Due to having an underactive thyroid and irregular IBS flare ups, my eating habits are swinging more to a gluten free ( sometimes dairy free) way of eating. It makes me feel better and my skin looks miles better.
Traditionally, Croatia hasn’t had much love for people who eat differently. I can see though that this is slowly changing and in the last 10 years or so I have been observing people and services becoming more aware of special dietary needs.
Here are my top tips how to survive travelling Croatia with dietary restrictions.
- In the words of my godmother, “don’t be shy” – don’t be afraid to ask. They may not know what your specific diet entails but people are usually very happy to suggest items on the menu that don’t contain milk or gluten etc
- Stick to the basics. I accidentally glutened myself last night – and it’s my own fault because I looked at a stew which I remembered from my childhood and didn’t ask if this contains any flours or breadcrumbs. If you are not sure – you can always order 1 ingredient items, for example meats or fish with a side of grilled veg or salad.
- Supermarkets and drugstores carry a good selection of plant milks, organic and other products that you can stock up on for snacking or easy breakfast or lunch meals. My favourite drugstore of all times is DM or Müller – they are dotted around everywhere if you plug them into a maps app. DM carries a whole boatload of different special dietary foods.
- Local fruit and vegetable markets “Pazar” have wonderful organically and locally grown fruit and vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, cheeses etc
- Bakeries don’t generally have (m)any options for people with gluten restrictions – but if everything else fails you should be able to pick up a plain yoghurt, a flavoured Joghurt drink (just make sure it doesn’t contain cereals) or a sparkling water or juice
- When ordering ice cream, ask for a “caša” (pronounced chah-sha) which is a paper cup , instead of a cone. You also get a cute colourful plastic spoon with that, too.
Be careful with stews and soups – they might contain grains or breadcrumbs, like this bean and sausage stew above. I loved every bite of this, but unfortunately for me, my tummy didn’t.
These are some useful words for special dietary requirements:
- Lješnaci (pronounced lyesh-nya- tsi) – nuts
- Mlijeko (pronounced mle-ye-ko) – milk
- Soja – soy
- Badem (pronounced ba-dam) – almonds
- Brasno (pronounced: brah-sh-noh) flour
- Krušne mrvice (pronounced: croosh-nay mer-veh-cay) bread crumbs – often added to sauces and stews
- Ječam (pronounced: yeah-cham) – Barley often added to soups and stews.
- Raženo (pronounced: rah-zenoh) brašno/ Raženi kruh – rye flour / bread
- Pšenica, pšenicno brašno (pronounced: p- shenn-etsa) – wheat, wheat flour – often lurking in sauces and stews as thickener (bar the obvious bread, cakes, ice a cream cones etc)
In my experience cafes and restaurants are very accommodating (with the odd exception) if you ask. I have found lots of new little stands dotted around the places we have been so far selling fruit bowl smoothies, juices, healthy snacks. Ice cream parlours often have ingredient lists or stickers to mark special sorbets, dairy free, diabetic or gluten-free ice creams, it’s definitely worth asking.