Thursday, August 26, 2010

Traveling Gluten Free in Europe by Nicola, GFree Mom

Today's guest post is written by Nicola, author of www.gfreemom.com. Nicola's post today is on the topic of gluten free traveling which for me is perfect timing while I'm attending the International Food Blogging Conference in Seattle!


Traveling G-free in Europe



After a few months of turning our dietary lifestyle on its head and familiarizing myself with the world of g-free, I face the prospect of traveling through Europe for just under 2 months with a 7-year old gluten intolerant child.

After a gap of three years since going ‘back home’, there is a lot of ground to cover with friends and relatives in England, Germany and Sweden. Given that gluten free lunch boxes and birthday party treats have been as tough as it gets so far, the thought of managing my sons dietary needs while living out of suitcases and mastering trains, planes and automobiles is a tad daunting.

Virgin Atlantic offers a gluten free meal option. My only criticism is that this is offered for adults only and not for children. I overcome this by ordering the g-free meal in my name instead of my sons. Once the food arrives I actually envy his meal. The grilled chicken breast, rice and vegetables with rice cakes, salad and fruit salad as sides is actually a lot more appetizing than the usual plane food. Beyond the main meal, however, I’m more than pleased that I have pre-packed a bag full of potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn and gluten free cereal bars.

In England the gluten free bread and pasta taste second to none and are readily available in all supermarkets. The lesson we quickly learn is not to rely on gluten free food options being available in museum caf├ęs and tourist attractions and after a day or two of lunches of potato chips and fruit, I start making gluten free sandwiches to eat throughout the day. The great thing about England is that there is usually a baked potato option on just about any menu, this provides a good meal alternative while we are on the go.

In Germany, the gluten free bread tastes like cardboard and there isn’t much choice, but the pasta is great and we succumb to eating pommes frites (French fries) a lot while on the go. I conclude that as long as we are eating healthy lashings of fruit and vegetables it’s not the end of the world to be eating so many fries – and we’re on vacation after all.

In Sweden, where we also spend a week on a sailing boat, the gluten free selection in the supermarkets is phenomenal. Just about every Swedish kitchen staple is replicated in a gluten free version. The bread rolls are delicious and we all begin to prefer them. The big gluten free brand is Semper. They have cornered the market and really have got it right. That on top of amazing seafood and the great Swedish korv (hot dogs), see us through with ease.

It helps greatly that everyone has been to the supermarket before we arrive and that we have gluten free food on hand the minute we land, but even without this preparation the supermarkets have everything clearly labeled and g-free is easy to find – in any language.

2 months later, I can declare our gluten free travels a success. Don’t let diet stop you from doing the things you really want to do.


 About Nicola, the GFree Mom
 After surviving a fierce fight with breast cancer, Nicola’s eldest son (age 7) suffered from severe gastrointestinal problems and chronic anxiety. A holistic approach to his problems through Tibetan medicine focused heavily on his diet. He has been and will largely continue to be gluten and lactose free. The result is a whole new boy and a happy family. Nicola chronicles the journey and shares simple g-free kid friendly recipes along the way on www.gfreemom.com


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3 comments:

  1. Can't wait to hear about the conference!

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  2. Great recap of your trip, it sounds like a great vacation! Living in Europe we have been really fortunate to have a lot of GF options around (once we knew what we are looking for) - I'm actually surprised that you couldn't find so much in Germany, given that a fairly major GF brand (that makes some of the best GF baguettes I've ever tasted) is based there. It may just depend on what brands you were able to find in the places that you were. We've also had really good luck in restaurants when we explain that my husband is gluten free - so far where we've been everyone already knew what gluten free means, no salads came covered in croutons, etc.

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  3. Jenn - we were in Berlin. I scoured 2 supermarkets and 2 'Bio Laeden' for decent GF bread, to no avail. Mmm - would love to know the brand and be able to look out for it next time.

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Thank you for commenting on Gingerlemongirl.com. I appreciate your comments, ideas, stories, and feedback!

To send me recipes to try or for gluten free baking help, feel free to email me at gingerlemongirl (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sincerely,
Carrie

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