Monthly Archives: October 2011

Restaurant Week Fail!

Every year I look forward to delighting my taste buds with all kinds of treats made by often very talented chefs around the Seattle area! Why is this so special to me you may ask? Easy I normally go to a new restaurant and try an entree and maybe share an appetizer, but Restaurant Week gives you 3 courses for $28 and if I go with Brandon or a friend I get to try so much more!

The MilkBread Monsters Evil Plot!

This year I was going to be a good girl and try to see if I could enjoy this $28 extravaganza of food BUT stay within my diet. Not only did I miss this while seated at the West Seattle wonder Spring Hill, eating Grilled Pear and Gorgonzola Salad followed by Hangar Steak over creamy mashed potatoes then finished with a Chocolate Pots de Creme! I did suffer when I got home, but the food was so incredibly amazing I didn’t regret it too much!

As if this wasn’t bad enough a few nights later I went to Icon for dinner with 2 friends! Another amazing meal filled with no-no’s for me. Although as I write this I’m starting to see a theme! That night I had a tasty Mixed Green Salad, followed by Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf in some more creamy mashed potatoes and finished it off with a chocolate cupcake. To be honest, the cupcake wasn’t that good yet I ate over half until My belly rebelled with a good cramping. Ugh!

What does all this have in common, Mashed Potatoes! No, seriously the issue is I completely ignored the wonderful yet easy experience I had at Teatro where they gave me amazing food within my diet restrictions, and I threw that all away without even asking either of these great restaurants if they could alter the dishes for me. Ah Mr. Milkbread Monster, I have your number, I learned my lesson and I am commin’ to get you! I need to stop with this shy thing, I’m not shy in most of my life, but why here!?! Next time I will ask!

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Treat at Teatro!

As I glanced into a mirror checking my 1950’s black and white patterned dress I wondered if I should grab a snack before going to dinner. I know it seems odd, but I grab a pre-funk snack often, especially when the meal is going to be a somewhat set menu. I knew this Saturday evening was going to be a treat and challenge all rolled into one. My boyfriend Brandon, his father, step mom and I were going to Teatro ZinZanni!

Unfortunately, there was no snack for me before leaving.  I had ran out of time as I, a natural faced girl, tried to put on some 1950’s style make up.  Food was the least of my concerns at that moment in time.  I was just lucky I had managed to leave looking better than a circus clown at the end of a long hard tour. I was ready and off we went!

When it came time to be seated the hostess walked through the isles in the 100 plus year old circus tent towards our seat. As we walked through I noted that at each place setting at every table sat a nice appetizer, a beautiful piece of cheese with some gently toasted crostini. I was drooling, yet knowing my pre-set tasty treat would be handed directly to a smiling Brandon. Yet when we arrived at our table the hostess turned and said “Now who has the allergy” Of course our whole party pointed at me and I raised my hand (why the heck do I still raise my hand? Okay no the point, I digress)   She said “onion or wheat?” I answered and was seated in front of a lovely red charger plated with a nice polenta covered in a gluten and dairy free tapenade. It was fantastic. Brandon had requested a meal excluding both my allergies, what a sweet man.

After a moment of bliss pondering the tasty yet belly pleasing treats I would enjoy later that evening, suddenly, another wave of fear struck me. What if they assumed I ate anything outside of wheat and dairy? What if they picked my main course and it was my least favorite meat, Salmon! Oh no! Granted I would not be ill on my belly, but boy does that stuff gag me.  Fairly soon after I had this concern, the waitress appeared at our table gripping menus.  I immediately asked what I would have for my main course. She smiled,  “Oh you can have anything on the entrée menu, we’ll just explain how we will prepare it and see if it’s to your liking.”  SCORE!  I was able to have a steak with double veggies. I had to pass on the mashed potatoes riddled with cream. And for dessert, I got a nice raspberry sorbet with a side of fresh pineapple! It was a fantastic meal, a very entertaining show but most of important, a worry free evening. Well worry free once I learned I was going to get a great meal!

I suppose the lesson is that it’s okay to request what you need. Brandon had ordered the tickets and was not at all embarrassed to request a special meal for me, yet had I ordered them I would have requested one at most. Why? Because, I don’t want to be a considered a complainer or a difficult diner.  But I guess the fair question then is, aren’t I a bigger pain in the tush when I’m doubled over in pain not even able to watch the show?  Maybe this is the beginning of seeing that many restaurants actually do want to help you have a fantastic experience! We shall see!

