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We Were Away From The Prefab : Alpha Gal High Histamine Intolerance Traveling Tips and Hot Logic Mini Review

All is quiet at the passive solar off grid prefab house this week!

I wasn't going to post this week because we were away from the off grid passive solar prefab house... back in my old stomping grounds o' NEW YORK CIT-TAAAAAAAAY!

Yes, I said I wasn't going to post. But all that changed when I had posted some NYC pictures on my off grid prefab instagram account, and another family reached out:

Before you read this traveling-with-alpha gal post, if you have alpha gal and high histamine intolerance, I recommend you read my first apha gal post to educate you on hidden mammal triggers, safe food lists, and all kinds o' edu-ma-cation. 

I also recommend joining this group for alpha gal support. The people there are fantastic and informative.

So. This blog post was brought to you by New. Yawk. CIT-TAAAAAAY... and dedicated to the N's, who I hope have tons of fun on their trip to the city as we did.

Here is a link to my "What To Do In NYC During The Holidays" idea board in case it helps you, too! Click away! I also recommend doing New York Sundays through Wednesdays this time of year.

With drumrolls, majorettes, and lots of tossed (environmentally friendly) glitter, here are my thoughts on how to keep yourself safe, traveling with alpha gal / high histamine intolerance: 
Are you excited? I am!
You are going to need a cute backpack purse, a Hot Logic Mini, the Foursquare app, safe snacks, and always, lots of questions.
Don't panic, folks. Y'all, we've got this
travelling with alpha gal and
high histamine intolerance thang HANDLED!

Fear of cross-contamination with alpha gal, and our child's high histamine intolerance (where she can't eat anything aged-think: leftovers. Or making food the night before to feed her the next day when traveling.) led us to purchase a Hot Logic Mini.

The Hot Logic Mini changed our alpha gal high histamine lives. If you have alpha gal or high histamine intolerance, I can not recommend this tool more to cook meals while traveling. 

Wait. You can cook with a Hot Logic Mini?

Some nice New Yawkers were
giving these out FREE!

Earlier this year we had traveled with our newly-diagnosed alpha gal high histamine gal and it was hard. First we drove two hours (while she nibbled on snacks in the car) to go to a wedding. While the ceremony (beautifully) progressed, she became hungry. There is no access to kitchens at catered events, and we couldn't risk cross-contamination of any ingredient with anything a caterer might offer, so we just fed her... more snacks. No matter how creatively I packed, at the end of the day, the kid had just eaten... snacks. When we were finally home, late at night, after an exhausting but happy day, what did she want?
"I would like my hot dinner now, please..."

Here's what the Hot Logic Mini means for you: 
You can cook on the train. You can cook in a car. You can leave to do fun stuff a few hours and come back and instead of freaking out about what to make your hungry exhausted alpha gal child... you can hand her a hot meal because while she was trudging around the city, your Hot Logic Mini cooked her a hot meal. You can pack your Hot Logic Mini, go somewhere (a friend's house? Wedding? Business meeting?), plug it in and have a hot healthy meal whenever you want versus living on... snacks.

Staying in an AirBnB vs. hotel helps greatly as you have access to a kitchen and can safely cook your own food. Don't worry so much about lugging up EVERYTHING as you can always find a grocery store with an organic aisle. The only food items I bring with me are rice, some oatmeal, and fruit / snacks for the trip.

Her alpha gal backpack in the
Union Square market crowds.
We all took turns wearing it.

A backpack makes it so easy to carry your essentials in, so that they are with you as you need them, wherever. Now if you stuffed all this into a random bag or purse not only would it be all jumbled, but you'd be lugging this weight across the city on yer elbows! Moving around, out and about, with a small backpack in the city is SO much easier to travel than with an awkward purse or bag. That's right, sling it on don't carry it on one shoulder- you barely notice the weight is there, yet it looks sleek and like any other New York Person Who Likes Stylish Backpack Purses. You move like a minnow through the sea o' pedestrians! Your arms stay the same length! The tourists part as you confidently stride through 'em!

