Review: GF Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

I went to the Spinney’s store today while I was at the mall with a friend and picked up a box of this gluten free, vegan snack: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. Pretty tasty! It was nice to have something to snack on. I really miss the luxury of just hopping into the store and coming out with a packet of crisps or biscuits, maybe chocolate, and washing it down with a carton of flavoured milk. I want my childhood back!

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Anyway, have a look at the nutrition information.

9g per packet. Quite a fair bit of sugar, right? It actually was very sweet. Because of the cover image on the box, I assumed that each packet would have 2 rice cakes. When I opened up a packet, I was so surprised to find 5 in there! Holy Jalapeno! FIVE cakes?! WOW! Talk about value for money! The box cost 9.75 AED ($2.65) for 4 packets of 5 cakes each.

I found an offer on Amazon for Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. 6 packs for $21.60. That’s $3.60 per box. Cheapest I’ve seen online so far! Click on the image below to know more.

Click on image: Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes - $21.60 for 6 boxes

Click on image: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes – $21.60 for 6 boxes

There was another brand of rice cakes there called Kallo. I avoided that one though because on the label, it said that it was manufactured in a facility that also handles dairy products.

Mrs Crimble’s Rice Cakes were quite nice. Tastes so much like apples. It’s quite nice to pack with you on the go since they come in little packets. Drop one into your purse or keep some in the car and have a cake every now and then – travelling and working gets hard with gluten intolerance since snacks aren’t readily available when you’ve got the munchies. Long gone are the days of glorious Nature Valley and Alpen cereal bars! This is a good alternative for when you’re wandering on the city streets and there isn’t a gluten free restaurant in sight and your stomach starts making noises you didn’t think your body was capable of. I found it far too sweet though. By the time I reached the 3rd or 4th cake, I was starting to feel like I had just gulped down spoonfuls of sugar. It was like that sick feeling you get after eating too many chocolates. I would suggest eating it with something else to sort of lessen the sweet taste. I’m thinking of having it with a glass of almond milk, kind of like having cereal. Except I might have to mix it in my mouth. OR I could break it into smaller chunks and drop it in a bowl of almond milk. Yes, that makes so much more sense than mixing it in my mouth.

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Review: Essie Nail Polish

After having heard so much about Essie nail polishes on several fashion blogs, I decided to finally try one. I’ve got several bottles of Essie but had never tried them. I looked into my nail polish box and found a colour I liked.

image

It’s called Fifth Avenue. The colour is darling! I was shying away from my dark reds and cherry reds because I wanted something bright and summery. This shade is a nice bright red that really pops. I thought it was going to be a coral colour that leans towards red but it turned out to be good old pure red. It was easy to apply. I applied 2 coats. It wasn’t thick and goopy like some nail polishes are. But this nail polish chips fast. And I mean really fast.

After a day or two of applying it, I started to notice that the nail polish was chipping! I was sorely disappointed. I had heard so many people praise Essie nail polishes and I thought they’d at least last a week without chipping! It wasn’t just chipping at the tips of my nails, mind. It was chipping at the sides and the base as well.

My suggestion would be to use Essie with an anti-chip coat on top. The colours are adorable but I’m not impressed with how quickly it chips. Might as well buy a cheaper brand that lasts just as long.

Glutened by Makeup?

I love my makeup. I just wish manufacturers would stop using allergens in it!

For a couple of (horrifying) weeks, I went barefaced. No makeup, whatsoever. This was because I was feeling really ill for some reason. Normally, if I get glutened, I recover in about 3-4 days. In May, it seemed like I kept getting glutened somehow. I was sick almost everyday for more than a month. I noticed that everytime I did my eye makeup and wore my red lipstick, I would feel ill.

I stopped wearing my red lipstick. But I was still feeling sick. I have no idea why. In fact, I still don’t know. I have about 4 lipsticks which I use frequently. All of which have tocopheryl acetate listed as an ingredient. This ingredient can be derived from wheat sources. I have written to the companies (Flormar and L’Oreal Paris) to ask about this but there has been no response. So I just gave up on wearing lipstick for a while.

Last week, I did my makeup as usual but skipped the lipstick. A few hours later, I started feeling a bit weird. My stomach started feeling very stuffy, if that even makes sense. I was so confused. What could possibly be glutening me now? I wasn’t wearing any lipstick at all!

