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Amtrak
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I am newly diagnosed with Celiac and I am traveling on Amtrak next month - we will be on the train for 45 hours (assuming no delays) and I am so scared about what I can eat. You can not bring anything that needs to be in a microwave and I don't want to eat Pamela's cookies and side salads for 45 hours. Amtrak Guest Relations is not open until Tuesday, but I was wondering if there is anything safe at all - we paid $2,000 for a bedroom that includes meals, and I am so scared that I will be starving. I have a lactose intolerance that can be helped with enzymes, but prefere to stay away from that to. The reaction to dairy is not as bad as gluten. Any help is appreciated!!

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I am newly diagnosed with Celiac and I am traveling on Amtrak next month - we will be on the train for 45 hours (assuming no delays) and I am so scared about what I can eat. You can not bring anything that needs to be in a microwave and I don't want to eat Pamela's cookies and side salads for 45 hours. Amtrak Guest Relations is not open until Tuesday, but I was wondering if there is anything safe at all - we paid $2,000 for a bedroom that includes meals, and I am so scared that I will be starving. I have a lactose intolerance that can be helped with enzymes, but prefere to stay away from that to. The reaction to dairy is not as bad as gluten. Any help is appreciated!!

They can accommodate. The long trip routes have chefs on board and I have heard that they can whip up plain chicken, plain veggies, stuff like that.

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Thanks for bringing this subject up. I often travel on Amtrak and am newly diagnosed celiac (4/30/10) I hadn't thought about what I was going to eat on the train.

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I'd take plenty of back up food though. Just in case someone screws up and you get served the wrong things or even just something you don't quite trust. I've been stuck on trains a lot, and always plan for at least 12 extra hours and broken hear or AC. (I love trains though, which is why I persist...)

Maybe:

- jar of peanut butter or assorted nuts

- bunch of bananas/apples/citrus

- rice crackers

- larabars or gluten-free clif bars

And then you'll have some snacks and back-up food at your destination too.

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I have ridden the Amtrak Zephyr for 2-3 days for the past couple of summers, and was able to eat three times a day despite having celiac. Bring a couple of soft-sided insulated coolers that are designed to carry a six-pack of soda. They collapse for easy storage later. Put a Blue Ice in the bottom of the cooler, then loaded perishable food, and added a small Blue-Ice on top. You could also decide to freeze a couple of juice bottles and use them as a source of cold as well.

Here is what I did:

1. The day before leaving, I bought a Chipotle Burrito Bowl with no tortilla and froze it solid (I didn't care what happened to the lettuce). Also purchased a couple of small salads with protein at the last minute and packed them. Try to eat these within the first two days. I also had yogurt the usual dry snacks with me. You CAN get ice refills from the snack bar attendant, but have no access to their microwave.

2. Breakfast is easy in the dining car. I had no problem eating scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and juice. If you are skipping the dining car, you can always buy a carton of milk in the snack bar and add it to dry cereal and a disposable bowl/spoon. A couple of day's cereal fits in a sandwich sized Ziplock bag. Bring a couple of Lactaid tablets with you, or eat the cereal dry. You can also buy gluten-free cups of oatmeal or Gorilla Munch from Whole Foods. YOu can also bring your own fresh fruit like apples/bananas.

3. For dinner, I only ate in the dining car once since there were limited options. I had no problem with the roasted chicken, and had them add a baked potato instead of the starch since baked potatoes are on the menu already. The chef crew is really busy with three seatings in the dining car, so don't plan on much help regarding special requests.

4. The chef crew is cooking in a confined area and serve many in limited time, so assume you won't get much help from them. The train stops for a few hours at certain points, and sometimes there is close access to a Subway or other celiac-friendly places.

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2. Breakfast is easy in the dining car. I had no problem eating scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and juice.

This is really good to know. I am taking the Southest Chief from LA to Chicago in September and I will have been at a hotel for 5 days beforehand so my access to a kitchen will be nearly non-existent. I have a roomette so my meals are all included, plus I really enjoy the social aspect of eating in the dining car. I've done overnight trips twice before (pre-gluten-free) and I've seen how teeny those kitchens are. I will make sure to bring lots of snacks but it sounds like there are going to be hot meals that I can eat safely too.

Kors, I'd be really grateful if you could tell us about your experiences when you return. And have a fantastic trip!

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Just wondering if anyone has had recent experience with amtrak meals? There look like options that would be safe by ingredient, but I am not sure if there is any marinade or seasoning on the fish and meat dishes.

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I am newly diagnosed with Celiac and I am traveling on Amtrak next month - we will be on the train for 45 hours (assuming no delays) and I am so scared about what I can eat. You can not bring anything that needs to be in a microwave and I don't want to eat Pamela's cookies and side salads for 45 hours. Amtrak Guest Relations is not open until Tuesday, but I was wondering if there is anything safe at all - we paid $2,000 for a bedroom that includes meals, and I am so scared that I will be starving. I have a lactose intolerance that can be helped with enzymes, but prefere to stay away from that to. The reaction to dairy is not as bad as gluten. Any help is appreciated!!

