Traveling Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Traveling outside of my familiar city always brings into question the types of foods that might be available for me to eat.  It can be difficult eating safely in areas that do not have the abundance of choices available to me that Portland offers.

Whenever I fly,  one of the most important planning tasks I must accomplish is food preparation.  I want food for my flight and a bit to have on hand in case choices are slim in Charlotte.  Honestly,  I just prefer my own food.  I focus on making snacks and breakfast foods.  I find that lunch and dinner are easier meals to enjoy at restaurants because I can almost always find something on the menu to eat.  It is rare that I find nothing, though it has happened.  Remember that failed cross country road trip I took?   I wrote about it here:  Hello From Wyoming!  My goodness,  what an experience that was!  Currently,  plans are being created to try again,  this time for a successful cross country road trip later this year!   That awful trip is also my reminder to always have plentiful supplies of my kind of food on hand when traveling!

For my latest travel adventure,  I’ll be flying to Charlotte, NC.  In less 24 hours I’ll be hanging out with my boy!   I am so excited!!!   I have not seen my son in over two years and it has been about three and a half years since I have visited him.   This is a long over due trip and visit!!   Even better;  my daughter will be traveling from Boston to join us in Charlotte.  I get to be with both my kids!!!  Did I say I am excited?!!   I am elated we’ll all be together again!!   This time it will be in happiness;  the last time being my mom’s death when we were all together.  We have all kinds of fun things planned and I am looking forward to playing for days with my kids.  Gosh,  do I need this vacation!!   I have taken several small trips over the past year,  but it has been nearly a full year since my last big adventure to Boston.   Remember that trip?  Boston Bonanza  was a blast!   Check out all the food I enjoyed!!   I’ll see how Charlotte has progressed in that area in the years since I have visited.

I make and bring food I know can travel well and remain relatively intact after getting knocked around in my bag.   I have breakfast for the plane,  lunch to eat at my layover,  or more likely run like a champ to my next gate and eat on the plane!   We will see how this lay over goes!   I have a few of my kind of  “essentials”  I like to have on hand tucked away in my carry on.   I am ready for my east coast adventure!

Check out some of the yummy food I am bringing along for my trip!  I didn’t get a chance to grab a picture of the egg and turkey bacon mini casserole I’ll be eating for breakfast in the morning once I settle on the plane.  You know I’ll be eating good!

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savory breakfast pancakes

 

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layover lunch pizza!! YUM!!

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two kinds of hearty, nutritious breakfast cookies!

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can’t forget the treats! gf/df snicker-doodles! Oh, yeah!!

 

 

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Blaze Your Own Trail Energy Snack

I cannot believe it is almost the end of August!!  We are rolling into the fall season even though the weather still feels like summer.  The months have been flying by and upon reflection last night, I realized that today marks eight months since my life was tossed around by “M”.  I think I’ve picked myself up damn well!!  It still does not seem like all that nonsense happened eight months ago!!  Of course, I lived in the basement guest room of “M’s” house for a month while I scrambled to find other housing.  I say “M’s” basement, even though it was “our” house.  I never felt like it was mine or any part of “ours” and that feeling was regularly reinforced by “M” in words, but mostly in actions.

C’est la vie! Or as we American’s say, “that’s life”.  Never could I have imagined while I was in that basement that my life would become what it is today.  I certainly remember many conversations in my mind as I reassured myself I would be in such a different and much better place in six months than what I was experiencing, even though I had no idea what that would look like or how it would happen; I just needed to comfort my panic.

I still have brief periods where I feel like that trauma happened more recently.  When I think that through I realize it took me until late May to feel completely settled.  I lived in a space with no furniture for months, I sat on pins and needles about a wonderful job opportunity, my current position, for two months and it took me time to get back to some sense of financial stability.  I was in complete survival mode for too long and it was often difficult to relax into contentment with my new life.  I am still working on the emotional aspects of being treated so horribly in such a surprising way, but at least I’m actively working it through.  Clearly, working through the emotional facets of a relationship is not something “M” could do, which is why I am where I am.  Isn’t it a strange thing that I can say I am grateful for this experience?  I know, it’s odd to say out loud.  I absolutely would not wish this upon myself ever, ever again and I wish “M” had chosen a better way to end a relationship that did not leave me in such an awful state, but I feel like it catapulted me directly to my dreams.  For this I am truly grateful.  Additionally, I feel “saved” from a life I thought would be wonderful but realize now it would have been totally miserable.

