Friday, December 30, 2011

Road Tripping, Paleo-ish-Style

I just returned home from a five day road trip with my family. Setting aside for a moment the obvious challenges of spending lots time on the road with little ones, I also had the challenge of keeping us on even keel, blood sugar and food-wise.

Here is how I approached road menu planning this time:
  • Overnight-soaked oats as a breakfast option. Since I didn't have a lot of advance details about where I'd run into a fridge or microwave, I needed a doable nonperishable item around for breakfast. I flexed for my daughters' breakfast a couple of mornings and had overnight-soaked gluten free rolled oats - which involved all mostly shelf-stable items. I had brought some fresh lemons, which I sliced open for a bit of lemon juice (the acidic element) and added some buckwheat flour (kept in the cooler) to the rolled oats and water as well. Buckwheat has phytase, which helps to eliminate the phytate present in grains - and since phytic acid typically binds to minerals in the digestive tract and keeps your body from absorbing them, phytic acid degradation via soaking with buckwheat works for us! We also added nutritious toppings to the oatmeal - in this case we chose from dried apple pieces, unsweetened dried coconut flakes, pastured ghee, and honey. (Since I'm lower carb for weight loss, I avoided oatmeal in favor of other options.)

  • Longer shelf life fruits. Apples, grapefruit, and bananas were our choices.

  • Nuts. Dry roasted pistachios with sea salt and raw cashews were on our journey this time. (since I'm working on weight loss I avoided the nomnomnomable cashews - they were more of a rare a treat for my husband and older daughter.)

  • Coconut manna. This was a go-between option for me - a sating low carb snack that usually only took a couple of bites to take the edge off hunger.

  • For low-carbers, Chipotle salad bowls, Chili's steak and veggies, sashimi and fast food bunless burgers. Yup, I'm the only lower-carb eater in my family - my husband and girls eat lots of natural carbs from fruit, tubers, and (as mentioned above) the odd dose of soaked oats or white rice. But for me, in order to keep my blood sugar steady and cravings at bay, I had to chose shrewdly during our 7 restaurant meals on the road. I went with Chipotle salads, sashimi (which is raw fish only - basically sushi without the rice), a steak and broccoli meal, and bunless burgers of various kinds, while avoiding sugar and grains.

  • For moderate-carbers, other options. Chili and baked potato (at Wendy's, but chucked the non-real "buttery spread" that came with), a split order of steak and veggie fajitas, with extra sides (at Chili's, but avoided the tortillas), and a meal of meat, veggies, and rice at the hibachi grill. No, none of the choices were perfect, but they were the best that could be figured out in the moment.

  • Flexibility on meats and (if you do dairy) cheeses. It turned out that we did have some fridges in our hotel rooms, so I took advantage of that by storing some preservative free lunchmeat and cheeses in them - and in our small insulated zip cooler in between stops. These were often a big part of my breakfast, along with the fresh fruit and Sea Snax. Speaking of which...

  • Sea Snax. I first heard of these snacks through Dallas and Melissa of Whole9 - they are sheets of seaweed toasted with olive oil and sea salt. They provided a nice savory, slightly crispy, low calorie/low carb snack. The Whole9 page has a coupon code good for free shipping until tomorrow night, so if you're interested in trying them out, this is a good time.
And yes, there were a few instances of my husband and girls having special treats (ice cream, etc.) on the road. The key, I think, isn't to aim for 100% compliance, but learning when on the trip it is worthwhile to make those compromises thoughtfully, so that you don't end up with a whole week of wall to wall food you're not used to eating, and thus potentially sick while travelling. In my case, having avoided sugar and grains, I managed to dodge sickness and riding the blood sugar roller coaster, and I ended the week 1.6 lb. lighter.

How do you manage to do a paleo / primal lifestyle while travelling?


  1. Chipotle has been my go-to eatery out on the road. The only downside is the $2 plus charge for the guacamole. Can't pass it up though! We also take along beef jerky, plantain chips, larabars and dried fruit. I've never heard of coconut manna. Where do you get that?

  2. Hi, Lea! Coconut manna is simply a creamy puree of whole coconut. In cold temps it's solid, in warmer temps it's creamier, like a thick butter. You can see it sold here on Vitacost:

    If you are interested to try it, you could use the $10 off any Vitacost coupon that's out right now -- then you'd only pay the shipping of $4.99 for the jar of manna. Details on that coupon are available at this post.

  3. Good job! Our family is strictly gluten-free and also on the GAPS diet which is similar to paleo.

    When we travel we pack as much as humanly possible and use grocery stores rather than restaurants since gluten contamination and the lack of organic, grassfed products is pretty much guaranteed (and guaranteed to make our son very, very sick).

    We usually go for destinations rather than several whole days on the road in a row. We travel with a crock pot, a hot plate, a cutting board, and our own utensils. Coolers, ice packs, and thermoses can get us through a couple days on the road when necessary.

    Here's a post about how we handled it the last time we had to hit the road.

  4. Great tips! We're looking at a 10 day road trip this summer and I'm stockpiling ideas - I'll definitely be remembering the coconut manna and sea snax.

  5. I couldn't be more impressed that you managed a road trip with young children and were able to loose weight while eating responsibly. Your overall total weight loss and improved fitness is very admirable. Way to go! You are an inspiration!

  6. Greetings from Toledo! I just discovered this site -- and I LOVE it! Thank you so much for providing such helpful information. Nice work. :-)

  7. Welcome, Jackie! Glad you've found useful stuff here. :)


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