Ideas on how to stay Gluten Free whilst out & about...
Taking a Gluten Free ID card is a great way to avoid confusion when you are at a restaurant. I often find my message gets 'lost in translation' going from the waiter to the chef. By having ID cards, the waiter is able to take it directly to the chef, who can in turn prepare a suitable meal. This is also a great way to solve language barriers. I have used the cards throughout Japan & Thailand and managed to stay Gluten Free for the duration of my holiday.
These are always difficult. If possible call ahead & find out which items on the menu are Gluten Free or ask to speak with the head chef when you arrive. If you know in advance that there won't be many options available, then eat before hand & just have a light snack at the function.
# Fast Food
Most mainstream fast food establishments have an allergy book so that they can show customers what is in their food. Take in your Gluten Free bread or Corn Crisps & check the allergy book for what ingredients can be used for the filling and request for your sandwich to be made accordingly. Be sure to mention about cross- contamination & ask they use clean gloves, utensils & bread board. Fast Food Restaurants where I have had good success are: Subway, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Quiznos
# At Friends Houses
Call ahead & offer to bring a dish or any Gluten Free substitute ingredients. eg. Chicken Stock, Soy Sauce, Gravy. These items can be expensive for the host & they are always appreciative of your help. Suggest to make the marinade for the meat or ask that a plain piece of meat, fish or chicken be left aside before a marinade containing gluten is added. The same applies to the salad, ask to have a portion put aside before dressing or croutons are added.
# At the office
My two main work lunches are leftovers from the night before or Nachos. Leftovers speak for themselves, so with Nachos just make sure you always keep on hand - 1 packet of plain corn chips, 1 jar of salsa & 1 packet of grated cheese. Simply layer & cook in the microwave on high for 2mins. You can also get fancy & add avocado, sour cream, sweet chili sauce but be warned that all your work mates will wantt a taste.
# Breakfast or Brunch
Take a gluten free English muffin & request the kitchen replace the regular wheat muffin with your muffin. Alternatively, if you do not have any Gluten Free muffins, check that the hashbrowns are gluten free & request they remove the wheat muffin & add a few extra hash browns instead. Hashbrowns make an excellent bread substitute for any meal and hollandaise sauce on hash browns is delicious.
# On the Road
I find long car trips to be the most difficult times to get a gluten free lunch. Try carrying some corn thins & rice cakes to substitute bread. They are great topped with avocado, ham & cheese. It is a great alternative when you cannot find a suitable road side restaurant stop. I ate this for 3 weeks when on the road in Alaska! If you do come by a road side restaurant, take in your gluten free bread or corn thins & ask them if they can make you a sandwich. 9/10 times it is no problem.
# Gluten Free Pasta
Similar to taking your Gluten Free bun to a sandwich shop you can also take your Gluten Free Pasta to a restaurant with pasta dishes. Request that they cook your pasta (in a separate pot with different utensils) then add a gluten free pasta sauce. I have had great success doing this as restaurants are generally happy to be able to accommodate you. If you cannot find any Gluten Free Pasta, you could always substitute rice or rice noodles. You wouldn't believe how great Chicken Alfredo tastes on rice.
# Soy Sauce
If dining out at a Japanese or Chinese Restaurant or a restaurant you know uses lots of soy, take a bottle of wheat free Tamari Soy Sauce with you. If they are making up your stir fry fresh, then it should be no problem to use your Gluten Free soy rather than their wheat soy. Some restaurants have their sauces all pre-made, so it is not possible in all cases but definitely worth a try.
# No Gluten Free Bread
Try using potatoes. For example I was recently at a cafe that primarily served burgers & fries. I had no Gluten Free bread with me so after checking that the fries were gluten free, I asked that instead of using the wheat bun could they please put the topping from the burger over the fries & melt cheese on top. Kind of like a Nachos fries = fries layered with chopped chicken, bacon, tomato, green & purple onion, avocado then melted cheese + salad on the side. It was delicious!
# When you are totally stuck
Always carry a small packet of mixed nuts in bag. They have a very low GI (Glycemic Index) and will aid in getting you by until you can get a Gluten Free meal. These really help me when I am out mountain biking or snowboarding & everyone else is eating energy bars or chocolate. I can go all day with just a few mixed nuts.
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