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All,

 

I've just got back from a 4-day (3-night) trip to Niagara Falls with my wife and daughter. TomB over on the cold exposure thread asked about what I do about food when traveling.

 

I used to be a lot more obsessive than I'm trying to be these days, largely because of the hassle involved with bringing your own food (which I used to do) and how annoyed my wife gets with the practice.

 

This trip I didn't bring any food, and it worked out reasonably well. Obviously I don't eat nearly as well at restaurants as when eating at home, but it was certainly enjoyable and I didn't have to resort to eating anything I'd consider terribly bad for me, or non-vegan. Here are snapshots I took of most of my meals, realizing that folks might like to get a feel for what I eat on the road.

 

Overall, what I did was eat a big breakfast from the breakfast buffet at the two hotels we stayed at (two or three of the plates shown below), skipped lunch, and did a vegan gourmet dinner. Here are what the breakfasts and two of the three dinners looked like:

 

 

Buffet Breakfast (First two days) - At Courtyard Marriott Niagara Falls

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Oatmeal with raisins and dried cranberries, All-Bran Cereal, Peanut butter, Apple, Pineapple, Potatoes, mushrooms, peppers & onions (from omelette station - not shown)

 

Marilyn's Restaurant - Tower Hotel Overlooking Niagara Falls

(Yes - it looks just like picture you see below overlooking the falls)

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Spinach Mint Quinoa 20 (Right in picture)

A VEGETARIAN DELIGHT. CRANBERRIES, APRICOTS AND APPLES SERVED WITH GRILLED VEGETABLES [Peppers, Zucchini, Eggplant, Onions, Mushrooms] & DRIZZLED WITH BALSAMIC GLAZE

Bean Salad Side (left in picture above)

EDAMAME BEANS, WHITE BEANS, YELLOW CHERRY TOMATOES, GRILLED CORN, FENNEL & PEA SHOOTS IN A FRESH LEMON HERB SAUCE

 

 

Continental Breakfast at Oban Inn - Niagara on the Lake (Last Day)

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Muesli (oats, various other whole grains, almonds, raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries), All-Bran cereal, Peanut butter, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries

 

Oban Restaurant - Niagara on the Lake

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Soba Noodle & Miso Pasta – Vegan / Vegetarian – 24

Bok Choy, Sautéed Mushrooms, Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Cauliflower, Edamame, House Made Miso, Sweet Chili Sauce,

Pickled Ginger, Toasted Cashews & Hazelnuts, Shaved Cucumber, Daikon & Cilantro Slaw

The dishes and sauces were all vegan, and while they were more salted than I'm used to, they were very tasty. It was a very active trip - we did a lot of walking, hiking, biking, boating. In fact, including getting up at 3am each morning to work out for a few hours before breakfast, I averaged above 35k steps per day, or about 17 miles of walking-equivalent (some of it was pedalling in the exercise rooms). Less than my normal 45K, but pretty good, and enough to walk off the meals.

 

It was a great time. I highly recommend vacationing in the Niagara Falls region for anyone who gets a chance. I can give you the play-by-play of what we did if anyone is interested in getting travel tips.

 

--Dean

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Fabulous, Dean! Really appreciate this - traveling is my dietary downfall. I usually pack something for the airplane trip so I don't get poisoned by airline food, but after landing I'm all out of ideas. It doesn't help that some parts of the world are not as yet advanced in the availability/awareness of vegetarian options (f.ex. Eastern Europe, Russia etc.). Even in the U.S., it can be tough going in some parts of the South. However, just because there is such food abundance in the U.S., you can pretty much always find something to have a reasonable diet. What I was not expecting is the amazingly good commercial options - restaurants and eateries as Dean has depicted - that's something I'd expect only in very major cities like San Francisco and New York. The stuff in the photos looks both nutritious and delicious - I'd have to struggle with portion control!

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Tom,
 
Dining in the Niagara region is pretty high end, or can be if you know where to look. And in that regard, I have to give credit where credit is due. My wife did a terrific job scouring TripAdvisor.com for our vacation plans, including finding good restaurants with vegan friendly options for me and vegetarian options for our daughter. Certainly not all restaurants have such nice vegan entrees, and not all hotels offer such nice breakfast buffets. 
 

