Gluten Free in Florianopolis, Brazil!

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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!

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Sunset dancing at Rosemary Dream by Julia Gundlach Photography

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!

pedroI 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.

IMG_20181125_081936_385 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

Rosemary Dream

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Family Dinner at Rosemary Dream international community

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!

 

El Padre pizza

 

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!

Baruc Natural

 

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.

Rosa Brum Bistro

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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”!

If you’re interested in my role here, I was teaching Yoga. For free yoga classes check out our online yoga series! We have 3 videos: a playful vinyasa flow, meditative slow flow and challenging yoga to tap into your inner power. I’d love to share some of the magic from here with people all around the world so hop on over to my yoga videos to see for yourself what Rosemary Dream is all about!

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Teaching Yoga at Rosemary Dream, Brazil. Photo by Bruna Brandao.
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Nutritious Gluten Free Bread

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This year I have mostly given up on the “Free From” isles in supermarkets and have ditched processed gluten free breads for a homemade alternative which is much more nutritious. I’ve been struggling with low energy and continued gastro symptoms since going gluten free 7 years ago after coeliac diagnosis. So I’ve made some lifestyle and dietry changes thanks to the support of my fantastic and knowledgeable nutritional therapist at Vitalise Nutrition.

The biggest thing I have noticed since cutting down on sugar, cutting out overly processed foods, taking probiotics and making all my own meals from scratch focusing on naturally nutritious foods is that I have SO MUCH MORE energy! I’ll admit that it can sometimes feel stressful or like an extra chore having to set time aside each week for food prep but realistically, this bread takes about 30 minutes at most to prep and can be frozen meaning you can make up a big batch for the following 2 weeks which is so worth it. This recipe was given to me by Vitalise Nutrition.

Recipe (the quantities I’ve given makes about 15 slices, I eat one a day meaning this makes enough for 2 weeks. Keeps for 4-5 days and can be frozen)

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You will need:

400g ground flaxseed (or a mix such as ground flaxseed with ground pumpkin seed and sunflower seed)

2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda

8 tablespoons water

8 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons apple cyder vinegar

8 free range organic eggs

A sprinkling of rock salt

Optional poppyseeds to sprinkle on top before baking

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Mix the ground seeds, bicarb and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs, olive oil, water and vinegar. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry and leave to sit for about 5 mins. Spoon the mixture out onto 2 baking trays lined with greaseproof paper and add some poppy seeds on top if you like. Bake for 20 – 25 mins.

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Curious about the nutritional value of this bread?

Flaxseed (also known as linseed) is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a great source of dietary fiber (whilst being low in carbs) and a plant based protein. It is also a good source of minerals such as manganese, thiamine and magnesium. What’s more flaxseed helps to lower cholesterol, is high in anti-oxidants and can even help make the skin and hair healthy!

The reason I am so excited about introducing flaxseed to my diet is because it is great for supporting digestive health, something recovering coeliacs need as much help as we can get with! Flaxseed helps to protect the lining of the GI tract and has anti-inflammatory properties. It promotes beneficial gut flora and  keeps the bowels moving regularly.

You don’t have to bake this bread to reap the benefits of flaxseed, you can buy ground flaxseed and sprinkle it over porridge, yoghurt, fruit salads, soups etc.

Sunflower seeds are a fantastic source of vitamin E, copper and vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and folate. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, manganese, protein, zinc and healthy fats.

Serving suggestion:

For a delicious and nutritious breakfast (also FODMAPs friendly), try 1 slice of flaxseed bread with organic peanut butter and sliced banana, served alongside a bowl of fresh berries, dairy-free natural yoghurt and toasted almonds/seeds.

For a healthy snack or brunch, you can have poached egg on the bread with dairy free spread or butter served alongside a fresh salad.

Happy baking / eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leek and Potato Soup

Simple, healthy gluten free vegetarian soup. As pictured, you can take it anywhere in a flask, even for a picnic in the snow!

You will need:

  • Decent slab of butter (or olive oil if making it vegan)
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 medium sized potatoes peeled and chopped small
  • 4 sliced leeks
  • Veg stock (around 2 pints, I use bouillon or you can use any GF stock cube)
  • Ground rock salt and black pepper

Fry up the onions in your heated oil or butter, add the potatoes and leeks. Stir and cook for around 4 mins until everything is starting to get softer. Then add the veg stock, bring to the boil, add salt & pepper and simmer until the veggies are cooked. Whizz it all up and it’s ready to eat, or be put in a flask for later!

Enjoy 🙂

Houmous recipe!

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Made this delicious batch of houmous, here’s the rough quantities to make a big batch for dipping (it made triple what’s photographed)

Ingredients

2 cans of chickpeas, washed and drained

Juice of 1 and a half lemons

7 garlic cloves

7 tbsp olive oil

5 tbsp tahini paste

Chuck it all in a blender and add more olive oil or a splash water as you like for texture you’re happy with.

Have with chopped up vegetables or crisps or whatever you fancy! Enjoy 🙂

Warm Spiced Greens with Brown Rice

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This is a nutritious lunch or dinner which doesn’t take too long to prep.

You’ll need:

-1 teaspoon of cumin powder, 1 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

-Coconut oil or olive oil

-Fresh greens, cabbage and/or kale chopped

-New potatoes

-Onion & Garlic

-Brown Rice

-Sunflower and pumpkin seeds with Tamari sauce

Start the rice with 1 cup of brown rice to 2 cups of water, bring to boil then leave to simmer until the rice has cooked.

Boil the potatoes. Put the spices in hot coconut/olive oil in a wok and add onions, cook until onions are soft. Add in the chopped greens, crushed garlic and potatoes. Stir for about 10 mins or so until the potatoes start to brown on the outside and the greens are cooked through.

Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan for about 5 – 10 mins stirring with a wooden spoon and adding tamari sauce to taste.

 

 

 

The Link Between Coeliac Disease and Mental Health

As it’s both coeliac awareness week and mental health awareness week, I decided to write about the effect coeliac disease can have on mental health.  

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition where the body has an immune reaction to gluten causing damage to the lining of the intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients which keep the brain healthy such as B vitamins, zinc and tryptophan. Doctor James M. Greenblatt has studied the link between depression and coeliac disease. He says “These nutrients are necessary for the production of essential chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, a deficiency of which has been linked to depression.” 

The only treatment for people with coeliac disease is following a 100% gluten free diet. Many of the symptoms for undiagnosed coeliac disease are physical such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and unexpected weight loss. But of course being malnourished and fatigued can lead to all kinds of emotional difficulties too. There is ongoing research to suggest the link between our brain and the gut with studies that say coeliac disease doesn’t just damage the digestive tract but can also have an impact on the psychological health of sufferers. Some of the psychological symptoms for untreated coeliac include anxiety, depression and panic attacks.  

One study found that anxiety, but not depression, in patients with undiagnosed coeliac disease decreased after one year following a gluten free diet. Another concluded that autoimmune disorders increased the risk of mood disorders by 45% and having coeliac disease increased the risk of developing a mood disorder by 91%. 

It’s important that we break the stigma so because I believe we all need to be more open about mental health, I’m going to share a bit about my own personal experience even though it feels like a scary thing to do. 

Personally, talking openly about the physical side of my coeliac disease has always been far easier to do than discussing my experience of depression and anxiety. I have difficulty even using these labels, I’ve previously opted to use terms that play it down like “low mood” or “feeling fragile”. These phrases barely even begin to cover the debilitating reality of panic attacks and feeling hopeless or being smothered by complete despair. However mental health and physical health are so interlinked that it makes little sense to talk about one without the other.  

As a teenager I was underweight, constantly fatigued, incredibly anxious and went through periods of depression. I struggled with self-harm in various forms. I felt sick all of the time, especially after eating. I had skin rashes, candida overgrowth, dizziness, a few episodes of fainting and a general feeling of being unwell. When I was 18, three years after my first trip to the doctors complaining of the above symptoms, I was finally tested for coeliac disease by a GP who couldn’t believe he was the first to think of it! Following the endoscopy I was officially diagnosed.  

I’d just moved a 10 hour train ride away from home to go to university so I began my gluten free life at the same time as becoming independent for the first time. It took years for the physical and emotional symptoms to ease up. The damage caused to the intestine from eating gluten can’t be repaired overnight. It takes time for the gut to heal and the body to slowly start to level out. I still struggle at times with depression and anxiety, but going gluten-free to treat my coeliac disease eased the severity of my anxiety significantly. 

The interesting thing I have noticed is that every time I get “glutened” (the term for accidental ingestion of gluten due to cross contamination or mistaking something for being gluten free that’s not) my mood drops dramatically. All the physical symptoms come back in a tidal wave knocking my system out completely and it takes days or maybe weeks to feel balanced again emotionally and physically. This is why it’s so important that food handlers and restaurants understand the severity of a coeliac’s reaction to even the smallest amount of gluten, making it absolutely essential that there is no risk of gluten cross contamination when preparing a meal for someone with coeliac disease. 

The link between coeliac disease and mental health cannot be ignored and it is of the upmost importance that people are offered tests for coeliac disease so that they don’t go undiagnosed, risking the damaging physical and psychological effects.  1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, you can find a list of symptoms here so please get tested if you have any of the symptoms and remember there is support out there for those going through mental health difficulties, you can check out Mind and Samaritans.

Going gluten-free changed my life. I am so grateful to have caught my coeliac disease sooner rather than later so that I could focus on getting my physical and mental health back. I now run a gluten-free travel blog called Coeliac on The Road to celebrate that being coeliac doesn’t have to hold you back and it can actually lead you to some unique, unexpected places. 

 

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Gluten free in Mysore

Mysore is a vibrant city in Karnataka a state in the south of India. It’s home to countless yoga schools, especially ashtanga where the term “mysore style” originates from – a type of ashtanga class where students practice a set sequence at their own pace.

I came here to practice yoga and get some downtime after doing “workaway” for 3 weeks. So here’s a quick guide for any other gluten free travellers visiting Mysore. I’ve been staying in Gokulam so all the places I mention are based there.

I have been very well fed with no gluten mishaps so here goes:

Chakra House

My favourite dish here is the ragi wrap which is naturally gluten free, ragi is a millet flour full of protein and at chakra house they do ragi wraps or pancakes, sweet and savoury with a variety of vegetarian fillings. Other good dishes include fresh salads, steamed veg & rice and loads of smoothies & juices. There’s yoga classes here too and the decor of the cafe is really beautiful.

Depth n green

A homely organic cafe with loads of fresh juices and delicious traditional indian cuisine. My favourites are the veg tali (just ask with no chapati) or the budha bowl pictured above. They have a selection of yogic literature and philosophy books to read and an organic store round the corner.

Street food

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Local stalls and food places serve dosas with a coconut chilli chutney and a spiced potato side. Dosas are a bit like pancakes but they’re made just from rice. Very cheap and a good taste of traditional south Indian food.

Nature’s nectar food store

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An organic shop with gluten free foods, pricey for india in comparison to local foods but worth it once in a while for a little treat from home! I got gf pasta, cheddar cheese and organic broccoli for a quick and easy pasta dish cooked at Resside serviced appartments.

I’ve probably not even scratched the surface as I’ve only been here a few days but if I can find this much to eat already then that’s a pretty good sign!

Enjoy 🙂