gluten free reviews, Restaurant Reviews, Traveling Gluten Free

Wicked Fresh Craft Burgers

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Over the summer, my family and I ventured to North conway for a mini vacation. I had been looking forward to visiting the Santa’s village, and checking out local places to eat. As per usual our plans, never go according to plan. On the last day of our vacation, before heading home though, I found a place that seemed to have really great reviews. In fact it had a 98% rating for celiac safety. This place is called Wicked Fresh Craft Burgers, just located next door to the Settlers Green outlets and the North Conway Grand hotel!

Let me tell you! I wish this place wasn’t three hours from my house, because it truly was the best burger and roll I have ever had in my years since being diagnosed gluten free! The roll didn’t fall apart and was that greasy/buttery grilled kind! They cooked it unfortunately on the same grill as everything else but they assured me they clean it as well as they possibly can, plus they try to cook it on a separate section of the grill that isn’t used by other things containing gluten/wheat. They have so many varieties of burgers to choose from. The fries were also cooked in a dedicated fryolator as well. I did test it both the bun and burger and fries with my Nima Sensor. It came back with a smiley face for all three!

The establishment has outdoor seating but is rather small on the inside. I would say it has about 12 small tables that seat 2 people each, which for us we ended up putting together since we had 10 of us that took up almost the entire room. As for the pricing it cost us about $52 for the 5 of us, just my family which included one meal being gluten free.

I highly recommend stopping by this place if you’re ever in the area. I give it a 9/10. I wish there were more seating as many people came and left because there wasn’t enough room inside.

gluten free reviews, Restaurant Reviews, Traveling Gluten Free

Scoop Deck

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If you are ever on vacation up in Wells, Maine, I suggest stopping by this little ice cream place called Scoop Deck. They have so many different varieties and flavors. They can check on their allergen list and tell you what might contain gluten. This establishment is cash only, so make sure you have some on hand. The staff was very knowledgeable when it came to my order. They are all trained really well. They were able to wash and get a new scoop, and changed their gloves, however they were not allowed to open to a new tub of ice cream. Instead they made sure to scoop from an untouched side. They also offer gluten free ice cream cones. They have such a cute back area for the little kids to enjoy as well as picnic tables both in the shade and sun. I think this a great little gem to stop at!

gluten free reviews, Restaurant Reviews

Gerados Bakery

Gerados Bakery in West Boylston, MA

So I had written a few instagram posts about gluten free baked goods at Gerados in West Boylston, MA. I have done the Nima test on them which all came back with a big smile! They have been offering gluten free items for some time now, however I did have some questions to see if they were deemed safe for those with celiac disease. I reached out to the bakery via email, but hadn’t received a response in a few weeks. I then tried to reach them via facebook and said that I was trying to compile a list of places that people with celiac disease could visit. It took about another 3 days before getting a response asking what those questions were.

Here is a list of the questions that I have been sending not only to this bakery but other establishments in the area. Their answers are below the question:

1.How long has your establishment offered gluten free food?
About 5 Years

2. What was your backstory for deciding to offer gluten free items?
There were a lot of requests.

3..Would you consider this facility safe for those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease?
All of our customers who ask for gluten free are told the items are gluten free but not made in a gluten free environment, so they can decide. (From personal experience, everytime I have ever asked for gluten free items, nothing was told to me that the items are not made in separate area or anything. The establishment has never made it outright known)

4.Have any of your staff completed any gluten-free training programs?
Yes, the owner has (so for me this is just the owner, but I feel like the rest of the staff should be trained in that area as well. Personal opinion only)

5. Does your staff change their gloves without being asked when a gluten free order comes in?
Yes (Again everytime we have ordered gluten free I have never seen gloves changed, and I have to actually request that it be put in a separate box.)

6. Do you have a separate preparation area for the food that people ask to be gluten free?
No (obviously for people with celiac, this is a huge problem)

8. If not, Is there a risk for flour to be cross contaminated with food that is being made gluten free? Aka even if regular wheat flour is being used it gets in the air. Any particles made in the same area as an order with gluten can get on a person’s gluten free food can make that person become ill.
Yes there is always a risk. Every customer with any allergy is warned whether tree nut or gluten that is could of been in contact with other items in our facility. (Again, from personal experience only, I have never been warned or told, granted this could common sense but for those wanting to dig deeper to see how things are made you would ask)

9. Do you share bowls and baking pans for both gluten free items and non gluten free?
No

10. Why are the gluten free products not in a separate case as they used to be?
As we started making more gluten free products, we could fit them all in one spot.
(Again, personal opinion only… this establishment has always had a large case with two shelves of gluten free items. Then one day, the entire case was gone and combined with that of gluten containing items which does not make it safe for people with celiac disease.)

SO here is my issue, as much as I LOVE this bakery and their gluten free items, which have always tested negative for gluten in their gluten free products, and the fact that I have never gotten sick from their products, the answers to these questions make me very nervous. Like I said above, everytime I have ever asked for gluten free items, they never say anything about how it’s made, or the result of possible cross contamination. I do not want by any means to bash this company or give a negative review but being a person with celiac disease the risk is huge, and I feel as though even those people who eat gluten free because of gluten sensitivity are still at risk. It almost makes me think this would only be good enough for those who are still on the “gluten free fad” or just trying to eat gluten free for no medical reasons. I will reiterate that I have never gotten sick from their gluten free items, but now that I know the high chances of cross contamination, it does make me a little weary.

I hope this interview with the establishment helps those with celiac disease. I also hope that if anyone from an establishment reads something like this realizes how sensitive something like this is to people with celiac. I wish more places would jump on board with how things are made and unfortnatley I understand it is hard to kep up with that with most places.

So the question is will I keep going there knowing such a high risk of cross contamination?? To be honest, I probably will refrain from now on unless someone brings me something from their on occasional visits and then I will use my Nima sensor. I just feel though having celiac disease, we have tob e well aware of what is going into our body and how it will affect our intestinal track even with the smallest amount of gluten!

Restaurant Reviews

The Wagon Wheel

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Out in Gill massachusetts is a cute little place called the Wagon Wheel. I first looked it up with the find me gluten free app. It had a pretty good rating overall. The selections however are very limited. They offer gluten free bread to make grilled cheese but all of the equipment seems to be shared. I was told that the chef cleans the grills before a gluten free order is placed on it. Since I am a very sensitive celiac, I unfortunately did not want to risk it even if they cleaned the grill, where the bread gets grilled. The do offer burgers in lettuce wraps which seemed to be the better option for me. They also have a few tubs of homemade All of their ice cream. Most of them are gluten free with the exception of brownie ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough.

They offer environmentally friendly paper straws and wooden silverware. There is also a spot outside in the back that has a little play area for the little ones as well as picnic tables in the shade. I found this little place to be quite enjoyable, even with the limited options. The staff was very responsive to my questions about gluten free options, and were quick to find out if they didn’t know.

As for my review, I would give this establishment a 7. The 7 is for the communication, knowledge about their gluten free options and their quick turn around to get answers when needed. The score would have been higher if there were way more options to choose from.

gluten free reviews

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tates Gluten free cookies… That perfect cookie

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While on vacation up in Maine, a family member surprised me with Tate’s, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies she found at a local T.J. Max.! Over the past 8 years or so, I have tried numerous cookie options, from homemade to bakeries, and store bought.

I’m going to rate these cookies a 9/10. I always get nervous to take a bite of a cookie. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous. I’ll be honest, im not great at keeping my reactions hidden if something i taste, doesn’t quite taste the best. It’s always worse when a family makes something, or you spend $6.95 on a large, gluten free cookies and it ends up tasting horrific.

Tate’s gluten free cookies bring back the memory of the homemade, crunchy cookies my Grandpa used to make. These cookies have a wonderful buttery taste that adds to its crunch too! The chocolate chips taste so sweet on the inside and pairs well with its crunch! Each bag contains, 14 cookies in each bag! I know the amount seems small in comparison to the gluten filled oreos my children eat, but as it is a gluten free product, this brand offers far more to savor than other gluten free brands!

The gluten free cookie options are manufactured in a dedicated facility free from wheat and gluten which is AMAZING! It does however get processed in a facility that does contain milk, soy, eggs and tree nuts!

Where can you buy these tasty cookies?!?! Well, the ones I first tried, were found at T.J. Max, but I have also recently found them at my local target. Prices vary greatly! The ones at T.J. Max were about $2 cheaper than Target. Target had a larger variety though. You may also purchase a variety of their cookies from their website! Tatsesbakeshop.com
Some of the varieties offered are, chocolate chip, double chocolate, coconut, ginger zinger, and oatmeal cookies! The cookies on the website however must be ordered in bulk. I highly recommend this brand of cookies! So why the 9 out of 10! Well I much prefer a crunchy cookie over a soft baked one, however on hot days try to store these cookies in a cool area. It seems as though with a heat wave they tend to fall apart before you take a bite! Other than that, this cookie is almost perfect!

