Tag Archives: road food

Secrets to Sneaking More Veggies into your Family’s Diet

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If your family is like mine, you’re lucky if you can get them to eat salad with dinner on a regular basis. French fries are counted as a veggie, and pizza is a full meal (meat, diary, bread, tomato sauce). Indeed, one of my sons honestly admits that the only way I’ll get him to eat more veggies is to hide them. So I do. Hence, today I am sharing my secrets to sneaking more veggies into your family’s diet.

Today we hear that raw is best for you. Although this may be true, even I can only eat so many raw veggies. And I like my meat and eggs cooked – medium rare, over easy, but cooked. Some veggies release their heavy duty disease fighting nutrients only after cooking. I’m thinking about tomatoes, onions and garlic, among others. So for the purpose of increasing my family’s fiber intake and nutrition, I serve lots of cooked veggies. They just don’t know about it.

Salad

Salad before dinner is a mainstay at my house. The more toppings, the better, and lots of ranch dressing. Despite the fact that most ranch dressing contains msg and soybean oil, I have had to concede that ranch is the vehicle to get the veggies ingested. One small victory at a time.

Smoothies

A banana, raw milk or yogurt, more fruit, a raw egg, and, um, kale? Lettuce? Well, you didn’t need to know about that. I can put more greens in mine, but for the fam, just a leaf or 2…

Fried

Stir fry or chow mein makes the table at least once a week. Cooked rice or noodles are lightly fried with carrots, onions, garlic and 3 or 4 other chopped vegetables. Use coconut oil for natural sweetness and add leftover meats or an egg if desired. Chop everything fairly small so that it doesn’t take long to cook. Also, ginger, garlic and turmeric help add an asian flavor.

Casserole

Another favorite one pot meal is the good ole’ casserole. Mix cooked rice, potatoes or noodles with chopped veggies and meats (if desired) and douse with cheese sauce. Or if you’re a canned soup person, cream of mushroom, chicken or celery soup. Season to taste and bake at 350F  until done. This is easier with already cooked veggies and meats (aka, leftovers). Cauliflower hides real well, especially with cheese.

Tacos

Taco meat is a good place to hide veggies. Shred or cut them small and fry with the hamburger and onions. This works well with carrots, corn, zucchini, olives, chiles, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. Moreover, adding veggies to your taco meat will stretch your meat budget further.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti sauce is very versatile. You can blatantly add chunks of zucchini, carrots and peppers, or you can shred or dice them. Use fresh tomatoes or canned sauce. This is delicious with or without meat. Don’t forget the onions and garlic.

Soup

Many people no longer consider soup to be a meal. In reality soup is a superfood. To say nothing of the wide variety of soups. Just think chicken broth, carrots, zucchini, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, etc. for starters. Add some kind of fat for flavor. Butter, olive oil, and chicken fat all work well and help with digestion and nutrient absorption.  Season to taste. Serve with a good bread and butter.

I hope I’ve sparked your imagination. There are tons more ways to sneak those veggies in. This is just to get you started. Now go feed your family more veggies!

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Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, easy-to-make snack. They’re a great way to make optimal use of the whole pumpkin or other winter squash.  They’re packed with zinc, which will help you ward off those winter colds. Stuffed squash and pumpkin seeds are both easy to make in the rv oven. I do my pumpkin seeds on the stove top because it’s easier for me.
I like my homemade, roasted pumpkin seeds, so once I’ve got the squash in the oven, I put the seeds in a colander and rinse well. Next, I pop them off of the membranes, then rinse them real good and drain them. Soak them in salt water overnight, and the next day, drain and either roast them or fry them. I like to fry them because I always forget about them in the oven and they burn.
I’ve already soaked the seeds in salt water, so I don’t add any more salt. I add a few tablespoons of coconut oil to my cast iron fry pan and dump the seeds in. Stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary. I want them a nice, toasty brown so that they’re crunchy, but not too hard. I can tell if they’re not done enough, because they’ll be hard to chew. If that happens, I add the ones I think need more roasting back into the pan and keep stirring.
I like to leave a small bowl of seeds sitting out for my family to grab handfuls of throughout the day. The rest, I put into glass jars with tight fitting lids, after they’re cool, of course. This way we can enjoy them for months, without them getting stale. It also makes them easier to grab and go for nutritious, homemade road food or trail snacks.
Cook fresh, eat healthy, enjoy the road!
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Baking in the RV – Safety Check

