We recently returned from a fantastic family vacation to Austin, Texas—but of course, there’s no such thing as a complete vacation when dealing with multiple severe food allergies. There was plenty of swimming, sight-seeing, basking in the warm Texas air and hanging out with friends… but we still had to do all the usual grocery shopping and cooking everything from scratch, and restaurants weren’t really part of the equation.
AND we couldn’t find a few of our safe brands or items. AND for half the trip we were in an Airstream trailer rental cooking with just a hot plate and a microwave and a few basic utensils and dull knives… I ended up needing to buy cheap measuring cups and mix up pancakes in cereal-sized bowls.
AND it was awesome, actually. We ate delicious food and saved a ton of money. I had to be extra-creative and thrifty with my meal planning—like not buying too many specialty condiments or spices we wouldn’t use up in just two weeks—and improvise and adapt my recipes for single-burner cooking with minimal tools.
I also had to relax my nutritional standards when I couldn’t find any safe whole wheat flour… there were quite a few Bisquick pancakes (General Mills labels for our allergens and we made them with dairy-free milk and applesauce instead of eggs) consumed for the duration:
As well as some King Arthur gluten-free pancakes (we had free coupons as an apology for the misleading information we had received about their wheat flours, which turned out to have possible sesame contamination), which were tasty but did NOT look like the picture on the box—perhaps because we had to make them with applesauce instead of eggs.
But I digress. Salsa.
This trip for us was all about the homemade tacos and salsa. But without my broiler and food processor, I couldn’t make my usual fire-roasted garlicky tomato salsa. So here’s my quick, on-the-road chopped version… I must have made it four or five times in two weeks.
- 1 15 oz. can allergy-friendly diced tomatoes (fire-roasted are best—we like the Muir Glen ones with garlic added as well)
- ½ - 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced finely
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced finely
- ½ white onion, diced and rinsed (red or yellow onions work in a pinch)
- 1-2 tomatillos, diced (optional)
- handful of cilantro, chopped
- a dash of apple cider vinegar
- a pinch of salt
- Chop and mince and dice ingredients as directed...
- Mix in a bowl or bag—whatever is handy.
- Enjoy with allergy-friendly tortilla chips (we use the Simply Tostitos plain flavors) or on tacos.
Safe sourcing ideas:
DISCLAIMER: Please proceed with caution, read labels, check with companies yourself and use these allergy-friendly sourcing ideas as a starting place only. These are the options that work for our particular family and our daughter’s allergies and sensitivities as of the time of this writing. Ingredients and labels and cleaning practices can change at any time without warning.
- Our go-to allergy-friendly canned tomato is Muir Glen (part of General Mills, who labels for all our allergens). We especially like the fire-roasted diced tomatoes with no added salt, and the ones with green chilies already added. (Or if you had to—they sell garlic cilantro salsa, but where’s the fun in that?)
- Our go-to allergy-friendly tortilla chips are Simply Tostitos.
Here’s a typical meal we ate in Texas—these are zucchini and mushroom tacos with homemade barbecue sauce, served with brown rice, corn, salsa and guacamole.
We even baked bread and made safe tamales from fresh masa on the trip (oh my goodness—the BEST amazing deliciousness!)—but more on that and the recipe info later…
I was determined to just enjoy making and eating the food and NOT resent having to cook on my vacation… and it made for a really relaxing family trip. We were so sad when we had to leave!
P.S. In fact, in case you’ve wondering where I’ve been lately, the trip to Texas involved hanging out with lots of sewing friends, and I’m doing the Me-Made-May sewing challenge over on my other blog, so I’ve been on a bit of a sewing and knitting binge lately and neglecting some of my usual kitchen experimentation.