This is going to sound like the dumbest idea ever however it has SAVED me MANY times. Grab a big thing of corn tortillas and a few can of beans and some fresh vegies that don't need a fridge like tomatoes, peppers and make your mexican food. I too travel for a living and never know and I'm honestly happy and surprised by how much of a well rounded meal you can make that's healthy....just start with a can of beans (don't forget your opener....did that once and oh boy did that suck...) and corn tortillas.

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I just arrived traveling 18 hours south from DC on Amtrak.

I had a long conversation with the chef and for dinner last night, I determined the only thing I could have was a baked potato and a side salad. I was going to have a steak - not bad! - but I could not. The reason? The chef cooks the steak on the same griddle he cooks breaded meats and in particular last night's crab cakes. So if you all think you can eat chicken and steak and the chef can do this and that for you, that's nice, but just remember, that slab of meat is going on the same griddle as a bunch of items with gluten.

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I just arrived traveling 18 hours south from DC on Amtrak.

I had a long conversation with the chef and for dinner last night, I determined the only thing I could have was a baked potato and a side salad. I was going to have a steak - not bad! - but I could not. The reason? The chef cooks the steak on the same griddle he cooks breaded meats and in particular last night's crab cakes. So if you all think you can eat chicken and steak and the chef can do this and that for you, that's nice, but just remember, that slab of meat is going on the same griddle as a bunch of items with gluten.

I'm glad I saw your post as I realised I'd totally forgotten to post my amtrak experiences. I spent a total of 5 nights on the train in Sept / Oct last year.

Interesting about the steak! I took the southwest chief from LA to Chicago, 2 nights. I took a chance and had the steak with a potato and side salad and I did not get sick. It sounds like I was lucky, or it might have been a different menu (they do vary a bit by train route) and less potential contaminants

The next morning I made a big mistake in having a cheese omelette for breakfast. I felt awful afterwards and realised that they were probably making the french toast in the same bowl. Likewise lunch (the entree salad) didn't go down well either. But I happily ate the steak and potato for dinner again the second night so who knows? I couldn't face breakfast on morning 2 though, and just ate icecream for lunch. The car attendants on all my trains were great. When I couldn't face a meal they'd bring the icecream to me in my sleeper. I alternated between hagen daaz chocolate and vanilla all the way around the united states. Love that it has so few ingredients and they are all real food.

I couldn't face eating on the train chicago - dc, I ate my snacks in my room. The dining car attendant annoyed me, when I gave the reason for declining a reservation she told me I should've pre-orded a gluten free meal. Believe me, I did plenty of research and there's no such thing offered. Oh well, the lovely car attendant brought me my icecream.

The cardinal doesn't have a proper dining car/kitchen; rather they re-heat pre made meals. I had chicken and rice and that was fine too. Seemed like less chance of contamination too as they were re-heating each meal separately.

I adore travelling long distance on amtrak (in sleepers). Eating in the dining car is part of the experience, it's so nice meeting people from all over. I think they produce great meals, especially given the size of the kitchen, speed we're travelling at etc. I'm just sorry I can't really enjoy them anymore. I don't expect them to be able to do so cc free - it's just too demanding compared to a regular kitchen. I'll still go to the dining car, next time I just won't eat much but at least I can get the social aspects and I definately wasn't the only person watching their diet (I'm 33 and most of my fellow passengers were about 40-50 years older!) though in their cases it was declining desert whereas I was embracing it. God bless hagen daaz and amtrak for stocking it :-)

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Believe me, I did plenty of research and there's no such thing offered.

That is what the man cooking to me to do too (order a gluten-free meal). I might be traveling again soon, so maybe I should email them to find out for sure.

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RESPONSE RECEIVED JUST NOW FROM AMTRAK (gee thanks Amtrak!)

Thank you for contacting us.

Amtrak does not offer meals specifically designated as "low fat", "low cholesterol", "low sodium", "gluten free", "wheat free" or "peanut free". Most dinner entrees are not prepared on the dining car. The fat, cholesterol, sodium, gluten, wheat and peanut content may vary, and cannot be controlled or modified by the chef.

Requests for these types of meals cannot be honored.

We hope that this information will be of assistance.

Sincerely,

John

Amtrak Customer Service

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RESPONSE RECEIVED JUST NOW FROM AMTRAK (gee thanks Amtrak!)

Thank you for contacting us.

Amtrak does not offer meals specifically designated as "low fat", "low cholesterol", "low sodium", "gluten free", "wheat free" or "peanut free". Most dinner entrees are not prepared on the dining car. The fat, cholesterol, sodium, gluten, wheat and peanut content may vary, and cannot be controlled or modified by the chef.

Requests for these types of meals cannot be honored.

We hope that this information will be of assistance.

Sincerely,

John

Amtrak Customer Service

Thanks Plumbago, yeah, that's what I was advised when I phoned them and I also checked on an amtrak forum full of extremely frequent travelers. I think the onboard staff get confused because there are some special meals available if ordered in advance (like kosher meals) and they probably assume that there are others. Especially since most people don't know what 'gluten free' is anyway.

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