So my wife has decided to go on a gluten-free diet, and naturally my first thought was that we must find some apps to help in the process. I should mention that I’m not going gluten free, but a happy wife is a happy life. Since I’m the one who does the grocery shopping and cooking, these apps are really to help me—just don’t tell her that.
I tested four apps, all possessing great potential as well as varying degrees of success.
iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free
Developer: AllergyFree Passport
Runs on: iPhone
Eating out can be a drag when you have dietary restrictions. This app, iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free is not just a mouthful, but a really helpful app when viewing the menus of 26 restaurant franchises (from Pei Wei and Pizza Hut to Chipotle and Subway). Simply select any of the nine allergens you’d like to avoid in your diet (fish, peanuts, soy, gluten, etc.) and the menus will mark the safe items and the dangerous ones. There’s also a preference that allows you to only show items that fit into your dietary restrictions.
The app is very useful and easy to use, but I would like to see a broader selection of restaurants and a little more polish in the design. Saying that, not only will this app stay on my phone, I’ll also be looking at the other gluten-free apps from this developer.
Toque Rating: 4/5
So Simple Gluten Free Recipes
Developer: Jennifer Cafferty
Runs on: iPhone
Jennifer Cafferty, founder of the Gluten Free Cooking Expo and blogger at gfreelife.com has put her gluten free recipe knowledge into an app. The So Simple Gluten Free Recipes is a straightforward recipe app that is broken down into six recipe categories, including one for Quinoa and another for Soups and Sauces. Click on the category, select the recipe and follow the ingredient list and instructions. Each recipe has an image and thumbnail when scrolling through the category page. On the category page you can also use the search function. In an odd twist the search function only searches within the category you’re in and not the entire app. So for example if you want a “chicken” recipe the results you get in the Salads category will differ than when you search in the Entrée category. This is a useful and passable recipe guide, but doesn’t provide anything special that you might find in other pay recipe guides, such as grocery lists, e-mailing options, videos or more.
Toque Rating: 3/5
Developer: On The Go Mobile Tech
Runs on: iPhone
Reading through a laundry list of ingredients on a package can be daunting. Food Tester simplifies the process and makes it as simple as scanning the barcode and reading a red or green light to see if the food you’re about to consume is safe to eat. Like the iCanEat app, you can set any number of dietary restrictions, except this app allows you to separate ingredients within a dietary restriction. For example, you can keep barley on your safe list, but block couscous when scanning for a gluten allergy. I tested this app with a newer and older iPhone. The newer iPhone with auto focus worked really well when scanning, but I couldn’t get the older version to focus and work. If you have a newer iPhone this app is really cool, but a little slow in processing the scanned results, older phones should be skipped.
With all that said, I scanned a can of chicken noodle soup that contained wheat flour and it gave me the green light—meaning this app might be worthless. Without trust, I’m not sure how useful this app would be for someone who simply can’t have any gluten in their diet. Therefore, I can’t rate this app high because the inaccuracy of the information trumps the functionality.
Toque Rating: 2/5
Gluten Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com
Developer: Doron Kramarczyk
Runs on: iPhone
Trying to convey dietary restrictions while traveling to other countries can be a difficult proposition. For some, just communicating that you want ice or red wine can be difficult. This app from CeliacTravel.com provides Celiac Disease information cards in 44 different languages. The cards explain what you’re allergic to, the severity of the disease, as well as some alternatives that you can eat, such as rice, vegetables and so on. This free app doesn’t do much else and therefore has very limited use.
Even though it’s free I would like to see a little better design and clarity; there seems to be no style guide for font styles used in the app. An app like this might also benefit by offering an audio reading of the card. If you’re taking a trip outside the country where English isn’t spoken this app will be handy, otherwise save the space.
Toque Rating: 2.5/5
Exciting Announcement! Toque is launching the first ever Toque 2011 Food App Awards. If you are a developer, restaurant, chef or business owner with an app be sure to enter—it’s free. Click here to find out more.