Adventures in Wildwood

This week, as I enjoyed my time off from school and work, I made my first of many trips down to Wildwood, NJ to spend some time with my boyfriend. I drove down Tuesday afternoon and started out my trip at a wonderful little restaurant in Cape May, NJ for a late lunch. Lucky Bones Backwater Grille is right over the bridge from Wildwood to Cape May. With an extensive gluten-free menu, I didn’t even know what to order. The waitress was very knowledgeable and even told me what specials could be made gluten-free. We decided on getting two pizzas, a four cheese pizza and a pizza that had an arugula and prosciutto salad on top. They were delicious, the crust was thin and crispy, and the four cheese pizza was to die for. Even better, they had Woodchuck Summer Cider on draft. The light, refreshing cider, with a hint of blueberry, hit the spot after the long drive down.

After lunch we wandered around Cape May for a little, unfortunately since the season hasn’t really kicked off yet, everything was closing as we were walking around.

Wednesday morning, I sat on the porch and read for a few hours while the boyfriend slept in. He works nights so waking him up at 9 when I got up was not an option. When he finally decided to get up we went over to the Alumni Grill, where they have a gluten-free menu, serving their burgers and such on Udi’s buns. They also have a dedicated fryer for french fries and sweet potato fries, that they kindly turned on just for me about an hour before they closed. The woman at the counter also let us know that one of the Italian places on the island had recently started serving gluten-free pasta!

After lunch we went down to the boardwalk, which is a convenient two blocks away from his house. We played games, the piers weren’t open yet for rides but I will definitely be taking full advantage of them once they are. Feeling parched we decided to head to the craft beer bar, two blocks the other direction from his house, Goodnight Irene’s. With what seemed like a million different beers, I was scared that they wouldn’t have an option for us gluten-free drinkers. However, one of their permanent taps is Woodchuck Pear, while not my favorite (it’s a little to floral tasting for me), it was nice to see that they have a cider option. The bartender also let us know that they occasionally get in Angry Orchard and other ciders.

We decided to spend the night in, have some wine, and a quick easy meal of pasta (corn-based of course). I did get permission to wake him up early and drag him out to breakfast before I left the next day. I kindly let him sleep until about 12, then dragged him to the famous Uncle Bill’s Pancake House which is now serving gluten-free pancakes at all of their locations. Nervous that they were only serving gluten-free to appeal to the fad dieters, I mentioned to my waitress that I actually needed to be gluten-free and asked that she relay that to the chef. She told me her friend was gluten and lactose intolerant, and said she knew how important it was. Our food came out, followed shortly by the chef himself. He wanted to know how the pancakes were, since this was the first year they were serving them, and proceeded to let me know that if I wanted he could do any of the specialty pancakes gluten-free as well. He also let me know that when the summer gets into full swing they will be bringing in gluten-free bread to make french toast! It was wonderful to have breakfast out, something I haven’t done much since I got diagnosed.

After breakfast we went to the little aquarium on the boardwalk. The aquarium was small, and a little run down, but it was a good way to kill time on the dreary day. We even got to feed alligators, and could have pet sharks if I wasn’t terrified of them.

While originally very nervous about finding places to eat, and being stuck cooking the every time I go down to Wildwood, I was very surprised at how gluten-free friendly the shore had become. I am looking forward to my next trip down, we didn’t get to half of the restaurants that are gluten-free friendly in the area! It was a wonderful, relaxing two days, and as my boyfriend said to me over breakfast my last day “It’s nice to see you overwhelmed because you have to decide what to eat from too many options, then overwhelmed because your options are so limited.”

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Happy National Celiac Awareness Month

Today kicks off another National Celiac Awareness month and while the theme for the NFCA this year is Fuel the Family, to raise awareness of the importance of family testing, I want to address another aspect of the family…pets.

I have two cats and a major challenge I’ve found is how to address the issues that come with gluten in pet food. One of my cats has a sensitive stomach, and does fairly well on grain free foods, but I also need foods that will address his stomach health. I have found that Iams Sensitive Stomach is fairly safe to have in my house, but I like the idea of feeding the cats grain free. I have tried the Blue Buffalo Wilderness foods and Wellness Core; both foods are great, but not easy on his stomach. Most cat foods seem to contain barley or malt as a flavor additive, which means they are a no go for me. I just purchased a new food to try, Hills Grain Free Ideal Balance which has brown rice for a “happy tummy.”

I’m curious how everyone else out there handles pets when they have a Celiac, or gluten-sensitive, individual living in their home. Do you keep your pets grain free to avoid cross contamination, or do you just use extra caution? Grain free can be expensive.

Pets are a major part of the family, so it seemed fitting to kick off this months Celiac Awareness with a post about them. If anyone has any helpful tips, or questions feel free to contact me! Happy National Celiac Awareness Month!

Adventures in Cider and Woodchuck Wednesday

Earlier this year Woodchuck Ciders introduced the Private Reserve Pink Cider. Proceeds from the cider go to benefit Dragonheart Vermont’s Survivorship NOW! a breast cancer survivor and support organization.

The delicious, and appropriately pink cider, gets its color from purple grape skins used in the brewing process. Its light and balanced with a subtle sweet flavor that is perfectly refreshing on these warm spring days. You can read the cider makers notes on both the tasting profile and why Woodchuck is supporting Survivorship NOW! here.

While possibly the best Woodchuck Cider to date, Private Reserve Pink is difficult to find. Make sure to check the Cider Locator on the Woodchuck website, and call the liquor store before making a trip to find it. I have to drive about half an hour, but it always winds up being worth it.

New Blog, New Life?

Prior to the recent founding of No Wheat? No Barley? No Rye? Oh, MY!, I have been blogging under the boring name of Ellen Ensminger. Unfortunately, my dedication to that blog has been lacking. While I enjoy writing about the gluten-free experiences I have, I felt that these “adventures in gluten freedom” needed their own space, and Ellen Ensminger needed to be reserved for more personal blogging.

On that note, the first thing I would like to write about is the personal details of my life. I am Ellen Ensminger (if you hadn’t guessed by now), and I have been living in gluten freedom since August of 2011. Freshly 21 years old, I was given the crushing diagnosis that I could no longer drink beer….or eat bread, or real pasta, or any of the stuff we consider good on this earth. Two years later I am still struggling with the whole gluten-free concept, but I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I know what to avoid and where not to go, but gluten still sometimes sneaks up on you, and I guess that is part of the adventure.

Other boring, mundane details of my life: I am now 23 and FINALLY graduating from college. In May I will finish the five year journey to my bachelors degree, which will be in Law and Justice. From there I plan on getting a job (hopefully), and starting my masters work in Criminal Justice.

I love to bake, cook, and to enjoy a good drink! I have been on many an adventures seeking new ciders, and hope to one day brew my own.

I pin, and pin, and pin. Then I actually make some of the recipes I pin, my poor boyfriend serves as guinea pig to my Pinterest whims. Also he serves as guinea pig to my attempts to translate recipes from normal people to gluten-free. Some are successful, some not so great, but that’s what this blog will be for…Adventures in Gluten Freedom!