Eating Healthy While Traveling: Tips From Food Network Star Sunny Anderson

Sunny Anderson

I’m on the road a lot: In the past week alone, I traveled from Seaside to work events in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Portland. Eating healthy food while traveling is always a challenge, so I was excited to talk to Food Network star Sunny Anderson about her tips for staying on track while you’re on the go. Check out the video below to see the interview and watch Sunny demo some of her favorite travel-friendly recipes:

Visit AwayFromHomeCooking.com to get more great jet-setting recipes from Sunny!

What is your go-to food when you’re on the road?

Adventures at IFBC!

Last September, I headed up to Seattle to spend three days at The International Food Blogger Conference with Louise. We had fun sampling different eats, drinks and spending time with local blogger friends as well as making some new ones!

Opening breakfast

IFBC mixed meal periods with sessions, with each breakfast and luncheon being accompanied by a talk, while dinner periods were set up like a party with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. During the day, you could pick between sessions on food and blogging topics, and there was an expo hall on the second night that gave attendees a chance to network with the brands in attendance.

Duck slider

Breakfast was at 7 AM on the first day, with a full morning of sessions before lunch at 1 PM. Because of the length of time between meals, all of us foodies in the conference room were getting mighty hungry; and when the final session was a cooking demo from The Chef In the Hat Thierry Rautureau, we were all drooling as we could smell the delicious dishes he was preparing on stage. When it was finally time for lunch, I piled a ridiculous amount of food from the buffet onto my plate and chuckled at the irony of being so hungry during a food event. ;)

Pile 'O Lunch

Lunch was hosted by Ninja Kitchen, who brought out celebrity chef Devin Alexander from The Biggest Loser to give us a demo of what the Nutri Ninja Blender DUO With Auto-IQ could do.

Ninja Demo

One of the big highlights for me was that a selfie I posted for Ninja’s #AddMoreGood contest won me a Nutri Ninja Blender DUO! Talk about an amazing prize!!!

Wine tasting

My favorite session was the wine tasting hosted by Bordeaux Wines. There was a talk going over the basics of pairing food and wine, and then we were broken up into teams and challenged to guess the flavors in the wines we were tasting.


I shouldn't give up my day job to become a wine sommelier, clearly. ;) #ifbc #ifbcbordeaux

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Obviously, I did not win any trophies in this department, but the great thing about wine is that the biggest reward comes through the act of tasting itself. ;)

Another amazing aspect to IFBC was the amount of swag given out in our goodie bags. This is what I came home with:

Swag closeup
I've got swag

And no, I’m not a greedy swag hoarder! As often happens at local conferences, those of us who don’t have to fly home can often take back more than others in attendance who are constrained by flights. You should have seen the pallet of peaches that Louise was given with an enthusiastic, “Here! Take these!”.

And what you see pictured here isn’t even all that I was given, as I gave quite a few boxes away on the train ride home. You see, I had a layover in Portland where I met up with family, so I loaded them up with some Krusteaz mixes and Aneto broth. I was quite a sight to behold as I sweated in my business suit, slowly lugging suitcases and bags full of heavy chicken broth through the train station! At one point, a nice man on the street saw me struggling as I walked towards my sister-in-law’s car, and offered to help carry my bag. I thanked him with a box of chicken broth, naturally. ;)

All told, IFBC was a fun and memorable adventure. I most loved the “Taste of Seattle” expo hall on the second night, where I had a chance to meet and network with the different brands in attendance. The sessions weren’t necessarily on topics that related to me personally, although I appreciated all of the speakers; but I attend conferences primarily to meet people anyway. There were a few organizational snags, as there tend to be at conferences; for example, our attendee handouts emphasized that all conference-goers are warned not to drink to excess, but during the networking event the second evening, there was no water or non-alcoholic beverages anywhere – not even a fountain. At one point, I asked one of the brands at a booth if they knew where I could get some water, to which they replied, “I don’t think there’s any water, but here – have a glass of wine!” So wine and martinis were our exclusive source of hydration, which was fine with me, but I did find amusing given our warning about drinking. ;) And if you hadn’t guessed already, you should be reading my blog with a tongue planted firmly in cheek!


