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Gluten-Free Challenge: Eating Out and Catered Meals

By Jennifer Kongs 


Tags: gluten free, gluten intolerance, gluten,

Pasta CateringWhat can I say? The cook inside of me is excited about the short, two-day challenge presented by signing up to eat gluten-free this weekend. (Find out more about the gluten-free challenge and sign up to participate!) I’ve been inspired to look for ways to replace some of my typical meals with alternatives that fit the bill, including the replacement of my Sunday morning pancakes with Floriani corn cakes (substituting gluten-free oat flour for the wheat flour). Sounds like an improvement to me! 

Eating at home and cooking gluten-free recipes for myself is one thing, but I have a wedding event this weekend that creates an unexpected complication — a true challenge if you will. The dinner menu (Italian) will certainly feature a whole host of dishes that someone with a gluten intolerance would not be able to eat — which for this weekend means I can’t eat them either. It didn’t really hit me until I committed to this challenge, but most events do not cater towards food allergies. A gluten-intolerant eater has no choice: The wedding cake is off-limits, along with the lasagna, garlic bread and spaghetti.  

If you are gluten intolerant, what advice can you share for dealing with meals at events or restaurants that are not compliant with your diet restrictions? Do you bring your own food? Eat a meal ahead of time? Or do you scrounge what you can that appears to be “safe”? Share your tips with me below!  

For a source of places to eat out and catering companies who work to provide gluten-free options, check out the Gluten-Free Registry online. 


Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or .

Photo Credit: Fotolia/carroteater 

suzanne horvath
6/3/2011 1:10:02 PM

Specifically for Italian dishes, if you can verify that the Pasta Sauce is GF, then just ask for this to be served over potatoes instead of Pasta. I do this all the time at home. It's just as satisfying and filling. Of course, I do cook GF pasta (Schar's) also, but the potatoes are a nice change. If I can't verify what is GF, then I stick to fruit, cheese, salads (with lots of extras: corn, chickpeas, beets, etc) - things that usually are naturally GF. The best idea is to eat at home prior to the event. Then you can just nibble on the "safe" stuff. Bringing your own food can be difficult if it is a large event. If you need it to be reheated, you don't know where this will take place - most probably not in a GF free area. And after working in hotel restaurants over the years, you really don't want your GF food out of your sight. Most restaurant/hotel workers don't understand the dangers of contaminating food with gluten. They think it's just a fad or imagined illness. And really, they're running around tending to a large group of people, so you are low on the list of things to worry about.


julie du brow
5/20/2011 7:34:18 PM

The GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group), www.gluten.net has wonderful tips for eating w. gluten intolerance, and actually they have their Chef to Plate program coming up in a week or two...a weekend of restaurants that offer GF. Great weekend! And if you are thinking of PLANNING a GF wedding -- some great ideas in this: http://www.pamelasproducts.com/media/Weddingbrochure.pdf. Good luck to everyone doing the Challenge this weekend!