Houston Gluten Free Cupcake Wars

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Crave Cupcakes Houston

While visiting Houston, I stumbled upon a cupcake place while shopping and we decided to stop in and see if by chance they might have a gluten-free cupcake. The cupcake shop, Sprinkles, was located in a small strip mall in the River Oaks area of Houston, Texas. The shop is very small but adorable. Several different cupcake options were available and I started to think a gluten-free one wasn’t in the cards when my husband spotted the sign, Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcakes! At $3.50 a pop, they weren’t cheap so I hoped they tasted great.

With the first bite, I always know if I am going to love it or not and this one was remarkable. The moisture and texture of the icing and the cake combined for the perfect decadent treat. I enjoy trying gluten-free cupcakes because I think they are easier to make and last longer. I haven’t found a whole cake that is equally amazing as a cupcake. You know you hit the jackpot when you can’t stop thinking about the treat and want to have another.

Then while we were driving around, we found another cupcake shop with gluten-free right on their front window, so naturally we had to check it out! I thought this would be a fun opportunity to pit cupcake against cupcake to create a gluten-free cupcake battle and see which one was better.

Crave Cupcakes was the second shop we went in around 11am on a Sunday in Houston. The location we tried is on Kirby Street. They offered a chocolate cupcake with chocolate or vanilla frosting. We bought one of each. The price of the cupcakes were the same at $3.50. But with both  locations, the gluten-free cupcake price was the same as the regular cupcakes! No surcharge! Bonus!

At first glance, the Crave Cupcakes looked just as creamy as the Sprinkles cupcakes but after the first bite, I realized we weren’t on equal playing fields. The Crave gluten-free cupcake didn’t offer the same moisture and texture as the Sprinkles cupcake and even around the edges were dry and on the hard side. I did like their vanilla frosting better than the Sprinkles but maybe only because I didn’t like the cake at all. I ate a few bites giving it a second and third try but I eventually gave it to Aaron to finish.

If you are in Houston or visiting Houston and looking for a gluten-free sweet treat – head over the Sprinkles because they were the clear winner in my gluten-free cupcake war!

 

 

Gluten Free Traveling Tips: Podcast

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Gluten Free Traveling Tips

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.

Have an idea for my next show? Email me

Enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Fast Food Options

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Gluten Free Fast Food Options

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.

Chipotle – Pretty much anything here is good except the flour tortillas. Check out their allergen and gluten free guide online.

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.

In N Out Burger – No allergy information listed on their website? Really? I find that extremely odd. But here is their menu of nutritional information.

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.

Social House – Aria Hotel in the Crystals Mall

Social House – Aria Hotel in the Crystals Mall

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.

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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.

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Check it out on www.FindMeGlutenFree.com and don’t forget to write your own review!

 

Maggiano’s – Fashion Show Mall

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 Gluten Free Menu
Border Grill Gluten Free Menu

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.

Have you been here? Make sure you write a review on FindMeGlutenFree.com – I Did!

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Gluten Free Shrimp Meal
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My sister’s gluten free meal

 

Trevi – Forum Shops in Caesar’s Palace

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!

Eating Gluten Free in Hilton Head South Carolina – Traveling with Celiac

Gluten free in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!

How do you travel with celiac disease? I found it’s not very easy, so I obviously was leery on our first trip to Hilton Head for a week. Fortunately, our hotel had a kitchen in our suite as we own a timeshare with Marriott Vacation Club but even so I didn’t want to be stuck eating in the hotel the entire trip. Eating gluten free in Hilton Head was much easier than I thought it would be!

I decided to chronicle our trip to help you if you ever decide to head over to Hilton Head! This will be a great guide for those of you looking for safe places to eat, or wondering if a place you wanted to go is a good pick. 7 days worth of dinners and lunches there is bound to be something for everyone on this list.

Marriott Grand Ocean – 

51 South Forest Beach Drive · Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928

Dolphin Grille – located outside of the pool in the middle of the resort – this little place to eat is full of fried foods. If you want French fries and fried anything, this is the place to go. They also offered smoothies and salads but from the look around me – no one was enjoying the healthier items. Since fried foods have been off my list for sometime now, just the smell of the grease makes my stomach uneasy. I stuck with a grilled Mahi Mahi salad. It didn’t make me sick but it didn’t make me feel good either. It made me worried about cross contamination and I didn’t feel safe eating here.  This was the first and last time we ate at this grille. It’s a shame because it was the only restaurant on the property.

Marketplace – For being a huge billion dollar corporate company, you would think that the Marriott Company would be more sensitive to allergies and food needs. But nope, they failed at this yet again. The Marketplace is a little grocery type store to find essentials and they have some snacks at their pizza place. Again, nothing gluten free or lactose free, well unless you wanted candy or chips. There was no air conditioning in this little space so I’m sure any fresh fruit would rot quickly. If you want soda, macaroni and cheese, brownie mix, chips or pizza – this it the place for you. I left very disappointed that I couldn’t even grab a snack at the hotel. My suggestion for Marriott is to consult with some allergy awareness groups to come up with some perfect allergen free picks for their store. I’m sure something gluten free would be atrociously expensive, since a drink was $3 but people will pay a premium if they can’t find anything else nearby.

Wise Guys Steaks and Wine Bar– 1513 Main Street  Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

First place we went to after gluten free Hilton Head Internet search. They have “gluten” spelled wrong on their website, which might contribute to not being able to find them on the Internet? It’s a shame because this was the absolute best gluten free meal I’ve ever had. The Caesar salad with grits croutons knocked my socks off and the steak was so tender and delicious. I salivated all week for another meal there. The skillet potatoes were delicious as well. Because I now have the lactose allergy, I couldn’t indulge in desert but my husband had a molten lava cake that he said was fabulous. Lots of wine selections. Very modern décor and feel inside. My husband didn’t like the mirrors all over the walls but I thought they were cool. This dinner hot spot is not a place for kids. Pretty good wine menu also for all us legal drinking age adults!

Check them out on Find Me Gluten Free

Check out their Gluten Free Menu Online

The Crazy Crab – 149 Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head, South Carolina

The waitress had no idea what I was talking about when I told her I had a gluten allergy. I should have known better from the menu with entire entire thing filled with fried foods. I didn’t feel comfortable eating anything there due to possible cross contamination in the kitchen and lack of knowledge from our waitress. I ended up ordering the crab legs and corn on the cob. Well the corn on the cob was completely watered down; I think I had 2 bites. The crab legs were lack luster and didn’t fit the name of the restaurant. They left little to be desired and I was not impressed. This place is in the Harbor area and it is one of the touristy places on the island. I couldn’t recommend this place for gluten free folks. and for that matter, I wouldn’t even recommend it for people without food allergies.

Truffles Café – 71 Lighthouse Rd, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

After finding this place on the Gluten Free Find me app, I had high hopes since people posted about their gluten free items being so good. They did offer gluten free pasta and breads but I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m finding that the gluten free pastas/breads leave me hungry and wanting more food. I decided to try a filet again. I was a bit disappointed in this one. The steak was fine but very bland, along with the garlic mashed potatoes. The spinach with it was really good not soggy and had good flavor. It almost seemed like they were afraid to flavor my food for fear it would have gluten. My husband had the mango salmon and said it was the best meal he had on the island. I guess it might just depend on what you order. They were the only place that offered a gluten free desert and it was delicious. Hot, gooey and delicious. A little mini lava cake without the lava and ice cream on the side. I felt this meal was more expensive than the others and for no real reason. Oh and I did have a “peartini that hit he spot! There were pros and cons about the meal. Have you eating here? Please let me know!

