Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vegan Road Trip, Part I

This five-part series is from a trip taken earlier this year. I'll be travelling again this month, and wanted to share the first adventure before I blog the second. Enjoy!

clockwise, from bottom left: DHA flax oil, raw cacao and maca, a container of Inebriated Watermelon Salad, fresh herbs and greens, dates, watermelon, soymilk, soaked chia seeds, more fruit and veg, probiotic soymilk, cracked pepper-encrusted Chévre , fresh persimmons, stevia packets, Larabars, fruit snacks.

Road trips tend to feature the sort of junky indulgences justifiable only by travelling impossible distances in just hours. After all, caffeine is an excellent preventative of highway hypnosis. Sugar is a great pick-me-up. And fried food is...well, good. And when it comes to eating junk, I'm certainly not one to judge: I once travelled cross-country sustained only by Fritos, Abba Zabba bars, and Subway Veggie Delight sandwiches.

I do not recommend this.

This time, I decide to nourish my car-weary body with livlier choices: loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw food staples, and Nori Snacks. I'll be on the road with my favorite man and my two-year-old for a month, with stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sedona, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Santa Fe, so I want to be sure we all stay healthy and lively.

When I travel, I like to eat as much fresh food as possible. This keeps my energy high and prevents drowsiness when I'm sitting for long periods of time. Here are some of my tips for eating fresh and light during travel:

Bring a cooler on car and rail trips. This allows you to keep anything from green juices to dips for several days without refrigeration. A cooler is especially good if you're stuck in a hotel, or don't know what vegan options will be available.

Skip coffee, sodas, and energy drinks in favor of fresh juices and green smoothies. They store well in jars, and keep for a day without refrigeration, and several in a cooler. If you're accustomed to caffeinated beverages, try iced mate sweetened with stevia and a splash of raw nut milk. I bring soaked chia seeds (1/3 cup chia seeds to 2 cups water), and mix them with stevia and fresh-squeezed oranges (I use a pocket knife to slice and squeeze them) for a refreshing drink packed with EFA's.

Eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. Bananas, dates, clementines, celery, and handfulls of undressed greens are nourishing and quick. These are my favorite road foods, since they don't require a stop, and don't make you want to nap after eating. You can find them at any grocery, and your body probably won't miss all the stuff you usually eat.

Pack a container of nut or seed butter, which makes anything palatable and keeps for days unrefrigerated. And travel with a few avocadoes, which can transform the most mundane salad into a proper meal.

Slather vegetables and raw crackers with Chévre, hummus, or raw pate for a filling snack.

Nibble healthy sweets like Raw Lemon Bars, raw cookies, and dates.

I never pack earlier than an hour before leaving--it's a terrible habit--but I know with a first stop in Beaver, Utah, our vegan choices will be limited. The evening before our trip, I make raw Cashew Chévre and assemble Nori Snacks. The Chévre is great for spreading on vegetables or mounding on a salad, and salty, chewy Nori Snacks are like a raw vegan Slim Jim. Cut them into bits for easier munching, or to accommodate small hands. I dehydrate them for 10 or so hours to ensure they last the whole trip, but the snacks can be rolled and eaten as they are.

Nori Snacks
16-20 snacks
These easy bites have a BBQ flavor; add a generous dash of cayenne for extra heat. The spices can be varied to suit your taste: for Italian, omit molasses and liquid smoke, and add basil, oregano, and Italian red pepper flakes. For Japanese, omit sundried tomatoes, molasses, and liquid smoke, and add grated ginger, wasabi powder, or a dash of toasted sesame oil.

1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 1 hour and drained
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked for 1 hour and drained
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
sea salt to taste (this depends on whether your tomatoes are salted; begin with 1/4 teaspoon and adjust)
8-10 nori sheets, cut in half crosswise (you will have 2 10" x 5" sheets)
small bowl of water, for securing the edges

In a food processor, combine sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes, molasses, liquid smoke, and sea salt. Scrape down the sides as necessary, processing until you reach the consistency of a firm pate. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.

To assemble, place a nori sheet on a work surface with the long side facing you. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the pate horizontally across the sheet, leaving a 1" area at the top clean. Dab the clean area with a bit of water, and starting from the side toward you, roll up the sheet. Press the wet nori to seal the edge. Repeat with remaining nori and pate.

Eat as they are, or dehydrate overnight at 105 degrees for longer storage.

With everything packed and ready, we're on our way!


Mihl said...

Joy, these are some fantastic tips! I am usually too lazy to pack anything besides muffins and apples. Next time I'll stick to your tips.

VivaciousVegan said...

I also pack a ton of food on our trips, I like the feeling I am in control of what my family eats. I usually make fruit tea's and lemonades, also I make our own subway style sandwiches and sometimes I will make something sweet to take along, for the kids.
Great post, I really likedit!

Joy said...

Mihl, muffins and apples sound like fine staples too!

Vivacious, I totally agree with providing options for the whole family. With good stuff available, they don't resort to fast food and convenience store finds. Great ideas!

Maija Haavisto said...

The nori snacks sound amazing, both very tasty and healthy (I'm a bit crazy about seaweed). Have to try it.

Sahithya said...

Hello Joy,

My husband and I who are both vegetarians are about to take a road trip for two weeks. We are going to be hiking/backpacking some of the national parks out West. I am planning on making your 'Nori Snacks' for the road. The recipe says at the end to 'dehydrate overnight at 105 degrees for longer storage'. Do you mean in the over or a dehydrator? I need it to keep for a week.

Also, I am planning on seasoning the nori snacks with Japanese flavors (wasabi powder, ginger and sesame oil). Have you done this before and if so what measurements would you suggest?

Thank you for any suggestions/tips.
Sahithya (

Clint Moore said...

It saves a lot of cash to bring along some food with you when going on a road trip with friends to ensure that the money you'll ever spend will be at the target destination. Also, when you own a car, it is essential to get it checked at the repair service center, to prevent any breakdown on the road. In my case, whenever we're going to have a food road trip at Burlington and Quebec, I have them chip in for the fuel and maintenance to lessen my financial burdens.

erika said...

Love this and your top 10 travel food posts! Getting for a 2 week trip as a family of five and I'm newly vegan. Thank you for inspiration! Do you mind if I tag back to your blog in my travel prep post next week?