I just got home from a long weekend in New York. Yep, that’s me in the photo, relishing in the weird madness of Times Square, my plaid coat swimming in a sea of black jackets. This was my first trip to NYC, and let me tell you, I drank it up. Site-seeing and aimless wandering aside, the main reason for going was my appointment with Dr. Bernard Raxlen, a well-known LLMD who specializes in the treatment of tick-borne illnesses. The appointment was wonderful; the office was private and quiet, and he was supportive and knowledgeable. In short, it was a great relief to finally feel like I have answers to all those questions I had. I realized, once again, that I have a whole lot of stuff going on that I had learned to ignore or write off to “other things”, whatever I thought those things were, who knows. I now have a fist full of prescriptions to fill for antibiotics, thyroid medication, anti-yeast medication to add to my already full pill schedule. If you want to know more about my treatment, check out my post on my other blog, The Healing Journal. It feels amazing to have answers, finally.
But, as the Buddha said, all things in moderation; I also made sure to have lots and lots of fun. It was my first trip to New York, and I completely and totally fell in love.
I ran on adrenalin.
I absorbed New York big time. It is a city of many cities, each neighborhood unique. I was staying with a dear friend who lives near Columbia in the Upper West Side. He was a total darling, and gave me the grand tour. I’m a wanderer when I travel, not a planner, and he has the same approach, so we travelled together swimmingly. We went all over the city, hitting up his painting studio, checking out films in Harlem and Chelsea, hitting up all the tourist wonderment of Times Square and Rockafeller Center, and wandered over to the East Village for vintage shopping. We shared a table with a stranger at dinner, got invited to a party at his apartment that evening, attended the party, and had an amazing time. We wandered Chinatown, Little Italy, saw the South Sea Harbor, the site of the Twin Towers, and the Financial District. We walked through Central Park. I learned to use the public transit system there, even navigating it on my own! I combatted my blood sugar crashes by packing a ton of me-friendly snacks and carrying them around with me on our adventures (an extra big purse beats passing out anyday). I worked around my dietary restrictions by seeking out restaurants with menus I could negotiate (I love Google). I dragged myself up stairs, stairs and more stairs, taking breaks when I needed to (I get winded and totally exhausted with stairs these days…thanks, Lyme Disease). I had fun and felt totally confident with new people at that apartment party without drinking a drop of alcohol (I stopped drinking a couple years ago because it was making me feel terrible). I felt more like my old self again; adventurous, carefree, spontaneous.
Amidst all the fun I fit in my admissions phone interview with the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. I will hear this week regarding my acceptance - fingers crossed!!!
Of course, I wanted to provide you a round-up of my gluten free, allergy friendly culinary adventures. The hardest part about it, honestly, was asking questions at restaurants. New York has a huge immigrant population, and many of them work in food service - some of my servers and people working at the counters didn't speak English well, and my questions were misunderstood and required a lot of clarification. New York has tons of great choices for those of us with restrictions, so with a little homework, you have lots of options. So here goes, starting with the dinner I packed in my carry-on for the flight there...
ON THE ROAD CHICKPEA SALAD (gluten free, vegan)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
handful parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
pinch dry mint
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp coriander
splash ume vinegar and olive oil
optional: other veggies, other spices
Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and take with you. Lasts well unrefrigerated for up to 4-5 hours. Delicious!
Side notes: I wanted to go to Just Salad (another salad place with GF callouts on the menu), but came across Chop't first. Walking 3 more blocks and navigating Rockafellar Center on a busy Saturday just to get a salad when Chop't was right in front of me seemed silly. but next time, I'm going to try Just Salad; based on their menu, they just seem more GF aware.
Great 24/7 market with an amazing deli and hot bar, salad bar, loads of fresh produce, and a huge amount of specialty items and GF grocery offerings. I got the grilled carrots from the hot bar, and it was amazing. Other ready-made basics like rice with veggies, roasted asparagus, sweet potatoes, all ready to go. This is the kind of place you and your friends/family could go to for a quick meal, regardless of who can or can't eat what. Plus, it was cheap - I got a container of roasted carrots, 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, and a HUGE zucchini for about $3.30. This place was incredible, so many speciality items, so many fresh veg, such fresh deli options - AWESOME!
A few other places I came across that looked hopeful...next time!
Rice (rice-based dishes)
Rice to Riches (mix-n-match rice pudding - everything includes dairy and eggs, so it doesn't work for me - but everything looked GF, so if you tolerate eggs and dairy, go go go!)
Great resource for dining in NYC with dietary restrictions: Allergic Girl
There are many many many more restaurants in NYC with GF and allergy-friendly offerings, this is just scratching the surface. This link has a few additional offerings. Do some research, and see what else you can find!
- Cashew Cookie LaraBar (dates and cashews - that's it!)
- Enjoy Life Sunbutter Crunch Bars (these are a bit of a cheat, with both cane juice and xanthan gum...but I seem tolerate them and don't have any reactions, so in cases like this, they are useful)
- homemade Nut Free Super Food Trail Mix
- homemade Power Nuggets, my answer to Chunks of Energy (this recipe will be in my cookbook...stay tuned!)
- homemade energy bar of quinoa flakes, flax, sunflower seeds, and shredded carrot (I'm working on perfecting this recipe....)
- raw cashews
- rice cakes
- a few homemade muffins (packed them frozen, perfect for breakfasts!)
- dehydrated split pea soup mixture (mix with hot water, done!)
- UltraClear Plus protein powder and a small mason jar (put the powder in the jar, throw your bag, and just add water when you want it!)
- a big bag of me-friendly tea bags
- cornstarch-free wasabi powder: to make my own for spicy dressings/sauces at restaurants
- dulse flakes: adds flavor and nutrition on restaurant salads, veggies, etc
- a bag of baby carrots
- a bag of snow peas (came in handy on my unexpected flight delay!)
All in all, it was a great success. I loved New York. I need to go back in March for a follow up with my doctor, and hope I am feeling well enough at that time to do more site seeing. I feel my body crashing now from running at such a high velocity for 4 days, but it was worth every second.
I am working on a post about how to travel gluten free and allergy free, so stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy a few photos from my trip. If you want to see more, check out my photostream on Flickr.