Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Where to Eat Gluten Free / Dairy Free in NJ - A Restaurant Listing

I've put together a list of restaurants in NJ that cater to people who are gluten free and/or with other food intolerances/allergies.  My main requirement was that they post at least a gluten free menu on their website (I find that those that can handle one item are more likely to be amenable to dealing with others).  I did make some exceptions for restaurants I personally have visited or with very good reputations.  [I excluded anywhere that couldn't deal with dairy free so if all they offer is gluten free pizza I skipped them.]

I made the list into its own page here: Gluten Free / Dairy Free Restaurants in NJ

I'll be updating it from time to time as I encounter new options.  If I'm missing any restaurants let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dairy Free / Gluten Free Travel Tips

I've met a number of people who are worried about traveling if they have food intolerances.  I've traveled quite extensively over the last 20 years and have had mostly success.  Traveling domestically can be easier because of the common language but many countries are much more food allergy aware than the US.  I find that dairy in food is much more obvious and I can usually get around it with a couple of key questions ("Do you butter your grill?" for example).  I also find that if a restaurant is up on dealing with one intolerance they are more receptive to dealing with others (sadly this isn't always true, but frequently it is).

Southeast coast of Spain
Here in the US, I use these websites to find GF dining options:

Gluten Free Registry - this site has lists of gluten free restaurants by state. They also have a searchable map but that map lists all the chain restaurant locations and makes it hard to really find the independents (I can certainly eat at a Charlie Brown’s at home). There is also an option to add reviews to the restaurants (although you should note that those for the chains are grouped together and not specific to any particular location.)

Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program - the grand-daddy of them all, this site lists and ranks GF restaurants that have gone through GFRAP training. Best part is a Zip Code search which will display results by distance from a particular zip code!

Celiac Handbook Restaurant List - Another list of restaurants by State. Again, you’ll need to investigate how close these are to where you are going to be.

Gluten-Free Dining Cards by Triumph Dining (Restaurant Cards - Covers 10 Languages)Going overseas is a little more difficult especially with the language barrier. Triumph Dining makes a pack of 10 cards that explain Celiac Disease each in a different language.  The languages are English, French, Mexican (Spanish), Indian (presumably Hindi?), Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, and Japanese.  They're available online from amazon.com: Gluten Free Dining Cards or the Gluten Free Mall: Gluten Free Dining Cards

Since I have a number of other issues, I prefer the Food-Info Allergy Dictionary - this site allows you to access a list of common food allergies and phrases inter-translated into 30+ languages (most major world and European languages). What I mean by inter-translated is that it just isn’t English-Spanish but also Spanish-Mandarin and Russian-Japanese. Just choose your base language (English is at the top) and then select the other language from a little pull down menu. The result is a pdf file with roughly 200 phrases and allergens listed in both languages. I like to just print out those I’ll need for a trip and highlight my allergies and phrases!

The Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS) is an umbrella organization of national groups throughout Europe.  Their list of member organizations (and web links to each) is here: http://www.aoecs.org/?id=-9  I've used the website of the association in Spain http://www.celiacosmadrid.org/ which was amazing, but didn't have much luck with the site for the association in Norway.  At least it is worth a try.

My final advice would be to do a web search on key phrases (Celiac Disease, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Allergen Free) and the name of the place you are going and see what comes up. And of course, you can always post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

Additional articles you may enjoy:

Dining Dairy Free / Gluten Free in Oslo, Norway

Eating Dairy Free / Gluten Free in Buenos Aires, Argentina

And if you're heading to the New Jersey area be sure to peruse this list of New Jersey Gluten Free Dining Options and for US trips see this list of Gluten Free Chains / Fast Food Restaurants.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where to Shop in NJ for Gluten Free / Dairy Free Products

I started to create a post of where one can find a good selection of gluten free / dairy free products but then decide it would make a better list page: Gluten Free / Dairy Free Stores in NJ .  I've tried to list out the brands you can find in each of these but keep in mind that inventories change and for the chains, not every location will carry the exact same products.  I will update this list as I encounter more stores. 

I have listed the independent shops first.  Sadly, they can not match the economies of scale the major chains have and therefore tend to have higher prices.  However, you are more like to find obscure products, upstart companies, and new products in these locations.

If you know of any shops I am missing please mention them in the comments below.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eating Gluten Free / Dairy Free in Oslo, Norway

Earlier this month, I spent a long weekend in Oslo, Norway.  While it is often said that Italy is the best place in the world to be a Celiac - Scandinavia must be a close second! 

I did some investigating of the GF situation in Oslo before leaving (see the travel tips here: Traveling Dairy Free / Gluten Free).  I really couldn't find any recommended restaurants, but I did identify a gluten free bakery, a coffee shop with gluten free options, and all of the nearest supermarkets.  I saw information leading me to believe that their were gluten free hamburger buns available at both McDonald's and Burger King but I couldn't confirm this (and their Norway sites are only in Norwegian).  [Please note, I did see a couple of gluten free pizza options but none were dairy free.]  I also taught myself a couple of phrases of Norwegian before I went (to be polite) but never needed more than "do you speak English?" as everyone I met did (and quite well!) 

