William at Cool Greens in Oklahoma City enjoying his hummus pizza topped with lots of fresh vegetables

Eating a Healthy Vegan Diet While Traveling

The Healthy Family Road Trip
How Easy it is to Enjoy Eating a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet While Traveling with Your Spouse and Kids

I often hear from people who don’t eat a plant-based diet or who are new to the plant-based or vegan lifestyle that while it might be doable to eat a healthy diet at home, it’s either difficult to do so while traveling or that they just don’t know how to do it while away from home.

Traveling with kids seems to make a healthy plant-centric diet nearly unimaginable for many people. I’m sharing my family’s travel experiences in hopes that you will see how one family ate a healthy plant-based diet with minimal effort and zero sacrifice, even in cattle country.

My husband, Damon, 5-year old son, William, and I drove from our home in Sacramento, California across the country to visit several of my husband’s family and friends. Our main stops are were Amarillo, TX, Oklahoma City, OK, Fort Worth, TX and Vian, OK. We managed to eat a delicious and healthy whole foods plant-based diet throughout our journey. If we could do it, so can you!

We packed a cooler and a couple bags with some food to make healthy eating on road easier and more affordable. Here’s a quick list of what I packed:

Cooler: unsweetened almond milk, pure maple syrup (for sweetening oatmeal), cut-up cantaloupe, strawberries, red grapes, cucumbers, raw broccoli, 1 bag raw baby carrots, homemade oil-free hummus, mini whole wheat pita, Tofurky

Reusable Grocery Bags: 1 loaf whole wheat bread, all natural peanut butter, old-fashioned oatmeal, cinnamon, extra box vacuum packed unsweetened almond milk, Newman’s Own Spelt pretzels, bananas, cereal – 365 organic raisin bran and Ezekial brand cereal

Quick Tips to stay healthy on the road and at home: It’s essential to avoid sodas (regular and diet) both for you and your kids, as well as other artificially flavored and sweetened beverages. We have a rule at our house. We allow 1 sweet drink per day and that can be either 100% fruit juice (usually freshly squeezed carrot juice, apple juice or green juice) OR soy milk. For the rest of the day, we drink unsweetened drinks – water or decaffeinated tea – perhaps with fresh lemon or lime for flavor. I follow my own rule as well. I never drink pop, juice or milk. I have a green smoothie a couple days a week (oatmeal gets a bit boring) and a glass of wine on weekends. That’s it. The best way to teach kids is to lead by example. Damon only drinks a soda on rare occasion – never at home.

Note: I’ve listed the food that William and I ate on our trip, not the food that Damon chose as I don’t recommend his choices. I eat a whole foods purely plant-based (vegan) diet. Damon eats a whole food plant-based diet at home, but chooses meat, dairy and processed foods sometimes when we are out. He is a flexitarian. William eats a whole foods mostly vegan diet. Damon gives William cow cheese and/or eggs on occasion. You’ll find a  symbol next to the few occasions William eats dairy and the one time I did (yes, it’s true, I’m not perfect).

Day 1: Friday, June 22nd, 2012
We drove from Sacramento, California to Barstow, California and spent the night at Damon’s parent’s home.

Snacks: Veggies (broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers) and whole wheat pita with homemade oil-free hummus
Bananas and red grapes

Dinner: Taco Bell in Fresno
William and I each had the 7-Layer Burrito – No Cheese, No Sour Cream; I had an unsweetened iced tea to drink, William had water

Day 2: Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
Breakfast: I made old-fashioned oatmeal with apples, cinnamon and almond milk at Damon’s parent’s home for all of us. We all had water to drink.

Lunch: Chipotle and then one hour of outlet shopping at Lucky Brand (I got a new t-shirt and a pair of cropped jeans! )
I had the Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, lettuce and guacamole (ask for the guacamole on the side or they put on way too much!) Salsa would be a healthy choice, but theirs is too spicy for me!
I had an iced tea with 3 lemons to drink.
William had the Kid’s Taco Kit with 3 soft flour tortillas (the meal comes with 2 – I ask for 1 extra), black beans, brown rice, guacamole and lettuce. I spread the guacamole on the tortillas for him (I check for bits of jalapeno – too spicy!), sprinkle with beans, rice and lettuce and roll them up into wraps. He can eat them pretty well himself, but sometimes, needs a bit of help. William had an organic 100% apple juice and a water to drink.
We left Barstow, California after lunch and were on the road all day

Dinner: Sakura Sushi and Teppanyaki restaurant at the Radisson Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona (a lot like Bennihana – this place kept William – and Damon and I entertained)

Vegan Sushi at Sakura Sushi and Teppanyaki

William had 2 orders of small maki rolls – 1 cucumber and 1 avocado. We also had some simple pan fried tofu with soy sauce, miso soup and edamame (He ate some tofu, all his soup and none of the edamame). I had an order of vegetable rolls, shared the tofu, also had miso soup and ate some of the edamame). I also had some sake. We all had water to drink.

