Gluten Free When In Puerto Rico

Gluten Free Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an easy vacation for Americans.  You don’t need a passport, the flights are typically reasonable, and many locals speak English.  It’s a great country to visit to dip your toe into traveling internationally.  In the same way, a trip to Puerto Rico is quite easy for all Gluten Freers.  Last summer, I was nervous about visiting this country with my strict no-gluten diet and was pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to navigate this Central American country with Celiac disease.

A staple of the Puerto Rican diet is Arroz con Pollo – Rice with Chicken – a perfect meal for those who eat Gluten Free.  This is no boring, bland rice and chicken either…some of the best food I’ve ever tasted was Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo.

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I ordered the above Arroz con Pollo and fresh Mango smoothie at a little shack on Flamenco Beach, only the most beautiful beach my eyes have seen:

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The food was truly fantastic.  Don’t let the styrofoam plate confuse you, it’s tasty tasty tasty.  At first, I was concerned because there were so many bees swarming around the beach and food area, but they left us alone.  Apparently it is a normal occurrence.

Chicken can be found prepared in other ways as well.  One of the best meals I had during my stay was in a little restaurant called La Jaquita Baya, right across from our hotel, Ciqala.IMG_1191 2

Everyone in our group loved this restaurant so much, we went back twice.

Plantains are another staple in Puerto Rican cuisine.  Friend plantains are wonderful and addicting.  When they are fried, they are called Tostones.  Then you dip them in a mixture of mayo and ketchup.  Gross, right?  Except totally not! It ended up being one of my favorite things on the trip.

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A common dish I had during my trip was Mofongo, which has a base of mashed friend plantains.  You guys.  So. Good.  You must get it.

Now, if you decide to go on any adventures while in Puerto Rico (and you should!), I highly recommend booking your tour through Acampa.  Our tour guides were knowledgable, funny and friendly.  They guided our group through the Toro Negro rainforest – we zip-lined, rock climbed, repelled, and hiked our way through the most gorgeous greenery.

After we were done exploring, they provided a homemade, authentic lunch.  Before your adventure, they give you a sheet to fill out and ask you to list any food allergies.  They were so attentive to my Gluten Free diet and provided a lunch entirely geared toward my needs. So delicious.

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The popular Puerto Rican beer is Medalla.  Just like all the other beers we are familiar with, it is not Gluten Free.  However, Puerto Ricans happen to have a phenomenal rum, Don Q.  I made Don Q con Pina (run and pineapple) my drink of choice for the entire week.  And when I say the entire week, I mean it!

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Keep in mind that the water is safe to drink in Puerto Rico.  I even drank out of a stream on our rainforest adventure!

Now, just because the base of Puerto Rican diet happens to be filled with Gluten Free foods, does not mean everything is Gluten Free.  Almost every restaurant I went to had an English speaking staff member who could tell me what, if anything, had gluten.  We did have a Puerto Rican in our group which helped immensely, but it is still possible to figure it out even without a native/fluent Spanish speaker.

I rarely had to think too hard about what to eat.  Gluten Free in Puerto Rico was a stress-free experience, exactly how a vacation should be.  So, if you have Celiac or a Gluten Intolerance, rest assured that this country is a safe vacation spot for you!

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Gluten Free

Cruising Gluten Free on Carnival

Cruising Gluten Free on Carnival

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Traveling anywhere with Celiac disease can be anxiety-producing.  A vacation is meant for relaxation and enjoyment. But when a tiny bit of food can throw your body into a nasty tailspin, it can be difficult to stay carefree. Carnival cruises removed that fear for me.

You can absolutely eat gluten free on Carnival. And if you’re not worried about food, you get to spend your time worrying about one thing only:

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I went on two cruises to Mexico recently. One was the 3-day, one was the 4-day. (Read about the ports of call: Ensenada, Mexico and Catalina Island) Everytime I was on the ship, I had a great selection of Gluten Free Food and knowledgeable staff members ready to assist me.

Breakfast

Each morning I would either grab a hard-boiled egg or go to the Omelet station. There are no Gluten-filled ingredients at the Omelet bar, so I wasn’t afraid of contamination. I’d have eggs with all the veggies you could want, ham, bacon, and cheese. Then I’d grab a yogurt, some fruit, and a piece of Gluten Free bread.

Lunch

Carnival carries Gluten Free pizza crust and Gluten Free sandwich bread. I was so impressed by their attention to preventing contamination. I went to the panini station one day and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on Gluten Free bread. Without a word from me, the employee changed his gloves AND washed the utensils and the panini press. Very well done, Carnival, very well done. Also, a well-stocked salad bar can add to a filling, healthy lunch.

