Gluten Free travelling on the Norwegian Epic

Cruises are becoming more popular these days and they are my favourite type of holiday.  We’ve travelled with different companies: MSC, Thompson (TUI), Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and Norwegian.  Since my diagnosis of Coeliac Disease we’ve only cruised with Norwegian.  We like them as they have exciting ships and some great deals including an ultimate beverage package.

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It can be difficult to know which companies provide well for their gluten-free guests, so I thought I’d write this post to let you know how our holiday went.  We recently cruised the Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic on the Norwegian Epic.  I won’t go into detail about the ship, ports etc and will focus on how they coped with my dietary needs.

After purchasing the holiday we sent dietary information to the company so they’d know in advance about my needs.  Every time I scanned my keycard at restaurants on board it flagged up my gluten-free needs.  The best experiences were in the restaurants in the evenings, so I’ll talk about that first.

We ate in the Taste Restaurant most evenings and ate out at a few of the speciality restaurants on other nights.  On the first day I called by at the restaurant to ask about gluten-free options.  My waitress came along and introduced herself and let me look at that evening’s menu.  The menu had one starter and one main course labelled GF but I could request other items.  She let me know if courses could be prepared specially for me.  I could have almost anything on the menu.  Obviously items with pasta or couscous as key ingredients weren’t available.  At each meal I could pre-order the next evening’s meal.  If I’d booked a speciality restaurant I could pre-order for there too.  The waitress was great as she always checked I had the right order.

Taste and Manhattan Restaurants

I had a few favourite meals in the main restaurants.  It was fantastic to have gourmet food with dressings that matched the meal but didn’t contain gluten.  I’d recommend the Duck and Fava Bean Salad and the New York Strip Steak if you’re unsure where to start.  The dessert menu usually contained something I could eat and there was always flourless cake available, although it wasn’t amazing.  I tried a few desserts but was trying to be a bit careful.  The coconut flan is particularly tasty.

Speciality Restarants

The Moderno Churrascaria is a speciality Brazilian restaurant.  You can start with the amazing salad bar and then skewers of slow-roasted meats including beef, pork, lamb and chicken – all carved tableside.  The only items I couldn’t have on the menu were some of the salad bar items, the mexican beans and the pork sausages.  Believe me, there is plenty left to eat.  On the Norwegian Epic I could have their tasty cheese bread.  Be careful, as on some Norwegian ships these may not be GF.

We had a meal at Le Bistro.  Again, delicious food.  I shared a chocolate and fruit fondue with my husband, which was a unique treat.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is my favourite venue.  I started with the Iceberg Wedge, which is a huge wedge of lettuce with bacon, a creamy sauce and stilton.  The Baked potato soup starter is also worth a try, complete with GF bread.  I went for the 20oz Porterhouse Steak – why not?  It was wonderful and served with baked potato (you could have fries).  I skipped dessert!

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Breakfast

In the restaurants it was easy and convenient to get GF toast and cooked items.  We generally chose to eat in the Garden Cafe buffet.  I didn’t choose toast on these days but they would have accommodated me.  I spotted GF Cheerios so usually had these.  I also went for fresh fruit and yoghurt, and some cooked items such as bacon, egg, beans and tomato.  I avoided anything fried as they don’t have separate friers for gluten-free food (you could get GF fries in some areas of the ship).

Lunch

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We ate at the buffet for most of the lunches on board the ship.  This was a little trickier than other meals.  Many items did contain gluten and I had to ask the servers about any dish I wanted.  Many of the Indian foods were GF and I often enjoyed a dahl, rice and poppadoms.  There were many salads and cooked meats too.  Again, I avoided anything fried.  I didn’t ask about desserts but there was always ice-cream, jelly and fruit available.

We sometimes ate at O’Sheehans Irish Bar and Grill.  Not as many choices here but I could get a chopped salad and a burger or hot-dog in GF bread.  They’d usually apologise that the shape of the bread wasn’t suitable for a hot-dog but I didn’t mind!  I had mine with crisps (potato chips) instead of chips (fries).  I didn’t eat any desserts here.

