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    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

skbird

Portable Travel Food Ideas

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Hey - my brother is getting married in November in Cabo San Lucas and I will be there Thursday through Sunday. We will be at a resort with some restaurants but not too likely we'll be running into town and grocery shopping. I have other food issues besides gluten (nightshades, shellfish, corn are the most prominent) and so am trying to strategize on what I can take with me by plane to subsist on!

I'm thinking:

Lara Bars, Organic Food bars

home made jerky

nuts

rice cakes

peanut butter

I am wondering if anyone can recommend anything highly portable I could take? I will try to take an insulated lunch pack with me - I think there are refrigerators in the hotel rooms. Does anyone know if there are any rules about bringing food into Mexico? That might sound odd, but I live in California and we have it seems a zillion rules about what you can bring in from out of state.

Thanks!

Stephanie - whose hoping not to starve while in Cabo... :)

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Is it possible to get a hotel room with a small kitchen? That is what we got the last two times we travelled (to Florida and Vancouver, BC). Otherwise I don't know what I would have done. You then only have to take enough food to last until you can go shopping there, and cook your own food.

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You probably won't have too much trouble carrying packaged, unopened non-plant-base food into Mexico. But you COULD have trouble with plants, vegies, meats. You can ALWAYS have trouble going into ANY foreign country with food/plants/pets, etc. You never ever know what they will do at the border. They may smile and nod or they may search your suitcase, body, purse etc completely (happened to my mother when she was about 70. They detained her for about an hour going INTO Mexico at the Mexico City airport- for no apparent reason. All international border crossings from/to anywhere are inconsistent (on purpose).You potentially could have more problems bring stuff OUT of Mexico, so consume it ALL. I got a peach taken away from me on an airplane flying out of Germany to US. And food in packed and checked luggage may just disappear. This is why I got a major Gluten-FEST when I went to Hawaii. Only thing survived entry was my coffee and some unopened candy. I ALWAYS find a supermarket when I travel even if it means renting a car or taking a cab or paying a local person to go for you. Even in a resort, there are food markets not too too far away - people who work there have to live somewhere and buy food somewhere! I recommend you do a Google map of the town, and then try to find some sort of market to go to. And one thing good is that mexicans use corn more than wheat! Have fun Get to market early in trip and stock up! ALSO The State Dept. site http://www.travel.state.gov has loads of info and you might call the Mexican Embassy near you (SFO?). Or go to the Mexican site equiv to our State Dept and see if you can find info there.

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Yeah, I'm figuring anything I take and don't eat, I'll pitch out. I'm also thinking of repackaging my homemade jerky in a store-bought package.

This resort is some 10 miles from the nearest town and I will be travelling with my parents and my husband (I'm 35, so I'm not a kid). Basically, I'm trying to be as low maintenance as possible on this one. We already have rooms reserved at the resort - I *think* there are fridges and maybe a microwave in the room. From the description on the web, looks like a couple of delis on-site, and there is mention of groceries (I'm imagining what might be like a small Qwik-E Mart sort of set up).

I'm actually really excited about the trip, because I would never go to such a place otherwise - I'm really pale, so sun isn't my friend. I don't drink alcohol. I can't eat peppers, tomatoes, corn, shrimp, along with gluten, so there's really no local food I'd consume. But it's only for a weekend, so that seems doable.

I forgot about canned tuna, etc - I will try to see if that will work.

And of course there will be fruit - hopefully it will be thoroughly washed and free of any nasties! :)

Stephanie

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I'd contact the resort itself about dietary restrictions for medical necessity. In fact, I think you'll be much safer in a resort than you would be anywhere else in Mexico since they go out of their way to accomodate their guests and want them to return with large groups (such as weddding parties). Most big Mexican resorts that cater to American tourists have really great chefs, and as such, they are often able to accomodate a whole host of dietary restrictions. Any fruit that you get at the resort will be thoroughly washed with purified water--they don't want their wealthy clients getting Montezuma's revenge. However, if you were to go to a grocery store, you never know what kind of labelling laws they have, so I wouldn't trust the packaged foods. And you certainly wouldn't want to eat any vegetable or fruit without a thick skin.

