Traveling Healthy

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Traveling is one of my favorite activities.  I love exploring new places or revisiting places I have loved in the past.  I love being surrounded by unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.  I also love trying new food and taking a peek into the daily lives of other people experiencing a different culture, locale, environment than the one I currently inhabit.  However, there is a part of the healthy, fit-minded me that feels slightly uncomfortable with the thought of leaving my routine of knowing exactly what, how much, and when I am eating and when I will squeeze in my workout.  This feeling stems from the fact that I have spent so much time and energy focused on getting in to the best shape of my life and there is a small fear that all of that hard work could disappear over the course of my vacation.

First, I want to clarify that I believe we should let go of rigid thinking while traveling (and in life in general, but that’s another post! 🙂 ).  It’s ok to taste and try everything or have days of complete rest where you don’t leave your beach side hammock (the dream, right?).  It’s also ok to completely forget about your fitness goals while on vacation.  The definition of vacation is a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday, which definitely includes turning off that 5am alarm clock that wakes you for your daily workout.  Where vacation mode becomes a concern for me is when I return home.  If I have completely gone buck wild on a trip, I find it a little difficult to get my mind back in the game when I get home.  It’s so easy to continue vacation mode – eating out often, sleeping in instead of working out – if I haven’t kept my goals in mind while I was away.  Your health and fitness shouldn’t consume you or your ability to explore the world, but here are 5 simple tips to help you stay on track while you are away from home.

Tips for healthy traveling:

1. Pack food for the road

The transportation to your destination is one of the best ways to start a trip off right.  If you are on a road trip, pack as many healthy snacks and meals as possible.  Nuts, homemade granola bars or bites, and fruit (dried and fresh) make excellent munchies for the road.  You also have the option of packing salads or sandwiches for meals along the way.  This not only saves on calories, but you will save major cash if you aren’t eating fast food or snacking at gas stations.  I’d rather use that money for a couple of better dining experiences, admission to a national or state park, or some other adventure I come across 🙂

The same applies for flying, but you may be limited in baggage space.  Still, make some room for a few snacks for the flight.  The snacks available on planes are often full of sodium, artificial flavorings, and other nasty chemicals and they aren’t even filling.  You can also pack a whole meal if you want.  There aren’t security restrictions on the food you bring, it just cannot be over the limit for liquids (so no water, juice, etc).  Last week, I took a short flight to Santa Barbara and packed an apple with cashew butter and Shakeology.  To get through security, I put the Shakeology powder in a shaker cup and filled the cup with water once I got to the terminal.  Easy peasy!

Snacks and book - perfect carry on items.

Snacks and a book – perfect carry on items.

2.  Adapt your accommodations to your routine

Once you arrive at your destination, seek out ways to adapt your accommodations to your routine.  If you are staying in an Airbnb, hotel, hostel, or family home that has space in the fridge to store food, go grocery shopping for snacks and meal items.  This is also another money saver.  When Nick and I traveled to Japan in 2013, we moved around to many hostels and didn’t really have access to a kitchen most of the time.  However, on the nights that we did we purchased breakfast items and made food before heading out for the day.  You can also do this for lunch and pack a meal for when you are on the go.

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To get your sweat on, you can pack work out DVDs that don’t require equipment.  DVDs take up very little room in your bag and you can pop them in to your laptop or a nearby TV to get your workout in.  I love to pack PiYo on trips because it is low impact so I don’t have to worry about jumping on unfamiliar floors (oh hello, neighbors!) and it doesn’t require much space.  Last week, I did PiYo on my grandmother’s porch.  Running is also an exercise that doesn’t require much equipment aside from your clothing and you get the extra sight seeing in too!

3. Choose according to your goals at restaurants

Grabbed Backyard Bowls for lunch with my cousin last week!

Grabbed Backyard Bowls for lunch with my cousin last week!

When eating out, be conscious of what you are ordering.  Like I said before, you don’t have to continuously be thinking about how each meal will affect your muscle definition.  On the other hand, it is totally possible to eat healthy at restaurants.  It is up to you and your goals for your fitness/health and your vacation.

4. Skip the rental car and get active

Skip the rental car and walk as much as possible.  I love walking and taking public transportation everywhere when traveling because it is an awesome way to take in the sights and live like a local.  The added bonus is the extra exercise you get!  You can end up walking several miles each day while taking in the sights of your destination.  You can also seek out adventurous ways to explore the area: If you are somewhere tropical rent a kayak or stand up paddle board.  If you are near mountains go hiking or rent snow sport gear.  You get the idea – just get out there and be active and you won’t need to worry one bit about your missed work outs!

