Why gluten-free menus are worthless…

…because very few restaurants educate their staff on gluten and how to protect customers.

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I’d like to say I’ve mastered the art of eating out with celiac disease but that would be a huge lie. I could say I’ve mastered the ability to order my meal but certainly not of educating each and every server I encounter.

We are all too familiar with bad restaurants, especially when it comes to gluten-free. The reviews are all over the internet and we keep speaking out but it seems no one is listening.

A while ago, I wrote a post about successfully eating out gluten-free but the more I experience it, the more I realize we have no control over what we actually eat in a restaurant. You see the reality is some servers will really care about you, take their time with you and make sure you have an amazing meal. But, even a server with the best intentions forgets things and gets busy leaving us with a stomach ache.

The only true way to stay  completely gluten-free is to make all your own meals, all the time. Sounds great right?

We can’t even get companies and the government to regulate ingredients labels so we know what we are consuming, why would we think the restaurant business cares about gluten? And why would we expect them to educate their staff on gluten related issues, even when they offer a gluten-free menu.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – higher end restaurants with chefs not cooks are going to be your best bet. Those places care about bad reviews and bad experiences. Their servers typically make more money and provider a higher quality of service. Please don’t think I’m stereotyping cheap restaurants because I’m sure in our world out there some little chains really know what they are doing and get it right, but the girl working at Taco Hut or The Burger Shack making $7.50/hour are less likely to care about gluten.

I mean how many times have you looked up a place to eat online, selected your option only to get there and find out they don’t carry half the items on the gluten-free menu posted by corporate online?

Or how many times have you eaten out only to have food brought out still with croutons, breadcrumbs or something else incorrect?

Or how many times have you eaten off the gluten-free menu only to poop your pants and have a migraine for 3 days?

It happens. It happens probably more often than we think. But, until the government and FDA take gluten seriously, we can’t expect to be treated the same as someone with a nut allergy.

So, what we can do about this?

Advocate for food label changes. Educate ourselves about menus prior to going to restaurants. Read reviews online to see if people have difficult experiences there. Write reviews about our experiences both positive and negative. Don’t beat yourself up if you get sick after eating out. Learn to cook more gluten free meals at home. And lastly, remember you aren’t the only one going through this….

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Super Easy Bison Gluten-Free Chili

Grocery Items! I didn’t end up using the Spinach and I wouldn’t use the paste second time around
Grocery Items! I didn’t end up using the Spinach and I wouldn’t use the paste second time around

Bison Gluten-Free Chili

1lb Bison stew meat or Bison steaks (cut into bite size pieces)

1 Green Pepper

3 Stalks of celery

1 Can of tomato sauce

1 Can of roasted tomatoes

1 Can of kidney beans

1 Can of cannellini beans

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon garlic salt

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1/2 Tablespoon cumin

Lactose free or regular sour cream

Shredded cheddar cheese

**All brands of ingredients should be checked to ensure they are indeed gluten-free**

After browning I cut them into little bite size pieces.
After browning I cut them into little bite size pieces.

1. Cut the bison into small bite size pieces and put in a skillet or frying pan to brown to desired temperature. Medium is good for this because they will cook more in the chili while it’s on the stove.

2. Get out a large soup pot or slow cooker to put the rest of the ingredients.

3. Cut the green pepper and celery into bite size pieces.

4. After browning the bison and cutting the veggies, place everything together in the soup pot or slow cooker. I don’t drain the beans because it makes the chili less thick. Stir everything together and turn on a med/low heat. Let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Just throw it all into the pot!
Just throw it all into the pot!

5. I love to top my bowl of chili with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. I found a great brand of lactose free sour cream that I really love.

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Of course feel free to add some spice, I like things pretty mild due to heartburn with spicy foods! I started out with adding some tomato paste but it made the chili a little too thick for my liking. I would skip it in your version if you like the sauce thinner.