It is a lovely day here in Colorado (sun shining, birds tweeting, tiny blades of bright green grass poking their tiny, delicate bracts through rocky ground), though I just saw on Weatherbug that snow is headed this way. Yikes! I'm going to do what any self-respecting queen of denial would and pretend it's not real. Instead of acknowledging the harsh realities of Spring in the mountain region I'm eating strawberries and focusing on new things; setting up a new site for this blog (to be launched on our 1 year bloggiversary), creating a BRAND NEW blog all about green living, drafting a 100 day raw food cleanse for Livy and myself, and chatting with you all. =)
Since I've spent the entire morning working on all of those "other" things, let's chat. Many of you have asked how we negotiate a high raw, gluten-free, vegan diet when we eat out with friends and family. It's really not as hard as one might think, once you get the hang of it.
Admittedly, eating this way does require some gumption. It's no piece of cake (unless said cake is gluten-free and vegan) and might not be for the faint of heart. On the other hand NOT eating gluten-free and vegan causes some of us to implore heaven for the swift arrival of death. Okay, that might be a *little* dramatic. But cheating on our eating does make several of us miserable and downright crabby. The promise of misery, should we veer from the path of health, keeps us on the straight and narrow.
So, let's talk restaurants. First of all, don't be afraid to ask what's in the food. If your server doesn't know, don't eat it!
We ran into one little lady on the road trip who said "I know that gluten-free is really "popular" now, but we just aren't doing that." Um, Popular? A couple of us nearly fell off of our barstools . It was all I could do not to *educate* her right there and then about gluten-free living and what it means to those of us who simply cannot have gluten come heck or high water! I ended up ordering a salad and some cooked veggies.
But, I digress (gathering myself and smoothing out articles of clothing that just might be in a knot). ;-)
Let's continue, shall we?
Try to look at restaurant menus before you go (check for them online). That way you can choose things that you know are safe for you.
There are some great places that cater to the gluten-free and veg crowd right along side their regular gluten-filled, omnivorous guests. We got the yummy pizza you see in this picture from Extreme Pizza. It is a gluten-free crust loaded with fresh vegetables and topped with soy cheese. (If you are sensitive to soy you can just skip the cheese.) Medium pizza for 22 bucks. That might sound like a lot of cash, until you consider that a frozen gluten-free single topping pizza runs around 10 bucks and you have to cook it at home. There really is something to be said for occasionally indulging in a little take-out. Helps one feel "normal."
Here are a few things to look for next time you're eating out Burger joints: Pass on these. Even their veggie burger options usually contain gluten. Fries? Maybe yes, maybe no. Lots of fast-food fries contain gluten. Salads? If you can find one without meat, more power to ya. Most of the time we just get puzzled looks and bewildered cooks in burger joints.
Delis: These can be tricky too. But, some have substantial salad bars, fruit bowls and even big ol' baked potatoes. The deli we visited on our road trip had all of these things. I asked for a plain baked potato stuffed with veggies, a side salad and fruit bowl. It was fabulous.
Italian Restaurants - some places have gluten-free menus. Call ahead or check online. If they offer gluten-free fare stick to simple marinara sauces. Otherwise, stick to salads and maybe vegetable side dishes.
Mexican Restaurants - Ask what's in the rice...it's generally safe. Choose corn tortillas with lots of fresh veggies. Also ask what's in the beans (you'll want to avoid those made with lard). Skip the cheese and sauces. If the guacamole and salsas are made fresh we can usually enjoy them freely with corn tortillas chips (ask for fresh chips made without extra salt). Btw...you can build a mean burrito bowl at Chipotle and keep it gluten-free and vegan.
Indian Restaurants - Gluten-free vegans can usually do pretty well at Indian places. Just stick to rice and vegetable dishes and be sure to ask if they use flour in the sauces.
Asian Restaurants - Here's where Gluten-free vegans can really chow down. Most Asian places thicken sauces with cornstarch instead of wheat flour. That's a big plus for a lot of us. Rice is always plentiful and you can have your vegetable dishes made just about any way you like. (Note: Be sure to ask that your dishes be made without soy sauce or MSG.) When eating out, we generally stick to Asian cuisine.
And, of course, there are a few really great vegetarian, vegan, and even raw food places scattered across the country. Be sure to check them out anytime you're near one.
Hope that helps you all a little bit. What are the things you look for when eating out? Have any suggestions? We'd love to hear them!