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Gluten Free Vacation

Traveling Gluten-Free on Delta Air Lines

By August 11, 2013 Gluten Free Vacation

My GFF, Elaine, recently took a trip to Spain. Now, I have never taken such a long flight after being gluten-free, but I’m assuming the first thing that many of us would think while making our travel plans would be, “What in the world am I going to eat?” Luckily, Delta Airlines is on top of things when it comes to their gluten-free offerings. Check out Elaine’s international traveling experience while on her Delta flights.

Delta Airlines Gluten-Free Meals

My friend and co-traveler booked the flights before our glorious two week trip to Spain & Portugal. Unfortunately, she forgot to mark my meal as “gluten free,” so I braved the outgoing flight with little more than an apple, two Kind bars, and the fruit salad that came with the Delta Air Lines pre-packaged dinner. Lucky for me we were able to contact the airlines later that week and arrange for a gluten-free meal, so the return flight was a completely different story…

Let me first start off by saying that I was not expecting much from Delta. They could’ve given me a shrink-wrapped GF burrito and I would’ve been happy. That being said, the gluten-free meal provided by Delta on my flight went above and beyond any expectations I had prior to the flight. All “special meals” get their food first (seriously like 30 minutes before anyone else), and both the breakfast and dinner were gigantic and filled with options.

The gluten-free dinner included:

  • Orange juice & bottled water
  • Sliced fruit
  • Two packages of GF rice crackers
  • Steamed fish with rice & veggies
  • Salad
  • Butterscotch pudding (it was still a little bit frozen, so it ended up tasting like an incredibly delicious butterscotch slushie. It may or may not be the reason I’m so pro-Delta right now in my life).

The gluten-free breakfast included:

  • Orange juice & bottled water
  • Fruit salad
  • Applesauce
  • Two packages of GF rice crackers
  • Omelet with veggies
  • Butterscotch pudding/slush

The steamed fish and omelet were both served piping hot, and the rest of the food was very cold (and somewhat frozen, which did not deter from the meal). Overall, if you’re forced to fly Coach on an eight hour international flight, I’d recommend Delta’s gluten-free meal service. The in-flight movie options, however, were a different story. But I’ll save that for another day.

Elaine in Spain

While I have no pictures of the gluten-free meals that were offered, I can assure you that Elaine is a trusted source. I think this blog post can put us all at ease if we have international travel on our bucket list!

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Gluten Free on the Beach

By June 5, 2013 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Experiences

I’m no stranger to the beach. I spend just about every weekend during the summertime sitting in a beach chair, soaking up the sun and sipping on a cocktail, so I know a thing or two about packing a beach bag. From snacks to beverages, below are my tips to ensure you will have fun in the sun!

Pack beach-friendly snacks

Spending your day on the beach means that you need to pack the appropriate food. You will want gluten-free finger-food and snacks that are easy to throw in a bag or cooler. My favorite beach-friendly snack is pistachios. They won’t get crushed in your bag, and you won’t feel that guilty eating them. I love eating pistachios on the beach because I’m able to throw my shells in the sand! No mess, no stress!

Some of the other gluten-free snacks I like to pack for the beach include rice chips (RiceWorks Sweet Chili rice chips are my absolute favorite), gluten-free pretzels, and popcorn (like Skinny Pop). Other easy snacks to pack are Crunchmaster Gluten-Free Crackers and Wellaby’s products. They’re all sure to be a hit among the other beach bums in your company!

RiceWorks Sweet Chili Rice Chips

Go the Sandwich Route

If you think you’ll want something more substantial to eat while on the beach, you can easily pack a gluten-free sandwich, contrary to what you may believe. Although a lot of gluten-free breads require a toaster to taste good, there are certain brands that would work for the beach setting. Try Canyon Bakehouse bread – pack a loaf in your bag, or even keep one cold in the cooler. The slices taste “real” and will go perfect with your favorite gluten-free deli meat. Another good brand of beach-worthy bread is Udi’s bread (Millet-Chia is my personal favorite). If you are looking to go the sub sandwich route, you can easily pack a few packages of Schar’s Sub Sandwich Rolls. Each roll comes in an individually sealed package making it ideal for the beach bag. There’s also no toasting or heating up required for these sub rolls to taste edible, so enjoy!

