Our Little Cucina by the Playa – Vegan Vacation Part One


When you’re landlocked and haven’t taken a vacation for 18 months, the fresh, salty sea breeze is a truly breath of gratitude that fills your soul.  Yes, Hubby and I were  fortunate travelers to beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for 12 almost perfect days.

We’ve been to Playa several times and own a small timeshare studio on the beach.  But this would be our first time discovering how we’d fare with our gluten-free, vegan diet.  Would we find tons of delicious things to eat, or would we be living on papaya for the next twelve days? The adventure begins.

The trip started out with a layover in Houston. We found a cool little place that allowed us to build our own salads.  So with greens in our bellies and about $20 less in our wallet, we were off to Mexico.

We arrived at our hotel and were welcomed by a lovely reception.  The timeshare staff treats us very well and of course, tries to sell us excursions, spa packages, the all inclusive meal package… you get the idea.  The also feed us to get us to say “yes.”  We said “no” but we did eat fruit, some cucumbers, jicama, some ridiculously hot chipotle salsa and fresh orange juice.

Once we got settled in, it was time to hail a cab to the grocery store, Mega, to stock up on food for week one. Mega has organic food and a big selection of fresh produce.

And Mega has tortillas nopales.  Chances are, if you live in the U.S. A., you’ve never had these tasty cactus treats.  We have tons of Hispanic markets where we live and can’t find them in stores. We’ve been looking since the first time we tried them, years ago and no luck except online. These scrumptious little cactus and corn tortillas are very high in fiber and very low in carbs.  A vegan, gluten-free, dieters dream. We toast ours to make tostadas or chips.  Every time we go to Mexico, we can’t wait to eat tortillas nopales.

We took a long time to comb the isles.  Hubby does speak and read some Spanish and I know enough to be dangerous, so reading labels in a foreign language was really an adventure.  Harina (wheat/flour) was in lots of items.  We did manage to find lots of fresh fruit, bagged washed spinach, onions,  really funky mushrooms,  beans without lard, garbanzos, lentils, organic rice cakes, blackberry jam without HFC, salsa, tomatillo salsa, olive oil and some organic vegan pasta sauce. Finding 100% juice was a challenge.  We couldn’t understand why many juices had added Sorbitol – yuck!  We found grape, orange and grapefruit without added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

Nuts were like gold.  They are a staple in our diet but after looking at the prices – about double what we pay at home – we opted to try and go nut-free.

My tiny kitchen by the sea was stocked and ready for a quick dinner of tortillas, beans and salsa. The next morning, I made breakfast – organic gluten-free grain cakes, organic jam, bananas and gluten-free granola sprinkles, juice, tea and an ocean view.

Hola Playa Del Carmen!

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