The Dirty Little Secret about Gluten Free

by Sarah Gluten Free, Healthy LivingComments: 108

Gluten Free food
Many people eat out a lot during the Holidays and my family was no exception. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we ate at a restaurant probably more times than we did during the entire rest of the year!

Getting a decent restaurant meal that won’t give you a headache or make you feel sluggish the next day is challenging enough, but for those who are gluten free, it can be nearly impossible.

While I personally do not eat gluten free all the time, I make an effort to avoid conventionally prepared wheat in restaurants.  I have observed over the years that while the organic wheat I grind fresh and carefully prepare traditionally at home by either sprouting, soaking or sour leavening causes me no trouble, restaurant pasta, bread, croutons and other processed wheat items make me feel extremely tired and sometimes achy for a day or two.

So, when I discovered that a family gathering was scheduled to go to dinner at The Olive Garden a few weeks ago, you can imagine that I was not all that excited at the prospect.

The Olive Garden could aptly be called the “Pasta Capitol of America”.  The dishes are embarrassingly huge with pasta and bread flowing nonstop from the moment you sit down until you roll out the door a couple hours later. Even if you order a nonpasta dish, you get an obligatory side of spaghetti that could feed two people by itself.

While the food at The Olive Garden tastes ok, how it makes you feel is quite another matter. My husband and I like to joke that those who eat at The Olive Garden likely collapse on the couch in front of the TV for 3 hours straight after getting home. Either that or an emergency stop at the 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp coffee would be necessary to stay awake!

I ended up arriving at the Olive Garden before the rest of my family, so I had the opportunity to chat with the hostess for a few minutes before getting seated. I was surprised to discover during our conversation that The Olive Garden has a gluten-free menu, complete with Penne Rigate and salad without croutons. Non-pasta dishes were served with a gluten free penne pasta.

After looking at the menu for a few minutes, I asked about the ingredients of the gluten free pasta.  I was thinking it was probably a rice or quinoa pasta, which would have been fine with me.  I use rice or quinoa pasta myself at home occasionally, and a pasta meal once in awhile is not going to be problematic within the context of a nutrient dense diet the majority of the time.

I really wanted to order pasta as ordering steak or fish at a pasta restaurant is not usually a good idea. Ordering the restaurant specialty is the way to go if you want to get a decent tasting meal.

Unfortunately, the news from the waitress was disappointing to say the least. She told me the gluten free pasta was made primarily from corn and not organic corn either.

While I don’t have an issue with corn, I definitely have an issue with genetically modified (GMO) corn which has been linked with all manner of serious health problems and was found to induce huge tumors in rats (this study was quietly retracted during Thanksgiving due to the messy public relations it was causing the biotech industry, not because of bad science).

Since basically all nonorganic corn nowadays is GMO, ordering a gluten free dish at the Olive Garden was definitely a no go. However, the most disturbing thing about the GMO gluten free menu was the children’s Penne Rigate with Marinara.

GMOs served to vulnerable, allergic children?  Unconscionable.

I ended up ordering the parmesan encrusted tilapia that was absolutely terrible (it tasted like microwaved dish soap, no kidding).  At least the asparagus on the side was good.

Eating Gluten Free?  Watch out for the GMOs!

My experience at The Olive Garden got me to thinking about the silent and very serious GMO problem that pervades supposedly healthier, gluten free items.

Examination of typical foods stocking the gluten free aisle at the supermarket and at the healthfood store in the days after my Olive Garden experience confirmed my suspicion that those who choose to eat gluten free processed foods have unknowingly exchanged gluten for another ingredient that is much, much worse: GMOs.

Glutino, one of the biggest gluten free brands, is prominent on both supermarket and healthfood store shelves. I checked the ingredients of 10 of their products and every single one contained GMO corn, GMO soy, GMO sugar and/or GMO canola.

I realize that Glutino has gone on record supporting the Non-GMO Verified Project Seal, but as of this writing, many of their products are still loaded wtih GMOs and dangerous to consume.

It is possible to make gluten free items also free of GMOs?

Absolutely. Here are a few brands I checked that offer both gluten free and nonGMO options: Andean Dream, Enjoylife, and Pamela’s Simplebites.

If you have issues with gluten and have decided to go gluten free, make sure you continue to read labels and ask about ingredients at restaurants!  Even if a product proclaims itself “gluten free”, it is not necessarily any better and may be far worse for your health.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)

How to Mix and Use Gluten Free Flour

Comments (108)

  • Karen Scribner

    This new food system has made it impossible for me to eat restaurant food except for salad and steamed vegetables. I do not even eat restaurant olive oil as it may be cut with canola. I order lemon slices and get my carbs and protein before or after at home eating healthy meat from somewhere else other than any grocery store, including Whole Foods. The butcher in one of the stores told me the meat case has no organic meat.

    October 9th, 2015 12:27 pm Reply
  • Arthur Treadwell

    Just an FYI about Olive Garden and nearly every other chain restaurant of that caliber out there – they MICROWAVE the majority of their food, and the meats are a far cry from the healthy, natural meat one would find from a local farmer. If one must eat out, then please be informed before you dine.

    April 5th, 2015 11:58 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Good point!

