Travel Dining Cards for Gluten Intolerance and Food Allergies

Posted on May 14th, 2014 by Alison | Posted in Dining Out, Travel | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

vietnamese-cardThe first big trip I took after being diagnosed with celiac disease was to Vietnam. I had only been gluten-free for a year, and I worried about how I would be able to communicate my dietary needs in a foreign country where I could not speak a word of the language and the writing was completely unrecognizable to me.

I decided that I needed to have a written explanation of my gluten-free diet so that I could just hand it to someone — a miscommunication could lead to one bite of gluten which could ruin a whole day of my (and my husband’s) trip. I had become friendly with one of the employees at the photo-developing place (remember those?) who was of Vietnamese descent, so I asked if he could help me. He was able to have the sentences I had written translated by his relatives and returned a hand-written note to me. I had the sense to laminate that little piece of paper that ended up saving me again and again on my travels.

Japanese nut allergy cardI was reminded of this story recently because my parents (who are also gluten-free) were getting ready to travel to Japan and I suggested they bring a dining translation card with them. It’s much easier now to communicate gluten intolerance or food allergies in almost any language because of the available online resources. Some you have to purchase, and some are free. Some are already written for you, and some can be customized. You have to find what works for you, but without a doubt, having a dining card with you will ease your mind and, hopefully, keep you safe, whether dining out in your own country or in different one!

Here are some of the travel and dining card resources I have found: CONTINUE READING »


Mariposa Baking Co. in San Francisco – Gluten-Free Goodness

Posted on March 10th, 2014 by Alison | Posted in Bakeries, Dining Out, SF Bay Area, Travel | Comments Off on Mariposa Baking Co. in San Francisco – Gluten-Free Goodness

I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since I first wrote about Mariposa Baking Company At that time (2008), they were located only in Oakland, CA, and the next year made the move to a kiosk in the historic Ferry Building of San Francisco. Now they reside in a permanent spot in the Ferry Building, and with more room they can offer toasted bagels, sandwiches, and other gluten-free breakfast and lunch items in addition to an array of gluten-free baked goods.

On a beautiful day in February, I boarded the ferry in Larkspur, CA with my two daughters. We loved every minute of the ferry ride, with awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and San Francisco. We arrived at The Ferry Building, which is known for its amazing food, offering Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and Americana, in addition to its gourmet meats, cheeses, oysters and other fresh foods.

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We passed up these options, however, as some were gluten-ful, and I just didn’t feel like asking so many questions (my daughter has multiple food allergies). That day was about spending time with my girls and not having to worry about a thing, so we headed straight for Mariposa Baking Company, where we could get great food and feel relaxed.

Mariposa Baking Company San Francisco

Mariposa Gluten-Free San Francisco

I ordered “the gobbler” sandwich: organic turkey with swiss, organic spinach, tomato and red onion, cranberry sauce, and mayo on toasted Faux “Rye” bread – 2 slices of bread from a round loaf of light bread with caraway seeds added. It came with a side salad and delicious croutons! I loved it! Other menu items were “cheddar hammy sammy,”

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“mediterranean panini,” “tuna melt,” and “empanada plate.” All are marked whether they are also vegan, dairy-free or nut-free. You can create your own sandwich if you prefer. One of my daughters ordered a toasted cheese sandwich and the other had a plain turkey sandwich, both on their Sandwich Bread, which is egg, dairy and nut-free.

Mariposa Gluten-Free Sandwich San Francisco

After lunch we walked to the new Exploratorium and then of course we had to return to Mariposa get treats and some items to take back home. We tried a few sweets and then purchased some loaves of bread — the Faux Rye was $7 per loaf and the Sandwich Bread was $6 per loaf, great prices for gluten-free bakery bread!

Mariposa Gluten-Free Bread

Whether you are visiting the Bay Area, or a native, I highly recommend my itinerary above, with a stop at Mariposa!


Gluten-Free Clam Chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.

Posted on January 9th, 2013 by Alison | Posted in Dining Out, Restaurants/Stores, SF Bay Area | Comments Off on Gluten-Free Clam Chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.

I often get asked for gluten-free food recommendations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, I got a nice surprise recently at Hog Island Oyster Co. Bar, which has two locations. One is in the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the other is in Oxbow Public Market in Napa. (The actual Hog Island Oyster Farm in located on Highway 1 in Marshall).

A friend had picked this spot and at first I was a little wary because it didn’t seem like there were a lot of gluten-free options. When we were told that the clam chowder was gluten-free, I was sold! Doesn’t it look fabulous, piled high with fresh clams, and surrounded by potatoes and other vegetables, and bacon? It was delicious. (For those new to the gluten-free diet, you should know that most clam chowder is made with flour.)

There are other gluten-free options on their small menu – the salad I had was really good and fresh. And there are, of course, the oysters. Other than raw, I was told that the steamers are sometimes steamed with beer, sometimes white wine, but it’s no problem for them to accommodate. The baked oysters and the oyster stew are also gluten-free. On Sundays, they serve a gumbo, which is NOT gluten-free and there may be other specials that contain gluten. As always, be sure to double check for yourself. Don’t forget to pair with some nice California wines, and if you go to the Ferry Building location, grab a gluten-free baguette from Mariposa Baking Company to dip in the chowder… heaven.

For more information, see the Hog Island Oyster Bar sample menu and visit their website.


zpizza – gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free

Posted on August 19th, 2012 by Alison | Posted in Dairy Allergy, Dining Out, Egg Allergy, Restaurants/Stores, Soy Allergy | Comments Off on zpizza – gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free

Most of America takes for granted the ability to go out for pizza or have it delivered. Most families I know have pizza at least once a week and it is the standard food for birthday parties and sports team outings. If you have to avoid gluten, finding pizza gets a little more challenging, but there are more and more options out there. If you also have to avoid eggs and/or dairy, however, it becomes almost impossible to find a good, safe pizza.

zpizza, a pizza chain started in southern California, offers not only a gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free crust (made by Venice Bakery), but also offers Daiya cheese for those who want a non-dairy cheese option (it is also soy-free). They offer a gluten-free menu online and in the stores, as well as a vegan menu.

I really liked the pizza. The crust was crunchy but not crackery, and the toppings were really fresh. The meats are nitrate-free, the tomato sauce is organic and the veggies options are interesting, like arugula, shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions and capers.

But the best part of all was that my gluten-free egg-allergic daughter could order a pizza. It’s the little things!

Note: zpizza states that they are not a gluten-free environment. While I was at the Petaluma, CA location they seemed very careful and used dedicated pans in the oven, but please dine at your own risk. If you have nut allergies please note that they use peanuts and pine nuts in some of their sauces.