Quantcast

Gluten free food options - some questions thanks

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Ana

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
82
I have 5 nights coming up in July (CS, EB and CZ) and I'm trying to plan ahead and work out what I can eat and what I should bring. "Gluten free' means I can't eat anything with wheat, barley or rye... not even a crumb. I have celiac - it's an autoimmune disease.

I know that Amtrak don't specifically offer gluten free options, so I have to do my best with the options available. I do always bring my own food but I'm a sleeper passenger so the meals are included and I like eating in the dining car. The last few years since I had to go gluten free have spoiled that aspect of my amtrak travels. Besides, I miss having proper meals, snacks for two days straight is pretty depressing.

I did ok on my last trip, but I got sick a few times and ended up supplmenting the snacks I had with hagen daaz icecream since it was the only thing I knew was safe. I didn't feel like I could sit in the dining car and only order dessert but when I said so on one trip my car attendant kindly picked up my icecream for me and I ate in my room. However, another time when I declined a reservation for dinner, the LSA told me off for not calling up customer service an ordering a gluten free meal in advance, she insisted that they could've provided one for me. She's obviously never seen the website which clearly states that they can't. Sigh. It's bad enough not being able to eat, I didn't need an argument about it too!

The breakfast menu says fresh eggs cooked to order, that wouldn't include hard boiled eggs would it? I'm loathe to try an omelette again, I think they eggs were being mixed in the same bowl as the french toast, which sounds perfectly reasonable except dipping the bread in the egg would be enough to contaminate my omelette. The continental breakfast option says it includes an "Activia" yoghurt, but there seems to be a few brands with that name. Does anyone remember which one it is? How is the fruit served - is it whole pieces or bulk prepared fruit salad? Or little snack packs of fruit salad?

I noticed the steak is now served with a sauce and that's likely to be a no-go. Could I order a steak with no sauce? The menu indicated that there are alternative sauces so presumably, they aren't cooked with the sauce. Steak and a jacket potato seems to be my best bet, that seemed to be ok last time.

Is the half chicken served on the LD trains the same as the one served on the Cardinal? I think I was ok with that too.

If you're reading this and thinking, sheesh, just suck it up and eat it - believe me, I would if I could. I had no complaints about Amtrak meals. But unfortunately, it makes me very sick :eek:
 

Swadian Hardcore

Conductor
Joined
Feb 7, 2012
Messages
7,363
Location
On The Road
I think the eggs alone would be okay.

The steak probably can't be ordered with no sauce.

I think the chicken on the Cardinal is cooked differently from the ones on other LDs, but the recipe is probably the same.

That's all I know, personally I can't confirm much.
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Location
Queens, New York
I'm loathe to try an omelette again, I think they eggs were being mixed in the same bowl as the french toast, which sounds perfectly reasonable except dipping the bread in the egg would be enough to contaminate my omelette.
The French Toast is all pre-made and frozen. The only way that there could have been some cross contamination would be on the grill itself. The better chefs start the warming process for the French Toast in the convection oven as stated on the directions, but then will throw it on the grill for the last few minutes as it produces better results. The so-so chefs just leave it in the convection oven the whole time.

I noticed the steak is now served with a sauce and that's likely to be a no-go. Could I order a steak with no sauce? The menu indicated that there are alternative sauces so presumably, they aren't cooked with the sauce. Steak and a jacket potato seems to be my best bet, that seemed to be ok last time.
You can certainly ask. The steaks are supposed to be cooked to order, which should mean that any sauce is added after cooking, save a marinating sauce. Be sure to politely stress to your waiter that it it critical to have no sauce and why.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,638
Location
Texas
There is no way I'd put a serious food reaction in the hands of Amtrak/Aramark staff. Most of my special requests have resulted in little or no change. Or at least none that I could discern. Much of the food is already prepped before it's loaded. My advice is to print out the special meals verbiage from the Amtrak website so that you hopefully won't have to deal with any more pointless arguing from the staff.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MiRider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 13, 2011
Messages
834
Location
Michigan
I wouldn't worry about ordering the omelet because if, and it isn't, the French Toast was made to order they would have to keep a bowl of the egg wash for the french toast ready at all times - I'm sure they have more than one bowl


You really shouldn't have any problem ordering gluten free on the menu.

Any of the whole meat plain, vegetables, salad, eggs, potato, rice...
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,849
Location
Delaware
I'm sure I ordered the steak w/o the sauce (always do), but can't remember if there was any residual sauce on the steak. I would think not, though.

I had scrambled eggs for breakfast each morning.

I saw on the news recently where gluten-free is showing up on all the shelves of grocery stores. So, maybe Amtrak is working on a gluten-free menu and is just not ready to use it yet. I'd say keep checking with them.
 

