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Adventures In Dining
Maine Lobster
Kittery, Maine

Snacktivities
FLOWER POWER
My kids and I have fun in the kitchen cooking up creative projects. For this Snacktivity™, we made peanut butter cookies into sunflowers. We used a cookie pan with depressions for cookie sticks (available at crafts stores), then topped the dough with flax seeds (center) and raw almond petals for a healthy crunch.

 

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Hickory Valley
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Adventures In Dining

Secrets to Staying Healthy on the Road
by Deb Geigis Berry

On vacation, it can be a challenge to stay fit and healthy. But if your family plans ahead and takes a team approach, it can be done. The keys are making time for family fitness, minimizing meals out, providing fun incentives, and turning homemade meals into special events. Here’s how we do that:

BEFORE YOU GO
Take the healthy vacation challenge
Before we hit the road, we set a fitness goal – typically, one hour of family fitness daily. We also devise a reward - a trip to a theme park, for example. If we meet out fitness goal most days of the trip, we get the prize. We keep track of our progress with stickers on a fitness chart (a simple grid to fill with stickers).

On vacation, everyone gets a fit kit -- a waist pouch or backpack containing a pedometer, jump rope, water bottle, sunscreen, and small notebook. That way, we’re always ready for a hike or walk. For added fun, reward a prize to the person who has chocked up the most pedometer steps by the end of the trip.

Kid-pleasing print-outs
Nutrition organizations are a good source of games, coloring pages and worksheets that motivate kids to eat right. Before we hit the road, I download pages from the U.S. Department of Agriculture site, www.mypyramid.gov. Additionally, I bring a copy of the BD Getting Started Fast Food Guide (download from www.bddiabetes.com), which lists nutritional information at fast food restaurants.

Make fitness bingo cards
On a 25-box bingo card (create on a computer or hand draw), fill in fitness challenges: do the crab walk, jump rope for one minute, hop on your right leg ten times, bounce a ball twenty times – whatever activities seem right for your child. Make several copies. They come in handy at rest stops or any time your kids need to blow off steam. After completing a challenge, kids put a sticker over the square. When they complete five challenges in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row, they get a prize. (Thanks to the T.E.A.M. Club staff at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for this idea).

Screen time sense
We limit screen time – DVD watching, TV, hand-held games, and computer access – to one hour a day per three hours of driving (or flying). The kids can choose the hour, but once it’s up, they need to find an alternative – playing, reading, journal writing, crafts. Before your trip, help the kids come up with a list, 10 Fun Things To Do in the Car, and display it prominently.

Bring your bikes
Some of our most enjoyable family adventures involve cycling. For a list of bike trails, go to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy site, www.railstotrails.org.

Homemade is Healthy
On vacation, we’re all for trying famous fried clams, homemade ice cream, and award-winning barbecue. To keep a lid on calories and costs, however, we typically prepare two meals daily. It’s simpler than it sounds, if you bring along key kitchen supplies.

• Picnic blanket with water-repellant backing
• Microwave steamer (we use a three-piece plastic unit with a base, steamer and lid)
• Paring knife
• Vegetable peeler
• Measuring cup
• Measuring spoon
• Wooden spoon or plastic mixing spoon
• Cutting board
• Salad tongs
• Salad spinner
• Plastic storage containers with lids (to store salads, dips)
• Strainer
• Plastic dinner plates or biodegradable paper plates
• Dishwashing liquid
• Sponge
• Utensil holder with forks, spoons, knives, napkins
• Antibacterial wipes
• Condiments – ketchup, salsa, mustard, honey, low fat vinaigrette, salt and pepper (keep opened bottles in cooler)
• Foil
• Plastic wrap
• Cooler

Portion plates
On vacation, it can be hard to keep portions under control. We invested in four portion plates – dishwasher-safe plastic plates with colorful drawings that show ideal serving sizes. The plates help us aim for one-fourth lean protein, one-fourth whole grains, and one-half fruits and veggies at mealtime. There’s an adult plate and a child plate. We ordered ours through www.theportionplate.com.

Share the chores
To make sure everyone shares kitchen duties during the trip, we make assignments – food shopping, cutting and peeling, cooking, setting out the utensils, and cleanup. Play some music and groove while you move.

IN THE CAR
Snack attack
Our favorite road snacks are baby carrots and hummus, whole wheat pita bread, organic peanut butter, raw almonds, fresh fruit, and granola bars (we like Kashi). We replenish our supplies daily, so we don’t have to rely on buying high-calorie snacks at service stations. We buy a gallon jug of spring water and add a few frozen strawberries or grapes for a refreshing flavor. Everyone has an individual water bottle, which can be refilled from the big jug.

The stash
In the face of road trip temptation – ice cream stands, drive-thru restaurants, and candy aisles -- eating healthy requires motivation. Keep a stash of toys from the dollar store in the front seat. At your discretion, invite kids to pick a non-edible treat. My stash includes bubbles, jump ropes, card games, jacks, sidewalk chalk, and rubber balls.

HEALTHY PITSTOPS
Avoiding fast food
It’s challenging to compete with the colorful packaging and promotions at fast food restaurants, but my kids have grown to love our homemade, healthy picnics. Whenever possible, we have picnics at local playgrounds. I serve kids’ meals in lunch bags decorated with stickers, and I include a prize from my stash.

Insta-picnic
In our cooler, we keep low-salt ham or turkey, nonfat cheese, tomatoes, mustard, whole-wheat tortillas, and fresh fruit for impromptu picnics. When I’m feeling ambitious, I put the cutting board on the picnic blanket, prepare Double Bean Salad, and serve it on the spot.

Double Bean Salad
• 1 can black beans
• 1 can chickpeas
• 1 fresh tomato, chopped
• one-fourth cup chopped sweet onion (optional)
• one-half bottle nonfat Italian salad dressing
• salt and pepper to taste

Drain (and rinse, if possible) black beans and chickpeas. Stir together in bowl with tomato, onion, and dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate. Note: For easy cleanup, put dirty kitchen tools in a plastic bag and wash later at the hotel.

Rejuvenating workouts
In the trunk, we keep a plastic storage tub filled with play equipment – a beach ball, soccer ball, basketball, kite, flying disc, and sidewalk chalk.

Daily bread
For the freshest food, we shop on a daily basis. The errand isn’t long – we just pick up what we need for a day. Whenever possible, we replenish goods at local farmers’ markets or in the health food sections of grocery stores. The kids get a budget for healthy snacks and pick their own munchies.

On a roll
Cycling is the perfect way to unwind after a long car ride. Other recreational options
include roller skating or ice skating, bowling, mini golf, tennis, hiking, or requesting a guest pass at a local Y. Instead of spending a bundle on dinner out, consider using the money towards a recreational outing.

AT THE HOTEL
Choose a healthy hotel
We look for hotels with an indoor heated pool and a refrigerator or microwave in the room. Bonus: an onsite playground or large lawn, and/or walking distance to a park and/or grocery store. No pool, no problem. Do the limbo (find inflatable limbo poles at party stores) or play Twister in the hotel room instead.

Keeping cool
If you use an ice block in your cooler, freeze it overnight in your in-room refrigerator or ask the front desk to store it in the hotel frig. Designate someone the official ice-block captain, so you don’t leave it behind.

Quick in-room meals
• Rotisserie chicken and steamed veggies. Buy the cooked chicken at the deli counter. Steam the veggies in the microwave.
• Microwave burritos. Mix drained, rinsed can of black beans with, salsa, nonfat cheese and olives (optional); fill whole wheat tortilla and microwave for 60 seconds. Alternative: nonfat cheese and apple slices on whole wheat tortilla.
• Baked potato bar. Microwave a potato for everyone; offer several stuffings -- nonfat sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped broccoli and peppers, and/or a heart-healthy butter substitute.
• Steamed veggies and rice. Microwave whole-grain rice. Top with steamed veggies – sliced peppers, asparagus, sweet potato chunks, and so on.
• Oatmeal. Microwave whole-grain oats, then top with honey, brown sugar, raisins, dates, chopped apples.
• Make your own “pizza.” Top half of whole wheat English muffin with tomato sauce and lowfat cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds.
• Sweet salad. Toss baby spinach with mandarin oranges, dried cherries, and raspberry vinaigrette.
• Fruit parfaits. In clear plastic cup, layer sliced strawberries or melon with nonfat yogurt and lowfat granola-type cereal.

The road ahead
Before you leave the hotel, go online to learn of parks, beaches, public swimming pools, bike paths, roller rinks, and other area recreational spots you’ll be near during the day’s drive. Town recreation departments often offer such listings. When the drive gets long, it’s helpful to know there’s a payoff.



Deb and her family try to get plenty of exercise on road trips, whether they're traveling by RV (above, 2003) or rental car (below, 2004).

© Deborah Geigis Berry, The Family Adventure Mom, 2008-11. All rights reserved.

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