Eating Healthy On Vacation And Business Trips

 

It’s time. The annual family vacation, seminar, corporate bonding session or meet-up with far away friends and family. Or maybe it’s just better than staying home. Whatever your reason for hitting the road, there’s no reason to break with your decision to eat wholesome foods!

I’d like to present my strategy on eating healthy while on vacation or a business trip! It’s a piece of cake!

Food For The Journey

Air Travel

Airport food is overpriced and never very good. It’s commonplace to spend $20+ on a bottle of water, a teeny-tiny bag of chips and a cold sandwich that was made who-knows-how-long-ago.

The good news? TSA allows a wide variety of food through the security checkpoint and onto the airplane. Meats, cheese, bread, crackers, nuts…basically anything that’s not a liquid or packed in liquid. One caveat: Some fresh fruits and vegetables are NOT allowed, depending on their point of origin.

As for that overpriced water? Bring an empty drinking container and fill it once you get past the checkpoint.

Road Tripping

Hit the supermarket the day before to pick up a variety of healthy food. Road trips can be long and it makes us want to eat out of sheer boredom. Keep this in mind when choosing food. Come up with unusual or fun choices and let everyone in the car have a say what they’d like to eat while on the road. If feasible, allow for some more expensive foods that may not be in your house on a regular basis, such as roast beef or exotic cheese. Don’t forget snacks that are easy to eat in the car such as grapes or nuts!

Stop for meals and some leg stretching in a park, when possible, instead of a rest area, where the sights and smells from fast food stands and convenience stores might tempt you to eat junk.

If you find that you have to stop for food, skip the convenience store. Instead, choose a grocery store where there is a wider variety of healthy options.

At Your Destination

So you’ve arrived at your destination, checked in and unpacked your bags. Now it’s time to make a meal plan! The first thing you’re going to want to do is hit the supermarket (yes, again) because the easiest way to keep healthy while away from home is to continue to make your own meals as much as possible.

I know what you’re thinking. How are you going to make a healthy meal in a hotel room?

I’m going to assume you have a refrigerator in your room. Good deal. Depending on how long your stay is (and how big the refrigerator is), you may be able to get all your food in one trip and not have to worry about it again!

I’m going to also assume that you have a microwave in your room. This is good news because microwaves are for more than cooking frozen entrees! Cook a fresh bowl of oatmeal in less than 2 minutes. Throw some uncooked pasta in a bowl of water and microwave it for 5-8 minutes. Quesadillas, baked potatoes, nachos, scrambled eggs and bacon, steamed veggies, ground beef, rice, corn on the cob. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

Pick up frozen, fully cooked chicken breasts and a bag of salad greens to toss together with some oil and vinegar for a super fast salad. Use the chicken that’s left to throw together some chicken salad. How about a peanut butter and fresh strawberry sandwich?

Make some overnight oats before hitting the hay for a super quick breakfast the next morning. Mix up any remaining yogurt with some fresh fruit or berries for a refreshing snack. How about some guacamole boats or a hummus wrap?

Day Tripping

At some point, you’re going to want to (or have to) leave your room. You know, to go to the theme park, business meeting, seminar or whatever brought you to town.

Never fear, I have ideas!

If you’re out for the day, pack a lunch. If you drove from home, you may have brought a cooler for the road trip. If you flew, you can purchase (or maybe you thought to pack) a collapsible insulated bag. Seal some hotel ice in a Ziploc bag to keep things cool.

If you’re in a meeting or at an event that includes a buffet-style lunch (or dinner), there are usually healthy options to choose from. If you think this will not be the case, feel free to bring your own lunch because, hey, it’s a free country, man. *flashes peace sign* If someone calls you out, you can cite health issues, which is absolutely true…you’re healthy and you want to stay that way.

Always keep some healthy snacks and drinks close at hand for combating between meal hunger (and that pastry bar they always have at meetings!). Think trail mix, fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers or popcorn, which you can pop up fresh in a paper bag using your hotel microwave. You’re welcome.

Create a custom healthy drink by popping a teabag and/or a few slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberry into your water bottle.

Eating Clean When Eating Out

It’s bound to happen. Maybe it’s a meeting, maybe you’ve been outvoted, maybe you just want to have someone else cook for a change. Whatever the reason, here you are at what always seems to be the apex of your downfall — dining out.

Let me assure you that eating in a restaurant doesn’t have to be unhealthy.

