An (Updated) Guide to Eating Real Food on Vacation

Hi Everyone!

So, this past week, my family has been in Florida, and I came up with even more new ideas for eating healthy on vacation. While traveling and managing to keep up a real food diet does seem tricky, once you have a few insider tricks up your sleeve it can be done. After all, you want to enjoy your vacation, not be worrying about what’s in your food! Be sure to check out my previous post on this subject as well, listing 5 Tips and Tricks for Eating Real Food on the Road.

So, let’s get on with the new tips that I have found helpful! Please share and don’t forget to comment your top tips when you travel. 🙂

  • Flexibility is key

Before traveling, know that you will have to be flexible, and be willing to compromise for the better option even if that is not something you usually would buy/order. Typically, stores away from home do not sell the same things, as with restaurants, so look for the best option and aim for over 50% of your food being “safe bets” (knowing where it came from, clearly a clean food like fruits and veggies) and the other portion being the next best choice you can find.

  • Pack it up for the airport

Typically, it can be difficult to find something truly healthy and “real,” in an airport, and especially on the plane. My advice is to at least pack something for when you are flying- I love packing dried fruit, bars like Larabars, popcorn, and whole grain crackers. I stick to foods that don’t have a ton of liquid to keep it safe. That way, I have enough food in case I can’t find anything decent. If you do buy food, go for something simple like oatmeal. Don’t forget to pack some snacks for your trip and for the way home! img_5280

  • Go for the vegetarian option when you’re unsure

It can be difficult to know where your meat is sourced while traveling, unless you find a local, farm-to-table restaurant. When you don’t know, try to go for the vegetarian option or choose from several side items to make a meal, such as a baked potato, veggies, fruit, etc. It is pretty hard to mess up a veggie entree! 😉

  • Buy some food when you get there

Especially when you are staying for a longer period of time, buying food from a nearby grocery store when you arrive at your destination is a great idea. Sometimes, you even luck out and find a health food store! Stocking up on breakfast foods, healthy snacks, and fresh fruits and veggies will save time and money on vacation.

  • Call ahead and find some options

If you are planning on going out to eat and have a little extra time, its worth giving a few places a call and asking where they source their food and if it is whole wheat, homemade, etc. This can help narrow down which restaurants have the most wholesome offerings, if any at all. Of course, we all run into times where we have to just pick somewhere without an advance plan, but calling ahead can give you an idea of the best place.

  • Look out for vegan and vegetarian restaurants/smoothie shops

I myself am not vegan or vegetarian, but most restaurants that do specialize in vegan and/or vegetarian food are very health-conscious and offer several local, fresh options. While it is important to watch out for added refined sugars and refined grains at these restaurants, vegan restaurants typically have some good options, so it can be nice to check out which of these restaurants are nearby. When in doubt, smoothies are a good bet! 😉

  • Start the day off with a healthy breakfast

If all else fails, don’t forget to start off the day with a healthy breakfast. I love oatmeal, plain yogurt topped with fruit and nuts/seeds, or a smoothie alongside a whole grain muffin for breakfast both while I’m traveling and at home. Using the groceries you’ve purchased, making a filling breakfast that will give you fuel for hours is a great idea, because when you aren’t as hungry throughout the day, you reach for healthier options.

 

I hope these tips help you while traveling, and have a nice vacation! 🙂

 

Apple Oat Breakfast Bars

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m sharing an absolutely delicious breakfast bar recipe that I now love to make. In the process of recipe testing to make My Favorite Power Bars  I had some extra apples, so I came up with the idea for an spiced apple bar. And guess what? The apples were the perfect addition! These bars have a moist, flavorful texture due to the apples, and are packed with protein and healthy fats from the cashews, almond butter, and walnuts. Not to mention, the coconut oil helps make these bars the perfect breakfast choice, because it provides a boost to keep you going longer.

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Most store-bought breakfast bars these days are made with tons of hidden refined sugars, such as sucralose, evaporated cane juice, and high fructose corn syrup. These sugars spike your blood sugar, causing you to crash a few hours after breakfast. Breakfast is supposed to provide you with fuel for the day, and refined sugars are no fuel. This recipe is sweetened using only fruit, making it both healthier and tastier!

This year, I am up much earlier for school, and while I love cooking a healthy breakfast from scratch, there just isn’t time most mornings. That’s why bars like these are perfect alongside some fruit. For best luck, store them in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.

