Gluten Free or Celiac Disease and travel don’t mix … or do they? In Boquete they do!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

Over the four years that we have been open as a business, we have encountered many guests who are Gluten Free or have Celiac’s disease, and we’ve made every effort to provide breakfast that they can eat and enjoy that would fit into our different International breakfast themes.Well, we believe the problem has been solved for good!

According to an article in “LiveScience” Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to overreact to two proteins in gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. If a person with celiac disease eats gluten, it can trigger an immune response that damages their intestines and prevents them from absorbing nutrients.

Recently a friend of ours, Colleen, has opened a Gluten Free Bakery and Kitchen called “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen”.  Colleen has always cooked since she was 5 years old. She cooks according to her cravings. She wants a certain taste and tries to find recipes or ingredient’s that she can put together for that taste! This is a weird concept to her since a lot of the things she craves she has never had before, so sometimes it takes days to get it right.

Colleen had seen Boquete, Panama, mentioned on a retirement Facebook advertisement. So when she decided that she didn’t want to complete the last 10 years of her working life with snow, she started researching snowless places.

Her journey to learning about Gluten Free living started six years ago at a farmers market in Alberta. Some of her regular customers had spouses that were celiac and they asked her about doing something for them. She started with two items in October and by December 85% of what she made was gluten free and by spring she had her kitchen renovated and converted it to a dedicated Gluten Free Facility. Colleen felt that she has always had grand ideas when it comes to the business but she has now concentrated on getting her kitchen going.

It was not easy to get her flours in Panama. It took her six months to find a company here in Panama that produces Gluten Free flours. Now 85% of her ingredients come from here in Panama! Her biggest challenge is to get the flours that she can’t get here in Panama in large quantities and at reasonable prices. However, it seems that the Panamanians are finding out about Gluten Free Diets. A lot of the kids here have been diagnosed with celiac. Here in Panama, Gluten Free awareness has tripled! People don’t realize how sick Gluten can make you. Being on the bathroom floor, writhing in pain for days because someone didn’t take your allergy seriously.

Colleen tries to work the menu around what her suppliers can get to her or what is in season. Mostly she gets bored quickly and prefers to offer an endless variety! The exciting part about offering such a variety is that 50% of the guests that come to the Kitchen are not Gluten Free. They just love the food! And Colleen offers her breakfasts and lunches “to go”.

And as if that’s not enough, every day, the “Gluten Free Gold” offers a vegetarian choice and about three times per week a Vegan Choice!

We here at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast are very excited to have “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen” arrive in Boquete, Panama and open. So when you are making your reservation to stay with us. Let us know right away that you are Gluten Free or Vegan and we will be contacting Colleen and bring her products here for you to enjoy for breakfast along with our other great International recipes! We will work together to make your stay free from that bathroom floor and withering pain! And when you are here, you can visit the “Gluten Free Gold Kitchen” for lunch and also bring home your dinner! Oh, and by the way, go and like Colleen’s Facebook page ! She loves to talk to anyone about Gluten Free and Vegan products.


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