The Low Down on Eating Gluten Free – PART TWO

If you’ve been following my blog or social media, you’ve probably noticed that I follow a Gluten Free diet. While I’ve gotten used to eliminating gluten from my diet, unfortunately, unlike other food choices that I choose to make, this is not one of them. I was diagnosed with Celiac, a genetic, autoimmune disease that triggers an immune reaction to eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), almost 15 years ago. My doctors struggled for years trying to diagnose me, but the good news is, Celiac is much more well known and easier to diagnose now. With that being said, I get a lot of questions from people who are newly diagnosed and/or following a gluten free diet to take advantage of health benefits associated with other diseases. It usually sounds something along the lines of “Help! – You were the first person I knew that had Celiac” – haha, seriously though.

I’ve written a couple of posts on this topic before, but recently one of my good friends approached me about starting her gluten free journey and I figured what better time to compile a list of my favorite gluten friendly places from restaurants to markets (and a few tips sprinkled in between).

Have any others that you recommend – let me know!

Groceries

I’m seriously so appreciative of the progress made over the past 15 years in regards to the availability of gluten free alternatives like flour, bread, and pasta. Back then, if you wanted to get gluten free pasta, your option was to find a natural foods store and pay upwards of $5 per box for pasta that you hoped didn’t fall apart. Through trial and error I found brands that I liked, like Tinkyada – but that still didn’t solve the problem that these GF alternatives costed in some cases five times as much as the traditional, gluten options. Fast forward to today, you can find gluten free pasta in almost any grocery store (including places like Target and Walmart) and mega brands like Barilla have their own GF varieties which has significantly driven the price of these products down.

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With that being said, below are some of my favorite places to grab gluten free groceries – and why!

Sprouts. Sprouts has a great selection of gluten free flours, baking mixes, cookies/crackers and bread including my current favorite, Little Northern Bakehouse.

Trader Joes. Some of my favorite TJ’s items come from the freezer section – frozen brown rice and cauliflower gnocchi. Quick and easy staples for GF dinner.

Wegmans. Similar to Sprouts, Wegmans also has a great section of gluten free alternatives. In their designated gluten free section you can find a variety of cookies/crackers, pasta, snack mixes and baking mixes. They also have a large selection of gluten free food in their freezer section ranging from pizzas to muffins and dessert.

Mom’s Organic Market. Mom’s stocks a higher percentage of organic products than any other store. Ingredients are closely reviewed in all items before hitting the shelves here. Mom’s tends to carry less main stream brands and in some cases, is the only place I can find certain products (like Swapples)!

Bread

GF bread has come a long way over the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong – there are still brands out there that are super dense, dry and fall apart, but I’ve managed to find a couple that are pretty darn good. My two favorite brands are Udi’s (whole grain or millet chia) and Little Northern Bakehouse (my personal fav is the cinnamon raisin). You can find Udi’s at Target, Walmart and Harris Teeter, and Little Northern Bakehouse at Trader Joes, The Fresh Market, Sprout’s and Roots Market. Little Northern Bakehouse is also vegan – 100% plant based and egg free.

Pasta

I used to live by Tinkyada, but with the increasing popularity of gluten free foods it seems like everyone is making GF pasta now. I typically buy Barilla, which can be found in most grocery stores and is cheaper than other alternatives. I don’t eat pasta a lot though. Instead, I substitute with naturally GF grains like brown rice and quinoa (or try zoodles or spaghetti squash). I’ve also recently been loving chickpea and red lentil based pasta. In addition to being gluten free, these pastas tend to be high in protein and fiber. Add Banza Chickpea Pasta to your grocery list – you won’t be dissapointed.

Pizza

Udi’s make a frozen, pre-made pizza crust that is pretty good. I’ve also been into Cauliflower crust recently. I recommend checking out Caulipower and Trader Joe’s store brand cauliflower crust. Caulipower’s pre-made crusts are naturally gluten free and use cauliflower as the first ingredient. The Trader Joe’s crust is also good, but just know that it has a different consistency/you can tell its not a typical pizza crust.

If you have time and want to make your own crust, I highly recommend trying out this recipe from Pinch of Yum for BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Pizza.

Tortillas

Easy substitute – use corn instead of wheat. Just make sure to double check that they are GF. Personally, I like Mission brand for tacos or Siete foods cassava flour tortillas. I also buy Food for Life Brown Rice tortillas from Trader Joe’s. The consistency (like a lot of GF things) tends to be a little different/sometimes they break apart, but I especially like these for wraps.

Sushi

My advice – avoid soy sauce, tempura, dark sauces, and crab stick/imitation crab meat. San-J makes a GF soy sauce that I would recommend. You can also use coconut aminos as an alternative. I prefer San-J for sushi (salty over sweet), but use coconut aminos for stirfrys and asian inspired dishes. Crab stick/imitation crab meat actually contains no crab meat at all, but it does contain wheat so your best bet is to stick with fish that comes straight from the sea like Tuna or Salmon.

Breadcrumbs

Ian’s makes GF breadcrumbs that I commonly use for making things like meatballs, crab cakes, or chicken parm. Disclaimer – not ALL of their products are GF, so make sure you grab the gluten free ones. Again – another easy substitution.

Salad Dressing

Wheat is often times used as a thickener, so be careful to check the ingredients in things like salad dressing. Recently, I’ve been loving Annie’s Natural & Organic salad dressings. They offer a variety of gluten free and vegan dressings. My current fav is the Goddess – creamy tahini and lemon dressing with chives and parsley. When eating out, a vinaigrette is probably your safest option (but I recommend checking with your server to be sure).

