Tag Archives: eating on the road

Road Salad: A How-To-Survive Guide for Eating While Traveling

Gentle Readers, it’s a good thing I love my job and the travel that goes with it, because business travel is not for the faint of heart. Yes, it’s a great opportunity to see the inside of conference halls across the globe. Yes, I adore seeing colleagues I work with constantly and remotely. Yes, I even get to eat meals sometimes. But for all of you who travel as part of your job, or as part of your life, you know that cocktail nibbles do not a healthy diet make.

This Tower of Bacon was featured in a recent party I threw for work. Though there is parsley present, it is not a salad.

This Tower of Bacon was featured in a recent party I threw for work. Though there is parsley present, it is not a salad.

When I can, I bring my running shoes. When I can’t, I throw towels down on the floor and do yoga. There’s always a way to bring a little zen into the schedule. I have a friend who only stays in hotels with pools so he can swim. Make it work for you. Eat fruit and veg when you can, and salads are a great way to do that.

Fried Squash Blossoms on a bed of shaved zucchini. Totally counts as a salad.

Fried Squash Blossoms on a bed of shaved zucchini. Totally counts as a salad.

Road Salad:

1. Take control of your salad destiny in both portion size and toppings. You can order salad almost anywhere, it’s what happens next that can destroy the mission. If you only like one type of salad and it’s way high-cal, order the smaller one. If you’re crazy for greens, go big and limit the toppings. Make it work for you. Small and dense salads can be perfect in a grab and go situation on the road. Just limit the dressing and save the calories for something you want to eat.

Small but mighty, this salad features halloumi cheese and veggie kebabs (with a side of masala chai for kick). From Samovar Tea House, San Francisco.

Small but mighty, this salad features halloumi cheese and veggie kebabs (with a side of masala chai for kick). From Samovar Tea House, San Francisco.

2. If you’re tired of leafy greens, try the beet salad, or the caprese, or even fruit! Expand your mind to include a broader range. Another great choice is a main that is served over a bed of greens. May not be in the salad column, but totally counts.

Greek yogurt with dates, honey, fruit, and basil and mint, plus walnuts. I dream of this sometimes. Also from Samovar Tea House in San Francisco.

Greek yogurt with dates, honey, fruit, and basil and mint, plus walnuts. I dream of this sometimes. Also from Samovar Tea House in San Francisco.

3. Don’t fear the protein. Be it egg, fish, meal, or fowl, or legumes or nuts for that matter, add some lasting energy to your salad. If you are doing fruit salad, get yogurt or cheese. Balance in the force. You’ll stay full longer. This is not about starvation, this is about nutrition with some enjoyment.

Lunch salad from Chevy's Mexican with avocado and steak. Yes please.

Lunch salad from Chevy’s Mexican with avocado and steak. Yes please.

My favorite trick: a Peppermint Patty as a conclusion. I’m not a huge mint person, but mint makes me think of brushing my teeth, which signals that it’s time to stop eating. And chocolate = winning. Feel virtuous about your salad and have a sweet to conclude. You’ll feel satisfied and ready to face the canape again, I promise.

Rare tuna on a bed of greens. Perfect light entree.

Rare tuna on a bed of greens. Perfect light entree.

Send your green leafies, good ideas, and food challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus, Busy Family Edition

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Weekly Menus: Week of 8/4/2013 (What Happened to Summer Edition)

Gentle Readers, could you please send out an APB for summer? August, really? Tomatoes are here, corn is here, and I’m eating anything that involves watermelon. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the subtle crunch that fresh corn and diced zucchini provide to any number of dishes. I was in a bit of a food rut, and I find myself newly inspired and ready to meet some old ingredient friends in the kitchen again.

