How to Eat Gluten Free in Airports

How to Eat Gluten Free in Airports

I never knew if readers really cared to know how I manage to travel while having to eat Gluten Free, but since my “How to Road Trip Gluten Free” article is the #1 read article on my blog right now, I’m assuming there’s a market for it!  😉

Airports can sometimes feel like the worst nightmare for Gluten Freers. Outside of limited dining options, the thought of getting “glutened” and then going on a plane is terrifying. I’ve been there.  But traveling is too fantastic to let Celiac or an intolerance get in the way.

After many, many flights, I’ve figured out a few things about Gluten Free eating in airports, and I’ll share my top tips with you!

How to Eat Gluten Free in Airports

1. Research the airport first

The easiest thing to do is Google your airport before your trip. Some airports already have a listing of restaurants with Gluten-Free options. Or you can get a list of food spots at your airport, go to their individual websites, and see which have Gluten Free food (and which take contamination into consideration!)

Of course, this is only possible in large airports with restarants/fast food options.

2. Ask for help

Do not ever be afraid to ask. I’ve known that embarrassing fear of coming across as high-maintenance. But you aren’t high maintenance; you have a real health condition. Recently at Philadelphia’s airport, I asked around for a great place to have a Gluten Free dinner. Turns out they had a restaurant with heavenly Gluten Free EVERYTHING – calamari even! And I got to wash it down with a Gluten Free hard cider.

If I hadn’t asked, I would have never assumed the bar-like restaurant would have had anything to offer me.

3. Use the “corner store”

Most airports have some sort of 7-11-esque pit stop. You can often find snack food there.  Packaged snacks and produce can be safe bets when you have no other option. Grab a back of Gluten-Free certified chips (here’s a list of Gluten Free products by Frito Lay), some fruit, a dairy (yogurt or string cheese) and a protein (you can often find hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerated section).

This is not necessarily the healthiest, most filling, nor the most desirable everyday meal, but it will tide you over until you’ve arrived at your destination.

4. Know your airline

Some airlines offer Gluten Free snacks and meals. Of course, you will want to double check the ingredients with the staff and trust your gut, because mistakes can be made. But many airlines pride themselves on offering options for all their fliers. Remember to request your meal BEFORE your flight. Call ahead.

Here is a great list of global airlines and what they offer their Gluten Free guests.

5. Bring your own

When in doubt, just bring the food yourself. Even toss a cooler bag in your carry on and add some safe and filling food from home (just leave behind the stinky stuff…don’t be THAT person.) If you have any liquids, make sure they stay under the minimum liquid requirement of 3.4 ounces.

Of course, this takes some planning ahead. But when you’re hungry and actually have safe food to eat, you’ll be happy.

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!

Eating Gluten Free in airports may not be so glamorously last minute or spontaneous, but it is definitely doable.  Have you had a great or terrible experience of eating gluten free in airports? Let my readers know in the comments!

For more Gluten Free travel tips, including “How to Road Trip Gluten Free,” CLICK HERE!

Gluten-Free

How To Go Gluten Free Without Crying

How To Go Gluten Free Without Crying

how to go gluten free

When I went Gluten Free (GF) years ago, I panicked.  “How will I live without bread.  And cookies.  And bread.  And pasta.  And bread?!?!  Lord save me.”  I wanted to cry.  I thought enjoying life was over – even though I knew it was worth it.  After only 24 hours of no Gluten, I noticed a positive difference in my body.  After a week without Gluten, the change was so dramatic I knew it could never touch my lips again.

Bye-bye wheat, rye, and barley!

Turns out it wasn’t that hard.  In fact, I rarely miss any Gluten-filled product.  When somebody devours a delicious cronut (croissant donut) in front of my face, I just slap them. When somebody enjoys French bread dipped in Olive Oil and spices, I just faint.  These activities make my Gluten Free self feel better.  I kid (not really)!

There are so many options for the Gluten-Freers.  SO MANY.  Fear not, my Celiac-y friends!  You’re all gonna be just fine.  Remember: we can eat our hearts out on foods like meats, dairy (unless you have a dairy intolerance, unfortunately common in the GF community), produce, nuts, rice, quinoa (my fav!), oils/butter, and CHOCOLATE.

