Air Travel with Celiac and Nut / Food Allergies

This is what a simple weekend trip away looks like sometimes for me, so getting trapped in an airport as someone with food allergies is a pretty big nightmare. You never know when a connecting flight will get cancelled!  It never ceases to amaze me how few choices exist, even in some fairly large airports!

GF short weekend roadtrip

As someone who not only has celiac, but also a nut allergy and some additional sensitivities, it’s no easy feat to have a long layover or face a potential unexpected stay in an airport due to delays, etc. Even a long flight presents quite a challenge (if your symptoms are anything like mine, no way you want to risk trusting airline food)! Bringing some chips, pretzels, or crackers that suit your allergies is a good start. Be sure to put them in a hard-sided case like Tupperware so they don’t crush. Also, homemade snack mixes or granola bars are good options. Some of my favorites are pictured below; but those are just snacks really, so what about covering one or more actual meals?

For me, I’ve found packing gluten free, nut free cereal in a Ziploc-type round container (seen below) is easy.  You can usually find milk to add while at the airport and cereal’s not a terrible meal. Just pack or find a plastic spoon and the Tupperware-type container can double as a bowl. It doesn’t need refrigeration or heating, so it’s good to have for any length of time. Glutino PopTarts are another hearty prepackaged option.  However, this doesn’t address much of a protein need.

For that, sunbutter is an option. Beef jerky can be a good option if you’re only on a domestic flight, but usually meats and fresh produce can’t be taken internationally. Likewise, the GoPicnic boxes may suit your needs (most don’t suit me now that they contain pumpkin seeds and the crackers have soy).

(P.S. With international travel, have a plan AND a back up plan. I learned in some places you pre-clear customs out of the country, so when I brought gluten free nachos to the airport in Canada from a safe restaurant out in town, I found out I had to clear customs at the same time as security.  So, I had to scarf down what I could before tossing it, which completely foiled my plan for a safe dinner before the flight and long layover!)

picnic-cooler-bag-sell-instant-ice-pack

                 Basic ice pack                     Photo credit: Alibaba

For planned long flights or layovers, I’ve found taking ice packs frozen solid is allowed through security, so sometimes I take frozen lunchmeat and frozen ice packs, plus some bread and make a sandwich. I also like to take cheese sticks using this method. This may only work on the flight leaving home, depending if you have a freezer at your destination, but at least it’s a solution for part of your trip!

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I always bring a few slices of gluten free bread (again in Tupperware-like container so they don’t get squished). In addition to other items I mentioned, if you can find hard boiled eggs in the airport and some mayonaise and mustard packets, you can make a fairly safe egg salad sandwich. Many airports also have tuna in a can or foil pouch, so you could make a tuna salad sandwich. You can also consider bringing your own pouch of pre-packaged tuna or chicken with you, unless international regulations will stop you from doing so. You might also enjoy the canned salmon and vegetable meal from St. Dalfour (I found these on Vitacost.com).

Smuckers individuals

I’ve also brought other bread items that don’t need to be kept super cold, like crepes or gluten free pancakes and can usually find some safe jelly packets or butter and syrup packets at a McDonalds or Burger King type restaurant. You can also consider getting some of these individually pre-packaged items (like hot sauce, jelly, ketchup, mustard, mayo, butter, syrup) by buying them online or at your grocery store or saving a few from your favorite restaurant and bringing them through security in your liquids bag! The environmental waste of individually packaged items is frustrating, but it’s important to stay safe, especially when traveling with food allergies, so give yourself a break and make up for it the rest of the time at home!
glutenfreeda oatmeal
Another option is the “just add hot water” macaroni and cheese cups, oatmeal cups, or cup o’ soup (if they make them for your allergies). If you can’t find them in the cups, just take the packets and a Ziploc-type container or use a coffee cup.  You can usually ask for a cup of hot water at any coffee place and mix away. Similarly, I’ve also asked for cups of ice after security to add to Ziploc-type bags to keep food cold. Sometimes it’s free, but even if you have to pay a little for it, it’s worth knowing you have options, right?

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I also always make sure to bring an extra set of clothes. This is good advice in general in case the airline loses your luggage (or you unexpectedly have to gate-check your rolling carry-on), but especially with celiac, if you should get sick unexpectedly, it’s important to have back up options!

 

(As always, check the labels of items to ensure they’re safe for your allergies. I did not receive any compensation for the brands mentioned, they are just based on my personal preferences or experiences!)

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Tio Pablo – Totally gluten free Mexican food in Richmond, VA!

