Vacation Eats

Eating clean at home with three young children is hard but on vacation it’s nearly impossible. By eating clean I mean as little processed food as possible and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. As hard as I try to find “real food” on our travels we rely heavily on “road fare” to keep us going.

It starts with the plane ride. Going through the airport I scope out some fresh fruit that can easily be packed for the trip. Besides fruit the options are fairly limited. And since it is vacation, we also settle on some decadent pastry and extra-large coffees for Brian and myself to get through the flight. So far so good. An hour into flying things break down as the kids get bags of processed snacks from the smiling stewardesses. And let’s face it, at 30,000 feet in the air I’m willing to do all it takes to keep them happy and quiet. Doritos at 9am? No problem!

Once we land things get even harder. Hungry children on the road seem to need cheese and bread in enormous quantities to keep them on the move. So we find “family friendly” restaurants aka loud, greasy food joints with large TVs. And it’s a good thing most serve pink lemonade (in 24 oz. cups) because the kids usually need a serious pick me up.

One memorable meal was at a brick oven pizza place. We had breadsticks, then pizza, followed by the house special dessert called Beach Balls, pizza dough ball covered in sugar and Nutella. Okay, it was ridiculously good but I think I had my carb quota for the entire month just in that meal. And I wasn’t going to admit it but we had the same meal later in the week, minus the balls, but double the breadsticks… what can I say those breadsticks were delicious!

Don’t get me wrong – we had a fantastic and much needed week away with the kids. But it’s nice to be back in my own kitchen where we can eat a little healthier! For our first night home I’m making a simple recipe that can be quickly assembled and cooked on a baking sheet. Sort of like throwing things in a slow cooker – toss in and forget about it.

Shrimp & Peppers


1 cup uncooked brown rice, cook according to package directions

3 bell peppers, assorted colors, seeds removed and cut into strips

1 large onion, cut into ½ rings

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp coarse salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 lime, cut into wedges

Marinade for Shrimp

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp coarse salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

2 lbs shrimp, large, peeled and deveined


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss peppers and onions with olive oil, salt and pepper on a large baking sheet.


Bake in oven until peppers are soft and caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Mix halfway through to prevent edges from burning.


Brown rice takes about 40 minutes so once you put the peppers in the oven start cooking the rice.

In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Add shrimp and toss to coat.

When the peppers and onions are done, remove from oven turn up the heat to 450 degrees. Lay the shrimp on top and return baking sheet to oven.


Bake until shrimp are cooked through, about 5-8 minutes and then toss the shrimp, peppers and onions all together.


Serve over rice with a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!


And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Shrimp! The lime gives it an interesting flavor”

Liam (age 5): “I’ll take a pepper but not onions”

Dylan (age 5): “The red peppers are better”

I’m pretty sure they liked the breadsticks better but not a bad verdict overall.

6 thoughts on “Vacation Eats

  1. This is a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it. We are big on shrimp and veggies in my house. You think this would roll up well in a tortilla?

  2. You can easily roll in a tortilla, that is what Shrimp Fajitas are. You can wrap in wontons and bake them or saute shrimp then put in wantons and cook in chicken broth, shrimp can be added to anything or serve as the star of any recipe…Pepper shrimp looks great…instead of rice you can put it over whole grain pasta or every kid’s favorite, elbow macaroni. We use Dreamfields because it is lower in carbs, higher in fiber and protein and taste is so good.
    Love, J & B

  3. Tried this last night-it was a hit with everyone and super easy to make. Will add it to our rotation! We love cumin in our house, but any suggestions on alternate seasonings for the shrimp to mix things up?

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