By Amanda Stone
JOPLIN, Mo. —
There's a road trip looming in my near future. Although there's plenty to prepare for, my mind continually drifts and fixates on the food aspect, as usual.
Just because you're stuck in the car for hours doesn't mean you have to eat fast food or gas station fare. A little planning and preparation is all you need to have meals in the car that are just as convenient as the roadside stuff.
We expend very little energy while we travel. Logically, we don't need to eat much on a road trip because we're not burning many calories that need to be replaced. Keep that in mind when you stop for gas and you're tempted by the shiny packages. If you must get stuff in crinkly packages, go for beef jerky or nuts, but avoid sweet treats. You don't want to be trapped in the car with a kid on a sugar high. And stick with water to drink Ñ it's what you should be drinking anyway, and it won't make a mess when it inevitably spills.
Boredom leads to snacking. When everyone is tired of staring out the window, playing I-Spy and looking for license plates, be ready with a little snack. Peanuts in their shells are a fun surprise. The car will be a mess anyway, so go for it. Baby carrots, apple slices, orange segments, grapes and berries are great fresh treats. Popcorn, sunflower seeds, nuts, trail mix and Cheerios or whole-grain crackers are good, too. String cheese and boiled eggs are easy hand-held protein sources.
Take snack preparation to the next level. String Cheerios, pretzels and dried fruit onto floss to make a munchies necklace. Skewer fruit, veggie and cheese chunks onto toothpicks for mini kebabs. Save your peanut butter jar with just a bit left in the bottom, and fill it with celery sticks. Main dishes such as whole-grain macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and casseroles can be made in muffin tins for a no-utensils-required dinner. Once you're on the road, you'll be so glad you put forth the extra effort.
Before you hit the road, portion everything in snack-size zip-close bags so it's easy to whip out a snack. No stopping necessary.
2 slices whole-grain bread, torn into pieces
11/4 pounds lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
1/2 cup carrots, peeled
3/4 cup red bell pepper
1/4 cup white onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the topping: (Omit for traveling)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, or line with silicone muffin cups. Place bread in food processor and pulse until the bread is the texture of fine crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to a medium bowl and mix with ground meat.
Place carrots, onion and red pepper in the food processor and pulse until the veggies are finely chopped. Add veggies to meat and bread mixture, using your hands to mix well. Add egg, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, barbecue sauce and garlic powder. Use hands to combine mixture thoroughly. Divide mixture among 12 muffin tins (or place in a loaf pan for traditional meatloaf).
For the topping, combine ketchup, barbecue sauce and mustard in a small bowl and stir until combined. Brush mixture over each individual meatloaf and place muffin tin in the oven. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees or until the meat is no longer pink in the center of the muffins, which takes about 35 to 45 minutes. If the tops get too dark, cover with foil and continue baking.
Adapted from dashingdish.com
Oatmeal on-the-go bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup applesauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries or cherries)
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds or pepitas)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the first 5 dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Mix the milk, applesauce, egg, agave and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture; stir to combine and then stir in the dried fruits and nuts. Pour the oatmeal mixture into a buttered or greased 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden. Cool, cut into squares and serve, or place in a zip-close bag to freeze up to four months.
Slow cooker sweet and spicy nuts
1 pound walnuts (or any nut you like)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker; mix them together. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. Stir every so often. After an hour and a half, the sugar will have melted and the nuts will be coated. Spread the nuts on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Taste them and see if they need more salt. Let the nuts cool. You can store the nuts in an airtight container for about two weeks.
Adapted from bakedbree.com
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.