Thursday, February 21, 2013

eating out


Growing up, we didn't eat out much.  But, when we did, my favorite places to go were those little hole in the wall family-owed Italian restaurants.  I couldn't wait to get my iced tea and have lots of bread with dipping sauce or butter.  I would choose a vodka penne, and be set... until about 15 min into dinner when my stomach would start to ache, but it tasted so good!  But, now that I know I have to eat gluten-free I can be smart about what I eat!

One of the hardest things about being gluten-free is eating out.  The first time I was shopping at the mall after I started my new diet, I got hungry and decided to go to the food court.  I searched all around and had no idea what I could eat.  I asked a few cooks if they had anything gluten-free and one pointed to the NO MSG sign, so I had to laugh and said thank you and went about my way.  The days of Auntie-Ann pretzels are over but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy being out.  One thing to keep in mind if you are having a long shopping day or day out and about is to bring snacks.  Nuts are great to snack on, just make sure they aren't cross-contaminated in a facility that also produces wheat products.  I've found gluten-free snack bars are also great to have on hand - my favorite? Larabars:


My favorite are the peanut butter cookie ones [as seen above in light tan].  I even eat these for breakfast, they are delish, filling, and only have natural ingredients: dates, peanuts, salt... that's it!  And the best yet, they're GLUTEN FREE!  Amazing: http://www.larabar.com/products/peanut-butter-cookie

In fact, I now have a homemade Larabar recipe you can make.  

What about when you eat out?  What should you do?  Let's face it, you can't hide under a rock and only eat at home just because you can't have gluten.  So #1 rule: make sure your waiter/waitress knows you have a gluten allergy.  Most restaurants now have their own gluten-free menu.  However, most are noted as "gluten-friendly" which simply means they will prepare you food gluten free but can't guarantee cross-contamination.  #2: Ask for a gluten-free menu.  #3: When you order, make sure you tell your waitress/waiter you want it prepared gluten-free [this may sound redundant but this way they can write on the order GF].  

Just remember, cross-contamination can happen anywhere, anytime!  This week I ate out twice and got cross-contamination both times.  Burgers can be made on the same surface as something breaded, flour is often used to coat meat and surfaces, strainers can also have been used to strain pasta before your meal, not all chefs know what contains gluten and what does not, pans could have been used to cook other's food before yours that had a gluten sauce... the list can go on and on.

Just be safe about eating out and be prepared to be in pain just incase because, just like me this week, it can happen!  But do not let that deter you from eating out.  Enjoy life and enjoy spending time eating out and being out with friends and family, and remember, you are never alone!

-mel

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
-- Audrey Hepburn


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