Backpack contents:
  • Side pocket: traveling size bottle of Dr. Bronners (or any plant-based liquid soap) to wash hands with (and dishes when at friend's houses/ hotel /out and about)
  • Front pocket: epis and emergency inhaler (note to always check ingredients in medicine to make sure they are not mammal!!!)
We usually have smaller soap bottles
but she lost it one day so could
only find a medium size of Dr. Bronner
until we got back home

  • Sea Salt grinder (any safe salt vs. filtered through bone char): many high histamine / alpha-gal people need more salt and more water than others)
  • WATER: Thermos of water (safe vs. filtered through bone char) half-filled so it's not too heavy but so you can quench thirst on the go. Also carry a list of safe water you can buy in delis in case you don't want to lug around a thermos. Distilled water is safe, which you can always find a gallon of in any grocery store. Reverse osmosis or ceramic filtered waters are safe. Polar Springs, Poland Springs, Propel Flavored, Fiji, Smart Water, Dasani, Crystal Geyser (sold on Amtrak trains, which we will be taking) is safe (but always check for yourself!).
  • Fork, spoon neatly tucked into another side pocket that are washed in plant-based detergent
  • Small roll of unbleached, recycled toilet paper (sometimes she just stuffs a wad in each coat pocket too for ease and to be discrete): many alpha gal people react to the bleach in toilet paper. If you think you have a UTI or are irritated down there, switch toilet paper and see if it helps!
  • Inside pocket: sponge to wash anything she needs in case she drops the fork or needs a restaurant glass- you have a sponge and safe soap to re-wash anything a restaurant gives you to make sure it's safe and not washed in mammal.
  • Cute cloth napkins / potholder if you can fit it to open up your hot hot hot container from the Hot Logic Mini (because it is HOT!)
  • Alpha gal safe toothpaste and toothbrush 
  • Small cutting board and knife because if you have high histamine you want to keep fruit whole until you use it vs. pre-cut fruit and veggies.
Alpha gal: No thanks.

Carry bag: (I usually bring lots of snacks of fruit, etc. so have a small cloth grocery bag in my hand getting on the train too) Fruit, small bags of cereal and dry snacks, non-refridgerated non-carrageen almond milk if traveling for breakfast.

  • Rolls of unbleached, recycled toilet paper as much as you need for the trip (one roll lasts days for one person but I always pack one in the backpack, at least two in the suitcase)
  • Plant based shampoo
  • Sheets, towel, washcloth washed in plant based detergent (or bring detergent and wash if you have access to washer)
  • Your safe pan, spatula, knife (we have one each dedicated to our alpha gal girl)
  • Safe rice, oatmeal, and a fave alternate to rice like lentils. That way on Day 1 you don't have to stress about safe groceries, any higher-end deli will have organic frozen peas or corn and hopefully a safe chicken breast with vegetarian-fed feed and organic fresh veggies. Then on Day 2 if you need to find a Whole Foods or organic grocery store. In large cities they are EASY to find no matter where you are!
Here's where the Hot Logic Mini comes into play as a crucial traveling tool:
Hot Logic Mini Notes:
  • Get TWO stainless steel boxes (make sure the top is steel too, much more durable! I just use my kid's lower level of her bento box she used for school and also found a great one at a grocery store). If you are buying new, rectangular is best. Hot Logic Minis can accommodate food containers up to 8.75"W x 6.75"L x 2.5"H. Here are some ones I found: one, two, three... you get the idea... Stainless steel vs. glass Pyrex because 1. duh: in our family, glass + we = broken and 2. you can toss them around / in anything for snacks also.
  • Remember that long car trip with just snacks? If you buy a $6 car adapter you can be cooking your food as you drive and have a hot meal WHENEVER!

    You can take the Hot Logic from the car or train and then discreetly plug it in to the wedding reception hall, the business meeting, ANYWHERE WITH A PLUG instead of freaking out about kitchen access and cross contamination! You're safe! It's self-contained! Yay you!
  • Cooking with Hot Logic Mini is JUST LIKE SOLAR COOKING. (Solar cooking stories at the bottom of each off grid blog post here.) Because it cooks at 200ish degress (just like when I solar cook and am too lazy to add on the solar cooking "wings" to make it hotter), it will cook but doesn't burn your food. So: just load it up, no water added UNLESS you're doing rice or pasta. And then, just to cover.

    Rice does great. Pasta... well, just like solar cooking, you need to note how LONG you cook the pasta so unless you like pasta mush (which really isn't bad, I have raised my kids on solar-cooked pasta mistakes hahaha! It's actually good, think: mashed potatoes, when cooked with onions and veggies!). Pasta is not an ideal "leave it for hours while exploring the city" meal, rice is.

