Gluten Free Review: Maggiano’s Little Italy (awesome)

Today I found a hidden gem of the gluten free foodie world. My best friend and blogger – Sara Wyen of Words To Run By went with me to the Celiac Awareness Tour in Cincinnati, Ohio today. We were excited to see all the fun, new gluten free goodies with all the vendors. Another blog post coming soon on that…


While we were there, Maggiano’s Little Italy chef Karl Lenz was there speaking and doing a gluten free demo. Well, I knew exactly where the Maggiano’s Kenwood was located and we zipped on over there for lunch. I am so glad we did.

Upon entering the restaurant, I asked for the gluten free menu. They explained rather than having a gluten free menu, the Assistant Manager would come out and explain the gluten free options and ensure my meal was allergy safe.
Matthew Powell, the Assistant General Manager came over to the table after our waiter quickly brought us drinks and very thoroughly explained how 90% of their menu items can be made into gluten free dishes. He walked me through the menu and made sure I was clear on food preparation, ingredients and options for celiac disease.

This was the most gluten friendly and celiac aware place I’ve been to yet.

90% of their menu items could be made gluten free – surely it wasn’t so. This place isn’t on any of the safe lists or gluten free places to eat. Oh boy, did they knock my socks off.

I decided to try their corn pasta.

It. Was. Amazing.

Gluten Free Corn Poasta Maggiano's
Gluten Free Corn Poasta Maggiano’s

Sara and I ended up sharing a meal because it was really big. You know what the best part was? They have several menu items that you can get a to go item FREE if you order from the list. Yup – I got 2 meals for the price of one. 1 being a gluten free specialty menu item – without paying extra. Our entire lunch with the meal, Cesar salad for Sara and 2 iced teas was $24.


Can you tell we didn’t like it? Just kidding.

Matthew even came out after the meal and ensured everything was ok and up to my gluten free liking! Of course I explained.
The chef that was doing the demo at the Celiac Awareness Tour, Karl Lenz – was back before we finished lunch and he even came out to welcome us and explain their cooking methods and showed me their pastas!

Maggiano's Corn Pasta
Maggiano’s Corn Pasta

I felt completely safe eating here, had no stomach ailments after my meal and will certainly make this a go to spot when we are in Cincinnati. The manager, chef and waiter all made me feel comfortable and took care of me the way a restaurant should with people suffering from food allergies. We already have a big enough burden of having this food allergy, we shouldn’t have to feel like one while eating out.


Maggiano’s Little Italy Cincinnati

Kenwood Mall

7875 Montgomery Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45236


Lactose Intolerance VS Gluten Allergy: Whats the Difference?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been diligent about ensuring gluten is far away from my diet. We go out to eat less frequently and when we do go out, I’m sure to pick a place that is educated on gluten and Celiac. I think that is so important and that’s why I am blogging about all the different restaurants we go to even while on vacation.

You never know when you might be in Hilton Head, SC!

Marriott Grand Ocean Resort
The amazing view from the Marriott Grand Ocean Resort

During I trip, I realized after eating sour cream on a baked potato without paying any attention that is was actually a diary product that I need to pay attention to more than just gluten. Recently, something crept up on me like a cat from behind the couch… a lactose intolerance. I literally can’t stomach it anymore. At first I thought it was just milk, so I switched to rice milk and then it moved to yogurt and ice cream making me sick. Greek yogurt is pretty much my favorite thing in the universe so to have to cut it out of my diet, makes me very sad.

Please remember, I write these posts out of my own experiences and research and am not a doctor or nutritionist. I simply am a Pretty Little Celiac struggling with my own journey and see the need to help others in this predicament.

What’s the difference between being lactose intolerant and having a gluten allergy?

Lactose intolerance is when your body is unable to digest lactase, a sugar in milk and milk related products. The body has a deficiency of lactose, which is an enzyme produced by the cells in the small intestine. Once it gets there, it’s then broken down further into glucose and galactose to be absorbed into the blood stream.

Lactose intolerance can be a primary problem and brought on from an early age. From what I’ve read, it typically sneaks up on adolescents and early adults. It is actually a very common problem.

Researchers found that lactose intolerance can also be a secondary problem among people suffering from intestinal damage diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease or even Chemotherapy. Basically because you’re stomach lining and intestines are already damaged, the cells just aren’t there to break down the lactase, thus making you sick. Dr. Aukerman told me during one of my appointments, that typically once you get rid of the main problem such as gluten – there will be other food intolerances that pop up over time.