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Its humble entrance

Tio Pablo’s Mexican restaurant might not look like much outside and it’s an area of downtown Richmond being rehabbed, but an all gluten free restaurant warrants a try anyways! While some folks have said it’s not the best neighborhood at night, I have not felt unsafe during our several visits during the day. It’s conveniently located just off I-95, within 2 blocks of  the train station (Main Street Station) and the city’s farmer’s market.

The interior of the restaurant is small, but has nice theming.

       Chips brightened

 

The joy of an all gluten free restaurant means the chips are safe!

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Queso dip, chips, side of potatoes, and side of rice.

 

The queso cheese dip is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

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Carne Asada taco

I must say the carne asada taco looks simple, but the flavor is fantastic! They use all corn tortillas and since it’s all gluten free, there are no cross contamination concerns. These corn tortillas blow all others out of the water in terms of taste and texture, too!

The menu has a wide variety of proteins from chicken to carne asada to shrimp and more. There are vegetarian options like sauteed cactus or sauteed vegetables. You can choose to get them in tacos, tostados, or gorditos.
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They also have some other entrees, like this Quesadilla Grande, which uses a thicker and larger corn tortilla and is filled with meat, cheese, and veggies. So yummy! There are sides like rice, beans, or roasted potatoes that are quite good. Breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday 10am until 3pm also!

Dessert includes gluten free Cheesecake of the Day (habanero pictured–unique but delicious) and gluten free Tres Leches Cake. They also have flan, but I haven’t tried it yet.

In addition to being entirely gluten free, nothing contained peanuts, and the tortillas are vegetarian, so no lard, making multiple safe pork-free options.

I was not compensated in any way for my review, I just couldn’t wait to share such a great place with you! Knock on wood, they don’t make any major changes, because this place is fabulous!  You can view their full menu and find their phone number and address on their website at http://www.tiopablotacos.com.

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We made our visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia at the end of July/beginning of August, which was accidentally perfect timing for Natal Day. It’s the birthday of their city and a bit like a mini 4th of July here in the states. There were musicians, performers, and food stands along the water front which made it a great time to visit! The weather was perfect, while the rest of the US and most of Canada was roasting in unusually high summer heat.  Aside from the tourist recommendation, I know this is a blog about food. That said, Natal Day comes with many restaurants closed and limited menus at others, so this is what we were able to find for dinner at Murphy’s, which was right along the waterfront and was one of the few that I was able to read about beforehand that had gluten free options.20160801_204206

As one might expect, the menu is seafood heavy. I wasn’t starving so decided an appetizer might be best. Appetizers marked gluten free for Natal Day were:
Bacon-wrapped scallops, Mussels, Lobster Dip, and Seafood Chowder.

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I choose the lobster dip and it was a large portion and delicious!

 

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Dinner options include: Nova Scotian whole lobster, Molasses Salmon, and BBQ Chicken Supreme.

Dessert included a chocolate torte that was gluten free, but I couldn’t get a straight answer about if there were nuts or nut flour, so I opted to try one of the ice cream stands we had seen.

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Imagine my surprise when one of the ice cream stands (Black Bear, I believe it was called) had gluten free cones! Even a brand I knew–Edward and Sons. Unfortunately, there servers didn’t have a lot of knowledge about which flavors were gluten free and they weren’t marked, so I stuck to vanilla and chocolate.  They graciously cleaned scoops for me, so all in all it was a good, sweet ending to our first Natal Day!

Crab Louie’s – gluten free in Richmond

If you’re looking for a fantastic gluten free place on the south side of Richmond (technically Midlothian, Virginia), be sure to check out Crab Louie’s!

Crab Louie's Midlothian 2

While unassuming in this historic building in a shopping center, this place has a HUGE gluten free menu. It’s not all seafood either! They are pretty well aware of the gluten free needs to keep it safe in the kitchen, but the servers can be a little hit or miss, so do stay vigilent.  Also, be prepared–they have several complimentary homemade sweet breads they serve, these are not gluten free!

Crab Louies salad Martha Vineyard

The Martha’s Vineyard salad comes with greens, onions, tomato, mushrooms, dried cherries (my favorite) and a maple vinaigrette that is delicious! Be sure to specify gluten free because there is usually croutons on the non-gluten free version.

Crab Louie's baked potato GF

For some reason, I don’t have a picture of the chicken dish I sometimes get (grilled chicken dijon), with a baked potato as my side.

Crab Louie's GF crabcake 2   Crab Louie's GF Crabcakes Dec. 2014

But the real charm here is the gluten free crab cakes!! And the delicious sauce that comes with them is amazing–I even use it on my baked potato too.

