Finding nice restaurants and grocery stores to shop at that have a good selection of gluten-free options is a lot harder than it should be, and they don’t always clearly advertise potential allergens. If you’ve seen the locations in universities, colleges, and airports around the country then you might be wondering: what’s gluten-free at Freshens?
Freshens officially states that all of their smoothies are gluten-friendly, but not gluten-free, because products containing wheat are made in their kitchens. They serve some rice bowls that also should not contain gluten, but they are not classified as definitively gluten-friendly at every location.
Read ahead to find out exactly what options you might have at Freshens, which menu items you might need to ask about, and what you should avoid.
Does Freshens Have Gluten-Free Options?
If you take a look at the menu in a Freshens location or check the website, you might notice that they don’t actually label any of their food items as being “gluten-free”. Although this might seem a little strange, it doesn’t mean that there are no safe options.
Instead of having gluten-free food and drinks, Freshens serves some items that are “gluten-friendly”, but what does this mean?
The Difference Between Gluten-Free and Gluten-Friendly
The definition of what qualifies as gluten-free is quite specific and has been regulated by the FDA since 2014. The guidelines state that the food has to:
- Be inherently free from any gluten-containing grains.
- Contain no substances made from gluten-containing grains that have had the gluten removed through processing (like wheat starch).
- Have fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten if prepared in a facility that also contains gluten.
It’s that last bullet point that’s the key here. Any restaurant that makes food with gluten could potentially have some level of cross-contamination that might cause supposedly “gluten-free” items to contain a few too many gluten particles. This would open them up to lawsuits if they were discovered to be falsely claiming the item to be officially gluten-free.
That’s where “gluten-friendly” comes in. This is a special designation used by many restaurants that specialize in foods containing gluten – like the sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads at Freshens. They cannot completely ensure that all of their food is 100% free from gluten because they use wheat in their kitchens, but the items themselves do not have any gluten in the recipe.
Are Freshens Smoothies Gluten-Free?
One of the most popular menu items at Freshens is their smoothies, which they are probably best known for. The question is: are these smoothies gluten-free?
While they are not officially “gluten-free” due to the minor possibility of cross-contamination, all of the smoothies at Freshens are made without any gluten-containing ingredients, and are classified as “gluten-friendly”.
A large number of their smoothies are also dairy free or even vegan, which gives a lot of options for those that are looking to avoid allergens. It is worth noting, though, that some toppings may contain gluten, like oats.
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Are Any Other Items At Freshens Gluten-Friendly?
If you’re looking for more than just a smoothie from Freshens, then your options are a little bit more limited, unfortunately. Most of their menu is made up of various flatbreads, wraps, and melts, which all contain wheat. Even their salads technically contain wheat products.
While none of the options on the menu are officially designated as “gluten-friendly” at every location, they do serve a number of rice bowls that do not contain any wheat products. It depends on the exact preparation method and ingredients used at that location, so you will need to check with the staff to make sure.
The rice bowls that should not contain wheat include:
- Baja Queso
- Power Protein
As always, you should be particularly cautious if you have an allergy of any kind. While these dishes might not be designed to contain gluten, cross-contamination is possible due to the nature of the restaurant, and recipes do change over time.
There is also an option to order just the Tomato Soup Dipper which comes with their artisan melts, as this should not be made with any wheat products.
What Items At Freshens Contain Gluten?
The vast majority of the foodstuffs that Freshens serves do contain gluten and are pretty wheat-based.
The food to avoid includes:
- All Salads
- All Grilled Flatbreads
- All Toasted Wraps
- All Artisan Melts
- The KC BBQ Rice Bowl and Spice Korean BBQ Rice Bowl
It may be possible for some of these items to be made gluten-friendly by removing certain ingredients, but it will depend on the specific location whether or not they will do so.
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Summary: What’s Gluten-Free At Freshens?
So, what’s gluten-free at Freshens? Technically, they do not make any officially “gluten-free” menu items because the restaurant serves foods that contain gluten and they cannot guarantee there will be no cross-contamination.
With that being said, all of their smoothies are made without any gluten ingredients and are gluten-friendly, and a few of their rice bowls are also made without wheat. If you’re ordering anything outside of the smoothies, it is worth asking to see whether the ingredients can be changed.