Having a great time with @momstart at #IFBC!

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Have you been to IFBC before?

Heading to IFBC!

International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

I’m heading to Seattle tomorrow to attend 2014 The International Food Blogger Conference! I’m excited for some great eats, great drinks, and neat sessions on food photography, recipe development, social media, and everything else blogworthy. I’ll be recapping what I learn right here on Cooking Catastrophe, so if you won’t be there, you can get a “Taste” of it through my blog. But if you’re anywhere in the area, you should check it out and say “Hi” to me in person! Tickets are available at Foodista.com/IFBC and are $95 for bloggers.

Will you be at IFBC this year? Leave a comment and let me know if I’ll see you there!

Quiche Lorraine Recipe

I had a lot of culinary adventures during my second trip to France in 2005, but not the kind you’d imagine. Traveling with a frugal mindset on a 21-year-old’s budget, my resourcefulness is what allowed me to finance the trip, so instead of going to 5-star French restaurants, I opted for more cost-effective dining. I’ll never forget eating le cheeseburger at a McDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe, looking out of a huge glass window at the bustling traffic below.

During my time in Paris, I stayed at a hostel which had a shared kitchen area with a microwave. I stopped by a nearby grocery store to get something for dinner, and ended up with a microwavable quiche. It wasn’t the greatest-tasting meal, but the experience was all part of the adventure and something I’ll always remember! So when I got an email with this Quiche Lorraine recipe, it brought back those memories. I’m sure it tastes miles better than the quiche I ate in that dingy hostel! :D

Quiche Lorraine

Do you have any special memories of food eaten during travels?

Fried Gator & Other Florida Food

Fried gator

Dining & travel consideration provided by Experience Kissimmee.

At the beginning of April, I took an unforgettable trip to Florida, marking my first time in the state. Whenever I visit a new place, I love sampling area dishes and local specialties. I feel I achieved this in spades when my group ate lunch at The Catfish Place, where I ordered the most Southern dish I could find on the menu:

Fried catfish and grits

Fried catfish and shrimp with hush puppies, fries, cheese grits, fried alligator, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, and a tall glass of sweet tea. I wasn’t too keen on the grits, but I liked everything else, including the gator – which tastes like chicken, of course.

Food at Medieval Times

Another novel experience was Medieval Times, a “Dinner and a show” experience where you watch a joust while eating chicken with your hands – no cutlery allowed!

Steak at Meliá Orlando

Dessert at Meliá Orlando

We also ate at more conventional local restaurants, enjoying a fantastic steak dinner at Meliá Orlando – so tender, you didn’t even need a steak knife!

1905 Salad at Columbia Restaurant

I also had a chance to try the famous 1905 Salad at Columbia Restaurant!

Caesar Salad

Lasagna

Tiramisu

We were also treated to having personal chef Linda Page come to our vacation home and cook us a delicious dinner of lasagna and Tiramisu!

Chocolate Kingdom cocoa beans

We got a little “Taste” of food history at Chocolate Kingdom, where we got a crash course on the origin of chocolate along with a tour of Chocolate Kingdom’s candy-making facility. I got a chance to dip a marshmallow in a vat of chocolate, which was fun!

Sweet Escape Treats

More Sweet Escape Snacks

Speaking of my sweet tooth, I really enjoyed nibbling on these goodies from the Sweet Escape Cookie Company during a Twitter party that we held!

Gator jerky

Finally, I bought a couple of sticks of Gator Bob’s alligator jerky at Wild Florida for souvenirs. I got it as more of a novelty gift, Jai said it was actually some of the best jerky he’s ever had!

So tell me: Would you try alligator meat?

Chicago Culinary Adventures

Cucumber Salad

Travel, accommodation, and most food provided by The Chicago Auto Show. Pizza provided by me. ;)

Earlier this month, I headed to the Windy City for the Chicago Auto Show. As tends to be the case when I travel, I sampled all kinds of interesting food during my trip!

