A Request For Assistance From "Down Under"

Sandy from Queensland sent me an email last week asking if I had any ideas on how to eat healthy during her 3-week trip to the west coast. I gave her a little of my own advice, but I thought I’d throw this out to all of you, too, because I KNOW you’ll have some good, solid advice.

Here’s what Sandy wrote: “My husband and I are travelling to the US from here in Australia at the end of August. I am starting to become really anxious (read “freaked out!”) about being able to eat well while enjoying a driving holiday down the west coast.

“We’ll be travelling for 3 weeks and I won’t have things like my esky (cooler) to help me out. I was thinking of perhaps buying a small one upon arrival along with some disposable plates and the like. I suppose my biggest problem is knowing where to buy things. I’ve heard of Trader Joes and have found their locations online and have also chased down some farmer’s markets as a source of fresh produce, but storing and preparation may be a problem. Can you let me know of the name of some stores where I can buy fresh fruit and veggies, and do you have any advice for me on how to eat well with no kitchen, refrigeration or ‘home’ for 3 weeks? I would be so immensely grateful for any advice you can give me – this situation is starting to screw with my head.”

Sandy also started a blog called Belladonna’s Garden that, even with just three entries, I’ve enjoyed very much. I hope you’ll check it out.

If you have ideas for Sandy on how to eat healthy on the road, particularly without a kitchen, please leave a comment here or on her blog, or send me an email at lynnbering@verizon.net and I’ll forward it to my new Australian friend.

Thanks for your help!

7 thoughts on “A Request For Assistance From "Down Under"

  1. As a lifetime Californian, I can assure her that you can get fresh produce easily at any grocery store along the coast. It's well populated (and of course, awesomely beautiful) and there is quite a bit of fruit and vegetable farming because the weather is so favorable.

    You can find farmer's markets just about any day of the week, with Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday being the most popular. Most will also have vendors for fresh bread, eggs, and cheese (my local one has fish too). For California, go to http://www.cafarmersmarkets.com/index.cfm to find a market. You might even find individuals selling their own crops along Hwy 1, I know I did when I vacationed last year.

    Buying a cheap cooler here (Walmart/Target/Home Depot/Lowe's) is an excellent idea, and it's easy to get ice along the way to keep it all cold. Don't worry! The west coast is pretty health conscious, so there is a large market for healthy food & restaurants.

  2. (I'm reposting here what I posted in Sandy's blog, just in case there are any other folks planning trips to Northern California.)


    I saw Lynn's post about your travel dilemma; I'm popping over to say that I live in Northern California, so if you'll be passing through my part of the West Coast, I might be able to help. The West Coast is probably one of the easiest parts of the United States to find fresh, healthy food choices. (Whoops, my bias is showing. 😉

    I think getting yourself a cooler (esky) is a fantastic idea. (We do that when we go on vacation; it's a tremendous help.) Most stores here carry them. Stores you may see out here includes Safeway (a grocery store chain-goes by “Vons” in Southern California), Rite Aid and CVS and Walgreen's (drugstores, which carry both prescription medication and sundries, as well as some food and beverages). Trader Joe's carries mainly foods and beverages, and they are a super place to find lots of healthy options. Whole Foods grocery store is a treat as well, it can be a good place for healthy eating, but a bad place for staying moderate in portions, because their prepared food is really tasty! My town of Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz to the south have a store called New Leaf, which is like Whole Foods but smaller (and their prepared food, at least in Half Moon Bay, is not quite as tempting). All of the grocery stores tend to carry wonderful fresh veggie trays in the produce section, with pre-cut and pre-washed veggies.

    If you'll be traveling down Hwy 1 between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, there are lots of little farm stands and such, and the San Francisco Bay Area has a lot of farmer's markets. Here's a page on SFGate (hosted by the local newspaper) from which you can look up farmer's markets (http://www.sfgate.com/food/farmersmarkets/). The best farmer's market, though, is in San Luis Obispo on Thursday nights; definitely worth a stop!

    Restaurants do tend to serve large portion sizes here. In California, though, there are lots of salad options and most places are great about accommodating special requests when ordering. Consider splitting entrees and getting extra sides of steamed veggies, or substituting starchy sides with veggies. I usually have great luck with, “May I please have extra steamed veggies instead of the rice/potatoes/pasta?” Sometimes I get tomatoes on the side instead of toast or potatoes at breakfast places.

    Please feel free to email me if you'd like more specific info. Hope you enjoy a wonderful trip!

  3. Hi, I'm from Santa Barbara and second what has been posted. We have many sources of fresh foods. Trader Joe's is one of my favorites as is Whole Foods(although their pricey) It can be great fun to just stop at small farms along the way that offer U-pick produce. We ave wonderful berries, peaches, apricots, plums and tomatoes in summer. Have a great vacation!

  4. Thank you to Lynn for posting my dilemma and to all those kind enough to provide advice. I live in a farming community so roadside fruit and veg is very familiar to me. I'm really looking forward to the trip, even more so now that I see how kind and helpful people are. I'll keep you posted on how I go.

  5. there are styrofoam coolers here (USA) that are very inexpensive – you can buy a BIG one of those instead of trying to buy a real/hard cooler that is going to be major $$$.

    if you are in hotels – ice is readily available – if not – bagged ice is available at grocery stores and most gas stations.

    most any grocery store is going to big selection of fresh fruit and veggies. so it does not have to be a specific store for that. And I think that is simple way – instead of trying to find specific brands of any processed things you might use – just stick with fresh.

    and yes, buy paper plates/plastic flatware and a good knife.

    My local grocery will wash fruit or veggies for you if you ask – so that is a possibility too.

  6. Sandy, I travel with a very small cooler and an item called “Chillers” by Coleman. It's a small plastic container that you put in the freezer and it stays cold for quite a long time in your cooler. I try to stay at motels that have a fridge in the room and put this in the little freezer part. That and the markets and fresh food areas of the regular stores in Western US, which are spectacular (I'm from Minnesota) should work for you. Enjoy and I hope you'll post as you travel.

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