Eating healthy on the road can be tricky. This past weekend my husband and I drove from the West Kootenays to the beautiful city of Victoria BC (Vancouver Island), for my cousin’s wedding. While the drive was a bit longer than we expected (a 3.5-hour wait for the ferry can really zap the life out of a road trip), overall the trip was pretty great. With a little planning, prep and research we managed to eat healthy while still indulging and having fun.
What I find the hardest about travelling (in particular road trips) is finding healthy food on the fly. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve spent far too many travel days starving because I wanted to get to my destination ASAP, or because I didn’t know where to find healthy food options along the way. And often I would rather go without food than settling for fastfood that tastes and makes me feel like crap.
That’s why for this trip I made it a priority to plan, prep, pack, and research healthy options on route to and from our destination.
On the way to Victoria, I packed a cooler of snacks and lunch items. We were staying in an air B&B with a kitchenette so packing food that needed to be refrigerated upon arrival wasn’t an issue. For snacks, I packed hummus and pre-cut veggies (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery), granola bars, and fruit (cherries and apples); all of which are easy to eat in the car, and won’t make a mess. I also packed my southwestern quinoa corn and bean salad (look for this recipe coming soon). This salad is hearty, filling, keeps well in the cooler or fridge for days, and is super versatile. I like eating it as-is with a fork (aka. salad) with fresh avocado added in before I chow down, or for a more portable and filling option I whip it up into an easy wrap. And of course, I packed a bag of non-GMO potato chips (because it’s not a road trip without chips), some sliced watermelon, plenty of water, and a few organic beers (because after a long day of driving you need a beer… or two).
I was feeling good about my meal preparedness… and it turned out to be a lifesaver when we had a 3.5-hour wait on the hot tarmac of the ferry terminal! If you’ve ever been to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen, you know it’s not exactly the most pleasant place to spend 3 plus hours… especially in +30 weather. While there are a few shops to wander through and a typical food court, there’s little space to hang out and even less healthy meal options. There was an organic juice bar which is a step in the right direction, but I was glad I’d packed my quinoa salad that we turned into wraps, which meant I didn’t have to spend a whack of cash on an over priced organic juice, or go hungry all evening.
When we arrived in Victoria I had already researched a few spots near our Air B&B to grab a quick snack or healthy lunch. We stopped in at Demitasse Cafe & Garden Centre, only a block away from our B&B, for a quick bite in the morning before heading out to meet up with family. They had house-made preserves, freshly baked pastries, organic fair-trade local coffee/tea, a killer matcha latte, and a beautiful garden setting — not to mention most of the flowers and plants at the cafe were for sale, how cool is that!
We also went out for dinner at Ferris’ Grill & Garden Patio in downtown Vic. They have amazingly fresh seafood, and while I am a vegetarian, I do enjoy indulging in some high-quality local seafood when staying on the coast. A little research lead me to Ferris’, and it did not disappoint. They also have a great kids menu which was perfect for my nice and nephew (3 and 5 years old).
On the way back home the Stewart Bay ferry terminal was a pleasant surprise in comparison to it sister port. While the market-style vendors weren’t open yet (we took the 8 am ferry) the smoothie and flax wrap hut’s menu caught my eye, I wish I had the chance to try it! (Has anyone tried it out, let me know what you thought?!?!) On the drive home, we stopped in at Blush Lane Organic Orchard in Keremeos to stock up on peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, yellow string beans and of course a cold drink (mmmm, lemongrass kombucha)!
Fortunately, the Victoria area is on-point when it comes to the healthy food scene (they even have a huge Whole Foods Market), I didn’t have any trouble finding healthy food options on the island. I was happy however that I’d planned ahead for the drive, the prep-work was well worth the effort, and researching spots to stop along the way gave us some options in a pinch.
For more road trip tips and snacks check out my How to Eat Healthy on a Road Trip post.