When I arrived at the airport, I was met by a limo which took me to the hotel. It was stocked with beer and Tootsie Rolls – my kind of ride!

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, where I found a package of Terry’s Toffee: Lemon Paradise waiting for me. I love toffee and I’d never had a citrus variety before. Yum!!

To welcome us to the auto show, Nissan hosted a reception the first evening that featured a variety of appetizers, taco bar, and a slider bar.

Gyro Cone

These were the first appetizers I tried when I arrived – yes, it’s a terrible photo, but I was too hungry to care. ;) The dim, red lighting in the building made it so that I really couldn’t tell whether the little cone the waiter handed me was a mini chocolate ice cream, or a savory cone filled with Gyro meat. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “We’ll see” – and it was indeed beef and not ice cream. It was delicious, and also hilarious to not know whether I was about to taste meat or chocolate!

Beer Van

Beers on tap

Nissan beer van

Another memorable part of the night was the fact that they had a beer van on hand!

Toyota

The next morning, I attended a breakfast hosted by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. We dined on a breakfast buffet including red velvet muffins while listening to a number of talks, including one from Robert Carter, the Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. He discussed everything from Toyota’s 2014 sales forecast to why you should never let a NASCAR driver borrow your car.

Toyota Test Track

Toyota Highlander 2014

After breakfast, I had a busy morning full of press conferences and displays to view at the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview, from the Toyota Test Track and Muppets SUV to the debut of Captain America’s car. This helped me work up my appetite for the Economic Club of Chicago Luncheon.

Salad

We were served a pretty cucumber salad, some chicken that I wasn’t crazy about, and dessert. No one seemed to like the hazelnut macaroons but me!

Hazelnut Macaroon

The main speaker for this luncheon was Joseph Hinrichs, Executive Vice President & President of The Americas at Ford Motor Company. I also heard him speak during a lunch in December when I attended a Ford News Briefing in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford

After lunch, I spent some time gawking at the million dollar car, and then stopped for a mid-afternoon snack from Chrysler!

Chrysler

The Chrysler 200 Snack Break celebrated the 2015 Chrysler 200 by importing 200 snacks from Detroit. They offered goodies from Sanders Fine Chocolates including chocolate covered espresso beans that kept my energy up during the trip home and yummy chocolate fudge bumpy cake that was a big hit with everyone! I also brought home a bag of pistachios as a souvenir for Jai, and unfortunately I’m not sure who made those since we threw out the bag.

Later that day, several friends and I decided to get a cab to Giordano’s Pizza for dinner. I was excited to see another tiny piece of Chicago during a packed trip, and I couldn’t wait to have my first taste of real Chicago pizza!

Giordano's Pizza

I ordered a traditional deep dish Chicago-style pizza, and it was everything I could have hoped for! So, so, so good! The thick crust was truly a “Pizza pie” and smothered in so much cheese – heavenly! I was absolutely, positively stuffed after one slice, but I insisted on a to-go box even though I wasn’t sure if I’d have room to take it home. You know how much I hate wasting food!

The day closed out with the Subaru Sweet Home Chicago 2014 party. This shindig had snacks by the barrel-full – and I mean that literally:

I was sorry that I was so unbelievably stuffed from the pizza, because they had so many delicious-looking goodies on hand! As the evening went on, I eventually made room to try a Subaru lollipop:

Or to be more accurate, a gluten-free, caramel-coated chocolate lollipop with sea salt. I’ve never been too big on the idea of salt and chocolate, but this was so good that I had seconds even though I was still full from the pizza. I also had an RC Cola Chocolate Cupcake!

