Archive for Dining Out


Eating Gluten Free on Road Trips

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Eating gluten free can be a big adjustment to your diet, but really not that difficult to do at home once you’ve made the commitment. You can even eat gluten free at restaurants — look up menus on the Internet and/or call the restaurant before you leave for dinner. However, driving cross-country and finding restaurants along the Interstate highways that provide gluten-free meals is another challenge. Having Internet access and a good GPS while on the road is helpful, but isn’t much help finding restaurants with gluten-free meals at a specific exit, say 90 miles down the road when you need to fill up the car with gas. Fortunately, I found two books extremely helpful in making it a whole lot easier.

the Next EXIT

This is a great book to have for road trips. As you are traveling on the Interstate highways, you can look ahead and see what restaurants and services are listed for each exit. McDonald’s aren’t hard to find at any random intersection, but Chik-fil-a, Outback, and P.F. Chang’s may be a little more difficult to find without this book. The book also lists gas, lodging, grocery and retail stores, rest areas, etc. and which side of the highway you will find them.


Triumph Dining Restaurant Guide

This book lists, by state, restaurants, bakeries and cafes that offer something gluten free to eat. It also has a list of gluten-free menu items from national chain restaurants. I found it very helpful when trying out eateries that I hadn’t been to before. I have the second edition, but have realized that I really need to get the current, fourth edition that I’m sure has a lot of updates in it.

So, start with the Next EXIT to see which restaurants will be at the intersection where you want to stop. Then, look in the Triumph Dining Restaurant Guide to see if it has menu information on the restaurants. Then you’ll know exactly where and when to stop to find gluten-free meals for everyone in the family. No need to worry about battery life or Internet connection. Just look through the books to find what you need.

Notable Links:

  • Check out the page Eating Out for links to restaurants which provide information on their websites about eating gluten free in their establishments.
  • Triumph Dining also has dining cards in various foreign languages (perfect for authentic ethnic restaurants) and a grocery guide for helping you find gluten-free food at the grocery stores.
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Menu Plan – Back to School Week

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school busIt’s Back to School Week for the Celiac Family. For my daughter, 5-day preschool isn’t starting soon enough. And my son is happy to be starting Kindergarten this year, but he is ecstatic about getting to ride the bus! With all the excitement and changes that will be going on with sleep schedules, school, and after-school activities, I’ve decided to make it another kids’ choice menu plan. I’ve included some of their favorites as well as a couple days of fast food due to a busy weekend.

Monday – Hamburgers
Labor Day seems like the perfect day to cook burgers on the grill. We’ll serve them with French fries and Brussels sprouts.

Tuesday – Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets served with steamed carrots. I’ll get the kids to help me make fruit kabobs, too.

Wednesday – Hot dogs and Macaroni & Cheese
My kids are not big fans of Mac & Cheese. But, I’m hoping to encourage their interest, by letting them help me make it. We’ll make the Mac & Cheese earlier in the day. Then I’ll just need to heat it up quickly with some hot dogs after soccer practice.

Thursday – Chick-fil-a
We’ll be out, so we’ll be stopping somewhere for dinner. Chick-fil-a is the kids’ choice. Grilled chicken fillets, waffle fries and fruit cups for the kids, and salads for the adults. If you need a fast food meal this week, check out Chick-fil-a’s gluten-free menu.

Friday – Leftover Chicken Nuggets
Serving leftover chicken nuggets with mashed potatoes and peas.

Saturday – Leftover Mac & Cheese
We’ll heat up some hot dogs to go with the Mac & Cheese again. Serving with steamed broccoli.

Sunday – McDonald’s
Finishing up the week with a trip to McDonald’s for Happy Meals. We order hamburgers with no buns, and haven’t had a problem — except when we forget to ask for forks and knives.

Need more menu ideas?

Manda at Asparagus Thin is hosting Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week with the theme ingredient of tapioca/manioc/cassava/yucca. The only time I really use tapioca is in a mix of gluten-free flours. I use tapioca flour in my recipe for King Cake. Now I know we’re not even close to Mardi Gras, but this makes a nice breakfast pastry, too.

As always, there are hundreds more menu plans (not necessarily gluten-free) at Or, check out some of my past menu plans.


Menu Plan for Non-GF Houseguests

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Do you ever struggle to figure out what foods to serve to visiting friends and family who aren’t on a gluten-free diet? You want them to like what you’re serving, but you don’t buy or cook with gluten. Last week we had family come to town to stay with us while they toured the area. We added two adults and two small kids to our meal plans. None of our guests were gluten-free, so I thought I’d share with you what we did for meals.

