Friday, June 26, 2015

Gluten-Free 4th of July

The Fourth of July is all but upon us! It's one of my favorite holidays, for multiple reasons: I love summertime, I love being patriotic, I love fireworks and, last but not least, I love celebratory cookouts!

All this adds up to a great time, but a friend of mine was confronted with a dilemma recently, and her story is worth sharing, I think. She intends to have a July 4th cookout, but get this: some of her guests are pretty adamant about having all the classic foods at the party (burgers, sides - you get the idea), while two of the other attendees are gluten and dairy free. The gluten-free guests still really want to be able to participate without demanding a separate menu, and my friend is at a loss about how to cater to both sides.

Luckily, there are simple answers both for my friend, and for anyone else in a similar situation! It turns out that you absolutely can put on an old-fashioned Independence Day cookout, while making it accessible to gluten and dairy-free guests. Check out the great news below!

Don't fret about the main course: these can be easily made or purchased gluten free. Use ground chuck or sirloin to make your own, or buy a pack of Bubba Burgers. Udi's buns are gluten free, as are Heinz ketchup, French's mustard and Vlasic pickles!

There are so many options here! Potato and pasta salads and the like, when prepared properly of course, are gluten free. Do watch out for dressings, but major brands like Kraft label their ingredients very well.

Worried about the chips, dips and baked beans? No need! Lay's brand chips are excellently labeled and offer plenty of options, and a simple bag of gluten-free tortilla chips and guacamole can go a long way. As for those tasty beans, all of Bush's beans are now gluten free, if you need something quicker than homemade.

Watermelon (or any kind of fresh fruit!) is an obvious choice, but the options don't stop there. Fruit salads are a logical step! Want something sweeter? There are tons of summer dessert recipes out there using Oreos - check out Trader Joes Joe-Joes as a g-free substitute, and get creative!  And who doesn't like S'mores? Hershey's chocolate is gluten free, as are Schar's graham crackers and Campfire marshmallows. Get that fire going once the grilling is done!

These are just the beginning, but as you can see, the potential is there for a classic - and gluten-free - Fourth of July cooking experience. Hungry for more? Check the links below!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gluten-Free Road Trip Restaurants

Ah, summer has arrived! And with it: heat, humidity, holidays and … road trips, of course! In the good old US of A, hitting the road for parts unknown once the calendar turns to summer is a time-tested tradition.

Here’s the rub, though: For gluten-free folks like us, some of the adventuresome fun of discovering new places to chow down along the way can be tarnished by limited choices. That glimmering oasis that looks so good as your stomach rumbles and you exit the freeway could have a boatload of gluten-free options; and it could just as easily have none. Not good!

With that in mind, we’d like to eliminate some of the guesswork for you, before you put rubber to road this summer. Here are the top gluten-free menus we’ve found in all the corners of America! If your journeys this travel season happen to take you past one of these establishments, you’ll know just what you’re in for: A wealth of gluten-free options!

  •  Planning a trip to beautiful New England? Well, the Stone Hill Inn (and bed and breakfast!) in Stowe, Vermont is a must-see! Abundant gluten-free choices will complement the gorgeous views and clean, fresh air.
  • One Dish Cuisine is a short drive away from our nation’s capital, and an even closer match for those with dietary restrictions. With a kitchen free of gluten, dairy, soy, peanut (and many more) products, there is literally something for everyone.

  • Who says gluten-free folks can’t have pizza?! Garlic Jim’s begs to differ. This Washington state chain boasts a thorough gluten-free pizza menu!
  • Planning on roasting in Las Vegas this summer? Bring your sunscreen, yes, but also bring your gluten-free appetite: Panevino Italian Grille has several delectable options!

  • Headed through North Carolina to the Outer Banks this summer? Stop in Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar first. Their custom-built, gluten-free burger options will have you contemplating a permanent move to the Tar Heel state.
  •  Sure, Louisiana is known for gumbo and Cajun dishes. However, a stay at the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast in New Orleans may have you calling it the gluten-free capital of the lower 48!

  • The “windy city” certainly has its share of eateries from which to choose if your travels take you through northeastern Illinois this summer, but Beatrix may be head and shoulders above the rest. Check out these gluten-free options!
  • Indiana may be famous for its basketball, racing and abundance of corn crop, but Harry & Izzy’s should be noted, as well. This two-location Indianapolis chain is a spinoff of the famous St. Elmo Steakhouse, and its gluten-free choices are renown.

