Last weekend I had the chance to go and explore Portland, Oregon. Traveling is always a blast, but especially if you have dietary restrictions, food while traveling can be a nightmare. Restaurants tend to be a large portion of exploring the culture of a city and with food intolerances/allergies this can easily become a frustrating, rather than enjoyable experience. This being said, I was welcomed by a wonderful surprise when I made it to Portland. There were so many allergen/food sensitivity-conscious and even eating lifestyle focused restaurants that a usually stressful experience became a fun food adventure! I explored and tried out a wide range of restaurants providing a significant amount of vegan and gluten free options (note for people with nut allergies these may not be the best places) which made it easy for me to avoid many of the foods I am sensitive to without having to ask too many questions. In addition to this fun change, I was able to indulge in, what I like to call, “soul foods” that I haven’t been able to enjoy in years! Restaurants like Harlow and Back to Eden Bakery provided these options (images of some of my favorite dishes and treats below) provided an enjoyable experience with delicious food and drinks that easily met my needs. I would highly recommend these restaurants and others that are similar whether you have special dietary needs or are just looking to add some fun variety to your eating as you travel.
While this was a fun eating experience for me, I do want to make clear that gluten free, vegan, etc. does not always mean healthy. As you can see from some of these pictures, there were many available desserts (even though they did offer non-refined sugar options), portion sizes tended to be large, and there were still high calorie dishes served. While there were some healthier choices available and many of the dishes were concentrated with a variety of vegetables and plant based proteins, it was easy to not necessarily make the healthiest choice and you should still be aware of creating a balanced meal in moderated portion sizes to maintain overall health.
While not all my choices were the healthiest, I also want to remind you that it is okay to have a healthy relationship with food, in fact I encourage it, which includes incorporating those fun, maybe not so healthy, soul foods into your eating lifestyle as long as they are done in moderation.
For those of you who deal with food allergies and sensitivities and would love the opportunity to take a trip and enjoy a twist on some of your old favorite soul foods or experience some new ones, I highly recommend you check out Portland!
What are your favorite cities to explore and try new food?
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Wishing you a week of balance, exploration, health and wellness!
-Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”