Gluten-Free in Puebla Mexico

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I recently travelled to Puebla Mexico for a wedding. Eating gluten-free is not easy in this area of Mexico if you do not speak Spanish. Even with my Spanish Gluten-Free card it was a challenge. I learned how to explain that I have celiac disease in Spanish but my pronunciation was terrible. In general I stuck with dishes I knew were made with corn tortillas and took a chance. I love to travel and choose to eat out and take my chances while I am discovering a new place. I am always as careful as I can be without stressing out too much about what I can’t control. It happened twice that I was brought dishes visibly containing wheat even after having the waiter read my spanish gluten-free card and specifying I needed to have my tacos on corn tortillas. One time I had them take it back and bring me something completely different on the menu (I was nervous they were going to remove the taco filling from the flour tortilla and place it on a corn tortilla). The second time, at a different restaurant, my boyfriend switched dishes with me as his dish was gluten-free. I made sure to bring snacks from home and picked up yogurt and extra snacks at the local store so I had something to eat in between meals.

All that to say travelling with celiac disease is hard, even when you speak the language. My tip is focus on all the amazing things you are experiencing and less on the annoyances of eating, like the amazing wedding we attended in nearby Atlixco. I did get a bit poisoned while we travelled but pushed through it like I always do. Having a travel partner who is understanding and supportive makes the process a whole lot better. I have been lucky to travel with some amazing GFBFFs over the last few years!

Here are the top 4 places we ate while we were in Puebla.

El Mural de los Poblanos

Chalupas!

Chalupas!

This restaurant was delicious and the waiter really took the time to explain what could be made gluten-free despite there being a little bit of a language barrier. We really enjoyed our lunch here. This restaurant is on the more expensive side and I have mixed feelings about recommending it. We went for lunch and had a great experience but went back a few days later for dinner and were treated very poorly. This is an issue with the hostesses only I believe and could have been avoided if we had made a reservation.

Casareyna

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I loved this restaurant! Everything was delicious and it is incredibly beautiful. I think this was our nicest meal while we were away. The only problem was our waiter didn’t understand gluten-free and I had to really double check everything I was eating (which was basically the case everywhere we went).

La Mexicana

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

We went here for breakfast as it was right near our hotel. I had huevos rancheros which is what I had almost everyday for breakfast as it seemed to be safe and is delicious. The atmosphere is really nice and you can eat your breakfast outside.

Azotea Rooftop Bar

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This was a great spot for a drink overlooking the central square. It was a little expensive but a nice treat and they were able to make me a fresh salad with a few ingredients removed to make it gluten-free.

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My favourite gluten-free breakfast

MY FAVOURITE GLUTEN-FREE BREAKFAST

We all have a go to meal or recipe and mine is poached eggs. I love to add them to any meal and they are a great option since they are easy and are a great vegetarian option since I rarely eat meat. As much as I love poached eggs, I really love a lazy weekend breakfast in bed or on the couch with lots of coffee and good company. One of my absolute favourite breakfasts is a gluten-free english muffin with smoked salmon topped with a poached egg. It is super easy and amazingly delicious.

This isn’t really a recipe as it is the simplest thing. All you need is some type of toast or english muffin, eggs and smoked salmon. Just toast a Glutino english muffin while poaching an egg (how to poach an egg).  Once toasted butter the english muffin, top it with smoked salmon and the egg and sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper (or in my case a lot of pepper). Optional: add some green onions and or avocado to the mix. Try it and tell me what you think!

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MY FAVOURITE GLUTEN-FREE BREAKFAST

MY FAVOURITE GLUTEN-FREE BREAKFAST

Gluten-Free in New York City

Gluten-Free Sushi

Gluten-Free Sushi

I get very very excited about gluten-free eating in NYC. Little makes me happier than a delicious and safe gluten-free meal and NYC has sooooo many options. As usual I ate way too much and had a bit of an italian food binge. And it’s always even better when my travel partner, this time my boyfriend, is game to run around finding the perfect gluten-free meal. It was lovely. A gluten-free dream really.

I didn’t take pics of all my meals as I wanted to enjoy some romantic meals with my guy without a cell phone on the table but I have made a quick list of some of the places I loved below.

