One customer, recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, told Executive Chef Mark Hubbard, Sr., that he was really going to miss the cheeseburger he ordered every day.

"When people first find out they have to avoid gluten, their first question is, 'Am I going to be able to eat anything?'" says Hubbard, who runs the kitchen at Highmark Senate Plaza, Camphill, PA.

Communication between gluten-free customers and culinary staff is "99 percent one-on-one and 1 percent comment cards," Hubbard says, and in those one-on-one conversations, customers can find out about some of the great options for those whose go-to lunch is a burger.

Hubbard created the Gluten-Free Chicken Burger for a recent healthy cooking demo at another B&I.

"I was tasked with preparing a healthy item, and the chicken burgers seemed like a good fit," he says. However, the original recipe called for Panko bread crumbs.

"So I thought, why not take out the bread crumbs, and then this can be a healthy item that everyone can have," Hubbard says.

The resulting burger (get the recipe here) has been a big hit with gluten-free and health-conscious customers alike. You can grind your own chicken or start with ground chicken and combine with mushrooms, basil, cilantro, red pepper, sweet onion and egg that's been blended.

There are no breadcrumbs in sight (the mushroom acts as a binder), and Hubbard serves the burger either on a gluten-free bun or on a big leaf of roasted Romaine lettuce. The burger can be spread with a garlicky hummus instead of mayo. Gluten-free, healthy and flavorful, too!

Some other gluten-free options on the Highmark Senate Plaza cafe menu include:

  • Chicken Marsala (with no breading and served with brown rice)
  • Soups that don't start with a traditional roux
  • Soups without noodles (using brown rice instead)
  • Crepes (both savory and sweet)
  • Salads with grains and lean proteins
  • Fruit salads (seasonal)