Gluten Free & Dairy Free in Hawaii! Part 1: Honolulu

packitDining out when you have food allergies or sensitivities is not easy.

Traveling long distances – especially when you have a long flight and can’t bring much of your own food – makes it even harder.

But I survived a 10+ hour flight and 12 days in Hawaii, eating gluten, dairy, and even egg free! Actually, that’s an understatement. I thrived!

Most people would be nothing but excited to go on such a trip. But for me, the thought of having to eat out every meal for 12 days straight was extremely stressful. I don’t eat out very often for a reason: it’s hard to find restaurants that will be able to avoid cross contamination and take your food allergy concerns seriously. PLUS, it’s never going to be of the quality that you can make on your own at home.

But instead of being a party pooper and canceling the trip, I decided to just do my usual planning, research, and preparation. And it all worked out so much better than I ever thought!

And I met some great people along the way, too.

First, I have an appetizer for you. The Pack It freezable lunch tote (pictured above) was a lifesaver for us. I found it the day before our trip at Whole Foods, and I was sooooo glad I did. Not only does it make it through airport security, but it folds up so you can easily re-freeze it in a tiny freezer in a mini fridge and take it with you during your travels. The cold pack is built into the bag, so it’s an all-in-one solution. Pure genius!

It’s supposed to last up to 10 hours, but I found that if you want it to last that long, you need to add your own small ice pack or two (or just bring empty zip locks and add ice along the way). And surprisingly, freezer packs DO make it through airport security, even it they are loose, as long as they aren’t melted.

Anyway, now for the entrée of the post. Here are some of the highlights of our Hawaiian food adventures in Oahu. Please note that none of these are completely gluten free establishments (we ate at one in Maui, which I’ll get to next), so if you are highly sensitive, you need to make sure you inform the waiter and assess the situation on our own.

1. Good Clean Food

It’s not a restaurant, but a meal delivery service that caters to Paleo eaters. That means all of the food will be gluten and dairy free. All I had to do was request egg free and they were easily able to accommodate, as they are familiar with dealing with food restrictions.

I ordered from this service because it’s really hard eating breakfast out if you don’t eat eggs or grains. So it made me feel so much better not to have to worry about the hardest meal to substitute, breakfast.

I picked up several meals from a nearby Crossfit, and kept them in our room. The hotel staff was able to give me an extra mini fridge to fit them all in!

The food was tasty, but it was not organic or even specified GMO free, which I was willing to live with for these few days and during our entire trip. I mean, really, it’s hard enough to find places in NYC that are certified organic, so I don’t expect to find m(any) in Hawaii! And since I have control over these things every day at home, I decided that it just wasn’t worth worrying about the few times I travel.

This vacation is about escaping from stress, not dwelling on it!

So overall, I was happy with the decision, and my whole family benefited from it.

2. Honolulu Burger Co.

We were pleasantly surprised to find grass fed burgers so close to our hotel in Honolulu! I used lettuce instead of the bun, and got a side of avocado. And I was also very happy to find out that the sweet potato fries were gluten free (not the regular ones, though). And everything was delicious!

We went there more than once, as it was one of the more reasonably priced places we found, and we really enjoyed it.

3. Alan Wongs

Our choice of upscale restaurants, where we celebrated our anniversary. It had been recommended by a friend. At first, I was disappointed that there was only one gluten free choice on the menu, but it actually ended up being delicious! I had the Steamed Shellfish Bowl, and was happy I did.

Then we were offered dessert, which I rarely get when we eat out. But since it was a celebration and they had something that was gluten and dairy free, I decided what the heck!

“The Coconut” is coconut milk ice “cream” in a dark chocolate shell. Oh my gosh! It was every bit as yummy as it sounds. I’m still dreaming of it, actually…

Unfortunately, I had been staying sugar and chocolate free up to that point on the trip, and this set me back a bit, but it was worth every bite.

So all in all, if you’re looking for fine dining, this is your place. You won’t have a lot of allergen free options, but the staff is very aware and know what menu items they can offer you. That’s more that I can say about most places!

So there you go. Good Clean Food. Honolulu Burger Co. Alan Wongs.

