Gluten free D.C., Pt. 4

There is so much amazing gluten free ground to cover in D.C…. I didn’t scratch the surface of what they have to offer but I still managed to find some great eats!

There are distinctly areas of town for dining gluten free that provide more than chain type express joints, Alexandria proved to be one of those for us. We popped by on our way out of town and found these gems:

At Del Ray Pizzeria @delraypizzeria  they offer all of their pizza’s gluten free at the 10″ price. The crust is made locally by The Happy Tart. They were reasonably priced, great service and in a really cute eclectic part of town with free street parking. Bonus!

Like any reasonable family, we cruised over to Alexandria Cupcakes #alexandriacupcakes afterward to pick up dessert. They offered vanilla and chocolate gluten free cupcakes in a dedicated container, separate from the other cupcakes and they also offered a gluten free, vegan cupcake that was raspberry filled for my son. The cupcakes were made of coconut flour, they were moist and the icing was perfect (not too sweet).


What goes better with a cupcake than an iced matcha? A couple doors down from the cupcakes I found Killer ESP (Espresso, Sorbet and Pie). @killeresp   Not only did they have matcha lattes but I scored a raspberry turnover that was full of flavor, held together while I ate it and, oh, did I mention it too was gluten free? Today was a good day. 

On my way to the car I stopped in Misha’s Coffee House. @mishascoffeehouse  I love the inside of coffee houses, stores and bistros. There is always such a relaxed, inviting atmosphere and it’s always on my agenda to see if they have anything  gluten free. 


They had this rack of safely wrapped, individual portions of @katebakesbars treats which are not only gluten free but vegan! (I hear they have paleo versions too 😉

I wish I could spend a week in Alexandria alone. Love the town. Love the eats! 

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Gluten free D.C. Eats, Pt. 3

We spent a week in D.C. and half of it was near the hotel but we did venture out a few times, often just to try food in the neighboring communities. Honestly, that’s my favorite part of traveling.

While in the National Harbor we also had the pleasure of dining at McCormick and Schmick’s. This was unsurprisingly delightful. We have dined at their restaurants in other parts of the country and it is always satisfying. They take great care to prepare my meal, provide me with tasty options that don’t leave out the flavor and I actually get dessert!

 

In the same area at National Harbor we had lunch at Nando’s Peri-Peri. @nandosusa The kids had grilled chicken strips with healthy sides and dole whip for dessert, all gluten free. I tried their version of chicken salad with extra veggies in place of pita. This was a spicy mix with a flavor variation that made me glad I ordered a salad. How often does that happen?

 

The next afternoon we took a trek over to the MGM hotel for burgers at the Shake Shack @shakeshack which proved to be a great reminder that a gluten free burger can be done right. They had gluten free buns, a dedicated frier and could load everything up with bacon and cheese. Score!

 

 

Gluten free D.C. Eats, Pt. 2

If you are headed into downtown D.C., you will quickly notice that all of the buildings house a federal office of some sort.

Interestingly, you will not see places to eat. It’s actually very bizarre. It took us a few hours touring to realize that snack shacks were owned by The Government and food trucks lined the streets because those are the only options for refreshment, outside cafeterias in respective buildings, until you get outside the boundaries of DC and move into the neighboring cities housing businesses.

In need of some really good food, we ventured out to GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar and landed on a winner! The gluten free grilled cheese were made on @risebakerygf Rise Bakery bread. They are native to the DC area, and as I quickly found, supply many of the restaurants. They also made tots in a dedicated frier and you could get them with many different gluten free toppings, including chili.

 

Immediately after, we took a visit a couple streets over to the @wickedwaffle  Wicked Waffle. I could eat there every day! The waffles were light and fluffy, cut in half and topped with pretty much anything you can think of. They cooked ours on a separate tray and called out gluten free when they served it, for that extra peace of mind. They also had gluten free bars near the register for a take away quick snack.

 

Next we popped by one of my favorite bakeries (which we also visit in Chicago) @lepainquotidien Le Pain Quotidien USA, “the daily bread.” I found the triple chocolate cookies that the kids love and picked up a lemon poppyseed muffin for myself. This proved the be the best breakfast the following morning.

 

Last, I stopped by Pret Organic Coffee and tried one of their almond matcha lattes. While they didn’t offer any gluten free baked goods, they managed to shift my thinking when it comes to almond milk in my matcha. This was a distinct improvement in the ones I have tried in the past and I would highly recommend giving it a try!

For more info, check out pt. 3!

Gluten free D.C. Eats, Pt. 1

Where we eat depends a lot on where we stay and the purpose of our trip. 

On this trip, we are staying at the Gaylord Convention Center in Maryland. It sits on the bank of the Potomac with striking views, easy access to DC tourist attractions and has several in house restaurants.


I most cases I’m looking for ANY gluten free options to eat. I certainly don’t expect a lot of choices and I’m usually pleasantly surprised if there’s more than one. 

