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December 5, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 4 Faves: 0

Gluten-Free Food in Grand Rapids, Michigan

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

The term “gluten-free” seems to be popping up everywhere these days, and West Michigan is certainly no exception. From cereal boxes to restaurant menus, just what exactly does this marketing claim mean and where can you find more?

Gluten is a protein inherently found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. And because of cross-contamination, oats are often included on this list as well. As this ingredient isn't one of the top 8 common allergens required to be labeled within the allergen statement, it is not always easy to identify. One of the reasons gluten is not included in this list is because it is rarely diagnosed as a food allergy.

Gluten is most commonly diagnosed as a food intolerance or sensitivity, yet even those with food sensitivities need to be able to identify exactly what ingredients are contained in their prepared or packaged food. This task can be frustrating for the nearly 1 in 30 people following a gluten-free diet because of this lack of labeling identification.

Thankfully, an increasing number of stores and restaurants are striving to meet this consumer demand. 

Mejier's Grocery Stores and Gluten-Free Foods

If you pay attention to the grocery store advertisements, you may even find gluten-free solutions and cooking tips at the supermarket! In fact, Meijer stores seem to be on the cutting edge of gluten-free diets. They even go so far as to offer specialty events focused entirely on gluten-free foods.

Meijer stocks a multitude of gluten-free products to help accommodate the needs of those following a gluten-free diet or simply preparing a meal for someone with Celiac Disease. Because Meijer is able to utilize their bulk purchasing prowess, the prices certainly seem to be more reasonable than other places I have visited. 

The Meijer Healthy Living team of registered dietitians is striving to simplify the gluten-free lifestyle for all of their customers.

According the Shari Steinbach, RD, “Meijer has designated special gluten-free sections in every store (grocery and freezer) where shoppers can easily find needed products (and of course additional) gluten-free products are available throughout. We also maintain a Meijer brand gluten-free product listing on our healthy living website to assist our customers.”

The Healthy Living Team is demonstrating a true passion to help their customers.

Celiac Kids of Grand Rapids

These events are well attended by many people with Celiac Disease, including members of the growing organization, “Celiac Kids of Grand Rapids,” led by Nancy Spears. This group, based right out of Anchor Baptist Church, offers gluten-free food fairs, as well as a gluten-free support group for parents and children following a gluten-free diet.

Nancy is a passionate proponent of the gluten-free diet, particularly as the majority of her family has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease (the primary reason one follows a gluten-free diet). While Celiac Disease is quite prevalent in this church, the group is not restricted to any diet.

According to Nancy, "we do still have "gluten eating" people in our church, but it is easy to eat gluten-free with us--and we love to share with and support those who are struggling to adapt their lives to this great dietary change."

A growing number of restaurants are now beginning to offer gluten-free menu options to customers as the need seems to be growing. Restaurants include those within the great Gillmore Collection, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s, Chipotle, Marie Catrib’s, and the list goes on.

If you have more of a sweet-tooth, Coco Charlotte’s Gluten Free Bakery is located just over on 32nd street in Grand Rapids. Here you will find decadent dishes, including honey oatmeal bread, cinnamon raisin bread, Italian herb pizza crust, and Traverse City cherry scones, muffins, cookies, and granola.

For more dining options, stop in and enjoy the gluten free offerings available at these local hot spots!

Bistro Bella Vita
44 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, 222-4600
Ask for assistance

Bonefish Grill
1100 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, 949-7861
Gluten-free menu available -- visit bonefishgrill.com

Carrabba's Italian Grill
• 4061 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, 940-9865
• 3441 Century Center St. SW, Grandville, 261-3020.
Gluten-free menu available -- visit carrabbas.com

The Chop House
190 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, 451-6131
Gluten-free menu available -- thechophouserestaurant.com

Judson's Steakhouse at The B.O.B.
20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, 356-2000
Gluten-free menu available -- thebob.com

Marie Catrib's
1001 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, 454-4020
Ask for assistance -- mariecatribs.com

O'Charley's
• 1600 East Beltline Ave., Grand Rapids, 301-8171
• 12389 James St., Holland, (616) 392-7680
Ask for assistance -- ocharleys.com

Outback Steakhouse
• 3475 Alpine Ave. NW, Walker, 785-9686
• 3333 Century Center St. SW, Grandville, 724-2329
• 3650 28th St. SE, Kentwood, 957-7932
Gluten-free menu available -- outback.com

Red Robin
• 3722 Potomac Circle SW, Grandville, 257-3962
• 3379 West Shore Drive, Holland, (616) 994-9855
• 3195 28th Street SE, Kentwood, 957-1430
Gluten-free menu available -- redrobin.com

San Chez Bistro and San Chez Cafe
38 W Fulton St., Grand Rapids, 774-8272
Ask for assistance -- sanchezbistro.com

Wherever you are dining or shopping, be sure to express your dietary needs to your server or the manager in charge. After all, they're there to cater to your needs in order to keep you coming back for more. With this in mind, I hope you take advantage of the many amazing resources and products available. What other resources have you found in your neck of the woods?

The goal is to enjoy your food, gluten-full or gluten-free. 

Photo: Marie Catrib's

Photo Credit: Erika Jane @ Kotoamade.blogspot.com

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4 Comments

  • Thanks for posting, Jessica! Marie Catrib's is my favorite restaurant, and though I've never tried any of their gluten-free options, I've heard that they're delicious.

    I've heard that Brick Road Pizza (in Eastown) also has delicious gluten-free pizza - and lots of vegan options, too! A great choice if you're eating with people who have a variety of nutritional needs. :)

  • Thanks for sharing, Laura! I actually read about that restaurant in the GR Press - sounds delicious!

  • I highly recommend it! That whole area of GR has lots of gluten-free options - I know that Uncle Cheetah's Soup Shop always has some gluten-free soups available :)

  • Uncle Cheeta's Soup Shop??? Is that in relation to the Electric Cheetah? That place was fabulous.

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