Thursday, September 13, 2012

Road Trip!

Road trips are fun! You get to go somewhere new, see new sights, get out of the house. But when it comes to eating healthy while on the road, well...lets just say it can get a little difficult. Every time you stop for gas there's the rack of candy bars waiting at the register and when your tummy starts rumbling suddenly the jerky and nuts you packed for snacks don't hold a candle to "two-all-beef-patties-special sauce-lettuce-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun (sing it with me!)". Sure, you could stop and grab that Big Mac, toss the bun and get at least get some form of protein (cooked in soy oil and packed with fillers) down the gullet but with a little bit of preparation its easy to stay on track and satisfied even on the road.

Dry foods:

Dried Fruit
While dried fruit has a lot of natural sugar its a sweet treat that isn't too messy. Dried fruit makes a good replacement for cookies and other sweets, just keep it in moderation.

A good replacement for chips, nuts come in all varieties and some even have flavoring (watch those labels!). Roast nuts are easy to make at home.

Trail Mix
Mix dried fruit with roasted nuts and ta-da! You have trail mix. You can mix together whatever your heart desires: apples and pecans, cherries and almonds, heck mix them all together and make up your own flavor!

Homemade Larabars
These super sweet treats (only eat as a special treat or to alleviate starvation) are usually made by pulsing dates with nuts in a food processor to make a dough that is rolled out and cut into servings. The dates really up the sweetness (and sugar) factor but for an emergency food that doesn't need to be kept cold these are good to have on hand. They are VERY sweet though (so take precautions-it is easy to inhale the whole batch without realizing it).

It goes without saying that for us Paleo/Primal peeps jerky is the number one snacky food. Just remember to check the labels or make your own.

An offshoot of jerky is pemmican which is just ground jerky mixed with fat (and sometimes dried fruit). Protien + fat. Yep, you can live on this stuff.

Roasted seaweed that is tasty and healthy. Kinda like chips only healthy for you!

Canned Goodies
Most items that have to be kept in the cooler can also be found canned. Canned protein, veggies, and fruits can replace the fresher items but keep in mind that it may be hard to find sugar-free or low-sodium items. Your best bet is canned protein though Munchkin swears by canned olives.Remember to pack a can opener!

In the Cooler:
Wait, you have a cooler right? The cooler is the key. Opt for a medium to large one so you have plenty of room (nothing's worse than having a ton of goodies piled on the counter and only a quarter fit).

I like to grill a roast, sliced it thin, and piled the slices in a container but any cooked meat will work. Heck, throw a whole baked chicken in (and add lots of napkins and wet wipes for afterwards). Meat, meat, meat, pack the cooler with meat! Sliced chicken breast, deli meats (watch the labels), already cooked bacon, you get the idea. The only things to worry about are A)Will you eat this meat cold? Some cuts can have an icky mouth feel when chilled; and B) Making it user friendly. Please don't scare the other drivers by burying your face into a chicken carcass while doing 90mph down the freeway. Pull over, take a break and enjoy your meal.

Note-make sure all meat is cooked and properly cooled and stored.

Bacon Wrapped...Anything
Bacon wrapped dates, bacon wrapped jalapenos, bacon wrapped chicken slices, bacon wrapped mushrooms...wrapping something in bacon helps hold it together and giving it lots of flavor. It does make for greasy fingers but that's why you have the extra-large baby wipe container propped against the ash tray, right?

Hard-Boiled Eggs
Quick protein, hardly messy, what can be better? Follow Nom Nom Paleo's instructions and get perfect hard boiled eggs every time. Pack some salt and pepper and you're set.

Smoked Fish
Stinky but full of protein and fats. Your passengers might not thank you (unless they are snacking along with you) but who cares!

Fresh Fruits/Veggies
Apples slices are my fav since they aren't quite as messy as, say, peaches but pack what you like. Fresh or frozen berries, baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, snow peas, cherry tomatoes-all make for good snacks on the go. What is your fav raw veggie? Prep it, pack it up, and away you go. I know one person who packs a bag of baby spinach and eats the leaves like chips as he drives.

Salads made at home can be a great addition to the cooler. They make an easy one-dish meal and can be very tasty. Tuna, chicken, or egg salad with celery sticks for spoons, or even a green salad already washed and tossed (hold back the "wet" items like sliced tomatoes until ready to eat) can help round out a roadside picnic.

Roasted/Grilled Veggies
I like to make a big stack of sweet potato fries, drain them well and serve them cold on the road. Salty and sweet they aren't too messy and taste great cold. Munchkin can even snack on them in the car seat without making a mess. What veggies do you prefer cooked and cool? Load'em up.

Side Stuff (Aka Things That Make Other Things Taste Better)
Almond butter for those apple slices, homemade ranch dressing or pizza sauce for dipping meatballs in, maybe a creamy dip for the snow peas-you get the idea. While these items may make the car a mess if it helps keep you away from greasy Burger King fries throw them in.

Remember to pack lots of water. Driving long distances can be boring and sipping can keep you from nibbling. If water is too dull make iced tea, iced coffee, even smoothies and keep them cold in the cooler. Pack some of your fav tea bags to save space and make tea as you need it (most rest stops, at least in my area, have coffee/hot water available).

But what happens when the cooler is empty? (Panic!! Chaos!!)

Find a Grocery Store
There's always a town on the horizon and most towns have at least one grocery store. True, it might not be Whole Foods but lets face it, when you're hungry the local mom n' pop place will have what you need. Stock up on fresh veggies, grab a rotisserie chicken and you've got a meal. Add some fresh fruit for dessert, snag some jerky and nuts for snacking, and you're back on the road.

Scope Out the Territory
Before you leave see what restaurants will be available on your route. Check out the menus and figure out what places would be Paleo-friendly. Didn't plan ahead? Adapt. Pick a place that looks tasty (and fairly safe, lets face it, Wendy's and Carl's Jr are probably out), ask for an allergy listing and order something without soy, gluten, sugar, etc. If you have to, tell your server you're allergic, many places are willing to make an item with different ingredients to suit a customer's needs.

Since we are leaving tomorrow to visit my folks (a 10 hours drive...with a toddler...oy vey) Munchkin and I spent the day doing chores and preparing for the trip. With her soy allergies and our Paleo lifestyle it is much easier to take our own food on the road rather than trusting what we can find along the way. We dried apple slices in the oven and grilled a tri-tip roast. Hubby picked up some baby carrots and mushrooms on his way home from work and I sauteed the 'shrooms and wrapped them in thin slices of the roast to make "sandwiches". The carrots were washed and stored in a container along with cherry tomatoes and grapes. A package of deli meat plus some tangy mustard rounded out the cooler supplies (oh, and Hubby's cheese slices. Yes, we eat dairy occasionally). Add the apple rings, some smoked almonds, and a few "sugar cookie" larabars, plus a case of bottled water, and we are ready to roll!

Happy trails y'all! See you next week.

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