Eating gluten free is getting a bad rap these days, in my opinion. Earlier this month a story came out in the media that 30% of adults are trying to eat gluten free. I mean, really? The articles quote some "expert" who says that "This is the health issue of the day." Ah, only in America, folks, with our first-world problems.
Now, when someone invites me over for dinner and asks if I have any "issues," or I'm on a consulting project and am asked what we should order in, it's hard not to feel ridiculous when I say I'm gluten-free. I secretly wish I could wear some little badge that makes the disclaimer that I'm not trying to be paleo or Atkins or whatever... (For a post from 2009 giving some of my reasons for eating gluten free, go here.)
But I will not play the martyr. I need to laugh at it along with everyone else. Enjoy this very funny video mocking the gluten free trend, titled "One Grain More."
I would not be gluten free if it did not make me feel a lot better, because it's not convenient or fun, especially when I travel. However, I have learned to work with it, and am now sort of enjoying the adventure of it. Now, when I'm heading out of town I google to find out where I can eat gluten free. Here are my top four so far:
Veggie Grill, which has several locations in the west (of course), serves some really good vegetarian and GF options. I went to one in Seattle during a recent work project, had some mac and cheese made with quinoa pasta that was terrific.
Risotteria in NYC. Probably my favorite so far. They serve you GF breadsticks when you sit down, and those are things you realize how much you miss when you finally get to have them! I let myself eat whatever sounded good: beer, sandwich, salad, dessert... because all of it was gluten free. It's my happy place these days when I am daydreaming...
Flappy Jacks in Glendora, CA. I am down in Azusa at least twice a month, and whenever I have to spend the night, I brave the crowds and go here. They have a huge gluten free menu filled with all the things you have hung your head over as a gluten free eater and just accepted you cannot have: waffles, french toast, pancakes that actually taste like pancakes...
Sensitive Sweets, Fountain Valley, CA. I just stumbled onto this place during a vacation in Laguna Beach. I had a chocolate fudge cupcake that was practically a religious experience (yes, go ahead and picture me with fudge frosting circling my mouth...). I bought a GF cake mix that was used for my birthday a few months later and it was perfection.
Parting advice you didn't ask for: If you are considering going gluten free, I strongly suggest you do so only if you are having genuine medical issues, as I did. My acid reflux went away and the rumbling down below has abated, thankfully. Despite all the press about it as "the health issue of the day," I actually gained weight during the first two years I followed a GF diet, and finally got it all under control this year, losing twenty pounds as I understood more about metabolism, whole grains, etc.
Furthermore, it's not something you sort of do, like "I try to avoid it when I can..." because once I gave it up, I found that I actually became more sensitized to gluten if I fudged or accidentally ate it. (Other GF'ers have confirmed this too). You're either all in or all out. Otherwise, you do not gain the benefits that you think might be there.
There are a lot of GF products out there now, but be wise... I learned the hard way that you only want to eat whole grain. A lot of GF products use white rice flour, tapioca flour, etc, and that is high on the glycemic index (which sounds like I know what I'm talking about, but I don't... do your homework.)
All for now... go ahead and make fun of gluten free trendiness. I'm right with you.