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  1. Traveling with celiac I would like to relate my experience today and then ask for advice on traveling and bringing food along (being prepared). See last paragraph Today we traveled to a new place and meet new people. We had a project to do and then everyone wanted to go to lunch. So I didn’t have an opportunity to research this place before hand - I could’ve used Find Me Gluten Free - but I didn’t. I took a risk. (I know better now) anyways the place we went had gluten-free options so I asked the waitress if I got the gyro without the pita would it be gluten-free. She said yeah. She asked if I wanted fries even though fried in same fryer as other gluten items. I said yes because I’ve done it before without any repercussions. I love fries. So the place seemed pretty knowledgeable about gluten-free food. My food was great! But an hour or so later I was vomiting in the men’s stall at a gas station (all the fries, TMI?) - the woman’s was occupied! I have only recently started vomiting when I have a cc gluten exposure. Ugh! Ok so I know my mistake was getting the fries. Taking a risk. Not double checking the restaurant. Not maybe being more vigilant for my health. I hate being that person at the restaurant who has to make a scene asking all the gluten free questions. Especially in front of new people. So now I know I need to be better prepared. But does that mean not eating out at new places every again? I need advice in how to travel with celiac disease, how to be better prepared for going to a new restaurant. At this point should I just pack my own lunch every time I go somewhere new? My husband (bless his heart) did pack me veggies to eat but I need more than that or I’ll get hangry. Also I am terrible at being that prepared that I could have brought my own lunch along. Also do I eat my own lunch in the restaurant? I can’t do that right plus it would be weird?
  2. I want a great sentence to use with grandmas, neighbors, waitstaff... I want it to be memorable and not too overly dramatic. I also would like it to be slightly accurate. Here is my current scenario: new friend: What is Celiac? me: It means my body responds to gluten the way yours might respond to rat poinon. new friend got it and understood the restrictions and complications involved in planning a neighborhood potluck with me. Please send me your best one-liner that I or anyone else can use when needing a quick explanation. Or, let me know if mine is best???
  3. Yvonne (Vonnie) Mostat

    Gluten-Free Vacations

    Celiac.com 12/20/2016 - I know of many people with celiac disease who dread traveling. They even cringe at eating out in restaurants. One person actually said it on the Web: "I have celiac disease, and I was sick of being poisoned in restaurants, even after asking for gluten-free food." It can also be disastrous to spend even one week in a foreign country where there is a language barrier. Part of the problem? Point your finger at yourself. Many of us do not prepare ahead and travel with our diet in mind. According to Wm. K. Warren, Medical Research Center for Celiac Disease in San Diego, celiac disease is twice as common as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and cystic fibrosis. The website GlutenFreeTravelSite.com has named Pennsylvania as the most celiac-friendly destination in the world. Wow! Eating out can be difficult for several reasons. We do not yet have a global definition for gluten-free. It does not exist in the restaurant world. Most restaurants buy in bulk, such as a 12" x 6" can of tomato sauce, a gallon of sweet and sour sauce, and huge bags of fries, which more and more are being tossed in pure flour prior to frying. I have heard that McDonald's is now offering items that do not have gluten in the ingredients to allow for the possibility of inadvertent cross contamination. Their famous fries are made gluten-free in a separate fryer. Hamburger patties and many breakfast items are also gluten-free. Early breakfast at McDonald's before you "hit the road" with a packed car in which your children are belted in. This sounds like a travel brochure for New Zealand, but Celiac.com states that traveling in New Zealand is a pure pleasure for the celiac. Gluten awareness is widespread, there are gluten-free food options virtually everywhere you go, and product labeling for allergens and gluten is typical. Those of you planning a Disneyland holiday this year will be pleased to note that Disney is earning major kudos from people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and other food allergies. They claim that for more than a decade Disney has worked to provide information and options to guests with food allergies. I read a negative blog about gluten-free dining in Maui, and have one to add myself. I would suggest calling ahead; I would suggest not dining at the peak busy periods. Our waiter did not know what celiac disease was, and I did not have my information sheet with me in those years. (I have grown up since then!) The waiter was told twice about gluten; it was described to him. When the meal arrived at our table 3/4 hour later, my husband asked him again if there was any flour used in the making of the dish, and had he checked with the chef? Slight hesitation, hopped on one foot indicating he was busy I assume. He said the meal was "okay". I was up all night ill in someone else's home. We called the next day to do some late sleuth work, only to find out that the waiter had not checked with the cook and just ‘assumed' the meal was safe to eat. I now travel with a small file containing our "SAFE TO EAT" and "UNSAFE FOODS", or as my husband calls them, "SAFE" and "SORRY". I have laminated my own list. I carry a home-made typed sheet about celiac disease, not going into our reactions in a big way, but telling people that ingesting gluten, that means rolled oats too, can make me very ill. Celiac disease is a most difficult disease to diagnose, and equally difficult to explain "quickly" to a host or hostess, or restaurant waiter. Statistics are not standing still. Coeliac disease (celiac = Western)< (Coeliac = Great Britain, in the United Kingdom is the leading charity (Coeliac UK), and affects 1% of the children in the United Kingdom. All major grocery stores have a large gluten-free section. The last time I visited my family I made a pig of myself eating cream buns and pie, all with the International Logo, and though food is more expensive in the UK, the gluten-free food was not as expensive as it is here. We made gluten-free restaurant cards with the explanation regarding the disease on the back. This year, when we traveled to the Grand Sirenis Mayan (all inclusive) in Mexico I did not have to keep saying, "NO FARINA". (To the person filling the heated trays, I was "nuts".) After so many years of traveling to all inclusive hotels in Mexico, this year the light bulb went on. My husband wrote out an information sheet about celiac disease and our "Safe and Sorry" list and went on the World Wide Wonderful Web and had it translated into Spanish. We were able to advise the assistant manager right away upon registration. No-one at the registration desk had heard of celiac disease, so that was my education class for them. But I received exceptional service. Every restaurant we booked for supper had the information sheets faxed to them by the registration desk ahead of time and we just had to mention our name, they went down their list to check it off, and they saw the Spanish note attached. During the entire two weeks I was not sick from ingesting gluten and I did not have one dermatitis herpetiformis lesion. I thought I had one but it turned out to be a bug bite! HINT: Some hotels that provide a free breakfast buffet means you will probably have access to a toaster. Several companies now manufacture heavy-duty reusable toaster bags that let you toast gluten-free bread in the hotel toaster without fear of cross contamination. Toaster bag brand names include the following: ...Toast it Reusable Toaster Bags ... Toastabags ... Kitchen Craft Non-Stick Reusable Toaster Bags. Bring sealed bags of gluten-free cereal, and add milk and fruit from the restaurant. Bring your own rice cakes or granola bars, and ask the restaurant for cheese, fruit or for individual servings of cream cheese. You can consider faxing a note to the restaurant staff in advance to help explain the gluten-free diet. Many restaurants are more than willing to adapt their menu items to suit your needs, but these things have to be done ahead and require a bit of thought. Celiac disease is virtually unheard of in some parts of eastern Asia, so a written description in the local language will be very important. "WEB: Travel and holidays Coeliac UK" state they have information leaflets for more than 35 countries, with translations that can be used in many others. These detailed, useful phrases will help you while out and about as well as with local cuisine, applicable allergen labeling and contact details for local coeliac societies. In the UK local organizations can sometimes provide lists of hotels/restaurants and shops that supply gluten-free foods, as well as their gluten-free food list. Some celiac association chapters actually provide a "Pocket Dictionary" that they claim is the most reliable resource available for information on what's safe for people living with celiac disease. The books are updated regularly. Check at a chapter near you and see if they provide these celiac dictionaries; I am certainly going to check ours out! They advertise Spain as being the celiac's paradise. Most of the products are labeled with gluten-free symbols, and their labeling system for gluten-free is quite different from any other labeling, for example "sugar free". Brazilians are not used to the term celiac. Almost all have heard about gluten because it is law there. All the processed foods and drinks are labeled with either "contains gluten" or "does not contain gluten". That would be wonderful, rather than reading all the ingredients, almost putting the item in your grocery buggy until you read at the very bottom of the box the wording, "may contain traces of gluten". How can they measure a trace, and which box has a bigger trace than another? Even food made in a machine that uses gluten has to be avoided if you want to stay healthy. I would have thought that Italy would be a difficult place to find gluten-free foods. It is the land of pasta after all. But on the website (gluten-free holidays, trips and vacations) some of the happiest holidays by writers have been spent in Italy. Switzerland is famous for it's delicious cakes and breads, but traditional Swiss food is very celiac-friendly and their core national foods are often naturally gluten-free. Don't forget your note cards, and translate them into German and Swiss-German Traveling and living gluten-free in Australia, they say there is nothing else like it for a coeliac traveler. "This country is a haven for coeliac's and their traveling buddies alike. (glutenfreeholidays, tripsandvacations) AIRLINES: Not only have they changed their luggage weight allowance they have also changed their short flight meal rules. Under six hours flying time, they do not provide specialty meals, like gluten-free, diabetic, vegetarian or kosher. This