Gen X Mom Sarah Krause has been a contributor to the Fresh Talk blog for several months, weighing in on the Dirty Dozen list, organic produce, sustainability and the quest of getting kids to eat new fruits and vegetables.

After I half-kiddingly challenged Sarah to keep a “food diary” on her family’s spring break getaway, Sarah responded with this delightful recounting of the ups and downs of trying to tuck fresh produce into the family vacation. Enjoy.

Produce Woes

By Sarah Krause

Okay, so here’s what I’ve realized. It’s not impossible to eat healthfully on family vacation; however, it’s certainly not a piece of, ahem, cake. Fitting in our requisite number (what’s the recommendation these days anyway?) of fruits and vegetables was quite a bit more trying than it is for us under normal circumstances. Here at home, we have produce with every meal, and even for snacks. But something about a vacation away makes you want to loosen up, shake up the rules, have some fun!

Sure, all the “healthy eating blogs” are loaded with travel tips and assurances for ways to get your kids to eat healthy on the road, proclaiming: “eating healthy on vacation isn't really that difficult.” Sorry, but I didn’t read these articles before we left. I was too busy trying to pack up five people for the long eight-day road trip through Texas. But I did manage to pack a cooler with our sandwiches, carrots, apples, frozen fruit chillers (basically frozen flavored applesauce in a pouch) and tossed in some pomegranate Craisins, boxes of raisins and dehydrated apples and strawberries. Always good intentions.

While visiting friends, we managed to have a few servings of produce. We timed our visits during the lunch hour (smart, huh?), so we were served grapes and oranges. The kids thought pickles counted as vegetables (“These were once cucumbers, you know, Mom.”). Additionally, our sandwiches always arrived with lettuce, tomatoes and avocados. This was a common theme throughout the trip: sandwiches w/lettuce and tomato often constituted our “vegetable” for the evening. Plus, the kids tried to convince us that fruit-flavored gummis counted as a serving of fruit!

Since we stayed in a hotel for the first half of the trip, we indulged in their continental breakfast. Each morning, we required the kids to choose one kind of fruit – a banana, orange or apple were the only offerings – and a fruit juice, either orange or apple. Limited choices, yes, but we were grateful for something fresh. Mostly our three kids were thrilled with the tasty breakfast offerings. Oh, the choices.… French toast, donuts, cereal, eggs or a make-your-own waffle. Sometimes all the above! Produce options during dinner at the hotel proved limited: we all either had baked potatoes, salad (iceberg – blah), carrot or celery sticks. We jazzed up the celery by sneaking in some peanut butter from breakfast.

We ate a lot of Tex Mex (hey, when in Rome...), which meant a lot of lettuce and tomatoes again, with peppers, onions and avocado thrown in for good measure. Does salsa count? If so, we consumed plenty. Our youngest gobbles it up, too. Sure, we had bad days: lemon in our water for lunch and good days: watermelon at Sea World.

Once at the condo, we fared a little better since we were able to prepare our own meals. But that meant that, oh yeah, we had to prepare our own meals!! Don’t I do this every day? Didn’t I want a break from making my family’s food all the live-long day?? Here’s the thing: when you travel, you want to take it easy, take a break from cooking, maybe even enjoy the local cuisine. (I did – a “Crimp” burger on the island. It’s a crab/shrimp burger and it’s delicious!).

So we ate out some, and we ate at the condo some. I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen (again, isn’t that why I’m on vacation!?), so we opted for quick prep meals. We had pasta, tortillas and sandwiches, and we threw in plenty of strawberries, grape tomatoes, pineapple, broccoli and apples. And it was perfect. Even a simple apple tastes better sitting on the deck listening to the ocean waves.

So, I learned what I really already knew: we eat healthier and fill our plates with more produce when we’re at home, rather than on vacation. We do what we can while traveling, but we make sure to enjoy our time together and enjoy the amazing places we’re visiting. And we always make time to seek out fun goodies! For us, ice cream floats at the authentic 1920s soda fountain on The Strand, finished with an amazing four-man bike ride down the seawall. Now THAT is vacation!

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