Guest RD: Balancing Traveling & Nutrition

July 8, 2014

Kori and I met in Charlottesville in 2012 right after Mazen was born! Now she’s a fancy RD and all that jazz : ) Her post today is creative and inspiring! I once spent a few weeks in a hotel while we were in Montana for Great Harvest training, but Kori spent over a month in one while she took on her first job out of town. She did a great job balancing away-from-homemade meals and exploring the area. Hope she gives you some great ideas!

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Hi, my name is Kori Higgins, and I am a Registered Dietitian in Knoxville, TN. I have been very fortunate thus far in my dietetic career, which only just begun in February when I passed the exam. For my first job out of the gates, I was offered a temporary position right away in none other than West Palm Beach, FL! A long-term care facility had been unable to secure a full-time RD since last fall, so they were filling the position on an interim basis. As soon as the deal was finalized, I began planning what all I needed to pack, which of course included food.

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I realized that living in a hotel for the better part of a month was going to be a little tricky. However, with the right amount of planning ahead, I was sure I could both explore West Palm Beach through food as well as prepare several meals right in my hotel room. I knew in advance that I would have a small sink, mini refrigerator, and microwave, so I planned to take full advantage of these amenities.

I chose to send shelf-stable foods ahead of time, which worked perfectly as the box was waiting on me when I arrived at the hotel. The box included:

  • two packages of Dr. Kracker flatbread seeded crackers
  • organic unsweetened shredded coconut
  • trail mix
  • TJ’s cookie butter
  • an assortment of tea
  • crystallized ginger
  • one container of Perez spinach quinoa
  • tins of sardines
  • Bob’s Red Mill 6-grain hot cereal
  • unsweetened soy milk
  • almond butter

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On the first night I made a trip to the store and purchased fresh fruit, greens, baby carrots, Greek yogurt, tempeh, individually packaged guacamole, hummus, cheese sticks, whole-wheat pita, and peanut butter. Now I had all the makings of filling breakfasts, balanced lunches, and adequate snacks.

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I still made it a point to fully enjoy myself, explore the area and find restaurants that were new to me. I had a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory, so I did dine there that first Monday. Eventually, I found an adorable historic neighborhood along Northwood Road full of quaint restaurants and shops including Relish: an incredible burger joint, Bistro Bistro: my now favorite French café, and The Garage VV: an eclectic and unbelievable restaurant with a variety of choices. I believe that living a healthy life means striking a balance. While I wanted to provide myself with food for the majority of the day, I also wanted to explore West Palm Beach through its food. We do not yet have a Whole Foods in Knoxville (we’re set to get one next year, though!), so when I found one not far from my hotel, I made it a point to visit the hot bar a few times and admittedly got hooked on their smoothies : )

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Over the course of my stay, I made several trips to the store and was able to assemble delicious breakfasts, lunches, and several dinners.

Breakfasts

  • Oatmeal made by the hotel topped with pb, cinnamon, & banana + skim milk & Earl Grey tea
  • Bob’s Red Mill 6-grain made with 1/2 banana, cinnamon, honey, & pb + 0% Greek yogurt with the other ½ banana, cinnamon, & honey
  • ½ pumpernickel bagel made fresh at a café, with ab & fruit salad with 0% Greek yogurt & crystallized ginger
  • Toast with pb, ab, cinnamon, banana, & unsweetened organic soymilk
  • Umpqua Oats – a new product to me, which I really liked! I added shredded coconut & enjoyed an apple on the side
  • LOVE Grown Foods peach almond oatmeal with added shredded coconut, banana, & skim milk
  • Cinnamon-spiced 0% plain Greek yogurt with a banana, pb, & ½ morning glory muffin from Bistro Bistro

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Lunches

  • Whole wheat pita, guacamole, cheese stick, baby carrots, organic tempeh, & a blood orange
  • Leftovers from meals I enjoyed at several restaurants
  • ‘Superfoods’ salad mix topped with carrots, salsa, organic tempeh, & ½ a muesli roll from Publix along with 1% cottage cheese, a plum, & crystallized ginger on the side
  • ½ Whole Foods prosciutto & mozzarella sandwich with basil walnut pesto on wheat with their green smoothie: kale, spinach, apple, pineapple, & I added lemon
  • The second ½ my Whole Foods sandwich with their piña colada smoothie: pineapple, mango, dates, coconut water, coconut milk, & almond milk