With horror, I realized it could be my eyeliner. According to what I’ve read on some gluten free websites, eyeliner can get on the waterline and gluten can get into your body that way. I swapped my daily Lakme eyeliner for my special-occasion Chanel one. I also avoided using a rouge that I have always associated with zit breakouts. I felt somewhat better that day. But still not quite there.

Wearing my favourite red lipstick - Flormar Pretty Cream & Glaze Lipstick P324

Wearing my favourite red lipstick – Flormar Pretty Cream & Glaze Lipstick P324

Yesterday, I reached into a different eyeshadow palette, and along with the eyeliner, I swapped my daily Flormar mascara for my Armani one. Used only my bronzer and shimmer. I was going out for dinner so I had to be a little dressed up – I could absolutely NOT skip wearing lipstick. I wore the same red lipstick I had abandoned a couple months ago. Funnily enough, no symptoms this time! I cannot help but think that there is some gluten lurking in some of my makeup items. I just don’t know which ones they are! I am absolutely thrilled that my red lipstick is not causing symptoms this time. I LOVE that lipstick. It’s the perfect shade for me! I will use it sparingly though, because I’m not sure if it’s gluten free since the manufacturers won’t respond to my queries. I’ve ordered some lipsticks that are guaranteed to be safe and not only gluten free but also allergy friendly from Red Apple Lipstick. At least this way, I’ll have one makeup item that I won’t have to worry about!

Now along with food, I have to do a trial-and-error of my makeup items. Boohoo. A lot of people say we don’t need to worry about makeup being gluten free but ask the hundreds of us who get glutened by makeup and feel sick later. I don’t react as severely to gluten in my makeup as I do to food, but there are still some symptoms present. More than that, I’m worried about how it might be damaging my body internally. I’d just rather not take the risk. I’m going crazy looking for some gluten free eyeliner and mascara now. I’ve contacted Boots with a list of products that I want to know about. Still waiting for their reply! What’s worse is that some companies claim to be gluten free, but some of their products list wheat as an ingredient! What the heck, guys?! Grr! If you have any recommendations for gluten free makeup, do let me know! I’m losing my mind looking for some! 

Review: Gluten free, vegetarian pasta at Carluccio’s, MCC

I ate a meal outside today after what seems like years! Going gluten free meant no eating out at all! But today was a pleasant little treat. For a birthday dinner, my friends decided to go to Carluccio’s at Mirdiff City Center. I had never bothered suggesting Carluccio’s before despite knowing about their gluten free menu because I read on their website that the gluten free pasta was made of rice and corn. I’m sensitive to corn as well. Darn it – one good gluten free restaurant in Dubai and I STILL can’t eat there, I thought.

As the waiter was handing out menus, I asked for the gluten free menu which was promptly whipped up. I was quite tempted with a couple dishes I thought would be safe for me. Mashed potatoes, but without dairy, was one option. A bowl of olives was another. Before you say that that’s weird, let me just tell you that in my defense, I love olives. I was thinking that if they couldn’t provide a pasta that was safe for me to eat, I’d just eat dairy free mashed potatoes with olives! Sounds yummy to me!

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Waiting for the pasta of my gluten free dreams

Everyone at my table ordered their food and I waited because I had a hundred questions to ask the waitress, Jen. Jen confirmed with the chef and assured me that they could use a gluten free pasta made of just rice. NO WAY! I was doing all I could to contain my excitement. I asked her about the tomato and basil sauce. I think I asked her about 15 times whether the dish would be prepared with any butter or cheese or dairy. She patiently answered my questions. I asked her about the oil. She said they would use olive oil. I told her I was sensitive to gluten, corn and dairy, and that I am also a vegetarian. By the way, I absolutely hate going to restaurants because I have to list all the 253462781 things I’m sensitive to. I usually have a small card-sized printout with me that lists all the food items that I cannot have but at the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have a card on me. Anyway, she assured me that the meal would be safe for me: no corn, no gluten and no dairy. I even apologized to Jen because I was repeatedly asking her the same questions again and again! But she was very helpful and very patient.

IT'S HERE!

IT’S HERE!

Jen kindly informed me that my meal would take a few more minutes since it takes longer to prepare. It came a LOT sooner than I expected! Oh mon dieu, it looked delicious! It had been SO long since I ate pasta with real pasta sauce, since I last ate in a restaurant, since I last ate with my friends! My friends were thrilled that I was finally eating a meal with them! They would often feel bad every time we went out for dinner because I wouldn’t get to eat anything. Usually, I just sit with an empty plate in front of me while everyone else eats. Then I go home and cry.

