Friday, January 2, 2015

Gluten-Free Feature Friday: How to Eat Out With A Gluten Allergy

(The following is a sponsored post and promotional items were given to me by Triumph Dining. Views are 100% my own unless otherwise stated.)

Happy New Year Friends!! I hope your year has started out wonderfully! :-D

In honor of the New Year, I have dedicated many of my resolutions to the development of this blog. One of these resolutions is to post on a regular schedule. So I decided to dedicate Fridays to be "Gluten-Free Feature Friday!"

Every Friday my post will feature something involving a gluten-free lifestyle, whether it be a restaurant that is GF friendly, a product, or just some advice on how to live gluten-free! Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you never miss a Gluten-Free Feature Friday post!

One of the first things I've realized since discovering my gluten intolerance is the stress that comes with eating out. Believe me, I love cooking meals at home from scratch. But sometimes I am lazy and just feel like stuffing my face with food prepared by someone else in their kitchen.

This becomes more of a hassle when you realize you have a gluten sensitivity because, fun fact, 99% of the food prepared at restaurants contain or have come in contact with gluten. (Disclaimer: this fact was made up in my own brain, however I am sure the real statistic is just as shocking.) So, when your friends ask if you want to go grab some grub, you usually have 3 options...

  1. Go out and try your best to discreetly order a gluten-free meal where ever you end up going at the risk of accidentally eating gluten and then feeling terrible for the rest of the day. The act of going out and being social with friends is well worth the GI distress that will come later (or at least that is what you tell yourself now...)  
  2. Come to an agreement with your friends that you will only attend this social outing IF you go to a place that has: A) a gluten-free menu and B) is aware of safe gluten-free food preparation. Then spend the next hour searching and researching such places while your gluten-tolerant friends start to get irritated and label you as "THAT" person....
  3. Tell your friends you would love to come but you have the flu. *cough*cough* Then hide at home under your blanket while munching on Crunchmaster crackers and act out the conversation you believe your friends are having at that very moment. It's just like you're really there!
But, I have recently discovered there is, in fact, a fourth option! One that involves getting a gluten-free meal and eating it too! This is due to the lovely people at Triumph Dining who have been in our shoes and, yeah, they get it. They created these awesome Gluten-Free Dining Cards to help us say good-bye to the anti-social woes that come from living a gluten-free lifestyle.

The company was born out of the scenario described above. The owners were sick of this game of "gluten peek-a-boo" whenever they wanted to enjoy a nice meal away from home. So they developed gluten-free dining cards that would educate the server and the cooks on what was safe for them to eat.

What I really like about these cards is they are not just a "one-card-fits-all." They developed 10 cards that are tailored to the specific cuisines; everything from American to French to Vietnamese! The cards are also two-sided, with English on one side and the native language on the other. Very cool!

I tried out these cards at a local Mexican restaurant here in Rockford, IL (my good ol' hometown.) I am such a sucker for good Mexican food, but with the its abundance of flour tortillas it is often off limits for people with gluten sensitivities. But with these cards I was able to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal without all the worry.

My sample pack I was sent to try out did not include the Spanish (Mexican) card. However if you do purchase the card set, it will be included. I used the American Cuisine card since the back was in Spanish and it was a perfect substitute. The waitress and cooks had no problem understanding the card and where able to provide my boyfriend and I with a delicious, gluten-free meal!

The card briefly explains to the servers and cooks what you can not eat, what may not be safe to eat, and what is safe to eat. The card also explains about cross contamination, which is a great feature!

Our meal started out with Queso and Chips. The chips were corn tortilla chips and (luckily) the queso and salsa were made without any gluten. After using the card to  double check with the cooks, the waitress informed us that this appetizer was safe for us to eat.

The waitress also informed us that any of the burrito entrees could be gluten-free by making them a bowl instead of using a flour tortilla. All of the spices and seasonings used were gluten-free. There were a few entrees that were premade with sauces that contain gluten and would not be safe even without the tortilla. I finally decided on the Surf & Turn Burrito Bowl.

It was made with Wahoo fish, shredded beef, rice, spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, a cilantro dill salsa, and their yummy queso! They made sure the entire dish was prepared gluten-free and with properly washed knives and cutting boards!

And yes, it was as delicious as it looks!!

We graciously thanked our waitress for being so accommodating (sometimes you don't get so lucky, cards or no cards.) What really surprised me was how thankful she was for showing her the dining card. She told us she never truly understood all that the allergy entailed. She knew that people with the allergy couldn't have bread, but that was about as far as her knowledge went.

The waitress said she was so happy that she now had a better understanding and that she would be more helpful the next time one of her customers has a gluten allergy. That warms my heart knowing that I was not only able to provide myself with a safe meal, but a fellow gluten-sufferer as well!
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But, as we all know too well, the true test of a supposed gluten-free meal comes after eating it. And I am happy to say my boyfriend and I were symptom free the whole night! Now I know I can safely eat my leftovers today! These Gluten-Free Dining Cards certainly passed the test!

With these dining cards able to fit conveniently in my wallet, I will never have to worry about eating out again!

Be sure to check out Triumph Dining and their whole gluten-free product line, including grocery guides, restaurant guides, baking guides, and more!

What is your game plan to deal with food allergies when eating out?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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