Our Gluten Free Experience at Riu Vallarta in Mexico

It was over two years since our last vacation and we decided it was time to save up and go again. We had several things to consider when picking a resort.  

1. Family friendly
2. Some where warm and some where we don't have to cook or clean
3. Food restrictions - Gluten and nuts

The last time we were on vacation we stayed at the Riu Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico.  When it came down to our choices, we knew we had a good experience at the Riu Emerald, so we wanted to stay with the same family of Riu Resorts and ended up staying at the Riu Vallarta just outside of Puerto Vallarta in Nuevo Vallarta.


We already know the Riu recognizes gluten free food restrictions on their website.  But they only go to the extent of saying that they don't have dedicated menu's, but try to accommodate.  Nut allergy/sensitive was different but easier to manage.  We noticed the chef's loved garnishing some of the desserts with nuts and peanuts were served at the pool side.  But we were able to easily avoid those.

As a resort, the Riu Vallarta in Mexico is beautiful.  It seemed a bit older than the Riu Emerald Bay, but you can see managements efforts trying to keep up with maintenance of the resort.  The staff were always nice, and the free flowing drinks when the kids heads were turned was a nice treat.

But enough of that, I know you really tuned in to hear about how we managed the gluten free diet at the resort.  Well, I talked to Amanda about this after the fact, and said it is almost safer for us to stick with Mexico because they cook a lot with corn flour.  However, we really don't know enough about Jamaican or Dominican food to compare.

So what does that mean.  Yes they have tortilla's made of flour, but they also make a lot of corn tortilla's.  And a lot of yummy dishes like tostadas and chimichangas.  Which is great for having breaded food items.  

So some things to look out for:
  • This is a buffet and it is hard to control cross contamination
  • Most fried tortilla's are corn, but a few items are floured and they do have other battered north american foods fried like chicken fingers.  So shared fryers can be a concern.
  • When you see a tortilla, ask if it is corn or in Spanish maiz.  It was really hard to tell sometimes.

Beyond that there was just some really tasty food to be eaten, some some of it there was no need to question.


A plate of delicious seafood and fish.  Stuffed tomato with seafood salad.  A slice of season salmon.  A little salad with fresh bacon.  Some fresh prawn and a deviled egg with guacamole filling.  Yes there is brie there too.


The buffet had delicious "new york" steak.  Thinly sliced steaks, pan fried season with salt and pepper.  There was also always a chicken and fish.


Chimichangas, with corn tortilla
  

tostadas with corn tortilla.  Topped with pork, tomato, lettuce and cheese.


Some of the yummy salad bar options.


More salad bar options!


Yum dessert!  This is no crust cheese cakes made in mini cupcake tins.  
Obviously these were a big hit.


They made their own chocolate.  I lost count of how many of these I ate.


This is a personal favourite of mine.  Flan is a custard pudding.  So tasty.  I used to make it but it is a lot of work.  So I made sure it didn't go to waste at the buffet (daily)


This I shared on FB, it basically was a breakfast tostada, or a Mexican eggs Benedict.  Really good.  They also had a made to order egg station for whatever you wanted!

We know it will probably be a while, but we hope to go back soon.  So I just wanted to leave you with the thought of blue sky's and sandy beaches.





Five ingredient no bake gluten free treat

This tasty treat is pretty darn easy and tasty!
Chocolate Peanut butter stuffed oatmeal bars 
5 Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup gfree quick oats (we use only oats gfree uncontaminated quick oats)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (we used wow butter because of nut allergy)


Directions
  • Line 8x8 baking sheet with foil
  • In sauce pan heat butter with brown sugar until dissolved. 
  • Let boil 2 min
  • Remove and stir in oats and mix. Set aside
  • Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in microwave or double broiler 
  • Press half the Oat mix in baking sheet. 
  • Pour chocolate peanut butter mixture on top and spread. 
  • Gently add remainder of Oat mix and spread. Let cool and yum!

Easy One Pan Gluten Free Sausage and Vegetable

This is one easy and tasty recipe! We make this sometimes when we just need an easy recipe that covers protein, carbs and veggies, and doesn't take all that much clean up, because it is all done in one pan!

