Destination: Allergen Friendly Skiing Vacation to Stowe, Vermont.
Travelling with food allergies takes some forethought, prepping and organizing…but then again, most trips do require some planning.
However, I don’t recall thinking too much about where my food was going to come from on a vacation before food allergies entered our lives.
Now…it’s all about the food!
Above is a picture of the assortment of food I pre-made and purchased for our trip. Plus extras: slow cooker, popcorn maker, cutting boards, paring knife, dish cloths and towels. It all fit between the cooler and the blue plastic bin.
Departure was at 7 a.m….my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Lemon Blueberry and Banana Bran Blueberry Muffins were the perfect breakfast to eat on the road…with a pit stop for coffee!
I packed a lunch for us to eat en route: Maple Leaf Natural Selections Black Forest Ham sandwich for Michael on my allergy friendly homemade bread, a Blueberry jam sandwich for Matthew with a cheese string, a ham and cheese sandwich for Andy and a NoNuts Golden Peabutter and Banana sandwich for me. Carrots, bananas, apples, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rice Krispie Treats were also packed to snack on.
This turned out to be perfect!
After dropping off our luggage at our ‘little cabin in the woods’, we headed to the local grocery store…Shaw’s.
We managed to find packaged sliced ham by Hillshire Farm that did not contain caramel or dairy products for Michael’s ham sandwiches for lunch.
The most exciting discovery was in the bread section!
There we found Hot Dog Buns by Freihofer’s which did not contain any dairy,egg or sesame ingredients.
Checking the U.S Food and Drug Administration website, I learned that the top 8 allergens that are required by law to be on the labelling are: milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. (Note sesame is left out)Manufacturers are not required by law to label anything about cross contamination with allergens. However, the FDA is ” developing a long-term strategy that will help manufacturers use voluntary allergen advisory labeling…”
Checking Freihofer’s website, they state that they “adhere to Good Housekeeping Practices as established by the FDA.” They take “abundant precaution to prevent cross contact of allergenic ingredients between batches…” They go on to “disclose that the following allergen ingredients are used in some of our manufacturing facilities and that inadvertent cross contact is remotely possible: milk, eggs, soy, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts (filberts).” To read the entire statement, click on Freihofer’s link above.
Do to the fact, that the Freihofer’s company seems to make an effort to avoid cross-contamination of the top 8 allergen ingredients, I felt comfortable letting Michael try one of their hot dog buns.
Of course he loved it!
I also found Lender’s New York Style Bagels, Weight Watchers English Muffins and Shaw’s Whole Wheat bread that did not contain dairy, eggs or sesame. Unfortunately, their sites do not indicate any allergy information or how their companies deals with cross-contamination of the top 8 food allergens. I was not as comfortable with Michael trying these products. (although he did try the bagel and english muffin without any problems)
I feel, further research, involving contacting the companies to enquire about the safety of their products for those with food allergies, would need to be undertaken, before I made a habit of letting Michael eat their products.
Question: How do you decide if you let your child try a product that does not disclose information about cross-contamination issues?
Upon our arrival, I filled up the kitchen sink with soapy water and proceeded to wash all the utensils, plates, bowls, glasses and pots and pans that we would be using in the kitchen. I used my kitchen spray, to clean the counters and table.
By this time, it was on to making the Chicken Fajitas. (recipe will be posted on Wednesday) They were quick and easy to prep, cook and serve. Not to mention yummy!
Michael enjoyed his with some President’s Choice Medium Salsa on a President’s Choice large size tortilla. (I brought these from home)
Breakfasts consisted of Cheerios for both Andy and Michael. Michael enjoyed his with Natura Rice beverage. While, Matthew and I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal…his with milk and pure maple syrup and mine with Natura Soy beverage and sliced banana.
Lunches were made and packed in a small cooler with an ice pack. Michael made his ham sandwich for the first few days and then moved into the Pita Chips with ham slices on the side. Andy made himself a ham sandwich, Matthew a grape jelly sandwich, (wish we had brought his Blueberry jam from home), and both had a cheese string. I had my NoNuts Peabutter sandwich with banana with some carrot sticks and an apple. Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert. Other days, I brought a Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Blueberry muffin with cheese string.
Once at the base of the mountain, we left the cooler in the car until lunch. On a sunny day, there are tables outside to eat. We ate our lunches inside on one of the many tables available. I even noticed a girl going around cleaning the tables with a cleaner. Never the less, we ate our lunches off the napkins the sandwiches were wrapped in.
We left our cooler in the cubbies (seen in the background) and picked it up after our day of skiing. Very much the honour system here…on the last day we forgot it and it was there the next day at guest services!
I have to say, bringing the slow cooker to cook our dinners slowly throughout the day was perfect!
Spaghetti with Ground Turkey Meat Sauce
I served the Spaghetti dinner with a salad, warmed up French stick made and brought from home and we had the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Pie for dessert. I served this the night Andy’s sister and kids stayed for dinner.
Pork Bourguignon with Salad and a glass of red wine.
Bringing along the marinade for the Chicken Fajitas, and the sauce for the spaghetti dinner allowed me to have more quality time with my family.
A little prep in the evening (sautéing the ground turkey, onion and garlic), in the morning (putting all the ingredients in the slow cooker for the spaghetti and cutting up the roast pork and mushrooms and mixing them with the other ingredients) and after a day skiing, (adding the potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots to the Pork Bourguignon, making a salad and baking the frozen Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Pie I brought from home)…et voila…dinner was served!
The last two nights were super easy…we just reheated leftovers!
I had been planning on going out for dinner on our last night but with all the leftovers it seemed too much of a waste…this way, we saved some money!
Besides, the boys were happy enough to stay in, watch Lord of the Rings and relax!
On the day of departure, we packed up our lunches and snacks…stopped for coffee and washroom breaks and were home in 7.5 hours…around 5 p.m.
The boys kept busy on their Ipods!
Once home and unpacked, (being Friday night) I whipped up a batch of quick pizza dough and thawed the pizza sauce…while Andy headed out for some mushrooms and onions.
Enjoying our pizza dinner we decided…this was a trip to remember!
Our family ski trip made me think back to the ski vacations I had with my family. My dad and I learned to ski together…he was in his early 50’s and I in my early 20’s. I never saw him so happy as when we were all together skiing on a mountain.
Skiing in Stowe with my boys…I now totally get how my father was feeling on those family ski vacations.
The memories we created will last a lifetime!
P.S. Michael experienced his very first hot dog the day after we got back.
A Schneider’s Country Naturals hot dog nestled in a Freihofer’s hot dog bun with a touch of Heinz Ketchup.
Michael’s verdict…”It tastes good!”
P.P.S. Lately, Michael has been talking the talk about starting to run. I believe, witnessing first hand ,his parents out skiing him…endurance wise…and the fact he had built up his endurance over the course of 4 days skiing, was the turning point.
Saturday he donned a pair of running shoes, took a puff of his Ventolin and set out for his first run. I followed closely on my bike to make sure he set a good pace for himself and his asthma was in check.
He had a hockey game later that evening…he actually felt a difference in his endurance and ability to breathe…he was pumped!
He was back out the next day…a little sore but not deterred in the least.
Michael’s goal: to sign up for the 2 km EpiPen Take Action Event on May 12, 2012 in Brooklin, Ontario.
Overall Vacation Verdict: Trip of a lifetime! Would do it all again in a pinch!
P.P.P.S. Click here to see the first post in the series of our trip.