Nutrition-wise blog

Restaurants get on board with gluten-free cooking

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. May 25, 2013

For individuals with celiac disease, eating out can be problematic — even life threatening. From previous blogs, you know that my husband has celiac disease and that I'm always looking for tips to share about living gluten-free.

A recent initiative caught my eye — and the attention of my husband. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and several food industry partners created a tip sheet about celiac disease to help chefs, wait staff and managers meet the growing demand for gluten-free food. This tip sheet explains, for example:

  • Where gluten is found (in wheat, barley and rye).
  • How to make simple gluten-free substitutions for common gluten-containing ingredients, such as for soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari sauce) and pasta side dishes (serve rice or quinoa).
  • How to start a gluten-free program, beginning with a few menu items. And why it's important to verify with professionals that the recipes are truly gluten-free, and to designate kitchen space and equipment as gluten-free.

The tip sheet also includes a quick quiz for chefs and restaurateurs:

  1. Celiac disease is a genetic, auto-immune disease that is triggered by glucose.

    True or False

  2. Gluten is a protein found in which three common grains?
  3. What kind of oats can be used in a gluten-free dish?

    A. Steel-cut
    B. Irish
    C. Organic
    D. All of these
    E. None of these

  4. Look at the list of pantry items. Find the list that is most likely to contain gluten:

    A. Cornstarch, tomatoes, lentils
    B. Olive oil, oregano, walnuts, apple cider vinegar
    C. Rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, curry paste
    D. Canned pears, basmati rice, tomato juice

How did you do on the quiz? Here are the answers: 1. False. Celiac disease is triggered by gluten, not glucose. 2. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. 3. None of the above. Only oats that are certified gluten-free are acceptable. 4. Rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and curry paste may contain gluten, which is why it's wise to verify ingredients with the manufacturer.

I for one am grateful that restaurants are taking the initiative to become better educated about celiac disease and to provide gluten-free options for diners with celiac disease.

- Jennifer

May 25, 2013