This post is inspired by one of my friends who wrote me the other day and told me that unfortunately, her daughter had been diagnosed with celiac disease. My blog helped her a lot, but going out is now still a road that is tricky to navigate. So, I thought it would be fun to share some easy restaurants swaps for a gluten-free diet.
General Tips and Tricks for Restaurant Swaps
First off – do not be afraid to ask or make sure that you check out the menu in advance. I have to admit that I am someone who constantly makes changes to their order because I see different things I like and want to combine them, etc. I have never found a restaurant not to be accommodating to this. Yes, I sometimes have to pay extra, but to me – this is worth it.
Do not overlook the entrees and sides
Sometimes, the main dishes can be quite carb and thereby, oftentimes, gluten intensive. Do not knock away the sides or entrees. You can easily order 2 sides as your main dish. Or you see a side you really like and you want that as your starter. Just ask the waiter – usually that presents no problem and also provides loads of delicious variety!!
Easy Restaurant Swaps for a Gluten-free Diet
With all of the tips below – please do a final check with your waiter at the individual restaurant for celiac / gluten-free options.
Possibly one of the easiest restaurants to go to when you are gluten-free (or celiac) is Mexican. They cook a lot with cornflour anyways and there are some great options for vegetarians and vegans too. If you are opting for a dish that is typically made with a wheat tortilla (e.g. quesadilla or burrtio), ask them to swap out the wheat for a corn tortilla. Usually they have those on hand for some of the other dishes. Chips, guac, and most starters should – on the larger scale of things – be naturally be gluten-free.
The Greek cuisine tends to be very fresh and flavorful. There are some amazing dishes that are gluten-free, e.g. tzatziki, horta (boiled greens with olive oil and lemon juice), fasolakia (green beans stewed in olive oil and tomatoes), gemista (Greek stuffed tomatoes). Not to mention Greek salads and – quite a staple – feta cheese.
Arguably probably one of the more tricky restaurants to navigate… I definitely recommend checking the menu in advance. A lot of Italian places now offer gluten-free pasta swaps for example. If not, the trick of my entrees and sides really comes in handy here. Those tend to be more naturally gluten-free and can provide some great options. Fish and meat dishes can obviously be an option, but if you are vegetarian – be sure to check the risotto. Rice is gluten-free and there are usually at least two risotto dishes on the menu.
With Indian food, it is almost the opposite to Italian food. Their starters and sides tend to contain a lot of gluten, whereas the mains usually have rice as a side, which is naturally gluten-free. Indian food also tends to have loads of options for both meat/fish/and vegetarian eaters alike.
The Thai cuisine, or Asian food in general tends to be less glutenous heavy. Here, rice noodles are oftentimes used, mixed with eggs, and loads of fresh veggies. Summer rolls are – at least here in Germany – one of the main staples on a menu, which are made from rice paper. Soups, stews, and curries tend to all be naturally gluten-free. Again, this is a great restaurant choice if you are new to navigating the world of “gluten-free”. Be aware though, that soy sauce is not gluten-free, so be sure to ask for tamari or coconut aminos in your food (or ask them to leave out any soy sauce).
Truthfully, Chinese food is not the easiest to navigate on a gluten-free diet. A lot of dark sauces, hoisin, soy sauce, fish sauce, and terriyaki sauce, contain gluten. There also tends to be a lot of breading on meat, which likely also contains gluten. You can ask for simple cooked veggies and rice (or similar), or, again, stick to some fresh sides here. You may also want to bring your own tamari or coconut aminos.
With all restaurants, there is a good chance that some form of cross-contimation is taking place and, hence, there is a chance that gluten is part of your food even if you are eating a gluten-free meal. Irrespective, I hope this post has shown you some delicious easy swaps and options on how to make easy restaurant swaps for a gluten-free diet. Let me know your favorite trick below and if you feel I have missed anything!! Beautiful cover photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash.