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Gluten Free Casein Free And Soy Free

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I just got back to Oregon after living overseas since being diagnosed. I already have family and friends wanting to take us out for dinner. On top of the general adjustment process this is overwhelming to me.

Can you all help me with a few suggestions? Then I'll know what restaurants to suggest to them.

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I'd suggest going to nicer restaurants, particularly seafood or ones that have plenty of vegetarian friendly options, and then start asking the waiter/waitress to work with the chef. In situations that get complex, I say find restaurants that are knowledgeable about their ingredients, and use whole, fresh ingredients, and go in and be flexible about working with them.

(Happy Cow is a good listing for vegetarian restaurants.

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If you have an Old Spaghetti Factory, some of the locations have a gluten-free menu. They do not put cheese on their pasta so no worry about casein and no soy in there.

What we order that is almost always safe is a hamburger patty or chopped sirloin accompanied by a plain baked potato. Sometimes there will be other potato options like hashed browns, home fries, or fries. Always ask to be sure. Sometimes you can get rice that is safe. Often they put butter in the rice or it will have some pasta mixed in.

Hummus is usually safe unless they get pre-made. I know of at least one brand that has soybean oil in it. We like to get hummus with olives and cucumber slices or other raw veggies. I know of one place that will make this up for us.

Sometimes you can get a plain broiled chicken breast. Never assume the chicken is fine though. If they are getting frozen chicken, it could have any one or all three of your allergens on it.

If you order steak, be sure to mention the allergens and make sure they don't put those on there. Many places put butter on the steak, and there is one steak seasoning I know of that has soy in it. Soy sauce is often used as a marinade. Specify plain steak with nothing on it. A-1 steak sauce is fine.

Vegetables are always suspect because they tend to put butter or margarine on them. You can see if they can give you raw vegetables (sliced tomatoes, cukes or carrots) or plain steamed ones. You can also order a plain salad but I haven't had very good luck with that. Too many times I've found a stray shred of cheese or a crouton in there so I never order a salad unless I am sure they understand my allergies and won't give me something "extra". Dressing often contains soybean oil if not wheat or cheese. So stick with lemon wedges.

Fruit is another option. Some restaurants have applesauce or canned pears and many will have grapefruit or melon or even a fruit cup or plate.

The worst places to dine at are usually chains, unless they have a gluten-free menu and even then you're likely to find everything swimming in butter or cheese. The best places are those that cook the food from scratch. One unlikely place where we can get a safe meal is a small Italian restaurant. They have chicken breasts marinated in olive oil and lemon juice that are served with French fries. And the only thing they fry in that oil are those. Sometimes you just have to ask. Tell them what your allergens are and ask what they have that is safe for you to eat.

We also dine at Mexican restaurants a lot. There is the chance of getting soybean oil there, but daughter seems not to react to the oil. Just the soy itself.

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Thanks to both of you for these suggestions. I'm making a list to carry in my purse--until I learn the ropes.bv

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One of my standbys is to go to a tapas restaurant. They seem to use olive oil and not butter. When I asked about soy at my favorite place, they sniffed, "We have no soy on the premises!" OK ... They even have a gluten-free menu.

Just be careful about gazpacho -- it frequently has gluten.

Another favorite of mine is Indian. You just need to make sure that what you order doesn't have cheese, yogurt, etc. in it (and you have to skip the yummy bread). Ghee is made from dairy, but it is so clarified that no casein is left in it.

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I can't find a tapas restaurant. Is it a chain?

tapas is just spanish appetizers, usually served as a number of different dishes, enough to make a light meal. (or heavy, if you get a large number of different dishes. ;) )

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