August 27, 2013

Pork Butts and Wise Brains: Healthy Eating on the Road!



Blog regulars (hi, all 3 of you!) are aware that I am just now getting back from a house swap adventure in Toronto. And I've been threatening to do a post this week with a Healthy Eating on the Road theme, featuring a bunch of murky camera-phone pictures from our trip.

Gosh, can you contain your excitement? But then, just when I was hunkering down to slop together a bunch of trip pictures and contemplate the horror that is my email inbox, suddenly a new twist!

(Gratuitous Toronto museum photo.)

Yep, Rick Hanson's Wise Brain Bulletin just came out yesterday!

This is always cause for celebration, because it's a great read, and it's free, and if you haven't done so already you should definitely follow the link and sign up. But it just happens that this WBB is special... because it starts off with an ebook excerpt written by a foul-mouthed Wellness Coach and Health Blogger we happen to know.

So, I'd like to say a special hello to any Wise Brains who recklessly clicked on a link and found themselves at the weirdness that is Cranky Fitness! Where exclamation points are apparently on sale or something!

(And hey, speaking of Rick Hanson and wise things generally: Rick's new book, Hardwiring Happiness, is coming out soon and it looks like it's going to be great.  Plus he's got another free online interview series with even more experts talking about this stuff. More on that below).

Anyway, on realizing there could be a curious new visitor or two to the blog, my first instinct was to scuttle the lazy vacation post and put up something clever and practical and scholarly instead.

But then it occurred to me I'd have to write something clever and practical and scholarly.

Whoops.

So, welcome, wise-brained people, to the Healthy Eating Post-Toronto Cameraphone Photo Dump!

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Which means a crappy picture is worth at least 250 don't you think? So we should be good with just a few headings and transitions and not so much blappety blah blah as usual.

The Easy But Boring Way to Eat Healthy Meals When Traveling:

Stay somewhere you can prepare some meals yourself!

This is not necessarily worthwhile for short trips, but if you're vacationing for more than a few days, consider forgoing the glamour of a nice hotel with room service and mints on your pillow and maids who clean up your slovenly messes and who even fold the toilet paper ends into perky little triangles.

Instead, opt for more utilitarian accommodations that have fridges and stoves!  That way you can shop for fresh whole foods at grocery stores and fix some of your favorite healthy meals and save cash and calories for real treats. But note: it makes for really boring vacation photos.

 Oh, Boy, it's Bok Choy!


Often Chinatown has the best produce deals.
What's up with that?


Looks like I need a bit more coffee.
But happy-sleepy!

Our local Whole Foods is nowhere near this fancy.

 Home-made blueberry salad dressing, for the most Ginormous Salads on Earth.

Well, you wouldn't want your pretzels DISROBED, that would be indecent.

This scary reddish-brownish stuff was actually very tasty. 
You will NEVER guess what the hell is in it.
 I believe a whole boring post is forthcoming. 

But Don't Be Dumb-Ass, Go Out and Have Fun!

One of the best things about travel is the chance to try new things, or savor special treats that you don't have every day.  Some of these are not perhaps the healthiest choices if you were to make them every day, but consider the mental health bonus you get from breaking the rules every now and then.

For example, I'm a bit intolerant of cow's milk, but the self-serve yogurt places with 97 flavors where you get to be as piggy as you want are not yet hip to goats' milk. So I ate a crapload of moo-derived frozen yogurt with all kinds of nuts and berries and bloated right up until I was a round little crab and the Lobster had to roll me home. On more than one occasion, if truth be told.


(BTW, I am still of the opinion that the little free sample cups they give out so you can try all the flavors don't have calories no matter how much you overfill them and no matter how many you eat, because they don't weigh them and they're free so they can't possibly count, right?)

We also wined and dined and beered at fun restaurants...



And went to venues where healthy food choices were vastly outnumbered by tastier sounding options.



However, that doesn't mean you can't...

Mitigate the damages!

We all know that consuming healthy vegetables magically cancels out any recent dietary sins. (Life is way more fun if you believe in magic).

So even at the CNE expo thing, before we had some insanely junky deep fried waffle slices (complete with vanilla ice cream for the Lobster and some kind of chocolate-peanut mess on top for me) we managed to find reasonably healthy dinners. The Lobster had a Greek Salad with chicken and I had the blandest Thai cuisine ever but at least it contained magic vegetables:


And when we went out for Vietnamese, I had a DIY low-carb version by leaving these remains of the day:


Don't Forget Beverages!

A great trick for feeling like you are "going out on the town" while still eating boring home cooked meals as pictured above, is to go out for coffee or tea in the afternoon and possibly more adult beverages in the evening.


