Safety for allergen-sensitive customers a priority at Harry & Izzy’s in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana

Harry & Izzy's, Indianapolis, Indiana
Harry & Izzy’s, Indianapolis, Indiana

Restaurant: Harry & Izzy’s, Indianapolis, Indiana

Twas the night before the Santa Hustle Half Marathon and all through the city, this runner’s stomach was rumbling…and that meant one thing…gluten-free pizza.

It’s a race tradition for me these days. I tend to run better in races the day after I eat a gluten-free pizza dinner. Hey…I’m an athlete with superstitions now. And for me…the night before races means I have to eat gluten-free pizza (or gluten-free pizza related). The one time I didn’t eat something pizza related, I felt like death at the end of the race (granted, that might have been the 90% humidity that I ran in, but still…)

So, with that in mind, my roommate went on the hunt for places in downtown Indianapolis that offered gluten-free pizza that wouldn’t be too difficult to get to from our hotel. Just up the way was Harry & Izzy’s, who actually have a gluten-free menu…with, yes, gluten-free pizza on the menu.

Harry & Izzy’s is an independent, upscale American Grill with two locations: downtown and at the Indianapolis International Airport. It is actually the sister restaurant to the famous St. Elmo Steak House, which means they share a few classic dishes. Some of which are even on the gluten-free menu.

However…the added difficulty with me is that I’m also a vegetarian. So, with the exception of one of the salads, I was pretty much limited to the pizza anyway. But…I’m okay with that. The pizza was the entire reason I was there to begin with.

Dinner tonight was being shared with Cathy (the roomie) and our friend Greg. Once we were finally seated (they were changing over the tables from lunch to dinner, so it took our hostess three tries to get us to a table that was ready for us), we were handed menus and asked if we were going to want something other than ice water to drink. As I am running tomorrow, I stayed with the water. So did Cathy. We also went ahead and gave our waitress the heads up that I am medically gluten-free. She said she would go grab a gluten-free menu for me and that when she takes my order, the manager would come up and talk to me and ask if I had any questions with the menu. I actually loved that.

Greg arrived soon after and we settled into conversation as we had much to catch up on. Our waitress returned with the manager, Amy, who directed her focus right on me to talk to me about their gluten-free options. She asked if I had any specific questions regarding the menu. At that point, I didn’t. So she said our waitress would now take our order and if I had any concerns, to just ask for her. What a great perk. It really put my mind to ease about how the food was prepared on the gluten-free menu when the manager makes a point to come out and talk to me about it. Yeah, I felt confident. I was ready for some pizza.

So…we placed our orders. Greg went with the Steakburger, a burger served with cheese (he had them leave that off), lettuce, tomato, onion, and a spicy mayo ($12.00). He chose the coleslaw as his side item.

Harry & Izzy's Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza (topped with cheese, caramelized onion, and mushrooms)
Harry & Izzy’s Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza (topped with cheese, caramelized onion, and mushrooms)

Cathy and I decided that we would split the 10-inch gluten-free thin crust pizza on the menu. For our toppings, we chose cheese, mushrooms, and caramelized onions ($12.00). The plain cheese pizza normally runs $10, but each additional topping is $1 each. That is an awesome price for a gluten-free pizza, let me tell you!

Our waitress went to go put in order and for the time being, we got caught up on eveything that has been keeping our lives so busy as of late. It had been awhile since we last got together with Greg and we had much to talk about. As our food was nearing time to come out, I noticed our waitress grab a couple of plates for my roommate and I. She specifically wiped them off and placed them in front of us. I appreciated that too, as it means they are very aware of the dangers of cross-contamination and were taking no chances.

A few minutes later, our waitress was climbing the stairs with a tray laden with our food. The burger was set down in front of Greg and Cathy and I were given the pizza. Our waitress aid that the Parmesan cheese might have something in it to keep it fresher longer that might be gluten-free, but I prefer red pepper flakes on my pizza anyway…so my roommate got the fresh Parmesan and I took the red pepper flakes. I appreciated my waitress mentioning the possibility that the cheese wasn’t safe. That is often the case when it comes to Parmesan at restaurants anyway…so I normally just skip it regardless. I prefer a little added spice to my pizza regardless and always opt for the red pepper in the end.

