California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items

Hello All,

I wanted to share with you a press release that I received today about California Pizza Kitchen:


The wait is over! Today California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has launched gluten free pizza crust, making 29 of their original pizzas available gluten free.

CPK has taken notice of the increased demand with more than 3 million Americans affected by Celiac Disease and created a specialty menu with various gluten free items. Among the 29 different gluten free pizzas available is America’s favorite, The Original BBQ Chicken pizza, the Pear & Gorgonzola pizza and the Wild Mushroom pizza. CPK also offers other gluten free appetizers, soups, salads, specialties, kids items and desserts to choose from on their current menu.

CPK is thrilled to offer those that require gluten free items a menu with the same delicious offering that they’ve always had, now gluten free.

I also saw this on their website:

“*Not available gluten-free: Thai Chicken and Roasted Artichoke and Spinach”

Here is a PDF version of their new Gluten-Free Menu!!

This is really exciting news because this means that Gluten Free awareness has gone mainstream, however please keep on reading.

UPDATE 6/30/11: A reader just pointed this disclaimer out to me at the bottom of their menu – so to sum this up, it is very exciting that they are offering gluten-free options, however it seems like an “eat at your own risk” type situation as with many restaurants be very careful!!

“Gluten-Free” designations are based on information provided by our ingredient suppliers. Warning: Ingredients or production methods used by our suppliers may change, or there may be product differences among regional suppliers. Additionally, normal kitchen operations involve shared cooking and preparation areas, or we may need to substitute ingredients in menu items. We are therefore unable to guarantee that any menu item is free from gluten or any other allergen, and we assume no responsibility for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.

I was happy to receive the press release at first and sent back an e-mail asking about cross contamination and preparation of the menu items that were gluten-free but have not received a response as of yet. As soon as I hear back from them, I will update this post for all of you.

Coming from one who has Celiac Disease and not gluten intolerance I don’t know if I would eat there, especially if they are using the same pizza ovens.  When I was first diagnosed with CD I tried to eat there and just order a salad.  When I asked the waitress to check on the dressing ingredients for me she said that she would and when she returned said she didn’t read anything about it in the ingredients.  I was very very new at this so I ate my salad as she gave it to me and was extremely sick – I couldn’t even return to work that day.  I called the manager of my local CPK and he said he would retrain his staff on the importance of checking ingredients and preparing salads for those with allergies.  I had gone back a few times for salads and they were good but I was always nervous.

My nervous are from getting severely sick while eating there.  I know that there are plenty of chain and “regular” restaurants that offer gluten-free options and aren’t specifically gluten-free so there is always that risk of cross contamination, so this is again, a personal preference call. We don’t eat out very often, but when we do I always talk with the wait staff, hand them my awesome Triumph Dinning Card and most times even speak with the manager or chef (they come out, I don’t just go ask for them (-:) For the most part I have been fine eating out at “regular” restaurants, with a few exceptions.

I am thankful that there disclaimer is there and honest – I give them credit for that, some places aren’t so straight forward about it.

I know some of my comments are a little back and forth but I have to stress that it is a personal preference call to eat there or any non-gluten-free restaurant. P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite places to eat because they take extra precautions to avoid cross contamination and I have never been sick there…they even serve gluten-free foods on separate dishes (the ones that say P.F. Chang’s on it…and “regular” meals are served on plain white dishes).  I don’t have one around me to try it out.  Most times when you talk to the servers, manager, chef, etc. they will take extra caution to avoid any cross-contamination and I suggest speaking with them about it.

If you are willing to try it – please come and leave a comment back here letting me know if there was any special precaution that they took in preparing your meal, how did it taste – was the crust decent, and did you get sick from it.  I don’t have one around me and at this point I am still a bit hesitant to try it.

My hope is that they aren’t just jumping on the bandwagon with a gluten-free option but they take this seriously and put together an action plan on how to prevent and eliminate cross contamination.  Fingers crossed this will happen – would be nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant again.

Please share your thoughts, concerns, etc. in the comments section – I would love to hear what you all have to say.

UPDATE 7/1/11 –

Hi Jenny – Thanks for your interest! Yes CPK is taking special precautions to make sure it’s safe. They use a separate ‘foil boat’ in the oven to cook the pizza then immediately transfer it to its own platter, cut with a separate clean pizza cutter then immediately put on a clean plate and then taken straight to the guests table.

Well with that said – I think double checking with the waitstaff that this process takes place and you should probably be okay.  Again, if anyone has tried this please come and leave a message, I know there are many mixed emotions about this news.  I wish there was one close to me so I could at least give it a shot but sadly there isn’t one.

(More photos curiosity of CPK will be posted soon)

Panera Bread – Gluten Free Options

I love Panera Bread and that we have one not too far from us! Even if we forget that it is there half the time, it is nice when we remember it.  Bryan loves their bread and their creamy tomato soup and I truly miss their bread but love their salads and their creamy tomato soup also.  We went to lunch there last week, and like I always do before going somewhere to eat (even if we’ve been there a million times) I went online and checked to see what their gluten-free options were.  However, when I was searching the only updates that I found were from 2008 and 2010 so I decided that I would order something I knew for sure what gluten-free and also e-mailed Panera Bread and asked for an updated list.  Below is the list and e-mail that was sent to me.  The customer service people over at Panera Bread are just awesome – quick in responding, friendly and very informative.

