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The Saturday Skinny: Tips for maintaining weight loss on road trips

By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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I often find myself behind the wheel of a car, driving up to five hours at a time. For many during the summer, this is the time for family vacations and road trips.

They have proven a challenge when trying to maintain my nearly 100-pound weight loss (currently at 98 pounds gone). Inviting fast food signs dot the freeway, tempting me with salty, fatty goodness.

I avoid such places when I can and usually pack some snacks for myself. This way I know what I'm putting in my body.

There have been times when I've pulled over and tried to order something that sounded healthy, only to look up the calorie count afterward and realize I would have been better off eating a candy bar (which is not a viable option).

Road trips can be problematic for those of us trying to watch what we eat.

WHAT TO PACK

SNACKS: Fresh fruit is the best choice. A banana, an apple, strawberries and grapes travel well. These make great in-between meal snacks. Avoid messy fruits that can cause you to become distracted while driving. I do not bring potato chips or other salty/sugary snacks. They are packed with calories and will knock me off my weight loss plan.

BEVERAGE: Water. I always carry a large sports bottle in my car during road trips. Fill it with water. To add some flavor, I usually squeeze in a lemon or lime. Ice tea (without sugar) is also a good choice. Avoid fruit juices (unnecessary calories), sodas and energy drinks.

MEAL: If you are taking a long trip, it can be challenging to have a sensible meal on the go. One of my personal tricks is to pack something that's easy to eat. Four to six ounces of lean chicken breasts, grilled the night before, are easily sliced into "sticks" and can be eaten cold. A sandwich bag of cherry tomatoes, or roasted sweet potato wedges (see recipe in the first Saturday Skinny here), make a delicious side dish. I try to have a veggie (carrot sticks), a protein (chicken) and a carb (sweet potato wedges). Avoid bread but if you must (for a sandwich), use whole wheat bread or a low-fat, reduced-calorie tortilla.

DINING OUT: Restaurants can be tricky and I'm grateful for those that print the calorie count on their menus. Denny's offers a few diet-friendly dishes (scrambled egg whites, for example) and I'm sure many others do as well. Ask questions of your server. In my last column, this was a topic. Go for the lean meats and vegetable dishes. If you just feel the urge to have the steak and potatoes, limit your portions and fill up on the veggies and salad. You can always get a "doggie bag" for the rest of the meal.

With careful planning, you can still hit the highways without worrying about your waistline.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

It's summer and I love to grill. So, here's a quick recipe for grilled portabello mushroom caps. I usually place these top down on the cool side of the grill while I cook up the rest of the meal (in this case, burgers for the kids, asparagus and chicken breasts).

Portabello mushroom caps

4 large mushroom caps

1 cup soy sauce (low sodium option)

1/2 cup red wine

Fresh ground pepper

Dash of hot sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic (or more, depending on taste)

Clean the mushroom caps by scraping out the black "gills" on the bottom. I use a small spoon and try not to break the cap.

In a container, mix ingredients and marinate the mushroom caps for one to three hours. Removed and place on the grill, top-side down. Grill for 20 minutes or until done. Serve. One large mushroom cap serves one person.

To read all the Saturday Skinny online columns, keyword search "saturday skinny" at folsomtelegraph.com, edhtelegraph.com or placerherald.com.