Gluten Free Food Favorites

I tried to narrow my choices for gluten-free friendly CHAIN restaurants to just 10, but with so many chains now offering great gluten free selections, it was too hard to do. So here are my 12 Favorites.Some are our family's regular go-to chains with locations around the Washington DC area where we live...while others are regional chains outside our area that we were thrilled to discover on various trips. Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano – I love that Biaggi’s is located in mid-sized cities where there may not be quite the same range of gluten free choices of a “Big City” like New York City or Boston…but where diners are sophisticated and want a restaurant that understands their gluten free needs and desire for high-quality food. We've been to the ones in Salt Lake City (now closed) and Maple Grove, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis. You’ll find a huge Gluten Free Menu here, including many wonderful GF pasta choices. Here's a photo of a seasonal Caprese Salad they offered over the summer. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse – What could be better than meeting up with friends or co-workers at a place that offers gluten free pizza, gluten free beer, and even a... Read more →


P.F. Chang's has always been one of our family's go-to restaurants for a reliable, safe, and delicious gluten free meal. So my son and I were happy when my aunt treated us to dinner at their Natick Mall location in the suburbs of Boston last Friday night, right after we concluded our annual week at Camp Celiac in North Scituate, Rhode Island (this was my son's fourth year attending, and I volunteer as a parent counselor). My aunt and her friend were craving the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken, one of our favorites, too. However, upon being seated, we quickly discovered the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken was no longer on the menu. It had been replaced by Cantonese Style Lemon Chicken, which is described as, "crispy chicken breast sliced and drizzled with warm lemon sauce and chilled broccolini." We asked our server if we could get the chef to make the Philip's Better Lemon Chicken instead, because I'd remembered they often honored customer requests for this dish during a brief period a couple years ago when they'd taken it off the menu. However, we were told they weren't able to do that, because they did not have all the ingredients required... Read more →


If you're like our family, you're always looking for healthy, quick, gluten free snacks to grab when you're running from one activity to the next...something that holds up well in a purse or backpack -- or even in the car. Gluten free snack bars -- be they fruit and nut bars, protein bars, or traditional granola bars -- are a popular choice, and you probably remember me reviewing many brands here on this blog over the years. Our family likes most gluten free varieties we've tried, and fortunately, there seem to be new ones introduced all the time. One of the latest product introductions is the line from Annie's, also known for their delicious mac-n-cheese, both in gluten free and gluten varieties. (Another Annie's favoite of ours are their Cocoa and Vanilla bunny-shaped cookies. They have a great flavor and are perfect for the Easter season! They also come in Ginger Snap flavor, which we haven't yet tried.) But back to the Granola Bars... These are true "granola bars," as you remember them (the chewy, oat-based snack bars). There are two varieties -- Double Chocolate Chip, made with real mini chocolate chips, and Oatmeal Cookie, which has a cinnamon flavor... Read more →


One of my favorite gluten free Holiday recipes is a gluten free version of traditional cornbread stuffing. I've adapted various recipes to come up with this one, which can be made quickly and easily, especially if you choose to use pre-made gluten free cornbread (like the Gluten Free Bakehouse variety found at Whole Foods Market) or even just your favorite gluten free bread (cut into cubes and dried out a bit). Of course, you can always whip up a fresh batch of gluten free cornbread -- using a mix or your own favorite recipe -- and use that for the base in this recipe. Another thing I love about this recipe is the addition of sausage. You can vary the taste depending on what type of gluten free sausage you use, but in general, I love the slight degree of spiciness and saltiness sausage lends to the recipe. You can bake this stuffing in a casserole dish (as I do) or stuff your turkey with it. It can also be prepared and refrigerated the day before and then baked the day of your event. Here's the recipe, with suggestions for various adaptations: Gluten Free Stuffing Ingredients: 7 cups gluten free... Read more →


When people first get diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, one of the things they mourn most is having to give up "regular" wheat-based pasta. That's certainly what happened with our family over eight years ago when our not-quite-two-year-old was diagnosed with Celiac. We thought, "Will he -- or we -- ever eat lasagna or Penne Bolognese again?" Fortunately, as you, too, have probably discovered, there's quite a selection of gluten free pastas on the shelves of grocery stores, and with each passing year, the choices get even better. Now even "mainstream," non-specialty stores typically offer at least a few varieties. Tinkyada, Schar, and Bionaturae are some of the easiest ones to find, and there's even a quinoa-based one called Ancient Harvest. And just yesterday I noticed one of the coupons given to me upon checkout at my local Giant grocery store was for Barilla's new gluten free pasta! Really? That's pretty huge...a big mainstream company like that offering gluten free pasta. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that Ronzoni also came out with a gluten free pasta a couple months ago. While our family enjoyed it -- and looks forward to trying Barilla's, too -- we've... Read more →


It's Back to School and Back to the Scramble! Today we welcome Aviva Goldfarb, mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble®, an online weekly meal planning service and author of a cookbook by the same name. She also has a second cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” Both are available on Amazon.com. Aviva is also a Today Show contributor and frequently appears in media such as the Washington Post, O Magazine, Real Simple, Working Mother, Prevention and more. Aviva's focus is on the family dinner -- and making it easier for busy parents. After all, families who eat dinner together typically have better relationships. Plus, the kids do better in school, are healthier physically and emotionally, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors like drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. More interesting (and rather alarming) statistics and trends can be found on Aviva's website. By following Aviva's tips below, you'll learn to save time, money, and your sanity! Most of Aviva's recipes are gluten free -- or can be easily adapted to be gluten free. Below she shares two favorite recipes, as well as... Read more →


