On the Road with the Power of 5 Test Kitchen: How to Find Healthy Food While Traveling

Our lives are slowly getting back to normal. Starting in May and throughout the summer, we have traveled to see family and friends. Hooray!

Traveling is adventurous and fun; it gets us out of our routines and allows us to disconnect from social media. The R & R is fantastic. And I have to admit it, we are a bit more lenient with ourselves about our eating.

Healthy food while traveling

While we’re traveling, our schedules have been happily disrupted. There is healthy snacking in the car and uncertainty about where and when we will stop to eat and what we will find; however, we work on keeping our eating lifestyle in check. We are human and do the best that we can.

So, as I reflect on our travels, I want to share how we handle those menus that haven’t been compatible with our eating lifestyle. Dr. B and I made accommodations, especially when we were with others who have different eating lifestyles. Just to put your minds at ease, we never left an eating establishment hungry!

Looking at the Menu

We approach menus in any eating establishment with a careful and inquisitive approach. Sometimes we preview menus before choosing a restaurant. As a chef, I not only consider how the food is prepared, but I also take into account dish combinations and variety. The dishes must have fresh ingredients and have high protein and whole grains. We limit carbohydrates and other ingredients that would increase the calories and fat.

Having a Healthy Dinner Experience

Here are three approaches we keep in mind to have a healthy dinner experience:

  1. Prior to going out, we review the menu, to make sure we have plenty of options to accommodate our dietary needs. If they don’t have the options we need, we choose somewhere else.
  2. Once we decide on a restaurant with options that work for us, we set out for our dining experience. Upon our arrival, we chat with the server regarding dish preparation so we may confirm the restaurant chef will prepare the dish as desired.
  3. Then, we share dishes with each other. This is our way to stick to good portion control. Sometimes, we even have leftovers for the next day!

Restaurants We Loved

Here are a few of the fabulously delicious restaurants we enjoyed!

Cafe Gulistan (Kurdish/Turkish)
Family owned & operated, Union Pier, MI
We enjoyed a delicious falafel plate with basmati rice and homemade hummus/tahini sauce, eating outside in a gorgeous garden!

Staymaker at Journeyman Distillery (Bar Food)
Three Oaks, MI
To our delight, they had a separate Vegan menu! We indulged in a chopped salad with a bilberry black heart gin botanical vinaigrette, delicious roasted Brussel sprouts, a Detroit-style Vegan pizza with mushrooms, onions, and Daiya cheese.

Fern From the Garden (Vegan Fare)
Charlotte, NC
This restaurant was easy. Every dish was Vegan: no dairy, meat or eggs. We maintained our focus on high protein and low carb eating. We shared “crab” risotto, cauliflower “wings,” and Kombu pasta and “scallops” made with king oyster mushrooms.

Sitti (Lebanese)
Raleigh, NC
We can always find healthy, Vegan meals at Mediterranean restaurants. Here, we enjoyed a cold mezze platter, which had a blend of pickled vegetables and marinated olives and a falafel platter with chickpea hummus and tahini dip. We also enjoyed Warak Anab,  a rice and vegetable mix wrapped in grape leaves, similar to Greek dolmades, which is wrapped rice and vegetables that may have ground meat as well.

Despos (Mexican with Attitude)
Ketchum, Idaho, serving locals since 1983
Here, we started out with warm tortilla chips and fresh guacamole made with 100% avocados, followed by two of their veggie burritos. (The “Richard burrito,” sans cheese and sour cream and a zucchini burrito.) Both had a delicious, flavorful filling!

Smoky Mountain Pizza (Italian/pizza)
Ketchum, ID
We enjoyed angel hair pasta with garlic-basil olive oil and a thin-crust pizza loaded with grilled veggies and sauce (no cheese).

Golden Crown Restaurant (Asian)
LaGrande, OR
There are usually Vegan and vegetarian options at Asian restaurants. Here, we enjoyed veggie sushi, a tofu dish with vegetables, and miso soup!

Enjoy a Wide Variety

Besides eating, the second best part of vacation for me is going to different restaurants across the country. We enjoy taking the time to introduce ourselves and talking with the restaurant owners and chefs. It gives us a better opportunity to learn about their establishment and menu offerings. I love to continue the conversation and tag them on social media. They appreciate the special shout-out online! When they respond and comment … even better!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our travels and food experiences. As I close on this food blog, I want to leave you with a few more thoughts … Everyone can make healthy eating choices when traveling. There are always options—even if it’s up to you to find them. Strive to be better, and take baby steps to gain or maintain your health.

Cherish the good choices you make, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip or have something you don’t normally eat. It is ok. There is always a next time to do better. And, most importantly, enjoy yourselves!

To Healthy Eating,

Melissa

PS: Be sure to check out my newly-published Power of 5 Test Kitchen Cookbook: Caregiver Edition! Here’s a bit about it: Full of recipes, helpful hints, and the tools you need to promote safe and meaningful engagement for those challenged with an illness. Your kitchen can be a place where fun and health flourish, no matter the challenges you face.

The Power of 5 Test Kitchen Cookbook: Full Edition will release in Fall 2021 with many more time-tested, healthy Power of 5 recipes. There’s even a section for healthy Power of 5 dog treats! Stay tuned.

PPS: Remember to follow me in the Power of 5 Test Kitchen and join in the happenings!