Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Superfoods: The Convenient Option For Traveling With Food Allergies

Lately, I have become a permanent fixture at either Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles or Whole Foods. I don't go to places like Panera because I cannot eat there (everything is contaminated with soy or peanuts) and at Starbucks, I only have a menu choice of 1 item....buttered popcorn. I stare longingly into the Boulangerie case hoping that some soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free buttery piece of yummyness, hopefully with chocolate (without soy-lecithin, of course) just magically appears with a magical sound effect of what sounds like a herald of angels singing. Because yes, that would be heaven. Unfortunately, as someone living with a soy allergy in the 2nd largest soy-producing country in the world, I'm in my own version of hell.

Nope. I open my eyes and its still there. Gluten, soy and nuts everywhere.

I'm usually close enough to home that I can go have lunch, but when deadlines loom, I really don't have time to cook or prepare. 

I completely believe that every food or drink you take in is healing or killing your body. As an example, just because someone else can handle eating or drinking dairy, doesn't mean that you will be fine after eating that cheesy Italian food you've been craving.

I think all of us with food-allergies or severe gluten-intolerance can relate to this.
Some cravings are intense and for some of us, they are a losing battle that makes us sick more often than we care to admit. So I decided to get to the root of my cravings and hopefully understand why they happen in the first place.

I've realized that when I'm craving certain things, its for one of three reasons:

  •  My brain is sending a signal that my body is in need of particular nutrients that food might contain. (An example of this is chocolate, which is high in fat and magnesium, two things many people either crave or are lacking.) 
  • My body might contain excess yeast (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for some of you, but if you have food allergies or crave soda or sugar often, you likely have it, too) due to inflammation from allergies or highly-acidic foods and I need to cut down on things I'm addicted to, like coffee, brown rice (which I use for everything since I'm very strictly gluten-free), steak, tuna, salmon...(I know you're thinking, "Wait, aren't some of those things good for you?" Yes, but as with anything, in moderation. Too much protein is very acidic, hence why its important to fill up on green leafy veggies like kale or organic salads as much as possible!) Or maybe its a signal to increase my probiotics...
  • In the case of high-fat cravings, you might notice these might happen when you're especially stressed-out. The reason that we crave fat during times of stress is basically because certain high-fat/high-sugar/high-salt foods trigger a dopamine response similar to an addiction to heroin! When we stress out, we naturally crave a 'high' which is what a lot of junk food produces...

So recently, I discovered Superfoods. Although I've known about certain ones like coconut, chia seeds and flaxseeds for years, many of the berries were new to me. I've also started raiding the shelves of greens powders in Whole Foods and found that adding two packets is extremely convenient for turning an Organic Apple juice into lunch. I add two of these to a glass bottle of apple and I'm good to go for several hours, as long as I have some superfood berries handy to munch on. Note: Don't ever use orange because the acids will ruin the health benefits of the greens. Apple has a neutral PH.

How much more convenient can you get? Sure beats driving past all of those fast-food joints you can't go in to. Be forewarned, though. Between these green powder drinks, superfoods and healthy snacks, you run the risk of turning into a narcissistic health-food junkie snob, because once you think of all the foods you used to love at places like Taco Bell or Burger King that you can no longer eat, you think, "How many vitamins and nutrients were actually in any of those foods?" The answer pops up on your mental screen like a strobe light. Almost zero, in comparison. Really.

Then you think about these greens, the probiotics and the healthy superfruits while taking note of how you feel. And you realize, "I am Popeye. I am stronger than Popeye, because kale has double the nutrients of spinach and I drink kale in my smoothies."

 An homage to the man who made us eat our veggies.

We could learn a lot from Popeye; not only did he eat his spinach to man up to the big Brutus, but he was zen, too. "I am what I am and that's all that I am." We need to realize we are who we are, no matter what our physiology or biological makeup. We are not superhuman. We are different from the rest of the population and should not be taking on the same dietary habits as them. We have to listen to our bodies and how we feel.