Schar GF Sub Rolls

Have a Large Bowl of Fruit in the Cooler

Just because you’re on the beach all day doesn’t mean your diet has to completely be derailed. My family often has a large bowl filled with mixed fruit that we can enjoy while on the beach. Whether it’s watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, or a variety of fruit, you can easily make this healthy snack beach friendly. Pack a few plastic forks and some smaller bowls for individual servings, along with a plastic baggie to put the garbage or dirty dishes in after (we don’t want to litter our beaches).

Come with a Full Cooler

You’re going to want to make sure you have all of the beverages you’ll need. You’ll want to pack bottles of water, Gatorade (for the REALLY hot days that you’ll be playing beach volleyball or Frisbee), and other hydrating liquids. Don’t make the mistake of only filling the cooler with soda because when you’re baking in the sun all day, you’re going to want healthy and hydrating options to drink as well.

If you’re going to be drinking adult beverages while on the beach, there are quite a few gluten-free options you can choose from. If you’re a gluten-free beer drinker (which I am admittedly not), you can enjoy brands like New Planet Beer or Bard’s Gluten-Free. I opt for a six-pack of Woodchuck Hard Cider (either the Summer or Crisp flavor) in my beach cooler.

Woodchuck

I also like to enjoy a mixed drink on the beach as well, so I’m always sure to bring a Tervis Tumbler cup to pour my creation into. I usually pack gluten-free rum, like Malibu, or gluten-free vodka. Stoli is my personal favorite, so I tend to mix that with light cranberry juice, lemonade, or diet soda. It’s not that hard to pack everything you need for a classy adult beverage. I prefer to pack small bottles of mixers so I’m not hauling a 50 pound bag through the sand.

Stoli is my favorite!

Protect Yourself

This is not food related, but it’s always imperative to protect your skin when out in the sun. Wear sunblock and make sure you reapply so you don’t end the day as a lobster. I always pack a hat to wear as well because no one wants the face of G-Free Laura to get all wrinkly!

G-Free Laura

If you’re planning a day at the beach, the most important thing is to pack accordingly so you don’t end up as a hungry, thirsty, and grumpy lobster. The extra 10-20 minutes spent packing is worth it when you’re enjoying  a relaxing day in your beach chair!

beach bumming

What do you pack for a day at the beach? Do you have a preferred adult beverage to sip on throughout the day?

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Tips for Staying Gluten-Free on Vacation

By March 13, 2013 Gluten Free Vacation

This post was written by Bridget Sandorford, a freelance food and culinary writer. She so graciously offered to share tips that can help you stay gluten-free while on vacation. I want to thank Bridget for sharing these helpful tips because no one wants to be stressed on vacation because of food options! Thank you for your contribution, Bridget! 

Eating a gluten-free diet on vacation can be a challenge. You never know what kind of foods will be available in local restaurants, cafes and shops, and if you travel to some place that speaks another language, communication might be a barrier to getting the foods that you need.

A little planning can help you survive your vacation and stay gluten-free. Here are a few tips for how you can stay gluten-free even on vacation:

Choose Fresh Foods

Processed foods may hide gluten-containing ingredients, and you may never be the wiser as labels may not be accurate or may not be available. However, fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats are all-natural and gluten-free. When in doubt, choose these foods cooked without sauces, breading or other additives. If you aren’t sure what types of sauces are used, just ask.

Research Restaurants ahead of Time

Before you leave, check out the local restaurant scene in the place you will be visiting. You may be able to preview menu options and then research ingredient lists and suppliers. You can also call ahead of time to find out what practices are used in the kitchen to prevent cross-contamination.

Having this information ahead of time can help you to prepare your meals when you are there instead of scrambling to find appropriate eateries.

Carry Key Translations

If you are traveling in a foreign country, it pays to research translations that you will need to communicate your meal preferences and to carry them with you — either on a card, in your smart phone or highlighted in a phrase book. Determine phrases for “gluten-free,” as well as the words for key foods such as breads, pastas, wheat, and so on. You can then ask your server about these items and indicate your need to have foods that don’t contain them.

Request Special Meals

If you don’t see what you like on the menu, don’t be afraid to request a special meal or to request alterations to what’s on the menu. Ask for foods to be prepared in different ways (such as grilled, not fried), ask for sauces to be eliminated or substituted, or ask for the creation of something new altogether that uses the ingredients you choose. This, of course, will be much simpler if you are traveling to a destination where you speak the language.