I hope you enjoy these breakfast bars and please share with friends if you like them! 🙂

Apple Oat Breakfast Bars


Makes 8-10 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped apples
  • 12 dates
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tbs. almond butter
  • 1/2 tbs. cinnamon

Steps:

To make bars, start by soaking dates in a glass of warm water, for 5-10 minutes or until ready to add them in. Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper. Then, pulse oats in the food processor until fine. Add in other ingredients and mix in the food processor until the mixture is combined and slightly in a ball shape. If dry, add in a tablespoon of water at a time. Using a spatula, press into the dish and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Slice and wrap individually. Enjoy!


 

Cheddar Avocado-Tomato Toast

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite new recipes for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Right now, there is all sorts of health food crazes, avocado toast being one of them for the perfect reason. Avocados pack plenty of healthy fats, potassium, and vitamin C, and the smooth texture makes a perfect base. This combination with whole grain toast creates an energy-boosting breakfast, lunch, or dinner- and it is equally as delicious as healthy.

You can experiment with your favorite toppings on avocado toast, but my favorites are tomatoes, grated organic cheddar, and sometimes I also add slices of red onion. For an extra protein boost, try adding a scrambled or fried egg on top as well. I hope you enjoy this nutritious and delectable recipe as much as I do, and please comment your favorite avocado toast combinations! Thank you and as always, please share with friends and family if you like this recipe.

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Cheddar-Tomato Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 piece good-quality whole grain bread
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2-3 tbs. grated organic cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sliced red onion (optional)

Steps:

First, start by toasting the bread. Mash the avocado until smooth enough or it has reached your desired consistency. Mix lemon juice and a generous amount of salt and pepper into the avocado, and then spread onto toast. Top with tomatoes, cheddar, and optionally red onion and then enjoy!


 

My Absolute Favorite Power Bar Recipe!

Hi Everyone!

After getting an awesome new food processor of my own for Christmas this year (yay!) I was eager to find the perfect recipe for no-bake homemade fruit and nut bars. I love Larabar brand bars for snacks or a quick school morning breakfast with some fruit, but I now think that the homemade version is ten times better. This recipe in particular is high in protein and healthy fats, so it keeps you going for awhile. I love to have one of these bars for an after-school snack also, because it fills me up all the way until dinner (my school’s lunchtimes are really early this year). The cashews, coconut oil, walnuts, and almond/peanut butter add a nutty taste, which is balanced out perfectly by the slight flavor of cocoa, dates and cinnamon.

Be sure to give this recipe a try- it is great for bake sales and the perfect snack to bring for a party too, because it appeals to young kids who are reluctant to trying healthy foods. My brother, Liam, who is pretty picky, even likes these bars. So, give them a try and please share this recipe with friends and family. Enjoy!

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My Favorite Power Bars  (makes 6-8 bars)


Ingredients:

  • 10 pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup raw or dry roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 tbs. walnuts
  • 1 tbs coconut oil (not melted)
  • 2 tbs. almond or peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbs. extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbs. honey
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tbs. water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (for topping)

Steps:

First, soak the pitted dates in a glass of warm water for 5-10minutes to soften them for easier blending. Then, add all ingredients into food processor bowl and mix until a ball forms and ingredients are combined evenly. In a container or pan lined with parchment paper, drop mixture and spread into an even layer, about 1/2 inch thick or your desired thickness. Then, refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. After refrigerating, cut the bars into 6 or 8 squares, or, alternatively, roll into ball shapes. sprinkle a few dark chocolate chips on top, if desired, and package individually for an on-the-go snack. Enjoy!


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Cracking The Cooking Code: Gluten Free

Hi Everyone!

Today I thought it would be a good time to share with you a new series of posts called “Cracking the Cooking Code.” In today’s world, there are so many false health claims, and it is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by all of the advertising and diet trends, or healthy buzzwords. So, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the real definition of gluten-free, and a recipe for those who are gluten free!

Nowadays, companies are desperate to appear like the most healthful brands and attract customers. Buzzwords like “gluten free” lead customers to believe that gluten is unhealthy for their body, but really it is very natural and doesn’t harm anyone unless the have an intolerance or Celiacs disease. Gluten is the naturally occurring protein of the grain, which doesn’t have much effect on the body, unless you have a sensitivity or allergy.

So, gluten free products are actually more processed because most go through the process of taking out the gluten part of the grain. If you have an allergy, I would absolutely recommend using a flour like almond or coconut, but otherwise, whole wheat is perfectly. 

So, I’d love to share a recipe with you for gluten free pancakes that are real food if you can’t eat whole wheat flour. This is definitely a recipe that takes a few tries to  perfect your skills with, but is delicious and packed with protein. Enjoy!
Protein Power Banana-Berry Pancakes 

SERVES 1

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Ingredients:

  • 1 very ripe banana (or 2, depending on size)
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon 
  • 2 tbs. raspberries
  • 2 tbs. blueberries
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil

Steps:

To prepare, mash the banana and mix in an egg. Add in the cinnamon, and grease a griddle or saucepan with coconut oil. On the pan with medium heat, add in small pancake sized circles of the banana mixture, and sprinkle in berries. Cook until golden brown on each side and serve with more fresh berries and a touch of maple syrup. Enjoy!

My Definition of A Foodie

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m not sharing a recipe, but rather my opinion on what it means to be a true foodie and to eat healthy. Ever since I have become passionate about healthy cooking and writing, I have worked on coming up with my own definition of healthy food, or “foodie food,” which is very similar to the ideas of other blogs that I have seen, with a few differences. While my blog is recipe based, I thought I’d like to share with you what I think healthy eating consists of, as well as why I am a foodie and what that is.

In my opinion, eating a whole food diet consists of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), as well as some local meats and dairy, and proteins like seeds, nuts, and beans. As far as whole grains go, I always opt for whole wheat, and, like most other blogs write, I believe that as few ingredients in a prepackaged food there are the better- that is, if the ingredients are wholesome and don’t have any refined sugar or oils. This is very similar to what other bloggers may believe, but my key belief is that I think the most important thing is choosing the best choice at the time. For example, in a situation less than ideal at a restaurant, it is better to choose the slightly better option rather than go for deep-fried fast foods simply because you are there anyway, and you have already had some processed food.

I bet you’re still wondering why a fourteen-year-old girl would choose to do all this. Most, of the time, parents make their kids eat healthy, right? For me, it is both a passion and something that I think I have to do if I want to be my best. As a student and busy athlete, I notice a difference when I eat healthy, whole foods versus the processed stuff. Additionally, I am trying to encourage other kids my age to do the same (or at least take some steps in the right direction) because our generation will only be able to do some amazing things in the future if we are healthy. Take a look at this chart, which shows the increases in childhood health problems and obesity.

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According to the CDC, people who are obese are far more at risk to and prone to “Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and mental illness.” (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/)  So, if more and more of our population is getting sick, then we won’t be able to achieve great success and innovate in the future. This is why I am on a mission to inspire other kids to eat healthy (on a serious note!)

Additionally (on a lighter note), I want to inspire other kids to get in the kitchen and make healthier choices because health food sometimes has a bad rap, but it can be really delicious! Most people don’t realize how many delectable healthy recipes are out there, but when you take a little time and look, you may find that the homemade version is much better than the boxed, prepackaged mix.

So, my goal is to inspire and reach as many other kids, teens, and adults (but specifically my age group) to get cooking! In my opinion, the more people that know the truth about what we eat the better, because the more people who choose to cook and eat healthier food, the bigger the “real food revolution.” If you agree, please share with others, as I am trying to share my thoughts with as many kids as I can. Let’s spread the real food revolution and passion!

 

Honey Thyme Roasted Carrots- a Healthy Side

Hi Everyone!

Happy 2017! I can’t believe 2016 is over; it has been such an incredible year for me and The Mini Foodie blog, so I cannot thank you enough! What is your best memory of 2016? Let’s just say going into 2016 I never would have thought I’d have the opportunity to meet my “real food idol,” see my blog grow from having fifteen followers on Instagram to now having close to 1500, and be on my way to teaching a class at Whole Foods. Wow! I am so incredibly grateful for such an amazing year.

What do you think 2017 will bring? At this time of year, I hear a lot about New Year’s Resolutions, mainly to eat healthier and/or exercise more. It is the start of the new year, which is amazing, but why do we only change our habits at this one point in the year? Why don’t we change our unhealthy habits in say, July? In my opinion, anytime is a great time to start eating less processed food!

On with today’s recipe, I’d like to share with you my Thyme Roasted Carrots recipe. This is a perfect side for any type of meal, and is even great in your lunchbox the next day over a salad. We had these delicious roasted carrots at Christmas dinner with our family- yum!

So, without further ado, please enjoy this recipe, and share with friends and family! Have a happy and healthy 2017, and thank you for making it a great 2016! 🙂

Honey Thyme Roasted Carrots 

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 large carrots, or 1 bag presliced carrot sticks (not baby carrots)
  • 3 tbs. olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 2 tbs. freshly chopped thyme

Steps:

To begin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, wash and slice the carrots into sticks, or your desired shape. The carrots will shrink when you cook them, so be sure to make thick slices! In a large bowl, toss the carrots with all of the remaining ingredients, and stir to evenly coat. Next, transfer to a sheet pan and spread in an even layer, cooking for 20 minutes or until tender, but not mushy. Let cool, and enjoy! 🙂