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Yak made a Lego model of our new trailer while we were waiting to move in.

Even though it’s just the beginning of September, where we are presently, in Colorado, nights are getting down into the low 40’s. Nothing takes the chill off the house, or the rv, like baking a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, or whole grain bread. If you don’t use your rv very much, you may roll your eyes. We live in our 26 foot travel trailer full time, so I do a lot of cooking. From scratch. And baking. In the oven. Yes, our trailer is brand new, but I have cooked and baked from scratch over an open fire, in our cabover truck camper, in our 1985 Georgie Boy motorhome and in my 1975 MeToo trailer. In the camper and the MeToo, the ovens didn’t work, but I think that working with the 1985 Georgie Boy oven qualifies for handling quirks.

The first thing before even getting started is to have a safety check of your range/oven. If the oven is not safe, don’t even think about using it. In the camper, I used an electric microwave/convection oven when we had electrical hookups. Convection ovens have their own quirks, which I am out of practice with, so I will not address here, but at the time, it was easy enough to learn and I made some great cookies, cakes and breads in ours. Not to mention some tender, juicy roast beef and roast chicken.

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Our beautiful new kitchen!

Secondly, make sure you can safely light your oven. Rv ovens do not have continuous pilots, and most do not have electronic ignitions. My new oven lights like a charm, easy, peasy. The Georgie boy is a bit more like lighting the gas water heater at the Homestead. Sometimes it takes a few tries. Once you are comfortable with lighting the pilot on your oven, you can start using it.

Now we’re cooking with gas! Ventilation is another important issue. In the small space of an rv, using a propane appliance uses up the available oxygen very quickly. It is important to open some windows and vents when you are going to be using the range/oven. Also use your range fan if you have one. This will help blow the heat out during warm weather and also get rid of smoke – you know it happens to you too.

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Being stuck in Amarillo, TX during an ice storm was not so bad in our cozy new home.

Also, never leave the rv oven or stove unattended when in use. At home, I will frequently throw the bread in the oven, set the timer on my phone and go outside to do some chores. Do not do that in the rv. You may come back to a pile of ash. Always stay with your cooking or baking in the rv, or on the fire ring if you’re cooking outside. If you must go do something else, turn everything off. Of course with the fire ring outside you would just have to have someone else monitor it.

That covers our safety check. In my next post, I’ll show you how I deal with making a batch of cookies in a tiny space.

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Salad For Breakfast

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The first time I had salad for breakfast it seemed incredibly strange. Breakfast is supposed to be cereal and milk; pancakes and sausage; eggs and potatoes, right? Now I crave it. I have found that leafy greens give me energy like nothing else. I can literally feel my liver cleansing itself. My daily carrot juice makes its effects known by the activity of my kidneys, filtering and cleaning out my system. In plain English, that means it makes me pee, much like my morning coffee addiction. I don’t think I want to totally cut out coffee, but I admit that there is room for improvement by cutting back. I love mint tea, so that helps when I just really want a hot drink. Mint tea also has a stimulating effect which is much less damaging than the effect from caffeine.

