Gluten-Free Adventure in Northern Europe!!

prague... sigh. photo credit: national geographic
Vienna, Prague, Berlin & Copenhagen. We have booked an incredible adventure - and I'm really looking forward to reporting on the gluten-free finds and overall experience in this part of the world. As a starting point, I thought I'd share what the planning stage has involved. 

where to stay: we are staying with friends in Vienna - but for the other three cities we have rented apartments (see airbnb.com if you dare - you will certainly feel like traveling!). The apartments we chose are private (vs rooms in a house) that come with fully equipped kitchens. 

what to eat: Now many people wouldn't like the idea of cooking on vacation - but I am thrilled to know that we will have access to simply made meals from fresh local ingredients. This will mean safe food that's easier on the wallet. I'm not sure how much schnitzel I could tolerate anyway!

where to eat out: I've visited the celiac association websites for each of the countries. Austria's emailed me a current list of restaurants in Vienna, others have shopping recommendations on their sites. Naturally BLOGS have also been a great online resource. I will be printing out restaurant & ingredient cards found at celiactravel.com (a very handy site!).

sarah dining al fresco in our tiny Parisian apartment
When my friend Sarah and I stayed in Paris a few years ago we rented an apartment. Our regime was breakfast at home, then  sightseeing all morning. Back for a late lunch, reading or a nap, evening sightseeing and a fancy dinner out. You can really wear yourself out on this type of vacation, but we found this little rhythm of ours was just perfect. Now I just have to figure out a few basics in the Germanic languages... and find some decent walking shoes!


coleslaw - a mandolin makes fast work of fine chopping

Simple Red Cabbage Slaw
1/2 red cabbage
2 large carrots
1/4 medium red onion
1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raisins
1tbsp celery seed

Once we get into winter, the local veggies are going to start getting more limited. I've decided that this year I'm going to try my hand and making what's available a little more exciting. I'm pretty chuffed about having another purpose for my new mandolin - which to date has only been used to cut fennel very finely to add to salads. This dish is super easy and was a well received hit of colour at the pot-luck.

Cut the cabbage head into quarters and remove the white core. Use the mandolin to shred the red cabbage. Watch your fingers! Next I cut the carrots using a special blade that makes mini sticks. If you don't have that attachment, simply grate it, and obviously, the cabbage could also be sliced thinly with a knife. I shopped the onion very fine as I don't like chunks of onion.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar stirring until dissolved. Add all other ingredients and toss. Let sit for 1 hour in the fridge and serve. Lasts about 3 days, makes an excellent side - and packs well for lunches too!


gluten-free gifts... to my heart through my stomach

who could eat so much at one pot-luck?!
We recently had a team meeting at my manager's house. The idea is to get away from the office for a day of creative thinking. For such events, our team pulls together serious pot-luck lunches. 

Last year I was blown away by everyone's consideration of my needs, and this year did not disappoint. When I showed up in Adrian's kitchen - this basket was waiting on the counter. It put one heck of a gluten-free grin on my face.

I shared the gf love... even if I wanted to eat them all!
A couple of months ago I posted a review of Queen B Pastry's CROWNIE. Any product I review unsolicited and based on my desire to share (vs paid promotion). 

A week after posting on the CROWNIE, owner David had a box of the delicious treats delivered to my home in thanks. Queen B now sells these and a number of other divine treats down the street from us at Crema Coffee (you must try the Olive Oil Orange Cakelettes!). 

This blog is called gluten free gift because I am constantly reminded of the kindness of others. My life is full of such gifts, for which I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.


fresh homemade salsa - no fat & loads of flavour!

salsa ingredients just before we mixed it up - bursting with flavour!
8-10 small fresh firm plum tomatoes diced small
1 small red onion diced small
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed & finely chopped
fresh lime juice squeezed from 2 limes
(optional: roast peppers over flame and remove skins)

As summer begins to wind down, I've been maxing out my in-take of tomatoes. Bill just whipped up this very simple fresh salsa (which lasts in the fridge for about 3 days)... and we've been eating it with corn chips. It would also make a fantastic topping on gf toast (not unlike bruschetta). This is a great way to get lots of good veggies into your diet. Adding two cans of rinsed beans (black beans or white kidney/cannellini) and 1/4 cup olive oil to this would turn this into an awesome bean salad. Consider this two recipes in one!! 


Brown Rice Wraps - Food for Life

gluten-free brown rice wrap served at The Beet
Brown rice wraps were a discovery that blew my mind. The only gluten-free option for a wrap that I had used to date were soft corn tortillas. I like those, but the flavour could be overpowering, and they didn't make a great "sandwich".

The brown rice wrap pictured here was served to me at one of my favourite local restaurants called The Beet. They grill the wrap first and then fill it with avocado, black beans and quinoa. They also serve it with barbeque chicken. Seriously good!!

These wraps, which are made by Food for Life are sold flat packed and frozen in a bag as tortillas. I had been nuking them, but since trying them grilled I've been warming them in a non-stick pan on the stove before stuffing. Both work, but the texture of the latter method is much better. 

Unlike so many rice based gluten-free baked goods, these hold together amazingly well - and have a quality we rarely get to enjoy: a little bit of chew!

One of my go-to meals when dining alone is to fill one of these with fresh arugula, spinach or chicory along with tuna, leftover grilled chicken or cheese. When you wrap them tight, you can cram a lot of greens into one of these wraps - so you get a complete meal without much prep or clean up.Click on the links to find out more about this amazing product and where you can find it near you!