Gluten Free in Costa Rica

Gluten Free in Costa Rica

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Being a Gluten Free traveller in Costa Rica was a breeze. Like many other Central American countries (click here for Gluten Free in Puerto Rico!), Costa Rica’s staples are rice and beans. They also eat a lot of meats and veggies.  This meant that I had a meal option every place I went. Keep in mind that the Costa Rican diet is pretty mild, we didn’t encounter spicy food during our trip.   Here are the common Costa Rican dishes that I safely enjoyed:

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish made of rice and beans.  When you order Gallo Pinto, it often comes with eggs, a choice of meat,  fried plantains/bananas, and sometimes a corn tortilla.  Rice and beans for breakfast?  I wasn’t so sure.  But I always believe in eating as the locals do.  Now I wonder why Americans don’t consider rice and beans to be a breakfast food!  I woke up craving my Gallo Pinto each morning!

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Gluten Free Costa Rica

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Casado Plate

A common lunch or dinner in Costa Rica is a Casado plate.  These plates include rice, beans, plantains, meat of choice, salad and a veggie (and often a corn tortilla).  It’s very simple food, but always delicious.

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Ceviche

Secret: I hadn’t had ceviche before coming to Costa Rica.  I also hadn’t had octopus.  I can cross both of my bucket list!  Ceviche is a raw fish dish, cooked with a variety of fish (including octopus…yum!).  The fish is “cooked” or “cured” with citrus juice.  You then can eat it with corn tortilla chips.  This was one of my favs!

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Drinks

Coconut water is abundant in Costa Rica.  It’s the perfect way to stay hydrated in the blazing heat.  The locals walk around with coolers and will cut one open for you right there.

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Smoothies are a big deal in Costa Rica.  I had all sorts of tropical fruits in mine.  They are so refreshing on a hot day. (Sidenote:  Water in Costa Rica??  We drank bottled water the entire time, but gambled on the ice.  We were perfectly fine.  Costa Rica water is safe to drink, but does contain bacteria foreign to Americans.  So it can possibly leave you running to a toilet.  We didn’t think it was worth the risk on a 9 day trip.  If we were there longer, we would have had the water.)

Gluten Free Costa Rica

COFFEE.  I can’t consume caffeine.  And that was my greatest Costa Rican tragedy (forget the puking during my flight or visiting the hospital!)  I did take a sip here and there of my boyfriend’s coffee.  Let me tell you.  It is absolutely delicious.  If you are a coffee drinker, you’ll be in heaven.

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The only dessert we ordered our entire trip was this fresh coconut ice cream in a coconut shell with toasted coconut.  Holy coconut heaven above!

Gluten Free Costa Rica

We got it “to share.”  You can see how sharing went…

Gluten Free Costa Rica

The only morning I didn’t have Gallo Pinto for breakfast, I had a Gluten Free waffle on the beach.  It’s a hard life.  We enjoyed waffles at Coffee & Waffles in Tamarindo.  It was so nice to be able to sink my teeth in some Gluten Free sugary goodness.  I can’t recommend their Gluten Free waffles highly enough!

Gluten Free Costa Rica

Of course while we were there, I enjoyed some fried plantains.  A dish I fell in love with while in Puerto Rico.  Fun fact: Apparently Costa Ricans don’t call fried plantains “tostones” like they do in Puerto Rico.  In Costa Rica, they are “patacones.”  Do not, I repeat, do not mix this up!

Gluten Free Costa Rica

If you are a concerned traveller with Celiac or a Gluten Intolerance, put your fears aside and fly on over to Costa Rica. Any traveller will be quite pleased with the simple, yet delicious cuisine!  Pura Vida!

Gluten Free

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!

When In Catalina Island

When In Catalina Island

Catalina FINAL

I had been to Catalina Island before, but I hadn’t really explored it.  So when my Carnival Cruise dropped me and my Man-Friend off at the city of Avalon in this little island off the coast of California, I was ready to wander.  I’m not a big believer in planned-organized, expeditions.  I like to be my own tour guide and let the wind take me where it wants me to go!

Golf Cart Selfie

Golf Cart Selfie

The first thing I noticed as we got off the tender was a little collection of golf carts.  My adventure radar went off, and before I knew it we had paid for an hour of badass golf cart exploring!  The rental came with an illustrated map (that to my eyes may as well have just been a blank sheet of paper- thank goodness for a visually adept travel partner!) describing a path that will take you around the main parts of Avalon.  You’re supposed to be able to make the entire trek in 45 minutes with no stops.  We stopped about 632 times to take pictures (and selfies!), so we cut off a few parts of the path.  I highly recommend making a golf cart trek the first thing you do in Catalina.  You get a good survey of the area, see breathtaking views, and …duh… ride in a golf cart!

