This weekend I was lucky enough to have my Dad fly into town all the way from Virginia to come visit me! So when he asked me to take him to one of my favorite spots for food, I had to make it a good one.

My choice?

Sweet Republic.

Sweet Republic in Scottsdale











Sweet Republic is an artisan ice cream shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, that uses all natural ingredients to make some of the most interesting yet delicious ice cream/sorbet flavors I’ve ever had. From “Honey Blue Cheese” to “Early Grey Tea,” Sweet Republic offers unique tastes I’ve seen nowhere else.

I chose a combination of Peanut Butter Chip and Espresso that definitely left my taste buds satisfied.

Peanut Butter Chip and Espresso flavors

The great part? Almost every single flavor is gluten-free!

(Although ice cream itself is naturally gluten-free, most commercial creameries warn of baked inclusions that may contain gluten and/or of cross contamination. Nonetheless, several fast-food chains and popular ice cream brands offer gluten-free choices!)

Not only that, but they hand make all their own cookies, toppings, sauces and waffle cones. They even sell homemade marshmallows!

Living in a gluten-free world with nothing but gluten-filled food, it’s refreshing to know that if you look hard enough, you can find a little bit of everything g-free. Although I’ve been more than frustrated trying to find my favorite foods sans-gluten (as I’m sure most everyone has), it’s little discoveries like these that make the gluten-free journey worth it–and dare I say it–kind of fun.

The best advice I can give on trying to find little gems like this is to simply ask around. I had no idea Sweet Republic existed until I began talking with a gluten-free eater from the Phoenix area I met in one of my classes. Specialty places that cater to the g-free crowd are usually aware of the surrounding gluten-free options as well.

So if anyone else has any great, local places ANYWHERE that serve gluten-free food, feel free to share them!


According to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans spend about 50% of their food expenditures on meals away from home. For people that need to stay gluten-free, however, dining out can be an extremely taxing event.

So instead of just listing restaurants in Phoenix that serve gluten-free food, I thought it’d be more helpful to actually teach you the art of finding them.

The first step to finding gluten-free restaurants wherever you’re located is research, reasearch, research. Although googling “gluten-free resutrants in (insert your location here)” can give you adequate results, not all restaurants advertise being gluten-friendly on their websites, nor are all cities large enough for the search engine to find substantial information.

If I don’t know where I want to eat or am just looking for the gluten-free options around me, I go to the Gluten Free Registry website. This website allows you to search for gluten-free restaurants, bakeries and even caterers by state AND city.

It also provides you with personal reviews of each resturant, along with a small description of what each menu features that is gluten-free.

The thing I like about this website is that the database contains many local restaurants that do not come up on other larger search engines. Instead of providing me with the same six chain resturants I already knew about, the Gluten Free Registery found me some of the best kept gluten-free secerts in Phoenix. In fact, I found what is now my favorite pizza place, Picazzo’s, thanks to this website. (If you ever want phenomemnal gluten-free pizza–and let’s face it, who doesn’t–GO THERE!)

The Gluten Free Registery has an interactive map that can be accessed from your iPhone too–perfect if you’re lost or don’t have access to a computer.

The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program is also another website that provides a gluten-free restaurant search. I’m not a big fan of this one because it’s less in-depth and usually just refers me to chain resturants. It is another resource I’ve used though, and because it’s supported by The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, its results are pretty accurate.

If I know what restaurant I’m going to ahead of time, I always look on its website before I get there.

Many smaller resturants mention their gluten-free features directly on their website, like my favorite fro-yo stop Yogurtini. Larger resturants generally have a seperate gluten-free menu that is within its menu tab, like both P.F. Chang’s and Z’Tejas.

If you end up at a restaurant you’ve never been before and didn’t have time to research it, don’t be afraid to speak up! I had no idea Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen had a gluten-free menu until my server mentioned it after I ordered nothing but a “naked” chicken that had to be cooked in a separate, clean pan.

If the restaurant doesn’t have a gluten-free menu, don’t stress! Be specific when ordering your food, and use phrases like “I have celiac disease” or “I have a severe allergy to gluten” in order to gain the server’s attention. Don’t forget that you deserve a meal and service just like anyone else!

“Can I still be caffeinated?”

Being the college student that I am, this was one of the first questions I asked when I found out I would have to restrict my diet. My busy schedule didn’t allow much time for sleep, and I had become quite dependent on America’s favorite drug.

Lucky for me though (and the rest of you sleep-deprived people out there), caffeine can be enjoyed gluten-free in all of its most popular forms–coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks.

Have Your Coffee (And Drink it Too)
Considering I am probably responsible for half of Brazil’s coffee bean exports, you can imagine my excitement when I found out coffee, in its pure form, is gluten-free. (Yay!) However, this also means that ANY flavored, instant or decaffeinated coffees could potentially contain gluten. (Boo!)

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you have to order it “just black” for the rest of your life. All of Dunkin’ Donuts coffees, including the flavored ones, are gluten-free. Many local and organic coffee shops also brew flavored gluten-free coffees–just ask!

Tip: Be careful with commercial coffee. Although places like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee have gluten-free syrups, both warn of possible cross-contamination due to shared preparation materials with ingredients containing gluten. Coffee at public events/places should generally be avoided too, since it’s usually instant.

