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When you learn you need to avoid gluten, it's time to educate yourself.

It's estimated that 1 in 133 people are intolerant to gluten. Some manifest in Celiac Disorder, some in autoimmune disorders.

It's time for a 'real food' world.

My new motto, 'If it won't rot, don't eat it!'

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Useful GF Tools

If you are gluten-intolerant (not celiac), you might consider one of the new gluten enzyme digestive aids to help offset accidental gluten exposure.

Make a restaurant food allergy card.

Traveling out of the USA? TRAVEL TIPS

Dining out while maintaining a GF diet can be daunting. If you travel, you can search for GF friendly restaurants online, and touch base with any local GF or Celiac support groups whose members might know where it's safe to eat. Pay attention to finding local grocery stores, too. If you carry a basic tool kit - spoon, fork, can opener you can create a meal from grocery store items - fresh produce, canned meats, and most stores now carry GF snack foods, too.

In most restaurants be prepared to pay more for your GF meals. Often your best restaurant choices are local places that cook real food from scratch or else big chains that have GF menus. Dining out may be more difficult when gluten-free, but not impossible. For me, the key is finding restaurants that use unprocessed foods to create their menus. Always, always, always make sure the management, your server (and the chef) understand that you MUST eat gluten free - that it's a health issue, not a fad diet.

Most restaurants will make the usual disclaimer of 'can't guarantee 100% GF due to potential for cross contamination', but they will do their best if you take the time to explain things. If after talking with the management you are unsure that you'll get a safe meal, then get up and go elsewhere. (and yes, I've done that.)

SHASTA || SISKIYOU || HUMBOLDT || MODOC

SHASTA COUNTY RESTAURANTS

LAI LAI CHINESE RESTAURANT:
Lai Lai's staff really wants to help. First, tell your waiter/waitress that you need to have a meal prepared free of gluten i.e. no wheat, rye, barley, soy, etc. Often the chef will come out to make sure he understands what you need. The buffet is not gluten-free (my spouse enjoys the buffet) but you can order off the menu. Make sure they understand what you need. It's a good location for group meals.

To play it safe, I usually order a meal of plain steamed vegetables with shrimp or chicken from the menu. It comes as a big plate of fresh and delicious food, though unseasoned. You could bring your own seasoning packet and add it at the table if desired. I ask for some lemon slices and squeeze the fresh lemon over the platter and it tastes wonderful. They can also do a stir fry in vegetable oil. Prices are very reasonable, too.

Location: 2705 Churn Creek Road, Redding, (530) 226-1888

OUTBACK STEAK HOUSE
In Redding, OUTBACK's is a dinner house only. (In big cities they may also do lunches.) They serve steak, chicken, and some seafood. They do have a gluten-free menu, so ask for it as you are seated. Also, inform your server that you eat gluten-free. In Redding, the staff estimates about 10 percent of their diners are using the gluten-free menu and the servers confirm that they understand the issues of cross contamination. The food is excellent and priced accordingly.

Location: 910 Dana Drive in the parking lot of the Mount Shasta Mall, Redding. Phone: (530) 226-9394

OLIVE GARDEN
Olive Garden is a popular Italian restaurant that serves lunch and dinner 7 days a week (reservations advised). They do have a published gluten-free menu with several offerings. ( Make sure your service person understands that you MUST eat strictly gluten-free.) I've eaten there before going GF and I was surprised that they have a GF menu, so next lunch out, I'll happily try them.

Location: 1025 Dana Drive,Redding, CA. (Corner of Churn Creek and Dana) Phone: (530) 221-0158

GRILLA BITES
We've eaten lunch there. They offer rice bread for their sandwiches, a gluten-free soup most days, and gluten-free selections at the salad bar. It's a nice lunch place, with a sort of coffee-house atmosphere. They also serve early dinners most days. They offer a number of organic meal selections and their prices seem very reasonable for organic foods. Let them know you need to eat gluten-free. They do want you as a customer, but you may need to explain cross contamination concerns.

Location: 1427 Market Street, Redding, (530) 242-6656

MOONSTONE BISTRO
MOONSTONE BISTRO is an upscale gourmet place to dine, offering organic foods and interesting dishes. The menu does not have specific items identified as being gluten-free, but since they cook from scratch with real food they are able to assemble you a tasty gluten-free meal. Be sure to inform your server of your food issues. Closed Mondays.