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!

The “How to Go Gluten Free without Crying” Steps:

how to go gluten free

  • Get Rid of the Gluten

Throw out the bread, pastas, cookies, soy sauce, spice mixes, etc. that are not marked Gluten Free.  Or put them in a designated cabinet for your gluten-eating family members.  Out of sight, out of mind.  You won’t accidentally grab them when you’re not in the GF habit.

  • Wash, wash, wash

Wash all your pots and pans, utensils, and cooking spaces.  If you live with people who will continue eating Gluten, you will have to be careful.  Some people buy two of everything – two spatulas, two cookie sheets.  I just wash all our kitchen appliances thoroughly – no direct sharing.

  • Meal plan each week

Google Gluten Free recipes or use Pinterest!  Pinterest is a great resource for GF meal ideas (start here and then expand to here!) Have a plan, stick to it – especially when you’re just starting out.  You won’t get as overwhelmed while you’re still figuring it all out.  Example:

MONDAY

Breakfast: 2 eggs, salsa, 1 slice of Gluten-Free bread with peanut butter

Snack: Yogurt

Lunch: Quinoa Salad with grilled chicken

Snack: Apple and almonds

Dinner: Tacos with corn tortillas and homemade taco seasoning, refried beans

Dessert: Dark chocolate (because, duh, you need chocolate!)

  • Go For The Substitutions

Some people say silly things like, “Don’t buy substitute products, it’s so much healthier and cheaper to just eat lettuce wraps.”  Girlfriend wants bread and pasta!  Celiac was going to kill me; brown rice pasta isn’t.  These substitute products will make the transition much easier.

Try both Rudi’s and Udi’s breads (Rudi’s doesn’t ONLY make Gluten Free bread, so make sure it’s labeled).  They’re more expensive. So when they’re on sale, stock up and put them in your freezer! Jovial pasta is my favorite!  Non-Gluten-Freers love it too. You can’t beat the ingredient list: Organic brown rice pasta, water. And San-J has great GF soy sauce.

Remember to look at the ingredients!  A lot of substitution products will use white rice flour or potato starch.  Try to stay away from those and stick to brown rice flour, coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour and healthier flours like these. 

  • Make Google Your BFF

When you don’t know if a product is Gluten Free and it’s not marked on the package, google it! Most products have GF info on their website.  If they don’t, you can often find the info on a forum. Just google “Is (blank) gluten free?” and research away!  This is also a great way to find restaurants.  I often google “Gluten free (restaurant name)” — this gives me a leg-up in case the staff isn’t up on their GF facts.  Also Google hidden sources of Gluten.

  • Speak Up!

This is still the hardest one for me.  I feel bad about my Celiac, and I shouldn’t.  I often feel like it makes me high maintenance.  Which it does, kinda.  But this is a matter of my life, my health.  Tell your family and friends. Explain to them how important it is.  Tell the waitstaff at a restaurant that you cannot consume Gluten, because it will give you the shits (No, no, feel free to leave that detail out).

Pro Tip: Celiac/Gluten Intolerance is NOT classified as an “allergy.”  But most people don’t know that.  SO when you’re at a restaurant, and you think they’re not understanding the importance of you staying away from Gluten, tell them you are terribly ALLERGIC to it.  That’s a buzzword that just might save your stomach!

  • Don’t Cheat

You cannot cheat on a Gluten Free diet when you’re eating that way for Celiac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance.  It’s not a weight-loss plan where you can splurge on Friday night.  You either eat Gluten Free or you don’t.  Even the tiniest amount of Gluten can send your body into a tailspin.  Make the commitment; your body will thank you by not ruining your life.

Have questions about how to go Gluten Free?? Use my Contact page in the upper right hand corner to email me!  Or comment below!

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!

Also see: Gluten Free Travel

Gluten-Free

 

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.

Gluten Free Costa RicaOther

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

gluten free on carnival

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:

cruise

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!

Gluten Free