      April 5th, 2015 4:52 pm Reply
  • Linda

    I made a wonderful dish with organic vegies and ancient harvest organic penne pasta. I don’t do well with gluten and have had really bad reactions to regular pasta and barley.
    I had the same reaction to the penne and also broke out in hives. I called my daughter who is a ND and she said our grandson had a similar reaction to the same product. It is supposed to be gluten free organic and non GMO
    Watch out for it if you are sensitive to gluten!!!!

    February 17th, 2015 4:00 pm Reply
    • Karen Scrobner

      It is made from organic quinoa and organic corn. I think you have been sensitized to corn when we were bombarded with GMO corn in the beginning of this mess and we didn’t know we were eating lab manipulated food.

      October 9th, 2015 12:22 pm Reply
  • Scott

    I’ve given up on thinking there is any item in a restaurant I should eat. I am very fortunate to live in a large city where a few progressive businesses exist. So there are three or four places where you can be sure to get non GMO foods, real healthy oils instead of vegetable oils, pastured meats, &c. If I must go to a restaurant for social reasons, I either do not eat at all (trying to not be obvious about it because for some reason other people get upset when one person is not eating) or, if I’m hungry enough that I feel I need something, I am pretty much a vegetarian when I go. A few non-organic vegetables a few times a year my system can deal with. Life has changed so much. No stores or restaurnats hardly at all anymore. Only farmers markets and trading with neighbors.

    December 2nd, 2014 5:57 pm Reply
  • Skeptic

    Odd, that humans have consumed wheat for forever, now so many have gluten related problems. I wonder,,,,what else is going on? I would sure like the big picture and feel this is only a small part of it.

    December 2nd, 2014 12:51 pm Reply
    • Gene Seus

      What else is going on is that the whole issue has very little to do with gluten. What hasn’t been consumed forever is the glysophate which is sprayed on the wheat just before harvest to insure all the wheat berries are “ripe” at harvest. Glysophate is taken directly into the wheat or barley and YOU eat it. It significantly alters the bacteria in the gut and causes all kinds of digestion deficiencies. Do your own research.

      February 7th, 2015 7:52 pm Reply
  • Michelle Russell via Facebook

    It says right on the menu you that you can ask for vegetables to be substituted for the pasta. I happen to find this quite delicious.

    July 13th, 2014 10:46 pm Reply
  • Linda Walcroft via Facebook

    I’m allergic to both wheat and corn plus some other things. My husband LOVES Olive Garden and choses it for his birthday dinner and Father’s Day. I have tried everything on their gluten-free menu and none of it is worth eating! On the plus side, if you talk to the manager they will try to accommodate you, but unfortunately a pasta place doesn’t really have good ingredients outside of their specialty.

    July 12th, 2014 12:33 am Reply
  • Toby Long via Facebook

    Yes, well…like rice noodles are much more nutritionally dense? In America there are lots of choices…it’s a rare meal out and they are trying to accommodate, not serve super foods.

    July 11th, 2014 8:50 pm Reply
  • Deena Sprague

    I rarely eat at the Olive Garden, but when I do I order their Minestrone Soup…it’s actually very good and has a nice balance of spices, beans and vegetables. Maybe not super healthy, but better than a plate full of pasta!

    July 11th, 2014 7:03 pm Reply
  • Leslie Wetzel-Moldenauer via Facebook

    I have banned myself from the Olive Garden. I get “glutened” every time I eat it; despite my best efforts.

    July 11th, 2014 11:30 am Reply
  • Lisa Smith Rickman via Facebook

    We usually only eat out on our way to the airport coming home so if we do get contaminated, our symptoms won’t show until we’re home.

    July 11th, 2014 11:12 am Reply
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  • Tabitha

    Good article. I’m curious as to which 10 Glutino products you checked? I’m all for GMO labeling requirements on packages so I’d like to see photos of the Glutino products you checked for GMO ingredients.

    Sharing photos of the ingredients list would be very helpful to discern GMO ingredients especially since GMO Labeling is a hot topic right now.

    March 9th, 2014 10:51 am Reply
  • Gina

    Olive garden is also loaded with dairy for those that are allergic or sensitive which many are. It is also loaded with soy. They do not use olive oil it is soy oil. We asked. We cannot eat there at all. At a chain restaurant you might as well assume that it is heavily processed. Just because they have a gf menu or allergy chart doesn’t mean there is anything allergen free to actually eat.

    March 8th, 2014 11:20 am Reply
  • Cynthia

    I guess I’m in lala land, but I have to say…..Once my son was diagnosed as being gluten intolerant, I have been sooo grateful for the increasingly greater number of palatable gluten-free products so that my son can eat with everyone else when he is out and about. No longer does he have to bring all of his own food everywhere.

    Genetically modified corn is ubiquitous- and it seems to me that’s the real issue here, not gluten free.
    I don’t see how eating gluten-free is any more fraught with “dirty little secrets” than any other food, thus I resent what I find to be a rather hysterical approach of this article. A cheap journalistic trick, preying on the necessity of some to diligently be gluten-free, to get people to read the article.

    March 7th, 2014 7:30 pm Reply
    • Laura

      I can appreciate your first comment. I am gluten intolerant, and sometimes it’s just enough to be able to go out to lunch with my coworkers, so I too am grateful for GF menus. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid GMO’s entirely, I can live with it at the occasional meal, and Olive Garden is about the last place I’d go looking for organic ingredients, so I’d also have to say that’s no “dirty little secret.” It’s certainly good to be aware of what is in your food, but for social reasons, I am so happy anytime I can find a GF menu.

