What not to eat on vacation

Do you know what does not encourage healthy eating? Road trips.

While my older son went to a week-long summer camp, my younger son and I spent the length of the camp session driving around Minnesota visiting friends and relatives. And eating. And eating. And eating.

We spent one night at the gorgeous riverside cabin of my friend from culinary school, who had just that morning turned in the manuscript of a new cookbook but still cooked an amazing meal for us that contained many vegetables prepared perfectly. But aside from that, most of our intake was not so healthy.

I know what you’re thinking: State Fair. But no, we did not go to any state fairs. We did not eat any corn dogs, or deep-fried candy bars, or any specialty foods. We just ate a lot of really normal stuff, but just every day, with no break. You too could replicate this experience by going to your favorite vacation state, driving around, and buying something doughy and either sweet or salt-crusted to shove into your mouth every time you stop the car.

I’m not sure what compelled me to take so many pictures of the things I ate, but I got home and found some photos on my phone. So here it is, a photo essay of what you eat when you drive around Minnesota for five days. Remember, you can do this, too!

  • Cinnamon Bun 1 of 10
    Cinnamon Bun
    This is a cinnamon bun from Charlie's Cafe in Freeport, MN, which may or may not be where Garrison Keillor wrote "Lake Wobegon Days." Are you noticing that they served me this gooey, cinnamony, glazed hunk of deliciousness with THREE pats of butter? No, you do not, because I'd already put one of the pats of butter on the bun at that point.
  • Bloedow’s Donuts 2 of 10
    Bloedow's Donuts
    Bloedow's makes the best donuts in Winona, and probably in all of Minnesota. From left to right you see long johns (rectangular raised donuts with maple frosting), glazed (you can see I've already eaten two of them), and cake donuts with chocolate frosting. These were delicious. And they made me fall asleep.
  • Cheeseburgers 3 of 10
    In one day I ate two cheeseburgers. Why? Because I felt like it, and I was on vacation. Not the best decision-making skills on my part, and I had a cheeseburger hangover the next morning.
  • Runt Piglets 4 of 10
    Runt Piglets
    Just kidding! We did NOT eat these. Yet. I snapped this shot as they were being delivered to my mom's cousin's farm, where they were going to grow them all summer and then turn them into sausage in the fall. My city boy son was fascinated by this.
  • Onion Rings 5 of 10
    Onion Rings
    We ate onion rings at a drive-in rootbeer stand on the lakeshore in Winona, and my aunt told us stories of the rivalries between that stand and the one down the road in the '60s. The stories were better than the onion rings, frankly. But I still ate too many rings.
  • Cinnamon Pickles 6 of 10
    Cinnamon Pickles
    My mom's cousin gave me this jar of Cinnamon Pickles. They're peeled, seeded cucumbers pickled in a brine mostly consisting of melted Red Hot candies. You know you want them. (They're actually delicious, but too Red Hot-y for me.)
  • Pizza 7 of 10
    If you are ever in Bemidji, Minnesota, I highly recommend having your picture taken with the enormous statues of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, and then going to Keith's Pizza. The pizza had a nice crispy crust (more similar to a NY-style thin crust than to a standard Midwestern puffycrust) and Keith's leaves Parmesan, oregano, and pepper flakes at the table for your embellishing pleasure. The actual pizza was cut in squares, which was the only thing that prevented me from folding it to eat it, as pizza should be eaten. I'm going back every time I'm in Bemidji.
  • Caramel Bun 8 of 10
    Caramel Bun
    We couldn't drive back past Charlie's without going in, so this time I got the caramel bun. Same deliciousness as the cinnamon bun, but with gooey caramel instead of cinnamon. Same three pats of butter, too. I wonder if Freeporters have a higher incidence of clogged arteries than people in the rest of the state.
  • Apple Pie 9 of 10
    Apple Pie
    My mom's cousin brought over an apple pie from Pepin Heights Orchards in Lake City, Minnesota. Now that I know that Pepin Heights Orchards sells premade pies that are this delicious, I will surely gain even more weight next time I'm in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Awesome.
  • Rainbow Chard with Green Beans, Walnuts, and Shrimp 10 of 10
    Rainbow Chard with Green Beans, Walnuts, and Shrimp
    After eating all that delicious crap I drove nine hours home, fell asleep for hours, and woke up wanting to eat through one green leaf. So I made the next best thing, with tons of greens and garlic and walnuts. Maybe my body will forgive me in a few days.



What did you eat on your last road trip? What did you eat to recover?



Magda Pecsenye writes about parenting at and about co-parenting after divorce with her ex-husband at When The Flames Go Up.

Follow her on Twitter at @AskMoxie and join the AskMoxie Facebook page.


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