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

First order of business, I’m going to the farmer’s market this week. Second order, we are eating fresh when possible again, because we have more exciting food travel on our horizons, including New Orleans. I haven’t been since before Katrina, so please send your suggestions and thoughts for must-eats!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

Now, the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Dine Out!
First I must conclude some more field research. So far this week I’ve remembered I love chicken liver, met a vegetable mix at G2B in Durham that I want to make at home and possibly marry, and rekindled my dessert romance with sticky toffee pudding.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

 

Monday: Salad
If you need to ask why, see the above paragraph. I love salad though, with it’s infinite possibilities. This will be a clean out the crisper drawer variety.

Tuesday: Pasta Surprise
I see a primavera in my future. Fresh herbs, lemon, good romano. Yum.

Wednesday: Omelets
I miss omelet bar, so we shall eat it again. A dab of this and that, featuring whatever we have or buy at the Farmer’s Market. Plus some good bread.

Thursday: Sausage and Pierogie
A family favorite, I may try my hand at Savoy cabbage as well, another favorite from one of my favorite local chefs, Carrie at G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Friday: Dine Out!
Travel calls again, and I can’t wait for this one. Beignets for dinner? I have no objection.

Saturday: Leftovers?
We will probably do more adventure eating, but I recommend Saturday as movie and leftovers night. We have found all sorts of ways to make finger food healthier and fun. Try savory popcorn mixes, small sandwiches, and cut veggies and fruit. Peanut butter and celery is a favorite here right now.

What’s on your table this week? Share your meal ideas and New Orleans secrets! Post a comment below or say hello on the Twitters.

Send extra weeks of summer, tomatoes, and good wishes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Up next (on Wednesday): An Ode to Eggs–One Ingredient Three Ways

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Weekly Menus on the Road: Week of 7/14/2013

Gentle Readers, this post will break traditional format as we at Team Practical Cook gear up for a week of field research. Many of you probably have similar experiences of needing to shut down a kitchen for a week during summer break, winter holiday, etc. How do you plan for both absence and for road eating?

Cafe con leche: Breakfast of champions

Cafe con leche: Breakfast of champions

Here’s The Practical Cook Method:

1. Stop shopping. This may seem obvious, but it’s my best tip. There’s more food in your house than you think. Stop buying more interesting things, and face up to whether you’re going to eat that rare Asian noodle snack pack from the 80s.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook’s Cereal Warehouse

2. Eat at home. The best way to prepare for time away is to commit to eating what you have. I’ve not been doing so well at that, but I did have 22 CheezIts and 1/2 a cupcake for lunch yesterday. Not my proudest moment.

Can you blame me for eating my babysittiing payment on the spot? Cupcakes for lunch, not recommended. #sugarcoma

Can you blame me for eating my babysittiing payment on the spot? Cupcakes for lunch, not recommended. #sugarcoma

3. Turn home snacks into road snacks. What can you take with you? If it’s a road trip, your options expand. On a plane, I heart Biscoff cookies, but sometimes one is stuck with just the pretzels. That’s not cool. I love Trader Joe’s Almond bars (like a granola cookie), dry cereal in any form, and trail mix. Do not be without food on a plane. Trust me.

Trail Mix Melted and Reformed = Trail Bark (Yum)

Trail Mix Melted and Reformed = Trail Bark (Yum)

4. Make a plan for road meals. I’m not advocating mapping your entire trip according to Yelp, but establish some targets for food while you travel. Are you going to eat breakfast out for every meal? Can you do sandwiches for some of it? What kind of food is the regional specialty? Are you allergic to the local fare? Do some research, ask friends, and open yourself to possibility, but avoid either eating fast food you could get anywhere or going 4 star everywhere and then entering the poorhouse afterward.

Barbecued pork bahn mi on homemade bread. Wow. Just wow.

Barbecued pork bahn mi on homemade bread. Wow. Just wow.

5. Don’t go it alone. If you’re traveling with family, no matter the age of the offspring or relations, run a benevolent dictatorship. If you’re going to a beach house, don’t agree to cook every meal, distribute the wealth. If you’re going to a destination, find out from each person what constitutes a food win. For instance, we’re going to try Burmese food, a birthday request from the Youngest (yes, TPCs Jr are awesome, thanks for noticing). We’ll also do CalMex for the world’s biggest taco fan, The Eldest.