After a late night at the party, I got about an hour of sleep and then got ready for the WOMMA “Driving Engagement” Award Ceremony & Breakfast. The most memorable part of my breakfast was the fact that it ended up all over the floor! There were no tables, and trying to eat off your lap while listening to a speaker and taking notes/photos = awkward. The disaster actually occurred before the ceremony started, when I put my plate down on my chair, since there was no where else to put it, and left the room for a minute. The chair appeared to be a flat surface, but apparently after I turned my back, the plate slid right off and splattered all over the floor! Several other media cleaned it up and Louise fixed me another plate, so when I got back I had no idea what happened until they told me. I sure know how to make an impression!

We had a little more time to look around, and then it was time to head back home. Since Louise and I had flights leaving around the same time, we had time to get lunch in the airport. We decided on Chili’s, and I had a very memorable adventure in the middle of the meal. I asked the waitress where the restroom was, and she said something about it being around the corner, but I looked and couldn’t see anything. I had to ask a second time, and she pointed across the restaurant to the rest of the airport, where I spotted a men’s room sign. I made my way out of the restaurant and towards the sign, and I saw that the men’s and women’s rooms were divided by a revolving door. So, I walked through the door, used the ladies’ room, and then headed back for the door when I saw a security officer who said, “You can’t go back through there – you left the secure area. You have to go through security again.” What?! As it turned out, there was yet another restroom that was hidden around the opposite corner that the waitress was talking about, but since she was pointing at a different sign to a second bathroom on the other side, I didn’t realize there was more than one. And for whatever inexplicable reason, the airport thought it was a great idea to split up the restrooms so that the men’s room was inside the secure area, but the women’s room was not. As I discovered later, there was a sign on the very opposite side warning that you were about to leave the secure area, but since there wasn’t one near the revolving door I exited, I had zero idea. I was panicking about having to go through security again since the first line had been so long – will I miss my flight? What is Louise going to do, stuck inside the restaurant with my suitcase? All I can say is thank goodness I took my purse with me, or I wouldn’t have had my ID and boarding pass. Mercifully, the second time through security was way faster and I made it back over to the restaurant in maybe 20 minutes. My food had naturally arrived by then and was a bit on the cold side, but it was still pretty tasty. ;)

That day proved to be very adventurous all around, since I arrived back in Portland to a freak snowstorm that made the roads impassable. Since Jai couldn’t come to pick me up – as the storm continued, Portland ended up issuing an emergency warning advising everyone to stay home because it was so dangerous – my awesome soon-to-be-in-laws ended up braving the road in chains so that I could stay at their house until the snow melted. I ended up snowed in Portland from Friday night until Monday morning! It was crazy – the only clothes I had with me were thin business suits, so I ended up having to borrow clothes from my sister-in-law so I wouldn’t freeze. When the roads cleared enough on Monday morning that the busses started running again, I layered pajama pants with one of my suits so I wouldn’t be cold on the way home! ;) But the funniest part? I did manage to take my Giordano’s leftovers with me, since my suitcase conveniently has a pizza-box size pocket. I ended up eating my delicious leftovers over the course of several days while I was snowed in the house. Pizza: The perfect sustenance for snowstorms! ;)

National Mustard Day at The National Mustard Museum – August 3rd, 2013

National Mustard Day

Since this is a post about National Mustard Day at the National Mustard Museum, I am being compensated for this post with bottles of mustard. :D

Did you know that there is such a thing as the National Mustard Museum? This new museum is based in Middleton, Wisconsin and is the most comprehensive building dedicated to this condiment that I’m aware of! And what better way to celebrate than with a big party on – you guessed it – National Mustard Day, which takes place from 10 AM to 4 PM on August 3rd, 2013. There will be opening ceremonies presided over by “Dr. Mustard” and appearances from the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and the French’s Mustard Man – no word on if the Duchess of Mustard will be in attendance – along with magic, music from the Red Hot Horn Dawgs (I wonder if they’ll play “Mean Mr. Mustard”?), a “Mustard games” fundraiser, free mustard samples, and free hot dogs (Donations encouraged). They do note that mustard is required on the free dogs; but really, if you don’t like mustard, why would you go to the National Mustard Museum in the first place?

