El Pollo Loco

elpolloloco chicken

El Pollo Loco is kind of crazy for listing gluten free items on their No Wheat Gluten Menu that aren’t actually gluten free!  I don’t care if they have a disclaimer! FYI El Pollo Loco: A Chicken Taquito isn’t gluten free when it gets thrown into the same fryer as breaded Chicken Nuggets! That’s just basic Gluten Free 101! Which just goes to prove my motto: Trust but verify! It’s true for all restaurants, even the Crazy Chicken!

Instead of deep fried items, like the Crunchy Chicken Taco, Chicken Taquito, French Fries or Tortilla Chips, (or corn tortillas that are heated in the same microwave as flour tortillas), I’d stick with the Crazy Salad, or side dishes like cole slaw, corn on the cob, pinto beans or mashed potatoes without gravy! You can also order the Fire Grilled Chicken, since it’s cooked on a separate grill.

However, I must admit, I deciphered this info after contacting an ill informed customer service rep, who suggested I speak with an ill informed employee at my local El Pollo Loco restaurant, who in turn looked at me like I was loco when I asked about the No Wheat Gluten Menu. He even kibitzed with his manager, who confirmed the loco diagnosis. Once again, just because a fast food restaurant has a No Wheat Gluten Menu, doesn’t mean the staff or even the manager know anything about it. In fact, after dealing with the unknowledgeable fast food employees, I was beginning to think I was loco for eating at El Pollo Loco!  :)

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California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)

cpk cob salid

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) is kinda false advertising for those of us with a gluten allergy. It’s more like California Salad Kitchen (CSK), since the only gluten free item on their menu is salad…lots and lots of salad! They used to have gluten free pizza, but not anymore! :(

If you want a good gluten free pizza, I suggest you dine at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery instead! You can also enjoy a BJ’s handcrafted ice-cold gluten free root beer and a gluten free pizookie (that’s a pizza cookie with ice cream on top) for dessert! Now that’s a pizza kitchen, but if you want to be healthy and eat a salad at CSK…I mean, CPK, then California Pizza Kitchen might be just the ticket! :)

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Toastabags-Sandwich-Grilling-BagsToastabags actually work!  They keep my gluten free bread safe and uncontaminated inside my brave, little toaster that’s infested with non-gluten free breadcrumbs!  Just remember, after you put a Toastabag in the toaster, the outside IS contaminated, so be careful how you retrieve your toast!  I unplug the toaster and grab my toast with a pair of tongs!  The unplugging part is kind of important, if you don’t want the last thing you ever see to be a Toastabag. :/

Apparently, you can even grill sandwiches or heat up pizza slices or chicken nuggets in the Toastabag, but that sounds like a lot of mess and fuss.  All I want is to toast a piece of Rudy’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread and slather it with butter!  Plus, my Toastabag will probably last longer than 50 uses, if I never have to wash it!  How frugal of me…and lazy! :)

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Gluten Free Dijon Chicken

gf dijon chicken2

If you’re tired of plain old grilled chicken, try Dijon Chicken with this amazing gluten free marinade! I made this recipe with San J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce!  It goes great with a side dish of Roasted Vegetables with Gluten Free Orzo!

You can even double the batch of marinade and refrigerate it for a month, as long as it hasn’t touched any meat! Don’t you just love time saving tips for the kitchen? I sure do! :)


Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 9
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 10 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup Grey Poupon dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup lemon juice
  1. Mix ingredients in blender until smooth.
  2. Marinade chicken at least 2 hours before grilling.
Marinade keeps well in the refrigerator for a few weeks, if it remains uncontaminated by meat products. All sauce used to marinade meat must be disposed of immediately after use.


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Roasted Vegetables with Gluten Free Orzo

gf veggie orzo

I just found a bag of Delallo gluten free orzo at Wal-Mart! This is the best discovery since Pacific’s gluten free condensed Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soup!!! Now I can make one of my favorite recipes, Roasted Vegetables with Orzo!

The directions on the bag say to cook it 11 min. until al dente, but don’t listen to them! For this recipe, I cooked it 28 min. and it was perfect! Tender, but not mushy!