The Jrs take on the Big City!

The Jrs take on the Big City!

Last tip: if you have a chance to eat an avocado in the wild, buy tamales from someone selling them in a back alley, or try ice cream flavored with foods you can’t identify, do it. And then send me a picture. This is vacation time!

Got ideas, suggestions, or can’t-miss eats? Post in the comments, Tweet me, or email! I look forward to sharing the adventure with you. Perhaps even a stray video review or two. 🙂

Restaurant recommendations, bacon samples, and good ideas can be sent to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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**Team Practical Cook is taking a rare break and leaving the laptop behind. Follow our field research on Twitter and Instagram! We’ll be back, recipes at the ready, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.**

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Weekly Menus: Week of 2/10/2013 (Recovery Edition)

Gentle Readers, the past couple of weeks have been something of a whirl. To say I’ve been on the run would be literal, 5 miles of literal. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I ran in the Krispy Kreme Challenge with The Cloudcast team. What could be better than combining my love of the double K with running?

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

A few missteps: what I thought was a 5K was actually a 5 mile race. This data point came out mid-race. Also, eating doughnuts at speed and in bulk? Very very difficult. I managed 3 or 4, and full disclosure, had to walk a good portion of the last 2.5 miles of the race.

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Full marks to my teammates Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp, who ate all the doughnuts and ran the whole way (uphill both ways!). Major bonus point for being the #1 team fund raiser for the NC Children’s Hospital. Way to go guys!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Which leads us to this week’s menus, full of additional social obligations and salad.

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

Which translates to:

Sunday: Salad
Somehow, someway, this will be the featured item. After some doughnuts.

Monday: Dine Out/Leftovers
Currently planning to attend a business dinner, but will supplement with some plant-based leftovers. Notice a theme?

Tuesday: Flying Mayans
Going to make use of the tortillas and cooked sweet potato I found in my fridge upon my return.

Wednesday: Dine Out/Pasta
More social plans, and if they don’t work, it’s pasta time. With salad of course!

Thursday: Rustic Tart
It’s been cold, and this seems like the perfect match. I plan on roasting whatever root veggies we have around and putting them in a crust with a bit of salty cheese and balsamic. Hungry now.

Friday: Stir Fry
Another vegetable classic, just add egg. I love that you can use up leftovers, alter the sauce, and never have the same thing twice.

Saturday: Dine Out
The Juniors will vote on the destination, they’ve earned it with their time in the kitchen and prepping school lunches. More on that next time.

In a colossal planning oversight, I’m due to get my cholesterol checked soon. I think I’ll delay that slightly. How many doughnuts can you eat at one sitting? Post a comment, send a well wish, or just say hi: comments box is right there.

Send your salads, queries, and lucrative offers to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: School Lunch Reprise

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Barcelona in Review: Food Travels

Gentle Readers, what a week it has been. Exploring the food and culture of Barcelona for a few days, I want to go back for another round, with the Practical Cooks Junior in tow. They have seen the pictures and already volunteered. The cafe culture, the pace, the attention to service in detail, wow, just wow.

I love the tapas concept. Many little plates, ideal for sharing.

I love the tapas concept. Many little plates, ideal for sharing.

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

Though I’m not a huge potato person, I could easily eat patatas braves every day for quite a long time. If I lived in Barcelona, I would quest endlessly to find the best of the best. I ordered potatoes and padron peppers every time we had tapas.

Patates braves are a staple of Barcelona.Try them all.

Patates braves are a staple of Barcelona.Try them all.

One of many plates of patates braves.

One of many plates of patates braves.

Ironically, some of the other winning meals were Italian. I had two amazing mushroom based dishes, one paparadelle and one risotto.

Risotto with mushrooms in a parmesan bowl. Yes, please.

Risotto with mushrooms in a parmesan bowl. Yes, please.

