Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Marisa's Menu: Maybe I DO Like Weddings?

With the bride celebrating wedding week

Having more than one food intolerance and allergy can really throw me off my game at times.  An example is when I get so excited about something being gluten free that I completely forget to ask or worry about the other ingredients. Or I completely forget that I still need to balance my carbs with protein and fat.   

Recently at a local spot, Beer Kitchen, I was so happy they had a gluten free menu AND A gluten free bun for sandwiches that I forgot that part of the reason I don’t typically eat the bread at most places is because it has sunflower oil, dairy, and almost always potato starch in it.  

Of course, this time I realized it just two bites in.  But those two bites of a nightshade - in this case - managed to cause my skin to start hurting within a few hours, and I woke up the next day to a lovely scattering of inflamed, painful pustules all over my face.  Not worth what it is likely doing to my poor immune system.

This past weekend, we drove to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the wedding of a dear friend - actually two dear friends. The guy she has chosen to spend her life with is an incredible human being, and we are so thrilled to have been invited to the wedding.  While in Omaha, I experienced a very similar theme to my eating challenges at home.  Yes, some places have gluten free menu options. And there were even a few places that I was determined to patronize based on what I had read online (mostly via Yelp).  But the first place we went was a disappointment (for ME simply because of my many food issues).  They hAD gluten free options.  But it was just store bought Udi’s bread, which I can no longer eat because it contains other ingredients I react to. They did not actually MAKE gluten free menu items in house, as I had hoped.

The next place we went though was awesome.  They had plenty of vegan and gluten free options. And I did another one of my “oops I forgot to ask my 10 million questions about the ingredients” things.  I was SO excited that the server confirmed that in the gluten free blueberry pancakes that they had recently started using almond milk, that I completely FORGOT that I needed to ask WHAT type of gluten free flour they DID use.  It is that teeter totter effect for me.  I remembered the gluten and the milk component.  But once I realized I might be able to order a pancake off the menu like a normal person, I completely forgot that they could be made with potato starch or other offending ingredients.

The sad part was when I realized this, I had already eaten half of a pancake.  I almost started crying because I was so upset with myself.  I try SO hard.  And it just seems that the room for error is so big, so likely.  But then it hit me.  I took three deep belly breaths, and calmed myself immediately down.  The way my body was going to react to these pancakes was completely dependent upon the emotions I was attaching to them.  And up until that brief wave of panic where I freaked out, I was attaching the deepest love, excitement, and overall appreciation for these glorious pancakes.  So I took another bite, without the panic, without any form of worry or guilt.  And I enjoyed every bite.  I opted to not even ask the server what was in them. At that point, I knew that if it WAS something like potato starch, there was nothing I could do.  I was not going to taint this experience.  I also remembered that I had selected a vegan friendly place in hopes of finding dairy free options - but also being able to have some meat as my protein to keep my blood sugar balanced.  So I ordered an al a carte chicken breast. . And this place was so cool because they consider themselves a vegetarian restaurant.  Yet they have humanely raised meat options.  They know how to cater to gluten free and vegan diners, and I wanted to order the entire menu.

We have been so fortunate the past few years, as nearly all of the weddings we have attended have been actually FUN.  They have all been non-traditional, which for me is a huge plus. I don’t like weddings, especially not the traditional ones.  And I despise forced social obligations.  So the fact that I seem to have some of the most creative and independent friends, who have realized that weddings are what they make them FOR themselves, versus trying to impress, or please others has made me almost change my stance on having a wedding.  Part of why we are not yet officially married is because I got sick, and still keep wanting to feel better.  But the other part is due to the fact that we will end up having to elope because I don’t want to deal with having a wedding. So if I can stop being so obsessive over picking a place, a time, and an officiant (who needs to be someone I know and respect), we just might get hitched in the near future.  The fun we have had at recent weddings has motivated me to get on the ball with this.

Pre Wedding shenanigans included a sold out concert at the Slowdown venue in Omaha with the groom, Matt’s, band, The Faders opening for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.  I adore this venue, and it was a treat to be able to see Matt perform (The bride, Crystal, was up on stage as well) at such a professionally run, class act venue.

We made it to a craft cocktail bar.  This was fun while it lasted.  But I did get back to the hotel and threw up three times.  Not sure what my body was rejecting.  But it was not happy with me. Reminded me of the days when I still ate gluten.