was a big surprise to us when flying to Mexico, and a surprise to our travel agent also. Check with the airlines regarding their dietary restrictions. This may not be the case with ALL airlines, but for sardine can flying with your knees on your chest, they think the celiac does not need to eat for six hours. If they do not provide special diets you are well within your rights to purchase or take a gluten-free meal onto the plane. It anyone queries what is in the bag, you can explain you are a celiac who becomes hungry in less than six hours. Since they have vetoed peanuts as a nutritious snack on airlines and substituted with pretzels that means the non-celiac partner gets double treats and you go hungry. Make sure you have emergency snacks to fall back on in case of delays or cancellations. If you are planning a cottage or camping holiday the same rules apply. I hope you have a card in your wallet indicating you are a celiac, and if you have dermatitis herpetiformis that should be listed too. The Web site: "http://www.celiaccentral.org/holiday/cookbook/" has a holiday cookbook you can download. It is their free first ever e-cookbook featuring the top 10 gluten-free recipes from some of their recipe contests. If you are traveling by car, of course, you will travel with a cooler and ice packs to prevent food spoilage. When we go to visit family in England we purchase one of the reasonable styrofoam coolers at the first grocery store we see, along with some ice packs. Sainsbury's offers a deluxe shopping experience; if they do not have the celiac food you want there then you do not need it. Great Britain also has Costco Stores that carry gluten-free food. I found that the Web Site:" CeliacTravel.com" offered a wealth of information. You can click away all day, reading the posts and blogs, laughing and agreeing with the suffering celiac who became sick at her own wedding. It was good to know that all packaged foods in the EU (The European Common Market) countries are covered by the same food labeling legislation as in the UK. Manufacturers must list all deliberate ingredients in the ingredients list, regardless of the amount used. Manufacturers must name the particular grain, for example, wheat, rye, barley or oats or some will use the word gluten as well. Specific information for each country is given where possible in the individual travel sheets you can obtain at this site. I know that for many celiac people a holiday is synonymous with relaxing with a glass of wine, a whiskey and tonic, or a bottle of beer, but after reading on Celiac.com it has given me confidence to tell you to be very careful. Sick on holidays and don't know why? Been drinking? I know you want to blame it on something else; you are like me and the malt in colas. Oh how I loved that drink, but my gut did not, and I was a fool deceiving myself that it was something else causing my bloated crampy stomach. I cannot take malt in any form, nor can I ingest MSG; it could be cross-contamination, but the angst and pain I experience are not worth the risk. Anytime you drink away from home, like on holidays, you are at risk for exposure because non-celiacs simply do not understand how we're affected. Every single one of us have been poisoned by cross-contamination, most of us multiple times. Reactions can be triggered by poor manufacturing practices that don't include segregation of malicious gluten bits. Some products are different because of the way they were aged (ex: wooden barrels). A lot of people state, "I understand the science behind alcohol being gluten-free but I still have a reaction to any that are distilled from grains." At first I thought my reactions may have been psychosomatic. Maybe It's just because I am questioning the validity of truly being gluten-free. Not too long ago I had a very serious reaction and did research on the drink I had. Indeed it was a wheat/barley vodka. I believe for most people it may be fine, however, I have always been super sensitive and am continually reminded that I must be careful." Then we come to the beer lovers, whose hot day holiday experience includes a cold beer in hand. Unfortunately a lot of beer drinkers settle for beers brewed with buckwheat or sorghum that are combined with lower concentrations of barley malts, as are the most common brewing practices. The demands of beer-lovers with celiac disease are finally gaining the attention of craft brewers throughout the world. Most of these brewers have been researching the chemical and physical features of celiac disease, and have formulated their products with 100% gluten-free ingredients and processes that ensure purity of product. They point out that some filtering processes used by brewing companies render gluten undetectable in "low-gluten" beer; however, unless a beer is totally gluten-free, there is no assurance that it is safe for celiacs. The most common substitutions for gluten-rich grains are : buckwheat and sorghum, rice, maize, corn, and sunflower, amaranth, flax, millet, quinoa, teff, wild rice, soybean, ragi, and rape. Sorghum and buckwheat are the most common ones used in Western gluten-free beer. This Web site lists the approved gluten-free beers and the ones that have been recalled as well. There is also a "Contact Information for Gluten-Free Beer listing of Web Sites." It is rather lengthy and you will need to photocopy the information and take it with you while traveling on holiday. This site was updated on January 23, 2010, so it is already three years old, and I am sure there are lots of other gluten-free beers around. Don't risk your health by grabbing the first beer on the table at a social outing or restaurant and keeping your fingers crossed; it will not work! I'm sorry if I am ruining your holiday, but drinking does not necessarily equate to a good holiday and is one drink worth destroying the villi in your gut leaving yourself open to a multitude of connective tissue disorders? You only get one body in this life. Take care of it!
  4. Phyllis Morrow

    Traveling Gluten-Free in New Zealand

    Celiac.com 04/16/2013 - For a celiac traveler from the United States, New Zealand is a pleasure. Gluten awareness is widespread, there are gluten-free food options virtually everywhere you go, and product labeling for allergens and gluten is typical. Because New Zealand is English-speaking, there is no problem communicating gluten-free needs. And, of course, it’s summer there when it’s winter here and it’s beautiful. Who could ask for anything more (other than a shorter plane flight)? When my husband and I were planning an extended trip in 2009, I decided that traveling gluten-free would be easier in NZ than in the other destinations that we considered: Bali and Thailand. While Southeast Asian cuisines are rice-based and do include many gluten-free foods, conversations with friends who have lived there made me hesitate. The main problem for us is that we travel mostly on bicycle and like to be away from the major tourist areas. While staff at tourist hotels and luxury resorts may be familiar with food intolerance, once you go off the beaten track, people are unused to accommodating the “odd” requests of foreigners. I knew that in Southeast Asia language barriers would be an issue. My friends warned that the idea of food allergies and intolerance is not well-known there and they thought, too, that cultural conventions of politeness might lead people to assure us that foods were safely gluten-free when, in fact, they were not. On the other hand, my son had spent a week in New Zealand and his scouting report read: “gluten-free products, including bread and crackers, are easy to find even in the smallest convenience stores.” We bicycled in New Zealand again in 2012, and once more we spent two months there. Now, I have suggestions and experiences to report from both North and South Islands. First, it’s always good to do some homework. Before leaving and also while In New Zealand, I suggest cruising the Internet for information. A useful site is http://www.glutenfreeliving.co.nz/ which displays restaurant and retail store options for various locations. The information is not always up to date (restaurants may close or change hands), but “no worries, mate,” as they say. Other gluten-free options are almost always easy to find. If you are traveling on New Zealand Air, be sure to order gluten-free meal options on your trans-Pacific flights. In 2009, I had some concern when I saw the term “low-gluten” in the subject line rather than “no-gluten” or “gluten-free” when customer service replied to my e-mail, but that may have been a legal precaution on their part. In addition to requesting gluten-free meals well in advance, be sure to double-check at the airline counter to make sure that the requests are in the system. I found the food entirely acceptable (and a choice of 77 in-flight movies also helped pass the time…). In fact, on the most recent flight there was an unexpected benefit to being gluten-free: special meals are the first to be served. While the flight attendant was handing my tray to me, the plane hit turbulent air. Meal service was instantly suspended and as far as I could tell I was the only passenger who got to eat for the next hour. Of course, I always take the precaution of carrying some gluten-free food/snacks, as well. You never know when you might need them. Actually, I did need them on the 2012 trip – but ironically that was when I couldn’t have them! We had decided to layover for a few days in Fiji to break up the long flight. I anticipated (correctly) that there would be little gluten-awareness in Fiji, so I was traveling with plentiful supplies. But I was dismayed to find that arriving passengers were required to discard all food items, without exception, at the airport. That made the next five days in Fiji a little challenging. I relied on cooking locally available basic resources that I bought in public markets, such as eggs, vegetables, coconut, fish, meat and yams. It was hard to find food that I was sure would be safe in grocery stores and almost impossible in restaurants. Because I am a budget traveler, and because I want good control over what I eat, I do prefer to buy and cook my own food in any case. In New Zealand, food items tend to be clearly labeled, much better than they are in the US. All of the larger supermarkets, such as New World, Pack n’ Save, Woolworth’s (locally known as “Woolli’s”), and Countdown have gluten-free breads of various sorts, as well as rice crackers, sweets, and an array of pre-packaged items such as soups, risotto, and curries that may be labeled gluten-free. However, there are always hidden surprises; for example, it was hard to find hummus that did not indicate the possible presence of wheat in the chickpeas (only Lisa’s Organic hummus was gluten-free). The ubiquitous smaller grocery outlets, such as dairies (the equivalent of convenience stores) might or might not have much in the way of gluten-free foods. Traveling by bicycle in more remote areas, such as heading towards East Cape from Opotiki, stores were sometimes far apart and minimally stocked. I occasionally found myself with nothing to eat for lunch but tinned salmon or sardines. Anyone traveling in a car could easily avoid such a situation, though. As might be expected, health food and organic food