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WIAW (In Monaco)

Posted Sep 12 2012 5:37am
Okay, don’t all fall off your chairs at once. Yes, I am doing a WIAW post at Jenn’s blog ! I can’t remember the last time I did one of these but I thought I’d take this opportunity to do one.

So obviously being a gluten free vegan makes travelling a little more challenging in terms of food and eating out. I’d say that places like France and Monaco are some of the hardest. The French diet is very much made up of meat for starters and they look at you in disgust if you want your steak properly cooked never mind if you are vegetarian or even worse, vegan. It is possible to get by though so I thought I’d give out my little tips on how I always manage.

Peas and Crayons

And because the theme of this months WIAW is ‘Falling into New Habits’ well I’d like to hope that this holiday has inspired me to create more exciting meals again as they tend to be a bit samey at the moment….there is also a little something at the end of my post ;)

1. Research before you go vegan/vegan friendly restaurants

I do this everytime I go away now. This time I found that there were basically no vegan friendly restaurants, there weren’t even any veggie ones in Monaco so I was preparing myself to have to adapt very heavily with the menus. I did however come across a Loving Hut in Menton in France which was only a 30 minute taxi ride away so was quite eager to make it there one evening as I’d heard amazing stuff about the ones in the UK. Whilst my family are not vegan they were prepared to give it a go because it was the one place they knew I’d eat a lot!

I started with the ‘Summer Rolls’ which were soy slices, carrots, lettuce, rice vermicelli wrapped in rice paper with a sauce. This was yum but they were bigger than I expected so I saved half of  them for my lunch the following day!

My brother and mum both started with samosas filled with potato and peas.

My Dad started with a ‘spicy Cha Cha’ which was basically vegan prawns in batter with a vegan hollandaise sauce. He also wanted to prove that he and my mum managed to drink non-alcoholic beer and wine…(they hated it! :P )

For my main I had grilled tofu flavoured with lemongrass with brown rice and salad. This was really refreshing and I love choosing tofu whenever I eat out because they do it so well!

My mum had falafel in pitta with salad, soy yogurt and hummus. This looked really good!! She eats falafel all the time so this was an obvious option for her ;)

My brother got the kebab wrap which I so would have got if I was not gluten free. I may have persuaded him to get this :P But he is quite picky and he basically hated it…so I ended up eating the middle out of it all along with my meal! Sooo goooood!

My Dad got Kung Pao Cheerful Chunks which were veggie nuggets sauteed with veggies and cashews in an oriental sauce with brown rice. He actually loved his but I don’t think he’s converted to veganism given that he ate a lot of meat the next day!

Despite being quite full from basically a starter and two main meals, I really wanted to fill myself up to keep me going for the week so I went for the obvious choice for me, a berry cheesecake. YUM :) I let my parents have a nibble too :)

My brother, still feeling quite hungry went for the chocolate cheesecake which he enjoyed purely because anything chocolatey and he loves it. I had a taste of this too….

I’m full just looking at how much I ate that night but I made the most of the vegan food and made up for eating little meals for most of the holiday!

2. Ask the locals for recommendations on where they think you can eat

You probably won’t find all of the vegan/veggie restaurants on the internet so ask around. Turns out that whilst I was at Loving Hut the waiter knew I was vegan and recommended a place in Nice as we were going for a day trip there in the week. This was called Le Speakeasy and was owned by an older woman and ran this little tiny place by herself. Everything was homemade and organic and it was perfect after a day in Nice as I knew that I’d have another good filling meal. I went to this place on my own as my family wanted meat! Definitely not converted…

It really was quite tiny! Very quaint and homely though :)

I got a baked dish of quinoa and roasted veggies in a almond sauce with tempeh sausage slices along with a salad. This was so amazing. Homemade stuff is always very special and this lady was definitely very talented!

3. Make the most of the fresh fruit

An obvious one for whilst you are on holiday as it’s an easy healthy option for anyone. Being gluten free left my options at the hotel limited for breakfast so I ended up eating about 10 pieces of fruit a day with all the snacking too! It kept me going though and you just have to manage with what you have.

4. Choose cuisines you know you will be able to eat at

Sometimes we asked staff at the hotel for specific types of cuisines without knowing the menu. In this case I’d say Thai and Indian are the best for gluten free vegans and you are almost guaranteed to be able to get something. Mexican is also a great option for gluten free options as they use a lot of maize in their dishes like tacos and corn chips etc. Just avoid the tortillas etc ;)

Thai is definitely one of my fave cuisines which is why I have it so much! The tofu is always just the best and I just love how fresh the flavours are. Always choose Thai over Chinese as Chinese use sauces with gluten in. If you went for Indian it’s really easy to get veggie dishes…lentils, chickpeas, veggies in a sauce.

5. Learn to adapt the menus

Quite often you will find things on a menu that you can ask the chefs to throw together to make something more substantial for you. In this case we went to a Mexican and on the menu they had a chicken salad in a corn bowl and they had dishes with beans in so I just simply asked them to replace the chicken with some beans. Et voila!

In terms of adapting the French cuisines, well they almost always had some french lentils in there somewhere so I ended up having a lot of bowls of lentils with tomatoes! Kind of boring but it was something.

6. Find a supermarket and stock up on snacks

Obviously some of my meals were less than substantial to fill me up so it’s always really important for me to have snacks with me as this is how I eat anyway. Even in very non-vegan places such as France you are bound to find something. I even went in a little Spar and they had a ‘health’ section with gluten free and vegan foods. I went for things like rice cakes, peanut butter, dark chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, gluten free crackers, raw food bars, cartons of rice milk and protein bars and they really just keep you satisfied when you can’t get enough out.

7. Don’t be so strict with yourself with your diet….

Okay so everyone knows my weakness is fro-yo when it comes to being vegan. I can I resist speculoos flavoured fro-yo?! Ummm please can we get this in the UK?

In fact, on that note. I think I’ll let you all know that I’m moving more away from my veganism, not just with fro-yo but I have started eating dairy again before I went on holiday in the form of greek yogurt again and cottage cheese and other forms of spreadable cheese and the odd bit of quorn. I feel like veganism helped me for my recovery and made me face my fear of fats as I was getting away with living on fat free yogurts and egg whites (umm yum…not.). But now I basically feel incredibly free and I’d like to explore what I love again, especially now that my diet is more restricted with my gluten intolerance at the moment. I don’t know how my diet will turn out but that’s all for me to explore I suppose. I will eat a lot of vegan food still however. It is definitely what I am passionate about and love and makes me feel good. And I’d love to explore more raw foods as I find this exciting. But I’ve learnt that life is too short to be so strict on myself when there are so many options out there.

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