Get Tech Savvy with Gluten-Free Technology!
We live in a mobile era where up-to-the-minute information and news is in demand and we want it at our fingertips – anytime and anywhere. Whether you prefer to use your desktop or laptop computer or click on an app on your smart phone, there are plenty of useful resources to help make gluten-free living easier and more enjoyable.
Looking for Recipes for a Gluten-Free Meal at Home? With celiac awareness growing, many “mainstream” recipe sites are now including gluten-free recipes. But I still prefer to get my recipes from gluten-free magazines and dozens of fantastic gluten-free food blogs. Just conduct a simple internet search for gluten-free recipes and it will reveal some wonderful sites and blogs. The Celiac Sprue Association also has a Gluten-Free Recipe Index on their website, www.csaceliacs.info. Accessing recipes online when you need them saves you from having to buy and store numerous cookbooks or collections of recipes. You can also explore Simply Gluten Free Magazine’s website, which is filled with many recipes that are available in a printer friendly format should you want to save and file a paper copy.
Most bloggers have a place on their blog where you can sign up to receive an email with each new post. Or simply “Like” them on Facebook so their new posts appear in your newsfeed. Of course, there are also bloggers focusing on other aspects of the gluten-free lifestyle such as travel, product reviews, and news and research.
How About Grocery Shopping?
Gluten-free shoppers know that each visit to the grocery store usually involves a lot of label reading and perhaps even quick phone calls to food manufacturers to verify the gluten-free status of certain items. But there’s a quicker way to check by using an app like Is That Gluten Free? or GF Groceries. With both apps, users can select a category of food and then search for a brand within the listing to verify gluten-free status. These apps – and other similar ones – all contain different listings, so it’s a good idea to download a few of them in case one app doesn’t contain the item in question.
The Gluten Free Ingredients app contains an alphabetized list of often unfamiliar ingredients like maida, heeng, fu, farina, and EDTA and tells users if they’re gluten-free or not. The My Food Facts app even lets users scan product barcodes, after which it searches a database to see if certain allergens are present. The Gluten Free app has an alphabetical listing with ingredients shown in either green for gluten-free or red for not gluten-free for simplicity. The Shop Well app lets users enter their age, gender, and food “goals” (such as gluten-free) as well as what’s important for their diet (protein, low calorie, high fiber, etc.) and then search by category for items that match the criteria. A bar code scanner is also available on this app.
Planning a Meal Out or a Trip to a Fun Destination?
Resources abound to help gluten-free diners navigate the growing number of restaurants catering to dietary needs. My own website, GlutenFreeTravelSite (www.glutenfreetravelsite.com), and the corresponding Dine Gluten Free app enable users to search by location and access our thousands of user-submitted glutenfree dining and travel reviews from both the United States and around the world. Similar apps from Gluten Free Registry, Find Me Gluten Free, Healthy Out, and Gluten Freed focus on restaurants in the US. Fast-food focused apps are available from iCanEatOnTheGo and GF Fast Food. Some of these gluten-free dining apps are free, while others are available for a small fee. Some are directory-style listings, while others include ratings or reviews.
It’s a good idea to use many of these apps, since they all offer a slightly different user experience. I prefer gluten-free focused sites and apps like these, since many of the general restaurant review sites and apps may add a gluten-free “tag” to their listing, but it’s often hard to find user-submitted reviews that are from gluten-free diners.
Whether you’re dining in your area or have pinpointed what looks like a reliable restaurant when traveling, I always recommend having a gluten-free dining card on hand. I’m partial to Triumph Dining’s laminated pocket sized restaurant cards (for 10 different global cuisines/ languages), available for purchase online. However, there’s also a free app called GF Card. It provides a basic restaurant card in 40 different languages. While it doesn’t go into the detail that the Triumph Dining cards do, it will work in a pinch and will serve you well virtually anywhere in the world.
Killing time standing in line or in a waiting room? Instead of playing Angry Birds, check out the day’s gluten-free headlines on a free app like Gluten Free News. Or spend a minute searching the app store for other interesting and helpful gluten-free apps. There are literally hundreds!
More Tech Savvy Tips
You’re probably already following your favorite gluten-free personalities and companies on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and other social sites. Don’t forget about these other avenues for giving and receiving advice.
• Gluten-Free Faces: This social network is devoted exclusively to the gluten-free community. You can ask questions, share news, connect with other local gluten-free folks, post blog entries, and more.
• Gluten-Free Facebook Groups: There are many active groups for specific geographic locations like Boston, Atlanta, Montreal, and other big cities.
• Gluten-Free Listserv: The CELIAC listserv at listserv. icors.org, enables you to receive daily postings from other members of this online gluten-free community. Pose a question or respond to others with your own valuable advice.
• Yahoo Groups: Many local support groups use these online groups to help their members stay in touch and share information.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the gluten-free information available now. (It’s a far cry from eight years ago when my own son was diagnosed with celiac disease!) The trick is to find the sources and technology that work for you. An app that’s indispensable to one person may be irrelevant to another. Find the resources and communities that are helpful to you and do your best to “pay it forward,” sharing your experiences and advice with others in the gluten-free community.
Note: Most of the apps mentioned in this article are available for both iOS and Android devices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen Broussard publishes glutenfreetravelsite.com and the free DINE GLUTEN FREE mobile app. Both contain thousands of GF dining and travel reviews from around the world. Karen is also the publisher of the Gluten Free Travel Blog and two e-books available on Amazon: Gluten-Free in London and Gluten-Free in Italy.