We’ve been on a lovely family vacation, but I’m not going to lie…the whole food thing has been a bit of a struggle. I was cringing while having breakfast at the hotel we stayed at the first night. My kids kept asking for yogurt and I couldn’t say no even though I tried to at first. I mean, there are worse things a kid could ask for…but deep down I really, really didn’t want them to have it. At home I either make our own yogurt or buy the plain, full-fat, organic kind and flavor it with fresh fruit, homemade jam, or raw honey. But this yogurt we hadn’t had in quite a long time…the non-fat kind with a bunch of non-yogurt additives including modified corn starch (most likely GMO), red food coloring (for blueberry yogurt…go figure!), and way too much sugar. People actually think this stuff is healthy…yikes! Hold on, I can’t let this food coloring thing go just yet. I make my kids fresh smoothies every day. We use a lot of blueberries and other berries. These bad boys color things real quick. You’re gonna tell me you need red food coloring in blueberry yogurt? Not to mention that in Europe, all “foods” containing artificial food colorings including Red 40 and Yellow 5 & 6 require a warning label for potentially causing hyperactivity in children. If you need Red #40 to try to convince my eyes that I’m eating blueberry flavored something, then obviously you are deceiving me with those plump blueberries on the label because there can’t be hardly any “blueberry puree” in this 4oz container. Which is precisely why we don’t eat this crap yogurt. But today my kids did. WAHHH!! What’s a mother to do?! Let it go (I’m singing the song from Frozen in my head at the top of my lungs). Okay, off that soap box. This is our first major vacation since becoming a crunchy food Nazi, so I mentally prepared myself ahead of time. I knew it wouldn’t be like home…I knew I wouldn’t have all the control like I do at home. And that’s okay. However, I found some ways to work around the fact that quality foods are just not available as much as you’d like them to be, and I wanted to share them with you.
- Pack Snacks. I’m not talking about the packaged, overly-processed type (you can find those at any gas station or corner store in every small town you pass), I’m talking nutrient-packed homemade treats to keep you energized and hold your body over til you get a decent meal in (which can be hard to come by when you’re driving through the middle of nowhere for hours on end).
- Homemade Trail Mix. We keep a big container of this constantly stocked in the pantry, so this was an easy one. I just transferred it to fill a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Not only are store-bought trail mixes super expensive, but they’re usually not at all healthy as they’re full of sodium, the fruits in them are sweetened, and they usually have some kind of sugar-filled candy in them. Our trail mix includes: raw almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds (soaked and dehydrated in my awesome Excalibur dehydrator), raw unsweetened coconut chips, dried antioxidant berry mix and apricots or figs (from Costco), and raw cacao nibs. It is delicious. It’s actually DTG’s favorite snack to take to work…he doesn’t leave the house without it. Just a little bit fills you up nicely and provides your body with good nutrition and energy.
- Homemade Larabars. I made two different kinds of homemade Larabars that I got from the amazing Melissa over at My Whole Food Life…she posts awesome recipes that usually require few ingredients. I’ve made many of them–from chia pudding to salted caramel chocolate chip cookies (our fave!!) and they’re always delicious. For this trip I made the Pineapple Coconut Cake Larabars which I cut into square bars, and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabars which I rolled into balls for the kiddos. They were a big hit with all three of them 🙂
- We also brought some bananas, fruit, and organic apple sauce pouches for the monkeys.
- I just thought of this…but I also should’ve made some beef jerky in my dehydrator and that would’ve been a great protein-packed snack, as well. Next time!
- Stock a Cooler. We packed some of our refrigerated essentials and I was so happy we did.
- Kefir. I culture raw milk kefir almost every day, and I usually blend some berries into it to have ready-made berry kefir on hand daily. I made sure to culture a lot before our trip and filled two large mason jars with pourable lids. It worked out perfectly and lasted us about 3-4 days.
- Sourdough Waffles. I’ve maintained an active sourdough starter for the past 6 months or so. Like the kefir, it’s like having a pet. You have to feed the live bacteria cultures to keep them alive, and as long as you feed them, they’ll provide you with awesome products basically forever. As far as sourdough, I use it to make sourdough waffles and pancakes (as well as biscuits, bread, tortillas, pizza crusts, etc, but not as often). I usually make large batches to keep the freezer stocked. The night before we left, I made some waffles and filled a Ziploc bag and placed them in the cooler. We ate some of these for breakfast, and the rest we toasted up at the hotel and the kids had them as a snack.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs. I hard boiled the remainder of our eggs and in the cooler they went. We left the house around 3am, so when the kids woke up at 7:30 am, we all had hard-boiled eggs, bananas, berry kefir, and waffles. What an awesome breakfast on the road! We didn’t have to spend extra money on crappy food and we didn’t have to waste time stopping (until the kids needed to pee, of course)! I was really happy with how that worked out.
- Find the Local Farmer’s Market/Green Grocer. The first thing I did when arriving to our destination was google farmer’s markets and organic grocery stores, as well as ask the ladies at the front desk. We’re in a very small town so I didn’t think I’d get too lucky…but what do you know, I got lucky! We were able to get some local organic produce and pasture-raised organic eggs. I was in heaven! We have a kitchen in our place, so it’s been much easier (on the belly and wallet) being able to cook instead of eating out for every meal.
- Do Your Best and Accept That It’s Not Home. Obviously some veggies and eggs wouldn’t be enough for the whole week, so we did the best we could at the small grocery store in town. There is no large chain (not that it would necessarily be any better), but the choices are definitely limited. DTG and I have done our best, but it’s impossible to stay completely on track. My body is feeling it for sure! I feel bloated, fat, and—TMI—my digestive system is not quite regular. But it is what it is…we’re enjoying our vacation regardless and I know when we get back home we’ll be right back into the swing of things!
What are your biggest struggles when you vacation and how do you work around them?