    You can make a delicious (even from dried beans!) soup if you have 1. hours and 2. a steady stable surface to let it cook. Perfect for coming back after an all-afternoon freezing excursion- picture coming back to your favorite hot soup! (Plan on 4+ hours for dried beans though, make sure there's plenty of liquid. Dried lentils and peas are faster. But yes you can come home to hot stew!)
  • Easy hint for a well-rounded typical dinner meal just to get you started: add small layer of uncooked dry rice because don't forget rice always cooks up. Add a frozen chicken breast. Or
    Less time worrying about food = more time for fun!

    emu from Amaroo Hills Farm! Treat yourself! You're on vacation!

    Add a lot of veggies because isn't that better than just starch and protein? But if you're eating while traveling, remember: NO CABBAGE FAMILY (no cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower etc.) because you don't want to open that hot container and smell up the train car, RIGHT? Smells like feet! PEEEE YEW!
  • Favorite veggie combinations for traveling that are often histamine friendly: onion + red pepper makes mexican rice! LOTS of frozen peas or corn over a little rice is soothing. Corn, onion, red pepper is another mexican tasty combo. Try shiitake or oyster or portobello mushrooms with peas and onions (note: don't get mushrooms grown in manure like button mushrooms because, duh, mammal!).
  • Hot oatmeal topped with sliced apples cooked with it is delicious. (Note: cinnamon is high histamine. Maybe pack with a little maple syrup poured over dry oatmeal, then when ready to cook pour safe water from thermos in.)
  • Sick of rice? How about a lentil stew. Ground turkey, cubed + diced onion + sliced carrots + do you want some kale in it? + lentils + water to cover at least half an inch over everything + sea salt and let cook in Hot Logic Mini all afternoon and you get back to a delicious soup!
Vegan restaurants mean any fumes are safe.
Traveling Meal Notes:
For an early train, pack one stainless container with safe cereal and toss a non-refrigerated almond milk carton in your traveling bag, some fruit, and you have a great easy breakfast whenever you want! OR pack oatmeal, pour some safe water in it, some fruit, tuck it in your Hot Logic Mini, plug it in next to your seat on the train, put the Hot Logic on the floor at your feet, and in about an hour you will have a DELICIOUS HOT BREAKFAST.

This is why you need TWO stainless containers- because you are often traveling for two meals. So have your breakfast in one, cook your lunch with ease as you travel. Now you can eat lunch as the train nears New York CIT-TAY and arrive happy and relaxed instead of starving and nervous over where to get safe food! Taaaaa daaaaaaa!

For the afternoon train ride back: Meal 1 is ready and packed in Hot Logic Mini. Meal 2 is prepped but frozen in freezer the night before then packed in suitcase outer pocket or in a carry on bag to be popped in to Hot Logic Mini after Meal 1 is eaten.

One of my old apartments in the East Village!
It was Kate Spade's apartment too!

Favorite travel snacks: apples, almond butter + rice cakes (we have a little container we put travel almond butter in), carrots, any crunchy vegetable that's not aged, and safe vegan snacks from any grocery store that don't trigger reflux (a lot of alpha gal people have reflux too and GI issues): Skinny Popcorn, Vegan Rob's brussel sprout puffs and cauliflower puffs are a fave.

Where To Get Safe Food: Aha. Well here is how the Foursquare app will help you. Search on "organic grocery store" and "vegan." A list of places you can get safe food / be in a safe environment nearby will pop up. Now you can relax! (I always make a mental note when planning to go into an area where the stores are BEFORE I get there, but Foursquare very much helps when you are on the fly!) Often GROCERY STORES have easier things to eat than vegan restaurants, especially if you are high histamine, so start looking at grocery stores as an eating option not just for grocery ingredients.

Notes on Vegan Restaurants: (ALPHA GAL MUST READ)
I'm going to tell you a dirty secret that is going to make vegans hate me. (If you're vegan I hope you won't hate me!)

But first: eating in vegan / vegetarian restaurants with your family means you have a safe environment regarding FUMES. But often alpha gal sufferers also, like our child, have high histamine so can't eat most of the vegan / vegetarian food as high histamine people can't eat aged or fermented food and most vegetarian food is heavily fermented! 

HOWEVER, restaurants have been great about letting our alpha gal child pull out her snack box out of her backpack (again, those stainless steel tins are HANDY!) with some fruit and eat. People are SUPER NICE when you explain that due to a medical issue you sadly can't eat their food but the rest of the family can.

