Live Well: Insider's Guide to Puerto Vallarta

With each and every trip I have taken, I am always a bit nervous how I will manage to travel with a gluten intolerance. This time around, I know things would be easy, primarily because I speak Spanish. Sure, traveling gluten-free can be an adventure on its own; but, my fellow gluten-free travelers rest assure that when traveling in Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico in general, one will find that eating gluten-free is easier than expected.

For starters, Mexican food in general is gluten-free; it includes a lot of corn, rice, meat, seafood, vegetables and beans—simply opting for corn tortillas over wheat and avoiding fried meats or fish will have gluten-free diners enjoying delicious region cuisine without worry. Unsure of tortilla chips? Do not miss out on the guacamole because of that. Ask to substitute cut veggies for the tortilla chips if unsure how they were fried. One can also use fresh, warm tortillas, equally as tasty.

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Must Try in Puerto Vallarta

During our stay in Puerto Vallarta, Gregg and I discovered Salud Super Foods in Olas Altas, which offers an amazing menu of exceptional tasting, primarily fresh (and gluten-free) items. Many of the salads are gluten-free; unfortunately, the wraps are made from wheat flour but one can still order one minus the wrap. The green smoothies are not to be missed. These delicious libations of spinach, cucumber, pineapple and such are rejuvenating.

Even Starbucks in Puerto Vallarta offers gluten-free treats. If you must get your American coffee fix, don’t miss out on the Pan de Queso which will satisfy anyone’s carb craving.

Street tacos are a must try in Mexico, especially in Vallarta. A place worth trying is Pancho's Tako's where the Zona Romantica meets Olas Altas.

puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta

Finding Gluten-Free Foods in PV

Packaged gluten-free products like pasta, bake mixes, veggie burgers and snacks can be found at Costco, Walmart and the Mega stores. Organic Superfoods in the Puerto Vallarta Old Town offers a good selection of gluten-free foods including rice bread, pasta, Quinoa flour, bread sticks, crackers and cookies. Casa Gourmet, also in Old Town Puerto Vallarta, has a great selection of imported gluten-free products including delicious cookie and cake mixes.

puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta

What You’ll Love Food is made fresh. This is not a culture of processed foods.

Tropical fruit galore—think papaya, mango, watermelon, jicama, cucumber, and coconuts—readily available and served in salads, smoothies and side dishes. There are street vendors all throughout the Malecon; one can nosh on fruit in a cup or a mango on a stick, add lime, salt and hot sauce.

Don't worry about the tortillas. Tortillas are made from corn and very rarely are wheat tortillas used (this is a TexMex/gringo thing). It is good to know that many chile sauces and salsas, not all, do not contain wheat flour.

What Challenges To Expect

Some challenges one might encounter is the language barrier when ordering in restaurants. While English is widely spoken in many touristy and expat communities like Puerto Vallarta, do keep in mind that remote areas or street food stalls might present this problem.

Food allergies and intolerance is not the norm; restaurants carrying gluten-free menus or allergens lists is not common. Special orders do not go off very well. There’s a certain way the food is made, and any modification is ignored or not executed very well.

Phrases to get by

“Yo soy celíaco” (Yo soy celíaco); “sin gluten” (gluten free); “ no puedo comer trigo, avenas, cebada ni centeno” (I can not eat wheat, oats, barley or rye)

If all else fails, you can live off of chips, salsa, guacamole, and tequila.

Buen Provecho!

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How To Travel Gluten-Free in Puerto Vallarta

how-to-zestfully-travel-gluten-free-in-puerto-vallarta.jpeg

With each and every trip I have taken, I am always a bit nervous how I will manage to travel with a gluten intolerance. This time around, I know things would be easy, primarily because I speak Spanish. Sure, traveling gluten-free can be an adventure on its own; but, my fellow gluten-free travelers rest assure that when traveling in Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico in general, one will find that eating gluten-free is easier than expected. puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta

For starters, Mexican food in general is gluten-free; it includes a lot of corn, rice, meat, seafood, vegetables and beans—simply opting for corn tortillas over wheat and avoiding fried meats or fish will have gluten-free diners enjoying delicious region cuisine without worry. Unsure of tortilla chips? Do not miss out on the guacamole because of that. Ask to substitute cut veggies for the tortilla chips if unsure how they were fried. One can also use fresh, warm tortillas, equally as tasty.

puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta

Must Try in Puerto Vallarta

During our stay in Puerto Vallarta, Gregg and I discovered Salud Super Foods in Olas Altas, which offers an amazing menu of exceptional tasting, primarily fresh (and gluten-free) items. Many of the salads are gluten-free; unfortunately, the wraps are made from wheat flour but one can still order one minus the wrap. The green smoothies are not to be missed. These delicious libations of spinach, cucumber, pineapple and such are rejuvenating.

