Chick-fil-A Tests Gluten-Free Bun

Gluten Free Bun 2

Chick-fil-A restaurants are not gluten-free environments, but they have offered several gluten-free options for some time. The grilled chicken and chicken nuggets are prepared separately from the fried chicken. The waffle fries are cooked in canola oil while the fried chicken is cooked in peanut oil. That’s right—the French fries are safe at a fast-food restaurant! Freshly prepared salads with or without chicken, freshly cut fruit cups and yogurt parfaits are also gluten free.

Because so many items are made from scratch, diners can easily customize their orders to exclude ingredients, such as cheese from a salad. The same is true when it comes to ordering ingredients separately from their wheat counterparts, like bacon or sausage sans the biscuit and hash browns prepared in a dedicated fryer.

All that had been missing from the menu is a gluten-free bun, but the wait for that item is finally over. Chick-fil-A has been testing a gluten-free bun since April 2016 in Washington, Idaho and Mississippi. The company says it decided to add it to the menu because customers should not have to sacrifice taste due to dietary limitations.

If the test markets go well, the bun will be rolled out nationwide, making Chick-fil-A one of the first fast-food restaurant chains in the United States to offer a gluten-free bun to its guests.


It took about three years and 30 bakeries before Chick-fil-A settled on its gluten-free bun supplier. Food safety and allergen certifications were required just to be considered for the test market. The bakery, whose name hasn’t been released, custom manufactured the bun to complement the grilled chicken breast, and it looks almost identical to its wheat-bun counterpart.

Independent, third-party testing was conducted to ensure the bun is free from cross-contamination and truly gluten free. The bun costs an additional $1.15 and is enriched with vitamins and minerals. While the ingredients haven’t been released yet, we have learned it is made from a blend of chia seeds, amaranth and quinoa, and is lightly sweetened with molasses and raisins.

The buns are freshly baked, individually wrapped and stored frozen. Once thawed, the bun is served sealed alongside the grilled chicken and condiments so the customer actually assembles the sandwich. Guests can request the bun be toasted, but there is only one shared toaster, leaving the bun subject to cross-contamination with wheat.


I had the chance to try the bun at a small test market here in Georgia. One of the largest foodservice buns I’ve ever seen, it’s soft right out of the package with a slightly sweet smell and hearty flavor. The bun holds up well to Chick-fil-A’s large grilled breast piled with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise without any crumbling or breaking.


While it is too soon to tell how the test markets are going because sales of the bun vary per day and per restaurant, the company is pleased with the results thus far. If the sales results of the test market and the feedback from customers are positive, Chick-fil-A will decide whether the bun is a good fit for the menu. If so, it will garner marketing support both inside and outside of the restaurant prior to its rollout. Chick-fil-A’s famous cows may soon be telling the audience to “eat more chikin” with a gluten-free bun.

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2 Apps for the Gluten-Free Kitchen



How long can you keep chicken breasts in the fridge? Is that hamburger still safe if it’s been in the freezer for
6 months? Are those leftovers still good to eat?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an app that aims to answer questions like these. FoodKeeper is
“the app that will help you store and cook your food properly,” the USDA says.

Users can search from a database of more than 400 food and beverage items to learn recommended storage timelines, cooking advice, food safety tips and more. For example, a search for ground beef will reveal that the
meat’s recommended storage life is 1-2 days in the refrigerator and 3-4 months in the freezer.

Users can utilize FoodKeeper to learn the USDA’s recommended cook times and temperatures. Type in “whole chicken,” and the app will recommend roasting the bird in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes per
pound or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. FoodKeeper also advises where to
insert the thermometer (the innermost part of the wing and thigh and the thickest part of the breast) and how
to roast a stuffed bird.

If users are unable to find what they’re looking for, they can use the app to ask the USDA a specific food safety question through Ask Karen, the USDA’s 24/7 support system. Most common questions have already been answered on the Ask Karen database, which is searchable and available in its entirety to app users.

Furthermore the app helps users keep track of what food in their kitchen is about to spoil. Simply tell FoodKeeper when you bought your fresh produce, meat or pantry staples, and you’ll receive a reminder when your food is approaching the end of its recommended usage life via your device’s calendar.

