Gluten-free, Dairy-free Desserts on Restaurant Menus

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Newsy | 1 comment

… Why are They Still MIA (Missing in Action)?


Okay, here’s a spoiler alert! I hope it doesn’t cause you to abandon donkey (quoting Tigger, sorry!) and stop reading this post, but of course it’s your choice, and I respect that.

What’s the topic that I’m about to reveal that spoils? I’m going on a rant. A big, huge, #*%&@*% rant! Ready? Are you coming along for the ride? Here we go…

While in Southern California this past week (more about that in another post, with great food finds and no ranting, I promise), I discovered something that is completely unacceptable in my mind. Ridiculously unacceptable!

Why is it still so #$^@%*^$ impossible to find gluten-free, dairy-free desserts in such a progressive, thriving metropolis??? Why???

I’m a good sport and have an understanding nature when I try to find gluten-free, dairy-free desserts in my small town eateries here in the Midwest. I know we’re just barely getting on the gluten-free bandwagon, and for many restaurants out here in MN “getting on the bandwagon” is more like sitting your boots on it but you’re not allowed to fully climb on just yet. I get it. Well, not really, but I’m trying to be patient.

But last week I was smack-dab in the middle of Orange County, the 6th most populous county in the entire United States, and somehow nobody out there seems to understand how to make a gluten-free, dairy-free dessert and offer it on their gluten-free menu. What the #$%@? Why does it seem to be so daunting and difficult for restaurants to get on board with safe desserts? I was able to dine at several establishments that varied in price point and from casual to more upscale, each offering a nice range – some impressively so – of gluten-free and dairy-free/vegan appetizers, soups, salads (minus the croutons, of course), main dishes (even pizza and pasta), and alcoholic beverages. But none – not one – could offer a gluten-free, dairy-free dessert choice. Some had one gluten-free dessert, usually an ice cream or a flourless chocolate cake, but none could accommodate a “want” one step further into the allergen-free, safe food category.

I really don’t understand this. I know there are aspects to consider with cross-contamination, but those concerns are clearly being addressed and safe food practices are being implemented in the places I visited. So why is it so difficult to offer the dining guest the whole dining experience?

I don’t get to dine out with friends that often in eateries where I know the management “gets it”. When I find one of these locations, I want the full experience. Drinks, appetizers, main course, AND dessert. Don’t you? Are we asking too much? I don’t think so! Don’t you want that too? Does it bother you as much as it bothers me?

It’s not like there isn’t an abundance of resources for gluten-free, dairy-free dessert recipes. Myopically, they could come here for recipe options, for example. Thinking in a broader scope, the web is filled with safe recipes. All they have to do is Google it!

I’ll even understand if restaurant establishments don’t want to take on that responsibility of learning recipes. There are a number of companies and bakeries that specialize in gluten-free, dairy-free (and soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free occasionally) options and sell wholesale to just such establishments. And many of these products are quite good. They’d be a welcome addition to any gluten-free menu.

And yet there remains this gaping hole in the gluten-free dining experience that need not exist.

I wonder how long this need (yes, sometimes I need dessert) will continue to be disappointedly unfulfilled.

So, have you stuck with me through my rant? Does it cause you an emotional tailspin too? Would you order dessert if it were available? Maybe if we’re all a very polite, united voice that asks for gluten-free AND dairy-free or vegan dessert choices when we eat out, slowly but surely that bandwagon will pause and let us climb aboard for some tasty treats and the full dining experience.

Here are a few desserts I’d be happy to see on a menu. How about you? What would you be excited to order (not just from these choices, of course)?

Gluten-free Dairy-free Peach Amaretto Thumbprint and Peach Ginger Thumbprint Cookies

Peach Amaretto Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-free Dairy-free Frosted Brownie Bites

Frosted Brownie Bites with Buttercream Frosting

Gluten-free Dairy-free Orange-Zested Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

Orange-Zested Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Blueberries,

Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Blueberries

Gluten-free Dairy-free Raspberry Amaretto Peach Cobbler with Oatmeal Pecan Crumble

Raspberry Amaretto Peach Cobbler with Oatmeal Pecan Crumble

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting











Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™


One Comment

  1. Bravo! Go get ’em girl. Any eatery owners out there want to defend this sorry state of affairs?

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