We love to travel and one of the biggest challenges is finding gluten-free options in airports and especially on planes. I learned so many things as a fitness competitor, especially traveling for shows with a restrictive diet but the biggest thing is the ability to take food through TSA security! Yes! You can bring your own food with you to the airport and on the plane. I used to bring a 6-pack bag cooler (it’s a brand competitors use frequently) filled with baked fish, chicken and steak along with meatballs, sweet potatoes and veggies to fill my belly. If you think people complain about you eating gluten-free, try cracking open some tuna on a plane without your neighbors giving you the stink eye!
I like to think I’ve mastered the ability to bring things with me but even now and again I forget so if you have gluten-free snack items you love to travel with please feel free to post them below! The more information we can share for each other, the better and as you know that’s why I started Pretty Little Celiac!
Here are my top 10 gluten-free airport and plan travel snacks!
Fruit and/or dried fruit
Gluten-Free bars like Vans, Lara bars, Kind bars etc.
Go Picnic kits
String Cheese or Baybel’s
Sample packets of protein powder – purchased or separated yourself – mix at the airport
Tuna packets, canned chicken, canned salmon
Roasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – any seed! Make your own trail mix!
What am I missing? Tell us what you take through security and on planes or trains when you travel!!
Wow. This place knocked my socks off when it came to gluten-free options! The first time I’ve eaten here and I will be a repeat customer for sure. As a matter of fact, I ended up at 2 different Aladdin’s Eatery‘s in one weekend because I was so impressed with their food.
Their entire menu is marked with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and nut coding so you can clearly identify which foods are safe. This worked great for my husband and I because he is allergic to nuts and I have celiac disease. We struggle with Mediterranean restaurants because they typically use lots of nuts and nut oil which causes him to go into anaphylactic shock. Check out their menu!
Another reason to get excited is their juice options. I got the grape, carrot and cucumber juice for our brunch and it tasted great!
We started with the falafel appetizer and tahini sauce. It was great. I even bought a gluten-free falafel mix at the grocery store to make them at our house. We will probably bake them instead of frying them. But I’m glad to have a new option instead of rice and quinoa.
My main dish was Jasmine’s Favorite with falafel. I had the lean beef the other night with this dish and I was very pleased. My mom had the same thing but got chicken as the meat option. She loved it.
My husband had a pita wrap both times and enjoyed them too! There are plenty of options for everyone there.
I highly recommend Aladdin’s Eatery for gluten-free dining! Find their locations online.
Aaron and I go On the Air to talk about how we make our traveling trips successful! We give you our advice for what works and what hasn’t worked in the past along with great ideas and tips to stay as safe as possible during vacation.
We talk about research, planning, the best travel snacks and more!
Oh yeah, and we get our first live caller! How exciting! See what advice I have for her son who is struggling to find a camp that will accommodate his needs and for her daughter who is struggling with staying gluten-free after a celiac diagnosis!
We also have a little banter back and forth so you can get an idea of our relationship.
Want to wait until later to listen? Pretty Little Celiac is available on iTunes! You can subscribe to my page on iTunes and listen whenever you get the chance. I’ve had some amazing feedback on my podcast show, so please check them out. They have been really beneficial to a lot of people.
One of the biggest challenges I faced when eliminating gluten from my life was trying to find something I could quickly grab when I was out and about. Often, my day runs back to back and I’m not great of preparing and planning my day around food. So, I really struggled with making sure I had safe snacks with me consistently or ended up going to a dine in place just because I knew they would accommodate my gluten-free life! But that habit became too costly and I needed to get better about planning my meals.
But, sometimes you are in a jam and need something quick. Maybe you left your lunch at home or an out of the office meeting ran late, leaving you hungry with no time to get back to the office. What do you do? Where can you go?
When doing research on these companies, numerous other sites popped up offering information as well. I will tell you when doing research to go directly to the company as your best and most accurate information on safe choices for that restaurant. Every link I put on this site is directly from the website of the company and effective as of May 6, 2013.
Fast food disclaimer of mine: Please be aware the risk of cross contamination is high at any of these fast food joints. They are taught to do things quick because no one wants to wait for fast food. You can’t be sure they are handing your food safely or that proper precautions are being met to keep you safe. Any of these options are an eat at your own risk!
