Road trip food that won’t make you regret your life choices

It’s the holidays, which means lots of travel and lots of food. Thomas and I typically travel long distances this time of year but thankfully this year we only have to travel an hour or so. Nevertheless we have been on our fair share of road trips together. My parents house is 9 hours or so from our house so we’ve definitely been on the road enough to know what we do and do not enjoy as far as activities and food are concerned. I won’t go into detail about activities because that’s still a work in progress and this isn’t a travel blog but I will go into food, cuz that’s what I do.

Thomas has nightmares of bologna sandwiches from his road trip days with his family. For me I remember lots of granola bars, peanut butter cracker packs (you know the type), and trail mix. Since we’ve been together we’ve come up with our own magical formula. See what you think:


  1. Nuts. We prefer unroasted/unsalted almonds but any nut will do. They’re a great pick me up on long road trips whenever you start to flag. Particularly if you’re doing a night run. I advise going with unsalted though because you’re going to be eating them for a while and the salt can get to your thirst buds.
  2. Sandwiches. With 9+ hours in the car there is no way I’m not going to eat a somewhat substantial meal-type. I’m also not a big fan of pulling over to A) spend money on fast food that won’t taste good and B) hurt my tummy over tons o’ grease*. Our alternative is to pack a few PB&J’s for ourselves and feed the beast inside.
  3. Fruit. We literally spend at least $14/week on apples (the cashiers at Walmart think this is an anomaly every.time. we are in line. we get it.). During road trips we cut up 6-10 apples and store them in a large plastic bag or bin. If we know it won’t be tremendously hot or sunny on the trip we usually don’t put them in a cooler. They do turn brown but they are actually quite refreshing and to us are like candy (you do you and we’ll do us). We also LOVE cutie oranges. We peel them for one another while the other drives and we pack hand sanitizer, water, paper towels and a plastic garbage bag to clean up after ourselves.
  4. Water. Car air tends to be stale and dry us out. We drink TONS of water (mostly in reusable water bottles) to hydrate ourselves. Plus the bonus is that we have to use the bathroom more so we get to stretch our legs often. I’m cool with that.


  1. Guilty pleasure treats. We don’t do this often but it is sometimes fun to pick up a guilty pleasure treat. When I used to visit my sister in Idaho it was Smart Food popcorn and Smart water (I had a smart theme-don’t know why). Now I pick parmesan goldfish and they are very satisfying. But again I try not to eat too much so I don’t get overly thirsty. Thomas really likes beef jerky so sometimes that happens.
  2. Bubble gum. As a child we had a firm belief that if we went anywhere near the mountains we had to have bubblicious bubble gum with us to chew. It popped our ears and that was pretty fun. Plus it came in a myriad of flavors like watermelon and sour apple and during a long road trip it really is the little things that matter. I haven’t bought/brought bubble gum with me in a few years but it always is fun.
  3. Dr. Pepper. During long drives (especially at night) I sometimes need a pick me up. Dr. Pepper has caffeine and it can help me get through. I happen to like my Dr. Pepper a very specific way: diet, flat and watered down. It’s hard to get it this way but it’s my favorite.

*TMI moment: I have weird stomach travel issues. Maybe it’s from eating out more frequently- which usually entails more fat, salt and sugar than normal (I react very poorly to large quantities of fried foods-thanks gall bladder removal from 12 years ago). And sitting for long periods of time in a car is not an improvement to the general travel discomfort. The foods we travel with now help me in this arena and for that I am grateful. Remember, it’s the little things.


The best water bottle you didn’t know you were looking for

If you’ve never experienced the headache of water bottle shopping then good for you. But I have. And it’s pain.ful. It starts out innocently enough. You just want to carry around water and not hate your life. And then you start buying bottles and you realize how hard those two things are to find together. One tastes funny. The other doesn’t wash well. Some drip water. Others don’t hold enough. And some hold too much. It’s a nightmare (yes I realize this is another set of #firstworldproblems, I apologize). I may or may not have recently gone through this arduous process in my life. BUT I found the perfect bottle and dude, it is awesome. It was inspired by one of my professors. I sat in the front row of his class and would frequently see him sipping from this feat of genius and finally searched for my own. And guess where I found it. You guessed it: Walmart. And at the low low cost of less than $9. Score.

Do you wanna see my favorite water bottle of all time ever?

I thought you’d never ask.

This lovely little gem is by Aladdin and can be found at your local neighborhood Walmart, Amazon or from the aladdin website.

