We all know how tough it can be to eat healthy while traveling. Add a food allergy or intolerance to your trip and it gets even tougher. Aside from the endless packing and lingering jet lag, the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing healthy snacks. Am I right?
It can certainly be a challenge to stick to your diet when you're on the go, but it doesn't have to be -- there are endless options with whole foods that can keep you satisfied until you reach your destination. Eating naturally gluten-free is easier than you think; all fruits, vegetables and lean proteins such as nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu and eggs are naturally gluten-free, as are many yogurts, hummus, corn chips and rice cakes. It only takes a few minutes to arm yourself with a handful of nibbles that you can enjoy whether you are traveling via foot, car, plane or boat.
Here are some quick and easy snack ideas to making the most out of your healthy travels:
Take a corn tortilla, such as those from La Tortilla, and spread on a dollop of hummus, avocado slices, a handful of cooked lentils, Barlean's ground flax seeds and fresh arugula. Wrap it like a burrito and wrap in tin foil for an easy snack or meal option.
Don't have time to prepare a tortilla or looking for a lighter snack? Pack a sleeve of rice cakes with a few individual nut butter packets such as Justin's Nut Butter. When you're in the mood, simply take out a rice cake and spread the almond or peanut butter on top. I carry a small amount of cinnamon with me for a naturally sweet taste to top off these rice cakes -- it's amazing what this spice can do when combined with nut butter.
An easy trick for preparing a healthy breakfast is to take gluten-free oats and toss them into a Ziploc bag with unsweetened shredded coconut flakes, dried cranberries and cashews. I like to pack an oatmeal bag for each day I'm traveling. When I'm hungry, I find a coffee shop and ask for hot water and a cup to make myself homemade warm oatmeal. You can easily enjoy this breakfast on an airplane or at a rest stop by asking for hot water and a spoon.
If you're really in a time crunch and don't have time for any prep, try packing two ripe avocados in a brown paper bag -- they are an easy snack that you can eat with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and all you need is a plastic spoon. If you're not a fan of eating an avocado by itself, pair it with rice crackers, such as Crunchmaster, for a satisfying snack.
Another option is to purchase a ready-to-eat, prewashed package of mixed greens that are sold in many food stores. You can toss in a spoonful of salsa, cherry tomatoes, Barlean's chia seeds, hummus and a few slices of turkey or chicken, then place the top back on and secure it with a rubber band. This is a perfect meal when your stomach starts rumbling, and you can easily add your avocado or any nuts and seeds that you have on hand. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, swap the turkey and chicken for chickpeas, tofu, canned tuna or a hardboiled egg. Speaking of eggs, they are a convenient traveling snack; it takes only 10 minutes to hard boil a few eggs before your trip. If you're not a fan of the yolk, simply pop it out and fill the egg whites with hummus and a sprinkle of sea salt. The combination of healthy fat and protein will hold you over and keep you satisfied.
Fruit is another convenient option. Toss a few fresh apples, pears and bananas into your bag so you can enjoy them chopped into your pre-made oatmeal and salads or enjoy them alone with an individual nut butter packet. Fruit can easily bruise when traveling so I like to roast a combination of apples, pears and blueberries with pistachios and coconut flakes in the oven the night before I travel. Then I toss them into a plastic bag to enjoy as a fiber-rich snack alone or with any of the above snack options.
Don't forget about packing a simple crudités of raw vegetables such as jicama, carrots, celery, zucchini and cucumbers along with a side of Greek yogurt, hummus or mashed avocado for dipping. If you have a sweet tooth, perhaps a few figs or dates stuffed with nut butter will do the trick instead of reaching for a bag of M&M's mid-flight.
A trick that I always tell my clients is to scan their fridge before leaving the house. If you have left-overs sitting there from the night before, bring them along for the ride. You can fill a plastic bag with beans or grains. Try a mixture of black beans with brown rice or quinoa along with some fresh parsley, dried cranberries and cashews for a perfect snack or meal option.
These naturally gluten-free snacks are quick and easy to prepare and all you need is a plastic fork, knife or spoon, which you can find just about anywhere, from a local coffee shop to a gas station. So the next time you're headed out of town, try these simple snacks that are sure to keep you energized and feeling your best because when the jet lag sets in and you're exhausted without any healthy options in sight -- you don't want to be reaching for that piece of chocolate cake. Do you?
Follow Amie Valpone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheHealthyApple