Preparing for a Gluten Free All-Inclusive Vacation


Let me first say that I have wholeheartedly avoided going to an all-inclusive resort for the past four winters since becoming gluten free.  I mean avoided it like the plague. During the past two winters in a bid to skip out on the cold, we have thought about going to the Caribbean. But after reading many horror stories of fellow gluten free travelers and seeing the price tag at the Sandals resorts where you could eat safely, I always said no. Neither situation seemed worth it to me.

So this winter I once again found myself in the same conundrum, wanting desperately to escape the negative 30 degree weather but not wanting to spend $5,000 on a one week trip when I’d rather go backpacking for a few weeks instead. Then suddenly in the span of less than 24 hours there we were booking an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica. Looking back I am so glad we took the plunge. We went to the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica. My parents and friends have both gone there before to rave reviews. When my parents went two years ago they said the resort offered gluten free menus at the a la carte restaurants. I even found a couple references in an online review board that people with Celiac Disease were able to eat there safely. Plus, in talking with travel agents they said the company is known for being able to accommodate people with food allergies and sensitivities so they thought I would be OK. It sounded promising. Still I was scared.

To help alleviate some of the worry that I still had, I packed a lot of snack foods with me to ensure that I did not go hungry. Some of the essentials I brought that I would also recommend to other people travelling gluten free are…

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Gluten Free & Soy Free Chocolate Found in Toronto

To me Easter weekend is a really good excuse to eat a lot of chocolate (like I need an excuse). Ever since I can remember, I have loved searching for chocolate eggs hidden around our house. I’m pretty sure each year my Mom hid the eggs in the same spots in our family room, but somehow later in the year we’d end up finding that one forgotten egg that we missed out on. Now as an adult I find myself searching for chocolate in a different (more desperate) way. I’m on a daily hunt across the city to find gluten free, soy free chocolate. Thankfully within the past six months I have found more varieties of chocolate that I can eat. Here they are, the best gluten free & soy free chocolate that I have found in Toronto…

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Heading to the Beach: My First Gluten Free All-Inclusive Vacation

My suitcase is packed with bathing suits, summer dresses and Lara bars. After a record-setting cold winter in Toronto, I am ready to escape to the sunshine in Jamaica to relax with the sand between my toes. I am going on my first all-inclusive vacation since becoming gluten free.

In the worst case scenario I will be spending the next week eating instant oatmeal, peanut butter and crackers, and the two dozen peanut butter energy bites I just made. I have homemade chocolate chip cookies, gummy bears and chocolate bars to get me through while Ryan is taking seconds at the dessert bar. Seriously, whoever said going to an all-inclusive resort was supposed to be relaxing and stress-free surely does not have a food intolerance or allergies. I’ll be honest, this is the scariest trip I have taken since becoming gluten free.

I’ll be sure to share my experience staying at an all-inclusive resort, be they good or bad. My aspiration is that by sharing my experience it will help provide tips and encouragement to others so that more people with gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease will be able to still enjoy going to all-inclusive resorts like our pre-gluten free days (without spending a fortune).

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Celebratory Dinner & Drinks at Trattoria Nervosa

A night out at Trattoria Nervosa

Last Friday I went out with some female colleagues to celebrate the recent marriage of one of our friends. We went out to Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville for a lovely, classic Italian dinner.

Yorkville is one of the swankiest neighbourhoods in Toronto and has a very European feel. It is littered with Italian restaurants but Trattoria Nervosa is easily one of my favourites in the area because of the good food and great atmosphere. So maybe it wasn’t the most appropriate place to start asking our new bride sex-themed ‘Would You Rather’ questions, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do! Since she didn’t have a Bachelorette party, we had to add an element of fun and embarrassment to our evening. ‘Would You Rather’ questions are hilarious and always lead to a good deal of discussion and laughter. It’s funny how certain questions need a lot of hemming and hawing, while others require no second thought at all. Thankfully, this time we were seated on the crowded main floor of the restaurant which is always buzzing so hopefully our vibrant guest of honour shouting “paid for sex” wasn’t too noticed.

