Cheating: The AIP Vacationing Series

This is the final blog in my AIP vacationing series.  I hope all of you found the kinds of information you needed about how to vacation while still adhering to this very restrictive template.  It was a big experiment for me and it turned out easier than I had expected.  There were some moments though . . . did I cheat?  That's the big question, right?We did attempt to eat out once.  There is a restaurant near the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) called Zero 8.  They do not feature ANY of the eight common allergens on their menu (get it . . . Zero 8).  No seafood, no peanuts or other nuts, no sesame seeds, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, and importantly for me, no gluten.  A restaurant like this is getting pretty darn close to the AIP ideal, so we decided to hop on the metro and head out for dinner.  Two things about heading out for a dinner reservation:  1)  The metro in Montreal is completely awesome.  Very easy, very accessible, and connected to an entire Underground City, which is very cool and sorta' creepy.  2)  The only stressful day turned out to be the day we had to make it to a dinner reservation.  Just as I suspected, the time limit on making a reservation ended up putting a pressure on us that we haven't had to deal with in a long time and that was really not worth it.

I looked over the menu ahead of time and decided there was one dish I thought was worth a try.  I had a grilled hanger steak with duck fat french fries and sauteed shallots.  The only thing not AIP were the white potatoes.  It was the first time I had eaten them in over a year.  The steak was good, but not incredible.  The shallots were nothing to write home about.  I loved the fries, but I think that was mainly because I hadn't had white potato in so long and they were fried in delicious duck fat.

I have eaten out only a very few times in the past year.  I did not enjoy any of those experiences.  It was too stressful, because I was intensely worried about being glutened.  I wasn't worried about a glutening at Zero 8, but ironically it didn't translate into a comfortable experience.  The wait staff was terrible.  They weren't interested in making customers feel welcomed, which I thought was especially important since most of their patrons are probably there because they have health issues like mine and Zero 8 is the ONLY place they risk eating out.  In addition, they barely noticed us . . . we had to practically beg for the bill in the end.  In fact, we witnessed other people be seated and then ignored for so long they got up and left.  One father of young kids who waited forever actually confronted the staff about it on his way out . . . it did nothing to change their attitude to their customers.  I also thought the menu was, in comparison to what I can do myself, very boring.  It was ridiculously expensive too and by later that night, I paid the price for the potato cheat.  I had joint pain, especially in my right hip.  It was gone by the next morning, but still not fun.  The overall experience . . . not worth it.

I also cheated with wine and coffee.  I had a glass of wine each evening, with no problems.  If I have much more than a glass though, I definitely notice it . . . usually it leads to waking in the middle of the night with low blood sugar symptoms.  I also try to limit my wine to "unoaked" whites.  These are wines that are made in steel barrels, rather than oak barrels which are sealed with a wheat paste.  Do I think this means I can let the good times roll now and start swilling booze regularly?  No.  Definitely not.  Vacation was an exception, not a rule.  On three mornings I had about half a cup of a light roast coffee with maple syrup for sweetener.  It was delicious, but I had to pump the brakes and not down a "Venti" worth in five minutes.  I am pretty caffeine sensitive, so too much, too fast and I will be Shaky Suzy the rest of the day.  Miserable.  I did feel the wine and coffee cheats were worth it.  It was nice to enjoy just a little of my old favorites.

I think carefully considered cheats, in moderation, are the right thing to do on vacation.  Obviously, don't pick a cheat that you know is out for life (like Celiacs, don't eat gluten, it is never okay in any amount) and don't try to tempt the food sensitivity gods (like, "Wow!  Half an almond flour cookie went fine, I'll now devour 10 of them with a hazelnut butter side and some roasted peanuts.").  The point of a cheat is to add enjoyment, not lead to certain vacation ruin.

After a total let down eating out experience, I thought we needed our last dinner in Montreal to be fantastic.  All we had left was ground beef though.  I decided there had to be a way to combine ground beef and the superstar of Canadian condiments, maple syrup.  (BTW, ordering your maple syrup straight from top-of-the-line Canadian producers from now on is not silly  I had no idea maple syrup could be so incredible and refined.)  I scanned the Web and found a recipe that I could tweak and settled on a Maple Meatloaf.  SCORE!  It was the best meal of the entire vacation.  My husband ate it in about 30 seconds and then gobbled up seconds.  I'm getting really good at putting together stellar meals on the fly with limited ingredients.  High-five me!  See the recipe below and let me know if you loved it too.

Maple Meatloaf, Duck Fat & Caper Roasted Cauli, & Roasted Artichoke Hearts w/ Wine

Maple Meatloaf
1 lb. ground beef
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put onion, carrot, and garlic through food processor and then mix all ingredients by hand and form into loaf, place in roasting pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.  While baking, make glaze.  (Who says meatloaf needs eggs or bread crumbs?!)

Maple Glaze
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened fruit juice (I used white grape)
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, to taste

Mix all ingredients.  At 45 minute pour over loaf and continue baking for 30 minutes.  The glaze in the pan will bubble up and thicken.  Spoon this over loaf slices before serving.  Delicious!

I hope you all loved the vacation series!  It was alot of fun to write.

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