Gato

Delicious Brussel Sprouts with pomegranate

Delicious Brussels Sprouts with pomegranate

Bobby Flay’s new restaurant was good but the sides were actually the best part for us. There are lots of gluten-free options on menu. They aren’t marked but our waiter was very helpful.

http://gatonyc.com/

Freidman’s Lunch (Chelsea Market)

BELT- Bacon Egg Lettuce and Tomato

BELT- Bacon Egg Lettuce and Tomato

For brunch we went all out and ate way too much. I would highly recommend this place if you are craving a gluten-free sandwich or something bread based. Almost the entire menu can be made gluten-free. It was expensive for brunch but we had cocktails and sides. Located in the charming Chelsea market it’s a great way to spend a Sunday. We ate to our hearts content and then walked the High Line which is a block away.

http://www.friedmanslunch.com/

Cocktails with brunch

Cocktails with brunch

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

The High Line

The High Line

Felidia

Lunch at Felidia was the best lunch I have had since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. For $32.50 you get a 3 course lunch including a starter, entrée and dessert.  I had fresh made pear ravioli, salmon and split a apple and berry tart and tiramisu for dessert. ALL GLUTEN-FREE! The ravioli was life changing! I will definitely be going back next time I am in New York. The lunch option makes it so that you can experience this amazing restaurant at a price that won’t completely break the bank.

http://www.felidia-nyc.com/

Bistango

Gluten-Free Calamari

Gluten-Free Calamari

The stuffed pasta and calamari were delicious. I was incredibly excited as this was the first time I had had either in about 10 years. There is something very exciting about being able to order pretty much anything on an italian menu. I definitely had an “is this real life?” moment and there is little I love more than a good “is this real life?” moment.

http://www.bistangonyc.com/

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Galli

If you are shopping in Soho and looking for a solid lunch or dinner option Galli is great. I had a kale salad and gluten-free pasta carbonara. Almost everything on the menu can be made gluten-free. My boyfriend loved the polpette. From a gluten-free perspective I slightly preferred Bistango but my boyfriend liked this restaurant a little more.

http://www.gallirestaurant.com/

Babycakes

I always need to stop by Babycakes for vegan/gluten-free donuts, my favourite gluten-free NYC breakfast.

http://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/new-york-city/

Lili’s 57

Gluten-Free Sushi

Gluten-Free Sushi

I had eaten here years ago and loved the fact that they have a huge gluten-free menu. It wasn’t far from our hotel so one night we picked up some sushi as a snack before our late dinner reservation. We also went for lunch one afternoon and had some delicious sushi and shrimp tempura.

http://www.lilis57.com/

Gluten-Free General Tso's Chicken

Gluten-Free General Tso’s Chicken

My favourite “healthier” gluten-free snacks of the moment

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I am always trying to eat healthier and spend less money on food. These two goals often conflict and I vary in my level of success on both fronts. You could say I have really good and really bad weeks. I try to always keep my desk and mini fridge at work stocked with snacks that are on the healthier side. Bottom-line is that stocking up on healthier gluten-free snacks helps keep you from eating unhealthy alternatives (chips and chocolate for me) and from being tempted by potentially unsafe meal options that could contain gluten. There are not many 100% safe gluten-free options near my work and the safe ones are on the more expense side. Packing a lunch and having healthy snacks on hand make gluten-free life so much easier.

Snacks to stack up on:

  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews and pecans(always make sure they are gluten-free and stay away from seasonings if they don’t specify they are gluten-free)
  • Yogurt (I prefer plain greek yogurt and I add things like granola, honey, peanut butter, maple syrup and fruit)
  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Nut butters
  • Gluten-free granola
  • Gluten-free energy bars (perfect for a pre-workout snack)
  • Fruits (my favourite to keep at work are green apples)
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Cheese
  • Lots of tea

A few of my current go-to’s (I took the pics in my office):

Rise Kombucha

I love Rise Kombucha, particularly the green one, which is mint and chlorophyl. It is refreshing but definitely does not fit in the budget category at all at around $4 a bottle and $9 for a larger bottle. I love the taste, it’s refreshing and I find it is good for calming an upset stomach after a getting gluten poisoned.

http://www.risekombucha.com/en/faq/

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Luna Bars

Luna bars are now gluten-free and are a great snack to keep in your purse/bag or desk for when you are starving. Half a bar is great for a pre-workout snack. I love the Nutz Over Chocolate flavour.

http://www.lunabar.com/

Bakery on Main Granola

I like to buy this granola when it’s on sale and keep it in my desk. My favourite is the Nutty Cranberry Maple. It goes great with yogurt and is also good on its own.

http://bakeryonmain.com/

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What are some of your favourite gluten-free snacks?

Happy New Year!

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Wishing everyone a happy, safe and gluten-free New Year! May 2015 be healthy and happy for you and your loved ones and filled with yummy gluten-free meals that feed the soul.