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

My beautiful tomato and basil pasta

I took a bite. Was there some kind of mistake? For a good 5 minutes, I kept thinking what if they mixed up my order and gave me wheat pasta instead. I couldn’t tell the difference! It tasted so much like normal pasta! My friend even tried some and said it tasted better than the meal he had ordered! I had to call Jen back because I saw tiny black flakes on my pasta and I wondered if it was black pepper. (I’m sensitive to black pepper.) Jen assured me that there was no black pepper – she is the one who garnishes pasta with black pepper and/or parmesan and she had skipped my dish for that. Relief! I dug in. I dug myself into a pasta-filled abyss.

The chefs at Carluccio's, Mirdiff City Center

The chefs at Carluccio’s, Mirdiff City Center

The portion was very generous! I was so full! After the meal, I thought I’d meet the chef and thank him. Our server, Raju, took me to the kitchen counter where he introduced me to Chef Joel (2nd from the left). I told him the meal was great! I told him that I had finally eaten out after ages, and that I avoid most restaurants because they mix other ingredients that I’m sensitive to and the ingredients aren’t disclosed. Joel seemed pleased to hear that I had had a wonderful experience.

Before leaving, I thanked our server Raju, and hostess Jen. I told Jen she had been extremely helpful. It was great, really. I wanted to ask whether the pasta contained anything other than rice (if at all), and whether the chef was also handling other wheat items and if was there a separate cooking station for gluten free meals in order to avoid cross contamination, but I felt like I had asked them enough questions for the day! Perhaps next time!

And now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for: Did I have any reactions?

As of right now, about 3 hours after the meal, I am feeling fine. In fact, I’m feeling really good because I just drank some 7up, something I have been avoiding for months. I was feeling slightly bloated after the meal, but that’s probably due to the FODMAP content of the tomato sauce. No fault of the dish or the restaurant – simply the way my body handles fructose. Although however, it was such a mild symptom. I barely even feel any discomfort. I’m going to lay low on FODMAP foods for a couple days. My symptoms usually become highly apparent the following day, so the next 24 hours will answer whether I have any further reactions to the food. I doubt it, but I’ll keep you posted anyway!

UPDATE: 24 hours have passed. I am still alive. My stomach was slightly bloated and a little uncomfortable today after dinner. It has also been making odd noises, like those that a machine that needs to be greased makes. That might be due to the fact that there was about 7+ hours in between my meals. I was starving and that’s what might have led to the discomfort. Other than that, I feel perfectly fine. I was half afraid I’d  wake up feeling anxious and with brain fog. But I woke up thinking clearly and felt good all day. No back aches, no bloat, no brain fog, no stomach cramps. Carluccio’s, I approve!

All in all, I highly recommend Carluccio’s. The staff is friendly and receptive, and the ambiance is great. It kind of feels like you’re dining al fresco, because it’s so spacious and relaxed in there! I usually hate crowded, cramped places but I felt very comfortable here. The food is excellent too. My friends loved their meals. The only complaint I heard from my friends about their meals was about the steak which was a bit too hard; and that one of the pasta dishes turned out to be very spicy. Even so, majority of the dishes turned out great and this was actually the first time my friends were somewhat dissatisfied with meals from Carluccio’s. They’ve been to the restaurant several times and have loved the food. The restaurant even has some items customers can purchase, like their pastas and sauces. It’s all stacked up on shelves on the walls. Nifty! Visit the restaurant and try it out if you like. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going there again to indulge in gluten free delights!

To summarize:

THE GOOD

  • Quick service
  • Staff was friendly and helpful
  • Staff had good knowledge about gluten intolerance and food sensitives
  • Good ambiance
  • Good food
  • GLUTEN FREE FOOD!

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

  • 2 out of around 7 or 8 meals were dissatisfactory (the steak was too hard and one pasta dish was too spicy)
  • They should advertise their gluten free menu more. I remember a couple months ago, when I had heard in passing that they had gluten free food. I didn’t want to go in to ask so I just looked at their menu from outside. I didn’t see any sign of gluten free foods so I never bothered stepping in. The only reason I knew they had a GF menu was by googling GF restaurants in Dubai.

