Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Cherries hold a special place in my heart. My summers as a kid included afternoons of relaxing around my grandmother’s home in Alabama and snacking on fresh cherries with my aunt who’s only a few years older than me. I can’t forget about all those desserts that are topped with cherries. As I grew older, cherries could be found in my cocktails. However, I never considered the healthy aspects of snacking on cherries and quite frankly have taken them for granted. Now that I have my own children, health when snacking is something I take seriously, especially on all those family road trips we like to take.

    dried cherriesI recently received a number of dried cherry packets to sample with my family. I’ve not only shared them with friends and family, but we’ve all been sneaking a cherry here and there because they taste like candy. We decided to make a trail mix as a healthy road trip snack with cherries and even gave the recipe and some cherries to our neighbor who is soon taking a two week road trip to Yellowstone.

    The cherries weren’t the only items to arrive in the promotional package. I was also sent a beautiful Kashmere travel set, a Tory Burch small cosmetic case, and a reusable tote from the Cherry Marketing Institute printed with the website www.ChooseCherries.com. All the items are a beautiful cherry red (that even match my car). I checked out the sponsor website and didn’t realize all the benefits of consuming these delicious cherries. Here are some facts that surprised me:

    Jet Lag Relief – I fly frequently, so finding out that cherries are rich in melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the natural sleep cycle so that weary travelers can be restored to normal sleeping patterns, which eases jet lag.

    Pain Relief – Cherries are particularly rich in anthocyanins – compounds that researchers have linked to reduced inflammation in the body. This means that arthritis and other inflammatory diseases can possibly be managed with cherry juice or the actual cherry itself. They’ve also been known to help runners recover more quickly post-race.

    Good for your Heart – Cherries are considered a “Super Fruit” and some studies have shown that consuming cherries helps reduce infection and inflammation due to heart disease.

    I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, but I do know one thing – cherries taste really good! I’ll be making a conscious effort to make cherries part of our daily culinary routine and make sure that we pack them along on our future travels. In fact, I just may take a visit to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI being held in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to bring along a pack of cherries to snack on during my travels. Be sure to check out www.ChooseCherries.com for more information on the health benefits of cherries or to find a few tasty recipes for travel and home.

    Want to try some delicious cherries and get your hands on the designer items mentioned in this post? Check out ChooseCherries.com and leave a comment stating which recipe on the site is your favorite. One winner will be randomly chosen through Random.org. Contest closes Monday, June 28 at 11:59 pm CST with winner being announced sometime the next day. Open to US residents 18 years of age or older. Prize is (1) Tory Burch small cosmetic bag in red, (1) Kashmere travel set with scarf, socks, eye mask, and pillow case in red, (1) ChooseCherries.com logo reusable tote, and a few samples of cherries. MSRP valued at over $345.00 US.

    Review items and prizes sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute but in no way influenced opinion in this article. The cherries really were delicious!

    Winner Update: Congrats to Leanne, lucky number 13!

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  • Vintage Road Trip Car at California Automobile Museum flickr image by Kari Marie

    Road trips for families with allergies can sometimes be a challenge. But, what’s a mama to do to help keep her kids as safe as possible on a road trip? Most cars build up dust and all sorts of other allergy triggers. I know for our family, even driving through an area where the grass has just been cut can be a trigger and we all start with the watering eyes and coughs.

    One tip that may alleviate allergy triggers on a road trip is be sure and have your air filter changed with your oil. Purolator BreatheEasy Cabin Filters are one option to keep the air inside your family vehicle clean and odor free. Well, free from odors coming from OUTSIDE your vehicle, that is!

    Every vehicle I have owned has had an air filter and I never even realized it! Implementing a cabin air filter can trap out harmful pollutants like; dust, bacteria and mold which can   cause health problems with long term exposure. So if you are embarking on a family road trip, make sure your car is well equipped so you and your kids can breathe easy.

    Nothing is worse than traveling with allergies that act up. Do you have particular tips for dealing with allergies while on a road trip? I’d love to know what solutions you have when away from home on a family vacation or summer holiday with the kids.

    This post is sponsored by Purolator.

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  • A healthy road trip snack option is one of the most popular questions we get from our readers. All of our contributors take nutrition seriously when it comes not only to children, but also the parents. We’ve put together a list of healthy road tips snacks filled with both classics and new items we’ve tested.

    Snack Mix – Before any road trip, we make our own personalized bag of snack mix for each member of the family. All of the ingredients are set out on the counter and each member writes their name on a Ziploc plastic bag and then begins to make their favorite snack mix concoction. Everyone is happy and there are no arguments regarding who ate all the snacks.

    Chips – Yes, there are a few somewhat healthy chip choices out there in Consumerland. I was sent a selection of Pop Chips by the company (free samples), which are available in different flavors at grocery stores in the US. This snack is not fried or baked, but popped and is only 100 calories per serving. I would love to give a first-hand experience of each flavor, but the kids tasted a bag and ended up eating all the samples, save one bag – the cheese flavored Pop Chips. They were delicious! MommyMusings and her family tested out Pringles Multigrain Chips. She says, “The new Multigrain Pringles are light and crispy…I’d say even lighter in texture than the traditional Pringles. The flavors- Cheesy Cheddar, Truly Original and Creamy Ranch were all a hit in my house.”