My friend Nat did a great piece on celiac disease on CTV News this past week that talks about the difficulties of eating out in Montreal for those of us with celiac disease. I am also interviewed at the beginning (that’s me making gluten-free toast!). This piece is great because it features two great places to eat gluten-free without worries in Montreal: Louise Sans Gluten, a great dedicated gluten-free bakery/store in Dorval and Ottavio’s, a delicious BYOB italian restaurant that serves gluten-free certified pizza and pasta.

http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/celiac-disease-makes-gluten-free-a-necessity-not-a-trend-1.2164363

And if you got gluten poisoned during the holidays you need this post from Gluten is my Bitch. I always feel like someone else finally gets it when I read her posts about getting poisoned. I too can’t resist a social occasion and sometimes end up at home with severe stomach problems and crying to my family and friends and promising to never eat out again…until the next birthday or oh so important group dinner…

https://glutenismybitch.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/crappy-holidays/#more-7846

To all those new to the gluten-free world: You can do it!

Happy and healthy in the kitchen

Happy and healthy in the kitchen

Taking on a strict gluten-free diet can be scary and this fear can keep us from our ultimate health. For the first few years of my diagnosis while I was in my early 20s I was overwhelmed by the idea of being 100% gluten-free. It was too hard. Too time consuming. Too confusing. Too isolating. Too restricting. Too much missing out on good stuff! It wasn’t until I continued to be sick and learn more that I realized enough was enough. My illness was real, I was slowly seriously damaging my body and I needed to take care of my self because no one else would.

Talking to a friend of a friend today and motivating her to take the steps to start a gluten-free diet to treat her health problems and get tested for celiac disease reminded me of all those fears from years ago. Fear is normal but focusing on your health and little steps will get you through it.

My tips on how to start a gluten-free diet  and deal with the fear of the unknown (for those who need to be strict in their diet and exposure to gluten):

  1. Read and learn as much as you can. Many doctors and even gastroenterologists don’t know a lot about celiac disease or the effects of gluten on inflammation and auto immune diseases. It was through my own research I learned that my terrible canker sores were a sign of celiac disease. There are lots of website about celiac disease and healthy eating. A few of my faves are Gluten Is my Bitch, My New Roots and Oh She Glows. I have also found my local library has a lot of gluten-free cookbooks. Before buying I like to check them out to make sure they are worth the purchase. I love this cookbook “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow because it’s a “secret” gluten-free cookbook filled with healthy and pretty simple recipes that happen to be gluten-free. It features lots of clean recipes and ideas for flavourful and good for you food.
  2. You will make mistakes and it’s ok. One thing that was hard for my mom and I who are perfectionists: not realizing the hidden sources of gluten. We often felt defeated but it’s a learning process. Don’t feel bad about making mistakes just learn from them and keep moving towards a gluten-free life! My friend tried to make me a gluten-free feast this past weekend and then realized the cooking spray he used had flour in it!?!? He felt so bad but it happens and that’s how you learn what to avoid. We just whipped up something else for me to eat and it was no biggie at all!
  3. Take this as an opportunity to make positive changes.  A gluten-free diet done right is healthier and I now follow a much much healthier diet than I did when I was a 20 year old student living off of bagels and diet cokes.  The limited choices available for eating out of the house has forced me to learn how prepare meals and be organized about packing lunches and snacks.
  4. RELAX. Let’s not forget about stress and how it can worsen digestive symptoms and your overall health. Exercising, meditating, journaling  etc. are good ways to reduce stress. When I have been gluten poisoned but not in my I can hardly get out of bed stage, I find a light run sometimes helps my symptoms and helps lessen the pain. Stressing about gluten only complicates things for your digestive system.
  5. If you don’t know how to cook it is never too late to slowly learn the basics. If you don’t already cook start with learning how to make an easy salad dressing, stir fry, omelette, soup and pasta dish. You don’t need to become an amazing cook but being healthy and gluten-free is a lot easier if you can make a few things at home in your safe kitchen and pack some lunches for work. And speaking about safe kitchens I am currently lucky to live alone but if you share yours with someone who eats a lot of bread they need to slowly learn how to keep the kitchen gluten-free friendly for you. Also- don’t go kissing people who have just eaten a huge sandwich or chugged a pint! Sounds ridiculous but if your aren’t using the same toaster as one that has had bread in it you shouldn’t be kissing someone who just ate a bunch of it.
  6. Focus on the foods you love that are already gluten-free. Mine are: potatoes, rice, seafood, goat cheese, eggs, greens, chocolate and wine. Focus on all the good stuff and things you can make to replace the stuff you are missing. Nachos, home made french fries, most meat dishes have always been gluten-free. This is helpful when eating out, which is where most of my panic still comes from. I try to avoid eating at restaurants that have no clue what gluten-free is or think it’s in normal rice and potatoes. My friends have gotten great at accommodating my diet and those few times I have to go somewhere I am not sure about, for example for a birthday, I will call in advance, check the menu and talk to the manager and if I’m still not sure I will just have a glass of wine. You aren’t being picky you are making sure you are not made seriously ill for the next few days/weeks.
  7. Tell the haters to shut-up, in a nice way. There will still be a few people that don’t get it and will tell you to just eat bread or it’s all in your head and just ignore them. People who love you will slowly learn with you and help you out with your new lifestyle. My friends pick me up new products and love trying new gluten-free recipes but this didn’t happen over night. The important people in your life will learn not to double dip in the shared containers. Peanut butter, butter, jam, mayo, cheese etc. And you will learn to always serve yourself first at a group meal before bread gets into and all over everything. When I go away for the weekend with friends and or people I don’t live with I will write my name in bold marker on the top of containers I want to keep gluten-free and tell everyone that they can use them but cannot double dip any utensils that have been used on or near bread products.
  8. Now is the best time ever to be gluten-free! There has never been more certified gluten-free products. They are almost everywhere. Always read your labels and when you are uncertain check online and or call the company.

