On vacation.....gluten free

It has been a while since I have written. I have a good reason, really. I was on vacation. And what a great week and a half it was.

The first memorable moment I would like to share is about Passover. The fourth Thursday of every month, I have the honor and privilege to cook for and serve the men of My Brother's Keeper. This is a facility for homeless men in Flint. This month's service happened to fall on Maundy Thursday, and coincided with Passover this year. So to make things extra special, we prepared a meal that was composed of the main ingredients that would be found in a Seder meal.

So we served Lamb Shoulder that night. My husband found a great way to prepare, done in a video by Jamie Oliver. Many of the men had not had it before, and that spurred on a great dinner conversation about foods that some have eaten that others may have found strange. Apparently, there are people in this world that eat seagull.....

On Saturday of that week, my maternal grandmother, aunt and uncle came up to share a meal. Instead of cooking, we chose to go to Italia Gardens, a local Italian restaurant. They have a gluten free menu, comprised mainly of dishes that can be made with gluten free spaghetti. They also have other non-pasta items on their gluten free menu as well.

I ordered the Sausage Arrabbiata, which is spicy marinara sauce with roasted onions, green peppers
and sausage medallions tossed with gluten free spaghetti, all for only $12. I had never tried this before. I was slightly concerned as the menu stated that it was a spicy dish, but it wasn't spicy at all. They cook their gluten free spaghetti in a clean pot, using clean water so as to prevent cross contamination. Because of this, the gluten free dishes take a little longer, but it's worth the wait. (If you let them know when you walk in the door, they'll start it right away before the rest of your table orders.)

*This picture was not taken by me. The GF option comes with spaghetti, not penne.*

The portion sizes at this restaurant are huge. You may not be able to tell under the layer of fresh grated cheese and sauce, but there is a TON of spaghetti in the bottom of this bowl. I ate all of the sausage in that setting, but I had enough leftover pasta for a complete meal on another night, plus a little as a snack.

On Thursday we decided to travel to Detroit, as my husband had never been to the Detroit Zoo. (Which, ironically, is not in Detroit but in Royal Oak.) Another bonus, one of my childhood friends lives in that vicinity  and we hadn't seen her in a while, so we hung out with her for the day as well. First stop, A Taste of Ethiopia!  (Be warned, the website listed on Yelp is not for the restaurant in Southfield.)

This restaurant is located in Southfield, MI in the Southfield Plaza. The big draw for us was the Injera, an Ethiopian flat bread that is traditionally made with teff, which is a gluten free grain. Most Ethiopian restaurants serve the meal on top of this bread, and then you tear off pieces and eat it with your hands. Yeah for being an adult and eating with your hands! (Sadly, most restaurants also add regular wheat to this bread, making it not gluten free. But not this restaurant!)

We arrived during their lunch buffet time, so sadly the meal was not already served on the bread, but he waiter did bring out a basket of injera for us to have with our meal.  My husband and I were surprised at the food that they offered, because much of it is what we would cook at home. They had lentils, yellow split peas, beans and rice, curried chicken, jerk chicken, and curried cabbage cooked with carrots. The one dish that was "new" to us was siga wat, a beef stew. The waiter assured me that all of it was gluten free. And my was it tasty. If we hadn't filled up so full on lunch, we would have ordered fried plantains as well.

After a large lunch, we walked around the Detroit Zoo for a few hours, looking at polar bears, seals, camels, chimpanzees and even giraffes. All that walking made room for a snack on the way home.....

I used the website "Find Me Gluten Free" to see if there were any bakeries on the way home. As it turned out, Sugar Kisses, located in Berkley, MI was not that far from my friend's house and not too hard to find. Seeing that it said "gluten free" in big beautiful letters, I knew we had found the right place.


The have two large display cases full of all sorts of gluten free pastries, cakes, and desserts. They also have other shelves with homemade bread, croutons and bagel chips. And they have Fair Trade coffees, which was a big bonus for my husband. There were so many choices, how does one decide? We settled on a chocolate espresso cookie and a raspberry chocolate chunk scone. I split the cookie in half, thinking that we would share it, and then we would leave after drinking his coffee. Unfortunately  my will power was just as broken as my cookie, and I started in on the scone. The cookie was firm and you could definitely taste the espresso. The scone was soft, more reminiscent of a muffin. I would have liked a few more raspberries in it, but the chocolate chunks were huge. Chocolate is always a good thing.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Sugar Kisses. They also make dairy free and vegan items, and they have handy-dandy symbols on all of the place cards to let you know which are gluten free, vegan, made with raw sugar, etc.


Our Friday excursion took us to Old Town in Lansing. The reason? Cravings Gourmet Popcorn. My dad has always been a huge popcorn fan, and he had never been there.

When you walk in, there is a table before you with sample containers of all the popcorn that they make. They have your traditional flavors- butter, caramel, and cheddar, and then they have the more "grown up" flavors, like Molasses with Sea Salt, Cider Cinnamon, and Chicken and Waffles. I wasn't brave enough to try the last one. Once you've sampled all the flavors and decide what you want, you step up to the counter and order your bag (or tin) of popcorn. *Disclaimer- Not ALL of their popcorn is gluten free. Stay away from the cheddar flavors and the dill pickle flavors.

Now popcorn isn't the only draw to this fine establishment. They have one of the largest collections of soda I have ever seen in my life. They have your traditional colas and root beers, ( I think I counted at least a dozen different brands of root beer), but they also have sodas like Maple Smoked Bacon and "Leninade." I have to admit that I was thoroughly impressed. They have two other locations, one in Okemos and one in Downtown Lansing.

So, what's the best gluten free find while you've been on vacation? Leave a comment below and enlighten us!