The app is free and available on Android tablets and smartphones in addition to Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

+Eat This Much

Eat This Much, a meal-planning site, has an app of the same name. The “virtual nutritionist and meal planner” app aims to make creating a diet plan easy and pain-free—including for those on the gluten-free diet.

The app works by creating a customized meal plan using recipes that meet your individual dietary, health and budget needs. Enter your overall goal—lose weight, maintain health or gain weight—and then input basic facts about yourself, such as your height, weight, gender and activity level.

The app also allows for specific dietary preferences. While users cannot choose “gluten free” as a basic diet (the service only specifically accounts for Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Atkins or Mediterranean diets), the user can tell the
app they don’t want to see recipes with gluten, in addition to other common allergies or intolerances such as dairy, tree nuts, soy, etc.

Consumers can input a daily caloric goal or a preferred budget range. Cooks can also choose to only see recipes that match their cooking skill level.

The app is recommended for new vegans or vegetarians who want to ensure they’re getting an appropriate amount
of protein or other nutrients. And if you’re the type who can work through lunch before remembering to stop and eat, the app can even send reminders when it’s time for a meal.

Basic meal planning via the app is free, although users can pay $8.99 a month to upgrade to the premium version, which features weekly automated meal planning on the user’s typical grocery day, the ability to save and print meal plans for future use, and a tool that can incorporate leftovers from previous meals into future meal plans. The app is available on Apple and Android devices.


Tennis Stars Partner Up for Gluten-Free ArrowBar

ArrowBar 1

Tennis fans already know the names John Isner and Stevie Johnson, as well as former ATP pros James Blake and Michael Russell. But in addition to working up a sweat on the court, they’ve also played an integral role in developing ArrowBar, a new gluten-free energy bar. The all-natural, high-performance bar, developed by athletes for athletes and active people, quickly provides a 200-calorie boost of long-lasting energy.

“Many people know me as a pro tennis player but most don’t know that I am an avid golfer, basketball player and fisherman who loves to be active,” said Isner. “No matter what my days call for, there’s one thing I always lean on to keep my energy level high—ArrowBar. I truly believe that anyone who is active and cares about what they put in their body will love the long-lasting energy and great taste of ArrowBars.”

“The ingredients are natural and beneficial to any athlete or anyone looking for nutrients to help get them through the day,” enthuses Blake. “It helps me still when I work out, play tennis, play golf, or just run around with my kids. It’s not a bar that I feel like I’m forcing down either. The taste makes it so easy to eat the bars on a daily basis.”

Currently available in chocolate chip and cinnamon honey oat, the bars contain organic crispy rice, organic quick oats, natural almond butter, organic honey and organic brown rice syrup as a few of the core ingredients that blend simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates.

Blake and Russell played key roles in the initial creation of the bar. Russell, who played on the ATP World Tour until age 37, was known for his fitness and diet regimen. He personally consulted on the nutritional composition of ArrowBar, testing it in practice and competition at the end of his ATP career. “Whether I am deep in the fifth set, crushing a gym workout or just looking for a nutritious, great-tasting snack, ArrowBar provides the energy and nutrients my body needs,” raves Russell, who says he tried every nutrition bar imaginable during his 17-year professional tennis career.

Blake also took part in the early testing, eating it while training for and running the 2015 New York City Marathon. “I wish the ArrowBar had been developed sooner because I trust the process with which it is made. The ingredients are natural and beneficial to any athlete or anyone looking for nutrients to help get them through the day. It helps me still when I work out, play tennis, play golf, or just run around with my kids. It’s not a bar that I feel like I’m forcing down either. The taste makes it so easy to eat the bars on a daily basis.”

The ArrowBar team aimed to meet several objectives with their new bar. “The goal was to create a product that was easy to eat, that wouldn’t fall apart or melt in your bag, and that wouldn’t be tough to digest and sticky on your hands,” says founding partner and former collegiate tennis player Andrew Golub. “We accomplished all of those things with ArrowBar and kept the label extremely clean. As a team, we are all very proud to bring this bar to the market and we know this is a need for all active people.”