Summary

I was really impressed with the options available.  I know I could get glutened anywhere, even at home but I wasn’t ill once.  I was a bit naughty by having a few desserts and plenty to drink but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  There are other eating options aboard the ship that I didn’t try this time…maybe next year!

 

 

 

 

 

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Prezzo – a Gluten Free meal out

After a visit at work from OFSTED this week, I needed to de-stress a little.  My husband took me out for a meal after work on Friday.  I was really excited because he’d found a place that did gluten-free pasta.

We went to Prezzo at Sheffield Centertainment.  The restaurant was clean and the staff were friendly so that was a good start.  I asked about gluten-free options and was amazed when they brought a gluten-free menu with lots of options.  I was overwhelmed with choice!  In the end I went for the chicken and asparagus risotto as I don’t get to have this very often.  It’s not very Slimming World friendly (think about 550 cals), but hey, I needed a treat.  I didn’t have a dessert or any alcohol so using this as flexible syns.

I felt reassured by the amazing menu.  When they took our order they even doubled checked that it was the gluten-free version of the risotto that I wanted.

My husband’s spaghetti carbonara looked lovely and so did my risotto.  It was very tasty!  Not healthy, but worth the calories.  I’d love to go back as a treat sometime and would probably go for something a little less rich.

GLUTEN-FREE MENU

  • STARTERS:  MARINATED OLIVES and LARGE PANE CON CIPOLLA
  • PIZZAS: MARGHERITA, VERDE, TRE GUSTI, PROSCIUTTO E FUNGHI, WILD MUSHROOM,  VESUVIO, CHICKEN AND N’DUJA SAUSAGE and TROPICANA
  • PASTA: PENNE ARRABBIATA, PENNE WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, PENNE ALLA RUSTICANA, PENNE WITH KING PRAWNS, PENNE WITH CHICKEN AND N’DUJA, PENNE GORGONZOLA, PENNE BOLOGNESE, PENNE CON SALMONE and PENNE CARBONARA
  • RISOTTO: KING PRAWNS, WILD MUSHROOMS and CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS
  • GRILLS: SEA BASS, CHARGRILLED CHICKEN BREAST, CALABRESE and GORGONZOLA
  • SIDES: MIXED SALAD, MASHED POTATO and ROCKET SALAD
  • DESSERTS: BLOOD ORANGE POLENTA CAKE and ICE-CREAM

 

 

 

Gluten-free buffet food

I had a fantastic evening out for a friend’s husband’s 60th birthday do.  The company was good, the atmosphere was good and the music was very funky 70s.

I had a large lunch to make sure I wouldn’t be hungry as I didn’t know what I’d be able to eat at the buffet.  The last event I ate out at left me glutened and I was a little wary.  However, my friend had been dropping hints such as, “What type of bread do you eat?” and “Can you eat custard?”.  I assumed she was preparing something nice for me, and as she is good at baking I was quite excited.

She reassured me about the food and put all the wheat-free items on the same platter, clearly labelled.  There were sandwiches and THREE desserts!  Across the buffet there was also salad, veg and fruit that I could eat freely.  All credit to my friend, the food was delicious.  The homemade dessert was very tasty and I’ll be asking for the recipe to share with you all soon.  I did go back for seconds of everything so I slipped off the Slimming World wagon a bit.  I’m back on today and not worrying about it.  I don’t do that very often and I’m just focusing on the fact that I’ve enjoyed myself.  I know we can get glutened, even in our own kitchens, where lots of care has been taken.  I’m so glad I didn’t, partly because my friend went to all that trouble.

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Worried about eating out at a buffet?

  • Let the hosts know well enough in advance.  Give them a couple of ideas of things they could do for you.
  • Eat plenty before you go.  There’s nothing worse than sitting hungry, watching everyone else eat.
  • Focus on the celebration.  You are there for an occasion (maybe a birthday) not the food!  Have a drink, soak up the atmosphere, socialise and get dancing.

Worried about catering for a coeliac at your buffet?