I have a job that is perfectly suited for me.  It is the job I wished for and desired, it just looks different than I imagined.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself about this amazing job to make sure I’m not dreaming!!  I completely love it in all ways.  It has opened so many new doors for me that will let me continue to build on my dreams.  I am taking classes again!  Now, that is amazing!  They are not college classes, but it is education and I am really enjoying it.  I live in the sweetest little place located in one of the wealthiest areas of Portland for a fraction of the cost of what others would rent it for and I have the most awesome landlady ever!  She truly cares and has given me the sense of comfort and security I needed.  I have learned to live in a small space which is giving me practice for my future tiny house living.  I have let go of so much, giving me a feeling of lightness and freedom.  I have met some incredible people, I reconnected with people I haven’t seen for years.  I am developing new relationships, traveling often and generally enjoying life immensely.  I love working on my tiny house process.  It’s so exciting to think about and plan!!

Isn’t it grand?!  When I see all the incredible things that have fallen into place; when I read my own story, even I get blown away by the goodness of it all. With all this amazing and powerful stuff, it requires some high energy food to help me keep up the pace of my new life.  I am a busy woman and I realized that keeping a supply of high energy snacks is essential in my work day since I’m bouncing around town all day and sometimes into the evening!

I wanted to use more of those powerful cocoa nibs I’d written about in a previous post so I came up with this delicious trail mix that is simple and much less expensive than buying it in pre-made packages.  I buy all my nuts, seeds and dried fruits in bulk so the savings is even greater.  I’m all about the money saving right now because there is a piece of land calling for me and I need to build up my savings for that and the house that’ll I’ll plunk down on it.  Give this trail mix a try and keep a stash in your own workplace, or for a quick on the go snack from home.

Who knows what the next eight months has in store for me, but I am imagining nothing but amazing goodness because I will make it happen.  There is certainly power in positive thinking!  I am moving comfortably forward to the next best part of my life with hope and joy.

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raw walnuts, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, candied ginger and raw cocoa nibs.

Boston Bonanza

It's a Portland thing

It’s a Portland thing

I recently returned from a whirlwind mini vacation to Boston where I spent time visiting my daughter and seeing as many sights as we could jam in to my short stay.  It was so much fun!!!  I love Boston and I especially love the T subway system.  That transit system is fabulous, in my opinion!  It allowed us to see all the amazing places my daughter had planned for me to experience.  I enjoyed seeing nearly every neighborhood I wanted to meander, as well as a trip to the beach; all on the T!!  The weather was gorgeous and I always have such a great time hanging out with my kid.

We had casually talked about a trip to see her, but I didn’t think it was the right time to travel across the country considering my recent circumstances.  It just felt too stressful. However, as things smoothed out for me and with now stable housing that would keep me in Portland, my daughter took the chance and booked the ticket.  She wanted to give me a break from everyday life with all I have gone through and you know what?  She was so right!!  Being distracted in the best kind of way was exactly what I needed.  I am so grateful to my girl, who has become quite an amazing young woman.  She has an incredibly generous spirit and a big heart for her mama, which makes me feel so happy.  Considering some tumultuous adolescent and young adult years, we have developed a close bond of mutual respect and admiration.  I am deeply proud of the woman my daughter has become and I relish our time together.

Knowing I wanted a good food experience during my stay, my daughter had a list of reviewed places that offered gluten free, dairy free dishes.  We were regularly dashing off to various restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to peruse their menus, always excited to try an impressive new dish.

There are so many wonderful places to eat gluten free and dairy free in Boston.  It certainly is not as prevalent as Portland, and there is a bit more planning involved to find the establishments that cater to my dietary preferences.  Some of my favorite places to eat that offered the easiest menu for me or were willing to customize an order for me are worth a mention here.  They are all on my “must visit” list each time I go to Boston.  Besides offering my kind of food, generally the staff and overall environment of each of these businesses is an awesome in it’s own way.