The pizza was sliced so that Cathy and I would each get three slices. And let me tell you…this pizza was really delicious. It is brick oven baked, and that is evident from the crispness of the outer crust of the pizza. I did find the inner crust to be softer than I would normally like…but when you can’t bake a pizza on a pizza stone, that crispiness is sometimes very hard to achieve. That being said…I was impressed. With the first bite, the complete flavors of the sauce, the cheese, the mushrooms, and the perfectly caramelized onions all came together on my palate and it was just…yummy. Super, duper, delicious yummy! I don’t think the crust is actually made by Harry & Izzy’s…but the fact is they cook it up fantastically. And my roommate and I devoured each bite. Each slice was completely downed and enjoyed thoroughly.

And, yes, even after that…we left a little room for dessert. The waitress asked if I was feeling the Créme Brûlée…but it was the Sorbet that caught my attention. I love ice cream and frozen goodies…so the sorbet sounded like the perfect palate cleanser and way to end the meal. I was given a choice: lemon or raspberry. I decided on the Lemon Sorbet ($3.50). Cathy and Greg decided they would split the Signature Brownie ($8.00) from the homemade dessert menu. I couldn’t enjoy that chocolate goodness due to the brownie, but the dessert consisted of a homemade brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce and candied pecans.

Harry & Izzy's Signature Brownie (NOT GLUTEN-FREE)
Harry & Izzy’s Signature Brownie (NOT GLUTEN-FREE)

Our desserts arrived. I had two amazing scoops of delightful, light, pleasing lemon sorbet. I loved how it wasn’t too sweet or sour. It was the perfect level of each for lemon sorbet. My problem with sorbets normally is that they can be too sweet. So after a few bites, I’m done and craving something to counterbalance the sweetness. This wasn’t the case with this sorbet. It was balanced and refreshing. And it was just what I needed at the end of my meal.

The Signature Brownie was this tower of dessert awesomeness. It was definitely meant to split. Cathy and Greg managed, between them, to devour it completely. But it was a near thing. Cathy raved about the brownie base, saying that you could tell that it was freshly made. It died a very messy death between the two of them. And it looked so good. Now there is something I totally miss since going gluten-free…the amazing dessert sundaes I used to be able to help eat.

To say that I was impressed with the service and the food at Harry & Izzy’s is an understatement. I felt confident that the food I was receiving was safe to eat. They took very, very good care of me and were very careful with the food that I ordered. I have already said that whenever we are in Indianapolis, this had to be our go-to spot for food. There was plenty on the menu that caught Cathy’s eye…so she seems more than happy to go along with that.

Being a Celiac means that the food has to be safely prepared and served. Not every restaurant knows how to do that properly. But with Harry & Izzy’s…I had no concerns about the food I was served and appreciated all the attention given to me and others who have food allergies. I appreciated that the manager personally came out to talk to me and answer any questions I might have about food preparation and the menu in general.

When I feel that safe at a restaurant, of course I’ll want to go back. I’m looking forward to my return sometime in the near future.

Thank you, Harry & Izzy’s for the delicious, safe meal. I can’t rave about you enough. The precautions you take set my mind at ease and made me feel content in my decision to eat there. It means so much to me that you take that sort of care and consideration for those with food allergies.

I will be back. Oh yes…I will be back.

Harry & Izzy's Lemon Sorbet
Harry & Izzy’s Lemon Sorbet

Recipe: Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteaks

Who says being a gluten-free vegetarian is boring?  When you can cook up something as amazing as a cheesesteak sandwich, without even touching any meat…now that’s awesome.  And it is possible.  And thanks to my stock of gluten-free breads in my freezer, I happened to have gluten-free sub buns at my disposal.  And, thanks to my CSA bin, I had all the vegetables already in my home.

Thanks to the wonder that is Pinterest, I stumbled across this recipe and knew, immediately, that I had to make it.  As previously stated, I had every ingredient necessary to make it happen.  But…I had a few days of using things up and a holiday dinner that had to come first.  Thus…this recipe didn’t get made until last night.  But, wow…was I ever happy I went ahead, trusted Pinterest, and made it.