A gluten or wheat allergy is where your body is allergic to gluten, not intolerant. There are people that have an intolerance to gluten and can handle it sometimes or in small amounts but for those of us with Celiac, gluten can’t be absorbed at all. Another difference between the two is that Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease – not an allergy and I will explain in a different post.

So, what is gluten anyway? Gluten is a protein found in foods made from wheat and grains including barley and rye. Gluten helps dough rise and gives it that yummy doughy consistency that we all know and love. Unfortunately, for us because gluten is similar to a glue product, it can also be found in many cosmetics and other beauty products.

There is a glycoprotein found in gluten called gliadin that attacks the small intestines. The villi (the little finger looking things in your intestines that move food through) eventually break down and your intestines can’t move the food through as they are intended. Then your body doesn’t absorb nutrients and vitamins from the food, often causing severe deficiencies in the blood.

The symptoms of both lactose intolerance and gluten allergy are very similar but gluten triggers some very different responses. Again, these are based on my individual experiences – if you’ve had others please feel free to comment!

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms: Bloating, stomach pain, gas out of both ends, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea which occur within 30 minutes to an hour of consuming lactose. Usually, after the lactose has cleared your system, there are no other problems and cutting out dairy will resolve the problems.

Gluten Allergy (Celiac) Symptoms: Bloating, stomach pain, acne, migraines, hair loss, dry skin, oily stool, odd smelling stool, eczema, rhinitis, asthma symptoms, join pain, brain fog, exhaustion and mood swings. It can take a few hours for these symptoms to start, but they stick around for days and weeks on end.

There is a significant different between being “intolerant” and “allergic.” A true food allergy requires the presence of Immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies against the food, and a food intolerance does not.

Regardless of if you are intolerant or allergic to a food, you should probably avoid it all together. I’m learning more and more about the long term consequences of these problems and it’s better for us with problems to stay far away from these sickening culprits.


Gluten Free Pizza Review: Gallo Lea


Pizza is a staple of food in the US, but because of wheat in the crust of the vast majority of pizza, most Celiacs have had to avoid one of tastiest and most convenient foods available. However, there are many gluten free pizza products available. Rebecca and I have tried many different types of gluten free Pizzas with varying success. This one from “Gallo Lea” we picked up at Earthfare yesterday. It turned out great! It was prepared differently from some of the other gluten free crusts we have tried. Below are the steps we used to prepare this pizza.

The package included the crust mix, sauce and a circular piece of wax paper. The paper was for a 12 inch pizza. This was something different than what we had seen the past. This can be used as a barrier from the pizza pans that have been using in past that might lead to inadvertently contaminating the crust from gluten.


Both Rebecca and I like meat and cheese on our pizza, so the toppings on our pizza’s do not vary that much. For this pizza, we topped it with fresh, grass fed ground beef, pre-cooked and simmered in the pizza sauce, organic shredded provolone and colby jack cheese and fresh yellow pepper. Here is how it was prepared:

I cooked 1 pound of organic, grass feed ground beef in coconut oil. I did this at low heat (2-4 on our stove dial) until all the meat was brown. I recommend cooking on low heat when cooking with oils, we have found it adds taste, and takes away from the greasy feeling you get after eating. We like cooking with coconut oil or grass fed better, we’ll do a separate blog on it.


I then drained the meat slightly of the left over oil, and combined the pizza sauce and spices including approximately 2 teaspoons of oregano, cinnamon and stevia. I like the sweet sauce, so cooking in coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon should be avoided if you don’t like this sweetness. As a concept, I like to add one or two things that are different every time I cook a repeating meal like this, it keeps it fun. Plus, if you like the change, you can continue to do it, if not, don’t repeat. This time it worked out for us, although Rebecca did not like the cinnamon. This then simmered on low, in this case for about 1 hour.

Following the directions on the package, I took a half cup of water in a glass measuring bowel, and microwaved it for 25 seconds, then added the crust mix. With a spoon, I stirred for the 50 specified strokes until I had a dough ball the size of my fist. I then covered the bowl, and let it sit in a warm area on our stove for 10 minutes. It did not rise much.

While the dough was rising, I cut 1 yellow bell pepper (sweeter than other peppers) and re-heated the pizza sauce and meat. We have a pizza sheet that has small holes in the bottom. I unfolded the wax paper included in the package. I took a spoonful of coconut oil, and heated in the microwave for 15 seconds. Coconut oil is solid in room temperature, so the microwaving is necessary for easier spreading. With the wax paper spread out on the pizza pan, I spread the oil over the wax paper in a thin layer, not too much.