Thinking Cup, Day 1 The Theater District Location

Thinking Cup, Day 2 North End location

Thinking Cup, Day 2
North End location

Thinking Cup deserved two visits.  This trip I got to try out a new location in the Theater District.  Both locations offered to customize my breakfast sandwich and both were equally amazing.  I had smoked salmon with an egg on gluten free toast, one had arugula.  What really makes this a must visit place is their absolutely heavenly hazelnut lattes.  They are the first shop in the Downtown Boston area to offer Portland originated Stumptown Coffee; my personal favorite.  They make their own roasted hazelnut paste to use in these lattes and I have to say, it’s simply fantastic.

SUSHI!!!

SUSHI!!!

Avana Sushi is a tiny hole in the wall place in Boston’s Chinatown.  By appearance, it is one of those places that I would not consider without the high recommendation of someone who has already been there.  It sits in a tight corner of a space that is also occupied by other equally small, squeezed in businesses.  There are just four tables and 5 counter stools.  One of the tables sits at the edge of their kitchen.  It’s an experience!  I wouldn’t recommend this place to someone who experiences claustrophobia because this space is small!  What they manage to prepare and plate is simply amazing.  This is some delicious and fresh sushi for a fantastic price.  The line that develops into the lobby and spills out onto the street is proof this place is worth a visit.

Sweet Lavender coconut based frozen dessert on top of a gluten free cone!! My first ever!!!

Sweet Lavender coconut based frozen dessert on top of a gluten free cone!! My first ever!!!

Fomu (premium alternative ice cream) has totally got it right.  This ice cream is d.i.v.i.n.e. !!!  After my happy dance subsided about my first gluten free cone, my first taste of this creamy goodness made me stop walking because all my concentration had to be with my palate.  Seriously, so good.  Boston has one up on Portland, where there is no exclusive vegan ice cream shop.  I fantasized a kick starter business for a while on this idea!  We are missing out here in P-town. I will crave this delicious dessert until the next time I can satisfy it in Boston.  This place is definitely worth a visit.  Additionally, the staff are lovely to watch at their skill and will happily share their knowledge.  It is a fun place that takes me right back to childhood ice cream memories!!

Life Alive

Life Alive

This place is fantastic!  It was my first visit to this place located in the Cambridge area.  My daughter was really excited to take me here.  Their menu boasts some unique and tantalizing dishes that are organic, therapeutic and nurturing for the body and soul.

whole food goodness!

whole food goodness!

I wish I  could remember the name of this delicious salad I had, but as you can see from the picture, it is filled with some whole food goodness. We enjoyed this lunch outdoors on a warm, sunny Boston day.  It was a perfect afternoon!

Other establishments worth mentioning is Ula Cafe in my daughter’s neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.  Sadly, I have no pictures of the most incredible gluten free coconut macaroon I have ever tasted.  We walked to this cafe’ for a morning cup of coffee and I discovered them in a display case while waiting in line.  They were so moist and full of coconut flavor goodness.  The edges were perfectly caramelized crispy and chewy.  It was ridiculously good.  When we walked back on my last day in Boston to get one more, we learned they were all gone.  It was a specialty item for Passover.  I am so glad I got to enjoy one before they disappeared!

Fresh and colorful!

Fresh and colorful! Canary Square offered a pretty amazing and tasty beet salad dish that was beautifully plated.

The Friendly Toast is worth the trip to the Cambridge area strictly for the eclectic experience you will have.  People will wait for over an hour to enjoy dining here.  They have huge portions of comfort classics and I must admit, their classic egg breakfast is pretty heavenly. IMG_3211

kitchy eclectic decor!

kitchy eclectic decor!

My trip to Boston was outstanding.  It was the break I needed.  I came home with such a completely different perspective on my situation.  I feel more solid in my future and I am a lot calmer; more accepting.  My daughter and I both got exciting news while I was visiting.  She will begin working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the leading research institutes in the country.  My daughter will be working among some of the top scientists and I am so proud of her!  My news is still developing, but I can definitely say it will be life changing!  Stay tuned!

Life is moving on and I am feeling good.  Everything happens for a reason and I am finding mine moment by moment.  Crazy how life works, isn’t it??