Bonus: If you are me, you can meet up with an awesome Cranketeer!  We are not pictured with our tea and coffee but it was consumed earlier during a downtown rendezvous. Thanks Kimberley!


When to Sample and When to Just Behold in Fascination?

We probably should have been braver in our cuisinary choices. We probably missed some wonderful opportunities.  Would, for example, "pork butts drive us nuts" too if they were Canadian Pork Butts?  Should we have ordered up some Poutine?

Lots of interesting options!




(Worth clicking on to read the, um, lets say "poetic" product description)

To Sum Up My Vacation Eating Philosophy:

This was taken at an aptly named establishment (facing a massive church):  Sin and Redemption.


And now, with absolutely no transition at all except to mention the possibility that there are alternative routes to happiness besides tasty food and booze, here is...

More Info on Hardwiring Happiness!

As Cranketeers know, I am a big fan of Rick Hanson as his work has helped me be way less crazypants and pessimistic and grouchy.  And now I'm pretty darn excited that his new book Hardwiring Happiness is coming out.

To quote, because I'm lazy and I'm sure it's true: "Grounded in neuroscience, Hardwiring Happiness is super practical, full of easy-to-use methods and guided practices to grow a steady well-being, self-worth, and inner peace. And it has special sections on children, motivation, relationships, trauma, and spiritual practice."

I'm even pre-ordering, in part because there's a cool free bonus presentation: "Your Best Brain: 5 Great Ways to Change Your Brain for the Better."  It's an hour and a half and normally costs $49.

But also I'm signing on in advance because I'm sure it's gonna be great, and it seems that pre-orders create buzz and sales. And heck, if advance sales help more people discover Rick's work and become happier and nicer, I'm thinking the world will be a way better place.

Also, in other Rickellaneous news, he's got a free online interview series that looks awesome, with thoughts from lots of other smarty-pants brain experts, starting soon. So you may want to head on over to Entheos to sign up for Hardwiring Happiness: The 7 Essential Strengths virtual conference.

So, anyone have any thoughts on Eating Healthy on the Road, or on Happiness and Hardwiring, or on Any Damn Thing at All?

45 comments:

  1. Crabby, I say travel is for eating. Trying new things is a big part of the experience. That said, go you for keeping it as healthy as you did.
    I'm curious about the brown stuff in the dish. Some white beans and what? lentils mayhap? I'm curious and I felt the need to guess.

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    1. I think you are smart to be adventurous in your travel dining Leah! We were just a bit lazy about that.

      Good guesses on the brown stuff, but nope! I think I actually AM going to do a quick post on it, so will refrain from putting the ingredients here, because the surprise/possible gross-out factor might suffer. But I'd be happy to email or FB if you're curious. :)

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    2. Please email me the answer. Don't worry about gross. I just read Fast Food Nation and am still able to eat.

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    3. Now I really want to see the post on the brown stuff!

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  2. I like the idea of going to local supermarkets when traveling! Not only can you find food to prepare, you can often find supermarket prepared foods that are nowhere near as unhealthy as restaurant fare with the added benefit of really being around the people who actually live in that community, not tourists.

    For me, one of the best things about traveling is the people!

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    1. I agree Dr. J about the people, and they don't come much nicer than Canadians!

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  3. I like the idea of going to local supermarkets when traveling! Not only can you find food to prepare, you can often find supermarket prepared foods that are nowhere near as unhealthy as restaurant fare with the added benefit of really being around the people who actually live in that community, not tourists.

    For me, one of the best things about traveling is the people!

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  4. No! No! Exclamation points are FREE, here!!! (But there's a quota!)

    Deep-fried anything-not-fish just fails to appeal to me. I have other vices, though. Ice cream, in my opinion, is its own food group. And protein? If I did the math right, converting kilos/grams to ounces I should be eating about 4 ounces a DAY. That's barely enough for one meal. Absurd.

    I remember my only trip to London--two weeks in a hotel in December--and buying fruit in the market, and yearning over the beautiful vegetables. I lamented to the stall-holder that the Brussels sprouts looked so gorgeous but I had no kitchen, and he asked how long was I here for, and I said "Two whole weeks without cooking!" and he said "Oh, that's sad, that is."
    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. I'm with you Mary Anne, 4 ounces a day is NOT enough protein for me, and two weeks without a kitchen would be really hard... unless I had an unlimited budget for the freshest, healthiest, tastiest restaurants around.

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  5. As one of your three regulars, I'm sitting here going, "OMG, I got a Crabby shout-out!" \o/ LOL

    This is a great post. Eating IS one of the best parts of travelling because you get to try stuff you never see at home (especially if you live in the land of BBQ and potatoes... my town is a big fan of pork butts). You guys had a nice mix of dine-in/dine-out adventures and it looked lovely. Except the brown stuff. That looked like the contents of a dungeon barrel. Do write a post for it soon. :-D

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    1. That totally cracks me up and I promise I will provide the Dungeon Barrel Scrapings recipe in a future post!

