We all like to go out to dinner and have someone else cook and clean up. You still can living Gluten and Casein Free! You need to do some research, don't be afraid to ask questions, speak with the Chef or Manager and know your products.
Many restaurants now offer Gluten Free Items and/or have a Gluten Free Menu. Larger chain restaurants usually have an 'Allergy' tab on their website with several different menus; Gluten Free, Peanut Free etc. We all like to support our local business-larger local restaurant groups and your small Mom and Pop eatery just around the corner. If they do not have a website or any food allergy information it would be a good idea to call ahead and speak with a manager. A good time to call is between two and four in the afternoon; after the lunch rush and before dinner.
Products to Question
Many times gluten and casein are in products you would never even suspect. Feel free to ask someone in charge with anything you think is questionable. If it is a scratch or pre-made product the supervisor should be able to check what are in the ingredients. Here are some products to look out for when you are dining out.
Appetizers-For example, we were out to dinner and assumed the Fried Calamari dusted in corn meal was only corn meal. After we ordered we asked the server to double check. It ended up to be a mixture of flour and corn meal and it also had an egg and milk wash for battering.
Salads-Something really simple that I usually forget is to ask the server to leave the croutons off! Sometimes there are some many it is hard to pick them all out.
French Fries can have a coating on them to make them crispier and/or give them a texture. Many times this contains gluten.
Salad dressing can contain casein even if it is not a 'creamy dressing'.
Soups can contain flour to make the roux-thicken the soup. For example, you may not expect the Chicken Tortilla Soup to contain gluten and/or casein. There are some out there that don't but always double check.
Seasoning can contain gluten. This is kind of a tough one so you can always just ask for your hamburger to be seasoned with salt and pepper.
Soy sauce has wheat in it and many times products are marinated in soy sauce. One of my all time favorite Mexican restaurants no longer in town marinates its steak and chicken in soy sauce. Who would ever think that a Mexican restaurant was using soy sauce?
Vegetarian items can use gluten as a binder. I had a pre-made black bean burger and discovered it had wheat in the ingredients.
Meats can use gluten and casein as a binder. I had ordered a Pot Roast dish, asked a few questions and found out it was pre-cooked product. They checked the ingredients for me and to my disappointment it contained wheat.
Tortillas-Check that they are corn tortillas not flour.
Obvious words to look out for are breaded, battered, fried, sauteed, sauce, creamy, cheesy.
Bring your own
Now I am not saying bring your whole meal to a restaurant, that would be rude. But bring those items that will make your meal enjoyable. For my son Mac I will bring his soy cheese, GFCF flour tortillas and Vegan ranch dip. Mac can't have ketchup or salsa so when we get him a burger patty or the basket of tortilla chips are placed in front of us Mac can enjoy them too!
Preparation of Menu Items
Don't be afraid to ask if the vegetables can be steamed instead of sauteed, or to leave the lemon butter off of your grilled salmon or to substitute a salad with your burger instead of the coated French Fries.
You will soon be more aware of what questions you need to ask and the products to look out for. This is just a start to your expanding knowledge of Living & Loving Gluten & Casein Free!
Living & Loving Gluten & Casein Free is an informative and creative blog to enlighten those facing the challenges of a Gluten Free Casein Free lifestyle! There are original recipes and other recipes I have acquired along my GFCF journey! With tips, tricks and modifications to enhance your recipes and entice your taste buds. Topics include trips to the grocery store to find the best products available, awareness of ingredient labels, money savings with on-line ordering and understanding and providing answers in overcoming your daily frustrations and challenges. The blog will also take on issues with eating out, family meals, children lunches, traveling and planning for meals on the go. Living & Loving Gluten & Casein Free is here to lend a hand and to demonstrate the most effective and delicious ways to cook GFCF and stay within your budget.
Cheers! Ashley Lyerly