So why do I love it SOOOOO much? Let me count the ways.

  1. It washes easy. I hate tiny spouts simply because washing them in the dishwasher or with any normal dish brush is impossible. This thing detaches so you can stick it in the dishwasher without worrying about the germs you are missing and without cursing the world. Also it gets rid of any funny taste.
  2. Tiny mouth spout. I like tiny spouts when I can wash them because they make not spilling whilst drinking a wee bit easier. When I’m in the car, drinking is a joke with anything wide mouthed. It’s just going to end up all over me. Let’s be real. So the tiny spout is perfect for me on the go. Also I tend to drink more with a small spout. Haven’t figured that one out yet but it’s a weird truth.
  3. It’s insulated. I’m not saying it’s going to keep cold water cold during 90-100 degree days but it certainly isn’t going to warm up the water as fast as non-insulated bottles. I like that.
  4.  It holds 32 ounces. I like to drink lots of water and that’s half my days worth in one go. I LOVE that.
  5. In the one I bought there was an infuser that came with it. I don’t do infused water in general,  but if I ever did then it’s a nice touch.
  6. It doesn’t drip. I mean it might if you didn’t screw it on all the way but I’ve never had a problem with it. And I use it everyday.
  7. It’s super cheap. Less than $9 for a great water bottle is kind of unheard of. Contigo tends to go for around $15 minimum. 32 ounce Hydroflask run around $34. This one is a steal of a deal.

So that’s why I love my water bottle. And I convinced Thomas that my water bottle was superior to the point that he actually bought his own this last week. In gray (mine is turquoise). We’re a family of water bottle lovers.

And there is one teensy thing this water bottle doesn’t do so well. It doesn’t exactly sit well in cup holders. Ah well. You can’t have everything.

5 ways to not suck at meal planning

Meal planning is difficult. If my husband and I hadn’t set up a routine in our early engaged days I’m not sure we would be strong meal planners. Thankfully we found a system that has worked for us. It may work for you too.

Here are my helpful hints:

1) Set a date and start a routine. On Friday/Saturday we plan our meals. On Saturday nights we shop (because Walmart is way less busy after 6).

Point is: pick a day that you can always go shopping on (I use the word always loosely as there has to be some flexibility). Pick a day that you can always plan your meals on. This has helped us expedite the process SO much. We know that when Friday/Saturday rolls around we best be thinking about what we’re in the mood for for the next week.

2) Use your resources. There are like a million cookbooks out there. And like a bazillion recipes on pinterest. I legitimately don’t even think I’m exaggerating on those numbers and might actually be a little low.

Point is: there are tons of recipes out there that you and your family will find that you agree on and that you want to make. If they are on the internet print them out or write them down so you have them handy (I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have your ipad shut off on you in the middle of a very detailed recipe #firstworldproblems). If they are in books then get some sticky notes and start marking pages.

3)Make a list. This one seems like a duh but I like to point out the obvious. I use my phones built in notes app and then cross things off as we go. My template looks like this:


Fruit and vegetables:







Obviously I’m not a pinterest/crafty person because this literally is all I do. It happens to work flawlessly in my opinion and I don’t plan on making any changes.

4) Use themes. My husband is a salad lover and I am a soup lover. Therefore we have both agreed that we each get one day a week on which to force the other person to eat our food of choice. Okay, so it’s not that mean. But it does help us when we are picking out food for the week. I know that I get a soup so I mark tons of soup recipes and then ask him what he thinks (because really I don’t want to be the only one eating it). He has an arsenal of common salads that we both love and he will pick from one of those.

5) Have standby favorites. It’s okay to eat the same things every few weeks or every week if that’s what you like/love. Plus sometimes it’s nice to A) know the recipe by heart and B) know that if all else fails you’ve got something everyone likes that you can whip out if need be. Our favorites at the moment are: taco soup, taco salad, green monster pizza, homemade veggie enchiladas (recipe coming soon), homemade yumm bowls and grilled stuffed burritos. We may like Mexican food a lot around here. Whatever, it tastes fantastic and has super cheap ingredients. Sold.

These tips may not work for everyone (I’m not single anymore and I have no kids so there’s both of those subgroups) but they have helped us and that’s worth noting in my opinion.

The best homemade salsa

Salsa is delicious. I feel like that sums up everything I can say without being wordy so we’ll leave it at that.