To perfect this recipe, I actually made it twice! The first time with Athenos Greek Feta made with goat’s milk and the second time with Pastures of Eden Israeli Feta made with sheep’s milk, and just like God on Judgment Day, I’d definitely choose the sheep over the goats! Sheep’s milk feta is so creamy, but don’t tell Yiayia (the feisty, old school Athenos spokesperson), she might sick her goat on me! :)

Roasted Vegetables with Gluten Free Orzo

Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Roasted Vegetables with Gluten Free Orzo
  • 1 small eggplant, large diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 red onion, large diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • ½ pound Delallo gluten free orzo (Wal-Mart)
  • For dressing:
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • To assemble:
  • 4 green onions, minced (white and green part)
  • ¾ lb. Jerusalem Cafe feta cheese, ¼” diced (Trader Joe’s)
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the eggplant, peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until browned and softened, but not mushy, turning a few times with a spatula.
  2. Meanwhile, cook Delallo gluten free orzo in boiling salted water, until tender, about 28 min. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, including all the liquid and seasonings.
  3. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Add feta, basil and green onion.


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Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie

gf lemon pie

If life gives you lemons, forget lemonade…make Lemon Meringue Pie with Whole Foods gluten free ready-made piecrust! Lemon Meringue is one of my favorite pies! Though, I haven’t met a pie I didn’t like!

I tried an old Betty Crocker recipe. It tasted great, but it looked like a runny mess. Apparently, Lemon Meringue pie is a little tricky!

My sister, aka Martha Stewart, suggested I try Alton Brown’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. She figured the Food Network chemist would get it right. My sweet niece, Jessica, offered to make it for my hubby’s birthday and it was perfect! It looked AND tasted delicious! Thanks, Jessica! You can visit anytime and bake for us! She’s such an accomplished chef! What do you expect with Martha Stewart for a mother?  :)

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Redken Chromatics Organic, Gluten Free Hair Color


My head and my hair are happier since I started using Redken Chromatics gluten free, organic hair color! Yep! That’s right! The secret’s out! This hair color of mine came out of a bottle! It was either that or go au naturel with hair that’s mostly salt with just a dash of pepper, and that’s just not okay, when I’m not that old yet!

If your head is allergic to your hair color or your hair is falling out like mine was, try Redken Chromatics, and take that harsh ammonia out of your hair color! If you like my golden locks, which you can see on Facebook at kareninreallife.com, just ask for 1 oz. each of 8N and 7 AB, and 1/2 oz. of 10N.   It’s not my original color, but it hides the grey really well! :)

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

red pepper humus

My favorite son, Jared, (he’s also my only son) loved the Barefoot Contessa’s hummus so much that he asked if I could make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus!   I couldn’t find an easy online recipe by Ina or any of the other Food Network gang, so I ditched the Barefoot Contessa and strapped on some sensible shoes to tackle a recipe with Inspired Taste.  If you make it with a can of Bush’s Garbanzos Chick Peas, it’s gluten free. It was a delicious, but small batch of hummus, which we devoured with gluten free Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips. In fact, it tasted SO good the hummus is all gone! :)

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Costco Goes Organic


Muahahaha! We are slowing taking over the world! Costco is now sporting a new organic section!!! I predict a gluten free section is just around the corner!!!  :)

There are some organic products, which are also gluten free, but for now, you need to check the labels! I bought an organic, gluten free Roasted Red Pepper Hummus by Pita Pals, Nature’s Path Qi’a and Late July’s multigrain snack chips.  They also had Mary’s Gone Crackers, but I was already stocked up.  For now, just look for the green labels!   In the not too distant future, hopefully we’ll have a label of our own!! :)

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Nature’s Path

np summer berries granola

I’ll take Nature’s Path any day, especially if the trail is littered with gluten free Summer Berries Granola! Soooo yummy! On Nature’s Path, you’ll also find gluten free waffles, cereal, chewy granola bars, and Qi’a, a superfood that looks like birdseed, only better!

Just be careful to look for the gluten free sign along Nature’s Path, so you don’t accidentally find yourself wandering into non-gluten free territory! With all these delicious, organic, gluten free choices, why choose any other route? Take Nature’s Path! I’ll leave a trail of granola for you to follow! :)

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