February 24, 2009

Gluten Free on the tropical island of Zanzibar

I apologize that I have not posted more recipes this month, but as some of you know I was doing some serious traveling for the past month, therefore many of my posts are geared more towards traveling. But I personally feel that you can never have enough travel advice about countries when you are Celiac!

Zanzibar is a little island off Tanzania that is absolutely magical. It is surrounded by other little islands that are world renowned for their snorkeling. This island is home to many world famous spices such as, vanilla, cumin, cloves, pepper, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and so many more. It is where I had some of the best Indian food in my life, swam in the warmest ocean, and saw dolphins out my breakfast window almost everyday. It was incredibly easy to find GF food here, as people in Africa view flour as a luxury, whereas people in America feel that they need to "Stretch" food to save money, so flour goes in almost everything! The cuisine in Zanzibar is highly influenced by Indian and Asian foods and if you are like me, this is the place you want to be! They also serve many fish and shellfish dishes that are caught daily. The portions are good sized and you can eat a wonderful meal for under 10 USD. My only advice is to bring an explanation of what Celiac disease is and the things you can and can not eat in Swahili. However, almost everyone speaks English, so questions are well understood. Below is a list of restaurants I ate at while staying in Stone Town, Zanzibar. My final advice is if you ever make the trip to Tanzania, do not miss out on going to Zanzibar!

Archipelago~5 out of 5
This restaurant was so incredibly good, that we ate here 3 times! I could not get enough of their dishes. The food here is cheap and amazing. They offer many grilled fish dishes and believe it or not they do not use flour in anything! They have GF cakes for dessert created with almond meal and date flour. You can easily eat 3 courses here for under 12 dollars. Another perk is the view here. The restaurant sits on the second story of a building overlooking the water and is perfect for a sunset meal.

Silk Route~4.5 out of 5
An Indian restaurant with a great atmosphere. Located on the very top of a building, you can overlook the streets of Stone Town. The waitstaff is amazing and they really catered to my needs. I was able to eat very easily here.
Freddie Mercury's~2 out of 5
This restaurant is named after one of the members of Queen, who was from Zanzibar. They are very proud of him and created this restaurant in honor of him. The food at this restaurant was horrible. However, it gets 2 stars for the incredible water front view it displays. The servers were quite confused about my needs and not very accommodating. I recommend this place for a drink at sunset, but for dinner, I highly suggest you go somewhere else.

Al Jahar~2 out of 5
A fancy restaurant, with reasonable prices. Located on the top floor of a eye pleasing hotel, this restaurant has one of the best views in Zanzibar. Its bar has a very Schick, yet comfortable feel about it. They offer a wide array of drinks, but their mixed drinks lack in flavor. Their soups are incredible, but their food is sub par. I sampled the paella, a traditional Spanish dish, and was so disgusted by it, that I barely ate five bites of it. However, this is another restaurant that I highly recommend their bar for a beer or glass of wine, but really do go somewhere else for dinner.

Monsoon~4.5 out of 5
A unique restaurant where guests sit on pillows on the floor surrounded by low tables. A band plays typical Zanzibarian music in the corner, as you munch on local food. I was able to eat almost everything on the menu here and the staff was wonderful. The ambiance in this restaurant was the best of any of the other restaurants in Stone Town that I visited. It is great for an intimate setting or even a close family dinner.

Activities you can not miss in Zanzibar

~The spice tour
~The Red Colobus Monkey tour w/ a visit to the Green Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Mangrove swamp
~Prison Island
~Chumbe Island

February 22, 2009

The buoni ristoranti in Italy!