Office Party Temptation

* Photo from Stuart Miles

There in the middle of my giggling coworkers stood the enemy, the white round table covered with soft bagels, all kinds of creamy cheese, sugary sweet donuts and berry filled Danishes.  I stared at the table as I poured my cup of black coffee and listened to my colleague as she describe how her culture celebrates the birth of a new family member. Sadly, I missed part of the story as I searched all of my brain for a reason to delight my taste buds with one of these belly toxic treats. To be honest, had I not started this blog I would have quickly tossed a sugar coated, berry filled donut down the hatch, then quickly regretted it ten minutes later as I sat in a budget meeting with a cramped belly and sweaty brow. But I did not, I was able to focus on the graphs and numbers.. kinda 😉  So… thank you for being here and helping me stay true on my journey. Yes, Point one for Maren, I did not eat that doughnut, bagel or even a “taste” of the berry filling.  Yee haw!
Score-  Maren – 1       MilkBread Monster-0

What a belly ache!

At sixteen, I thought my struggle was finally over when my mother responded to my daily claim “I feel sick” with “well you were a soy milk baby.” What? How did she forget that? One would think that my complaining would have worn her down enough to remember that nice bit of info. Of course, I was annoyed. I was sixteen so I was always annoyed, but then add the illness factor and I was doubly mad. Instead of focusing that teenage anger on my mom, I focused on cutting out dairy. And I felt better… some of the time.

Almost fifteen years later I was still sick often, but I had achieved my goal of being a producer/director on reality shows. The nausea was hard enough to handle at home, but in random shoot environments it was close to impossible. So far my method of pretending to be called off set on my walkie had worked. It worked until one day, the horrible wave progressed way too quickly.  I was in the middle of giving a wrap interview while shooting in the Redwood forest, and I was a very long way from any bathroom. I was mid interview when my stomach gave a mighty rumble. I began to fidget. Unfortunately, my cast member didn’t take that clue, rambling on and on about his experience on the show. I tried to listen and nod patiently but it was hard. My stomach rumbled again, then my gut cramped up and I doubled over in pain.  I waved my arms, and said “I’ve got an emergency I need to handle. I’ll be right back.” With that I ran off into the woods to be ill for about 20 minutes.  With that I knew I had to take action or it was going to kill my career.

A while later I had been to the doctors’ office numerous times and spent thousands of dollars in testing to find out, I was perfectly healthy aside from needing to avoid dairy.  Yeah, thanks guys, who cares if I feel sick after every meal, according to my doctor I was great!  I felt lost and helpless, so I gave up. I kept getting sicker and sicker, more and more often. I hate to admit it, but I complained to anyone who would listen until my hair stylist mentioned a medical doctor who also mixed eastern and western medicine. I figured it was worth a try.

Dr. Pujari’s office felt peaceful. She kneeled next to me and took my pulse first thing, suggesting many East Indian ideas that may help me feel more relaxed. Next, she suggested I go on a very strict elimination diet. I reluctantly accepted a two month elimination diet that basically consisted of organic meats, veggies and rice. I was allowed no vinegar, tofu, gluten, oranges, yeast, eggs, sugar, alcohol, limes, preservatives or dairy  Unfortunately, I met her on October 30th  so I not only had to go on this extreme diet, but do it for the whole holiday season. I was sick enough that I didn’t care.

Two months later I felt better than I ever.  I slowly reintroduced foods one item at a time. Eggs, tofu and oranges were fine, but in addition to not having lactose I was not to have any gluten. This felt like the end of the world. Gluten and diary are in everything. But I had a choice to make, feel healthy and avoid dairy and gluten, or feel sick and eat what I want.  Since I was gluten intolerant not Celiac, I was able to have trace amounts like what comes in Soy Sauce, but no pasta, sandwiches or anything of that nature. I was bummed, but felt so much better it was worth it… for a while.  Finally, I got so tired of feeling like a jerk at peoples homes and restaurants, so for the most part I stopped trying I gave up. I began eating what I wanted then being mad at myself for how sick I felt.

Two years later, here I sit still sick and frustrated with myself. Not because I don’t know what to do, but since it’s difficult and embarrassing to always special order or warn friends when I come to their homes for dinner.  In fact I need to learn how to follow this diet in a way that suits my life and not worry so much about what others think. This is my journey.  I need to keep my body healthy and not be embarrassed to follow through in every situation. Having both, the internet seems super limited.  I have found that dairy free sites tend to go gluten heavy, or worse, Vegan. That is not for me since I love meat!  On the other side, gluten free sites tend to go dairy heavy which is just not good. What I find intriguing is that from what I’ve read, it seems half the people with one have the other. My mission is to work with others to solve this problem.  Can it be done?  With determination, I think so!