If I’ve seemed a little distant the past few weeks, it’s because I was – literally. We took a family trip back to Newfoundland to visit family with our girls. The last time we visited was 6 years ago, before our youngest was born. It’s a day-long trip with a 4 1/2 hour time difference. Some of you know that I was born in Newfoundland, so most of my extended family (and all of my husband’s family) live there. It was time us to reconnect with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I was not looking forward to the travel, however, and had no idea it would be even harder than I imagined…
Our trip began with us arriving at Vancouver airport in the morning and getting the announcement that our flight was just cancelled. What?! We don’t take a family trip for six years and then our flight is cancelled when we do? The next flight we could jump on was at 7pm that night. With 3 kids travelling a total of about 11 hours and 4 1/2 hours jet-lag, a red-eye was NOT happening. We talked to the manager of WestJet and eventually we were put up in the airport hotel overnight, given some food vouchers and some credit for future WestJet travel, and booked our flight for the next morning. I didn’t want to go home because there was no fresh food and I knew the girls would be bummed to return home. So, we made it a mini-adventure to stay at the hotel. The girls got to swim and watch planes take off and land, plus they thought it was SO cool to hang out in the hotel. View from our room:
The real inconvenience was the food. Eating vegan in an airport is hard. Eating a whole-foods vegan diet and eating well in an airport is near impossible. I had packed a lot of food for the flight, so we ate most of that the first day. But, what about a proper dinner and food the next? We had $150 in food vouchers, which sounds terrific. But, that’s for 5 people for 3 meals, and they had to be used in certain dollar quantities for each vendor. We ate the food we had packed, and that night we ate at the Fairmont Hotel restaurant. This is a very nice hotel, and the restaurant had vegan options. I got a vegetable curry with rice – it was nice but a small portion. Hubby got a roasted vegetable pizza which was beautiful. The girls – we ordered the all-too-typical pasta with marinara sauce. But, their pasta had eggs. So, we ordered it over brown rice. The girls wanted bread but the hotel bread had dairy. I’m sorry, but if you have vegan options on your menu, you need to have vegan bread. How hard is that? Most breads are made without dairy! Frustrating. Dinner was decent and satisfying, but we used the bulk of our food vouchers – $100. Oh well! The next day we had to figure out some food for travel. In the morning, we still had some fruit and muffins and almond butter sandwiches that I packed, so the girls ate those. I grabbed a Starbucks Soy Chai Latte (love those). We picked up some water and granola bars, and then our next best bet for lunch on the plane was Subway. We knew they could do a veggie sub so we ordered a few of those. Our eldest girl had tried the veggie patty and convinced us all to get it. I should have just ordered a full-on veg sub, I was not a fan of that patty – and neither were the other girls or hubby! I took a few bites and passed on the rest. But, at least it was a vegan option, and at least one of us loved it!
I had hoped there would be food options on the plane to purchase, but there was really nothing. I asked if they had fresh fruit, the attendant said “no, trust me, we’ve come a long way with the popcorn chips“. OY! There was an Asian Veggie Wrap, but it had dairy when I looked at the ingredients. So, we snacked on the subs and nibbly food until we got to Toronto. I was wise to tote some Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. They satisfied my treat-need! Plus, they can be made in advance and frozen – so you can prep them a couple of weeks before a trip. Make note!
It made me a little sad to see what people eat regularly, with the time spent in the airport and on flight. Sodas, diet sodas, chips and more chips, just a steady intake of sugar, aspartame, and fat and salt. What is all this “food” we are eating that isn’t even food? All chemical concoctions designed to bring us back for more and continue to be hungry because we are never really nourished. I was a little disturbed and talked to hubby about it, but he told me to relax (as usual). I guess because I’m so connected to a healthy eating community online that I am often distanced from what society consumes regularly. Being reminded of it wasn’t pleasant. But, it grounds me in what I am doing to help educate and inspire people to reach out to whole plant food choices more often.
Once we hit Toronto I saw light… a sign with a menu that had rice and quinoa bowls, vegetables, tofu, and… KALE! BINGO! I hit the washrooms with the girls (it must be easier travelling with boys!), and then got to that green-glowing Freshii counter! I ordered some quinoa and noodle bowls, and we got on to our next flight to St. John’s. We dug into those bowls and hubby said “I never thought I’d be so happy to see broccoli“. Even the girls were sighing, saying “mom, this is really good“. They ate a lot of veggies, without coaxing! Thank heavens for that food, it got us through our day! We arrived in St. John’s around 1 am, and were eager to get settled after a long day of travel, hence blurry photo. (Real men wear flower backpacks.)
