Traveling with Kids

beachkids.JPGMy husband packs everything, but the kitchen sink when we travel. I attempt the sink. If the truth be known, I’ve overdone it when packing food for a road trip.

Because our third daughter adversely reacted to the artificial ingredients in fast foods and other processed foods, I routinely packed too much foodstuff.

I over estimated what I would be able to accomplish on a vacation.

Over the years, I learned a few tricks for eating healthy while away from home without bringing the kitchen sink!

Pictured: Ally, Ben & Nicole on their beach vacation. 

Prepare and pack items to be consumed on the first and second day, only. After that, it’s easier to find a local whole foods’ store or a small grocery store than, than to lug enough food for an entire week. The one exception I might make is to bring whole-grain bread to last for the duration of the trip. It’s nearly impossible to find whole grains at small mountain or beach grocers or at any restaurant for that matter. For less waste, purchase fruit, cheese, nuts, and other healthful items as they are needed.

We found it less complicated and cheaper to stay in a room with a kitchen, especially when traveling with kids. Even a tiny kitchen is helpful with the preparation of healthful breakfasts and lunches. Now, it’s just my husband and myself when we vacation; still we often stay in a room or a cabin with a kitchen. Sure, everyone enjoys a break from cooking, so we usually go out for dinner.

If you’re going to be away for a week or more and you’re traveling by car, you might want to bring a few more food items: hardboiled eggs, canned tuna or chicken for sandwiches, small unopened jars of mayonnaise, nut butter, and jelly.

If the jars are small, then any unused portions may be discarded before the trek home. Purchase a variety of microwave popcorn without any trans fats. At home, we use a hot air popper, but while on vacation, for convenience you might want to make a few exceptions.

If you have a sink and a counter, in your room accommodations, not to mention the luxury of a refrigerator, this makes preparing meals more pleasant. It’s not cheap to eat at fast food restaurants, especially when you’re purchasing meals for a family. And, the food you buy isn’t usually nutritious, because it contains sugar, salt, altered fats, and MSG.

Who wants to end a vacation with a compromised immune system, or worse, sick? I’d like to forget a trip home from the mountains when our kids were teens. We had a van-full of girls, our four, plus their friends. We ordered take-out pizza the night before our ride down the mountain. Our scenic drive was interrupted by passing the bucket, due to food poisoning. A memorable way to end the trip, for sure, but not one I’d like to repeat.

Nuts and seeds are really yummy for family vacations. They come in handy, especially while traveling. A small handful of nuts or seeds eaten between meals make a nutritious snack and are easy to take on a trip. Nuts and seeds, besides being delicious, are jam-packed with nutrition:

•Almonds, pecans, and pistachios are rich in protein.

•Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids.

•Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources of  plant sterols, which promote heart health.

•Peanuts are plant seeds that grow in underground pods and taste like a nut. They are high in protein and contain the hard-to-get vitamin D.

•Sesame seeds are rich in minerals, especially copper and magnesium. They’re also high in calcium. Reading is a good way to pass the time during a road trip. Take the book, A Thousand and One Nights, and read it to your kids while you’re on the road. If you remember, the famed phrase, “Open sesame,” magically opens the cave with the hidden treasure. This colorful command reflects the sesame pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. Of course, everyone should be eating sesame seeds while reading the story.

This year, plan ahead to have a happy and healthy holiday.

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