Healthy food really can go anywhere

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

At the time of this writing, Mark and I are spending Valentine’s Day in Fort Meyers, Fla. Given the recent snowfall in St. Louis, it’s true what they say: “If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you’re lucky enough!”

As we awaited the arrival of the legendary sunset on Captiva Island, we walked the beach and watched the people.  Amidst the frolicking children, beautifully crafted sand castles, and romantic couples, we saw a number of groups enjoying picnics. While there was the usual fare of chips, beer, and burgers being devoured, one couple’s meal caught my eye. Their beach picnic consisted of a Tupperware full of a leafy mixed greens salad with other garden-fresh vegetables, and a Ziploc baggie of red grapes.

While I was extremely impressed by this couple’s food choices, I was equally as pleased to note their ages: the pair was most likely in their late 60’s or early 70’s. Let’s face it: creating portable nutritionally dense foods was not such a popular concept when this man and woman were growing up, and chances are they lived for many years in a world bereft of stores such as Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods Market. Yet somehow, they have been paying attention.  

Preparing clean culinary options for dinner is a fairly time-consuming process, even if the meal is merely traveling from the oven to the kitchen table. Planning for and packing a healthy picnic dinner, including ways to keep the perishables properly chilled, can be a bit more daunting.  Sure, sandwiches and chips would be faster, easier and require much less thought. Yet with a little creativity and a small investment in time, the result can be not only delicious and nutritious, but might possibly have an impact on one’s long-term health.

If you are planning a family getaway for the coming months, consider factoring in some healthy portable food options, whether you are picnicking at the beach or waiting through interminably long lines at theme parks. Regardless if the travelers are 8 years old or 80, hunger often strikes at the most inopportune times during vacations, so be prepared! Happy Trails!