Is the Keto Diet Gluten Free?

Within the past five years or so, the gluten free and ketogenic, or “keto,” diets have made the jump from medical necessities to mainstream menus as many, many people all over the world have reduced or eliminated grains.

Both diets have been trendy for some time now. Whether that’s a good thing is up for debate, but both have been around much longer than many might realize. The keto diet was first discovered in the 1920s by a doctor who found that the diet was an effective treatment for children with epilepsy. In the 1940s, it was proved that eliminating gluten from the diets of those with celiac also eliminated symptoms associated with the disease.

At first glance, the diets appear similar. Going gluten free requires ditching all forms of gluten and the keto diet calls for a dramatic reduction of carbohydrates while increasing the amount of dietary fat one eats.

Essentially, the keto diet is not strictly gluten free. Generally, those following the diet limit carb intake to 50g per day. Those carbs could come from grains, however, many following the diet opt for fresh fruits and vegetables to reach that limit. Whether or not someone should go keto while living the gluten-free lifestyle is a decision that should be made carefully.

When followed properly, the keto diet drastically limits the number of carbs a person eats each day. The keto diet calls for making fat 75% of a diet, protein 20% and carbs 5%. Following the diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, which forces it to burn fats instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Several studies show that the diet does help people lose weight, keep it off, and lower risk factors for disease.

It’s important to do some research before adopting the keto diet, though. And since the diet causes a drastic physiological change it’s critical to consult a doctor before adopting the diet, especially if you remain gluten free.

“Keto flu” often appears soon after the diet is started. Symptoms include nausea, fatigue, brain fog, and hunger. These symptoms are temporary and should disappear once the body starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Minor side effects may also include bad breath, leg cramps, and an elevated heart rate.

For some people, the keto diet is not appropriate. Patients who have the following conditions in their medical history should discuss the keto diet with their doctor before starting: pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, impaired liver function, gastric bypass, kidney failure and more. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also consult with a doctor.

All that said, the diet’s restriction on all grains makes it an easy transition for those already eating gluten free. So, if you have celiac disease the keto diet may be a smart option for weight loss. But it’s critical to do some research before taking the plunge.

They Served What?! Readers React to Airline Serving Man with Celiac Just Snacks for Long Flight

If you haven’t heard, James Howe, a 39-year-old man with celiac, was given only snacks to get him through 10+ hours on a flight from Mexico to his home in England following his honeymoon. Howe had ordered a full meal long before the flight. He had a lot to say about the incident on his Facebook page. 

“Fabulous way to end our honeymoon,” he said in a lengthy post that called out the airline. 

We asked for your experiences. And you answered with errors, meals of nothing but lettuce and one reader reported receiving a banana wrapped in plastic. You also shared some positive experiences. Read on for more. 

Here’s what else readers are saying:

Jayne Burcombe-King: “I ordered a GF meal. Then when it came to it they didn’t have one for me. So they had to scramble around and take a GF off a passenger who fell asleep.”

Cindy Quadrini: “Happened to me from London to Washington DC. Ordered and confirmed it……”no record of it”. So glad I carry GF snacks with me. Told them I’d just have a ginger ale…..”Sorry, we just handed out the last one”. Not a good flight!”

Sky Vad: “A few months ago, I flew to Mexico by Iberia and despite that I’d selected gluten-free food accordingly with their very strict rules, when I took the flight they gave me VEGETARIAN food by “error” and the assistant told me “what’s the problem? Vegetarian and gluten-free are very similar”… I always take food with me, but is not fair to be 11 hours eating two fruits and some almonds… 😖”

Ulla-Britt Vitus Cowan: “I was served once with an unpeeled Banana wrapped in cling wrap labeled GF.”

Claire Barnes: “Went all the way to Australia and most of the way back on watermelon after my husband spent 45 mins on the phone ordering gf/ veggie meals.”

