Gluten Free on the Go: Chick-fil-A
Controversial Yet Delicious
There was some controversy recently about Chick-fil-A. As a result, many people swore they would never eat there again. When I was a kid I was pretty aware that Chick-fil-A was a more religious company--they were never open on Sundays, which was annoying whenever my family took our weekly trip to the nearby town and happened to go on Sunday instead of Saturday. (No waffle fries for me.) So none of the stuff that came out about the company was at all surprising to me. A religious company holds conservative views? Shocker.
So while all these people were saying how they would never eat Chick-fil-A ever again, I couldn't help but think how great it would be if there were a Chick-fil-A nearby. It had nothing to do with religion or boycotting or activism or anything like that. I just want a fairly solidly gluten free fast food option! And Chick-fil-A, regardless of what you may think about their religious views, are a very gluten-friendly chain. I guess my health and nutrition comes before my principles. (This is also why I will never be a vegetarian.)
A Decent GF Menu
I am always happy to see fast food chains putting their allergen/nutrition information somewhere near the top, in a spot where everyone can find it easily. Chick-fil-A does just that. If you go to their page on Health and Allergen Information you will find a tab labeled Gluten Information. It gives you a list of all the foods you may be able to have.
They do make sure to mention that certain spices and flavorings may be suspect, and encourage you to go over the list with your doctor (which is the weirdest advice I've ever heard--can you imagine making an appointment with your doctor to go over every fast food menu you come across?), but they do have a nice list of items to choose from.
For your sandwich you can choose a bun-less chargrilled chicken sandwich.
For a salad you can havethe chargrilled chicken garden salad or the chargrilled chicken and fruit salad. The tortilla strips are gluten free, and it looks like all of the dressings are okay.
The side items are pretty free and clear of gluten. The waffle fries are generally fried in a dedicated fryer (ask), and use a different oil from the fried chicken. (The fried chicken items are fried in peanut oil, but the waffle fries use vegetable oil.) The side salad, fruit cup, carrot and raisin salad, and even the cole slaw are all safe for consumption. Which, if you're paying attention, is most of the side items. Pretty neat.
In the kids meal you have an option of grilled chicken nuggets. Some people say they've had no problem getting those in an adult meal, so you might try asking. They also offer a thing called Buddy Fruits as a side, which should be gluten free as well. Considering you probably also have the fruit cup or fries as an option, the kids meal has a pretty good selection of items as well.
All of the dipping sauces are safe.
For dessert there are a few items listed without wheat. There's a mini sundae with ice cream and chocolate syrup on top, as well as the Icedream cup. (I'm not positive what "Icedream" is, but it appears to be what they use for all ice cream based food items. It is a milk-based product)
The shakes are also listed as wheat free, but you should assume that they might share equipment, and therefore might be contaminated. Ask first to avoid an unpleasant cookie surprise. These items don't appear on the gluten free list, probably for a good reason.
On the breakfast menu it looks like the yogurt parfait and hash browns are both fine. Usually the parfaits contain granola, but this one appears to be just yogurt and strawberries. If you want to go bread-less, the sausage, egg, bacon and cheese are also safe.
Chick-fil-A has a disclaimer stating that they do try to avoid cross-contamination, but it may happens sometimes. Let the staff know about your issue before ordering.
Chick-fil-A is a great establishment for gluten free eaters. They have a good variety of options--you're not limited to one or two items--and seem to really care about providing safer, healthier options.
So if you can't eat gluten and you're near one of these (and it's not a Sunday--they won't be open), it might be your best bet for getting a decent full meal for you and your family that might not make you ill.
You can contact them on their web form OR you can call or write (they are one of the few places that lists their contact info):
P.O. Box 500367
Atlanta, GA 31150