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Gluten-Free Iceland: What a Celiac ate in Iceland
Eating gluten-free in Iceland is a lot easier than you might think. Especially if you’re coming from America where restaurant staff asks if gluten-free means dairy-free.
All the places I went to were incredibly accommodating, respectful, and aware of gluten-free needs. At first, I wondered if this is because Iceland shares a higher prevalence of celiac like its Scandinavian friends, but when I looked it up, the prevalence was comparable to every other country which is around 1:133 people.
So, I guess it just comes down to the friendly and accommodating nature of the Nords. As always, I did not eat out much. I reserved much of my stops for coffee (and free wifi) but still, I have some tips to share from my 8 days in Iceland.
So here’s how to thrive (yes thrive, not survive) while gluten-free in Iceland…
Table of Contents
Gluten-Free Guide to Iceland
In this gluten-free guide to Iceland, I will walk you through general tips to traveling gluten-free here, some resources for gluten-free restaurants in Iceland, and then I’ll share what I ate.
Book a Place with a Kitchen
First things first, book yourself a place with a kitchen. Trust me, your stomach and your wallet will thank you. Make sure if you do this, make sure you’re preventing cross-contact. Learn more about Cross-contact in Shared Kitchen in my Cross-Contact Workbook.
I booked myself an Airbnb and unfortunately the cooktop was broken so I could only cook in the oven (tell that to the pasta and rice I bought after arriving).
Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping In Iceland
The next step is to go grocery shopping when you arrive. Shockingly most of the food labels I ran into came with ingredient lists translated into English. So no stumbling through the food labels for me.
Things I bought at the Grocery Store included:
- Gluten-free hard bread for traditional nordic breakfasts
- Lamb shank (Iceland does not import their meats and this was perhaps the best lamb I’ve had in my life)
- Lamb steak
- Gluten-free coffee cake mix
I have to say, you have not lived until you’ve had nordic milk, cheese, butter, and meat. I can not explain how much more delicious they are but trust me, so good.
Other things to buy if your Airbnb does not have them include foil, parchment paper, and sandwich bags for packing meals.
Things I packed in my checked bag:
- Gluten-free bread
- Gluten-free crackers
- Peanut butter packets
- Gluten-free pretzels
- Drizzilicious rice cakes
- Lunch box
Set up Your Airbnb and get Cooking
First things first, when you get to where you’re staying (whether it be an Airbnb, camper van, etc.) you want to set it up for celiac safety. Meaning, you want to take some cross-contact precautions. My routine when arriving at a new kitchen includes:
- Wiping down all of the counters
- Wiping down fridge and cabinet handles
- Assessing the pantry situation (is the flour on the top shelf? Is there anything below it that’s not sealed that could be contaminated?)
- Washing the pots and pans before use or throwing everything in the dishwasher (you just don’t know how well someone cleaned them previously)
- Stock the pantry and fridge with gluten-free foods!
Gluten-Free Food in Iceland
Icelandic cuisine is a lot like other nordic countries. It includes potatoes, rye bread, lamb and other meats (which are all raised in Iceland), fish, and dairy.
Get a true Icelandic experience by eating the gluten-free Icelandic foods that make up their diet. For me that included a lot of butter on bread (gluten-free of course), smoked salmon on bread or salads, whole milk and coffee, lamb and potatoes, and cheese on pretty much everything.
The good news is to get an experience of an Icelandic Diet while gluten-free is not hard. Especially if you prepare things by yourself.
My suggestion? Buy some different cuts of lamb to enjoy while you’re here. Buy some different fish to enjoy. Definitely stock up on butter and cheese (if you can tolerate dairy) and enjoy the cuisine.
Lactose-free and Gluten-Free in Iceland
If you’re lactose intolerant and gluten-free, Iceland is the perfect place to visit. Interestingly, all the grocery stores I visited had plenty of lactose-free options.
I found this interesting as much of the Nordic population are lactose persistent. That is, they are not prone to lactose intolerance. This is because they’ve evolved to be able to tolerate lactose.
Gluten-Free in Iceland: What I Ate
To give you an idea of how I ate a lot of Icelandic food without dining out a ton, I’ll walk you through what I ate on my trip to Iceland below. A note: this is to give you an idea of what you can eat in Iceland not what you should eat. Some food might have been forgotten. Use this as inspiration, not as a rule.