Carol Mohan: “Even when they do have them, they are often inedible. Try to cover vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free in one meal – result cardboard. I usually bring food on longer flights.”

Patricia Bercovich: “Oh yes. Flying from the U.K. to California. Then I ate the fruit salad they scrounged up for me and was severely glutened. I now always bring enough for the flight plus one day, in case of delays.”

Becky Culbertson: “Multiple times in my life. My favorite gluten-free meal on an airline was lettuce (just lettuce, no other veggies and no dressing…. not one drop) it was icky.”

And it’s not just airlines!

Pattie White: “Lol. No. I can’t afford a ten hour flight, but I did spend many nights sitting overnight w hospitalized loved ones without having had anything to eat since lunchtime. Hospitals are not Celiac friendly.”

Carla Rishton: “It wasn’t an airline but I paid for 1st class via a train service and was given popcorn as that was the only gluten-free items available.”

Nonetheless, we did find a few happy endings:

Heather Kramer Mallinger: “Flew quite a bit for work several years ago to Europe, and Delta always had something for me. I did preselect that I was gluten-free. Not to say airlines cant make mistakes, but had great experiences on Delta. I always took extra snacks just in case, and the food wasn’t always the best, but I was happy to get a meal on the long flights.”

Patti Hanisch Townsend: “Air Serbia was amazing, GF meals and snacks both ways.”

Jeanne Leadley: “My personal favorite is when Air France forgot my GF meal. They gave me free champagne and cognac. Who needs food. 😜”

Taking all this into consideration, always bulk up on your favorite GF food before traveling! Airlines do not always follow through on their ability to provide meals for celiacs or restricted diets

Celiac is the Most Googled Disease in These Six States

A national report showed that celiac is the most Googled disease in six states, making it the second most commonly Googled disease in the country (along with diabetes). 

TermLife2Go conducted a study to determine these highly Googled diseases by state. They used Google Trends and looked at each state over the past year to compile every disease according to search popularity. 

The states most frequently Googling celiac are Idaho, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. 

Celiac is the Most Googled Disease in These Five StatesCeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, as if it were a poison. It affects as many as one in 100 people, although most have not been diagnosed. When someone with celiac consumes gluten, the immune system reacts by destroying the part of the small intestine that absorbs vital nutrients. This malabsorption can lead to serious illness. Click here to learn more about celiac disease.

Diabetes tied with celiac for second most frequently googled disease. Interestingly, there is some overlap between the two.

Recent research shows that having celiac disease puts someone at a higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes. While study results vary, they do show that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes in those who have celiac is 1.6 to 16.4 percent

According to Diabetes Self-Management, if you have diabetes and are wondering whether you have celiac, you should get tested. “Besides the more ‘traditional’ symptoms, you may notice unpredictable or unexplainable swings in your blood glucose; hypoglycemia a couple hours after a meal; hypoglycemia that is hard to treat; and lack of improvement in your HbA1c level. Of course, these diabetes symptoms can be due to other causes, but, they could be linked to celiac.”

Managing type 1 diabetes while adhering to a gluten-free diet can be challenging. It is important to keep a close watch on how diet impacts the health of children who have both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Dietary counseling is considered essential to ensure patients are eating properly and staying healthy.

Click here for more information on managing celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. 

The only effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Waiting to start a gluten-free diet may have consequences. It increases the risk of osteoporosis, stomach problems, iron deficiency anemia, infertility and other autoimmune disorders.  

It’s best to speak with a health professional for diet tips, but some general guidelines include: eating plenty of fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs and lean meat; replace gluten containing foods with gluten-free starches such as rice, corn and quinoa; and carefully checking food labels for gluten in products you might not think of as containing gluten.

For those who are curious, HPV infection is the most commonly Googled disease in the United States. Heart disease is one of the least Googled, though it is the deadliest disease in the country. 

SPONSORED POST: This meal kit service is now gluten-free certified!