I tried to fix meals that are naturally gluten-free. I also tried to keep meals simple enough to satisfy the kids‘ taste buds. And some days, we went sightseeing with them and got back late, so we needed meals that were quick to fix. I didn’t cook and bake as much as I wanted to for them. The kids probably wouldn’t appreciate more elaborate meals anyway. Instead, I spent more time catching up with family I don’t get to see very often.

Breakfast Items

  • Cereal – We had a lot of varieties on hand: Koala Crisp, Panda Puffs, Honey Nut Chex, Rice Chex, Cinnamon Chex, Brown Rice Crisps, Brown Rice Crisps with Berries, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles.
  • Waffles
  • Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit – blueberries seemed to be the favorite, but we also had bananas, strawberries, cherries, and apples.


  • Sandwiches – My cousin bought regular bread for sandwiches, so we had to be careful about cross-contamination. My cousin used a clean spoon to scoop out the peanut butter and jelly to avoid getting bread crumbs in the jars. (Thanks for understanding, Lorie!) And, plates, utensils and preparation area were cleaned thoroughly. For more gluten-free sandwich ideas, check out my post on alternatives for bread.
  • Cheese slices
  • Pepperoni and bologna
  • Hot dogs
  • Crackers
  • Fruit
  • Chips: corn chips, tortilla chips, potato chips

Snacks & Desserts


Monday – Boston Market
Yep, we cheated the first evening and picked up food at Boston Market on the way home from afternoon activities. Boston Market is a great place to find gluten-free meals. We ordered a chicken family meal with mashed potatoes, corn, and steamed vegetables. I also got an additional rotisserie chicken to make sure we had enough. (For a limited time, it’s only $1.99 to add on to your order!)  It’s always great to have extra chicken to use in other meals later in the week, too. Check out their menu with gluten content indicated. If you don’t have a Boston Market located near you, check out some of these other restaurants with gluten-free menus.

Tuesday – Flank Steak
Flank steak marinated in a gluten-free soy sauce with ginger, garlic, and molasses was grilled and then thinly sliced. We served it with a tossed salad, corn-on-the-cob, and steak-cut french fries.

Wednesday – Chicken Tacos
Another day out sightseeing, so I put chicken in the slow-cooker in the morning and had Mexican chicken ready when we got home. We quickly heated corn tortillas and crispy shells to serve with chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, black beans, and shredded cheese.

Thursday – Bonefish Grill
Our family visitors generously offered to take us out for dinner. We talked about local restaurants that have gluten-free menus and they decided to try Bonefish Grill, since it was new to them. It’s my son’s favorite restaurant. The only GF item on the kids’ menu is grilled chicken, so that’s what he gets, along with steamed vegetables with no seasoning. He cleans his plate every time, which is saying a lot for my skinny little Celiac. :) My husband and I always start dinner with the Saucy Shrimp appetizer. For dinner, I had the Ahi Tuna with mango salsa served with jasmine rice and steamed vegetables (no seasoning). It was so good! Another favorite of mine on their gluten-free menu is Lily’s chicken (topped with spinach, artichoke and goat cheese) with garlic mashed potatoes.

Friday – Southwestern Chicken Salad
After eating so much at Thursday’s dinner at Bonefish, I was ready for a lighter meal. So, we used leftovers from Wednesday’s meal to build our own salads. The kids didn’t exactly eat salads, but they ate some of the ingredients separately. We also had some hot dogs to heat up for the kids. Hot dogs with cheese in a corn tortilla always works well.

Saturday – Hamburgers
I was told this was a favorite of my cousin’s daughter, so we decided to have hamburgers one night. I was a little concerned about serving gluten-free buns to those used to eating the glutenous ones, but it wasn’t a problem. The youngest kids didn’t want buns, one wanted bread instead of a bun, and the adults enjoyed our favorite GF rolls: Against the Grain. I made a red potato and green bean salad for the adults, and served steamed green beans and French fries for the kids. OK, the adults ate the fries, too. :)

Sunday – Leftovers
We had a great time with family, but their vacation time was over. With our guests gone, we tried to finish up the leftovers in the refrigerator.

Need more menu ideas?

For more Gluten-Free Menus, visit this week’s Gluten-Free Menu Swap, hosted by Manda at Aspargus Thin. Her theme this week is grapes. This weekend I made a very tasty Chicken Salad using grapes and leftover chicken from Boston Market.  Thanks to Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness for continuing to organize the Gluten-Free Menu Swap.

