Ahhh the beach. The sandy shoreline is, for most people at least, the most relaxing place on earth. When asked in yoga class or therapy to visualize the most relaxing place on earth, so many people visualize the beach, and for good reason – it’s calm as hell. But the thing is, going on a beach vacation – or any vacation for that matter – is not so relaxing when you’ve got multiple allergies. Because of this, so many people with allergies cower from vacations. But that, my allergy friends, is what I like to call letting your allergy rule you. You CAN go on vacation, just like you CAN have a life (as I’m sure you know). Planning ahead is key, but once you do it, you’ll find that going away with an allergy is not so bad.
When Eating Out…
1. Do Research
The internet is a life-saver. I thoroughly recommend looking up the menus of local restaurants before eating out, that way you don’t have to hunt when you’re starving and end up settling on something that might not be so safe. When you have questions about a menu, calling ahead can do wonders. Here in South Carolina, my family called one of the restaurants, the Jasmine Porch Restaurant ahead of time to ask about certain menu items. When we arrived, the staff was so knowledgeable and kind about our needs that we ended up having one of the best meals of the week.
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up
Always tell a waiter your allergy needs so they can alert the chef. If you feel like the waiter doesn’t understand exactly what you need, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to the chef. A little extra talking goes a long way. Many people have pre-made business cards with their allergy information written on it. This can help you so much in a foreign country too, where the word for nuts could be something like noix.
3. Trust your gut
If a restaurant feels unsafe, unknowledgeable or even unkind, I urge you to trust your gut. That overly unconcerned waiter? Yeah, he probably forgot to tell the chef about your allergies. And those peanuts just sitting on the table over there? Well they’re not going away any time soon. If your gut is telling you that eating out isn’t the best plan, please please please follow it. It’s the difference between an allergic reaction and staying safe.
Don’t be afraid to eat in a few times…
1. Have a simple, adaptable meal!
Local vegetables are the best find when going away from home. When I travel to the south, I am always eager to pick up tomatoes months earlier than my garden at home would yield them. These veggies can help make a quick, adaptable and delicious meal, too – grilledvegetable pasta.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta
Any type of fresh local vegetables
Gluten Free Angel Hair Pasta (cooked and drained) – enough for four people
4 Tablespoons olive oil (divided in half)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese (omit if allergic to dairy)
1. Slice the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Slice peppers into strips, zucchini into round disks and tomatoes into chunks.
2. Turn on your girl and set it at a medium heat.
3. Toss vegetables with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cook the vegetables on the grill, about 5-10 minutes until well done.
5. Combine the cooked pasta with the vegetables and remaining olive oil. Top with parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy!
2. Find a local farmer’s market
So you have this great, adaptable dish you want to make. But where will you find the vegetables? You can always visit a local grocery store, but, as many of you foodies know, farmer’s markets are where it’s at. And by “it,” I mean fresh produce that is both cheap, and probably the best thing you’ve ever eaten. These markets give you a chance to try local favorites, and to support small business. And, for those nut allergy kids out there, these markets are about 100 times safer for you to visit than a grocery store in the south. (The open containers of nuts everywhere in Piggyly Wiggly are cute and all, but they can also be pretty scary!)
As always, be sure to check with the vendors to make sure anything baked, fried or cooked is safe. If they don’t seem knowledgeable, don’t buy it.
3. Bring certain essentials from home
And, finally, bring certain things that you know are hard to find from home. Where you’re staying might not have the great gluten free store that’s just down the road from you, and the local grocery store may not carry lactose free yogurt (hell, the grocery store I was visiting didn’t even have mini Chobanis!). When you know something essential is hard to find, always be safe and pack it in your car. A little cooler pack goes a long way for those things and helps make sure you are well-fed all week.
How do you stay safe on vacation? Where are your favorite allergy-friendly spots to visit?