Is this an all-inclusive resort? If so, I'd imagine that at breakfast and lunch there will probably be large buffet-style offerings. If so, you can always get the fruit, and there will probably an omelet station--just ask them to clean out the pan for you (the chefs that interact with the customers, in my experience, have always spoken impeccable English and are really obliging with requests). For lunch, you can always ask for a salad, and then they usually do different burgers and hot dogs and things on the grill (by the pool) if you don't want the buffet--often times they'll just have a tray of cooked burgers that are separate from the buns--I would just ask what they've seasoned them with (because you never know).

Finally, there will probably be a lot of seafood, beef, and chicken for dinner, but they will also probably use a lot of sauces. I would make nice with the head chef or the manager when you first arrive, explain all of your concerns and ask them what on the menu can actually be altered to suit your dietary needs. I'd also bring a Triumph card or a typed up explanation of all of the things that you can and cannot eat that someone can go over with the chef--if you can write in Spanish, then you might want to translate that into Spanish if possible (not all of the chefs that don't interact with the clients will be fluent in English).

Most of these resorts have a formula for success, which entails that the customer is always the primary concern, and because you'll be there for several days, they know if they accidentally poison you with gluten, then you won't trust them the next day, and then you'll warn people away from the resort in the future instead of telling all of your friends back home just how wonderful and accomodating they were. I would be proactive now. Call the resort, tell them your concerns. You might even be able to store foods that you get through customs in their freezer, or they might give you a microwave for your room (in which case you might want to try to take soups and shelf stable microwaveable foods). They might even already have a list of all of the things on their menu that don't contain the common allergens and gluten. If you do this, then you can try to bring as many foods into the country as possible, but if they all get taken away, you can still rest assured that they will do their best to take care of you during the entire length of your stay.

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Oh, I wish you luck! I tried exactly all your suggestions with the Hilton Hawaiin Village at Waikaiki in March. I was part of a BIG Governement Conference that had over 350 people staying in the hotel for 7 days and 8 nights.

It simply did NOT work. I tried making "nice" ahead of time. I tried making nasty when that didn't work. I told them I would tell the conference-hosting organization that I highly recommend we all go someplace else next year. (We'd moved to Hilton from Rennaissance Ilikai -next door- because of similar stuff last year).

They basically said "too bad so sad - eat what we make or don't stay here." They also told me they don't give out their recipes or ingredients, and they wouldn't let me bring ANY of my own food into the buffets and they wouldn't even let me order ROOM SERVICE to the buffet lunch!!!!!!!!!!! I have written Hilton. No response in 3 months.

That's why I call that my "GLUTEN-FEST TRIP" becuase I gave up, and ate as best I could - left out the obvious like bread and fried stuff. (that trip almost killed me because I had to take so much meds afterwards, they became toxic and gave me liver trouble).

Next conference I will call ahead again. If I get nothing short of "of course we will help you" then I'll go find a hotel with full kitchen and I'll map out grocery stores (even in Africa I would do this - some labeling and good soap and bottled water are better than the unknown). I no longer care if I stay at same hotel as "group" and no longer care if I don't go to the buffet lunches - or get "caught" sneaking my own food in when I HAVE to go (like when I'm a speaker!).

I sure hope that Mexican resorts are better than Hawaiian ones. My week cost the government over $2300 in hotel costs. Multiply that by the 350 that were there..............duh. And for that money I got really really sick. You'd think they would care about their customers, but I guess they have enough of them not to worry about a measly 350!.

Hope you fare better than I did with your resort in Mex.

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Oh my goodness Franceen--that's aweful! I've never heard of a place that's been so tyrannical about eating their food (especially in a locale that depends upon tourists). How could it possibly hurt them to have you bring your own food into a buffet lunch? Frankly, they should have been falling all over themselves to make sure that a conference of 350 guests had all of their needs taken care of. In fact, the majority of conferences that I've attended (even if they are at less desirable locations/hotels) have asked about dietary restrictions prior to the conference. It's unbelievable that they would treat you that way and even more appalling that corporate wouldn't get back to you with a free trip to the Hilton of your choice.

