before and there were only a few openings left for 8:30am.

Summer House offers a separate gluten-free menu. I ordered the three egg breakfast without crispy hashbrowns and a cappuccino. I was very impressed when the waitress told me that the kitchen has a separate toaster for gluten-free bread. In the almost 6 years I have been gluten-free, this was the first time I have been to a restaurant that has a gluten-free toaster. I also loved that my toast had an “allergy stick.” This extra little step always makes me feel like the kitchen and servers are very aware of their customers.  We all loved our breakfast and I bought a huge gluten-free chocolate chip cookie at the bakery counter on our way out.

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City Winery Chicago Riverwalk

We spent Saturday afternoon on Michigan Avenue. When we made it over to the Chicago River, we stopped at City Winery to warm up and relax at bit. This wine bar is right on the river with indoor and outdoor seating. It was a pretty chilly day, but fortunately indoor/tented area was heated. This restaurant does not have exclusively gluten-free options. However, if you are gluten-sensitive, you could opt for the meat and cheese platter, skipping the bread. We shared a bottle of Caves São João Rosé Bruto {Sparkling Rosé} from Portugal. The bartender told us that City Winery is the only place outside of Portugal to serve this wine. I’m not a huge fan of rosé, but I thought this one was great. Gluten-free or not, I definitely think this restaurant is an awesome place to stop at if you’re in Chicago; especially if the weather is nice! I am looking forward to going back.

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Homeslice

Saturday we stayed in and ordered pizza from my cousin’s go-to place – Homeslice! Gluten-free pizza is hit or miss, but I am always looking for the perfect GF crust.  There are only a few places near my house in NY that actually have great GF pizza. Sometimes GF pizza can be soggy, so I usually play it safe and don’t order many toppings. I ordered the Jr. Cheese pizza from Homeslice. It was so good! The crust was thick and crisp. Not soggy at all. I would definitely recommend this place if you’re in the area. After enjoying our pizza, we rented The Greatest Showman {affiliate link} and stayed in for the night. I am not a huge fan of musical movies, but I really enjoyed this one!

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The Vig

After walking around the Lincoln Park Zoo, we took a long walk over to The Vig for lunch before I headed home. To our surprise, Sunday at The Vig was quite the brunch party. If you’re looking for a quiet brunch spot, skip this place. If you’re looking for good 90s jams from a live DJ with a side of dance party, go here. Definitely a great location for birthdays, bachelor or bachelorette parties.

The Vig offers a decent amount of gluten-free options on their menu. I ordered the Chorizo Skillet and was not disappointed!  This personal sized skillet came with potatoes, crumbled chorizo and a fried egg. I definitely want to try to re-create this dish in my own kitchen! It had tons of flavor and was just the right size. Our waitress was really friendly and provided us with food and drink recommendations too.

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Classic Marinara Sauce for Two!

Hi blog friends! Thanks for stopping by again. Today, I want to share a quick and simple recipe that I think everyone should know how to make — Marinara Sauce! This sauce can be served with pasta, meatballs, on pizza, eggplant parm, chicken parm and so much more. I use this recipe as a base to all red sauces I make too. Like many of the dishes I make, this one starts with olive oil, garlic and onions. I really believe that if you always have these three ingredients, you can whip up a tasty meal with whatever else you have in your kitchen.

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Tea Kettle / Stand Mixer / Spoon Rest (similar)/ Pot/ Mason Jar (similar)/ Backsplash

I first started making my own sauce my junior year of college. I could often be found making a pot of sauce and baked ziti before my 8am class. Although I didn’t do very much meal prep in college, I did find it easy to make a head some dinner here and there so I could heat them up quickly after late classes. A girls’ gotta eat, right?

One of my first blogs ever was about my homemade sauce {check it out here} and reading that blog now is kind of funny. In that post I mention that oregano was my least favorite dried seasoning, but now I would say that I love oregano and don’t care for parsley. Sometimes I even leave parsley out. I also find it really funny that I mentioned I was making Mike {who is now my husband} strawberry shortcakes with homemade whip cream. He was the pickiest eater in college! I totally forgot that there was a time he ‘hated’ strawberries until I re-read that blog. Boy have times changed!

Now that I’ve taken you on a trip down memory lane, let’s get back to my current recipe! Although I haven’t changed much since I first started making sauce there is one change that I think was for the better. I almost always add very finely chopped or grated carrots. Carrots really cut down on the acidity of red sauce. I am a bit prone to heartburn and acid reflux. I have found that when I add carrots to my sauce it is much less likely upset my stomach. If you’re in the same boat, I definitely suggest you give carrots a try!

Disclaimer: I am participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All opinions/recommendations are my own.

