Eating healthfully while traveling . . . one of the most common difficulties I hear about from many of you (and have experienced myself.) But over time, I’ve learned a few tricks that make it pretty easy now.
This challenge is related to eating out, in general. It’s true that many restaurants, fast food joints, and airlines provide less-than-healthy food. So we have to be creative and resourceful in providing good food for ourselves.
These ideas have helped me:
- If you’re on a road trip, (even if just for a few hours) plan on taking an ice chest. Pack fresh fruits, cut-up veggies, and sandwiches. You can also make or buy healthy bean spreads, such as hummus, to spread on whole-grain pita bread and use as a dip for veggies. Also, try taking potatoes! (see below)
- Precooked potatoes travel really well and actually taste good! They can be baked or boiled — then leave them whole and eat them like an apple. They’re perfectly good cold. The moist potatoes are best this way — Yukon gold, red potatoes, or other boiling potatoes. The big, dry baking potatoes are a bit too dry for my taste. They’re good plain, or, for a special treat, take some vegan Parmesan to sprinkle on them. Yum! They’ll keep well without refrigeration for a couple of days or so.
(Vegan Parmesan Cheese recipe and demo)
- Go to grocery stores! ! ! ! They’re your best bet, rather than restaurants. On a road trip, it’s easy to stop at a grocery store. If you’re traveling by air, it can be less convenient to find a grocery store, but you can check with google maps to see what is available near your hotel. What to buy? Pre-washed salad greens, balsamic vinegar, canned beans, fresh apples, bananas, grapes, and cut-up fruit. Also buy frozen veggies: mixed veggies or broccoli are great. They are precooked, so they only need to thaw. You can add them to your salad or just eat them as is. Salsa makes a tasty addition to your beans.
- When staying in a hotel, ask for a mini-fridge. Many hotels have them. Some hotels even have rooms with a kitchen. Doesn’t hurt to ask! You can store your fruit and veggies there. If you have an ice chest with you, there is usually an ice machine in the hotel as well, so you can keep your food cool.
- What to take in your suitcase? Pack a can opener (for the beans) and even canned beans if you have room and are checking a bag. Also, take a sharp knife for cutting fruits and veggies if you’re checking a bag. Pack a thin flexible plastic cutting board in your suitcase. Be sure to take a plastic bowl or 2 and a couple of spoons and forks. Even if you’re only taking a carryon bag, you can take the bowls, spoons, and plastic forks. Also, take some muesli (see below.)
- Breakfast! This is actually one of the easiest meals to handle while traveling. Mix your own muesli at home: some rolled whole grains, (like rolled oats, barley, triticale, etc.) with some dried fruits and nuts or seeds. I usually have raisins and sunflower seeds, and maybe some slivered almonds. Add a little cinnamon if you want, and maybe some shredded coconut (unsweetened.) I pack this mixture in a quart ziplock bag, which makes enough for 4 generous breakfasts. You don’t need to refrigerate this mixture. To eat: Put about 1 cup of the muesli mixture in your bowl, add about a cup of water, and let soak for about 15 minutes or so. You can add the water the night before if you wish. It will be fine if left out overnight. In the morning, it’s ready to eat. If you have a banana or other fresh fruit to slice on it, even better.
If you prefer your cereal warm, most hotels have a coffee pot in the room. Just run some water through it to get hot water and pour hot water on your cereal to soak in the morning.
With this breakfast, you’ll feel SO much better than the people you see in the lobby eating a sweet roll and coffee.
You can also eat muesli on the plane. Just take the dry mix in your carryon, with a bowl and spoon, and ask for either hot or cold water from the flight attendant.
- Take some dehydrated instant soups. Just add hot water from the coffee pot in your room on on the plane. The McDougall brand has a variety of healthy soups that are widely available in natural food stores and some supermarkets.
- The main thing is to think ahead. It’s kind of like going camping. Take what you can take, and stop at grocery stores when you have the chance.
- What to do at work. You’ll notice that the suggestions here would also help when you’re just out running errands or at work.
- Restaurants: You can usually find healthy food in most restaurants. Rice and beans, salads, baked potatoes and steamed veggies are widely available. Instead of ordering the entree, if there isn’t something that looks healthy, go to the menu of “sides.” You can order double sizes of the veggies and rice, and a big salad. Be careful not to eat the oily salad dressings. Ask for an oil-free dressing or just use balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. And think about taking your vegan Parmesan to the restaurant with you and sprinkling that on your salad, veggies, or potato. (Don’t ruin your potato with butter and sour cream! Veggies and vegan Parmesan on it will be just great.)
What I ate on a recent business trip. I’m including a photo of a delicious meal I created and enjoyed at a hotel in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I bought most of the salad ingredients from the Whole Foods store, which was just a pleasant mile walk from the hotel. You’ll see mixed salad greens, red onion, red cabbage, thawed frozen mixed vegetables, black beans mixed with salsa, strawberries, and pumpkin seeds. I bought balsamic vinegar for the dressing, and sprinkled some vegan Parmesan that I brought from home.
I also made some soup. There was a small kitchen in my hotel room. I brought the ingredients from home: quinoa, veggie bullion, and dehydrated onions, carrots, and bell peppers. I added water and simmered this on the stove for about ten minutes. I made enough for all three days I was there.
For breakfast each day, I had my muesli and fresh fruit. It was all delicious and I didn’t feel at all deprived! I ate better than any of the other participants in the workshop I attended.
Now it’s your turn! What are some ideas that have helped you while traveling, either by car or plane? How about when you’re out running errands and get hungry? If we pool our ideas, we’ll all learn something helpful!
Thanks in advance for your ideas.
Special treat: (Vegan Parmesan Cheese recipe and demo)