And of course there was pig. In all its forms. You call it jamon, I call it delicious. More than one dispute broke out around the International Bacon Line, with British folks being the most outspoken American Bacon dissers. To them I say, I’m sorry you lost. 🙂

Pure jamon goodness.

Pure jamon goodness.

Another pleasant surprise, and a lingering favorite, street food. This take on tomato bread, with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins, was off the charts good. Portable and with a vegetable, brilliant.

Tomato bread with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. One of my favorite things from Barcelona.

Tomato bread with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. One of my favorite things from Barcelona.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Overall, my only regret is not having more time or more stomachs. I will return to Barcelona, and encourage you to add it t your bucket list if you haven’t already been.

Down every narrow street in Barcelona, great food awaits.

Down every narrow street in Barcelona, great food awaits.

What’s your favorite non-US food city? Post a comment below, or Tweet!

Send your questions, lucrative deals, and extra coffee to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus!

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Eating My Way Through San Francisco: Reviews from the Road

Gentle Readers, my heart belongs to San Francisco. At least the food part. The biting wind I could well do without. This may be controversial, but I will take a stand here. Of great meals I’ve had in my life, more of them have been in San Francisco than anywhere else.

Salmon with Veggies (technically in Santa Clara, but still FTW!)

Salmon with Veggies (technically in Santa Clara, but still FTW!)

I know, New York is great, but the risk to reward ratio has been much better in the city by the bay. My favorite spot, my respite from the bustle of a conference floor, Samovar. The tea descriptions are fantastic, and the tea itself is not too shabby either.

Mmm, lingering artichoke tea.

Mmm, lingering artichoke tea.

The food is limited in choice, well done in execution, and the pairings are interesting and challenging. I tried the Jook this time, and fell in love. Yes, I will add some more Sriracha, thanks!

Jook with smoked duck from Samovar, San Francisco.

Jook with smoked duck from Samovar, San Francisco.

Also on tap, Thai food, recommended by a food fan to a food fan. Thankfully, I’m not the only one keeping a running list. Koh Samui was a delight, but be warned, their medium is Thai medium, not bland medium. I had the tofu curry with coconut rice, which was fabulous, but enjoyed the fusion samosas at the start even more.

Koh Samui is a refuge off the beaten bath. Well worth the trek for good Thai!

Koh Samui is a refuge off the beaten bath. Well worth the trek for good Thai!

Noveau Indian at Amber was very nice, my favorite being the Gobi, with recommendations of the “best Indian” being in Fremont, CA (home of Afghanan de Kebab). Rest assured, Gentle Readers, I will take the challenge and commit to the necessary field research on my next trip.

Spiked lemonade from Amber. Made with thyme and lemon infused simple syrup. Well done.

Spiked lemonade from Amber. Made with thyme and lemon infused simple syrup. Well done.

And as for bacon, there was bacon. You’ll have to wait till next week for that particular update, but a pilgrimage to the famed BaconBaconSF food truck was made.

Portobella Sandwich from Samovar

Portobella Sandwich from Samovar

But my favorite meal, the home-cooked one. Thank you. How awesome to be on the other side of the country, and yet get to share in the family meal. I learn something great in every kitchen, and this was no exception.You are welcome to come sit on my porch anytime.

Refuge on the Road: Samovar San Francisco

Refuge on the Road: Samovar San Francisco

As always, the importance of good company with good food is emphasized on the road. Good food becomes great when the conversation serves. Thank you to one and all.

Okay, gauntlet tossed. Where have you had more great meals, east or west coast? Go! (Post a comment below, let the games begin.)

Send your restaurant recommendations and food pictures to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday: Crostini with Broccolini, A Recipe.

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It’s a Small Culinary World: Disney Food Review

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook rarely goes negative, in this case, a gentle reminder is most necessary. This past weekend was spent inside the Disney compound, where one is practically forced to consume Disney food in order to survive. Having visited Disney years ago, as a child and as a teenager, I remember the food getting better. The general consensus from the native Floridians I spoke with was that effort was being made.