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    2. I believe rats are a popular dish in dungeons. ^oo^

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  6. I like to try new things (foods!) when we travel!!! And we usually go the condo route so that we can fix the majority of our meals at "home."
    Fair food always amazes me - all that fried stuff - kind of grosses me out and fascinates me at the same time!!!
    Can't wait to hear what the brown bowl of stuff contained - I'm guessing some kind of creature!!

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    1. Ooh, good guess! It reminds me of the plate of food Wednesday was playing with in the Addams Family movie. Hee. :-)

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    2. Kim, I agree--condos may not have all the hotel perks but they are SO much more practical.

      And I'd forgotten the Addams Family movie Heather... loved it and may need to see it again!

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  7. I feel famous...look at me and Crabby!!! My 15 seconds of fame have arrived! It was wonderful to meet you and I am relieved to see you didn't try the cronut burger at the CNE. Apparently it poisoned numerous (150 or so) people.

    We were away at a B&B recently and they were able to accommodate our breakfast needs. We brought a cooler and stopped at the grocery store to get ice and lunch items for our day trips.

    A few times we have been away and stayed in hotels with kitchens, but were always too far away to get back for lunch...it was great for making our own breakfast though.

    Thanks for the eating on the road tips!!!

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    1. It was a great meet up, and thanks for the coffee and the Toronto tips!

      Did not know about the poisoned Cronut Burgers, in fact we didn't even notice Unpoisoned Cronut Burgers, which I would have had to take a picture of.

      However, as I mentioned on facebook, it was the most wholesome freakin' expo I've ever seen. No screaming kids, foul-mouthed teens, scruffy-looking carnies, bickering parents... just polite happy people having a good time (i guess at least until the food poisoning hit). Weird!!

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  8. So glad you enjoyed your time here...if you get back this way again two words...MEET UP!

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  9. beer and a salad...now that's my holiday style :)

    I do hope you had at least one proper poutine while up here. It really is delicious and worth it every once in a while.

    I'm a sucker for bad eating on holidays. I never want to feel like there was something new I didn't try :)

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    1. No poutine, geosomin, but in my defense I'm not a big fan of fries to start with so it's not just the scary toppings holding me back; would just rather save treats for things I totally love. But I do hear that poutine rocks!

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  10. Breakfast is key for me when we travel. If I have an insanely unhealthy breakfast, the rest of the day is shot food-choice was. I am set up for terrible habits. So when we travel, my goal is to have a wise breakfast. Thankfully, it's getting easier to hit up a coffee shop and get something like oatmeal and fruit, or an egg white english muffin or something like that.

    What's funny, is that while I'm eating like that, trying to start my day with smart fuel, my husband is sitting across from me with a coffee and a pastry. I have no idea how that fuels him satisfactorily!

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    1. I'm like you OtF, I rarely eat a junky breakfast if I can help it. Though I've been known to indulge in brunch after a healthy pre-breakfast and a particularly heroic hike or workout. Then all bets are off!

      Wait, not everyone eats pre-breakfast? :) There's a reason I have to walk my ass off...

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  11. Death Ride GrandmaAugust 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Yeah, breakfast - that's the big reason we like to have a place we can cook. We just got back from the Montana/Wyoming ride, and had to move to a new place almost every night. (well, I mean ride to a new place - that's why we were there, after all). But all that moving and having to find a reasonable place to eat after all those hours on the saddle was challenging. Fortunately, (Mary Anne, you are so right about that food group!) we almost never had to settle for less than great ice cream. Wilcoxsons has been making ice cream for a long, long time in Montana, and it is a good reason to visit the state! Another lightly populated state advantage: they even served real ice cream in a gas station convenience store in Cody, Wyoming.

    Uh, I guess I have strayed a bit from healthy eating on vacations. Really, truly, I did manage to find vegetables on the trip. And even enjoyed them. Really.

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    1. Must find reason to visit Montana....

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. DRG, I'd say great ice cream, vegetables, and long beautiful bike rides sound like a sound plan and the heck with what any "experts" might say about it!

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  12. ohhh that was way fun! Loved your food travelogue and particularly appreciate out of context spiral staircases. YAY for museums!
    I am a great fan of the exclamation point and use it with reckless abandon!!! I am also a huge fan of purchasing food at the supermarket, regardless of where we stay. This is not for health reasons but for ahem reasons of frugality ;) I am not sure of MY exact ratios, but I believe 1/100 vegetables OR fruit, to pastries is quite adequate when traveling.

