Travel for me means planning for all of life’s unknown

Tag: food allergy struggles

A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

There is nothing worse than taking a food allergy hit while traveling; especially when the side effects are on the smelly and messy side, followed by a migraine. Though thankfully the migraine came well after we were home, and I had meds to help with the other side-effects while we were in the car.  It takes the motto of “don’t leave home without it” to a whole new extreme.

Exile Brewing Company is located in Des Moines, Iowa, near their downtown area.  It’s very industrial, and the air is filled with the tang of fermenting barley and wheat as you would expect from a brewery.

I was traveling with a group, and a beer after a long hard day at the track is just what this group (minus myself, beer – bleh) desired, for me being able to eat there is the only requirement.  So, I called ahead and checked it out, turns out if I communicate with my server, they can feed me. Great! I let the group know and we head out.

Typically, it’s the third time that is the charm, in this case it was the first time.  I ordered their chicken plate, and it came with a starter salad.  They brought me their house parmesan dressing, it smelled divine – which typically denotes when I can’t have something – but I had them double check the ingredients.  Turns out I couldn’t have that dressing, but I could have their Italian dressing. Dinner progressed without incident, and the group deemed the beer worthy of their taste buds.

Two nights later, we decided to return to Exile.  This time burgers and fries were the desire, as well as beer, after a very long weekend of field and track.  It was time to enjoy the company, fill our bellies, and then get a goodnights rest for the 11 plus hour drive home the next day.

This time, I wasn’t as fortunate.  It was Saturday night, and they were busy. Though we were seated quickly, getting and keeping our servers attention was not easy.  A member of our party has a very drastic reaction to onions, and requested no onions on his burger.  Sadly, when he received it…there were onions present. Thankfully he could pull them off and carry on with his meal, but the fact that they were there was a bad omen for me.

I did my due diligence and asked the server to verify that I could have my desired menu choice, a lovely steak salad with heirloom tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are a personal favorite).

Now when I had called they informed me that I needed to let my server know about my soy allergy so that they could inform the kitchen of it, and the kitchen could then take steps to prevent cross contamination and use pure olive oil.

I stressed my allergy and he assured me there was no soy in my entrée of choice. It came with the parmesan dressing, so I asked for the Italian instead, and proceeded to wait patiently.

My salad came, and I ate with gusto. I was starving, and realized quickly that it wasn’t enough to cover the energy I had burned at the track meet, so I also ordered a starter salad.  Honestly, I think I wanted the fresh vegetables, it’s one thing we don’t get enough of when traveling to out of state meets.  Plus, the started salad also had heirloom tomatoes, so it was a no brainer I asked for the Italian dressing, and settled back enjoyed the company.

We got back to our room, and my symptoms started. The only thing I can figure is that they didn’t take proper steps in the kitchen to ensure I only got olive oil when cooking my steak.  All I knew was that I didn’t feel well, and if I didn’t start on my meds soon I would be in trouble.

The moral of this story is, you can never be too careful. Just when I think I can eat somewhere new, which is nice for all involved since we carpool and they are typically stuck going where I can go to eat, so it’s nice when we can change things up a bit, then something like this happens and I just want to run back to my hole and only eat at places I know are safe.  It’s kind of sad, I won’t deny it, but the reality of not eating properly is dangerous. And I will take sad over dangerous any day.

After years of going wherever someone else wanted to go and basically living on salads, no meat or any protein just veggies, after a long grueling day of field events where we can be doing anything from running in fields to spot where a shot put, discus, hammer, weight, or javelin fell, to shuttling said tools back to the athletes just to name two jobs; add into that extreme weather from 100-degree heat to 42 degrees and freezing rain for outdoor venues and all of it requires energy for your body to burn, and contrary to popular some beliefs, only eating vegetables is not the best solution (for me anyway). Even if you want/need to lose weight, not eating properly, regardless of the reason, is not the answer.

Once my doctor threatened me with a hospital stay to get my blood chemistry back to “safe” levels, I realized the error of my ways and put my foot down when it came to eating with groups. Sometimes it means I don’t go with the group. That really sucks, especially for my husband because he chooses to go with me and that means he doesn’t get to socialize (something he thrives on), but there is only one me and I have to take care of me.  That is a hard lesson to learn, for some.  (Pot calling the kettle black…right here!)

Thankfully hubby doesn’t complain, much. After four days of the same restaurant he’s ready to eat anything else, but he’s a trooper. I offer to let him go with the group, and Lord bless him he chooses me every time. Thankfully, with my continued efforts to try new places – it is not easy let me tell you, once you experience a food allergy reaction you are very leery to re-live it – I have found some great places of us to eat when we travel.  And hopefully there will be more travel, for fun not track (though we love our track trips) in our near future.

A European Dining Experience in Colorado

In my never-ending quest to find restaurants who understand my food allergies and take them seriously, I stumbled across this gem. My Husband’s favorite story to tell of his time in Europe is how laid back the dining experience is. No hovering, no rush, and no hurry to turn over a table. “When you walk-in they expect that you are going to be there for the rest of the night.” I finally understand what he means.