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Dinners

  • Garden Lites broccoli soufflé topped with Greek yogurt, a salad topped with marinated olive, whole wheat pita, and a cheese stick
  • Garden Lites zucchini soufflé topped with Greek yogurt along with a salad and whole wheat pita
  • Baby spinach topped with Perez spinach quinoa and sustainably harvested wild sardines
  • Simple salad of spinach, tomatoes, carrots with a ginger dressing & 2 flatbread crackers topped with green garbanzo bean cakes from WF
  • “Hotel Nachos” – multigrain tortilla chips topped with tempeh, guacamole, salsa, & chia-hemp-flax mix served with a salad

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Of course I definitely wanted to try the sweet side of West Palm Beach too. ;)

Desserts

  • Macaroons imported from France
  • Trés leches cake from Mojito
  • Whole strawberries with whipped cream, honey, & chiffonade basil – I made this up while dining at The Cheesecake Factory by taking their dessert of just strawberries & adding the rest
  • Key Lime “Shot” from WF
  • Cookies & Cream mini cupcake from WF
  • Lemon almond pastry from Bistro Bistro
  • Devil’s Chocolate from Bistro Bistro
  • Key Lime Pie with espresso

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I believe this gave the best of both worlds, so to speak, in that I dined out and still was able to cook, which I greatly enjoy.

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Aside from my food and meals, I also incorporated exercise by walking around the area of the hotel as well as all around downtown West Palm Beach, I walked along Palm Beach one afternoon, and I made use of the hotel’s exercise facility. I really love walking and in doing so, I was able to sightsee at the same time.

I was thankful for the experience but was really excited to get back home to my routine. I believe that my planning ahead and setting myself up with foods that I enjoy made the transition to working there much easier. It is amazing to think that my first job as a Registered Dietitian was in of all places a different state. I hope that my experience helps you to think of new ways to incorporate healthful eating into your travels, wherever they may take you!

Korihiggins

Kori Higgins, MS, RD, LDN is a Consultant Registered Dietitian in the Knoxville area. She was fortunate to obtain this job directly after taking and passing her RD exam. She enjoys cooking, reading, going on long walks, being outside, spending time at her lake house, and being surrounded by her friends and family.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh July 8, 2014 at 6:43 am

Great tips! We need to get better about making breakfast especially at home and not having every meal out on vacation be a free for all. It’s not doing my waistline any favors.

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2 Becky@TheSavedRunner July 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

I love when I’m traveling to have oatmeal from the hotel for breakfast along with a banana and peanut butter too!

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3 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 8, 2014 at 8:13 am

oatmeal is definitely my go-to food when I’m out traveling, although I’ve never had to spend that long in a hotel! I ate a lot of quest bars when I was in europe (I brought them along) since I’m GF and I needed to be cheap. Every time I purchased a meal I made sure there were tons of veggies because I was really missing them!

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4 Renée July 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

Yay Kori! Great post girl. :)

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5 Kori July 8, 2014 at 9:21 am

I appreciate that, Renée!

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6 Chelsea @ TableForOne July 8, 2014 at 9:48 am

Hotel oatmeal is a must for when I am traveling. It keeps me full all morning. Love these tips!

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7 Lisa July 8, 2014 at 11:22 am

There are some wonderful ideas here, Kori. My husband and I are fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit and what to eat has always been an issue. Thank you so much for your suggestions. Several will be on my list for my next trip.

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8 Hannah @ eat, drink, and save money July 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I love it when healthy people enjoy cookie butter! One of my favs :) These are good tips for traveling long term. Thanks!

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9 Kori July 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Definitely love cookie butter! Ground up cookies-what’s not to love? ;-)

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10 Cassie July 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm

This was awesome! I usually travel with oatmeal, chia seeds, nut butter and protein powder for breakfast!!