stores typically have a selection of gluten-free food items including bread, snacks, baked goods, pasta and alternative grains. Sometimes they carry gluten-free meat pies and other entrees in the freezer case. They tend to have easily identifiable names, such as Homestead Health, Bin Inn Wholefoods, Commonsense Organics (which carries, among others, Breadman brand fresh baked breads), etc. Always use your own commonsense, though. I did see occasional red flags, such as purportedly gluten-free baked goods unwrapped and sitting in a display case next to other goods baked with wheat flour. In those situations, I politely say that I would like to buy certain items but cannot do so if there’s a chance of gluten contamination. Also, I tell them that I worry that if this is an issue in one part of the store, I can’t be sure about other items they carry. They usually listen carefully to requests that might improve their sales. Having stocked upon gluten-free items at a shop in Auckland before a long train trip on the Tranz Scenic to Wellington, I discovered that I would have done fine without that precaution. The canteen on the train featured a line of prepackaged meals under the Wishbone label, all of which were very visibly marked for dietary restrictions including dairy free, gluten free, no meat, low fat, and low glycemic index. I enjoyed the "butter chicken"(tandoori spiced chicken with rice and sliced almonds) for lunch and saved my gluten-free groceries for dinner. On the other hand, when traveling by bus over long distances, I found it necessary to carry my own food. Meal stops on the bus routes were rarely more than ½ hour, and generally restricted one’s choice to a single café or cafeteria-style restaurant that did not have much for the gluten-free traveler. We stayed mostly in "backpackers," hostels that have kitchen facilities. They are found everywhere. One tip is to pick backpackers that have high ratings in the BBH New Zealand backpackers network guide. These will be the cleanest and best-organized places. The more highly rated hostels will cost more (it’s okay – they are worth more), but you will save a bit with a BBH membership. Backpacker accommodations range from dormitory-like arrangements to private rooms with bath. They may be large and full of boisterous young people, or small and quiet. With small places, you may have the kitchen almost completely to yourself. In the communal kitchen and eating area there will be a varying selection of cookware, utensils, and dishware. We carry camping gear including a thin plastic cutting board, a nesting pot set, lightweight cups, bowls and utensils, and plastic storage containers labeled with our name. I often used our own cooking pots and plates in backpacker hostels since hostel guests do not always do the best job of cleaning up their dishes. If I did use communal pans or utensils, I washed them thoroughly beforehand, using something other than a possibly contaminated communal sponge or dishrag. It is a good idea to cook and eat outside of the most crowded mealtimes, particularly at large, popular hostels. Otherwise, the atmosphere of “combat cooking” may defeat your efforts to keep gluten off surfaces and people may assume that your newly washed pot is there for them to use. But it is wonderfully convenient to be able to cook your own food and refrigerate your groceries and leftovers. You need to bag your food, clearly label it with name and date, and make sure that it is sufficiently protected to prevent contamination from other people’s food in a stuffed refrigerator. A lot of restaurants and cafés throughout New Zealand offer gluten-free menus or menu options. While you need to be prepared for this not to be true in the more remote areas, even there you will often have pleasant surprises. I do recommend that you advise the waitperson that you are celiac. If they look at you blankly, say that this requires that you be very strictly gluten-free. If they still look blank, go somewhere else to eat. In a properly gluten-free-conscious place, the staff will confirm with the chef that your menu choice is safe and note the need for special care on your order. I had one worrisome experience after eating at an Indonesian restaurant in Napier. The Dutch owner seemed very knowledgeable about celiac and told me exactly what I could have, including sauces. Afterwards, as we were paying for the meal, I saw that some of the bottled sauces were for sale. I read the label on one and it clearly contained wheat. The owner was mortified and assured me that these were from older stock and that the sauces I was actually served were gluten-free. Life as a celiac is never risk-free – but since I had no reaction later, I can hope he was right. The bottom line is that New Zealand really is a great destination for the gluten-free traveler.
  5. Celiac.com 05/16/2008 - Knowing the Kitchen on Your Travels As you travel there is no way around it—you need to eat at a restaurant. If you are like me, you probably don’t look forward towards eating out. I have been trained by some of the finest chefs in the world and there wasn’t enough training to prepare me for eating out gluten-free. Don’t get me wrong, if I was not celiac I could take the menus apart and know everything necessary to impress my wife and order the right food and wine. Yes I even was involved in wine tasting in Palm Beach Florida. That was then and this is now. Walking into the restaurant, sadly, the first thing I do is ask for the manager and whether or not they have a gluten free menu. I have been told over and over about restaurants that have a gluten-free menu, and yes, this is great, but in these cases I have found that most of the time: The staff in the back is not trained in proper food handling techniques, and cross contamination often occurs. The wait staff (who know I just ordered gluten-free) still put bread rolls on my plate for me to eat, or even croutons on my salad (again, lack of proper training). The gluten-free menu is limited to 3 or 4 items when the full menu has over 40 items to choose from. Why can’t I have an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and a dessert? It is already there in the menu so why do I have to be limited? Like I said, it is nice that they offer a gluten-free menu, but when I go out to eat—especially on vacation—I want to be treated special just like my wife and kids. So when I look at the menu I look for the food I like and then I use my Chef Daniel's restaurant paper to write down exactly what I want and how I want it prepared.I have had comments that some of you think the chef is going to get mad and that you are insulting them by writing down what you want to eat…my reply—this is hogwash! For those of you who still believe that they will be upset let’s look at what happens from the chef’s viewpoint during the day at a restaurant. He waits for the wait staff to bring in the order. It is usually on a ticket stating whether the food should be rare, medium or even broiled or sautéed. On the same ticket the wait staff tells them what vegetables or whether they will have French fries or baked potato. Hopefully you see where I am going with this. As you must have learned by now, if you have traveled to a restaurant, even one with a gluten-free menu, sometimes the staff doesn’t even know what gluten-free means, and if this is the case how could the chef possibly know? Who is training them? They come to work and are told they have to make a steak gluten-free. So they make a steak and put the garnish on it and when the customer gets it they say “wow, this is great, I am about to eat a steak from the gluten-free menu.” HOLD ON! “Oh no, the garnish on the plate is a fancy fruit relish that is made with malt vinegar.” CROSS CONTAIMNATION. What I have been saying from the start. Yes this really happen to me—the liquid from the relish ran down the plate and on my steak—this was a few years ago before I started to use my restaurant/chef skills to order my food. I have talked with some of my chef friends and not one of them said they would get offended, and it would be just like if someone came in to the restaurant and asked me to make a kosher meal. I am expected to do it right because if I didn’t they would be offended and then they would never return to the restaurant. If I pleased them, however, they would tell their friends about their positive experience. This would mean more money for the restaurant, and that makes my boss happy. Some of you will still doubt me but that is okay because when I walk into a restaurant I expect to be pampered just like everyone else does. Be sure to always have a plan B, and be prepared to leave or not eat your meal if there are problems with it. There are way too many restaurants in a town for me to get sick over a crumb. Once you start talking with the manager or the waiter you will quickly learn if what they are telling you is real or just hogwash. Another Real Experience I was given a gluten-free menu at a restaurant and I asked the waiter if he knew what gluten-free meant. He said “yes,” so I asked him whether croutons come on the salad that I had ordered. He said “sure, croutons come on all the salads and they are already made, but I can take them off”. I am not making this up folks, this was at a well known Italian restaurant that is a chain all over the USA. I switched to plan B and didn’t eat there. My wife who loves this place did eat and I went to a party store got some snacks. It might be harsh to some but if the waiter is not properly trained how do I know whether the cook or anyone else there is properly trained? Just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu means nothing (unless I can verify that the staff was properly trained by speaking to them). Fast Food Restaurants If you have followed my articles you will know that I like some of the fast food restaurants. Many of these large chains adhere to strict cooking methods. This is good for us because they stay the same and there is less of a chance for cross contamination. In many cases these restaurants use dedicated fryers for certain foods, for example French fries. So you can usually have French fries and not worry about the batter from the chicken nuggets. Cross contamination to me is the way the “Gluten Monster” attacks us—when we least expect it. No matter how much you say or ask, if they put your food on the table that just had gluten on it you’re going to get sick. I always ask for the manager to help me. Here is an example of how I order: Could you please give me the double cheese burger with only lettuce, tomato and onion? I have a special diet request and it is very important that you do not touch any bread or crumbs from any other product. Could you please put fresh gloves on or could you use a plastic fork to get my burgers out? It is important that the cook back there doesn’t’ get my meal because he has handled other bread with those gloves. I would like catsup, mustard and mayo packages (to read the ingredients myself). I would like French fries if they are cooked in a dedicated fryer. I would like a plain salad and could you please open a fresh bag of the salad mix for me because, again, I am afraid that maybe a crumb got into the salad. If you can’t open a fresh bag of salad I would go without the salad. I would like to look at a