I have started to eat out more and more in Italy these days. I guess you can say I have attained experience in having no fear to tell the waiter exactly what I want! Also, I am able to spot places that can accommodate me better than others, call it a 6th sense if you like! haha, I am sure most Celiacs find they develop this "sense" with time.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to those Celiacs living in Italy and those Celiacs traveling to Italy. I have a list of places that I highly reccommend, and places that are Celiac friendly, but may not be my favorite place to find an Italian meal. I also have some advice to those coming to eat your way around Italy. Firstly don't assume that everyone in Italy knows what Celiac Disease is. I have found that many people look at me like a three headed monster when I say to them "Sono Celiachia!!!" But there have been other times where they knowingly nod their head. I have yet to find that dream place where they just made fresh GF gnocchi for me or where there is homemade GF tiramisu waiting in the fridge for me. There are places out there like this, but you may not find it every time! So I have become content with eating risotto, polenta, salads, delicious meats, and of course the to die for prosciutto di San Daniele! Secondly, most people in Northern Italy, located in the smaller towns(this is not including the big cities like Verona, Treviso, Venice, etc.) speak very little to no English, so your job is to either know the words such as NO Farina di Frumento!!! or have them written down. I have found that if I carry a Celiac explanation in Italiano, it helps immensely. Then I do not have to point to things, throw out Italian words, and scream the words NO FARINA!!! Now you may think you have been practicing your Italian and are confident enough to converse with a lovely non English speaking Mama Mia, but a lot of things get lost in translation. The last couple of times we have gone out, I have almost not brought along the translation card, but my boyfriend insisted that saying NO FARINA is not the answer! And he has always been right so far. So in all honesty, just bring an Italian translation and then you won't be sweating in your chair wondering whether your Italian and most importantly, your hand gestures were understood! Thirdly, if you are in a bind and didn't prepare a place to go ahead of time, do not worry. Find a restaurant that offers risotto or polenta for the primi piatti or first course. Then you can usually eat most anything for your secondo piatti, as most of the items are grilled meat. If the item has a sauce, simply just ask them to leave it out! If you can't find a restaurant that offers polenta or risotto, it is no problem, just order a insalata misto(mixed salad) for your first course, followed by a deliciously grilled roast beef! Trust me you won't go hungry in Italy, even if you are Celiac. And if you are in between meals, just pop into a farmacia and grab a gluten free snack! They have a wide array of snacks, cookies, crackers, pastas, breads, beer, etc in most Italian pharmacies.

Restaurants I highly recommend

Alte Hutte~5 stars out of 5!

via Lussari, 1 Camporosso 33018 Tarvisio

A cozy restaurant located by the ski slopes of Tarvisio. They do not have GF pasta, but if you bring your own they will cook it and add some delicious ragu sauce to it! They have a great 3 course meal for around 20 euros.

Moby Dicks~5 stars out of 5!


-DS pizza point

-GF pasta, pizzas, and desserts!!!

-Fast and good service

Liston~4 stars out of 5

Via Dietro Listone 19 Verona

Wonderful restaurant serving lots of risottos and dishes with polenta. They have the best mixed salad I have had in Italy! And make sure to try the risotto with radicchio!

Gelateria Emmanuel 4 stars out of 5

Via Roma, across from arena, Verona

GF gelatos available here! Lots of choices!
They even use seperate scoops for every ice cream, so no CC worries!

Restaurants that can accommodate GF, but are not my favorite

Al Porto~ 2 out of 5 stars

Muggia, UD

This restaurant is located in the beautiful city of Muggia and has an incredible view. They offer GF pasta and pizza. Their pizza is sub par, but the view is worth it. If you really are looking for a good pizza place I recommend a DS pizza point, as this one tasted like a pizza made on soggy polenta!

Da Poggi~0 out of 5 stars


I have now tried to eat at Da Poggi, located on the famous street in Venice. The first time I made a reservation via email and did not receive a response until 3 am. I obviously did not check my email this late, nor in the morning at 6am before we left for Venice. I assumed there would be someone in the restaurant that I could talk to either during lunch hours or dinner hours. However, there was no one in this restaurant and absolutely no hours posted. I asked the shop next store if the restaurant would open later and they said "They open when they want". Obviously we did not want to wait for whatever time that would be, as we were starving. So we ate at another place and low and behold on our walk back, Da Poggi was open. The second time I tried to go with my parents. We sat outside the restaurant, as there was someone inside, for 1 hour. The man inside did not acknowledge us and proceeded to stock the fridge, wander around, turn on the outside lights, everything else possible but did not look at us. We finally knocked on the door, after 12 people had already tried the locked door in front of us. He then looked at me shrugged his shoulders and gave the signal for closed. I pointed to my imaginary watch implying what time they would open and he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. I absolutely do not recommend this restaurant, as they are very very rude in my opinion. Find somewhere else to eat in Venice, but not here!!!

~Also, you can visit the Italian website for more options

Just click on the AFC link with the Great Britain flag

~Or even the DS pizza points

This list will be continually updated!