The recipe comes from a vegetarian food blog called Oh My Veggies.  The original recipe is for four sandwiches, but I had only 2 sub buns and it was just my roommate and I eating…so why make the extra?  I just cut it in half.  But this is the amazing recipe for you to try as well.  Trust me, the meaty portabello mushrooms will make you not even miss the lack of meat in this sandwich.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteaks

Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich
Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich

Servings: 4
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 35 minutes


  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 extra-large portabello mushrooms, gills removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 small green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese (I used Veggie Slices Provolone Flavored vegan cheese)
  • 4 sub rolls, sliced lengthwise (don’t completely cut the top from the bottom, though!) (I used Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns)


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes, or until softened and browned.  Add wine and increase heat to high.  Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Carefully wipe skillet clean.  Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add green pepper and onions; cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Reduce heat to low.  Return mushrooms to skillet and stir to combine.  Top vegetable mixture with cheese slices.  Once cheese has melted, remove from heat.

Divide veggie mixture into sub rolls.  Wrap each cheesesteak tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and unwrap carefully.



Loved these!  Absolutely LOVED these from first bite to last.  My roommate thought some sort of sauce on them might be good next time.  I could see what I could come up with.  I loved the way the portabello mushroom cap perfectly mimicked the meat that would normally go inside this sandwich.  It was seasoned perfectly, the vegetables were tender and flavorful, and the cheese just sort of topped it all off.  All of it melted to perfection inside the gluten-free bun that I used.

I would totally make this again in a heartbeat.  Beyond impressed with how delicious and amazing this meal was.  If you love a good, hearty sandwich…I totally recommend making these.  Totally delicious.

Tina’s Sweet Treats bakes up gigantic, flaky gluten-free sub buns

Tina's Sweet Treats Sub Buns
Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns

Product: Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns (2 buns per package) – $5.49

I love Ohio for numerous reasons.  One of my best friend’s lives there.  Countless other friends live scattered throughout the state.  And near the Dayton, Ohio area, I stumbled across a great little grocery store called Dorothy Lane Market.  What I found inside made me eager to go back.  And though I have yet to do so, the bounty of gluten-free products I purchased the one time I stopped in lives on, thanks to my freezer.

Well, I was surfing Pinterest the other day (shock!) and I ran across a recipe for Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwiches.  They needed sub sandwich rolls.  And…I just happened to have a pair of gluten-free sub sandwich rolls in my freezer thanks to my random stop in at Dorothy Lane Market.  If you have never been to Dorothy Lane Market, by the way, and you happen to be going through Ohio…stop.  Go.  Shop.  They have an incredible selection of gluten-free items…including baked goods from local bakeries…and a knowledgeable staff in the gluten-free aisle.  I was beyond impressed and ended up stocking up on quite a few things I knew I couldn’t get anywhere else.

And…one such item was Sub Buns from Tina’s Sweet Treats, a gluten-free bakery in Franklin, Ohio.  Dorothy Lane Market provides customers with a variety of different items from local businesses that are dedicated gluten-free.  I was intrigued.  And these really caught my eye.  Normally when I make sub sandwiches I use the Schär Sub Sandwich Rolls that are parbaked and just need a toasting in the oven.  And I love those.  But here was a chance to try something “fresh” and homemade.  Not in a facility…but from a bakery.  I was truly excited about this.

Well, after the initial purchase, all the fresh baked items found a spot in my freezer.  I really had no reason to use them…until a recipe showed up on my Pinterest feed.  Knowing that I had every ingredient (including the sub rolls) in my pantry or fridge (thank you CSA bin), I knew these buns were coming out and this recipe was going to get made.

Tina's Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Bun
Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Bun

When I purchased these rolls, I failed to realize just how massive they were.  You are definitely getting your money’s worth, that’s for sure.  These rolls are about 2 Schär sub sandwich rolls put together.  I sliced each ginormous bun in half, loving how the bread would flake away.  Ah, I do love homemade, fresh items.  I noticed there was some spring in the texture, which meant it wouldn’t be dry.  I approved.  So, after cutting both of the dino-sized buns in half, I finished sauteing up my mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, topped them off with vegan provolone cheese, and allowed it to melt.  Then, onto the sub sandwich buns the filling went.  I wrapped each sandwich in tin foil and placed them on a baking sheet in a warm oven for about 15 minutes.