Dinner

Dinner was the most impressive part. On the first night of each cruise, my waiter would list off all the naturally Gluten Free dishes. Then, after my meal that night (and each night after) I was given the dinner menu for the following night so I could order anything I wanted. They custom-made each order to be Gluten Free. I enjoyed dishes like GF escargot, frog legs, pork chops, fish, and even a molten chocolate cake (I may have had that cake every night)! I would also be given Gluten Free bread at the beginning of each meal. I was made to feel as though I was dining in luxury just like everyone else.

Extras (AKA all the good stuff!)

Aside from Gluten Free food, the bar also carried Angry Orchard Hard Cider and a Gluten Free beer, along with a full bar (For a comprehensive list of GF Alcohol click here). There is always chocolate and vanilla ice cream available, if you’re desiring a quick sugar high.

Not only was I provided an entirely Gluten Free experience on the cruise, but I was also provided with delicious food. Worry-free and tasty. I highly recommend a Carnival cruise to any Gluten Freer!

In Which I Become an Essential Oils Enthusiast

I know I’m not alone.  You go to the doctor and they “fix you right up” by giving you medications that cause side effects that are more uncomfortable than your original problem? Welcome to my summer!  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It seems like most people have one or two or ten friends always talking about their Essential Oils and how you can basically cure all-that-ails with two drops of this and five drops of that.  It seemed too good to be true.

But I pride myself on the hippy/crunchy/hug trees side of my personality.  And I was desperate.  So I emailed a sweet oil-using friend with an “SOS Save My Miserable Life” message.  And she did.  She introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils.  Saved my life?  I don’t know. Dramatically improved my life? Definitely. And when I find something that makes life better – I must share!

I received Young Living Essential Oils Starter Kit. (THE STARTER KIT HAS BEEN UPDATED!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!)  It came with 11 Essential Oils and a diffuser to start me on my way.  Eleven felt like the perfect amount: I was never too intimidated by all the options, yet I had a good group to get me started.  Each oil has many uses and I’m just starting to learn how versatile they really are!  In my Starter Kit, I received the following:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Thieves
  • Valor
  • Di-Gize (Typically the kits come with Purification instead of Di-Gize)
  • Frankincense
  • Peace & Calming
  • PanAway
  • Joy
  • Stress Away

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The first oil I went to was PanAway.  I had just recently started lifting heavy weights when I received my starter kit, and I was constantly sore and achey.  While I was still skeptical, I rubbed it on my sore muscles only to find that minutes later the pain had greatly lessened.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: Placebo Effect.  I thought so too.  But I have consistently received nearly immediate relief time and time again.  That goes down as successful in my book!

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Thieves and Valor are each blends and were my next two tries.  Thieves I rubbed on the bottom of my feet at night to boost my immune system Seriously y’all – it smells like Christmas!  So delicious.  Bonus: I’ve used Thieves directly on canker sores (and I can get me some serious canker sores!) to speed up healing.

Valor has been fantastic.  I have clenched my teeth at night for years.  It has gotten so bad that my gums have started receding and a nasty un-sexy mouthguard was in my future.  That is until I started rubbing Valor on my jaw before bed.  It really brings feelings of calm and peace.  I also have the authority to suggest that this oil blend seriously helps out with snoring!!

Lemon and Lavendar Final

Lavender has been great for my insomnia.  I have never had trouble sleeping until this summer.  I normally was out two minutes after my head hit the pillow.  But I had been having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.  I either diffuse the Lavender or put it on my pillow.  My sleep has improved dramatically. (My mother has been using Peace & Calming for sleep with the same great results.)

Lemon oil is a great immunity booster.  I’ve been putting two drops in a glass cup of water as a detox and drinking it to help keep me healthy.  The added bonus is that I’m not drinking plain, boring water.  It tastes great.

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Additionally I’ve been enjoying Peace & Calming as well as Stress Away to help with the stress of being a full-time student. But let’s be honest, sometimes just being a full-time human being is stressful, so these oils help the relaxation process.

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Please realize each of these oils support many more systems: digestive system, respiratory system, the skin, etc. – on and on the list goes.  This all is just the very beginning for me.  I look forward to spending 2015 learning even more.  I have had many people asking how I’m liking the oils, so I wanted to give a quick run through of my thoughts over the first couple months.  I couldn’t be happier and healthier!

If you are interested in trying the oils for yourself and/or you are interested in getting a Starter Kit like I did, please READ THIS POST and then email me at taylorduvall1@gmail.com, comment below, or message me on Facebook.

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