BY AMANDA ALLEY — It seems like more and more products in grocery stores are advertised as “gluten-free”; it’s a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum due to the increasing number of Americans avoiding gluten in their diets for various health reasons.
Gluten, a protein found in many grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, is a trigger for over 3 million Americans affected by celiac disease (other grains, such as rice, quinoa, and corn are safe to eat). Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder and causes inflammation of the small intestine leading to nutrient deficiencies and greater risk for serious intestinal illnesses. A gluten-free diet is essential to maintaining optimal health for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Such a diet requires a little more precaution, but food can still be delicious and accessible.
But finding gluten-free offerings at restaurants can still present a real challenge. Fortunately, there are some great restaurants right here in Hyattsville that cater to this dietary restriction.
When I first moved to the area in 2013, I immediately gravitated toward Spice 6 Modern Indian, in the Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville. It’s cute, casual and smells divine. The menu offers many rice and meat dishes as well as heaping salads. Online ordering is also very convenient and indicates which of their items are gluten-free. (Also in the Shoppes is Elevation Burger which touts its lettuce-wrapped organic burger as a paleo and gluten-free option.)
Indian food is just one of several ethnic cuisines that inherently fit the diet. Hispanic food is another easy (and tasty) option. Qdoba, right in University Town Center, is a sure bet if you need something fast, filling and stress-free. Many items on the menu are gluten-free: any “naked” burrito (without the flour tortilla), corn nachos, and chips and salsa. Be aware if the person before you ordered a burrito or flour tacos, and feel free to ask your server to change their gloves before preparing your food. Pupusas, a traditional Salvadorian food, are also gluten-free. These corn tortillas are filled with different cheeses and meats and topped with a scrumptious, homemade slaw. The Hyattsville area is chock full of pupuserias, such as Irene’s Pupuseria on University Boulevard.
Last, but not least, is the Hyattsville staple, Franklins. Even though Franklins serves traditional pub food, such as sandwiches, pizzas, and deep-fried foods, many of their delectable offerings can be made gluten-free with just a few adjustments. From the spinach and crab dips, to the orange and pomegranate salad, to coconut curried vegetables, you certainly won’t leave hungry. The servers are knowledgeable about gluten-free foods and can provide a comprehensive list of menu items containing allergens.
While there are many gluten-free options at local restaurants, be aware that there is always the risk of cross-contamination anywhere you go, unless the kitchen is dedicated gluten-free. Another key to staying away from gluten is to be open with your server about your condition and ask them questions about the ingredients in any dish. Don’t feel bad about bringing your own gluten-free sauces or crackers to a restaurant, either – it would be a shame to let that crab dip at Franklin’s just sit there!
Area resident Amanda Alley was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006, and has been obsessed with gluten-free foods ever since.