I've always enjoyed shopping at Wegmans, especially for meat and specialty items. However, the closest one is 20 minutes from my home, so I don't typically shop there on a weekly basis. But two exciting things have happened lately: 1.) Wegmans has a new dedicated area for gluten free products -- shelf stable as well as frozen -- in the center of their store. We've been able to find the majority of our favorite brands and products here, which helps reduce the need for shopping at multiple stores to find the gluten free items our family likes. 2.) I've discovered that many of Wegmans' mouth-watering recipes in their Menu magazine are gluten free -- or can very easily be tailored to be gluten free with some simple substitutions. (Menu magazines are mailed free to you when you sign up for a Wegmans shoppers club loyalty card. Their recipes are also available free online.) As those of you who shop at Wegmans and use their Menu magazine know, their recipes contain many private label products that you can only find at Wegmans -- things like pre-made sauces, marinades, or dressings (one of my favorites is their Lemon and Caper Sauce, which... Read more →


With Memorial Day weekend -- and the unofficial start of Summer just days away -- we're all beginning to think of cool treats like popsicles and ice cream to cool us down as the mercury rises. Until recently, gluten free folks had to forgo ice cream cones -- settling for ice cream in a bowl. Now that isn't much fun, is it?! But here again, a gluten free friendly company has come to the rescue! Goldbaums, "the name in tasty gluten free food," introduced their five types of gluten free ice cream cones a while back, but I saw it fitting to remind everyone of this great find now that we're officially in ice-cream season! Goldbaums makes several varieties of the traditional Sugar Cones as well as an Ice Cream "Cup" style cone. They even have Cocoa Sugar Cones (our family's favorite) and Jumbo Cones (like the large "waffle cones" you find in many ice cream stores). You can make them even more like these gourmet waffle cones you find elsewhere by dipping them in chocolate and then coating with other confections like coconut, sprinkles, or nuts! No one would ever guess these cones are gluten free! Goldbaums has other... Read more →


Every so often a gluten free product comes along that fills a much-needed void. Take for example, the line of ready-to-eat snacks/meals from GoPicnic. Available in 10 different Gluten Free varieties, they're perfect for kids' lunch boxes, your own lunch box, field trips, road trips, and as a take-along snack for the plane. They're also great for gluten free college students who need to pack a safe, gluten free snack to eat between classes. Whenever and wherever you need a "grab and go" gluten free snack, this is a great option! Similar to Oscar Mayer Lunchables in size and concept, they're much healthier and require no refrigeration. Each box is filled with 5 individually wrapped items -- usually a cracker or healthy chip with some sort of protein or spread, a fruit or nut mix and other snack, and a "treat" like a gluten free cookie. Many of the varieties are not only gluten free, but vegan as well. Just be sure to look closely when selecting a GoPicnic product, because they also have a non-GF line of products. Fortunately, the "Gluten Free" phrase is prominent on the packaging. Here are the Gluten Free varieties available now: Turkey Stick and... Read more →


I've been a fan of KIND bars since I first tried them a couple years ago. My favorite varieties have always been from their "original" Fruit and Nut line: the moist and chewy Almond Coconut and Almond and Apricot bars. These "whole food" fruit and nut bars are amazingly tasty and also give you plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, calcium, and iron. They''re non-GMO and ALL varieties are gluten free. And now they've launched several new lines of bars -- as well as a line of six gluten free granola "clusters." First, a run-down of the various varieites of KIND snack bars... KIND NUTS AND SPICES includes tasty varieites such as Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan, Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt (both my favorites), Cashew Ginger and Spice, and Madagascar Vanilla Almond (good, but not much vanilla flavor, in my opinion). There's also a line of KIND PLUS bars, which are packed with an extra "nutritional boost" of things like flax, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and in some cases...extra protein. Flavors include Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein (10 g of it and loaded with 50% of your daily value of vitamins A, C, and E, too!), Almond Cashew + Flax... Read more →


If you haven't heard of Amie Valpone and you're gluten free, you'll want to get to know her. She's a personal chef, culinary marketing consultant, professional recipe developer, food writer, and blogger at The Healthy Apple. And because she herself is gluten free, developing gluten free recipes that pack a healthy punch is her specialty. Amie has a way of taking ingredients you may not have tried (but you know are good for you!) and turning them into amazingly delicious (and quite simple) creations. She and I are both involved in the new Simply Gluten Free magazine, whose first issue -- dedicated to cooking gluten free for the Holidays -- just hit homes and newsstands last week. I recently asked Amie to share a favorite gluten free recipe with me -- one that was easy, healthy, and kid-friendly. Her Rainbow Swiss Chard and Lemon Stir Fry's colorful hue appeals to kids and adults alike, and it's a great way to sneak some Swiss Chard, that's LOADED with vitamins and minerals, into your diet. Combined with the lemon juice and lemon zest -- and a few scallions and pine nuts - this dish is the perfect one-dish meal! I loved it...it... Read more →


I wanted to make sure you didn't miss the article that ran a couple days ago on The Daily Meal's website, where they showcase the gluten free entrees and other items my family considers among its favorites when dining out. These "top picks" are from 12 national or regional restaurant chains that offer Gluten Free Menus. Chances are, you have at least several of these chains near where you live -- or if not, it's worth seeking them out when you travel. I'd love to hear about YOUR favorite restaurants -- chain OR independent. Feel free to share a comment below by clicking on the "Comment" button -- or submit a review to our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite, so other Celiac or gluten sensitive folks searching our site for "GF-friendly restaurants" can learn about YOUR top picks! Read more →