Lunch at The French Bulldog

We also went to a cute little place called The French Bulldog.  I was able to order a very delicious salad, along with a side order of the pork belly.  Everything was addictively good.

The wedding itself was at Sokol Auditorium. The last time I was there was with Crystal (the bride) to see Bright Eyes (coincidentally one of Conor Oberst’s bands), and then before that The Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Jinni (one of the bridesmaids and also a dear friend).  The absolute best thing about this wedding that I personally can’t stop rambling about is the state of the bride and groom. From the week before up to the wedding itself, both of them were genuinely HAPPY.  Happy, and not stressed.  Not freaking out, and not being insane weirdo head cases like I see with nearly every single bride and some grooms.  It was so refreshing to be hanging out with them prior to the wedding, and not feel even a hint of nerves or stress.  That is how it should be, yes?  It was great.  

Once the formalities were done (and they were fairly brief, yet still heartfelt andmeaningful), Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band took the stage.  Again, coolest wedding reception EVER.  We had some of the most talented folks entertaining us at this already incredible and special event. The mood was positive, laid back, and full of love.  I can’t say enough good things about this experience.  Conor called Crystal up to the stage at one point, where she sang a song to Matt.  That was the one part where I might have gotten choked up a bit.  But even then, it was just so full of festive energy in the room that I only had a moment of that sentimental sappy emotion.  Seeing her up on stage, singing her heart to her now husband was what I had always imagined for her.  She is a performer, and she communicates quite a bit through music.  So this was so perfect.

Reception taco bar plate

The food!!!!  Let’s talk about the food.  It was a taco bar.  But not just any taco bar.  A taco bar with two kinds of (Marisa friendly) meat, vegan chorizo, gluten free tortilla options, guacamole (with no added nightshades) - so I took a TON of that, and cilantro.  I had a feast, and I didn’t have to worry about getting sick.  It was again, such a relief.  Crystal works at Whole Foods, and eats a mostly vegan diet. She is super aware of all of the things I hold important.  I did not have the cake.  But it was vegan.  And I did try some of the gluten free fudge.  It was so wonderful to be able to leave town with very few stressors of my own. With some help from my health coach, Eryn, I prepared some basic snacks, and loaded up the car with gluten free, balanced options.

The best part of all was knowing I was sharing such a special day with some very special people, people who also happen to respect and support my food choices, and my path to wellness.  It was a nice change from weddings and social settings of the past.  I am hopeful that there will be more experiences like this in my future.



Kaaren Carone said...

Thanks for sharing your wedding experience! Would you mind sharing the name of the Omaha restaurant where you found GF pancakes? I will be traveling there next week and it would be great to know! Thanks, Kaaren

Dorothy said...

Hi Marisa, I loved reading all about your wedding experience. If you ever decide to have your own wedding, I can tell you would plan something fun and unique and just right for you and your friends. I can tell you have some wonderful people in your life -- especially your partner! He sounds great. Always love your photos and reading about the restaurants too. All best, Dorothy

Feud With Food said...

The restaurant in Omaha with the GF pancakes is called McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe. There is a link to their menu included in my post as well. If you have a smart phone, and use the Yelp application, you will find the best options for gluten free. I have tried using the other "gluten free" specific apps, & thus far they come up with only chain restaurants, and fewer results. http://www.mcfosters.com/menu.html

Joi said...

I love this entry, Marisa! I especially loved how you reasoned with yourself as you ate the pancakes, attaching love to them. That's brilliant and lovely to read.

Glad you enjoyed the wedding, too. Sounds amazing!

Looking at the salad photos... I've become so in love with salad lately, that last night I came home from HH drinking, was starving and immediately fixed myself a huge salad with just several ingredients: power greens, avocado and sprouted pumpkin seeds. I did add some goddess dressing, but really didn't need it since the avocado is the perfect fat. I gorged on this salad! I then realized that we really *can* train ourselves to crave healthy foods. I mean, drunky cravings are pretty powerful. In the past, I would have reached for fatty carbs. OK, off subject, but wanted to say I love your writing and I passed on your blog to one of my G/F coworkers that I visited in Dallas last week.

burghgrl said...

Hi Marisa...ohhh my,could I ever RELATE to your experience! Juggling multiple dietary needs, is DIFFICULT to be sure.I'm so very glad you DID find some very good options during this momentous occasion. Wow...sounds fantastic-thanks so much for sharing all!


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