We’re excited to share that Green Chef, a fast-growing USDA-certified organic meal kit delivery service, is now the first national meal kit to have received Gluten-Free Food Service certification through the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) for its three certified gluten-free menus (Paleo, Keto, and Gluten-Free).

As many of you know, dining out can be a veritable gluten minefield. Many restaurants do not control for gluten cross-contamination, and even grocery items that claim to be gluten-free may not be certified. Now you can trust Green Chef to provide a variety of certified gluten-free options.

Each gluten-free recipe is crafted by expert chefs to deliver five-star flavor typically found in top-rated restaurants, so you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic restaurant-quality dishes without worrying about cross-contamination. The meals are designed to be deliciously gluten-free, not just modified. We also love that Green Chef’s organic ingredients are thoughtfully hand-packed in eco-friendly insulated boxes, so they arrive at peak quality.

For a limited time, Green Chef is giving Gluten-Free Living readers $40 off their first gluten-free box! Sign-up is simple. Just click here, select your meal plan and delivery day, then sit back and enjoy the convenience of ready-to-prepare dinners delivered to your door—the service ships throughout nearly all of the continental U.S. And if you’re going on vacation, Green Chef gives you the option to skip your deliveries when you’re away.

So if you’re looking for a convenient way to eat gluten-free at home without sacrificing quality or flavor, know that you can always go to Green Chef.


Nonresponsive Celiac Disease

In patients with nonresponsive celiac disease, symptoms persist even after following a gluten-free diet for six to 12 months or return after a long period of good health. A study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition found that nearly one in five children with celiac disease had persistent damage to the gut despite following a gluten-free diet for at least a year. Blood tests for tTG conventionally used in follow-up failed to predict damage.

The findings

The study involved 103 children who had follow-up biopsies between one and 12 years after an initial biopsy to diagnose celiac. Nineteen percent of the patients still had tissue damage.

Blood tests detected elevated tTG in 43 percent of those with persistent damage and 32 percent of those with healing. Only 55 percent of patients with persistent damage reported feeling any symptoms. A majority of healed patients also complained of symptoms possibly related to celiac.

Experts widely endorse tTG tests to monitor gluten-free adherence and recovery in patients with celiac. This study raises concern that the test, while accurate for initial diagnosis, is a poor indicator of healing. The authors argue an additional biopsy is the only way to confirm recovery.

This data set was small and relied on past medical histories, which is a statistically weak approach. While the findings raise an important concern, they will need confirmation by larger studies to recommend a change in health care practice.

Nonresponsive celiac disease

The study also corroborates rising concern about a significant proportion of celiac patients who respond poorly to the gluten-free diet. Persistent damage to the gut increases risk for complications, such as lymphoma. This adds urgency to the search for alternative treatments for patients with nonresponsive celiac disease.

Leonard MM, Weir DC, DeGroote M, Mitchell PD, Singh P, Silvester JA, Leichtner AM and Fasano A, “Value of IgA tTG in predicting mucosal recovery in children with celiac disease on a gluten free diet,” Journal of Pediatric Gastorenterology and Nutrition, Nov 3 2016, doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001460 [Epub ahead of print].

Banana Babies: A History Lesson for Celiac Awareness Month

I first learned about banana babies in the early 2000s. The term refers to very sick children who were diagnosed with celiac disease, placed on diets heavy in bananas and told they would outgrow celiac. Years later, many found themselves not feeling well because —as the medical community would later come to understand—celiac cannot be outgrown.

I know more than one banana baby personally, including Ceil Chookazian, who owns Foods by George with her husband George. Chookazian was actually one of the very first people I had the privilege of meeting within the community after my celiac diagnosis in 2000. Perhaps that is why I have always felt so strongly about banana babies and their unique, complicated history with celiac and the gluten-free diet.

How it began

I recently realized that I don’t even remember the last time I had a conversation about banana babies. With May being Celiac Awareness Month, I wanted to do something to get the term out there again.

