Forget Room Service, Groceries Now Delivered Straight To Your Hotel Room

Grocery Delivery
Rakka, Flickr

It used to be that if you wanted to cook while on vacation, you had to stay in an apartment, campground or other special facility that included a kitchen. But now, even traditional hotels are giving travelers the chance to enjoy healthy snacks and home-cooked meals thanks to the rise of grocery delivery services.

USA Today reports that increasing numbers of hotels are arranging food deliveries for guests, including fresh groceries. Some hotels are offering snack kits, including things like Greek yoghurt, chips and salsa, fresh fruit and vegetables. Other hotels will deliver pre-made meals that just need to be zapped for a few minutes in a microwave, and some will bring pizza to your door to satisfy late night cravings. Many of the food packages offered at hotels can be customized for travelers with special dietary needs, such as those who are gluten-free or who suffer from allergies.We told you recently about the death of room service in the hotel industry, and the grocery delivery trend seems to be a way of giving guests the ability to still enjoy food in their rooms. Hotels save money by shedding the expense of running room service and guests no longer have to rely on the stale (and pricy) peanuts in the mini bar.

What do you think? Would you take advantage of this service?

Knocked up abroad: second trimester travel

second trimester travel

Not far along enough for second trimester travel? Read more about pregnancy in a foreign country, Turkish prenatal care, travel in the first trimester,Turkish superstitions, and foreign baby names on Knocked up abroad.

A few years ago, before the word staycation foisted itself into the travel lexicon, babymoons were all the rage. A babymoon typically referred to the last getaway for expecting parents, often a deluxe resort vacation replete with couples’ massages, room service, and lots of pampering. I’ve spent my my pre-baby travel slightly differently, exploring post-Soviet museums before needing a stroller, eating at restaurants that have never heard of kids’ menus, and learning what non-alcoholic drinks are on offer in local dive bars. Living abroad in Istanbul has also changed my short-haul destinations considerably. In the first trimester, my husband and I traveled to Kiev and Warsaw, Russia in the dead of winter, and to Frankfurt for the Christmas markets, and I don’t regret having gone without the his-and-hers massages. For second trimester travel, I found Singapore to be nearly ideal: the food and shopping are epic, the street food is safe, and the people polite and helpful. Though the hotel prices and high temperatures can be hard to deal with, the Southeast Asian city-state is a nice balance of relaxation and city exploration.

Ask any new parent or doctor and they will tell you that the second trimester is the best time to travel, after the early days of morning sickness have passed and before you get so uncomfortable that a walk around the block feels like a marathon. Given the relative comfort level, the second trimester is also the best time for longer trips further from home. I flew 10 hours home to New York (my first trip back to the US in 10 months) in late February at 20 weeks, and just returned from a week in Malaysia and Singapore at 27 weeks. Today I hit the 28-week mark of pregnancy, a big milestone as it means the end of unrestricted air travel. For many international airlines, including Turkish Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas, you are required to bring a doctor’s note certifying you are fit to fly overseas. We all want to avoid childbirth on a plane, even if it could mean free flights for life.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from travel in the second trimester:

