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Like Lindsay Lohan’s Jail Sentence, Our Food Vacation is So Over!

August 2, 2010

I was on vacation last week.

While it was certainly a time of much-needed rest and relaxation  (OK, a little bit of rest and some relaxation–I had family in town, after all), it was also something of a food vacation. Yes, I strayed from the straight-and-narrow path of counting points and watching what I ate. Gasp!

Not every day, and not every meal. In fact, most days we ate fairly healthfully. Tim and Terri, my brother and sister-in-law, are also watching what they eat, Having all of the adults focused on making mostly healthy choices is always helpful whether on vacation or not. None of us wanted to stray too far from the path of righteous food consumption. Their kids, my awesome 13-year-old niece Miranda and 10-year-old nephew Zach, can be choosy about what they eat, though. Ergo, not every meal included a large pile of steamed vegetables or lean protein.

We spent a considerable amount of time at West Town Mall, to see a movie and go shopping. Zach turned 10 the day he and his family drove down from Wisconsin, and Miranda’s is coming up, so we celebrated by taking the kids shopping.

As you might imagine, trolling the mall means dining in the food court, which can be an obstacle to good nutrition for even the most stalwart of the health conscious among us. The smells of golden french fries, glistening cinnamon rolls and luscious pizza can overtake the best of intentions. Still, there are a couple of restaurants that offer more healthy choices than not.

I highly recommend K-Town Kebabs, where the falafel are made to order. My falafel platter included four perfectly seasoned falafel patties, roasted potatoes and jasmine and basmati rice. I also ordered a side of hummus, which was creamy and delicious. The owner was extremely pleasant, all the more so when he saw me return on our second visit to the mall.

Tuesday night, I cooked chicken enchiladas. Actually, they’re more like burritos. The recipe is a delicious melange of chicken breast, cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and salsa wrapped in tortillas, topped with cheese and baked. Even with all fat-free or low-fat ingredients, the recipe was quite tasty.

On Wednesday, we hit the Knoxville Zoo. Like much of the summer has been here, it was an incredibly hot day. The kids had a great time anyway, and we were all hungry after a few hours of gazing at red pandas, elephants, giraffes, lions and otters. So we headed over to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I can’t justify eating grilled beef patties and a pile of golden french fries, but I sure as heck enjoyed it! I had my burger without cheese or bacon, no mayo, and all the fresh “vegetables” they could put on the thing. First burger I’d had in months, and it was amazing!

We went to Cades Cove on Thursday. Although the cove is the most visited area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the crowds were pretty light. We toured the Primitive Baptist Church, the Mill and one of the homestead sites, and were rewarded with a bear sighting (actually a mama bear and three cubs) toward the end of the loop road. Miranda and Zach shot a ton of pictures of this “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

When we’d completed the loop, we headed to the Campground Store where the hot dogs and the Polish sausage (my personal choice) are delish! Then we headed to Gatlinburg where the kids were absolutely overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of the Parkway. Miranda wanted candy (that’s a girl after my own heart!!), but it had to be the right candy. After visiting Aunt Mahalia’s and the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, she settled on a pile of milk chocolate chunks from the Candy Kitchen. Yum. I picked up giant jelly beans and candy corn at Aunt Mahalia’s, but later regretted the corn as it tasted like last year’s leftovers. Thankfully, those empty calories didn’t get consumed!

Miranda was DESPERATE to see Charlie St. Cloud, the new Zac Efron “chick” flick. So Sarah and the girls went to see it, while the guys took in The Karate Kid remake. At the movies, I’m a candy freak. I like popcorn, but give me candy any day. Specifically granny candy — chocolate-covered raisins. After the movie, Sarah and I took the kids to the arcade at Regal Cinemas West Town (which is far better than the hole that has become Zuma “Fun” Center), where Zach delighted in playing a Terminator shoot-em-up game. Miranda opted to play games so she could win tickets to convert into prizes. To help Zach out, I played some of those games too. They both left with a haul of plastic prizes that could very well be broken by now. Oh, to be a kid again.

While we were out, Tim and Terri made dinner–a fabulous “taco bake” with ground chicken instead of beef. It was delish!

Our guests left on Saturday morning. Early. 5:30 a.m. Before even the chickens, or the three kittens the kids “adopted” from our neighbors during the week. The kids were sad to go, which means our work was accomplished–always leave the nieces and nephews wanting to come back for more. We spoil them, and we’re proud of it!

Our house was awfully quiet on Saturday and Sunday. We missed the kids–and Tim and Terri. But we enjoyed the last vestiges of our vacation. I walked in the Knoxville Track Club’s Pigeon Forge Midnight 8K on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Then our food vacation continued on Sunday with a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings.

Today, it was back to the world and back to being food conscious. Counting points and making sure to eat copious amounts of fruits and vegetables, and good grains.

Here’s the thing: Going off track is permissable, as long as you get back on track. I had no choice but to get back on track. I’ve got serious training to do. More on that in my next post.

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