For the past week, I’ve been madly baking, dehydrating, food-processing, and blending up concoctions to stash in the car for our road trip out west. I’m mildly nervous that I won’t be able to find any decent, vegan eats between Michigan and California. The mid-west is a big question mark for me in terms of culinary abilities, and from what I’ve heard there aren’t many vegan oases. So, in order to avoid low-blood sugar ‘moments’ and frustrated circles around unknown cities, I’ve taken things into my hands and prepared some sweet and savory snacks for the ride. Thankfully, my vegan food swap friend send me some great gifts that are perfect for travel (I’ll be doing a post on what I received on the first of September when all vegan food swaps are revealed).
Here’s a recipe for some kale (fresh from our garden!) chips that I made. They’re super tasty! I love the wakame and tahini flavors together.
Sunflower Wakame Kale Chips
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds, soaked overnight and drained
3/4 cups sweet potato, baked and peel rubbed off
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon miso
1 teaspoon sriracha
3/4 – 1 cup water (depending on consistency)
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons dried wakame, soaked in warm water and drained
Pepper to taste
2 small bunches of kale
1. Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth
2. Wash the kale and tear it into bite sized pieces. Pour the dressing over the kale and massage the kale with your hands until well incorporated
3. Place on teflex dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 120º for 6-8 hours. Gently remove from the teflex sheets and dehydrate for another 5-6 hours or until completely dry. Store in an airtight container.
Vegan travel tips
I also wanted to share some vegan travel tips that I’ve learned over the years. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 27 different countries and along the way I’ve met some amazing people and seen some incredible sights. But as a vegan, it’s often not that easy to find vegan fare on the road, especially in a country with a heavy meat-and-dairy-based diet (read: anywhere in Central or South America). So I’ve put together a Vegan Traveler’s Survival kit that includes a few snacks and staples that I bring while I’m traveling as well as some tips for finding vegan food in foreign places. What tips do you have for eating well on the road?
- Packets of Justin’s peanut butter and almond butter. I always travel with a few of these in case I need a quick bagel breakfast at the airport or if I have no options for lunch, I’ll spread some on an apple or banana.
- Some green food packets for staying healthy and vibrant on the road. If you’re lucky you might be somewhere you can empty a packet into a glass of fresh fruit/veggie juice!
A few of my favorites are:
Garden of Life
- Vega packets for additional protein and nutrients
- If you’re really concerned about staying vegan on the road and you love your coffee/tea with soy milk, you can pick up some vegan soy milk powder at a health food store for your morning cup of joe.
- I always like to make some bliss balls or power bars to take with me when I travel. You can also buy them at a health food store, but making them is much more fun!
Green Protein Bars
Hemp Cacao Energy Bites
Raw Cacao Snack Bars
Lemon Kissed Cashew Hemp Bar
- Ground flax seeds for Omega 3′s and dietary fiber. Sprinkle some over fruit, on salads, or in a smoothie. Make sure they’re ground because you can’t get all the nutrients out of whole flax seeds (but ground ones also go rancid quicker, so if you can, keep them in a cool place).
- Like you probably do at home, take a daily supplement (with B12) with you as well as a pro-biotic and enzymes for good digestion and intestinal health. Traveling can wreak havoc on your digestive system!
- The VegOut iPhone/iPad app. I can’t tell you how many times I have used this to find veg restaurants in the area. If you have a wifi connection, it even works outside of the States!
- If you don’t have a smartphone, then the HappyCow website is a great resource for finding veg places to eat at.
- Know how to say “I am a vegetarian” in the language of the country you’re visiting.
- Have an open mind. When I travel, I’m not 100% strict with my vegan diet (vegetarian, yes but vegan, no). I find that if I’m overly concerned with picking out every piece of cheese from a salad or going hungry because the only veg option is an omelet, it takes away from the whole travel experience. One of the main purposes of traveling, I believe, is to be immersed in a foreign culture and if that culture happens to include egg and dairy in their diet, which most do, then I’ll be open to trying new things. Even now I’m not completely vegan because I eat some local cheeses and yogurt on occasion. Sometimes it’s more important to adapt to a new culture and lifestyle and learn about new traditions than to be rigid in your own set ways.
I’ll leave you with a story. When I was in Kenya doing a year-long study abroad program, we visited the Maasai at their traditional boma (home) in the middle of virtually nowhere. We stayed with them for a night, sleeping in their mud huts with donkeys in the front ‘room’ and chickens underneath our rawhide beds. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well that night. But in the morning, we were offered a big steaming cup of ‘chai’, or tea. The Maasai are, (or were – their culture is rapidly changing) nomadic peoples. They go where there is water and food for their goats and cattle because their livestock are their livelihood. The more goats and cattle a family have, the more wealth and status they possess. So when we were offered our big cups of chai for breakfast, made with fresh milk and about 5 tablespoons of sugar, we knew that this was an honor because their milk and especially the sugar, are symbols of their wealth and status among the Maasai people. It was overly sweet and had an earthy, goaty smell and taste to it, but I drank it anyways because I didn’t want to offend my hosts.
This is what I meant above by saying ‘have an open mind’ while you travel. Worrying about staying vegan on the road and what/where your next meal will be will more than likely preoccupy your mind while you travel. So instead, enjoy where you are – whether it be Africa, Asia, South America, or elsewhere – and yes, try to seek out vegan food, but don’t beat yourself up or go hungry because the only thing you have to nourish yourself in the morning is a chai made with the freshest milk you’ll probably ever find.