      July 12th, 2014 12:21 am Reply
  • Willi Nilli

    That is weird… Now it shows up and says waiting for moderation.. OK.

    January 14th, 2014 10:17 pm Reply
  • Willi Nilli

    Why was my post deleted?

    January 14th, 2014 10:13 pm Reply
  • Willi Nilli

    Really…. you don’t want weird veggies but you opt for a fish that could live through a nuclear holocaust.. I think eating Telapia is pretty scary. The reason for the huge influx of Telapia is that it will not die. No matter how bad the conditions are it still lives. Perfect for those huge disgusting fish farms. I know wild fish is expensive and getting harder and harder to find but I would not eat Telapia if I was paid. I think in general we are just screwed and have to accept some level of contamination or stop breading and consuming so much. Or become independently wealthy and run your own farm and prepare all your own foods. On the other hand most people don’t give a crap and eat anything that is front of them…. consequences be damned

    January 14th, 2014 1:59 pm Reply
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  • Greg

    Our first granddaughter was born celiac at 94% because they didn’t what she has she almost died. With help of my daughter and her husband determined to fine out what was wrong Livi is as strong as ever. Thank The Lord she was willing to do what it took to show the doctors what was wrong. That was 8 years ago they started Olivia’s Oven baking and selling some awesome products.

    January 11th, 2014 10:07 am Reply
  • angela

    tI work in restaurants 30 years ago, I can tell you, even the best restaurant have cheap quality on food products, they all use microwaves, GMO oils and corn, farm raised,corn feed fish, NON organic eggs.
    Even though many restaurant’s top leaders or owners want to include good quality products, as any other business, they keep pushing the chefs to invest the least and get the most, that of course, make the costumers pay the last price….their precious health.

    January 9th, 2014 12:09 pm Reply
  • angela

    the main goal of restaurants, is profit, and as any other corporation, when profit is your first concern, don’t expect quality.

    January 9th, 2014 11:57 am Reply
  • Nathalia

    Thank you for this post. I also have to eat gluten free for health issues, and I always look for products that are both gluten free and certified organic. True Roots and Jovial are two brands that I personally use.

    January 8th, 2014 10:33 am Reply
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  • heatherK

    GMO or not, shouldn’t all soy and canola oil be avoided anyway?

    January 7th, 2014 12:08 pm Reply
    • Goats and Greens

      Fermented soy in moderation is okay, I think. Miso, tamari and sometimes tempeh but you really have to read the labels for each of these. Moderation (AND label-reading!) is key, as some brands are a lot less trustworthy than others.

      January 7th, 2014 6:56 pm Reply
  • Christina

    Just started following your blog – excellent job! I was not aware that Glutino had GMO ingredients, thanks so much for pointing that out. Over Christmas I make some Glutino cookies but they tasted terrible and I ended up throwing them out. I enjoy Lucy’s gluten free snacks.

    I would never dream of eating at Olive Garden, except possibly a salad. It’s just not worth it. Funny enough, it so happens that a family member gave me a gift certificate for OG recently. Luckily it’s also good for Seasons 52 which has some items I can eat.

    January 7th, 2014 9:20 am Reply
  • Petra

    The whole gluten free diet craze is really confusing to me. I have ready so many good reasons to stay away from wheat, breads, corn, etc. But I love bread!!! I don’t have any evidence that gluten is a problem for me, but if I stay away from it, I do tend to lose weight. So I’m wondering is there much of a difference in eating “sourdough” type bread?

    January 7th, 2014 9:14 am Reply
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  • PeriSoft

    “…have an issue with genetically modified (GMO) corn which has been linked with all manner of serious health problems and was found to induce huge tumors in rats…”

    It’s worth noting that this study has been retracted due to a number of severe flaws – among them that the data used were from a small sample that was intended to test something else, that the rats in the study were predisposed to tumors already, and that the researchers could offer no mechanism by which it would even be physically possible for GMO food to cause tumors in the first place.

    There are reasons to be suspicious of things like Monsanto’s sterile seeds, for example, but GMO is not evil just *because*. After all, any flower or plant that has been selectively bred or hybridized – hint: almost all of the ones we eat – are by definition genetically modified. The mechanism by which this takes place is not relevant. Hysterical GMO scare tactics and misinformation hurt real people who can – or must – benefit from GMO crops. Please don’t base your decisions – and worse, your writing – on hearsay and on pressure groups who have more to gain from anger and confrontation than from the truth.

    January 7th, 2014 1:23 am Reply
    • Goats and Greens

      PeriSoft: Since well over 95% of the GMO food crops available in the supermarket either make it easier for the “farmer” to add an over-abundance of pesticides to the crop, or enable pesticides to enter into the genome of the crop, and very very little of GMO practical application has gone towards providing real nutritional benefits (I have no issues with “Golden Rice” if it ever gets ready for serious consideration), in the meanwhile, I’d just rather say a strident NO to GMO as it is sold today. We humans have yet to be genetically engineered to withstand the pesticidal onslaught… And frankly I am not volunteering.

