Friday, July 23, 2010

Food Revolution Road Trip Day 5: Cow Kisses and Peer Pressure

DON'T anger the cows. Although they seemed to like us...and especially the car.

Things to Do, Places to Go!

-visit the National Woodcarving museum
-go rockhounding
-drive to Lead and check out the sites

Food Revolution Challenge:
-sneaky tactics at the hotel breakfast bar

"Here. I have an idea. Take this with you." I shove two pieces of Wheat Montana Healthy loaf bread, safely enclosed in a baggie, towards Hubs. "Put it in your pocket. Nobody will know it's ours, and then just slip it in the toaster."

Hubs looks at me like I'm crazy.

"The bread at the breakfast bar looks like white posing as wheat. I want good wheat toast, don't you? Nobody will notice. Seriously, you can do it,"

He grins at me and takes the bread. Downstairs, we covertly shove our bread into the toaster when nobody is looking, and later at the table munch happily. That wasn't so hard. But then, why is that woman looking at us funny?

A lady at the next table has spotted the box of Multi-grain Cheerios sitting on the floor near Jake's feet. She makes a face and leans over to the man sitting next to her. I can hear her loud whisper, which I'm not so sure she's really trying to conceal.

"Are those," she motions towards the box, "CHEERIOS?" He nods and snorting in disgust, she pointedly looks at me and shakes her head. I grin sweetly back and then ignore her.

We, my friends, are feeling good. Normally around now our stomachs are a bit..testy from all the restaurant food we've been consuming but this year, all of us are feeling happy, lighter, have more energy, and are sleeping well. I'm continuing to make our lunches from things we buy at the grocery store and supplementing with snacks like hummus and crackers, yogurt, fruit, fresh veggies, and peanut butter. We're drinking lots of water and haven't even caved to buying pop yet. I will admit that I caved to a Twix bar, just once. We did have those pretzel M&Ms, remember? Can't be perfect. This is a holiday, after all. Jake and I have both had fries once with dinner, but didn't eat them all and found them a bit salty.

Why is it that I feel a bit..pressured to eat the more unhealthy food? Everyone else is. It's like you are being difficult or rude if you don't follow along with the norm, or announcing you are a vegetarian and people taking personal offense to the fact that you don't eat meat. I don't care what other people eat-seriously, there's no judgment going on here, I'm worried about ME. My husband. And MY kid. Cheap processed food is everywhere, and all I want is to find reasonably healthy stuff just as easily and cheaply. Shouldn't that be...I don't know, a right in America? To be able to find cheese and fresh tomatoes as easily and cheaply as a processed frozen pizza?

Hubs and Jake are now looking at things with new eyes, going for the foods that are real instead of the junk we have so often succumbed to through peer pressure and convenience while on vacation. If one of us begins to cave, the other two hold steadfast.

Food Revolution Road Trip is an enormous hit with my family.

I'm tired this morning. The night before, we drove out to Custer to join the Scotts in their backyard for the best seat in the house to watch Fourth of July fireworks. We arrived just before dark to a down home South Dakota barbecue in full swing.

Jake and I lamented that we had eaten a restaurant dinner before we arrived-what better way to research Food Revolution than to sample home made buffalo burgers, fresh salads and rhubarb pie? We tasted the best baked beans ever, and had a piece of pie for dessert. It was dreamy. I even scored the recipe for the baked beans, which I might be able to share (I need to ask first).

The evening was amazing. Fireworks soon started and we sat by a fire on lawn chairs, watching the colors explode and sipping hot coffee. What an fantastic way to spend Fourth of July-to be invited to spend it with friendly locals who welcomed us with open arms.

I love vacationing in America.

Today we drive out to Custer again, this time looking for a spot to rock hound. We find one way out in the middle of nowhere, so Jake and Hubs trek around looking for cool rocks with their picks and bags as I take pictures. A herd of cows keep mooing to each other through the trees, getting closer every few minutes. It sounds like they are talking, with one cow mooing behind us, and more answering over by the car. Speaking of the car, it's a bit hot, and I'm getting thirsty so I wander down to get a bottle of water.

As I round the corner, I'm greeted not by one or two, but a giant HERD of cows. They stand, looking at me, unblinking. It's a bit unnerving. I'm not used to cows but I do know enough not to anger them, especially when they have calves. These ones have calves everywhere. I quickly grab my water and retreat to higher ground, watching the cows carefully. From my safe perch on a hill above the car, I watch as one cow saunters out from the herd and makes her way straight to the car.

Will she kick it? What do I do? Where is the cow going? Does ICBC take claims on "Mad Cow Attacks Car?"

She finally stops, her nose touching the door, and sniffs. Then a long, pink tongue licks the side of my car, sliding gently along the paint.

"Um, hon?" by now I'm yelling up to Hubs, trying to get his attention. "We need to go. Cows have surrounded the car and are using it as a salt lick, and a bull is around here somewhere."

Soon we're bumping along a dirt road as cows scatter out of the way, mooing their displeasure at the disruption. Lunch is in the cooler and we pull into the National Museum of Woodcarving parking lot, choosing to just munch on things in the car.

Food Revolution Road Trip, I'm finding, has more benefits than just tasting good or being healthier. I'm really liking the freedom of just being able to stop and eat whenever (and where ever) we like. There's no driving around searching for some restaurant when we're hungry, or the extra hour that it takes to sit and have something served to us. Besides, had we been in a restaurant we never would have seen the Red Fox that was bounding around hunting on the hill across the road, or the hawks soaring overhead.

There's more to this Food Revolution Road Trip thing than just good food.

The rest of the day was full of sight seeing. We browsed the museum, then drove up to Lead, stopping to look at the Home stake visitor's Center, looked around Deadwood, and stopped at a Yamaha dealer to pick out swanky new motorcycle jackets.

That evening, we dine at the Firehouse Brewing Co. in Rapid City, South Dakota, which quickly becomes our favorite restaurant in town. Their delicious salads, lean buffalo burgers, and atmosphere won us over immediately. I love that I can get a burger that isn't greasy or dripping in sauce, but is topped with loads of fresh veggies. Kids even get a fireman hat, but Jake insists that at 14 he's far too old for one and won't humor me in the slightest.

That night, he orders the white chili and a side of beer bread for us to share. The waitress looked at him in confusion.

"Um, is the chili to start?"

Now it's Jake's turn to be confused.

"No, it's my meal. Why would I get...?" he doesn't understand the concept of chili as an appetizer. A bowl of chili is filling, and with bread it's a meal, in our book.

"But...most people....that's IT?" She's obviously surprised.

Ah, here we go. Something we hadn't encountered yet. The big nemesis of previous vacations that we have always been amazed by, and tomorrow, we get it full on.

Portion sizes.

Know a small African village that needs a single order of restaurant food?

What are YOUR strategies for restaurant ordering? Let me know in the comments. If you are here for Food Revolution Friday, it's been put on hold for a little bit while I continue to write about our road trip, but you can still add your links below! There's lots more fun to come, I promise.

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