Yes it can be overwhelming to drastically change your diet but feeling healthy feeds so good. More specifically not feeling like I was being slowly poisoned to death was the biggest push to continue following a strict diet. Not spending my life lying in a ball, running to the bathroom or staying home having a date with the washroom is to this day the reason I will never ever ever eat gluten again on purpose!

You can do it! Good luck and feel free to send me questions!

🙂

Gluten-free in Italy: Cinque Terre Region & Liguria

Pizza at Netuno in Rapallo

Pizza at Netuno in Rapallo

Sailing for almost two weeks in Italy with my best friend and her friend sounded too good to be true but I was worried about my diet. Thankfully Italy in general is accommodating to gluten-free diets and my travel partners were amazing in adapting to my diet on the boat and were happy to share gluten-free meals with me at restaurants. As I mentioned in my previous post about Rome, I tried my best to be prepared which included stocking the boat with gluten-free crackers, breadsticks, cookies and pasta. Most of the products in Italy are individually wrapped in portions which was great for eating on the boat. We ate breakfast, lunch and a few dinners on the boat. Pesto pasta was our go to dinner and to simplify things in our mini kitchen we would make gluten-free pasta for everyone or make mine first. My friends were careful and I just had to explain how I couldn’t use the same utensils as were used on bread etc. Gluten-free is difficult in any kitchen, never mind a mini-mini one but keeping things simple made it easier. Luckily my travel partners were up to the task of being amazing GFBFFs and made it a lot easier for me, they even scouted out gluten-free products and found me gluten-free gelato in random places.

As we were moving from port to port each day and had limited access to the internet I wasn’t able to research gluten-free friendly restaurants in advance but found great places to eat in most of the towns we were in. I always say it’s important to try and be easy going and positive when traveling gluten-free. It’s a challenge but with a positive attitude it’s a lot easier to navigate a gluten-filled world.

Overall, Italy was amazing as always and being able to eat and have people understand celiac disease everywhere I went made for a great travel experience.

Delicious pesto pasta made by my GFBFF Andrea

Delicious pesto pasta made by my GFBFF Andrea

Lots of products like this prosciutto were labeled gluten-free

Lots of products like this prosciutto were labeled gluten-free

Even the yogurt was labeled gluten-free

Even the yogurt was labeled gluten-free

Nettuno, Rapallo

We ate at Nettuno twice as the food was great, it was full of locals and they had great gluten-free options including all the pizzas on the menu and most of the pastas. The pizza is made on its own tray to keep it celiac friendly. Both my pizzas were amazing and my travel partners had great meals as well. I couldn’t contain my excitement when we decided to dock here a second night. We got margherita pizzas to go to eat on the boat the next day as it’s an easy meal while sailing.

Pizza at Nettuno

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The non-gluten-free 1 meter pizza for my friends

The non-gluten-free 1 meter pizza for my friends

Margherita Pizza on the boat the next day

Margherita Pizza on the boat the next day

La Prua, Lavagna

La Prua didn’t have a million options but I had a great seafood risotto and there were a few other options as well.

http://www.paginegialle.it/lavagna-ge/bar/prua

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Portofino

The restaurant we chose on the Main street on the water had gluten free penne. It’s good to ask if they have gluten-free pasta when you are walking around looking for a place to eat.

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Manarola (Cinque Terre)

In this small town there were two places I saw that had gluten-free faranita. Il Discovolo had an entire gluten-free section and a lot of gluten-free products for purchase. The owner was super helpful and stepped out to explain what what was gluten-free in store and explain how things were kept separate. My friend was super excited by the “gluten-free limit zone” in the display case. I ordered a delicious panini with tomatoes and mozzarella. Riomaggiore also had gluten-free farinita.

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Delicious Farinita

Delicious Farinita

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Happy waiting for the train with my gluten-free panini from Il Discovolo

Happy waiting for the train with my gluten-free panini from Il Discovolo