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November's Featured Speakers: Betsy Craig, MenuTrinfo

Betsy Craig will be a featured speaker at the upcoming International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York.

Gluten-Free Menus Can be a Challenge - Or Not

Stop me if this sounds familiar: Gluten-free will continue to be one of the hottest trends in dining as the year goes on.

The general awareness of the effects of the protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, triticale, on people with sensitivities and Celiac disease have resulted in a call for gluten-free products. This demand will drive a market that increased by nearly a third between 2009 and 2011 even higher.

Restaurant operators have already felt the impact of the ever-growing popularity of a gluten-free lifestyle. Diners are seeking out establishments where everyone in their party can find something on the menu they can enjoy. Savvy chefs and owners have taken the necessary steps to ensure their operations, in both the kitchen and the front of the house, serve their patrons more safely and with confidence.

But there is still some confusion about where gluten comes from and how you can help your diners – and your bottom line – by highlighting their best choices. Gluten is found in wheat in all its forms: cracked wheat, sprouted wheat, wheat berries, bulgur, durum, semolina, kamut, spelt, emmer and farro. It’s also in barley, rye, oats, triticale and some ancient grains, including einkorn and freekeh.

The tricky part is that these grains or their byproducts — think flour — are used to thicken or make a wide range of prepared ingredients. For example, soy sauce doesn’t sound like something that would contain gluten, but it does. It’s traditionally made by fermented soybeans and wheat with salt and water (although rice alternatives may be found).

The good news is there is no gluten in a number of grains, including rice and wild rice; corn in all its forms such as popcorn, corn meal and corn starch; buckwheat (ignore the name); millet; sorghum or milo; and the ancient grains chia, quinoa, teff and amaranth.

There’s also (inherently) no gluten in meat, milk, eggs, vegetables or most oils (check the label on canola). A broiled steak with potatoes fried in sunflower oil and steamed broccoli is a gluten-free meal. As long as you keep the dinner roll off the plate, make sure the oil hasn’t also been used for gluten-bearing items, and don’t season the steak with a dash of soy sauce.

So, take a look at your menu and your recipes. There’s a good chance this could be the year your restaurant debuts a new line of gluten-free options, just by letting diners know what the menu already has to offer.

If you need help getting started, or doing an in-depth analysis of your menu items, MenuTrinfo® can help. Our services have been breaking down dishes to identify potential food allergens and gluten since 2010. We can also help develop a complete gluten-free menu if you decide to give a wider range of choices to your gluten-free diners.

More about Betsy Craig: 

Betsy brings more than 25 years of foodservice-industry experience to MenuTrinfo. Her goal is to create genuine relationships with her clients, and ensure that they meet or exceed new federal nutritional labeling regulations. Betsy’s no-nonsense approach means a smooth transition into high-volume commercial kitchens and her commitment to excellence guarantees that every dish, no matter how complex, is accurately represented.

Ms. Craig was voted #4 CEO in the fast casual industry in the 2012 Top 100 Movers and Shakers list, and #15 in 2013. MenuTrinfo was awarded the #7 spot for new technologies in 2012 and # 8 in 2013, making a major impact on the restaurant industry according to, which is owned by Net World Alliance. Nationally renowned, Betsy works with clients as diverse as Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health on site Restaurants/Food Services in Baltimore and the Pima County Health Department Services in Tucson, Arizona. Betsy’s articles can be seen in numerous national and regional magazines focused on the food and the foodservice industry including Food Safety Magazine, Catering Magazine, Independent Restaurateur, PMQ and Restaurant Marketing. Her views on the industry also appear in various national online publications, where she is a regular contributor and guest blogger. She is a highly sought-after speaker, and is entertaining, informative, and engaging for audiences from CEOs to food technologists.


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