Eating out for Lunch

Happy New Year!

It looks like we’ve successfully rang in the new year… I had a great Christmas, quiet but not boring, wintery but not too frigid, and most importantly, everyone came down with the flu AFTER Boxing day (actually, I haven’t gotten it yet – thank you thank you thank you).

The Husband surprised me this year by wrapping a couple of gifts for me that were a nod to  my ongoing efforts to follow a low FODMAP diet.

The Mother-In-Law lives in a Seniors residence, and the family often takes her out for lunch.  We go to a typical pancake house, which makes it a challenge for me to select something that’s gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and low FODMAP.  I don’t want to make a spectacle out of ordering, so I managed to come up with something that’s become ‘the usual’ for me.

My 'usual' for lunch out with the family.  I bring my own dressing!
My ‘usual’ for lunch out with the family. I bring my own dressing!

I order a side salad (often a regular salad is entire head of lettuce and that’s just crazy), checking to see that no shredded cheese or onion is added.  Usually, a side salad at these places is pretty predictable: head lettuce, grated carrot, tomato, maybe some shredded red cabbage.  All ok.   For protein, I ask for a side of bacon.  Hold the dressing.

I bring my own dressing – I make it up at home and bring it with me.  A real challenge to get it there without marinating the inside of my purse!

I picked up a ‘Dressing to Go’ container at my local grocery store – it works pretty well, but is a pain to put the top on – the container itself is soft silicone so pressing down on the lid results in a geyser of the contents…

 

Handy, but be careful getting the lid on!
Handy, but be careful getting the lid on!

The Husband, bless him, has been paying attention to my cursing and picked these travel containers up at a shop that specializes in camping/backpacking gear.  They aren’t supposed to leak, and will carry just enough dressing for a lunch-sized salad.

Travel Containers - from a backpacking specialty store.
Travel Containers – from a backpacking specialty store.

The dressing I make is typically (and these measurements are approximate, I just eyeball it):

Gutsy Broad’s Dressing To Go

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp orange juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

It’s incredibly yummy over the bacon and greens, and also works well over tuna on the salad (I admit to bringing a small pop-top tin of tuna to a restaurant if I’m looking for a change).

It’s always a relief to figure out another piece of the ‘living with IBS’ puzzle.  Eating out for lunch – my solution isn’t a fancy solution, but it’s doable, stress free and lets me join in on family time.

Travelling to New York City

Travelling to New York City!

The Husband and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year, and decided to treat ourselves to our first trip to NYC.  As always, I’m nervous about travelling with IBS, but I’m determined to not let it hold me hostage (see Manifesto #3; I will be free ).  Travelling to New York City was The Husbands idea, but I was pretty confident that I could make it work, now that I have a few travel strategies in place.

Packing and preparing for our trip was a bit of an ordeal….  What clothes should I bring?  What will we want to see and do?  Our friends and family jumped in with many helpful suggestions – unfortunately MOST of these suggestions centered around restaurants.  At first I didn’t mind, but after being told of the millionth pastry shop that we simply ‘must try’, I had a little snit and mild panic attack.  My wonderful, supportive, patient husband sat me down – and helped me see that we were going to NYC to:

A) celebrate our anniversary, and

B) SEE (not eat) New York City.

So with my priorities straightened out, I packed my negligee and supplies for ‘camping’ in a hotel.  My hotel kitchen kit holds granola bars (FODMAP Free), an empty lunch kit, plastic cutlery, a few Ziploc baggies, napkins, some dish soap, and for my first few hours in a new city, some rice cakes, organic peanut butter, travel sized almond milk and tea bags.  OK here’s the thing:  I know we are staying in a nice hotel in the middle of civilization, but I never assume that I can quickly get my hands on the basics.  And I’m not a good person if I can’t have a cup of tea (with milk) and a small breakfast FIRST THING in the morning.What I need to prep the basics in my hotel room.

WE had a fabulous time!  Our hotel was new and bright, we were located close to Times Square and found the city to be overwhelmingly awesome – so much to see and do and the people we met were very friendly (thanks to the complete stranger that helped us figure out the subway!).

Our first morning we were able to find a well-stocked grocery store – The Food Emporium – where I could load up on peanuts, rice crackers, safe deli meat, fruit and more.  We stocked our little hotel room fridge and I was good to go!

'ours' was located on 810 Eighth Ave.

My breakfasts were peanut butter on rice cakes with a strong cup of tea.  Lunches were mostly granola bars, bananas, nuts – but I did order a lovely salad with grilled chicken (just olive oil for dressing) at Le Pain Quotidien in Central Park one afternoon.  I had planned on being a bit more daring for dinners, but honestly, we were so exhausted from hiking around Manhattan all day that we both enjoyed a coffee-table picnic in the hotel room, catching whatever movie was on in the evening.  Munching on sliced turkey, sharing grapes and sipping a bottle of wine was a surprisingly romantic dinner!

