Eating Out with a Gluten Free Lifestyle
Pho King Delicious!
Pho K Gluten
If you are restricted to the gluten free diet or like me have an entire assortment of fun food allergies then you probably never eat out either. It just isn't worth eating something, no matter how good it may look, when you'll be paying for it on the car ride home and spend the next day sick. How annoying is it going out with your friends and ordering a salad and water. Maybe a plain chicken breast to go with it. Well you know what? You wont have to feel like the odd one out ever again. Because I have a few tips and a couple of tricks that make eating out while staying gluten free easy peasy. The best part is you will never have to explain what gluten is to anyone again! Well at least not while your trying to relax on a night out.
I'm going to start with my personal favorite. It's a simple dish and very cheap. It's also very filling and delicious. Its called Pho, pronounced "fuh". Its a Vietnamese soup prepared by first cooking the broth as hot as they can get it. Needless to say, don't stick your finger in it. Next they dump a scoop of rice noodles followed by whichever meats you've chosen. Choices range from chicken, pork, and beef. Then you may choose from a few other items to add to your soup such as tripe, meat balls, and flank steak. The meat is very thinly cut because when you put it into the soup its raw. That's the reason of the extremely hot broth. So by the time its brought to your table you have nicely cooked tender meat floating around in your soup. Some onions are thrown into the mix along with a few herbs and spices.
Then it's brought to your table with a dish of bean sprouts, a couple slices of lime, and a sprig of basil. You have the choice of adding any and all of these small flavonoids. The bean sprouts add some crunch and cool the soup a bit, the lime gives the broth a little more flavor in the lime department and the basil sets off a flavor in the broth that I love. I know that this last sentence is far from descriptive but its because the taste and warmth you get from this soup really is indescribable. Actually my friends and I dubbed the broth ambrosia or "drink of the gods". You say you want another great thing about this dish??! How about a large soup that will keep you full for hours costs about six bucks. Now stay away from the sauces at your table though. They have the danger of contaminating your soup with allergens. You could always ask what's in them but personally I just don't trust sauces unless I've made them. This dish is gluten and dairy free. Also it has a feel good factor, meaning if you wake up with a stomachache or a cold, go get a hot bowl of Pho. You wont regret it.
The next safe haven for those avoiding the gluten protein would be your friendly neighborhood Thai restaurant. If you've never tried Thai food you've missed out but the best part isn't the taste. Its the fact that most of their dishes are gluten free. Now granted there are some dishes that should be avoided. However using simple common sense you can avoid getting sick. Like not eating anything breaded. Their are a lot of ingredients in their dishes and some of the sauces used in the stir fried dishes can contain gluten. (side note: soy sauce does contain gluten.) But most of their dishes contain rice or rice noodles as the main grain. For example, the most famous Thai dish of all time, Phad Thai. This is a dish that got me hooked on Thai. I was lucky enough to have an amazing Thai restaurant right next to my base of operations. Its noodles are rice and they fry a variety of ingredients into it to create a dish that will explode with flavor when you taste your first bite. Though I've never personally become sick from this dish, they use fish sauce in it, and certain brands contain modified food starch. As you may or may not know this is one thing you need to look out for. If they do not list the source of the starch (Wheat, Corn, Rice etc.) then you run the risk of getting sick. More dishes I would recommend from personal experience are the chicken skewers, fresh rolls (not spring rolls), Thai fried rice, and any curry they may offer. As with anything else though you should go into the restaurant with an experimental mind set. Discuss with your waiter or waitress dishes that look safe and ask any questions you may have. Im not trying to freak you out, just be aware. Thai is delicious and a safe choice when going out.
I wish I could upload smells... Phad Thai.
More and more restaurants are offering gluten free menus. Red Robin and PF Changs offer great menus in which they just alter most of their dishes to make it gluten free. DO NOT assume your waiter knows what gluten is. They only take orders they don't make the food. When they take your order tell them to make sure the cook is aware and makes an extra effort to keep your food away from dishes that may contaminate your dinner. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to ask! You are only ensuring that you have a pleasant evening with your date instead of your toilet.
Whenever you go to a new restaurant ask the waiter for a gluten free menu like you're expecting it. It's the easiest way to avoid making a hassle out of it. If they don't have one then you're out of luck. Explain what the deal is and tell the waiter to relay it to the cook once you've made the best possible choice.
Taking advantage of these new and fun foods will not only give you plenty of gluten free options, it will also blow your friends away. People get into a habit of eating the same things over and over. Eating something new and fresh will spark new life into something as simple as eating out. Enjoy!