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Travel made easier for those on special diets

'Let's Eat Out!' helps familes navigate special diets while out and about
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Summer is nearing, and that means families everywhere are at least starting to plan vacations. Many of these families will have to address how to accommodate gluten-free and other special diets while on vacation, which could cause quite a hitch in holiday plans.

However, thanks to Kim Koeller and Robert La France and their 'Let's Eat Out!' book series, navigating special diets safely and successfully while on vacation is now much more simple.

Koeller, an international business consultant, was diagnosed with food-related allergies and celiac disease. Her position called for her to fly extensively throughout the world, and she ate 80 percent of her meals away from home while working with clients in 25 countries on four continents. She needed to figure out how to safely eat gluten- and allergy-free foods anywhere in the world, regardless of her location or destination.

To accomplish this, she conducted extensive research, scouring hundreds of websites and subscribing to countless allergy-related publications and associations. She found a lot of information on gluten- and allergy-free cooking at home and how to cope with allergies and gluten-free diets. However, only a small percentage of material discussed eating in restaurants or traveling with gluten intolerance or other food concerns.

'I was surprised to realize that books devoted to these topics had not been written,' Koeller said. 'There was a significant void in the global market for products aimed at educating the 300-plus million individuals managing food allergies, celiac disease and special diets on how to eat safely when away from home and while traveling.'

So, she started doing research and, as an entrepreneur, established GlutenFree Passport and AllergyFree Passort. The mission is to shorten the learning curve associated with managing food allergies and celiac disease for the millions of people affected by special diets and to empower them to travel and explore the world.

Koeller called on her friend Robert La France, a restaurant industry veteran, to help with the project. His experience across all aspects of restaurant operations gave him extensive insight into guest requirements, including the need for people with food allergies to be confident that their concerns about cross-contamination and hidden allergens in foods would be listened to and understood.

If you have folks in your circle who must adhere to gluten- and allergy-free diets, you have at least a little inkling of how important it is for them to avoid those foods. It is easier if you have an idea of the ingredients used to create the dishes, but with foreign cuisines - and when you may not speak the language - how can you be assured that you are eating food that is safe for you?

This is where the 'Let's Eat Out!' reference series comes in more than handy. The series includes the award-winning 'Let's Eat Out! With Celia/Coelia and Food Allergies!' and pocket guides for American Steak and Seafood and Mexican Cuisine Passport; Chinese, Indian and Thai Cuisine Passport; French and Italian Cuisine Passport; and a Multilingual Phrase Passport. The 'Let's Eat Out' reference guide has chapters on ingredients and preparation technique guidelines and discusses items such as worldwide product labeling regulations, gluten-free labeling, ingredient sources and manufacturing processes, and ingredient and preparation techniques by allergen. There are separate chapters on steak and seafood restaurants, Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Mexican and Thai cuisines. These books are great resources for those who wish to travel and enjoy the local cuisine in vacation spots in all parts of the world.

And, of course, the material comes via e-books and mobile apps. Visit glutenfreepassport.com or allergyfreepassport.com for more information.

For today's recipes, I've included an updated burger recipe and a Caesar salad, both of which can be made gluten free.

If serving buns with the burgers, ensure the meat stays gluten free by keeping buns separate. Gluten-free buns are available; let your gluten-free guests serve themselves the burgers and buns to avoid cross-contamination.

To ensure the Caesar salad stays gluten free, do not add the croutons to the salad. Let those who can eat croutons add them to their serving.

Check out the 'Let's Eat Out!' series and finish planning your summer vacation!

Bon appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Grilled burgers with Argentinean parsley sauce

Makes 2 servings, can be doubled

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

12 ounces lean ground beef

½ teaspoon salt

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Whisk parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper and oregano in small bowl to blend. Season the sauce to taste with salt.

Combine beef, ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper in medium bowl; blend well. Shape beef into two 1-inch-thick patties. Grill beef until cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Transfer beef to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Bon Appetit, June 1996

Basil Caesar salad

Makes 6 servings

1 10-inch piece baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove

1 large egg

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1 package romaine hearts, 1 pound, leaves separated and washed well, then halved crosswise

1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. with rack in middle.

Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoons each salt and pepper in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then spread out in 1 layer. Toast in oven, stirring halfway through, until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, with motor running, drop garlic in a food processor and finely chop. Add egg, lemon juice, anchovy paste and ½ teaspoon pepper and pulse until combined. With motor running, add remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified. Add herbs and blend until dressing turns green and herbs are finely chopped.

Toss romaine with dressing, croutons and half of cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Gourmet, June 2009

Hey friends, have you eaten at Morso yet? I encourage you to make a beeline to its door - you are going to love it!

Morso, which means "morsel" in Italian, is Bob Lightman and Ryan Finley's new restaurant with locations just a hop and skip away at Bridgeport Village and a second just opening in the Pearl District. The restaurants have the delightful ambience of a European bistro and offer Italian-inspired casual dishes. Executive chef Kenny Giambalvo, who spent 10 years at Bluehour, has created an inventive menu that is sure to please.

It is going to be a hot spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks.

The menu includes sweet and savory breakfast sandwiches and pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and Mio gelato. It's not a coincidence that Mio gelato is featured, as that

was Lightman's first food enterprise, and both locations were formerly Mio gelato stores.

Hours are Sunday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 101, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..