McDonald’s – I hardly ever eat here because it seems the only things safe are condiments. There is strong controversy over the french fries, its not very clear. They don’t make it very convenient to locate items with specific ingredients on their list of allergens either. It’s a gigantic list of every single food they offer with the ingredients listed. There is no chart and its extremely hard to read.
Wendy’s – This is my fast food stop whenever I’m caught unprepared or traveling. Their website has pages dedicated to the issue and they make it a point to let you know they understand and what options are available to us. This ONLINE GUIDE provides their options! My go to item is a baked potato with cheese. I could eat them every day. Wendy’s are all over the place so it makes it a perfect stop on our road trips!
Taco Bell– When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t find anything to eat here. It seems with doing my research for this article, they improved their gluten-free selections and actually have some options. Check out Taco Bell’s offerings.
Burger King– Similar to their competitor McDonald’s, Burger King struggles to offer much for those of us eating gluten-free. Their burgers with no buns and condiments appear to be the minimal selections on their list of gluten-free menu items. As much as I’d love a packet of ketchup and a 2oz greasy burger, I think I’ll pass.
Kentucky Fried Chicken – “Yeah, can I get a tomato slice and a honey barbecue packet?” Or at least that’s what I’d order from KFC’s gluten free menu. I stopped eating KFC about 10 years ago when I watched a video of their employees horribly abusing the chickens but I’m pretty sure going gluten-free is another reason I won’t be visiting here anytime soon. Just another quick fix fast food chain offering up condiments and sides as their “gluten-free menu.”
Noodles & Company – I’ve had a mixed bag of success here. Sometimes it’s a great experience with no problems and other times I end up with regular noodles in my dish. They have done their homework and offer a great allergen and nutrition guide. I would love to see the same amount of enthusiasm go to training and educating their staff at the different locations! Be very clear when you go here and hopefully they will treat your food right.
Pei Wei – This chain is the little sister of PF Changs so it’s no wonder they know a thing or two about gluten-free. Their edamame needs to be requested gluten-free because they use chicken stock in making it regularly. I find this odd especially since this is a popular side dish for vegetarians and I’ve never seen it marked as being cooked in chicken. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries – I’ve heard wonderful things about them from other people but was sad by the information on their website. It isn’t very clear if they are gluten-free or not. It just says our buns contain… but nothing about the fries or meat being gluten-free. Several people told me they cook their fries separately and will make you a naked burger with no bun. If you know more than what they put on their website, or have a good experience, please post it below!
Sonic – How about a naked hotdog and a sundae? I’ve actually eaten that before here so don’t judge me…lol This is another one that’s tough to find some good options for gluten-free menu items. In desperate times, you can find something but I wouldn’t plan on actually eating here on purpose!
Carl Jr – They do have a low carb burger but gluten isn’t even listed on their allergen menu. They indicate which products contain wheat but not gluten. We don’t have them in Ohio so I can’t tell you what I’ve experienced. Have you been there? Let us know!
Del Taco – Avoid like the plague. Don’t believe me? Check out their menu which lists everything except soft drinks as containing gluten.
El Pollo Loco – Just like anywhere else, eat here at your own risk. They don’t have a dedicated fryer but actually give a great disclaimer to say the risk of cross contamination is extremely high. They have a list of gluten/wheat free items on their site for those who are avoiding or can tolerate a small amount.
Chick-Fil-A – They have a few options for you! They specifically state it is a challenge to prevent cross contamination but they do have policies in place to reduce the risk. I wonder why the kids chicken nuggets are gluten free but the regular ones are not? How are they different? I’m going to have to check it out next time I’m over that way! Here is their list of nutrition and allergen information.
We decided to try a new place for gluten-free foods since I’m tired of going to the usual places. I remembered seeing City BBQ show up as having gluten-free items and after looking at their website, they do a great job of identifying lots of allergens in their food. I looked up the menu and allergen list prior to going to the restaurant but was pleased to see the cashier have it readily available when I ordered.