February 19, 2009

Sesame Chicken

The other day I passed by a Chinese Restaurant in Slovenia and I thought to myself just how much I really do miss Chinese food. Sure a good stir fry scratches that itch for a salty soy sauce craving, but it only fixes it temporarily. I miss quality Chinese dinners full of stir fried rice, sesame chicken, shrimp lo mein, and even a scoop full of Mongolian beef to finish it off. But not all is lost! About a month ago I came across a recipe on allrecipes.com, which for the record is one of my favorite sites, and a recipe for sesame chicken jumped out at me. I realized that hey, it really isn't that hard to make this dish and it is easily made gluten free thanks to GF soy sauce!!! I have now made this dish twice and each time it gets better and better. Pair it with some stir fried rice and you wouldn't even know it wasn't take out Chinese from your old favorite spot around the corner!

Sesame Chicken


~2 tbs white rice flour
~2 tbs cornstarch
~1/4 tsp GF baking soda
~1/4 tsp GF baking powder
~2 tbs GF soy sauce
~3 tbs water
~1 tsp vegetable oil
~1 dash sesame oil
~1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed


~1 cup chicken broth
~1/4 cup white sugar
~1-2 tbs rice vinegar
~2 tbs GF soy sauce
~2 tbs sesame oil
~1 tsp GF chili paste
~1 clove garlic, minced
~1/4 cup cornstarch
~1/2 cup water
~2 tbs sesame seeds, added at the end

Mix marinade ingredients together. Then stir in chicken, coating completely, and place in fridge. After 30min., remove chicken from fridge. Heat 2tsp. olive oil in skillet and fry chicken until cooked. While chicken is cooking, heat sauce in wok or skillet. Bring chicken broth, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and garlic to a boil. Mix cornstarch with water and stir until smooth. Stir the cornstarch water mixture into boiling sauce. Simmer sauce until clear, about 2-3 minutes, and then reduce heat until chicken is done. Pour 2 tbs of sesame seeds into sauce and pour sauce over chicken. You may find that you have more sauce than chicken, that is why it is important not to put the chicken into the sauce, but pour it over the chicken so you have the perfect amount. I have tweaked this recipe quite a bit. You may find it too sweet, so only add part of the sugar and then sample the sauce. Or you may like the zang of vinegar, in that case, add a bit more vinegar. Add or take out little amounts until you find the perfect sauce for you! Serve over plain rice or fried rice, complete with chop sticks.

February 16, 2009

A Romantic Dinner for Two

As you all know this past Saturday was Valentine's Day. Now I have to be honest and say that I am not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. I have memories of being in Middle School and never getting a Valentine's Day present from a boy. I would see many of my school mates running around with balloons, flowers, and candy from boyfriends, admirer’s, or just a special someone. I was never quite that lucky. So a part of me has always thought Valentine's Day is just a bit overrated...But this year was actually quite nice. My boyfriend was away playing a hockey game and I was still entertaining my guests, but I came home on Valentine's Day night to some wonderful roses in my room, which definitely made up for some of my past V-Days! I then decided that it would be best to celebrate this "special" day on the 15th, as that was the day that I would no longer have any company in my household. I had eaten out so much in the past month with being on vacation that I was desperately craving a good home cooked meal. Not to mention my boyfriend was just as eager to have one, as he told me more than once he really missed my cooking while I was gone! Which I greatly appreciated! So I decided to make it a three course meal with some hearty meat, some romantic food items, and of course finishing it off with some Vino. So for those of you romantic Celiacs out there, this meal is absolutely perfect, and most importantly is not a meal that you need to be the next Top Chef to make!! So dust off your candles, get out and buy a nice Italian vino rosso, put on your apron, and get to work!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

~1 cup GF cream cheese
~1 jar canned artichokes, chopped and rinsed
~1/2-3/4 cup frozen spinach, drained and thawed
~1/8 cup shredded Asiago cheese
~1/8 cup shredded Parm. cheese
~4 cloves garlic
~splash of milk

Preheat oven to 325 F( about 170C) and place garlic gloves in pie pan, baking dish can also be used. Make sure garlic is peeled. Roast garlic for 20-30 minutes until soft. Remove dish from oven and smash garlic, spreading over bottom of dish. Mix cream cheese and milk with garlic in dish. Add enough milk to create a creamy consistency. Then stir in spinach and chopped artichokes. Finish the dip off with stirring in both cheeses. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes covered and then 10 minutes uncovered or until top starts to crust over. Serve with toasted Gluten free bread and tortilla chips.

