Between greasy airport-restaurant fare and unappetizing airplane meals, it's not easy to find nutritious snacks when flying. It's even harder to find good-for-you food that's actually good to eat. And it's especially important to eat healthfully when you're dehydrated and sleep-deprived. So we came up with a list of store-bought snacks that are tasty, are minimally processed, have fewer than 250 calories, and are conveniently packaged for throw-and-go travel. Here are some healthy, delicious snack ideas for your next flight.
Blue Diamond Mocha Coffee Almonds
Nuts are a first-class natural snack for convenience eating. But if you're not exactly nuts for plain ones, try the flavored variety. Blue Diamond's Mocha Coffee Almonds are dusted with a blend of cocoa powder and coffee powder for nuts with a kick of caffeine. They have 160 calories per serving, plus iron, vitamin E, magnesium, and six grams of protein.
Cocomama Foods Quinoa Cereal
Heat-and-eat pouches of Cocomama Quinoa Cereal make convenient and nourishing plane snacks, as long as you can get your hands on a fork or a spoon. You don't necessarily need to heat the portable pouches -- but it doesn't hurt to ask a flight attendant for some assistance in heating the cereal if you prefer a hot meal. The organic quinoa cereal, flavored with mix-ins like wild blueberries, banana puree, and honey, has 210 to 240 calories. (Calorie count varies by flavor.)
Lundberg Family Farms Hemp-a-Licious Organic Rice Cakes
Hemp isn't just for rope and sustainable yoga pants -- it's a great source of essential fatty acids and it makes for quite the tasty snack. Rice cakes -- that classic convenience health food -- get a tasty upgrade with organic hemp seeds and brown rice syrup. Lundberg's Hemp-a-Licious Organic Rice Cakes are slightly sweet and slightly salty and taste good, too. Made with organic whole-grain brown rice, these minimally processed cakes have 80 calories as well as two grams of protein per serving (one cake).
Clif Kid Zfruit
Just because it says "kid" on the package doesn't mean that you, a responsible adult, cannot eat it. Sometimes products marketed for children's lunch boxes make for excellent travel snacks. Case in point: Clif Kid Zfruit is made with organic pureed fruit and fruit juices -- no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors -- and comes in varieties like Strawberry, Grape, and Tropical Twist. Each fruit bar has just 70 calories.
Nii Foods Bar
Ever find yourself eating nut butter straight from the jar? There's nothing wrong with a healthy love for creamy almond or cashew butter, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) won't allow you to bring more than 3.4 ounces of the stuff onto a plane. In lieu of the jar, pack a nut-butter-based Nii Bar. Made with almond or cashew butter plus other all-organic, good-for-you ingredients like sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and quinoa, the bars contain up to eight grams of protein (depending on the flavor) and plenty of iron and healthy omega-3 fats. Bars have about 220 calories each. (Calorie count varies by flavor.)
Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein Pack
You may have seen TV commercials for these new "adult" Lunchables-style packs from Kraft Foods. P3 Portable Protein Packs come with three protein sources in separate compartments: cheese, nuts, and meat. Choose from flavors like Applewood Smoked Ham, which includes reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese and dry-roasted almonds, or Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast, with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and dry-roasted peanuts. Calories per serving (one package) range from 160 to 170, and P3 snacks offer the protein equivalent of two eggs.
Alive & Radiant Foods Quite Cheezy Kale Krunch
Kale chips are usually expensive, and it's easy to make your own in the oven. But if you're more interested in convenience than low price, grab a pack of Alive & Radiant's Quite Cheezy Kale Krunch chips. These are, in our opinion, the best of the many kale-chip offerings you can find at the supermarket. They're hearty and filling, with a thick, zesty layer of vegan "cheese" (a mix of cashews, red bell pepper, and nutritional yeast). There are 100 calories per serving, and each bag has 2.2 servings.
Ips All Natural Egg White Chips
Egg-white chips are the Atkins-style answer to the carb-heavy potato crisp. According to ips, "We take corn, egg whites, and other all-natural ingredients, blend them together under high pressure, and puff the mixture to create a light and crispy chip." With seven grams of protein per serving (as much as two whole egg whites, claims the company), these gluten-free puffed chips come in flavors like Aged White Cheddar, Barbeque, Cinnamon Sugar, and Sea Salt & Black Pepper. All flavors have 130 calories per serving.
Bear Naked Power Packs
Granola is the perfect grab-and-go health food. But if you don't have time to make your own before your trip, pick up a carton of Bear Naked's single-serving Power Packs. Bear Naked introduced these nutrient-filled Power Packs last year and they come in two flavors: Fruit and Nutty and Original Cinnamon Protein. The former is filled with oats, almonds, walnuts, pecans, raisins, and cranberries and has three grams of fiber, eight grams of fat, and five grams of protein. Buy the latter for your fill of oats, cranberries, and cinnamon, with four grams of fiber, nine grams of fat, and eight grams of protein in each pouch. Original Cinnamon Protein flavor has 190 calories; Fruit and Nutty has 200.
—By Caroline Costello