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Roast Beef Sandwich at Bakefri in Oslo, Norway
The first afternoon there, I visited Bakefri (Kirkegata 15, 0153 Oslo, Norway, 22 42 55 55) the gluten free bakery I had found.  After asking which breads were also dairy free, I had a delicious roast beef sandwich (see photo).  It was near the hotel but most days I was out sightseeing in a different neighborhood at lunch time.  I did try to return to this location the final day there (Sunday) but forgot that they were closed that day.  They do have a website: http://www.bakefri.no/ but it is only in Norwegian!

Breakfast was included at the hotel (Rica Oslo Hotel, EuroparÃ¥dets Plass 1, 0154 Oslo, Norway) and I was amazed to find that they had WASA gluten free crisp bread.  (I've since emailed WASA and no, this is not available here in the U.S.)  The last day there they also had gluten free / dairy free multigrain bread available as well!  (In hindsight, I suspect they were out of it and perhaps would have restocked sooner had I asked.)

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Hamburger meal in McDonald's in Oslo, Norway
The second day, I stopped at a McDonald's for lunch.  Every McDonald's there has gluten free buns and there is no additional charge.  (Oslo is fairly expensive however, so the hamburger, water, and fries pictured on the left cost about $10 U.S. Dollars!)  The wrapper said gluten free bread/bun in a multitude of different languages!  [Note: at least in the U.S., McDonald's french fries are flavored with beef stock that contains both wheat and dairy in minuscule amounts.]  [See more about French Fries here: Are French Fries Gluten Free]
The McDonald's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Hamburger Unwrapped

The bun was good.  It wasn't the same as a gluten containing McDonald's hamburger bun but it was good enough.  It was also slightly bigger than the patty.

While the restaurant the first night was a little unsteady on their knowledge of celiac disease and food allergies, starting the second night and for the rest of the trip each restaurant was superb.  Saturday night the restaurant even had gluten free bread!  (It was slices of whole grain sandwich bread but better than most restaurants here in the U.S.!)

Burger King's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Hamburger in Oslo, Norway
On the third day, I made it to a Burger King.  Their gluten free / dairy free hamburger bun didn't taste anything like its gluten containing counterpart . . . it was better!  It actually reminded me of a bagel!  Not the type you might get in the Midwest or frozen in the supermarket, an actual Northern NJ / Manhattan area bagel shop bagel!  I wish they sold them plain, I would have bought some to bring home.  Just like McDonald's there was no extra charge for the bun and all Burger Kings had them.

The McDonald's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Hamburger Unwrapped
As I always do when I travel, I stopped in quite a few Supermarkets as well.  (I like to see what's available elsewhere in the world.)  Most supermarkets had gluten free crisp bread and some had a good gluten free selection, including cookies, bread products, and multiple brands of crisp bread.  A good portion of these were dairy free as well. 

One last thought, if you are tempted to purchase a loaf of Schär Gluten Free / Dairy Free Landbrot to take home with you (like I did), don't.  It is extremely bitter and sadly not worth the effort.

Overall, it was a great trip and it was super easy to eat out!

Updated 12/20/10

Added link to Traveling Dairy Free / Gluten Free

Update 3/6/11

Added link to Are French Fries Gluten Free

Other articles you may be interested in:

McDonalds in Spain offer Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Cheeseburger in Paradise to Offer Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Gluten Free Swedish Meatball Recipe (yeah, yeah, wrong country, but it's still a great recipe!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hidden Sources of Dairy in Your Diet

The list below contains some of the places that dairy likes to hide.  It is by no means exhaustive and is only a suggestion of where to look for dairy in your diet.  (I avoid dairy completely, but depending on your reason for avoiding dairy you may not need this entire list.)

Eating out:

Mashed Potatoes - made with milk and butter.

Scrambled Eggs - some restaurants add milk.

Grills - A lot of steakhouses (and others) butter their grill.

Rice - most non-ethnic restaurants add butter to the entire pot of rice while it is cooking.

Vegetables - these can either be cooked with butter, or served with butter so be sure to ask.

Margarine - a number of margarines contain dairy.  I usually avoid this when eating out as I never trust the waitstaff to be sure.

Soups - even non-cream soups can have a cream or milk base to them.

Gravies - just like soups they can be based on a cream or milk base.

Meatballs - a lot of chefs add Parmesan cheese.

High end restaurants - I find the nicer the restaurant the more likely they are to cook with butter and have contaminated every dish.

Demi glace - often this has a butter base.

Ghee - found in Indian cooking, this is clarified butter.

At the supermarket:

Any non-whole food - dairy can be added to just about any processed food and I've found it in some very odd places.

Butter flavor - almost all butter flavor is derived from . . . butter. 

Whey - this is the liquid left when making cheese from milk.

