Eating healthy while traveling is one of those seemingly impossible feats. Road trips not riddled with Twizzlers, chips and energy drinks aren’t really feasible, are they? I used to think a healthy road trip wasn’t achievable, let alone desirable. Then we started traveling full-time in an Newmar Dutch Star RV and it was either learn to make it possible or give up and give in to the fast food, snack food temptation!
In years past, each time I would embark on a trip, I would do so swearing that I was not going to break my vegan streak, or break my family’s healthy eating streak … and every single time I would do exactly that within the first day.
It wasn’t laziness or even lack of commitment. Instead it’s just simple convenience. And although I care very much about what goes into my children’s bodies, I am a sucker for convenient food. A total sucker!
I don’t very much care for cooking. In fact, if we were to ever win the lottery my life would change in only one obvious way … I’d hire a chef! Then I’d have all the convenience I’d ever want or need, right?
But until that day comes, I have had to make some serious adjustments to both my mental game and my “planning for convenience” game.
You see, as an adventure traveling mom of 12, I take nutrition seriously because it keeps us out of the doctors office and because it gives us all the energy we need to keep charging harder in all of our exploits.
This convenience vegan momma is married to a meat and potatoes man and raising 12 carnivores who are hungry every second of every day. I actually have friends whose kids can skip entire meals and not even flinch … my children not only eat every meal, but they snack and snack and snack. They give new meaning to the phrase, “eating us out of house and home”.
And, as if it’s not hard enough to keep feeding them healthy foods, now it’s hard to know what foods are actually healthy. Foods obnce believed to be healthy are rife with GMO’s, pesticides, toxic chemicals, antibiotics, etc. Ensuring my family is eating well is not as simple as going to the grocery store and buying whole, unprocessed foods. In fact, I consider it to be one of the hardest things to do.
My one saving grace is that I have a hard and fast rule. I buy local. No matter where we are on the North American continent I can almost always find a farmer’s market, where the produce is organic and clean and right off the tree, vine, out of the ground, whatever.
But, if you don’t purchase from local farmers, to be safe, you literally have to painstakingly research where your food is coming from. Truth be told, there is something so egregious about this fact. You know, if we weren’t choosing to live in an RV these days and travel, I’d be living on a farm and growing our own food!
You see these days everything, and I mean everything, is mass produced and it’s directly responsible for our deteriorating health.
As a result I prefer to prepare most everything we consume myself and to sneak as much RAW foods as possible into the bodies of my children and husband! I do this by purchasing produce from organic local farmers and by buying only organic grass fed meats, milk, butter and eggs and buying unpasteurized cheese which can be found in health food stores and major retailers like Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage.
I am of the mindset that if it’s not a fruit, nut, vegetable or seed, they don’t need it, but I can’t convince a single one of them of this “fact”.
However, I recently discovered Paleo, Mediterranean Paleo, to be exact. I feel so much better using these recipes because they focus on lean protein, fruits and veggies and healthy fats from natural sources like grass-fed beef and fish oils like fermented cod liver oil – oh YUM!
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I was browsing the cookbooks in Vitamin Cottage one afternoon and found the holy grail of cookbooks. As a foodie I am well aware that some of the healthiest foods available are from Mediterranean recipes. So when I found the “Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle” I picked it up.
Now for me to buy a cookbook, it has to be chock-full of healthy recipes, but equally important, it has to have a ton of color photographs! 🙂
This one has both and it now boasts the majority of the meals we consume – in our Newmar DutchStar, on the road, traveling the continent!
Here are a few of my secrets for ensuring my family consumes as much good food as humanly possible.
RAW Foods at Every Meal & Snacks
I try to fill them up with my idea of healthy as much as possible to limit the amounts of the other foods they eat. The fridge and/or cooler is always chock-full of goodies like raspberries, blackberries, celery and carrots, peppers and anything else labeled “produce”. No need to ask permission to eat these things … have at it kiddos.
Because of this, I travel with my trusty Vitamix blender and a nice sized JKooler to keep our produce nicely chilled for day trips. At a moment’s notice I can whip up a healthy raw food smoothie that is both filling and rich in nutrients. And clean-up is a breeze, since the Vitamix is a self-cleaning appliance. Entire meals are made in this wonder appliance… talk about convenient and perfect for a traveling family!
My kids love juice and I juice everything. It’s a win/win. I have not bought juice from a store in over three years! Instead I buy fresh produce from local farmers and turn it into juice. Not only does it taste better, but it is fresh, raw, pure juice which means maximum health benefits.
Juicing is pretty miraculous. It increases energy, builds stronger bones, gives your stomach and liver a break, fights free radicals, hydrates your body, offers instant enzymes, restores our immune systems, and so much more!
Prep Your Veggies
This is huge for me in the convenience arena. Whenever you have free time (ha ha ha, as if) take 30, 40 or whatever minutes you have to prepare your veggies so they are as easy a choice as pre-packaged snacks. Stick them in the fridge and they are there waiting for you whenever you feel like snacking.
To make produce more of a prime choice, I also make sure to have staples on hand like homemade hummus, guacamole and easy fresh dressings to pair with our produce. It’s crazy, but it really is so much easier to make healthy choices when they are all ready for your enjoyment.
Make Your Own Condiments
One year ago, this would have sent me running, but it’s way less overwhelming than you could ever imagine and you don’t have to worry about all those nasty ingredients like High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is in everything you buy, and Red Dye Number whatever.
My kids are insane with the condiments … typically there is more condiment than food. They dip everything in Ranch Dressing, but the ingredients in store bought Ranch Dressing leave much to be desired and are counter productive to all I’m trying to accomplish with this whole healthy lifestyle thing.
All you really need is a good quality blender, like the Vitamix, and fresh organic produce. Blend your ingredients and viola, instant, delicious and healthy condiments from salad dressings to salsas to even ketchup — all worry free and no limits or battles on how much they can eat because it’s all RAW foods!
Massive Dinner Sized Salads
I’ve fine-tuned the art of making veggies a bonafide meal. My salads are legendary. I literally throw everything but the kitchen sink in a bowl on top of some greens and, viola, dinner. Sprouted legumes, all colors of peppers, raw seeds, unpastuerized cheese, avocados, grapes, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, cauliflower, olives, capers, mushrooms and anything else I can find in our fridge are all fair game. I top it off with a homemade dressing made in our Vitamix (see the pattern with this device?) and call it a meal.
On occasion I will throw grass fed chicken or steak on top, but it’s often totally unnecessary! Greens sharpen your eyesight, strengthen your bones, oxidize your blood, keep your heart healthy and fight cancer. My mouth is watering just thinking about this salad!
Have Fun and Relax
I love having food on hand that my kids can just eat at will. Instead of candy they chow down on cherries and raspberries. Instead of chips, they have at their disposal carrots and broccoli dipped in fresh hummus.
The benefits of eating well are immediately reaped in the form of energy and all around feeling great. There is never a food coma or a stomach ache from over-eating. Instead you feel light and healthy with a side of clarity and energy!
One other bonus tip: Try drinking a tablespoon or two of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar each morning with a big cold glass of water. It serves to boost your metabolism and increase your energy. On the days I remember to do this, I feel like I could climb Mt Everest and I never get that tired feeling!
What are your top tips? Spill ‘em in the comments below.