When we purchased our food processor I searched high and low for the perfect salsa. Yet I couldn’t find it via any of my normal sites (pinterest). So I tried out my own versions and after some trial and error (thankfully it was delicious trial and error…most of the time) I figured out the secret to success. And I’m here to share. Because I’m nothing if not generous ;).

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Truly Homemade salsa:

5-6 vine tomatoes (really the more tomatoes the better) – chopped into large chunks
1 green pepper- chopped into large chunks
1 Jalapeno (seed if you want)
3 -4 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp. onion
1 bunch cilantro- cleaned and chopped without stems
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon – it doesn’t have to be fresh)
1 tsp cumin
a few splashes of red wine vinegar

Add ingredients to food processor and pulse until everything is finely shredded. Heat in a medium-sized saucepan on medium/medium-high heat for about 50 minutes (or until most of the water boils off and entire mixture turns a deeper color).

We put ours in a wide mouthed mason jar and, because we’re salsa hounds, it doesn’t usually last more than a week (but it can survive longer in the fridge than that).

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Waffles without sugar!


So I mentioned before that we’re going sugar free for 30 days. So I’m trying to come up with alternate ways to still have what we love but eliminate the added sugar. See, I feel sort of like an awful wife for eliminating sugar from my mans diet so I worry about how to make it up to him. Last night I might have dreamed about how to eliminate added sugar as much as possible. It got a little overwhelming. But I had some fun ideas. Like these waffles. Okay, lets be real. My idea was to convert a recipe I found and make it sugar free and fun. So I converted this recipe and I kind like it.


Whole wheat sugar free waffles

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 cup Oikos triple zero vanilla yogurt (the extra sugar is from chickory root which also adds 10 grams of fiber, so it’s acceptable)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Heat up your waffle iron and spray with Pam. Combine dry ingredients together. Then add all wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Cook according to your waffle irons directions. Serve with peanut butter or fruit compote. Ours made 6 waffles and we froze the extra.

You-tube reviews: Blogilates

So I enjoy Cassey Ho from Blogilates. She’s fun and energetic and when you’re working out that’s usually not a bad thing. And though these videos are pilates and 5 minutes long (which is what I technically was looking for), these aren’t my favorite videos ever. But I’ll talk about each of them separately because I did like some parts.

Here’s my favorite one I did. I love a good ab workout and this one delivers. If you’re short on time I recommend this for sure.

This video isn’t my favorite. It works out my legs, all right, but it’s just not that fun to do. For me.

This set is awkward. I didn’t personally enjoy doing the triangle push-ups or the second set of push-ups, even though they were just cobra push-ups. Like I said, it was just uncomfortable. And if I can be comfortable and enjoy my workout and feel like I got a good butt (or arm) kicking, then I will. For now, I’ll stick with sarahfit.

If I could give blogilates 5 minute sets a grade I’d give them a B+.

African Peanut Soup


When I started at Oregon State University I saw an advertisement for healthy cooking classes offered by the Moore Family Center (Bob’s Red Mill is the sponsor). It was being put on by the Nutrition and Dietetics Club (of which I am a member) and I thought it would be a good way to get my foot in the dietetics door. I signed up for the classes and had a blast. I vowed that if I ever could I would volunteer there as an instructor. A few weeks ago the stars aligned and the healthy cooking classes needed an instructor AND my schedule allowed for it. So I immediately emailed the coordinator and asked to be considered. My first cooking class was a blast. We made this soup (below) and it was SOOOOOOOOOOO good. Like, amazing. And I vowed to make it at home. Last night I kept my vow and made some of this deliciousness. Then I tried taking pictures of it and the pictures bombed. super hard. I took like 17 shots and only two turned out semi okay. The two you see here. Apparently I should take photos before 7:00pm because if I don’t then everything looks like orange blurs. That’s not cute. But I still got a few shots and that’s good enough.


African Peanut Soup

1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp’s ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
32 ounces unsalted vegetable stock
1 medium yam, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (again, we always use homemade)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (I’m not sure I’d add this one next time)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (we used homemade which was about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups kale, finely chopped

In a large stockpot cook onion, ginger, garlic and jalapeno in oil on medium heat, stirring until the onion is translucent and soft. Add broth and yam (you can also use a sweet potato). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until yams are soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in peanut butter, tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add red pepper and kale. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until pepper is tender. Then eat! Because it’s yummy.

I hope you try it and I hope you LOVE it. It’s delicious. Plus the name is pretty legit and fun and will impress your friends if you make it. Promise.