On The Road Again

I am about to head out again; this time with my new car and my sweetie!  This combination will be a success.  Except I woke up to rain.  Not just a little rain.  I’m talking R.A.I.N!!!  Pouring rain!  This should be interesting.  Camping and rain are not my favorite combination.

I was quite productive yesterday in getting things ready for this trip.  I started out my morning feeling so anxious about taking my new car on this trip.  My daughter told me I had car PTSD.  She may be right!  I was so worried that I took my car in to a shop that specializes in my particular make and had it looked over for any potential problems.  Once again, I was told my car is beautiful and in great mechanical condition.  I should go on my trip worry free.  I guess I can start relaxing.

It helped me feel more excited and gave me motivation to prepare some delicious food for this trip. I kept busy in the kitchen all day and had quite a bit of fun in the process!

I made some “chips” from rice tortillas.  They are easy, portable and will taste delicious with the dip I made, which was a combination of spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, kalamata olives and white beans all blended together.  It tastes delicious but is not that eye appealing so I decided against a picture.  I’m sure it will go great with the veggies I packed, too!

I love grilled veggies in tin foil packages so I added a couple of those to our cooler.  This is a mix of yellow onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, radishes, green beans, sweet potatoes and curly kale.  I mixed it with olive oil, some basil, cumin sea salt and pepper.

I made a some pizza with my favorite store bought crust.  The base is basil pesto using fresh basil from our garden.  I topped it with red onions, kalamata olives and a mix of shredded daiya cheeses.

Of course, I always have to add a treat to the menu.  I thought I would try a no bake cookie and the end result was not that appealing, in my opinion, but I’ll take them along anyway.  I think I need to tweak this recipe a bit to make it better.  So, I’ll leave the recipe out for now until I can perfect it more.

We are ready, with great food in tow.  Rain or not, we are on the road toward fun!

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In The Beginning, There Was Breakfast

Here’s what started my day and fueled me for the long drive home yesterday morning.  I had some coconut flavored almond yogurt mixed with banana slices, my home made sunbutter crunch and some hemp seeds.  The combination was delightful and gave me the energy and focus to power through my day so I could finally be home.  My determination was relentless. I succeeded.

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I woke up in my own bed this morning to cat paws tapping my eye lids urging me to get up. Mind you, it was only 4:30am, but it was the sweetest and happiest wake up I could have had.  I have a day filled with things to do and take care of so here’s what will get me going today.

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There is a combination of veggies (about 3 cups total) including two types of baby kale, arugula, baby spinach, red cabbage, red onion slices, carrot shreds and sliced zucchini, all sauteed in a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I rarely eats eggs, but I decided today will be an egg day and scrambled an organic free range brown egg into the sauteed greens.  I sprinkled some basil, fresh ground pepper, a little garlic and sea salt then tossed about 1/8 cup of hemp seeds over the whole mix and gave it a stir.  I swear those little hemp seeds give me power!

It is so good to be home and it is great to have fresh, home cooked food.  Fuel up with breakfast every morning and try adding some hemp seeds to whatever you eat.  In addition to the delicious nutty flavor it provides, you’ll be giving your heart a healthy dose of omega fatty acids, boosting your immune system and reducing overall fatigue.  Who doesn’t need that?!  So, get to sprinkling! Remember, breakfast is the most important meal to re-fuel you after your night of sleep and give you the pep you need to get your day going right.

I am providing the recipe for my sunbutter crunch; one of my favorite road trip foods.  I replaced the honey with brown rice syrup.

Gluten Free Sunbutter Crunch Granola Recipe

Ingredients

¼ cup creamy sunbutter (or any nut butter)
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the Sunbutter and honey in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the Sunbutter has melted. Stir in the vanilla, oats and salt. Make sure all the oats are coated with the Sunbutter mixture. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared cookies sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking. Let cool. Mixture will become crunchy as it cools.

Servings:

A gluten free recipe that makes 8 – ¼ cup servings.

(adapted from this original recipe: http://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2013/01/gluten-free-sunbutter-crunch-granola-recipe.html)

Hello From Wyoming!