Due to my food allergies I always call ahead to ensure I can eat at a new restaurant, and Chef Ben took my call seriously and made the time to answer my questions. When hubby and I arrived I was cautiously optimistic, and in return was blown away.


Chef Ben was experimenting with some new recipes for rolls (they are attempting to make all of their offerings in house including the bread), the rolls are amazing and I really hope those make it to an every day offering. It is a rare thing for me to be able to eat the rolls offered; that alone would ensure I come back again and again.


I was hoping to be able to have their Caesar salad, but thankfully they were on their toes because I couldn’t have it nor could I have their port  dressing (because of my food allergies), which was offered on their wedge salad…however, Chef Ben was also working on a new vinaigrette. I put my taste buds at the mercy of Chef Ben and ordered the Local Organic Green salad with the Blood Orange Candied Shallot vinaigrette! Oh! My taste buds were so happy! It was worth the risk.

There are a few things on their menu subject to change. Their Peacemakers Punch is just such an item, it is different not only every night but also each batch. You are literally at the mercy of your bartender, so ask what’s in it if you are trying to avoid certain ingredients. On this night I was in luck as there was no pineapple in the punch, no indeed, I had a delightful concoction that I can only describe as lavender lemonade. And it was heavenly.

peace makers punch in the tall glass and their version of a mule.

Hubby got their Hogan’s mule; it was a bit tart for his taste but the apple garnish made the drink absolutely delightful.


When I said the experience was completely European, I wasn’t exaggerating. We were seated, and served water; with an explanation that dinner was made from scratch and only once we ordered it. Thus it takes a little more time than we might be accustomed to.   Then my husband got up to go to the bathroom and whole process stopped till he returned. We had questions about the drinks menu so we got that settled and only then were we brought the dinner menu.


As is my process I did have the waiter check on the two entrees I had chosen for me to eat so I could then choose which one I wanted. Thankfully I could have both of them so I just had to make up my mind. This process took time, as it should, however, Sean and Chef Ben made sure I knew that they were taking my food allergy seriously.

Horseradish crusted salmon


Once dinner was done, we were brought the dessert menu and at that point my night took a decided turn for the better. I could have dessert, and not just the Crème Brule; I could have all but one of their offerings plus or minus an ingredient or two. I got their chocolate stout bread, with passion fruit sorbet the perfect complement to the sweat and dense cake. Hubby had their bread pudding, claiming it was the best bread pudding he had ever had, and that is saying something as it is his favorite dessert and has had it in every location he has ever traveled to and with his military career that is an extensive list of bread pudding locations.


We have a new location for special nights out. Since you pay for quality you can expect a hefty check at the end of the night. However, you can also expect to not mind one bit, because you know you ate a quality meal made from quality ingredients.   Be sure to check them out when you are in the area.


Checkout my reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor!

A Vegan Breakfast?! What?!

Don’t worry; I have not crossed over the vegan bridge.  If you have chosen to adhere to the vegan lifestyle, more power to you I could not do that for the love of bacon, and steak, and turkey. However, on this day of our trip we had a lot packed into the day and I needed sustenance. So off to my apps I went.  After some digging we decided to try Revolucion Coffee & Juice.

Located in the small shopping center at 7959 Broadway, Ste. 507 (though when we got to that slot they were actually to the left and in the corner though I did not catch the new suite number).  They offered almond milk as a substitute for milk (as well as soy if you are so inclined), but they even have cashew milk for their vegan bowls.

I walked into clean and pristine white coffee house (not something I’m used to seeing).  I waited for the crowd to thin out, so I could talk with the lady at the counter and not feel rushed or that I was keeping someone from their much-needed coffee fix.

I found out I could have their peanut butter and jelly bowl with cashew milk made in house.  Oh my! It was wonderful.  Add into it the Revolucion Latte, a lavender infused honey with espresso and almond milk complete with coffee art, and my breakfast was as satisfying as it was beautiful.

The coffee was good, I wasn’t wowed by the flavor of the coffee, however, I have definitely had worse cups of coffee.

The bowl was very filling, I couldn’t even finish it all. But it stuck with me for the rest of the day, and I didn’t have a night of eating because of all the exercise I’d gotten…a huge deal for me.

It was worth every meatless bite.  The fruit was fresh, ripe, and flavorful, while the granola held up for the duration of the bowl. My last bite had just as much crunch as the first.  Though the PB seemed a little over powering at first, and I was hoping for more Acai flavor since the color was definitely there, still it was a wonderful breakfast.

Hubby deemed the food “too hippy” (a word my family have assigned to food I can eat) for him.  So we left there and went and got him breakfast tacos from a local place.  He checked – I couldn’t eat there but he at least got some sustenance for the day.

Revolucion Latte; honey is lavender infused