The marketplace store offered several varieties of prepackaged snacks that were clearly labeled gluten free as well as quinoa salad and hard boiled eggs. 

The Pastime sports bar offered several meal options on gluten free bread such as chicken, burgers, lunchmeat and grilled cheese. The fries were made in a dedicated area and they were very knowledgeable about gluten free provisions. 


The conference we are attending has some dining included but consistent markings on the buffet options are not consistent. The signs are sparatic and there are items that clearly contain allergens that are not labeled. 

In the pier area adjacent to the hotel, there are many dining options that are offered. We ate at Rosa Mexicana and were pleasantly surprised with the delightful options available. 


The chips are gluten free, fresh corn tortillas are used in cooking and they have a dedicated fryer. 

Thus far, I’ve been pleased I could eat but nothing overwhelmed me with amazing offerings. I’m hoping to get out and explore a bit more of the food options in the city as the week continues.

For more info, check out pt. 2-3

Gluten free on the road

If life is a highway and your lead foot won’t let you drive 55 on Route 66 then you have undoubtedly been on the road enough to realize it’s tough to feed the rumble in your tummy with fast food, when you have allergies. 

We have a few staple chains that we look for when traveling to give us peace of mind and provide a nourishing meal that is safe… and quick.

Hardee’s is the fastest. Although they do make your meals fresh, it will still be a great drive through option. They make their burgers from 100% beef so no worry of wheat fillers in the patties. The fries are cooked up in dedicated friers and any sandwich can be made low carb, which is wrapped in lettuce and paper so you can hold it, eat and drive!

Chipotle is our second fav. It requires a tad more stop time but all burritos can be made as a salad or a bowl (on rice and beans). They also offer a taco pack (for adults or kids) that can be made with corn tortillas or hard corn shells. Just choose your three ingredients and build away. They change their gloves, get clean utensils and use clean trays for meal prep when you let them know you have an allergy, btw.

BW 3’s is another great option and they have plenty of locations nationwide. They have traditional wings which are fried separate from the battered boneless ones and most of their sauces are gluten free. Our favorites are honey BBQ, medium and salt/vinegar. They actually have the sauce bottles on hand, for sale, so ask to read the label if in doubt!

Hope this helps you navigate the open road to a full belly. Happy trails!

Gluten free at Six Flags??

My family loves amusement parks. In fact, my husband and I got married next to a resort destination one and rode roller coasters at our reception. 

Since the kids have grown tall enough to enjoy all the parks have to offer, we decided to purchase season passes this year at Six Flags Great America. Since we are from Indy, it’s a hike regardless of where we go but a four hour ride also allows us to tap into all Chicago has to offer.


While doing my online food research I read that the park had gluten free options but they didn’t give any specifics. Restaurants and snack shops were listed but no menus.


When I entered the park, they searched our bags. Presumably for weapons but according to the posted signs, it was also for food. No outside for or drinks are permissible.

I stopped at the info desk to inquire about gluten free food options and was told they have one dedicated frier on the whole park… all the way at the back in the kids zone. But they also had healthy fare locations that would offer some non-fried options too. 


Over the 4th of July weekend we found the park to be maxed out with people and the parking lot full to the outer edges, yet the gluten free cafe, kidopolous, was not open. The go fresh cafe offered a salad. Not exactly the full flavored gluten free menu I was expecting. At least they had unsweetened tea (just about the only non sugary drink option in the park). 

I found a frozen yogurt place on the map and found that it too was closed. In order to find nourishment we went to the nacho stand and I asked to read labels. Even with the long lines I found a nice young man that walked me through each ingredient. We ended up with corn chips, liquid cheese and sour cream. 

I also found a candy store that offered caramel apples. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t just sell me an apple for my son who’s dairy free, without charging me the full caramel apple price.

Truth is, they could make some tweaks in the park that would make more food available for celiacs, like changing the taco seasoning on their nachos to one without wheat (same for the pico). They could verify what the turkey legs are cooked in and make them gf. They could offer cut up fruit at some of their locations. Even a hot dog stand would be helpful (if they didn’t pre-bun them)!


Unless you are Buddy the Elf and can live on cotton candy, Icee’s, spongebob ice cream bars, caramel apples and rock candy, don’t assume you will be able to eat at Six Flags. 😦

@sixflags I’d be happy to help!

Gluten free (west) Chicago, Pt. 3

When traveling to Chicago, we don’t always go downtown. In fact, with family in the burbs, we tend to spend a lot of time in the St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia areas.

There are so many quaint places that have amazing gluten free options out that way. In fact, this is just a few of my favorites. 

Mother’s Pancake House in St. Charles has gluten free pancakes and French toast, which is always a treat! Their gf pancakes are also dairy and egg free. I can’t help but endulge for French toast!


