Archive for Dining Out

PMCookedHave you made your Halloween dinner plans, yet? How about picking up a gluten-free pizza? If you haven’t heard, yet, Papa Murphy’s take ‘n bake pizza locations are now offering Gluten-Free Pizza. The company has teamed up with Udi’s to provide gluten-free crusts to their customers.

I was contacted and requested to try Papa Murphy’s new gluten-free pizza and report on our experience. My first response was, “Gluten-Free Pizza? Yes!” My second response was, “Wait, what about cross-contamination?” So, armed with a gift card for pizza and questions about cross-contamination, I searched out a Papa Murphy’s location to give it a try.

If you aren’t familiar with Papa Murphy’s, they are a take-and-bake business. In other words, you tell them the crust, sauce and toppings you want on a pizza. They assemble the pizza ingredients on site, where you can see them working, and wrap it up for you. You take the pizza home, unwrap the pizza, and bake it in your own oven so it’s hot and fresh.

I went to Papa Murphy’s on a typical weeknight to see how they would handle the gluten-free pizzas. It was a busy evening with several customers ordering regular gluten-containing pizzas. When we placed our order, we were first told that there is only one size — medium. Not a problem. Then I asked the hard question, “What about cross-contamination?” The young man behind the register said that they are trained to do their best to limit the risk of cross-contamination, but that they can not guarantee that it would be 100% gluten-free due to being prepared in a shared facility. He continued to tell me that the pizza crusts are kept in a separate area, and that the pizza would be prepared with freshly changed, clean gloves. So, we continued with the order.

PapaUncookedI was disappointed, but not surprised to find out that they don’t carry a dairy-free cheese. I ordered one gluten-free pizza with lots of fresh ingredients, and one gluten-free pizza with sauce and pepperoni on the side. (I added the pepperoni they provided  me and my own Daiya cheese at home before baking.) Because of the way Papa Murphy’s is set up, I was able to watch all the preparation of the pizzas. Every pizza crust, gluten-free or not, is on a tray. So, the pizza crust comes out on a tray, and goes down the assembly line. One person, with fresh gloves prepares the pizza with fresh ingredients. The pizza is then wrapped in plastic wrap and given to me to take home and bake.

The biggest risk of cross-contamination I saw was that the ingredients for all pizzas came out of the same toppings containers. It is possible that someone preparing a gluten-containing crust touched the crust and then transferred gluten into the toppings containers. The risk of that is somewhat limited by the fact that the crusts are all on disposable baking trays, and the actual touching of the crusts is limited to possibly touching the edge of a pizza. I would be more concerned about dairy cross-contaimination than that of gluten or wheat. My family felt that the risk on that night was somewhat minimal, or at least no more than eating out at a restaurant that isn’t 100% gluten-free.

PMPizzaWe took the pizzas home, baked them, and enjoyed them. They are Udi’s pizza crusts, which are thin crusts. The size is larger than the Udi’s crusts you can buy in the freezer section of your grocery store. Baking instructions called for 15 minutes at 500º. The pizzas both turned out very good. My plain pepperoni and Daiya cheese pizza was not as exciting as the one loaded up with Papa Murphy’s fresh toppings. But, it was still good. And, the good news is that no one got sick from gluten (or dairy).

Would we buy a gluten-free pizza at a Papa Murphy’s location again? Yes, but probably only occasionally. The time it took me to pick up the pizza, take it home and add my own toppings, and then bake it, was no less than it would take me to prepare my own pizzas with Udi’s frozen crusts at home. More convenient perhaps, but not a real time saver for me. The benefit of going to Papa Murphy’s is the wide selection of toppings. (Be sure to check their Allergen Guide before choosing your toppings.) Papa Murphy’s would also be a good option when traveling and visiting with friends and family.

My recommendation if you want to try Papa Murphy’s gluten-free pizza. For the first time, I would suggest going early in the day when it isn’t quite so busy. The toppings containers will be freshly filled, and less likely to have gluten from cross-contamination. There will also be fewer gluten-containing pizzas being prepared at the same time. Besides limiting the cross-conatimination, it also gives the staff an opportunity to take their time and be more cautious. Be sure to talk to the staff, preferably the person preparing your pizza, and tell them about your sensitivity to gluten. Make sure they change their gloves, and watch them as they prepare your pizza. We felt good about the process. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the looks of the preparation area, you may want to ask the staff if they have fresh toppings in the back that are less likely to have been contaminated. If you still aren’t satisfied, leave without the pizza. It’s always better to be safe than sick. If you were satisfied with the preparation, then you should feel good about the fact that it’s being baked in your own oven, and not one that is being shared with other gluten-containing pizzas. 🙂

UdiPapa**CeliacFamily was sent a pizza set and a gift card for Papa Murphy’s pizza as an invitation to try the gluten-free pizza and share our experience with our readers. Feel free to add your own thoughts and opinions on it in the comment section below.

Categories : Dining Out, Food
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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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