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“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.”
~ Robert Orben
Travel Made Easy
I've been on a healing diet for 3 years, and I've done a lot of traveling. You can read my tips for Paleo Road Trips (including restaurant advice) and Airplane Travel on the AIP. All of my past trips have included a LOT of cooking. Let's face it: part of the fun of vacation is the relaxation, and it's hard to relax when you're constantly trying to source and prepare healthy and safe food. I have often fantasized about going off-diet on vacations, and if my autoimmune reactions were milder, I might be tempted. But going off-diet is a quick recipe for pain, so I do what's necessary to feel good when I'm away from home.
But my last trip was different. On the advice of one of my blog readers, I brought along Paleo On The Go AIP Frozen Meals. Oh my – it made everything soooo much easier! I almost forgot vacations could feel like that. I still cooked a little, but not constantly.
Paleo on the Go sells entrees, side dishes and even bone broth, so I could have purchased all of my food for my vacation. However, I'm on a budget, so I simply purchased the dinner entrees. That alone made a huge difference. I traveled by car, so I brought a cooler of Breakfast Soup in mason jars, ate salads with high-omega tuna for lunch, and picked up some frozen vegetables for my dinner side dish.
I chose 6 entrees from Paleo on the Go's Autoimmune-Friendly Menu, and they totally surpassed my expectations. I was expecting “frozen meals” – something to sustain me, but not anything truly delicious. These meals were far better than any frozen meal I've ever had. They compare much more closely to restaurant meals or home cooking. And the miracle to me is that they fit my healing diet. They are Paleo Approach Approved, which means they meet the restrictions of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. Here's what I bought:
- Shepherd's Pie – A savory casserole of grass-fed ground beef and beef heart, bone broth and a variety of vegetables. It comes topped with mashed cauliflower and is a generous serving. Don't let the beef heart scare you away. This is seriously delicious with no “weird organ” flavor. It's a great way to up your nutrient-density without fear. It's also cooked perfectly – silky soft cauliflower on top, yet the carrots in the meat mixture still have a nice “bite”. This was my favorite of the 6 entrees, and it's every bit as good as I could make at home.
- Herb Roasted Chicken – Crispy skin, juicy interior, packed with flavor. What more could anyone ask? Confession – I don't roast chicken at home, because I hate cleaning my oven, and the fat always seems to splatter everywhere. So, this was a real treat for me! Note: Once the chicken was reheated and ready to eat, I broiled it for just a few minutes to get the crispy skin.
- Elk Burger with Wild Mushrooms – If you love mushrooms, you will love this dish. The meat, mushrooms, and sauce all blended into a wonderful, earthy flavor. The only thing to note is that whereas most Paleo on the Go meals just need to be reheated, this one needed to be cooked a little bit. I think the company is careful that their food isn't overcooked in the reheating process. I like my burgers medium. Without cooking, this one was rare.
- Citrus Ginger Salmon – This was my least favorite of my meals, but let me clarify: it wasn't bad. It was just a little bland. It was still far better than a typical frozen meal. There was no fishy smell or flavor. The texture was flaky. The portion was moderate (smaller than the other meals, but still ample.) It was good for a frozen meal, but not as good as the rest.
- Savory Apple and Cabbage Pork – This isn't the prettiest meal, but it's very hearty. Classic comfort food.
- Thai Chicken Soup – Tom Kha Gai – A huge bowl of soup, made with ingredients I don't have in my home kitchen (lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves). I really enjoyed the new flavors. This was my second favorite meal, and I would call it restaurant-worthy.
- Update 2018 – It's now been 3 years since I first wrote this review, and I continue to take Paleo on the Go meals with me whenever I travel. Their menu changes seasonally and also varies from year-to-year. So, if some of the selections above are no longer available, please know that their new selections are just as good (if not better). The Shepherd's Pie remains my favorite, but here are some newer selections that I also love: Zesty Salmon Burgers, Cuban Style Mojo Chicken Wings, and Creamy Asparagus Soup. Honestly, whenever there's a new item on the menu, I try it on my next trip. I've never been disappointed.
