By Molly Patrick
Dec 16, 2014,
You know what doesn’t suck?
You know what does suck?
Food options in American airports and along the U.S. highways.
If you’re trying to eat healthier and you go on a trip, you’re pretty much screwed.
You might find a banana and possibly a lone red apple, but apart from that, it’s limp iceberg lettuce salad at best and fast food city at worst.
For people who love to eat fast food, I’m convinced that airports in America are their happy place. How nice it must be for there to literally be no other choice than McDonald’s or Burger King.
I read an autobiography recently about an alcoholic. Sacha Scoblic described these fantasies that she had after she quit drinking.
Her fantasies consisted of different scenarios in which she had to drink or else really bad things would happen to her and the people that she loved. Like, if she didn’t drink, aliens would abduct her and take over the world.
She loved having these fantasies because in them, she was forced to drink and there was no way around it.
It’s kind of like people who love fast food. An American airport must be their wet dream because they have no choice but to eat it.
So, finding places that serve healthy food while traveling may not be an option, but bringing your own food certainly is.
In fact, it’s the only way that you’ll avoid constipation, bloating and spiked blood sugar, and that’s a good thing because who wants to start a vacay all gassy and bloated? Not I.
You may look like a whack job in the airport when you bust out your tofu scramble and your apple, but it’s only the situational context. Anywhere else you’d look normal.
Next time you travel, consider these tips before you take off. They’ll save you disappointment and heartburn, I promise.
1. Tofu Scramble. (The guy sitting next you on the plane will secretly be jealous.)
It’s the week leading up to your big trip and you’re trying to finish off all of the food in the house and not make any more trips to the grocery store.
You make it into a game, seeing if you can actually make 6 more meals with what you have in the pantry, freezer and fridge.
You get down to the day before your trip and you have 1/2 of an onion, 1 carrot, a bit of broccoli, 1 tomato, 4 garlic cloves, and some kale.
You hate throwing away food, but the odds and ends are too random to put together and come away with something yummy.
Here’s what to do…
- Buy 1 package of firm tofu and 1 package of whole wheat or sprouted tortillas and whip up a bad ass tofu scramble.
- Make some burritos out of the tofu scramble and then put whatever tortillas you didn’t use in the freezer.
- Wrap up your burritos in tin foil and pack those bad boys up. This will give you good, hearty nourishment during your travels AND it’ll help you clean out your fridge. Being efficient looks good on you!
Follow the do-it-yourself tofu scramble recipe at the bottom of this post.
2. Almond butter packets = Good travelin’ shit
You can buy them for around $1.00 a packet and you can even bring them directly on the plane since they are only 1.15 oz.
You can spread some on an apple, slap some on bread, or eat it plain, right out of the packet. I always stash at least a dozen of these babies in my luggage before I take off and usually one or two in my carry on. It comes in super handy on road trips in South East Asia when healthy options aren’t as readily available. I was really thankful that I had them on a bus ride from Malaysia to Singapore on one trip.
3. Smoothies are Aces
This isn’t so much an airport trick, but it’ll help you once you get to your blender-less destination.
Purchasing a travel blender will change your life.
They’re small enough to pack in your luggage and powerful enough to whip up a green smoothie wherever your destination is.
You might not be able to make your usual green smoothie, but you can improvise and add whatever veggies and fruit are available where you’re visiting. Pack some chia seeds along with your blender and add those to whatever other goodies you find.
4. Raw mixed nuts. Let’s not swell more than we have to, okay?
The mixture can be whatever you prefer. Walnuts, almonds and cashews are a nice combination. Just make sure that they’re raw and with no seasonings or salt.
The plane makes us swollen enough. We don’t need extra salt to add to our puffy mess. Keep your nuts handy and when you feel your blood sugar starting to crash, nibble away.
You’ll feel an almost immediate difference because of the protein hit. I also add nuts to my green smoothies if I don’t have chia or hemp seeds.
5. Pre-made spice mix. You can thank me later.
Mix some of your favorite seasonings together and put them in a ziplock bag. When you get to where you’re going, you’ll have pre-made spice mix ready to go without doing a thing. All you’ll need is a pan and some veggies to get a shot of phytochemicals.
You can also toss your spice mix in your carry on, along with an avocado. When you get hungry, track down a knife and a spoon (even plastic ones will work), open your avo, sprinkle on some spice mix and dig in. BAM! Fast food at its best.
So you might not be able to eat quite as healthy as you normally do when you travel, but if you get crafty, there are definitely ways to keep some of the good stuff coming, without too much effort.
Here’s my method for a tasty tofu scramble. I’m not giving you an exact recipe because it’ll all depend on what you have in your fridge. The method will pretty much stay the same, regardless of what yummy veggies you toss in.
- 1 package firm tofu, drained, rinsed and pressed (directions below) (395 g)
- spices and herbs of your choice
- veggies of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces
- tortillas, for serving (optional)
- salsa, for serving (optional)
- avocado, for serving (optional)
- The night before you make your scramble, remove your tofu from the package and rinse with water. Place the tofu on a plate and then set a cutting board on top of the tofu. Place something heavy on top of the cutting board, like a few cookbooks or a heavy skillet. Set aside for 10-15 minutes while the liquid is pressed out of the tofu.
- Once it's drained, take some tofu and crumble it up in a bowl so there are no big chunks.
- Add in some of your favorite spices and dried herbs and stir so that all the tofu is coated in the herbs and spices. I like to add turmeric, garlic powder, dried basil, onion powder, a splash of ume plum or apple cider vinegar, some sea salt and black pepper.
- Once the tofu, spices and herbs are all mixed up, place the tofu in a container and pop it in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, take the tofu out of the fridge and whatever veggies you’re going to add. Chop all your veggies into bite-sized pieces.
- If you’re using cauliflower or broccoli, add it to a small pan and add an inch or two of water. Simmer for 3-5 minutes and then drain and set aside.
- Heat a large pan and add the onions first (if you’re using them), when they start to brown, add a little water and then add in the rest of your veggies.
- Cook until the veggies are a good texture for you (some people like them a little more cooked than others) and then add in the tofu and the broccoli / cauliflower (if using).
- Stir it all together until it's hot throughout and taste for salt and pepper. Add more if necessary.
- Place some tofu in a warm tortilla and add whatever else you have in your fridge. Salsa and avocado make it even more bomb.
I hope that your week is as beautiful as you are. May you notice the stars and play in the sun.