This past weekend, my daughters had a dance competition that took us away from home for the entire weekend. We were spending the weekend in an unfamiliar city and in a hotel with no ability to cook our own foods. How did we keep our gluten free lifestyle? Eating away from home is a challenge for anyone. It can be costly to go out to eat for every meal and with a dance competition, the hectic schedule may make fitting time to eat difficult.
Luckily, we have been gluten free for over 5 years and have had some experience with staying gluten free while traveling. We also had been to this competition before, so we knew that the concession stand was not a gluten free friendly, or healthy food for that matter. Taking that knowledge, we bring our own foods with us when we travel by car. Some of the things we bring are a crock pot that we can make slow cooked meals in while we are out and about. There is nothing like coming back to the hotel and smelling a roast, soup or chili cooking as you walk in the door. If your room does not have a refrigerator, you may need to bring a cooler to keep meat and other refrigerated food cold.
We also bring fruits and vegetables and home made trail mix. These are easy to toss in a backpack or purse for when we are away from the hotel room. This weekend we took along some roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). They are so easy to make and only take about 15 minutes. We use our homemade season salt (recipe below) to ensure the quality of the seasoning and keep it gluten free, MSG free, and GMO free. Pumpkin seeds have so many health benefits. Here are a few
- Magnesium – 1/4 C. of pumpkin seeds supplies nearly half the daily recommended amount of magnesium, which is essential to a wide variety of vitally important physiological functions.
- Zinc-one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains more than 2 mg of zinc. Zinc is important for immunity, cell growth and division,sleep, mood, eye and skin health , and many more.
- Omega 3's– one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s . Omega 3's lower blood pressure, has a therapeutic effect on children with ADHD and autism, reduces risk for cognitive degeneration,and many other benefits.
- Prostrate– Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health.
- Anti-diabetic effect– Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.
- Benefit Postmenopausal Women-Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens which decreases blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
Another thing we bring is our own water from home. I will admit, I am a water prude. I have lived with well water for over 20 years, so I can't handle any chemical flavoring to my water. However, flavor is not the main reason we bring water from home. We are against all those chemicals added to our water. They are hazardous materials and should not be there, but that is a whole other topic to discuss later. Also, we leave less of an environmental footprint by using glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Not only do we not reduce more garbage, but we also avoid BPA and xenoestrogens which are found in plastics.
We have a longer trip coming up this summer. I may give you more tips on how to pack for long term traveling so you can maintain a gluten free , healthy lifestyle.
MSG, Gluten-free Season Salt (use organic when possible)
2 TBSP Salt (Sea salt)
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Tumeric
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Cornstarch (non-GMO)
Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and store cool, dry place.
Heat 1-2 tsp coconut oil on medium low, in a frying pan, (I like to use cast iron). Once it is melted, pour in organic, raw pumpkin seeds. Use the amount you want and adjust coconut oil, it should be enough to lightly coat but not make them dripping in oil. Stir constantly to prevent burning. You will cook until they turn golden brown. They will pop, somewhat similar to popcorn, this is normal. Once golden brown turn out on to a paper towel or flour sack towel to drain off any excess oil and then sprinkle with season salt to desired taste ( you could season with any flavor you want). Allow to cool some so you don't burn your tongue and then enjoy.