In Southern New England, dependable options for gluten free restaurants and bakeries increase each year. Providence, RI has a number of great options, and we were lucky enough to sit down for a conversation with up and coming gluten free social media rock star Samantha Levine about a few.
Samantha was diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago and runs the Instagram and Facebook pages for Gluten Free Reality, which are all about where folks can feel safe while enjoying some great food around the Providence region and beyond. Here are some highlights of our conversation:
Where can people find you on social media to check out what you're up to?
Q. How many followers do you have so far?
A. In just 15 months, I am proud to say that my Instagram page has over 4,400 followers and is growing faster than ever! My Facebook page for Gluten-Free Reality was only started in the last few months and that currently has 373 followers.
Q. What inspired you to begin posting about gluten free options?
A. I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2013 and since then I have discovered many awesome businesses that provide delicious, safe gluten free options. In 2017, I decided that I wanted to share my local finds with others in the community who might find it helpful. There were so many food-focused Instagram accounts sharing delicious looking food photos, but the majority of the time they would post things that aren't safe for me to eat. That's when it hit me, I could make my own Instagram page where I share food photos that are strictly gluten free.
I started off as Gluten-Free PVD at the beginning when I focused just on Providence restaurants, but about 9 months later I re-branded to Gluten-Free Reality so I could expand my reach even beyond just Rhode Island. In addition to posting about just restaurants, I also share some of my favorite products, recipes, and more! I never imagined that my page would grow to where it is today, and it means everything to me knowing that I am able to help out other celiacs on such a large scale.
Q. You're based in Providence and have posted about restaurants and bakeries all over the area. What are the furthest locations you've posted about so far?
A. Last year I travelled to Los Angeles, CA and discovered so many great options while I was there. You can check out my GF finds from LA on my website under the travel tab!
I haven't done any international travel since my Celiac diagnosis, but I am hoping to change that very soon! I am dying to travel to Italy, Greece, Barcelona, and London!
Q. Of all the places you've posted about so far, which have surprised you the most and why?
A. Oh wow, there are so many it's hard to pick! I will go with my most recent pleasant surprise, which was a tiny little Italian deli in Natick, MA called Lola's Italian Groceria. It is rare to find celiac-safe Italian food, so I was in awe at how many options there were when I walked in. Almost all of the subs at Lola's can be made on a gluten free roll. They take all of the necessary precautions in the kitchen to make sure everything is prepared safely. To the side of the deli counter, they have an gigantic freezer of pre-made gluten free dinners ranging from chicken parmesan, to meatballs, to lasagna and more! They also have a whole pantry area with gluten free breads, pastas and gnocchi for purchase. For me, highlight was being able to eat a delicious, made to order GF chocolate chip cannoli! This hidden gem is a must-try for anyone in the Massachusetts area.
Q. What specifically would you like to see more of at area restaurants and bakeries?
A. One of the things that comes to mind first is more places with designated gluten free toasters and fryers! I have noticed more and more places starting to have them, but it is still very rare and it is always reassuring and exciting when they do!
Q. Anything else fun you'd like to share with us?A. I am always looking for recommendations of new places to try and companies to collaborate with. Please feel free to reach out to me or send me a direct message on my Facebook or Instagram page!
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