Gluten-free in Italy: Rome

Italy Gluten-Free

Travelling gluten-free is always a challenge but it’s a challenge I will always happily accept. Celiac disease will never keep me at home and particularly will never keep me from Italy! The last time I visited Italy for a month I was 19 and hadn’t yet been diagnosed as celiac but I sure was. On our backpacker budget of $40 a day (including travel) my friends and I were eating bread, nutella, pastries, pizza, paninis and more bread. To say I had stomach problems would be an understatement but at the time it was normal to always have stomach problems. Now more than ten years later I was curious to see what Italy had to offer in the gluten-free department. I was looking forward to eating in Italy as I had heard that they were very accommodating to gluten-free diets. My consensus after two weeks visiting Rome and some of the coast north of Rome is it’s a pretty good place to travel gluten-free if you have normal expectations and are easy going about it. Not once did someone not know what senza glutine was. Everyone I spoke to understood what it meant, which doesn’t always happen in Montreal. As usual, airports and small cafés do not have good options but most restaurants were able to at least make me salad and fish, while most had risotto or gf pasta and quite a few places had pizza that was safe for celiacs. In Italy they understand that for celiacs eating gluten-free is not just a diet but a treatment for a disease.

Packing lots of snacks for any trip is always very important when travelling gluten-free. For the flight I brought a sandwich and snacks and for the trip things like gluten-free granola to add to my yogurt for breakfast, nuts and Larabars were key. Once I was in Rome I picked up some gluten-free products at the grocery store in the Termini station. Before I left I researched restaurants and saved maps detailing how to get there them from my hotel on my phone. In less than 48 hours in Rome I had two pizzas, pasta and two servings of gluten-free gelato.

Fatamorgana

I highly recommend Fatamorgana in Rome. Not all gelato is gluten-free and it can also get contaminated from cones. At Fatamorgana all the gelato and the cones are %100 gluten-free. I went to two different locations and all the flavours I tried were amazing. I recommend mapping them out so you can find one in whatever area you are in. I wish I could eat it everyday!

http://www.gelateriafatamorgana.com/web/

Gluten-Free Ice Cream from Fatamorgana in Roma

Fatamorgana

Gluten-Free Ice Cream from Fatamorgana in Roma

La Scaletta

The pizza here was delicious. It’s in a super touristy area but it’s a great place to grab a glass of wine and gluten-free pizza if you are near the pantheon. I was very happy to have my margherita pizza and a glass of wine after a long day traveling.

http://www.lascalettaroma.it/

La Scaletta GF Pizza

La Pilotta

This restaurant near the Vatican is also a little touristy but they can make almost the whole menu gluten-free. It’s a great spot to stop for a quick lunch if you are in the area. The margherita pizza was delicious with a great crust!

https://plus.google.com/107935115050249984501/about?gl=ca&hl=en

Pizza at La Pilotta

Mama Eat!

This restaurant was highly recommended online for gluten free-dining. It is in the Travestere area and I think there must be better options around. Based on the good reviews I tried it but the food was so so. They have a gluten-free menu which is what I think draws people to the restaurant but my salad was the worst I had in Italy and my spaghetti carbonara was not great. I make a much better one at home!

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Where to buy products:

Pharmacies and grocery stores usually had some gluten-free products for sale. If you are moving around like I was I recommend stocking up on some pasta and snacks as it is hard to know what will be available. The tiny grocery in a little port town had a gluten-free section while a much larger store in a bigger town did not.

Tips:

  • Research and map out restaurants that are recommended by other gluten-free travellers. I saved photos of maps to different restaurants on my phone and also mapped restaurants that were recommended on a paper map. The streets in Rome aren’t on a grid so it’s a good idea to map out the places you want to eat if you aren’t using GPS.
  • Print a celiac card in Italian: http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/italian/
  • Pack snacks.

Part 2 of my trip coming soon!

Lots of gluten-free products!

Lots of gluten-free products!

