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

When In…Costa Rica (Part 2)

When In…Costa Rica (Part 2)

Costa Rica 1

(Click here to read Part 1 of our Costa Rican adventure!)

Tuesday ~ “Mojitos and a Pig named Lolita”

On Tuesday we started exploring other beaches.  Playa Avellanas was our first stop.  This beach is home to the famous Lola’s, a bar/restaurant named one of the Top 10 Beach Bars in the world.

Playa Avellanas

Lola’s provided us some shade to lay out our beach towels and enjoy the day.  Which we did.  Lots of enjoying.  Thanks to the fact that Lola’s makes THE BEST Mojito ever.  When I first saw it, I was skeptical.  It was blended.  I’m no froo-froo girl.  I like my drinks on the rocks.  But I was hot and thirsty, so I drank it.  And then I drank another.  And then I had a couple more, I don’t remember the exact number.  All I remember is my boyfriend “suggesting” I jump in the ocean so the cool water could bring me back to life.

Also, Lola’s had a pig.  Because of course.

The pig’s name was Lolita.

Lolita was large.

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Wednesday ~ “What Happens When you Mingle with the Rich”

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Wednesday brought us to another beach.  Flamingo.  Playa Flamingo is wealthier than most beach cities in Costa Rica. Affluence is among you, or more specifically, sitting on mansions on hills that overlook the ocean.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful.  But I’ve seen it before.  In California.

We had a family set up fancy tents, umbrellas, and chairs in their expensive bathing suits.  Then they played Dave Matthews from their wireless speaker system.  It was like sitting on Laguna Beach.  It all just felt a little out of our league.  We like towels and cheap flip flops – and the cheapest drinks known to man.  We still had a blast.  In fact, we swam in some of the best waves this day.

Thursday ~ “Shots. And Not the Fun Kind”

No trip is ever complete without a trip to the doctor.  That’s why at 6am on Thursday we decided to pay a Costa Rican clinic a visit.  I was concerned, developing country and all.  I had no need to be!  The 24 hour clinic was better than any doctor’s office I’ve ever been to in the States.  Nicely decorated, spotlessly clean, warm and friendly.  The doctor apologized profusely for the time I spent in the waiting room – which was 5 minutes.  5 minutes!

I had strep throat. The boyfriend had his own issue, but you know how it goes – I only provide TMI for my own life, not his.  The doctor called me back first.  After diagnosing the problem and promising two shots would make me feel brand new (and they did!), she called The Boyfriend in.  Right as he walked in, the nurse was pulling out two HUGE shots.  My naked butt was out on the table.  Needless to say, he was concerned and confused.  It was exceedingly comical.  The poor guy leaves his girlfriend alone in a Costa Rican doctor’s office for a few minutes and then walks in just as LARGE needles are about to go in each butt cheek.

The doctor spent so much time with each of us, ensuring we were okay to leave.  We were shocked to find out that we each owed only $70 and all follow-up visits would be free.  Um – America – you could learn a thing or two.

We spent the rest of the relaxing in Tamarindo.  Napping on a beautiful beach was not a bad way to recover.  For sunset, we went back to Casa Monacita and watched the beauty from the pool.  With snacks.  It was perfect.

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Friday ~”All Good Things…Should be Dragged Out as Long as Possible”

Our last day.  We spent it in Tamarindo.  We figured that we had seen the beach, so we wanted to explore the town.  We did a lot of walking.  Have I mentioned that Costa Rica is a little warm?  To a Vegas native, such as myself, it just feels like summer, to anybody else it may feel a little blazin’!  We sweat our way through the streets of Tamarindo and fell in love with this little beach city.  I love the color everywhere.

Later that night we visited one of the coolest spots in town, Black Stallion.  It’s hard to describe just how awesome it is.  But picture this: a divine backyard covered in twinkly lights and community tables, a bar with delightful sangria, the best BBQ you have ever tasted, and fun staff members.  It was such a joy to end our vacation here, and I would tell everyone to do the same!

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We made sure to go to bed late, just to soak up our last night.

Saturday ~ “Celine Dion, Windy Mountains, and Denny’s”

So sad to leave. Because we were in Costa Rica during Semana Santa, their holy week, it was difficult to find transportation back to San Jose for our flight.  We managed to find a van service which was considerably more money than the bus system.  But it was what we had.  When we drove to Tamarindo, it was dark outside so we didn’t get to see many scenic country views. This time, we saw everything and were totally surprised by the landscape.  It was not nearly as “tropical” as we had expected.  But we were on the Pacific side of the country, and we were there during dry season.  Though it wasn’t what we expected, it was equally beautiful in it’s own way.

