Coronado Island, CA: Conference & Eats

by Valerie on November 9, 2012 · 1 comment

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Just as I finished recapping my vacation to San Francisco, it occurred to me I should mention my trip, the following week, to San Diego (Coronado Island, to be precise) for a conference for my job. Yes, I had not been to California in six years, and I was there twice within three weeks.  I got back from San Francisco on a Monday, and the following Friday flew out to San Diego.  Unlike San Francisco, my second California trip was all work.

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15 hours days are definitely improved when you are in this gorgeous setting of the Hotel Del. I had never been there, and I loved staying somewhere so historic.

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The Hotel Del is enormous. I knew that intellectually, but I was still taken aback by the reality of it. I wasn’t given much time to explore, but I did have a couple of hours after arriving, so was very lucky that my friend Olivia had some free time to come visit (and bring me goodies from Whole Foods). We went for a long walk on Coronado, so I got to stretch my legs after the cross-country flight, and catch up with a friend and her husband.

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Speaking of goodies, as I travel more for my job, I am discovering different approaches to eating gluten-free and not getting sick.  As always, I requested a fridge for my hotel room to store greens, hummus, hemp seeds (which I brought) and some pressed juice.  Olivia was kind enough to bring me some BluePrint, baby spinach and homemade hummus (I know, I am so spoilt) to tide me over the first couple of days. I also discovered the local Starbucks carried Evolution Fresh and that the local grocery store had organic kale and hummus.

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I know that is a really stocked fridge, but when I am working 15 hour days, I want to make sure I am getting enough food AND that I don’t get sick.  The last thing I need is a gluten-ing that will make me sleepy and feel horrible when I am supposed to be working, or a reaction to dairy where I become wheezy and unable to speak clearly.  A lot of my meals were provided by the hotel as part of the conference – my experience is that really detailed instructions and sample meals (that are very simple and provided on a covered tray) can go a long way when dealing with catering stuff, but that is not necessarily fool-proof.  Fortunately, the hotel used a lot of quinoa and several of my meals were filling, but a couple of times, all I got was a very simple salad with very few toppings.  No joke, one of my meals was mixed greens, pear and walnut salad, hold the cheese (and there were about three walnuts), and a small amount of cucumbers – 200 calories tops, if that.  I was glad I had a few minute after that non-filling lunch to stop by my room, grab some hummus and crackers and an Evolution Fresh Essential Vegetable Juice, because I had a presentation that afternoon.  A couple of other times, the meal the hotel provided spooked me – one quinoa dish tasted like it had dairy, while another time the server was not confident the meal was gluten-free – both times I put my fork down, as I did not want to risk feeling sick.  And it was really good to have back-up food in my room.  I was also on my own for a couple of meals, and so for those took full advantage of having easy access to California avocados, and made salads with avocado and hummus.

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And finally, another reason for an impressive food stash is the food for the travel home. I knew I would be travelling at both lunch and dinner-time, and so packed two salads of kale massaged with hummus and mixed with spinach, using containers the spinach came in, and sprinkled with hemp seeds.

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In addition to my hotel eats, I ate twice at Saiko – the first time with colleagues, and the second time on my own. The second time, I had just come out of a full-day meeting, and Saiko is a healthy walk (close to 2 miles) from the hotel, so it seemed like a win-win: I would get another long walk in on Coronado, and get food I knew would work for me, since I had eaten it the night before and felt fine.  Both times I ate at Saiko, I had a large house greens salad (with a dressing that they made specifically to be gluten-free) and the house green curry. Since Saiko does not offer brown rice, I skipped the sticky rice and ate the green curry like a soup, which proved perfect as the dish was warm and comforting, which was just what I needed.  I chased it with a new-to-me Evolution Fresh: Pineapple Coconut Water, which was wonderfully refreshing. 

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The biggest advantage to having lots of juice and salads (and enough calories by virtues of dense foods like hummus) is that I never got dehydrated or even that tired, despite a grueling schedule and pretty horrible sleep. I think making sure I had enough calories, lots of healthy food and minimizing probability of gluten exposure all helped me get home healthy.

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