    Healthy road trip snack - Pop Chips

    Breakfast – This is the most important meal of the day, right? What if you happen to be on the road? Be sure to bring along some fresh fruit, cereal bars, healthy muffins, and even yogurt! ThemeParkMom gives some great vacation breakfast tips along with a review of Yoplait Greek Yogurt.

    Drinks – Hot car rides can really make a traveler thirsty. It’s important to stay hydrated while on the road. Pack an ice chest and fill it with bottled water, fruit juices, or anything remotely good for you. OneMomsWorld is an Aquafina Flavorsplash Mom, meaning she’s tested out the products and is sharing them with her neighborhood. Her husband even liked this hydration option, from her blog – “My hubby is really digging the lemon flavor. The best part is this water is naturally flavored with the different fruits.” I’ve personally been keeping the new Crystal Light PUREFITNESS fitness drink mix packets in my backpack (free sample for review from company). This is an easy and healthy way to replenish your body after hiking with the kids. It is portable, gluten free, and only has 15 calories.

    Cheese – You already have that cooler full of iced down drinks. Why not add some of your family’s favorite cheeses? My kids like to snack on string cheese and those mini cheddar cheese slices. I keep all the cheeses in a plastic container and then set it on top of the drinks. I’m a cheese lover myself, so I make sure to bring along my favorite smoked Gouda, Brie, and whatever local cheeses we pick up along our route. I recently sampled (sent for review from company) a variety of Beemster cheeses and found a new favorite – The X-O- which is crumbly and granular but has a strong flavor that was wonderful!

    Cereal/Granola Bars – This is a little TMI, but travel can make everyone, well, IRREGULAR. Nothing is worse than getting three days into your family vacation and one of the kids starts complaining of stomach pains. You know why – they need to go! Be sure that everyone gets enough fiber in their diets by sneaking it in through granola bars or other means. I recently tried out Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Chewy Bars with Antioxidants. My favorite flavor was peanut butter chocolate, but it comes in other flavors to suit your taste. Special thanks to Kellogg’s who provided free samples for review.

    Healthy Road Trip Snack - Kellogg's Fiber Plus Bars

    Do you have a favorite road trip snack that’s not only healthy, but tastes good too? What are some of your healthy road trip snack tips?

    Disclaimer: Some of the products mentioned were sent by the companies or their representatives. While we get sent many samples to review, we only tell our readers about items we really like.

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  • Is it really a good idea to bring a kid to a casino? It may not be tops on your list for a family vacation, but it is definitely worth looking into. Casinos aren’t just for senior travel anymore.

    A recent conversation about kids and casinos brought to mind my family’s weekend trip to Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, LA. Yup, that’s correct. I used ‘casino’ and ‘family’ in the same sentence, something I thought I’d never do.

    Mr. CajunMama and I heard about Paragon’s new hotel with offerings for families. We decided to call and see if we could get a room, and were fortunate to secure one on a Saturday night. We hit the road after the kids’ basketball games, and were amazed at the glowing towers arising from the sugarcane fields. Little CajunMama commented that she felt like Dorothy entering the Emerald City.

    The parking lot was almost full, due to Creedence Clearwater Revisited holding a concert that night, but Mr. CajunMama found us a spot (he refuses to pay anyone to park his car, but valet parking is available).

    Paragon Gators

    We walked into the lobby, with the kids gasping at the indoor swamp, complete with live alligators and turtles. We found out at check in that the indoor pool closes at 8pm to minors. Since it was five minutes until eight, we knew the swimming option was out for the night. LittleCajunMama (age 9) was dying to go to KidsQuest, a supervised children’s activity center. Her brother (age 11) wasn’t as excited, but he agreed to check it out for TravelingMamas.com. This allowed The Mister and I to enjoy dinner for two at one of the many restaurants available at the resort. Reservations are strongly recommended at Legend’s Steakhouse. We tried to get in, but there was an hour wait. We ended up at Roxy’s, a fifties-style diner where we enjoyed burgers and shakes. We put a few dollars in the slots, but it just wasn’t our night. We ended up going to check on the kids at KidsQuest. Our son was ready to go, but LittleCajunMama begged to stay and play. We let her play for another twenty minutes.

    We purchased an in-room movie on the flat screen tv before hitting the sack in our super-luxurious rooms. The kids woke us up at 7:30 am, ready for breakfast and the indoor pool. They also begged to see a movie at the on-site movie theater, but the movies only play in the evenings. Breakfast was a steal at Roxy’s, which we found out offers a kid menu. Our family of four had a full breakfast for a total of $14.00US. What a deal!

    The rest of the morning was spent enjoying the indoor lagoon pool with fountains, waterfalls, and hot tub. We were reluctant to leave Marksville and extended the day by visiting the nearby Marksville State Historic Site, which is a recognized archeological site. Not many visitors were there, so we ended up exploring the area of the bluffs and mounds with no one to bother us. We had such a wonderful time that the kids are asking when they can go to the “casino” again.

    Rating of KidsQuest: 5/5 for 10 and under | 3/5 for 11 and 12 year olds

    Rating of Arcade: 5/5 for 13-17 year olds | 4/5 for families

    Rating of Indoor Pool: 5/5 for all around coolness by both kids. The littlest one loved Paragon Casino Resort so much, she asked to go back for her birthday.

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