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The traffic was horrendous due to Semana Santa.  So the driver took us on a “short cut” through a scary mountain road.  The road was extremely narrow, the van never really slowed down, the sides were steep.  I basically kept my head tucked in my boyfriend’s shoulder the entire time.  Nobody in the van spoke English.  But the driver was playing Celine Dion.  Because that makes total sense.  “Baby, Baby, Baby When You Kiss Me Like This” was the theme song to the scariest ride ever.

We made it to San Jose safely.  The only restaurant within walking distance was Denny’s.  So Americana.  We went to bed for a few hours, hopped on a plane – and the rest is history!

“Gluten Free Eating in Costa Rica” coming soon!!

When In…Costa Rica (Part 1)

When In…Costa Rica (Part 1)

Costa Rica 1

Pura Vida: The phrase of the Ticos and Ticas, locals of the beautiful Costa Rica.  It means Pure Life and embodies their optimism and joy for life, no matter the situation you find yourself in.  Life in Costa Rica is lived at a slower pace, which allows for soaking up sunshine and pleasure.  No stress, just happiness.

Costa Ricans are some of the kindest, happiest, and friendliest people I’ve met.  Pura Vida isn’t just a greeting or wishful thinking, it’s a way of life – one that made it easy for my boyfriend and I to melt right into this little country for nine blissful days.  That doesn’t mean everything went right, because almost everything went wrong.  (Including a good introduction to the Costa Rican medical system).  But the Pura Vida vibes prevailed.  It was a glorious travel experience!

Friday ~ “The Travel Day from Hell”

Traveling to Costa Rica was… how should I put this?… Exciting?  I spent my entire red eye flight throwing up.  Forsaking the public humiliation of using an airsickness bag, I incredibly made it to the bathroom each time – despite a stewardess refusing to let me puke in Business Class when the ‘peasant section’ was blocked by a medical emergency. Because poor little girls need to puke where the poor folk sit.

Costa Rica Air

I managed to take an air shot of Costa Rica in between bathroom runs.

I always suggest to never over-plan a trip.  The fun is in the adventure, and nothing ever happens the way you think it will anyway.  But after Costa Rica Day 1, may I also suggest you never under-plan!  Because if you bank on having easy access Wi-Fi to get you from the San Jose airport to Tamarindo Beach, you may be disappointed.  Also, Costa Rica doesn’t have addresses.  So it’s: “7 blocks left, 3 blocks up, 10 blocks to your right, and you can’t miss it.”  You’d be surprised just how much I CAN miss it.  We wandered San Jose in the blazing heat for hours.

The person who managed to get us to our bus station was a taxi driver who didn’t speak a syllable of English.  We played charades.  Costa Rica has excellent, cheap public bus transportation.  10 bucks for a 6 1/2 hour, air-conditioned bus ride.  Did I mention the bus ride was 6 1/2 hours?  We didn’t know that either because we never bothered to check.  Life on the edge, folks, life on the edge!

But Pura Vida, right?!  Despite the rocky beginnings, we grabbed a drink and checked into our fabulous hotel… after over 24 hours of stressful travel.

Drinks on Beach

Saturday ~ “Casa Monacita”

In Tamarindo (beach town on the Pacific side), we stayed at the lovely Casa Monacita.  This beautiful home turned hotel looks out over the Pacific Ocean.  The room had everything we needed and was perfectly clean.  There are plenty of outdoor chairs to lounge in, a pool for a quick dip, and as many beautiful views as you could ever wish for.  I happened to stumble upon Casa Monacita on VBRO.  We booked last minute (the theme of our travel, apparently).  It was fate.

Casa Monacita is a 5/10 minute walk from the beach.  It is on a hill, but we loved that!  Being elevated provided better views and good exercise to keep off extra vacation pounds.  As a bonus, the house’s manager was above-and-beyond fabulous and informed us on all the best things to do and kept our vacation excellent the entire time.  We joked the throughout the trip that she makes “dreams come true.”  Because it’s true.

Casa Monacita Pool

The view from the pool at Casa Monacita

We spent our Saturday on Tamarindo Beach at the El Be Club, a wonderful beachside lounge/restaurant with lounge chairs, swings, hammocks and beds for relaxing pleasure. Plenty of sun and shade.  Plus staff is always walking around, which made it a bit safer to leave belongings while we jumped into the waves. The sunset at the El Be Club was breathtaking, and there was live music providing the perfect soundtrack.  Costa Rican sunsets are special.

Costa Rican Sunset

Sunday ~ “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”

Tamarindo

We were planning on visiting Playa Avallanas on Sunday, but the shuttle was broken.  We decided it was a perfect day to explore Tamarindo Beach.  We walked to the edge of the beach right as the tide was going out.