      January 7th, 2014 6:36 pm Reply
  • jay

    The point of the entire article was near the bottom of the page. Its called burying the lead and I learned not to do that the very first time I wrote a news article in college…

    January 6th, 2014 10:34 pm Reply
    • Cynthia

      I totally agree, Jay. I found it to be a very frustrating article to read. The article is really about genetically modified processed foods, which has nothing to do with eating gluten free and what’s with the misleading title?!!!

      March 8th, 2014 6:46 pm Reply
  • SteveandPaula Runyan via Facebook

    Make your own GF crackers with tapioca flour, sweet potato, coconut oil eggs and salt. This makes a fabulous dough that you can knead and roll out properly.
    I am only guessing on amounts, as I had to just play with ideas and clues when I started making these, but 1 egg, 1 1/4 cups of tapioca flour, half a sweet potato and a bit of salt is pretty close.
    Roll as thin as possible and precut, Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 till crispy.
    These end up tasting like wheat thins!

    January 6th, 2014 8:03 pm Reply
  • Sasha

    I know what you mean. It was gross. It is because it is precooked in a gf safe facility, packaged, and then shipped to the restaurant. It goes in the microwave. I ordered it once all excited because I love pasta (until I learned that it was the reason for my trouble) but literally could not eat it. I rarely send things back but it was so bad that I had too. Not a good choice at all. Some restaurants do get it right though. Usually local or smaller, in my opinion.

    January 6th, 2014 7:23 pm Reply
  • sheri

    Tilapia is not my first choice in fish. Recently I found out that they are grown in sewage and have high levels of gluten and other bad things.. When I heard this from my local fishery I did some research and this is one site I found very helpful

    January 6th, 2014 7:17 pm Reply
    • Goats and Greens

      Sheri, actually you can find responsibly-grown (farmed) tilapia, but probably not at your local Olive Garden. There is a place along the Connecticut shore that raises it, and some farm to table places serve it, and at some fishmongers you can buy it for home preparation. But no, I am certain not at Olive Garden.

      January 7th, 2014 8:32 am Reply
    • Arm

      I agree. Tilapia is probably a worse choice than the non-organic corn pasta.

      January 7th, 2014 2:26 pm Reply
    • Namely

      Fish can’t have high levels of gluten even if they eat it themselves. If you don’t know about basic nutrition you likely don’t even know the reasons to avoid gluten in the first place. Do you check water labels for a gluten free seal of approval?

      April 8th, 2015 2:23 pm Reply
  • andi

    2 in our house can’t tolerate gluten. We never eat out…for budget and dietary reasons. But when we do eat pasta, we get the Trader Joe’s Organic Rice noodles. probably the best we can do for the price.

    January 6th, 2014 6:57 pm Reply
  • Lauren Bryant Riley via Facebook

    Kimberly Burrow

    January 6th, 2014 6:07 pm Reply
  • Linore

    No reason to pick on Olive Garden as if they’re doing anything unusual. OF COURSE they’ll offer gluten-free as it’s becoming more in demand, but even organic GF products are often junk food. Chain Restaurants are mainstream and mainstream foods are uniformly made according to the lowest common denominator of what they can get away with, at the lowest price ( in most cases). No surprises here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending the irony of offering something that is supposed to be healthier but may be even worse than their standard menu, but you may as well pick on pizzerias like Papa John’s and Pizza Hut — to name a few– for carb overloads and lack of healthy food items on the menu. I detest that GMO ‘s exist, and the bottom line is that the old adage of ” buyer (ie., consumer) beware,” has never been more true–even in the organic s food market.

    January 6th, 2014 5:59 pm Reply
  • Heather Elder Howes via Facebook

    I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant and I prefer to eliminate altogether, rather than replace. Looking at the ingredient list of most GF products isn’t much different than those with gluten.

    January 6th, 2014 5:13 pm Reply
  • Ofelia Rivera via Facebook

    Link is. Not working in phone bur I agree processed food no good anyway is better Make from scratch even Gf baked

    January 6th, 2014 5:11 pm Reply
  • Stephanie

    The GMO content is my biggest issue with gluten free foods. I’d much rather have a little gluten in some sourdough bread or even pasta, which is at least durum semolina wheat. Unfortunately my daughter is sensitive to gluten. Fortunately we hardly ever eat out.

    January 6th, 2014 4:55 pm Reply
  • Hien

    Do you know if Bob’s Red Mill GF products are GMO free? My kid loves the homemade shortbread cookies I made from Bob’s GF shortbread flour. Do you recommend of any other good brands for shortbread flour for cookies?

    January 6th, 2014 4:45 pm Reply
    • Stephanie

      The Bob’s Red Mill website says that their products come from non-GMO seed but they don’t guarantee that it’s free of GMO contamination.

      January 6th, 2014 4:57 pm Reply
  • DRK

    I have seen olive garden signs, but, I have been unable to find the garden.

    January 6th, 2014 4:41 pm Reply
  • Bianca

    How scary…. I would never dream of eating at olive Garden, ever ! GMOs aside, another caveat for the mushrooming GF market out there…. (read labels): 99% of all processed GF packaged foods are made from nasty starches, (JUNK), which equals high carbs, which leads to diabetes
    and other disease. Whole foods, preferably organic, made from scratch is what our
    bodies crave and thrive on ! Isolating one nutrient from another is not what nature intended… you can never fool mother nature, or the wisdom of our bodies.
    The natural synergy of “WHOLE” must be cultivated. You must love yourself enough to care ….
    Buon appetito !