The stuff in the photos looks both nutritious and delicious - I'd have to struggle with portion control!

 

That is one advantage of eating at gourmet restaurants, the portions are fixed and not that big. As for the buffet breakfasts, those can definitely be a challenge when it comes to portion control. Fortunately, these buffets weren't too fancy - not like on a cruise or at an all-inclusive resort. Those are places where it is really tempting to overeat. Those buffets make dietary restraint difficult to achieve, even for someone with an iron will. But one advantage of a very active, outdoor vacation (like this was), is you get a lot of exercise to work off the meals.

 

Plus it doesn't hurt to be crazy enough to get up at 3am to spend 4-5 hours in the gym before the breakfast buffet opens, and before the rest of the family gets up!

 

--Dean

 

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Hate to be a downer but my Father was a chef at the University Club in Pittsburgh years ago and that is about as prestigious as you get serving the rich and famous. Well without going into details he hated eating out because he had an insiders view of what goes on out of site of the diners. My nephew feels the same. He is a restaurant manager and not a big fan of eating out either. When I do eat out, for social reasons, family etc, I always eat very hot, well cooked food. I also order hot coffee and use it to dip my fork in before using it. A well done steak and a baked potatoe are my usual picks. If it's break feast I order eggs over hard and fried potatoes. I don't eat out often so these are the rare times these foods enter my body.

Edited by mikeccolella

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Mike,

 

I'm under no illusion that I could eat the way I did while on vacation long-term and remain healthy, or at least not as healthy as the way I eat at home. Heck, I'm almost certain the cooked mushrooms and other veggies in some of those dishes were probably sauteed in butter, which I'd never eat at home both for health and ethical reasons.

 

But I'm beginning to realize as I get older that there is more to life than sticking to a perfect diet & lifestyle 24 / 7 / 365. I couldn't have (legally) brought my own food to Canada, and if I spent all day hunting for foods I could eat, and avoided eating at fine restaurants with my family, it would have really detracted from the vacation fun, both for me and my family.

 

--Dean

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Mike,

 

[...]

 

But I'm beginning to realize as I get older that there is more to life than sticking to a perfect diet & lifestyle 24 / 7 / 365. I couldn't have (legally) brought my own food to Canada, and if I spent all day hunting for foods I could eat, and avoided eating at fine restaurants with my family, it would have really detracted from the vacation fun, both for me and my family.

 

--Dean

 

Words Of Wisdom, Mr. Dean Pomerleau. I simply consider: what is the purpose of this whole routine? It's not a religious practice, where any deviation is mortal sin. It's to make life longer and healthier. Then I ask: will a few meals here and there, that deviate from perfection (as we understand it at present - which is a whole raft of assumptions anyway) really impact my life/health span? I wager not, or super minimally at worst. Meanwhile, look what I gain by being willing to go off the books once in a while - the quality of life skyrockets.

 

The key is to be mindful of what we do. As long as the indulgences are not too much, too often or too long, I think it's all good.

 

I congratulate you on your well-balanced approach, and I'm adding Niagara Falls to my "possible destinations" list (I had assumed - apparently unjustly - that it was just a giant tourist trap). 

Edited by TomBAvoider

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Tom,

 

I'm adding Niagara Falls to my "possible destinations" list (I had assumed - apparently unjustly - that it was just a giant tourist trap). 

 

You definitely should. There were some pretty crassly commercial attractions not far from the falls (haunted mansion, arcades, wax museum, t-shirt shops, Hard Rock Cafe, etc.). We tended to avoid all this, instead opting for the unique experiences the falls have to offer. For you or anyone else interested in a future trip to Niagara falls - here are the things we did, for the record. We went to the Canadian side of the falls, which is supposed to be much nicer with more things to do. Most of the time we parked our car at the hotel and walked to all the attractions, which included:

 

Day 1 - Arrived early afternoon

  • Hike in Niagara Glen nature preserve - beautiful 3mile hike in heavily wooded and rocky area next to the Niagara river. Lots of elevation change. Climbed down on huge rocks next to raging river. Watch jet boats (see below)
  • Ate at Marilyn's Restaurant - Great food. Located in the Tower Hotel overlooking the falls. See above for food pictures and view.
  • Stayed at Courtyard Marriott Niagara Falls - Relatively inexpensive but nice hotel away (but not too far) from the falls. Nice pool and 24/7 workout facility. Reasonable buffet breakfast for $12.50.