After dinner, we drove a couple more hours to Holbrook, Arizona and spent the night at the Ramada Inn.

Day 3: Sunday, June 24th, 2012
Breakfast: Damon and William went to the free hotel breakfast and had waffles (not healthy/not recommended). I had Ezekial cereal with unsweetened almond milk in the room (we had packed) and did a quickie workout in the room.
After breakfast, we left Holbrook, Arizona and headed for Amarillo, Texas to see Damon’s old friend, Jimmy Velasquez and his family.

Snacks: William had leftover vegetable sushi from the night before along with some red grapes. I had raw broccoli and hummus and an awesomely delicious organic white nectarine.

Lunch: Annapurna – a vegetarian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico

William and me at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe in Albuquerque, NM
http://www.chaishoppe.com/

William had a veggie burger with both fries and broccoli. He said the fries tasted weird and the burger was too spicy (both had some unfamiliar and slightly spicy Indian seasonings). He ate all his broccoli and ate some of my food.
I had the shepherd’s pie – it was a few vegetables topped with lots of lentils topped with a layer of mashed sweet potatoes. The food was OK, but was too oily for my taste and for overall health. I’d give this place another try, but would do a better job ordering and being specific about no oil.

Snacks: Veggies, Hummus and Whole Wheat mini pita and bananas

Dinner: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches in the car

Day 4: Monday, June 25th, 2012
Breakfast: Made oatmeal at the Velasquez’s Home in Amarillo, TX; Cup of white tea, plain for me, water for William

Lunch: Carino’s Italian Restaurant in Amarillo, TX; William had pasta with marinara sauce and steamed broccoli.  I had pasta with tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts and capers with steamed broccoli.  Iced tea, unsweetened with lemon for me, water with lemon for William

Dinner: Kushi-Yama Japanese restaurant in Amarillo, TX with the Velasquez family
William had miso soup, avocado roll, cucumber roll and shared fried tofu with me
I had miso soup, vegetable roll, ginger bok choy and shared fried tofu with William. Also had some edamame and some wine that Jimmy ordered.  We both also had water.

Day 5: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Breakfast: Velasquez Home in Amarillo, TX
Fresh fruit for me – Strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
Whole wheat toast with all natural peanut butter and all fruit jam and a bowl of fresh strawberries and bananas for William

We left Amarillo, TX and headed for Oklahoma City, OK

Lunch: Red Robin
William and I both had Gardenburgers, fries and steamed broccoli
I had unsweetened iced tea with lemon. William had water with lemon
*Red Robin carries both Boca Vegan burgers and Gardenburgers, which contain dairy and eggs. I despise Boca Vegan burgers. They taste disgusting and are made from soy protein isolate, which raise IGF-1 levels even more than dairy. In my opinion, they are not even real food. Gardenburgers are made from whole grains and vegetable and cow cheese. I hate that they are not vegan and only eat them 1-2 times per year. I wish that Red Robin carried Gardenburger’s vegan burgers instead of Boca’s disgusting vegan burgers, but for now I’ll choose the BPO (best possible option). I have written to Red Robin and suggested that they carry a tastier vegan burger. I recommend you do the same if you feel the same way.

We arrived in Oklahoma City, OK and checked in at the Hampton Inn

Dinner: Matthew Kenney OKC

The open kitchen at the innovative raw vegan restaurant, Matthew Kenney, OKC
http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/restaurants/

Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, Pistachio Pesto, Red Pepper Marinara, Pine Nut Ricotta at Matthew Kenney OKC – absolute heaven!

http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/restaurants/

This raw vegan restaurant was amazing. Probably the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. Not kidding. The food, the ambiance, the service – all perfect. Every bite was bliss. I would go to Oklahoma just to go to Matthew Kenney. A bit pricey, but worth every penny and more. Here’s what we had (we all shared):
House Aged Tree Nut Cheeses and Condiments: Smoked Cumin Seed, Truffle Macadamia, Mild Cheddar, Wildflower Honey, Rye Bread, Pickled Fruit
Smoked Shiitake Dragon Roll, Sweet Pickled Hakurei Turnip, Compressed Sesame Spinach, Yuzu
Sweet Corn Ravioli, Corn Mint Pesto, Tomato Paper, Herb Oil Warm Herb Crusted Portobello, Fresh Corn Polenta, Cherry Tomato Salad
Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, Pistachio Pesto, Red Pepper Marinara, Pine Nut Ricotta
They also made a zucchini pasta marinara for William, though he had some of our food, too and loved all it, especially the sushi. In fact, he cried when Damon wanted to give a piece of sushi to me instead of giving it all to him! LOL!

