March 19, 2019

Eating gluten & dairy free at Center Parcs

I recently got back from a trip to Center Parcs which I wasn’t actually going to blog about, but there were so many amazing gluten free, dairy free and vegan options I knew I needed to share my positive experience. If you’ve not heard of Center Parcs before (I’m sure most of you have!) it’s a forest break dotted around various locations in the UK and Ireland. We went to Woburn forest, which is the newest & also smallest complex, located only an hour from London. This was the best option for us as it was the closest, and the best value at the off peak time we went.

(Center Parcs can be very pricey during weekends and school holidays, so if you can, try and book off peak to save money!)

Center Parcs Woburn

Cooking in your cabin

We stayed in a woodland cabin, with our own kitchen and cooking area (including a hob, oven, microwave & toaster), so we went to Asda on the way to pick up enough food to last us the 5 days. We weren’t planning on eating out very much because (to be honest) I hadn’t done very much research and didn’t know what the gluten and dairy free options would be like. Here are a few tips for cooking in your cabin at Center Parcs with allergies/intolerances:

  1. Don’t use the toaster! Toasters are home to lots of crumbs and are a cross contamination nightmare. I used the oven/grill to toast my gluten free bread instead.
  2. Bring foil & baking paper with you. As you will be using totally different cooking equipment provided in the cabin, I cooked everything on foil or baking paper to prevent any kind of cross contamination
  3. Make sure to do a food shop before you arrive. They do have a small onsite supermarket with Free From options however it’s very pricey.
  4. Book a cabin instead of a hotel room! The site is home to various different living spaces, we paid £20 more for the week for a cabin with kitchen meaning we could cook our own food. The hotel rooms do not come with a kitchen meaning you will need to eat out for every meal (so will end up being more pricey overall).

We decided to eat at the cabin for breakfasts every day, lunches most days and a couple of dinners. I found cooking quick and easy foods the best option, as we didn’t have all the cooking equipment we would usually have at home! For breakfasts I had gluten free granola with dairy free yoghurt/milk and berries. For lunches we made fry up style food & sandwiches and the dinners we had in the cabin included hot dogs with homemade chips and homemade Cornish pasty’s.

Breakfast: Free From granola, almond milk and berries

As mentioned above, they have a supermarket on site which was pricey but is useful if you have forgotten anything. The supermarket is kind of like a Co-op, but with lots of other options too, & a Free From section! The onsite sweet and chocolate shop also had great vegan chocolate options.

Free From supermarket section
Vegan chocolate available at the onsite sweet store

Eating out

I honestly couldn’t believe how many of the onsite restaurants had gluten free, dairy free and vegan options! Every restaurant we walked past had food I could eat, we didn’t actually manage to fit them all in during the 5 days we were there because there was so much choice and we had brought so much food with us!

The first place I want to talk about is the onside ‘Dining In’ take away, with the option of various different types of cuisine – Italian, Indian, Asian, American & more! The menu was clearly marked with GF, LF (Lactose free) and Ve (Vegan) signs which meant I could easily identify what I could eat. When ordering they even asked if I had any allergies before I had chance to mention them, and I noticed the kitchen had huge signs up which stated ‘Allergy fryer’, ‘Allergy surface’, which I thought was great!

Center Parcs Dining In takeaway menu
Center Parcs Dining In takeaway menu

With the choice of gluten & dairy free pizzas, Indian dishes with homemade naan bread, Asian dishes with gluten free noodles and American dishes such as nachos, I was spoilt for choice! I decided to opt for the gluten free vegetarian pizza, with vegan cheese and I was so impressed, they made the dough themselves, and it all tasted amazing!

Gluten free and vegan pizza topped with vegan cheese, red onion, mushrooms, peppers & sweetcorn

Another place we ate at for a couple of lunches was Leon, which I was very excited to spot when we first arrived as it’s one of my favourite places for eating out. Leon is a fast food restaurant with so many great gluten and dairy free options such as gluten free chicken nuggets, meatless meatballs, burgers, salads, chips, doughnuts and more!

Gluten free and vegan meatless meatballs and a Ruby’s of London doughnut from Leon.
Gluten free chicken nuggets & chips from Leon

During the week we also ate at Las Iguanas for dinner, which serves Brazilian, Latin American and Mexican food with an amazing extensive gluten free menu, and great dairy free/vegan options too.

The Gluten free menu at Las Iguanas

I’ve been to Las Iguanas many times before and normally opt for the vegan chilli which is also gluten free, but this time I went for a few different options and ordered off the tapas/sides menu! I went for the Jackfruit Tinga Tacos, the Spring onion rice and the holy guacamole plate. All of which was absolutely delicious! They also have a great cocktail menu which we enjoyed. For pudding I spotted a new gluten free and vegan chocolate and coconut tart with coconut ice cream which we was incredible!

Delicious gluten free and vegan food at Las Iguanas

We didn’t actually get the chance to eat out at any other places, but I wanted to share with you some of the other options we spotted whilst there. Firstly, the Sports Cafe, which has a gluten free menu for brunch, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dishes such as gluten free fish and chips (which unfortunately are not dairy free, but I heard are a must if you are gluten free), burgers and more! They also had a vegan menu too.

Sports Cafe menu at Center Parcs (visit their website for more)

They also had a Huck’s restaurant which we will definitely visit next time we go, as we heard so many good things! Huck’s menu is clearly labelled with vegan, gluten free and lactose free options in abundance including dishes such as nachos, chilli, burgers and more.

Huck’s Restaurant menu at Center Parcs (visit their website for more)

They also had an onsite pancake house which serve gluten free pancakes, along with plenty of other restaurants such as Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Starbucks and more.

Activities

Center Parcs is also home to so many amazing activities which I wanted to also briefly mention. During our stay we spent lots of time at the pool, where we enjoyed the rapids and the water slides. We also took a trip to the spa which is a must do at Woburn, played crazy golf and enjoyed lots of walks around the woodland. Other activities involve Ariel adventures, high ropes, archery, badminton, squash, fitness classes, kayaking, climbing and segways.

So there you have it, a little overview to our time at Center Parcs. If you are looking for somewhere to head on a UK break then I’d definitely recommend taking a trip. Fantastic fun & great food.

Alice x

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