Day 2 - Full Day at Niagara Falls

  • Did Hornblower Boat Tour - Get up close and personal with the falls from a boat. Equivalent of the "Maid of the Mist" but leaving from the Canadian side. Did it in early morning to avoid crowd. Definitely get wet!
  • Journeyed Behind the falls - Get up even closer to the falls. Get even wetter!
  • Did the 4D Theater Experience called Niagara's Fury - Learned about the history of the falls via 360 movie complete with shaking floor and spraying water. Fun way to get out of the hot weather!
  • Stopped for a bite to eat at Elements Cafe - I had coffee and enjoyed the view while wife and daughter ate lunch. Great food.
  • Visited the Butterfly Conservatory - Amazing number of beautiful butterflies. Many landed on me and my family. Great photo ops!
  • Hiked to Floral Clock - Farther than it looks on the map from Butterfly Conservatory (~2mile walk). Not worth the trip, although good exercise and good opportunity to view hydro power plant up close
  • Ate at Skylon Tower Restaurant - Rotating restaurant. Food not quite as good for vegans as Marilyn's, but cool to be in a rotating restaurant, and neat outdoor observation deck. 
  • Rode Huge Ferris Wheel - Cool way to view the falls!
  • Watched Fireworks over the Falls - I actually didn't see this (went to bed). Wife and daughter  said it was underwhelming as firework displays go. About 5 minutes long. 

Day 3 - Full Day at Niagara on the Lake

  • Drove to Niagara on the Lake - Quaint little village in the heart of wine country about 25min from falls. Great for wine tours, although we didn't partake. Also lots of little shops, which we visited briefly.
  • Rode 15 miles on paved bike trail back towards falls - My daughter and I rented a tandem bike (wife went on her own bike) at Zoom Rentals. Tandem was fun and a lot of good exercise. Scenic route past old fort (Fort George), past vineyards, and along river.
  • Did Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour - This was the absolute highlight of the trip. Sat in front row - nicknamed the "tsunami row". Expect to get completely drenched and thrilled, while learning lots of neat history about the falls.
  • Wandered around shops at Niagara on the Lake - Upscale tourist town. Lots of eateries, ice cream parlors, boutique clothing, antiques, Olive oil store, etc.
  • Stayed at Oban Inn Boutique Hotel - Bed and Breakfast feel, but with a fine restaurant, private pool, state-of-the-art exercise facility open 24 hours.
  • Ate at Oban Inn Restaurant - Great food. Plus we got $40 voucher to eat there since we were staying at the hotel. Can't beat that! See above for food pictures.
  • Hiked 1h round trip to Fort Mississauga - Short hike after dinner not too far from the Oban Inn. Neat old fort. Would have liked to have visited Fort George as well which is much larger and more historic, but ran out of time.

As you can see, it was an action packed 2.5 day vacation! We had a great time and I highly recommend it. Again I have to give a hat tip to my wife, who planned our terrific itinerary.

 

--Dean

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Dean, this is great sharing. Thanks!

 

How often do you vacation with your family every year? Are your vacations all or mostly active and outdoor?

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Hi Grace,

 

I'm pretty much a homebody and don't travel very much. Usually once or twice a year with family. Between the CR Conference and this recent trip to Niagara Falls, it's been a busy travel year for me!

 

--Dean

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When we were returning from our trip to Niagara, the guard at the Canada/US border asked "Are you bringing anything back with you?"

 

My reply, "Only fond memories."

 

My wife and daughter laughed at my corny sentiment, and I'm not sure the guard was amused. But it was true. Here is one of them - spending time with my daughter Kendall during our dinner at the Skylon Tower Restaurant. The girl over my right shoulder looks pretty awestruck by the view of the falls ☺.

 

--Dean

 

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Here is one more of the whole family, with a beautiful view of the falls in the background, from our table at Marilyn's Restaurant located at the top of the Tower Hotel. 

 

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