Now, going back to my greens experiments, I used several packets daily for several days to see which ones really had a noticeable effect. My favorite thus far is Amazing Grass 100% Raw Reserve Green,Sea Vegetables Probiotics Powder-30 Servings, 8.5-Ounce  Its soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and nut-free. (I discovered it at Whole Foods a year ago and was devastated to find they stopped carrying it; now they only carry the Berry flavored one which tastes like Flintstones vitamins and makes me gag). The Raw Reserve Original is now found through Amazon online (which I order religiously) and I usually replace one meal per day with two servings of it on an empty stomach with organic apple juice. Some days I make a smoothie with it (1 banana, vanilla rice milk, tablespoon chia seeds, stevia packet, ice) or variations of that. It contains a huge amount of probiotics to help increase your immunity and detox which also helps put your immune-system into overdrive. I definitely notice a reduction of reactivity to environmental allergies and even my milder food allergies. It contains over 25 billion live probiotics (per serving) along with chlorella, spirulina and other sea veggies which powerfully detox and provides tons of minerals that will help alleviate allergic symptoms. I also use it diligently when I have a reaction, along with my allergy meds, of course and it greatly helps to heal inflammation. 

Just recently, I discovered Amazonian superfoods like goji berries in Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Trail Mix (The trail mix does contain cashews, which surprisingly is one of the tree nuts I can have, so anyone else, please do not try if you know you're allergic!) You might have heard about Gojis but have you ever tried them? I did, for about a day, but then found out they make me super tired.....hmm, was I allergic to them? It turns out, they are part of the 'Nightshade family' of fruits and vegetables, which I try to stay away from because I found I have a delayed allergic reaction with eczema around my lips 1-2 days later and also find it lowers my immune system, similar to my reaction to dairy. The 'Nightshade family' includes tomatoes and eggplant, which although I still eat on occasion (because they never really gave me bad reactions and were not picked up in my allergy blood tests) make my mouth itch. So no more Goji Berries for me.

My next superfruit was Navitas Naturals Organic Goldenberries also known as the Incan berry, which I am now super addicted to I literally cannot get enough. If you were ever a Sour Patch Kids fan, you will LOVE these berries. They're packed with vitamin C, fiber and have 2 grams of protein per serving which blows my mind, since berries never have protein. They look like yellow raisins but taste nothing like raisins (ew...) they're sour but also very sweet, so just a handful my candy cravings are gone!

 Then last but not least, we have cacao nibs and maca powder. Cacao nibs are basically pure unadulterated chocolate before its even processed. It contains over 300% more antioxidants than cocoa. Navitas Naturals sells two versions (although they do have a warning that the facility does process tree nuts, so if you're anaphylactic to tree-nuts I wouldn't chance it. I'm highly allergic but only anaphylactic to peanuts and tofu, so I used it and was ok) one that is sweetened with cane syrup and the other which is unsweetened. Since I'm an all-or-nothing girl, I go for the unsweetened version and add it to my smoothies. The other day I created a smoothie recipe that could rival any chocolate shake you ever had. Serious.

But before I give you that recipe, let me tell you about Maca Powder. It is a superfruit which tastes very similar to caramel, so it gives that flavor to anything you add it to. It contains tons of vitamin C and helps to regulate female hormone levels. For this reason, it was used by Peruvians for regulating periods, alleviating menopause and improving libido for both men and women. (Disclaimer: It should NOT be taken by anyone who takes Warfarin or who takes diabetes medications since it lowers blood sugar levels. As with any supplement, consult a doc before using.)

Let me tell you what this Maca stuff does. After 10-15 mins of drinking it (and giving tall glasses of shakes to my parents) I was sweating like I just went super-fast for ten minutes on the elliptical machine and apparently, upon some questioning, so were they. So yes, start slow...1/2 tsp at first, then work your way up to 1 so that you see how your body reacts. Upon a Google search, I found out Maca does increase metabolism and may increase fat-burning during exercise. I love the taste of it so I plan on using it as my post-workout snack.

