A food allergy blog

Tag: allergyfree

Delicious Vegan Waffles

Delicious Vegan Waffles

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these waffles are yeast-, dairy-, and egg-free and could easily be made gluten-free as well. They make a wonderful breakfast or dessert when dipped in chocolate.

Crispy Baked Pommes Frites

Crispy Baked Pommes Frites

Crispy golden brown on the outside with a light and airy, fluffy center, these baked french fries will satisfy any fry-lovers craving for fries.

Flying with Food Allergies + What Foods to Pack

Flying with Food Allergies + What Foods to Pack

It’s no secret that I love to travel. I’m lucky enough to be able to travel quite a bit thanks to a husband who also loves to travel and friends that live all over the world. But flying with food allergies isn’t always enjoyable.

We fly a lot of United, not because it is the best by any means, but because it is the most convenient for the majority of our destinations and we’ve racked up points and status. Therefore, all of my experiences have been with United, so please keep that in mind while reading through this post.

Since most of my food allergies are not severe, my issue is that there are so many to avoid. A few years ago I noticed that United started to put ingredient lists on nearly all of their food service items, not just prepackaged goods like the salad dressing and butter. What wasn’t so excited to discover was just how much junk and allergens are lurking in even the most unsuspecting items.

I always thought that the reason airplane food made me feel so terrible was because it was loaded with salt and other nastiness to make it taste good since our sense of taste isn’t as sharp while several thousands of feet up in the air (see the reasons why in this article). While this certainly contributed to my discomfort, the real reason was because I was eating all sorts of allergens! Following this, I started preparing all of my own foods for flights so that I could land ready to explore instead of curling up in bed sick for the first day of a trip.

Here’s how I break things down:

  • East Coast/Ohio/Montreal, 1-3 hours = no food, one small bottle of water; snack before departure at airport and meal once we land
  • West Coast/Hawaii, 5-12 hours = one-two meals and one snack, one large bottle of water and one bottle Pellegrino
  • Europe, 6-8 hours = one meal and one snack, one large bottle of water and one bottle Pellegrino
  • Asia, too long = a lot of food, several waters

NY/NJ airports have made finding a suitable snack much easier recently thanks to newly constructed “gourmet” options. Instead of grab and go places with only chips and sandwiches, it’s now possible to find simple dried fruits, clean popcorns and other chip replacement options and packs of nuts. If you have the time to sit down for a meal, many of the terminal restaurants are now serving decent salads and simple grilled dishes as well (though I almost always go for a bowl of french fries…).

So, what should you pack for your meals and snacks? Aim for foods that can go several hours without refrigeration or don’t need refrigeration at all. Put it all together in a lunch tote inside your carryon extra item/purse (I use a beach bag sized tote that holds my purse and lunch bag) along with napkins. You can get plastic utensils and your waters from the terminal after security.

  • apples, oranges, bananas – fruits with thicker skins that can be easily peeled or eaten without being crushed
  • baggie of almonds, walnuts, cashews – whatever nut is your favorite to snack on
  • prosciutto and other cured meats (some cured meats use dairy so be careful)
  • pieces of parmesan or cheddar cheese (if not allergic)
  • homemade or store-bought granola/breakfast bars
  • grain salad with fresh and roasted veggies, dressed just before leaving the house
  • pasta salad or pasta with simple red sauce
  • chocolate bar (can’t skip dessert!)
  • tea bags (because I’m super particular about tea)

Packing for the way back home is much more difficult since you normally won’t have a kitchen to cook/prep in. I try to go to a deli or grocery store for a few items, like a banana and nuts. I usually avoid prepared foods because they don’t sit well with me even if they are totally allergy friendly. I think there is either cross-contamination or they sit too long and start to grow bacteria, who knows.

Let’s say you only need to avoid one or two allergens. Many airlines now offer specialty meals such as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan in addition to Kosher options. On flights to specific countries you can also find other religious-conscious meals such as Muslim, Jain and Hindu vegetarian. If these suit you and you’re happy eating airline food then go for it! It’s certainly much easier and less hassle.

If you’re traveling with a peanut or treenut allergy, be aware that not all airlines will be very kind to you. I’ve heard horror stories from friends of being kicked off planes (pilot did not want the responsibility of a potential allergic reaction mid-flight), being embarrassed by flight attendants who point them out and blame them for the lack of a snack during flight, and whose requests get ignored even though they’ve emailed the airline far in advance. Some airlines create “nut-free buffer zones” where those within the rows immediately before or after you have agreed not to consume nuts during the flight. United doesn’t serve peanuts but does serve treenuts and items that may contain trace amounts of peanuts due to being manufactured on the same equipment; they do not create buffer zones and they do not allow you to pre-board in order to wipe down your area.

In the past month I’ve had back to back trips: first to France then Hawaii. Both trips I packed food for which inspired me to write this post. Below is what I packed for each destination.