Ingredients:
  • 5 of your favorite gluten sausage, cut into pieces (We used home made sausage from my parents neighbours)
  • 2 medium zucchini chopped
  • 4 medium to large potato chopped
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomato
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 Red pepper chopped
  • About 1 cup of white wine
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
With this recipe feel free to get creative with the veggies you put in!  

Directions:
  • Turn on oven to 375 degrees
  • Put it all in one pan!
  • Pour white wine over sausgage
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook until potatoes are soft 30-30 minutes
Tip:  Keep an eye on the sausage that they don't dry out.  The sausage we used were not so greasy, so we had to pull them out part way through so they don't over cook and dry out.  You could also add the sausage part way through if you think your sausages don't need as much cooking time as the potato.



Need Gluten Free Green Onion Cakes? Two amazing options in Edmonton!

Edmonton has an unhealthy obsession with green onion cakes.  But can you blame Edmonton?  They are yummy!  There have even been petitions and websites to make Green Onion Cakes the official food of Edmonton.

So I'm pretty sure when someone learns they have to eat a gluten free diet, there is instant disappointment and fear that they will never eat another Green Onion Cake again.  Unless they make it themselves from scratch.

Well... at least for now, that is no longer the case.  The Kinnikinnick Fresh Store has started selling gluten free green onion cakes!  They sell them frozen so they last and can easily keep them in stock! Not only that, after Kinnikinnick posted their gluten free green onion cake, Ted from GF Diner reminded us that they also sell green onion cakes!  Two kinds!  One like Kinnikinnick, frozen for quick heat, and one dough so you can make yourself.

Time for a gluten free green onion tasting!

Here is the Kinnikinnick gluten free green onion cake:


Here is the GF Diner gluten free green onion cake:


Quaker introduces gluten free quick oats and gluten free instant oatmeal

We have not tried these yet, but just wanted to let everyone know that Quaker is now making a gluten free quick oats and a gluten free instant oatmeal in maple and brown sugar flavour.

These gluten free oats are certified by the Canadian Celiac Association Certification Program. You can see the logo on the side of the instant oat box in the picture below.

Read about the gluten free Quaker Oats products on the Quaker website.

Quaker Oats posted a FAQ about their gluten free oats.

These products have been spotted at several Save-on-Foods locations across the city.

Health Canada has statements on Uncontaminated Oats and Specially Produced Oats. I also want to share Health Canada's labeling regulations. Finally statements from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Gluten-Free Claims.


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Gluten Free Pineapple Dream Dessert

I can tell you that this is one delicious recipe that we adapted from Amanda's Cooking Blog.  It's not a cake, and its not a tart, simply, it is a delicious dessert!  Amanda found this recipe because she was looking to replicate an amazing dessert her friends mother makes during one of the Jewish holidays.  This recipe caught her attention, because it was pretty close.  The only thing was that this recipe contained dairy to make the filling more smoother.

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups graham crumbs - We used the Kinnikinnick Smore'Ables
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz container Cool Whip
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained well

Directions

Shell
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Melt butter in microwave and let cool.
  • Crush smore'ables (unless you bought them crushed already) and combine the crumbs and butter.  
  • Preserve 1/2 cup of crumbs for topping
  • Press 2 cups of the crumb mixture firmly into an 9×9 square pan
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. 
  • Place on wire rack to cool.
Filling
  • Use mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. 
  • Turn mixer to low and add the powdered sugar.  Add one cup at a time to avoid clumping. 
  • Beat mixture well until smooth.
  • Add a large spoon full of the drained crushed pineapple and stir. 
  • Spread the cream cheese and pineapple mixture over the crust.
  • Fold remaining pineapple into Cool Whip
  • Spread Cool Whip on top of the cream cheese mixture. 
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of gluten free graham cracker crumb mixture on top. 
  • Refrigerate over night to firm up.


Love Pizza Serves Up Delicious Gluten Free Flat Bread Pizza's

It was not that long ago that Edmonton was voted one of the top 10 places in the world to eat pizza. I'm sure most people were baffled by this!  I sure was at first.  Pizza doesn't really come to mind when you think of Canada, let alone Edmonton.

But when you look closer at whats out there in Edmonton, there are some damn good pizza places. Some of them even serve up gluten free.  Just check out places like Parlour, Famoso and CRAFT Beer Market.

