I am heading into two weeks’ vacation. This is the first time my husband and I have ever had a summer vacation as a couple. We tend to take sunny destination winter vacations instead. Our summers are usually spent cramming a lot of things into weekends, then trying to recover through the week. I am looking forward to this vacation immensely. We are going to be camping for the first week then staying in a cabin on Salt Spring Island with my in-laws for the second week.
My parents bought a trailer this year that they are nice enough to lend to us. After tenting it with two kids, this upgrade is incredibly luxurious. By current standards the trailer is modest at 20 feet long. It has everything we need: beds, a toilet, a fridge and a bit of warm water. Even with all this luxury I still find prepping and cooking food while camping to be not fun. Not to mention the dishes. Blah. Time spent cooking means more time for my children to be poking around the sewer outlflow drain, flipping lawn chairs (they are both in love with doing this?) and playing with the hatchet. Kids have a natural talent for finding the most dangerous things in a matter of seconds.
It is pretty easy to wing it for weekend get-aways. A whole week is a bit long to be eating only hot dogs, chips and cold cereal. The key to more fun in the sun and less cooking is pre-planning and a few short cuts. Before I leave I am going to make Salsa Stuffed Meatloaves and Chipotle Turkey Burger patties. Once cooked or barbequed I am going to freeze them so I just have to thaw, heat and serve. I am also going to marinade some chicken breasts with a simple marinade I found on Pintrest. Throw it all into a re-sealable bag and freeze. Toss into a cooler to help keep drinks cold while defrosting safely. I will also bring along the makings for some quick, vegetarian quesadillas, whole wheat tortillas, re-fried beans, cheese and veg. On our way out of town I am going to pick up a deli roasted chicken which can be for dinner one night and used in sandwiches for lunch. Of course we will have the required hot dogs too.
Most of the fruit and veg I pack will be ready to serve: cherry tomatoes, snap peas, mini-cucumbers, mini carrots, grapes, blueberries, bananas, nectarines, etc. Others will be prepped/chopped ahead of time: broccoli, cauliflower, melons and peppers so they are ready to be thrown out as a quick snack or into a cooler bag for a take along lunch.
For breakfast it's going to be a lot of cold cereal, it's easy and my kids love it. I am also bring along some pancake mix that just needs water. I usually throw in some berries (hopefully huckleberries the kids have picked) and top with yogurt. I like to do fruit, yogurt and low sugar granola parfaits too.
As far as sides go I will prep my favorite Southwest Quinoa Salad before I leave. I am also a fan of these rice pouches. The wholegrain brown rice is just rice with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. No added salt which you will get with the flavoured varieties. It is ready to go after a quick microwave (if you have power) or a stir fry with some veggies. You are going to pay a bit more for this product, but in this case I would rather spend the 40 minutes I have saved at the beach or reading a trashy mag. I also like to make a simple potato salad with new potatoes tossed with Greek yogurt Tzatziki.
For snacks I try to serve veggies and hummus, fruit, cheese strings, homemade muffins and trail mix more often. Of course there are a few cookies, potato chips and s’mores too. If you can’t have a little junk while camping, when can you?
Today was a great day. I had suggested earlier in the week that we take our bikes over to Quadra and ride to Rebecca Spit. Now, let it be known this is a little unusual for me. Not the going to Quarda, but the bikes part. As we got closer to today I had thought of a million excuses why it was a bad idea. The kids haven't spent much time together in the bike trailer, would we be able to pack enough stuff, could I make it all the way to Rebecca Spit, was I going to have to tow the kids?
My husband Braden rides his bike to work everyday, so he was good. He was also kind enough to let me ride his bike, which is a road bike. It is a lot easier to ride than a moutain bike. Braden was stuck on the old moutian bike pulling the kids. Much easier for him than me though.
After not a lot of fun getting everyone out the door, we were off to catch the 12:30 ferry. The weather was devine. The boys loved the ferry. We managed to get off and on in once piece. I thought for sure that was a disater waiting to happen. The boys were bugging each other a bit in the bike trailer. We quickly put a rolled up towel between them, problem solved.