Maya's Cacao Maca Shake

2 bananas (I like them slightly green--healthier)

3/4 cup unsweetened Organic Rice Milk (I use Rice Dream)

1/4 cup Organic Creamed Coconut (gives the milkshake texture. If you don't have or have allergy to coconut you can use rice milk)

1/4 cup Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Nibs, 8-Ounce Pouches

1/2 tsp Organic Raw Maca Powder

1 tsp Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract  

2 packets Organic Stevia

1 pinch Celtic Sea Salt  

4 ice cubes


Blend it all together until all looks smooth. Enjoy!


Last but not least, as some of you know, I'm going to be at this years FABlogCon 2014 Event, speaking about Intimacy and Food Allergies. Along with all these superfoods, I'm trying to figure out what else I could possibly bring with me to carry around while on the plane as well as at the event in case I am unsure of what to eat.

I'm allergic to specific tree-nuts like hazelnuts and brazil nuts but I am perfectly okay eating almonds and cashews. So for those of you who aren't, feel free to skip over this next paragraph.

I recently found the best granola bars I've ever tasted, hands down. Although Health Warrior Banana Nut Chia Bars may be tiny for their price (I bought them on sale 2/3.00 @ Whole Foods) they are so filling because chia seeds contain so much fiber, they expand to twelve times their size! (Because of this, make sure you drink lots of water). Not only that but these small bars also contain protein to keep you mentally sharp. And since they are sticky/gooey, you don't have to worry about contaminating the air space of others (but definitely wash your hands) who are anaphylactic to almonds or cashews, which it contains. There is no soy, no peanuts and they are 100% gluten-free!

So hopefully this post makes you all realize we do have so many choices of foods for travel, its just a matter of finding them! As you discover any new superfoods you love, feel free to share below!


  1. I feel like I need to read your blog with a pen and notebook next to me! The more info I get, the more depressed I am, but at the same time, I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time. This post is, of course, very interesting and informative, however, I got stuck on the part where you talked about yeast. Holy moley, this is the first time I have come across this. I keep swearing to everyone that I'm growing crud behind my ears. Docs, mom, etc. keep telling me it's soap/shampoo residue. I find this hard to believe as I am scrubbing behind them multiple times a day. I have felt that it's a yeast issue, but no one seems to get past the product residue. Do you have more info posted on the yeast issue? Could that be my problem? (I also get weird clusters of bumps on my earlobes but that might just be a product reaction like the rest of my bumpy face ��)

  2. Angie,

    Sorry it took a couple of days to reply, but yes! That sounds itchy and annoying. =( Yeast is caused from PH changes in the body which happen from allergic reactions. I am definitely going to write a post about this either on here or on my new sister site, which I'm setting up at www.soyderivatives.com so bookmark that site, too!

    What I would recommend now, which kills yeast within a couple of days is Oreganol Spray. Its the diluted form of Mediterranean Oregano Oil which is highly effective for killing yeast. If it is a yeast issue, the spray should get rid of it if you use a few times daily in affected areas for about a week. Here is the link: http://amzn.to/1IFMWDl You can also buy Oreganol P73 which is the concentrated form of it (I keep it in vitamin stash as immune system booster and to keep from flu/colds). If you get this, it MUST be diluted or it might burn on skin...so 2-3 drops in 1/4 cup organic coconut or organic olive oil.

    Another way to immediately get rid of yeast is Tea Tree Oil, but it could be too strong for sensitive skin. If you choose this route, use only 2-3 drops of Organic 100% Tea Tree Oil and dilute it in about 1/4 cup of organic coconut oil or olive oil. This mixture should help get rid of it, too within days, however test a tiny area on your hand first to be sure you're not allergic. Never EVER ingest tea tree oil, it is toxic internally.

    Hopefully one of these ideas help. And if not, definitely see a dermatologist. Please remember, I am not a doctor or physician and anything I recommend is at your own risk! I can only give info based upon my experience, however everyone's body reacts differently.

    Thank you again for sharing and commenting! Oh yeah, FYI I added citric acid to the derivatives list in case you didn't catch it...another derivative to look out for!

    Wishing you all the best and lots of hugs and hopefully some healing!