When I was at a local Celiac support group, I won a Triumph Dining grocery guide. It was the 4th edition, which was an edition before their newest 5th edition. Then, Triumph Dining contacted me and wanted to know if i’d also look at their gluten-free restaurant guide. I received that and I wanted to give you my reviews of them.
First, let me tell you that you should definitely sign up for their email and follow their blog. They have really great articles that I re-post a lot on Facebook. You’ll always be in the know for all things gluten-free. Visit their website and sign up now. They offer a suite of products available for gluten-free individuals.
Next up – let’s first look at the gluten-free grocery guide. This is a great book for newbies to introduce them to the world of gluten-free grocery shopping. However, it is not comprehensive (although it doesn’t claim to be either). For me, I’d rather just take my iphone and scroll through websites finding if a new product is gluten-free. But I’ve also been doing this for a few years. Also, I’m really tech savvy – so I do everything on my iPhone. But for someone who is 1) new to gluten-free and 2) not tech savvy (aka I can’t carry my iPhone around with me in the grocery store kind of person). The grocery guide retails for $24.95 online.
The guide to this book is the symbol list throughout. The majority of the book has no icon – which means that the company says it’s gluten-free – but hasn’t provided any other information (cross-contamination, etc.). So basically you’re looking for the blue medal (GF lines and/or facilities) and the green check (gluten tests performed). The orange exclamation mark means that although it’s a shared facility – they try to mitigate cross-contamination by procedures – that is, if you trust them. I’d like to believe it, but I know plenty of gluten-free people that can’t/won’t take that chance. If found that the blue medal listings were really helpful.
For me, this is a great start, but like I said, I’d probably follow up on the unlabeled ones with internet searches on my iPhone at the store. It also made me question some things that I’ve been eating – like why isn’t Swiss Miss listed on here when I’ve seen it on so many blogs as gluten-free (from ConAgra itself)? So, maybe I just don’t understand their process fully. If they don’t get a list of gluten-free products from a company, it seems like they’re just not listed. But that leaves out a lot of products for me that I can’t find on here. I also looked and saw that Popchips was listed as a product that has cross-contamination risk – but I realized that I don’t have the most updated guide. So, hopefully the new one lists it as certified gluten free – like it is.
But, on the same token, I have found a ton of new brands that I didn’t even think of looking at. I was so focused on gluten-free companies that make versions of my favorite things that I often forget that many big brand companies do their hardest to have gluten-free products too. This is a great guide to help expand your horizons in the grocery store – making you step outside your gluten-free comfort zones! This is why I recommend this to newbies. If you’re lost in the grocery store, this will 100% help you get to your gluten-free destination. This will assure you that you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods for everything – you can find gluten-free friendly products in your local store (even with their store generic brands)!
The gluten-free restaurant guide retails for $23.95. It features over 6,500 restaurants and 120 gluten-free menu from nationwide chain restaurants, it covers over 50 states. For Arizona specifically it has 12 half pages (6 full pages). It breaks it out with Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and then random cities throughout the state.
I will state that my favorite (and perhaps the best part of the guide for me) is their introduction. They address how to convey information effectively while eating out – a skill set that most gluten-free people have to develop over time and often build knowledge only by trial-and-error. They also talk about building long-term and short-term relationships with restaurants. Kudos to Triumph Dining for putting it in writing. This is why I highly recommend this guide for newbies and recently diagnosed.
What’s interesting about this guide is that there’s entries like “staffer Jessica reports that both servers and chefs are GF aware,” where they actually include notes from restaurant staff. My only issue with that is that staff has a high turnover. I trust the entries more that say that the chef talks about gluten-free. It really is a big relief when we hear from the chef that they’re gluten-free-friendly. I’d love to see a guide where all of the chefs were contacted and they give us real information of their gluten-free menu and policies. Unfortunately, this guides don’t always go into depth about the cross-contamination potential issues in the kitchen – so those with strong allergies/Celiac need to go further than this and ask how it’s prepared.
Another beef is that my favorite place in Tucson – Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery - isn’t listed in the Tucson listings. This restaurant is 100% gluten-free, and as someone who lived in the area (or was visiting) I’d go there over any of the other restaurants listed.
The restaurant guide is great for those who are just starting out, and again – who aren’t tech-savvy. But, I’d also say to do your research before traveling too. There’s new restaurants every day, or a restaurant can change their menu and stop accommodating gluten free (I had that happen to me just last month and I was so angry). Again, maybe I’m just a tech-junkie, but I like to use apps like Find Me Gluten Free or sites like Can I Eat Here for research.
The introduction gets an overwhelming 5 (THANK YOU TRIUMPH DINING) but the whole book for me gets 3.5. Because I tend to use online research instead of using a guide like this. For me, it’s not something I’d use every day, but I do consider this incredibly helpful for for newbies, non-tech geeks, and people who travel (business travelers anyone?).
I’m actually interested in the Triumph Dining gluten-free sticker pack, especially for the holidays! What a great idea!