Location: 3425 Placer Street, in the same shopping center as Holiday Market, Redding, Phone: (530) 241-3663

DENNY'S
Ask your server for their Denny's Allergen's list. That list will guide you in piecing together a meal that should be reasonably safe. I had the Senior omelet made with egg whites and without cheese (I eat GFCF) plus hash browns and a fruit cup and hot tea. Denny's has a downloadable allergen list as well as a Nutritional Facts list. As with any chain restaurant, there will be the possibility of cross contamination, so make sure they understand your requirements.

Location: End of Hilltop at Cypress near K-Mart, Redding

MARY'S PIZZA SHACK
Mary's family owned pizza place offers gluten-free pizza at the Shasta Outlets Mall. Their posted menu indicates they are aware of the GF issues, but be sure to remind every one about your needs. Their hours: Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Location: ANDERSON OUTLETS, 1900 Hwy 273, Anderson, Phone: 378-1110

SISKIYOU COUNTY RESTAURANTS

Lily's Restaurant
In the town of Mount Shasta, Lily's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do not have a gluten-free menu but did assure me (by email) that they could prepare a gluten-free meal, and others have stated that Lily's is excellent in dealing with food allergies. In addition to chicken, steak and seafood, they also serve vegetarians and vegans. Be sure to discuss your specific needs with them before ordering. I haven't eaten there since going GF, but when I was a vegan they were great. We plan to eat there again on our next trip to Mount Shasta.

Location: 1013 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta, Phone: (530) 926-3372

HUMBOLDT COUNTY RESTAURANTS

NOTE: I haven't actually eaten at any of the restaurants in Humboldt County. We've planned a trip there so I inquired about places to eat through the Gluten Free Group of Humboldt County over on Facebook.

ABRUZZI
Abruzzi's in Arcata has been recommended as a place where one can obtain a GF meal. It's an Italian restaurant, so call first to confirm their ability to meet your specific dietary needs.

Location: 1st FLOOR, JACOBY’S STOREHOUSE, ON THE PLAZA, ARCATA, CA Phone: (707)826-2345

3 FOODS CAFE
Rated 'Best in Humboldt in 2010' by North Coast Journal, this cafe serves some exotic meals. They're open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. Reservations are recommended, and pretty much mandatory on weekends. Best to call and confirm whether they can make a gluten-free meal for you.

Location: 835 J St, Arcata,(right behind the Co-op) phone: (707) 822-WISH

BIG PETE'S PIZZARIA
Big Pete's has two eateries, one in Arcata and one in Eureka where you can dine, and they can deliver as far as Samoa, Arcata, Blue Lake and McKinleyville. There's a $15 minimum order and possibly a delivery charge. Their posted menu doesn't show a gluten-free pizza, but the Humboldt GF group assures me that they do GF pizza. I contacted them by email in April 2011 and got back this response, "Yes we have a gluten free option available. We just started carrying it It's available only in 14 inch medium pizzas and its organic." Call ahead to make sure they can meet your needs. Open every day at 11AM, closing at 10PM.

Location: Arcata: 1504 G St, phone: (707) 826-1890. Eureka: 1709 5th St, (707) 441-1151

NORTH COAST CO-OP
North Coast Co-op has a production bakery and deli serving good food without artificial ingredients and using organic or natural ingredients whenever possible. "Using the freshest ingredients, the Deli prepares Traditional Ethnic Foods, Comfort Meals, and Convenient Lunch items, including Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free. " Everyone can shop in the Co-op store for GF foods and snacks. You don't need to be a member to shop there.

Location: Arcata: 811 I Street, One block west of the town's plaza. Eureka: 25 4th Street, At the corner of 4th and B Streets. Open 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m daily.

MODOC COUNTY RESTAURANTS

We had occasion to travel in Modoc County, staying at the Surprise Valley Hot Springs east of Cedarville. SVHS has several nice rooms with modest cooking facilities (and private hot tubs!) so you can cook-in or eat out. The Cedarville area has several other wonderful accomodations that we have yet to try. Cedarville is a great place to get away from it all, but it's a very small community, so plan ahead.

COUNTRY HEARTH
If you talk to the cook and explain your needs you can create a great gluten-free meal since they mostly cook from fresh ingredients. The rib-eye steaks were excellent!

Location: Cedarville

DISCLAIMER

I am not a health professional. I am not giving medical advice. If you need medical advice, see your health care professional. I am sharing my personal opinions and life experiences on a variety of topics. Those resources that I mention may not be reliable, or the material may have changed since I visited the link or resource, or new information may make my comments and opinions outdated. Don't take my word for it, please exercise good judgement!