    January 6th, 2014 4:21 pm Reply
  • Kitty

    I have a child with Celiac, so the entire family went gluten free. To me, it wasn’t a choice. I agree with you that I’ve found more nasty little creepy ingredients in the premade food, including trace gluten elements, spelt (which has gluten in it and only part of the people with gluten allergies can tolerate at all), or are simply- at best- empty calories or junk.

    Because of this, my family rarely eats out and it is typically only for drinks or smoothies. I invest a lot of time making everything from scratch. I’m talking grinding my own flours from scratch just to ensure that I know the food foot print, who grew it, etc. It may seem paranoid (my extended family thinks that I’m crazy), but food sustains you, right? It can’t be full of poisons.

    And for all of my hard work, the second ‘soup’s on’, every member of my family is there in a heartbeat and we all sit down together. I call that a success.

    January 6th, 2014 2:52 pm Reply
  • Kate S.

    I have never eaten at OG, but I know many people who have, and yes, the crash for the rest of the evening is what happens. Although, many I know crash anyway because their diets typically are the usual American processed fare, so that’s the only life they seem to know.

    The local big box grocery stores have a health food aisle, but there really is very little to buy.

    January 6th, 2014 2:49 pm Reply
  • Kathleen Lupole

    I have never cared for The Olive Garden period. We eat low carb foods, not necessarily gluten-free, but close, I guess. One thing I find that makes going out to eat easier is if we choose diners, instead of franchised restaurants. I basically eat meat and salad and if they put croutons on my salad, I just remove them. Most of the time they will do what I ask. Breakfast is eggs and bacon or sausage or an omelet, hold the toast and potatoes.

    The above comment which says that food allergies are fake, has no idea what he is talking about. Why did they suddenly become allergic to these things? Maybe because the foods available for sale in restaurants and stores is all chemicals, and GMO foods and they have affected us after all this time. He needs to wake up and get his head out of the sand.

    January 6th, 2014 2:40 pm Reply
  • Bill

    You were expecting organic gluten-free pasta at Olive Garden? Get serious. If you go to a crappy restaurant, expect crappy food. The percentage of Olive Garden’s pasta-sucking, alfredo-slurping market that demands organic, gluten-free options is so absurdly small that it’s not worth their while to offer it. Also: when did the dining public turn into such pussies? Our species has thrived for many millennia eating delicious, gluten-filled wheat products as a staple of our diet. Then, all of a sudden, in the last decade or so, millions of whiny, entitled Americans suddenly became allergic to it? Gluten is everything, and it’s delicious? Bread? Delicious. Pasta? Delicious! Donuts? Delicious. Going into a national chain restaurant and asking for organic, gluten-free ingredients is the quickest way to piss off your server and the kitchen (who all know that your “gluten allergy” is fake, anyway).

    January 6th, 2014 2:17 pm Reply
    • Amy

      Wow, Bill. I hope you (can) have a nice day. 😉

      January 6th, 2014 3:32 pm Reply
    • andy

      @Bill- You clearly don’t know someone that truly can’t tolerate gluten. The effects of it on some people are far from “fake”. They are obvious, detrimental, and rather quick to appear. For some it may be a fad, but for many of us it is serious health threat.

      January 6th, 2014 7:02 pm Reply
    • Sharon Burgess

      Bill, wheat was hybridized in the 1980’s to such an extent that the gluten has become undigestible to millions of people. Hybridized, not genetically modified; still not fit for human consumption.

      January 6th, 2014 8:49 pm Reply
    • Peggy

      No Bill, people did not suddenly become allergic to gluten in the last decade. Rather, they have finally figured out what has been making them feel so crappy, sometimes for several decades, and perhaps for generations before that.. Do you actually believe there is no such thing as a problem with gluten? I have a blood test and small intestinal biopsy that say otherwise. If I were to find out that a restaurant server and kitchen staff were not taking my request seriously if they provide a gf menu, rest assured that restaurant would be hearing from me again, and possibly my lawyer. Personally, I have never had a problem, nor have I been sickened.

      Nothing infuriates me more as someone with celiac disease than people saying gf is a fad. One, how is it anyone’s concern if people choose to eat gf? And two, how incredibly callous to assume that just because you don’t have a problem with gluten (or do you?), nobody else should, either. I know I am probably wasting my time responding to you, Bill, as I suspect you have no interest in learning the truth.

      January 7th, 2014 12:22 am Reply
  • Nicole Mathews via Facebook

    I eat whole foods and Ezekial bread, but is it true or not that the gluten of today is nothing like the gluten in wheat of our ancestors, which is unhealthy whether one be gluten sensitive or not? Such a confusing topic.

    January 6th, 2014 1:31 pm Reply
  • Eileen

    I recently discovered that the cause of my fibromyalgia was gluten. It has been hard to give up my normal routine. I was mostly doing nourishing traditions but here and there I would eat bread not prepared right and eat pasta. It was horrible. I get heart burn, followed by stomach pain and bloating, followed by achy muscles and fatigue the next day. I have been reading labels like a hawk and found a lot of stuff I dont like in the gluten free products. Now it makes it even harder because of all the GMOS in stuff. I am so glad I garden and prepare my own foods. That has helped me a ton. I still miss bread though lol. I finally found a good bread recipe too… :(

    January 6th, 2014 1:19 pm Reply
    • Petra

      What’s your bread recipe? Can you share?