What to Expect If You Order
- Expect really delicious food. As you can see from my review above, only one meal was “just okay” by my standards. The rest were every bit as good as a restaurant or homemade meal (and I'm a good cook – that's a high compliment from me.)
- The containers are food-grade and BPA-free. This is true for both the vacuum seal bags and plastic trays. They are also both classified to be heat-safe. You can simmer the bags in boiling water, or reheat the trays in the oven or microwave. Alternately, you can defrost and transfer to non-plastic containers to reheat (which is what I did).
- They keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 6 months. They are shipped with dry ice, so they arrive frozen.
- The meals are prepared in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. This is new, which is great news for celiacs! Paleo on the Go was always careful with their sanitation measures, to ensure no cross-contamination occurred when preparing their meals. But when companies share a commercial kitchen, they need to list what other types of foods are prepared in that facility. Wheat is no longer on the list. Woot woot!
- The meals are designed with the AIP in mind. I've seen other frozen meal delivery services offer “AIP” meals, but when I looked at the ingredients, it appeared they had simply removed all seasoning from their regular recipes, leaving bland food behind. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Just because we're on a restricted diet doesn't mean we don't deserve delicious food. Paleo on the Go created their AIP-friendly menu especially for this protocol. That's why in my review, I commented (with delight) that their meals are packed with flavor.
- You can find all the ingredients on their website. I love this, because I won't eat something if I don't know what's in it. Click on the photograph for each meal, and it will take you to a page with the full list of ingredients.
- The AIP menu is Paleo Approach Approved. Just because a recipe (or a company) claims something is AIP, doesn't mean it is. Not everyone is educated on the protocol. Sarah Ballantyne (aka The Paleo Mom) worked with Paleo on the Go to be sure their AIP menu really is AIP.
- They have a wide variety of choices. Their AIP-friendly menu has over 20 entrees, a variety of side dishes, and bone broth. They even sell sugar-free bacon! Update 2018: They continue to expand their AIP offerings and now have over 50 selections on their menu.
I don't want you to think that these meals are only helpful on vacations. It would be great to have a stash of these in the freezer for emergencies. We all know what it feels like to come home hungry after a long day with nothing ready to eat. If you've having an autoimmune flare, cooking might seem beyond you in that moment. Having meals like these on-hand lets you easily stay on your healing diet, even on tough days. And if you can afford it, Paleo on the Go even offers monthly meal plans.
How to Order
I'm an affiliate for Paleo on the Go, but this isn't a sponsored post. I purchased those meals myself, because I had heard good things about this company and wanted to try them out objectively, without any pressure to give a biased review. Only after experiencing the high quality of their food did I contact Paleo on the Go and ask them if they'd like to offer something special for my readers, and they said yes! Just enter the coupon code PHOENIX1, to receive 10% off your first order – no minimum, no maximum. Order here.
Update: The Phoenix Helix Variety Pack
On the one-year anniversary of my podcast, Paleo on the Go came on board as my podcast sponsor. On my two-year anniversary, they asked me to choose some of my favorite menu items for a Phoenix Helix Variety Pack. I loved coming up with my selections. We now update the pack seasonally because they're always expanding their menu, and it's always offered at a great discount. It's a wonderful way to sample their menu.
Bonus Road Food: Lamb Rosemary Snack Bar
There's one other company I want to give a small shout-out to: Wild Zora. They make meat and veggie snack bars. They contacted me last year to offer samples, but all of their bars back then were full of nightshades. I told them about the autoimmune protocol, and they said they'd create a bar just for us. How sweet are they? After a few months of experimenting in the kitchen, they came up with this one: Lamb Rosemary & Spinach Bar. They sent me a sample, and it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Even my SAD-loving husband liked it. Update: In 2017, they created a second AIP-friendly bar: Pork with Apple and Kale.
More Travel Tips
I've written a series of articles to guide you through the autoimmune protocol, step by step. It includes FAQ, mistakes to avoid, book reviews, and more. Click here to see the whole list.