ArrowBar is available for purchase online at

BBQ Taco Salad

Looking for an easy, delicious, gluten-free dish for a barbecue this holiday weekend? Tony Roma’s Pitmasters created the perfect salad to accompany your 4th of July cookout. The BBQ Taco Salad features Tony Roma’s Pulled Chicken, black beans, heirloom tomatoes and crunchy tortilla strips.

Tony Roma BBQ Taco Salad


Serves 4

1 16-ounce package Tony Roma’s Pulled Pork or Tony Roma’s Pulled Chicken

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups loosely packed torn romaine lettuce

2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips

2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped

2/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

Sour cream


Heat pulled pork according to microwave directions. Place in a large salad bowl. Top with remaining ingredients, except sour cream. Toss ingredients until combined.

Top each serving with a dollop or drizzle of sour cream.


All-Inclusive Resorts Include Gluten-Free Guests


Butch Steakhouse__825

For gluten-free travelers, a vacation that doesn’t require extensive research to find accommodating restaurants at their destination may sound like a dream. But a growing number of all-inclusive resorts are making it a reality by catering to gluten-free guests.

At all-inclusive resorts, visitors pay one price for unlimited food, drinks and activities, without having to set foot outside the retreat.

The most familiar names among these resorts are family-friendly Beaches, with locations in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, and couples-only Sandals in St. Lucia, Antigua and four other Caribbean islands. Each resort has more than half-a-dozen themed restaurants, which offer meals ranging from Southwestern tapas to pan-Asian cuisine.

Paul Bauer, group manager for food and beverage standards at Sandals Resorts International, the parent company of Beaches and Sandals, says virtually any dish can be made gluten free, including breads, pizzas, pastas and desserts. He notes that the menus at each resort’s restaurant have icons indicating which items are gluten free, and service staff members are trained to ask guests if they have any food allergies or special dietary requirements before taking orders.

Beyond that, Beaches and Sandals resorts offer culinary concierges, with whom guests may meet in a private, one-to-one consultation to discuss any food allergies or dietary concerns.

“They can peruse all restaurant menus and choose specific dishes to make allergen free as well as make special arrangements for the next day or entire length of stay,” Bauer says. “Those needs and preferences are communicated to managers and sous chefs directly to ensure that no information is missed.” He also points out that separate preparation areas and utensils are used to prevent cross-contact with gluten-containing ingredients.

With notice in advance of a guest’s stay, the resorts can also order specific items such as gluten-free beer, which is not readily available in the Caribbean.

Mexico’s all-inclusive Grand Velas Resorts also offer menus with gluten-free options. Seven restaurants at Grand Velas Riviera Maya serve gluten-free dishes, each marked on the restaurants’ regular menus, while all gourmet restaurants at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit have gluten-free icons that guests can identify while dining.

Both resorts have several AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurants on site. For guests who choose to order room service, the resorts’ chefs can make the necessary accommodations for gluten-free diets.

At Grand Velas Riviera Maya gluten-free pancakes, waffles, muffins, cereal and bread loaves are offered, says Executive Chef Eric de Maeyer. Food stations throughout the resort have gluten-free hamburger buns, pizza crusts and French fries available daily, and the food service staff uses dedicated cookware and utensils to prepare gluten-free foods in a separate processing area, he says.

After a guest who is checking in advises the front desk of a gluten-free need, the information is entered into Grand Velas’ computer system. When that guest provides his or her room number to the restaurant the staff is automatically notified of the requirement, according to de Maeyer.

Guests staying at one of Wyndham Viva’s seven all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas can contact a guest service representative two weeks before arrival to request gluten-free options. The representative will notify the resort’s specialty restaurants of the dietary requirement and advise the chef at the main buffet restaurant so that gluten-free choices are on hand.

