Holidaying with the family is something to look forward to, and with a coeliac child, it’s one more thing to consider. We’ve had some fairly good experiences in the following countries :
Thailand - because of the abundance of rice dishes and the relative simplicity of the stir-fried foods, it is quite easy to cater for gluten-free dishes in Thailand. The only thing to look out for is soy-sauce, which of course is not gluten-free! However, most traditional Thai dishes do not call for soy-sauce, it’s only because of some chinese influence that you occasionally see the use of soy-sauce in dishes. So, important to get to know the Thai word for soy-sauce! We holidayed in Phuket, and they were all very accomodating (as most Thais are!) for our daughters gluten-free diet. Luckily, she is happy to have a plate of steamed rice – if we’re really not sure about some of the dishes or sauces, or if we can’t communicate with the locals – like on a small deserted island in the Andaman Sea! (during a day boat-trip). I took gluten-free bread with us, and bought Skippy peanutbutter in the local supermarket – that took care of breakfast and any picnic meals!
Austria – We holidayed in Filzmoos, in the Tyrol mountains one summer. Filzmoos is also a ski-resort, but just as lovely in the summer. It’s a haven for walking, and mountain climbing, and also daytrips to Salzburg, ice-caves nearby. We had the half-board arrangement at the Unterhof Hotel, and they catered beautifully for her during the evening meal – either by offering something else or adapting the “normal” meal with a gluten-free version (ie leaving off the sauce, crust etc.). Breakfast was more limited, as there was only rice crispies on offer and fruit and yoghurt. We had lunch in the local restaurants, and we had very good experiences there as well. I presume this was mainly due to the fact that most of the hotels and restaurants in Filzmoos are family owned – ie the wife serves, whilst the husband is in the kitchen and the communication for gluten-free requirement is made that much more effectively and efficiently. The other reason was that the resort was not that busy, so there was plenty of time to listen to our requirements and agree a suitable and appropriate meal for our daughter (she is a fussy eater also!).
Since returning from Filzmoos, I keep a look-out for holiday opportunities in Austria as the experience was such a positive one. I’ve also found a Hotel in Ischgl – again in Tyrol, called the hotel Goldener Adler. www.goldener-adler.at Its advert speaks of “Accompanied by a superb range of leisure activities, perfect service and gluten-free cuisine – that you will only find in a house that has specialised in gluten-free holidays for many years. (a daughter of the family has suffered from coeliac disease for more than 30 years). You don’t need to bring any food with you. You needn’t worry about anything” Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? I didn’t know places like that existed!
Italy – This summer we are vacationing in Lombardia, near Lake Garda. When looking for accomodation, we came across 2 hotels in Sirmione Hotel LaPaul www.hotellapaul.com and DuLac Hotel www.hoteldulacsirmione.com - both of which catered for gluten-free clients – it even mentions it on their website. I was quite surprised, as I always imagined Italian cooking to have a lot of gluten in it – pasta, bread etc. I presumed we would have to make do with risottos and polenta dishes. However, I have since found out they have quite an extensive coeliac society (unfortunately, regionalised, so you search for the region you are going to). Also, the catering industry and catering colleges are very big in Italy on training students and cooks with the necessary skills to deal with gluten-free cooking, not just the cooking part,but also the cross-contamination routines etc.
Finland – I’ve never been, but I read an article that they cater extremely well for coeliacs in this country. The article mentioned that you can step into a MacDonalds and order a gluten-free Big Mac – bun and all – no problem! Also, the writer of the article enjoyed ice-cream on a gluten-free cone – staff were careful not to put the cone in a holder that had had a gluten cone in it before. Also he described a street vendor selling gluten-free waffles, warm, straight from the waffle iron. They had 2 waffle irons – one for the gluten free ones and 1 for the “normal” waffles! I’ve not been able to substantiate the article I read, and have not met anyone who has been to Finland to find out whether it really is as easy/good as the article would have you believe. But it seemed worth a trip to find out, don’t you think?
Spain - We’ve holidayed in Spain and Mallorca a couple of times now, mainly because we like the sun and the beach, but also because we can speak and understand the language. That makes it easy to explain to staff about the coeliac diet, but also to question things and agree what meals are suitable for a coeliac. I speak Spanish fluently and my children have Spanish at school, so it’s a bit of a learning experience for them as well. Spanish cooking caters well for coeliacs, as most of the main dishes are prepared in a simple fashion, grilled meat and fish and salads. Paella and other dishes are naturally gluten-free and most “tapas” items are also! The Spanish are not big on cakes, cookies etc and the times I’ve tried them, they haven’t really been that nice anyways…..
Hope the above experiences have inspired you on your quest for your summer holidays!
This bread/cake will feed 4 to 6 people and is high in dietary fibre.
300 gr dates
150 gr ground almonds
150 gr caster sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tablespoons cornflour
2 cl Cointreau
50 gr almond slivers
Pre-heat the oven to 175C
Take the stones out of the dates and cut the dates into small pieces. Mix with 100gr of the sugar and the ground almonds.
Seperate the eggs and take the egg yolks and mix them with the remaining 50 grs of sugar and vanilla essence.
Melt the butter and mix in the cornflour, the dates, ground almonds, sugar, egg yolks and Cointreau. Stir until well-mixed.
Whip up the eggs whites until stiff and fold into the above mixture.
Butter a round cake dish and line with greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mixture. Sprinkle almond slivers on the top and bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven at 175C.
As a coeliac, you tend to stick with the “simple” foods and the foods you know and there isn’t a lot of time or opportunity for snacking.
Luckily there are suppliers out there who can supply you with a nice snack. One of these is www.fabsnacks.com
They offer gluten-free snacks, but also other snacks for other allergies, such as lactose, wheat-free, yeast-free……
If you’d rather make your own snack, I can recommend this easy, no-cook recipe for that all-time favourite – COCONUT ICE it takes about 15 minutes to make, 4-5 hours to let set and then another 5 minutes to cut into pieces.
405 gr tin of Condensced Milk
300 gr desiccated coconut
300 gr Icing Sugar
2-3 drops of Red (scarlet) food colouring
How to make :
1. Line a square or rectangular dish with grease-proof (parchment) paper.
2. Mix all (except the food colouring) the ingredients together. Spread half of the mixture and spread out evenly into the base of the dish – use the back of a spoon to smooth out the mixture.
3. Add the food colouring to the remainder of the mixture and mixed thoroughly.
4. Spread the pink mixture over the top of the first layer and smooth out.
5. Leave overnight, or at least 4-5 hours. in a cool place before cutting into squares.
This coconut ice keeps well for 4-5 days in an airtight container. Enjoy!
For a simple gift idea, place some of the coconut ice in attractive containers or jars and attach a gift tag. You may also put some squares of clear cellophane and tie with colourful ribbon.
According to medical journals irritable bowel syndrome is the most common of all bowel
disorders. (Affecting 15% of the population). Also according to the medical journals the
condition has a poor response to treatment.
It has similar symptoms to celiac disease and is often the initial diagnosis being a condition which is better known by doctors.
Typical symptoms are: -
• Digestion problems
• Abdominal pains with or without
• Diarrhoea, with or without
• Changes in the bowel motions, such as hard or pallet like motions
• Loose bowels especially after breakfast
• Chronic tiredness