Europe Day 1 & 2: Barcelona

Now that I’ve been home for a over a week and I’ve had time to relax and mourn the fact that my amazing vacation is over, I am ready to tell you all about my trip!

So on June 28th, after a crazy busy week including my UDel orientation the day before, we packed up our van and drove off to the airport! We flew out of JFK Terminal 3, which actually had a decent amount of gluten free food options. I didn’t end up eating anything from here (except a bag of the necessary kettle cooked salt and vinegar chips and a mocha latte from Starbucks), because I was able to eat the salad that came with the meal on the plane (we waited too long to call about a full gluten free meal and couldn’t get one). The flight was long to say the least. 7 hours of trying—and failing—to get some sleep. So because of the 6 hour time difference in Barcelona, we left New York at 5:30 pm and landed in Barcelona at around 7 am. We were told that it’s bad to just go to sleep when you arrive in the morning, because it’ll throw you off for that night. Plus, we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3. So we just wandered around for 8 hours, which was fun. We just explored the area, and went to this nice little market called La Boqueria Market.

This place was so cool! There was meat, cheese, fresh fruit, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I had this awesome little coconut banana juice that was delicious. I also had some fruit and tried some of the salami that my dad got. It was some good stuff.

So then we just walked around and explored a little bit more around the main road. We ended up over at the Maremagnum, a mall right on the water. We ate lunch here at a place called Kurz & Gut. They had gluten containing items marked on the menu, which caused some confusion because I thought the things that were marked were the gluten free things. Once I realized that was not the case I had a much smaller selection to choose from. I got a salad that had mozzarella stuffed chicken on top with some oil and balsamic vinegar as the dressing.

kurz & gut salad

Overall a pretty average salad. The chicken was pretty good but not anything super special. Not the greatest first meal in Europe, but there were plenty more to come! After lunch we did more wandering, and ended up sitting in the little hotel courtyard waiting to check in. This is also where we took our mid-day nap. So finally 3 o’clock rolled around and we settled into our hotel room. But not for long, because then we needed dinner! We went to a cute little place called Allium Restaurant. This was one of the places that we found in our preliminary restaurant search, and I wanted some authentic Spanish food! To start off I got some gluten free bread. They topped it with tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper and it was delicious! We also ordered a pitcher of Sangria for the table (drinking age in Europe is 18, yay!) and that was very good. As a main dish, my dad and I split the Paella. I was very surprised when the plate arrived to me with four giant shrimp staring back at me. Yes staring, with their little beady eyes. Needless to say I made dad get the meat out of them for me, because I was not touching those things! The paella was very tasty and had a very strong seafood flavor—my only problem was that I think it needed a little more seasoning. Maybe just some salt and pepper; it just seemed like it was missing something.

I then of course had to get dessert from somewhere. So we went to a gelato place right near our hotel called La Squisita and got some chocolate and hazelnut gelato! The man was so nice, when we asked what flavors were gluten free he pulled out a list and read them all off to us! With how many were gluten free he might as well had just told us the ones that weren’t. The gelato really hit the spot. After this, I was ready to go into a full on coma. At that point we had been awake for waaay too many hours. So by 7:45, we were all in bed fast asleep.
la squisita gelato