The first thing you need to do is fix your mindset. Remember that vacations and business trips are not about the food. They are about taking in the sights, foraging tighter bonds with people you know and connecting with people you don’t. It’s about having new experiences and learning new things. It’s all about the journey.

But you still have to order dinner.

Look for “naked” proteins that aren’t covered in sauces or cheese. The same goes for a veggie or potato side. This might be, for example, steak, broccoli and a baked potato. If you don’t see anything that fits the bill, ask your server if the kitchen can prepare something for you.

The salad bar is another great option for your veggie side or even for your whole meal. Stick with the fresh veggies, fruits, healthy proteins such as eggs and nuts/seeds. Skip the (probably premade) salad dressings and ask your server to bring you oil and vinegar to top it off.

For a more in depth discussion about eating healthy in restaurants, check out my article on the subject!

Falling Off The (Whole Foods) Wagon

You were fine. Just fine. You were eating well, staying strong, feeling great but the moment you passed through that entrance to the fair, the smell of that fried dough hit you. You fell off the wagon and you fell hard. You proceeded to eat your way through the entire fair, reeling from one concession side show to the next until you had hit them all. Now you’re feeling guilty, tired, cranky, bloated and more than a little nauseated.

Guess what? It happens to the best of us. Put it in your rear view and climb right back on that wagon!

I also have a few tips to help you feel better fast:

  • Take a walk. A brisk walk will speed up your metabolism, which will help to empty your stomach and shed excess fluid. It’s also a mood booster, Win-win!
  • Drink some water. A steady intake of water will help you lose the bloat, especially if you add a few slices of lemon, lime or cucumber. Coffee and green or hibiscus tea are also natural diuretics.
  • Have a piece of candy. Sucking on a peppermint or ginger candy will help alleviate the nausea associated with overeating.
  • Get some sleep. A good night’s rest will leave you feeling strong, confident, energized and ready to get back on track!

Whatever you do, don’t follow through with the promise you made to yourself that you’re “never going to eat again”. Skipping meals will only lead to extreme hunger and another binge.

What are your hacks to survive traveling? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

Spicy Spanish Rice

Spicy Spanish Rice

2 tbls butter

½ onion, minced

1 green pepper, minced

⅓ cup jalapeno pepper, minced

2 cups rice

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp chipotle powder

½ tsp cayenne powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbls lemon juice

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup tomato sauce

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and jalapeno pepper. Cook until softened slightly, 3-4 minutes.

Add rice and toss to coat with butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is toasted, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder, cayenne powder and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.

Stir in lemon juice, stock and tomato sauce. Cover, turn heat to high and bring to boil.

Turn heat to medium low and allow to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, 18-20 minutes.

Fluff with fork and serve.

6 servings, 315 calories per serving

Hack: Frozen chopped onions and peppers can be used in this recipe.

Hack: Freeze serving sized portions of leftovers in freezer safe bags or containers for future use.



3 Egg Omelette with Asparagus

 

3 Egg Omelet with Asparagus

3 eggs

1 tbls milk

½ serving of Roasted Asparagus with Pine Nuts (10-12 pencil stalks)

3 tbls smoked Gouda, shredded

Preheat 8” saute pan on stove top over medium heat.

Crack eggs in a deep bowl. Add milk and whisk with fork until well blended.

Coat pan with cooking spray and pour eggs carefully into the pan, covering the bottom of the pan evenly. Allow to cook undisturbed until eggs are set. If a “harder” cooked omelet is desired, gently flip it when it’s cooked enough to be manageable.

Heat asparagus in the microwave just until warm, 20-30 seconds. Place in a single layer on half of the omelet, sprinkle with Gouda and fold omelet in half to cover.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

1 serving, 430 calories

Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce / Dressing

Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce / Dressing

¼ cup mayo

¼ cup spicy brown mustard

2 tbls honey (substitute for maple syrup, if desired)

Whisk together mayonnaise and mustard. Add maple syrup. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

4 servings, 145 calories per serving



Amazon Pantry Food

 

It’s crazy out there. Many stores and services are closed. Those that are open are mob scenes of long lines, empty shelves and limited allowances.

But guess what is open and has everything you need? Amazon.

Yes, I know you know that but did you know that Amazon Pantry Food has groceries? As in, every-single-thing-you-need groceries? Household cleaners, paper supplies, fresh meat, fresh produce, dairy, desserts, baking supplies, spices, pantry supplies? Purchased without leaving home and delivered right to your door? I didn’t. For real.

