Have Food, Will Travel

Last week I had the fabulous opportunity to travel to New York City to present my book, Fantastically Free: The Savvy Mom’s Guide to Living a Safe, Happy, and Healthy Life with Food Allergies. Overall, it was a great experience, but getting there was a huge pain in the rear, if I do say so myself.

First, my flight was delayed because of wind conditions. Next, my flight was delayed because the cargo door wasn’t showing that it was closed. Then, my flight was delayed again because it was too complicated to fix the door so they decided to get a different plane from Cincinnati. Finally, my flight was canceled at around 11:00 pm because they couldn’t find another crew to fly the new plane. This was very frustrating to say the least–especially since I needed to be in New York by 8:00 am the next morning. In this moment of shear frustration and despair I decided to adopt an attitude of gratitude.

What was the one thing I was grateful for in that moment? Well, I guess it was two things really. First, I was grateful that we didn’t crash due to an open cargo door. But, the second thing that I was grateful for was the fact that I had packed my dinner.

You see, after being at the airport for 7 hours of wasted time, while everyone else was sitting in their seats being served soda and pretzels, I was eating grilled chicken breast, broccoli, berries, and a sweet potato that I packed in my cooler bag. One thing

10-Inch PACKiT Folded

10-Inch PACKiT Folded

that I have learned from managing food allergies and autoimmune conditions and from just being committed to being healthy is this: never travel without food.

One of the biggest challenges my clients (and nearly everyone else I know) have is eating healthfully while on the go. If you have food allergies, an autoimmune disorder, or another condition that impacts what you eat, you have the added challenge of finding safe food while eating away from home–you don’t have the luxury of eating at any old place or grabbing any old snack food off the shelf. You have to plan ahead. The same is true if you’re committed to eating healthfully.

On the flight back home from New York, I enjoyed pastured herb-roasted turkey, avocado, a mixed green salad with olive oil and vinegar, roasted cauliflower and kale, and blueberries, which I had packed in my PACKiT cooler. Everyone else had their choice of cookies, pretzels, or peanuts–not exactly a satisfying or healthful dinner, if you ask me.  No wonder everyone is so grumpy when they fly. They’re tired and hungry! This must be how the term “hangry” originated.

Before I go any further I should tell you about this PACKiT cooler that I keep mentioning. The PACKiT is actually a freezable lunch bag that cools your food for up to 10 hours. I love it! I am not an affiliate or a reseller of PACKiT and they don’t sponsor my site (although it would be great if they did). I just think their products are a life saver (literally, figuratively, and however else you might use the term). We use their lunch bags and salad bags every single day because they allow us to basically take a tiny fridge of safe and healthy food wherever we go. My girls use them to take their lunches to school each day and I use it anytime I will be eating away from home. They also make picnic bags and shopping bags.

10 inch PACKiT Freezable Lunch Bag

10 inch PACKiT Freezable Lunch Bag

If you’re committed to eating well while traveling, here are 5 tips to help you on your journey:

  1. Plan ahead. If you are traveling with a group of kids, you might find it easier to schedule your flight or travel time around your eating schedule so you only have to worry about packing snacks rather than full meals during the flight or the car ride. Sometimes this just isn’t possible, though. Either way, make a list of food that you plan to take with you.
  2. Be prepared. Cook and prepare your food ahead of time so you can just pop it into your freezable bag before you leave. And don’t forget to put your freezer bag in the freezer the night before.
  3. Scout out the area. Before you leave for your trip, get familiar with the grocery stores and healthy restaurants that are near your destination so you aren’t scrambling to find someplace to eat while you’re starving. That never leads to a good decision-making.
  4. Make sure your accommodations meet your needs. When I travel with my entire family, we only stay at places that have a full kitchen. This allows us to make most of our meals “at home.” When it’s just me or the hubby and me, I make sure that I at least have a mini-refrigerator in my hotel room. This allows me to keep fresh fruits, veggies, salads, and meats. It also allows me to refreeze my PACKiT for the trip home.
  5. Make some of your own meals. When I travel, I definitely still eat at some sit-down restaurants that can accommodate food allergies and that have healthy choices available, but the majority of my meals are made by me. When I don’t have a full kitchen available, I eat a lot of fresh green leafy vegetables, avocado, olive oil, vinegar, and the healthiest/safest protein options I can find. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can experiment with coffee pot cooking. I haven’t tried it myself but it looks interesting.

Next week I will discuss some quick and easy, healthy, Top-8-Free, snack options that even your kids will love. Yep, kids do like healthy snacks, too. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you eat healthy while you’re on the go or what challenges you face when trying to eat healthy away from home. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Coconut Milk: My Personal Dairy Alternative of Choice

Hey there! Did you know that June  is Dairy Alternatives Month? It’s also Dairy Month, but since I can’t consume any dairy without having a coconutmilkcrazy autoimmune response that makes my arthritis flare like a raging brushfire, I’m just going to focus on dairy alternatives.

I’m sure you have noticed a whole slew of commercial dairy alternatives on the market recently. First there was soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk. Now you can even find pre-packaged hemp milk, oat milk, cashew milk, etc.

There are so many options available on the market if you have a dairy allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity. The downside is that most commercial dairy alternatives are highly-processed foods.  Most of them contain additives like Carrageenan and guar gum. Some of them also have added ingredients like sugar, salt, and canola oil. If you have autoimmune or digestive issues, you have to be careful with additives and extraneous ingredients.  For this reason, I recommend making your own dairy alternative at home or searching for a commercial brand that only contains two ingredients (the main ingredient and water).

My personal dairy alternative of choice is coconut milk. Firstly, my girls have life-threatening tree nut allergies so I am not about to fool with any nut milks–plus I have my own autoimmune issues with  nuts (in case you’re wondering, coconuts are tropical fruits in the drupe family, not nuts). Secondly, coconuts are a very nutritious choice. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

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How to Safely Share Your Kitchen with Gluten-Eating Family Members

If you have Celiac disease or another form of gluten sensitivity, you know that you must adhere to a gluten-free diet. In order to stay healthy,Butter and bread you also need to avoid cross-contact between gluten-free foods and foods that contain gluten (ie. foods made with wheat, barely, or rye ingredients).  When other family members are still eating foods that contain gluten, this can be a bit of a challenge.

My family has a number of food allergies, food sensitivities, and autoimmune conditions that are triggered by a number of different foods. Some foods, like peanuts and tree nuts, are banned from ever entering the house because the risk for anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can result in death) is just too high. Other allergens are allowed in the house, as long as everyone follows safe-food handling practices to prevent cross-contact.

Most of my family is gluten-free but my husband still likes to eat gluten-containing foods like bread and pizza. We have definitely had to implement a few safeguards to keep the rest of the family healthy.

Here are my top 7 tips to safely share your kitchen with your gluten-eating family members.

1) Get a new toaster.

The girls and I don’t eat any bread at all but if you plan on eating toasted gluten-free bread, you will need to get a new toaster that is used exclusively for breads that do not contain gluten. Toasters usually house so many bread crumbs that it’s impossible to clean them out completely. If you don’t have room for a second toaster or just don’t feel like buying a second one, you can also use a toaster oven. Just be sure to clean it out between uses. Another option is to stick with toasting your bread on a pan in your oven. Hey, it has worked for many years.

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