Monday, March 8, 2010
Food & Eating on Vacation
Hubby and I just got back from a fantastic vacation to visit the Hotel Queen Mary, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, and...The Happiest Place on Earth. (And the truth is, I am such a child of Disney that it really did make me The Happiest Girl on Earth to be there.) We had a great time, and are glad to be home. That's the goal of a good vacation, I think: to have a great time but still be so glad that your home is your home and your life is your life.
Anyway, this vacation was a little more...shall we say, interesting... in terms of food, in that I have, for various reasons too numerous and medical to go into here, cut out all sugar (except fruit), grains, and starches of any kind from my diet. What is there left to eat in life, you ask? I know, I had the same questions. A life without bread? Without rice? Without my favorite, potatoes? Would I survive?
But the truth is there is still good stuff to be had: fats -- of all kinds! Bring 'em on! And protein and fruit and vegetables and beans.
This diet doesn't pose so much of a problem for me when I'm home: I cook a lot, as you know, so I can tailor recipes to my specific needs. And Eugene is such a healthy foodie paradise (with a lot of vegans and gluten-free eaters, so folks are used to "strange" eating habits) that eating out is actually easier than you'd think.
But eating like this on vacation? Yikes. It can get really difficult unless you're okay with eating salad for three meals a day, every day. However, I managed it really pretty well, by using a few strategies that proved invaluable:
(a) I had to briefly suspend my observance of eating only eco-kosher meat. In other words, I ate whatever meat I came across. There was simply no other way to get the kind of protein and calories I needed without doing so. It was actually mentally tough for me to do, but I made it, and now I am so happy to be back to eco-kosher-only!
(b) I stocked up on several bags of different kinds of mixed nuts at Trader Joe's before leaving, and would every day put a little mix of them into a ziploc bag to carry with me in my purse. At Disneyland waiting in line when hunger strikes? Eat some nuts! In a national park on a hike when your stomach starts to grumble? Reach for the nuts! A perfect tide-over.
(c) Wherever and whenever possible, I ate fruit. Most fruit needs to be kept refrigerated, but a lot of fruit will last for a while without it. Bananas, apples, oranges, pears were my salvation. Not only are they good tide-overs, they make a nice dessert and end to your meal.
(d) In addition, wherever and whenever possible, so as to keep from feeling like you live in a refrigerator and feed yourself some warm food, I ordered soup. Soup is often a great option that doesn't have sugar or grains/starches. I ordered French Onion soup without the croutons in Disneyland, in fact.
And lastly, (e) In Palm Springs we had a kitchenette, which was really great: we were able to buy eggs and hard-boil them, as well as fruit and yogurt. Breakfast -- truly the most important meal of the day, especially if you're eating like I am -- was well taken care of.
So I survived. I even survived hiking in the desert and traipsing around the Magic Kingdom. The droolingly always-delicious In-n-Out was a life-saver, what with its protein-style (and animal-style, too, of course!) burgers and all.
The truth is, special diet or no, I was mostly appalled by Southern California's food and what passed as "good food." Doesn't hold a candle to the Bay Area, or even Eugene and Oregon for that matter. Not to offend anyone, but I am so glad I don't live there. It was a fantastic place to visit. But I gotta say, if only for the food alone, I am so happy to be home.
What about you? What are your eating-while-traveling coping strategies?
P.S. Check out my dear friend Winston's recent great blog post about the "CRAZY" celebrity diet description he recently read about in a magazine that got him -- and me -- in a bit of a tizzy. And there are some great recipes in there! I'm so making that Braised Lentils recipe. Minus the barley for me and substituting quinoa for hubby.