|Written by Pamela Karoub|
How to eat gluten free in a restaurant?¬† Very carefully....
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.¬† It is used in fillers and almost everything in restaurants--including vegetables, omelets and salad dressings!¬† If the establishment offers a gluten free menu, you are maybe safe. The problem is in the kitchen where cross contamination is common and cooks or¬†employees are not educated on this issue.
I have found even when they check the "allergy book", once it gets into the kitchen anything can happen. Usually it's¬†the grill¬†being "contaminated" with gluten¬†¬†or butter that really isn't butter. So, if you react strongly to gluten, here are some hints to get you through the lunch with friends....
1. Ask for the manager. Explain you get sick when eating gluten..ask if he is familiar with this. If he hesitates, don't even go further. It won't do any good.
2. Order plain lettuce, no croutons, with tomato, onions or fresh vegetables on top. Oil and vinegar¬†are usually fine. Don't take chances with the salad dressing and never have blue cheese as it's made with bread.
3. Order a plain piece of chicken grilled with foil covering the grill (good luck on getting them to really do this). No oils or seasonings or sauces on it.
4. Order your eggs poached. These are cooked in plain water.
5. Real mashed potatoes make a great side dish and all plain rice (not fried) is good.
6. Eat at PF Changs where they are very knowledgeable about Celiac disease. They even have a gluten free soy sauce and dessert.¬† Outback Steakhouse offers a gluten free menu and Wendy's chili and baked potato or Taco Bell's re fried beans are great. Panera Bread has the most wonderful salads and many are gluten free...as well as a few soups.
7. Ask the¬†manager if the oil for french fries is dedicated ONLY to fries. If they also cook breaded items in the oil you can't have the fries.¬†
8. When ordering from the gluten free menu, be sure to tell the waiter this is to be made GLUTEN FREE and to remind the cooks.¬† Just because it is on the menu as being safe for you, does not mean they will remember to make your food in a clean pan.
9. Most ice cream is OK (not cookie dough).¬† Do not get whipped cream.
Some managers will actually look on the box to read the ingredients. I suggest you go out to eat during off hours because they will be more accommodating when it isn't busy.¬† One of my favorite meals is from Panera Bread--the Fuji Apple chicken salad with everything on it (including the dressing!), creamy tomato soup with¬†no croutons¬†and a bag of chips.¬† Wonderful!¬†