Made to order Mouse Waffles were a hit!

Made to order Mouse Waffles were a hit!

I will say, backed by The Practical Cooks Junior and my most Practical Parents, it is very much a work in progress, and to coin a corporate phrase, there’s a lot of opportunity here.

For the good people of Disney:

1. You are located in Florida, fruits and vegetables are plentiful there.Though I applaud the efforts at healthy eating, you have to fight for your right to be vegetarian. I had to send back fries, fend off electric yellow cheese sauce (determined to be “nasty” by the Eldest), and actively request grapes, apple slices, and carrot sticks. However, these options are not advertised or available for adults. Um, I like vegetables, too. A lot in fact.

The world's nastiest hot dog. No mustard could save it.

The world's nastiest hot dog. No mustard could save it.

2. The dining plan should not be more complicated than Google’s search algorithm. You know things are overpriced, and they sell this hard as a way to save money (and for me, to not truly think about paying a premium for swill). However, one false move and you’ve got 2 snacks and 1 table service gone. Multiple times I had to firmly insist that I had punches left on the card and a manager was brought in. Thirty minutes spent when you’re hungry and tired: not acceptable.

The Chicken "Caesar" salad I goat wasn't bad--just small and as rare as a short line on a nice day.

The Chicken "Caesar" salad I got wasn't bad--just small and as rare as a short line on a nice day.

3. Other chains do it better and faster. Why should the commercially produced food at Disney be less palatable than Cracker Barrel or Chik-fil-A? I found the service to be slow, the food to be overpriced, and just barely edible overall. Because I don’t drink soda and avoid less than perfect fries, I was hungry a lot of the time, resorting to my fail-safe trail mix. If it’s a profit center, make it more of one: Disney, please consult with companies who are doing it right.

Salmon and veggies weren't bad, I just didn't get to eat much of it. My kids chose this over the hot dog from the kids menu.

Salmon and veggies weren't bad, I just didn't get to eat much of it. My kids chose this over the hot dog from the kids menu.

4. Kids can smell a rat in the shape of a mouse. The Youngest took one look at the Smucker’s Crustable and said, “I want real food.” She lived on grapes, carrot sticks, and yogurt, with dessert as her entree of choice. Both Jrs. left their fries, ordered hot dogs exactly once (just say no to cheese sauce), and tried to doctor their food. I don’t force them to finish their plates, and they chose hunger over gross as well. They loved Fried at the fair, they’re not snobs, they’re just in touch with their taste buds.

Peanut Butter and Jelly just isn't that hard. Crustables, I mock you.

Peanut Butter and Jelly just isn't that hard. Crustables, I mock you.

5. Coffee is not optional. I found actual coffee in EPCOT, which I’ll cover in more detail tomorrow, but in this day and age, 7-11 has gourmet coffee options. There’s no lattes in sight, and the drip coffee was pretty awful. Tired cranky parents plus bad coffee, not a winning combo. It would be an easy and welcome addition, iced in the summer and hot year-round, on coffee carts.

The oatmeal was tasty, at the proper temperature, and cheap.

The oatmeal was tasty, at the proper temperature, and cheap.

TIPS:

  • Breakfast isn’t bad. The kids enjoyed the waffles immensely, and the prices are more reasonable. I had oatmeal most days, which counted as a snack.
  • Pack snacks, like granola, trail mix, and fruit.
  • Skip the sit-down meals unless you’re looking for a character moment. Choose breakfast for that.
  • Consider eating sandwiches in your room as a mid-day break.
  • Accept dessert as necessary calories. I had a chocolate chip cookie for dinner the first night, and the carrot cakes saved the day more than once.
Carrot cakes are easy to identify, and desserts are pushed as part of the meal plan.

Carrot cakes are easy to identify, and desserts are pushed as part of the meal plan.

What did you think of Disney food? Share your experiences or tips and tricks in the comments line below. Or Tweet!

Send your blog ideas, challenges, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Food of the Future: EPCOT Food Review!

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