Check out their other review on Find Me Gluten Free

One Hot Mama’s – 7A Greenwood Drive  Hilton Head Isle, SC 29928

Monday night football – we had to go somewhere that had the game on! Typically sports bars are the last place you want to go if you have celiac. Tons of fried foods! I will say this place had several good options. I ended up with the beef brisket salad. Ahhmazing. The beef brisket was so tender and the meat was flavored nicely. No fatty pieces on the meet and the salad lettuce was fresh. They also said their wings were gluten free, which means they must cook them in a separate fryer than the regular fried foods. Highly recommended for a cheap bite to eat in Hilton Head! Aaron had tacos and really enjoyed them as well.

Did you eat here? Leave a review on Find Me Gluten Free

Black Marlin – Located dockside at  Palmetto Bay Marina 86 Helmsman Way, Suite 103
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Best crab legs I’ve ever had by far. They were big, juicy and had lots of meat. I could tell they weren’t soaked in water or over boiled. Cooked perfectly. I was starving and inhaled them. I just wanted more and more of them. Aaron said I had a ravenous look in my eyes and at one point was double fisting crab legs and green beans. It was a sight to be seen. The green beans were crispy and tasted great. Nothing special about the baked potato, it’s really hard to screw them up. Aaron had some fried shrimp tacos and raved about them. For desert, he had a molten chocolate lava cake and I watched him eat it.

Did you eat here? Leave a review on Find Me Gluten Free!

 

Skull Creek Boathouse – 397 Squire Pope Road,
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

The last stop on our trip. We stopped here on the way home for lunch. I couldn’t decide what I wanted and we had a $50 voucher from taking the timeshare tour so we ordered a bunch of different things. We started with chips, guacamole and salsa. In hindsight, I didn’t ask if they cook the chips themselves or if the guacamole was gluten free. I ended up sick before we left the restaurant. Not their fault, mine… Seriously not a smart move before a 12 hour car ride back to Ohio. I didn’t ask. The sushi roll was very good – smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber. Then Aaron and I shared crab legs again. He ordered the snickers cake for desert, and once again… I watched him eat it.

Did you eat here? Share it!! Find Me Gluten Free

HAHA Ok – We found this little guy on the beach but we didn’t have him for lunch….
Overall, I found several gluten free options in Hilton Head and didn’t have many problems going to different places. I will say we focused on the SERG restaurant group because they all had gluten free offerings and educated staff, a heart warming thing for all of us with Celiac. Not only do they have a ton of places to eat on the island, they all have different events and themes.

Do you have a hot spot in Hilton Head for gluten free options? Do you live on Hilton Head Island and have Celiac? I want to hear from you – email me at prettylittleceliac@gmail.com and tell me the best places to go so next time I can be sure to check them out…..

Be happy, Be Healthy-

Rebecca

The Pretty Little Celiac

Comments

  1. Delia Raine says:

    HI,
    I am off the Savannha and Hilton Head May 17 and I will be using your reviews to find some places to eat. We will cook alot too at our time share as I always find that safest. I have been celiac since Dec 2011 and travelling is alway hard. I starve or get sick with out careful research and good resturant education.
    Thanks for the tips.
    Delia

     

    • Rebecca says:

      We had a great experience on Hilton Head Island – I found a lot of places to get gluten-free food. I can’t wait to go back there this fall.

       

  2. Alison A. says:

    Hi! I am going on vacation in about 2 weeks to Hilton Head with a day trip to Savannah, and weekend in Charleston. This will be my first vacation since I found out about my Celiac this past Christmas. I am oh so worried but very excited I found your page. I am still getting use to it and can’t wait to try some of these places out.
    Alison :D

     

  3. Jen P. says:

    I’ve been going to Hilton head for 25 years but only have known I had celiac for about 3 years. Thanks for this posting! I’d like to try a few of these (and avoid others!). I’ve found that Old Oyster Factory has been very accommodating although I can’t remember if they have a gluten free menu. Also, One Hot Mama’s is the best for celiacs!! Loved it there! Mellow mushroom has gluten free pizza and I think they have gluten free beer too! Also, lots and lots of other beer on tap! Fresh Market (I think that’s what it’s called) has lots of gluten free snacks or things to pick up for your house/room! I’m going there this Saturday, so if I find more great places, I’ll report back!!