The next few days we were adjusting to the time change. In fact, we didn’t really adjust fully until we were about ready to return home! That morning, we popped out for some staple items – sprouted breads, fresh fruit/veg and avocados, nondairy milks, larabars (for out and about), nut butter, and some veggie burgers and a few other quick vegan meals. Before leaving for this trip, I told hubby I was not cooking while in St. John’s. We were staying with his parents, and I was visiting my mom a lot. I decided all of our meals would be quick/simple, and I would go out for some lunches and dinners with hubby and my sisters and mother. We rarely get to do that in Vancouver, so that was the plan!
Our first day there my eldest sister Debbie had a get-together at her house for her daughter’s graduation from university. Great timing for us, we were able to connect with many extended family members and friends. Here I am with my beautiful sister Debbie, and then another of us with the hubbies!
Plus, my sis made a BIG pot of veggie chili. Hubby kept saying how good of her that was, we were able to have a decent meal that first day, plus brought leftovers home. Also, she made batches of my cookies! I was so excited I pulled out my camera… yup, and posted to Instagram. Here they are: my Berry Patch Brownies and Troll Cookies (both from LTEV) and my Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. My sis adds peanut butter to them, and they are amazing! (Deb, if you’re reading, please tell us how much you use, I forgot to ask!) My sis made many more batches of cookies while we were there. One day, she welcomed me with an ENTIRE, batch of freshly-baked, still-warm Troll Cookies! Hit. The. Spot.
Many happy nanny hugs on the trip. Our girls only see my mom and hubby’s parents every year or two. They sure love spending time with them, it’s hard being so far removed – maybe many of you reading have family living far away and can relate.
And I taught mom how to take a selfie! Not sure she’ll repeat it, but pretty good for a first try, right?
With the time change, most days we weren’t all awake until about 10 am (except me, I’m up with the sun – or earlier)! So, breakfast was light and then I’d lunch, usually wraps with fresh veggies and prepared hummus, or nut butter sandwiches on sprouted bread. As I said, I was keeping things simple. But, simple should still taste good, and I tell you I got sick of storebought hummus. Truly, most brands of hummus give hummus a bad name. They have a weird, predominant flavor from the citric acid preservative. And, some are more garlicky than kiddos like. After a few days eating different varieties, I got sick of them, just couldn’t eat them. I said to hubby “if people think this is the hummus we eat and love, no wonder they think vegan food isn’t good“! We needed other lunch options.
THIS was not one of them.
We passed this food truck several times in downtown St. John’s. So very NOT vegan!
Thankfully, St. John’s has two vegetarian spots that are great for quick meals. The Sprout and The Happy Hummus Hut. We got a terrific lunch at The Happy Hummus Hut one day, and another day stopped in for some snacks (they make dessert rolls with rice paper wraps and raw chocolate or pumpkin ‘fudge’… pumpkin was my fave!). I met the owner, Hlynn. We have tweeted quite a few times. She is incredibly warm and generous, and gave me a couple of her raw savory rice rolls to sample – they were delicious! They have a featured ‘hummus of the day’ each day. How much could I love that? Much!
And, I had a few dinners at The Sprout, enjoying the Pad Thai (shown below, image credit: The Sprout), Lentil Burger, Tempeh Burger (zoinks! amazing tempeh!), and soups and salads. All delicious meals! One night I had dinner there, then lunch and dinner again the following day. Just slightly embarrassing.
We ordered take-out pizzas at Pi Pizza two evenings. They mention some vegan specifics on their menu, including their vegan crust and non-dairy cheese. Though their menu says “soya cheese”, Pi actually had Daiya – which is far better than other (soy-based) vegan cheeses. And, we dined at Quintanas, a Mexican restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they knew about modifying for a vegan diet. They also had Daiya cheese as an option to dairy for their burritos, and so we had a delicious veggie/bean burrito with salad that night. Here I am with my mom and sister having our Mexican meal:
We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing on our visit. This trip was all about our girls spending time with grandparents and close relatives, and also hubby and I getting a little time out together (we rarely do), and me getting to have some ‘solo’ time with my sisters and mom. We did, however, take the girls to Signal Hill. One MUST go to Signal Hill when visiting St. John’s. It’s a crime not to! Truly it’s beautiful up there. The wind can literally sweep you off your feet on a gusty day! Check out hub’s hair – and he has thick hair! Our youngest girl kept calling Cabot Tower ”Rapunzel’s Tower”… she is a huge fan of the Tangled movie (and I still cry at the ending after seeing it a good 25 times). Yeah.
Our eldest loved it, here she is looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. If you look close you can see walking trails… not for the faint of heart in some spots!…
Some of you know that I have 5 sisters. All of our names begin with a “D”, and I’m the 5th in line, second youngest. Here I am with my other beautiful (and youngest!) sister, Dayle.
