Summer months are the perfect time to squeeze in a family vacation. Too often, however, we return from our travels feeling exhausted and weary from an “unfit” vacation. The reasons are many: overeating, trying to log too many miles, sporadic sleep schedules and too little exercise.
Here are a few tips on how to combine fun activities and healthful eating habits to help you and your family feel great, both on your trip and after your return home.
• Pack some healthful snacks for car travel. A small cooler or ice chest works great to keep beverages and perishable items cool and tasty. Popcorn, pretzels, fresh or dried fruit, yogurt cups, bagels, vegetable sticks, 100 percent fruit juice, whole-grain crackers and string cheese are all satisfying and healthy snack choices.
• If you’re traveling by plane, drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your flight. Minimize any beverages containing caffeine or alcohol, since these can dehydrate you. Bring your own bottle of water on board, if permitted.
• Stick with lower fat or light meals, and plan in advance if possible by either eating before getting on the road or stopping somewhere with choices other than just fast food. Try not to skip meals; you’ll be less likely to overeat later in the day.
• Restaurant eating can become monotonous and costly, and kids might not always appreciate the unfamiliar menu options. Why not make a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up low-sugar breakfast cereal, fruit, milk and bagels for an easy nutritious meal you can put together anywhere.
• If you’re camping, plan for healthful meals in advance. Think of MyPlate and include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy with a long shelf-life, along with products that don’t require refrigeration.
• Help your family meet their daily calcium requirements — about three cups of milk, yogurt and cheese. For nutritious convenience, bring along grated cheese to add to spaghetti, tacos and burritos; dried milk to add to pancake mix; fluid milk for cereal; and yogurt for snacks.
Here are some tips for staying active while on the road:
• Whether you’re camping or staying at a resort, take advantage of the great outdoors and go on a nature walk or hike with the entire family. See who can spot the largest variety of birds along the way. You’ll reap the benefits of fitness and each other’s company.
• Take along sports equipment for the entire family. A badminton or croquet set, a volleyball or Frisbee, snorkeling gear (for any nearby water attractions) and tennis racquets, all of which add up to fun and exercise.
• Ask your children to plan an activity the entire family can do while on vacation: a kickball game, catch, relay games or tag.
• Plan time for exercise — a mid-day bike ride, morning nature walk or afternoon swim at the hotel pool will help you stay on the fitness track.
• If you’re booking your vacation at a hotel, be sure and ask about available fitness facilities. Many have a pool for swimming laps, aerobics classes, weight-training equipment and jogging/walking maps of surrounding areas.
• Pack exercise clothing, walking or jogging shoes, comfy clothes and a bathing suit.
• If you’re doing a lot of driving, bring your bikes and stop for a ride through the countryside. Don’t forget to pack your bike helmets and sports water bottles.
You won’t return home feeling the need to take a vacation if you plan ahead for a happy and healthy trip!
(Additional information provided by Jim Meyer, Nutrition Specialist in Ralls County, University of Missouri Extension.) ••
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her Web site is www.divapro.com
To see how-to videos, recipes and more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com
Cucumber and red onion salad
This cool side dish is simple to fix and a nice change from everyday tossed greens.
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 (about 12 ounces) English (seedless) cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1. In medium bowl, with wire whisk, mix vinegar, salt and sesame oil until blended.
2. Add cucumber and red onion, and toss to coat. Serves 4.
• Each serving: About 30 calories, 0g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 335mg sodium, 8g total carbs, 1g protein.
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