Until Next Time
XOXO
Alicia
The Celiac Corner

Uncategorized

Weddings and a Celiac

Having celiac disease is hard enough let alone when you get that beautiful wedding invitation in the mail and your first thought is “ How will I be able to navigate this?”

I know it is incredibly hard at social events, parties, vacations, weddings etc. Trust me, been there, done that! What you need to know is yes it can be hard, but yes you can work around it.

I have never wanted to be the person that is seen as the issue all because of having celiac. Between this past weekend, and this coming November, my husband and I have been invited to 6 weddings and to tell the truth, I am having a bit of anxiety over it. So what do i do? What should you do?

The first thing that I suggest, is once you receive that invitation, check over the meal options provided on the card. Our first invitation, I actually felt close enough to the bride to bring up my celiac disease. I reached out apologizing in advance that I was a bother, but wanted to ask her permission if I could personally contact the venue to go over my dietary issue. I told her how excited I was to attend the wedding, but wanted to double check to make sure nothing gets cross contaminated. I know everyone is different on how they would approach such a thing, but it does depend on how close you are to the couple.

Luckily for me, the bride was very receptive. She said she would reach out to the venue and talk about my options. As the wedding approached, I found out that it was going to be stations in different corners of the room. The bride assured me that someone would come to my table that night, and go over my options. Once the wedding arrived, I obviously was unable to eat any hor d’oeuvres. As we sat down a lady came and told me what I could and could not have at the stations. Well the salad station I could have the salad, but the dressing was not gluten free! Who really wants to eat a plate of dry lettuce. (Lesson learned…. Pack a tiny travel cup of your own dressing for things like this!)

I had to steer clear of the pasta station and boy did it smell amazing! I was able to have the roasted veggies with the meat at the carving station. I brought along my Nima sensor, that I purchased solely for travel and occasions like this. I am happy to report that Nima came back happy for the meat and veggies! I loved the added reassurance just for that reason!

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For the weddings that are coming up, I did reach out to some of those couples as well. I let them know about my husband’s shellfish allergy, but also my celiac as well. I said there are many things that I can indeed eat, the issue is everything for myself has to be made in a separate prep area to avoid cross contamination. I am still waiting to hear back from a few, but most of the couples are happy that I reached out, because let’s face it…no one wants anyone getting sick at their wedding!

So here is my little tidbit of advice: If your very close with the couple or one of them I say be honest and reach out. Let them know that you are excited to attend but nervous about the food. I wouldn’t get into a full speech about celiac, but just explain a lot of items contain gluten and wheat like dressings or sauces or gravies. Ask if there is anyway your food could be made in a separate area and not the same pans to avoid cross contamination. If for any reason they can not accommodate or guarantee a gluten free celiac safe meal, I do suggest eating before hand.

Until Next Time
XOXO
Alicia
The Celiac Corner

gluten free reviews, Traveling Gluten Free

Great Wolf Lodge, New England

My husband and I recently surprised our kids with an end of school trip to Great Wolf Lodge. I brought along my Nima Sensor to test the foods at each meal/snack. Before our trip I did call the hotel as well as email the food and beverage person to discuss our food allergies, and my celiac disease. We were going there with a child who has a red-dye allergy, a husband with a shellfish allergy, and then myself with Celiac disease.

I have to admit, I was not too impressed with the hotel as far as getting back in touch with me to address our food allergies and celiac. I ended up calling a second time, and they transferred me over to the food and beverage department, to which I was told to leave a voicemail and they would call back. They never called back but finally emailed back two days prior to our trip.

Here was the response that was emailed back to me in regards to my celiac disease:

We have plenty of options for your GF/celiac disease, We have all gluten free fryers on the Al Cart line, in our main dining room we have a wide variety of GF items on our menu, we have gluten free pizza up at our outlet restaurant.

When you come to dine with us let your server know about your allergy, and we will have a chef come out and talk with you, and walk you through all your options.

We look forward to seeing you and your family.

So upon our arrival, I decided to check out every place in the hotel that offered food to see how their gluten free items were prepared or even if they were offered. First of all, I didn’t bother with the Dunkin Donuts in there because well that is already a no go. I did bring plenty of my own snacks though just to be on the safe side.

So the restaurant does have their own gluten free fryers as the email said, but I honestly didn’t want to eat there because the kids didn’t care for a sit down meal. It was very hectic and the prices were rather high. They do confirm that a chef would come out to the table to speak about the allergies or celiac and do change their gloves while preparing a meal. Since I did not eat there, I can’t review any of the items.

The ice cream shop could not confirm if their ice cream was gluten free and they did not offer any gluten free cones.

The pizza restaurant out in the arcade does offer a gluten free pizza as a personal size. They assured me that it was made in a separate prep area and separate oven. I did test the pizza with Nima and it came back a happy face. I however did not like the taste of it. The pizza was very thin and mushy.

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I ordered a salad and baked potato from the lodge restaurant and that I also tested with the Nima sensor. It came back with a big smiley face. They assured me that they prep things separately.

In one of the waterpark sections, there is a small food kitchen, that makes burgers, hot dogs, fries and chicken tenders. I asked the person the first day, and he told me that they do not have dedicated fryers, everything in the waterpark area is not celiac safe. The second day there was a new person and I of course wanted to double check the fryers and that person told me that the fries are celiac safe. I tested the fries, and it was confirmed by Nima that the fries contain gluten!

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All in all, it was a successful trip with the family, but I spent most of when it came to meal time, eating my own food that I brought from home. Even though I had the Nima which was an amazing addition to have, and asked questions all around, I was still very paranoid about accidental cross contamination. I didn’t want to chance being glutened and preferred to eat food from home.

My advice when traveling, is to do the research ahead of time. Make sure to call your hotel and restaurants that are around the area and ask questions until you feel comfortable. As a backup, I would definitely bring extra food for yourself especially if your hotel room comes with a fridge. Also, if your anything like me and like to not base everything off of word of mouth, I would totally invest in the Nima Sensor. It gives that extra peace of mind!

Until Next Time
XOXO
Alicia
The Celiac Corner

gluten free recipes

Baked chicken, broccoli, cheese and bacon casserole

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3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups broccoli florets
Hickory Hardwood smoked bacon
Grape seed oil

Could the bacon in a skillet with about a teaspoon of grape seed oil.
Once the bacon is cooked, set aside in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli florets either by boiling in water and then blanching or cook in the same skillet as the bacon to make it crunchy.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees

Pour on the broccoli, chopped bacon, and cheeses. Cook for 35 minutes or until thermometer reads the desired temperature.

gluten free recipes

Blackberry Smoothie

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I really wanted to try an alternative to my normal strawberry and blueberry smoothies. I have not been feeling my best and have to watch a lot closer what I eat! I decided to try a blackberry smoothie and just started throwing things in! I LOVE it! One of the best smoothies I have ever had! I loved using the blackberries because of the antioxidants, and the fiber! It has many health benefits!

1 cup of organic blackberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1 Teaspoon of organic chia seeds
1 Tablespoon low fat plain greek yogurt
Handful of spinach
Couple cubes of ice
Protein powder of your choice if you desire ( I use skinny fit-miss gluten free protein powder every once in a while)

Just mix it all in the blender and your ready to go!

gluten free recipes

Gluten free chicken and quinoa Mac and Cheese

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Who misses a good gluten free mac and cheese?

Serving size for this recipe feeds 4

2 cups Organic Gluten free Quinoa
Gluten free Italian style bread crumbs (I use either 4C breadcrumbs or Ian’s panko crumbs. Whatever I have on hand is what I will use!)
Thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts (modify to how many people you are serving. I will cook 2 chicken breasts for 4 people)
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Garlic powder
Paprika
1/2 cup Milk (Whatever you prefer) I use 1 percent
2 eggs

Bring a sauce pan to a boil.
Measure out 2 cups of the organic gluten free quinoa. I like to wash it in a bowl and soak for a few minutes then drain back into the cup.
Pour the quinoa into the sauce pan and cover, simmer for about 13 minutes or until water is soaked up and quinoa becomes fluffy.

In a skillet dice up and saute chicken breasts to bite sized pieces.
Set aside once done.

In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of milk, Garlic powder and paprika in a bowl with 2 eggs. I usually like to add more than a tablespoon of each spice to add in more flavor. Add in a little more milk if you want the mixture to be creamier.

Drain what’s left of the water from the quinoa and add in the mixed bowl of ingredients. Add in and mix 1.5 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and let melt. Once melted add in the chicken.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish with non stick spray or any gluten free alternative so the food doesn’t stick to the pan.

Scoop everything out evenly into the baking dish. Top with extra sharp cheddar cheese followed by bread crumbs if desired. Bake for 30 minutes!

This is a great comfort meal on those cold days! It really fills you up and hits the spot!