Most of these are shipped free with a minimum order or with Amazon Prime* so what are you waiting for?

Order Groceries Online

Amazon Pantry

Tired of long lines and wasted trips? Did you know that you can order groceries online from Amazon? They’re delivered right to your door and shipping is FREE with a $35 order!

We’ve got some best-sellers…

And some deals…

Even coupons for savings of up to 30%!

Enjoy the brand names you love as well as Amazon private label and exclusive brands such as Wickedly Prime* and Happy Belly snack foods.

Gluten Free Foods

Are you having trouble finding the gluten free foods you need to help you feel healthy? Amazon has plenty of independently 3rd party certified options to ensure that every product made is Certified Gluten Free & Non-GMO Project Verified and they deliver right to your door! Enjoy selections from stores such as Bakery On Main, Zego, The Only Bean and more!

Delivered Fresh To Your Door

Where’s the beef?

Amazon offers a wide selection of high quality meats as well as poultry and seafood from well-known butchers such as Porter & York, Omaha Steaks, H.F.s Outstanding Meats and Catullo Prime Meats.

 

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables? Yes, Please!

If you need some fresh produce, look no further than Amazon to deliver it right to your door from a wide array of farms such as Fairview Orchard!

The Really Good Stuff

Who’s got room for dessert?

Order from your sofa and have these delicious confections shipped straight to your door! You could even have some sweet creations delivered to someone so they know you’re thinking of them.

My favorites are Barnett’s Fine Biscotti and the delightful Turkish foods offered by Mughe Gourmet but there are no shortage of yummy things like cake, cookies and pastry! The only real problem is deciding what to choose!

Variety Is The Spice Of Life…

So you might as well replenish the spice rack while you’re there…

Bulk Foods

Want to save time and money? How about loading your pantry up with some of these bulk food packages? Always have what you need at your fingertips!

Gourmet Foods and Beverages

Sometimes you just want to feel fancy. Amazon has got your back with these select and unique items!

And All That (Other) Jazz

 

Meal Kits

Don’t feel like cooking? Have a few of these on hand for those days when you want to feel pampered!

Pet Food

Yes, Amazon carries their own Wag brand dog food but they also have all The Big Names in pet food for all your furry, feathered and aquatic family members!

What Baby Wants, Baby Gets

Amazon offers a wide variety of baby food and supplies including their very own Mama Bear line!

Cleaning Supplies

I know this isn’t the top of your list but, honestly, you’ve got to clean your place at some point and Amazon has the market cornered on cleaning supplies which includes their private label, Presto!

Paper products

Running low? No problem! Hop online and get all the toilet paper, facial tissue and paper towels you need at a great price!

Whole Foods

Amazon Prime* members get exclusive deals, such as 2 hour delivery (in select zip codes) and special discounts for Prime members!

*Do you qualify for a discounted Amazon Prime membership?

*Prime Student 6-month Trial

I hope this helps with your shopping needs! Please let me know what you got and how you liked it!

Happy Shopping!

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple White Bread

Simple White Bread

¾ cup milk

¼ cup sugar

1 pkg (¼ oz) active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp loose yeast)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tsp salt

3 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tbls butter, melted

In a small microwave safe bowl, mix milk and sugar. Heat in microwave to a temperature of between 110℉ – 115℉. This should take less than a minute and it’s very important to use a thermometer to get the correct temperature. (See my recommendation for kitchen thermometers here).

Dissolve yeast in milk mixture and set aside for 7 minutes to proof. It should “bloom” or form a foam on top.

In the meantime, add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together with a fork.

When yeast is proofed, add applesauce, egg and yeast mixture to flour mixture. Blend with the mixer until a dough forms, 3-4 minutes.

Turn dough onto a lightly greased surface or pastry mat and use a bench scraper* to fold dough in half repeatedly for 6-8 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl. Use a pastry brush or cooking spray to lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.

Gently press fist into the center of dough to deflate and turn into a greased bread pan (8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ½”). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 30 minutes. Uncover dough and continue to rise until dough slightly crowns over top of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375℉ until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when you tap on the crust and have an internal temperature of 190℉.

Remove immediately from the pan to a cooling rack. Brush top, sides and bottom with melted butter. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

*Bench scrapers (also referred to as bowl scrapers or pastry knives) can be stainless steel or plastic and cost as little as $1.00. If you don’t have one on hand, you can use a sturdy spatula, cake/pie server or butter knife. If you must know the truth, I use a plastic drywall mudding tool as a bench scraper!

