Monday, September 1, 2014

Gibbs Gardens

If you love beautiful gardens, Gibbs Gardens in north GA is definitely worth checking out.  The sprawling property was designed to keep the air as cool as possible - even in the summer!  We were up there over July 4th weekend (along with half of Atlanta) and it was surprisingly cool all over the gardens.  The day lily garden was simply stunning - I had no idea there were that many colors and varieties of day lilies!

There is no outside food allowed in (you can exit the gardens and eat in your car if need be), but the on site cafe's signature chicken salad is gluten-free and absolutely delicious!  Since we decided to get an annual membership, I investigated a bit further re: gluten-free options and even though there are not many, if you call ahead 24 hours and request gluten-free bread for a sandwich, they'll have it ready the next day.  Mind you, I have not done this yet and likely won't until we go up to see the fall colors next month.  I'll report back about the experience later.

Check out the ode to Monet's water lily garden in Giverny, France!   

Besides exploring the various gardens areas, guests are also allowed to tour around the exterior of Jim Gibbs home on the top of the hill.  I'm not sure how he talked his wife into that one, but it's a great tour perk!  From the back of the house you can see far below to the gardens - it's a breathtaking view!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sprouts review - Peachtree Corners

The Sprouts Market in Peachtree Corners opened back in August and I was able to get there on the day of the grand opening.  There was not a line to get in, which was great, but it was overly crowded so it was hard to get around even with the smallest shopping cart they have.  The observations I was able to make are listed below.

There were some frozen and and refrigerated gluten-free breads available including some items I like and some I don't care for.  I thought there were be more options for some reason, but I guess I'm comparing their options to those at Return 2 Eden and Natural Foods Warehouse which might not be fair.

There were some brands of cookies and muffins I'd never seen and a good friend of mine tried some of them and thought they were either really great or pretty good.  Since I was on the Whole 30 challenge during my visit, I didn't buy anything off plan.  That means nothing except meats, veggies and fruits made it into my basket.  Oh, I also picked up some bars for an upcoming trip (after my Whole 30 was finished) and some coconut butter...the latter seemed very overpriced, but I didn't have time to comparison shop for the product.

Overall, Sprouts Market did not strike me as a place for my go-to gluten-free specialty items, but I was impressed with the produce and the variety of items they offer.  Eventually, I hope to try the fresh lemon poppy seed muffins, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes.  "Fresh" is a key factor in getting me to part with my money for gluten-free treats.  I plan to go to the Johns Creek store as soon as it opens and surprisingly, that location will be larger than the store in Peachtree Corners! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Are gluten-free menus going away?

There is finally a gluten-free labeling law in the U.S. (it went info effect earlier this month) which is cause for celebration.  The FDA was supposed to have the law worked out by August 2008...oh well, we are talking about the government, after all.

If  you notice some items no longer sport gluten-free on the label even though nothing has changed regarding the ingredients, don't be alarmed.  Companies that want to claim their products are gluten-free have to be able to prove that fact.  Therefore, some companies that previously listed gluten-free on their labels might drop it only because they never tested their products as there was not a reason for it.

If the only thing a company produces is canned pineapple, there is not a reason to test the pineapple to see if it's gluten-free.  It is - period.  So even though we finally have a labeling law, label reading is still going to be part of our shopping trips.  At least if you see the GF symbol or the words gluten free now, you'll know the item is definitely gluten-free.

The worst part of the new law is a tiny stipulation which mentions restaurants have to meet the same requirements as food companies that produce packaged foods with labels.  Yes, that is basically what the law sounds ridiculous, right?  There is obviously no way this is doable in a non gluten-free restaurant setting so guess what?  Larger chains are already pulling their gluten-free menus and renaming them things like gluten-friendly menu, low gluten menu and avoiding gluten menu - yikes!!!  I'm glad I'm not new to the gluten-free dining scene.  If I was, I might be scared to death to eat out.

When you see packaged food items from Europe that contain gluten, they say just that - 'contains gluten'.  How easy is that?!