Guess who went OUT for dinner?! (Thanks, Dolce Cafe!)

Yep! It’s true! I went out to dinner this weekend, and I have the pictures to prove it (click any pics to enlarge)! ūüėČ

To many, I am surely known as the girl who never goes out to eat. And, for the most part, that has been true for the past 4 1/2 years since learning about all of the additives that are hidden in so many foods…and how incredibly sensitive I am to them!

Until now, it just hasn’t been worth the risk for me to dine out…and certainly not worth the hassle of interrogating the wait staff with a million questions only to determine that it’s impossible for me to eat there, anyway. And, most importantly, it’s generally not worth the anxiety that rushes over me as I wonder if what they’re serving me really is as additive-free as they think it is. And, of course,¬†nothing is worth the inevitable disappointment that sets in later as I realize that I am having a physical reaction to something that must’ve slipped past the radar. Ugh! Perhaps some of you can relate? Really, it’s quickly¬†become¬†more “fun” to stay home and do all of the work myself. LOL!

That is…until I realized that Omaha cake decorator, Gina Sterns, was opening her own restaurant,¬†Dolce Cafe, in Omaha (at 124th & Maple) and that she was determined for folks with food sensitivities and allergies to be able to dine at her cafe along with everyone else. And, yes, even people like….me!

How can this be achieved?

Well, it’s simple – by providing total transparency of the ingredients!

Gina and her staff are incredibly gracious about answering as many questions as one may have about what ingredients are used in their dishes.

As stated as part of the the Dolce Cafe Concept (which greets diners at the door), at Dolce “We believe customers have the right to ‘know their food’ when dining out. We are happy and willing to answer any questions about ingredients and preparation of every item on our menu.”¬†

As a diner who must ask¬†TONS of these types of questions, I can assure you that not every restaurant is so “happy and willing” to answer them. But my experience at Dolce was very pleasant, and not once did I feel that I was¬†“burdening”¬†the staff – heck, they even brought a few packages to my table from the kitchen so I could verify the ingredients for myself! And they were pleasant and helpful with each question I¬†posed¬†and with each of their corresponding trips to the kitchen to inquire with the chef or to check a product label.

I¬†decided to keep it pretty simple on my first visit by ordering a dish called “Naked Grilled Salmon.” In the end, there were only 5 ingredients used to prepare my entire plate: wild salmon, salt, pepper, scallions, and broccoli. And it was delicious!! I also enjoyed a side salad featuring lots of yummy veggies and a dressing prepared in-house from olive oil, white wine vinegar and fresh herbs…a true “Grocery Geek’s” delight! Oh, and apparently in culinary school they must teach some¬†magic tricks for grilling salmon because mine never turns out this moist and delicous when I prepare it at home!!! (I guess it really does pay to leave some things to the professionals. LOL!)

At Dolce Cafe, they also source organically raised ingredients when possible and they work with many local farmers — I LOVE THIS! I can’t wait until my next visit because I’m definitely going to try one of Dolce’s local, grass-fed beef dishes featuring cuts from Range West Beef of Marquette, NE!

Have you eaten at Dolce? If so, please leave a comment below to let us know what you liked? If you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for?!

Also, if you’ve discovered any¬†other Omaha eateries that cater well to food allergies/sensitivies, please share your experiences by commenting below!

Dolce Cafe on Urbanspoon

You know you’re healthy when….

You know you’re healthy when…your spice cabinet is fuller than your medicine cabinet ūüėČ

¬†Six years ago, I owned exactly 4 spices: onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I didn’t know how to cook a thing from scratch. I was living on Lean Cuisine Meals, Slim Fast bars, diet soda and sugar-free chewing gum. If I “cooked,” it was things like¬†Hamburger Helper or noodles with Velveeta melted on them. Oh, and some canned¬†corn or green beans.

It honestly never occured¬†to me that what I was putting in my mouth could’ve been contributing to my Fibromyalgia suffering, and my medicine cabinet was loaded with over-the-counter and prescription medications. I took many pills each day and tried all different kinds, but nothing really helped.

What did help me was reducing/eliminating the following things from my life: processed foods, medications, fragrances and chemicals (e.g, perfumes, hair spray, air fresheners).

Now I feel GREAT!

Do I ever get sick of cooking everything at home from scratch? You bettcha! Do I get bummed out about the constantly overflowing pile of dishes in my sink (and, who am I kidding….on the stove and counter, too!)?? ¬†Absolutely!!!

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!¬†I feel better than I ever¬†have in my life; I have no more Fibro symptoms; and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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(NOTE: Always seek professional medical assistance regarding prescription medications. I am not advising anyone to make changes to their medications without medical supervision. This blog does not substitute for medical advice; I am merely sharing my story of what helped me feel better.)

And you think YOU’RE sick of the grocery store?! :)

I never could’ve imagined that my life’s work¬†would involve trapsing around grocery stores with¬†a clipboard for hours on end. Heck, I was at the store so long yesterday that I actually forgot where I parked! And I do it all for YOU guys¬† ūüėȬ†

I’m in the process of generating¬†a “grocery guide” to accompany my¬† cookbook. It will thoroughly explain which additives to avoid with each ingredient that you purchase and give suggestions for particular brands and stores that carry additive-free versions.

From the looks I get,¬†it appears that staff members sometimes think I’m some sort of “incognito” inspector or something as I read ingredient labels and take my notes…lol. Well, it’s one way to get superb customer service wherever I go ūüėČ

And I can’t even tell you how many customers assume that I work there and ask me where items are located, etc. (Believe me, when they ask where the PopTarts are, it’s tempting to pretend I’ve never even heard of those. lol)

Photo Tour of “Certified Organics” at Costco

Not a day goes by without someone asking me where I do my grocery shopping. And most folks are surprised to hear that I do the bulk of my shopping at our local Costco store. I don’t eat 100% organic all of the time, but Costco does carry many certified organic products at very reasonable prices. To ease your curiosity, I took a bunch of pictures while¬†I was shopping this week so you can see what I mean…This is not the entirety of their organic selection, and some products do change from week to week, but this is a fairly good sampling of what I found today…(Click photos to enlarge.)