  • Travel when you are showing: Part of what makes first trimester travel tough is that no one knows you are pregnant other than you and your travel companions. Exhausted and need a seat? Tough luck, lady, we’re all tired. Need to make sure that foreign drink is non-alcoholic? Better stick to (bottled) water. While my friends cooed over my five-month baby bump, not a single person gave me a seat on the NYC subway in a week of rides, even when I unzipped my winter coat and looked longingly at strangers. Two months later in Singapore, I barely stepped onto a train before several people offered me a seat and every car has a few reserved seat for passengers in need.
  • Don’t skip the creature comforts: Even if you skip the traditional resort babymoon, you should still give yourself a break when traveling. When booking air travel, if you can find a way to upgrade yourself to business class, you’ll be glad to stretch out even if you can’t sip that free champagne. Coming from rainy and chilly Istanbul, a week in tropical Southeast Asia seemed heavenly, but walking around in humid 90-degree weather felt more like hell. I must agree with my food blogger friend Kate over at Savour Fare who said that “swimming pools are God’s gift to pregnant women.” Staying at a hotel with a pool gave me much-needed relief in between wandering the historic (but seriously hot) streets of Penang, Malaysia.
  • Bring documentation: As noted before, many airlines require a doctor’s note for women to fly between 28 and 35 weeks. But how do you prove how far along you are in the earlier weeks? At my last doctor’s appointment before flying to Asia, I asked for a note allowing me to travel just in case, having heard that Malaysia sometimes restricts entry to pregnant women in later months for fear that they will give birth in the country. Good thing I did as nearly every Turkish Airlines personnel asked me for my medical report: when checking in, at the gate, and on the plane. If you’re traveling internationally after 20 weeks, play it safe and bring a note.
  • Do half as much: For first trimester travel, I noted that you should realize your limits have changed. Though energy levels may increase in the second trimester, jet lag and extreme weather still take a major toll. I had a long to-do list in Singapore but could barely manage half the things. I scoffed at paying for the tram at the zoo, but in hindsight, it would have been much easier and more comfortable to get around Singapore’s massive animal park. Even if you normally avoid overpriced museum cafes, they might provide the break you need to stay a little longer. Taxis are another friend of pregnant women, especially when they are air-conditioned.
  • Buy local snacks: Pregnancy is a double-edged sword when it comes to eating: your hunger is greatly increased but you have to watch what you put into your body, whether you’re in a foreign country or not. Often flights arrive late at night or you mistime your lunch break when all the restaurants are closed, leaving you without many food options. Penang is known as Malaysia’s food capital but I had to make different choices for safety’s sake and avoid some of the famed street food, though Singapore’s hawker centers are quite hygienic even when you are eating for two. A visit to a supermarket can provide an expecting traveler with a range of unusual but safe food. Each night in Asia I tried different bottled drinks, from the tasty calamansi juice to the vile lemon-barley drink. Having a stash of local snacks made me feel better about staying safe with street food while still enjoying products only found in Malaysia. America needs to get with the Kit Kat drumstick ice cream cone, though I’m not so sure about the blueberry-and-hazelnut Pringles.
  • Dress for comfort: Nearly all pregnant women experience swelling in the hands and feet, particularly in the last few months. Air travel, salty foods, and humidity exacerbate this, so halfway through my vacation, I worried I’d burst out of my shoes like the Incredible Hulk. If you’re traveling to a hot place, pack shoes that give you a bit of room and remove your rings before flying (good opportunity to find a nice necklace to wear them on). Also be sure to dress in cool clothing that still provides coverage to avoid (or protect) sunburn.

With three months to go, there’s still more Knocked up abroad to come, stay tuned for more on pregnancy travel.

Photo of the day (9.30.10)


It’s 5 o’clock, a near-universally accepted time for happy hour. Flickr user t3mujin snapped this beer ad-worthy pic in Madeira, off the coast of Portugal and notes that the snacks in the background are tremoços or Lupin beans.The legumes are typically pickled, eaten with or without the skin, and served with beers in a pub. Here in Istanbul, drink snacks may include a bowl of nuts, cherries or other bite-sized fruits, or sliced cucumbers and carrots in a salty solution. Around many outdoor bars, vendors sell small plates of almonds or walnuts on ice, with the ice helping to peel the skins off and removing the bitterness of the nut. All of them pair well with a cold beer in summer.

Eat any good drink snacks on your travels? Send your shots to Gadling’s Flickr group and we might use one for a future Photo of the Day.

Road trip: Healthy snacks that satisfy your kids’ cravings

Taking a family road trip is one of the great experiences each summer, but when hunger sits in the car quickly turns from family fun to ravished scavengers looking for a feed. Thankfully, with a little pre-planning and preparation, you can avoid the fast-food rest stops and offer everyone in your car a fun and healthy snack to keep them satisfied on the road.

We gathered our Seed.com writers and asked them to submit their favorite road-trip snacks. Next time you head out on the road, consider one of these yummy treats that travel well, taste good and are a healthy alternative to greasy french fries and milkshakes (just don’t tell the kids).

Peppy Popcorn

12 cups air popped popcorn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
cooking spray

Mix salt and chili powder in small bowl. Spread popcorn out on large baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt mixture. Stir popcorn to coat evenly. Scoop into sealable plastic bags. Makes 12 – 1 cup servings.