Here I am in Evanston, WY, which appears to be the betting capitol of of the Mountain States. There is betting in every form from keno to horse racing to greyhounds to rodeos.  I have been here since last night due to a botched home town auto repair job that resulted in my car having issues while on my travels and eventually breaking down completely right at the highway off ramp of this tiny cowboy town. The only auto service shop in town does not have the right machinery to repair my car so it will need to go Salt Lake City, UT which is about 80 miles away. I am so grateful to AAA right now. Me and my car will be towed in the morning where I will likely stay through Monday while my car gets repaired.
This is certainly not the road trip I envisioned. In fact, most of this trip so far has been challenging and not so much fun for me. I battled with myself to even blog about these obstacles that have created way more stress than I have cared for.  I would say that I almost feel embarrassed that this long dreamed journey has been what feels to me like a complete bust.  I don’t really know what I expected, but I didn’t anticipate car troubles that would keep me from moving along for days or the expense involved in repairs.
I suppose this experience now becomes part of my journey. I have been intrigued by small town America where there is most definitely no gluten free or dairy free options. I guess I can say I am also grateful for my meticulous food planning and preparations because even though I have had cooling issues with my food and have had to toss a few things for safety sake, I still have quite a stock of food. The motels where I have stayed have had refrigerators and microwaves so in that regard, it has worked well for me. I am, however, desperately low on fresh produce and that led me to the motel’s salad bar that I was excited for until I viewed my options. There was iceberg lettuce, not even spinach! along with about 5 other things that I could eat. Thankfully there was a dressing available so although it was far from my ideal salad, I have to give credit to the freshness. That salad was crisp and satisfied my need for fresh veggies. Even though I love my home made food, after days of travelling, it’s fresh factor is dwindling.
I understand that Salt Lake City is relatively large and will likely have grocery store options for me. I guess I will find out tomorrow. For now, I will be heading down the road to enjoy the evening fireworks, which I hear are pretty great. Have safe and happy celebrations if that is what you do on this day.

Here’s a couple of my road trip foods I ate today!

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

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pizza made with basil/artichoke pesto, roasted radishes, swiss chard, artichoke hearts, chicken breast pieces and a sprinkle of basil.

The Journey Begins

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of preparations and incredible anxiety as I loaded up my car and headed out of Oregon on my adventure across the country.

I have anxiously awaited this trip for so long and dreamed about it for even longer.  Now it is here; my road trip across middle America has begun!  Gluten Free/Dairy Free Across America  {http://wp.me/p4cJfr-ph}  is my blog that highlights my trip.  I had intentions to blog my beginnings yesterday morning before I hit the road, however anxiety and my overwhelmed state of mind made it pretty impossible to accomplish anything other than getting ready to leave and even that was incredibly difficult!

I had a few stress related glitches and there were a few moments when fear paralyzed me from going further.  I left home a lot later than I had anticipated, forgot a few things in my haste, most importantly-all my maps and travel books!  Yeah, that was cause for severe panic.  Feeling very disoriented and after some brief encouraging words from my sweetie, I decided to continue on and pick up maps along the way.  My first night was near Ontario, OR at a very peaceful campground.  I met a super neat guy who had the same vehicle as me.  He gave me some sound wisdom on how to baby my engine over the steep mountain roads so I won’t have overheating issues.  He also was kind enough to show me some maps so I had an idea of what I was going toward.  He even highlighted some choice spots to check out beautiful sights.  And so it begins….

I am currently enjoying a little air conditioning in a Whole Foods Market in Boise, ID.  I needed some time to orient myself and this store feels familiar, so here I sit.  I also need to be available for a phone appointment so I’ll hang out and find my center again.

I am sure there are plenty of options for my kind of eating since this is a Whole Foods Market, but I am plenty stocked with food at the moment.  I am not impressed with my 12 Volt cooler, but I may have it over full.  It is just too warm to have mediocre cooler temperatures so I have decided to purchase an insulated cooler for food safety (and my health!) sake.

Here’s a few pics of some yummy road trip food that I have enjoyed so far.  I promise recipes later!  It’s all in the car right now!  So far, I am happy with my road trip food choices. Now, I must seek out some additional cooling before it all goes bad!  More to come as I journey along!

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