Bring Along Safe Snacks

When all else fails, you can ensure that you have a healthy, gluten-free option by bringing along some of your own snacks and foods. Depending on how you’re traveling, this can include fresh produce, nuts, snack bars, or even prepared meals. If you are driving to your destination, it is easy to bring a cooler loaded with the foods you love. If you are flying, you will need to choose items that are pre-packaged and non-perishable (and that will pass security and customs, of course).

It can be difficult to follow a gluten-free diet when you are traveling and you don’t have access to your own pantry or your favorite stores and restaurants. However, these tips can help you enjoy your vacation and ensure that you stick to your gluten-free diet so that you have a good time and feel good when you get back.

How do you stick to your gluten-free diet when you are traveling? Share your tips for success in the comments!

About Bridget:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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Gluten-Free Pizza in Columbus, OH

By September 15, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Marcella's Gluten-Free Menu

As I explained in my previous post, Gluten-Free in Columbus, OH, I fell in gluten-free love with Marcella’s Ristorante. After having an amazing dinner consisting of homemade gluten-free bread and chicken parmesan, I decided to give their pizza a go…the very next day.

I walked through the doors of the adorable restaurant again, and thankfully I don’t believe the hostess recognized me. We were seated at a cute table in the bar area, and our [very good-looking] waiter greeted us. I explained to him that I would be ordering off of the gluten-free menu and, despite the half-off drinks during happy hour, I ordered a Diet Coke with my gluten-free bread.

This time around  I opted for sans cheese on my gluten-free bread so I could dip it in oil instead. This choice also enabled me to feel just how fresh & moist the bread was. I was very impressed as I believe the BEST gluten-free restaurants are those that are local with homemade food instead of the chain restaurant gluten-free options.

I once again inhaled the bread to the point where it looked like I was in an eating contest, but I wasn’t trying to impress anyone so who cares what I looked like. Next I ordered the gluten-free sausage pizza. The crust was thin and had a very good taste. It didn’t make my mouth dry, and wasn’t doused with sauce to make it taste good. The pizza was so good that I ate the entire thing except for three tiny pieces. I was very happy with my choice to eat at the same restaurant two days in a row. I was lucky for the fact that I didn’t have the same waitrer so I don’t think they realized just how crazy I was.

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Gluten-Free in Columbus, OH

By September 15, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
Chicken Parmesan

On a recent trip to Columbus, OH I stumbled upon a gluten-free gem that goes by the name of Marcella’s Ristorante.

While staying at the Hyatt Regency hotel on North High Street, I was on a mission to find a restaurant that 1) was within walking distance and had gluten-free options, and 2) had gluten-free options that would actually fill me up after starving on convention style food for 2 full days.

How did I accomplish this mission? A little thing I like to call a Google search…keywords: Gluten-Free Restaurants in Columbus, OH. It was really THAT easy. Thank you technology.

So after walking three blocks on North High Street, I stepped through the double doors of the cutest restaurant ever. Wine bottles lined the walls, candles were lit on every table , and a deli counter [circa 1960] decorated the back of the restaurant. I immediately told my friend that I wanted to move to Columbus just so we could visit Marcella’s on a regular basis [and this was before I even tasted the food].

We were greeted by our waitress and I explained that I would be ordering off of the gluten-free menu [which was huge by the way]. But, first things were first – I had to order a glass of sangria.

When our sangria was brought back to the table, I was ecstatic to order since I had skimmed the menu in the meantime. I asked whether or not they provided gluten-free bread baskets, and the answer was yes – and it was homemade. I then asked about getting gluten-free CHEESE bread, and the waitress said she could work something out for me…and that she did.
Best gluten-free cheese bread ever.

After falling in love at first bite with the bread, and then inhaling it all at lightning fast speeds, I knew that my entrée would be ballin. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan and penne noodles, and was confident the second round of carbo-loading would be something to write home about.

When the plate was set in front of me, my heart melted.

The large piece of cheese-covered chicken next to the hearty serving of noodles were my dream come true.You may think that the large serving size would result in a take-home box, but you are wrong. I ate every last bite. We won’t talk about how full I was after-the-fact, because that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is how good Marcella’s can serve up a plate of gluten-free Italian gloriousness.

I actually liked the meal so much that I actually came back the next night…for pizza.

 

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Gluten-Free in Marblehead, OH

By May 30, 2012 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Restaurants
The Shore Club

Summer in Northwest Ohio is my absolute favorite! Having lived in Toledo, OH for a majority of my life, my most cherished summer memories all include being on Lake Erie.