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5. Relax and enjoy yourself!

This is the most important step.  You spend the majority of your time on the grind: working out, eating clean, working and paying bills, taking care of family, maintaining your home….the list goes on and on.  You are now on vacation!  I think the mental health benefits of taking time to actually relax outweigh the benefits of you continuing an intense exercise regimen.  Unless you are in the middle of training for a race, you should be able to skip a day or two…or seven…and it won’t be the end of the world.  Stick to your goals the best you can and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to hop back on that horse when you get home.  🙂

Happy travels!

Scotti Leona

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Orange Black Bean Hummus

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My other half is allergic to peanuts and many of peanut’s relatives, including garbanzo beans.  This means that regular hummus is typically a no-go in our household unless its just for me (which is neither fun nor economical) or Nick wants to endure a stomach ache, itchy throat or other unpleasant side effects (also not fun, healthy or economical).  He likes the taste, texture and many ways to use hummus though, so this often leads to him risking it!  Not too long ago, I found a local brand (King Harvest) that makes a black bean hummus and it is really delicious!  Shortly after that, I was flipping through the book Quick Fix Vegan and came across a recipe for black bean hummus that uses orange juice to add an interesting flavor.  I immediately gave the recipe a shot and it has become a new favorite for snack and meal preps!

Black beans are an excellent source of:

  • Protein (a single one-cup serving of black beans provides almost 15 grams of protein, which is equivalent to the amount of protein in 2 ounces of meat!)
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin B1
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Manganese and Magnesium
  • Phytonutrients
Fun graphic I found on Instagram :-)

Fun graphic I found on Instagram.  Click on the image to see larger version 🙂

Oranges add to the nutrition benefits with:

  • Lots of Vitamin C
  • More fiber and folate
  • Vitamin A and B1
  • Potassium and calcium

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, sesame tahini (sesame seed paste or sesame butter found in most health food stores) provides:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Riboflavin, niacin and thiamin (all of which help convert food to energy, maintain skin and keep your nervous system functioning well)
  • Sesame seeds are one of the best sources of copper, a powerful antioxidant and a necessary mineral for your immune system and for enzymes that produce energy, build connective tissue and metabolize iron
  • Iron and phosphorus
For more information: Nutritional Facts of Roasted Sesame Tahini, The World’s Healthiest Foods: Black Beans,  The World’s Healthiest Foods: Oranges

I purchase my black beans from bulk bins at my local food cooperative and cook about 1 cup (yields about 3 cups cooked) at a time to use to prepare a few meals or snacks throughout the week.  Not only is hummus incredibly easy to make, making it from scratch saves a lot of money!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (about half of a medium sized orange)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked black beans
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Chili powder and cilantro to taste

Place everything in a food processor and blend!

Enjoy as a dip for vegetables, a spread on sandwiches, with pita chips, or any other way you enjoy hummus 🙂

The Wonderful World of Bulk Bins!

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In the last year, I have discovered the wonderful world of bulk bins!  Bulk bins can be found in some grocery stores (Fred Meyer, WinCo, Safeway), health food stores (Whole Foods), and food cooperatives* (People’s Co-op in Portland).  They contain food staples such as beans, rice, flour, nuts, dried fruit, and spices.  There are typically plastic or paper bags nearby that you simply put however much you want of a particular food into, label it with the provided number or food name, and take it to the register!

Why do I love them so much?  Let me count the ways!