Tea Party!
Tea, like coffee, is gluten-free in its pure form. Once again, this means that any flavored tea could be dangerous. Although there are specialized gluten-free teas that can be purchased at health stores, I prefer the entirely gluten-free Celestial Seasonings. They have over 90 different varieties and can be purchased at any grocery store.

Continue the Carbonation
Surprisingly, many soft drinks are gluten-free. According to a list from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, 7-Up and A&W Root Beer are all gluten-free. I’ve also found that two of my favorite sodas, Squirt and Fresca, are gluten-free as well.

Tip: Just make sure you double-check the label, and always listen to your body; although the manufacturer may claim its soda is gluten-free, vague ingredients such as “natural flavor” or “flavors” leaves a lot of room for what those additives actually are.

Get Your Wiiiiiiings
Energy drinks are marvelous inventions. Thankfully, I can enjoy these inventions (and have many completed assignments to thank them for). Both Red Bull Energy Drink and Red Bull Sugarfree are gluten-free, as well as Rockstar Energy Drink. My favorite sugar-free source of caffeine, 5-hour Energy, is also gluten-free.

Preparation is key to staying gluten-free–with such a limited diet, you quickly learn to always pack your own gluten-free snacks and food so that you don’t have to go hungry and/or feel the wrath of your intestines later. But what happens when that snack is sitting forgotten on your kitchen counter and you’re so hungry your stomach is about to eat itself?

If you’re anything like 100 other million Americans, you’ll most likely look for food in the most convenient place:

Property of Nicole Lavella

the vending machine.

Although most write-off any gluten-free snack possibilities in a vending machine, I’ve forgotten my food enough times that I’ve discovered some of the hidden secerets of the on-the-go snack underworld. Here are some of the best gluten-free snacks I’ve found in a typical vending machine:

1. Nuts
Although I’d be weary of some pre-packaged peanuts, cashews, pistachios and pine nuts all make an ideal gluten-free high-protein snack. Planters Nuts & Chocolate Trail Mix is also a filling gluten-free choice that gives you a bit of variety–something any gluten-free goer can enjoy.

2. Chips
Contrary to popular belief, many chips are not off limits. Frito-Lay manufacturers several different chip brands that have been labeled “gluten-free.” Although Frito-Lay does have a warning of possible cross-contamination on its website, I’ve yet to have any issues with the Baked Lay’s Original Potato Crisps or the Fritos Original Corn Chips. Mission Tortilla chips have also been deemed “gluten-free” by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

3. Fruit Snacks
Both Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks Mixed Berry and Welch’s Fruit Snacks are two low-fat, relatively low-calorie snack options commonly found in vending machines. Although slightly high in sugar, these fruit snacks are high in Vitamin C and tide me over long enough until my next meal.

4. Candy
OK, OK…so candy isn’t the healthiest snack option. But just admit it; sometimes, there’s no curbing that urgent need to take a big, satisfying bite into your favorite candy bar. Lucky for us, lots of candies are gluten-free even if they don’t sport the label. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness updates an extensive gluten-free candy list every October, but some of my favorites include: Raisinets, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Sweet Tarts, M&M’s and even 3 Musketeers! Be careful though: any candy with a cookie component (Kit-Kat, Twix Bars, Whoppers etc.) are NOT gluten-free and should be avoided.

Although vending machines aren’t an ideal source of nutrition for anyone, gluten-free goers can utilize them. As with any prepackaged food, as long as labels are double-checked you too can find a satisfying snack behind the glass.

I don’t have time for breakfast.

You would think with the word “fast” in it, breakfast would be a somewhat manageable goal to accomplish before one walks out of the front door each morning.

But for whatever reason, despite all the studies and information about how important eating breakfast is, I can’t do it.

No matter how early I get up or how much I prepare the night before, breakfast is always the first thing to go as I’m hustling to get ready in the morning. Throw the “gluten-free” wrench in the equation, and you can almost guarantee that my meal count remains a big fat “0” as I start my day–and that my stomach angrily reminds me of this until noon.

So when I stumbled upon the smoothie idea on a gluten-free forum, I decided to give it a try.

Sweet peas and carrots, am I glad that I did.

Not only is this smoothie beyond tasty, FAST to make and portable, but the flaxseed oil keeps me full until lunch. (That’s right people–a filling fast-food breakfast that isn’t smothered in grease and served on the McDonald’s menu. It exists. I promise.)

One of my favorite parts about this recipe is that it’s completely gluten-free AND good for you too. Every single ingredient–from the flaxseed oil to the natural cranberry juice–has great health benefits.

The Recipe:The Ingredients
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, 1 fresh peach, 1 fresh apple, 1 pear)
1 scoop or 2 heaping tablespoons protein powder
8 ounces cran-water (natural cranberry juice and water) or plain filtered water
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

  • Place all ingredients in a blender
  • Blend until rich and frothy, approximately 2-3 minutes

Just a few tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Although I usually stick to my mixed berries, one time I used a Granny-smith apple and threw in a dash of cinnamon. Mmmmm, apple pie a la smoothie, anyone?
  2. Natural cranberry juice is quite bitter to most, so use sparingly in your “cran-water” mixture. (I usually pour about 1/4 cup of cranberry juice and fill the rest with water.)
  3. Don’t forget to double check that your whey protein is gluten-free! (Most are and say so on the label, but you never can be too sure.)
  4. If you use berries in your smoothie, store them in the freezer. Not only does it make the smoothie a bit colder, but it also helps the berries last longer.