This was not on the list of top pizza places put it out in April 2016, but have you checked out Love Pizza yet?  Love Pizza is fairly new and is located downtown at Jasper Ave and 109 Street in the same plaza as Save-on-Foods.  And yes, it very trendy, with their flat bread style single serve pizza's.  But I think they are the real deal.  They do not only have clever marketing, fun photos, and a great in restaurant atmosphere, but they have a delicious menu.

So now, remember this is a pizza place, it is very difficult to reduce cross contamination, but they try.  They switch gloves, specially indicate gluten free pizzas coming through the oven to alert the next person to touch the pizza etc.  So obviously, approach with caution and be vocal.

But damn it is worth it and very tasty!  Their website indicates that they source from local businesses where they can, including Gold Forest GrainsIrvings Farm FreshSpolumbo’s Fine Foods, Pinocchio Ice Cream and more.

We've gone several times and have love the City Market and The Q.  Below is the Meatatarien and The Q.  Basically we have not been disappointed yet.



BTW, kids eat free on Sunday and they also have a loyalty app!

LOVEPIZZA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What you need to know about the Gluten Free Pita at Pita Pit

We are pretty sure all Pita Pit locations now have the gluten free pita available.  But here is what you need to know about their gluten free pita:



  1. The gluten free pita did NOT break or fall apart!
  2. The gluten free pita was actually soft!
  3. Pita Pit is not a gluten free environment.
  4. Gyros, Falafel, BBQ Rib and Buffalo chicken are NOT gluten free
  5. From their breakfast menu, Meat The Day and Sausage Sunrise are NOT gluten free
  6. Teriyaki sauce is NOT gluten free
We went to the University location just on Whyte Ave.  We've also been contacted by the owner of the Jasper Ave. location about the gluten free Pita as his wife is Celiac, so they try to keep everything as clean as possible.

Keep up to date with their full allergen guide!

Pita Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Are Cheerios Gluten Free? What you need to make an informed decision

By now a lot of you know that Cheerios is slowly making their products gluten free.  A lot of the regular Cheerios you will already see labelled gluten free.  And some other lines like this Multi-grain cheerios has already been seen at places like Costco labelled as gluten free.

So what's the deal?  Are they or aren't they?  They are made of oats, and not wheat right?

Well, Amanda and I certainly have our own opinions on the matter, but I want to help you make your own informed decisions if eating Cheerios is right for you.

So a few links you can check out:

Here is information from Cheerios itself on its gluten free products: http://cheerios.ca/glutenfree

They also offer a link that talks about their process of making gluten free cheerios :http://cheerios.ca/glutenfree/ourgfprocess

Okay, so those first two links may seem a little bias, since it is coming from the manufacturer itself. Especially since there is still a population of Celiacs that still get sick when eating gluten free Cheerios or any oats for that matter.

The next set of links is from Health Canada who seems to have done some research on Oats.  As the Cheerios links say, oats are naturally gluten free, but cross contamination from other crops raises the risk of cross contamination.  So Health Canada has statements on Uncontaminated Oats and Specially Produced Oats.  I also want to share Health Canada's labeling regulations.  Finally statements from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Gluten-Free Claims.

I hope this helps everyone out a little bit better to make informed decisions about eating the gluten free Cheerios.

Gluten Free Options on the Taste of Edmonton Menu 2016

Taste of Edmonton 2016 is just around the corner starting July 21 and running until July 30!  Every year the Taste of Edmonton crew has done a great job at working with the chefs and restaurants at indicating gluten free menu items.

This year there are 18 gluten free items* from the food stands and an additional 7 gluten free items from the food trucks. *They label it as Celiac Approved.

To make informed choices about what you eat, I asked Taste of Edmonton how an item is approved for someone with Celiac.  The Media Coordinator, Alexandra Key Marichales told "...every restaurant and food truck provides us with information on all their dishes. This includes whether or not they are using local products, if their items are vegetarian and if their items contain gluten etc.".

Amanda's favourite item on the menu is the chocolate peanut butter truffle from La Trattoria.  We are surprised not to see New Asian Village, but are looking forward to trying the Khazanna butter chicken and the Casa12Doce Food Taco's!

Remember to use your instinct about eating foods.  Taste of Edmonton is a fast paste rushed environment so there is lots of chances for cross contamination.

You can click on the image below to download a PDF of the 2016 Taste of Edmonton menu.