Gluten-free living

Gluten-free in Jordan

Though it may be difficult to find a 100% gluten-free spots in Jordan (apart from 1 which I know of), there are some pretty cool cafes where you can enjoy a young vibrant ambiance and find good food options.

Primal

Cuisine: Paleo/ 100% gluten-free

What I like about it: Fully gluten-free, modern cuisine, tasty

My favorites: Primal plantbased burger, tiramisu

Plantbased burger

Tiramisu

Wild Jordan

Cuisine: International

What I like about it: Special setting, nice ambiance, smoothies

My favorites: Falafel

Baked falafel

Blue fig

Cuisine: Bar food

What I like about it: Nice ambiance

My favorites: Quinoa salad

Quinoa salad
Sweet potato fries

Shams El Balad

Cuisine: Modern Arabic cuisine

What I like about it: Great menu, nice setting and ambiance

My favorites: Beet falafels

Mixed mezze

Gluten-free in Kuwait

There are so many great options for celiacs in Kuwait! Here are my favorites:

vterra

Cuisine: Plantbased wholefoods

What I like about it: 100% gluten-free, wholesome/ nourishing, nicely presented.

The only potential downside is probably the location as it is part of a food court in a mall – I feel it deserves to have a nicer standalone cafe with outdoor seating!

My favorites: Almond butter toast, chocolate smoothie bowl

Almond butter toast with chia jam and coconut yogurt
Chocolate smoothie bowl
Hot chocolate

Willow

Cuisine: Plantbased/ 100% gluten-free

What I like about it: Interesting/ unconvenional progressive plantbased cuisine, everything prepared in-house

My favorites: Vegan blue cheese toasts (raw dehydrated toast)

Blue cheese toast
Guacamole and crackers

Ovo Kuwait

Cuisine: “Flexitarian” cuisine

What I like about it: Nice outdoor seatings, options which suit different dietary/ culinary preferences

My favorites: Chickpea “fries”

Chickpea “fries” made of chickpea flour
Superfoods kale salad

Gluten-free in Bahrain

My last trip to Bahrain was in March 2020 right before the complete border closure! If you are traveling to Bahrain, you can find both Eastern and Western options to choose from.

Beyond all the classic gluten-free meals which you can find in any restaurant (quinoa salads, grilled salmon etc.), the highlights for me were Plant Cafe which is 100% gluten-free and plantbased and Lumee Street where you can find many options. You can also head to Market Place, an organic store, where you will find a large variety of products.

Plant Cafe

Vegan cheese platter
Beet hummus and creamy broccoli wrap with hummus
Blueberry crumble muffins

Lumee Street

Flaxseed crackers with grilled veggies
Hummus with caramelized onions

Guide to Latin/ South American cuisine

One of my favorite cuisines with so many gluten-free options to enjoy!

What you can safely enjoy:

Corn-based tacos, tortillas, arepas – be sure to ask if you are eating out as wheat-based tortillas are commonly used in restaurants.

Yucas and tapioca – served as chips or as pancakes.

Citrusy ceviches.

What to avoid: Wheat-based tortillas or chips, soy-based ceviches.

Some of my favorite spots in Dubai: Hotel Cartagena, Tortuga, Mama Zonia.

Yuca fries at Hotel Cartagena
Plantain chips and guacamole at Rumba
Vegetarian tacos at Rumba
Arepas at Seva Table

Eating out with celiac disease

Key hidden gluten sources to watch out for:

