September 9, 2012

Plant-Based Vacationing ..

We just got back from a lovely vacation in OBX, North Carolina ... 8 days filled with sun, sand and the  lovely smell and sounds of the ocean and most importantly, a vacation filled with plant based foods and eating healthy throughout (except 1 meal where I cheated ... it was date night, people!). Actually, I made a conscious decision that night to eat what I did. 

We were renting a house for the week with a fully equipped kitchen so the first order of the day was packing the non-perishables which I already had at home in bulk and would probably be either unavailable on the islands, or if available, would be rather heftily priced. Here's what I packed for my meals. My husband, our kids and my in-laws who were accompanying us on vacation are all omnivores so these item were primarily for my meals. 

Grains: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Red Lentils, TVP - in Quart sized ziploc bags. 1 bag each;
Spices: Taco seasoning, Garam Masala, Granulated Onion and Garlic, Pepper mill, Freeze Dried Cilantro,   Italian seasoning, McCormick's Steak seasoning, Table and Sea Salt - packed the store bought containers;
Pantry Items: Mori-Nu Tofu (2 packs), Dates (10-12 in a zip loc bag), Low Sodium Soy Sauce, Thai Peanut sauce, Swanson's Vegetable Flavor Boost (1 pack), Ketchup & Mustard.
Other Kitchen Essentials: Stick blender, Chef's knife. 

For the 1.5 day trip down from Ohio, I had the following in our cooler - sliced pears, sliced peaches, celery and carrot sticks in small sandwich bags, and a large tupperware filled with roasted red pepper hummus. I put the tupperware in its own gallon sized bag to prevent any water from the cooler from getting in. We also had a jar with pretzel sticks and some chips and other snacks for the kids. My husband, one of my stepsons and I ate the peaches for breakfast; and we all ate the pears over the course of the day. When we got to the hotel that night, the cooler was emptied and all the remaining items went in the fridge. We stopped at Bob Evans for lunch and I ordered a baked potato with some Salsa and as a special treat, ordered some breaded garlic mushrooms, without the ranch dressing that comes with it. We all shared the mushrooms so it wasn't so bad :) We stopped in Durham for the night and since everyone was tired from the 10 hour long drive, we decided to go to a Jimmy John's in the same block as the hotel. I got the vegetarian sub without the mayo or the cheese and asked for extra avocado. It wasn't the best sub but it was great after a long day of driving in a car with 3 kids :) !!! We ate the 'free' breakfast at the hotel the next morning; I had a banana, a slice of bread with jelly and a small blueberry muffin (not the best option!) and we were off down the road soon after. 

Other than 2 nights, and 1 lunch, we ate all of our meals at home. Here's some of the meals I prepared :)

Breakfast: I started every day with a green smoothie.  

Lunch: .. this was usually the 'on the go' meal of the day. Everyone ate when they were hungry and whatever they wanted to eat. 
  1. Fresh sliced veggies (celery, carrots, and cucumbers) with hummus. 
  2. Peach and Hummus wrap (whole wheat tortilla smeared with hummus and wrapped around thinly sliced peaches! An odd combination, but was really tasty).
  3. Peanut butter toast
  4. ... and lots of dinner leftovers :)
HH Sweet Potato Dal
Dinner: .. my MIL prepared a 'home cooked' dinner for all the omni boys each night. And she and I usually ate whatever 'plant based' dinners I prepared. She is more of a veggie eater and doesn't get to each too many different foods so it was really cool to introduce her to some of the more unusual foods I eat (according to her!).
  1. Vegetable Biryani with sweet peppers and mushrooms, with a side of Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash (on the grill, with McCormick's Steak Seasoning)
  2. Quinoa and Black bean wraps (this was a super easy meal, the black beans only had taco seasoning on them, and the Quinoa was made in plan vegetable broth). 
  3. HH Sweet Potato dal, with peppers instead of spinach, over rice. 
  4. HH TVP Tacos, with more grilled zucchini. 
  5. Mixed Vegetable Quick Stir Fry over rice. 
We spent most of our days at home and close to the beach. We were on the road and site seeing on 2 days. The first day, we ate at a Pizza hut buffet in Nags Head so the kids could load up :) and I ate from salad bar and ordered a personal pan pizza - veggies, no cheese. Another time, we ate lunch at the Creekside Cafe, on Okracoke island. I got an awesome Grilled Veggie Wrap, no cheese. It was super low on oil as well and was totally worth it. This was a nice 'hole in the wall' kind of place ... laid back and relaxed. 

Mad Crabber - Steamed Veggies over Brown Rice
T and I went out on 2 nights for dinner by ourselves while the in-laws watched the kids. I was really good the first night. We went to the Mad Crabber Restaurant for dinner. I was quite impressed with the service and loved how friendly and accommodating the staff was. I informed them that I was plant based and the waiter recommended the Steamed Veggies over Brown Rice. The dish typically comes with ranch dressing but he was happy to switch it out for me with a side of Thai Peanut sauce. Yum!  I did slip up on this night and as we were walking down the road, my husband wanted to stop at DQ and get an ice cream. I gave in to temptation, got a small cone, and then regretted my decision after a few bites. I threw the rest away. 

The last night we were out, I was bad :) again. I made the conscious decision to eat steamed crab legs. I did order a baked sweet potato with it. I wanted to have a nice time on our last night on the islands. And in retrospect, it wasn't anything great. Yes, steamed crab legs was my most favorite meal when I was an omnivore ... but its not something that evoked the same taste or experience this time. Live and learn ... !!! I loved all the plant-based meals I ate during the week but the 2 times that I slipped up, I felt guilty - like I was cheating with my own health and well being. 

In the end .. we had a great vacation. and I only gained 2 lbs, which are already off after a week of being back to reality ... now that's what I call an excellent vacation!! 

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