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Living with Celiac Disease Part 1


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I thought I would post this radio/print piece from last year about the challenges of gluten-free dining. My good friend Morgan interviewed me for the article and it’s a reminder of difficult it can be to eat out of the house.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/gluten-free-trend-risky-for-those-with-celiac-disease-1.2159426

Gluten-Free in Montreal: Baked to Go

Baked to Go Gluten-Free Croissant

I am no longer buying frozen gluten-free bread. Baked to Go is a 100% gluten-free bakery a few minutes from my house on St Laurent above Rachel. To say it’s amazing to have a gluten-free bakery around the corner is an understatement. It’s even more amazing that all their  rolls, bagels, croissants and breads are soft and delicious. The products are fresh enough to eat as is but they also taste great toasted or from the freezer. I much prefer to freeze their bread than buy overpriced freezer burnt bread at the health food store. To add to all this goodness, their products are also affordable considering they are gluten-free.

I personally prefer their bread products. The sweets I tried were good but I can make cookies and brownies at home. It’s bread that I am too lazy to attempt. Their bagels are the best gluten-free made in Montreal bagels I have tried. They were fresh enough that I was able to eat them untoasted two days after buying them, which anyone who is gluten-free would know is a gluten-free miracle. Their croissants are obviously not exactly like the real deal but are pretty close and very delicious. Their fresh rolls (hamburger buns) were amazing with a little butter. I haven’t had a roll that soft and normal since I first went gluten-free over 10 years ago.

I definitely recommend a visit if you are in the downtown area or you can order some of their products online.

http://baked2go.ca

4255 Boul. Saint Laurent
Montreal, Quebec
H2W 1Z4, Canada
Tél: 514-844-3232
info@baked2go.com

Baked to Go

Baked to Go Bagels

I have been poisoned! How to cope after a glutening

Egg Drop Soup and movies in bed is a pretty good cure!

Egg Drop Soup and movies in bed is a pretty good cure!

It sounds dramatic but it’s my term “I have been poisoned”. I even say it at work when someone asks why I haven’t been in the office for a few days. While at first people don’t get it, those who matter know what it means. It means I am exhausted, have been feeling terrible and all around I am not having a good time. A bad gluten-poisoning can have me in bed for a few days and not feeling right for up to 2 weeks.

Post gluten-poisoning it is easy to see the whole world as a gluten-filled nightmare full of wheat and cross contamination. Getting sick definitely reminds me to be careful but it sometimes happens when you are careful and that’s just a reality.

My simple non-scientific tips to making a gluten poisoning better:

  1. Don’t stress. I used to panic and get so upset that it definitely lengthened my symptoms. Severe stress about the pain and missing work etc. will just make the symptoms worse. Try your best to rest and not think the worst. Since I have worked on not catastrophizing when I’m feeling sick from gluten my symptoms have been easier to control and do not last as long. Even though it can be terrible it is not the end of the world. You will feel better soon!
  2. Everyone has different trigger foods; gluten-free foods that you are sensitive to and that you should avoid when you are feeling glutened. Mine are dairy, alcohol and heavy foods. So figure out your triggers and try to eat smaller amounts of easy to digest food until you feel better. I also take gluten-free and dairy free probiotics.
  3. While it may be hard to eat make sure you get enough liquids and water.
  4. Sleep as much as you can.

This egg drop soup is my favorite recipe to make when I’m sick with gluten-poisoning or a cold. This recipe for simple and easy egg drop soup from Gimme Some Oven is perfect. This soup is super simple and easy enough to make when I’m feeling weak. All you need is some gluten-free broth, eggs, gluten-free cornstarch and green onions for a basic soup.

This soup is super easy to make and easy on the tummy.

This soup is super easy to make and easy on the tummy.

Gluten-Free Passover Dinner

Toasting friends and a great gluten-free seder.

Toasting friends and a great gluten-free Passover dinner

The title of this blog comes from my friends and family who are my GFBFFs (gluten-free best friends forever). I am very blessed with a group of friends who are very accommodating to the fact that I have celiac disease and constantly go out of their way to assure I can eat safely whether it be at one of their homes or when we are out.

This was on display this past week when my friend invited us all over for a Passover dinner that was 95% gluten-free and 100% vegetarian. I always find it easier when cooking for a group to keep the meal 100% gluten-free or at least to keep the non gluten-free items completely separate, in this case we prepared the glutenous part of the meal in a different area and served it separately. Here are some ideas to help make your next Passover more gluten-free friendly.