“This banana diet really was developed in the [1930s] and ‘40s, when these kids that were brought to the hospital were dying,” explains Alessio Fasano, MD, Director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. “So the idea was because [the children] are having diarrhea—because that was the main manifestation of celiac disease at that time—and because they knew that with diarrhea you lose some minerals, in particular potassium, empirically they decide for bananas. Why? Because they’re filled with astringent, so in other words they make you constipated, so they try to counterbalance the diarrhea and…because they are rich in potassium. So that’s the reason why they decided to focus on bananas and they give you enough calories to stay afloat. And of course, eating bananas and nothing else, you are gluten free. And you know—surprise, surprise—these kids were surviving on that diet.”

Fasano, a renowned expert on all things celiac, covers its history in his book Gluten Freedom: The Nation’s Leading Expert Offers the Essential Guide to a Healthy, Gluten-Free Lifestyle, including how the banana diet was developed and a first-person banana baby account.

Gluten’s introduction

As Fasano notes in the book, the major breakthrough with celiac disease was made by Dutch pediatrician Willem-Karel Dicke following World War II. He writes, “In the decades before Dr. Dicke’s discoveries, many children thought to have celiac disease were fed bananas almost exclusively for three to six months. A pediatrician from New York City named Sidney Haas developed the diet in the 1920s. It remained the guiding therapy until 1950, when Dr. Dicke published his thesis with a meticulous dietary study that documented gluten as the dietary trigger of celiac disease.”

At the time, the understanding was that celiac disease could be outgrown. “What they did at that time was, after four to five months they were on this diet, they gradually introduced everything else,” says Fasano. For some of the children, the outcome was horrible. “A good chunk of kids relapsed and they died,” he explains. In other cases, the results were different. “A group eventually did not relapse or relapsed with much milder symptoms, and they survived.”

The banana diet continued into the 1950s and ‘60s. “The reason why it was still used in the ‘50s is because the gluten-free diet was not popular yet,” explains Fasano. There was a gap in disseminating information about celiac and the gluten-free diet. “Dicke’s work was not really…streamlined, and in the meantime the success of the banana diet really took over and was extremely popular[ly] implemented. By the time that Dicke’s work became more clear and then subsequent work found out there was gluten in wheat that was the culprit, then at that point the gluten-free diet started to gain popularity.”

Wide range of celiac symptoms

Chookazian and her younger sister were both placed on the banana diet in 1960, toward the end of the diet’s popularity. Chookazian was three years old and her sister around 18 months old when they became symptomatic. “We exhibited differently, yet we both had celiac and we both were put on the diet and we both ate a lot of bananas, bananas and [more] bananas,” says Chookazian. “It was actually called non-tropical sprue when we were little.”

She describes the differences between her symptoms and her sister’s. “I started to get sick [with] the measles, mumps, whatever; I never seemed to come out of it,” she says. Her sister, meanwhile, experienced something very different. Chookazian explains that “during that time period there was a terrible starvation period in Biafra and there was a lot of information in the news about Biafran babies that were very thin in their arms and legs with big stomachs from being malnourished—that’s how my younger sister looked. Whereas I, on the other hand, looked really big and puffy, and got bigger rather than smaller.”

Their doctor was stumped by the two sisters and their symptoms. He sought out the advice of a medical professor from Europe. “And he contacted this doctor and said, ‘I have these two little girls. I don’t know what’s the matter with them. Here are their symptoms.’ And [the professor] said it sounded to him like a thing called non-tropical sprue. And he told our doctor what to do.”

Implementing the banana diet

Chookazian remembers how she and her sister were admitted to the hospital. Their doctor was very honest with her parents about the severity of the situation. “So this doctor said to my mother, to my parents, ‘They’re probably both going to die. We don’t exactly know, but we think it’s this thing called non-tropical sprue and here’s the plan. You’re going to start them out on things like rice, potatoes, bananas,’ and that’s where bananas came in.”