Breaded Pork Chops

~2 pork chops, bones removed
~GF bread crumbs
~1 egg
~Fresh Rosemary, thinly chopped

Remove bones from Pork Chops. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup cornstarch on to plate. On a separate plate, sprinkle small amount of GF bread crumbs. Then in a separate bowl, beat the egg. Coat Pork Chop in cornstarch, then coat with egg. Sprinkle rosemary and salt onto both sides of cornstarch and egg coated chop. Finally place on GF bread crumb plate and coat completely. Place on cooking sheet covered in foil. Repeat this with other Pork Chop. Then place in oven once artichoke dip is done. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of chops.

Mushroom Gravy

~1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
~1/4 cup canned mushrooms chopped
~1-2 tbs. thinly chopped onion or scallion
~1 tsp. butter
~1-2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp. water

Cook gravy once dip is finished and pork chops have 5 minutes to go. Place onions in pan with butter. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 more minutes. Add in broth and cook on high temperature. After 3 minutes add in corn starch and stir until gravy becomes thick. You may need to add more cornstarch if gravy appears too thin, or if you added too much cornstarch, just pour in a touch more broth. Serve immediately over pork chops and potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

~3 medium to large potatoes peeled and chopped into 1-2inch. sections
~1/4-1/2 cup milk
~2 tsp. butter
~Salt to taste

Place potatoes into boiling water once dip is done. Remove them from water when they are soft enough a fork can pierce through them. Drain and place into separate big bowl. With a potato masher or electric mixer, mix butter into potatoes. Then begin mixing the milk in to create a creamy consistency. You may need more or less milk depending on how big the potatoes are you used. Finally add salt to taste.

Green Beans with Prosciutto

~1-1/2 cup green beans, ends snapped off
~couple pieces of prosciutto chopped
~1 clove garlic minced
~olive oil
~salt to taste

Sauté garlic, green beans, and prosciutto in 1-2 tsp. olive oil. This can be started before gravy is prepared. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until green beans start to soften, but still keep their crispness.

Dark Chocolate Fondue

~1-2 bars Lindt 70% dark chocolate
~1/4-1/2 cup milk
~desired fruit, chopped

Melt Chocolate in fondue pot over stove. If you do not have a fondue pot, you can use a regular small sized pot. Add in milk slowly as chocolate begins to melt. You will want the chocolate to become creamy, but not so thin that it will not coat the fruits. However, it should easy pour off a spoon in a thick stream. Remember, you can always add more milk at the end, so do not add too much in the beginning! Serve over tea light candle to keep warm. Dip fruit in chocolate with fondue forks or regular forks.

A gluten Free Safari in Tanzania

Jambo!!! I am finally home from my traveling across the world and I could not be happier. It was an amazing trip and full of wonderful memories, but lets face it...I am exhausted! I also just played host for the past week, as my cousin and friend were visiting. Now I have 3 whole days to myself before my boyfriend's Mom comes for a visit. So I am enjoying the quiet house while I can! As for my trip to Africa, where do I even begin!

My family, best friend from AK(who thankfully brought her Dad's huge professional camera), and I went on an 8 day safari across Tanzania. It was incredible. We saw everything from Leopard babies, A Cheetah catching a Hare, thousands of Zebras, Baboons climbing on our car, Lions right next to our car, and the list goes on and on forever. Our driver was wonderful and the accommodations were more then we could ask for. We stayed in tent camps for the majority of the time and were literally in the wild with the animals!! I woke up to an elephant pushing over a tree in the middle of the night right outside my tent! Now that is a memory! But one of the best parts of the trip was the food. It was the most delicious food I have ever had in my life and completely Gluten Free! The owner of the safari company was aware of my situation and informed all the tent camps and lodges we stayed at of my needs. They were so great about making sure my food was gluten free and I even got a couple special food items made for me! I just took along my own bread and cereal to eat in the morning. For lunch they always packed me a meal of chicken, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, nuts, and salad. For dinners I enjoyed Indian dishes, perfectly spiced chicken dishes, fresh fish, and many other wonderful items. I was even able to eat dessert every night, which consisted of fruit and custard toppings made with corn starch. I can not recommend this experience enough. It is a bit of a pricy endeavor, but if you are looking for a vacation never to forget this is it! Not once did I have to worry that I would go hungry and I got to see the most amazing wildlife and scenery possible in the world!!!

Safari Company:

Tanzania Adventures

Parks Visited:

Serengeti (both north and south)
Lake Manyara
Ngorongoro Crater