At the end of the warming period, I removed the sub sandwiches, now toasted all the way through, and unwrapped them.  Plating was easy.  The bread didn’t fall apart.  Nor did it get mushy from any residual juices from the sliced portobello mushroom cap that I sauteed.  I was impressed!  Really.  But the real test was coming up.  I needed to find out how these tasted.  My roommate was already digging into hers when I settled in, and I asked what she thought.  She said they were definitely heavier than the Schär Sub Sandwich Rolls, but that it was good.

So, it was my turn now.  One bite.  And I was immediately reminded of the sort of flaky gluten-free hamburger bun I get at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  That’s exactly what the flavor and texture reminded me of.  You could tell it was made in a bakery though.  The flavors that each bite imparted was enough to prove that.  According to Tina’s Sweet Treats’ Web site, the ingredients that go into these sub buns are rice flour, tapioca flour, egg whites, butter, yeast, xanthan gum, apple cider vinegar, and salt.  That’s it.  And what emerges, whether toasted in the oven or heated in the microwave is a soft, delicious bun that is flaky and soft and perfect to stuff full of whatever ingredients you crave.

I was very impressed by Tina’s Sweet Treats.  My roommate actually prefers the Schär rolls over the bakery’s version of a sub roll.  But I could go for either.  These buns were very filling, but very good and worked well with the sandwich I created.  I would totally try other products from Tina’s Sweet Treats, and hope to next time I stop into a Dorothy Lane Market in Ohio.  I was quite happy with the taste, texture, and the way the subs held up to the fillings, and the baking in the oven.

Do your sub sandwiches with something fresh and something tasty.  Check out Tina’s Sweet Treats.  And if you can’t get to Ohio…they do ship.

Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich made using Tina's Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns
Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich made using Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns

Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz doesn’t offer perfect pour of pasta sauce

Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce
Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce

Product: Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce – $5.99+

As is evident by this blog, I am a sucker for new products that are not only gluten-free, but also vegetarian.  And one of my favorite things to test is pasta sauces.  Why?  Well, growing up my favorite thing to eat was pasta.  It didn’t matter what kind of pasta dish it was…I just loved pasta.  Even more, I loved to cover it in sauce.  Yum yum!

When the gluten-free thing had to happen, I thought pasta would never be the same.  In fact, it was months before I even attempted to make any sort of gluten-free pasta dish.  And…sadly…it didn’t quite live up to the stuff I used to have and consume by the plateful.

But, as time went on, I discovered different types of gluten-free pastas, different brands…and the same held true for sauces as well.  I’ve tried a lot of really good sauces and I’ve tried others that were decent enough…but…I’d probably never purchase again.

While out at Whole Foods one day, an end-cap full of pasta sauces I had never seen before caught my attention.  All of them were clearly marked gluten-free…and I knew that I had to take one home with me and try it.  So, my roommate and I looked over the various selections being offered and finally decided that the best one would be to go with the Portobello Shiraz, a pasta sauce made from diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, fresh onions, fire-roasted portobello mushrooms, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, extra-virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper…and Shiraz wine.

No ingredient on there sounded unappetizing and there were no chemicals or added preservatives.  Even better.

So, it came home with us and we began working our way through some of the other sauces in the pantry.  Last night, however, was Vino de Milo’s night to top off some fresh (yes…you read that right, FRESH) gluten-free pasta.  I sauteed up some mushrooms and some yellow onion, added the fresh pasta noodles and poured two servings of the sauce over the noodles in the pan to warm it.  And then…when it was ready, I dished it up.  A small shake of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano topped it off and I served a bowl to my roommate and kept the other for myself.

I was already in a happy place due to the fresh gluten-free pasta (which was superb!)  The addition of a new pasta sauce had me eager to dig in and have a taste.  Before I even settled in though, my roommate had taken a taste and declared the pasta to be fantastic…the sauce…not so much.

My heart sank.  But I went and settled in with my own bowl to make that call for myself.

Sadly…she was absolutely right.  It wasn’t that this sauce is bad.  It’s not.  It’s just that I have tasted others that have been so much better than this one.  The wine, while a common and usually delicious addition to any tomato-based sauce…just didn’t seem to fit in this one.  Trust me, my own homemade marinara uses wine…and I love that one.  Perhaps it was the type of wine used.  The Shiraz is normally a slightly spicy wine, but here it just sort of made everything taste like…it had a touch of vinegar on it.  It just wasn’t a good fit.  It wasn’t bad…it just tasted all wrong.  But…we are going to finish off the jar regardless.

