Gluten-Free Spotlight: Counter Burger

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend! Unfortunately this weekend was spent feeling pretty yucky on my part due to some cupcakes. How can yummy cupcakes be the cause of anything negative you ask? Well it turns out the cupcakes that a restaurant assured me were both gluten-free and vegan were only gluten-free but definitely contained dairy. I thought it tasted slightly richer than I’m used to when eating but didn’t think much else about it. Until 20 minutes later when I got terribly sick. Unfortunately those effects lasted for 3 days and now I’m finally happy to be feeling better. It’s hard to believe that something I used to enjoy so much (I was a huge cheese & fro yo fan) now causes me so much pain. But it did serve as a reminder as to why I’m eating the healthy, clean way that I do. And speaking of that, I wanted to share with you about a fabulous meal I had a few weeks ago!

If you aren’t familiar with Counter Burger, they are the ultimate burger restaurant. You pick and choose from a list of 50+ things what you want on your burger which ranges from sundried tomato pesto to marinated artichokes. They seriously have everything! And when I say everything, I mean everything- including a new gluten-free menu complete with gluten-free buns! Those of you that are gluten-free out there understand just how exciting it is to go to a restaurant and be able to have your burger or sandwich on bread, rather than wrapped in lettuce! The buns they use are actually Udi’s GF hamburger buns and they were so accommodating to show me the list of ingredients so I could ensure it was safe for me!

GF burgers for two!

GF burgers for two!

For my burger I went with a gluten-free bun, turkey burger patty, mixed greens, carrots and cranberries! I always like my sandwiches and burgers on the simple side so this was perfect for me! They also have both sweet potato and regular french fries that are gluten-free but because I don’t eat fried foods I went with the grilled veggies which were absolutely delicious! (Note: If you are corn-sensitive like me, the grilled veggies normally come with corn so be sure to ask that they leave that off.)

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You would never guess that it is gluten-free!

All in all, it was an absolutely delicious meal and so fun to have something different! I feel like for those of us who are gluten-free/dairy-free (and a whole host of other things in my case) going out to eat can mean eating the same things over and over again- but this was something unique for my taste buds! I also love that they have a specific gluten-free menu as it makes ordering so much easier without all the guess work that is usually involved.

Questions:

-Have you been to Counter Burger?

-What are your favorite burger toppings?

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Gluten-Free Spotlight: Rosa Mexicano

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend and that some of you got yesterday off and had a chance to have an extended time with friends and family. Sorry I was a little MIA last week, it ended up being busy but in a good way. I had an awesome time ice skating with some of my friends on Wednesday night and I’ll have to fill you in on that soon. But let’s fast forward to this past weekend instead. We spent the weekend celebrating my amazing Mommy’s birthday. Words can’t express how lucky I feel to have such an incredible mom who also happens to be my best friend. She is the most incredible woman I know and I cannot imagine my life without her. She deserves the happiest of birthdays and I hope that she has a wonderful day today and it was so much fun celebrating a fantastic birthday weekend. For more on my amazing mommy, check out this post!

The celebrations started on Saturday with going to see Anything Goes in the city. If you aren’t familiar with the musical, it’s a very fun storyline set on a cruise liner going from New York to London in 1934, it’s full of silly antics and humor and has great songs you may have heard of like “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.” All in all, it was a fantastic show. After a wonderful show and a quick jaunt through the Ferry Building to pick up some goodies at Mariposa (aka gluten-free/vegan heaven) and we were off to dinner at the new Rosa Mexicano. My mom and I first went to Rosa Mexicano at LA Live when we went to the Oprah Conference to see O You! We had an amazing experience and were so impressed with their extensive gluten-free menu. Luckily, the SF location didn’t disappoint!

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Rosa Mexicano is an amazing, upscale, modern Mexican restaurant. It’s a lively, fun atmosphere making it the perfect venue for any celebration or occasion. When we walked in, we were promptly seated at a large warm booth that was the perfect escape from the San Francisco chill. Our server took expert care of us and the host informed me that if you follow them on twitter, they will pick someone dining there once an hour to give a free dessert too! Love when restaurants use social media!

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One thing that my Mom and I loved in LA was the incredible table-made guacamole. Before trying it in LA I was never really a guacamole fan. I’m not big on avocados (I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way) but I’m working on acquiring the taste since they are such a good source of healthy fats. I’m not sure exactly why the guacamole here is so good, but it’s kind of out of this world. They ask you how you want it- mild, medium or spicy and then add in fresh avocados, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, salt, lime juice and a few other ingredients to create a fantastic chunky concoction. I enjoyed it on my chips (along with two of their salsas) and they also give your blue corn tortillas to spread the guacamole on for a little more avocado goodness.

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One of the other things they are famous for are their Pomegranate margaritas! These margs have been their signature cocktail since 1984 and now I can tell why! They are a delicious combination of silver tequila, pomegranate juice and lime juice, all frozen to create a frothy, delicious drink. I highly recommend it because they aren’t too sweet and you can taste the subtle bite from the tequila mixed with the tart juices. Definitely try them.

And then of course the food! One of the things that impressed me so much about Rosa Mexicano is how aware and flexible they are when it comes to dietary restrictions. Since I’m gluten-free and dairy-free (along with a host of other restrictions that I haven’t fully detailed on the blog) going out to eat can be kind of a difficult experience. However, this restaurant made it so easy! I ordered the chicken enchiladas but substituted the Mexican roasted tomato sauce instead of the tomatillo cream sauce and it was delicious! It still tasted rich and creamy and was accompanied by black refried beans. We also did have to order dessert for the table (my mom and I had our piece of Mariposa cake) so we ordered Churros En Bolsa. Oh my gosh did these look delicious. Since I didn’t taste them I’ll let the menu do the description instead “Mexican cinnamon doughnuts. piping hot Mexican doughnuts dusted with sugar and cinnamon, and served with three dipping sauces: chocolate, caramel and raspberry guajillo.” Sounds amazing.

All in all, it was such a fantastic experience and everyone had a great time. They have locations in a variety of major cities across the US, so check ’em out!

LA Reunion

Hi lovelies! I hope that you are having a fantastic week and are looking ahead to Friday and some fun weekend plans! Today, I have to give a very special birthday shoutout to my brother Brooks who is turning 29! You’ve seen Brooks on the blog before but what you don’t know is how close we are- we talk almost every day and meet for lunch about once a week, sometimes more! We are so lucky to work mere blocks from each other and I love getting to see him so regularly. He is so supportive and caring and I have spent the last 25 years looking up to him! Happy Birthday dear brother!

Brooks and me on my 24th birthday

And now for another catch-up installment! A few weeks ago I went to LA for my school’s alumni weekend. No, it wasn’t an official “reunion” but it was a time for me to reunite with all of my college girlfriends. We try and see each other semi-regularly but with all of our busy schedules sometimes it is hard to coordinate. For our weekend we stayed at the gorgeous Belamar hotel in Manhattan Beach. The location was perfect (and near some of my favorite college haunts) and the amenities were great.

On our first night there, we got settled in the hotel and went got dressed up and went to Primativo for dinner. It was my first time there and it is the cutest wine bar/restaurant. We sat outside in the garden area that is dimly lit with twinkly lights and candles, making it the perfect atmosphere for us to get some catching up in! We had a few bottles of wine and a little bit of everything on the menu! Everything was fantastic but our favorite dish was the Coq Au Vin “Blanc”- Slow Roasted Mary’s Farm Chicken, olive oil poached potatoes, market vegetables, herb jus Bourgogne Blanc, France. I’ve had Coq au Vin before but never with white wine and the sauce was incredible- I literally wanted to drink it and since I was still having bread then, I used the delicious crusty bread to soak it up as a classier option 😉 After our amazing dinner (and a few pictures of course) we went to a few bars in Venice and Santa Monica and then piled in a cab to go back to MB.

The next day we woke up and started the day at Marmalade Cafe for brunch before our Alumni Bar Crawl. We had their peach mimosas with champagne, peach nector and orange juice but because my friends know how much I hate peaches, mine was just a classic mimosa. The girls really enjoyed the peach nector though in theirs! For my meal, I had a short stack of their Seven Grain Almond Granola pancakes topped with strawberries. They were good but so dense that I could only finish one!

After our delicious breakfast we headed over to the bar crawl. It was fun seeing people from the past but of course my favorite part was just hanging out with the girls. Although we were having fun (and of course, taking lots of pictures) a few of us were feeling tired so we decided to get frozen yogurt and head back to the hotel to take a nap, which felt glorious!

When we woke up went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants from college, La Sirena.  They have the best mexican food and I am pretty much obsessed with their margaritas, chips and burritos. I never order a burrito at Mexican restaurants, but theirs is better than any that I’ve had before! My best friend and I split one like the old days and it was delicious! From there we headed over to Dry Bar to get blow outs before we went out that night! I opted for the Cosmo-Tai which has volume on top and loose curls throughout the hair. After my last experience at a blow out bar, I made sure to tell her to use lots of product because curls typically do not hold. They did ultimately fall, but I was pleased with how it looked with a little wave. After that we went back to the hotel and got ready and went to a friends house before going out. Of course we spent this time taking more pictures. Can you tell yet that it was a picture heavy weekend?

The next morning we got up to go to brunch at The Strand, a new restaurant in Manhattan Beach. This place has recently had a major renovation (LA friends you might remember it as the bar Beaches!) and has a gorgeous view overlooking the water. We had a wonderful time catching up and of course, couldn’t help ourselves from going down to the beach for a few pics as well. From there, we blasted some of our favorite college songs and drove along the PCH with the windows down. It felt just like college. We ended up at LMU and it was so crazy to be on campus again! I haven’t been back since graduation and I can’t even express  how weird it was because while it looked the same, I felt so different this time around and things in my life have changed so much. It was kind of bizarre. I didn’t stay for too long at the Alumni BBQ because I was meeting up with my sorority little-sis and then going to the airport, but we did take the time to recreate our college graduation pictures.

All in all, it was such an amazing weekend and I had such a blast with my girlfriends!

GGG Restaurant Review: Straw

Hi lovelies! Happy Wednesday and congrats on being halfway through the week! In San Francisco we’ve had gorgeous weather lately and I think everyone is starting to be in summer-mode.

A few weeks away I went to brunch with my girlfriends in Hayes Valley at Straw. I first heard about Straw from Kelly at Pine to the Pacific when she went a few months back. This carnival themed restaurant is super small but seemed like the perfect place to gather up my girlfriends for brunch after a night out on the town. Now, this is not a healthy restaurant- I’m just putting it out there because you have to go in knowing that everything is decadent… and delicious. After my last review of Serendipity it might seem hard to believe that this is a healthy living blog anymore. But I promise that in between these splurges, lots of healthy salads, greek yogurt and green juice are being eaten in the background!

Adorable menus in a file folder- such an easy DIY!

We started off the meal with Strawberry Basil Lemonades (served in mason jars, making them even cuter) which were absolutely delicious and refreshing. They weren’t too sweet or tart and I was very sad when I’d gotten to the bottom of my glass! For my entree, I was tempted by lots of things on the menu but ultimately went with the grilled cheese which was voted one of 7x7s best grilled cheeses in San Francisco! This grilled cheese is made with smoked cheddar and swiss and… wait for it… a parmesan crust. It was served with creamy tomato soup (complete with goldfish crackers) and sweet potato tater-tots and blackberry bbq sauce.

The grilled cheese was as phenomenal as 7×7 had made it out to be but the real star of the show in my eyes were the tots and bbq sauce. I rarely eat fried food so it doesn’t usually appeal to me but these are something special and I wish I had that sauce at home to dip veggie burgers in! But of course, at a place like this, trying one thing is simply not enough. So I ordered a Whack-A-Mole for the table, also known as: red velvet Belgian waffle with vanilla cream cheese frosting and seasonal fruit.

It was absolutely fantastic though sadly we were all too full to take more than one bite! The red velvet flavor was light but not overpowering and the frosting tasted just like the stuff on top of a cupcake. All in all it was a lovely day and I’m so glad my girlfriends and I got to do a fun brunch together. Brunch is one of my favorite meals and I always look forward to trying new restaurants and chatting about the evening before!

Questions:

-What’s your favorite meal to share with friends?

-What kind of carnival food would you like to see on the menu?

-Have you ever had a cake-inspired breakfast?