      January 7th, 2014 9:07 am Reply
    • Melissa

      Yes, like Petra, I too would be most interested in your recipe Eileen.

      January 7th, 2014 1:13 pm Reply
  • Peter Niepel via Facebook

    This is exactly the problem with gluten free. If you are NOT DIAGNOSED with a gluten intolerance, gluten free eating does absolutely nothing for you. But people still believe “gluten free is good”. It isn’t. It is big business, nothing else. Another fact: if you are not diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and you wean yourself off gluten there is a chance that you actually become gluten intolerant. There are many people who really are gluten intolerant. Let me ask you, do you eat strawberries? Peanuts? Tomatoes? You should not eat them. There are many people who are intolerant with these. So why do you eat gluten free? Only because there are some people who are intolerant? Gluten free only makes sense if you are either diagnosed with i.e. celiac disease or if you are a gluten free producer and make a profit.

    January 6th, 2014 1:13 pm Reply
    • Natasha

      Actually, this is not true. There are many people who have not been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, yet may have an “intolerance” to gluten (and other grains). The underlying cause is most likely related to the leaky gut syndrome that almost all of us Americans suffer from, due to our overuse of antibiotics, the processed food (and improperly prepared grains) we consume, and many other causes. Those with leaky gut syndrome and digestive troubles in general often feel better after eliminating gluten-containing (and sometimes other) grains from their diets. Look it up; grains are inflammation-causing, especially when not properly prepared. Eating processed, gluten-free junk makes people feel poorly, too, but that doesn’t negate the fact that eliminating gluten helps many people feel better. I agree with your point that “gluten-free” is not synonymous with “healthy”. We need to eat real, whole foods, not processed, nutrient-void, GMO junk, whether gluten-free or not!

      It’s also true that the wheat we eat today is a far cry from the wheat that was eaten 50+ years ago. Modern wheat is engineered to contain several times more gluten. I suggest the book “Wheat Belly” for more information on the effects of gluten in the body.

      January 7th, 2014 12:33 am Reply
      • Rosalie

        When you remove gluten from your diet, you are also removing processed foods.
        Processed foods are loaded with chemicals besides gluten that are foreign to your body.
        What is causing the gut problems? Is it gluten (which has been added to many processed foods) or are the chemicals in the processed foods killing off our good gut bacteria? Or is it the antibiotics that are fed to beef, chicken etc. that we eat, killing our digesting bacteria causing leaky gut and also causing super bugs like TB.

        The gluten thing is simplistic except for cileacs. a genetic issue. For them gluten is poison.

        Wheat berries have not been changed by hybridizing. The stalk may have been made shorter or longer, but the berry is the same. The wheat berry is made up of bran, germ and starch and of course gluten, a protein. I had red turkey ancient wheat flour in my shop and put it side by side with todays wheat. There was no difference at all.
        Wheat belly is talking about starch, then the author says to eat rice. Wheat is 56% starch and rice at least 80% starch. Excess starch or sugar which the body sees as equal is bad no doubt, rice is worse than wheat.

        People who have wheat problems can often eat sourdough. The reason is the sourdough starter is a bacteria, it predigests the gluten. Which leads me to believe that
        gut bacteria is the problem. I am 75 years old. When I was younger we did not have gluten digestion problems. We didn’t have processed chemical laden foods and meat either.

        March 24th, 2014 4:59 pm Reply
    • Peggy

      Peter, there are a large number of people who test negative for gluten problems but feel better eating gf. The medical system does not have a test for everything! If someone becomes gluten intolerant after weaning themselves off of it, they have a genuine problem with it that was going unrealized. I also don’t know of anyone who eats gf because others are gluten intolerant.

      Is there a reason people can’t simply be free to eat however they want, even gf? Why is it your concern? If you don’t want to eat gf, then don’t! But let everyone else make their own decision.

      January 7th, 2014 12:34 am Reply
  • Lyndsey Stang via Facebook

    I should have guessed it was corn. It’s the American filler known to kill. Glad that there is a push for actual health now.

    January 6th, 2014 1:08 pm Reply
  • JoAnne

    I wouldn’t dream of eating at Olive Garden. If you’re gluten free you’d be an idiot to pick that place. Come to think of it, their food is so vile if you’re a human being you shouldn’t be eating that! Worst Italian restaurant in the world. Nothing tastes right there.

    January 6th, 2014 12:50 pm Reply
  • nicolette @ momnivore’s dilemma

    Agreed. I’ve been GF for four years, and in that four years, I have seen tremendous changes in the marketplace, which of course, is always suspect.

    When I began the GF diet for my family (my oldest son has grandly improved autism at this point)-there was NO options. Now, every restaurant has options. Ever grocery and farmer’s market has GF. It blows my mind, really-coming from the awful rice bread I ate four years ago, shopping the internets and dusty health food stores…

    Now, we eat out RARELY, and when we do, I smell the rancid vegetable oil in everything…

    GMOs are huge problems in the GF foods, Sarah, you are spot on with that observation!

