My husband and I will be traveling out of state tomorrow to spend the weekend with family. It’s a much overdo visit, so we’re really excited. But, while I absolutely love traveling, it can be a bit stressful trying to find places that I feel comfortable eating (for health, quality, and food safety reasons). It’s true that you can find nutrition facts for most chain restaurants nowadays, but there can be several issues with these reportings. First off, if you order a meal that has anything sautéed or fried in it, the amount of fat used for this method of cooking can vary greatly from one cook to the next. While a lot of chains highly regulate and monitor each serving of product that goes out, from what I’ve seen in foodservice, fat for sauteing isn’t one of them. So, Chef Mike might load the pan up with excess oil/butter for the amount of product being cooked, while Chef Lulu uses significantly less, causing a drastic discrepancy in calories and fat from one plate to the next. The second issue I have with eating out stems from the false advertising (or general assumption) of “fresh” or “homemade” food (https://lifethroughfitness.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/what-you-didnt-know-about-the-foodservice-industry/). From working in foodservice and seeing just how much food comes in already prepared (and highly processed with an ingredients list as long as the Bible), I not only feel that I shouldn’t have to pay extra for a meal that I can easily get something similar to in the freezer section at Walmart, but I also don’t feel comfortable with the highly processed nature of most of these foods. Call me picky, but I prefer to eat chicken that is actually chicken and not engorged with hormones to the point that the chicken’s breasts are more the size of what a natural turkey breast would be. (Mass produced food also tends to be processed in a highly inhumane manner, so I do my best to not support such practices. It’s tough, and I know I’m far from excluding a lot of products that would fall under this category, but I do what I can when I can.)
In order to help make this trip a little more nutritionally-pleasing, we are stuffing a cooler full of all kinds of goodies–peppers and broccoli with low-fat dip, homemade bread and crackers, apples, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, salad, and few other goodies. FOOD SAFTEY NOTE: While it can be risky to store anything in a cooler for long periods of time, it’s especially risky with meat and dairy products due to the inability to truly regulate the temperature within a cooler. Yes, I’m a bit of a hypocrite here and we’re taking a chance with the eggs, but it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration. A proper temperature for storing refrigerated products is below 40 degrees F. The “Temperature Danger Zone” (the range at which bacteria grow most rapidly) is between 40-140 degrees F. So, if you happen to temp the food in your cooler and notice that your it might’ve been sitting in the danger zone for a while, consider throwing it out.
Have your own tips and tricks for nutritious traveling? Feel free to post them in the comments below!