I haven’t had ribs in I don’t even know how long but something told me to try them. I ordered the half rack of ribs, beans with brisket and a side salad with the apple cider vinaigrette. If you stop there, the brisket is amazing and delicious as well. They were great about asking me which order was mine when making our food because they changed their gloves and utensils when serving my meal.
The food tasted great and I was very happy with my dining experience at City BBQ. I felt their staff were educated on food allergens and how to keep me safe. The food was delicious and I left a happy customer and no belly ache.
It’s always important to note that my dining experience was based on the staff working at the time and my experience and knowledge with what it takes to keep me safe. These are the 2 most important factors when dining out with special dining needs. Being able to clearly identify your needs and how they can accommodate you is extremely helpful and reduces the risk of you getting sick. Obviously, you can’t prevent all problems but this is a really big one that can help minimize your risk!
Next week will be 1 year that I started this celiac journey and it took about 8 months for me to really start figuring things out! I’ve been on several trips since then and realized many people aren’t sure of what they can take with them when traveling. This was quite the conundrum for me when I initially traveled with celiac disease. When we went to visit friends, I always went shopping beforehand to buy my essentials for the trip. I’m not one that believes people should bend over backwards to cater to my auto-immune disease. I’m an adult, I can meet my own needs.
With all this said- I asked this question on the Pretty Little Celiac Facebook page and compiled a list of items perfect for road trips or plane travel.
BTW- You CAN take food through airport security with you but not beverages. I’ve done it many times while competing, even bringing meatballs, asparagus and chicken in a carry on cooler.
1. Rice cakes
2. Individual nut butter packets
3. Lara bars, Kind bars or other gluten free snack bars
4. Almonds or other nuts
5. Apples are the perfect road trip fruit. Bananas may work but could get bruised or squishy
6. Carrots, mini cucumbers or other sliced veggies
7. Glutino cereal bars
8. Kettle chips, Sweet potato chips, lentil chips, gluten free pretzels (not as nutritious or filling)
9. String or Baybel cheese
10. Gluten free crackers
11. Amy’s gluten free bunny crackers/cookies
12. Dried fruit
13. Tuna packets and individual packets of condiments
14. Gluten free protein powders
What’s in your bag that I missed? Let’s see how big we can make this list to prove to people there ARE things we can eat!
The restaurant was dark and decorated in red and black colors throughout. It would be a great place for an intimate dinner with a significant other. I would not recommend for families or people with children.
This sushi restaurant was a bit on the pricey end but completely worth every dollar spent!
Imagine my comfort level when our waitress explained she also struggles with a gluten intolerance and was well aware of how to prepare the foods and when to check on items to make sure I was safe.
She answered all my questions about the menu and made me feel extremely safe about eating there. When I had questions she didn’t know the answer, she immediately went back to the kitchen to ask the chef to ensure I was staying gluten free!
I decided to try the most expensive roll in the place – it had gold flakes on it! Kobe beef, king crab and yellow fin were some of the meats in this roll. It tasted like magic. I loved it and every single thing about it was phenomenal. I hadn’t spent a lot of money so far on food during the trip so I decided to take a splurge.
We also had roasted mini potatoes that were seasoned so perfectly and roasted to the greatest crispiness ever that we were all fighting over them at the table.
Everyone at the table enjoyed different sushi rolls that were each equally delicious in their own way. (or so I was informed by the non-celiacs)
If you are in Las Vegas looking for a unique, delicious dinner and aren’t worried about the price tag – I would highly recommend Social House for dinner.
I’ve written about Maggiano’s in the past but wanted to give it another try to see if they are consistent among the chains with gluten free menus and education of their staff.
Sure enough, the waiter was very familiar with gluten free options and provided me with a description about what could and couldn’t be made gluten free. I settled with the pasta dish I always get and it was delicious.
I do struggle with their Caesar salads though. Not sure if it’s the lactose in the dressing or preparation of the salad but I stopped getting them there. –
It was nice to not spend over $25 on a meal for once during this trip.
This chain really does gluten free right!
Border Grill – Mandalay Bay
Our last night in Las Vegas, we decided to take a stroll over to Mandalay Bay and have dinner at Border Grill. This place was highly recommended on the gluten free sites and showed on their website to have a dedicated gluten free menu, so needless to say I was pumped to check it out.
