I love to travel. Repeat. I. Love. To. Travel. Although it can be quite difficult to travel and still eat Paleo/AIP, I took the trip we’ve (hubs and I) have been planning for oh so long. Scandinavia. After tons of research, I knew this would be my feeding frenzy! I already knew the food was going to be cleaner (most chemicals we use in U.S. are banned here) but I had no idea the water and air would be cleaner as well; is this what heaven is like? We trekked our way through Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Reykjavik Iceland. Four countries, 4 languages, 4 currencies in 16 days. All whilst maintaining our (mostly) healthful lifestyle.
Let’s begin with the prep and packing. From previous travels (see my travel blog here), I know what foods and comforts I needed to pack. Since this was an international flight, I couldn’t pack the cooler with pre-made meals. We did have an overnight flight which provided meals. The options when booking were gluten free and vegetarian. We checked the gluten-free box hoping for a salad at best. I decided to bring back up foods for airport lounging. Bubba’s Fine Foods snacks are a reintro (so not AIP but Paleo) and I love them! Pork sticks are also a must. These are the only 2 food items I packed this time. Mostly in my carry-on and some checked for the flight home.
Well to my dismay, they did not have our gluten-free option meal on the flight there nor on the return. They did give us some gluten-free pretzels which my hubs snacked on. The ingredients would not have made me feel well! I passed mostly because I had plenty of snacks with me. Otherwise, I may have indulged.
I also made sure I had plenty of Collagen Protein (I used this kind). They come in travel packets which were fantastic for on the go. Absolutely perfect for my new Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle from The Grommet. I did not want to spend money on bottled water in the airport nor worry about carrying a full bottle with me. It turned out I used these for the entire duration of our vacation. And, of course, I had Trader Joe Coconut Oil Packets with me as well. I planned approximately 1 packet for 2 days with about 2 extra just in case. I use this as a moisturizer and also eat a bit for the nutrient value if needed.
Because of the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I take supplements. I didn’t want to lug around a giant pill container so I found these Pill Pouches. It was easy just to get out the days’ worth for my bag and night stand at the hotel. I wrote the day and date; they come with boxes you can check for the time of day as well. I kept them inside an old make-up bag organized by date.
Like I mentioned previously, I had done the research and knew I wouldn’t have much trouble finding friendly foods on our journey. Without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff.
This was one of my favorite cities. It was clean and so easily maneuverable. Our luggage did not make it with us until day 3 in Helsinki due to connecting flight delays. We did have mostly enough in our carry-ons to get us thru (except for me, I forgot to pack extra pants). Therefore, we had to take a bit of time to shop (hello Stockman’s). Restaurants close at 10pm in Helsinki, it was midnight when we arrived at our hotel and we were hungry. We sucked it up and waited until morning.
Day 1: We found this awesome place called Gran Delicato. They were extremely knowledgeable about food allergens. They were quick to help me pick the omelet with a salad
while Eli (aka hubs) had a gluten-free ciabatta sandwich. I don’t usually partake in the gluten-free bread but he does without trouble. We took a Boat Tour in the afternoon, they even had gluten-free options in the tiny café on the boat.
I found a place with gluten-free sweet potato fries for lunch, Memphis. They had a dedicated fryer, wooohooo!! For dinner, we went to Fisken pa Disken. They were super allergen friendly and were able to ensure I had a gluten-free and dairy-free meal. The fish, salads, steamed veggies, shrimp, oysters were our choice and did not disappoint.
Day 2: Fazer. That is All. This place though, I can’t describe it enough. You’ll have to check it out yourself here. So, it’s not a Paleo restaurant but it does have gluten-free and healthy options. They have a breakfast buffet that has plenty of great AIP & Paleo options. This is not what I had, however. We indulged in the Budapest Bread and Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffle. Basically, we had dessert for breakfast. I was turned onto them from the dark chocolates left in our room by the hotel staff. Chocolate is a retinro and I do eat it almost daily. Fazer is also listed on various gluten-free websites as a good place to eat.
Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Mount Everest. This is an Indian restaurant. Even though the Tikka Masala has dairy, I wasn’t bothered. Dairy usually causes acne and itchy skin for me unless it’s organic or raw. I can handle a bit of these more than conventional dairy. I took a chance and nothing happened. NOTHING. It was fantastic. No symptoms. They usually start within just minutes of consuming dairy. I then became brave; I had a sample fresh parmesan at the International Market later in the day. Still nothing. I felt so satisfied eating dairy.
Day 3: We walked down the street from our hotel to Café Ekberg. They had gluten free pastries and a nice breakfast buffet. I absolutely love the options for breakfast in Helsinki. I made a salad (2 to be exact), fruit, and I had fresh Swiss cheese. Still no symptoms. They were also very knowledgeable about allergens and helped Eli pick a gluten-free pastry for himself (maybe I had a bite, maybe).
This is the night we took the Viking Line Cruise to Stockholm. It was an overnight cruise. All of the restaurants had allergens listed. The staff were helpful in making decisions as well. I ended up with the Cobb salad while Eli had the gluten free cheeseburger. BTW, this was our first cruise and we loved it.
Day 1: We arrived in the late morning. We found a place called Grill Ruby for lunch. The chef told me the Swedish meatballs were gluten free and the gravy was cream based. I figured, hey I’ve tried dairy in Helsinki and showed zero symptoms, I might as well give it a go here too. I’m on vacation and feeling brave. Guess what ya’ll? Nothing happened again. Not one symptom. I know what you’re thinking; it could take a few days for symptoms to show up (at the time of this writing; still symptom free 3 weeks later). I considered this but also still felt great! Eli had the chicken coconut curry which was also gluten-free.
