Saturday, July 23, 2011

Canadian Rockies gluten, dairy and soy free!

I'm here in Banff, Alberta, on a cold morning in July.  Aren't crazy things supposed to happen on a cold day in July?

Traveling with my family.  So lovely.  Part relaxing, part frenetic, fascinating, frustrating, funny, and full of love.  We take an easy pace.  Usually don't get out of our hotel room before 11, and by the time we get anywhere we have to eat lunch before we tour or hike.  We spend the afternoon and early evening touring around, then eat dinner, then go back to the room for some cards, or a movie, maybe some swimming if the hotel has a pool.

So far we've been to West Edmonton Mall.  Wow.  That is a big mall, with lots of non-shopping attractions and huge food courts!  Stayed at the Fantasyland hotel in the mall, which was nice.  I asked the room service operator if they had anything gluten free, and she said, "I don't even know what gluten is..." so I just had to wing it and hope for the best.  Luckily I have not been diagnosed with celiac disease, and my food issues are "sensitivities" or "intolerances" at worst.  Gluten will definitely affect my GI tract, but I'm willing to deal with a little discomfort because of cross contamination or small hidden amounts while on vacation.  The alternative would be too burdensome and stressful for me.  However, one cannot survive on food court food for too long with sensitivities like these!  I needed good food!

World Waterpark--West Edmonton Mall
Evil Dave's--Jasper, AB
We "did" the mall in 24 hours.  Galaxyland, Ropes Quest, Santa Maria, World Waterpark, and eating.  Got on the road at 5pm to head to Jasper National Park.

Jasper was very GF friendly!  Went to Evil Dave's for dinner, and they had a gluten free menu.  I was so excited and felt so accommodated and accepted, like I wasn't a big hassle.  My husband and I split the evil diva salad and the malicious salmon entree, both delicious!  Next door to the restaurant is a whole foods/bulk grocery called Nutters that had a wide selection of gf products, bulk nuts and fruits for trail mix, almond milk, and strawberries.  At home, I have gf cereal with fruit, chopped almonds and almond milk for breakfast almost every day, so that is nice to have here.  A bit of fast, healthy, safe comfort food to start the day.  Also got some GF bread so I can have a sandwich with my family when we don't want to go out for something so heavy.

5th Bridge (finally!)--Maligne Canyon, Jasper NP

Tekarra Restaurant just south of Jasper town was wonderful for a fancy dinner.  They also have a gf menu, and were extremely accommodating.  We ordered all the gf appetizers on my menu (4) and a fabulous tomato salad.  The salmon trio was the best, but the spicy risotto with pickled fiddleheads was a fabulous surprise too!

Between eating, we hiked Maligne Canyon, saw lots of wildlife (about 5 female elk were hanging out just outside our cabin!), took a tour of the Columbian Icefields, drank glacier water, and drove down to Banff.  Here we have hiked Johnston Canyon, taken the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, peeked into the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, and hung out at the hotel playing a lot of cards and hitting the waterslides and indoor playground.  Douglas Fir Resorts is a very family friendly place.

In Banff, the healthy eating spot in vogue is Nourish Bistro.  It is completely vegetarian, but their menu is so diverse that it wasn't hard to find things even my kids (8 and 11 and picky!) would eat.  Everything on the menu was labeled wheat free or vegan, etc.  We ordered their nachos--27 ingredients, anything from strawberries to 10 kinds of beans to rice or soy cheese--they were delicious.  Isabella ordered edamame, which I couldn't eat, but they looked good and she and Michael finished them off.  The organic greens salad was just what it was.  Could have used more dressing for all those greens, but very healthy!

Nourish Bistro--Banff, AB

I have to say, I did have a little spell of a sore throat and a bit of nausea at the end of the night, however.  With all those ingredients on the nachos, maybe there was something I was sensitive to hidden in there.  Soybeans?  Or maybe I got some regular cheese by mistake (we ordered half dairy, half non).  Plus I purposefully ordered a cheeseburger (no bun) for lunch with very little immediate effect.  Surely it didn't reveal itself that much later?  Anyway, it didn't last long, and I feel good this morning.  Just hungry for more!

I didn't think I would be able to eat this well, this easily while traveling.  I thank the universe that my sensitivities aren't any worse, because a lot more effort would be required to be safe.  But my outlook has changed a bit and my stress level lowered after a conversation with a friend with Crohn's one day.  I said, "How do you deal with it?"  She said, "I just live with constant diarrhea..."  It got me thinking--I wouldn't want to do that, but living with a few symptoms now and then and just accepting that it's not the end of the world makes me much less stressed out about eating.

Today, some more time on the waterslides for the kids, and on to Lake Louise!  Wonder if they have any gf menus there?  Time for some research!
Lake Louise, Alberta

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