Not Quite Kettle Corn

12 cups air popped popcorn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
cooking spray

Mix salt and powdered sugar in small bowl. Spread popcorn out on large baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Stir popcorn to coat evenly. Scoop into sealable plastic bags. Makes 12 – 1 cup servings.

Contributed by Mary Berg


Apricot Bars

1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup uncooked quick oats
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
15 dried apricot halves (diced)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 Coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking spary
Mix dry ingredients (wheat flour, brown sugar, quick oats, sunflower seeds)
Whisk in butter and eggs
Mix in diced apricot halves to batter
Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top
Bake 20 minutes or until bars are firm
Cool and cut into bar size of your choice

Contributed by Melissa Johnson


Peanut Butter Banana Tortillas

This easy to make recipe is both filling and nutritious. As an added bonus, you don’t have to refrigerate this snack since there are no ingredients that will spoil. Whether you’re planning a road trip for adults or your entire family, everyone can enjoy this fun snack.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Flour tortillas
Peanut butter
Bananas
Crushed walnuts

1. Spread peanut butter on one side of a flour tortilla.
2. Chop a banana into thin slices and place the slices on top of the peanut butter.
3. Sprinkle crush walnuts over the bananas and peanut butter.
4. Roll the tortilla up like you would a burrito and store in a plastic bag.

Contributed by Wendy Rose Gould


Tart Cherries and Chocolate Trail Mix

A well-designed trail mix combines nuts, dried fruit ,and maybe just a taste of chocolate to satisfy the palates of children and adults. Dried cranberries and raisins are common ingredients in many traditional trail mix recipes. In our family favorite mix, we substitute dried tart cherries for the cranberries for a delightful change of pace. The dried cherries are larger and chewier than dried cranberries or raisins.

This is a heart healthy, low-sodium trail-mix packed with protein, healthy fats, and anti-oxidants.

Ingredients:
2 cups roasted, unsalted almonds 2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts 1 cup dried tart cherries (Montmorency cherries are great-find them at Trader Joe’s among other places) 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For an extra layer of flavor, substitute 1/2 cup of roasted, unsalted cashews for 1/2 cup of peanuts.

Contributed by Doug Donald


Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

1 tablespoon of reduced-fat cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 slices of whole-wheat sandwich bread
2 medium strawberries, sliced

Combine cream cheese with the orange zest in a bowl. Spread bread with the mixture. Place sliced strawberries on 1 piece of bread, top with the other.

Contributed by Dana Hiles


Road-trip Pizza

2 flour tortillas (white or whole wheat)
2 TBS. pizza sauce or thick marinara sauce, or 1TBS. prepared pesto sauce
1 oz. shredded or crumbled cheese (mozzarella, feta, blue, etc.)

Optional ingredients: mushrooms, olives, peppers, pepperoni, thinly sliced cooked chicken, ham, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts or whatever else strikes your fancy — be creative!

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Spread your choice of sauce on one tortilla and place it in the pan, sauce side up. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and then add optional ingredients. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and cover with the second tortilla. Cook until the bottom tortilla begins to brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the pizzadilla over, and cook the other side until lightly brown. Place on a cooling rack and cook the rest of the pizzadillas. When thoroughly cooled, cut the pizzadillas into quarters, place in storage bags or containers, and refrigerate until ready for the cooler.

Contributed by Julie Thompson


Pumpkin Muffins

These pumpkin muffins are a healthy version of a delicious treat that my mom and I developed while doing weight watchers, so they are family friendly and heart healthy.

1 1/2 cups of ground oatmeal (a blender will grind it into a fine powder
1/2 tsp of pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt Combine these ingredients, sift well and set aside to begin working with the ingredients below.

1 cup of Fat free plain yogurt
1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract
3/4 tbsp of splenda (you can use real sugar here, we use splenda because it has no calories)
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup splenda
1 cup canned
100% pure pumpkin (no sugar added)

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl combine yogurt, egg whites, 3/4 tbsp of splenda, and vanilla and beat with whisk until thoroughly blended. 2. Add pumpkin and 1/2 cup of splenda whisk to blend.
3. Stir in oatmeal mixture and mix well. (Note: if the batter is too thick add 1-2 tbsp of water and 1-2 tbsp of yogurt until smooth batter forms.)
4. Spray a mini muffin tin.
5. Cook at 350 degrees for 8-15 minutes depending on the oven. Watch closely. 6. Refrigerate after cooling for 5-10 minutes.