The hostess was not very friendly. I gotta say that I am a stickler for happy, positive employees because they are the face of your business and crucial to customer satisfaction.
I was pleased to see such a large gluten free menu until I opened it and realized 2 of the pages were filled with alcohol choices.
We decided to try the Queso Fundido, which they brought out with corn tortillas and the chips are gluten free there. The dip was pretty tasty for sure but it didn’t knock my socks off.
Our waiter was aware of celiac disease and gluten free preparations so that made me feel at ease too during our time there.
I ordered a shrimp and rice which came out on a plate filled with rice and then a strip of shrimp down the middle. The rice was in a pool of liquids making it a bit soggy. I have to say that I can’t stand wet rice so I just ate the rice off the top and picked at the shrimp. The dish was disappointing and I didn’t leave there feeling like I had an amazing gluten free dish coming from somewhere that specifically has a gluten free menu. The cost of my 10 small shrimp and rice was also $28 which I found to be completely out of line for the quality of the dish.
Now, had that dish come out and completely wowed me, I wouldn’t blink at spending $28 on vacation in Las Vegas for dinner. It just didn’t do it for me so I can tell you I won’t likely go back on my trip to Las Vegas next year.
I would recommend Border Grill because they are educated and understand gluten free meals but I’m not sure it would be my first pick for someone. It’s the safe choice.
Prior to being diagnosed with celiac disease, this is probably one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas. It always provided delicious Italian dishes with a decent price tag and a great atmosphere. I love eating outside the restaurant (but in the mall) on the cobble stone street being able to people watch while enjoying a delicious meal and glass of wine.
We decided to stop there and have an early lunch one day while out shopping around. They do not have a dedicated gluten free menu but they were able to give me several options on the menu that could be prepared gluten free. While the waiter wasn’t as confident about gluten free items, he was able to go back into the kitchen and talk with the chef about choices for me, which made me feel pretty good about eating there.
I decided on a filet and mashed potatoes. It’s probably one of the safest dishes we can eat at a restaurant without getting glutened. The steak was cooked perfectly and the mashed potatoes were delicious. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Trevi.
While they don’t have a dedicated gluten free menu, I feel comfortable in saying that folks who can’t have gluten but are able to explain and ask questions about their meal would be able to safely have dinner there without any problems.
Again make sure you are writing reviews on www.findmeglutenfree.com so we can continue to create a data base of awesome restaurants in every city!
Ok, so many of you know I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago and went to many different places. I decided to divide up this blog post into 2 separate posts. This one will specifically discuss the MGM Grand hotel places we ate in because we stayed there too and I found myself eating at most of their establishments during our trip.
Then the second post will be the other places we picked throughout the strip to dine at during the evenings and lunches on the other days!
So, let’s dig in…
MGM Grand – Studio Cafe
During our most recent stay at the MGM Grand, I dined at the Studio Cafe for breakfast one morning with my sister. I can honestly say it was the most disappointing meal and service during our entire trip to Las Vegas.
We waited at least 10 minutes for our server to come over to our table and I’m pretty sure the only reason she finally came was that she saw me get up to go complain about not having a server.
I explained I had a gluten allergy and she just looked at me with 4 eyes and shook her head up and down like she understood but I really knew she didn’t.
Based on this experience, I hesitated on eating there but we were starving so I just gave in. I ended up ordering a cheese omelet after verifying they did not put pancake batter in their eggs.
We waited about 25 minutes for our food. My omelet was okay. I didn’t end up sick after eating there but I wasn’t impressed with it enough for the $25 bill. I was charged $2 for a side of sour cream and $4.99 for our coffee.
I would not recommendthis restaurant as an option for anyone with food allergies, let alone celiac disease.
After reading some reviews of other folks, we decided to check out the Rainforest Cafe when we arrived to the hotel. It was a long trip and we just wanted to get something in our belly that wasn’t a fortune. I’ve eaten here previously prior to my celiac diagnosis and had decent food so I was confident they would be able to provide me with a meal to suit my needs.
We ate at the bar because there was a 20 minute wait for a table in the dining room. The manager was behind the bar and said the chef would come out and make me whatever I wanted after I explained to him about celiac disease and gluten.