Yield: 16 slices, 125 calories per slice

Hack: To tell if bread is proofed enough to bake, press your finger gently to the dough. If indent remains momentarily, then it’s ready. If indent immediately pops back up, it’s not ready yet. If indent sinks lower and remains, it’s over proofed.

Hack: Bread can be sliced and then frozen or refrigerated for longer storage. You can “refresh” the bread by warming it briefly in the microwave or toasting it before use.

Hack: If the bread stales before you’ve finished eating it, run it between your fingers (or use a food processor) to turn it into bread crumbs. Seal in bag or container and store in the freezer for future use.

Hack: This recipe can be turned into sandwich rolls if preferred. After first rise, separate dough into 8 pieces and form into rolls. Allow to rise until double, about 30 minutes.



Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

 

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

(Courtesy: Penny Jacques)

1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced (⅛”)

1 tsp olive oil

1 red onion, minced

3 cups fresh spinach (3 oz) or ½ cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained

6 eggs

¼ cup milk

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

½ cup feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Coat 9” pie pan with cooking spray. Layer sweet potatoes across the bottom and up sides of the pie pan, overlapping heavily. Coat with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft and beginning to brown.

Remove from the oven and turn the temperature up to 375℉.

Allow crust to cool for 10 minutes. Coat crust and any exposed pan with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Whisk eggs with milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Arrange cooled onion/spinach mixture over sweet potato crust. Pour egg mixture over filling and sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Allow to set for 5 minutes before cutting.

4 servings, 230 calories per serving

Hack: Cut leftovers into serving size pieces. Place on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer until solid. Move to freezer bags or containers and store in the freezer for future use.

 

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

2 ½ lb boneless pork roast

2 cup whole cranberry sauce

¼ cup honey

2 tbls onion powder

Place pork roast in a slow cooker.

In a small bowl, mix cranberry sauce, honey and onion.  Pour over pork roast.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours.  

Remove pork from the cooker, shred and stir back into sauce.

Serve over rice, egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

6 servings, 430 calories per serving

Hack:  Freeze leftovers in servings for future use.


Easy Homemade Applesauce

Easy Homemade Applesauce

6 apples, any variety*

1 tsp lemon juice

Sugar to taste

Cinnamon or apple pie spice to taste

Peel apples and cut chunks directly off the core and into the medium saucepan.

Cover pan and cook over medium low heat until liquid begins to gather on the bottom of the pan (about 10 minutes). 

Turn heat up to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and break up easily when stirring, approximately 10-20 minutes depending on variety of apple.  Add lemon juice and stir to blend.

If a smoother applesauce is desired, use a whisk or (after cooling slightly) blender to remove lumps.  Add sugar and spice to taste, if desired.

*Different apples will result in subtle flavors differences.  The sweeter the apple variety, the sweeter the applesauce. For this reason, I suggest you taste the finished applesauce before adding sugar or spices.

6 servings (⅓ cup), 60 calories per serving (not including added sugar)


Hack: 
Freeze leftovers in serving sized portions for up to 3 months to use as a snack or in cooking/baking.

Hack:  Lemon juice is used to slow down oxidation and to keep the applesauce from browning.  It’s not necessary to the taste or texture of the finished product and can be left out if preferred. 


Chicken Ramen Noodles

Chicken Ramen Noodles


3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbls dried parsley

1 tbls dried chives

1 tbls ground fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)

2 tbls soy sauce

1 cup cubed chicken breast

1 carrot, thinly sliced (1 cup)

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (1 cup)

2 oz dry ramen noodles

In a large pan, stock, parsley, chives, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Over and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Add chicken, carrots and celery. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink.

Add ramen noodles and cook for 5 minutes or until noodles are tender.

2 servings, 225 calories per serving

Hack: Find plain, dry ramen noodles in the Asian section of the supermarket

Hack: Check the produce department of your local grocery store for single carrots or stalks of celery to avoid having to buy an entire package. Frozen carrots and celery would also work in this recipe.

Hack: Shop the salad bar if you just need a small amount of an item that you don’t think you’ll use again before it “goes over”.

Hack: Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root? Grating it in it’s frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it! Simply place in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.

Hack: Cooked leftover chicken can be used in this recipe. Add it in at the end of cooking the ramen noodles so it will have just enough time to get warm.