You’d have to cover a lot of miles in the next few months to hit all those spots, but your taste buds would likely tell you it was worth the trip! Just in case you feel like being even more adventurous, below are some links to help you prepare the perfect gluten-free road trip to suit you!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gluten-free Grilling

It sure seems like we get busy this time of year, doesn’t it? As soon as summer activities wind down, we dive right into back-to-school craziness, and before we know it, cold weather is upon us again! Luckily, we've got one more chance to soak up the fading, summer sun, and what better way to do so, than by celebrating with a Labor Day cookout?!

By now most of us know that by itself, meat is generally the safest of havens for gluten-free folks, but that doesn’t mean missteps are impossible or caution can be eliminated. Whether you’re attending a barbeque or doing the grilling yourself this Labor Day weekend, a list of tips to ensure everything that’s supposed to be gluten free stays that way, couldn’t hurt! Here are a few ideas:
  • Cross contamination is your No. 1 enemy – It’s common for grill racks to be shared amongst several different foods, so watch carefully for what’s placed where, and when. Separate utensils for turning gluten and non-gluten products are a must, as is a clean grill (soap and water are a much better method than an old bristle brush that could contain crumbs), and tinfoil for placing beneath gluten-free dishes. 
  • Beer + meat = sneakiness – While watching out for marinades that may contain gluten is a widely accepted practice, what about that beer can chicken or those beer brats? Those are two backdoor ways gluten can slip into places you don’t want it. And those gluten-free beers? Even some of those are made with malted wheat or barley, which could present issues for those with Celiac disease. Be mindful of these often-overlooked issues, whether you’re drinking those brews, or using them for added moisture in your meats!
  • Not all meats are fully gluten free – That huge porterhouse, when kept away from any contaminants, yes, that big guy is gluten free. But, several other popular grilled meats can present trouble for the gluten-free crowd: veggie burgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs and sausages can contain filler product that may house gluten, so make sure to check labels before digging in.
Below are links to sites with additional, and more detailed, tips and tricks for making this Labor Day barbecue a good one. And, what’s a good cookout without a new dish thrown in for kicks? We’ve also included a link to some great gluten-free grilling recipes, to guarantee less guessing when grilling for your weekend celebration!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Gluten Free Goes Digital

In less than three weeks, we will be gathering with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. And one day after that, the floodgates will open to the busiest season of the year! Yes, the holidays are drawing near and with them comes a flurry of holiday shopping, office gatherings, school  pageants, and parties to attend and host. It is a magical time with many special moments to share and enjoy—but it can also be super busy and potentially stressful if you or your loved ones have gluten-sensitivity or are Celiac.

Fortunately, technology is here to make our lives easier this season! From mobile banking to Twitter to Words with Friends, apps have become a big part of a lot of our lives. And happily, there are some great apps to help you make gluten-free choices during the holidays. So whether you are gluten-free and needing help finding a g-free friendly place to eat in between shopping sprees or you are hosting a holiday event and want to have g-free offerings, I’d like to share some of my go-to apps that can help you make g-free choices this holiday season. Take a look!

Find Me Gluten Free
What a cool app this is – it’s my favorite of all the apps I’ve got on my home screen. Think of Yelp or Urbanspoon for gluten-free eateries, and that’s Find Me Gluten Free: restaurant reviews, pricing, contact information and directions, all gluten free and all at the push of a button. Perfect for traveling or just exploring your own area!
Works with: iPhone, Android

ShopWell Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner
Oh boy, this app has saved me so much time in Google searches and label reading. Just open this amazing program up, scan the barcode of the grocery store item in question, and voila: you get an indication of whether or not it contains gluten! To top that, if it does, the app provides recommendations on alternatives.
Works with: iPhone, Android

Easy Gluten Free Recipes
What app collection would be complete without a gluten-free recipe database? This handy app provides more than 100 recipes, complete with specific brand names (love that idea!) to help remove time-consuming guesswork from gluten-free cooking. It even has a share feature so you can pass recipes along to friends, and a grocery list that you can email to yourself! Wow!
Works with: iPhone, iPad

These favorites really are just the tip of the app iceberg. Take a look at the sites below and begin transforming your device into a gluten-free gizmo!