    January 6th, 2014 12:48 pm Reply
  • blue j

    The mixed grill is the best item on the gluten-free Olive Garden menu – hands down. I can not eat tomatoes, dairy, or a number of other items, so the pasta’s are out for me anyway, but even my dh who can do so likes the mixed grill (steak and chicken kabobs interspersed with onion wedges and pepper wedges. Very, very good.

    January 6th, 2014 12:29 pm Reply
  • Wendy Hambleton via Facebook

    To bad eating GF doesn’t = eating healthy or safe!!

    January 6th, 2014 12:25 pm Reply
  • Andrea Cypress Straw via Facebook

    People with Celiac or gluten sensitivity should avoid ALL corn, not just GMO corn. There is a very convincing research that corn activates the same antibodies and inflammatory response in these people that gluten does. I have Celiac and am also really sensitive to corn.
    Also, asserting that GMOs are more dangerous than gluten is not accurate for all of us. It is actually much more devastating to my health to eat gluten because I have Celiac disease. Sure, GMOs aren’t good for the gut, but gluten has an immediate and SEVERE effect on my entire body.

    January 6th, 2014 12:10 pm Reply
  • Sarah Minitor Partin via Facebook

    The local Olive Garden here has been seen buying regular pasta items & other items off the grocery store shelves. They do not look for GMO free or gluten free products. It’s a shame you can’t trust someone to do the right thing.

    January 6th, 2014 12:07 pm Reply
  • Wendy

    Next time you’re at Olive Garden, get the steak. It is really good! I get it without the seasoning…just salt and pepper and it’s one of the best steaks you can get at a restaurant. Really tasty!

    January 6th, 2014 12:00 pm Reply
    • Emily

      I highly doubt that.

      January 7th, 2014 4:02 am Reply
  • Cris Wentz

    I’ve found that corn pastas are the only one that have the correct taste and texture that keeps my palette happy. “Sams Mill” pasta fits the bill AND its GMO free. So, I can have pasta ( occasionally, since too much doesnt make my tummy happy) and not have to worry that I’m eating herbicide residuals.

    January 6th, 2014 11:58 am Reply
    • Judy

      Barilla just came out with a gluten free pasta, and it is very good. I contacted the company about whether they use gmo ingredients. This is their response: “Barilla has decided to play it safe and refrain from the use of genetically modified ingredients, guaranteeing not to use GMO ingredients for all of its products”. Yeah! This is likely because my box of pasta said “a product of Italy”.

      January 7th, 2014 1:41 pm Reply
      • B.Barrera

        And Barilla’s pasta is fantastic. Great flavor, cooks al dente beautifully, keeps its form and doesn’t overcook easily. I have tried many a brand and I’m very impressed with this one. My family had no idea it was GF until they realized I was eating too.

        February 5th, 2014 1:02 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    These products are high carb and have lots of sugar in them. No, no, no!

    January 6th, 2014 11:57 am Reply
    • Sarah Pope

      Processed cookies are never ideal, that is for sure! But if they must be used, at least they are gluten and GMO free.

      January 6th, 2014 12:38 pm Reply
  • Magda

    A friend of ours worked (works??) at Olive Garden as a server and she told me they microwaved their food. I was appalled as I’ve been going there for years, though not as much in the last few years when I went GF. I did go one time this past year and had soup and salad. It was decent. I find without eating pasta (GF or not), there are few GF choices available….

    January 6th, 2014 11:38 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I never use a microwave at home and can taste microwaved food pretty easily when I do eat it at a restaurant. That tilapia dish I had at the Olive Garden was absolutely gross and tasted frozen/thawed/microwaved so I’m not surprised to hear that is a regular practice.

      January 6th, 2014 12:02 pm Reply
    • mpbusyb

      My husband took me to OG one night. I am not celiac nor have any kind of food issues, but I have been improving my diet a little at a time as good information comes across my desk, so to go to the Pasta Capitol was not my idea of a good date night. I ordered the salad and asked that they leave off the dressing having them bring me oil (they said they used olive oil) and vinegar instead. Years ago, when OG first entered the dining scene, their salads were very good. But this salad was from a bag. It had a very strong plastic smell to it just like all those bag salads do that are treated with whatever chemicals they use to keep them from browning before they get to the stores. I told the waiter that they might consider at least rinsing off the salad before they dump it in the serving bowl. No wonder they have to douse it so heavily with all that dressing. My husband smelled it too, and was very apologetic that I could not get a good meal that night. But now-a-days, where can you get a “good” dinner outside of home. I’m content to go instead to the gym for our dates.

      January 14th, 2014 4:14 pm Reply
  • Rachel Bornhauser Durrum via Facebook

    Tony Durrum, Julie Simonson, Ryan Simonson, Jaime Field, Susan Reudelhuber

    January 6th, 2014 11:32 am Reply
  • Mariely M de G via Facebook

    Olive garden is the WORST for Gluten free, also the service is terrible… Chipotle 1000 times better

    January 6th, 2014 11:29 am Reply
  • megan

    as I told a friend who does arevada (sp) I take actives charcoal when I eat out. helps a lot with the reaction to bad stuff in foods. even MSG!

    January 6th, 2014 11:27 am Reply
    • Lisa

      If you don’t mind sharing, how much activated charcoal do you take with your meals? I was just wondering about doing this myself for a trip to Haiti where I am concerned about the food, but never thought to do it when eating out. Such a great idea as I haven’t found a place to eat that doesn’t result in a headache later.