William had a carrot juice, I had a green juice and Damon had a green smoothie. We all also had water.

For dessert, we shared:

Tiramisu, Cappuccino Ice Cream
White Chocolate Cheesecake, Candied Ginger Crumble, Grapefruit Marmalade
The portions were incredibly small, but sooooooo good! Highly recommended! *****

Day 6: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Getup early and workout at the hotel gym

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and nuts and a bowl of fresh fruit (cantaloupe and pineapple) at the Hampton Inn in Oklahoma City, OK

Lunch: Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK (Bricktown) www.abuelos.com

William and Damon at Abuelo’s in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City. We loved the Vegetable Fajitas with Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans www.abuelos.com

William and I shared one order of the vegetable fajitas with rice and black beans – huge portions and very good!

Dinner: Taco Bell with Paul S. Webber (husband’s brother) and Family
William and I each had the 7-Layer Burrito – No Cheese, No Sour Cream; I had an unsweetened iced tea to drink, William had water

Day 7: Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Getup early and workout at the hotel gym

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and nuts at the Hampton Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Lunch: Cool Greens in Oklahoma City, OK www.coolgreens.com

Here I am at Cool Greens Restaurant in Oklahoma City with a GIGANTIC arugula salad. www.coolgreens.com

William and me at Cool Greens in Oklahoma City. They provided fresh lemons, limes and oranges for the water, which William and I loved.

William at Cool Greens in Oklahoma City enjoying his hummus pizza topped with lots of fresh vegetables


Dinner:
Logan’s Roadhouse with Paul S. Webber and FamilyI had a HUGE salad of arugula, potatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, avocado and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
William had a hummus pizza with whole wheat crust and vegetables (no cheese)
I had Perrier with lemon, orange and lime wedges. William had plain ice water with lemon, orange and lime wedges.
Great place with fresh and healthy vegan options and a stylish, yet casual ambiance. Recommended! ***

William and I both had plain baked russet potatoes, plain baked sweet potatoes (with cinnamon only) and plain steamed broccoli and shared a mushroom skewer
We both had water with lemon to drink

Day 8: Friday, June 29th, 2012
Getup early and workout at the hotel gym

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and nuts at the Hampton Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Leave Oklahoma City for Fort Worth, Texas

Lunch: Subway
William and I split a 12” veggie sandwich on whole grain bread loaded with avocado, tons of spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, banana peppers, oregano, salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of vinegar
I had unsweetened iced tea with lemon and William had water
Arrived in Fort Worth, Texas

Dinner: Spiral Diner (an all-vegan restaurant) in Fort Worth

Bryan’s Brutal Tacos at Spiral Diner in Ft. Worth, TX
www.spiraldiner.com

William had the kids’ spaghetti and broccoli with a glass of fresh carrot juice (his favorite!) and we all had a few bites of a kids’ vegan cheese quesadilla
I had the Savory Seitan Wrap
Damon had Bryan’s Brutal Tacos
William and I shared a vegan chocolate chip cookie for dessert. Damon had the peach-ginger pie. This meal was all vegan, but not super-healthy. For optimal health, we should have ordered options with more vegetables, but meaty vegan comfort food is hard to come by. We enjoyed it. 

Day 9: Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Breakfast: The Matt & Jammie Sines Home in Fort Worth, Texas
William and I both had cereal – Raisin Bran and Ezekial with unsweetened almond milk
Water to drink

Lunch: We went out with the Sines Family to Chipotle , Fort Worth, Texas
I had 3 tacos (1 soft flour, 1 corn and 1 hard) with black beans, brown rice, a little bit of guacamole and a lot of shredded lettuce. I had an iced tea with 3 lemons to drink.
William had the Kid’s Taco Kit with 3 soft flour tortillas (the meal comes with 2 – I ask for 1 extra), black beans, brown rice, guacamole and lettuce. I spread the guacamole on the tortillas for him (I check for bit of jalapeno), sprinkle with beans, rice and lettuce and roll them up into wraps. He can eat them pretty well himself, but sometimes, needs a bit of help. William had an organic 100% apple juice and a water to drink. Damon got him a cow cheese quesadilla ()
Note: If you want to choose an option even healthier and lower in fat and calories, choose the Bowl and order lettuce, brown rice, black beans and salsa

