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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Low Calorie Lunch – Huevos Rancheros (GF)

A delicious low calorie lunch full of healthy ingredients.  Fresh, filling and gluten free.

  • Total calories: 327
  • Total carbs: 30g
  • Total protein: 21g
  • Syns on Slimming World: free

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 diced red or yellow pepper
  • 30g diced onion
  • 100g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups of chopped kale
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of paprika
  • Frylight
  • 2tsp garlic puree
  • 2 large sized eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Fry the onion, peppers, carrot, paprika and cumin in Frylight for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes, garlic and 50ml of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the kale.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack the eggs into it.IMG_20170502_120626
  6. Put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes.  I put mine in a Pyrex dish as my frying pan has a plastic handle and can’t go in the oven.
  7. Serve.

 

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Want more inspiration?  You might like Quick Low Calorie Lunch: Salmon, egg and spinach plate (GF).

Quick Low Calorie Lunch: Salmon, egg and spinach plate (GF)

After a low calorie lunch?  Try this delicious plate containing plenty of greens and protein.  Coeliac?  Don’t worry it’s gluten free!

  • Total calories: 230 Kcal
  • Total protein: 25g
  • Total carbs: 2g
  • Points on Slimming World: free

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Prepare a plate with 40g of washed spinach.  Add strips of smoked salmon (50g).  Fry two eggs in Frylight (or poach them) and add to the dish.  Add a sprinkle of paprika to add some colour.

 

MyFitnessPal app – trying it out

It’s been a while since my last post. For those of you who haven’t read my Blog before here’s a bit of background.

 

 

I’m a female with insulin dependent diabetes and diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2016. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. I lost a few stone on Slimming World in the past and recently lost two stone with Food Optimising on Slimming World.

I’ve been a bit stuck. I’ll admit it! I know you can lose weight with Slimming World and have always rated it. Eating without measuring (much) and never feeling hungry really worked well for me. Adding in Coeliac Disease to the mix has been a bit more tricky.  Slimming World try to be helpful and allow sufferers to adapt the Healthy Extras slightly.  Added to this I can’t do the Speed Days as it’s not advised if you’re diabetic.  Although I did lose two stone I personally felt I needed something to kick start my weight loss again.

Why calorie counting?  My husband has impressed me by calorie counting, exercising and losing three stone in a few months.  I’ve never wanted to go down this route before because I already count carbs to help calculate my insulin and didn’t want more numbers rolling around in my head!  To be honest it sounded too simple.  Calories in need to be lower than calories out for you to lose weight.  I wasn’t convinced, until I saw it work for my other half.

app

Getting started…  I downloaded MyFitnessPal app which had been recommended to me.  I went for the basic version.  I entered my age, gender, activity levels (hmm…low) and current weight.  Then I put in that I’d like to about 1lb per week.  You can adjust this at any time and can even set it up to maintain weight or put on weight if those are things you want to do.  The app advised me to try to stick to about 1690 calories per day.  The more you weigh the more calories you’re allowed.  If you’re more active you’re allowed more calories too.

Food diary…  I’m used to recording everything I eat since starting Slimming World.  I quick like micro-managing every detail at the moment until I know what I’m doing.  You can quickly add your calories, search for items or scan barcodes to add items.  Check how sensible the numbers sound as occasionally there may be a slight error.

Exercise…  You can add exercise each day and it gives you more calories in your allowance.  That’s the kind of motivation I need!

Detail…  The app can go into great detail about fibre, vitamins and other nutrients.  I don’t really use this as it isn’t my main motivation at the moment.

Weight…  You can enter your weight as often as you want.

So far…  I’ve lost 5lb this week.  I know when starting a new eating scheme I tend to lose a chunk to start off with and then losses are more steady after that.

 

 

 

 

 

Synfree Pancakes – Slimming World (GF)

I don’t often have a healthy b option spare at the end of the day but when I do this is a great recipe to try.  It uses the 35g of oats, a yoghurt and tonnes of fruit, so a great way to add lots of speed foods.

