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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Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Gluten free, nut free, soy free

Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Gluten free, nut free, soy free

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This past week was Snowmaggedon 2017 for Virginia Beach and so it was a great time to bake!  I’ve been craving oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for a long time and haven’t made them! I don’t think my body likes oats (even gluten free ones), but I was too tempted and had to try again!20170107_184932

Since I was already snowed in, I didn’t have the ability to get additional ingredients, so I searched the internet for an easy recipe using what I had on hand. Many called for addition xanthan gum, which I didn’t have.  So, I modified a few of the recipes and combined them for a winner:

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0.5 cup butter, melted
2.5 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
1 cup Betty Crocker Gluten Free all-purpose rice flour blend
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1.5 cups chocolate chips*
*(I mostly used Enjoy Life mini chips and threw in some No Whey NoNos for a monster cookie taste, both of which are top 8 allergen free)

1. Melt butter.
2. In medium bowl, mix oats, flour blend, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (These are the ingredients in blue and underlined above, to make it easier.)
3. In large bowl, mix brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add melted butter. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Stir in oat mixture (from medium bowl) until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Let dough stand 15 minutes.
4. On parchment paper-line cookie sheet, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
5. Bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Store tightly covered.

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Now these cookies do spread out a lot and end up fairly thin, but they stay soft, which is amazing!  They also feel like an even bigger treat per cookie because they’re so big, but it’s because they are quite thin, so don’t feel too bad!

This does make quite a lot of cookies (35-40), so feel free to share some with a neighbor or co-workers (they’ll never know they’re gluten free)!

I think you could easily sub raisins for chocolate chips, if you prefer. You could also half the amount of chocolate chips and add nuts, if you don’t have a nut allergy.

Additional Allergen adjustments:
I think you could make this dairy-free easily with non dairy butter substitute.
I’m not sure how egg-free would work, but let me know if you try it!

Enjoy!

The Wooden Monkey: Gluten free in Halifax, Nova Scotia

As I said in my other post, recently we made a trip north to Canada–more specifically to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Now, Halifax may not be a gluten free paradise like some cities or Disney World, but it can hold it’s own for a small city/big town! It’s also beautiful, here’s a view of the waterfront from a boat:
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There were a few places on the water with safe options for lunch and dinner, but having done my research before I came, I saw there was a gluten free bakery (that I’ll cover in another post) and a celiac-friendly (not just gluten free, celiac-friendly!) restaurant called The Wooden Monkey.

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The Wooden Monkey has two locations–one in Halifax a few blocks uphill from the waterfront boardwalk area and one across the water at the ferry landing in Dartmouth, near Evan’s Fresh Seafood. The one in Dartmouth was closed on Mondays when we wanted to visit, so we went to the one up the hill in Halifax.

They are focused on local and healthy, they don’t even have a deep fryer, but they do have safe fries that are baked and delicious! They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options in addition to gluten free and their menu has entrees with nuts, soy, and dairy marked on the menu.

For their starters, they have lots of gluten free options, we opted to order the nachos and a side of their version of fries, called “Roasties.” It was a large order, flavorful, and plentiful. Truth be told, this with an order of their fries would have been enough food to skip an entree and then have dessert.
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The entree menu is entirely gluten free but largely seafood based, as many menus are in this fishing town, but as I don’t love fish, I opted for the braised beef with mashed potatoes. It had good flavor though a little strong on the onion flavor, but it was too heavy for me to finish after the hearty appetizer. They also had gluten free pizza and buns which sounded great, but they had sorghum (which I also can’t tolerate). The full menu can be viewed on their website.
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Dessert holds two gluten free options–tofu pie and local, organic dairy ice cream. While the Tofu pie comes highly recommended, I avoid most forms of soy and the crust is made from nuts, so I simple had the ice cream which was good.

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I’d recommend the Wooden Monkey to anyone visiting Halifax or Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but especially anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions, as they know their ingredients and mark the top 8 allergens, too!

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, just trying to share what I know to help others with food allergies enjoy their trip more!)

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.

Lynchburg, VA gluten free dining

Recently I had to travel to Lynchburg, VA for work. It’s a large town/small city but before I went it seemed like a middle of nowhere place. Naturally, I did lots of research as to where I could eat safely. Aside from chain restaurants, one of the very few recommendations was La Villa–a small, local Italian restaurant.  (I often find authentic Italian restaurants to be celiac-friendly, likely because Italy is!)

La Villa menu 2  La Villa menu 3

The owner was actually the one who sat us and when I asked for a gluten free menu, he took quite the interest. He asked how I learned about the restaurant and proudly shared with me how many options they have and how the chefs are fully trained in Italy. He told me they fully understand celiac and gluten free safety. They essentially have a whole second kitchen area where they do the gluten free prep!

Normally this much tomato sauce would scare me–I like some, but heartburn appears often with too much…or so I thought. The owner convinced me I should try my dishes the way they come–with lots of housemade tomato sauce, made fresh and boiled down 6 hours EACH DAY! (It also didn’t have added onion, another suspect.) Surprise–no heartburn!

Above on the left is the gluten free cheese-stuffed ravioli. On the right is the gluten free chicken parmesan (grilled instead of fried) with Bionature GF pasta. I did not ask about nuts, but I did not have any issues.

La Villa table

The atmosphere was very casual–it reminded me of a remodeled interior of a Pizza Hut, but the food was of a much higher caliber. So know, if you’re ever in the Lynchburg area (for Lynchburg College, Liberty University, or the nearby Appomatox Courthouse) in search of gluten free, be sure to stop in to La Villa! (and tell em Gluten Free VA sent ya)

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

Squash Lasagna – gluten free, low carb, and yummy!

Summer Squash Lasagna GF

Squash Lasagna

*Not the prettiest picture. I was too excited and ate a bunch before taking a picture. This was after I sliced it and put it i the fridge, but you get the idea.

I love lasagna, but finding gluten free noodles isn’t always easy and this is a way to make it lower carb and get some veggies in!

Ingredients

1/2 jar Prego spaghetti sauce (gluten free–I like the Three Cheese variety)
2-3 medium yellow summer squash
16 oz. container of cottage cheese (I like Daisy–very few ingredients, creamy, and gluten free)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (separated into two 1 cup servings)
1/2 pound cooked ground beef
1 egg

*This is for an 8×8 square pan, double the recipe for a 9×13 casserole dish.

Slice squash into thin rounds
Toss lightly in some olive oil and bake in the oven about 10 minutes (or microwave) until soft.
Mix together cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 egg, ground beef, and as much spaghetti sauce as desired. (I like to layer them separate as seen below, but for simplicity you can mix it all in one bowl.)
Squash Lasagna cheeses egg      Squash Lasagna beef and sauce

Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of square pan.
Layer spaghetti squash over the sauce.
Spoon cheese/beef mixture over squash slices.
Over the cheese, lay another layer of squash.
Spoon cheese/beef mixture over squash slices.
Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil.
Cook at 375 for about 40 minutes, broil for 3-5 minutes to brown the top, if desired.

Squash Lasagna building GF

*I prefer yellow summer squash because it doesn’t have a bitter taste like zucchini can and it’s not as overbearing as other kinds of squash, but this could work with other squash varieties, if you desire.