Casein - this is the protein in milk.

Flavored Chips - Tostito's Hint of Lime chips contain milk powder.  I have no idea why!

Generic Over the Counter Medicines - no idea why but most generics contain lactose while the name brands do not.  Oh, and in the United States I've rarely encountered actual medications with lactose in them but it seems to be common overseas.

Sherbet - Sorbet is usually dairy free, Sherbet is usually not dairy free.

Updated 12/11/10

I've created a page for this list so new readers can find it easily:  Hidden Sources of Dairy

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hidden Sources of Gluten in Your Diet

One of the first things people who need to avoid gluten need to do is identify all of the sources of gluten in their diet.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few hiding spots.  The list below is by no means exhaustive and is only a suggestion of where to look for gluten in your diet.

Eating out:

Flour - I still can't believe how many people don't make the connection that flour is made from wheat.

Mashed Potatoes - if a pot of mashed potatoes comes out runny it is not uncommon for a chef to add flour to them to firm them up.

Scrambled Eggs - some restaurants add pancake batter to their scrambled eggs to make them fluffier.

Fish - some restaurants dust their fish with flour to keep it from sticking (in the over, on the grill, anywhere really.)

Vegetables - some restaurants (especially Italian restaurants) steam their vegetables in the same water they use to prepare/reheat their pasta.

Soups - it is not uncommon for the soup base to contain flour.

Meatballs - a lot of people put bread crumbs in meatballs (and meatloaf, and even sometimes in hamburgers).

Oriental sauces - both soy sauce and teriyaki sauce usually contain fermented wheat.

Crab - real crab is gluten free, imitation crab often is not.

Couscous - its a type of pasta.

At the supermarket:

Any non-whole food - really anything that is processed could conceivably contain gluten so always double check the ingredients list.  Oh, and manufacturers do sometimes change their recipes so you have to check every time.

A flour by any other name . . . - sometimes only the strain of wheat will be listed, not the fact that it is indeed wheat - this includes spelt, kamut, triticale, durum, semolina.

Non-wheat bread (for example: corn bread, potato bread) - these breads are almost always wheat flour based.

Malt, Malt Flavoring - both are made from barley.

Candy - some are made from wheat.  Twizzlers for example.

Gluten free flours - According to Living gluten Free Magazine, if these are not specifically labeled gluten free they may be cross contaminated: Soy, sorghum, buckwheat and millet.

At home:

Toaster - if your toaster is used/has been used with gluten containing products the crumbs could get on your bread.

Condiments - if you share these with others crumbs could get mixed in here as well.

Wooden spoons/kitchen items - wood is porous, you should not use any wooden kitchen items when preparing gluten free food.

Makeup - quite a few contain wheat.  (I know someone with celiac who had to have his girlfriend switch to gluten free lipstick.)

Medicines - You'll need to check with your pharmacist on this.

Updated 12/11/10

Broth - some brands of broth contain gluten and some restaurants may use broth for rice, soups, steaming vegetables, etc.

I've also added this as its own page so new readers can find it more easily: Hidden Sources of Gluten

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Welcome to GFDFNJ!

Welcome to Gluten Free / Dairy Free NJ! I'm looking forward to sharing all I know and discover about eating gluten and dairy free in and around New Jersey. I've had digestive problems since I was seventeen. It started first with dairy and expanded from there. After eliminating dairy completely (and pork, citrus, anything carbonated, and cutting back on some other foods) I got my problems to a manageable state and "learned to live with it" - to paraphrase my gastroenterologists.

Five years ago, a friend of mine convinced me to investigate Celiac Disease and sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal which noted that a large number of people with dairy intolerences also had Celiac Disease.  I went gluten free (p.s. don't do this in this order) and started to feel a little better over all.  I attended my first support group meeting The Northern NJ Celiac Disease Support Group in Paramus, NJ.  Now, I knew to get tested I would need to eat gluten again but I figured I could just have a bagel and go for the test.  That evening's guest speaker was a pediatric gastroenterologist who mentioned that the worst part of his job was telling parents who had taken their kids off of gluten that they had to poison their child.  You see, you need to consume gluten (about four slices of bread worth) every day for EIGHT weeks before the getting the test.  I almost fell out of my chair. 

I added back all the wheat I had removed from my diet.  Since I had never had any direct symptoms from wheat products, I didn't have any immediate reactions but overall I didn't feel great.  Of course, by the end of the two months, I was beginning to question whether or not I had really been feeling all that better.  I went for the blood test (the full panel) and again quit gluten.  Within 24 hours I was convinced!  I felt more energetic and more importantly, that constant discomfort I had felt for 15 years was gone.  I swore I'd never eat gluten again!

The entire panel of test were negative and since I would have had to eat wheat again, I skipped the endoscopy.  If you're not sure if you have Celiac or not, do not cut gluten out of your diet before you get both a full celiac panel blood test and an endoscopy.  [I did later get the gene test but this was negative as well.]