In addition to the bananas, she remembers also eating a great deal of warm rice cereal. “My mom would heat up some milk and put in some rice cereal and add the bananas and banana flakes into it, and for the first three months that’s pretty much what we had.” Chookazian remembers eating the banana flakes from Kanana Banana Flakes fondly. “Probably four times a week, we would have bananas or banana flakes, and it would be in the cereal or sometimes at lunch we would mix the banana flakes in cold water. [My mother] just wanted to get [the bananas] into us.”

She also remembers eating Hol Grain Brown Rice Crackers—“those same crackers they have now”—which were a staple in her diet once she started cutting back on bananas. “They were very durable. My mother would take ham and roll it up and put it in between two of those.” But by the time Chookazian was a teenager, she was eating gluten and a much wider diet.

When symptoms returned

As she got older, Chookazian began eating more and more gluten. As an adult, she would grab slices of pizza on the way home from work. By the late 1980s, unbeknownst to her, her celiac had relapsed. She had been losing weight for a prolonged period of time. She continued to get worse, particularly around the time she began to date her now husband George. “George and I started dating and then I started eating a lot of bread. That just exacerbated everything,” she says. “In a very short time, a two- to three-week period, I went from 123 pounds or so down to about 92 pounds.”

All the while she had been seeing her internist, who diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome. He did not make the connection with celiac. In fact, “I had told him I had celiac disease when I was a kid,” to which the doctor replied, “No, no, no, you outgrew that. That’s not it.”

Eventually Chookazian became so sick that she was hospitalized in 1990. “I was in the hospital just wasting away.” Finally, “a doctor named Zvi Fischer over in Ridgewood, New Jersey, at Valley Hospital, got on the case.” It did not take long for Fisher to determine the cause of Chookazian’s symptoms. “He took a look at my stuff, my history, and he said, ‘Oh, you have celiac disease.’ I said, ‘I outgrew that’ and his eyes sort of crossed and he said, ‘No you didn’t. You never outgrow celiac disease.’  He said, ‘you’ve got a full-blown case of celiac disease.’”

Banana babies today

In Fasano’s own practice, he has encountered banana babies “many times, some with very sad stories. The vast majority of these people remembered that they were diagnosed with celiac disease or were told by their family, the parents, they were diagnosed as celiac during the early days, and that was completely forgotten and then they start to again have symptoms and now that celiac disease and gluten are so popular, they check it out—‘what could be wrong with me?’—and find out that the celiac disease can be one [cause], and then they put two and two together.”

When asked whether there are individuals who were placed on the banana diet but are unaware that they never outgrew celiac disease, Fasano notes there are, but the exact numbers are indeterminate.

Chookazian, for her part, welcomed confirmation that she never outgrew celiac and was relieved to learn the cause behind her symptoms. “That was probably one of the best days of my life,” she says. “It was a relief for me because I was so sick. I felt very fortunate. I thought to myself, ‘I know how to do this.’ Certainly my greatest blessing was George. Not a thing that I wanted that he didn’t make for me.”


Susan Cohen is a New York freelance writer. She contributes regularly to Gluten-Free Living.

5 Steps to Go Gluten Free

For those who need to go gluten free after being diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it can be overwhelming. After all, it entails one to adopt considerable lifestyle changes. While it is a relief to finally learn the cause of the symptoms that have plagued you for years, now comes the hard part—the research. Following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these autoimmune disorders because there is no cure; food—the right food—is the only medicine.

Learning about gluten is the first of many steps as you go gluten free. This process takes time and patience because the answers are sometimes complicated. Anything that touches your lips or goes in your mouth must be gluten free, including medicine, makeup (lip gloss, lipstick, etc.), mouthwash, toothpaste, alcohol and, of course, food.