Fast forward to the next morning: we woke up very refreshed from the extremely long sleep. My mom went over to a cafe that appeared to be a chain called Pans & Company to get some breakfast for her, my dad, and my brother. She also brought me back a decaf coffee to have with my breakfast, a Whenever Bar. Once we were all fueled up and ready to go, we set out to see more of Barcelona. When time came for lunch, we went to another restaurant we found on Find Me Gluten Free called La Lluna. This place was AMAZING. I could not believe how incredible this restaurant ended up being. First of all, it was a three course meal—appetizer, entree, dessert, and a glass of wine—for only 15 euros. I’ve never seen a price like that anywhere. The gluten free options were marked on the menu, so it was very easy to order. For an appetizer, I got the White Bean Salad with Bacon and Basil Pesta. This was sooooo delicious! I loved it a whole lot. The flavors were just perfect. I also tasted my dad’s appetizer, the Potatoes with Poached Egg. It tasted like breakfast, and it was so good. For my entree, I got the Dogfish Gratin with Creamy Spinach Mascarpone. Again, I loved this so much. The melted cheese on top of the fish made it so flavorful, and the spinach was smooth and creamy. I tried my mom’s pork dish which was covered in this amazing gravy; I was dipping my bread in it non stop. OH, I almost forgot to tell you about the bread!!! This was the best gluten free bread I have ever eaten in my life. It was crunchy on the outside and really soft and fluffy on the inside. I wanted to order 200 and take them home with me. So for dessert I got the cheesecake, and it was great! I was a little nervous about it because it had what they called a cinnamon crumble on top, and while it certainly could be made gluten free, and was marked gluten free, I had a funny feeling about it. But I ate it anyway, and didn’t get sick from it so my feeling was wrong! I also tried my mom’s Homemade Coconut Soup with Sorbet (tasty, but the soup and sorbet definitely needed to be eaten together and not individually to get the full effect) and my dad’s Soft Catalan Cheese with Honey and Nuts (not a huge fan of this, but my dad enjoyed it). I wish I could eat here every day of my life. I would say this was the second best meal I ate on this trip (you’ll have to wait til a little later for the best!)

So after this, my dad and brother went with the family who went with us on this trip (otherwise known as our cruise family) to Camp Nou, the Barcelona soccer stadium, for a tour. My mom and I aren’t very into soccer and weren’t interested in seeing this, so we went shopping instead. We had a great time just walking around and buying things, and eventually found our way back to the hotel to figure out dinner. We decided on a tapas restaurant that we had passed on our way back from lunch called El Pintxo de Petritxol. I was a little iffy about this place when we sat down and the waiter didn’t seem too knowledgable about gluten free options, but then I talked to another woman who seemed to know a lot. I ended up ordering the grilled squid tapas and the cheese plate. I didn’t know if I would like the squid, but I actually loved it! Whatever sauce they had on it was great. I think it was some kind of herby olive oil thing. The ends of the tentacles were crispy and crunchy and awesome. I loved it so much, I ordered a second one! The cheese plate was also delicious. Really, can you go wrong with a cheese plate??? I could not tell you what kind of cheese was on this, but whatever it was, it was good (except the bleu cheese, ew). They also gave us some free shots for some reason at the end of the meal—I think the waiter had a crush on Lauren (member of cruise family). So I took my first shot ever, of what the waiter told me was their version of Bailey’s Irish Cream, and I discovered that I do not like the way it feels to take a shot. But it was an interesting experience!

We then made the walk back to our hotel and hung out there for the rest of the night. We went to bed very excited to get on the cruise the next day!!

Up next- Day 3 & 4: First Day of Cruise and Day at Sea! 🙂

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Chebe Cinnamon Rolls and Breadstick Mix

Being diagnosed with celiac makes a girl miss some things. Like what, you ask? Here’s a list:

  • Soft fluffy bread
  • Real pizza (although I’ve found some acceptable substitutions, like this and this)
  • Deli subs (it’s just not the same to make my own)
  • Really giant burritos (like Chipotle, just a good ol’ flour tortilla stuffed with a ridiculous amount of food)
  • Freshly baked bagels
  • Broccoli Cheddar soup in a bread bowl from Panera
  • Classic Chinese dumplings (these fill the void, but I miss being able to order them from Chinese restaurants)
  • Ice cream cones

And finally, I miss cinnamon rolls and breadsticks (like good, Olive Garden breadsticks). Which leads us to this post! I was so excited to find both of these from Chebe in the grocery store.

chebe gluten free cinnamon rolls

So cinnamon rolls. The classic ooey gooey sugary roll of goodness that everyone loves. Let’s start off with how they’re made. You combine the mix with 3 tbsp oil, 2 eggs, and 2 tbsp milk. Then you knead the dough all up, roll it out with a rolling pin, and spread it with 1 tbsp of butter and sprinkle a mix of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp butter onto it. Then you roll it all up, cut it into pieces, and bake them in muffin tin cups for 16-18 minutes or until nice and golden brown. I was told that this process was quite unpleasant and a lot of work (I didn’t make them myself, my lovely mother made them and they were ready when I woke up, which is the best way to wake up in the morning). The mix doesn’t come with any icing to drizzle on top, which is an essential part of cinnamon rolls, so we made our own with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tbsp milk.