Ana

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
82
The French Toast is all pre-made and frozen. The only way that there could have been some cross contamination would be on the grill itself. The better chefs start the warming process for the French Toast in the convection oven as stated on the directions, but then will throw it on the grill for the last few minutes as it produces better results. The so-so chefs just leave it in the convection oven the whole time.
I didn't realise that, thanks Alan. It was probably on the grill then since people seemed to be enjoying the french toast!

Thanks for all the suggestions/responses everyone.. I don't expect much since I know how small an area they are working in, it's just nice to eat what I can (i've always been a fan of the steak and potato). It's the hidden seasonings that are the minefield. And croutons, eek. . They pretty rare in Australian so I always get surprised by them.

I saw on the news recently where gluten-free is showing up on all the shelves of grocery stores. So, maybe Amtrak is working on a gluten-free menu and is just not ready to use it yet. I'd say keep checking with them.
AntrakBlue, they may well be. I was really interested to see that one of the desserts on the menu was specificically mentioned as being gluten free. The hagen daaz icecreams already are gluten free, so this has only expanded my dessert options- I can't complain about that :)
 

Just-Thinking-51

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1,987
Location
USA

Just-Thinking-51

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1,987
Location
USA
Also to get to some of your questions:

The fruit is fresh but sliced open.

The yoghurt has a label so you can read what in it.

The Chicken and steak would be talk to the staff. Alot of food is heat and serve. So you may want to skip the chicken, but the steak should be cook to order.

If your a simple Celiac you be fine.. (No Epi-Pen right?). Bring some meals with you and a hot water heater, and you be a happy camper.

Last warning here in the US Gluten Free may not be 100% gluten free. There a debate on labels and what it should mean. So don't try something new (for a meal or snack) that you have not try before your train trip. This is a bigger problem for the big names, not the specialist brand, you will find them to be certified free of gluten. Most of the specialist brands are made by people with a big need for them to free of certain products. ( the type of people who carry Epi-Pens and train there four year old kids on how to call for Paramedics. )

Hope you have a great time.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,380
Location
Houston, Texas
Just midway through a trip to the East Coast via Texas Eagle and Capitol Limited. Based on that recent experience:

For breakfast, you may be able to order the oatmeal. The fruit served with it is fresh (half grapefruit on that last trip) and the yogurt is packaged so you can double check the label. Be sure to tell them no bread of any kind, and why. You could ask for a side of bacon but I would be careful about trying the sausage; never can tell what kind of filler could be mixed in with sausage.

Amtrak is now offering a Greek salad for lunch which looks like it might be suitable. Again, specify no bread and check the labels on the packaged (Newman's Own) salad dressing before you pour it on.

For dinner I would go with the steak. Tell them very clearly that you don't want the sauce (which is served on the side, so the steak won't be cooked in it) and why. For your starch choose either the baked potato or the rice; I wouldn't trust the (packaged) mashed potatoes. I didn't spot anything objectionable in the vegetable medley (carrots, red bell peppers, green beans).

Disclaimer: I don't have celiac disease or any medical training whatsoever.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

gswager

Conductor
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
2,871
Location
Portales, NM
It would be the best way to call Amtrak for special requests such as kosher, vegeterian, gluten-free, etc. You'll never know since they're in "fine print."
 

Ana

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
82
Also to get to some of your questions:

The fruit is fresh but sliced open.

The yoghurt has a label so you can read what in it.

The Chicken and steak would be talk to the staff. Alot of food is heat and serve. So you may want to skip the chicken, but the steak should be cook to order.

If your a simple Celiac you be fine.. (No Epi-Pen right?). Bring some meals with you and a hot water heater, and you be a happy camper.

Last warning here in the US Gluten Free may not be 100% gluten free. There a debate on labels and what it should mean. So don't try something new (for a meal or snack) that you have not try before your train trip. This is a bigger problem for the big names, not the specialist brand, you will find them to be certified free of gluten. Most of the specialist brands are made by people with a big need for them to free of certain products. ( the type of people who carry Epi-Pens and train there four year old kids on how to call for Paramedics. )

Hope you have a great time.
Thanks so much Just Thinking for the info, and for chasing me up. I got your PM and I hadn't checked the thread in a few days.

That's right, no epi pen needed, thankfully! Travelling with an anaphalactyic allergy would be scary.
 

Ana

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
82
Just midway through a trip to the East Coast via Texas Eagle and Capitol Limited. Based on that recent experience:

For breakfast, you may be able to order the oatmeal. The fruit served with it is fresh (half grapefruit on that last trip) and the yogurt is packaged so you can double check the label. Be sure to tell them no bread of any kind, and why. You could ask for a side of bacon but I would be careful about trying the sausage; never can tell what kind of filler could be mixed in with sausage.

Amtrak is now offering a Greek salad for lunch which looks like it might be suitable. Again, specify no bread and check the labels on the packaged (Newman's Own) salad dressing before you pour it on.