I don’t know if I would be willing to try other options for sauces by Vino de Milo after this one.  While I love a good spicy kick to any sauce, this just didn’t deliver for me.  Thankfully, the pasta and the vegetables were there to lend a hand to the dish.  And I also didn’t drown the pasta in sauce (I kept to the serving size!).

Nutritionally speaking, Vino de Milo’s Portobello Shiraz is a healthy choice when it comes to sauces for pasta.  A serving (1/2 cup) is only 40 calories.  Love that.  It is also completely fat free and low in sodium (330 mg) and sugars.  So, it is a rather healthy choice when it comes to sauces.  I  mean, it is a marinara, it shouldn’t be loaded with a lot of unnecessary calorie-loaded and fat-laden things.  So, there is the good.  I just wished it tasted better.

If I find myself looking for another sauce to give a try, I might try a different variety of Vino de Milo pasta sauces.  But the Portobello Shiraz was definitely not the way to get started on this brand.

Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce over RP's Fresh Gluten-Free Linguini and sauteed mushrooms and onions
Vino de Milo Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce over RP’s Fresh Gluten-Free Linguini and sauteed mushrooms and onions

Recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

There comes a time during those weeks I’m preparing to go out of town for the weekend that I realize I still have a whole heap of fresh produce from my CSA bin that I need to use or lose.  And I am not one that likes to see good food go to waste.  Such is the reason for my brilliant creation that I totally made up on the fly yesterday.

Keep in mind…this would have been a lot easier had I planned it ahead of time…prepped some of the items beforehand.  But…I never have these brilliant moments of brilliance until I am already away from my kitchen.  Naturally.

So, what is an allergic chef to do when her crisper drawer is still heaped full with veggies?  Make something up.  And what emerged was a fantastic little casserole, packed with veggies, sprinkled with a little cheese, and ultimately…nutritiously delicious.

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep 30 minutes; Cook 60 minutes


  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup black beans (mine had actually gone bad…so I substituted with Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Vegan Chorizo)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce with a fork.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out insides, separating the strands with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a pan, heat olive oil and add chopped shallots and white button mushrooms and saute until shallots are soft and mushrooms begin to brown.  Add the broccoli florets.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes.  Saute until broccoli begins to soften.  Add black beans (or vegan chorizo) and heat through.  Remove veggies from heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Blend in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Stir in the milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for 1 minute.

Set the saucepan aside and gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.

Place half of the strands of spaghetti squash into a 2 quart baking dish.  Add half of the sauteed vegetables and half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Repeat the layers.  Pour the sauce over the top and mix well.

Place the baking dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.


I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to turn out.  Honestly.  I was just in one of those modes where I’ll grab a bunch of ingredients, toss stuff together, somehow incorporate it into a dish, and just hope for the best when it’s done cooking.  My roommate loved this…so this may be added to the list of things I can make with a spaghetti squash.  I have a feeling I’ll be seeing quite a few this winter from my CSA.

Go ahead and give this recipe a try.  See what you think.  I know I’m excited to be dining on the leftovers tonight.  Really, really good.  Sometimes just making something up really works out.

A different sort of vegetarian burger in Earth Fare’s Mushroom Rice Burger (gluten-free)

Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger
Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger

Product: Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger – $3.99+

I have fallen into a veggie burger rut.  That sounds strange…I know.  But it’s true.

The marketplace for gluten-free veggie burgers is booming.  And I’m happy about that, because as a gluten-free vegetarian, sometimes I just want to have a good veggie burger.  And many of the ones I have tried have been awesome.  Some have been better than others.  Despite being one of the more pricier ones, I absolutely can not step away from Amy’s Kitchen Sonoma Burger.  It’s delicious.  And one of the more sane ones when it comes to nutrition.

You might recall my run-in with the epically off-the-chain deliciousness of Sunshine Burgers…but the calories and fat content in them totally derailed my moment of joy.

It’s hard to find decent gluten-free, vegetarian food that isn’t laden with high calories and a lot of fat.

But, one day while shopping at my area’s newest grocery store, Earth Fare (I call it Earth Joy because it makes me happy!), I stumbled across their house brand of veggie burgers in the freezer section.  As I was on my last Amy’s patty, I figured…why not try something else?  And with a quick glance at the nutrition information, I felt so much better about this selection than any of the ones that have come before it.  Now, I just had to hope it tasted as good as it sounded.

Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger
Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger

The veggie burger I chose this time around is Earth Fare’s Mushroom Rice Burger.  And when I removed it from the freezer last night to cook up for dinner, what I loved seeing was the bits of rice that are actually part of the burger.  You can also see the various vegetables that are incorporated into the patty itself.  Love that.  In fact, the Mushroom Rice Burger is composed of portobello and button mushrooms, onions, carrots, red and green peppers, black olives, potatoes, and garlic.  Organic brown rice is added to that flavorful mixture, and they are seasoned with wheat-free organic tamari, sea salt, garlic, and some herbs.

A single burger is the serving size, but for once, the nutrition facts on the back of the box didn’t send me throwing it back in the freezer.  One patty is only 90 calories (I think this is the first gluten-free veggie burger I’ve had that is under 110 calories) and contains only 1.5 grams of fat (THIS IS A FIRST!).  It is a lean burger that is low fat, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and free of saturated fat.  The sodium level is very low (290 mg).  And one patty contains a whopping 8 grams of protein.  Love that.

Last night, because I had some red onion, local bibb lettuce, and some tomato on hand, I decided it was time for another veggie burger.  So, I busted out the Earth Fare Mushroom Rice Burger to cook up and give a try.  I put it in my skillet to cook and heat through.  This was actually very easy to do.  I just made sure that it wasn’t cold anywhere in the middle, and flipped it a couple of times until it was nice and golden on the outside and warm throughout.

As I am out of my gluten-free hamburger buns, I have been opting to sandwich my burgers in…gluten-free bread.  I happened to only have one slice left of my Glutino Genius bread, so I did sort of an open-face burger thing in lieu of getting more gluten-free bread or some gluten-free buns.  I threw a slice of Veggie Slices Provolone Flavor cheese over it to melt down.  Then, I plated it with the fresh vegetables and sat down to enjoy.

My first order of business was to get a piece of the burger itself, with no veg or bread.  Why?  Because I really wanted to see how it tasted, unmarred by the flavors that accompanied it.  One bite…and I fell in love.  This veggie burger is packed with amazing flavor.  All organic.  All delicious.  I haven’t been this impressed by a veggie burger in a long time (especially one that is at least a little more nutritious for me to eat!).  Gluten-free veggie burgers are becoming a little more common, but these…these not only have the best nutritional stats of any that I have tried, but they were moist and rich with flavor.  All of the vegetables, the rice, the seasonings…they all mingled and mixed to form this perfect bite of a burger.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I hoovered it.  Just completely devoured it.

Yes…it is that good.

I have noticed that Earth Fare markets are opening up throughout the country.  If you have one nearby, I encourage you to go inside and try some of what they have to offer.  It’s a great little healthy supermarket.  And I have fallen in love with their selection (especially for someone like me!) and their products.  Their very own brand of veggie burgers has now become my absolute favorite.  Now…how’s that for amazing?!

Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger, topped with melted non-dairy provolone cheese, bibb lettuce, and tomato
Earth Fare Natural Mushroom Rice Burger, topped with melted non-dairy provolone cheese, bibb lettuce, and tomato

Recipe: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake

Okay…I’m going to admit it.  When I received my bin from my CSA, I had a major crisis in my kitchen.  No, nothing hazardous or spoiling.  In fact, the issue was more with one of the items in my bin itself.  The culprit – Brussels sprouts.

Laugh it up, but these little mini heads of cabbage really threw me for a loop.  While they have always been one of my mom’s favorite vegetables, we never had them when I was growing up.  Ever.  She never made them and never even attempted to get us to try them.  I knew every joke from television shows and movies though regarding Brussels sprouts, so…yeah…I was sort of thrown for a loop.  Not only had I never tasted these myself, but I had no idea how to prepare them.

My roommate claimed she maybe had them once…and she wasn’t a fan…but probably because they weren’t cooked correctly.

This didn’t boost my confidence in this vegetable at all.  But…I was determined to find a recipe to make…where both of us would hopefully enjoy these little leafy greens.  And after a few searches online, and a few recipes tossed at my roommate, she finally decided on one that would use a couple other items from the bin.  Good thinking!