couple of your salad dressings to see what salad dressing I can eat if that is ok with you. Beverage usually isn’t a problem. Gluten in ice cream is a possibility. Always watch the staff the whole time they are making your food to see if any mistakes are made. Never be afraid to say you don’t want something if you fear it. There are also other options, for example you might be able to do the chicken or other products if you know that they are gluten-free. Not all French fries are gluten-free. Some that have a spice on them might have wheat on them. Be sure to know your fast food place by searching online for information on what you can and can’t eat, and never be afraid to ask.Mexican Cuisine Going to Mexican restaurants is one of my favorite options. Much of the food is made with corn. After you sit down, review the menu and decide what you want. The chips are usually corn, but be sure to ask, and if so you can have them with some shredded cheese as an appetizer. Most of the salsas are made with only fresh vegetables. The main items that you ask for is to make sure they use only fresh foods for you. This is why you should ask for the manager when you walk in. The manager should be able to help you order. If you like hot sauce I would bring it myself. Those specialty items are small and handy to have if you like them. You never know what type they will have and it is nice to eat it with your Mexican meal. If you ask for refried beans and they are gluten-free, I would ask for them to open a fresh can and have them microwave it. Any of the food that is processed I would ask for fresh can and for them to microwave it. If they don’t have a microwave they can heat it up in a steamer, broiler or a sauté pan. You should always be able to eat well at a Mexican restaurant. How I Order Gluten-Free Mexican Food: I would like some corn chips and cheese melted over the top of them. You could use the above broiler or just use the microwave to do it. I would like a small tomato, whole not sliced for my salad and for my chips. I would like a mixed green salad from a fresh unopened bag with a small cucumber that I will cut myself. I would like one half of a fresh avocado for my salad and chips. I would like two tablespoons of olive oil and some red wine vinegar for my salad (maybe even a half of a lemon too). Cook 1 cup of meat (no seasoning) add to 2 corn shells and top with fresh cheese from a bag or cut fresh. Add fresh lettuce and tomato and microwave it until it is hot and melted, then add 4 ounces of corn on top. I add some hot sauce when the food comes to the table.How I Order Gluten-Free Italian Food: We can’t eat the pasta but some of the mixes that go on the pasta are great. If it is strips of chicken or shrimp, there are many items that can be looked at. With sun dried tomatoes or avocado, those could be added to your entrée or salad. They will have mussels and good meats, you just need to read what they have and make a great meal. When you look at the menu you have to ask or determine, what is sitting on the table by the chef and can I use that for my meal. Every entrée has mizzen pla. (Products in place) meaning that the chef needs everything right next to him to make his meal. If the entree you are looking at is seafood fettuccini with a cream sauce. The chef will need fresh seafood, cooked noodles, sauce, vegetables and seasoning. If this was made up already for the night, the noodles and seafood would be garbage. As a celiac you can take the seafood as long as it is not marinated in something. That goes for most of the items if you read what is in the entrée. Know what is fresh and what is frozen and you will be able to pick apart a menu. Always ask and you will learn for the next time. Sample Orders: Strips of chicken breast with no skin broiled (please metal brush the grill first before you lay my food down) cook till done, then lay sundried tomatoes on the chicken strips and top with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese and broil in top-type broiler, or microwave until melted. If there is no way to melt please slice thin and it will be good enough.• Fresh spinach with 1-2 lemon and red wine vinegar, two tablespoons olive oil extra virgin, one small tomato and 4 ounces of mozzarella cheese (I will cut the tomato and mozzarella cheese myself). • Mixed melody of seafood sauté with olive oil then reduce with wine. Place on the side when ¾ of the way done. Add ¼ cut mushrooms, shallots, fresh garlic, sun dried tomatoes and sauté until down add heavy whipping cream reduce then add the seafood (add nothing if you don’t have heavy whipping cream). Add fresh herbs chopped up or tear apart (no dried herbs).In this article I offered examples for a few types of restaurants. I could go on and on. You need to understand how restaurants work to be able to order your food to be made gluten-free. Please don’t limit yourself to the gluten-free menu only (if they have one). You should not be discriminated against because you have a health concern. That is a big word, I know, but we should be able to eat just like the next person can. Our money is just as GREEN as another person’s. I would rather pay a little more if I add something to an item then to be told that they can’t do it. That is why I say that together we can tame the Gluten Monster. When you are traveling there are a lot of restaurants to choose from. Be prepared to wait and not be rushed, try to pick a restaurant that is not busy so the chef is not rushed by 20 other orders. If you follow my approach you will have success eating out gluten-free in restaurants, and your dining experience will be pleasant—like it is suppose to be! Gluten-Free Travel Hints: You should always try to getthe manager to help you. In any restaurant they have the most time tohelp you and they will help you because they typically care more thanthe regular workers (today’s restaurants have employees that come inone day and are gone the next.help. It is sad but that is the way itis so at least try to get the manager. Don’t be ashamed to askfor anything. If you want a hot dog or the chips they put on the sideof the plate ask for a bag with the product inside. Take out your safeand forbidden lists if needed and look at them to see if you can eat aproduct. Always have your Chef Daniel's restaurant paper with you in your walletor purse. Always have a copy of your safe and forbidden lists with youin case you need it to read ingredients. Always have a gluten-free restaurant card in the language you need. Crosscontamination is the greatest risk for a celiac when traveling. Crosscontamination can happen and you would never know it, such as when thechef uses a knife to cut a piece of bread, and then they use the sameknife on your vegetables, or when the chef uses a pair of tongs to flipa breaded chicken and then uses them to flip your sauté chicken.Thereare too many other ways to mention, but the main thing is that glutencould be on the tool before it is used on your meal, and it doesn’tmatter how safe the chef thought he was because you got one crumb andyou are sick for days and that ruins your vacation. Chef Daniel P.
  6. Celiac.com 09/01/2009 - I recently passed a milestone, upon reaching the first anniversary,since my celiac disease diagnosis. There was no golden coin or awardceremony, but rather a sense of personal accomplishment. Although itis true that I feel better not eating gluten than I have in years—Istill miss my former diet every single day. I no longer crave glutenfilled meals, nor do I feel sorry for myself, as often as I did,immediately following my diagnosis. Yet, I still find it necessary tojustify my condition whenever I get confused looks at dinner parties orpotlucks. There are also the days when I will pass a pizza shop orhave a craving for a glazed donut with my morning coffee. It is inthose moments when familiar pangs will resurface and make me long forjust an instance that I could put on my gluten shield and indulge. Itwas at this time last year, that I celebrated my first summergluten-free. I ate at only restaurants with gluten-free selections, Ibegan dabbling in store bought wheat-free mixes, and jumped up and downin my kitchen the day my husband discovered a gluten-free bakery,several towns away. Last summer was also my first opportunity totravel gluten-free. It was during those normally carefree months thatI attended a Family Camp, at a retreat center, in the mountains. Although I meticulously planned for the trip; packing clothing, extratennis shoes, swimming essentials, and toiletries—I neglected toremember that I now had dietary limitations which would possibly have atremendous impact on the outcome of this family weekend. Yes, I packedgluten-free breakfast bars and fresh fruit, but that was it. I didn’tcall ahead and ask if they had menu options for celiac sufferers, nordid I plan for lunches and dinners. Walking into the retreatcenter dining hall among the smell of fresh baked bread, pasta salad,and breaded chicken made my mouth water like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Iglanced around the table to see salad drizzled with vinaigrette andrealized that was all I would be eating for the day. My head began toache and tears stung the back of my eyes. I inwardly cursed myself formy lack of preparation. I am the mother of three young children, thewife of a deployed soldier, a responsible and organized woman—yet Icompletely forgot to prepare for a weekend in the mountains, withceliac disease. I soon learned two of my fellow campers alsosuffered from gluten intolerance and was informed that there wasgluten-free bread and peanut butter, in the kitchen. I breathed a sighof relief as I walked up to the chef and asked him if I could possiblyhave a slice of gluten-free bread. He looked at me and responded,“sure, but this is the only loaf we have, so when it’s gone, it’sgone.” He was completely put off by my request and irritated thatthree celiacs would arrive at his retreat center, simultaneously,forcing him into a position to alter his meals for dietaryrestrictions. I grabbed the smallest slice of bread in the loaf,ensuring that the young boy with celiac would have food to eat, andwalked out of the kitchen, in tears. That was one year ago, andalthough the date on the calendar has changed, I am still coping withmy condition and learning to travel gluten-free. My husband recentlyreturned from his yearlong deployment to Iraq, and decided it was timeto treat the family to a couple days of fun-filled water adventure;with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. It wouldbe an understatement to say that my children were excited—rather, theywere beyond ecstatic at the prospect of water slides, swimming pools,and the giant bucket of water which spills and drenches everyone in itspath, every few moments. I packed my morning gluten-freebreakfast bars, alongside of my toddler’s swim diapers, and we hit theroad, ready for an adventure at Great Wolf Lodge. As I prepared formeals of bunless hamburgers and grilled chicken Caesar salads, minusthe croutons, my children began psyching themselves up for the thrillof a rushing waterslide. I wasn’t sure how food allergies would begreeted at this indoor water park, as was I nervous for a reoccurrenceof past experiences. My ultimate hope was that my Celiac Disease wouldbe understood