Eating and exercising while traveling

This weekend is the final Momheart Conference with Sally Clarkson, and I am so excited to go!  The last two have been so informative and encouraging to me as a mom and I’m sure this will be no different.

However, what has been great for the mind and soul can be rough on the body.  Conferences in general are like that.  We sit for long hours, sipping coffee with cream and sugar or iced tea with artificial sweeteners as the speakers go on.  The meals provided often have more fat and salt than we are used to, leaving us feeling sluggish for afternoon and evening sessions.  So back to more coffee.  Meals out tend to be at a restaurant and I’m not opposed to that – there are some great restaurants out there – but once again it’s back to making good choices (salad or veggies vs chips) and not mindlessly consuming the huge portions while happily chatting with friends.

I generally go for a run in the mornings while at a conference – this year I’m changing up the movement plan.  My sister and I are going to stop at a park midway through the drive (it’s over 4 hours) and enjoy a long hike.  I’ll do some pilates once there, and go for a fun run the second morning and a short swim in the afternoon.

Breaking up workouts into mini-sessions like this keeps me more alert and less sore for those longer sitting sessions.  I’m finding in my regular life of no gym membership but walking kids to school, short bursts of running with my 4yo as she bikes, and sometimes a round of strengthening and stretching in the afternoon I feel better than I did with a one hour workout in the morning and sitting at work all day.

And then the food.  Must balance out the fat and salt and coffee with some protein, fiber, fresh fruits and veggies, cultured dairy, and healthy fats.

 Can you read my handwriting on this list?  Me neither, so I’ll type it out here:

Friday/travel day:  snack on celery, apples, carrot sticks; lunch of almond butter sandwiches/hummus and chips, seaweed, and iced tea after hiking.

 I am loving a little wheatgrass powder or tea bags in my water bottle to add some flavor.  It helps me stay hydrated whether at home or away.  

 Friday dinner is at a restaurant – will choose something with protein and veggies

Saturday breakfast:  bringing oats and chia seeds to soak, greek yogurt and honey, and grapefruit to eat on the side.  Cool camping tip:  you can dump soaked oats and yogurt in a ziploc bag and eat with a spoon if dishwashing is too much of a hassle.

Saturday lunch:  provided at the conference.  They always do a lovely three-course meal that I am really looking forward to.

Saturday dinner:  out at a restaurant for soup and salad

Sunday:  heading to the airport at 4:30am means that this will be a quickie Belvita, coffee, Baby bel cheese light and fruit as we are driving.

Sunday lunch:  more fresh veggies, apples, and hummus and tortilla chips, after stopping at a state park for another stroll, of course!





Overnight Oats for Breakfast

Breakfast. Don’t we all want something quick, healthy, easy to clean up, and ideally it tastes good too? We do a fair amount of oatmeal in our home. In the winter I like it hot, and in the summer we eat granola. When I stumbled on a recipe for bircher muesli I had to try it! I’m a huge fan of soaking grains, especially for my little ones who may not be chewing their granola fully and not getting all the nutrients available.
The strawberry sauce was amazing, but without the chia seeds I couldn’t get the oats into a texture I liked. My daughter ate it, my son only took a bite. He’s fairly sensitive to weird textures.  With the chia seeds it was better, but still not quite what I wanted.
Then I saw this recipe on a friend’s Facebook page, so I gave it a whirl. I am loving it. The acid from the yogurt and fruit give the oats just the right texture, and I love the fact that my kids are getting probiotics from the yogurt as well as all the minerals from the oats.  I’ve been adding a tablespoon of chia seeds, and using whatever fruit or homemade jam we have around.  The pictures and instructions on The Yummy Life cover it all, so head over here if you want to try this fabulously quick and healthy breakfast.

Keeping it simple

Whew, this spring has been a whirlwind! Even so, we have been managing to enjoy some pretty good meals while staying on a decent time and money budget. Staying on top of menu-planning has really helped us avoid last minute meals out, which always seem to leave our pocketbooks empty and our tummies overfull.
My menu-planning goal recently has been to eat cheap, healthy, and with minimal mess. And that means lots of planned overs. And grilling. Which is fun in our warm spring weather!

I have stuck with two main marinades for the past couple months, and will usually grill once a week or so. that usually gives me two meat and veggie dinners, and one where I add beans or turn the leftover meat into a soup to extend it a little. Voila! Three dinners for the time and cleanup of one!