The bike ride there was really good. I didn't die. I only had to walk the bike up one hill. We had a great time chasing crabs on the beach and wading through the warm water. The boys loved the bright red sea cucumber we found. I packed a picnic lunch, but kept it simple. I cut some whole wheat pitas into triangles and brought Greek yogurt Tzitziki and roasted garlic hummus to dip them in. We also had strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, cheese strings, trail mix and the boys even got a frozen juice box each. I used them to keep things cool in our cooler bag. By the time we arrived they were prefect to eat with a spoon. Freezing them slows down how fast they drink them too. We also brought lots of water.
We were back in time to catch the 5:00 ferry home. The boys both zonked out on the ride back.
We then headed over to my in-law's for a quick dinner and well deserved G&T.
Both kids had a nice bath in the back yard and we all had a huge laugh over the towel"dresses" they were running around in after.
My butt is already killing me, but it's so, so worth it. I love when physical activity doesn't feel like a chore. Pick something you can do as a famiy and ignore all the reasons not to do it. Get out there. Summer whips by, the laundry and yard work can wait.
We have already decided our next bike trip: Denman!
I am pretty sure it goes without saying: I am so happy our summer weather arrived with July. In my mind summer doesn’t really start until July anyways, so I don’t get too bent out of shape when the weather is less than great in June. Anything that is, a bonus.
Hot weather changes the way we eat. Hot comfort foods are a lot less comforting in the heat. I love oatmeal and had abandoned it in summer. But its back in full force, just in a different form. Meet refrigerator oatmeal. When I first spotted this (on Pintrest maybe?) I thought it sounded kind of gross, maybe because of the chia content.
There is no shortage of places or people that will list for you the reasons why chia seeds are amazing. The fiber! The omega threes! Bottom line: I don’t like them. I find the gelatinous texture they produce very unappealing. In this case I just left them out, no problem.
There are a lot of foods out there that are deemed as absolutely necessary to achieve good health. They vary from chia to salmon to kale to blueberries to quinoa to green tea. There is an even longer list of foods that are deemed unhealthy. They are talked about in ways that may lead us to believe that if they ever pass our lips we are doomed to a life of chronic disease and weight issues.
If you are a regular reader, you know I like to take a balanced approach to healthy eating. I don’t think there are specific foods that must be eaten to be healthy. Lots of foods have vitamins, minerals or other profiles that can make them great, but they can all be found elsewhere. The highly touted foods I tend to stay away from (simply because I don’t like them) are: green tea, kale chips, plain yogurt, ginger and most forms of tofu. On the flip side I eat things that some people express shock over: Fillet-O-Fish sandwiches from McDonalds, Old Dutch Popcorn Twists (odd obsession), hot dogs, tempura anything and Diet Coke. How often do I eat these things? Not often. Could I go without? Probably. Do I want to? Nope.
Eating is about so much more than just fueling your body. We eat when we celebrate, we gather around the table (hopefully) to eat together as a family; it provides joy and variety to our days. Life is too short to never have the foods we love. On the flip side your life will be shortened if all you eat is crap. All in moderation, a dietitian’s favorite word.
Anyways, I came back to the recipe and gave it a go. I am going to share the flavor combo I tried.
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats (not steel cut)
1/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds (optional)
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
In a container that seals well, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and peanut butter. Seal and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add strawberries and stir until mixed throughout. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2-3 days. Eat chilled.
Love it. Folks who don’t like oatmeal due to texture might like this. I made mine in mason jars (which I use for everything under the sun). I made a few different flavor combos to eat through the week. My creation was a twist on peanut butter and jam. There are a lot of flavor ideas here and here.
Some things to keep in mind: choose a low fat and sugar content Greek yogurt (or plain) for a protein boost, regular yogurt can be used but tends to be thinner so reduce the milk. Any milk can be used in place of cow’s milk. Be sure to include a healthy fat like nuts, nut butter or seeds to keep you full for longer.
If you start your day off right there might be room for something from the less healthy category here and there too…..
Tiffany McFadden, RD