On the menu:

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup: We used a gluten-free mix and added garlic, onion, carrot and celery to the broth.

Vegetable Latkes made with potato starch and “matzo meal” made from gf kosher for passover crackers: we didn’t really use a recipe. We grated carrot, zucchini and onion in a food processor, removed the excess liquid and combined the veggies with eggs, potato starch and the crackers (which had been pulsed pulsed in a blender). Then we fried them in oil. It was that easy.

Flourless chocolate cookies: http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously These were delicious and according to the hostess easy to make. A great anytime gluten-free recipe.

Prepping Dinner

Two of my GFBFFs Prepping Dinner

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup Mix

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup Mix

Gluten-Free Kosher for Passover Crackers

Gluten-Free Kosher for Passover Crackers

Gluten-Free Veggie Latkes made with zucchini, carrot and onion

Gluten-Free Veggie Latkes made with zucchini, carrot and onion

Flourless Cookies

Flourless Cookies

Gluten-Free Travel: Tips on how to travel without getting poisoned

Traveling in Turkey: at least coffee is gluten-free.

Traveling in Turkey: at least coffee is gluten-free.

I needed to escape this winter and took a last minute trip to Cuba with my mom. All-inclusives in Cuba are not known for their great food so you can imagine the gluten-free situation. They definitely did their best to accommodate my diet but as expected I ate a lot of fish, rice and snacks from home.

This trip inspired me to share my gluten-free travel tips.

Gluten-Free Travel Tips:

  • Always bring some real food onto the plane with you (particularly important if it will be a long flight). Never trust that a plane or train will provide you with a gluten-free meal. I am averaging about a 20% success rate in the gluten-free meal department, with the “meal” being even remotely edible about 40% of the time when it does arrive. Those two percentages combined gives us some pretty bad odds. Here is some news: people with celiac disease do not eat stale rice cakes with jam for breakfast. SHOCKER! Basically always bring some great food with you and you can be pleasantly surprised if an edible meal comes your way, which is much better than the alternative of being a crazy crangry person “But your airline confirmed 3 times that they would have a gluten-free meal!!”… Now I order my gf meal and when they say they don’t have it bla, bla, bla and I will get a $25 credit on my next booking I can block it all out and reach for my fresh meal in my carry on!
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks!!! Always make sure to pack your favorite snacks. Crackers, granola, nuts and Larabars are my faves. While traveling for a few weeks in Turkey my crackers traveled well and were a great starchy option to pull out when we were served cheeses. Granola and nuts are perfect to snack on or throw in yogurt. And Larabars are a must for the bottom of your bag when you realize you can’t eat a thing on the menu. Always bring more snacks than you think you need, your non-gf travel partners will want some snacks too. In Cuba there weren’t any desserts I could eat so that pack of gluten-free chocolates from home was essential.
    Quick list: granola/protein bars, granola, pretzels, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, miso soup packets, protein or meal replacement powder (ex: Vega), chocolate…
  • Print out a gluten-free travel cards in almost any language. This website has cards that explain gluten-free food preparation in 54 languages! I have used these cards in Turkey, Cuba, Costa Rica and Croatia.
  • Do your research. Before going to Turkey I researched gluten-free options and found out that it wasn’t super well known and that most of the rice dishes had barley. Knowing what foods to avoid and printing out some maps to gluten-free restaurants made the trip a lot easier.
  • Relax! While traveling with an allergy can definitely be f***ing annoying it’s definitely not the worst. You’re on vacation! Focus on the amazing parts of discovering somewhere new, it will help you forget that you can’t eat that croissant/baklava etc. It definitely helps to be prepared, both physically and mentally, with snacks and the knowledge that you will have days where you eat only apples, wine, and Larabars. C’est la vie. Note: This last tip is important but doesn’t really apply as well if you are  traveling for work. I will admit that traveling for work is not my favorite from a gluten-free perspective. Not having a access to a kitchen for a week while working long hours  and not knowing where to eat safely can definitely be downer.

Have any tips you want to share?

Gluten-free breakfast in Turkey with crackers brought from home.

Gluten-free breakfast in Turkey with crackers brought from home.

A Larabar is a beach bag essential!

A Larabar is a beach bag essential!

At least mojitos are gluten-free...

At least mojitos are gluten-free…