In summer or any time of year, vacation is not the moment to worry about productivity. But produce—getting your nine a day of veggies and fruits even when you're not at home—shouldn't have to wait alongside the unpaid bills and TPS reports in a tidy pile on the kitchen table until you return. Even if you like to put your best foot forward on vacation and seek out the most delicious-tasting fare your destination has to offer (regardless of its ANDI score), it's worth making room for the foods that will keep you feeling healthy and energetic. Even if it's only to ensure you have space in your belly for those world-famous fried clams at dinner.
Here are five of my favorite tips for fitting in fruits and veggies on vacation. What about you? How do you make Popeye proud while you're on the road? Please share your traveling veggievore tips in the comments.
1. Eat from the market one meal a day
Whether you're in an enlightened town with a beautiful year-round farmers' market or laying over in a Junkville with Chester Cheetah for mayor, there is bound to be at least one store nearby that sells raw fruit and hopefully vegetables. Make it a habit to eat one meal a day from a market rather than a restaurant, assuming you're in an area where fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to consume. You'll get more whole foods in your diet, and if you do happen to be in a place with fabulous food, you'll have more room to enjoy those special meals.
2. Seek out ethnic food
For enjoyment and healthfulness all in one, focus on any ethnic cuisines served in your region that use lots of produce in their cooking. Southeast- and West-Asian food are usually a good bet if they make any sense given where you are—but traditional cooking the world over can serve you well when looking to eat virtuously and fabulously at the same meal.
3. Consider salad or soup and appetizers for dinner
If you're craving (or can only find) American-style fare, think about eating a big bowl of salad or soup and an appetizer or small plate for dinner some nights. Though it's not always true anymore, many entrees are not only vastly sized but also meat- or starch-heavy. Eating small plates gives you more control and also often more varied tastes and textures in your meal.
4. Carry fresh fruit and nuts
Sometimes you need a whole meal, but other times neither your stomach nor your wallet want to be stretched a big meal's-worth. Carrying a few healthy snacks, like whole or cut-up fruit and vegetables and maybe a few nuts, gives you the flexibility to sight-see, mountain-bike, house-build or whatever floats your far-wandering boat and build a hearty appetite for your next great meal.
5. Don't sweat it too much
In the end, it's vacation, so chillax. If your fruits and vegetables come from frozen margaritas and cocktail olives for a week, you'll be all the more ready to pack in those nine a day when you get home. I'm not saying that's a perfect solution to staying well-nourished when you're far from home. But vacations are rarely perfect, and as we all know, they're more fun when we don't expect them to be.
About the author: Carolyn Cope is the voice behind the popular food blog Umami Girl. In July, she'll trade the life of a CSA manager in New Jersey for the lively farmers' markets of London. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.