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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Travelling with Allergies

Chicago lived up to its nickname while I was in town for business. The windy city was SUPER windy!

I have anxiety about traveling. I don't mind airplanes, and I can get a good night's sleep just about anywhere. I have trouble with food. Eating out is tricky because you have to find a restaurant that understands what contamination means. Even cutting something on the same surface or cooking something in a used pan can mean serious consequences for people with allergies.

Being vegan doesn't complicate matters for me. Animal products are usually marinated anyhow. I've found that vegan restaurants seem to have more concern for allergies and understand the impact foods can have. Locally, Chaco Canyon is great about letting me review ingredients, and other vegan/vegetarian options are usually just as vigilant. You can find decent options using and I usually ask for referrals on sites like that have forums for vegans.

Surviving without Time for Restaurants

The meetings I was in included plans for the evening, so going out and exploring my food options really wasn't a reality. Planning ahead is crucial, and I was fortunate that a friend was willing to drive me to a grocery store when I arrived in town. I packed a few days worth of soups that were frozen solid. They traveled quite well. I also included date/nut bars, Gone Nuts packs (so yummy), raisins, quinoa (cooked) and pumpkin spice muffins (gf and home made of course). I went to the store and picked up some bananas as well as some seasonal fruit, carrots, avocados, shallots, fresh herbs, and romaine. I didn't have a lot of time for food prep between meetings and group meals, so I kept things simple.

vegan cream of mushroom soup traveled well
with freezing/thawing
Other things I packed:
  • vegetable knife (Santoku)
  • 3 hand towels
  • food safe hydrogen peroxide
  • rollable cutting surface
  • medium bowl with lid
  • large bowl
  • fork and spoon
  • vegetable peeler
  • zip lock baggies
  • dish soap
With those tools I could easily cut up fresh fruits and vegetables to take with me to meetings in baggies. I made salads with lemon herb dressing, guacamole with carrot slices as chips, and cut up fruit to go in my quinoa. As a rule I don't use microwaves, so I put a lot of warm water in the large bowl, and heated up my portions by immersing the food in the small, sealed bowl. This meant eating the bulk of my meals independently of the group (I have to admit I enjoyed the quiet time).

By day 4, I started craving more fresh foods and was ready to go home. I avoided a lot of anxiety by planning ahead (as well as discomfort and medication if I ate something inadvertently).

Lessons learned:
  • Buy a wider variety of fresh foods
  • Purchase a hand blender for dressings and smoothies

I am so happy to be back in Seattle! Annie was quite happy to see me and I have my Vitamix again! I didn't miss my stove so much as having access to fresh foods.

I bet Annie missed her smoothies!

1 comment:

  1. It's hard enough traveling, and it's even harder when you don't have much time for food gathering and prep. You did a great job being prepared. I always think I can deal for a few days and I usually do. Being flexible and not too picky (within your dietary restrictions) is key. Glad you survived and werent sick!

    I always struggled with meetings and not being with others if my meal is different. I guess if I disliked my coworkers I'd probably like to have an escape, but other times I'd love to share time to chat and if they know me they get I eat different.