I embellished the recipe a little as I only had 16 ounces of Brussels sprouts in my bin and the recipe calls for 20.  So, I substituted 4 ounces of broccoli.  No harm no foul, right?  So…for all of you lovers of Brussels sprouts and for those of you, who like me, have no idea if you like them or not…I encourage you to try this recipe.  It’s compliments of Taste of Home…but this is my own take on it.

Recipe: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 35 minutes


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream (I used Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 4 ounces fresh broccoli
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese



Onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts sautéing in pan
Onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts sautéing in pan

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth; set aside.

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter until tender.  Stir in Brussels sprouts.  Remove from the heat; stir in cream cheese mixture.

Spoon into a greased shallow 2-qt. baking dish.  Cover and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Uncover; sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.


Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake (fresh from oven)
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Bake (fresh from oven)



I admit it…I was nervous going into this one.  With not knowing what to expect from Brussels sprouts, I was actually quite nervous about taking my first bite.  My roommate, as she so often does, threw herself on it immediately and assured me that it was actually really good.  She said the Brussels sprouts had a bit of a nutty flavor to them…and she was right.  And the cream cheese/sour cream soup that surrounded the greens, mushrooms, and onions was out of this world.  This was actually quite delicious…and yes…quite filling.

But I am no longer afraid of Brussels sprouts.  And, perhaps, next time I’ll try simply roasting them in olive oil and give that a go.

Trust me…this is at least worth a taste.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint does gluten-free pizza and peace of mind

Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky

I know a few Celiacs and gluten-free peeps around here.  I run with a couple of them too.  And one of them, my friend Keith, has been raving about Uncle Maddio’s for just about as long as I’ve known him in our running group.  And for some reason…I fell into the black hole of all the other local gluten-free pizza places, not branching out or just not going for pizza at all.  Despite the high recommendation and regards concerning their safety procedures when it comes to preparing gluten-free pizza for their customers…this one just kept sliding through the cracks.

I am happy to report, however, that this past Saturday…I went to Uncle Maddio’s…and yeah…I can see why Keith and so many other people have raved about this place.

First of all, Uncle Maddio’s looks to be a very small chain that is expanding.  They have a few locations in Georgia and the one here in Louisville, Kentucky.  I am so thankful for the location here in Louisville now that I have checked them out.

It was just about right after they opened when my roommate and I made our way over to Uncle Maddio’s for lunch.  One reason, aside from meaning to have checked it out long ago, was that we were already in the area.  I had been in the local park running a 5K race that morning.  After some coffee and a bit of shopping on Bardstown Road, we were ready for some actual food.  And there it was…conveniently…offering me gluten-free pizza.  Yeah…this was ideal.

So, my roommate and I entered and were greeted by the guy behind the counter.  We explained that it was our first time there and that I am gluten-free.  He immediately began changing his gloves.  “Oh, gluten-free?  No problem.”  So, we eyed the menu for a moment and finally I told my roommate to pick a pizza, because as long as it is vegetarian, I’ll eat any topping.  I’m not as picky as she is.  So with a moment of consideration, she decided to go with one of their signature pizzas.  Her choice – the Portobello Pesto ($9.99 (regular $7.99 + $2.00 up-charge for gluten-free)).  What I really felt good about was when we placed the order, the other guy behind the counter pulled out a list to check the ingredients to make sure they would be gluten-free.  Wow…that was an amazing thing.

Granted, Uncle Maddio’s does not make their own gluten-free crust.  They have a pre-made vegan/gluten-free crust that is made from: rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, water, olive oil, sugar, yeast, and salt.  It is only available in one size, a medium, which means six slices.  I am certain this has everything to do with cutting down on any sort of cross-contamination.  They have an extensive list of gluten-free toppings for the pizza as well.  It’s kind of cool because of the way they are set up, you can watch as your pizza goes down the line if you so choose…like someone would watch their sandwich get prepared at Subway.

The Portobello Pesto Pizza is basically the gluten-free crust topped with their herb pesto sauce, mozzarella , portabella and white mushrooms, feta cheese, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil.  Simple ingredients on a simple pizza, yes?  My roommate made a fantastic choice, because the toppings would mean that I could really get a taste of the crust without sauce overpowering it…and also be able to clearly taste all the toppings on this, one of their signature pies.