25 minutes later, the manager was gone and the chef never came out to check on me. So I just decided to order a salad and tell them the obvious, no croutons and no bread.
The salad came out with bread on the side of the plate so my sister just took it and ended up eating it. I picked the lettuce off of the salad where the bread had been just in case.
The salad was just okay. Nothing to write home about. I didn’t end up sick afterwards or feeling sick so I guess that’s all that really matters. It is getting tiring of always settling for something just to stay safe.
I don’t think I could recommend this restaurant for my Pretty Little Celiacs.
Make sure you add to reviews on www.findmeglutenfree.com so we can all have a chance to find places all over the country that are safe for us!
Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill– MGM Grand
After playing craps for a few hours and into the morning hours, I found myself starving around 1am and went into the Wolfgang Puck restaurant at the hotel. I will admit I was drinking while playing craps so my memory of the discussion with the waiter may be a bit skewed but I do remember him telling me what were the best gluten free menu items.
They did not have a gluten free menu but the waiter was able to tell me what items were safe.
I settled on the flank steak and mashed potatoes. I gotta say the flank steak was delicious. Cooked to a medium perfection that I love and flavored extremely well, I remember enjoying every bite of this dish. I cleaned my plate for sure.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember the whole visit at the restaurant and do not remember if I asked the normal questions to our waiter but I felt fine after the visit and didn’t have any sickness problems after dining at Wolfgang Puck.
The first night we arrived in Las Vegas we stopped by Nobhill because they had a killer happy hour special with great food options. I wasn’t sure I would be able to eat anything there but the manager ended up coming out and talking with me about the menu and giving me some suggestions on gluten free food items.
I decided to get a burger without the bun and french fries. I haven’t had french fries in so long because most places cook them in the same fryer as other breaded items which then prevents me from having some.
The burger came out really fancy with some cole slaw on top and cheese. It was pretty fantastic.
The french fries were little skinny fries which were cooked really crispy (my favorite kind). I could only finish about half of the meal because the burger was really big and there were enough french fries for 2 or 3 people as an individual serving.
This is the only restaurant I felt funny after eating in the whole trip. I did get a bit of a stomach ache and had to run to the restroom at one of the night clubs we went to that night. It didn’t ruin the night but put a little damper on the mood and really made me long for my pajama’s and some tea while we were out partying. Thinking about it, it could have been the cole slaw depending on what they used to make the sauce.
I didn’t get joint pain or a headache and I only had to use the restroom one time so I’m wondering if it was more a lactose issue or a gluten issue. Likely lactose since the problem resolved itself pretty quickly.
I’d say I’m indifferent to recommending this restaurant to you as a gluten free option. I think there were a few other places at MGM offering more knowledge and food options than the Nobhill Tavern. I give it a maybe www.findmeglutenfree.com to write reviews and find places to eat all over!
I’ve been meaning to check out this place ever since it opened but it’s a bit far from my house so we haven’t made it there yet. So, when my husband’s basketball team had a game right near there, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check the place out. I even had to look at www.findmeglutenfree.com to check the address and make sure we were going to the right place!
We arrived there around 9:30pm on a Friday evening. Surprisingly, they were still busy but we were able to get a table with no problem.
At our table, I reviewed the menu to find I had to ask for the special gluten free menu. The waiter brought it right over to us.
The items that were available gluten free were highlighted in orange on the menu.
After careful consideration, I decided to go with the fish and chips. Our waiter explained the cod is seasoned and broiled instead of breaded and fried.
Our food arrived shortly after ordering, which was perfect because we were both starving after a long night.
My fish came with roasted red skin potatoes but I decided to try to asiago cheese scalloped potatoes.
The dinner ended up being delicious. I’m a big fan of cod and eat it frequently when I am getting ready for a fitness competition. We also use it a lot at our house with tacos and gluten free breadcrumbs to make a variety of dishes.
The cod was cooked perfectly and there was just enough cheese in the potatoes to taste great and not be too greasy or over powering.
My husband said he always knows when I really like something at a restaurant because I won’t offer him a taste in order to save every bite for myself.
He had a bison burger with cheese, bacon and avocado, which he really enjoyed as well.
I’d highly recommend Local Roots as a great gluten free option!