chebe gluten free cinnamon rolls

Please don’t be fooled by the slight ugliness of these cinnamon rolls. They taste much more beautiful than they look! They did end up being much tinier than I expected them to be, just because I always think of the giant gluten rolls that I used to eat. These were more like cute lil bite size cinnamon rolls. They were really good and nice and soft, but just a tiny bit too sweet for me, but let’s be honest, thats how cinnamon rolls are supposed to be.

chebe gluten free breadsticks

Next up is the breadsticks. Not only are these breadsticks, which I miss dearly, but they are garlic onion breadsticks, which makes them ten times better. These were also a little bit of a hassle to make. You combine the mix with 2 tbsp oil, 1 cup shredded cheese (they say sharp cheeses are best, but we used a combo of Mozzarella and Parmesan Romano), and 2 large eggs. Then you blend in exactly 1/4 cup milk, and knead the dough with your hands until it’s smooth. I want to emphasize exactly 1/4 cup because it is going to seem like you need more because it looks dry, but trust me, it will come together! Next you divide the dough into twelve pieces and roll them into 7 inch sticks. We also added a step of sprinkling some grated parmesan and garlic powder on top of them. Then you put them into a baking sheet, bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, and enjoy!

chebe gluten free breadsticks

These are awesome. I couldn’t stop eating them. When I saw how thin I had to roll them I was worried they would be crispy crunchy breadsticks instead of soft fluffy breadsticks. But they ended up being perfectly crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Not only was the texture wonderful, but the flavor was also fantastic! Nice and cheesy and garlicy and delicious. These are great to pair with a nice bowl of pasta to soak up some sauce. But I was just eating them as a snack because they were so good.

Chebe also has some more dry mixes that I will definitely try now that I know how amazing these were. These cinnamon rolls and breadsticks were able to fill the space of two foods I’ve been missing, now on to finding the rest on my list!

Find Chebe products near you

Udi’s Products

Happy Halloween!

It may be Halloween, but these Udi’s products are definitely not scary. Since I’ve been gluten free, I have been buying Udi’s. I think it was actually one of the first brands I discovered after being diagnosed. All of their products are gluten free. I just want to talk about a couple of my favorites.

First of all: bread! I love this bread; it’s frozen so it lasts a long time. I get the Omega Flax & Fiber kind, but they also offer White, Rye, and Cinnamon Raisin. The texture is really good (it’s fairly soft) and the taste is great. I eat this bread for breakfast every morning as toast and I never get tired of it! The size of the actual bread slices are pretty small, but I love that about it. And while we’re talking about breads, I also like Udi’s hot dog buns. The only downside to them is that they don’t really hold up well so they fall apart pretty quickly. But despite this, it’s nice to have a bun for my hot dogs that tastes good!

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Second is the bagel. These are the only bagels I eat. My favorite is the Everything Inside Bagel, but I have also had the plain and a cinnamon raisin is available. The thing that always annoyed me about everything bagels, no matter how much I loved them, was that all the stuff on top falls off. But with the Everything Inside, everything that would be on top is—prepare yourself—inside. Shocking I know, but I love it and it is delicious! It’s very soft, and I like to toast it and use some chive and onion cream cheese (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!).

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Next up is the pizza crust. This was more of a recent discovery for me, and I love it! Udi’s does also have pre-made pizzas, but I prefer to assemble it on my own. I go for the basics: tomato sauce, mozzarella, shredded parmesan and romano, and a little bit of herbs and seasonings, which is usually some basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. The crust is so thin and crispy (which is probably why it’s called “Thin & Crispy”), and it tastes so good! Right now, it’s definitely one of my favorite pizza crusts!

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Finally, I want to talk about some of the little snacks and things that Udi’s has. I love the Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. They’re really tasty and great as an on-the-go snack. I also really like the Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies. I once crumbled these cookies up and mixed them in with some chocolate ice cream and put it into a GF pie crust and made an ice cream pie—it was awesome! My final favorite snack is the Aged Cheddar Ancient Grain Crisps. These are delicious, and a really nice thing to grab when you’re craving some chips!

Udi’s is such a great brand with amazing foods. To anyone who is newly diagnosed, this is probably the first brand I would recommend because not only are their products great, but they have such a large variety!

(If you would like to see all of Udi’s product offerings, see their website)