Tag Archives: allergy friendly travel

Travel Report: Pigeon Forge, TN

My husband and I recently had the opportunity through my husband’s work to take a little winter vacation to Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN and also spend some time in Pigeon Forge. A year ago when I found out about my soy allergy, I honestly thought I would never be able to travel again, and especially not to somewhere like Pigeon Forge where there are very few grocery stores. Now, almost a year later, I am happy to report that we had a great time and a reaction-free vacation.

There are a few things that made our trip a success. First, my packing included my sheets and towels washed in my own detergent, my preferred toilet paper, snacks and non-perishable food. My food included dried apples, dried mangoes, chips, nuts, and Rudi’s soy free bread/almond butter/bananas to make sandwiches in a pinch. We stayed at Sunrise Ridge Resort, and they offer full kitchens and incredible views of the mountains.

SunriseRidge

Before we left, I did some research on the local Kroger grocery stores in the Pigeon Forge area. There is one in Sevierville, TN and one in Pigeon Forge, TN. The thing about Kroger is that they have a separate section of freezer and also non-perishable “natural” foods. They include a few of the brands that you would see at places like Whole Foods as well as some local foods. I picked up some Amy’s meals and some local, grass-fed yogurt. Another idea that I had was to defrost some cooked shrimp from the freezer section and add some celery and carrot sticks.

Pigeon Forge has also changed a lot over the years. If you haven’t been in the past 3-5 years, you will be surprised to see many more chain restaurants that you will recognize from your hometown, and of course the Sevierville Tanger Outlets are some of the best outlets in the Southeast.

If you do eat out, remember to always call ahead, talk to the manager, and eat at times when the restaurant is less likely to be busy. There were many restaurants that I spotted that have allergen friendly options such as Olive Garden, Mellow Mushroom, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse and Longhorn Steakhouse. TGI Friday’s also has an allergen menu, but there isn’t much on their published menu that doesn’t have soy in it.

We chose to eat at Olive Garden, a place where I have had good experiences at home and also in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I called ahead and spoke with the manager immediately before arriving, but unfortunately this experience was not as good as I had hoped. I ordered a plain salad with no dressing and no croutons, and the server brought my salad with dressing in the salad. Fortunately I realized it before it was too late. I also ordered the baked parmesan shrimp, which was listed on their menu as soy free. I asked for them to leave off the bread crumbs just to be sure. This is my go-to dish at Olive Garden, but unfortunately the regular pasta they use also had fettucini pasta mixed in. This made me a bit nervous since I did not know why and where the fettucini had been. I did not have an allergic reaction, but I would not necessarily recommend this restaurant as an option.

On the next part of our trip, we had the wonderful opportunity of staying for two nights at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN.

BBFRoom

This is something that we would not have otherwise have been able to do, and it was truly an incredible experience. If you are not familiar, Blackberry Farm is a beautiful hideaway resort with gorgeous rooms and cottages that boasts farm-to-table meals from some of the country’s top chefs. To top it all off, it snowed just enough to make everything beautiful and keep the roads safe for travel.

BBFarmDining

 

Not only was this a breathtakingly beautiful resort, but the chefs and servers were incredibly meticulous in providing me with safe meals. Usually when you visit a restaurant, you are given a couple of options to choose from on the menu. At Blackberry Farm, I was able to look at the same menu that my husband was using and pick what I wanted. The food was at a level at which I had never experienced before and may never experience again unless I have the opportunity to return. We all know as food allergy sufferers that we must cook almost everything we eat, and to be able to go somewhere and have someone cook for me that I could trust and make to-die-for food was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I am glad that I took the chance and traveled to Tennessee, because it will become one of our best vacations ever, and I can’t wait to return again soon.

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Enjoying A Soy Free Summer

Enjoying a soy free summer can require a lot of planning, packing, and patience. My husband and I plan out-of-town day trips a few times a month, and it can be stressful but worth it. We are going to be taking a week’s vacation in August, and I am already planning! Below are some of the tips that I have learned that will hopefully save you some time and planning.

Items You Will Need

  • Coolers and ice packs are essential. You can even buy electric coolers that have an adaptor for electricity and your car, but I just use an old-fashioned cooler.
  • Storage containers
  • Silverware: I stash any unused plasticware that we get at fast food chains and keep it in my car’s glove compartment for emergencies.
  • Other soy-free summer traveling essentials: sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, travel soap; Note: most commercial products contain soy. See my reviews below for product recommendations
  • A good chain restaurant available at your destination just in case the food you have packed isn’t enough. For me, I eat a garden salad and baked potato at Wendy’s. Occasionally I will eat chili with my baked potato, but beware that the chili contains soybean oil for those that are allergic. And for those of you looking for dessert, the Frosty is soy free (and who doesn’t want dessert?!)

Food

Freezing complete meals is great, but I also try to cook and freeze some items that can be used in many different recipes.

  • Soak, cook, and freeze dried chickpeas to make hummus. Then, when you’re ready to travel, you can just throw the chickpeas in the blender, add a little olive oil and some spices (garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper) and you are ready to go. You can make hummus roll-ups with tortillas or add veggies and chips to hummus for a complete meal. (Just a reminder that some folks that are allergic to soy are also allergic to other legumes like chickpeas.)
  • Bake a cookie sheet of organic chicken tenderloins and freeze them. When you’re ready to travel, add defrosted chicken to a green salad or see my recipe for soy free curry chicken salad with yummy grapes, apples, and celery.
  • Another great on-the-go recipe: Mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil and olive oil. Slice the mozzarella and tomato, top with fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with a side of soy-free chips. It makes a great snack or meal.
  • Another idea that I want to try: Cold soups like gazpacho. They would freeze well, pack well, and be a great addition to your cooler.
  • Fruit: It packs well and is a great snack with a protein like nuts, pumpkin seeds, or string cheese.

Other items that do not need a cooler:

  • LARABARS (Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Soy Free)
  • Soy Free Nuts or Pumpkin Seeds (watch for “may contain” statements)
  • Travel Packets of Almond Butter
  • Rice Cakes or Rice Chips (Rice cakes and almond butter are great and filling!)
  • Corn Tortilla Chips or Popcorn

Sunscreen, Bug Spray, and Soy-Free Travel Kits

Sunscreen

My sunscreen of choice is California Baby’s sunscreen. It is highly rated through the Environmental Working Group and is free of peanuts, soy, and dairy. I also reconfirmed with CeraVe that their entire product line is free from gluten, wheat, milk, soy, nuts, and egg. Note as of 7/1/14: I no longer recommend CeraVe as a soy free product. I usually need to order my sunscreen, so it is good to know that there is a product in pharmacies and grocery stores that I can grab in a pinch.

Bug Spray

A great bug spray is also made by California Baby, and it has a great, light citrus smell. I haven’t tested it in mosquito-infested areas yet, but the reviews are very good.

Soap and Hand Sanitizer

Sometimes I think that I react just as badly to the soy in bath and body products as I do to foods. Commercial hand soap can be the worst for me. I carry a small squeeze bottle of soy free soap in my purse when I travel and go to work. My favorite soap is made by Sun & Earth. I also recently discovered that Hugo Naturals makes soy free hand sanitizer. I ordered two varieties and like them both, but if you are like me and are sensitive to fragrances, I would recommend the Lavender. The scent is a little milder than the Vanilla Peppermint.

Soy-Free Travel Kits

Gone are the days when I can run into a store and grab travel size products for my trip. Two companies to try: Hugo Naturals and California Baby.

I hope you all have a safe and soy free summer!

Calling All Soyvivors: Do you have other great travel foods or products? Please share in the comments below!