A Q&A Primer On Gluten-Free Bread

Bread 2   Bread 1

A decade ago gluten-free breads were made by only a few companies and consisted mainly of starchy and fiber-less ingredients. The bread had a reputation for being heavy and dry. Most loaves were not edible right out of the package and had to be toasted. Consumers usually discovered this fact on their own, after trial and error that was time consuming and costly.
Although packaged gluten-free bread has improved dramatically, it still doesn’t behave exactly like gluten-containing bread. Generally preservatives aren’t used, which explains why most gluten-free bread available in supermarkets is either frozen or vacuum packed. Here are answers to questions that often come up regarding gluten-free bread.
Q: Can it sit on the counter like wheat bread?
A: Generally gluten-free bread does not last on the counter and will quickly become moldy. Some bread makers are attempting to address this problem with newer products, but in most cases you need to take the slices you are planning to use from the loaf and freeze the rest. Most bread can be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months.
Q: Should it be stored in the refrigerator?
A: No, storing gluten-free bread in the refrigerator can lead to dry and stale bread.
Q: How do you get the slices apart?
A: Some gluten-free bread freezes hard, making it difficult to separate the slices. If you let the bread sit on the counter for a short time, though, you can usually get the slices apart. Return the rest of the bread to the freezer.


Q: Can you eat it from the bag?
A: Many gluten-free breads taste much better toasted. This is another issue bread companies are beginning to address. Kinnikinnick, Glutino and Schär all have products that either the company or consumers say don’t need to be toasted.


Veggies With a Side of Gluten-Free Turtle Power

Garden Lites TMNT

Packing kids’ lunch is great. After all, it gives your food the chance to get out of the house for a few hours. Oh sure, the crackers are gone—but the fruits and vegetables have returned untouched and, quite frankly, looking pretty sad.

In their quest to produce delicious veggie-rich foods that even kids will eat (voluntarily), Garden Lites has created a line of gluten-free muffins. Like all of their products, the first ingredient in each variety is vegetables. Have a Ninja Turtle fan at home? The gluten-, dairy- and nut-free Ninja Power Muffins are 80 calories—and the first ingredient is zucchini.

Parents can pack the individually wrapped, frozen muffins in their children’s lunchbox in the morning and by lunchtime, they will be room temperature and ready to eat.

The muffins are available in seven gluten-free, veggie-first varieties. To find a store near you, use the Garden Lites store locator.

American Girl Bistros Embrace Gluten-Free Options


American Girl stores are synonymous with dolls and accessories created in perfect miniature, hair salon treatments and excited children trailed by exhausted parents or grandparents. But dining is also part of the experience, and the American Girl Bistro includes a variety of gluten-free options. Pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, fries, cake and more are available in gluten-free versions. Restaurant teams work individually with each guest to craft a meal that meets dietary needs. The bistros serve brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert.

American Girl bistros can also accommodate allergies to eggs and dairy and offer vegan and vegetarian meals. Joshua Engel, American Girl’s regional manager of restaurants, estimates American Girl bistros serve between 350 and 400 gluten-free meals per week across all 25 locations. More store openings are in the planning stages.

American Girl gets its gluten- and allergen-free products from companies including Gluten Free Nation, Udi’s Gluten Free and Rich’s.“The landscape of gluten-free products is constantly evolving, and we work with our distributors and manufacturers directly to be current on the trends,” says Engel.

When a gluten-free order is requested, a manager comes to the table to go over the guest’s needs before communicating the order directly to the kitchen. The chef, who puts on clean gloves, has been trained to use dedicated utensils, plates and cookware when preparing the meal. Items including French fries and chicken  fingers are baked to minimize the risk for cross contact.

Dessert, one of the best items on the menu, is always available for gluten-free
diners, and the bistros don’t just offer ice cream. For example gluten-free lemon
pound cake is available daily at the Alpharetta, Georgia, location.

After the shopping trip in the American Girl store, the bistro serves as an oasis,
offering children and their guests a spot to relax and refuel or celebrate a birthday or other special occasion. Visitors’ dolls get a prominent seat at the table, complete with a mini place setting. The menu, which rotates three to four times a year, offers tea service, starters, main course and desserts served in precious dishes, such as flower pots complete with plastic flowers each doll can hold.