Those aren’t all of the food places we visited over our 6 days in Oahu, but those are our favorites, and where we felt the gluten free options were best. We also visited a Whole Foods while we were there, and a similar place, called Down to Earth Organic & Natural, Down to Earth is a vegetarian place, just so you know. Both were good places to stock up on fruit, salads, nuts, nut butters, and other snacks.

And now for a little virtual dessert, because of course this trip was not only about food!

Here is a photo of me with my kids (not really kids anymore) while we were walking up Diamond Head. Yeah, it was really hot and steep, but worth it.









Here is the view of Honolulu.DSC_0020

And many beaches were lined with Palm trees. I loved sitting under them for shade!


Last, but certainly not least: my favorite beach on Oahu OR Maui. Lanikai Beach, outside of Honolulu.

Aloha! Just being in Hawaii is food for the soul. The more important nourishment of all, right?

It may be getting colder, but photos like these can bring us warmth and sunshine all year long.

Have an absolutely beautiful day!

P.S. Part 2 will be all about our food experience in Maui.

About Dawn

As a Certified Health Coach, I provide motivated individuals with the resources, tools, support and encouragement they need to make the gradual changes in food and lifestyle that could completely transform their lives. Contact me.

2 Responses to Gluten Free & Dairy Free in Hawaii! Part 1: Honolulu

  1. Christa January 27, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    Hi Dawn,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. I immediately came to your blog after reading today’s Tiny Buddha article about Facing a Helpless Challenge (it was just what I needed today, funny how that happens). I suffer from an autoimmune disease which has plagued me for almost 4 years. I am a busy mom of two with a busy law practice and, believe me, this illness has thrown me for a loop! I am a control freak to the nth degree and have been so frustrated with the lack of control I seem to have regarding this disease…until lately! I have recently (about 1 month ago) done a complete overhaul of my diet and have gone grain free. I also take a number of supplements. While I’m not pain free, I do feel a bit better and am hopeful that when I do identify all my trigger foods, it will get even better. My goal is to get off the darn meds. I have a love/hate relationship with Prednisone.

    OK, back to this article! My family and I will be travelling to Hawaii for the first time. My hubby and kids are mostly excited about the great places to eat while I am a bit worried that I will be stuck eating broiled chicken over raw spinach for two weeks. After reading your article, I am even more excited for the trip! Thanks again, you’ve literally turned my day around in more ways than one!

    • Dawn January 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      Hi Christa!

      You are so very welcome. I am so glad to be of help. It’s a big trip, and it takes a lot of extra prep and planning when you are on a special diet, so I definitely hear you!

      I am so sorry that you aren’t feeling your best. I am very familiar with autoimmune diseases, and how frustrating they can be, especially when you are a busy parent. Not only is there uncertainty about how you will feel every day, but other people often don’t understand what you’re going through. So I hope you’re getting some emotional support through it all.

      I’m very happy for you that you took the plunge and have made significant dietary changes, and that you’re feeling a bit better after only a month! I know it’s not easy, but when you start to feel better, it’s all worth it. And eventually, you no longer are tempted by many of the foods you used to eat. It just takes time.

      I’m familiar with many different gluten/grain free (and gut healing) diets, and have had to make a lot of substitutions for dairy, eggs, and nuts as well. So I am always tweaking recipes over here. If you need any help or advice, I’d be happy to chat with you. You can find out more about that here.

      Are you going to Maui as well? Thanks for reminding me that I still have to post part 2, which is all about our experience there. Believe it or not, it was even easier there than it was in Honolulu. So I’ll try to catch up with that soon. And if you’re going to the Big Island, then I have an article with suggestions I can pass along.

      Thank you so much for your comment, and for sharing your personal struggle. Don’t feel bad about having to take medicine – sometimes we have no choice. We all do the best we can. The important thing is that you are motivated to make diet and lifestyle changes, and in time, your need for it should be greatly reduced.

      Here’s to your journey back to health! Peace, joy, and sunshine – and a great big virtual hug – to you.

      All the best,

      Dawn recently posted…The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie That Doesn’t Taste Gluten Free (Healthy Too!)My Profile

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