When you're gluten-free, your friends and family are always looking out for new places to go out for a meal together. It's a great gift to get a phone call or e-mail suggesting a new place to eat, sit, and share the day's events.
Recently, as I switched jobs, many friends invited me to congratulatory lunches. One friend, a foodie who manages events and regularly seeks out great food experiences, was excited to introduce me to 24 Carrots, Natural Café & Juice Bar.
The healthy cafe started as a smoothie and juice bar in 2008 and moved from Chandler to Tempe in December. It serves vegan, raw, and gluten-free food. The menu varies daily, so check their Facebook page for updates.
The day we went, I had the Pesto Pasta Primavera off the raw menu. I actually missed the fact that it was the raw menu and thought I would be getting a cooked pasta made with zucchini and some non-wheat flour.
But when they delivered my plate, the "pasta" actually was raw zucchini cut into long curly strands. It was drenched in a nut-free pesto sauce with carrots and peppers served over greens and seeds. And it was amazingly good -- fresh and crunchy and studded with chewy seeds -- with a rich, smooth flavor.
My friend ordered the Jeweled Kale, a salad with quinoa, pomegranate seeds, smoked almonds, orange, and basil fennel dressing. She'd had it before and loved it so much that she ordered it again.
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We ate and talked and reminisced about eight years of working together, about the fun and the frustration, about our dreams for the future. It was a wonderful lunch, tasty, healthy, gluten-free food, even more special because it was an invitation from a friend looking out for me.
Invite one of your gluten-free friends and share some love.