Contributed by
Jessica Meschke


Foraging for Berries

1 1/2 cups of blueberries
1 1/2 cups of strawberries
1 1/2 cups of red raspberries
1 1/2 cups of blackberries
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

Wash and drain all the berries. Slice the strawberries in half. Place all your berries into a bowl and add the 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon. Mix gently and let stand for 30 minutes.

Place in sandwich bags for individual treats.

Contributed by Patricia Mason


Sesame Coconut Bars

3 cups sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. It will seem dry. Do not add water! Empty onto the prepared baking sheet and press the mixture down evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned. Let cool and cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, or place in a covered container to take on the road.

Contributed by Sylvie Branch


Ham Scoopers

6 Kaiser Rolls
2 cups of cubed ham
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of chopped black olives
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of mustard

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients except for bread.
Store in a container and place in the ice cooler.
Cut off the tops of rolls.
Hollow out the rolls, keep bread in plastic bag for freshness.
When ready to eat, scoop the ham mixture into the bread and enjoy.

Contributed by Eve Gandy


Spicy Sugar Nuts

This easy recipe provides the perfect road trip snack. With nuts as the primary ingredient, this on-the-go munchy includes protein, fiber and healthy fat. Bake the entire recipe in one shot and then divvy it all up so passengers have their own serving. Or to put it another way, they don’t have to share. Since the finished product lasts five days, assuming you don’t polish it off before the first toll, you can get a few miles if not states out of it.

Ingredients:
1 egg white
1 tsp water
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of cayenne
4 cups of roasted salted nuts

Instructions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk egg white and water together. Continue until consistency is frothy. Fold nuts into egg white/water mixture. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until nuts are well coated. Pour mixture onto a large sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool before using a spatula to release the nuts from the pan. Store in a sealed container to maintain freshness.

Contributed by Paige Levin


Oatmeal Bars (with a twist)

Ingredients:
2 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup of skim milk banana
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup of Splenda
1/2 cup of eggbeaters
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cooking Directions Preheat oven to 325. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with baking spray. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well mixed. Pour the batter in the baking dish and bake for roughly 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely and cut into 8 equal pieces.

Contributed by Benjamin Williams


Apple Sandwiches

I’ve served these apple slice sandwiches to my daughter’s classroom and my ladies’ dance class. Everyone thinks it’s a platter of cookies until they notice they are apples. It’s a tasty, easy, surprise treat that everyone likes. One apple makes about 3 sandwiches. I like to use Braeburns or Granny Smith varieties. If you have peanut allergies or prefer not to use the peanut butter, the apples sliced and dusted with cinnamon are great all by themselves.

To make:

Use an apple corer to remove the center of your apple/s.
Next slice the apple (leave skin on) horizontally into 1/8″ rounds.
Dunk the slices into a mixture of water and lemon juice so they won’t turn brown.
Pat dry and spread a layer of your favorite peanut butter on one slice, add some raisins or dried cranberries if you like.
Top with a second apple slice and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Looks like a cookie, but oh so much healthier! Store in an airtight container.

Contributed by Jane Nichols


Happy Trails Hummus

2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 to 4 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Drain garbanzo beans, reserving liquid.
2. Combine beans, tahini, lime or lemon juice, curry powder and olive oil.
3. Process in a food processor until smooth.
4. Add enough of the reserved bean liquid to make desired dip consistency.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Contributed by Nanette Wiser





Hungry? Have some Indonesian mud snacks!

I’ve eaten some odd foods in my day. Haggis. Hot Vit Lon. But for all the odd travel cuisine I’ve tried, I’ve yet to find anyone that has willingly eaten dirt. I take that back. Check out the video above on the making and consumption of “Indonesian Mud Snacks,” a local delicacy on the Indonesian province of East Java. Indonesian Mud Snacks aren’t just made from any dirt. According to other articles on the practice, mud snack fans will harvest dirt only from local paddy fields and it must be free from gravel. The chosen mud is then baked, smoked and sliced into tiny roll-like canapes for consumption. Locals believe eating the mud snacks have health benefits, claiming these dirt-bites work as pain-killers. We have film critic Roger Ebert to thank for this gem of a video, which was posted to his Twitter feed yesterday.

[Thanks, Roger!]