Breakfast In Iceland
Below are the breakfasts I ate in Iceland. Every single breakfast was paired with coffee, cream and sugar. As the cab driver said on our way to our Airbnb “we drink coffee all day in Iceland” – as a coffee lover, I welcomed the challenge (not that it was hard because I drink coffee all day at home too – the Swedish blood in me).
My gluten-free breakfasts included:
- Schar gluten-free multi-grain bread with butter, cheese slices, and sometimes lunch meat. I accompanied this with a side of sliced cucumber or tomatoes.
- Gluten-free crisp bread with butter and cheese slices.
- Gluten-free hard bread with butter and cheese slices
- Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and cheese
Lunch In Iceland
I spent most of my lunches outside of the house so they typically involved a gluten-free sandwich, leftovers, and some kind of snack as a side.
The typical sandwich I made included gluten-free bread, butter or hummus, cheese slices, and either sliced pickles, cucumbers, or tomatoes.
Dinner in Iceland
I made sure to be home for dinner everyday. Dinner is usually my heaviest meal and dining out in Iceland was expensive. For gluten-free dinner in Iceland I had:
- Lamb shank with baked potatoes and butter.
- Lamb steak with white rice and sauteed vegetables.
- Smoked salmon salad with cheese, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, white wine vinegar and oil. Sometimes I used balsamic reduction. I paired this with hard bread with butter and cheese.
In Iceland my snacks were pretty much all the same. They included coffee, and some kind of gluten-free bread with butter and cheese. Otherwise, it was sliced cucumber or tomato with cheese.
There were a few sweet treats I enjoyed in Iceland but I found in general, the fat from the whole milk, butter, and cheese kept my sweet tooth at bay. The desserts I enjoyed included:
- Gummy candys found at the supermarket
- Chocolate found at the supermarket (be careful as many of the chocolate has malt or barley flavoring in it).
- Chocolate caramels I found at the supermarket.
- Gluten-free crisp bread with butter and a drizzle of honey.
Meals on the Flight to Iceland
On the way to and from Iceland I flew on Delta Airlines. Delta airlines will provide a special gluten-free meal if you request it. I felt safe as they were all fairly pre-packaged.
Eating Gluten-free in Iceland is Possible
Overall, eating gluten-free in Iceland was pleasantly not as hard as I anticipated. Many of the food labels had english translations and it was fairly easy to pack lunches and snacks on my ventures outside of the Airbnb.
I did not attempt to dine out as many of the gluten-free friendly restaurants were expensive. However, during my time outside of the house I did overhear people talking with service staff about gluten-free options and the service staff seemed very accommodating and kind.
Overall, I’d 10/10 recommend Iceland as a place to travel if you’re gluten-free.
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Avocado Egg Salad
This Avocado Egg Salad recipe is the perfect mayo-free egg salad option. It’s creamy, flavorful, and everything you want in an egg salad with no mayo.
This is a gluten-free and dairy-free egg salad recipe made with all fresh ingredients. You might even call it a fresh avocado and egg salad recipe.
Regardless if you like avocado and you like hardboiled eggs, then you’re going to like this avocado and egg salad recipe.
Avocado Egg Salad Recipe
Egg salad is the perfect light and tasty summer dish. It’s full of protein, fat, and when you put it on a slice of gluten-free bread, it adds a nice balance of carbs.
Basically, all the macros are present and it makes for a filling dish.
But what about the people who don’t like mayo? That’s where this Egg Salad with Avocado recipe comes in. It’s everything you love about egg salad without the mayo.
This is a Dairy-Free Egg Salad Recipe
This is a dairy-free egg salad recipe. Believe it or not, most egg salad recipes are dairy-free.
Though some recipes occasionally call for cheese, yogurt and more. Rest assured, this recipe does not. This is in fact, a dairy-free egg salad.
Avocado and Egg Salad, No Mayo
Hold the mayo! This is a mayo-free egg salad recipe. It substitutes buttery ripe avocados for the rich and creamy mayo you’re used to seeing in egg salad recipes.
Fasano Diet Friendly Recipe
This recipe is made with all fresh ingredients (aside from the salt) making it perfect for those following a non-responsive celiac diet. So if you need to follow the Fasano diet, this egg salad is perfect for you!
About the Avocado Egg Salad Ingredients
This is a no-may egg salad recipe featuring homemade hard-boiled eggs, pickled onions, celery, lemon juice salt, and avocado. All of these ingredients work together to make a fresh and delicious dish!
The star of the show in this dairy-free egg salad recipe is the hard-boiled eggs. Thus, it’s important you boil your eggs perfectly.