If you want to check out all the mustard fun, you can click here for more details on the event. If I were near Wisconsin I would so be there! If you’re too far away to visit, like me, then you can visit Frenchs.com for mustard recipes you can make this Saturday to commemorate National Mustard Day at home.

A Taste of Cody: Sampling Wyoming Food

Dining & travel consideration provided by the Buffalo Bill Center of The West.

I just got back from my first visit to Wyoming, and I feel like I ate my way through the state! Each day, I was taken to a variety of local Cody eateries for a true Western experience.

Chamberlin Inn Spirits Lounge

After arriving at our hotel, the Chamberlin Inn, our group converged in their Spirits Lounge Conservatory, a beautiful space overlooking their courtyard. I enjoyed a selection of yummy cracker and fruit appetizers, and was served red wine in a very large goblet.

Cassie's Supper Club

A few hours later we headed to Cassie’s Supper Club, a restaurant with a very colorful history. Its founder, Cassie, found herself penniless after suddenly becoming a widow and had no way of supporting herself; so she opened this building as a combination restaurant and brothel. In later years when prostitution was outlawed in Wyoming, she converted in into a restaurant-only. It’s a very rootin’-tootin’ atmosphere, with a bar that was filled with cowboys doing karaoke and saucy decor.

Wall decor at Cassie's Supper Club

There were a number of appetizers ordered, including Elk Medallions. After looking over the menu and finding out what was on the “Hangover Burger”, I instantly knew I had to have it!

Hangover Burger

This burger had two beef patties, fried onions, huge mushrooms, 4 kinds of cheese, peppers, pickles, red onions, tomato, lettuce, and probably a few other ingredients I’m forgetting because holy cow, was there a lot of stuff on this burger! The portion was massive and served with a huge pile of fries as well. I was sorry that I had but one stomach to give for this burger as there was no way I could come close to finishing it. Of everything I ate while I was in Cody, I think this took first place as my favorite meal!

Breakfast at Buffalo Bill Center of The West

The next morning, we headed over to the Buffalo Bill Center of The West and were served a special “Media-only” breakfast in their Sculpture Garden, right by Buffalo Bill’s childhood home. I enjoyed a cream pastry, fruit, and scrambled eggs with coffee.

Proud Cut Saloon & Steakhouse

For lunch, we headed over to the Proud Cut Saloon & Steakhouse for some “Kick Ass Cowboy Cuisine”. After carefully considering the menu, I couldn’t help but order this:

Jalapeño burger & garlic fries

This is a jalapeño burger served with garlic fries. I’ve developed a real taste for spicy stuff in recent years and the garlic fries sealed the deal for me, since I’m crazy about garlic. It was quite good – the jalapeños had a bit of a kick but were not uncomfortably hot, just the way I like them. I would put this as my second favorite meal of the trip.

Chuckwagon Cooking

As we toured the Buffalo Bill Center of The West that afternoon, we had a chance to visit a Chuckwagon to sample some traditional cowboy cooking! I tried a taste of biscuit and beans. The beans were served cold and were pretty plain, as you’d imagine, since they didn’t have the luxury of being big foodies back in the Wild West; but I thought it was really fun!

Local Cody brews

For dinner, we visited the Geyser Brewing Co. I was eager to try some local beer and had one of their light home brews, which had a really nice, almost sweet taste. Our group also ordered samplers of all their beers, which were served in these adorable miniature mugs. All of the beer was excellent, including one dark brew that tasted like coffee. That may sound weird, but I thought it was great.

Elk & Buffalo Burger

For dinner, I ordered….a burger. Yes, I know – at this point, it had become a running joke that I was getting a burger at every meal! But I couldn’t help the fact that each restaurant offered such tasty-looking hamburgers. This time, I got an elk & buffalo burger, because I had never tried buffalo meat before and it seemed like an appropriate meal to order in cowboy country. The meat patty was very large and the bun – which I believe was sourdough and was quite nice – was also large. I actually had a hard time getting it in my mouth, and keep in mind that I was eating it with a knife and fork and cutting into small pieces! I thought the meal was pretty good; the meat wasn’t too different from beef, I think the biggest difference was that it tasted saltier to me. At this point in the trip, we had been fed so much that any shred of appetite I had was gone, so I almost feel like it’s a bit unfair on the restaurants that I reviewed later in the trip since my tastebuds were a little overloaded from all the food and I don’t think I could appreciate it as much!

