We are lucky to have Hanna Johnson joining us to share her take on living gluten free in the fabulous Rome. Hanna will explain her paleo lifestyle and share some of the delicious discoveries she has made in Rome.
We have, in the past, shared our experiences of eating gluten free in Italy but did not make it as far north as Rome, now we have the pleasure of sharing Hanna's local knowledge to help you find your culinary way around the amazing city. Welcome Hanna…!
Confession: I am a paleo dieter in Rome
When I moved to Rome three years ago, I was nervous about my health.
I have a rare autoimmune disease and therefore eat strictly according to the paleo diet, yes the caveman diet! I am required to avoid all cereal grains, dairy, and salt, among other things. I imagined all those lovely Italian cheeses I would be avoiding. The pizza and the pasta I wouldn’t be able to touch.
However, gluten free and fellow paleo dieters, I was wrong! Rome is more than accommodating to my dietary requirements. So book that trip to Rome and don’t worry about your dietary restrictions! My only must follow recommendation is book your accommodation early because Rome is a top travel destination and it is always packed with tourists.
So let’s get to the fun stuff…food!
On the paleo diet, I am not only gluten free, but avoid milk, grain, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, processed food and refined vegetable oils. I love preparing my own food. Core ingredients of the paleo diet are grass-produced meats, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, healthy oils (like olive, walnut, coconut, macadamia,avocado), eggs, fish, and seafood in general.
Great news folks, Italian cuisine is almost always prepared with olive oil! In fact, some of the best oil in the world comes from Lazio, the region in which Rome is located.
A gluten free country
Another thing I was surprised by when I moved to Rome is that there is a very high percentage of people with coeliac disease in Italy. In fact, every Italian child gets tested for coeliac disease by the time they turn six. I was just tested for lice in the United States! When you are looking for gluten free food, remember it is the pharmacies (not the supermarkets) which are stocked with your friendly foods. This is because the Ministry of Health considers it a medical necessity. In fact, Italians with coeliac disease get a special stipend from the government to accommodate the fact they will spend more money to eat gluten free. It comes to about 140 euros every month.
Needless to say, Italy is a very friendly place for gluten free travellers! Restaurants are proud to advertise their gluten free certifications, so look for signs or stickers in the windows.
Finding a gluten free restaurant
Almost every Roman restaurant offers corn-based gluten free pasta as an alternative to the grain pasta. You just have to ask! Some favourite Roman pasta dishes are spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all’amatriciana, cacio e pepe, rigatoni, and pasta alla papalina. Be sure to request your dish comes without pecorino cheese, if you are following the paleo diet. Pecorino is a very popular ingredient, but if you ask the cook to leave it out they will.
Another great thing about Roman cuisine for paleo followers is the use of eggs. Eggs are a vital ingredient to the famous spaghetti alla carbonara and create a lovely creamy sauce that will leave you licking your lips.
A few of my personal favourites… although you really can’t mess up in this city of culinary expertise!
For the best raw dessert ever…
You must visit Grezzo Raw Chocolate Pastry. It is a unique place in Rome and it even caters for vegans. Offering a wide array of treats such as truffles, ice cream, smoothies and cakes. The perfect place for those who are lactose or gluten free or have other allergies.
Surely you have your mouse hovering over the book now button on your favourite flight search engine! What are you waiting for… book a holiday to Roma and do as the Romans do, well at least the gluten free and Paleo Romans!