We are a family who loves to travel, and our most recent epic road trip took us to Michigan. But, travel can wreak havoc on anyone’s best attempts to eat healthy. Not always. Check out my post below where I show how we traveled across the country while (almost exclusively) staying on our Real Food Foodie Lifestyle (i.e., we ate really healthy in spite of being on the road). It meant extra work, which isn’t always the thing you want to do after a day of being in the car, but I’m simply not willing to eat crap food which is most often what’s served in restaurants.
While we were in Michigan, I was lucky enough to find Thomas Organic Creamery which offers grass fed products like eggs, butter, yogurt, and non-homogenized milk. I was in awe of their goodness. Check out the photos below. It’s not often you get such nutrient dense, vibrant colored, all-natural products. I stocked up with as much as possible for the road trip home, keeping stuff in the cooler for freshness.
I even bought their whole milk. I couldn’t help myself. Even though we aren’t a milk-drinking family, it called to me …. 100% grass-fed, vat-pasteurized (low-temp apparently), non-homogenized, and organic. I felt drawn to drink it. Pure. Fresh. The milk was actually yellow-ish.. a testament to those precious cows eating fresh green grass.
Before I get to the meat of this post regarding food, I’ll start by writing that the road trip proved to be easy with our 4-year old. We packed plenty of technology activities, such as iPad, Leap pad, iPod, kindle, dvd player (and dvds), books, travel kid games, and food (eating in the car also helps pass the time). Those things were mostly for Kamea, but I did use the Kindle Fire quite a bit for watching some of my shows and for reading. Greg and I also love podcasts, so we had our fill of podcasts from Bulletproof Radio, Joe Rogan, Chris Kresser, and Tim Ferriss. I also spent a lot of time reading a great book, Eating on the Wild Side. I learned a lot and took many notes —>> highly recommend it.
Our actual time on the road was longer than most would’ve taken, but we didn’t want to push it with Kamea. Therefore, we limited our time in the car to a total of about 7 to 8 hours (daily). When thinking about our trip, I knew we’d spend about a total of 10 nights (there and back) in hotels, plus 14 days at my brother’s house. He has a kitchen, with a spare refrigerator and freezer in the garage, so I had ample space to prepare and store food. Still, I needed and wanted to pack a number of my own kitchen items.
For the time I was at my brother’s, I ordered grass-fed meats from North Star Bison which was delivered the day before we arrived.
Last year we took a road trip to Michigan, but we planned the driving so that we could stop in cities with Whole Foods Markets and/or grass-fed meat restaurants. That wasn’t too hard, but it meant sticking to a strict travel plan and eating in restaurants which, again, isn’t the healthiest even if it is grass-fed.
This year, I did it differently. I had the goal of saving money and being more flexible with the routes we traveled. I kicked ass and accomplished this. Fortunately, we have a mini van so I was able to load it up. Unexpectedly, it felt empowering. We never stopped for food except once at Whole Foods (in Oklahoma). On the way home, it was the same, I packed most of the food, but we stopped at a restaurant Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe (we stayed a couple of days in Santa Fe)… That means we had our own breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners in the car and hotels until we arrived in Santa Fe. Pretty impressive seeing as the road trip to Michigan took 5 days and the trip home took about 7 days.
Real Food Road Trip Breakfasts
On the trip to Michigan, I spent the mornings in the hotel room gently scrambling pasture raised eggs. I bought 3 dozen eggs before we left Arizona, and I kept them in a cooler during the day while in the car, and then put them in the hotel mini-fridge at night. In order to cook them, I had to buy an induction hot plate (one of the best kitchen investments I ever made because it turns out I use it at home all the time but I also used it at my brother’s house repeatedly) and an induction-ready skillet. I learned through the trip, however, that I don’t prefer to cook eggs in the morning (at least not every morning). It’s a bit of a to-do, when you’re busy packing up and getting ready for check-out of the hotel.
On the trip home from Michigan, I planned differently. I brought 2 dozen pasture-raised eggs for raw yolk eating (only). I ate 3 to 4 raw yolks every morning (plus coffee, detailed below), and cracked a raw yolk into Kamea’s grass-fed yogurt breakfast (she ate grass-fed whole fat yogurt, hemp seeds, raw egg yolk, and berries/banana/or apple stirred in). That proved a faster (and easier) morning for us.
We also had energizing and satiating coffee “shakes” on the road. They were part of the adult breakfasts, though Kamea loves sharing mine with me. We have a (travel) Mini Keurig coffee machine which was way smarter than what we did last year on the road. Last year I took our beautiful Technivorm coffee pot and Breville burr grinder with us – a bit much. The small Keurig was easier to take (we also use it at home sometimes, usually for a cup of decaf at night if we don’t feel like brewing a whole pot in our Technivorm). We brought Upgraded k-cups (we liked these decaf organic kcups , too).
I accomplished the coffee “shake” one of two ways. I either put some grass-fed ghee in a Congtigo travel cup (<–best travel coffee cup), shown above, along with grass-fed collagen, Brain Octane, and the coffee. I put the lid on and shook it with some intensity (this works with grass-fed butter instead of ghee as well). Voila Coffee Shake. The other option was using my NutriBullet that I packed which was easy to use, too. I love my NutriBullet for making small servings of things, salad dressings, and for travel.
