Monday, August 16, 2010

Gluten Free Restaurants

Being GF/LF is actually pretty easy as long as I eat at home. Eating out is a completely different story. I have no control over how the food is prepared. Does it have added butter? Do the spices contain a wheat or milk ingredient? Because most people don't realize that wheat is often a hidden ingredient, they think of wheat as being confined to bread or pasta. The fact is that it can be found in any natural or artificial color...or flavor. It is often found in marinades, spices, condiments and salad dressings. Eating out can be a stressful situation.

Before you eat out, plan on making some phone calls. Pick a time when the restaurant is more at rest (2-3pm). Ask to speak to a manager. Begin by asking if the restaurant has an allergen list. Wheat and lactose are two of the nine major allergens and many restaurants will have information on them. If this list is available, you should be able to make a determination on food items. The next issue you will have to deal with is cross-contamination. That is extremely difficult to avoid in a restaurant environment. How are cooking utensils washed between preparing entrees? If you are having a hamburger (less the bun), is the meat prepared on a surface where gluten/lactose containing items are also prepared? There are a lot of questions to ask and the fact is...you will be taking a risk.

I am in the process of compiling a list of restaurant chains that offer GF/LF selections. It is slow going because we only eat out several times/month (if that many). I will update this list periodically.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
(go here for allergy information) - I was thrilled to find that the burgers (without bun) and fries at Five Guys are GF/LF. The burgers do not contain any added spices and the fries are prepared in oil that only cooks fries. Double check with the location nearest you to make sure that the buns are indeed prepared on a separate grill. This greatly reduces the chance of cross-contamination.

Olive Garden (go here for GF menu) - Olive Garden offers several GF items, including penne pasta with marinara and several grilled items served with vegetables. I enjoyed the mixed grill yesterday although I'm not convinced that the roasted potatoes that were served as a side didn't have Parmesan cheese on them. As always double check with the server or manager.

Outback Steakhouse (go here to check out an extensive GF menu) - If you are lactose intolerant, you will want to double check on many of these items.

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