While there, a Tico (local) decided to head out into an intense tide.  I kept asking my boyfriend “Is he ok?”  Then we heard him scream for help.  My boyfriend threw me his backpack and ran in after him.  I had these horrendous visions of the tide taking him in too, or the drowning man freaking out and using my boyfriend as a floatation device.

Fortunately, my boyfriend had the foresight to turn around and find people with surf boards.  He sprinted back to the beach, gathered a small group of men, and together they brought the man back to the sand.  They said he was probably less than 30 seconds away from drowning as he was already gulping water.  It was terrifying.

We finished up Sunday at Nogui’s, a beautiful beachside restaurant, and watched the sunset.  The sand fleas decided to come out and eat me.  I had sexy bug bites on my feet, ankles and legs the rest of the trip.  But, Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Sunset 2

Monday ~ “On a Boat”

The manager of Casa Monacita recommended we take a Marlin Del Rey sunset catamaran tour that included snorkeling, lunch and an open bar.  Sign us up!  We left the beach at 1:15. The catamaran went out for an hour while we all drank, then docked so we could swim/snorkel for an hour or so.  They provided a bunch of pool noodles, which were so much fun to bring into the ocean.  When we got back on the boat, they had a delicious chicken lunch prepared and more drinks, of course!  Costa Rican sunsets are even more fabulous from a boat.  (Being quite tipsy also made it that much more magical.)

Catamaran Sunset

Sunset from the boat

(Read Part 2 HERE!)

When In…Valley of Fire

When In…Valley of Fire


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My stress level has been high the past few weeks.  Too much going on.   I was definitely in need of some disconnecting time.  No homework, no blog, no internet, no researching.  Luckily for me, Sunday was my boyfriend’s birthday.  And really.  What is a boyfriend’s birthday for other than giving his girlfriend an opportunity to take a little day trip?  (Not really, but totally really) We went to the Valley of Fire, 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

I’m a Vegas local and had never been to this state park.  Sacrilegious, I know.  It was beautiful and refreshing.  We drove in the Jeep with the doors removed.  The weather was warm, the sun was shining behind the perfect amount of scattered clouds.  It was the day I had needed.  A little adventure and a lot of fun.  It’s amazing how a little time spent outside can be so inspirational.

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The sand was truly incredible.  It was as fine as flour.  Our socks were orange by the time we got home!  We had such a fun time hiking and exploring.

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Above you can see me falling.  An act that my boyfriend felt compelled to document.  Because he is a true artist.  And one does not sacrifice art to save a girlfriend.  :)

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The above two pictures come from the last stop you can make driving.  We almost didn’t get out of the car, and that would have been a crime.  It ended up being one of our favorite stops.  There was a balance of white/yellow rock with red/orange rock.  Truly beautiful.

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If you look closely enough, my bronzer is everywhere, my lips are chapped from riding in a Jeep with the doors off, and my hair is a fretful rat’s nest.  It’s all just proof of good living.

Valley of Fire

When In Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon

When In Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

It’s hard to remember that there is beauty to be found close by.  With the free-spirited heart of a wanderer, I’m drawn to travelling here and there and everywhere.  I get antsy when it’s been too long in between trips.  This discontent is typically something I’m perfectly fine with.  It spurs me on go on adventures.  But sometimes I forget to take a peak at what’s in my own backyard.  I forget that beauty and adventure are anywhere – even in Las Vegas.

I drive around this city daily and all the scenery blends in – I mean, all those wedding chapels and strip clubs start blending in with grocery stores and all your left with is: blah.  It’s old news to me.  But then there’s Red Rock Canyon.  30 minutes away from most spots in the entire Vegas valley.  It’s gorgeous.  The beauty of the desert abounds.

A Saturday morning of flat tires and other joyous events left me grumpy and under-enthusiastic.  Somebody with a spontaneous nature decided it would be a better decision to leave my wounded car in the garage for a couple extra hours and go exploring instead.  I was more than happy to agree to the idea!

One quick pit stop to pick up various travel supplies (Gluten Free cupcakes) and we were on our way to the beauty of Las Vegas.  Mountains of varying colors including a vibrant red.  Breathtaking skyscapes.  And a plethora of opportunities to pull over and take beautiful pictures and very serious selfies:

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10953385_10153068982758210_7758955096057588560_nA simple drive through the canyon gives you enough beauty and exploration to get through any rough day:

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There are plenty of hiking trails and great spots to get out and move your muscles (which you can find HERE). But this Saturday called for an easy breezy drive.

Fun Fact: The professional pictures I have throughout the blog were taken at Calico Basin right before you get to Red Rock.  It’s a must-stop.  There is a nice easy walking path for a quick stroll.

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