British Airways Review: Gluten Free Meals

British Airways Review: Gluten Free Meals

Recently, I took a trip with my mom to England to take a look at a few graduate schools. One of the hardest things about traveling as a gluten intolerant or celiac person is knowing what you can or can’t eat, and there’s nothing more likely to put a damper on your trip than getting sick from something you ate. That said, researching what you can and cannot eat across international borders can be not only challenging, but almost impossible — especially if you’re going somewhere where your native language isn’t the one commonly spoken.

Thankfully, that wasn’t a concern I had on this trip. I’ve been to England a number of times before, and spent a year living there (pre-discovery of my gluten intolerance), and with each successive trip I’ve become more and more impressed with the gluten free options available. I’ll be writing more on this in subsequent blog posts, including a few reviews or recommendations for restaurants with great gluten free demarcation or options, but first I want to get to cover the one thing that everyone, gluten free or not, dreads.

The airplane meal.

On this trip we chose to fly British Airways, and we called ahead to ask for a gluten free meal option for me for my outgoing and return flights. It’s imperative to request gluten free meals as soon as possible when you’re booking long-haul flights; most airlines require 48 hours advance notice, but I would recommend requesting as early as you possibly can to ensure availability. Prior to my flight I also was sure to stock up on plenty of gluten free snack options, just in case they happened to forget my gluten free meal on board. As someone who suffers from perpetual hangriness if I don’t eat often enough, it always pays for me to be prepared.

So now onto the good stuff: the food. Overall, I’d give British Airways a solid B- for their gluten free options; on the way out I got a meal that seemed to be combo gluten and dairy free, with the main dish being chicken with tomato rice and broccoli, diced red pepper and carrot. It also came with a gluten free dinner roll, which was pretty good, a box of fresh berries, a side salad and two bottles of red wine.

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The entree itself was pretty passable, in my opinion, but I was thrilled about the dinner roll (still a bread addict, even if it’s not wheat-based!), and the fresh options were a great addition that added a lot of color to my food. I supplemented my meal with a little cheese from my mom’s dinner because cheese, and a few snacks that we brought on the plane with us. (Hint: the snacks involved…more cheese. I have a problem, I know.)

Breakfast on the outbound flight was pretty depressing: I got some plain yogurt and a little cup of water. Inspiring. The breakfast of dreams. I didn’t even open the yogurt as there was nothing to sweeten it with, and try as I might I just know that I’m never going to be a yogurt purist capable of eating unsweetened yogurt on its own.

Our return flight was markedly better, and I wonder if that’s because the food was sourced from UK producers instead of American ones. A trend I noticed (and loved) overall in the UK was that their producers have really mastered the art of the gluten free bread. Sure, there’s still a little bit to be desired when most restaurants provide you with their GF bread, but in comparison to the United States the difference is astounding. Bread in England is actually bread sized, instead of the little half-slices you get in a standard American gluten free loaf. But back to the meal.

The first meal I was provided with was actually unbelievably good for airline food: where my first meal had been a C, this one was definitely almost an A. If you’re pretending that you’ve never actually had real food in your life, it would definitely be an A. By airline standards, this was a pretty awesome meal. I was served a little hot packet of chicken with a smoky roasted red pepper sauce, broccoli and…cauliflower rice. I’ve never had cauliflower rice before, and I have to say that British Airlines might have out-ritz’d me on this one. The cauliflower rice wasn’t just passable, it was good. The smoked red pepper sauce was also pretty awesome, and I think this is the only time I’ve ever demolished an airline meal out of choice rather than necessity.

In addition to the main course I also got another roll (BFree brand), some lentil salad which was not great, three cherry tomatoes and a bowl of fresh fruit.

The second meal on the return flight was an egg and mayonnaise sandwich, and even though ham and cheese might have been better it was still a pretty decent sammie. It also came with a gingerbread flavored Nakd bar, which was tasty!

Our flight home was also graced with some awesome views, which I can’t help but share below. Overall, I the BA experience was pretty great — we also got whole rows to ourselves, and a lot of free wine. The flight attendants were super attentive and friendly, and I would definitely fly (and eat!) with BA again!