The dough was then formed into a ball, and by hand, I spread it out on the way paper until it cover the whole thing. This took about 5 minutes; the dough had to be very thin in order to get the entire wax paper covered. Surprisingly, the dough did not tear. I did have coconut oil on my fingertips while spreading, so the dough did not stick to my fingers. In my past experiences with dough (both gluten and gluten free), spreading the dough is a messy process, this was not the case with this dough. I also rolled the edges of the dough to give it a pizza like end crust, and spread the remaining liquid coconut oil over those edges, as well as over the entire top of the pizza center. This is in hopes of making it a little extra crispy.

What I have found with the gluten free pizza crusts, it is very hard to get them crispy, so I do everything possible to make that happen. During the middle of rolling out the pizza dough, I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees. In our oven, the burners are at the bottom, and I want them very hot when initially put the pizza in. I put the rack at its lowest, and without any toppings, I placed the pizza on the bottom rack. The oven had been pre-heating for approximately 5 minutes.

After 9 minutes on the lower rack, I took the pizza out. The crust and not risen much, but the bottom was crispy.. yes!. The toppings were then added; I used 75 percent of the meat and sauce, 75 percent of the bag of cheese, the entire pepper, and some grated Parmesan cheese. I put the pizza back into the oven on the top rack, and cooked for approximately 10 minutes. However, I was watching the top of the pizza to make sure the cheese was melting but not burning. For the last two minutes, I broiled the top of the pizza until I had just the right amount of melted cheese and was a little brown.


The result was a thin and crispy pizza (both on the bottom and the crust) with sweat sauce and just the right amount of cheese to make it almost impossible to put down. It was just the right amount for Rebecca and I, but we were both hungry and I ate the extra piece that Rebecca could not finish.

Enjoy!!! Aaron
The Trophy Husband

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 pizza crust package
  • 1 Pound of grass fed ground beef (used 75 % of it for pizza)
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil (1 for cooking the beef, one for the pizza dough preparation)
  • 1 package of organic shredded provolone and colby jack (used 75 % of it for pizza)
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons of oregano, cinnamon and stevia
  • Approximately 1 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

Depression and Anxiety Struggles with Celiac & Gluten Free

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you saw that I went through some depression and anxiety earlier this year. Well, I tried to manage it myself and it didn’t work. Let me tell you what happened…

One day I went to workout at Hoover Dam to run the stairs and try to clear my thoughts. It was a cloudy day and drizzling a bit but by the time I got to Hoover Park, it stopped. Just like any other time, I put on my headphones, tied my key to my shoe, grabbed my water bottle and hit the stairs. My goal – to complete 15 sets of stairs. It started out just fine. Physically my body felt good but mentally I was exhausted. My mind was racing as I went up and down the stairs.

I continued to think about how I wasn’t sleeping, my business, my marriage, my family, my finances, my body and anything else that would come to mind. At that point, I found myself having a mental fight over if I should just leave and go home or keep doing the stairs to complete my goal. Internal struggle at its finest. The celiac kept coming into my mind. I’m mad that my body hasn’t responded to my workouts and eating changes like it had in the past. This is frustrating beyond belief for me, it’s something I can’t control and I didn’t like it.

At one point during the workout, I found myself crying while working out. Tears just poured down my face. That was it, I found my breaking point. To top off this traumatic workout, it started to pour down rain from a little tiny cloud right over the part of the park where I was working out. The sun shined bright all around me – even creating a little rainbow over the stream, yet right over me was this dark cloud with rain. I finished the workout and went to my car and cried some more. What was wrong with me?

Maybe this was a sign or I looked too far into this situation but I knew I hit rock bottom. I needed help. I couldn’t manage this on my own. I didn’t even recognize myself.

That night I found a therapist and made an appointment for that week.

I also made an appointment to go back to Dr. Aukerman to have all my blood levels drawn again to see if I continued to have an imbalance or still had gluten in my system.

My first appointment with the therapist seemed like it ended in the blink of an eye. I had so much to say, how would I fit it all in to one hour? Could I come back every day for the next week? This is what I really wanted to ask her.

2 weeks later I had my updated appointment with Dr. Aukerman after having all my blood levels drawn again. My thyroid was up and there was still gluten in my system. Something I was eating or products I used had gluten in them and I needed to be much more careful about what I put in and on my body. I started buying some new gluten free beauty products that I’m going to review after I use them for a few weeks! He updated and changed my supplement regimen to help my body adjust and help in the areas I was depleted like Magnesium and Vitamin D.