Ingredients:

  • 35 g rolled oats (Mine were gluten free)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pot of Muller Light (I used vanilla with choc chips)
  • 1 tub of Quark
  • Fresh fruit

Method

Beat the eggs.

Stir in the oats and Muller Light

Spray a frying pan with Fylight and pour in some of the mixture.  Cook for about 3 mins per side.  They are really hard to turn over but they get easier to do as you practise.

Make a topping by adding Quark and fresh fruit.

Optional: 2 syns if you mix 11g Highlights hot chocolate to the quark and mix it up…delicious!

Diet Coke Chicken – Slimming World (GF)

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OK, I finally opened the can and made Diet Coke chicken.  It was really Pepsi Max chicken but you get the idea.

Once you get over the initial horror of putting a fizzy drink into a meal you’ll realise it’s really great.  It actually tastes fantastic!  A lovely, slightly sweet and rich sauce.  As I was eating it I couldn’t believe it was synfree!  This will definitely be one of my regular meals now.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts cut into pieces
  • Frylight
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 peppers chopped into chunks
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2tsp Henderson’s Relish (or Worcestershire sauce if you can have gluten)
  • 1tbsp of Kikkoman gluten free soy sauce (or regular soy sauce if you can have gluten)
  • 4 tsp tomato puree
  • 8 tbsp passata
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 330ml can of Diet Coke
  • 200ml chicken stock (I used Knorr stock cubes)

Method:

  1. Fry the chicken, onion and peppers in Frylight for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the diet coke, stock, passata, tomato purée, garlic, Henderson’s Relish, Kikkoman gluten free soy sauce and mixed herbs and stir.
  3. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with: mash, new potatoes, rice…

Looking for more inspiration?  You might like: Chicken Jalfrezi – Slimming World (GF) or Chilli Beef – Slimming World (GF).

 

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

 

 

 

Chicken Jalfrezi – Slimming World (GF)

Curries are one of my absolute favourites.  I love experimenting with different ingredients and spices.  For me, it is more about the taste, than the heat of the dish.  You can always add a bit more curry powder but without the right spices it doesn’t always taste right.

Chicken Jalfrezi is a classic curry dish, originally created to use up leftovers by frying them in peppers and onion.  This recipe serves 2 people and is syn-free.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breast fillets
  • Frylight
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow peppers deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tin of tomatoes – chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • very low fat natural yoghurt and chopped cucumber to serve
  • cooked white rice
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Or use beef, port or lamb.

Method:

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into strips and fry in Frylight until cooked through.
  2. Spray a separate frying pan with Frylight and add the cumin seeds, onion, peppers, garlic and ginger and fry for about 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the mixture and stir well.
  4. Add the curry powder, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes.  Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side dish of very low fat natural yoghurt and chopped cucumber.

Like curries?  You might enjoy Easy Tikka Masala Sauce – Slimming World or Gobi Chana Curry – Slimming World.

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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Frittata – Slimming World (GF)

I used to love Slimming World Quiche but now I can’t eat it because of the gluten.  I’ve experimented with pasta free alternatives and here is my ideal recipe.

I like to make this for a tasty hot evening meal and then pack some up for a chilled lunch the next day.  It goes well with baked beans or a fresh salad.

If you want you can swap the peppers and courgettes for items you have in the fridge.  Broccoli is a personal favourite.

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Pack with free foods!

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 300g tub of fat free cottage cheese
  • diced onions
  • diced red pepper
  • diced courgette
  • seasoning
  • mixed herbs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Beat the eggs and add all the other ingredients.
  3. Put in a casserole dish and cook for 30-50 minutes until cooked thoroughly and lightly browned on top.

Tips:

Some veggies release quite a bit of moisture when cooking.  I sometimes drain some of the water from the dish after about 20 minutes to help it cook more quickly.

You might also like Easy Tikka Masala Sauce – Slimming World.  Why not take a look?