Monday, August 2, 2010

Primal Kitchen Chaos - Minus the Kitchen: Day 1

     So last weekend we had a lot going on--Mike and I trekked out to Philadelphia so I could get my CrossFit Level 1 Certification.  I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to put my primal tactics into practice, considering the facts that:
a.) We were going to be spending about 10 hours in the car between the trips there and back.
b.) We were going to be in a place where we wouldn't have access to any of our own cooking methods.
c.) I was going to need some sort of healthy snackery to have at my certification, which ran from 9am-5:30pm Saturday and Sunday (since Mike was dropping me off there, and I wouldn't be able to drive myself to get anything).

      On top of that was the whole I'm-Pregnant thing, which wound up presenting it's own unique little set of challenges along the way. Ah, pregnancy cravings.

     Having a rough map of what the weekend was going to entail, I made a (very) quick (last minute) trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on everything I thought we'd need to get us through the weekend (well, for the most part. I assumed we were probably going to be eating breakfast and dinner in a restaurant, but wanted to make sure we had enough to sustain us for the time in between those two meals, and the car rides there and back).

     I purchased 2 oranges, 2 organic apples, 5 bags of jerky (4 turkey, 1 organic beef), one container each of organic rainier cherries, sweet cherries, and blueberries, a jar of almond butter, and two bags of single-serving nut/dried fruit packs. I also had some organic celery at the house, which I included as well.

    The main idea here was to be totally, if not overly, prepared. Who knew what kind of cravings were going to strike over the course of the next couple of days?

    The jerky I selected was not entirely Paleo (thanks to a small amount of sugar and soy sauce), but I wanted something that would last the weekend, would not need to be kept cold or heated, and was a not-so-messy, eat-while-driving type snack--this stuff fit the bill, and was way better than any jerky I'd be finding in any convenience store, which are usually packed with sodium, preservatives, and other weird ingredients, like 'hydrolyzed corn protein'. (I should probably add that a longer road trip may have warranted something a little more substantial, like actual meat of some sort--but we weren't driving cross-country. Just across the state.)

     I took the time to pit the cherries, and cut up the apples (which I sprinkled with cinnamon), oranges, and celery, putting each in a ziploc bag. I wanted everything to be totally grabable for ultimate snackability.

Protein: Check
Produce: Check.

I also included a little container of jazzed up almond butter I threw together:

Creamy Almond Butter
Coconut Butter
Ground Flaxseed

     I don't do measurements here, but it is pretty much a few giant spoonfuls of almond butter, with a couple spoonfuls of coconut butter. A little bit of flaxseed is added to enhance the texture, making it a little less sticky--I usually shake in a little bit at a time until it tastes the way I like it, and use a tiny dab of honey to give it a note of subtle sweetness.

Sweet nutty fix: Check.

   ..and also had the little bags of mixed nuts.

Not-so-sweet nutty fix: Check.

    So why fruit and no vegetables besides celery? Well, this was a personal preference. I'm not really a fan of raw veggies unless I have something to dip them in (some old, non-Paleo habits die hard). I am currently fine-tuning some of my own Paleo hummus though, which I'm hoping will solve that little problem for me. I'll be posting that as soon as I get it up to post-worthy standards. I usually eat a ton of vegetables, so I wasn't too worried about it.

     We also packed several bottles of water. This should be a given.

Hydration Fix: Check.

    Anyway, with all of our bases covered and packed neatly inside a nice little travel cooler, early Friday afternoon we set out on the road. Realizing we were going to be eating a lot of Paleo snack foods over the 3-day weekend, we figured we should stop and squeeze in one quick, substantial meal before we really got moving. We found an Eat n' Park on the way, whose menu includes several healthy choices (like plain grilled chicken, salmon, pork, eggs, salads, steamed veggies, and fresh fruit). I was in the mood for breakfast so I stuck with a good Paleo breakfast staple: The omelette.

     I chose the 3-egg Western omelette with no cheese, and bacon on the side. In place of my breakfast potato, I opted for a fruit cup.

     The car ride wasn't a terribly long one, but me being pregnant meant that we had to stop a few times along the way for bathroom breaks and to stretch out my legs (since being in the car for so long isn't great for circulation). Pit stops usually mean rest stops. Rest stops usually have fast food joints or convenience stores. These are breeding grounds for temptation, with aisles of snack chips, candy, and the wafting smell of Big Macs threatening to derail even the best laid Paleo plans. Knowing that we had everything we needed with us meant that we didn't need to even stop to look around these places--which made staying on track a whole lot easier.

    Over the course of the 4.5 hour car ride, we stopped twice and bought nothing except gas. Between the two of us, we ate one bag of jerky, one pack of nuts, and one apple.

    By the time we got to Philly and got changed and ready to go out, our appetites were blazing. We wandered around on foot trying to find a decent spot for about an hour (passing over numerous Italian restaurants and pizza shops), before deciding on Jon's Bar and Grille on South Street. As far as Paleo dining is concerned, any place that says "Grille" is generally a safe bet.

    On their list of appetizers, they had Thai chicken skewers, which were pretty much just skewers of grilled chicken with a thai peanut sauce (which we didn't really use. Peanuts Bad!).

     Considering the carnivorous plans we had in store for the following night (steak madness!), for my entree, I ordered a chicken wrap with tomato, onion, sauteed spinach, and guacamole...but without the wrap. It was pretty tasty, and, along with the chicken skewers, left me comfortably satiated. There were still a couple of chicken skewers leftover, so I took them to go, figuring they'd be good to have for lunch the next day at my cert.

    There was a Michael Jackson impersonator making his way about South Street as we left the restaurant causing traffic jams and a crazy amount of commotion. This has nothing to do with food, but it was funny nonetheless.

    With Day 1 wrapped up nicely, we headed back to the hotel.

Stuff I learned about Paleo traveling:

1.) Be prepared. Proper planning (even last minute planning) is the key to Paleo success. Be sure to pack some source of protein, some produce, some fats, and water.
2.) Have a variety of choices to suit your needs and keep cravings at bay.
3.) Make foods accessible for in-the-car (or on-the-plane) consumption.
4.) Eat a real meal before you set out, to eradicate the need to stop for food.
5.) If you do eat out, choose restaurants wisely - Many post their menu outside. Check it out BEFORE you go in and sit down. Look for places that serve grilled meat/fish and include fresh vegetables on their menu. If all you see is 'fried this' or 'batter-dipped that', skip it and look elsewhere.

Stay tuned to find out how the rest of the (Drama! Suspense! Meat!) weekend went.