We went to fill our drinks and take a seat at a booth.  It actually took a little bit of time for the pizza to be prepared, which I actually do like.  It means they aren’t being careless or taking shortcuts.

The pizza did arrive at our table and man…it looked absolutely delicious.  Stunning.  A work of gluten-free pizza art.  I hated that I had to take pictures of it, because, honestly, I was ready to dive in for a slice.  But I have to make sacrifices for this blog at times.  Pictures first.  Then…pizza time!

I served my roommate up a slice of the pizza, then placed a slice on my plate.  With a fork and knife, I cut through the toasted crust, hearing the knife cut through the pre-made crust.  I liked the thin-crust and the crunch that they achieved without burning it.  Sometimes some places overcook those thin-crust gluten-free pizzas…but not Uncle Madio’s.  It was perfection.  And with the very first bite…I knew that this combination of toppings was now one of my favorites.  Enough for me to declare that I needed to start making pesto.  Hey…I love to be in my kitchen and lord knows I keep olive oil on hand.  It all worked.  The basil pesto didn’t overwhelm the pizza as a base.  It wasn’t too strong…just right.  And the rest of the toppings were seasoned and fresh.  The portobella mushrooms were cooked to perfection.  Not drippy or wet.  They were absolutely stunning, laying on top.  I could taste the freshness in the Roma tomatoes and the basil.  The feta and mozzarella cheese were not piled high on top, but used more as a compliment to the other toppings.  It wasn’t overwhelmed with cheese so the flavors really shined.

Yeah…I was impressed.  I was beyond impressed.  I was happy to be eating there.  I was already trying to come up with the next vegetarian pizza to get there and try out.  See how it does.  Or…maybe get this one again.  Because it truly wowed me.  When in doubt…go with a signature pizza.  They are signature meals for a reason, yes?  And this one totally deserved its spot up on that board.

Peace of mind and a great serving and slice of pizza.  I left there after eating half of the pizza and wasn’t crazy-full…a definite plus as well.  The fact that they take such care with their customers who order gluten-free makes me feel confident about my next return.  And yes…there will be a next time!

Uncle Maddio's Gluten-Free Portobello Pesto Pizza
Uncle Maddio’s Gluten-Free Portobello Pesto Pizza

Recipe: Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

You know…with all the produce that I get delivered right to my door, it’s amazing I talk myself into buying anything else while out at the grocery store.  However, for some reason, I had the urge to make portobello mushroom burgers this week.  I have plenty of produce to use already, but no…these just had to be made.  I had made up my mind already in my head and all I needed were organic portobello mushroom caps…which my local grocery store happened to have.

The rest…was inspired by a recipe on Pinterest…which I then deviated from to work with the fresh veggies and items I had on hand in my fridge.  So…here is the recipe…

Recipe: Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 10 minutes


  • 2 portabello mushrooms, cleaned and gills removed
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce (I used San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 grape tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Galaxy Mozzarella Rice Shreds)
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 2 buns, split (I used Schär Gluten-Free Sandwich Rolls)
  • butter for spreading on buns


Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl.  Pour over mushrooms, tossing a few times, and let marinate for 10 minutes.

When grill is nice and hot, turn heat back to medium and grill mushrooms for about 5 minutes each side.

During the last 2 minutes of grilling, throw buttered buns on just long enough to heat through, melt butter, and impart a nice grill mark on bread.

Remove mushrooms and bread from grill.

Place tomatoes, peppers, goat cheese and mozzarella cheese inside portobello cap.  Place in a hot pan and sprinkle water inside.  Cover to allow cheese to melt.  Remove from pan.

To assemble the burger, place romaine lettuce leaf on bun, then top with the vegetable and cheese topped mushroom.  Place top of bun on top and enjoy!


I handed this over to my burger-loving, meat-eating roommate and she took the first bite.  Her exact words were, “This tastes like a burger.  If you didn’t tell me it was a portobello mushroom, I wouldn’t know!”

Awesome.  I must say, the marinade does make all the difference when it comes to eating something like mushrooms.  This was a fantastic burger to dine on.  I added a little kick to mine buy spreading each bun with some Koops Arizona Heat mustard.  It was a really delicious and healthy dinner.  And it’s very easy to make and assemble too, which is even better.

Love mushrooms? Or looking for an alternative to red meat?  Give this one a try.  Honestly…it was SO good.