Even at budget hotels, any time I've used the phrase "medical necessity," they've immediately gotten me in contact with the general manager to find out what they can do to make my stay more comfortable. I certainly hope skbird has a better experience than that. It also sounds like your aweful trip merits bashing the hotel in any online review you can find as well as a ring to the better business bureau or any hotel association or chamber of commerce they might be a part of.

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I don't mean to scare you, but hope you can learn from my mistakes during my trip to Mexico.

I was VERY sick the entire time. I luckily brought food with me, so even though meals were included in my resort stay, I could not eat it (even plain salad!) without getting sick. I don't know whether it was gluten or an issue with the water (even though they claimed it was safe), but I was miserably ill - and I'm not much of a complainer usually!

I definitely recommend bringing stuff with you and I had no problem. I brough some Envirokids bars and a jar of peanut butter as well as some protein bars, which I literally survived off of for the last few days of my trip. Both leaving and coming home, nothing was ever said about the food I had in my suitcase.

I wish you the best of luck and it sounds like you are much smarter than I was, planning ahead, etc. Let us know how it goes!

- Lauren

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Yes, I think Waikiki Beach hotels and restaurants are known for their non-friendly ways. The food is not all that good at many places right there and very very expensive.

The Hawaiin native people do not like tourists/Americans. The place is overrun with the Japanese who bought up much of the area over the last 20 years. I don't see the Hawaiin native people being very friendly to them either. I hear that the other Islands are quite different and MUCH better. But because I only go there for that one conference per year, I end up in Honolulu. I'm not sure I would spend that much money to go to Hawaii for a vacation. I much prefer Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy). I Europe they know what Celiac Disease is and take it VERY seriously!

I guess I can sympathize with the Hawaiins - we (white mainland Americans) have taken over their "country" and implanted our ways (and our money). I enjoy all the culture and the University and the drives to all the other parts of the Island, but Waikiki leaves something to be desired, tourist-wise. Someday I'll make it to the other Islands and the REAL Hawaii.

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Guest cassidy

I have been on three week long trips lately, including one to Cancun.

If the hotel doesn't have a fridge, then it will probably have a mini bar. I always empty the minibar and put my food in.

I love Mrs. May's. They are nuts in a bag stuck together in little squares by a bit of sugar. They aren't very sweet, but they are very addicting. I get them at Walmart. Health food stores also have them, but they are twice as much.

I brought cheese - cracker barrel makes cracker cuts, or you can just cut a block of cheese into slices. You can bring rice crackers with them.

Peanut butter. On crackers, apples or bananas.

Yogurt or kefir. I put kefir in water bottles so it would fit in the mini fridge.

If you have a microwave - Eden Organic rice and beans in a can.

I brought food into Mexico without a problem. I also brought food home - including fruit from Mexico without a problem. I just didn't say anything and no one questioned me. I thought about having a letter from my doctor in case I was questioned.

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Thanks for all the ideas. I will probably contact the chef or someone at the resort because really, all I will need is some plain cooked meat and a veggie. But good suggestions for things to bring.

I had forgotten about Mrs. Mays - love those! They used to sell a multi pack at Costco. And the Eden beans/rice in a can is brilliant. I forgot about that, too. The rice is actually farmed 20 miles from where I live. :) (Lundberg)

I'm pretty sure there is at least a fridge. It's a 4.5 star resort - if they don't have a fridge, I mean, what's the point? LOL

My flight isn't very long - only 3 hours - so I should easily get away with some perishibles. I'm getting excited - it's so much easier for me to travel if I have a way to prep my own food. Just way too many allergies for me.

Thanks for all the responses! It will be a while, but I'll post my review here. It's the Pueblo Bonito Cabo San Lucas that we're staying at.