France – I only packed a snack of banana and almonds and a few chocolate bars to savor over the trip (have you ever heard of a vegan French pastry?!?!) since I took an overnight flight. I had some french fries at the airport before I boarded, took an Advil PM, passed out for 90% of the flight, woke up and had a my snack. The return flight was another story: I had a handful of almonds left and bought a piece of chocolate that I thought was more rice cake dipped in chocolate than straight dark chocolate. Forgetting that the airport in Paris is nothing like our airports, I only got a few waters and a bag of chips before going through security and into the land of no food (or at least allergy-friendly food). I had eaten the almonds and chips before takeoff because I had no breakfast and it was lunchtime and I was STARVING. I couldn’t eat a single item they served, and they had no fruit or small snacks on the plane *that they would admit to me* so I ate my piece of chocolate as slowly as possible and then gorged myself on the largest bowl of pasta ever when I got home. It was so good I almost cried. Hungry Kelley = absolute monster.

Hawaii – I knew going in that this flight was going to be a nightmare and was totally prepared. Since it is a domestic flight, the airlines can get away without serving any meals even though it is 10+ hours. We left at 8am EST and landed at 2:30pm in Hawaii – missing both breakfast and lunch. I pity the poor souls who weren’t prepared and starved on this flight. Here’s what I packed:

I wasn’t nearly as worried about the return since it was an overnight flight and I would sleep for a good portion of it. We left around 3:00pm and landed at 6:00am EST, missing just dinner. We stopped at a Dean and Deluca in Waikiki and got bean salad and a quinoa salad. I also had one remaining bag of almonds and a bag of waffle chips. We boarded, ordered some wine, ate, watched a movie, and then slept the rest of the flight.

I wasn’t thrilled with how the blueberry quinoa breakfast bars turned out so I’m not sharing the recipe. They looked good but were really crumbly and the flavor wasn’t quite right.

For the salad, just cook up some farro and lentils according to their packaging. Add in whatever veggies you want on top: radish, carrot, celery, cucumber, tomato, asparagus, peas, etc. I added radish, peas, tomato, chickpeas, walnuts and roasted asparagus this time. Top it off with a doss of lemon dressing: 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juiced whisked together with 8 Tbsp evoo until it is fully emulsified. I add little to no salt – I already get puffy enough from flying, I don’t need extra salt to help me out!

While food allergies definitely make planning and preparing for trips more difficult, you don’t need to suffer. I hope this helps those of you with allergies or traveling with someone with allergies. If you have any questions or want suggestions on what and how to pack, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

Safe travels!!

 

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

These vegan chocolate cupcakes may be better than “real” chocolate cupcakes. Best of all, they are allergy friendly and take less than an hour to make.

My go-to Chicken Soup

My go-to Chicken Soup

When you’re feeling under the weather or just need a simple, clean meal, this soup is the perfect solution.

Easy Vegetable Stock

Easy Vegetable Stock

Vegetable stock is a pantry staple for me. I think I use it almost daily, actually.  It’s so much more useful than just a base for soups. Cook quinoa, farro and rice in it for extra flavor; sauté vegetables in it; add it to mashed potatoes; use it to braise meats. Basically, you can replace water with vegetable stock in nearly any savory recipe to give the final dish extra flavor and oomph.

I have a major issue with store bought, pre-made stocks, though: they are full of allergens! Many use mushrooms to add a depth of flavor and umami quality. Others use yeast extract to do basically the same thing. On top of that, you’ll often see “natural flavors” listed in the ingredients which is a red flag on any packaged food.

“Natural flavors” are typically used to trick your taste buds into thinking something is better than it is by making food seem fresher or more flavorful, even adding in a hint of a food that isn’t present at all. I do one of two things when this ingredient is in a product I want to buy: 1, walk away because it’s not worth the risk, or 2, call the customer service number on the label and request to know what is included in their “natural flavors.” I usually end up being allergic to whatever is in it and can’t buy the product so option 1 is my norm these days.

My quest to find a pre-packaged stock has ended because I simply can’t find one that works with my allergies. After making my own stock, I really don’t know why I resisted it for so long.  It’s seriously mindless, takes next to no prep work and the vegetables you need are probably already in your fridge.

Another plus, you can make the flavor profile whatever you want. I love celery, so I add more celery. I also love fennel so I use a full bulb. If you like leeks, add leeks!  Go crazy!

Once you gather all the vegetables and herbs you want, roughly chop them up and sweat them out for a few minutes to help sweeten and release their flavor. Some people advocate cutting the vegetables more finely so more flavor is released into the stock but I’m lazy. I also peel the onion, garlic, carrots and parsnip, because their skins can hold mold even after a good scrubbing, which some would say is a big no-no.  If you’re not concerned, leave the skins on!

The amount of water you add will determine how concentrated your flavor is. I add about 4 quarts of water which reduces to roughly 12 cups of stock after an hour. The flavor doesn’t hit you in the face but it’s also not subtle.  If you want it stronger I’d suggest adding less water.

After an hour, give or take, scoop out all the vegetables with a slotted spoon or a fine mesh strainer. There’s not much you can do with the vegetables because they’ll be pretty bland at this point. Either discard them or save the carrots and celery as a treat for your dog. Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into storage jars, cooling completely before freezing, or store in the refrigerator.  The stock will last 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Vegetable Stock
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The perfect base for soups and other recipes.
Author:
Serves: 8 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 parsnip, peeled
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts water
Instructions
  1. Roughly chop all vegetables. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add in all ingredients except water and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon or fine mesh strainer and discard. Pour stock through a fine mesh strainer into storage containers. Let cool completely before freezing.
Notes
Stock will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen up to 3 months.