      January 6th, 2014 1:41 pm Reply
      • Michelle

        I also take activated charcoal when I eat out, it really does help. I take two 250mg tablets before the meal.

        January 7th, 2014 2:12 pm Reply
  • Kristie

    Since adopting a gluten free diet after being diagnosed as a Celiac in 2010, I’ve always been proud of the fact that my new diet c consisted of fresh, minimally processed food. It really did make a difference. The occasional gluten free “treat” never caused me to feel lethargic, fuzzy or ill. It really is hard sometimes when most of your life you are used to eating certain foods and then you can’t. A gluten-free cookie, pizza or cake is more than tempting! This holiday season I lost my focus and indulged in gluten free treats…more than I ever had before. What followed was hair loss, lethargy, breakouts–all thanks to the crap I was putting in my body! I will never do that again–not worth it!

    January 6th, 2014 11:24 am Reply
    • drema

      Thanks for your post – I have had chronic fatigue for many years & just recently realized it’s food that is the culprit – only when things got REALLY bad. Now I’m going non-GMO, organic, fresh, local veggies & beef. I was having terrible hair loss no matter what shampoo I used. I finally started cleaning up my diet – no grains whatsoever…. not cheating is hard & I’m still working on it….and I switched to Shikai Every Day Shampoo and Conditioner and with that first shampoo & conditioning of my hair I had 1/4 of my normal hair loss in the shower than I had had with any other shampoo & conditioner. Thanks for stating what you’ve been through – it encourages me to give up grains entirely & just eat fresh as possible fruits, veggies & meats & get as much as I can straightened out. (Following GAPS diet somewhat & making bone marrow stock right now in the garage in a crock pot! Have had trouble with weakness, joint stuff & lots of weakness.)

      January 7th, 2014 2:26 am Reply
  • Rita B Chancy via Facebook

    So, have you checked out all of Pamela’s mixes for GMO or just the Simplebites? Be safe, go organic or take the chance of who knows what!

    January 6th, 2014 11:24 am Reply
  • Arafat Khans Khan via Facebook


    January 6th, 2014 11:21 am Reply
  • Kimberly

    We have been to Olive garden but usually for the soup, if I want one of their entrees I make it at home with better ingredients. Many activities we enjoy take us away from home and their soup is a safe bet for my husband and myself to not suffer any ill effects provided its not a frequent thing. We take food along but after a hike in colder than expected temps a hot bowl of soup really makes the afternoon.

    January 6th, 2014 11:20 am Reply
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  • KarenTrina

    We don’t do gluten free but I do try to limit white stuff and carbs. Did you know that IHOP omelets use pancake batter to make the ‘fluffy’? Such a disappointment.

    January 6th, 2014 11:19 am Reply
  • Helen Rosner McDonald via Facebook

    Thank you … I was just trying to explain all this to a cousin of mine… you helped more than I can ever say….

    January 6th, 2014 11:01 am Reply
  • Kathryn Roux Dickerson via Facebook

    We rarely eat “gluten-free” stuff, but at the holidays we sometimes buy a GF, rather healthy bread. But we have both decided it is very addictive – we could eat the whole (small) loaf at one sitting. That tells me that in general grains are just not a good choice for us.

    January 6th, 2014 10:55 am Reply
  • Erin Steinberg via Facebook

    Thank you for posting this. I will be sharing it as I have found this to be the case and even some places where the menu says GF but what comes from the kitchen is not. I try not to use corn products because of the gmo’s and such but like you, I can control the home food but not the out food.

    January 6th, 2014 10:49 am Reply
  • Cristina Silva Afonso Aquino via Facebook

    Should i be worried about robin hood gf flour?

    January 6th, 2014 10:49 am Reply
  • Tanya Hubbard Sage via Facebook

    Great info. Thanks for sharing!!

    January 6th, 2014 10:46 am Reply
  • Brandy Ellen via Facebook

    processed is processed – “gluten-free” or not.

    That is why clean eating, slow foods, local foods, DIY is always, always the best move.

    January 6th, 2014 10:46 am Reply
  • courtney

    It looks like these are good options for cookies and pasta, but not crackers? It is really hard to find good tasting crackers that are organic and have good ingredients. A lot of them have brown rice/brown rice syrup, which is known to be high in arsenic levels and should be limited in a diet for toddlers.

    January 6th, 2014 10:41 am Reply
    • Paula

      Make your own with tapioca flour, sweet potato, coconut oil eggs and salt. This makes a fabulous dough that you can knead and roll out properly.
      I am only guessing on amounts, as I had to just play with ideas, but 1 egg, 1 1/4 cups of tapioca flour, half a sweet potato and a bit of salt.
      Roll as thin as possible and precut, Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 till crispy.
      These end up tasting like wheat thins!

      January 6th, 2014 7:58 pm Reply
      • courtney

        Paula, thanks for the recipe! I have all those ingredients- how much coconut oil do you use or is it just for coating the baking pan?

        January 6th, 2014 9:55 pm Reply
        • Paula

          I just tossed in a a tbls or so. Just play with it, I think its fairly forgiving.

          January 7th, 2014 10:46 am Reply

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