  1. Image-15Saves Money:  Buying in bulk saves some serious dough.  The most drastic price difference is seen in spices.  Typically, you’ll pay $3-5 for a bottle of cinnamon, but I can refill my spice bottle for less than $1!  When you see the prices on bulk bins they can seem pretty steep (especially for spices), but notice that this pricing is per pound.  I’d venture to guess you aren’t buying a whole pound of oregano, so don’t worry about that seemingly large price tag.  Also, items like pasta, spices, and flour are light in weight so that per pound price won’t add up quickly.  I recently purchased 1.12 pound of lentils for $1.67, 1.27 pounds of black beans for $1.77, and 1.42 pounds of pinto beans for $3.25.  If you buy canned beans, you get 15 ounces (about 1.9 cups) for somewhere between $1-3.  However, one cup of dried black beans yields 2.25 cups of cooked beans.  Trust me, it adds up over time!  And yes, you can save on organic foods this way too.
  2. Portion Control:  So, you’re trying a new recipe and it calls for 1/2 cup of bulgur.  If you’ve never heard of bulgur you may be wondering, what the heck is it and will I even like it?  At the grocery store, you can purchase 28 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill bulgur for $7 and hope you enjoy this new grain or buy the grain, use 1/2 cup, and never use it again!  However, if you find your needed ingredient in a bulk bin, you can purchase just the amount that you need.
  3. Saves Packaging:  I have saved a bunch of jars from things like pickles and jams, and now use them to hold foods from bulk bins.  I also use large storage jars I have purchased from places like Bed Bath and Beyond or Amazon.com.  Most of the time, there is a scale near the bulk bins where you can weigh the empty jar, write the tare weight, and then fill it with your food item.  The tare weight allows the person ringing you up to only charge you for the weight of the food and not the jar.  Don’t forget to weigh the empty jar with the lid on!  Reusing glass or plastic jars saves you from throwing away plastic packaging or recycling boxes and cans from packaged foods.  Not only does reusing jars reduce waste in our landfills, but you can also make your pantry super cute!  A little chalkboard paint or printable labels, and you’ve got well-organized and lovely food storage.  Check out BooBearyBinks or here for ideas.  My jars are not quite as cute yet.  I’m thinking this will be a great project when I am done with school!
  4. Nothing but almonds in my almond butter!!

    Nothing but almonds in my almond butter!!

    New Foods:  I have been introduced to so many new foods because of bulk bins!  Hazelnut butter and goji berries are my recent favorite finds and tries from bulk bins.  Sometimes, I literally stand in front of the bulk bins and Google things I’ve never heard of on my cell phone!  It’s fun to see a grain I’ve never heard of, purchase a cup or so, and give it a try!

  5. Clean Foods:  Foods in bulk bins are often just the food.  For example, dry beans in a bulk bin are only beans, while beans in a can may contain other nonessential (and possibly unhealthy) ingredients.  The nutritional information and ingredients will be on a label on the bin, so read carefully.

What I always buy from bulk bins:

  1. All types of beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, cannellini, pinto etc).  Image-16
  2. Lentils
    (Yes, buying beans and lentils in bulk means they are dry and require some time to cook (1-2 hours).  If you plan ahead, it really isn’t a big deal.  I typically cook a cup of beans at the beginning of the week and stick them in the fridge so they are ready to be thrown into meals.  See Vegetarians in Paradise for charts and cooking guides for beans and grains.)
  3. Rice
  4. Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc)
  5. All types of nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc)
  6. Almond butter or hazelnut butter
  7. Honey
  8. Agave
  9. Olive Oil
  10. SpicesImage-17
  11. Oats
  12. Quinoa and quinoa flakes
  13. Chocolate or carob chips
  14. Goji berries
  15. Chia seeds
  16. Pasta
  17. Whole grains
  18. Popcorn
  19. Shampoo and conditioner (refill old shampoo/condition bottles)

If you have a store near you that has bulk bins, give them a spin.  You’ll never want to go back to packaged foods 🙂

*Food Cooperatives are also amazing!  Cooperatives (or co-ops) are worker or customer owned businesses that provide high quality, usually local, items at a great value to their members.  They not only provide food that supports safe, sustainable growing and manufacturing practices, co-ops can also be an amazing community resource.  I am a member-owner at People’s Co-op in Portland, OR and they have an amazing array of free or sliding fee scale classes every month, including yoga, canning and jarring, cooking classes, movement and meditation, as well as provide opportunities to learn and discuss ways to improve our local and national food system.  Being a member-owner means I have made an investment in the store and I am eligible to receive a small percentage of the amount of money I spend at People’s each year when the store as a profit and participate in elections through the Board of Directors.  They also have a Hands-on-Owner program in which you can work in the store for a discount on purchases.  Furthermore, food co-ops provide an opportunity for you to invest money back into your community and small businesses, rather than into large corporate supermarket chains that do not have the same interest in caring for your community and nearby farmers.

Because patrons are also owners in a food co-op, they have the opportunity to decide what types of foods the store offers.  For example, at People’s, members voted to not sell products that contain meat (except dog food), and the Board of Directors has approved product guidelines that prohibit products that contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  This makes shopping there easy, because I have confidence that the products I am buying are going to be “clean” without me spending a ton of time reading every single label.  The investment is not large ($180) and can be made in $30 per year payments.  This has made it affordable for me while I survive on a student budget!

Search for a food co-op near you here!!  ❤

All of the photos in this post were taken at People’s Co-op.