Monday, October 3, 2011

Gluten-Free Traveling

Ugh, I am so happy to be home!
For over the past week Kevin and I have been on the road.  We traveled down to San Diego to catch one of our favorite bands, TV on the Radio- give them a listen below.  We stayed with my best friend since third grade, Cassie.

Much fun and much alcohol was had by all.
There was also Muddy Buddies and mediocre gluten-free pizza.
But pizza nonetheless!
From San Diego we traveled up Highways 1 and 101.  We passed through all the tiny rich towns with lots of expensive cars.We drove along the ocean for most of the journey up until about Portland.  We went on an AWESOME dune buggy ride near Coos Bay, scoped out the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Blue Heron wine tasting and cheese place.  It was a wonderful trip- just me and the hubby (and the booboo).  We ended up in our hometown of Spokane, Washington in time to celebrate my nephew's third birthday.  I'll post more on the trip later- this part is about the food.
Kevin and I knew that if I could survive a roadtrip on the gluten-free diet I could probably rock it long term.  It was difficult, to say the least.
For car snacks I mostly stuck potato chips and tortilla chips.  Not super healthy, I know, but when you're traveling you want the delicious salty stuff.  At one point we bought some beef jerky, only to realize it was flavored with soy sauce.  Frownie face.
Breakfasts got easier after the first day.  I discovered, happily, that Odwalla bars are gluten-free!
This one tastes like a rice krispy treat!
We would stop by a grocery store in the morning, pick up a couple bananas, some yogurt, and some of those bars.  Yum!
Lunch was another issue- especially in the smaller towns.  McDonald's was great for salads. I learned that Carl's Jr., home of the charbroiled chicken salad (yum!) seasons their grilled chicken.  This is not unusual practice.  KFC makes a delicious grilled chicken, but they do the same darn thing.  So, I ate a lot of lettuce wrapped burgers.  This wasn't an issue at Carl's, home of the low-carb six dollar burger.
It looks delicious, but I got sick of it eventually.  Other places didn't get the concept of a lettuce wrap so much.
"You mean, like put lettuce around the bun?"
No... instead of a bun, you wrap it in lettuce leaves.
"Oh, so the chicken snack wrap".
No, not the wrap either, just lettuce. 
"So, on a bed of lettuce?"
Well, no, not really, you still make it like a sandwich.
"Oh, I got it".
There were quite a few disappointing lunches.  None of the non-Carl's places got it right.  The example above is a McDonald's, when I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich.  It arrived on the bed of lettuce, with all the fixin's.  It was close, at least!  Burger King didn't do so great.  They stated that their lettuce was shredded, so they couldn't do a wrap (it wasn't that shredded).  So, I was greeted with a Whopper patty sitting atop a mound of lettuce.  The kicker on that one is they didn't give me any condiments.  It was a dry, flavorless experience.  To make matters worse, they also messed up my side salad order.  I cried during that lunch.
Dinners were easier since we were settled in for the night.  One evening we had mediocre Chinese food, another, a rotisserie chicken from Safeway (verified gluten-free).  One amazing night we indulged in some Thai food (Thank you, Portland!).  On our last night (and drive home) I encountered a very friendly Subway employee who gave me all the ingredients for a turkey sammich, but charged me only as "double meat" on my hubby's order.  Assembling all that Subway fresh veggie goodness on my crumbly, bland rice bread was a bit disappointing, but at least it wasn't another salad!
So, here is my list for gluten-free friendly traveling:
  • Carl's Jr. (Low Carb burgers)
  • McDonald's- Their salads are pretty good, and I rounded my meal off with a sweet tea and apple slices.  I was pretty happy.
  • Wendy's- After squinting over their little allergen chart I figured out that their grilled chicken is gluten free.  I put one of those on a large Caesar salad.  They also have the chili and the baked potatoes for options.
  • Taco Time- Taco Bell uses flour on their meat (and everything else).  I didn't get to try anything, but if you stick to corn shells and grilled meats you should be good.
  • Grocery Stores- why not just pick up an apple, some deli meats, and some Blue Diamond Nut Thins?
  • Chinese/Thai/Sushi- Just watch out for soy sauce and don't get anything that's breaded and deep-fried.
I think the toughest parts about this were that for lunch we wanted to save money.  This almost always translates into fast food.  And, when you're driving through tiny towns along the coast, there isn't always a ton of options.  You can get hangry in that amount of time.  Just make sure that you've married a guy who can make you laugh through your tears... some joke about flame-broiling the Burger King restaurant... I don't remember.  :)
So, I made it!  And, the crazy thing is that I feel amazing.  Normally the week of a roadtrip/traveling return rivals my period week for how shitty I feel.  I have almost NO stiffness.  I'm cautiously optimistic!

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