and recognized for its seriousness. The Loose Moose Cottage Onthe first evening of our stay, my husband suggested eating at The LooseMoose Cottage, to partake of their dinner buffet. After being seatedin a comfortable booth, we ordered our drinks, before I perused ourselection of food for the evening. The buffet was quite organized witha variety of offerings assembled in different ethnic sections featuringMexican food, Italian food, and Chinese cuisine. There was a selectionof sautéed vegetables, potatoes, and sliced roast beef; a kid’s stationwith macaroni and cheese and mini corndogs, a salad bar, and a dessertstation. After preparing my children’s’ plates, I approached a chef,as she refilled the nacho tray, and asked if the enchiladas were madeusing corn or flour tortillas. She informed me that they were madewith flour before asking if there was something she could help me with.I told her that I have celiac disease, and expected to explain to herwhat that was; yet was surprised as she began walking down theselection of foods, informing me one-by-one which were safe for me toeat. As I kept up with her, amazed at her accommodating demeanor, sheworked all the way from the Mexican food to the salad bar. She thenwalked back to the kitchen and returned with two pieces of gluten-freegrilled chicken breast. As I was thanking her, she offered to make megluten-free pasta. When I declined, she told me that if I would likethem to make me pasta the following day, to let the kitchen know andthey would be more than happy to prepare it for me. My personalreview of The Loose Moose Cottage: The food was good, the service wasexceptional, and the atmosphere was accommodating for my family. Theonly thing which would have made dining easier would have been if eachdish’s ingredients were listed on a sign beside the dish itself. Poolside Grill During our afternoon of swimming, we ventured outside where staff wereoffering grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, along with potato chips anddrinks. The smell of the grill was invigorating—after several hours ofswimming, we were starving—so my husband and I decided it was time fora power lunch. I requested a hotdog, without a bun. The chef lookedat me and asked, “Do you have celiac disease?”I nodded my headand said, “Yes, I do.” Then I watched with astonishment as sheimmediately removed the plastic gloves she had been using, beforereplacing them with new gloves, and sticking my hotdog on a clean partof the grill. When I questioned her about her knowledge of foodallergies, and specifically celiac disease, she explained that GreatWolf Lodge has a lot of guests with food restrictions and the chefsmake every effort to be knowledgeable and helpful. My personal review of the Poolside Grill: The food was delicious and the staff was informed and respectful. Bear Paw Café The smell ofthe Bear Paw Café began wafting through the air the moment I exited theelevator. This small café is not to be taken lightly by the averagedieter, with the aroma of delicious desserts; fudge, ice cream, bakedgoods and popcorn. Typically, this is an area I would avoid; however,I decided that in order to fully assess the food selections of theGreat Wolf Lodge, it would only be fair to visit the bakery. Plus, Ireally wanted a piece of fudge. When I approached the personat the counter and explained that I was unable to eat anything withwheat in it and wondered if they had any gluten-free offerings, shesmiled and went to find a person more capable of assisting me. A bakercame out from the kitchen and greeted me with a smile, before tellingme that her mom has suffered from Celiac Disease for twenty-years. Shethen pointed out the assortment of gluten-free fudges and offered tomake me gluten-free cookies. Although I was tempted to take her up onthe cookies, I rather, chose a piece of fudge. I can say, without adoubt—it was delicious. My personal review of the Bear Paw Café:The fudge was delicious and the service was exceptional. I do wishthere was more of a variety of baked goods for those with foodallergies; such as wheat, peanut, and egg-free ingredients. Camp Critter Forour final meal at the Great Wolf Lodge, we ate at the Camp Critterrestaurant. After a day of swimming, we were all completely famishedand felt at home in the warm atmosphere of this sit down restaurant. The menu had a variety of kids’ meal offerings, as well as adultselections ranging from burgers, to salads, to steaks. I was onceagain met with a server who was knowledgeable and sympathetic to mydietary restrictions. I asked for a cheeseburger, without a bun, andwhen it was delivered, I was informed that my fries were made inseparate oil, to avoid cross contamination. What can I say; it wasAll-American dining, and my entire family enjoyed it. Mypersonal review of Camp Critter: Although the menu did not have avariety of gluten-free selections; the food I chose was preparedgluten-free, cooked well, and the staff was accommodating and helpful. After two fun-filled days of water bliss at the Great Wolf Lodge, wedeparted for home, exhausted, and with chlorine seeping out of ourswimming suits. I rate our trip 5 of 5 stars—it was a great get-away,and I didn’t feel hindered by my celiac disease. And on a side note…mykids thought the water park was amazing.
  7. gardengirl77

    Dfw Airport And Dallas

    I will be traveling through DFW airport in the near future. Does anyone have any suggestions or experiences that they would be willing to share for this airport? Also, later, I will be traveling through Dallas/Fort Worth area. Does anyone have any recommendations for a restaurant in the area? Thanks!
  8. Celiac.com 05/14/2008 - Staying at a Hotel or Bed and Breakfast with Breakfast Included With your trip you will have to stay at a hotel or resort. I am going to discuss my thoughts on how to eat and stay safe. I will be talking about breakfast because some hotels and B&B’s offer free breakfasts. Lunch and dinner are different subjects that need to be discussed in great length. It is very important for you to keep the Gluten Monster away during your trip. If you are in a hurry just grab some fruit, clean it, and leave. If you want to stay, you have to monitor how the wait staff warms the food up. In the past I have asked to see the ingredients from various boxes so don’t be afraid to ask to see packages. You are looking for a variety of things. After I find out if I can eat the food I again observe the staff and how they handle the food I will be eating. Are they careful or sloppy? Do they use the same plate in a manner that might cause cross contamination? Once I decide that I can eat the breakfast I wait until they bring fresh food out and I take food from the fresh plate. I do ask for clean plate if they use the same plate for everything. If the staff does use the same plate I ask if they can use a different or fresh plate for me. I also sometimes give them my plate and ask them nicely if they could put some of the cooked product on my plate before they do anything else with it. Always explain your diet the best you can and let the staff know that you have a special diet and that they have to be very careful with your food. Tell them you get very sick and you must be extra careful. If the staff doesn’t speak English well you can try using a gluten-free restaurant card in the language they speak, or just keep it short and try to explain in the easiest possible way.In the hotels where they warm up sausage, eggs and pancakes I have found that I was able to eat the breakfast sausage and the eggs. These products came to the hotel already cooked and frozen so all the staff had to do was put them into the microwave and heat them up. I just asked to look at the boxes that the food came in so that I could read their ingredients. As mentioned, I always wait for a fresh batch of food to come out, and I even go as far as to use a clean fork to serve the food out of the pan or plate before it is dumped into the chafing dish. I would have already explained to the wait staff in detail of my special diet needs so they will already know that I take my health very seriously. By taking the food out of the pan I hopefully take care of the accidental cross contamination from other patrons. If you take the food out of the pan as it sits there for all to use you are taking the chance that somebody has spilled a crumb into the pan. Be kind to the wait staff and they will help you. For the other products served at the hotel like fruit be sure to wash it to make sure it is clean. If they are using bulk cereal it is probably not a cereal that you can eat so stay away unless you read the ingredients on the box or are certain that it is gluten-free. Remember that bulk cereals might have different ingredients than the versions that you are used to—or it could be another brand or another type. Hard boiled eggs are sometimes available—just be sure to ask for them right out of the pot or wash them very well. Some of the eggs have vinegar in the buckets to preserve them so be careful to read it thoroughly and also ask the staff if they have poured the end of a bucket into the bucket you are looking at. In small kitchens like these you will find that the staff will often pour the remaining food back into the container if it can be reused. You have to determine if this is happening. Notice if the containers are very full or empty—will the staff let you open a fresh bucket or box if you ask? If it is early they won’t have much trouble doing that for you because they are going to use it anyway, but if it is at the end of breakfast they might not want to open a new container. Remember to always have a plan B and to be nice. If necessary have your Chef Daniel's restaurant paper that can be used to explain your illness. Sometimes it is easier for people to read celiac disease so they can understand. I always grab a piece of fruit for later in case I have trouble finding lunch and it is a good snack to have. Once you have your breakfast it is out to lunch. Gluten-Free at Buffet Breakfasts If you are at a hotel that offers a buffet breakfast for free it is the same procedure as above. Always try to get a fresh pan as it comes out to eliminate cross contamination from other customers. Try to talk with someone in charge like the manager who could help you if they are not busy. Be nice and explain your illness and how sick your will get. Don’t be afraid to ask for the ingredients. Ask for them to cut or tear the ingredients out of the box for you if possible. Sometimes they have written them down for me and brought it out to our table. Make sure you ask whether they using fresh eggs or “egg products.” Also ask if they are putting something in the eggs to keep them from turning green. If they are using real eggs they have to keep them from turning green. Real eggs turn green from the heat and the chefs sometimes put lemon juice or vinegar in the eggs while they cook them. Always ask—no matter how silly you think it is—whether they add anything to the food. Seasoning salt sometimes has wheat in it, so ask if they use something besides just salt and pepper. Remind them how sick you will get if you eat a little piece of gluten and never be ashamed to ask. Always ask for your food to be unseasoned—that also eliminates the risk here. Whatever you want make sure that you try