An Epic (and Healthy) Road TripPosted: August 9, 2011
This is my first blog post since I’ve become a Certified Nutrition Educator! As a result, there will be many changes to come in the weeks ahead. I’ve got a business to set up! It’s daunting and exciting at the same time and I’m looking forward to every minute.
And what a drive it was. See above… if you have some spare time (23 minutes) and want to see two complete nerds on a road trip, then have a look at the little video Phil and I made!
We covered a lot of ground and had a lot to say in that mini film, but not very much talk of FOOD, which I could ramble on about for hours. So here it is… my recap of some fantastic healthy foods that we enjoyed on the road. It is possible!
At the beginning of our trip, we stocked up at a local health food store on snacks that would last in the car for the day without a cooler. Things like larabars, a jar of natural peanut butter, green and herbal teabags, a large bag of grapes, a loaf of wholegrain bread, a carton of unopened coconut milk, raw almonds, and blue corn chips. Whenever we encountered a health food store on our journey, we added to our collection, and picked up some fresh fruit and veg and lunch to take with us. I had a pretty epic kale salad on the drive from denver to utah, thanks to stopping at a whole foods the day before. And we were glad to have done so, because the lunch options at rest stops and random small towns along the way were dire. The one time we actually ate anything at one of these places was a pretty terrible feta & veg wrap and a bowl of tomato soup at an au bon pain in Ohio. The carton of coconut milk only got opened at the end of our trip when we stayed for a week in a rental cottage in San Diego (but by then we didn’t need road snacks any more!) The most important purchases were huge bottles of water. It was interesting to see the brands of bottled water change as we moved further west. poland spring on the east coast, arrowhead by the time we hit Utah. While I would have rather brought my own refillable bottle with me, there weren’t enough reliable places to refill on the road. Bottled was our best option (and not the Coke/Pepsi versions of water!)
On arriving at the adorable beach town of Stone Harbor, New Jersey, and staying with one of my best friends in the whole world, Lucy, we wandered down to green cuisine. They had some delicious and fresh salads to offer us weary travelers. It was ideal. Too bad when I lived there for a summer working in a surf shop that my diet solely consisted of wawa hoagies and buttered bagels. Funny how things change, isn’t it? Shout out to springer’s ice cream, the best ice cream shop in the WHOLE WORLD! Try Lucy’s limeade sorbet 🙂
Our first meal out just the two of us was at the chicago diner on the evening we arrived in town. This is an all-vegetarian diner-style restaurant within walking distance of Wrigley field, where we headed afterwards to catch a cubs/phillies game. Phillies won of course 🙂 Phil had a “BLT burger” and I had avocado tostadas. While not exactly health food, it was a treat to have american-style diner food with no meat in sight. Two thumbs up!
Borrowed Earth Cafe
While visiting chicago, we stayed in a nearby suburb, close to my good friend Leah who I knew from San Diego. That gift basket you see above was a welcome gift in our hotel room from her Mom – so amazingly sweet! Filled with fresh fruit, water bottles, little packets of justin’s almond butter and kind bars. Anyway, Leah suggested we check out borrowed earth cafe for dinner in Downers Grove on our second and final night in town and it was awesome. I definitely wasn’t expecting an all-raw vegan restaurant parked in the middle of a suburban town like Downers Grove. The food was fantastic. I had a spinach quiche, made from cashews and a nutty crust. Phil had a “chicken salad” wrap. And for dessert, we each ordered a slice of cheesecake (luckily there were 4 to choose from), and indulged on some delicious raw treats. Yum yum and yum.
City O City
I loved denver, mainly because of its great appreciation of the outdoors. The two days we were in town, everyone was out and about enjoying the sunshine (Lucky we were there on a weekend. I’m not sure we would have had the same impression on a weekday… or maybe people just work as park rangers and camp counselors? But I doubt those jobs let you play beer pong in the park… I digress). We had an epic meal at city o city, an all-veggie hipster heaven in a cute part of town. I ordered a gluten-free vegan “urban cowgirl” pizza with daiya cheese. My first experience with a non-soy vegan cheese… it was interesting. Not as impressive as I had believed it would be (that’s what happens when things get overhyped). But still, exciting to have the option. Even my meat-loving friend enjoyed her meal. Win!
Red Mountain Resort
Our healthiest few days of our trip came in St George, Utah, at red mountain resort. While we didn’t do the full package where all of your meals are included and take place at the resort’s Canyon Breeze restaurant, we had breakfast there every morning, and chose to have dinner there every night. Yes, it was that good. The resort offers a detox program and points out which menu items are “detox-friendly”, meaning gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. Every morning, I had this awesome cooked cereal called “trilogy of grains” – when I got home, I emailed the head chef asking for the recipe and he immediately sent it to me. Phenomenal! They used quinoa, kamut, and wheat berries, but point out you can use any combination of grains (if you’re avoiding gluten, try millet and rice instead of the kamut and wheat berries). You cook the grains separately and combine them once cooked. Seems pretty simple, but something I’ll definitely be trying when the weather gets colder. It was delicious when topped with some heated dried fruits and a splash of coconut milk. Really tasted luxurious, like a treat I shouldn’t be having. Yet knowing how wonderfully healthy it was made it all the tastier. The dinners were great too – the evening meals all included a trip to their wonderful salad and soup bar (mostly raw soups), fresh herbs picked from their garden, and a great selection of herbal teas and organic coffee. We really appreciated those few days of health after feeling sluggish from hours and hours in the car. Those were some of my favorite meal memories from the trip.
We knew it wouldn’t be a problem finding healthy and vegetarian-friendly food in San Diego, but since I hadn’t really eaten that way while living there, I had to do a bit of research ahead of time. And all signs pointed to evolution. This veggie/vegan “fast food” lunch place in the Banker’s Hill area of town is a little treasure. I had a raw burger, with raw cashew cheese, and a raw key lime tart for dessert. Bliss.
Breakfast. Hands down, that was the hardest meal of the day for me while on the road. When you’re avoiding eggs and dairy, try not to eat too much gluten, and aren’t consuming meat, good luck eating anything other than fruit for breakfast. Other than the occasional bowl of oatmeal made with water (BORING), I was jumping for joy when we had our own kitchen in Denver, healthy and friendly food options in St George, and a week in a HOUSE in San Diego. But going out for breakfast in America (let alone any country) was a challenge. A girl can only take so many bowls of sad looking melon and a plate of home fries.