WILL I BE GOING THERE AGAIN? 

  • Yes!

Gluten free, vegan, low FODMAP pasta

This is one of those recipes you turn to on your “off days.” You know, when you’ve just been glutened or something, and you’re trying to heal and want your digestive system to rest for a couple days so you eat plain and simple foods. Since I found out (the hard way) that too much tomato sauce/paste isn’t good on a low FODMAP diet, I’ve been looking high and low for a pasta recipe that would still have some flavour. For a long time, I was just eating pasta noodles topped with olives and lettuce because I was so afraid I would end up getting sick from eating a more complex meal. Yeah, that was awful. There was barely any taste and I was too afraid to even add any seasoning. Mind, this isn’t one of those extravagant, restaurant style pastas. It’s a simple home cooked meal with simple flavours. A bit bland for some perhaps, but a welcome change from eating only rice and potatoes on “off days.” I browsed recipe after recipe and finally ended up with the recipe below. I just wing it for the quantities. You can add how much ever you like!

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta (I use Peacock’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Green onions sliced into small pieces (ONLY the green part if you’re on a low FODMAP diet)
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Dried oregano according to preference
  • Olives
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Any other herbs or toppings you like!

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook pasta according to directions on the packet
  • In a saucepan, pour some olive oil and let it heat up a bit
  • Add the coriander powder, coriander leaves, green onions and oregano. Saute until fragrant. You can also choose to add things like parsley, basil, celery, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Add tomatoes and stir it around a bit. Do this for a few minutes. I usually cook mine until it is a bit mushy but not like pulp or puree.
  • Add the pasta to the saucepan, mix it all up and cook for a few minutes so everything is nice and heated
  • Top with olives, broccoli, anything you like! I usually add black and green olives on top, and serve with a side of fresh lettuce

Sorghum Flour and Amaranth Flour from Al Adil Trading – Is it gluten free?

Al Adil is a nifty little store that’s been around for ages. I’ve been buying my gluten free flours and Indian specialty foods from there for a long, long time. Only recently did it occur to me, after a few mild reactions from the gluten free flours, that they might have been cross contaminated. I called them up today and spoke to Customer Care. I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager who would know about the allergen status of the products. I was transferred several times and finally reached someone who was very, very helpful.

The person I spoke to said that if the flours are milled on the spot in the store, they are milled on the same machine as wheat. However, the prepackaged flours come from the warehouse where they are milled separately, on dedicated machines, but they are milled in the same facility as wheat. So there might be a chance of gluten in the atmosphere. The rep said that the chances of this type of cross-contamination happening was very slim as the area is a very large area but he could not guarantee it. He suggested buying whole Sorghum and whole Amaranth and milling them at home as that would be the safest option.

I really wish they’d have separate facilities for gluten free products. It would make life so much easier! But this is still a pretty good alternative compared to a lot of other companies out there.

Just so you know, Al Adil also has gluten-free flour. I’ve tried it before and had a reaction, but that’s probably because I have multiple food allergies. But you could try it out and see if it works for you. Ain’t this gluten free life of trial and error just grand? Meh.

But oh well, I was really pleased with how helpful Al Adil was. To be honest, I’ve been so fed up with companies! They just don’t bother to take the time to reply back, or they don’t answer well enough. It all just makes it so hard. But the Al Adil rep was really patient and helpful and I was expecting a response somewhere along the lines of “if you think your food is contaminated with wheat flying in the air, you must be crazy” but he actually agreed with me! That surprised me the most! He actually said, “Yes, you’re right. Wheat in the air could be a problem for you if you’re very sensitive.”

By the way, if you do happen to visit Al Adil, just TRUST ME and buy this soft drink called Limca. It’s lemony and fresh and SO SO GOOD! It’s very popular in India but hasn’t had it’s time to shine here. It’s best served chilled!

Limca

 

AL ADIL TRADING COMPANY INFORMATION

Website: http://www.adildubai.com/ad/index.php

Number: 043973318

Location: Al Nahda, Karama (somewhere around Al Reef Lebanese Bakery), Bur Dubai (again, somewhere around Musalla Post Office), Deira (in Al Mateena around 4-Point Sheraton Hotel and Marco Polo Hotel)

Obviously, as you might have noticed, I have amazing skills when it comes to giving directions. Those are just a few locations. There are many more stores but I don’t know their locations as well as the ones listed above.