Sara Hildebrandt offers first-hand tips and places to go for gluten-free living in and around Amsterdam.
I have been gluten-free for over seven years since developing food intolerances, after having my first child. Currently, I also live dairy-and-egg-free.
I was spoiled coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. Eating there was a dream with plenty of options for all kinds of diets, so understandably, I was nervous about moving to Amsterdam and the gluten-free choices on offer. It is actually better than I expected, and each year the options expand.
Gluten Allergy or Intolerant?
Gluten is an umbrella term referring to proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Varieties of wheat include wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, and einkorn. Gluten is a protein that acts as a glue; helping these foods to maintain their shape.
A serious gluten allergy is known as Celiac's Disease. This is a hereditary auto-immune disorder where the ingestion of gluten causes damage in the small intestines, which prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly into the body.
Gluten intolerance or sensitivity, on the other hand, includes symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, weight gain, diarrhoea/constipation, brain fog, joint pain, numbness in your limbs, and fatigue.
Of course, it is best not to self-diagnose but to seek medical advice from your huisarts (general practitioner).
Naturally Gluten-Free Foods
Fortunately, there here are many gluten-free foods available to replace wheat, rye and barley. It is important to note though that cross-contamination during processing is possible, which may result in these alternatives containing traces of gluten.
- Potato/Sweet potatoes/Yam
- Buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
- Gluten-free oats
- Nut flours
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
Gluten-Free Flour Alternatives
- Oat *(make sure it is a brand that states gluten-free as oats are usually cross-contaminated with wheat)
Tip: Ekoplaza sells almost all of these alternative flours and more. Try using tijgernotenmeel (tigernut flour) in baking. It can be substituted for all-purpose flour or even a gluten-free flour blend. It is also nut-free!
Most of the grocery store chains (Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Ekoplaza and Marqt) have a gluten-free section. In Amsterdam, I prefer the Albert Heijn at Olympic Stadium and the Ekoplaza on Jan Pieter Heijestraat for the biggest selection.
Tip: Check the bakery or freezer section for additional gluten-free options. Ekoplaza offers a standing fresh gluten-free bread order, delivered to your local shop. There are more gluten-free items available online at Albert Heijn and Ekoplaza .
Mastino Pizza, De Pijp
This pizzeria only serves gluten-free pizza with vegan options. You can still opt for mozzarella if you don’t want vegan cheese. This is the best gluten-free pizza crust I have had in Amsterdam.
Eat Well, Do Good, Centrum/Oud-Zuid
Great place for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The menu lists exactly what is in each dish, so it is easy to navigate without asking lots of questions.
Gustatio Amsterdam, near Vondelpark
Delicious gluten-free pasta. Great for kids.
De Italiaan, Oud-West
Another great option for gluten-free pizza. Great for kids.
I love Sla, Centrum/various
My favorite place for salads. Everything is gluten-free and mostly vegan.
Pancakes Amsterdam, Centrum
You can enjoy gluten-free pancakes and you won't know the difference.
Bagels & Beans, various
Try their gluten-free bagels!
A wonderful place for meals-to-go and other gluten-free snacks.
Roots Amsterdam, Willemspark
Everything at this shop is wheat-free or gluten-free and vegan.
Coffee & Coconuts CT, De Pijp
A really fun place for breakfast or lunch. Lots of gluten-free options on the menu.
Tip: When making a reservation, mention that you or someone in your party is gluten-free or has a food allergy. It makes the restaurant experience that much more enjoyable if the restaurant is prepared ahead of time.
Sara Hildebrandt is a San Franciscan import with two gorgeous children. She loves making a chocolate cake using only almond meal, also known as sacher torte.