My husband and I, along with our dog Spike, packed the car and headed south yesterday, Christmas Eve, for our annual winter vacation in Florida. Traveling during the Christmas holiday takes time, energy, planning, and a great deal of organization. It’s also an exciting time as we daydream about our warm destination and seeing old friends again. The two-night drive on I95 South is a bit of a challenge when it comes to eating. “Food”- that’s my one and only complaint about the trip! Not the 1200 miles on the road or the many refueling stops and rest stop breaks or even the crazy drivers bother me. It’s about the availability of “good food” on Christmas Day. There’s never a problem on the Eve as most restaurants and fast-food places are open and we certainly partake of them. However, almost every eatery, even the fast-food ones, are closed on Christmas Day. Don’t get me wrong. You could eat a pre-packaged sandwich from a gas station store. Yikes! No thanks! Even though gas station stores don’t carry the kinds of food we like to eat, they do have all the sweet goods we shouldn’t eat like ice cream pops, cookies and candies. It’s definitely hard to control oneself of those sweets when you know you’re on the road driving for hours on end. But then again, isn’t a little “fall from grace” good for us? In preparation for our trip, I make and pack foods that will hold up in a cooler. Once at our first hotel stop the food is placed overnight in our room refrigerator awaiting our Christmas Day meals. I also pack festive paper goods, as well as an upscale set of disposable silverware, along with a seasonal tablecloth.
Here’s this year’s menu for our meals on Christmas Day. Breakfast Christmas Morning: Overnight oats – they’re portable and can be eaten on the commute. It’s a healthy choice as oats are packed with fiber which leaves you feeling fuller for longer. Simple to make. Using a Mason jar, layer in equal amounts of rolled oats, almond milk and fresh or frozen fruit. Store in refrigerated space. Before eating add in a crunchy topping such as granola or nuts.
Lunch Christmas Afternoon: To be enjoyed at a rest stop while on the road. A simple menu filled with a variety of tastes and textures that are appetizing and flavorful. Appetizer: Humus on celery sticks Sandwich. Roast turkey, grilled vegetables and sliced cheese on ciabatta bread. Store turkey, veggies and cheese in plastic container and wrap bread well until ready to assemble just prior to eating.
Dinner Christmas Evening: At dinner time, we stop driving and check into our hotel. That’s when I go into action. I set the table in the hotel room with our disposable dinnerware, then I heat up our main course and we’re all set to enjoy a lovely meal.
Salad kabobs: Cherry tomato, cubed cheese, olives, lettuce Soup: Lentil soup easily heated in hotel’s microwave oven. Entrée: Meatloaf and Pre-baked Sweet Potato. Also easily reheated in microwave. Dessert: Panettone, of course!
Bottled water, fresh fruit, granola bars, nuts, hard boiled eggs and dark chocolate are enjoyed as treats over the three-day journey. We don’t forget treats for Spike either, which of course if he could speak would thank us very much. We’re very lucky that he’s a great travel companion. He enjoys our stays at hotels, especially at check-in, when most front desk staff are at the ready with a treat. You can bet that each time we pass the front desk he is expecting the same treat. As if he doesn’t get enough treats, you can be sure he is the recipient of a few tidbits of people food along the journey.
Soon we three will be off the road and running on the beach in the Florida sunshine.