Life Lately

Oh poor blog, I am so sorry for abandoning ye. But you’ve always been in my heart, I promise!

A month ago I started a new job at New jobs generally tend to take up a lot of time, but when you LOVE your new job, they take up even more time without you realizing, because you are enjoying every second of it.

But I have been squeezing in some cooking to my crazy new life, and promise to share recipes soon! To tide you over, here are some delicious adventures I’ve had lately:

Australian gluten free treatsEnjoying gluten-free treats my mom brought me all the way from Australia (those chocolate cookies are crumbly but goooood.)

Gluten free chocolate cupcakesSpending the weekend in Atlanta with a bunch of my closest friends from college, staying with a friend’s parents who happen to be gluten-free and whose mom made this INCREDIBLE chocolate cupcake with chocolate mousse, marshmallow, and chocolate fudge.

Halloween sushiEnjoying my new gluten-free-friendly cafeteria (GF bread! GF signs on everything I can eat! GF soy sauce!), which gets really into the holidays.

Potato pastaTrying new (to me) restaurants in NYC with gluten-free options, like this pasta made out of potatoes at Sauce.

ABC kitchen And trying fancy restaurants too, like ABC Cocina. My best friend and I made a pact to try new restaurants each weekend, rather than continuously going to our old standbys. Best pact ever.

Gluten Free Au Natural [Alternate Title: Le Struggle]

My goal at the start of this week was to focus on eating foods that were naturally gluten free, and trying to eat as few replacement products as possible. It started off so well! I made this great shakshuka recipe, and I remembered to use the bag of chia seeds I bought at Trader Joe’s on everything (they’re good for you in every way possible, don’t have a taste, and are a great unnoticeable way to feel more healthy). I bought a TON of salad stuff so that I could make salads for the week, and they really have been quite tasty.
Gluten free salad from Cake Is The Only Thing That MattersMy base has been assorted baby lettuces/spring mix, grilled chicken, cheese, grape tomatoes, Craisins, and chia seeds, topped with balsamic vinaigrette. To mix it up, I’ve also been adding assorted veggies like avocado, corn, and leftover sauteed broccoli. Like I said, they’ve been good, but salad gets really boring after a while, and always leaves me craving something sweet later in the afternoon.

I managed to power through until yesterday, when I was just so over vegetables and chicken. I got cheese enchiladas for lunch (corn tortillas are natural, right?) and then got this beauty at Friedman’s Lunch in Chelsea Market for dinner:
Friedman's Lunch gluten free grilled cheeseThat would be a bacon and caramelized onion (gluten free) grilled cheese you’re looking at there. But I’ve decided I don’t feel bad about it at all. It was delicious. Eating limited carbs just isn’t for me, and that’s okay. It’s okay if there are some replacement products here and there in my diet. As long as I’m making sure that the majority of my diet is healthy, as I’ve always done, and I’m being careful to avoid gluten, that’s what matters. Making myself not eat bread or cupcakes or anything else that isn’t gluten free by nature is just going to leave me angry and bitter, and make it a lot harder for me to do this. It’s only been three weeks–I have to keep telling myself that. Getting used to a complete overhaul of my eating habits won’t happen in just a few weeks. They say acceptance is the first stage (of more serious things, but I think a major diet change is pretty serious), and I’m getting there, and that’s what matters.

And there’s always babies in costumes and ridiculous new Instagram videos to cheer me up.

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Bistango in Murray Hill

When I first announced that I was going gluten free, nearly every person who gave me advice suggested I eat at Bistango in Murray Hill. It’s also on nearly every list if you’re Googling gluten free resturant options in NYC, so I knew I had to try it. I went with my gluten-eating mom so we could try the full range of the menu, and I’m happy to report that both of us came away totally stuffed and totally happy.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAs soon as we sat down the waitress asked if anyone at the table had any food allergies or intolerances. When I told her I was gluten free, she explained that (whether it explicitly stated so or not), every single dish on the menu could be prepared gluten free. Considering another restaurant I went to this weekend told me, “well, there’s cream in the sauce” when I said I was gluten free (seriously), this was very exciting.

The thing I really liked about Bistango was that they catered to everyone’s needs without even needing to ask. They brought me a little plate of gluten free bread, but they gave my mom regular bread, and they gave us separate little dishes of garlic olive oil so we wouldn’t have to worry about gluten crumbs.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comBurrata is definitely one of my top 10 foods ever. Thank you for not having gluten, cheese.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAlso incredibly exciting about Bistango’s menu: stuffed pastas! I’ve had a variety of dried gluten-free pasta in the past few weeks, but I thought I was kissing cheese-filled pasta goodbye. Bistango has a number of gluten-free ravioli, tortellini, manicotti, and other stuffed pasta options, and you can pick whatever sauce you want. I never make myself pink sauce, so I ordered that on my spinach and ricotta ravioli. The pasta itself could have had a tad more flavor, but the filling and sauce were good! My mom had regular pasta in a short rib sauce and really enjoyed it, so this is definitely a great place to go with people who can eat gluten.

Almost the entire dessert menu is gluten free (and they have some dairy free options too, if you have a dairy restriction as well). Since we were so full my mom and I shared creme brulee (naturally gluten free!), and I got a slice of key lime pie to take home. The creme brulee was excellent. The key lime pie was pretty good but definitely needed whipped cream (I grew up eating a LOT of key lime pie though, because it’s my dad’s favorite dessert and he’s very picky about how it’s made, so I do scrutinize key lime pie more than most people). I definitely want to try copying their almond crust though.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at
Bistango also does brunch, so I plan to go back soon to check that out! They also have lots of non-pasta options at all meals, so if you’re trying to eat mostly naturally gluten free food, they have that too.

VERDICT: 4.5 out of 5 stalks of wheat stars

I Am Offically Gluten Free! And It’s Terrible [First GF Weekend Update]

Remember when I had a grand old time doing my first gluten-free grocery shopping at Fairway?

Poor, naive Alie.

Grocery shopping, formerly my favorite, is now the worst.
If you are not gluten-free, take a look at just a couple labels next time you go grocery shopping. Basically everything has gluten in it. I was prepared for it to happen, but not to such an extent. Do you think balsamic vinaigrette should have gluten in it? Half the ones I looked at in the store did. It is sorely disappointing to pick up item after item that you think could be okay, and have to put it down. I took a field trip to my favorite grocery store ever, Wegmans, this weekend, and just bought vegetables, cheese, and a sad little container of chocolate mousse (I say sad because it was literally the only thing in their glorious bakery section that was okay).

I know that I am being dramatic, and this is just a major life adjustment…but like most major life adjustments, it sucks.

To be fair, I didn’t starve this weekend. I was able to go out to dinner my very first gluten-free day without problems. My roommate wanted Thai, so I googled “gluten free thai nyc” and quickly found a restaurant near our apartment that we had never been to before. They had a lot of clearly marked GF options on the menu, and I got a special summer dish, pad Thai made with zucchini as noodles.
It was spicy and really good, but i had to order a side of rice because I need my carbs.

I had a bridal shower to attend on day two of gluten-free living (to which I called ahead to find out the menu), and was pleasantly surprised that I could eat every course: risotto, chicken and mashed potatoes, and créme brulée. (I had to move my roll to my friend’s plate, because I swear it had googly eyes and was staring at me.)

I know/have to believe that things will get better once I’m used to this very new lifestyle. I think it’s just like any change, where as much as you try to prepare, there’s no way to be fully ready. It’s especially hard when something that has always given you such pleasure is what gets so difficult. I just have to hope I’ll stop feeling so womp-womp about it all sooner rather than later.