Don’t stress, here’s a guide to easy and perfect hard-boiled eggs every time.
This recipe calls for pickled red onions, you could substitute regular homemade pickles, or pickled jalepenos if you’d like. However the pickled red onions really add a nice flavor that compliments the egg and avocado well.
We have lots of soft ingredients in this recipe. From the hard-boiled eggs, to pickled onions, to the avocado… the celery really adds a much needed crunch. The trick to enjoying the celery in this is to cut it into really small bites. That way the egg salad still spreads well and isn’t too chunky and crunchy.
Perhaps the most important part of this recipe is the avocado. For what is an Avocado Egg Salad with out the avocado? Am I right?
The key to perfecting this recipe is to use ripe avocados. According to Love One Today’s Avocado Buying Guide, you want to pick one that is somewhat soft when applying firm yet gentle pressure to it in the palm of your hand. If it’s mushy, it’s too ripe, and if it’s hard as a rock, it’s underripe.
Ways to Enjoy This Recipe
So now that we know more about the recipe, how should we enjoy this egg salad?
- Mix in Dijon Mustard – Add in an extra twist by mixing in some dijon mustard! Please note this will make this recipe no longer Fasano diet friendly.
- Make an Egg Salad Avocado Toast – Avocado toast is all the rage these days. Upgrade it by making it an Egg Salad Avocado Toast by spreading this egg salad on your next piece of gluten-free toasted bread!
- Serve on a Bed of Fresh Lettuce – Stay true to the salad nature of egg-salad by serving it on a bed of your favorite fresh lettuce.
- Eat with Crackers – Get your favorite gluten-free crackers and dip them or top them with this egg salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro or pickled onions, YUM!
Ready to eat? Let’s dive into the recipe.
Avocado Egg Salad - Gluten-free and Dairy-free
- 8 large hard-boiled eggs
- 1 small avocado
- 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, fresh
- 2 tbsp pickled red onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Take hard-boiled eggs out of the shell
- Roughly chop the eggs and add them to a large bowl
- In a separate bowl rough mash the avocado.
- Add avocado, dill, lemon juice, celery, pickled red onions, and salt to the bowl.
- Mix until well combined
- Add more salt and lemon to taste and enjoy!
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Rice Porridge Recipe: Gluten-free, Dairy-free
This Rice Porridge Recipe is a great option for those living gluten-free who can’t tolerate oats. As I discuss in my post on if oats are celiac-safe, some people with celiac can’t tolerate oats. This doesn’t mean however, they have to give up hot cereal breakfasts.
That’s where this cozy and filling Rice Porridge Recipe comes in!
This Rice Porridge Recipe
Going back to my Swedish roots, this Rice Porridge recipe is inspired by a Swedish dish called risgrynsgröt. Though traditionally a holiday dish, I realized it’d make for a perfect breakfast option for my gluten-free friends.
This Rice Porridge Recipe is very flexible, make adaptations as needed. I will be making notes throughout the recipe on modifications for how to make this Rice Porridge Fasano Diet-Friendly, fiber-rich, protein-packed, and more.
How to Make Rice Porridge
You can make Rice Porridge in a pot on the stove, a rice cooker, or a pressure cooker. The directions for this Rice Porridge Recipe are for in a pot over the stove. Below are adaptations to prepare it in a rice cooker or Instant Pot.
Make it in an Instant Pot
If you want to make Rice Porridge in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, add the liquid, spices, and rice into the pot of your pressure cooker. Select the “Saute” function.
Let it come to a boil for a few minutes before turning off the “Saute” function and place the lid on top. Now select the manual option and cook the dish on low for 16 minutes.
Once done cooking, let the pressure release for 10 minutes before opening and serving.
Make it in a Rice Cooker
To cook the Rice Porridge in the rice cooker, add the liquid and rice to the rice cooker pot. Mix in desired spices and do not cover. Cook on high for around 45 minutes (stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom) until thickened to your liking.
I totally got away with doing this and only stirring it twice. I make no promises for you but do with that information what you will.
You may adjust the liquid to rice ratio depending on your thickness preferences. Once cooked, sweeten with your desired sweetener. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy.
Make a Brown Rice Porridge
You can substitute short-grain brown rice for the white rice options in this recipe to make this a Brown Rice Porridge recipe. This is a good option if you’re looking to increase whole grains in your diet. Or if you have a preference for the nuttiness and texture of brown rice.