Kale seems to be a thing now. I like kale, but I like to mix it up, too. Arugula is one of my favorites, with its rich, nutty flavor. I like a base of romaine and then some other variety of greens and other veggies. But one cannot live on salad alone. How to get enough of those nutrient packed greens into your day? In addition to carrot juice (I like Bolthouse Farms brand), I also drink some green juice. I have made my own, but find that for me, it’s cheaper and easier (though, I admit, I lose out on a few nutrients) to buy it pre-done. I like Bolthouse Daily Greens, but can’t always find it, so will go for Green Goodness or Naked Juice Green Machine. I just prefer the leafy greens over the fruity broccoli and spirulina mixes.

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I only eat raw salad in a small portion (about 2 cups) once a day. This is because I eat a high fiber diet and too much fiber tends to make me gassy and bloated. So after my juices and salad/raw veggies I cook the rest of my veggies. In winter I might not even eat any raw veggies. Fried kale, cabbage, collards or beet tops go with almost any meal, great with eggs for breakfast. Properly steamed veggies are tender and delicious. Rich bone broth with plenty of potatoes, carrots and greens and other veggies is a complete meal, as well. Greens go well on sandwiches, either shredded or as a whole leaf. Greens can also be snuck into a smoothie.

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Sadly, greens do not can or freeze well and are best consumed fresh. The good news is that they are fairly easy to grow in pots year round, if one is so inclined. I have been meaning to try them in the mobile garden. With the small refrigerator in the mobile homestead, it is easier to remember to only buy enough greens for a few days, as they wilt and spoil quickly. A quick fix for wilted greens is to cut off the bottoms about 1/2 an inch and soak them in cool water for a few hours. They should crisp up and make it for a few more meals. If not, throw them out or put them in the compost bin.

I was disappointed to learn that the local Farmer’s Market will only be held on 2 Fridays this year. Really? This is farm country! That puts a major crimp in my desire to buy and eat local. I have also not seen any produce stands this year. There is a large Amish community here, somebody must have a produce stand! The greens in the supermarket and the health food store look pretty sad. I ended up buying more expensive packaged greens because the bulk ones looked so bad. I intend to do some asking and driving around, determined to find a produce stand somewhere nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brown Bagging for Road Trips

This weekend marks the official beginning of the summer season. Whether you are going on a day trip or traveling from one location to another, it is nice to save on the fast food and restaurants by having some quick meals, ready to eat. With a little planning and preparation, meals on the road can be quick, easy and tasty.

Here are some ideas:

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  • Boil, cool and peel a few eggs. Put them in bento boxes or mason jars to avoid squishing. When ready to eat, they can be consumed as is or smashed with mayo, sour cream or yogurt for egg salad and spread on bread. If you don’t have an rv fridge or a cooler, put in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.
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  • Yogurt and cottage cheese can be combined with fruit or granola, used as a sandwich spread (plain) or as a sour cream substitute on wraps. They will also keep fairly well with less refrigeration, as they are already fermented.
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  • A loaf of hearty, homemade bread is very versatile. It can be breakfast, spread with butter, peanut butter or jelly; lunch with slices of meat and/or cheese; snacks with butter, cinnamon and sugar or butter and garlic salt.
  • Tortillas can also fill bellies, stuffed with salad fixin’s, leftover chicken, slices of beef or leftover hamburger and sour cream or yogurt. Beans and avocado also make good tortilla stuffers.

Keep leftovers and spreads in bento boxes, mason jars or small containers in the cooler or lunch bag with ice packs. Bread and tortillas do not need refrigeration, just keep in a bag, covered with a blanket to keep off the heat. Some fruits and veggies are hardier than others and can be stored the same way. Apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, onions, potatoes, etc. can travel in an insulated bag as long as they are in a cool place. Lettuces and berries will need to go in the cooler or lunch bag with ice packs.

If it is likely to be very hot or if you are going to be driving for several days, it is better to have a cooler to keep more of your food in. Also, you may need to restock your ice on the road if you don’t have a freezer to refreeze ice packs.

Bringing your own food on a road trip can help you eat healthier, save money and stop at more scenic places to eat. And that can help you take more trips. Enjoy.

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