Dear Jenny,

Thank you for contacting Panera Bread. I have included below a list of our menu items that do not contain gluten-containing ingredients. However, because we bake fresh bread daily in our bakery-cafes and bread is core to our menu, we simply cannot ensure that there has been no contact between these items, or any other menu items, and gluten.

Not all of the items listed are currently on our menu and some new menu items have not yet been evaluated for the purposes of inclusion on this list. However, you can find complete ingredients listings for current menu items on our website. (When you choose a menu item in our online Nutrition Calculator, click on the “ingredients” link for ingredients information for that item.)

Please note that nutritional information on our website is updated periodically. New products may be available in our bakery-cafes before a periodic update of this site. In addition, some menu items may be available only on a regional, test or seasonal basis. Nutritional information about these menu items is available at the participating bakery-cafes. Tests of new recipes of existing products may be conducted from time to time in certain markets. These new recipes may contain different/additional ingredients, including allergens, as compared to the original version. For the most update-to-date information, please call or visit your nearest bakery-cafe to speak with a manager.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Customer Comment Coordinator

List of menu items that do not contain any gluten containing ingredients

**Although we try to meet your special requirements, we cannot ensure that these items have not come into contact with gluten in our bakery-café.

** Gorgonzola and bleu cheeses are commonly made with mold incubated on wheat.  Some may choose to avoid these cheeses for this reason and you may substitute another cheese if you prefer. Items containing these ingredients are indicated below with (G) or (BC).

Salads:    (including the salad dressing)
(source of modified food starch is corn)
Greek Salad Caesar Salad (without croutons)
Grilled Chicken
Caesar Salad (without croutons)
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (without Won Ton noodles)
Classic Cafe Salad
Fuji Apple Chicken Salad (G)
Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad (G)
Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (without croutons)
BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad
Fruit Cup – Watermelon
Seasonal Mixed Fruit Cup

Salad Dressings:
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Poppyseed Dressing
Asian Sesame Vinaigrette
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
BBQ Ranch
Light buttermilk ranch

Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean
Creamy Tomato (without croutons)

Juice, both apple and orange
Soda, fountain and bottled
Tea, regular and Chai Tea

All lattes & Frozen beverages
Low-fat Strawberry Smoothie
Low-Fat Black Cherry Smoothie
Low-Fat Mango Smoothie
Low-fat Wild Berry Smoothie
Frozen Strawberry Lemonade
Frozen Lemonade
Hot Chocolate

Panera Bread Potato Chips

If you have a Panera Bread around you – it is a great place to eat if you are gluten-free.  The staff is always very careful about cross contamination and they also an allergen list at the registers for you to double-check anything – especially new items on the menu.

Hope this updated list helps everyone out as much as it has helped me.

Also don’t forget that my 3 Year Blogiversary Giveaway is going on until June 30th so head on over and enter today for your chance to win a box filled with a bunch of gluten-free and kitchen goodies.

Salad Works – Gluten Free Options!

I love salads, however I love them even more when someone else makes them.  It’s hard for me to find really good salads where I live (you wouldn’t think so, but it’s true).  My option used to only really consist of Subway but you have to be very careful with them and cross contamination.  In the past few moths, we got a Erik’s Deli – which is great!!  They have a few salads and even provide a list of their ingredients for you to check over.  But up until we got Erik’s it was pretty bad around here.  The salads at Trade Joe’s are okay but nothing great and the Gluten Free options are very limited!!

Bryan has been craving a Chinese Chicken Salad for what seems like two months now.  He finally found one at this place called Salad Works. Here is a little blurb from their front page:

“Saladworks is the nation’s first and largest fresh-tossed salad franchise concept with over 100 restaurant locations across the country. Saladworks offers a “fanatic’ly fresh” menu of America’s Best Salads, Focaccia Fusion sandwiches and proprietary soups.
All Saladworks salads are made-to-order, chopped fresh daily, and under 500 calories! Choose from over 50 fresh ingredients and create your own today!”

See as I’m always looking for a place that has great salads I sent them an e-mail to see which of their products (salad dressings, meat etc) were gluten free.  I got a very quick response from Jennifer that said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us.  Below you will find a list of items, including dressings and soups, that are labeled with allergen information, including gluten content.  Please note that fresh produce items like lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, etc are not included because they are inherently gluten free and we do not use any kind of preservatives that would add allergens.

Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is any more information that we can provide.  We are currently working to distribute this information to our stores so that questions like yours can be answered at the store level.

Thanks again and have a great day!

-Guest Relations”

She also included a chart in the e-mail that lists all of their products and which ones contain gluten (along with other allergens!). Please click  Allergen Information to view it as a PDF.

I’m very excited to try Saladworks out this summer!

The Melting Pot – New GF Menu!!

I would like to start this by saying I have not been to a Melting Pot restaurant yet, but hope to try one out in the near future.  I received an e-mail from Triumph Dining about the Melting Pot now offering a gluten-free menu.  I love fondue so I got really excited about this.  When I was younger my parents used to have these fondue parties with some of my dad’s hunting buddies.  It was usually an oil based fondue that they would cook their game meet with, but in recent years I have only had one fondue (it was okay).

The menu looks great!  It is their normal menu, however under each item they list what substitutions (if any) to make it gluten-free.   I love when places do this – they actually give you some options.  I don’t like when you go somewhere and their “gluten-free options” consist of a salad with no dressing, blah, who wants that??

Visit their website to find a location near you or to view their menu options!

Click here for a PDF version of their Gluten Free Menu! gf-pacislandmenu!!