The vegan dirty secret: (I'm so sorry friends that are vegan!!!)
In every single vegan restaurant we have eaten...
the food was delicious. The staff wonderful. The kitchen's dish detergent and bathroom soap? MAMMAL.

Your convictions might be horrified, but that cheapo dish soap doesn't merely hurt our feelings, we alpha gal people will go straight to the E.R. over mammal dish detergent. That's why I checked. That's how I know.

So alpha gal people: before you order that delicious stylish veggie juicer thing-y in the safe vegan restaurant, ask the staff (or do it yourself) to please take your soap and sponge and wash that glass and juicer container with your PLANT BASED soap before ingesting.
You're welcome.

It was a great trip seeing loved ones during the holidays in NYC.
Here's some favorite moments and things to do:

Washington Square late afternoon for entertainment, but make sure you go back at night to see the tree.
Check out the Good Fences Make Good Neighbors installation under the arch, and elsewhere.

Look for Coyote & Crow and their BANJO BASS.

High Line... then meander through Meatpacking, west village, back to Washington Square, to return to east village.
Or not.

That's an interesting combo...
Look for the Mitzvah Tanks driving around the NYU area.
"The Chabad-Lubavitch are much more welcoming of outsiders than the Satmar Hasidim in Williamsburg. They are disciples of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a wildly influential Orthodox Jewish rabbi who moved to New York from Eastern Europe in 1941 and helped unify Jews who were displaced and suffering in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Schneerson preached outreach to Jews living in isolated communities, urging his followers to teach non-practicing members of the tribe about holidays, rituals, history, and customs.

Schneerson died in 1994 (though the devoted say that's up for debate), but his message resonated with the rest of the sect, which is why so many Chabad houses freely dispense alcohol on college campuses.
Vorovitch tells me that the Chabad community's been sending the so-called "tanks"—dubbed as such because they're combating an "army of evil"—out into secular communities twice a year since 1974, later setting up camp on street corners to offer unsuspecting laypeople candles and matzah for Passover.

Near holidays like Sukkot, Hanukkah, and Passover, it's a rite of passage for non-Orthodox New Yorkers to get approached by Chabad activists asking, "Are you Jewish?" before thrusting a pair of Shabbos candles on them."

Head to B&H Dairy where Mike (and everyone) will treat you like family and you don't have to worry if there's beef in the borscht.

We got to walk around Nolita with the H/Rs!!!!
So yes, if you are visiting this time of year, DO NOLITA AND ALL THE POPUP SHOPS ON BROADWAY AND SOHO. Broadway between Prince and Spring has quite a few.

At Cafe Gitane, Pip 2 was LOVED on by the waitress who also has a severe dairy allergy!
(And I didn't get to see a bunch of you on this quick visit- NEXT TIME!)

I have a funny story to tell (and yes the last picture is a joke) and no one is tagged but all my NYC friends know who this is but when this downtown girl was given the address to her dear uptown friend's house I 1. trekked to the street 2. found the number 3. karate-d the doormen to then 4. hijack the elevator. Then I stopped, perplexed: "APARTMENT PH. APARTMENT PH-ON WHAT HECKITY-HECK FRICKIN' FLOOR IS THAT???" In the East Village we only have 3ish floors, what the heck do I do with 20+ floors and ALPHABETS as apartment numbers? I would have asked the nice doormen but I had already karate-d them. Then... the small lightbulb went on. THANK YOU for a beautiful evening (and for the joke airplane photos!). ❤️❤️❤️

A restauranteur, my beautiful friend
had the good sense
to choose a handsome man

Dinner was DELICIOUS!!! Thank you!!!!
Folks IT'S A JOKE don't git yer panties in a twist.

I also got to see my dear Miz S!!! Here we are at MIMIs.
Make sure to ice skate and meander the holiday villages.
(Another reason to go on the weekdays, especially this time of year!)
Union Square on a Wednesday... much nicer...

A lil' Washington Mews humor:
Check out the holiday windows.

Learn teamwork and turn the cube.
You can't do it by yerself...

And always, see lotsa art.
We actually skipped big museums this time of year because, duh, tourists everywere.
I think we had tons more fun looking at outside art all around us.
Explaining this shattered pottery trend in the 90s to the Pips...
This one near Tompkins Square.

Sadly, too soon, it is time to leave.
Back to the off grid prefab house we go. Home.

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