Eating healthy while traveling

My family have long been fans of spaghetti squash as a replacement for white pasta. We made some for our friends the little zebra dragons, who made a funvideo of their taste test.

However, it’s hard for us to cook spaghetti squash in the RV. We don’t have an oven, only a two burner range. As much as we like spaghetti squash, we had to look for other vegetable-based pasta replacements. I often see zucchini “noodles” and butternut squash “noodles” in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery stores. These products look great, except for the price tag. Customers pay more for convenience, and in this case, you pay a lot for the convenience of not having to turn a vegetable into thin strips. So for a while, I cut a zucchini into strips by hand with a knife for me, while making my children eat regular pasta. Yes, my children prefer spaghetti squash to “regular” spaghetti! I have weird kids who like their veggies.

Then, one day, my husband was browsing the clearance section at the grocery store when he found a small spiralizer on clearance for $0.75. this little device is shaped like a cone, and and as you place the zucchini inside the cone and turn it, like sharpening a pencil with a hand sharpener, it creates long thin noodles of zucchini, or “zoodles.” I haven’t tried it with any other vegetables yet. The vegetable would have to be cut into a shape that would fit inside the cone.

Making zoodles with meat sauce

The zoodles cook quickly in a skillet, with a little bit of oil or butter.

This is much easier than boiling a pot of water to cook a traditional pasta, especially when boondocking in the desert, where water conservation is a must. The zoodles could be topped with almost anything. They would be yummy with some butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. They could be topped with an alfredo sauce and a protein such as chicken breast. This time however I chose to serve them with a tomato-based meat sauce.

Once the zoodles were cooked, I removed them from the skillet to a plate. That I was able to use the same skillet to brown ground beef. I added diced onion, bell pepper, and mmushrooms. Once the meat was browned, and the vegetables were soft, I added jarred spaghetti sauce. I could have used plain tomato sauce instead and seasoned it myself.

 

The zoodles had cooled a little, but once I poured the piping hot sauce over them it was all good!

 

The first time we visited Arizona, we wanted to visit a friend in Apache Junction, just outside of Phoenix. We  decided to camp at Lost Dutchman State Park.  We didn’t have a reservation, but sites were available. The sites were not large, but adequate, and were very clean and attractive.The best part was the view of the Superstitions, right from our campsite.  The movement of the sun throughout the day means the view is ever-changing as the light plays across the rugged rock faces.

 

Lovely view of the Superstition Mountains

The showers were especially convenient at this park.  Rather than having showers inside each restroom, a couple of showers were located on the back side of the bathroom building. Each consisted of a individual shower and changing area, behind a secure locking door. This arrangement allows couples to shower together, mothers to supervise their sons,  and aides or caregivers to assist disabled visitors easily.  The water was hot  and there was plenty of parking (which was nice since our campsite was not close to the bathhouse!)

Each campsite has a fire ring with a cooking grate and a picnic table.  We really enjoyed being able to sit outside and enjoy the views while we studied !

What a great classroom!

Visiting Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park is open year-round. Camping rates are  $15 – $20/night for a non-electric site and  $25 – $30/night for sites with electric and water hookups. There are 138 campsites, 68 of which have hookups. A dump station is also available.  For park visitors who are not camping, there is a day-use entry fee of $7/vehicle. ($3 for a bicycle)

Lost Dutchman State Park has several hiking trails. Descriptions can be found on the park website. There are also hiking trails outside the state park.

The park hosts a variety of events for visitors as well. These range from guided nature hikes and birding events, to musical performances or stargazing events. Curly particularly enjoyed participating in a birding walk while we were visiting.

Groceries and supplies are widely available in Apache Junction. For bargains on produce, we go to Superstition Ranch Market.  This produce store features a wide selection of fruits and vegetables at bargain prices. There are also traditional supermarkets, restaurants,  a Planet Fitness, Wal-Mart, home improvement stores, and auto parts stores. There are public parks with playgrounds. There is also a museum, the Superstition Mountain Museum, and a tourist attraction called  Goldfield Ghost Town, neither of which we visited.

Although now we boondock in the Tonto National Forest when we visit Apache Junction, if you want a hookups and a bathhouse, Lost Dutchman State Park is a beautiful setting.

The Flandreau Science Center & Planetarium is located on the University of Arizona campus. Flandrau offers hands-on science exhibits, a planetarium, and on the lower level,  the University of Arizona Mineral Museum. We visited because we got free admission with our WNC Nature Center membership, as part of the ASTC Travel Passport program.  We enjoyed the hands-on activities, but found the museum to be small. Had we paid regular admission prices, we would have been disappointed.

The Mineral Museum in the basement had a great selection of mineral specimens and some spectacular fossils. 

 

If You Visit

Flandreau Science Center & Planetarium is open Monday-Thursday from 9 AM to 5  PM, Fridays from 9 AM to 10 PM , Saturdays from 10 AM to 10 PM, and Sundays from 12 PM to 5 PM. 

Regular admission is $12 for kids aged 4-17 and $16 for adults. (Kids 3 and under are free.)

For directions and parking, see the website.