Dr. Auckerman also prescribed me a low dose of Buspar for Anxiety and a low dose of Ambien to help me fall asleep. I wish I would have gone on these medications sooner. I fought it for months but since I’ve been taking them for the past 6 weeks, I’ve never felt better. I’m sleeping at night and the edge of my moods is gone. I’ve finally reclaimed my life. I don’t sweat the small stuff and I’m able to clearly focus on all the things I need to do without feeling overwhelmed. A part of me is sad I couldn’t manage it on my own. I didn’t control it with food or supplements or some other natural way. But I recognized if I kept going the way I was feeling, I wasn’t going to get anywhere and things would continue to go downhill.

If you are struggling with these same symptoms, I would encourage you to do the same and find a reputable doctor who is knowledgeable and educated on celiac disease, get a complete mark up of your blood done and find a therapist you like to help get through these issues. You aren’t the only one struggling with this. You are not alone.


I’m not a doctor and not saying you should run out an get a prescription for these drugs. I’m simply sharing my story about what my problems were and how I chose to get help. I would recommend anyone struggling with this to get professional help from a medical doctor for the celiac and mental health professional for the depression/anxiety that comes with having celiac disease.


  1. patti says:

    thank you for sharing your personal info. it helped me. i’ve been gluten free for about 3 yrs. and lately i’ve noticed changes in myself and had no explanation for them. i wish you the best.

    • PrettyLittleCeliac says:

      Hi Patti-

      It’s such an secret topic that many people are hesitant to discuss in public. It’s still seem as shameful or embarrassing. I wanted to tell the world so other people could understand they aren’t alone. Celiac caused an uproar in my life at a time when I least needed it and it consumed my life. It makes me feel so good you commented and enjoyed my blog. Please let me know if you need anything or have any topics you think I should blog about.


  2. celiacandallergyadventures says:

    I have struggled with similar things – the depression, the anxiety, the irritability. It is hard to talk about and make public knowing that anyone can read it! Since going gluten-free, I have noticed an improvement in those symptoms. I still get stressed, I still can’t anxious, but they’re more just … feelings, like anything else. They don’t consume my body the way I used to.

  3. barbara says:

    Gluten free for 2 weeks. Anxiety only once in a while before,now seems on a daily basis. I take a half mg of adivan and it goes away. I guess I’ll have to do that for a while and see if it improves.

    • Rebecca says:

      I think the anxiety always sticks with us and comes out at the worst times! I’m glad you found something you can work with to help you through it!

  4. Electra says:

    Thanks for talking about this. While my health is pretty good, I still have trouble accepting my new self. I am now a Celiac and Alopecia patient. Both which hit me at age 40. Talk about a mid-life crisis. I have a great family and life but I struggle once in awhile.

  5. bonnie cozart says:

    had celiac for almost 4and one half years now.. i had to go on mers. for depression and sleep.. doing better but i still have my days.. knowing jesus has helped me alot too.. i asked why me to but know in my heart someday they have a real cure for it besides a diet. god bless..

Harvest Pizzeria Review

harvest_pizzeriaHarvest Pizzeria is a small restaurant in the German Village. Right at the corner of 4th and Livingston, this organic style pizza place is a spot not to be missed.


I had a plain cheese gluten free pizza. Regular cheese and sauce with their gluten free pizza crust.

When it first came out, you couldn’t tell the difference between my pizza and the regular one. The crust looked absolutely delicious. (I’m a total pizza crust snob, my favorite part!)

Admittedly, I was blown away by this pizza. The texture was spot on and it melted in my mouth!

I’ve had very few pizzas over the last year that knocked my socks off and this one did the job. My favorite is still Marcella’s but this is the second best.

The regular pizzas are excellent as well (I’m told!)

Now the downfall…
I understand that gluten free products are usually more expensive than regular but tacking on $3 extra bucks for gluten free dough is a bit over the top, especially when the regular pizza’s are $14+ for one.

My lunch with a pizza and iced tea ended up being $19 plus tip.

Great place for once in a while! The perfect little gluten free indulgence.

495 S. 4th Street, Columbus, Ohio 43206

call 614.824.1769

Mon: 5:00pm to 10:00pm (closed for lunch)     Tues – Thurs: 11:30am to 10:00pm

Fri – Sat: 11:30am to 11:00pm      Sun: closed


Have you eaten there? Check out my review on Find me Gluten Free and leave your own!!