Garlicky Roasted Potato Wedges

This is it. The perfect side dish. The potato to complete any meat-and-potato dish you could ever dream up. Why are these potatoes so perfect, you ask? They’re super simple to make, mess-free, and packed with a buttery, garlicky taste that’s impossible to discredit. They also satisfy every kind of potato person, from those who prefer their potatoes squishy to those who prefer them crispy and browned. Keep reading below for the best roasted potato recipe in town.

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So how do you make these delicious little nuggets of Yukon Gold? Start with the potatoes, a little olive oil, some salt and pepper and garlic powder. A sheet of aluminum foil will keep the potatoes from ruining your favorite baking sheet, and then all you need to do is decide what dish you want to serve it with! My personal recommendation is the Figgy Balsamic Pork dish that I made earlier this month, but it would really go well with any meat option.

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My personal favorite trick for cutting these potatoes ensures that they’re shaped like small wedges; the the potato and cut it in half lengthwise (along the longest point of the potato). Then place each half meat-side down to prevent slippage. Cut in half again, then slice into half-inch thick pieces. Your potatoes should look roughly triangular, unless you’ve had to cut off any bad bits.

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Ingredients: (serves 3-4)
Time Required: Approx 30 minutes (5-10 minutes prep, 25 minutes cook time)
Skill Level: 🔪 (Easy)

5-6 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
2.5 tbsp olive oil (more if your potatoes are on the large side)
1.5 tsp garlic salt (more if you prefer a strong garlic flavor)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Turn oven on to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare potatoes. Cut into wedges by cutting the potato in half lengthwise, then in half again (also lengthwise). Slice halves into 1/2 inch thick pieces.
  3. Place potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat. If there is not enough olive oil to satisfactorily coat all potatoes, add more, 1 tsp at a time.
  4. Place a piece of aluminum foil over a baking tray and grease sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Add potatoes, then sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. After 10-15 minutes, remove from oven and turn potatoes over with a spatula. Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and serve immediately!

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Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Sundried Tomatoes

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Sundried Tomatoes

 

Brussel sprouts. I know, I know.  They’re the bane of every adolescent (and post-adolescent) traumatized by bitter bites, but the secret to great brussel sprouts is all about the preparation. A little salt, a little pepper, some olive oil and a solid roasting give them a softer, more delicate taste, and balsamic vinegar and meats like pancetta or bacon give them just tender and mouthwatering enough to convince any brussel-naysayer to join the dark side.

I’m here today to make brussel sprouts sexy again. You heard me. Sexy sprouts. An impossible mission, you say? I beg to differ. These brussel sprouts are, in short, amazing. Phenomenal. I never thought I would crave these little lumpy green not-cabbages, but this recipe has 100% changed my mind, and my dinner plate.

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So how do we make brussel sprouts great again? Cut them in half, toss them in olive oil, roast with some pancetta and then sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and drizzle them in balsamic vinegar. Boom. It’s that simple.

But really. This recipe is a favorite simply because it’s so easy, so delicious, and so flavorful. Its salty, crunchy, tangy — everything I love in a dish. The sundried tomatoes add just a touch of sweetness, and the right balsamic can make all the difference. These pair well with just about anything; I’ve made it with marinated flank steak, roasted chicken breasts, pork chops… the list goes on.

This is a great dish that traverses all seasons; its hearty enough to be enjoyed during the cold, dark winter nights, and boldly acidic enough to satisfy the desire for a tangy summer side dish.

 

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Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
Time Required: Approx 35 minutes (10 minutes prep, 25 minutes cook time)
Skill Level: 🔪 (Easy)

1 lb brussel sprouts (approx 1/3 lb per person)
1/3 lb pancetta
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare brussel sprouts! Wash, then cut the hard stems off the bottom and cut sprouts in half. Note: its ok if the outer layers peel off! Keep them to roast — they get super crunchy and delicious.
  3. Chop pancetta and set aside.
  4. Place sprouts in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Spread over a baking sheet and salt and pepper. Add pancetta to baking sheet and roast for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, if using dry-pack sundried tomatoes, add olive oil and allow to soak while the sprouts cook. If using oil-packed tomatoes, disregard this step.
  6. Remove from oven and add sundried tomatoes. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven entirely and drizzle balsamic vinegar. Toss and serve immediately!

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