Dinner: Olive Garden, Fort Worth, Texas
William had the kids meal spaghetti with marinara sauce and plain steamed broccoli. He also had some of the never ending salad bowl (no cheese), one breadstick and water to drink.
I had whole wheat linguine with marinara sauce with steamed broccoli and steamed asparagus (plain, no butter). I also had some of the never ending salad bowl (no cheese) and one breadstick. I had water with 3 lemons and a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

Day 10: Sunday, July 1st, 2012
Breakfast: The Matt & Jammie Sines’ Home, Fort Worth, TX
I made old-fashioned oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, dried cranberries, raisins and unsweetened almond milk
Fresh organic strawberries and blueberries

Lunch: Went out with the Matt & Jammie Sines’ Family to Sweet Tomatoes in Fort Worth, TX http://www.souplantation.com/
I had a giant salad with spinach & spring mix, garbanzo beans, corn, cucumbers, grated carrot, raw broccoli, tofu, edamame (shelled soybeans), sunflower seeds with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I also had 2 small baked sweet potatoes and half a piece of whole grain bread and a glass of unsweetened ice tea to drink.
William had a plate of corn, peas, cucumbers, black olives, tofu and 1 small baked sweet potato. He also had ½ slice of whole grain bread and 1 slice of cow cheese pizza (). He had 2 slices of watermelon for dessert and ice water with lemon to drink.
Great family-friendly fresh salad bar buffet. Excellent choice for healthy, affordable lunch or dinner. Recommended! ***

Went to the park to feed the ducks, play on the playground and ride the train.

Snack: William and I both had bananas and water

Dinner: Freebirds World Burrito in Fort Worth, TX www.freebirds.com
William had left over spaghetti and broccoli from Olive Garden from Saturday night. Damon and I went out with Matt to get take out Burritos. I got a burrito in a whole wheat wrap with black beans, rice, lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, avocado, salsa and lime juice. Delish!

Day 11: Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Breakfast: The Matt & Jammie Sines’ Home, Fort Worth, TX
I made old-fashioned oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, dried cranberries, raisins and unsweetened almond milk
Fresh organic strawberries and blueberries

We went grocery shopping at Kroger in Fort Worth, TX before heading to Damon’s parent’s cabin near Vian, OK. I was very impressed with the selection of natural, organic and vegan options. They had everything we needed and more! 

Lunch: Pei Wei in Fort Worth, TX

Tofu & Vegetables with Brown Rice from Pei Wei
www.peiwei.com

William had Japanese Teriyaki with tofu, vegetables & rice noodles
I had with tofu, vegetables & brown rice

I had unsweetened mandarin orange green iced tea with lemon and William had water with lemon

Our meal was a bit too oily, but very tasty. The tofu is very savory, meaty and delicious! I think you can order the food with less oil. I’ll check into that next time.

Dinner: Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in the car – Rudi’s Marvelous Multigrain Bread with organic peanut butter and organic all-fruit jelly
Water to drink

Snacks: William had a bowl of Cinnamon Puffins, some fresh organic blackberries and strawberries and a glass of carrot juice when we arrived at Damon’s parent’s cabin near Vian, OK

I had a glass of Toasted Head Chardonnay and a few Newman’s Own Spelt pretzels and peanuts

Day 12: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Breakfast: The Paul D. & Judy Webber’s Cabin outside of Vian, OK
Cereal with plain, unsweetened almond milk along with a bowl of fresh, organic strawberries and blackberries for William and me
William had Cinnamon Puffins cereal (a bit high in sugar and not organic, but Damon wanted something different for a treat); I had Ezekial
Water to drink for both of us

Lunch: Tofurky sandwiches; Rudi’s Marvelous Multigrain Bread with Hickory Smoked Tofurky, mustard, spinach and tomatoes
Water to drink

Went to the lake to go swimming

Snack: Water and bananas

Dinner: I made spaghetti for dinner (whole wheat pasta with marinara; added fresh spinach to sauce); side of steamed broccoli
Water to drink

The last couple of days, we drove straight home and ate repeats of the above meals including Taco Bell and Subway. I was very glad to be home and enjoy fresh, homemade food.

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