  • Make sure your guest knows where the gluten-free foods are at the buffet.
  • Put the gluten-free foods on separate, labelled plates.
  • Don’t use the same knife to cut the sandwiches and cakes, and be careful about cross-contamination from using different knives in the butter.  Consider making the gluten-free sandwiches first when you’ve opened the butter so that there is less risk.
  • Make sure other people involved in arranging the food know about cross-contamination so they don’t touch ordinary bread and then gluten-free bread.
  • Fresh fruit is a lovely dessert but please provide something a bit naughtier.  Buy ready made gluten free desserts so you know you won’t be glutening your guest by mistake with your baking.  Marks and Spencers and Mrs Crimbles are always good.
  • Don’t worry too much.  Your guest is there for the celebration, not the food.  They will be happy about any effort you have gone to, as this is often a rare occurrence.

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Gluten-free eating out disaster! – Chiquito, Sheffield

Spoiler alert: I got glutened.

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I normally wouldn’t complain about being glutened.  Eating out can be a metaphorical minefield.  But, I’d done my research.  The choice looked amazing.  Their interactive website menus show all the different allergens.

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Instead of the usual two or three options there were so many options.  I chose the halloumi skewers to start and some non-gluten street food items with a side of chips.

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Four hours later: stomach cramps, feeling sick and rushing to the loo.

The problem was that the website gave the impression they knew what they were doing.  I don’t mind the occasional glutening at places that don’t claim to do much gluten free.  The problem I discovered was that they don’t seem to be concerned with cross-contamination.  They cook everything in the same pans, oil, water etc…   There is some small print about this on the website, so do I have the right to be annoyed.  Quote: “do not have a specific allergen free zone or dedicated fryers”.  How can they also say, ” To reduce the risk of cross contamination from allergens during preparation there are controlled procedures in the kitchen. Every care is taken to avoid any cross contamination when processing specific allergen free orders.”

I did my homework, I told both servers who took my order that I was gluten-free.  As the website says, “if you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, please let your server know upon placing your order. ”  What is the point of mentioning gluten-free quite so much if you can’t deliver?

Chiquito is definitely off my visit again list.

If you want some gluten-free Slimming World recipes click on a link below:

Soups:

Curries:

Snacks & Lunches:

Sweet treats:

Coeliac Update & Cyprus

Hi All,

I’ve been away from the Blog for a while but have finally got round to updating things.

Two weeks ago I finally got my diagnosis of Coeliac Disease which is good because it means I finally know for certain what is up.  I’ve been gluten-free ever since the biopsy and it’s been a steep learning curve.

I’ve been to Cyprus for a week and managed ok but did put on 4lb.  This is not too surprising as I’ve had a few binges on biscuits and crisps over the last few weeks.  I don’t seem to have much willpower and hopefully I can be back on track soon.kefalos

We stayed at the Kefalos Damon Apartments in Paphos where I have now been four times.  It is not a luxury hotel but is very friendly, efficient and clean which is all we really want.  I didn’t check about gluten-free meals here as we were just having bed and breakfast and on the first day I found there was plenty to eat.  I stuck to bacon, egg, tomato, beans and fried potatoes, followed by fruit and Greek yoghurt.  We had some chips at the pool bar one day but I didn’t try any of their other food as we usually are out and about at meal times.

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I found most places in Paphos were unaware of the gluten-free diet.  I stuck to salads, jacket potatoes and steak and chips.  The best place to eat was Fat Mamas where the chef would happily come to talk to me to discuss which meals were gluten-free and which ones he could easily adapt for me.  Their steaks were delicious and I also tried their sea bass.  They do two sizes of meals which is fantastic for those with big appetites.  The gluten-free desserts were mainly ice-cream but I was trying to avoid desserts anyway.  Main courses were around 15-22 Euros each.  They also do buy one get one free cocktails between 6pm and 7pm!  Delicious.

So back home….back on Slimming World fully…

Below are a few of my gluten-free Slimming World recipes

Soups:

Curries:

Snacks & Lunches:

Sweet treats: