Review: Kelsey's Restaurant- gluten free selections??

Monday, June 27, 2011

Well, this might sting a little. Oh Kelsey's....Kelsey's, Kelsey's, Kelsey's... You are stuck in the 80s, my friends.

Folks, meet Kelsey's- of "Cara foods" fame.

This is one of a handful of "family-style" restaurants in my suburb. I could rhyme off several others that fit the exact same bill: this place is not- I repeat NOT- fit for the gluten intolerant, and especially not the gluten and dairy intolerant. This is the place you go when someone (your very supportive and gorgeous husband) begs you not to go to that weirdy niche restaurant where only the hairy-legged yuppie crew go, because he wants something deep fried and pub-style. So you sigh, and despite wishing you had the number for rent-a-wife, agree to go. However, you know full well you'll have one option: grilled salmon, with a side of plain baked potato or salad with all the fun stuff in it expunged.

So once again, we went. What did we find? After my lengthy consult with their "allergy menu" (which was a photocopy printed in about 6pt font) I determined that- you guessed it- I could eat salads I pared down to greens and one of a small handful of dressing options, plain baked potato and grilled fish. Surprise of all surprises, I had two options: halibut and salmon. I did what any girl who ALWAYS has the salmon would do: I got the halibut. Here is the description:

Pan-Seared Haddock
Three haddock loins simmered with garlic, grape tomatoes, white wine, lemon and parsley. Served with braised onion rice and steamed vegetables. 15.99 

After a lengthy wait, and an awesome server who apologized profusely, our food was delivered. I really could go ON and ON, but here's the Readers' Digest version:

  • the rice was completely without flavour, and so dry I could have used it in a pea shooter or slingshot;
  • the beans were similarly tasteless and so barely cooked they squeaked in my teeth; and 
  • the halibut had the consistency of hockey pucks (how very Canadian, eh?).  

The wonderful server came by to check on us and I just couldn't help myself. When he asked me how it was I blurted out "Do people actually LIKE this??"  He laughed a bit, admitted to not eating seafood himself but claimed that they did sell a "fair amount". I was awestruck. He desperately tried to find a way to make amends but as there was not much else he could offer me (and frankly I was getting full after eating the 3 grape tomatoes which actually were good, and all the squeaky beans) we settled on the salmon fillet that I would eat once I had finished said squeaky beans. Props on one thing: Kelsey's can grill a mean salmon fillet. I will give them that. And because it was really that bad, we only paid for our kid's meal and drinks.

So here's my summary: if you want a grilled salmon fillet with squeaky beans and your choice of greens-only salad or dry baked potatoes, hit Kelsey's. Otherwise, go somewhere, anywhere, else. 

Oh, and back to my 80s comment above: this restaurant is one of those where almost every dish is wheat-based. You're getting a sandwich, pasta, burger, pizza or something breaded and deep-fried. Remember that 1980s version of the food pyramid that said we should all bone up on our grains? The one founded off the study with faulty methodology that claimed fat was bad for you and carbs were good? Oh come on now, you know the one I mean: the one that greatly contributed to the obesity epidemic in North America? Yeah. That one. Well, this menu is built on that philosophy: lots of cheap grains to fill folks up, then ship 'em out before their blood sugar plummets and they're hungry again in 25 minutes.

Just eat real food. Okay. I'm done now.

My weakness (ok, one of them): grown up, gluten & dairy free "Zoodles"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You remember Zoodles don't you? Those canned white pasta noodles in sugary, salty tomato sauce?? There was a time I was working for the local hardware store (okay that was high school but let's pretend it was recently) where I ate a microwaved can of Zoodles every break time with a can of Five Alive. I me.

Well, there is something about that whole thing that brings back awesome memories. But Zoodles are made with glucose, enriched wheat flour, and cheap dairy. Yuck. I wish I could list the actual ingredients for you but I can't seem to find them anywhere! Coincidence? Probably not!

Now let's look at the alternative. This is Imagine's Organic reduced sodium creamy garden tomato soup. Ingredients: filtered water, organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic brown rice syrup, organic celery, organic expeller pressed canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, salt with potassium chloride, organic spices, organic garlic powder. It is dairy and gluten free, and SO yummy. Simmer this with a solid handful of brown rice noodles, and bam- you've got a healthier version of zoodles. No, it's not kale and chia seeds, but this stuff is AMAZING, and I could seriously eat the entire thing. So when you're jonesing for a happy little slice of your childhood, give this option a try. You will NOT be disappointed!


Pasta salad with creamy curried mango sauce (gluten and dairy free)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ever since concocting my refined-sugar-free spicy mango chutney, I've been on the lookout for other ways to use it. When I make it, I'm getting a few jars worth and they seem to keep forever in the fridge, so having an easy recipe like this one is the best way to showcase the flavours of the sweet, spicy and tangy chutney.

Salad ingredients:
1 bag cooked brown rice shell pasta
1 each chopped red, yellow and orange pepper
3 stalks chopped celery
1 cup halved red grapes (I was out so I used 1 cup raisins and soaked them in hot water before adding them)
Other options: chopped chives, sprouts or pineapple, shredded cooked chicken (for a non-vegan option)

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 c sunflower seeds
2 large chives
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 cup mango chutney
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh grated ginger


  1. Cook pasta till al dente, then combine with chopped veggies/fruit. Refrigerate if possible to serve cool.
  2. Right before serving, blend the dressing ingredients in your blender. You will probably have to scrape down the sides several times but eventually it will be lovely and creamy.
  3. Mix and serve.
Note: Once the sauce chills, it loses its creamy texture. That's why I recommend going straight from blending to mixing to mouth table. Enjoy!

Kitchen tip: Keep ginger in the freezer for grating right from frozen whenever you need it.

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