Irma Hotel

For our final breakfast in Cody, we headed to the Irma Hotel. Built by Buffalo Bill in 1902 and named after his favorite daughter, this building is full of history. We got a tour through the Irma and heard of some its history and anecdotes – including the room that used to be Buffalo Bill’s office and is now the ladies’ room!

I opted for the breakfast buffet, which I forgot to take a picture of because I was too busy eating. ;) The buffet had a large selection of food – I got biscuits and gravy, bacon, a sausage portion, a small pancake and a half piece of french toast. The most intriguing dish on the buffet was the bread pudding with whiskey sauce, which I was very much looking forward to. I have a funny story about this, because after dishing up the pudding and pouring some whiskey sauce on top, I saw a large bowl next to jams and syrups of what I thought was fluffy whipped cream. I scooped a generous helping over my pudding and sat down to eat – and I thought the flavor was very strange. “Is your pudding spicy?” I asked Emily of Clever Housewife, who was sitting in front of me. She said no, and I suspected that I had mistaken a savory condiment for whipped cream. I went back for a small bowl of pudding so that I could actually taste how it was supposed to be, and I saw the lady in front of my reaching for the same whipped cream to put on her pudding. “Don’t put that on there, it’s horseradish sauce!” the owner warned her. I had eaten a whole portion of bread pudding covered in horseradish sauce! ;) This cracked me up, and I felt better to know that other people were mistaking it for whipped cream as well. The placement of the bowl next to the jams and sweets was throwing us all off!

Once I got an unadulterated bowl of pudding, it was quite good. The sauce tasted of a strong whiskey – I really liked it! The rest of the food was OK, although I think we got to the buffet when some of the items weren’t as fresh. Of course, it didn’t help that I ended up smearing horseradish sauce all over my pancakes and bread pudding, so I’d like to try their buffet again sometime on an empty stomach without the horseradish as I think I’d enjoy it a lot more. ;)

That afternoon, we experienced the Plains Indian Museum Powwow at the Buffalo Bill Center of The West. We were provided with vouchers to sample whatever we liked at the food vendors as we explored during the afternoon. One of the vendors had a choice between a hot dog meal and a burger meal. Can you guess what I got?

Buffalo Burger

That’s right, I went 4 for 4 and got my final buffalo burger of the trip! Here’s another anecdote: I had planned on getting the burger & fries meal, and when I placed my order, I said “Burger and chips” without even thinking about. What we call “Fries” in America we call “Chips” in England, and I have to actively remind myself to say “Fries” so that I don’t confuse people. “Chips” slipped out without me even thinking about it, so I had to laugh when I got the bag of Lay’s – that’s what happens when a Brit visits the Wild West! ;) I could have easily changed my order, but I actually decided that I liked this better because I could put the Lay’s in my bag and take them home. I was SO FULL at this point that I had a hard time even finishing the burger, so I’m glad I didn’t have to waste any more food! As for the buffalo burger itself, it was alright – about what you would expect from fairground-type food. I ate mine plain because I didn’t see the condiments, which would have made it better – I was pretty overheated at this point from the hot day and not too motivated to get back up from my picnic table to add anything to the burger. ;)

Frybread

I also had a chance to sample some Frybread for the first time. These are similar to Elephant Ears – served plain, you can add powdered sugar as I did or a savory topping. I could have gotten an Indian Taco as well, but they were HUGE and I knew there was no way I could eat more than a bite. I’m not about to order food just to throw it away – I felt bad enough that I couldn’t take my leftovers home from the restaurants! – so I hope to try it another time, since it looked very good!

It was a really neat trip and I very much enjoyed sampling all of this Wyoming food. And I’m still full! ;)