    Crap, had to delete part of my playful comment for fear of offending the chef. YIKES and sorry! Look, I feel so guilty, I am actually monitoring my use of exclamation points.

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    1. Too funny about the produce/pastry ratio dlamb, but if it works for you then I say enjoy those pastries!

      And for goodness sake, never worry about offending my ugly/healthy meal creations, it's sort of a running joke on the blog and one of the reasons I post pictures of my food at all. I combine all kinds of different colored produce so everything ends up being brown or gray (my smoothies look like toxic oil spills) and the photos are always blurry. I'm so NOT a foodie blogger!

      But thanks for watching out for my sensibilities! I am so lucky on this blog that people are so nice it can almost seem like teasing isn't allowed. But feel free to make fun of any food I post any time! (Plus I didn't even make clear that I made the dish!)

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    2. Thank you SO much Crabby!!! To tell you the truth, it was probably more a self deprecating comment ultimately, since my teasing anyone about her food choices only points out my inadequate ones. Just sour grapes on my part, since my "special needs" taste buds are directly connected to my special needs brain buds...

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  13. (BTW, I am still of the opinion that the little free sample cups they give out so you can try all the flavors don't have calories no matter how much you overfill them and no matter how many you eat, because they don't weigh them and they're free so they can't possibly count, right?)

    YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. ;)


    Congrats on the Wise Brain shout out - they were indeed, very wise, to choose to showcase you!

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    1. Glad we're in agreement Shelley about those sample cups! Same rules apply at Costco I hope?

      And thanks, I love being associated with anything Rick Hanson does, so it was a real kick to be in there.

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  14. YUMMMMM!!!

    Now stop saying nice things about Canadians, my head is swelling! ;-)

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    1. Sorry HSH, I will never stop saying nice things about Canadians, better start buying bigger hats!

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  15. I feel like I am getting back in the saddle again myself! Thanks for stopping by my blog btw. For traveling I am of two minds...traveling is fun time so I try to not stress about the lesser food choices all the time. I also try to keep good foods around for snacking. Apples, nuts, and cheese are often in a cooler nearby. I chose the better choices when I can but again, I don't want to stress over every bite cuz that takes the fun out of life.

    On the other hand, vacation/travel time also usually means more walking around for us. It also means we often do not take the time to eat regularly scheduled meals. Maybe I am wrong about my take on all this. Heaven knows I've been second guessing myself a LOT of late! Time will tell if I am WAY off track or if I am living like those skinny people do that I hate and detest. :D

    SO glad you're back. I think I am too.

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    1. Keeping good snack foods around is an excellent idea Sherri! Not being starving and unprepared really helps to ward off gratuitious temptations so you can save some calories for true treats.

      And great to hear you're feeling better about the way things are going!

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  16. Travel is for new things -- and lots of walking to burn off any of those new things that have more calories than you are used to. And you can always just have a bite, to taste it, instead of the whole thing.

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    1. Wait, messymimi, you can stop at one bite of something delicious? The Lobster can too and I have never in my life been able to do that! It is a skill to be admired.

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  17. How is something called "your best brain" not funny? ;) I loved the title. Those were some amazing photos and what a crazy whole food! I just love a good road trip.

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  18. travel is for new stuffs.
    ALL NEW THINGS!!!
    EVERYTHING!!
    unless it's spicy :-)
    then I pass to the seven year old.

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  19. I am still crushed you passed up poutine. I'll just tell myself you're saving the phenomena for another trip north. :)

    With kids, we've found having a place with a kitchen all the more important. Too many restaurants think your kids should just eat chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, macaroni, and french fries. Not mine, thanks! That being said...we do tend to indulge on vacay. And hence my treadmill (and a fun new bootcamp dvd!) is calling me every day at 5am. Work travel is the worst for me. Because they want to wine and dine us, and you can't really say no. Working in the National Parks has a lot of perks, but "abundant dining options" is not usually one of them. (We are, however, working very hard on offering healthy options along with our comfort food and indulgences.)

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  20. Vacation calories don't count.

    I KNOW this must be true because each Paris visit I've made (and yes - included gastronomic indulgences of ALL kinds including sheer volume and frequency as well as food types) resulted in weight LOSS not gain. So, there you have it: absolute proof :):) But - it's sorta like sub-atomic particles: we know they exist and have amazing powers, but one doesn't completely understand how or why and you can't see with the naked eye.

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  21. I am kinda boring - I bring some of my own food & many times we stay where there is a kitchen & buy food & make in BUT I always plan for treats & fun too! :)

    I need to travel more! No $$ but maybe one day! :)

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  22. Writing from Sydney, I love this! The Dogs Bollocks is a must visit surely. Thanks, great post!

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