Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gluten Free restaurant menus are no guarantee

Today was Day 4 in this gluten-free life I am living. I know at some point I will stop counting days, but this is not the day. This is the day I faced my first challenge to avoid gluten in spite of my planning.

On Sundays, I typically bake some frozen biscuits or canned cinnamon rolls for the family.  It's been a tradition for over 15 years. I get up about 30 minutes before the children awaken, get the food ready, then let them know breakfast is ready. It's the only day of the week I make breakfast for them.  We eat, then get ready for a morning of Bible study and worship, and then we go out for Sunday lunch.  As the kids became teenagers, they preferred to not join us for lunch, so we took advantage of the time to meet friends or just enjoy a meal on our own.  Usually at a local Mexican restaurant.

Little did I know that as I munched on chips and salsa and ate chicken fajitas last Sunday, those would be my last flour tortillas, my last "chips and salsa" from places I can't guarantee don't use the chip oil for other, flour based crisping.  I have yet to make a safe plan for Mexican restaurants besides chains like Moe's which I don't really count as "Mexican" because everyone who works at Moe's is a fresh scrubbed high school or college student, while the folks at our preferred Mexican restaurants are actually from Mexico. But I will get there, just not today.

Since today was Customer Appreciation Day at our local Beef O'Brady's, I checked the internet and found their gluten free menu items. Cool, the pub chips that I like were included on the menu along with the burgers sans buns and grilled chicken. I decided on a grilled chicken basket with the pub chips because they were listed on the corporate site's gluten free menu.  Before ordering, I asked the server if they had a gluten free menu I could look at as the one on my phone was really small.  She said they didn't have anything gluten free that she knew of, so I showed her what was on the website, and I ordered my food.  The manager, who we talk with every time we are there, came by to visit.  I told him I was told this week I have to eat gluten free and showed him the website, too. It was news to him. Then I asked my most important question: is anything else fried in the same oil vat as the pub chips. Thank goodness he told me that while they are not supposed to, if the kitchen gets backed up, they may very well drop a basket of breaded chicken tenders in the same fryer.  Cross contamination alert!  This was exactly what the doctor cautioned us about when he gave us my diagnosis.

Because the food had not yet come out, I was able to change the pub chips to carrot and celery sticks, definitely better for me even though they were not what I wanted. So gluten avoided!

Breakfast: Van's waffles with Mrs. Butterworth's syrup and fresh cherries and a banana. The waffles were already sweet but dry, so the syrup helped. Of course there isn't much that Mrs. Butterworth can't fix.

Lunch: Grilled chicken, plain, with carrot and celery sticks.

Snacks: Trader Joe's cranberry and maple nut granola, raspberry/vanilla ice cream bar

Dinner: Homemade BBQ ground beef on Udi's white bread, Lay's potato chips

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