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: 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! 


Earth Day

Little Changes for Earth Day

Next Saturday, on April 22, we will celebrate Earth Day.  If you are looking for some small way to make a positive impact on our beautiful Earth, here are 10 suggestions for little changes that you can make in your life in honor of Earth Day.  None of these changes will take much time or money.  But even little changes add up and can make a big difference!  So pick one or try all 10…whatever feels right to you!


1.  Purchase a set of cloth napkins and keep them in a basket on your dining room table so that you can grab them at mealtime instead of using disposable napkins or paper towels. 


2.  Purchase a reusable water bottle for each member of your family.  Keep them on your kitchen counter to remember to use them.  Or get in the habit of filling them each night before going to bed and setting them near your door so that you can easily grab them on your way out the next morning.


3.  Each time you go to the grocery store, buy one of the reusable grocery bags at the checkout counter and use it for your groceries.  Repeat until you have 5 or 6 bags and can easily fit all of your groceries in reusable bags to avoid using plastic or paper bags.  Keep the reusable bags in your trunk so that you always have them available when you decide to stop at the store.


4.  Commit to only buying the organic variety of fruit or vegetable for each of the Dirty Dozen.


5Choose one food item that you buy regularly and find a local source for that item.


6.  Purchase one or two sets of glass storage containers to add to your collection.  Prioritize using these dishes when you are putting away hot food or when you know that you will be heating up the food in that container in either the microwave or oven.


7.  Bring along your own reusable to-go containers when you go out to eat at a restaurant.  That way you can avoid being given the single-use and non-biodegradable Styrofoam containers.


8.  Bring along your own reusable travel coffee mug when you stop at your local coffee shop to grab your morning pick-me-up.


9.  Turn down the heat in a room or area of the house that you are not using.  Or turn down the heat when you leave your house for the day.  Another option is to install a programmable thermostat where you can set the heat at different levels for different times of the day.  For example, you can program the thermostat to a cooler temperature overnight or when you are gone during the day and a warmer temperature for the morning and evening when you will be awake and at home.


10.  Start a compost pile in your backyard (or buy a small, compact compost bin or tumbler if you don’t have the yard space for a compost pile).  Start collecting your food scraps – you can include pretty much everything other than meat, seafood, and dairy products.  Even if you never use the compost as a gardening supplement, it will still reduce your amount of trash to be taken to the landfill each week.