How to Eat Healthy on the Road & Stay Energized
posted by Cynthia Robinson on April 26th, 2016
Over the years I’ve spent many months per year on the road while on tours with the Paititi Institute and many often ask us how we manage to maintain healthy eating habits on the move. When leaving behind our routine and familiar surroundings, it can be a challenge to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, especially if you have restrictions like me (vegan and gluten free).
After years of traveling for extended periods, we’ve dialed in a method that works for us. And, since we’re currently in the middle of our tour and fully immersed in travel mode, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share a few of our tricks!
Luckily today natural food stores are popping up all over, so it’s rare to drive for an 8-10 hour stretch without passing by a coop or health food store. As we travel, we always look for the local natural food coops or a local market before heading to a big corporate chain such as Wholefoods.
The local stores often support local farmers and it’s also a great way to connect with the local community. You can search for coops like these around the United States at Coopdirectory.org
And here’s a couple additional websites which organize health food and organic stores by state. They’re not as slick or modern as some websites we’re used to these days, but they often do the job.
When traveling, I find my digestion gets compromised more easily. For this reason, I figured out a good start to the day with the following routine.
- A tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in water. Apple cider vinegar is known to promote digestion, enhance the immune system, regulate blood sugar and detoxify the body (to name a few of the benefits)
- A good quality probiotic.
It’s a simple start that makes a big difference.
Quick, easy breakfast
We keep breakfast quick and easy when we’re on the road. The easier you make it, the more likely you are to stick to something good your body will appreciate. Our strategy is to stock up on a good granola, hemp seed milk, and fruit.
The great thing about hemp seed milk (and other nut milks) is that they don’t need refrigeration until opened. Hemp milk is a great source protein including the hard-to-find amino acid, GLA. It’s rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with many vitamins.
So if you keep a reusable bowl on hand, you’re set. Add some fresh fruit and you have a lovely, hassle-free and travel-friendly meal to start your day.
Lunch and Dinner
Nori Wraps & Sandwiches
We love to make nori wraps or sandwiches while on the road. They’re healthy, don’t get old because you can mix up the toppings and, let’s face it, they’re also kinda fun. With the list below, you can pull over at any point and make a delicious lunch or dinner.
- Kim Chee or Raw Sauerkraut: Since these are fermented, they don’t spoil if your cooler refuses to stay cool 🙂 Easy, natural probiotics to add to salad or wraps
- Some form of lettuce (arugula, spring greens, spinach, etc)
- Rice or quinoa
For these last two, if I have access to a stove at some point while traveling, I’ll mix up a batch of rice or quinoa which keeps happily in a cooler for a couple days. Also, these things are easy to find cooked if you hit up a health food store’s prepared food bar.
Kale salad in a ziplock
Kale is one of our favorite foods. As a dark leafy green, it offers profound nutrition and also keeps very well! When we shop and stock up between destinations, I often make up a big kale salad in a ziplock bag, and it will stay good for a couple days in a cooler, assuming it lasts that long! Here’s how to make it…
- Wash your kale and strip the center stalk. Once dry, you can tear it up into smaller pieces and place in a large ziplock bag. I usually use 2-3 bunches as you would be surprised how much is shrinks down.
- Squeeze a couple lemons and/or apple cider vinegar
- Add a splash of olive oil
- Salt to taste (I also love to add dulse flakes)
- From here, just massage a little and let it sit
Since it’s in a bag, you can just close it up and massage it from the outside, and you don’t make a big mess of your hands. When you’re ready for a yummy meal, it will have softened up even further just sitting in the dressing. We like to wrap ours in Nori of course!
Quality drinking water
Drinking high quality water can make a huge difference in our overall well being. When possible, we’ll stop at a spring and fill up a large 5 gallon jug full of water right from the source. There’s an amazing website, where you can visit to find spring sources in the US while on the road.
At times, we’re not always able to get to a spring so we also travel with a high quality portable ceramic filter. We like ProPur pitchers as they can filter out fluoride and all kinds of other contaminants we don’t like to drink.
Since we love tea we also travel with an electric kettle. Most often the hot water you find in gas stations won’t be of the highest quality. So if you have an electric kettle and a thermos you can make enough hot water in the morning to last a full day.
Other beverages to keep you going
We love to pour GungFu style tea and travel with a small set. It’s a nice, effective way to unwind and ground after a busy day traveling and rushing around.
We also love Dandy Blend and Blue Lotus Chai as both are delicious and very simple to make while driving down the road. Just add powder to hot water and wala!
In addition to tea, we usually stock up on coconut water and kombucha, both of which are very nutritious and great for your digestion. Being a ferment, Kombucha has high probiotic value and coconut water is super hydrating with tons of electrolytes.
Herbs & supplements for your immune system
When we travel, we find it’s important to focus a little extra attention on keeping the immune system strong. For something that involves a lot of sitting on your butt, it can actually wear you down quite a bit. The following are some of our favorite supplements and medicines we take on a regular basis as a way to stay healthy.
- Chaga mushroom tea
Chaga has been the subject of several studies to show that it’s a powerful anti-carcinogenic and contains more antioxidants than any food known to man. There are too many amazing things to say about chaga here, so check out this article to read more about it health benefits and preparation. We keep a large jug of concentrate on hand and drink a cup or two everyday.
- Turmeric tea
Studies suggest that turmeric improves the liver’s ability to detox. Turmeric has also been shown to help reduce free radical damage, protecting your cells and tissues, as well as a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antifungal and antibacterial. It’s a shame the stains this little root makes on just about everything it touches are so stubborn, but the health benefits are worth it. We like to prepare a tea with fresh turmeric root but when this is not available, you can find dried powder in almost any health food store. It’s good to prepare turmeric together with black pepper and oil (coconut or ghee) to make it more bio-available. Besides tea, we put it in pretty much everything we cook!
- Chlorella & Spirulina
These two suggestions (often sold already blended) are incredibly nutritious micro-algae known for cleansing the bowels, liver and blood from all kinds of toxins. They’re typically bought in powder form and you can mix it with a quantity of water suggested on the packaging. If it’s more convenient, buy it in supplemental pill form. It’s an incredibly easy way to add high nutritional value to your salads or smoothies. My favorite is to make up a smoothie in the mornings with chaga tea, spirulina, chlorella and banana if I have access to a blender.
It’s antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and well… there are too many amazing qualities to write about here, so you should Google it! I guarantee you can find it anywhere you are, too ☺
There are many other herbs and supplements we work with at different times but these are our staples. Of course you should do your own research before taking any herbs and always be sure to check for contraindications with anything else you may be taking.
If it sounds like a lot, don’t worry…
If you’re new to a lot of the foodstuffs on this list, this all may sound complex or perhaps like a lot of work. But we’ve discovered for ourselves that with just a little initial effort and forethought to figure these things out, it genuinely becomes effortless. Invest that time up front, and you’ll always have healthy options anywhere you go.