  1. Dressings thickened with flour – Bechamel, balsamic, teriyaki etc.
  2. Soy sauce – It is very frequently used in various cuisines and contains wheat whereas Tamari which tastes similar is wheat free.
  3. “Crispy”/ “tempura” – Often not very visible/ Can be inside maki rolls, be sure to check.
  4. Certain types of oats – If they are highly cross-contaminated, you are likely to feel unwell if you suffer from celiac.
  5. Granola – Often mixed with gluten containing ingredients.
  6. Plantbased burger patties – Whether they are made of beans/ quinoa or pea protein, wheat flour can be used as binding ingredient.
  7. Plantbased “chicken” – Vital wheat gluten is often the main ingredient.
  8. Seitan – It is not only made of soy like tofu and does contain gluten. For tempeh, be sure to read the ingredients.
  9. Falafels – Traditionally gluten-free however some restaurants add wheat flour. Be sure to ask.
  10. Soups and stews – Vegetable/ chicken stock generally contain gluten.
  11. Pie crusts which contain a mixture of flours.
  12. Ice cream containing bits of chocolate or cookies.
  13. Couscous looks like quinoa – Always be sure to ask.
  14. Mexican taco shells – Though it should be made 100% of corn, it is often mixed with wheat flour.
  15. Mexican tortillas – “Flour tortillas” are made of wheat flour. You should ask for 100% corn tortillas and double check that it hasn’t been mixed with wheat.
  16. Burghul – Pure wheat added to salads like Tabbouleh or used as vine leaves stuffing.
  17. Dosa – Traditionally made of fermented rice and lentils, some restaurants use wheat flour.
  18. Syrups added to drinks – It is better to avoid altogether.
  19. Fried fish or other fried food – Wheat flour used for dusting or coating.
Zuma’s tofu salad – Corn starch is used to make the tofu crispy along with gluten-free soy sauce

Guide to global cuisines part 1 – Lebanese/ Arabic

I grew up in Lebanon eating wholesome traditional dishes made of natural local ingredients which definitely shaped by culinary preferences! There is a misconception about Arabic cuisine in general: it is not restricted to grills and offers a very broad range of flavorful nourishing meals which suit different tastes!

Overview: I would split Lebanese cuisine into 3 parts

1) Mezze: small dishes with a high number of vegetarian options that are served as entree (which are actually filling enough to be mains!)

2) Vegetable stews: Vegetables or beans served with meat and rice. The most common main dish in Lebanese homes.

3) Grills: traditionally served in Lebanese restaurant as main course; usually meat and chicken.

What to safely enjoy: If cooked traditionally, Lebanese cuisine offers a high number of gluten-free options especially mezze which generally comprise of certain beans or vegetables cooked with natural tomato sauce and sauteed garlic/ onions! You can also enjoy grills if you consume meat – you have to ask the restaurant to serve the grills in Lebanese bread though.

What to watch out for: Restaurants who cook in large volumes can add gluten-containing vegetable/ chicken stock to certain stews especially to flavor meat-containing dishes that are traditionally served with rice. You should always ask – it is preferable to avoid it. Unfortunately, if you have celiac, you cannot experience traditional Lebanese breakfasts which are usually either manakeesh (baked dough filled with Zaatar or cheese or mince meat) or kunafa. Only one restaurant in Lebanese serves gluten-free options of both. You would also need to watch out when ordering salads – Tabbouleh contains burghul (wheat) and Fattouch is normally served with toasted bread.

My favorite dishes: Vegetarian eggplant mousaka, vegetarian okra/ broad beans/ green beans, hummus and baba ghannouj/ moutabal, spicy potatoes, fish tajin which is fish baked in a rich citrusy tomato sauce.

My favorite restaurants: Kitchen Confidential which is 100% organic and offers healthy gluten-free/ sugar-free alternatives to all classics (manakeesh, pizza, pasta, burgers, pastries, cakes, sandwiches)

Vegetarian mousaka – eggplant, onion/ garlic, tomatoes, fresh tomato sauce and chickpeas
Spicy potatoes
Moujaddara – Made of lentils, rice, sauteed onions
Vegetarian vine leaves – filled with rice and minced parsley, tomatoes and onions with a citrusy dressing
Green beans mezze – served cold
Gluten-free manakeesh at Kitchen Confidential
Gluten-free kunafa at Kitchen Confidential

Gluten-free Greece part 2 – Islands

During my trip to Greece (August 2021), I visited 3 different islands: Naxos, Santorini and Milos. Here are my top picks of restaurants:

Naxos – Gyro Gyro

Cuisine: Gyros

What I Like about it: You can choose corn pita which is gluten-free. Vegetarian options are served.

My favorites: Halloumi gyro

Halloumi gyros

Rotonda

Cuisine: Modern Greek

What I like about it: Though there aren’t many special gluten-free meal options as I would have hoped for, the staff is knowledgeable and the view is superb. Worth a visit!

My favorite: Naxos salad, truffle fries

Truffle fries

Santorini

Giorgaros

Cuisine: Traditional Greek

What I like: Family run, beautiful view, housemade wholesome Greek dishes made of traditional local ingredients.

My favorite: Grilled cheese with tomato relish, beet salad with sauteed greens

Grilled cheese served with a delicious tomato relish
Beetroot salad
Vegetarian vine leaves

King Neptune

Cuisine: Traditional Greek cuisine

What I like about it: Located in a highly touristic neighborhood, nice terrasse, generous portions.

My favorites: The best olives in Santorini.

Local olives
Grilled calamari

Argo

Cuisine: Modern Greek/ Seafood

What I like about it: Tasty fresh seafood

My favorites: Eggplant rolls, seafood sharing platter

Eggplant rolls
Seafood sharing platter

Falafeland

Cuisine: Falafel

What I like about it: Casual cheap meals on-the-go, good when you need a break from traditional Greek cuisine

My favorites: Falafel-hummus falafels box

Falafels box

Milos

Lydia

Cuisine: Traditional Greek

What I like about it: Family-run, quiet

My favorites: Vegetarian stuffed peppers, herbed fries

Stuffed peppers
Herbed fries

Gluten-free Greece part 1 – Athens

Here are my top picks from my latest trip to Greece:

Le Greche

Cuisine: Ice cream

What I like about it: “GF” clearly marked on the menu, gluten-free cones

My favorites: Dark chocolate, hazelnut

Stracciatella-hazelnut cone
Chocolate-Caramel cup

Nudie Foodie

Cuisine: Healthy brunch style, 100% gluten-free

What I like about it: Light wholesome dishes packed with superfoods, well seasoned and well presented

My favorites: Basque burnt cheesecake

Breakfast toast
Cheesecake
Pancakes

Winners VGN

Cuisine: 100% vegan

What I like about: Creative menu, “GF” label clearly marked on the menu, nice ambiance

My favorites: Corn pancakes with coconut yogurt, kale and “chickpea popcorn” salad

Corn pancakes
Kale & chickpea popcorn salad

A for Athens rooftop

Cuisine: International

What I like about it: The menu is rather limited however the ambiance is great

My favorites: Grilled cod

Gluten-free fine-dining in Dubai

Some of favorites!

Zuma

Cuisine: Japanese

What I like about it: Gluten-free menu available, knowlegeable staff, soy sauce is 99.9% gluten-free

My favorites: Crispy tofu salad, sesame spinach

The best tofu in Dubai
Sesame spinach

Hotel Cartagena

Cuisine: Latin American

What I like about it: Great ambiance, dancers, interesting menu, knowledgable staff

My favorites: Yuca fries, maki rolls

Yuca fries

Maki rolls

Alici

Cuisine: Italian

What I like about it: Nice terrasse, gluten-free customizable pasta, bread and fondant.

My favorites: Pesto spaghetti, fondant au chocolat

Pesto spaghetti

Rumba

Cuisine: Cuban

What I like about it: Nice ambiance, large portions

My favorites: Guacamole with plantains chips, guava cheese mousse

Guacamole with plantains chips
Vegetarian tacos
Guava cheese mousse

Restaurants with decent gluten-free options in Dubai

Below is a list of some restaurants which have some pretty good gluten-free options.

Common Grounds

Cuisine: International/ “Australian brunch” style

What I like about it: Healthy wholesome dishes, generous servings, “GF” clearly marked on the menu, well seasoned meals.

My favorites: Breakfast bowl, lentil tacos

Loaded lentil tacos – filled with smashed avocado, mushrooms, sprouts etc.
Breakfast bowl – It can be served with grilled halloumi and eggs

Leen’s Casual to Gourmet

Cuisine: International

What I like about it: Menu includes meals from different cuisines (Japanese, Mexican etc.), “GF”clearly marked on the menu

My favorites: Mushroom tacos, matcha cheesecake, chocolate avocado mousse

Mushroom tacos
Matcha cheesecake and chocolate avocado mousse

Pinza

Cuisine: Pizza, virtual kitchen

What I like about it: Comfort food (classic pizzas for when you are craving comfort food), customizable, vegan options.

My favorite: Truffle pizza with vegan pepperoni, basil pizza (both customized)

Truffle pizza with vegan pepperoni
Basil mozzarella pizza

Something Baked

Cuisine: Manakeesh

What I like about it: Gluten-free options, classical taste and texture

My favorites: Classic cheese manakeesh

Cheese manakeesh

Healthy Little Secrets

Cuisine: Healthy light meals

What I like about it: Combo lunch deal including a bowl+GF bread+hot beverage

My favorites: Tofu lunch bowl with GF oat bread