Food

Healthy Eating on Vacation - a romantic dinner prepared in our cabin kitchen

Healthy Eating on Vacation

When we go away on vacation, we naturally want to be able to forget about the daily grind back at home.  And for those of us who are used to preparing food at home, this can include cooking meals.  We would love to go away and have someone else take care of our every need, from cleaning and cooking to scheduling and providing entertainment.  And for some people, maybe that is even possible.  However, if you are someone who requires a specific diet – maybe because of food allergies or sensitivities or just because your body responds best to healthy, non-processed foods – or if you are trying to minimize expenses while away on vacation, it probably makes the most sense to plan ahead and prepare some or all of your own food. 

 

In our family, we’ve gotten to the point where we only look for vacation rentals that have a kitchen available for us to use while we are there.  Then we stock up on our local favorites…meats from our local butcher, fresh eggs from our chickens, raw milk, cheeses and yogurt from a local dairy, veggies from our CSA, fruits from a local orchard, homemade granola and bread and muffins, a homemade dessert or two and lots of our favorite snacks.  I also usually do some research into the area where we are vacationing and map out some local farm markets or healthy grocery stores, as well as one or two farm-to-table restaurants so we can go out to eat at least once while we are away.  [TIP: localharvest.org is a great resource when it comes to scoping out local farms and restaurants at your vacation spot!]

 

True, this can add some extra stress to the planning and packing stages of vacation, and it will certainly take up more packing space in the car, but we’ve been vacationing this way for years now and it’s definitely the best way to go for our family. 

 

A few years ago, Joe and I went on a big getaway to Puerto Rico while the kids spent the week with family.  I had visions of it being like a second honeymoon…care-free, romantic, and relaxing.  Because we were flying so far away, we didn’t pack anything other than a few emergency granola bars in our carry-on bag.  After a few blissful days spent in the rainforest, I started to develop a very uncomfortable stomachache that ended up lasting for the remainder of the trip.  We did nothing but eat out at the restaurants where we were staying both in the rainforest and then later at the beach.  The menu was limited and there were virtually no healthy options to be found.  And my poor digestive tract did not enjoy our vacation at all.  So, from that experience, I’ve learned that romantic getaways must include a kitchen and homemade food. 

 

I’ve found that this can be romantic and enjoyable in itself.  Joe and I love to cook together and rarely get the chance to do so at home.  Cooking on vacation gives us a chance to bring back an old favorite activity and then enjoy the fruits of our labors together.  The picture at the top of this post is a delicious dinner that we prepared together on a recent tenth anniversary trip to the Finger Lakes in NY.  We brought the pork chops and salad ingredients from home, purchased from a local pig farm and our CSA.  Then we picked up the corn and apples at a local farm stand down the road from our cabin.  We grilled the pork chops, apple halves, and corn in the husk on a grill outside our cabin.  And the wine was from a local Finger Lakes winery.  Here are a few pictures of other meals we prepared and enjoyed on our vacation… 

 

 

Healthy Eating on Vacation - homemade omelets and fresh coffee

Breakfast – omelets and fresh coffee made in our cabin kitchen

 

Healthy Snacks on Vacation - crackers and cheese from home served with local grapes purchased at a farm stand near our cabin and wine from a local winery

Healthy Snacks – crackers and cheese from home served with local grapes purchased at a farm stand near our cabin and wine from a local winery

 

Healthy Breakfast on Vacation - yogurt and homemade granola both from home topped with local pears

Breakfast – yogurt and homemade granola both from home topped with local pears

 

So, if you are planning a family vacation or a romantic getaway for this summer, maybe consider looking for a place with a kitchen where you can bring along all of your favorite foods and prepare them in a (mostly) stress-free environment.  You might be surprised how much you enjoy the experience and I promise that your body will thank you! 

 

Coconut Milk Biscuits

Coconut Milk Biscuits

 

I recently found myself with an almost full can of coconut milk leftover in the fridge and no intended use for it.  Rather than let it go to waste (gasp!), I set out to find a fun, new way to use coconut milk.  We also happened to be running low on our stock of muffins in the freezer.  

 

(I like to keep lots of muffins on hand in the freezer as an easy snack to grab on the go, to pack for the kids to eat at school, or as an early breakfast option on weekends to hold off the hungry munchkins until the real breakfast can be prepared and served.  But I digress…)

 

So, with a can of coconut milk in hand and a hankering for muffins, I cobbled together a recipe that turned out to be more biscuit than muffin but equally pleasing to eat and still serving the intended purpose of quick snack or breakfast item.  Yay!

 

One of the best parts of this recipe is that there are only a few ingredients and it’s one of those dump and stir sort of recipes that does not require a mixer or even a second bowl to clean.  (Okay, that’s actually two best parts.)

 

Now, when you look at the list of ingredients, and probably again when you stir them together, you might be skeptical of this creation of mine. 

batter for homemade coconut milk biscuits

But trust me…it’s going to be good!  Like I said before, just think of it more as a biscuit than a muffin and you will not be disappointed by its flaky texture and buttery flavor (even though it contains no butter!).  Also, you can easily make them into a sweet snack by adding dried cranberries to the batter as shown in the recipe below.  We’ve tried them with and without the cranberries and love them both ways!

 

Anytime that I am baking muffins or biscuits (which is just about every week in our household), I love to use these muffin tins (see below) that are half silicone and half stainless steel and 100% awesome!  I think that my grandmother originally found them on some “As Seen On TV” promotion and ordered them for my mom, who quickly realized their awesomeness and ordered a set for me.  (Thanks, Mom!)  I have since procured a second set.  So that I can make two dozen muffins or biscuits at a time.  And because two is always better than one when you find something that you know will become one of your go-to kitchen gadgets. 

food-grade silicone and stainless steel muffin tin

Let’s count the reasons why these muffin tins are awesome…

1.       they require no greasing of each individual muffin cup (that was always one of my least favorite parts of baking muffins and I honestly make way more muffins now than I used to because of these pans!)

2.       there is no waste created by disposable paper muffin cups

3.       the stainless steel frame provides a sturdy pan structure (unlike the all-silicone muffin pans) and still allows you to easily pop the muffins out to cool

4.       they can be cleaned in the dishwasher (!)

5.       it is not necessary to hand wash individual silicone muffin cups that always come with these little tiny creases that are impossible to get baked muffin batter out of them! 

 

(In case you can’t tell, I tried out the individual silicone muffin cups first and was impressed with their baking ability but not happy when it came time to clean up!  If you’ve ever cleaned one before, you know what I’m talking about!  Now we only use those ones for snack cups in the kids’ school lunches.)

 

I searched everywhere online to find these muffin tins and I could not find the exact ones that I have in my kitchen.  But these are the closest thing I could find and sound like the exact same idea.  I would highly recommend adding these to your wish list as soon as possible!

 

[NOTE: If you are going to shop around, make sure that you purchase “food grade silicone” for any silicone bakeware because it is designed to withstand higher temperatures.]

 

Coconut Milk Biscuits
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ cups coconut milk
  2. 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  3. 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. [½ cup dried cranberries, optional]
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Add all ingredients [except cranberries] in order to a mixing bowl. (I found it helpful to pause and whisk after adding the coconut milk because I use the full fat version, which tends to separate in the can. Then proceed with the remaining ingredients.)
  3. Stir to combine. Batter will be thick and doughy. [If using, fold in cranberries.]
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crusty on top.
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