to get the freshest that they have and also use a clean fork to retrieve your food. Most of the tongs or spoons are going to be used from one container to the next. If the staff can help you they will, so ask and be patient don’t expect to be out fast. If you are expecting to be fast then you probably will be sick. In some cases you can ask for some fresh products from the back. Find the person who has been helping you and if the food you want is taking a long time to empty or just isn’t getting refilled on the buffet line. Ask if someone can go to the back and get you some food. Hand them your clean fork and ask them nicely if they can use this to get the food on your plate. As long as you are nice they will help you. Always try to ask someone who seems to care about the establishment where you are eating—you will know them. Don’t forget to ask how they cooked your food. Just because the sausages are gluten-free doesn’t mean they cooked them that way. They could cook them on the same grill that they cooked the pancakes on and you will have bread on your sausage! Most places cook sausage and bacon in the oven but you need to ask how they cook everything. Are the scrambled eggs cooked on the grill—if so can they cook you a small batch on the side? Keep that in mind with all of the food you are going to eat. Don’t forget to be careful and remember about cross contamination A Sit-down Gluten-Free Breakfast For your sit down breakfast you want to make sure they cook your entire meal ala cart. Cook your eggs in a fresh pan. Use olive oil or real butter to cook them not the spray can of oil. Have your Chef Daniel's restaurant paper or gluten-free restaurant card that tells the cooks about you and your illness and let them know how to cook your food. Tell them in great detail how to prepare your food, Ask them to use a fresh fork to grab items if need to be.. Not to use garnish or spice on your food. Don’t be afraid to ask for a clipping of the ingredients from the box if you want to check to see if you can have the sausage or ham. Tell them about the cross contamination from cutting boards, knives, tongs and the table they work on. I can’t emphasize this enough—you have to judge for yourself how busy the place is. This is the most important thing you have to remember. As humans under stress do stupid things and the cook could fall under that. Just think of how you would do if you were working there. Would you, for example, have enough time to get part of a box that you threw away two hours ago when you started breakfast? The type of restaurant matters to. Is this a Motel or is it a very successful chain that pays well and has good benefits. This usually means the staff is very good.These tips can help you but you do have to make sure that you inform the staff, waitress, manager and hopefully the person who is cooking your meal. It doesn’t do any good if you tell one person and they forget because they got busy. That is why I always try to tell the manager when I enter. In your Chef Daniel's restaurant paper make sure you give them exactly how to cook your meal. Don’t assume they will do it because you told them you get very sick. As a chef myself, if I read something and it told me to use olive oil and not salad oil—I would do as it said. If it said use oil I would grab the closest product or even margarine. Even when busy if you read something it should stay in your head. When you’re busy and someone tells you that table #22 has celiac and needs gluten-free food…well it could get lost if I am busy listening to 20 different orders, so bring a form or gluten-free restaurant card that they can read. Gluten-Free Travel Hints: You should always try to getthe manager to help you. In any restaurant they have the most time tohelp you and they will help you because they typically care more thanthe regular workers (today’s restaurants have employees that come inone day and are gone the next.help. It is sad but that is the way itis so at least try to get the manager. Don’t be ashamed to askfor anything. If you want a hot dog or the chips they put on the sideof the plate ask for a bag with the product inside. Take out your safeand forbidden lists if needed and look at them to see if you can eat aproduct. Always have your Chef Daniel's restaurant paper with you in your walletor purse. Always have a copy of your safe and forbidden lists with youin case you need it to read ingredients. Always have a gluten-free restaurant card in the language you need. Crosscontamination is the greatest risk for a celiac when traveling. Crosscontamination can happen and you would never know it, such as when thechef uses a knife to cut a piece of bread, and then they use the sameknife on your vegetables, or when the chef uses a pair of tongs to flipa breaded chicken and then uses them to flip your sauté chicken.Thereare too many other ways to mention, but the main thing is that glutencould be on the tool before it is used on your meal, and it doesn’tmatter how safe the chef thought he was because you got one crumb andyou are sick for days and that ruins your vacation. Keep the comments coming and together we will get rid of the Gluten Monster! Chef Daniel P
  9. I was diagnosed in september and took until february to feel 100% again. I was never so strict about a diet during this time, at almost all my meals at home and only at at restaurnts with a dedicated gluten-free menu, made it difficult sometimes going out with freinds and while my fiance has been supportive a main point of contention between us is that I am too high strung over this whole thing. For example he thinks if you read a label and all the ingreidents are gluten-free but the label doesn't say it, still ok to eat. At restaurants just let them you have it and just trust whatever comes at me. Recently we went away and we stayed at all inclusive hotel and i just ate at the buffett: salads, rice and whatever looked ok to me. I was fine while I was there but when I got home, my stomach was such a mess. The other thing that I did for the first time there was have vodka after reading a lot of articles saying it should technically be ok since its distilled. Like i said I dont seem to react to gluten immediately it seems like it is days later that i get sick so it feels impossible to back track and figure out exactly what went wrong. I know I got a little too adventurous with a few different things at the same time (just wanted to be normal for 1 week out of my life!) but I was hoping for some help: 1) Do I always have to be so neurotic with labels, and only have it if they label it gluten-free? 2) whats the rule with natural flavors? i dont know what that means! is it ok or not? Same with food coloring. 3) I am really not that big of a drinker I actually just prefer a glass of wining if anything at all but if i do go out with my friends or at a wedding or just want a drink, what am i allowed to have? Was it a huge mistake to have vodka? 4) How strict do i need to be at restaurants? Can I have fish if I just ask for it with lemon on the grill? Or should I just not eat at the restaurants that have waiters that stare at me like I have two heads when I say I have gluten allergy? Sorry I know this is a lot. I am just feeling overwhelmed right now. Trying so hard to find a balance. Thanks for any advice! really appreciated! -michelle
  10. Celiac.com 05/25/2008 - When traveling should you go to a restaurant with a gluten-free menu or not—that is the question. It is important to let you know that because of your comments I can come up with discussions like this, so please keep them coming. Let’s talk about gluten-free menus (this is, of course, only my opinion). Gluten-Free Menu Pros: Gives the person a chance to order from a menu that was made for them. The restaurant should know about all the ingredients that will make you sick. Gluten-Free Menu Cons (Sorry but experiences when going to restaurants with gluten-frees menus have only been bad ones, although I am sure that there are good restaurants out there. I live in a very small town that is surrounded by small towns. I am the only celiac for 100 miles that I know of. I’m sure that in a big city it would be different. I have eaten in the big city too, and also had a terrible experience with their gluten-free menu): The staff often has no idea what gluten-free really means. ï€ The staff thinks that it is only wheat and not all the other items that are on our forbidden list. Sometimes they don’t even know that their restaurant does offer a gluten-free menu. The staff has not been properly trained. That goes for the wait staff and the cooks or chefs who are making your meal. Cross-contamination occurs and there is nothing that you can do about it. The restaurant is trying to do something nice for us but may be focused more on the extra money that can make with such a menu. The gluten-free menu is so small and only offers a few items, while regular customers have 50 items to choose from. We travel so far to go to one of these restaurants, when we could be getting the same or better service from a nice, local restaurant. You can see were I am going with this, so I will stop. Let’s look at traveling options and my experiences. I have traveled with my boys around the USA. Normally we live in a tent and stay at state parks where it is cheap. We have hit Gettysburg, Niagara Falls, Hershey Pennsylvania, Boston, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, South Dakota, Chicago, New York, and many more places. I also have gone with my wife to Las Vegas, Washington and some more places. I have traveled in the USA and do not plan my meals around gluten-free menus at restaurants—and I want to explain why. I was in New York twice. I went with my two boys and the other time it was just me and my wife. The first time in New York with my boys we stopped at Nathan’s in Coney Island. We watched them eat hot dogs on July 4th on the TV—you know every year somebody eats 50 or so of them. So we traveled to Coney Island just to go to Nathan’s. We went to Nathan’s and I waited until there was no line at the window (Rule 1—always wait until it is slow). I approached the window with my boys (Rule 2, observe how they cook the item you are going to ask for—are they sloppy when they are serving the food? If so ask them to change gloves or give them a fork to get your food). Noone was behind us so I knew it would be no trouble to ask for special help. I told the server I have a special diet request and could they help me. I asked if they had the package handy so I could look at the wrapper the dogs came in. They go through a lot of dogs so it was right there. After I reviewed the package I asked them if they could use a plastic fork to get me a couple of dogs. They did and they were great. Ask for condiments to go, those had the ingredients on them. Another time I was with my wife and she wanted to go to T.G.I.F.