As always, there are hundreds more menu plans (not necessarily gluten-free) at


Menu Plan Monday July 13

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mpm121jpgWell, believe it or not, half of these meals are being prepared by a caterer for my family reunion. They said they can accommodate the gluten-free diet, and I certainly hope they can, because I’m looking forward to a few days of no cooking. However, I will have plenty of gluten-free food and a small kitchen to prepare meals if necessary. I’ll let you know how it goes. Here’s what’s on our menu for the week.

Monday – Hamburgers
Hotdogs and hamburgers prepared by my uncles. I’ll be bringing our own gluten-free buns (Against the Grain Rolls) to this meal. I’ll have to check the sides when I get there.

Tuesday – Lemon Chicken
The caterers are preparing lemon chicken with garlic, thyme, and white wine sauce. We’ll pass on the Greek pasta salad and rolls, and have a tossed green salad instead.

Wednesday – Lasagne substitute
The caterers said they will prepare a substitute meal for the night they are planning to serve lasagne. Can’t wait to talk to them to see what this will be.

Thursday – BBQ Pulled Pork
Caterers are serving BBQ pulled pork with potato salad and coleslaw. It should be gluten-free, but I’ll check the ingredients to make sure it’s safe. Here’s my recipe for slow-cooked pulled pork.

Friday – Fast Food
Not sure what’s on the menu because it’s our last day of our family reunion. We’ll probably be traveling and have to stop at a restaurant. Chick-fil-A is always one of our favorites while traveling: It’s fast and easy, it has a play area for the kids to stretch their legs and use up some energy, and it has gluten-free options for us.

Saturday – ?????
We’ll probably eat at my parent’s house, in which case I may have to request chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. Or, if we’re short on time, I’d love to try the gluten-free pizza at Godfather’s Pizza. Check out Mike’s review of the gf pizza at his website

Sunday – Fast Food or Leftovers
More traveling, so maybe more fast food. After a couple days of fast food, it will probably have to be a salad for me. Or, if I’m lucky, it will be leftovers from my parent’s house.

Need more menu ideas?
menu-swap-009For more gluten-free meals and recipes check out the GF Menu Swap, hosted this week by Angela at Angela’s Kitchen. Her theme ingredient for the week is cabbage.

You’ll find hundreds of more meals and recipes (not necessarily gluten-free) listed at’s Menu Plan Monday.

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If your kids aren’t out of school yet, no doubt they will be soon. It’s a great time to stock up on supplies to keep your kids busy and engaged this summer. We spend a lot of time outdoors, but I like to have some quiet indoor activities for them on really hot days. Find supplies and ideas for Free Activities at Discount School Supply (DSS) where they are currently having their End of the Year sale. (Sale good through May 31, 2009.)

07566bjpgI first discovered DSS more than three years ago while I was looking for a gluten-free play dough. My son was 2 at the time and was always putting things in his mouth. I didn’t want any play dough with gluten getting into his mouth, so I made my own at home.  But I still wanted to see if I could find some pre-made. DSS was carrying the only commercially available gluten-free play dough I could find: Colorations Wheat & Gluten-Free Dough. It comes in a large plastic bucket that contains eight different colors of gluten-free play dough inside.

It was perfect for when my son started preschool. I gave the whole bucket to the teacher to keep in the classroom so they could use it whenever needed. The texture of the dough is a little different from other gluten-containing doughs. It’s smoother and not as squishy or grainy. My son’s teacher actually preferred it because it smells better. The bucket of Colorations play dough lasted about a year before it started to dry out and get too tough to work with. I make my own play dough at home at least once a year, but it’s nice to have the option to buy it. I also bought some of the play dough tools, including these
Dough Presses
at DSS for my kids to take to preschool. That way I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination by sharing tools with others at school. My daughter has some for her class, my son has some for his class, and we keep some at home, too.

In addition to play dough, DSS has a lot of arts and crafts supplies that are labeled for gluten/wheat allergies as well as other allergies. The content of Gluten/Wheat, Dairy/Casein, Latex, Egg, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy is indicated on paint, ink, glue, and other craft products. Over 200 items are in the Common-Allergen-Free Products category at Discount School Supply. And, now they have a new line of items for helping kids with other Special Needs, too.

I’ve really found DSS to be a great source for arts & crafts and school supplies at very reasonable prices. I usually make one or two large orders every year to take advantage of their free shipping offer. And, this week they are offering Free Delivery on in-stock orders over $49! It’s a great time to check them out, and get ready for summer.

Related Celiac Family articles: Elmer’s Glue & Gak Recipe, Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe