It’s Memorial Day. Or as my client’s partner refers to it, “Old Memmy”. I spent part of this morning pausing to think about all the casualties of war. Not just those of American soldiers, but also the soldiers and civilians in all countries, and what it costs us to witness this recurring and painful phenomenon. There are the deaths of the soldiers, the townspeople, and also the pieces of all the survivors left to the haunting of it. The collateral damage spreads to all of us to shoulder. And so for all of us this day, I wish for peace.
And after my pause: I went to the ballpark to see my first San Francisco Giants game of the season. I’ve been trying to keep up with them this season and I don’t have a TV in my house. So I just signed up for MLB.TV, and it’s like being in grad school for baseball. I love it. So do our local seagulls.
It’s is also the kind of unofficial start to summer. Picnic baskets come up from the basement, charcoal vanishes from shelves at the market by the palletful, and we begin checking to make sure all the tent stakes are in the bag for camping trips. Piling our dogs, partners, kids and weekend flings into the car, we hit the road. We also hit the road snacks and after 500 miles of mystery meat burgers, deep fried “chicken”, and electric blue Slurpees, maybe we feel like hell by the time we make the campsite or spread our towels on the beach. Now, I am seduced by the glamor of the blue tongue as much as the next guy, but I thought just in case you might be in the market for some road trip choices that could sit a little easier on the ole gut, I put together a few suggestions for your summer enjoyment.
Here you go: as Chet Baker would say, Let’s Get Lost in the best possible way.
1. Magic Phone Most of us travel now with a lot of power in the palms of our hands. Our food choices are not limited to whatever we see on the exit signs or from the long highway. We can put technology to use! It’s worth it to look for local co-ops and grocery stores along the way as you roll through towns and collect some real food. Salad bars, deli counters and healthier choices in grab and go form can be yours for usually less than a mile of your time.
2. Farm Stands Pull right the hell over for these beauties. The symbiosis of commerce really sings here. The American farmer needs you, and your body craves the nutrients of fresh produce. Stands sometimes even have picnic tables for you to relax at. Stretch your legs, chew your fresh food, and breathe in the air of your newfound vacation days as the yellow lines of the pavement make their way to a horizon line. We really live in a gorgeous burg, the America place, and slowing down to look at it for 20 minutes is a real treat.
3. Bring it! Bring the farm stand with you! Pack a blanket in the car and pull over onto a generous shoulder with a view or find an exit with a park. Unpack your little cooler of healthy snacks from home and take in a driving break. You’ll save money, see a new place, and have some say in your own nutrition.
But what’s a good snack? What if it’s all gas stations and mini-marts? What do you bring in the car that’s not a huge undertaking or some kind of gourmet pain in the ass? How about these:
1. Carrots and hummus: This is my number one go to healthy easy snack. It’s tasty, crunchy, packed with nutrients. Hits the sweet craving and the salty. You got protein, vitamins, and lots of chewing.
2. Melon Melange : Cut up a watermelon. Dice up some basil. Crumble a tiny bit of goat feta on it and mix it up. Chill overnight and put in a container for the trip. Divine.
3. Greek Yogurt: Packed with protein, this is the perfect snack to get up and go with. I like to add some Chia seeds to mine. I also crush up 3 walnut halves, a fat strawberry, and drizzle a tiny bit of raw honey on top. Maple syrup works just as nicely for the vegan friends in the house. You get protein, some healthy complex carbs, fiber, and essential fatty acids with this combo, PLUS the yogurt comes in its own bowl you can recycle at the road stop when you stretch.
4. Cucumber Lemon Water: It’s just better and fancier than regular water. Lemon slices and cucumber slices brighten up your drink. Put the whole thing in the freezer and as it melts throughout the trip, you’re summer refresher keeps on giving. Hydration station.
5. Chilled Rice Bowl: Brown rice, steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, shiitakes, edamame, acorn squash, sea vegetables, beets, whatever) in a miso sauce. Blend 1/4 c. chickpea miso with 3T olive oil, some peeled fresh ginger, 2 cloves peeled garlic, 2t rice vinegar, and the juice of one lemon. You’re golden.
Now, Drive Safe. Bring good music. Have a blast.