Ideally, road trips would be enjoyable for everyone in the vehicle. Spring break is drawing nigh, as is the beginning of this much-anticipated season on the calendar. Let’s celebrate the end of eternal winter with a day trip or two.

When a week off isn’t automatically embedded in your March calendar, you’ve got to get your fun whenever you can. Plan some restaurant road trips. The kids don’t have to know you’re only in it for the food. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, all of which are seemingly kid-oriented day trips ideal for families and blessed babysitting grandparents; they’re actually restaurant destinations thinly veiled by activities along the way.

• Bentonville, Ark: Keeping with the family friendly theme, you’ll definitely want to head to Crystal Bridges to check out the exhibit “Men of Steel, Women of Wonder.” Fresh perspectives on Superman and Wonder Woman combined with the museum’s permanent collection will keep your group entertained.

If you have smaller kids in tow, you could also pop next door to the Scott Family Amazeum, which has plenty of hands-on activities to wear out the littles.

The main event is Crepes Paulette, which is a short drive away, or if the weather is beautiful, walk the trail leading directly to the most delicious, gooey crepes around. Kids might want their crepe oozing with Nutella and strawberries, while mine will be the Elvis: banana, salted caramel, bacon and peanut butter chips.

• Tulsa, Okla.: My kiddo gets lucky with this one as she would always choose sushi when given the choice. Tulsa’s Sushi Train serves up sushi on a traveling model train, so it’s still fun even if you’re the only one who likes sushi. The menu has plenty of other options, including a kids’ menu complete with mini corn dogs and pizza rolls, so don’t let anyone’s whining dissuade you from going.

After lunch has been established and the sun is high in sky, head to Tulsa’s newest family attraction, Gathering Place: Tulsa’s Riverfront Park. With features named Skywalk Forest, Volcanoville and Land of the River Giants, the adventure playground is fun for everyone and at no cost.

After so much free fun, you’ll want to splurge at Pinknitzel Cupcakes and Candy in downtown Tulsa before heading home.

Use these recipes to prepare some road snacks ahead of time so you’ll be set for spring break day trip success.

Cranberry almond energy bites

1 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1/2 cup nut butter

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Bake oatmeal, almonds and coconut for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring after 5 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. In a medium bowl, microwave the nut butter for 20-30 seconds until runny, add the baked mix along with flax, honey, chia seeds and cranberries to the bowl.

Form into 11/2-inch balls and refrigerate. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to one week or freezer for 3 months.

Recipe adapted from

Sea salt and vinegar kale chips

1 bunch kale

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more/less to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry kale leaves. Using a knife, separate the green kale leaves from the thick ribs, and discard the ribs.

Cut or tear the kale leaves into your desired size of chips, knowing that they will shrink a bit while baking. Combine the kale leaves, vinegar, oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Then use your hands to toss and massage the kale for 1 to 2 minutes until it is soft and slightly darker. Spread out the kale in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet (or two). Then sprinkle on the remaining salt.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the kale is crunchy and no longer soft. Remove and serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Recipe adapted from

Pistachio muffins

43/8 ounces roasted and salted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

51/2 ounces white whole-wheat flour

2 ounces all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

71/2 ounces granulated sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup low fat buttermilk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan and set aside In a food processor, process 2 ounces (slightly less than 1/2 cup) of pistachios until pureed; set aside. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a medium bowl; set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter, applesauce and sugar for a few minutes or until light and fluffy.

Add pureed pistachios and beat on medium high speed for a minute or until well combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix on medium speed just until combined; scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the sifted ingredients; add buttermilk and then remainder of sifted ingredients with mixer on low, just until incorporated; do not overmix. Fold in the chopped pistachios.

Evenly distribute batter into muffin cups and bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from

Amanda Stone works in educational services, marketing and special features at the Globe. Contact her at 417-627-7288 or email her at

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.