I will also visit Sweet Natalie’s in Geneva for treats. They have an ever rotating variety of baked goods, in a dedicated gluten free facility. Many of their items are also dairy free, as Wells’s other allergens. @sweet_natalies


Dinner usually finds us at Crosstown pub and Grill in Batavia. They have so many options that are unique, creative and tasty. You really feel like they spent some time putting a menu together that would be satisfying. Not just food but libations as well. They carry an array of gluten free beers that would encourage beer lovers to stop in too.


Don’t forget west Chicago and the burbs for gluten free food options. While these are just the highlights, I’m sure there will be more to share in the future. Follow my blog for update notifications!

Gluten free Chicago, Pt. 1

We love a quick trip to Chicago!

Since we live in the Indy area, we tend to take our quick weekends away in the Chicago area.

We find so many adventures and amazing foods from the plethora of available resources.

Stop one on my journey is always Do-rite donuts. They have the most amazing gf cake donuts in cinnamon, chocolate glazed, pistachio and birthday cake. For the 4th, they made them red, white and blue!


They also have an app, which I highly recommend downloading. When you place an order in advance, they will either hold it for pick up or deliver it to you (even in your hotel room) at the time you choose, for a nominal delivery fee.

Do this! Use the app and order ahead. They run out of gluten free donuts… and for good reason. They are amazing!! @doritedonuts

Nothing goes better with an amazing donut than an equally impressive cup of coffee. It just so happens that Do-rite carrys my favorite brand of coffee, Dark Matter. However, it’s worth a drive to their mothership for a latte. The mothership is their anchor store at 738 N Western Ave. @darkmattercoffee


The next stop on the journey is usually Toni Patisserie for macaroons. Their home made gluten free almond flour recipe will make you feel like you have stepped into France. @tonipatisseriecafe


Right around the corner is Le Pain Quotidien @lepainquotidien and although most of their baked items are off limits, my kids love their flourless chocolate chocolate cookies. Go early if you don’t want to miss out. They are huge!


I never claimed that my favorites were low calorie but they are gluten free and delicious! Stay tuned and follow my blog for more in the gluten free Chicago series! @chicago

Gluten Free Trader Joes

The staple gluten free items available at Trader Joe’s are endless and cost effective. If you are lucky enough to have access to one near your home or while traveling, you will find consistency in their offerings. 

While on our current trip to Chicago, I was able to score a room at the Homewood suites. We like staying here because one room has a living area with a fold out sofa for the kids as well as a refrigerator, stove and microwave. 

This allows us to pop into Trader Joe’s, pick up some favorites and be prepared for back up meals.

My typical buy list (at home) consists of:

Gluten free rolled oats

Gluten free pretzels

Joe Joe’s Gluten free cookies

BBQ sauce

Gluten free chicken breast nuggets (frozen)

Gluten free multi grain bread

Gluten free cornbread mix

Gluten free mini chicken tacos (frozen)

Broccoli and kale slaw (bag mix)

Organic creamy tomato soup

Taco seasoning mix!!! (I use it for chili too)

Fruit bars (variety)

Individual bags kettle corn

On the road, these help us out:


Add to it their gorgeous and affordable flowers, fresh fruit a plenty and variety of vegetables (chopped, frozen and in fresh picked form) and you have more than enough variety for a cost effective, allergy friendly diet. 

In the frozen veggie section you can also find chopped cauliflower, shelled edamame, shredded carrots, organic corn and more!

Stop in. Grab a list of gluten free options from the desk and shop a plenty!

The Gluten Free Pizza debacle

Being lied to is not on the top of my Christmas list. I understand the concept of proprietary information and I appreciate restaurants being cutting edge but come on, people! Do not lie to me.

When it comes to how restaurant staff answer a question about ingredients, products, prep area, contamination and the like, I expect them to take me seriously. Very seriously.

I went into Giordanos, Indianapolis location for lunch. It was the first time since the nationally recognized, Chicago pizza chain moved in and having popped in once while in chi-town, I figured it would be a pleasant experience. 

I called them to verify the brand of pizza crust to ensure it was both gluten and rice free. On the phone I was told they make it there, yet they threw away the packaging and I’d have to call Chicago if I wanted any further info. 

Uh, wait… what? If you make it there, why would there be packaging to throw away? Ok. So, I called Chicago. They too had, surprisingly, thrown away the packaging and were unable to verify the brand of crust but alas, somehow they managed to have all the ingredients available. Hmmm…

Fortunately, she was able to give me the ingredients and indeed, it was rice free as well. Oh, and side note, they are pre-made frozen crusts. I guess the other girl wasn’t there on that training day.

I was also informed they have dedicated pans for gluten free cooking but use the same prep space as their flour filled, dough flinging step brother. Great.

The kids and I emerged unscathed from this one but I have to admit, I’d love a tour and a chat with someone transparent enough to share how the process, product and prep is really handled for future visits and the health of other celiacs. 

May the sauce be with you.