Eating Out

Eating out can be difficult, but as with everything else, has gotten significantly easier over the past couple of years with the increasing popularity of gluten free. A lot of reastaurants offer gluten free menus or can accommodate. I’m the worst at this, but seriously just ask your server if they can accommodate gluten free and you will be surprised. More often than not, they have GF alternatives (think GF soy sauce, bread, pasta, pizza crust, etc), a dedicated gluten free menu or will offer to talk to the chef to figure out how they can modify your meal of choice to make it a safe, allergen free option. If making a reservation using an app like Open Table is an option, I recommend doing so and including in the notes that someone in your party is gluten free. That way the restaurant can prepare in advance to accommodate you and you are less likely to feel like you are inconveniencing them. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of Google. I always Google restaurants before dining to see if I can figure out the GF situation ahead of time. Just make sure you let your server know about your allergy in case something on the menu has changed.

If I’m in an unfamiliar city, I use the Find Me GF app. This app searches nearby restaurants and allows you to sort by filters like most Celiac Friendly, Dedicated Gluten Free, Closest, Category, Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner, etc.

Ok, enough talk about eating out, lets get down to it. Where the heck should you go in Baltimore? Below are some of my favorite spots across Charm City to get Gluten Free grub.

Boutique coffee shops are making their way to every neighborhood in town. In addition to a creative twist on your classic cup of Joe, they also typically offer light fare. Artifact Coffee in Hamden has quickly become one of my favorite go-to spots. If you’re familiar with the popular restaurant Woodberry Kitchen, then it should be no surprise at to why this one tops my list. Opened by the team behind Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact’s menu boasts locally sourced ingredients and everything is made-to-order. My recommendation? The egg and cheddar breakfast sandwich with sausage on gluten free bread.

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If Avocado Toast is more your speed, head over to Harbor Point and check out Ceremony Coffee’s newest location. While their food isn’t prepared in a gluten-free environment, they do offer gluten free bread as a substitute for all dishes. The menu changes based on the season, but some variation of Avocado Toast always seems to make the cut. Pro tip – add a fried egg and you won’t be disappointed.

Most places aren’t able to promise a dedicated gluten free kitchen, however, if you’re super sensitive then Harmony Bakery is your spot. Harmony Bakery started selling food at the Waverly Famers Market, before landing the perfect location in Hamden for their 100% vegan and gluten free dedicated bakery. Everything here is made from scratch and they use organic ingredients and local produce when available. Menu items change daily, but you can expect some variation of bagels, donuts, tarts, quiches, and other freshly baked sweet treats.

One of the first, dedicated gluten free bakeries that I discovered in Baltimore was Sweet 27 (at the time it was called Sweet Sin). Since then this bakery has grown to include a cafe and connecting full service restaurant. Sweet 27 offers an authentic, multicultural twist to gluten free. They also offer a variety of dairy free options.

Being Gluten Free or Vegan can make dining tricky, especially when you’re with someone who has a limited palette (aka picky eater who is hesitant about anything labeled GF or Vegan – don’t kid yourself, we all know these people). That’s why I love food halls like R. House in Remington for dining with friends. This industrial-chic food hall is home to ten chefs, each bringing a different flavor to the kitchen. Grab a GF Pizza from Molina, authentic Mexican tacos from Amano Taco, or Venezuelan Arepa from White Envelope. Your picky eater can opt for a traditional pizza from Molina or a fried chicken sandwich from BRD (definitely not gluten free).

Looking for something a bit more intimate? Birroteca in Hamden is a great date night destination. Their menu is allergen friendly – noting gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Check out the bar while you wait for a table. They have an extensive selection that includes 60 craft beers (for your non-GF friends), a focused Italian wine list and a selection of unique craft cocktails.

This list wouldn’t be complete without Artifact Coffee’s restaurant counterpart – Woodberry Kitchen. Check out their gluten free menu for mouthwatering dishes featuring locally sourced food. As if you needed a reason to convince you non GF friends to dine here, all of their beers are from farm breweries in Maryland (how cool? But again, also not gluten free).

Tacos, ceviche, mezcal – if any of these resonate with you, then head to Clavel ASAP. This Mezcaleria is a popular destination so expect a bit of a wait. Grab one of their signature cocktails at the bar or check out WC Harlen, a speakeasy tucked away right down the street.

Venturing out of the Hamden/Remington neighborhood, BYOB Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen is another one of my local favorites. Baba’s menu notes what dishes are gluten free (or can be modified to be so). My recommendation? The Rosemary Beef. Fresh rosemary-rubbed beef grilled and topped with a creamy mushroom sauce served over quinoa. Pro tip – make it a platter with a side of hummus and a salad. Let them know you are GF and they will swap pita with vegetables for your hummus.

On the search for the best pizza in Baltimore? Verde Pizza in Canton. This casual, upscale trattoria serves up the best wood-fired, gluten free pizza crust I’ve ever had.

While we’re on the Italian theme here – Tagliata and Italian Disco are two more GF restaurants to add to your list. While the GF offerings aren’t extensive, the atmosphere is on point so just know that both offer a GF pasta option.

Looking for a more casual vibe? Vida Taco recently (ish) opened their third location in Harbor Point. Start with Ceviche or Guac and then move onto the main course, your pick of exciting tacos like lamb barbacoa or fried octopus. Option for corn or bibb lettuce shells.

Wrapping up the list with another entirely gluten free restaurant – Points South Latin Kitchen. Located in the heart of Fells Point, Points South offers a unique Central and South American Cuisine. And get this, they offer half priced small plates during Happy Hour Monday-Friday – aka the perfect excuse to try everything!

Over the years, I have 100% turned into that foodie blogger who just has to get the right angle shot for IG before diving into my meal. With that being said, follow me on IG @barretotable as I’m always looking for new GF friendly spots. I will also continue to update this list – and most importantly, if I missed any good spots, comment and let me know!

xx

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