If you recently discovered that you have a gluten sensitivity – don’t panic: you have options.
When gluten is a problem, hanging out suddenly becomes a nightmare. You discover that gluten surrounds us,follows us, and hides in the most unexpected places. Recently I had a chance to ask Nicole Cogan, Founder and CEO of NOBREAD.COM a few questions.
Should you do any homework before going to the restaurant?
Always! I always call restaurants in advance to ask them if they have gluten free bread or pasta, and if there is any cross contamination in the kitchen. I also ask what the best gluten free options are that are available. It’s nice having an idea of what you can and cannot eat before you go to a restaurant… it saves you time AND awkwardness!
What should you ask your waiter before ordering a dish (in regards to the ingredients)?
Definitely ask about ingredients when ordering. Even if you are CERTAIN there is no gluten in your dish, gluten has a sneaky way of finding itself into your meal. Also, tell your waiter about your allergy so extra caution is taken when preparing your meal. Depending on the severity of your intolerance, ask to have your meal cooked separate from other meals in the kitchen. Ask for the equipment to be changed… yes it’s great when restaurants offer gluten free pasta, BUT make sure your GF pasta is cooked in a different pot of water than all other pasta! And when in doubt, ask for your fish/poultry meal to be prepared ‘simply grilled.’
Also what are some hidden common gluten in restaurant dishes? (For example, she found out there was flour in mashed potatoes, after the fact!)
Gluten is a hidden ingredient in many dishes! Breadcrumbs are often added, roux contains gluten (the culprit in New England Clam Chowder and other thick soups), Imitation crab meat (gluten is a binding ingredient), sushi rice (malted vinegars contain gluten), Teriyaki, Soy Sauce, certain BBQ sauces, Nacho cheese (thickening agent added to cheese), chicken stock…Anything cooked in a shared fryer is technically NOT gluten free… for instance french fries are naturally gluten free, but when cooked in the same fryer as the restaurant’s fried calamari, they are subject to gluten!
NOBREAD.COM is a website that offers a guide to gluten free menu options at NYC-based restaurants. Founder and CEO, Nicole Cogan, launched NOBREAD in September 2014 as a result of a health condition that forced her to live a gluten free lifestyle. With over 350 restaurants included, the website features customized gluten free menus along with restaurant profiles and mini-reviews, giving people suffering from gluten allergies and sensitivities the ability to maintain a ‘normal’ New York lifestyle and access to customized gluten free menus at some of New York’s hottest restaurants.
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If you recently discovered that you have a gluten sensitivity – don’t panic: you have options. Learn what’s on the market, look into nutrition, check out our spotlights and reviews – make an educated choice!