10 Anti-Inflammatory Road Trip Treats!

Ten Anti-InflammatoryRoad Trip Treats

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What is the best part of a road trip? Well to me, it is listening to my favorite tunes, and munching on favorite snacks along the way. On my recent spring break trip to Texas, I wanted to stay paleo-compliant, but still have some options, so here are some suggestions for your next road trip adventure…and just a reminder – some of these are truly meant to be “treats” (vacations are for splurging a bit!) and not recommended for your daily diet.

  1. Raisins – They are good for you AND good to eat!  Raisins are packed with anti-oxidants, fiber and potassium, and come in little boxes that are handy to carry around when you need a quick energy boost.
  2. Fresh fruit – We found many larger gas stations along the way had bananas and apples, and of course you can always pack up some of your favorites to bring along, especially if you have a cooler to keep grapes, cut melon, etc. cold.
  3. Pork Rinds – Here is a snack that feels more like a gas station / road trip kind of treat! Surprisingly pork rinds (get the kind with no fancy flavoring – make sure to check the label) are paleo-approved, and a good option when you are craving chips or pretzels.  In fact, they have 9x the protein and less fat than potato chips (in a 1 oz sample there were 0 carbs, 17 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat – and of that fat, 43% was unsaturated.) They can even be dipped in hot sauce for a little extra flavor!
  4. FYV Granola – Did you know that our Feed Your Vitality granola is considered extremely addictive and delicious?  It includes nuts, coconut, honey and all kinds of healthy ingredients.  Stock up and include this in your bag of treats for the car!
  5. Nuts – Another staple that you can easily find while you make stops along the way…just be sure to stay away from peanuts and go with natural, unsalted almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.  Even a handful will provide protein and fiber and help fill you up!
  6. Jerky – Sometimes you just need something more substantial on your trip, and jerky is a solid choice – it is high in protein and doesn’t raise your insulin levels.   You need to carefully check the labels here though to ensure a brand that isn’t full of high sodium ingredients – look for natural ingredients.  FYV sells BBQ Beef Jerky and BBQ Turkey Jerky – these are healthier choices, so you may want to order some before you go.  Somewhere in Oklahoma or Texas we passed a road side stand selling homemade buffalo jerky and my husband offered to stop…unfortunately I am not as adventurous as some of my co-workers (Ashley for example has tried everything from antelope jerky to ostrich jerky!) and I was very content to nibble on my turkey jerky as we passed on by the buffalo jerky stand…
  7. Hard boiled eggs – Not much simpler than this one, and another great way to get some protein. Sarah, our kitchen manager, said she loves to bring these on trips.  And you may find some hard boiled eggs at some of the larger gas stations along the way.
  8. Unsweetened Applesauce – Last week I said that this is one of my new favorite snacks.  I brought a little six pack of these (like the kind you would put in a school lunch) – just don’t forget some plastic spoons!
  9. Freeze dried Fruit – Many stores now offer freeze dried fruit in all kinds of varieties; I’ve seen apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango and my very favorite, pineapple (the little pieces are a great substitute for candy!)  Again it is important to check the label to make sure there is no added sugar.
  10. Paleo muffins, cookies, brownies etc. – Okay, these would be more difficult to find along the way.  Get organized before you hit the road, and order a few of your favorites from Feed Your Vitality.   You will be glad you did when you get a craving for something sweet!

We’re already planning our summer vacation road trip! Do you have any suggestions for treats that you like to bring with you? Let me know!

Taking the Paleo Plunge

Paleo Plunge

Paleo PlungeWhen I began working at Feed Your Vitality, I was a little concerned that Ashley would insist I adapt a paleo lifestyle (and immediately came to realize, that is so not Ashley’s style!) And as I worked here longer, and learned more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, the idea of attempting a 30 day challenge was intriguing, but scary. Almost everything I ate was bread, waffles and cereal; pretzels (every kind you can think of!) were pretty much their own category in my personal food pyramid. A 30 day Paleo or some other type of diet/lifestyle modification with a strict set of rules and a goal at the end of cleansing your system, or detoxing from unhealthy habits sounded great for other people but I doubted I could do it myself.   However when a couple of co-workers decided to take the Paleo Challenge recently, I decided it was time to get off the sidelines and jump in the game.