While it won’t produce the same thing as making it yourself, something also to note is that Bob’s Red Mill does make Brown Rice Porridge mix. Technically it’s Brown Rice Hot Cereal, but still, a convenient option if you want it.
Make it Rice Pudding
I scoured the internet to try to figure out what the difference between rice pudding and rice porridge was and I could find very little on it. Through my reading, the key difference depends on when you serve it. If serving it as dessert, it’s rice pudding. When serving it at breakfast, it’s rice porridge.
Essentially, what makes it a rice pudding or a rice porridge depends on if you serve it in the morning or after dinner. Go figure.
Rice Porridge Recipe Ingredients
So we know about the rice porridge recipe but what about the ingredients? What do they do and how important are they?
Using short-grain rice will give it more of a hot cereal creamy texture. Many recipes in fact, specifically call for short-grain glutinous rice.
Despite the name, glutinous rice does not have gluten. The term glutinous just means sticky rice varieties. In other words, it’s rice that has higher amounts of starch. The starch is what helps give the rice porridge recipe that hot cereal texture we all know and love.
Water is important for any rice dish, in this case, it helps add liquid to soften and cook the rice. For a more decadent dish, you may use all milk. For a more iron-rich breakfast option, you could use iron-infused water.
You can do this by boiling some water with a lucky iron fish and then cooking your rice cereal with it. Making this a great iron-rich breakfast option. An awesome thing, especially if you are gluten-free for celiac and are struggling with iron deficiency anemia.
You could use this technique to make any hot cereal iron-rich. Learn more about iron-rich gluten-free foods in this post.
Milk of Choice
Using milk in this recipe adds creaminess and flavor, no matter what kind of milk you use. Make this Rice Porridge Recipe vegan/dairy-free by using plant-based milk. Alternatively, if you can enjoy dairy safely, using real milk can add extra richness to the dish.
Add Spices, Sweetener, Fat to Taste
Make your Rice Porridge delicious with spices, sweeteners, and fat. My favorite add-ins to flavor my hot rice cereal? Cinnamon, sugar, and butter.
Other yummy spices to mix in include nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Additionally, sweeten your rice porridge with dates, bananas, maple syrup, honey, sugar, and more.
Lastly, mix in fat not only to boost flavor but to keep you full. Consider using coconut oil, butter, olive oil, and more.
Rice Porridge Flavor Ideas
- Traditional Risgrynsgröt: Traditional Risgrynsgröt, or Traditional Swedish Rice Porridge is made with butter, whole milk, cinnamon sugar, and a single blanched almond. The tradition goes: you mix in a single blanched almond into the rice porridge and serve it up. Whoever ends up with the almond in their bowl is likely to be married soon!
- Apple Pie Hot Rice Cereal: When serving your hot rice cereal, top it with diced apple, raisins, and cinnamon. Alternatively, add in diced apples halfway through cooking to cook them a little bit. Then top with cinnamon and raisins.
- Peaches and Cream Porridge: When serving your rice porridge, mix in some fresh or canned peaches into it for a peachy breakfast. You might even consider stirring in some organic peach syrup (affiliate link).
- Double Chocolate Rice Porridge: When starting to cook your porridge, mix in 1-2tbsp of cocoa powder until well combined. Once ready to serve, top with chocolate chips of choice. Make it a triple chocolate rice porridge by topping it with some organic chocolate syrup (affiliate link).
- Pumpkin Pie Hot Rice Cereal: Make this hot rice cereal recipe fall-friendly by mix in pumpkin spice mix into the rice, milk, and water mixture before cooking. When it’s just about to be done, stir in some pumpkin puree and enjoy!
- Make this Rice Porridge Fasano Diet Friendly: Make your own creamy nut butter, blend it into a “nut milk” and cook the rice with it. Top with your favorite fresh fruit, honey, and enjoy!
Rice Porridge Recipe
- 1 cup short-grain rice
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp fat of choice
- 4 1/2 cup milk of choice
- spice to taste
- sweeten to taste
- Rinse your short-grain rice well
- In a saucepan, bring water and fat to a fast boil on high heat
- Add in rice and start stirring continuously as you reduce heat to low
- Once the rice starts simmering, cover it and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until thick
- Once thick, add in your milk of choice and heat until hot but not boiling.
- Cover again and reduce heat to VERY low until all the milk has been absorbed (this can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes).
- Remove from heat and then add in sweetener, fat, fruit, etc. to taste.