Crab Louie's GF bananas foster

The Bananas Foster Sundae is heavenly, BUT you do have to be careful that they make it fresh and it’s gluten free, as it is usually served with a gluten-ful rolled wafer stick stuck in it. As a celiac, I have had to ask them to re-make it, but it is so worth it!
Here is the link to their very large gluten free menu: http://crablouies.com/site/gluten-free-dinner-menu/.  As always, all opinions are my own and to the best of my current knowledge.

4 ingredient Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

Easy Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

I apologize this post wasn’t up for Valentine’s Day, but my husband found and tweaked this recipe for me and it is absolutely DELICIOUS! So, naturally, I had to type it up and share it with you all! Now you have it for whatever your next special occasion is (your birthday, Easter, or Saturday–you know, we don’t judge around here!)

My husband says thankfully they’re not hard to make, because I have asked for him to make them again tonight, so I had fresh photos, of course! 😉

Lava Cake GF finished with powdered sugar

  • 8 TBSP butter (or non-dairy alternative for dairy free)
  • ¾ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (Top 8 free)
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks (ideally free-range, just sayin’)
  • 2 TBSP sugar (I prefer Woodstock Organic unbleached)
    Lava Cake GF ingredients
    INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a muffin pan. (I prefer the “If You Care” brand of muffin liners, they are are not bleached. Can be found on Vitacost.com or Whole Foods.)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together over low heat until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture until well combined.
  4. Divide among 9 standard muffin cups and bake until cakes are puffed up, but still jiggly in the center – about 6 to 8 minutes. Lava Cakes GF in oven
  5. Turn out upside down onto a plate, garnish, and serve immediately.
    Lava Cakes GF finished

*This could also easily be made dairy free by using a non dairy butter substitute.

**These can be topped with fruit, powdered sugar, or a Free2B Suncup–that makes it taste like there is a peanut butter sauce on top (but they are peanut & nut free, soy free, shellfish/fish free, gluten free, egg free, and working on dairy free).
Lava Cake GF gooeyness
OR you can take them with you to Outback and have them with their amazing ice cream and homemade fudge sauce (it’s gluten free, as is the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under–but that brownie has nuts, so normally I just have the ice cream and chocolate sauce).
Outback sundae with lava cake GF

Wednesday Review: Cherrybrook Kitchen Frosting (Top 8 free)

Cherrybrook White Icing GF 2

Have you been searching for an allergen-friendly frosting that is ready made? Maybe you just want one that doesn’t have artificial dye or high fructose corn syrup? Well, there’s one that meets ALL of those requirements!  Cherrybrook Kitchen has some wonderful allergen friendly foods, including ready to spread vanilla or chocolate frosting!

This tastes similar to homemade icings made with confectioners (10x) sugar. It is quite sweet, but good.  The consistency is thick but spreadable.  While I have some good recipes for homemade icing, they all require having safe equipment and ingredients on hand, plus time to make them.  With this ready to spread frosting, you can have it on the road/away from home or when you’re just out of time!

Cherrybrook White Icing GF ingredients

Here are the ingredients along with their allergen statement: free of the top 8 and made in a facility free of peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, and gluten (and tested).  They are also certified Kosher and approved by the Feingold Association!  I buy this locally at Organic Food Depot (like a co-op), but I also have seen it available online at iHerb.com and in multi-packs on Amazon.

Safe, Raw Cookie Dough: Top 8 Allergen Free

Egg-less gluten free Cookie dough

Eggless Cookie Dough GF

I love a good, raw cookie dough but my mother was far too overprotective to ever let us eat it. Her facts about salmonella take all the enjoyment out of eating it. Until now! Simply make egg-less cookie dough so it’s safe to eat in its dough form.

The recipe I use is below.  The only modification from the recipe I use in order for it to be top 8 free would be a butter substitute for dairy free. (Recipe modified from FlippinDelicious: http://flippindelicious.com/2015/07/gluten-free-edible-cookie-dough-egg-less.html):

  • 1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute for dairy free), melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk alternative or water (yes, I was out of milk and used water–it worked!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Cup4Cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (gluten free, nut free, dairy free, soy free)*
    *another option is Equal Exchange–they don’t have mini chocolate chips, but they are fair trade and gluten/soy/nut/dairy/egg free and made in a facility free of those)

The result is a delicious cookie dough that is safe to eat. I’m not sure how this would turn out if you baked it–I just eat it as dough. I have also mixed it with ice cream for a gluten free cookie dough ice cream (pictured below)–YUM!

Eggless Cookie Dough Ice Cream GF