Marblehead, OH, located just 45 minutes away from Toledo, is my family’s summer time stomping ground. We have docked our boat at Bay Point Marina for the past 8 years, and it isn’t a summer weekend if we aren’t sitting on the beach soaking up the sun.

Bay Point has changed drastically in the past few summers, with lake-front cabins being replaced by three-story mansions, and my favorite walking trail becoming home to new “lots for sale”. I won’t lie, this change initially bothered me, but I am now in awe of the dream homes on the lake, and excited for the hustle & bustle they have brought to the community.

One of my favorite additions to the community is The Shore Club, a seasonal restaurant open for members of Bay Point. Sitting on the beach, with amazing views of the water, and an up close & personal view of Cedar Point [just a water taxi ride away], it hosts a truly beautiful dining experience. Along with great views of the water, this restaurant also has a fantastic gluten free menu to offer diners as well!

I first visited the restaurant for dinner with my mom (also gf), and my Grandma on Mother’s Day. We picked this restaurant because my Grandma absolutely loves the lake [runs in the family]. By doing my usual call-ahead procedure, I knew my mom and I would be able to eat gluten free at the restaurant, but had no idea the extent of the gluten free accommodations!

As our server greeted us, I informed her of our diet restrictions, and she knew exactly what gluten free included [I think we can all agree how frustrating it is when servers are completely unaware of what gluten even is]. She then fetched the menu with all the gluten free dishes listed on it. Being that it is a smaller-scale operation, the menu for the restaurant is somewhat small. A good thing to note is that this did not hinder the gluten free options available whatsoever!

The gluten free menu includes items from each section of the menu: appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and even the pizza section! Those appetizers available gluten free are chicken wings and french fries, & let me tell you, both are delicious. My sophisticated palette loved these items. Also, how nice is it to have appetizers available!! I hate when everyone gets to enjoy bread. soup, and whatever else when often the gluten free individual sits there plate-less.

The salads available are the Summer Salad with berry vinaigrette, the Grandmere’ with sweet basil vinaigrette, and the Seared Tuna Salad. Now, if you have read my previous posts you know I don’t like to get down with a bowl full of lettuce, but I have to say, when I tasted the Grandmere’ salad I was impressed! The sweet basil vinaigrette they make in-house is scrumptious! This compliment is a lot coming from me, because I pretty much cringe at the taste of any other salad dressing. Kudo’s Shore Club chef, you are the bomb diggity.

Basically every sandwich offered at The Shore Club is gluten free when you go the no-bun route. The list includes a delicious looking hot ham & cheese sandwich, a hot turkey sandwich, pulled pork, grilled chicken, and a variety of hamburgers & cheeseburgers. All sandwiches are served with a salad garnish, meaning you can enjoy one of the three salads described earlier. This may be the only place I would actually take them up on this “salad garnish” offer, rather than swapping my salad for more french fries, that’s how good their homemade salad dressing is!!

Entrees available for the gluten free crowd includes filet mignon and a grilled hawaiian chicken. I did not try the filet mignon yet, but I don’t really see how that wouldn’t be good. I did eat the grilled Hawaiian chicken for dinner and man oh man was it tasty! I practically licked my plate clean. The chicken had pineapple chunks on top, along with a layer of provolone cheese. The portions are also pretty hearty, but the hungry girl I am still didn’t have any to take home [although the normal human being would]. I regret not having a picture of this meal, but unfortunately my stomach was being selfish and didn’t let the blogger in me snap a pic pre-pigout. Shucks…

One thing I did get a picture of was the gluten free pizza available at The Shore Club! My mom and I ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza one afternoon for lunch and it was super tasty! The sausage was fantastic, and it had the perfect cheese-sauce-topping ratio. Another great thing about this is that the pizza is only $12! I think we can all agree that’s a pretty darn good price for a gluten free pizza seeing that the crusts available at Whole Foods, and other health food stores can be pretty pricey on their own!

The only sad thing about Bay Point is that you have to be a member, or a guest of a member, to come inside the gates. Since my family has docked at Bay Point for years, I have had the luxury of being a member under my parents name. If one doesn’t have a boat, but they live near the Marblehead, OH area, seasonal beach passes are available. A family pass goes for $445. You might think “whoa there, you’re breaking my bank!” but I assure you, once you take in the scenes of Bay Point, you would be packing your beach bag every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

And who doesn’t want to look at this beautiful view while chowing down on some gluten free gloriousness?!

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