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What a beautiful day for a drive yesterday.  The start of a long drive I should add.  Klint and I headed west yesterday morning, parking it in Wyoming for the night.  We drove through parts of this great country where one press of the radio scan button brings you right back to the station you started.   No joke, I tried it.

A room in our crowded apartment a few, short days ago….

It was a puzzle, but we packed it all in.  Amazing how many possessions you can stuff into two – 6 x 7 x 8 foot compartments.  My herculean husband, Klint, holding it all in (don’t mind the numerous bungee cords behind him). 

Our belongings have been picked up, and currently in transit to Los Angeles.  As we breezed by large moving trucks slowly towing cars behind on the interstate, I found myself in an immense state of thankfulness.

Since vacation season is kicking off I thought I would use this opportunity to share three simple travel tips to help enjoy, feel healthy, energetic and save money during vacay; or if you’re just hanging out by a body of water or in the backyard.  (I apologize now for my pictures – they were admittedly taken in my car at a rest stop).

1. Drink A LOT of water.   I know this is elementary, but a basic that can’t be overlooked.  Purified water is best for your body, beacause it doesn’t have to adjust to new components or chemicals found in new water sources.  Try a Brita water bottle with built-in replaceable lid filter.  Fill with tap water and each sip after is pure, clean water.  Available at Target, Walmart and other department stores for around $9-10. 

2. Pack a cooler (or several for that matter).  Another simple idea, but so important, also a time and money saver.   Eating foods that you love, and are accessible will help ward off the convenient store temptations.  Then you can indulge at a favorite restaurant or two, without breaking the calorie bank.  Here are some suggestions to pack:

Justin’s Natural Peanut and Almond Butter packets. Available in health food sections/stores or Target. Easy tear-open packages with just the right portion nut butters to squeeze on bananas, apples, celery sticks, crackers, rice cakes or toast. These are one of my favs! (Gluten-Free option)

Lundberg’s Brown Rice Cakes – heartier and crunchier than the styrofoam textured variety. Top with nut butter, banana and honey or fruit, light cream cheese or other favorite toppings. Also come in flavored varieties. (Gluten-Free option)

Nuts – pretty self-explanatory. Just don’t go overboard, keep to a serving or half serving. Healthy fats are good, but too much will be exactly that, too much.  (Gluten-Free if a brand no added wheat ingredients like Maltodextrin).

Bars – I like Larabars, Kind bars and Bora Bora bars because they are gluten-free, but choose any good granola or nutrition bar you like with under 200 calories and 13g sugar, such as Luna Bars or Kashi Bars.

Salty snack – Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Indiana Popcorn Chips with salsa. Good with a sandwich, salad or just as a snack. (Gluten-Free option)

Carrots, celery, whole grain crackers and hummus – another one of my favorites, easy on-the-go side or snack.

Fresh fruit – fresh-cut fruit in Tupperware or whole pieces of fruit like apples, bananas and oranges.

My Summer Quinoa Salad or other cold deli, or lettuce salads also pack great into a cooler.  Just remember plastic silverware and paper plates and your good-to-go.

3. Choose wisely at restaurants along the way or where you are visiting.  Most options are fast food so try to pick evening spots that give you more optionsand eat from your cooler stash for lunch.  Here was my meal last night at Outback Steakhouse (they also have a gluten-free menu). 

Grilled Chicken on the Barbie with a side of vegetables (hold the butter). Baked sweet or regular potato would be great as well.

Obviously vacations are meant to be enjoyed, so use moderation and pick and choose what you really want to eat, and when you’re okay going healthier.  Most of all, enjoy time with family and friends.  I will resume my normal cooking schedule and recipe posting next week from sunny CA!

A Friday funny before I sign off….  Anyone who has ever broiled garlic bread can probably understand this one.  I sure did!

“My wife is not known for her culinary skills.  Recently, she was cooking dinner when the smoke detector went off, prompting my three-year-old to announce, “Dinner’s ready!”

-Herman van Vliet (taken from a Reader’s Digest publication)