Monthly Archives: March 2014

Diary of a Road Trip, and Gluten Free Meals

Going on a road trip can be a challenge if you are gluten free.  I have usually tried to plan meal stops near fairly large cities, so there will be a variety of choices.  My husband and I are traveling to New York for a getaway with friends, with a stop in Springfield, Ohio, to stock our booth in the Heart of Ohio Antique Center.   For lunch, we often eat at an Olive Garden, but we stopped near Lafayette and ate at a Chili’s.  Chili’s website lists a number of menus for people with food allergies – egg, fish, milk, peanut, shellfish, soy,  tree nuts, and wheat/gluten.  I chose one of their Fresh Mex Bowls which was ordered without the corn salsa or tortilla strips, per menu instructions.  It was quite nice, and I was pleased to see the extent to which Chili’s is accommodating people with food allergies.

Springfield, Ohio is an eating challenge on Sunday nights, even if you’re not gluten free.  The Courtyard by Marriott has a relatively nice restaurant, Mela, but it is closed on Sunday evenings.  (Note – the Courtyard by Marriott is in downtown Springfield.  We had previously stayed in one of several chain hotels near the Interstate, but that neighborhood is run-down, and the nearby restaurants don’t offer much variety – hamburger chains and Bob Evans, etc.)   Springfield isn’t much of a town for fine dining.  Even the B & B recommended by the hotel desk clerk as a good place to eat wasn’t open for Sunday night dinner.  We wound up at a deli, and I ate a sandwich sans bread.  Springfield is the location of a number of different events, so it is rather surprising that they can’t support a better selection of restaurants.

If you ever travel to Springfield, do take a ride on High Street to see the great Victorian houses.

Monday’s breakfast was in the hotel restaurant.  An egg breakfast (plus sides)  is often the option for me when there are no special GF choices.  Then we pushed on, and had lunch in Pickerington, Ohio at a Longhorn’s.  Lucky again!  They provided a gluten-free menu (not included on their website).  There were a number of selections, and I had a nice lamb chop meal with mashed potatoes (mixed with a bit of horseradish sauce) and spinach.

Our evening stay was to be in Somerset, Pennsylvania.  Due to a two-hour delay caused by an accident, we arrived after 7:00 p.m.  Fortunately, we found a King’s Family Restaurant close to the hotel, and there, too, there were gluten free items posted on the menu. (Again , these items are not noted on their website.)  King’s has a number of locations in Pennsylvania, and the Somerset restaurant had a fantastic-looking soda fountain.  They sell hand-packed ice cream.  Although we passed on the ice cream this time, we’ll definitely plan to try it at a later date!

While the choices offered by the chains don’t compete with the extensive GF menu options offered at a number of restaurants on my listing, I’m happy to find them catering to people with eating restrictions.  This greatly expands the options available on the road.

I’ll be providing updates soon.

Paleo Pancakes at Egg Harbor

The Egg Harbor location in Barrington is a frequent eating destination for us.  It is close to where we live and has good gluten free menu options. For those not already familiar with Egg Harbor, it serves breakfast and lunch and has a number of locations in the Chicagoland area. On our most recent visit, they offered a Paleo Pancake. photo 1 Made with egg, almond butter and bananas, there is no flour whatsoever in this recipe.  The pancakes are offered with berries or nuts, and I chose blackberries with mine.

I liked them very much.  They aren’t quite as sturdy as a conventional pancake, but do hold together quite well.  The flavor is pretty balanced, with banana being a bit more prominent.  My guess is that the item was offered with the expectation that it would only be ordered by people on a paleo diet, since they didn’t bring butter or syrup until I requested them.  (I ordered them because they sounded interesting and were guten free, not because I’m on a paleo diet.)   The pancakes are a good choice, whether you are paleo, gluten free, or not.  (These pancakes are not listed on either their regular menu or their gluten free menu, but are listed on a small, perhaps seasonal, menu.)

Egg Harbor is also an excellent choice for lunch   Besides their excellent chicken salads and other menu options, they offer hamburgers photo 2and other sandwiches on a gluten free bun from Sweet Ali’s.
photo 4

The hamburger buns are probably the best gluten free hamburger buns I’ve had.  They hold together very well. photo 3 The plate includes a generous serving of Harbor potatoes and a small green salad or fruit cup.  Altogether a very nice meal.

In thinking about my assessments of various gluten free dishes, an important measure is whether or not the item is something I’d look forward to eating, rather than just being something I am able to eat.  I can definitely look forward to Egg Harbor’s offerings.


March 6, 2014

photo 2It seems that the Chicagoland area has many good restaurant choices for GF dining.  I recently travelled to Philadelphia, and the restaurants I visited  there did not seem to be nearly as well-equipped to serve the GF person.  I feel fortunate that there are so many good choices here.

There are also more and more GF prepared foods and mixes.  My favorite dishes would be those which are the GF equivalent of foods that I ate and liked before I became gluten free.  For instance, if you liked Stouffer’s Turkey Tetrazzini, wouldn’t it be great if Stouffer’s had a GF alternative.  I do appreciate the diversity of choices being offered, but wish there were more items that mimicked the non-GF dishes.  I was happy, recently, to come across Leo’s Butternut Squash Ravioli.

photo 5  It comes frozen and a few minutes in boiling water will prepare it for your meal.  The package serves two.  (I photographed the cooked ravioli with just a pat of melted butter, rather than a sauce, since I didn’t want to obscure the pasta.)  It is quite satisfactory – good flavor, and the pasta doesn’t deteriorate while you are eating it. Leo’s has a number of other GF foods.  I bought a package of  mushroom ravioli, but haven’t prepared it yet.

I found this at Mariano’s – the new one on Highway 22 and Quentin.  It is a huge place – calling it a grocery store doesn’t tell the whole story.  I’ll do another posting soon about all the great grocery stores that are within a 15- or 20-minute drive from our house.  I do miss the convenience of the Dominick’s, especially the great pharmacy staff they had, but the food shopping is much better at a number of other locations.