There is no magic formula for transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle, but there are a number of ways to tackle it head on and put you in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered and in control. Here are five tips to help you go gluten free:

  1. Consult with a knowledgeable dietitian to address vitamin deficiencies, learn about nutritious gluten-free
    grains and ingredients, and find out how to maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Learn about gluten, how to read labels and shop, and how to communicate your dietary needs to servers,
    co-workers, friends and family.
  3. Adhere to a strict gluten-free diet—without cheating—or risk more medical issues down the road.
  4. Join a local support group, because socializing with others who have the same or similar issues allows you
    to feel included and less isolated. It is also a great way to make friends, learn about gluten-free-friendly restaurants and get the scoop on the best places to grocery shop.
  5. Follow up annually with a gastroenterologist and dietitian to keep your health on track. Vitamin deficiencies need to be monitored, and any other health issues should be addressed.

Reliable Resources

National support groups host the best websites for research. These sites work to bring timely and accurate information to the gluten-free community, and they don’t perpetuate myths and misinformation. They work with the medical community to address new research and trends as well as advocate for the gluten-free community.

  • Canadian Celiac Association ( is dedicated to providing services and support to those with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis through awareness, advocacy and educational programs.
  • Celiac Disease Foundation ( drives diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease through advocacy, education and advancing research to improve the quality of life for all people affected by gluten-related disorders.
  • Beyond Celiac ( has community outreach programs that aim to educate individuals, doctors and food service professionals while improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.
  • Gluten Intolerance Group, also known as GIG (, provides support to those with gluten-related disorders through innovative industry, service, social and awareness programs.

You will come out of this transition a new person—one who is in control of your health for the first time in a long time. Things are looking up!

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Shake Shack Introduces Gluten-Free Burger Buns

For those on the gluten-free diet, ordering a bun-less burger gets pretty lame pretty fast. Thankfully, Shake Shack recently added gluten-free burger buns to menus at all 67 of its U.S. locations (Shake Shack’s five stadium and ballpark outposts don’t carry them). And unlike many sad, hard-as-a-rock or oddly gummy gluten-free buns, Shake Shack’s are delish—soft, sweet, bread-y—and, dare I say it, practically twins with the chain’s traditional buns.

SS_Gluten Free Buns_3Even better: Shake Shack staff know how to safely prepare them. “Servers are trained to change their gloves to handle gluten-free buns, and the buns are stored in a separate area and toasted on the griddle to prevent cross-contact with the bun toaster, where other buns are toasted,” Edwin Bragg, Shake Shack’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, explained via email. “Be aware that while we do everything we can to prevent cross-contact, we unfortunately can’t make any guarantees since the kitchen is fairly small. It is important that when you place the order, you alert our cashier that you have an allergy. That way we can mark it for the whole kitchen to be aware,” Bragg added.

Adam Shapiro, Shake Shack’s Marketing and Communications Manager, offers these tips for making the most of your gluten-free visit:

  • Avoid the ‘Shroom Burger, which contains breadcrumbs.
  • Skip the fries. The oil in the fryers is filtered through the same equipment as the ‘Shroom Burger.
  • Order frozen custard without a cone, and make sure to double-check the ingredients of the Seasonal Shakes with cashiers before ordering.
  • Choose from these safe mix-ins: strawberry purée, peanut butter, chocolate toffee, marshmallow, fudge, caramel, chocolate sprinkles*, sea salt and chocolate sprinkles*, cherries, bananas and almonds.
  • Drink wisely. All soft drinks and wines are gluten free, but beer options do generally contain gluten.

Of course, all this burger bliss begs one question: Will hot dog buns be next? “No plans at this time, but you never know!” Shapiro says. Our fingers are crossed. See for locations and info.


* Shake Shack’s rainbow sprinkles are processed in a factory where possible cross-contamination can occur.


Jessica Press is a writer whose work appears in Redbook, Parents, O, The Oprah Magazine and more.

Jersey Mike’s Subs Is On a Gluten-Free Roll!