Tex Mex marinade (for 4 servings)
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp tequila (tenderizes, but not necessary for a great flavor)
salt to taste
Marinade chicken pieces for half an hour before tossing on the grill or in the oven.

Chicken, Pork, or Venison marinade (for 4 servings)
1 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp garlic
marinade meat overnight or all day in this one for great flavor.

My other time saving trick has been to chop a couple of tomatoes and cucumbers, and mix them up in a glass lock container. When dinner time comes, I mix a scoop of this “greek salad” with my spinach or mixed greens, for a colorful salad. I wash my cutting board one time, rather than chopping and cleaning every night we have a salad. Less fuss, less mess, and I can usually get three salads out of it.

What are some other favorite marinades? Also, I’m trying to find good oven-fried chicken recipes – any recommendations?

eating healthy while traveling – is it possible?

Has your summer flown by as fast as ours has? We recently returned from a family trip across the country from our suburban home in Houston, Texas to Mountain Lake, Minnesota where my parents live on a farm. It is a 20 hour drive across some beautiful country, and the drive was all the more entertaining because we have been studying the “fifty nifty united states” so my son was constantly asking what state we were in and looking at his little atlas!

With all that driving, we spent a lot of time eating in the car and at fast food. When menu planning for travels, I take the following into account:

Food safety – I bring ice packs or freeze juice boxes and water bottles to keep cold food cold.
Fluid – It’s expensive to buy water and other drinks at gas stations, so I pack as much as I think we will need
Space – we drove our minivan, so we could bring a cold cooler and a dry bag of snacks. When flying in an airplane, we really shrink it down to what we need for just those few hours, and don’t pack any fluids.
Portability – from experience, I can tell you that bananas and peaches get squished and icky if I pack them. Yogurt, soup, and other dishes that have to be spooned can make a big mess when eaten in a carseat by toddlers.

So what went in our bags? For the cold cooler, I froze iced tea, water, and a couple of juiceboxes as treats for the kids. Then we added string cheese, sliced cheese, celery, carrot sticks, apples, and jelly.
In our dry bag, we packed homemade chocolate mint biscotti, bread, Triscuit crackers, peanut butter, raisins, and whole-grain goldfish crackers…as well as licorice and gum and espresso shots for the driver.
We usually eat dinner at home, then cruise all night long; crunchy foods like carrots and celery and apples pack a lot of nutrition and help keep the driver awake without packing on the pounds. Cheese and crackers can make a nice midmorning snack. PB and J sandwiches at a rest stop along the way makes for a nice cheap break. And then we usually stop for breakfast and/or dinner to get the wiggles out and have some hot food.

Deciding on sides – the second part of menu planning.

Alright, so chicken is on sale, you have your cravings for taco casserole and there’s leftover soup in the freezer and you’re finishing your weekly menu:   grilled chicken, casserole, soup, pizza.. what about sides?

Side dishes should add  extra nutrients as well as variety in color and texture.  White chicken with white mashed potatoes and white cauliflower may be nutritionally sound, but it looks pretty boring and bland.  Same with salmon, sweet potatoes, and carrots.  Usually people expect to see a meat, vegetable, and starch, but even these rules are changing.

  It’s also good to remember how much time you have on hand to make them before deciding on something more time-consuming like scalloped potatoes. 

So back to our menu above…what would I add?

Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli…I microwave the sweet potatoes and do the broccoli in a steamer.  Then why not grill some extra and have grilled chicken on top of bagged salad for dinner on day 2?

Taco casserole has the starch, meat, and a little veggie in already, so a side salad can add color and can cool the spice.

What to serve with soup?  If it’s a hearty soup like chili, consider a side salad to lighten the meal up.  If it’s a lighter soup like minestrone, cheese and crackers, or a crusty garlic bread round it out nicely.

Pizza is usually a finger food, and serving a veggie platter keeps the whole dinner silverware-free.  If you do, try making your own ranch dressing out of yogurt, onion powder, garlic, parsley, and salt rather than the high-fat and additive dips dips that are usually served with veggies.  I always like salad with pizza too.

I always have a variety of frozen veggies in the freezer because they make such versatile sides.  Additionally, keeping some bagged salads in the fridge and potatoes and sweet potatoes in the pantry, as well as some brown rice, ensures that whatever I serve, I have a simple, healthy side dish to go alongside.