Real Food Road Trip Snacks
Shakes, Bars, Trail Mix, Crackers, Raw Grass-Fed Cheese, Grass-Fed Butter, etc. Before leaving the hotel for the day, I made grass-fed high quality whey protein shakes. I used Mavea filtered water (pictured above), a scoop of whey, and Pernigotti cocoa powder (<–My favorite chocolate powder. Buy it. You’re welcome.). This was totally decent and satisfying… like a weak chocolate milk. Most often I found myself drinking this shortly after breakfast or if I was feeling a little snack-y during the day. It also made a light dessert when I was craving some chocolate but didn’t want to indulge in anything sugary.
I made some fancier shakes using my NutriBullet including grass-fed whey, filtered water, organic lemon zest and organic blueberries. (Yes, I brought my microplane.)
I love these Giant French Pitted Prunes. They are the best and they come in a reusable glass jar. They are a nice road trip food, especially if you have any issues going to the bathroom like many people do when traveling.
Sometimes we snacked on Mary’s Gluten-Free crackers with grass-fed Kerry Gold (salted) butter. Other times we snacked on raw grass-fed cheese. As you can see, this trip required a large cooler with ice … plus a large crate to hold non-perishable items. We packed fresh organic produce. I opted for carrots, celery, blueberries, lemons, apples, and bananas which make easy road trip fodder.
Another great road trip snack is trail mix. It’s clean and easy to eat by the handful. I bought a big bag of this brand (I wish they were sprouted), along with a bag of raw cashews, plus two organic dark chocolate bars that I diced up. I put everything in a big bowl to mix it up and then I added sea salt and organic currants. I transferred it to mason jars. We munched on it for many days.
I also made room for some not-so-healthy snacks…. it was a road trip after all… gluten-free mini cupcakes anyone? Justin’s dark chocolate organic peanut butter cups anyone?
Real Food Road Trip Lunches
Next up… Wild Planet’s sardines and (low-mercury) tuna. Lots. These are road trip food at its best. Sardines are easy to eat, delicious, and full of nutrition (sardines have vitamin D3, CoQ10, B12, D3, selenium, protein, and more). I genuinely like sardines now. I find that if I open a tin, though, and there are three big sardines inside, I’m not a fan. A bit too fishy. The solution is: briefly chew and swallow with lots of water. However, if I open up the can of sardines and see 4 to 6 sardines (usually the case)? Come to mama! I’m happy. My daughter loves them and asks for them. Greg craves them. They made an easy lunch that we could eat while actually riding in the car.
Real Food Road Trip Dinners
For the drive to Michigan, we ate a couple meals of wild-caught smoked salmon (<– Sea Bear salmon is delicious and easy for travel). One night we had a side of sliced organic peppers and grass-fed raw cheese along with the smoked salmon. Another night, I sautéed carrots and celery in ghee with my induction hot plate and Le Creuset skillet, which we ate with the salmon. On a different night, we opted for raw carrots and celery that I diced up and served in grass-fed whole fat yogurt, lemon juice, and sea salt.
Along the way, we stopped by a Whole Foods Market in Oklahoma and I bought some organic broccoli, which I cooked one night with grass-fed ghee and sea salt. I traveled with a big-ass jar of Ancient Organics grass-fed ghee (my favorite), because ghee is room-temperature stable and easy to use. I also had coconut oil with us which is room-temperature stable, but I don’t like cooking with coconut oil.
For the trip home to Arizona, I planned a bit differently and I was a tiny bit naughty. I bought a loaf of fresh sourdough bread from a bakery before we left and we had grilled cheeses, using my induction plate, with lots of grass-fed butter and raw grass-fed cheeses. I’m glad we did this because everyone enjoyed such a treat. Side dishes for the grilled cheese were grass-fed summer sausage, sliced organic bell peppers, and grass-fed whole fat yogurt. One night I even made a chocolate milk shakes with raw egg yolks, raw honey, and the grass-fed organic milk noted above from Thompson Organics.
Another thing I did in preparing for dinners for the trip to Arizona… While I was in Michigan I made a grass-fed beef and marinara sauce meal one night, and I froze half of it. This allowed me to bring it on the road for a delicious home-hotel-cooked meal of grass-fed beef that I simply thawed in the cooler and warmed up with the induction plate and my skillet on our first night in the hotel. I originally thought I’d prepare burgers and steaks on the road with the induction plate and skillet, but decided against it for the smoking-from-searing. When searing a steak or burgers, it can smoke up the room a bit, and I thought we might set off smoke alarms.
Quick Takeaway: Our road trip required a lot of planning and thinking, but I’m glad I did it. I enjoyed it because food is my passion and so is eating healthy. It also enabled us to stop where ever we wanted for the night instead of trying to plan stops in cities that had healthy restaurants or stores. Being OK with having a lot of the same thing for a few meals (or days) in a row helps. Having the right equipment is essential, like an induction hot plate.
If you have any questions or comments, you can email them to me or tweet them to me here.