How to be Gluten-free in the Triangle without feeling like you're missing out on life

11/09/2012 at 3:27 pm | Posted in About town | 1 Comment
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I’ve been meaning to post this FOREVER. I won’t confess how long it’s been in my queue, except to say that I gathered this information for Auntie Julie’s visit over the summer. ::ahem::

My friend Beth, who has been gluten-free for years, is my guru on the topic. Once I learned from Julie that she had changed her diet, I immediately contacted Beth to find out where I could take Julie out to eat in town and what sorts of foods I should have handy at the house.

And the email Beth sent just about blew me away. It was a HUGE life-saver for Julie’s visit, and it’s just too valuable not to share here. Even if you don’t live in the Triangle (N.C.) area, Beth’s tips — and words of encouragement at the end of the post — are just plain awesome.

If you have anything to add, please share in the comments!

Let’s get this GF party started …

Bella Monica has an awesome gluten-free menu, and they bring gluten-free breadsticks to the table.
Sitti notes on their menu gluten-free options.
Spize Cafe also has a pretty awesome gluten-free menu.
– Domino’s gluten-free pizza has been under fire about not being made in a dedicated kitchen. I’ve had it twice without issue, and I’m super-sensitive to gluten. Tests of different places showed that it had very few gluten parts per million.
Mellow Mushroom has a gluten free crust! And, it’s yummy!
– Chinese is tough, but PF Changs and Pei Wei have gluten-free menus.
– Indian food has lots of gluten-free options since wheat isn’t really grown there. Dosa and curries are my favorite.
– Thai is also good. The noodles are made with rice, and the spices are out of this world.
– Mexican is also awesome. Corn tacos, tortilla chips, enchiladas are all usually *safe.*
Irregardless has the BEST brunch. Out of this world good gluten-free pancakes!

Grocery Stores:
– Thank goodness, most fresh fruits and veggies are naturally gluten-free. So are meats that haven’t been marinated.
– Whole Foods: They have a dedicated gluten-free bakehouse and tons of special treats in the freezer section. But it’s pricey. I’ve learned to use certain gluten-free products as a treat and not as a staple to my diet (see also: gluten-free donuts, muffins, cupcakes, etc.). Whole Foods also does gluten-free store tours from time to time. Was a neat experience and we got gift cards at the end!
– Trader Joe’s: They do a great job of labeling gluten free products AND you can get a list of all their gluten-free products at the customer service counter.
– Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Kroger are growing their gluten-free product selection. Usually it’s grouped with the organic/healthy junk food stuff.
– Wal-Mart: This one really surprised me! But the Wal-Mart in Apex has a ton of gluten-free products at really good prices. That’s where I usually get our pasta.
– Fresh Market: HUGE dud (outside of their yummy things that are naturally gluten free).

Specific Products:
– Woodchuck Ciders are awesome!
– Woodbridge gluten-free beer is pretty good, but it’s on the expensive side.
– Udi’s entire product line of breads is good. But keep in the freezer or it’ll dry out fast.
– Glutino is another brand that everything I’ve had has been good.
– Chex honey and cinnamon are the BOMB.
– Cookies: Paula Deen has a recipe for a peanut butter cookie, and there is a flowerless chocolate chip cookie that’s really easy and good.
– Betty Crocker has cake mixes/brownie mixes that are good! Tend to be drier than regular versions, but still tasty.
– Gluten-free Bisquick: Expensive, but very versatile. Biscuits. Chicken dumplings. Use as breading.
– Plain corn meal: We use this to batter pork chops, fried squash, fried okra, mix a little water in and just fry some corn bread.

Being gluten-free isn’t that tough after you navigate and survive the first six months. Just about any craving you have has a gluten-free alternative. It’s expensive if you’re looking for a swap for everything, but I use it as treats and it’s not so bad on the food budget. Google is your best friend until you learn what to order. It’s so much easier to find gluten free products now than it was five years ago when I started having to be GF.

I’m so fortunate to have the most awesome friends. They’ve educated themselves about what I can/can’t have and always make sure there is something I can eat. And there is a gluten-free Raleigh Expo in August.

It really only sucks the first little bit, promise.


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  1. Beth is amazeballs!!

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