1. How to Go Gluten Free in Pittsburgh

    Giant sandwich with lots of gluten

    Gluten-free diets are difficult in our notoriously glutenous city. Can you imagine chipped ham sandwiches without bread, pierogies without dough or Wholey’s without batter.

    “I’ll have a, well, salad.”

    But times are changing and Pittsburgh has become more culinarily accessible for locals with allergies. Even Eat ‘n’ Park has a menu for Celiac patrons.

    And they’re not the only ones.

    Many national restaurant chains are developing gluten-free menus. Karen Broussard, who created an app to help gluten-free diners, reminds us that this audience makes up a sizable market. She says that some estimate that gluten-freers make up 30% of the US population this year.

    “There are also more restaurants focusing on healthy eating in general, whether it be gluten free, vegan, raw, locally sourced, grain free, paleo, organic or non-GMO,” Karen said. “Gluten free baked goods have become extremely popular, too. You’ll notice more gluten-free bakeries popping up, and even mainstream bakeries and cupcake shops are now offering at least a few gluten free choices.”

    Signs of Gluten-Free Growing in Pittsburgh

    Jeanette Harris, owner of Pittsburgh’s Gluten Free Goat Bakery, is a sign of the evolution. She points out that people were hard pressed to find gluten-free options in Pittsburgh 7 years ago when she was diagnosed with Celiac disease, but supermarkets and restaurants are adapting quickly.

    “Now Giant Eagle has an allergy aisle, there are dedicated gluten-free bakeries and we launched a gluten-free subscription service that brings wheat- and dairy-free options to you,” Jeanette said. “Between all of the new products and a vast improvement in awareness, I expect great things for Pittsburghers with dietary restrictions.”

    Gluten free search volume on Google in Greater Pittsburgh

    It is important to remember, however, that a gluten-free menu is not always enough. A lack of knowledge in some parts of the restaurant industry and potential for cross contamination can both be an issue for people with serious allergies.

    “Gluten-free consumers need to be diligent in the questions they ask and know where gluten can be accidentally introduced via cross- contamination or overlooked in hidden sources,” suggests Amy Macklin, a local nutritionist for people with Celiac disease.

    Cross contamination could be something as simple as rolling gluten-free pizza dough on a surface also used for traditional pizzas or, depending on sensitivity, using the same deep fryer.

    Tips for Eating Out

    Amy Macklin and the other gluten-free veterans offered tips for eating out in Pittsburgh (or anywhere, for that matter).

    1. Understand gluten. Know that gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and (often) commercial oats.

    2. Call ahead. You can learn a lot about a restaurant’s sensitivity to your allergy before ever opening a menu.

    3. Tell the waiter, ask the chef. Waiters can’t help you if they don’t know, but final recommendations should always come from the chef, who is more likely to know each ingredient in a dish.

    4. Don’t feel rushed. Taking time to ask every question on your mind will save you more often than it should.

    5. Focus on the foods you can eat to minimize the feelings of deprivation. Plus, it can be a great opportunity to get back-to-the-basics by building a diet around fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy and whole grains. There is a whole world full of flavors waiting to be discovered.

    6. Make up for missed nutrients. The gluten-free diet can be lacking in certain nutrients and careful consideration needs to be taken for those following this diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Wheat-based products are fortified with B-vitamins and iron.

    Additionally, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a printable list of tips and questions when dining out. It’s a great cheat sheet for people who are new to the process.


  2. What Are the Best Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh?

    Map of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

    Everybody has a favorite neighborhood regardless of where we call home in Greater Pittsburgh. Some might be partial to black-and-gold crowds on the North Shore while others prefer black-tie events Downtown. And don’t forget the views from Mount Washington, art festivals in Shadyside or sandwiches with fries and coleslaw in the Strip District.

    We asked Pittsburghers to pick their favorite neighborhoods and this infographic shows us where they love around town.


  3. Four Pittsburgh Area Communities Down to Final Opportunity

    Four popular Pittsburgh new home communities in Allegheny County are down to their final opportunity. The Stonebridge community in Hampton Township, Edgewater in Oakmont, Pinecrest in Pine Township and Berkley Ridge in South Fayette are all down to the last opportunity to build.

    The available home site at Stonebridge is .328 acres in size and has the option of five home designs to choose from to build. Pricing starts in the high $460s.Wynterhall

    The available townhome at Edgewater in Oakmont is built for the convenience of townhome living with the feel of a single family home. Edgewater is a traditional neighborhood development that captures the essence of the town in which it is located. Scenically situated along the Allegheny River, Edgewater is a pedestrian’s paradise. Enjoy walking down tree-lined city sidewalks to the village green or nearby neighborhood shops and offices, or take a stroll through the walking trail to the Riverside community park.

    Pinecrest also has one home site remaining in the community. The home site, a half-acre in size, is located on a cul-de-sac street and also has five home designs to choose from to build. The community will feature a tot lot and has community sidewalks. Pricing starts in the high $430s.

    Berkley Ridge is a quick-selling community in the South Fayette School District. Home site 213 is the final site remaining and it too is on a cul-de-sac street. New floor plans have been offered recently and the four Emerald Series home designs can be selected to build on 213.

    Area Communities

    For more information on these four communities or any of the other Heartland Home communities, please contact a new home specialist at 724-949-0079.

  4. Pittsburgh Named Most Livable City, Again

    Trolly_SkylineFor the second time since 2009, the Economist rated Pittsburgh the most livable city in the continental United States, based on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

    The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses, from benchmarking perceptions of development levels to assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location, and allows for direct comparison between locations.

    “It’s great to celebrate the accolades that were made possible through the spirit of innovation here, fueled by the passion of Pittsburgh residents and decision makers,” said Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH.Communities

    Pittsburgh has been popular with the top ten lists lately. Pacific Standard and New York Times recognized Pittsburgh as a place for upward mobility, The Daily Beast highlighted our–how to say this–love of food.  In 2012, Men’s Health listed Pittsburgh as one of the top ten most dog friendly cities in the US.In short, Pittsburgh is a great place to be for everyone.  In addition, the real estate site Zillow, says Pittsburgh has a healthy residential market.

    Full Report by The Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/08/daily-chart-13


  5. Family Photo Ideas & Advice from Experts in Pittsburgh

    Say "Cheese" for family photos

    Fall is just around the corner and with it comes the season the family photos. It’s no surprise that most families choose this colorful time of year in Pittsburgh to pose for their holiday cards, graduation pictures and photo albums.

    We take our fair share of photos at Heartland Homes, but there is a big difference between luxury kitchens and rambunctious toddlers. For that reason, we called on the experts for advice on snapping the perfect family portrait.


  6. Best (and Worst) Places to Watch July 4th Fireworks in Pittsburgh

    Glimpse of the 4th of July fireworks in Pittsburgh

    Any respectable Pittsburgher loves four things: (1) local sports, (2) fries and coleslaw as condiments, (3) Pittsburgh and (4) fireworks.

    With that in mind, it should be no surprise that the 4th of July celebrations attract hundreds of thousands to every place with a view of the fireworks. There are many great vantage points, and everyone seems to have a favorite, but there are several that leave something to be desired. Here are our favorites.

    Top 4 Places to Watch the Fireworks

    The arial views from (1) West End Overlook and (2) Mt. Washington are touted as top spots because of their iconic photo opportunities of fireworks dancing above downtown Pittsburgh and the city skyline as a backdrop. But, like WTAE reported, it can tough to find parking in those places, where narrow streets and lots of spectators cause congestion.


  7. Questions to Ask When Building a House in Pittsburgh

    Practice makes perfect is something that many of us heard often while growing up. Our multiplication tables, free throws and kissing were all things that luckily got easier with practice.

    The rule also applies to building a house, but most of us do not build enough times to learn as we go. When building our dream home, we typically get one shot. That’s why we generated a list of important questions (with helpful hints) to shorten the home building learning curve.

    Lifestyle Questions

    building a dream home image

    Where do family members spend most of their time?

    If your family tends to congregate in the kitchen, investing in an island with stools or an open floor plan with room to move might be wise. Or maybe you are movie lovers, and the perfect home theater is a top priority. Make sure that you do not have to completely change your lives and relationships with each other to live in your new home.

    How will those habits continue or change in your new home?

    Your house’s current layout often leaves something to be desired—after all, isn’t that why you are building? Just because you are not a sit-around-the-fire family today doesn’t mean that you won’t be in your new house. Think about how your new home will add to your daily life and make you a stronger, closer, happier family.


  8. 14 Pittsburgh Real Estate Trends in 2014

    You might remember from December that there is rising interest in Pittsburgh real estate this year. But how can a seller make these optimistic trends work for them?

    We asked five Pittsburgh real estate experts to provide insight on local trends and share their selling secrets.

    Meet the Experts

    Brandon Yeager - PittsburghSellers that hope to build in the future should be aware of several low-cost and high-impact improvements that increase the WOW-factor that sets their home apart from the crowd.

    1) Add some “smart” technology, like heating and air conditioning sensors or home security, that people did not have in their last home.

    2) Consider a theater room or Man Cave in the basement.  A simple HDTV, some affordable surround sound, and a couch can go a long way toward hooking half of the decision makers.

    3) Make your existing home move-in-ready with appliances. That offers buyers $3,000 in up front in cost savings.



  9. 8 Must-Know Tips When Moving To Pittsburgh

    Moving to a new city, especially Pittsburgh, is an adventure filled with occasional uncertainty and constant curiosity. Usually, the only way to get familiar with your new city is through a “live and learn” process, but that can take years! Heartland Homes wants to help (anxious) newcomers with some insights from a local’s perspective–allbeit the good, the bad, and the ugly.


    Steelers fans

    1. Forget Your Favorite Sports Team

    Welcome to the City of Champions! Pittsburgh has an unparalleled loyalty to its sports teams: The Penguins, The Steelers, and The Pirates. You might be thinking, “Yeah right, I’ll never betray my hometown team.” But it’s only a matter of time until the contagious energy that consumes Pittsburgh when any of its prized teams are playing, home or away, effortlessly coaxes you into a becoming a loyal fan.

    If you don’t realize that it’s a game day when you wake up, just take a step outside and you will see a black and gold jersey on nearly everyone you encounter. It’s easy to confuse this with any other day of the week when you will see a similar scene. Pittsburgh’s pulse is so connected with its sports teams that the attitude of the general population is greatly affected by a win or a loss on a game day. Here are some tips on living in a city that is obsessed with it’s teams:

    • If a Pittsburgh team is opposed by a team that you’re rooting for, it’s probably best to stay home where you can avoid any altercations
    • If it’s a game day, the city adopts a black and gold dress code. This dress code also applies when it’s not a game day.
    • Tickets to any home games are expensive, and difficult to come by. If someone offers you free tickets, they really like you.


  10. Best School Districts in Pittsburgh

    Finding the best school district in or around Pittsburgh can result in information overload. Test scores, graduation rates, extracurriculars, school budgets and much more is all out there for analysis. But who has the time to research every district in Western Pennsylvania?

    This article makes that process a lot easier. We set out to determine the best school district in Pittsburgh by asking the residents of the communities themselves. Who better, right?


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