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11 Mallory July 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

This post is so helpful to me! As a university recruiter, I spend the months of October and November travelling to cities, small towns and remote areas, plus other visits sprinkled throughout the year. This is so often when my nutrition and exercise routines fall off track, particularly in the more rural areas that might only have a grocery store and a few diners and fast food restaurants to choose from. I like the specific list of things to foods and meals the writer provides – I am going to try to emulate some of these hotel meals this fall (and keep up my yoga & walking, luckily my exercise routine don’t involve much equipment!).

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12 Alex @ Kenzie Life July 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm

This was really cool to read! I’ll definitely come back to it the next time I travel and need some in-room, healthy & easy options!

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13 Kori July 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I’m so glad! Thank you for reading & commenting!

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14 Lisa July 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Hi Kori – I noticed you seem to favor low- or no- fat choices for the dairy products you eat. I know that RD’s are probably still being indoctrinated into the conventional wisdom /U.S. government propaganda that fat is at the root of all our health woes (as opposed to refined carbohydrates, the real source of Western society’s poor health). I wondered if you and/or Kath cared to comment on this?

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15 Sarah July 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Great post! I used to travel a lot with a sports team, and it’s hard to be an athlete on the road – trying to fuel your body and live out of a hotel room. One of the girls on my team used to bring one of those electric kettles (basically you plug it in and it boils water) and would make hard boiled eggs in it! Genius!

I do have one question though….as an RD, why do you choose to eat low/non-fat dairy? I’ve always gone for full fat (and just eaten less of it…or not) because it is less processed and to me, seems like more of a “whole” food. Thanks again for the cool post! I’ve definitely share with my former teammates.

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16 Kori July 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Regarding dairy and fat: I eat lowfat & full fat cheese, nonfat milk along with local reduced fat milk when in Knoxville (check out Cruze Dairy Farms if you’re ever in the area!), & typically nonfat yogurt but love to try 1% & 2% occassionally. When I eat ice cream (again Cruze Farm reigns supreme) & gelato, I eat full fat. This works for me in my lifestyle, & I see them as “whole” foods all the same. I would never eat fat free cheese because that defeats the purpose, i.e. enjoyment & quality/texture. Currently, research shows a link between high saturated fat intake & heart disease, although I fully understand there are other factors at play. Thus, I enjoy various types of dairy & work to achieve a balance. All I would recommend is that each person decide what works best for them!

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17 Donna July 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Actually, no. A low fat diet literally has no effect on heart disease. It’s been proven over and over again in huge randomized controlled trials. Here’s one, for example:
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=202339

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18 Kori July 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

While I believe their study design was strong, one must take into consideration the demographics of the study. They only studied & reported on postmenopausal women; thus, the results cannot be generalized to the overall population. Also, even though the results were not significant, they did demonstrate that lower intake of saturated fats does trend towards lowered risk for CVD. Lastly, genetics do play a role, so some people may never experience adverse effects despite consumption of full-fat dairy. Thank you for offering up this article & creating a good discussion!

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19 Sarah July 9, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Thanks!

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20 Tina B July 9, 2014 at 8:17 am

I typically eat both breakfast and lunch at work, so this is how I approach my menu-planning most weeks. We have a small sink, microwave and fridge at work, so I bring from home to try to eat healthier and save money rather than eating out. Obviously it works well for hotel living as well! Thanks for some new ideas!

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21 Tragic Sandwich July 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

This is wonderful–and it will come in really handy when we go on vacation this summer. We’re renting a cottage, so we will have a kitchen, but I’m looking for simple meals so we can spend our time exploring and adventuring instead of cooking.

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22 Natalie July 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Funny you should’ve been in West Palm Beach – I used to spend 3-4 days out of nearly every week in the Hampton Inn in Wellington between the ages of 16-20 from January through March. I was too young to even rent a car, but luckily that hotel is about a 10 min walk to a fairly upscale grocery store. I made it work quite well and actually kind of miss that lifestyle! I always got a fridge in the room and they always had a microwave available in the kitchen.

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23 Kate July 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Hi,Kori,

Could you tell me what Perez spinach quinoa is? I tried looking it up and couldn’t find it.

Thanks!

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24 Kori July 10, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I’m so sorry, but I had a typo! It’s Pereg found here: https://www.pereg-spices.com

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25 Amanda July 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Really creative eating for living out of a hotel. And for a month! Impressive! Great post!

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26 Kori July 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Thank you so much, Amanda!

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