Fit for the Road

Kathleen Buccleugh and Caroline Taylor | October 01, 2011

In Cab Dining

Preparing healthy meals on the road

It is no mystery that fast food often is unhealthy food. The same is true for a lot of sit-down establishments catering to truck drivers. So cooking in the cab is one way to control the amount of fat, salt, sugars and calories you are consuming every day on the road. Try using these three cooking products, and you’ll be on your way to healthier cooking in the cab.

LuCinda Jonker, a driver for Bowerman Trucking Inc. in Arkansas, said two of her favorite cooking products are a crockpot, for which she has in inverter, and the Xpress Redi-Set-Go cooker. Jonker uses her crockpot on long runs and likes how easy it is to use the Xpress cooker when she stays in a motel room.

In her crockpot, Jonker says, “I make pot roast, beef stew or chicken soup. Just prepare and freeze vegetables and meats so you just have to put them in the pot.”

Jonker also prepares mini-meatloaves in advance, freezes them and cooks them in her Xpress cooker on the road, she says.

Cooking products

The Burton cooktop uses magnetic waves instead of microwaves to heat food. It reacts to magnetic pans, such as steel or iron, and heats up instantly. Since there’s no open flame or glowing heat element, it makes cooking in the cab of a truck safer. The Induction Cooktop is portable and can be plugged into a 110v power outlet. The LED display shows 10 power levels and temperature levels from 140 F to 450 F. It also features a 180-minute timer and an overheat warning sensor. The cooktop is available for $100 at www.thinkgeek.com.

Burton induction cooktop

The Kitrics scale and calculator combo displays all the nutrition information the way you’re used to seeing it on food labels by showing a breakdown of calories, carbo­hydrates, proteins, fats, fiber and sugars. The scale is perfect for those practicing portion control because it calculates portion weight and logs total daily nutritional intake. With a database of nearly 1,000 foods and the ability to store up to 99 of your food entries, the scale is able to tailor itself to meet your health goals. The Nutrition Label Scale is available for $49.99 at www.kitrics.com.

Simple recipes

The recipes listed here, courtesy of “Roadcookin’” by Pam Whitfield and Don Jacobson, require few ingredients — but you must do some prep work in advance. Keep your truck stocked with the basics: olive oil, spices, rice, dry beans. These nonperishable items will keep for a long time, and you’ll be able to incorporate them into many of your dishes.

Honey Curry Chicken

(using fry pan)

4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (whole or chunked)

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp curry powder

Food release spray

Coat pan with food release product and set to medium heat. Rub honey on chicken and, using your hand, rub curry powder into the honey. Cook in fry pan, browning both sides. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until meat is done — white throughout.


Chicken ’n’ Green-eyed Gravy (using fry pan)

Food release spray

4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 medium onion, chopped

1 8-oz box Kitchen Basics chicken broth

3/4 cup freeze-dried peas (can use frozen, not canned)

1 tbsp flour and water to thicken sauce

Heat pan over medium heat. Add food release spray and brown chicken. Add onion and cook until soft. Add all other ingredients except flour and cook for about 30 minutes or until peas are soft. Add more water as needed. Thicken gravy by making a mix of water and flour and stirring slowly to prevent lumps.


Crock-Pot Pea Soup

(4 servings)

2 to 3 cups water

1 cup dried green or yellow split peas

1/4 tsp salt

1 medium onion, peeled and minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)

8 oz turkey ham, diced

black pepper to taste

11/2 tbsp flour

Soak peas in 2 cups of water for two to four hours. Drain and mix with water and all other ingredients in slow cooker. Cook at high setting for four to five hours, stirring every once in a while.

A few tips

• Try to avoid adding salt to your dishes, especially if you are incorporating any canned items into the recipe. Canned foods are high in sodium. Instead, try adding pepper or another flavorful spice, such as red pepper flakes.