27 July 2007

gluten-free travel snacks

Packing for Europe includes me needing to bring some food. There will be delicious pastries and breads that I'll have to pass by. There will be flour hidden secretly in sauces and sausages. I have restaurant cards in Polish and German for giving to waiters to explain what gluten-free means. The breakfasts at our hotels will likely include some fruit or yogurt or cheese. But I'll need snacks, and I don't want every meal to be a chore. So I've been test-tasting some convenient foods to bring along.

Recently I ordered some stuff from gluten-free.com. First up, Glutino Breakfast Bars in cranberry. At first I didn't like these. I had been eating crackers with garlic cheese when the UPS guy delivered my gluten-free goodies, and I tore into the box and ate one of these bars right away. Mixing with the taste of the garlic cheese was not good. I had an awful taste in my mouth. I chased it with one of the Glutino organic chocolate and peanut bars and that made the taste in my mouth even worse. I was totally turned off by both bars, and very disappointed.

The next day, with a more hospitable pallate, I decided to give them both another try. I had my usual first few cups of coffee. Then I wanted a snack before heading out to the grocery store. I figured this sort of mimicked my coffee and light breakfast before going out for a few hours of sight-seeing. Even if the bars tasted terrible, would they be filling enough to sustain me for a few hours? I ate one of the cranberry bars. It tasted better, but not delicious. There's not a huge amount of cranberry flavor in the filling. But whatever they use for the outside is very heavy with something cinnamonny. (Maybe to cover up something less-tasty?) Several hours later, after grocery shopping, I noticed that I wasn't hungry. Yay! I got properly hungry at lunch time. As a pre-lunch snack I ate a chocolate-peanut bar. It still tasted awful. The chocolate is low-quality and I just didn't taste any peanuts. I tasted plastic.

The taste of the cranberry cereal bars grew on me, and I ordered another box plus the same kind in different flavors to bring with me. A couple bars, some fruit, some yogurt, not a bad breakfast or lunch.

I've also been trying hot cereals. I can tolerate oatmeal most of the time. Being on the road is not when I want to chance the 1 time out of 10 I might not tolerate it. So I ordered Alti Plano Quinoa Hot Cereal, the variety pack. I'd tried their chocolate cereal several years ago and didn't like it, but that was before I'd started eating quinoa regularly, and I think it's a taste that takes some getting used to. The variety pack comes with orange spice, chai spice, and apple spice flavors. They definitely overpower you with spice flavors to cover up the fact that you're eating quinoa, not the oatmeal you grew up with as a kid. They taste okay and they are filling. At the hotels that offer a cold breakfast, I'll be able have hot cereal (since they'll have hot water or milk for tea and coffee) and sometimes that comforting hot cereal mentality is what gets you going in the morning.

I'm mostly worried about Poland and Austria. From what I've heard the UK is pretty gluten-free friendly, plus I know the language. I fear that for the first 2 weeks of the trip I'll be living on coffee and my cereal bars until I get into the UK and can read the menus and labels.

How am I going to get all this stuff to Europe? I'm going to stash bars and packets in my backpack, my day pack, and my purse and pray they don't get too crushed.


JEN said...

Stephanie -

In the UK go in any Tesco Metro shop or Marks and Spencer or Sainsbury's local market. They have lots of fresh food and most carry gluten free as well.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

When I travel I carry schar crackers. They are real crackers! Just fragile. And you can carry a jar of peanut butter. Also these crackers are good with cheese or meat as a topping. Also Schar breadsticks are as good as real. Sarah

Barbara said...

Hi Stephanie,
I'm German and I'm a celiac, too.
Perhaps I can give you some tips, how to find good gluten-free products and to avoid bad situations in restaurants, etc.

In Germany you can find many gluten-free products in supermarkets.
My favourite supermarket chains are EDEKA, real and Kaufland. They carry flour, cereals, bread, cookies, cakes, pasta, etc.
There is also the drugstore chain dm which offers a big selection of gluten-free food.
If you still need a bigger selection, you can go to a so called "reformhaus" (health food store). They normally have the biggest selection of gluten-free food.

In Austria the big supermarket chains like BILLA and SPAR offer even more gluten-free food as German supermarkets, as well as the health food stores there.
Every time, I am in Austria, I go hunting for gluten-free goodies.

Regarding the restaurants, I can say, that it is mostly easier to get gluten-free food in Austria than in Germany as in Austria people mostly have a bigger awareness of healthy food than in Germany.

When you are asking for a gluten-free dish in a restaurant, you should also make sure, that the waiter doesn't confuse gluten with glutamat as this is a very common mistake here. Sometimes it is better to speak of an wheat, rye, barley..."allergy".

Enjoy your travel to Europe!
By the way, which places in Germany and Austria are you going to visit?


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