Day 2: We stayed at Hotel First Reisen. The breakfast bar was included. It was amazing. I had smoothie shots, salad, eggs, nitrate free bacon, fruit. I looked forward to this each morning!
For lunch, we decided on Taco Bar. It kept popping up on gluten-free sites and came highly recommended as a quick lunch or snack. After our full breakfast, we just wanted a small and quick meal. They were very knowledgeable although the allergen options weren’t listed on the menu. I listened to the staff and ordered a corn taco (corn doesn’t really bother me but I know the possible effects it may have on our bodies so I usually avoid it). I had a reaction just moments after finishing eating. It felt like a gluten reaction (I wasn’t mentally clear, bloat, cramping, then the anger). Yep, gluten causes me to become angry i.e. mood swings.
Dinner; I wasn’t thinking clearly (still feeling the reactions from the possible gluten) but had clear demands. French Fries; potato (not sweet potato). We found a place (Borgmastar’n Bistro in Gamla Stam) that had a dedicated fryer. I had French Fries. Eli had a steak salad. You see, I don’t make good decisions when glutened. I did have activated charcoal that may have helped with the symptoms but, again, I wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t take one. Eli didn’t know I had them. He now knows this is an option and knows I carry it with me.
Day 3: I feel better. Still a bit bloated but otherwise good. I sat in the sauna for a while to try to help with the detox. I did feel much better afterward. We ended up eating at Jamie Oliver’s Italian. I was a nervous wreck looking at this menu. I ended up with the gluten-free carbonara and felt good after. Nothing happened. The gluten-free pasta was the best I’ve had yet (I’ve not tried many). The staff were quick to say the gluten free pizza was cooked in the same oven as the regular crusts. Needless to say, we did not have the pizza.
Day 4: We took the Ghost Tour after eating a great salad from Brod & Salt. I’ve been forgoing the dressing on the salads until this one. It was an olive oil/vinaigrette with fresh raspberry. So good and simple.
Then we stumbled upon Aifur Restaurant. It’s a Viking mid-evil type bar & pub. The wait staff told me what I could have to eat and I went with it. A whole Roasted Chicken with roasted root veggies.
Delicious. Eli had the venison with root veggies.
Some of the menus here had gluten and dairy containing meals listed by each item. It was confusing at first to see the opposite of what I’m used to looking for.
Day 1: I did my research and couldn’t wait to get to Paleo. It was fantastic. Everything on the menu is exactly paleo. We ate there twice, it was so good! We went to the one in the Glass Market; I knew of another one but this one was right next to our hotel. Copenhagen is full of restaurants and most were quite knowledgeable about food allergens.
Day 2: Before our canal tour, we ate at Brazaria Grill, also in the Glass Market. The yucca fries and grilled pineapple were my favorite. The fries were cooked in sunflower oil (reintro) which I don’t usually go for but I knew it was non-GMO and felt ok with my decision. We literally could have just stayed here for each meal. There are so many options. The vegetable stands were beautiful. My only regret is not staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen!
For dinner, we made a reservation at The Olive. O.M.G. I could have eaten here all day every day. Check out the menu here!! The menu was clearly marked for allergens. The waitress/waiters were able to recite each ingredient. This was clearly a win for us.
Day 3: We found a great Indian restaurant for lunch. The chef made sure to talk to us about the menu. They only offer Naan bread a la carte so i didn't worry about possible cross contamination. Once again, I ordered the Tikka Masala knowing it had cream and again, no negative reaction!
For dinner, we went to Tight. The staff were super helpful in helping us pick non-gluten items. I noticed that most places had super fresh, healthy meats and vegetables. It was comforting knowing that the ingredients were clean and simple.
We walked around Copenhagen every day. The neighborhoods each had something different to offer. The residents mostly ride bikes within the city. We had to watch out for bicycles and cars alike when walking. It is definitely a city I want to return to!
The last leg of our Scandinavian tour. Right away, we had lunch at Fish & More. We both ordered the fish of the day. It was steamed red snapper with roasted broccoli and sweet potato. So clean, so easy and effing delicious. This was a great way to the start or time in Iceland. We ate here another time as well.
We dined at Nepalese Kitchen for dinner. It was also quite simple, iron skillet cooked chicken with vegetables. The owner was waiting on us and before we could say a word, he asked if we had any allergens. I was surprised and pleased. He immediately said we could eat anything on the menu minus the bread. It was positively reassuring.
Day 2: We went to the VesturbaJarlaug open outdoor pool/spa. They had various hot pools each with different temperatures and one cold pool for the ultimate Scandinavian spa experience. There were 2 swim pools, one for kids and one for adults. We used the steam room and the sauna as well. It was extremely relaxing and detoxifying. They are adamant about pool rules in Iceland. You are required to take a naked shower prior to entering. If you do not do this, you will get called out! This is how they ensure the water stays clean considering they don’t use any chemicals. Iceland is full of natural geothermal pools.
Day 3: Our hotel concierge had booked the Hot Golden Circle Tour for us. It was the touristiest thing we did however, it was awesome. We went to Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Secret Lagoon. We stopped to eat at a food court at Geysir. There were many restaurant options and most were labeled for allergens. We had soup at Supa. The soups were all gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy free.
Allergens are new to Iceland. They are still learning as most are not listed on menus. I did see one menu where gluten was noted as I had first seen in Stockholm.
Most people were aware though. On another note, the grocery stores had rooms for the different food items. For example, the produce had its own cold room as well as the meat and dairy in each their own rooms. It is a measure to not only cool the entire store but to stay environmentally friendly as well. Cool, right?
Overall, everywhere we went was food friendly and clean. The water was clean as we drank from the tap. There was fresh food at the various markets throughout each city. It was one the most expensive trips we’ve taken but also one of the most favorite!