All natural ingredients - safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.
All natural ingredients – safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.

 

We did try out an Irish Pub for dinner once (we stopped in  earlier that day, asking if they had baked potatoes available on the menu – only later did I realize the humour of doubting an Irish Pub would serve potatoes).  I brought a (pop-top) tin of tuna, ordered a baked potatoe, green salad and olive oil on the side – no, it’s not fancy, but it keeps my tummy happy!

Thanks to my cautious eating, I felt awesome the entire trip – we did so much sightseeing and covered a lot of territory.  When I asked The Husband if he really was ok with not eating out at fancy New York restaurants he looked at me like I was daft: “Do you know how much money we’re saving?!”.

Just being a regular tourist!
Just being a regular tourist!

So, travelling to New York City can be done if you have IBS!   Here’s what worked for me:

  • Bringing my emergency kit purse with a change of clothes – this is especially comforting on the flight.  I didn’t need it, but feeling in control keeps the tummy calm.
  • Making sure our hotel had a bar fridge
  • Bringing my ‘hotel kitchen’ kit
  • finding a grocery store close to the hotel
  • I did try to google ‘NYC FODMAP friendly restaurants’ but didn’t get much that was helpful
  • Maintaining the perspective that I’m travelling to see and do.  Not eat.
  • Having a plan for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and not relying on spur of the moment choices.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary and a big treat for us to see this magnificent city.  I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary gift….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUTSY BROAD’S SIMPLE SUMMER LUNCH SALAD

 

I started following the FODMAP diet in the winter and as the weather changes I’m finding that I have to scramble to find something suitable for warm days.  This has become one of my fast, go-to lunches –  I usually have the ingredients on hand and it’s simple to prepare.  

 

This FODMAP friendly recipe serves 1, but can easily be doubled (or more!).  I’m planning on packing it for a lunch at work this week, will probably throw a frozen juice box to sit beside the salad so I don’t have to worry about the tuna going bad. 

 

Gutsy Broad’s Simple Summer Lunch Salad

 

  •       ½ can chunked or flaked tuna, drained (I usually save the other half for another salad later in the week)
  •       1 medium tomato diced (picked up from a farmers market or your garden will improve the taste immensely)
  •       Bowl of shredded lettuce, any kind or blend (that is FODMAP friendly).  (I like to chop mine into little bits – I hate trying to awkwardly fit an entire leaf in my mouth.) 
  •       Salt and pepper
  •       Olive oil – the best quality you can afford.  I have a small bottle of expensive olive oil that only I can use, and just for this salad.

 

I basically combine the ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on to taste.  Don’t drizzle or sprinkle too lightly – think of how much salad dressing you’d normally toss a salad with.

 Tuna Salad

 I don’t like eating cold salad, and have even warmed the tuna slightly in the microwave first.  There’s no carbs in this recipe, but I usually have enough with breakfast or dinner, so missing out at lunch is no big deal. 

TOP 10 Ingredients in My Pantry

 

My Top 10 Ingredients (that I always have in my pantry)

 

When I started out trying to follow the FODMAP diet I had already identified a few foods that I needed to replace or learn to live without.  However, as I started to get better at reading labels I was totally blown away by how many processed products have hidden ingredients.   I love cooking, but I hate the hassle of always having to read labels and always having to prepare something from scratch. 

 

These items represent the safest of my safe list.  I almost always have them in my pantry cupboard – if you are starting out on a FODMAP diet, take the time to find these items in a store, clear a shelf and start your ‘safe shelf’:

 

Top 10 Ingredients that I always have in my pantry:

 

1:  Olive oil

2:  Salt and Pepper

3:  Aylmer Accents Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (no garlic!)

4:  Rice pasta

5:  Egg Replacer

6:  Quinoa

7:  Canned Tuna

8:  Rice

9:  GF cake mix

10:  Dairy free chocolate chips

 Chocolate Chips  Alymers tomatoes

 

You will note that there aren’t any items that would be kept in the fridge or in the fruit bowl.  That’s for another list.   I probably will get some flack for putting in the Gluten Free cake mix and chocolate chips, but I gotta have something sweet from time to time.  I’ve found some dairy free chocolate chips and can make myself some respectable chocolate chip cookies  using the cake mix – having these in the freezer really saves me when I’ve got a chocolate craving !

 

Looking through this list I think: Good heavens… this really is the most boring ingredient list in the history of ingredient lists…!  Obviously I need to break out of my shell and try a few new products….