Even Starbucks in Puerto Vallarta offers gluten-free treats. If you must get your American coffee fix, don’t miss out on the Pan de Queso which will satisfy anyone’s carb craving.

Street tacos are a must try in Mexico, especially in Vallarta. A place worth trying is Pancho's Tako's where the Zona Romantica meets Olas Altas.

puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta

Finding Gluten-Free Foods in PV

Packaged gluten-free products like pasta, bake mixes, veggie burgers and snacks can be found at Costco, Walmart and the Mega stores. Organic Superfoods in the Puerto Vallarta Old Town offers a good selection of gluten-free foods including rice bread, pasta, Quinoa flour, bread sticks, crackers and cookies. Casa Gourmet, also in Old Town Puerto Vallarta, has a great selection of imported gluten-free products including delicious cookie and cake mixes.

puerto vallarta, mexico, travel,gluten-free travel, travel gluten-free, gluten-free, puerto vallarta gluten-free, mexico gluten-free, earth pic, healthy food, gluten-free, fluten-free in puerto vallarta What You’ll Love Food is made fresh. This is not a culture of processed foods.

Tropical fruit galore—think papaya, mango, watermelon, jicama, cucumber, and coconuts—readily available and served in salads, smoothies and side dishes. There are street vendors all throughout the Malecon; one can nosh on fruit in a cup or a mango on a stick, add lime, salt and hot sauce.

Don't worry about the tortillas. Tortillas are made from corn and very rarely are wheat tortillas used (this is a TexMex/gringo thing). It is good to know that many chile sauces and salsas, not all, do not contain wheat flour.

What Challenges To Expect

Some challenges one might encounter is the language barrier when ordering in restaurants. While English is widely spoken in many touristy and expat communities like Puerto Vallarta, do keep in mind that remote areas or street food stalls might present this problem.

Food allergies and intolerance is not the norm; restaurants carrying gluten-free menus or allergens lists is not common. Special orders do not go off very well. There’s a certain way the food is made, and any modification is ignored or not executed very well.

Phrases to get by

“Yo soy celíaco” (Yo soy celíaco); “sin gluten” (gluten free); “ no puedo comer trigo, avenas, cebada ni centeno” (I can not eat wheat, oats, barley or rye)

If all else fails, you can live off of chips, salsa, guacamole, and tequila.

Buen Provecho!

How-To Get Past Language Barriers When Traveling

Travelling with a food allergy or dietary restrictions can be difficult. You forgot your translation dining cards.

You also forgot to download a dining app, and you cannot seem to find WiFi. It is just sensible to expect that this can happen and will be a difficult situation.

For this reason, I always have a backup plan or two in mind. I had this issue–both the language barrier and forgetting my dining cards–in Southeast Asia, Turkey and China.

In Turkey, even my salads had bread or breaded something.

While staying in Istanbul, I ordered a fruit salad thinking it would be “safe.” Oh! Was I wrong.

My fruit salad came with bread crumbs sprinkled all over. (I'm not joking.) I avoided the obvious gluten-containing elements of the meze (like bread and filled filo pastry parcels). I quickly learned not to be fooled by stews as many contain wheat to thicken; Bulgur Pilav is another tricky one since cracked wheat is added to some dishes but not apparent. When you see it, it is usually in the form of tiny grains (polygons) of cracked wheat tinted red from having been cooked in tomato sauce. Lucky for me, Gregg is Turkish and speaks the language, but even then, we still we had to be super careful.

What happens if you cannot get past a language barrier when traveling internationally?

Over the years, I have quickly learned that sometimes things may not go according to plan. When traveling internationally gluten-free dining options may be limited.

Always be on the lookout for a grocery store or market near your hotel, or ask for the nearest one when you check-in. You will typically be able to find something that you can eat at a store, particularly natural, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts which can be stored in your hotel room.

From past experiences, I have learned that this can be a lifesaver from when travel dining adventures leave you hungry. Most recently, this happened to me at the airport in Hong Kong. I was limited to Starbucks and chocolate. And, while that all sounds great, I was starving for real food.

I don’t know about you, but it is the menu reading that can bog you down.

If reading a menu becomes too complicated and frustrating, ask if they can make you something special that includes ingredients and foods from the menu that you can eat.

While experiencing a variety of dining options is part of the fun of travelling, be prepared and willing to revisit restaurants more than once if you know they can cater yo your needs.

Bottom line–and trick–psychologically prepare yourself for possible encounters with language barriers. By being open to this expectation, you can become proactive and look for alternative plans that can get you out of difficult situations.

How do you get past the language barrier?