Coeliac on the Road
I’m Jasmine, a coeliac who loves to adventure and refuses to let being gluten free hold me back from seeing the world! Sure, it can add a few extra anxieties in the mix about travelling to new places but you can always find creative ways to manage that. Three years ago when I was travelling in Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean I wrote an article called why gluten free travel is a pleasure not a burden. Since then I‘ve been to India, Paris and am currently in Brazil and I stand by GF travel being an incredible adventure of its very own!
Gluten Free Paradise
So, I’m especially excited to share with you my overwhelmingly positive experience of being gluten free in Florianopolis, Brazil AKA Floripa, the Island of Magic. I would go so far as to recommend planning an entire trip around what I’m about to tell you because these last 3 months have been gluten free paradise!
I have been living and working at Rosemary Dream community on their community exchange program which offered me professional development and a sense of purpose as well as the opportunity to get to experience community living. This place cooks nutritious and delicious GF Ayurvedic food but more about that later.
There’s a health food store only a 4 minute walk away that sells the best gluten free bread I’ve ever tasted made in a 100% GF bakery, a pizzeria specialising in GF bases only a 10 minute walk away and ample opportunity to buy fresh tropical fruit. What’s more there are loads of street stalls that sell traditional GF dishes here such as corn on the cob, tapioca with a variety of fillings and acai which you absolutely HAVE to try (Amazonian superfood berry and soooo yummy.)
Here are my top picks but I didn’t even get around to trying all the amazing GF restaurants and food on offer during my time here so if you travel to Floripa, you’re bound to find so much more than what I’ve written about.
Gluten Free Floripa Top 4 Picks
This place is difficult to put into words. It offers retreats and programs but it’s more than a retreat centre. It’s a hostel but it’s more than just a place to stay. It’s an experience to dive into and explore with curiosity. There’s a weekly activities schedule full of diverse workshops, nutritious meals for optimal health, holistic therapies and the chance to share local culture via an exciting range of events.
This is where I was based for my 3 months in Floripa, you can stay as a guest, a community exchanger or partake in the retreats. Either way, you get to experience the most incredible gluten free and vegetarian meals based on optimal nutrition, ayurveda and cooked with love. Lunch times and communal meal times at the Family Dinners (every tues & weds evening) became one of the highlights of my days here.
The kitchen rarely uses gluten so I didn’t have to worry about cross contamination as so many of the meals were naturally GF anyway. Where things like spelt flour or oats were used, the kitchen team were really accommodating of my needs as a coeliac so I can personally vouch for this place so long as you communicate your needs, you will be taken care of!
There is a huge selection of toppings for pizzas here and all you have to do is ask for a gluten free base when you order (in Portuguese: sem gluten). The bases are made with rice flour, sweet potato and chia seeds and are actually the best GF pizzas I’ve eaten out at a restaurant! The prices are super reasonable too, around £2 for a fresh juice, between £4 -8 for a pizza and only £1.50 for an ice lolly after!
This is in a stunning location on Praia Mole which is a beautiful beach with turquoise waters and golden sands, the ultimate holiday destination with postcard perfect views. It’s also one of the LGBTQ+ touristic spots of Floripa. You can actually hike to this café across the mountains from Rosemary Dream and past Galheta beach which is a nudist beach if you fancy skinny dipping!
Baruc serves vegetarian food and you really have to try the acai here, you can add tropical fruits and just be sure to ask for it sem granola (without granola). I’d also recommend their fresh salads and pao de quiejo, a really tasty bread roll snack made from tapioca.
This is a cool international café near the beach of barra da lagoa. This is the place to go for sweet and savoury tapiocas, omelettes, smoothies and acai. For a really indulgent treat I loved the dulce de leche tapioca with banana or acai with Paçoca crumbled on top (a sweet snack made with ground peanuts, sugar and salt.)
So there you have it, a few of the best things about Floripa, Brazil and why it is actually a top destination for coeliacs. I had no idea what to expect and just took a jump into the unknown when I booked my one way ticket. It has been better than I ever imagined so I just had to share it with other coeliac / gluten free travellers!
*Top Tip: In Brazil everything has to be labelled RE gluten so avoid everything that is labelled “contem gluten” and eat to your heart’s content everything that is labelled “Nao contem gluten”!