Traveling, flying, hotels, packing…this can all be a nightmare, but especially so when you are doing it for 5 people who are all gluten free. Although I have done it many times over our 4 years of being a gluten free, soy free, family, I do need to brush up on my skills for an exciting trip to Disney World that my in-laws have planned for us. I know that on the day of the flight and for the five days we are at the park, things will run smoothly, but not without hours of research and possibly headaches to make sure it is all done right. Here is what I am going to do to make sure that our trip to ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ is a happy trip, well except for an occasional crankiness from a missed nap.
1. Look up the Airport Terminals. All airport terminals should list their restaurants and you can find out which restaurant is safe to eat at. Our favorite is Subway. Simply bring your own gluten free bread or roll and have them make you a sandwich, piled high with your favorite veggies and you have a meal that everyone can enjoy.
2. Bring snacks on the plane! This is a must. Especially when the flight attendants are flashing those gluten filled pretzels your way. And don’t think you are off the hook with the peanuts either, they are loaded with MSG! I like to pack fruit, nuts and granola bars. Peanut butter or almond butter packets are great too, either to spread on fruit or eat plain for a quick protein fix. Easy foods that won’t get crushed in my backpack and will withstand a day of traveling.
3. Call the hotel that you are staying at. In fact, you should call the hotel before you book the reservation to find out what the accommodations are. Here are some things that the Velick’s find helpful.
a. Ask if there is a refrigerator in the room. This is a must. Not only are you going to need it for any food that you brought, but also for any food that you will need to buy during your stay.
b. Ask if there is a microwave in the room. This is somewhat of a luxury, but is nice to heat up leftovers you may have or water for tea. Ask my family about the time I made them eat cold soup for lunch because we did not have a microwave.
c. Ask if they have a continental breakfast and if so, what is provided on it. Usually, the continental breakfast is easy to work with. First of all, you are able to have access to bowls, plates, spoons, forks and cups even if they don’t have any food you can eat. Usually the breakfast comes with coffee, juice, milk or tea. Also, they most likely have fruit, eggs and yogurt. With these items alone, all you need to do is provide your family with a box of gluten free cereal and/or a loaf of gluten free bread and you are set until lunch! Think easy! You do not need added stress when you are traveling. Many times, I have my girls grab some extra fruit for snacks throughout the day.
d. Ask what restaurants are in the area surrounding the hotel. This is important because it is in desperate hunger that we fall off the healthy eating meal plan. Resorting to ice cream at the dairy queen is not an option during a vacation where you want to feel good and have fun. A little research before the trip can save you a huge headache when 6 pm rolls around and your family is frantically driving around looking for somewhere to eat that does not fry their food in soybean oil!
e. Ask what Natural Grocery stores are in the area. We have been known to travel with our toaster. This started when we were in Chicago and the absolute only place to eat ALL our meals was at a Whole Foods Market in the suburbs. We bought a toaster so we could buy our gluten free bread from the freezer and toast it with our meal. It is a great ‘last resort’, but it sure is better than being hungry, sick or on a sugar high.
Well, I will let you know how are trip goes, but please let ME know if this advice was helpful. My goal for you and your family is to make gluten free easy, manageable and fun. Your vacations should not be spent worrying about food. So with a little preparation, you can enjoy your vacation and feel good and have fun because you took care of you and your family and ate right.
Here is a great vegetarian option to the traditional hamburger. On Mondays for dinner, we go ‘meatless’ and these burgers were healthy, filling and gluten free.
Sweet Potato Burgers*-2-13-12
1 medium sweet potato
2 cans of cannellini beans
2 T creamy organic peanut butter
2 T maple syrup
¼ cup gluten free flour
¼ cup glutino bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Mash with a fork.
Drain and rinse two cans of cannellini beans. Mash with a fork.
Add sweet potato and beans to peanut butter, syrup, flour and bread crumbs.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form 6 patties with potato bean mixture.
Top with crushed red pepper.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serve on a gluten free tortilla wrap lined with fresh spinach and guacamole.