Jersey Mike’s, the rapidly growing sandwich-shop chain, is looking to broaden its customer base by offering gluten-free rolls.


Jersey MikesPhiladelphians call their long, stacked sandwiches “hoagies.” Maybe you know them as “grinders” or “heroes.” At the Jersey Shore, where Jersey Mike’s started in 1971, they’re “subs.” Whatever the name, the rapidly growing sandwich-shop chain, with 1,200 stores in 44 states, is looking to broaden its customer base by offering gluten-free sandwich rolls.

In 2014, Jersey Mike’s began testing gluten-free rolls made by Udi’s at locations in southern Florida and, more recently, in Los Angeles, said Michael Manzo, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. This month, Jersey Mike’s expanded its pilot program to 63 stores in New Jersey and the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas using rolls made by Colorado’s gluten-free Wild Flour Bakery. That test is slated to run through April 2017.

“We hear from former sub lovers who are now gluten free that they miss their Jersey Mike’s subs as well as from those who have never eaten a sub sandwich,” said Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones. Manzo added that the idea of offering gluten-free rolls came from a franchisee whose daughter has celiac disease.

While Manzo has been encouraged by customer response to the Udi’s test, he said that Jersey’s Mike’s CEO, Peter Cancro, pushed the company’s development team to pursue a bread that they could bake in the stores themselves. Wild Flour’s yeast-raised Tuscan Herb sandwich rolls, unique to Jersey Mike’s, arrive as dough and are proofed and baked fresh each day. The gluten-free roll size is equivalent to a traditional mini size, according to Manzo. There is a $2 surcharge for the gluten-free option.

The restaurants have dedicated pans for baking the rolls, and store employees wear new gloves when handling the rolls and use knives and other utensils that haven’t touched other bread products when slicing the gluten-free rolls. The gluten-free sandwiches are prepared on parchment paper so that there is no contact with the prep-area counter. Customers can request that toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes and onions be taken from stock in the stores’ walk-in refrigerators. Manzo said that the absence of loose flour in the stores’ kitchens and the custom slicing of cold cuts, all of which are gluten free, boosted the company’s confidence to offer sandwiches to those with celiac disease.

According to Manzo, company executives will evaluate sales data, customer comments and employee feedback during the testing phase and determine whether to offer a gluten-free roll option beyond the current regions. If the program is expanded, he said, it would likely be on a state-by-state basis rather than an immediate nationwide rollout.



Did You Know Hard Cider Is Gluten Free?


The weather is getting cooler, and the return of apple season brings with it another gluten-free alcohol option for autumn. As consumer demand for gluten-free and gluten-removed beers grows, so does the market for beer alternatives, including hard cider. Ryan Burk, head cider maker at Angry Orchard Cider Co. in Walden, N.Y., said hard cider offers a unique, flavorful beverage option for people who follow a gluten-free diet. Cider is made from apples, which do not contain gluten.

“All of our styles are made with the highest-quality ingredients and are naturally gluten free,” he said. “Ciders like Angry Orchard offer drinkers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance a refreshing alternative to wine or beer.”

Cider was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Colonial times, primarily due to the abundance of apples, Burk said. In recent years, people have started to rediscover and introduce cider to their friends. There are a variety of reasons for cider’s resurgence, he said, including the popularity of the gluten-free diet and the gluten-free nature of cider.

“We’re also seeing drinkers start to experiment with hard cider much like they did with craft beer years ago, through using cider as an ingredient in cooking, pairing cider with foods and even [using it] in cocktail recipes,” he said.

Cider makers are introducing new products to satisfy consumer demand. Earlier this year, Angry Orchard added Knotty Pear and The Old-Fashioned to its Orchard’s Edge series of ciders inspired by unexpected ingredients and aging processes.

Despite its recent growth, cider still makes up only about 1% of the total beer market in the U.S., Burk said. That’s compared to more than 15% in places with a stronger cider tradition, such as the United Kingdom.