As I sit here on this quiet summer morning with my second cup o’ joe, still deciding what I’m going to write, I look over and see a mass of feet, hands and gangly limbs known as my pre-teen. Jack is sound asleep, recharging for yet another day of kayaks, bikes and memories. Watching this 11-year-old gradually transform from boy to man, I can’t help but think, “What the heck have I been feeding this guy? Can’t I stop him from growing?” Sadly, no, but I sure can guide him toward a lifetime of proper eating habits on and off the bike. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to prepare some tasty good-for-you eats on the road. Yes, I’m serious! Hold on—I think I just discovered this month’s column. Come... let’s take a stroll beyond beef jerky and MREs. I promise you’ll come out the wiser (and healthier) for it, with not a hunger pang to be had.
I must admit, I do love talking with parents about nutrition, only to have some of them tell me, “Oh, I just can’t get Sweetums to eat anything but chicken fingers and pancakes. They just throw a tantrum every time I try to get them to eat <insert any fruit or vegetable here>, so I just give them what they want.” Uh huh... Do you know why Sweetums throws a tantrum? BECAUSE HE’S A KID AND KNOWS HOW TO PLAY THE GAME! Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. But, dangit people! It’s our job as parents to teach proper eating habits not just when our kiddos are growing, but for a lifetime. Has no one read the statistics with regard to childhood obesity continuing on into adulthood? Have you not seen the rise in motorized scooters and type 2 diabetes?
Climbing off my soapbox now... Often we claim to be too busy to prepare a healthy meal, that there are not enough hours in the day, it’s too expensive—I’ve heard them all. Did you find the time to drive yourself to Red Lobster or the nearest drive-thru? Gotcha. You can easily take that 20 minutes and turn it into something easy and, in the long run, much more satisfying.
By now, you’re saying (out loud), “Okay, Sandy Smarty Pants. Tell me how.” I shall. The first thing you must do is change your
eating habits. Trust me, I know all about this! I grew up in the butter, salt and mayonnaise family. A large summer garden helped give us the necessary balance, though I was known to slap on a cube of butter with every savory bite of freshly shucked sweet corn. If I only knew then... Through the years, Terry and I have wavered in weight, learning what we can and can’t eat. Shake n’ Bake chicken became skinless, oven-roasted goodness, draped in a mixture of olive oil, lemon, garlic and fresh oregano. This little marinade is also fabulous on skewered shrimp or wild salmon wrapped in foil over an open campfire. Sorry, kids, no battered and deep-fried on this island. Remember as a kid how mom lovingly boiled all veggies until they were rendered a greenish pile of goo? I do. Fresh veggies are now tossed in a mixture of olive oil and garlic, maybe a little balsamic vinegar if you’re feeling saucy. Throw your asparagus, peppers and mushrooms on the grill or sauté them in a pan over the fire, but not for too long. In this family, we like our vegetables a little crunchy, as they retain so much more flavor when not charred beyond recognition.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Miraculously, you’ll find yourself more fulfilled and eating less. Why? There are no chemicals sending messages to your noggin telling you you’re not full when, in fact, you are. Now that you’ve changed your menu, you can easily bring it to the table when it comes to your next generation of riders. If the little ones are used to eating McCrappys, they will
put up a fight. But, you have to remember that you’re the adult. You’re fighting for their health, and that’s one battle you want to win. As time goes on, you will see them making healthier choices when they order at a restaurant or grab a snack at the grocery store. I’ve got that weird kid that orders salads and eats red peppers for snacks. We’re often asked how we get him to do that, as if it were some kind of magic trick. We just chuckle and say, “It’s aalllll threats.” Kidding, of course.
Every rider I’ve come across on our adventures carries one or more of the moto food essentials: quinoa, rice, can of tuna, tortillas, peanut butter, beef jerky, energy bars, boil-n-bags and an apple or orange. It’s pretty much textbook. I, too, carry many of the aforementioned necessities. Now I shall blow your mind with what I’ve learned to carry in my bike pantry aside from the usual: cherry tomatoes, can of black beans, avocado, farm fresh eggs, garlic, onion, lime, lemon, dried cranberries, parmesan, olive oil, balsamic, red peppers, kiwi, red potatoes and whatever other fruit we find in season. You must remember, I’m feeding a growing army of one and a husband that carries a ton o’ gear across dirt trails and fields of gold.
You must always have something at the ready to grab or prepare when a roadside stand or restaurant is not an option. If you’re a parent or an adventure rider who calls BLM land home for the night, you get my drift. Most of these ingredients can be mixed together as is or cooked in a single pan over an open fire or single burner stove. Find yourself in a town with a fresh fish market? Grab a slab of salmon or any other off-the-boat item, throw in some peppers, garlic and onions, wrap it in foil, and cook until your desired likeness. Don’t feel like cooking? Slice up the onion, garlic, tomatoes and avocado, throw in the black beans and a squirt or three of lime, roll it in a tortilla and you have yourself a very satisfying meal. Leftovers? Throw the mix in a Ziploc and lay it in your pannier. It keeps for a good period of time and is an excellent go-to meal at any time of day.
I know, I know, but you have to trust me on this healthy eating obsession I possess. Of course, there’s always
room for s’mores and ice cream and half-pound buffalo burgers with fries (I do think I just drooled a little). All things in moderation. But, we’ve got to school our pillions on the proper care and feeding of their bodies in hopes that they carry it over to future riders. I’m okay if Jack wants to ride a snappy scooter some day, but it’s my job as his mom to make sure it’s not the kind that only goes three mph and sports a metal basket on the front. Cheers!