Reservations are highly recommended, and reservation agents will inquire about
food allergies/intolerance while booking. The menu’s disclaimer reminds guests to inform their server if anyone in their party has a food allergy.

Summer’s Almost Here—Let’s Get Grilling!


America is heading into a long three-day holiday weekend, which means friends, family and plenty of food on the grill.

This weekend, crack open a cold bottle of gluten-free beer and let the fire do the cooking with these summery recipes from Gluten-Free Living contributor Isadora Lassance.

Here’s what she has to say:

Move over meat.

You can do a lot more with your grill than cook hamburgers and steak. Potatoes, fruit and vegetables come off the grill with new flavor in the following gluten-free recipes.

Potato wedges are seasoned with five simple ingredients before they earn their grill stripes. You might not immediately think of peaches when grill season begins, but this flavorful fruit, fresh off the grill, is combined with goat cheese, almonds and mint in a tasty salad perfect for backyard dining. Zucchini, yellow squash and onion add a smoky flavor to pesto pizza when they first spend a little time on the grill.

If you still can’t get the thought of grilled burgers off your mind, try veggie burgers made with black beans to push your health and taste boundaries.


Four Fabulous Gluten-Free Grill Recipes

Gluten-free grilled Southwest Black Bean Veggie BurgersSouthwest Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Gluten-Free Grilled Potato WedgesGrilled Potato Wedges

Gluten-Free Grilled Peach SaladGrilled Peach Salad with Goat Cheese

Gluten-Free Pesto Pizza with Grilled VegetablesPesto Pizza with Grilled Vegetables

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Young entrepreneur develops a phone app for gluten-free cooking

iStock_000019777742SmallAlex Hutchinson, a 21-year-old college senior, has a prizewinning idea for a smartphone app that transforms most regular recipes into gluten-free dishes.

His “Gluten Free Converter” app grabbed the judges’ attention at the Elevator Pitch Competition at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference in Chicago last month. Aspiring college innovators each have 90 seconds – the approximate length of an elevator ride – to pitch their business proposal.

Though the app is still in design stages, once completed it will automatically substitute ingredients and adjust cooking procedures to make gluten-free cooking much easier.

Hutchinson received an honorable mention for his idea, beating out more than 100 other young entrepreneurs and earning a $500 cash prize to patent Gluten Free Converter.

He says the app will alleviate “doubt and insecurity” for those cooking gluten free. It’s the perfect tool for those who have been recently diagnosed, family members who need to change their cooking habits and anyone following the diet, according to Hutchinson. He notes that home cooking is the best way to guarantee a contamination-free environment.

“Many recently diagnosed with celiac disease [think] that this lifestyle change means the elimination of many foods that they enjoy,” Hutchinson says. “However this app will let them keep all the meals in their diet, just converted into a safe, gluten-free alternative.”

Alex Hutchinson
Gluten-free entrepreneur Alex Hutchinson

As more young people turn to technology in the kitchen, smartphone cooking is a rising trend among gluten-free diners of all ages.

“The great thing about the app is its universal appeal,” Hutchinson says. “It is for anyone who wants to start cooking gluten free for any reason. However, the popularity of smart phones with younger people makes them more adventurous in trying new things with apps. So I believe the exposure to this demographic will be especially appealing.”

A marketing major at Southern Illinois University, Hutchinson knows the challenge of gluten-free cooking first hand. He was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 4 along with his father and brother. He’s no stranger to entrepreneurship either. Four years ago he founded a landscape construction company and plans to use the profits to attend law school.

The judges praised the idea and emphasized the importance of this emerging industry. They also suggested that Hutchinson market toward gluten-free companies for sponsors and advertising.

Since placing in the competition Hutchinson has contacted several app software developers and marketing agents to make the smartphone app a reality. He hopes to offer the product across all digital platforms in the mainstream market.

“I plan to revolutionize the gluten-free dining experience for anyone looking to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, entertain for others or simply try [living] gluten free,” he says. “I hope to change the perspective that gluten-free cooking is a difficult routine for a niche market, but rather a new trend of eating that can appeal to anyone.”