Friday, March 28, 2014

Healthy Travel Tips: How to Pack Your Snack Bag

We get this question all the time:  I’m traveling for vacation/work by car/plane/train/bus and I don’t know how to make good food choices while I’m traveling.  Do you have any tips?

It’s a great question!  Eating well on the road (or in the air) can be very challenging.  I travel quite a bit, both for work and for pleasure, and the key is to plan ahead. 

Whether I’m travelling by car or by plane, I always take enough food with me to get me to my destination.  Food in airports and on the road tends to be not-so-nourishing and expensive!  When I’m traveling, I pack foods that provide a combination of protein, good fat and good carbohydrates, but won’t spoil or weigh me down.  I try and sneak in lots of vegetables, which satisfies the urge to snack, without a lot of extra calories.  Here’s what’s in my snack bag:

  • Sturdy salads, like pasta salad, potato salad (without mayonnaise), grain salads or kale salad are great, because they won’t wilt and they just get better as they sit.  Load them up with vegetables to add crunch and a nutritional punch.  Top the salad with an olive-oil based vinaigrette.  My favorite travel combination is whole wheat penne with sliced grape tomatoes or oven-dried tomatoes, olives, steamed kale, fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh herbs, or brown rice (or farro) with roasted vegetables and shredded chicken with lemon and olive oil.  If you’re not going to eat the salad within two hours, you should pack it in an insulated container or lunch bag, to keep it cold (at or below 40 degrees).  I love these lunch bags, because they keep food cold for six hours.

  • Nuts and nut butters are always in my bag.  Individual pouches of peanut butter or almond butter (like Justin’s Nut Butters) are perfect for spreading on bananas, apples or whole grain crackers.  Because they are individually sealed, they won’t spill, and you can take them through airport security.  You also can’t go wrong with an old fashioned PB&J, on whole grain bread.  
  • On long trips, I also pack non-perishable cheeses, like aged manchego or gruyere, for when I get tired of nut butter.  They do need to stay cold, or the oils will start to release.    
  • Single-serving fruit, like apples, pears or bananas, as well as cut vegetables sticks, like carrots, celery and bell peppers are perfect for travel.  Fruits and vegetables can satisfy that need to snack when you’re bored of the long flight or drive.  If you have a cooler, you can pack a container of hummus for dipping.  Just don’t try to take a large container of hummus through airport security—it won’t fly.
  • Homemade granola is another staple.  It’s great for snacking on its own.  And if you’re on a plane, you can always ask for milk and turn it into a breakfast cereal.  If you’re travelling with a cooler or insulated bag, pack individual servings of plain Greek yogurt, and you have a perfectly satisfying breakfast or snack.

  • Instead of high-sugar protein or snack bars, make fruit- and nut-filled whole grain muffins, like these or these.  Spread with nut butter, these make a great breakfast or snack.

  • Dark chocolate, for when I’m craving something sweet. 
  • Water, water, water.  When you’re travelling, it’s important to stay hydrated, so keep filling up that water bottle.       

What do you pack in your travel snack bag? We’d love to hear from you!

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