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Winterlicious at Canoe: Foodie Heaven

Pressed Maple Braised Willowgrove Pork served with Heirloom Beans, Kozlik’s Mustard and Puffed Wild Rice

We had a lovely date night at Canoe during this year’s Winterlicious. Like I have mentioned before, Winterlicious is such a great event where Toronto’s restaurants open their doors and offer prix fixe menus. Not only is it a great opportunity for an evening out with friends and family, but it makes a pretty sweet date night. Ryan and I are now in the habit of trying one of the top tier $45 Winterlicious meals as a fancy night out. It’s such a fabulous way to taste the menu at one of Toronto’s top restaurants. Usually when I go to one of these more expensive restaurants I wouldn’t order multiple courses, so Winterlicious gives the perfect opportunity to do just that with it’s three course prix fixe menus. This year we had an incredible evening at Canoe, which is critically acclaimed as one of Canada’s best restaurants. It is one of Oliver and Bonacini’s restaurants and offers Canadian inspired cuisine.  While I had been to Canoe before for martinis with vising relatives from Finland, this was my first time eating there. It is such a prestigious restaurant that Winterlicious reservations for Canoe get booked up quickly, so we were lucky to snag a weeknight dinner reservation.

I can’t say enough how lovely an evening it was. The fantastic meal was made even more exceptional by being accompanied by wine tastings, great company and stunning views of our gorgeous city as a backdrop. Canoe is located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower and the views are beautiful.

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Winterlicious 2014: Jump

Dinosaur kale and Ontario ricotta salad

In case anyone has been hibernating and has not stepped outside into Toronto’s -20 degrees celcius weather, it’s winter out there.  I’ll admit, I’m not a winter person.  I don’t like snow or the cold and I gave up my dream of being a snowboarder many years ago when I spent more time on my butt than on my board.  Thankfully there is a two-week bright spot during Winterlicious, when Toronto’s best restaurants open their doors and offer prix fixe meals.  Since taking part in Winterlicious for the first time last year, now it has a regular place in my calendar.  Winter/Summerlicious is such a great opportunity to try new restaurants and new dishes.  This time of year reminds Torontonians how incredibly lucky we are to live in such a vibrant city with so many culinary choices.

On Saturday, I went to Jump Restaurant with a friend for a much needed girls’ night out.  Although neither of us had heard of Jump before, we noticed it was one of Oliver & Bonacini’s restaurants.  We always enjoy going to their restaurants and had heard good reviews.  It turned out to be a fantastic choice.

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Happy 2014: A Holiday Recap

Delicious treats from Bunner's Bakeshop!

Is it already January?  Time has flown by lately especially since I’ve been so busy with a big project at work.  I realized I haven’t posted about my holidays yet.  Better late than never right? Toronto got hit by a big ice storm a few days before Christmas and my parent’s neighbourhood got hit hard losing power for over 110 consecutive hours.  Needless to say, they couldn’t host and the decision was made to move our celebrations up to Barrie.  So we piled into the car, trunk and laps full of presents, stockings, groceries, pots and pans and of course the requisite turkey and ham.  We literally brought Christmas to my Grandpa’s – everything but the tree went with us.

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Gluten Free Garage – Part 3

Gluten Free Garage - Part 3

This past Sunday Ryan and I went to the Gluten Free Garage at the stunning Artscape Wychwood Barns.  I fondly remember the first event last year when I was amazed and thankful to finally have a gluten free event where local, homemade and natural foods were being showcased rather than the typical heavily processed and packaged foods at other events.  It was such a great roster last year and that continued at this event too!

I like this event because I know I can find some of my favourite foods from bake shops and vendors I love, plus I get to try new new foods too.

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Re-Launch! Welcome to My New Home!

I’m so excited to say that I have re-launched my gluten free blog! I have changed the name to ‘Travel the World Gluten Free to better describe the type of content you’ll find here. I have also moved to a new web address. All of the posts I had on my old blog along with the notes I had in my journal from my most recent trip have been added to the new site. Now everything is in one place. Welcome! I hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I enjoy creating them. Hopefully they inspire you to travel the world gluten free.

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Neighbourhood Review: Roncesvalles

Beautiful High Park

We’ve been living in Roncy for a few months now and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring our new neighbourhood.  It’s so nice having all of the restaurants and shops on Roncesvalles plus beautiful High Park all within a few blocks walk.  I’m so happy we moved to this area to be able to live in such an outdoorsy, green tree lined neighbourhood and also to have the city at our finger tips, easily accessible by subway or streetcar.

There are many gluten free options available in Roncy, both whether you’re looking to eat out or buy products to stock your fridge and pantry.  I was so surprised that one of the fruit markets even sells many of my favourite gluten free products – lentil crackers, tortilla chips, beans, nuts, as well as an assortment of other packaged goods.  Besides the below list there are also a lot of other good looking restaurants along Roncy that I think will have gluten free options, I just haven’t been everywhere yet.  I’ve got to continuing exploring!

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