Eating Gluten Free while Dining Out is possible!Credit: istockphoto.com
If you have Celiac disease, you already know that you must manage your condition yourself through your diet to avoid all wheat, rye, oats and barley to avoid getting sick from simply eating. How do you manage your condition when you want to get together with your family or friends for a night out at a local restaurant? You don't really want to avoid going out or eat at home and arrive to the restaurant and not join your guests for a meal and instead just have a salad.
You also may not want to draw attention to your disease or want it to be the topic of conversation with your dinner guests. If you're unsure of what to order when dining out when you have Celiac Disease, you're not alone and we've been teaching our staff and customers for almost twenty years about it.
Feel free to accept a dinner invitation the next time you get one and use these tips on how to dine out confidently while adhering to your gluten free diet. If this is new to you and you're still learning all about it, see the handy gluten free dining cards and always keep them with you.
Gluten Free Dining Out Tips:
Call ahead to your favorite restaurant and ask what menu items they offer that would be suitable for you to eat. Restaurants that already offer other dietary selections understand it and will make sure to prevent cross contamination with other non gluten foods during their preparation and serving time.
Make a special request for your options at your favorite restaurant. Many restaurants are willing to adjust their menu on your behalf especially if they already provide this menu or if you are a regular customer. Many restaurant owners and managers may be unaware of the special dietary needs of those with Celiac disease but, will be willing to accommodate your request with a little advance notice.
Check out restaurant online reviews since other customers will often share their special dietary experiences to help others and you can learn a lot from them.Credit: istockphoto.com
What are your dietary options without wheat, rye, barley or oats?
Choose potatoes as a naturally gluten free item. Potatoes can be cooked either baked, fried, boiled, roasted or mashed and will all remain as viable options to stay on your gluten free diet.
Choose rice as a safe option for your dining out excursion. Rice can also be found as several types such as white, long grain, brown, jasmine, basmati, sushi grade. There are also many ways to cook rice such as boiled, steamed, pilaf, curried or spanish style, with sushi or fried so you won't be limited to eating the same foods cooked in the same methods over and over reducing your boredom or frustration of dining out.
Corn is another dining out option for special diet. Although it's more of a seasonal dish in many parts of the country, you will find that many restaurants offer creamed cream, corn custard, corn relish, corn meal (as in Polenta), Johnny cakes (white corn meal pancake), hush puppies, steamed or corn mixed with other vegetables.
Pasta can be an option for dining out only if it is specifically made gluten free and will be made from rice flour or potato flour. These pastas are available in many shapes and sizes such as linguini, fetuccinni, penne pasta, farfalle, macaroni or angel hair to name a few. Many restaurants will keep it in stock but, will make it to order since it won't stay fresh long and is much better to make fresh once ordered. I've found that it takes longer (approximately 8-10 minutes) to cook and always make sure to inform the service staff so that they can convey this to customers. Ask your server what options are available and be happy if they tell you they'll make it fresh for you even though it may take longer to wait for your meal. It will be worth it to have fresh pasta!
Sushi can be gluten free since it is made from steamed rice, raw fish or other protein or vegetables. Avoid soy sauce, wasabi, imitation crab and always ask if all the ingredients used in the sushi are gluten free or if any marinade is used. Some people with celiac disease carry their own gluten free soy or other sauces just to be safe and order all sushi plain. You may want to play it safe and order the Sashimi – sushi grade fish only and a side of plain steamed rice. Don't be shy to ask your server or the manager, it's much better to be safe than to get sick later on. Some sushi style restaurants are totally gluten free and you may have one in your city so it's worth checking out.
Gluten free desserts! Yes, there are many more desserts available to you these days as more and more restaurants understand the growing population of people with allergies to wheat, oats and rye. Occasionally, a restaurant will offer gluten free desserts on a rotating basis instead of always offering the same choice. In my restaurant, we've had gluten free apple pie, carrot cake, chocolate torte, cheesecake and pumpkin pie to name a few. Ask your server about the available options for dessert or call ahead to make a request from the restaurant manager. Most restaurants are very willing to accommodate special needs and requests to make a customer happy and they'll be even happier if you become a regular customer after your positive dining experience!
One more tip:
Dining out may mean that you need to skip the breads and soups unless you specifically ask and make sure that these items are made from rice flour, corn flour or potato flour to be safe to eat. Ask your server for the ingredients and if he/she is unsure ask to check with the kitchen Chef for a definitive answer.
Use these tips for your gluten free dining out options and make plans to go out with your friends and family soon.
More Information on this topic that you may enjoy:
Thanks for reading and for your comments. Cheers to your good health!
Handy Dining Out Cards
can help you decide on the available options
Amazon Price: $16.95 $9.95 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 8, 2014)