—at that time they had no gluten-free menu (they might now, I don’t know). We went in at a slow time and I gave them my Chef Daniel P. restaurant form and I also ate very well with no illness the next day. I used the two rules mentioned above that I always go by. This year my wife and I went to Las Vegas. My wife wanted to go to the Las Vegas Stratosphere Tower to eat while overlooking Las Vegas. They also didn’t have a gluten-free menu, and she made our reservations. She used Rule 1 and made it for the last reservation they would accept. I asked for the manager and told him I have a special diet request and tonight I would love to have the duck breast if they were not marinated. He said he would check with the chef. A few minutes later the executive chef came out to our table to speak with us (this chef is well paid, and this is what I have been saying from day one to you about chefs in fine dining establishments—they care just like I do). The fact that he had time to come to our table happened for a few reasons I believe: ï€ They were slow enough that the chef could take time away from the kitchen to help his customer. ï€ This is the type of place that cares what you think, what you say about their establishment to others—and they don’t want to make anyone sick. ï€ I was direct and to the point in what I wanted to eat and the chef could do it. When the chef came out I told him exactly what I told the manager about my illness and the nature of it. I asked him if he could sauté me some duck breast. Duck breast was on the menu but it was with a terraki sauce and the soy sauce normally has wheat in it. I wasn’t in the mood for terraki anyway, so this how I ordered my meal—and yes I did write it down on my chef Daniel P restaurant form: Sauté the duck breast in olive oil until ¾ of the way done. Pull it out and put it to the side and deglaze the pan with white wine. Add orange juice, a hint of pineapple juice and tighten it with corn starch or arrow root. Add the duck breast, orange zest and a splash of lime juice. Microwave some white rice. Microwave any fresh vegetables. No seasonings or garnish. I just had them make Duck ala Orange for me—and you can do something like this too if you just believe in yourself and do it. Our meal took extra time but we were on top of the world so who cares? It is worth the wait to not get sick, and we ended up having a fantastic meal.I have a few thoughts to share with you for when you start to look for gluten-free menus. Gluten-free menus are good but they are not great. If I was in Japan and I had to go out to a restaurant, I would want to go to a sushi restaurant. I would not search around for a place with a gluten-free menu. I am always going to use Rules 1 and 2 anyway. In Japan I would look for the restaurant that cuts and serves the sushi right in front of me. If I was in France, I would use the two Rules first, and also try to find a place that does table-side cooking. If I was in Louisiana, I would do rule 1 and rule 2 then go to a restaurant that I know has a good reputation and give them my Chef Daniel form and enjoy my meal like everyone else. You need to eat where you want to eat and not limit yourself. How many of you would want to eat at Wolfgang Pucks restaurant? Are you going to say that eating where there is a gluten-free menu will be better than eating at Wolfgang’s place? What if you were visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris or a bistro across the street from it? It would be nice to have a gluten-free menu in those places, but it is unlikely. We have to come together as one group and order the same way. In time I will convert menus at the cruise ships or the chains of motels that have chain restaurants. Traveling is what we do and it doesn’t matter if you have to restrict your diet or not. We all love food and we will pay extra if we have to, but we must expect not to get sick. My ultimate goal is to be able to walk into any restaurant and have a great gluten-free menu. I would love to see a real gluten-free menu with lots of great entrées to pick from. Ultimately it is up to us to educate workers in the places that we eat in about the gluten-free diet. We need to come together and start standing up and saying that we are special too. Chef Daniel.
  11. Celiac.com 05/20/2008 - I am going to be honest—I have not traveled outside the U.S.A. except for Mexico and Canada. When I went to Mexico it was on a cruise ship, so that meant I could eat on the ship. I would take snacks to tide me over or get a bag of chips. Hopefully I will one day be able to tour the world and educate everyone on how to make true gluten-free meals for all of us. I also hope that my when the time is right I will go on such trips with my loving wife. So I will tell you how I would approach a trip to another country and you can decide if this is worth a try. Planning for the Trip (All per emails and internet and phone calls) I would contact the area chamber of commerce or tourist office in the country that I will be going to and see if they have heard of the gluten-free diet or celiac disease. If I was staying at a hotel or resort I would ask them to look into gluten-free meals and if they have a kitchen where I could talk with the executive chef or manager of food and beverages. I would also tell them that I am a chef from the U.S.A. I would go to celiac.com to locate the nearest celiac support group to where I will be staying. If there is one I would find out about local spots that I might be able to visit to get gluten-free meals, and if there are any bake shops or natural food stores where I could get some supplies and snacks. I would find a book on the languages that they speak and make a chef Daniel restaurant form so I could eat in a restaurant. I would have it in all the languages including English for the chef to make sure they understand I am very serous about my health. I would have a card that said “May I speak to the manager and I have a special diet request.” Hopeful I could say that in their language. I would have a gluten-free restaurant card in their language and present it to the chef or manager. I would have a safe and forbidden list in the language where I was visiting. That way I could check foods from the store so I could eat snacks. I would try to stay at a place with a microwave and possibly a refrigerator. By doing this if I ran into a language problem I could cook chicken or meats in the microwave (I have cooked whole chickens in a microwave on vacation before and put it in the refrigerator for later). I would carry cards with me to ask for directions or to ask a wait staff for something I might be able to eat. Like maybe some cheese, beverage, snacks or any type food of the area that I might like. If you were at a port on the ocean your card could be sauté seafood and with olive oil. Even if I didn’t look at the menu I would know that because I am at a town on the water, they would have fresh fish coming in. If any of you watch the Travel Channel you know that there are a lot of different types of foods. Being a chef I would want to experience all types of different foods. If I knew something about the local cuisine and how it is prepared before I got there, it could give me an advantage. In Hong Kong I would love to eat some of the hot foods. Could I eat them? Is it just the chilies or is it the sauce? Those are some of the questions I would wonder, so I would research the area and review cookbooks to see how they prepare their foods. If I knew where I would be traveling I would try to contact a local restaurant beforehand to see if I could view their menu for the time when I would be visiting. If I did this, I could make my Chef Daniel restaurant form up ahead of the visit. I would make sure that when I was at my vacation spot I could get Internet access. By doing this I could look up restaurants that I see when I am walking around to see if their menus were available online. Also I would be able to translate a chef Daniel P restaurant form for that place if we decide to go there. I would make sure that I had a phone with internet access to look up info at any time. Also with the phone I could translate a sentence with a Web site I know about. As you see I have put a great deal of thought into traveling, but not one of them has been tested. I wish I could say that these ideas all worked for me and they will for you too. My thought is that the greatest asset for us celiacs is the Chef Daniel P restaurant form you take into the restaurant.I would have every direction I could give on paper for the chef to see. When I was cooking I cooked with chefs from around the world. We all had the same common cause: To make our customers happy so they will spread the word and come again. So to me it doesn’t matter if they can read English or Spanish. It comes down to me as the customer to tell them I have to have a gluten-free meal. To tell them that if they don’t do as I ask, I could get very sick and it would be their fault, and no restaurant wants to hear that their food caused a person to get sick. If you are like me, you are going to want to taste some of the home town small restaurants. I would know the area as mentioned before, and find out about any fresh vegetables or meats that I would like to try. On my phone I would access the Internet and I would find information on the town I was in. When I walked in I would ask for a manager, and if that person doesn’t speak English I would get one of my restaurant cards out to let them read what I am trying to say. I also would try to read the card out so they could see that I am trying very hard to speak their language. I believe that shows I am not a stuck up rich person who hires everyone to do what I want. If I mess it up, I would feel it is okay as long as I look like I am trying to commutate to them “I am very serous about my health.” Asking them questions would be hard but I would have cards with questions on them and I would know what yes or no sound like. If it was a small café I would ask to talk with the chef. At least try to speak through my cards and being a chef I usually have no trouble seeing the kitchen. It is an advantage to be a chef from a very popular resort that is known world wide and I would use that to my advantage. Even if they never knew of me, I know my way around the kitchen and I would be able to look around to see if I could eat there. I would look to see: Is it dirty or clean? Does it look like they cut everything on the same cutting board? Does the cook look very sloppy? Even if I don’t go to the back where the kitchen is, the dinning room represents the kitchen too. I am not expecting a clean perfect kitchen. I am expecting the cook who might be this little old lady who has had this restaurant in her family for four generations to care about me. That is what all restaurants usually want—if they care about their customers they will survive for years and years. It is a hospitality business in America or in Russia—and it doesn’t matter what you language you speak. That is when you don’t have to worry so much about the Gluten Monster.I would be honored to walk into some of these smaller kitchens of the world and find out about their history and who they have cooked for. Just thinking about it gets me all wiggly in side. You can tell a lot about a restaurant when you walk in—if you only take the time to notice. So when you plan your vacation as a celiac you need to keep this in mind: It is just like over here and it will take you some time to order and eat. If you are in a hurry, I suggest that you take your safe and forbidden lists to the store and get some snacks. If you have the time you need to sit and relax and take a stab at eating restaurant food from another country. Chef Daniel P.
