May is Celiac Awareness Month in Canada and the U.S. (and perhaps other parts of the world too). For the traveller who has this auto-immune disease, eating abroad can be a challenge. Many foods contain wheat products where gluten is found. However, not all countries are wheat-centric. Here are some samples of naturally gluten-free cuisines:
Though the diet can include meat, it is mainly a vegetarian diet for much of the year for devout Christians. The staple grain product is teff, a high-protein gluten-free cereal grass. It is used to make injera a spongy sourdough-like bread that resembles a pancake (pictured below). Injera is used as cutlery, plate and food. Travel: Visit during the Timkat Festival in January, the most important Christian Festival celebrating the Epiphany.
Throughout much of Asia (i.e. China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries too numerous to mention in this short post) rice is the staple grain. It is naturally gluten-free and can be eaten in sweet or savoury dishes, main meals and snacks. Travel: Visiting rice paddies in these destinations is a ‘cultural’ activity as well as being a spectacular site to photograph for your visual souvenirs.
Quinoa is trending now. It is actually related to swiss chard and beets but eaten like a grain. Quinoa is a complete protein so does not need to be paired with beans/legumes to get the full complement of essential amino acids that the body must obtain from dietary sources. Travel: You have to see Machu Picchu and the Nasca lines.
I’m hoping my trip to Colombia & Central America will have lots of Quinoa & gluten free options. I have a feeling their diet is better than our Western one!!
Lucky you! I’ve heard from some who’ve been (I have yet to go) to South America that there’s lots of quinoa, potatoes and corn-all naturally gluten-free.