First, I feel I must apologize for being away from this blog for so long. I have another chronic illness that has made the past year very challenging. I have a lot of recipes to share with you, however my husband cooked most of them and I don’t have photos of most. The recipes have passed our tastes test, and I hope you will enjoy them as well.
The beginning of November 2012 we started on a road trip from Durham, North Carolina to Tucson, Arizona. Looking to spend the winter in a warmer climate hoping my health would be better, we took off to stay at my father-in-law’s house (he recently married and is not living in his house any longer). So we packed up a mini-van we rented with enough clothes and essentials to last us for 5 months, a cooler, some snack foods, and a cat.
We learned a lot on the trip out. Quickly we realized this would be a very long drive, especially with someone with food issues. We had packed just a little food, enough to tide me over if we couldn’t find anything safe for a meal or two. We soon learned that we couldn’t find very many places we could trust for me to eat at. I had boiled eggs, quick oats, crackers, cheese and some cut up veggies….maybe a couple of other things, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Most days I ended up eating a burger in a lettuce wrap, or a salad. My tummy was not happy. I did find some good food at two of the places we stayed. One hotel restaurant even knew what Fructose Malabsorption was! I was shocked. I had a great steak, potatoes au gratin, and green beans. But most of the trip out was not a happy tummy feeling. Not only was I eating poorly to try to stay on a gluten-free and low FODMAP diet, I ended up eating way too much salt. The salt affects my other illness, Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease is a vestibular disorder that causes sudden attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, aural fullness, and fluctuating hearing loss (I’ve completely lost my hearing.) When we arrived in Tucson I was sick! The day after arriving we were in a restaurant, planning to go to the grocery store afterward to stock up on safe food, and I started to have a vertigo attack. It was miserable. One of my worst fears, a vertigo attack in public. Luckily, I got to the car before it was too bad, but riding in a car when the world is spinning around you is a horrific car ride. Something I hope no one out there has to experience.
The trip back was much easier, we learned so much from the trip to AZ, the trip back to NC was a breeze. On top of my snacks (GF Nut Thin crackers, Mozzarella Cheese, boiled eggs, and nuts) my husband made a Roasted Chicken in the slow cooker, roasted veggies that are safe for me (just toss them with a little olive oil, you can use garlic olive oil if you like, and some seasoning…we often just use Applewood Smoked Salt, then broil them…so much flavor!), potato salad (I will post the recipe we love for potato salad soon), and pasta dressed with garlic olive oil and herbs. This was wonderful. I could have chicken with veggies and/or potato salad on the side, potato salad with chicken mixed in, pasta salad with veggies and chicken…..there were many mixtures I could eat so I wouldn’t get bored. This food lasted almost all the way home.
We also stopped at grocery stores on the way to pick up fresh fruit. We found a gluten-free grocery in New Mexico and picked up some nice crackers, and restocked my gluten-free quick oatmeal. The oatmeal was a very good thing to have along. If I had a hunger at night but didn’t want our packed food, I could have oats; or if our hotel didn’t serve a safe breakfast I had oats and/or boiled eggs.
We filled zippered freezer bags with ice before we left, and at each hotel we replaced the ice. This way we didn’t have to worry about buying ice along the way, or having our food slosh around in water.
I also found a free app for my phone called Find Me Gluten Free. This app has been very helpful, you can look up local restaurants that offer gluten-free menus close to where ever you are, it also finds grocery stores with gluten-free options…ect. When I found a restaurant that I found interesting I would call them to see just how knowledgeable they were about cooking for allergies. I would ask at that time if they could also make a meal that was onion, and garlic free? If I was told yes to that question, I would ask if I could talk to the chef when I arrived, if I got a yes to all of these questions I knew I could most likely eat there safely. We found a few restaurants this way. Two in hotels we stayed in. When a restaurant understands the need for all the precautions to serve gluten-free foods, they are much more adaptable to help you in your request for low FODMAPs food. I do not overwhelm the wait staff or chef with what I can or can’t eat. I ask about gluten, onion, and garlic….then when they give me options I ask the ingredients in the options I’m interested in, and I can at that time ask them to change something if necessary. (always ask ingredients in Salad Dressings, they can really get you!)
I also take a Digest Spectrum when ever I eat out, I’ve been served the wrong food before and taken a bite full of onions and the Digest Spectrum helped save me from a night of misery. I don’t use it every day, only when I’m eating out and I’m afraid of cross contamination.
With a bit of planning, and a lot of patience, traveling with food issues can be accomplished with much more fun than when you are unprepared. Taking a trip? Have you traveled and have good tips? Please share what you do or plan to do, we can all learn from each other.
**Please note, I am not lactose intolerant, that is why I can take cheese to snack on. On a low FODMAP diet it says hard cheeses are safe, I am not sure what hard cheeses are. If anyone wants, I will try to find out for you.