Saturday, August 10, 2013

Invaluable When Traveling with Multiple Food Allergies

Our recent 4,500 mile cross-country trip was the first time we’ve ventured long distance with severely food allergic children since the girls were “eating” nothing but pharmaceutical boxed drinks. Now that was some easy traveling. Cases of EO28? Check. Done. Now? Not easy at all. Not like we can drive through somewhere for the three little guys (although . . . we did discover that at Wendy’s we can order a plain baked potato and it is just a microwaved potato. To which they could add salt and a bit of coconut oil from the back of the van.)

We packed their safe cooking ingredients, naturally, like safe spices, oils, etc. Which was fine for when we had a kitchen available – even all of the motel rooms we stayed in had microwaves. But the real conundrum was what to do about the days, and there were 5 of them, when we had to drive 8 or more hours of just driving. Enter my big, big, BIG recommendation – we bought this little guy off Amazon:

We picked up the butane cartridges at our local Cash & Carry – we bought three and came too close to using the last one up. Partly because there was a little learning curve for us. I’d recommend buying a cartridge per three meals if you’re doing something quick.

We took along a huge bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and potatoes and coconut oil. Plus rice – more on that in a second. We would stop at a rest stop and set up in the picnic area, chop/slice chicken breast and potatoes and fry them up with various combinations of flavorings, or the same on rice. We really lean on Coconut Secret’s Aminos, which are a “soy sauce” that is safe for many allergic people. I also learned over time to open a bottle of water for myself after I browned the chicken and toss some of that in the pan before drinking out of it :-). Kept the mess down and helped the chicken cook through more quickly.

About that rice: the second vital tool we bought was a rice cooker. We could make up a batch of rice in the morning in a motel and the little guys could have that with cinnamon and the hemp milk we’d packed, then again later with chicken (and veggies added) cooked at the rest stop. We don’t buy anything with non-stick surfaces if we can help it, especially for the youngest three with a fragile immune system, but the availability of rice cookers with stainless steel bowls is increasing as more people become aware of the issues. Ours doesn’t have fuzzy logic or even a timer (which would be nice) but hey we were trying to pay for a trip! We had no issues with sticking or clean-up or burning whatsoever. I had made sure to buy it to arrive a week or so before the trip so we could feel comfortable with its use before hitting the road, and that puppy has been in daily use ever since. Here is the one we got – smaller ones available but we have a big family:

So those are the two tools that made travel amazingly smooth. With the portable cookstove, you’ll want to remember the following (we ended up stopping at a Walmart to buy a couple of these after not thinking it through carefully enough):
  • Plastic cutting board and something to sanitize it, preferably in wipe form
  • Spatula
  • Pan (try on your various pans to bring biggest that fits the burner)
  • Knife and/or kitchen scissors depending on what you’re cooking out there
  • Peeler
  • Hand sanitizer of choice
  • Potholder or mitt

There you have it. We were so thankful to have discovered these two items – what would we have done otherwise – that I wanted to put it out there.


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