What’s that you say? “Healthy” and “travel” in the same mouthful? But what about indulging in croissants in Paris, scarfing down – er, gracefully enjoying pasta and gelato in Italy, or doing your part to help that all-you-can-eat buffet bar live up to its name at your resort?
What happens on vacation stays on vacation, right? Unfortunately, what’s eaten on said vacation does not. We’re not asking you to skip wedding cake or an afternoon glass of rosé on the patio, but packing some healthy snacks for the voyage there or back can make a big difference. Wherever you’re traveling, here are some terrific travel-friendly foods that are great for taking on planes, trains, and automobiles.
Nut butter. Nut butters were built for adventure: they last for months at a time (without refrigeration), go well with pretty much anything, and worst (best?) case scenario, you can eat them straight with a spoon.
My favorites are almond butter or tahini. Try them with apple slices (also a great ready-to-eat travel option!). Many brands now make tiny snack packs for easy transport. I love Wilderness Poets’ raw nut butter snackers or Justin’s 1.5 oz. packs.
Healthy handfuls. Trail mix isn’t just for hikers and hippies! Mix up your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits to create a protein-powered snack rich in fiber, healthy fats, and tons of vitamins and minerals. This nutrient-dense snack is guaranteed to energize and fill you up fast. If you’re making your own at home, aim for sprouted or roasted (unsalted!) nuts and seeds to ease digestion, and look for sun-dried fruits without any added sugar. In general, aim for 2/3 nuts and 1/3 dried fruit for a perfect balance of chewy and crunchy, savory and sweet. Stick to a handful portion size since too many nuts can be rough on the digestive system and these mixes are quite high in (good) fat and (natural) sugars. Or, if you’re looking for something ready-to-go, grab a bag of Wilderness Poets’ “Wild Mix.”
Bananas. You can find a banana pretty much anywhere you go, and if you’re traveling in the tropics, your banana might even be locally grown! Grab one in the airport or at a local supermarket for an anytime burst of energy packed with potassium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Make sure they’re fully ripe – warning: green bananas can have a major laxative effect.
Spirulina. Spirulina (pronounced spahy-ruh-lahy-nuh) is a blue-green algae that’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. A little bit goes a long way, so it’s perfect to take with you on the road. Dried spirulina contains around 60% protein in addition to many essential nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and manganese. It’s known as a dietary supplement, but it’s a wonderful whole food to sprinkle onto any meal, blend into smoothies, or simply sip with some water or juice when traveling if you must skip a meal for any reason (see: airplane food!).
Hemp seeds. Hemp is not just any seed, mi amigas. As far as the list of nutrient dense foods go, they’re almost unbeatable. Hemp seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential to proper brain function and great for a mood boost. They’re an amazing source of “perfect protein” containing all 20 amino acids and 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce. Just 3 tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds provide a whopping 15 grams of protein so they’re great to snack on their own or addition to any salads, grains, or veggie that you pick up at the airport.
Chia. Rumor has it that the ancient Aztecs used to run marathons after consuming only chia seeds. While you may not be logging 26.2 miles on your trip, these seeds are a protein powerhouse and filled with fiber, an excellent way to, um, get things going when traveling, if you know what I mean. They’re excellent for digestion thanks not only to this high fiber content, but also to their unique hydrophilic properties. They expand in liquid so they sweep through the intestines acting like a broom to get rid of unwanted waste and toxins. Just add some chia seeds to nut milk, fruit juice, or even water and let them expand to form a gel. Don’t want to worry about DIY’ing your snack? The Chia Co. makes chia “shots” – perfect for traveling!
Packing snacks (or even meals) to bring along on your trip actually allows you to be more spontaneous and free yourself up to explore without having to worry about getting hangry. Healthy snacks can help to cut cravings, energize you, and fill you up, while stabilizing blood sugar and mood so you can focus on enjoying your trip. Hopefully, one day airlines will serve green juice and quinoa salads and vending machines will be fully stocked with sprouted almonds and rawnola, but until then, plan accordingly.