For dinner I would go with the steak. Tell them very clearly that you don't want the sauce (which is served on the side, so the steak won't be cooked in it) and why. For your starch choose either the baked potato or the rice; I wouldn't trust the (packaged) mashed potatoes. I didn't spot anything objectionable in the vegetable medley (carrots, red bell peppers, green beans).

Disclaimer: I don't have celiac disease or any medical training whatsoever.
Thanks ehbowen! You might not have medical training but you knew what sorts of things to look for, very helpful! :) Unfortunately oatmeal is a no no, most oats are grown in the same fields as wheat I believe. It's a shame, I miss it!

It would be the best way to call Amtrak for special requests such as kosher, vegeterian, gluten-free, etc. You'll never know since they're in "fine print."
Unfortunately they specifically say they don't offer gluten-free meals :-( I'll keep checking though, you never know, maybe in the future.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

fillyjonk

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
476
On my most recent trip (just yesterday) on the TE, I noted that one of the dessert options (a vanilla pudding) claims to be gluten-free and sugar-free.

Not that that helps the original poster much, as she (I'm assuming you're a she from your name?) would also need a gluten-free ENTREE. But maybe Amtrak is starting to realize that GF options are a good idea?
 

Ana

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
82
Thanks fillyjonk, good to know. That enhances my dessert options because the hagen daaz icecream is also gluten free :) Hopefully it is a sign of things to come though. (and yep, I'm a she :) )
 
G

gf chick

Guest
I just called Amtrak, they confirmed that they do not offer gluten free meals. The pudding is gf, and anything that is labeled gf can be assumed safe. A lot of the food is prepped off the train, so the operator suggested that I order what I can off the menu. I would say that is a gamble at best - since the meals may come packed into one box container and then served on a plate.
 

gmushial

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 21, 2013
Messages
852
Location
RDD
My wife was diagnosed with this condition five or six years ago. Then when we went to a restaurant and she asked about gluten-free food, they would stare at her - they had no idea what gluten was, what gluten-free food was, etc. Basically came down to asking what was in each item and from our combined knowledge of the ingredients could/would decide. But fortunately this has all changed over the years: now one can go to a restaurant and ask: quite often now menus will have GF symbols by appropriate items, or they will have a special gluten free menu. My impression is that something like 12% of the population is sensitive to the super-gluten wheat of the last couple decades ("modern" wheat has 4-6x the gluten that wheat had 50 years ago - basically to make it easier for machines to handle it... and as such, now affects significantly more people). Even though Amtrak doesn't have a GF menu (yet), like most of the rest of the world, I would expect them to follow in time. But bottom line, when we're on a road trip, we try to eat out (saves time), but when we can't find anything that she can eat, she dives into her emergency food kit - basically two days worth of food per week on the road (which we recharge at grocery stores along the way).
 

battalion51

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
7,193
Location
USA
Generally meal components are assembled on board from what I've seen. They may pair certain things together (for example a baked potato with the steak), but generally you can substitute things as necessary.
 

abcnews

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 12, 2007
Messages
786
Location
Ashland, VA
It's good to be wheat free anyway… I prefer glutton free foods whenever possible. For me - on Amtrak...

Breakfast - eggs & bacon, and a little fruit. plus coffee (all glutton free).

Lunch - I usually work a deal, and I order two salads - that's all, just two salads. You get one anyway, so since I am passing on an entree, I will get two salads. Then I may supplement with my own side dish of almonds. And I may order ice cream for desert. They also have a vegetarian dish too...

Dinner - the seafood option, which is usually a semi-decent fish. And it comes with a few vegetables, or the steak option and veggies.. Plus the salad and ice cream…

Maybe bring along some kettle corn - there are good brands that are rather healthy and they are a few glutton free brands. Bring about 2 bags for 4 days. It's light.

Almonds are excellent too. You could also bring a bag of fruit, grapes, perhaps a few apples and nuts. etc...
 
B

Bonnie Bell

Guest
*** NOTE THE PRIOR POSTS ARE FROM 2012 AND 2013 ***

We are Australians travelling with another couple next year and plan to travel from SF to LA by train. Unfortunately our friend is also coeliac and type 1 diabetic so we know how true it is when you say you can't have a crumb of gluten! You have confirmed for us that we will have to provide his food while travelling on the train as he cant' risk being sick and hospitalised overseas.
 
Last edited:

NW cannonball

Conductor
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
1,555
Location
Minnesota
Bring your own food for whoever needs specific needs.

Amtrak, like all other chain-food--places -- can't possibly gurantee some perfectly "SOMETHING-FREE" food.

Nor can any restaurant, nor grocery store, nor food you get yourself off the back 40 acres.

NOT POSSIBLE! DOES NOT COMPUTE!

If you, or someone you travel with, needs food without some component of usual food where you travel.

You are on your own. That's the fact.

No restaurant, no transit system,, no nobody -- will ever guaranty that all food they offer will be not offensive to some.

not saying there shouldn't be warnings for people with allergies.
 
Top