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After returning the cart, we meandered through the shops, restaurants, and bars.  There is a Gluten Free friendly restaurant that I was so excited to try, but they were closed the day I was there.  SO bummed.  Luckily we stumbled into Maggie’s Blue Rose which was right on Crescent Ave. (the main street).  The staff was eager to share that most of the menu was already Gluten Free.  We each had a perfect margarita (and I’m a Margarita expert!) and shared TO DIE FOR chicken nachos (which I didn’t get a picture of because I was too busy taking pictures of tequila-y margarita!).

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The weather was gorgeous even in January – a high of 70 degree with a light breeze.  It was too cold to lay out on the beach in a bikini, but warm enough to be more than comfortable in jeans.  The sun was shining, the ocean was crashing, boats were docked, and tequila was consumed.

Catalina Island is a great spot for a quick getaway – a local recommended the Catalina Express to quickly get you to the island from So Cal.  It’s also a stop on the 4-day Mexican cruise on Carnival Cruise line.

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How to Road Trip Gluten Free

How to Road Trip Gluten Free

How To Road Trip Gluten Free: A Simple Guide For Those Who Travel While Eating Gluten Free ~ www.taylorduvall.com ~ #glutenfree #celiac #travel #roadtrip

In 2014, I went on 10 road trips throughout the United States.  I love adventure and travel, so all this driving brought me to my happy place!

I also happen to have Celiac disease.  So typical “road trip” food from fast food joints isn’t on the table.  Being on the road is the LAST place you want to experience any negative side effects from accidentally consuming Gluten! But just because I can’t consume greasy burgers or sugary donuts along the way, doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy every second of a road trip.

Through trial and error I’ve discovered how to road trip Gluten Free.  Here are my top tips:

1.  Prep food as much as possible

Preparation is the key to success when it comes to a long road trip!  I typically bring a bag of GF chips, some Larabars/protein bars, and a sugary snack. I have brought Gluten Free bread and lunch meat with me in a cooler. It’s cheaper to bring it from home, and you can rest assured that there will be something for you to eat.

This is a good tip even for non-Gluten-Freers.  Bringing your own food and drinks is simply cheaper.  The more money you save, the more money you have to go on another trip!  Bring a six-pack of bottled water while you’re at it.  In case something happens to your vehicle and you’re stranded, you won’t get dehydrated.

BONUS: My #1 way to save on these gluten-free items is to buy them from the online retailer Vitacost. Sign up using my Vitacost link HERE, and save $10 on your first purchase!

2.  Download the “Find Me GF” App

When I drive through bigger towns/cities the Find Me GF app is a lifesaver!  Once you get close to the city and have access to wi-fi, you can pull up the app and search restaurants with Gluten Free food near you.

Each restaurant is given ratings from reviewers and a preview of the type of Gluten Free food they have on their menu.  You can include chain restaurants in your search, but you don’t have to.  This can be a cool way to find new local restaurants that you don’t have at home.

How to Road Trip Gluten Free

3.  Search the Convenience Store shelves

There have been times when I was hungry for a meal and was able to scrounge up enough food at a pit-stop convenience store to make a “snack meal.”  A lot of gas station stores carry string cheese, yogurt, fruit, and nuts – throw those together and voila!

If you’re only looking for a snack, you should have no problem.  There’s always a bag of Lay’s potato chips to be found or even a bag of peanuts.  And candy? Almost every single candy is Gluten Free.  On most road trips, I grab a small bag (ok a big bag) of Peanut M&Ms.  Click here for a comprehensive list of Gluten Free candy.

A convenience store run with the boyfriend on a road trip.  My Gluten Free finds are easy to spot: potato chips, nuts, M&Ms, and gum.

A convenience store run with the boyfriend on a road trip. My Gluten Free finds are easy to spot: potato chips, nuts, M&Ms, and gum. No Zebra cakes for me!

4. When in doubt, make Subway your friend

There are over 26,000 Subways in the United States.  Even the smallest of pit-stop towns typically have a Subway.  Subway offers chopped salads and almost every meat and sauce is Gluten Free (click here for the comprehensive list).  I’m not saying this is the most delectable meal you will ever eat on the road.  It’s not.  But with enough veggies, you can muster enough flavor to keep you satisfied.

I typically order a spinach and lettuce base with grilled chicken.  I load up on the veggies and finish with avocado, oil, vinegar and salt & pepper.  Pro tip: ask the employees working the line if they would change out their gloves to avoid as much cross-contamination as possible.

Please see more Gluten Free Travel tips HERE!!!  Happy (Gluten Free) Travels!!

Remember: My #1 way to save on these gluten-free items is to buy them from the online retailer Vitacost. Sign up using my Vitacost link HERE, and save $10 on your first purchase!

Gluten-Free