Classic Marinara Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 small garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 tbsp carrot, finely grated
14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes, unsalted*
8oz can tomato sauce, unsalted*
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper
*Can substitute 1 28oz can of unsalted tomato sauce/puree

Directions

-Saute onions in olive oil over medium/low heat until they’re fragrant and translucent, about 5-7 minutes
-Add carrots and saute for another 5-7 minutes
-Add garlic and sautee for about 3 minutes
-Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasonings
-Once sauce starts to bubble, bring down to a simmer for 30 minutes or up to two hours.
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Gluten Free in Aruba!

At first I was a little worried about vacationing with a gluten free diet. With this being my fifth trip to “The Happy Island,” I was really looking forward to some delicious dinners. In the months leading up to my vacation I was constantly researching gluten free restaurants in Aruba. I found Trip Adviser and other blogs to be very helpful, but emailing a restaurant prior to my trip was the most helpful. To my surprise many restaurants in Aruba were more than willing to accommodate my food allergy. When you make a reservation remember to mention your allergy and always communicate with your waiter. Unfortunately, gluten free beer has not made its way down to Aruba, but the grocery stores offer many gluten free items! Here are the restaurants I dined at while I was away:

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Texas de Brazil

My family ate here on the first night and I was amazed by the staff’s knowledge of gluten. Our waitress completely understood my gluten allergy and arranged for a chef to show me around the salad bar. For those of you who have never been to Texas de Brazil I will explain the serving style of the dinner. First, guests visit the salad/appetizer bar for the first course. Next, you sit back down at your table flip your card to green (“yes, I would like more food!”) and servers come around with a variety of meats that are carved right onto your plate! The chef walked me around the salad bar and told me all of the dishes and dressings that contained gluten. He also reminded me of which meats I would not be able to eat for dinner. For my entire dinner our waitress kept an eye on me and reminded me of which meats I could not sample. She even knew to avoid vodka in my drinks! I highly recommend going to Texas de Brazil while you’re in Aruba gluten free or not! Our dinner was awesome!

Smokey Joe’s

In the past this restaurant has been one of my favorites while in Aruba. The ribs here are amazing! My family ate here twice during our trip. Unfortunately (and not to my surprise) the ribs are not gluten free. The first night my waiter did not understand my allergy; he actually thought I said I was allergic to glue, so he brought the manager over. I ordered plain grilled chicken on a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Although the salad was not nearly as satisfying as the ribs I was wishing I could have I did not get sick. The second night our waitress told me the dry-rub ribs did not contain gluten ingredients, so I decided to give them a try. After watching my family devour delicious saucy ribs early in the week I was green with envy. Although the dry-rub wasn’t as good as the BBQ ribs I had years ago they were still tasty. Afterwards, I did have a bit of an upset stomach, but nothing too terrible. In the future I would just stick to the salad and suggest others do the same, especially if you have Celiacs.

Linda’s Pancakes

One night my family decided to order in, so I picked up a gluten free pizza with peppers from Linda’s. I was definitely one of the best GF pizzas I’ve had. One of my cousins even said he thought it tasted just like regular pizza. Unfortunately, I got a stomach ache pretty quickly. Although several other blogs raved about Linda’s gluten free dutch pancakes I was too hesitant to go back after trying the pizza. The rest of my family stopped at Linda’s for breakfast one morning and loved it.

Yemanja Woodfire Grill

Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Yemanja is the only restaurant I found with an actual gluten free menu. Most of their dishes are gluten free to begin with so I was able to choose from the same dishes as my family. They even brought me fresh, fluffy and delicious gluten free bread!! This night I had grilled mahi-mahi and was able to eat the family style side dishes that were put on the table. I highly recommend dinning here if you have a gluten allergy!

Gianni’s

Definitely put this restaurant on your list if you are looking for excellent Italian food. Although they do not have a gluten free menu they offer gluten free pasta and a knowledgeable staff. All but two pasta sauces are gluten free. We actually ate here twice because the food is so good and they could accommodate my allergy.The first night I had gluten free penne with carbonara sauce. It was so good I had it the next time as well, but the gluten free pasta of the night was fusilli. Both nights my waiters took great care in noting my gluten allergy.

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When my cousin made our dinner reservation this night he actually spoke directly to the chef. The chef informed him that many of the restaurant’s dishes did not contain gluten and he would be more than willing to accommodate my food allergy. I had the delicious filet mignon special with spinach, mushrooms and a baked potato.

At the end of my trip I ate lunch at the Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club when my waitress told me I could have asked the front desk to make note of my allergy in the computer. She said all of the restaurants on the grounds  would be able to see my food allergy in the computer when processing our meals. I will definitely remember this for next time! I hope this helps all of you gluten free readers who may be traveling to Aruba!