Driving to Flavortown

by Sonia Straface

LONDON, Ont. — Eating healthy on the road isn’t easy, but it’s simple.

That’s according to Andrea Morley, nutritionist and health coach at Healthy Trucker, who is a firm believer that truck drivers can save money and shed extra weight by cooking their own meals in the comfort of their rig.

Morley helps drivers reach their health and fitness goals through the Healthy Team app that launched last year. Within the app, users track their diet, weight, water intake, exercise, and sleep. Users within the app also post and share recipes they’ve found or created while on the road.

A sample of a typical meal Roch Joly will make on the road: stuffed acorn squash with roasted vegetables.

“It’s so important that more truckers start cooking in the truck,” she said. “Because a lot of drivers write it off and think it’s just easier to buy whatever they can find at truck stops or drive-thrus. And that’s simply not true.”

In fact, she attests that with a few simple tools and ingredients, even a driver with minimal cooking skills can find themselves whipping up healthy, delicious meals in no time at all and with ease.

“More and more drivers are coming to me from the app and telling me how easy it is to cook meals on their own in the cab,” she said. “As long as you are set up with the right equipment, it’s really easy.”

Morley says the number one item she recommends drivers have in the cab is a rice cooker.

“Rice cookers really are a truck driver’s best friend,” she said. “Because they cook food a lot faster than a slow cooker, and don’t leave a lingering smell that slow cookers tend to leave when you’ve been cooking food for hours.”

Morley said a rice cooker is great for cooking chilis, stews, and stir-fries.

“We see so many of our drivers using it,” she said.

A hot plate or induction burner is also a key tool Morley recommends to drivers.

“Portable grills are also a good idea for drivers who travel and stop in good weather,” she said. “Because you can park and grill up a really nice steak or chicken, with minimal effort.”

Another must-have gadget for truckers according to Morley is a portable blender.

“I always suggest drivers to go to Walmart because you can buy a Hamilton Beach single serve blender there for under $20 and it’s the best way to make healthy smoothies on the road,” she said. “By making smoothies yourself, you can control the ingredients, mainly the sugar content.”

When it comes to food storage, Morley says to make sure you purchase something that will ensure your fresh ingredients will stay at a safe temperature. If you don’t have the room for a small refrigerator, Morley says a cooler should do the trick for most fresh fruits and vegetables.

In terms of ingredients, Morley says your aim at the grocery store should be to buy basic items and build meals from there.

“You want to have a good mix of grains and proteins,” she said. “It’s important to have a few canned goods as well. I know they take up space, but they are worth it. Canned tomatoes, canned beans, and canned salmon or tuna are all good examples of what to keep in the truck. And then grains I recommend are rice, quinoa, and oats. Broth is also a good thing to have on hand. To save space, you can buy bouillon cubes. They add flavor to most dishes.”

The most important thing for a beginner, said Morley, is to have fun with cooking.

“Be a little bit creative and don’t always think you have to just be eating a plain chicken breast. Chop things up and have fun,” she said.

One driver who stands out among the rest in the Healthy Team app, is Roch Joly. Joly drives for Hyndman and has been driving over the road for eight years. He has turned his rig into the ultimate cooking space – with more gadgets than the average home kitchen.

Joly says he has a Wolfgang Puck pressure oven, a Ninja blender, Keurig coffee machine, Instant Pot, slow cooker, bread maker, and a couple of hot plates in his truck.

“My favorite gadget is my pressure oven,” he said. “I can cook anything from a piece of chicken to a 10-lb turkey in it. It’s so fast too, like I could do a whole turkey in an hour.”

Joly says he likes to use the appliance to cook whole turkeys so that he can have fresh rotisserie style turkey to add to salads and other meals throughout the week.

On average, Joly says he eats healthy on the road because he cooks meals himself.

“I make a lot of chicken, I make spaghetti squash with a tomato sauce, I can make burgers with portabella mushrooms instead of buns,” he said. “I try and be creative because cooking is a passion of mine along with driving.”

The next item he is saving up for is a sous vide cooker – which cooks food in a vacuum-sealed pouch in a hot water bath.

Joly said he is thankful that Hyndman provides all drivers with inverters to support the appliances he uses to create such an extraordinary cooking environment.

Joly said since he has a freezer in the truck, he often will make meals at home and freeze them to simplify his week.

“I enjoy cooking and I enjoy knowing what I eat,” he said. “With fast food you gain so much weight. And I don’t want to gain the weight. I want to stay fit. And since as a driver, I don’t move around a lot during the day, I want to make sure what I’m putting in my body is healthy. Plus, I’m not limited to what’s on the road or in a restaurant. If I want something, I can make it myself.”

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