…and with our beautiful mama…
Fashion Sidenote: You can’t quite see it fully in this photo, but I am wearing a new skirt I bought from Squeezed Yoga in Toronto. I have seen most of their beautiful, comfy clothes via Melissa West of Namaste Yoga, as she models their yoga wear through her video segments (and on the Squeezed site). After seeing Melissa’s bamboo skirt last year, I had to have one this year! Sign up for their newsletter, because you can get in on pre-orders for new lines. I did just that when I ordered this skirt and got in on their discount. The skirt fits beautifully, and is soft and light. I ordered a small, and when it arrived I choked a little because it looked like and extra-small. But, Donna knows how to design clothes to flatter women’s bodies. When I tried it on, it just fit like a
My eldest sister, Debbie, also has three children so our girls had a blast getting to know them better in person. They also have a wee dog, Winston. Our girls fell in love. Ok, so did I. Think I need to find our family a little Winston!
Oh, and Deb also has a Porsche! Here we are going for a spin. We took off like Thelma and Louise! … To David’s Tea. Then Toys ‘r Us. Then Starbucks. Party women.
One of the highlights for our girls on the trip was visiting their grandparents’ cabin. Hubby spent many of his summers there as a child, and they have a beautiful big pond and often rabbits, beavers, and yes moose come for a visit! No moose pictures, but lots of water fun!
On the return flight home, I was armed with small meals and substantial snacks to carry us through the long day. I made quesadillas with hummus, leftover sweet potato fries (thanks Deb!), veggies, and Daiya for the girls. That was one meal. I also had larabars, granola bars, granola, fresh fruit (apples, oranges, grapes), baby carrots, and some baggies of snack chips for the girls (a healthier alternative than those in airports and on the plane). For our second ‘meal’, I kept it as lightweight/simple as possible with some sprouted grain bagels with almond butter. My bags of food were getting heavy already! In addition to the fruit and veg, we kept hydrated with plenty of water and for me – mint tea on the plane. It was a long flight back – 3 hrs to Toronto, then another 5 to Vancouver, and that’s just flying time! The view from over western Canada, gosh it’s beautiful out here!
If YOU are flying or doing other long hours of travel, here are some of my ideas for snacks and small meals. PLEASE feel free to add your own in the comments! –
- Wraps or quesadillas with hummus and veg. I love using collard leaves for wraps, so while I packed whole-grain wraps for the fam, I snuck in a collard wrap for me!
- Sprouted grain sandwiches with sliced cucumber/tomato and cashew cheese or rawesome nut dip
- Whole-grain bagels with nut butter or low-sugar/sweetener preserves.
- Small containers of hummus along with fresh veggies (cukes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes).
- Healthy oatmeal-to-go cups, soup cups, and noodle bowls. Search out varieties that are lower in sodium, have organic and natural ingredients, and no artificial ingredients/MSG. Airlines sell these types of noodle/oatmeal cups on the plane, so if you tote your own they can fill with hot water – plus they are LIGHT for packing in your carry-on! At VVC, we took home an oatmeal cup sample from Straw Propeller. That’s one brand of healthier oatmeal cups, there are a few others on the market.
- Fresh fruit. Keeps you hydrated and is satisfying!
- Teas. I kept a stash of bags of my favorite teas in my purse while travelling, all through my trip. I could use them at restaurants, visiting with my mom, etc. Plus, I carry small packets of stevia to sweeten my tea. I don’t use stevia in baking or otherwise, but love a little sprinkle in my tea!
- Dry cereal and individual non-dairy milks for the kids. They can either munch on the cereal straight up, drink the milks straight up, or combine both in a baggy – pack a few spoons!
- Larabars. They saved our butts through the trip!
- Granola. Terrific for nibbling. You can find a few decent store-bought varieties, but most are still sweeter than I’d like. Try my Hempanola, Cocoa-Goji Granola, or my oil-free Almond Zen Granola from the Plant-Powered 15!
- Popcorn, kale chips, and baked chips. For very long flights, crunchy snack foods are great for the kids (ok, adults too). There are healthier options than those sold in-flight or airports!
- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or nuts – plain or seasoned. I love the Kaia Foods salt and vinegar pumpkin seeds. Actually, our 4 year old loves them even more. Eat straight up or make a little trail mix with raisins, or mix with popcorn, etc.
- If you have time to bake/cook: Tamari Roasted Chickpeas, healthy muffins/snackles, Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls, Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars (they keep very well)!
Finally, knowing you love hummus as I do… and knowing that you also believe it such be deemed a food group, after returning from my trip I posted two more hummus recipes for you to enjoy!
Make some hummus! Make it often! Double or triple your batches, because it freezes brilliantly. Make it for a friend, travelling without a food processor. Don’t forget it can be enjoyed slathered on pizzas, used in wraps and sandwiches, thinned out and tossed into pasta, dolloped on baked spuds! Or, put a big ol’ scoop in your salad. Trust me on that one!
Have you done any travelling eating plant-powered? Have any words of wisdom or extra food ideas to share?