Cooking on Vacation by Gena Hamshaw

Gena Hamshaw

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Gena Hamshaw is the author of The Full Helping, a blog that showcases high-raw, vegan foods. I have long been curious about “alternative” diets and their effects on our health and our planet, and I enjoy the accessible, relatable way Gena writes about hers, with nuggets of wisdom and level-headed advice drawn from her experience as a certified clinical nutritionist. She is currently a pre-med student at Georgetown University, and will begin medical school in 2013. In her own words, she “plans on bringing her passion for plant-based nutrition and compassionate living to the medical community.”

Here she tells us about portable blenders, a traumatizing ceviche, and how to be an easy houseguest.

Are you taking a vacation this summer, and will you have a chance to cook while there?

My vacation is a week at home, in New York, at my Mom’s apartment. I am so excited for it, I could cry. Food will indeed be a focus while I’m there, since my Mom is new to plant-based cooking and loves when I share my lifestyle with her. I expect lots of cozy dinners at home, with movie rentals and long conversations.

I’ll also be eating out often, as I miss the cornucopia of choice that is vegan dining in NYC!

Are there utensils or ingredients you always take with you when you go on vacation? If so, what are they? If not, what do you unfailingly regret not taking?

I always bring hemp seeds, vegan protein powder, chia seeds, nut butter packets, Vega bars (a wonderful vegan snack bar line), homemade trail mix, chlorella tablets, and wheatgrass powder. I almost always bring a portable Tribest blender, and whenever I choose not to, I regret it.

What is your best vacation cooking memory, as a child or an adult?

Making summer dinners on the grill with my best friend at her family home in upstate New York. These are not only my happiest memories of cooking and sharing food, but probably my happiest memories, period. It doesn’t surprise me that the two are so intertwined.

And your worst?

Eating giant balls of raw fish by accident (I wasn’t vegan at the time, and thought they were mozzarella balls) on a trip to Key West when I was ten. How anyone called that dish “ceviche” is beyond me. It was sashimi salad! Very traumatizing.

Do you have a tip or saving-grace recipe that makes your kitchen life easier while on vacation?

Bring the stuff you know you’ll want to eat. Too often, I’ve erred on the side of being a “polite” houseguest, and not brought my own food, only to realize later that it would have made my host’s life so much easier if I could have prepared and shared some of my favorite food with him or her.

I also find that it’s always wise to share recipes with friends. I can’t wait to cook my black bean enchiladas for my Mom in August. I know she’ll be impressed!

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