  12. Celiac.com 06/03/2008 - As you travel and experience the sites of the world you are going to have to stop at a restaurant or destination that has a small kitchen. Let me tell you a little bit about myself so you can understand that I also started in a small kitchen. Chef Daniel P's Autobiography I started working at the age of 13 and began my work in a very small tourist town and was promoted up from busboy to dishwasher. I was so fast at washing the dishes that I was promoted up within a month to cook. I went from the buffet type restaurant to an ala cart restaurant and buffet line. At the age of 17 I was completely in charge of the kitchen—this included all ordering, menu making, staff hiring and firing, and every task a person would do to run a successful kitchen. I didn’t know how to cook though—at least not compared to what I learned later. Yes I could do the basic menus but I wanted more and I left to climb the ladder of a big kitchen—so I set my sites on gourmet food. At that time I saw that Prince Charles from England was visiting Palm Beach Florida. I saw that he visited two places while he was in Palm Beach—the Palm Beach Polo Ground and he also visited the Breakers Resort. I applied at both places when I came to Florida and both wanted to hire me. Every one has to start somewhere and you as the traveler are the ones who are going to train the future cooks or chefs. Yes you—the cook is going to learn from you as celiac patrons, so you need to do the right training. Let’s use the example of eating on a train that cooks for their patrons as they travel across the country. I like to think of a small boat or train as two of the most difficult places to prepare a gluten-free meal. They both are going to be small, and both have the potential to get bumpy while the cook is preparing food. This means there is a good chance an accident can happen and of course cross-contamination. These kitchens probably keep their fires contained in the stove or flat top burners. By keeping the flame for cooking contained in a box, this means they have less chance of a fire starting and that is very important if you are on a river or going down the train tracks. The cooks are going to use sauté pans, hard top grills, ovens, steam boxes and possibly microwaves. If you know that you are going ahead of time to these types of restaurants you should see if they can send you the menu ahead of time so that you can look it over. Hint: If you know your destination for any of your trip, see if you can get the menu before you arrive, as most places always have their menus prepared ahead of time. If you get the menu you can make up your Chef Daniel P Restaurant Form before you go. I would try to spell out your entire meal in great detail. I also use this technique for all mom and pop restaurants. You are not insulting a cook or chef by asking them to prepare your meal a certain way. Every day the cook receives orders from the waitress on how to prepare a particular meal. Just because you are giving the instructions yourself only means to the chef that you are very serious about how your food is prepared. What to Eat And How to Cook Your Meal In these type of restaurants that are small and have limited space you have to try to eliminate any mistakes that the cook might make. How…you ask? Try some of these ideas: Notify them ahead a time if you can. Let the train, boat or any restaurant know that you are coming. Make sure you tell them the date, time and how many people will be receiving special meals. Don’t be upset if you get there and no one knows that you are coming, it is just part of the business. Have their phone number available so when you arrive in the city you can call a few hours before you arrive to eat. Just remind them again that you are planning on eating at their restaurant and ask them when their slowest time is. If it is a train or boat ask if you can eat at the last seating time (unless they indicate that an earlier time is slower). Feel them out to see when the best time is for you to order a specially prepared meal. During your phone call, ask who you should ask for when you do arrive for your meal. Make sure you arrive with your Chef Daniel P Restaurant Form and a pen or pencil. When you arrive ask for the manager or the person you talked to on the phone. Tell the manager in great detail about your special diet request. Let them know you will be writing out your request that will specifically tell them how to prepare your meal. Ask if there is anything you should know about the kitchen or the chef—anything that could help you in preparing your meal and making it as safe as possible. You might have to ask the manager how they cook their food. Some are going to use a flat-top grill, broiler, steamer or even a microwave oven. Once you find this out it is time to create your meal instructions and present them to the manager so he can deliver them to the cook.How the Cook Prepares Your Food: Sautéing: To me is one of the safest ways to have your food prepared. No matter if the cooks are in a small or large kitchen. This is how I might write it down for the cook to see: “Sauté 1 whole chicken breast in olive oil, make sure the pan is very clean and does not have a crumb on it.” When asking to sauté you can ask for them to make a quick sauce in the pan. That is what I do, even if it is just to squeeze a lemon on your food, this can add some fresh flavor. Hard Top Grill: I don’t recommend using this unless you are the very first ones to arrive. During the day when they cook on the grill pieces of food stay on the grill for the whole day. You can ask them to use the razor blade to scrape the grill. Even using the razor blade it is not 100% and food from other meals may get on your food. Steamer: This is a good way to cook as long as your food is the only one in the steamer. You can ask them to wrap the food and this will keep all crumbs off of your food. Example: “Please wrap a piece of salmon up with some saran wrap. Place it on a holey pan so the steam can circle salmon." Microwave: This is great for potatoes or vegetables and a good way to keep food safe. I always ask for my veggies to be micro-waved. This is a great way to get a baked potato. Even some fish and other entrees can be cooked in the microwave. Example: “Could you please cook a potato and my vegetables in the microwave. Put them in a dish then cover with saran wrap.” Fryer: You must stay away from a fryer in small kitchens (unlike fast food chains and some bigger restaurants). They use the fryer for everything and that means that everything could be in it. When they cook your French fries, the crumbs from the chicken nuggets could get on your food. Boiling: This is another great way to cook food. You must ask them to only cover the food product that they are cooking. Some fishes, vegetables and other meats can be cooked this way. If they have a steamer I would ask for that first since they don’t have to wait for it to get hot. Example: “I would like two eggs boiled or poached in just enough water to cover the entrée so it won’t take so long. You could have the cook put a small amount of water then cover the pan and steam it.” Broiler: Sometimes small kitchens that are moving are not going to have a broiler. It is the fear of the open fire that could cause a fire in the kitchen. If they do have one you could ask for this example: “I would like a piece of salmon on a metal plate. Cook it until it is done, then splash it with white wine before plating.” The main idea you take into small kitchens is this: It is a lot like cooking at your home (unless you have a huge kitchen). Those kitchens are made small but can put out large amount of meals if needed. Those menus are made to accommodate the small amount of storage also. You need to really know your menu and the ingredients they are using. Unlike a large kitchen you might not have the extra supplies that a big kitchen has. They just don’t have the room and you need to think of that. So if it is a river boat or a train, when you look at the menu some of the items will be canned products, because canned products are so much easier to store than refrigerated items. As you look at the menu take the item you would like and ask them if they can cook it in a sauté pan or maybe in the oven. This is a very safe way to have your food prepared. When I was employed at the resort and we would often have banquets for over 200 people. If the meal was New York strip steak we would put the steaks on the broiler and mark the diamond char marks in order to get the steaks cooked exactly at the same time. We would then pull the steaks off and put them on large sheet pans. Just before we needed the steak, we would put them in the ovens and cook them until they were the proper temperature. The customers never knew that the steaks were cooked in the oven and not the broiler. The char marks on the steak made everyone believe that it was broiled. The point is that you can have your food baked as long as you don’t get sick—for me that is the most important thing. When I do eat out, I don’t care too much about the taste or temperature of the meal—my number one goal is that I get a gluten-free meal and that the restaurant doesn’t ruin my vacation. Also, you have to be very careful when you send your food back. Just remember how busy the cooks are and whether or not they are going to remember your specially ordered meal when it comes back to them. If they are busy in the back and the waitress says to the cook, “Cook it more,” what do you think happens—will they take as much time as they did the first time? These are the types of questions that you have to ask yourself when you are sitting at your table and thinking about sending your meal back. I know that we all expect a perfect meal when we pay for it. Sometimes it is just easier to ask them to only warm it up in the microwave. Something to think about is that the microwave is like a closed room where it is not likely that your food will get contaminated. Most kitchens, especially smaller ones, have a microwave like the one that you use at home. If you do need your meal cooked more, try to explain it to the manager and remind him that you will get very sick if it gets contaminated—ask the manager nicely if you can watch and see if the cook does it right. Another thing to remember when you are eating in these types of restaurants is that they are small and that means the kitchens are small too. The cooks are going to be right next to each other—only arms and shoulders apart. Remember; if you don’t think they will be able to feed you properly always have a plan B, so you can still eat. Plan your meal to be as simple as possible for them to prepare and you will be able to conquer the Gluten Monster and have a wonderful train or boat experience! Chef Daniel P.