“Would you like the pasta or the chicken?” the airline attendant asked during a transatlantic flight home from Europe. “I prefer the sautéed root veggies with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese,” is what I wanted to say, but since that wasn’t an option, I went for the pasta. Big mistake. The steamy temperature and pleasant aroma seemed attractive, but it was definitely not love at first bite. The texture was akin to oatmeal, a meal I would have preferred, and the taste was not very pasta-like. I knew then that it was time to move to Plan B: my snack.
Like an American Express card, I never leave home without a snack. Whether traveling across town or across the globe, I always carry a “just in case” meal. I know that I can rely on my mid-meal (or in the case of my flight, my actual meal) choices to keep me feeling full and satisfied without feeling stuffed. Like the three legs of a stool supporting each other, to create a super snack, you need to include a balanced combo of all three nutrients — protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
As you can see from the above picture, I resorted to my little jar of nut butter, some dried fruit, and I ate the airline’s roll (I already had my whole grain crackers on the departing flight!) Here are a few examples of how you could create a snack that’s fast and lasts:
-Carry a few energy bars, and be sure to choose the ones that won’t zap your energy. Look for those that have at least 4-5 grams of protein, check to see that the sugars come mostly from real fruit, and be sure that fat comes mostly from nuts. I try to choose bars that have ingredients you could recognize when you look at them.
- Bring a few packets of instant oatmeal and a small bag of mixed unsalted nuts. Your hotel may offer hot water and this will make a more valuable snack than anything you’d find in the minibar.
And remember to save a snack for the flight home or pick up something in the airport, where the choices may be better than those offered after you’re already strapped into your seat on the plane. Oh, and just to finish telling you the tale of my trip home, after being served the meal in the photo above, next came ice cream and then pizza and cake. Although I took a pass on those offerings, the others in my row ate as if they were about to run a marathon instead of just sitting in one place for eight hours. I hope they transitioned to plain food when they arrived home!