Stephanie

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Having grown up in Hawaii, I'm going to pipe up. Tourists are something you grow up despising, because many of them are rude and uncouth. I've met alot of great tourists, but for the most part its something that you try to avoid as much as possible. Many people go on vacation and leave thier manners at home. Especially on Oahu, where you have the double whammy of massive tourism and the military on leave causing trouble. I grew up on the Big Island, and we're a little nicer, mainly cause tourists are bread and butter, theres really no other industry, and we don't get hit quite so hard with huge groups of horrendously rude people. I can say its definitly made me a very meek tourist when I visit anywhere else, out of fear of being THAT.

I am absolutly shocked about the way the Hilton treated you. I would contact the main corporate office, not the office in Hawaii. When I go home I have had great success eating there. There are alot of things that are off limits, because they put soy sauce on pretty much everything, but they also have alot of rice which makes it easy. I'm really sorry you had a bad experience. I lived on Oahu for two years, and I hate Honolulu, but you should have had a good time there.

Maui, Kaui and the Big Island are definitly more friendly places, and I highly recommend them as places to visit.

I'm rambling and spacy here, but I hope I made some sense.

Elonwy

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Just a comment about the last two posts that mentioned Mrs. Mays. We found those a couple months ago and my daughter loved them. A few weeks ago, I was buying more and noticed that the packages no longer say gluten free. I called the company and they told me that because they had changed suppliers of some of their ingredients, they are no longer gluten free.

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My all time favorite travel food is raw sprouted pumpkin seeds made by Go Raw. These are way superior to your average pumpkin seed :). If I'm starving and having blood sugar problems and I need protein, a handful of these does the trick.

Oh yeah, it's like $12 for one bag, but worth the investment if you're traveling. I find them at health food stores, but you can order them online

www.goraw.com

All of their products are gluten-free. The granola is great too.

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Guest cassidy
Just a comment about the last two posts that mentioned Mrs. Mays. We found those a couple months ago and my daughter loved them. A few weeks ago, I was buying more and noticed that the packages no longer say gluten free. I called the company and they told me that because they had changed suppliers of some of their ingredients, they are no longer gluten free.

thanks for telling me. I eat these every day. I never saw gluten-free on the packaging, but it was on the website. I'm going to check in to it again.

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To ELONWY:

I pretty much knew that was the reason in Honolulu......my uncle and aunt, physician and nurse from Florida, retired to Waikiki in the 60s and became very very close to the local population and in fact, a benefactor of many. They are both deceased now, but buried in the middle of Ouahu Is.

I have been told repeatedly that the other Islands are not like that. And I hope, someday, to visit the other Islands. I WILL take it up with Hilton Corp. even though It seems like they have so many big conferences that they don't really care if they lose one or the other.

It is very hard to book a conference at HIV (LOL, that's the acronym for Hilton Hawaiian Village!!), one has to have at least 9 months advance planning to get a slot.

So, they are not hurting for one tourist that's getting a prime executive beachfront room for $129/night in prime season (Spring Break week). They could easily do without me and my gluten issues! The conference arrangers are Fed. Gov types and are not likely to make a stink for one or three people either.....as individuals they are very sympathetic, but if asked to move the conference or complain on behalf of the whole group, they would definitely NOT do it.

I even have a hard time when at smaller meetings! They always LOVE to have pizza or subs for "bring-in" lunch and I sit their and stare at it - if it's sandwiches I eat the middle, always making a big mess on my plate.

I'm rambling now too!

ENUF

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Hey - my brother is getting married in November in Cabo San Lucas and I will be there Thursday through Sunday. We will be at a resort with some restaurants but not too likely we'll be running into town and grocery shopping. I have other food issues besides gluten (nightshades, shellfish, corn are the most prominent) and so am trying to strategize on what I can take with me by plane to subsist on!

I'm thinking:

Lara Bars, Organic Food bars

home made jerky

nuts

rice cakes

peanut butter

I am wondering if anyone can recommend anything highly portable I could take? I will try to take an insulated lunch pack with me - I think there are refrigerators in the hotel rooms. Does anyone know if there are any rules about bringing food into Mexico? That might sound odd, but I live in California and we have it seems a zillion rules about what you can bring in from out of state.

Thanks!

Stephanie - whose hoping not to starve while in Cabo... :)

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