We quickly realized a few key things…having each other as support is key. We set up a group text and encourage / occasionally shame each other with pictures of when we are choosing wisely, and pictures of when we are being tempted. Now you would think (and you would be correct!) that working at a Paleo delivery food company is a pretty ideal place to be working when going through a Paleo challenge! We have the opportunity to eat the delicious meals that have already been prepared and that we KNOW are within the guidelines of no dairy, no wheat, etc.   And let’s face it, no one is going to come in here and put a doughnut on my desk that would tempt me! BUT outside the nurturing shelter of the Feed Your Vitality space is a big world filled with lots of other distractions, meals to prepare for family members, and fun social events packed with not-paleo-approved food (Trivia Night, anyone?)

So we learned it is also helpful to be organized with your food options. We have all found it helpful to keep some Paleo meals from Feed Your Vitality at home for dinners.   Snacks are another important element to have thought out and on hand to avoid slipping. Nuts are a great option for snacking, as is fresh fruit, vegetables and a slice of your favorite lunch meat.   It is gratifying when you can find a “legal” option for the food you are craving.   What sounded totally unappealing at the beginning – unsweetened applesauce – is now actually something I find myself looking forward to, especially sprinkled with cinnamon.   Surprisingly, that really does seem to satisfy me when I think I want something “sweet”.

Speaking of sweet, Ann here in the office surprised us today with a yummy treat to start off our work week….we are about half way through our challenge and are going to celebrate! You truly cannot believe that something this delicious is made with all paleo ingredients. My picture does not do it justice!

(Ann found this recipe in Health Magazine, March 2015, and was inspired to try it, and we are reviewing it with 5 stars and thumbs up from all!)

THE ULTIMATE UNBAKED BROWNIE

Prep: 15 minutes

Chill:  2 hours

Yield:  16 brownies

2 1/2 cups loosely packed pitted dates

1 1/2 cups walnuts (can substitute unsweetened coconut flakes if you don’t want nuts!)

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted coconut oil

  1. Combine dates, walnuts, 6 Tbsp cacao powder, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp water and salt in a food processor.  Process until completely smooth.
  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, or line dish with parchment or waxed paper.  Transfer dough to dish.  Press dough very firmly into dish with your hands until dough is evenly distributed.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup cacao powder, remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla, maple syrup and oil.  Stir until mixture forms a paste (this is the frosting).  Spread paste evenly over dough in baking dish.  Refrigerate brownies for at least 2 hours to set, then cut into squares.

Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

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Sweet Talk

Honey

HoneyWhat do you do when you are trying to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and are eating the foods you are supposed to eat, but want to sweeten things up on occasion? It gets confusing at times because there are so many thoughts on what is an “approved” natural sweetener…here are five suggestions for you to try! As with other paleo type foods, the less processed the better and you will see that theme with the sweeteners below:

Honey – Throughout history, civilizations have used honey to sweeten food.  Some cultures even considered honey to have medicinal value for healing many maladies.  Now, modern medicine agrees that honey’s properties can be anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants.  Keys are to buy organic and raw, and darker colored honey is considered to be healthier.  Think honey from the local farmer’s market instead of the highly processed honey at the supermarket.  Some people believe that eating local honey can be an immune booster for pollen allergies.

Maple Syrup – The Indians were producing maple syrup in North America long ago as their own “natural sweetener”.  While syrup comes from a tree and does provide nutrients, it becomes less “natural” when over processed at high temperatures and additional ingredients are added.  If possible, purchase from small farmers to avoid the additional processing.

Dates – This “natural candy” is a fruit and contains antioxidants but it is best to go for the plain dates (for example, Medjool dates) instead of the prepackaged ones with additional sugar or processing.  It can be a great addition to your smoothie (just remove the seed first!) or chopped up in paleo “cakes” as a sweetener.

Molasses – Some consider this to be the best of the natural sweeteners because it requires minimal processing and retains its healthy nutrients.  It is especially popular for baking.  There are many product options out there and the organic blackstrap molasses is considered one of the most natural.

Stevia – This is actually an herb and the leaves of the plant provide the sweetener.  While you can crush the leaves and use them directly, the more common forms are powdered or liquid.  There are a variety of different brands and some strong opinions in the Paleo world about which ones are actually still stevia after the processing.  Here at Feed Your Vitality we use Sweetleaf Stevia drops (and we actually sell them as well.)  They are a pure extract from the plant, and come in different flavors to enhance drinks such as coffee, water and tea.

Bottom line, moderation is key with any of these sweeteners, and remember that too much sugar = too much sugar, even if they are from a natural source.