Sugar-free loaded banana ice cream


T and I are going through 30 days of no added sugar. I’m a sugar addict and I felt like I needed to ween myself off so T agreed to go along with my plan of no added sugar. We’re three weeks in and the struggle is real.  I was hoping for one of those awesome stories where I could say that the first few days were hard but now I’m totally fine without sugar. But I’d be lying if I said that. I haven’t even had to be completely off it. A friend took me out to fro-yo on Tuesday (I couldn’t be rude and say no, plus I really didn’t want to), then in my food service class we have to try everything everyone makes once a week and there are two dessert items that are made. So technically I haven’t been TOTALLY off it. But it’s still been difficult for me.

I told you, I’m a sugar addict. I sneak fistfuls of chocolate chips out of the cupboard on a daily basis (okay, okay, it’s more than once per day). But two weeks into our no sugar T (who has been completely awesome and only had some white bread at a business lunch once) needed something sweetish. He’s had to give up Orowheat bread (1 gram added sugar per slice) and jelly (let’s be honest, that’s mostly sugar) for his PBJ’s so I felt for him. So last week I whipped up this banana ice cream creation and we’re now eating it fairly regularly. It helps us feel like we still get a little treat now and then.


Sugar-free loaded banana ice-cream

2 frozen bananas
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp no sugar added coconut
small handful Almonds (any nut will do, but it adds a really fun crunch)
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter (we use homemade, which has no added sugar)

Throw all your ingredients in your food processor or blender. Pulse everything on and off until the bananas have broken up a bit. Once everything has gotten down to a better size put your food processor/blender on a normal setting (we use 2 for ice cream) and process until smooth, creamy, dreamy and delicious.

Serves 2

I think it tastes like Rocky Road ice cream without the marshmallows. It’s really yummy.


5 tips for better sleep

Photo By Axel  Antas-Bergkvist

I’m a firm believer that sleep is always a good thing. Unless it’s 9 o’clock at night and my favorite show is on. Or the book I’m reading just got real good. Or I don’t feel like getting off the couch to change into my pajamas and would rather sit there and look at pinterest on my ipad. Whatever. I have room for improvement.

Sleep is necessary for our bodies to be happy and healthy. But we aren’t all super good at it or realize the value of it until the next morning. In order to improve we might all need to make a change or two. Here are my recommendations:

1) Set up a routine. I went on a 5 day road trip a few years ago and I learned the importance of winding myself down before bed. In the same way. Every night. I would get myself all ready for bed (teeth brushed, contacts out, face washed, pj’s on), then read my scriptures (which calmed my mind down), and wrote 5 things I was grateful for that day that I wanted to remember. It helped me relax and unwind and ultimately helped me sleep more peacefully. To me that says something when you’re sleeping in a different hotel every night.

2) Figure out what works for you. Do you like light in your room? get a night light. Or open your blinds. Do you need fresh air? Crack a window and grab an extra blanket in case things get shivery. Do you hate light? turn your phone over, put a blanket over your alarm clock display or any other electronic displays in the room. Shut your blinds or use blackout curtains. Do you hate noise? grab some earplugs that expand in your ear. If you don’t find the proper way that your body likes to sleep, you’ll never get the quality that you want. I sleep hot. I generally have to have the window open (unless it’s below freezing, then my room will be cold enough). Once I get a cool breeze on me I can sleep peacefully (summer is the WORST).

3) Make it a habit. This goes along with #1 but I’ll emphasize something different here. When it’s your bedtime, drop whatever it is you’re doing and go do your routine. Hopefully if you do this enough times you’ll stop doing really important or distracting things around your bedtime and the transition will get smoother. But you can’t start having a good sleep schedule until it becomes habitual.

4) Learn to how wake up properly. I’m a really bad example of this but there are some tricks I’ve heard of that might work for you. For example: write out your day the night before and make the most fun thing on your list the first thing you do. Another benefit of writing out your day is that you won’t get overly stressed throughout the day worrying about what you’re not doing. You already know what you’re supposed to do and have it in writing. This can make getting out of bed easier as well. Or start out your day with something gentle like reading in bed or doing yoga. This helps you wake up gradually instead of jolting you awake.

Photo By Joshua Sortino

5) Exercise for better sleep. If you make your body tired through activity you’ll be so exhausted by the time bedtime rolls around you’ll be jonesing for your pillow. And chances are you’ll fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and feel more rejuvenated by your sleep for the next day. All wins in my book.

So here’s to setting up a sleep schedule that works for you and that helps you be a better human (ie. more productive, happy and less stressed).