Friday, July 13, 2012

travel: real food at a continental breakfast?

It's a curious thing, being a real foodie at a continental breakfast.  In spite of my preparation for us to eat many breakfasts out of our cooler, we have found ourselves with the option of a complimentary meal at the start of our first three mornings of different hotel stays.   We opted not to "look a gift horse in a mouth" and took advantage of the free food at the start of each day. 

I'm thankful, truly. But to be honest, the foods offered at these meals sometimes makes me a little 

Bagels. Muffins. Biscuits.  Pastries... white flour galore.  Lowfat, flavored yogurt: laden with  all kinds of fillers and added sweeteners.  Dry, dead cereals and pasteurized milk.  And "maple-flavored" syrup, which simply makes me shudder.  I saw one label which read "2% maple syrup."  You know what the rest of it is, right?  Artificial flavorings and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

This is not real food.

What's a mama to do? Is it possible to find a nourishment at a continental breakfast?  If so, how?

Look for Protein-Rich Options
These have been incredibly scarce at such meals, I am sad to say.  In my opinion, commercially flavored yogurt and regular milk are poor choices.   If possible, choose eggs.  Twice now, I've been happy to them hard-boiled, pre-peeled. These are probably the best way to assure you're eating the real thing, as opposed to powdered eggs!  I've seen scrambled eggs and pre-made omelettes as option, as well.  Eggs seem to go like hot cakes at buffet lines, so be be aware and act fast.

Fresh Fruit
Each of these spreads has included fresh fruit.  Bananas, oranges, apples.  Even a mixed fruit offering with melon, grapes, and strawberries.  Fresh fruit is far better for you than canned, and it's a safer bet than dried fruits (which often contain sulphur) as well.

Healthy Spreads
Sometimes, but not always, continental breakfasts will offer real butter alongside the margarine.  Butter is a healthy part of a real food diet, and people often don't eat enough healthy fats.  Also, I was pleased to find little packages of honey.   Real cream cheese might also make a good option.  In the area of spreads, there is so much that we avoid: nut butters and jams laden with HFCS, margarine.  It's such a pleasure to find a few options I can feel better about serving my family.

Focus on the Positive
One of the best steps we can take in our approach toward continental breakfasts is to ask for real food.  Write a note to tell the service manager that you'd love to see more eggs, cheese, and real juice (instead of something which is clearly an orange-flavored beverage!). I imagine that the positive reinforcement of hearing how happy you were to find butter, honey, etc. can only have favorable results.   And l tried to let the women in charge of these meals know that I appreciated their efforts.

Facing situations such as this can seem discouraging, no doubt about it.  But seeking out the gems, searching for the best possible choices, as well as focusing on the positive can really help.  There's always a chance that we might make a difference this way!

Choose real food, ask for real food, and above all enjoy real food.  Happy trails!

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