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Eat Well Aug. 1. 2014

Healthy Travel Recipes & Snacks, part I

Aug. 1. 2014
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN


Food is an integral part of my life, obviously. Not just for sustenance or fuel, but whole body nourishment on all levels. Food is social, emotional, enjoyable, and ultimately food is culture. If there’s one theme that runs through my philosophy about food and evidenced in my recipes, it’s global. I’m constantly on the quest to experience the globe and other cultures through foods and revisiting what said culture does so beautifully by interpreting into my own plant-based and whole foods type of way. One of my closet passions in life, not so private anymore, is traveling. I LOVE to travel, now granted I’m not a globetrotter nor have I traveled to many of the places on my “travel to-do list”, but I feel I’ve had a taste of those cultures through the food I make and for now that’ll do perfectly well.

Some of places we will (I say will with a lot of determination!) travel to range from India, Australia, Germany, South Africa, Tibet, Ireland, Thailand, to both of our Scandinavian roots in Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. Culinary classics like Spain, Italy, Paris, and Japan are also on our list, and so many more to name our favorites! The experiences I’ve had in traveling revolve around road trips back home to Cincinnati with a car full of laughter, loud music, B singing loudly, me dancing, and Zoey snoozing in the back seat trying to ignore it all. Some of my best memories involve traveling in our cars and on planes to and from vacations; and both of these trips can sum up traveling for the most of us being by plane or vehicle. The one downside to traveling is obvious, the lack of healthy food. Whether you’re in transit via car stopping at a gas station, it’s a rarity to find something whole foods and if you do you can bet it’s poor quality. In the same regard, when in airports you’re surrounded by tourist gift shops selling candies, processed snacks, and franchised restaurants all over. Again, another conundrum if you’re seeking healthy food, but especially for those of us following a specific lifestyle (i.e. gluten free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.). So what do you do? You prepare.

One thing you can always count on to supply your body with energy, hydration, and food that’s going to keep you feeling awesome for when you arrive at your destination, is your snack bag!  Seriously, I never leave my house before traveling without my Travel Food Survival Kit or some of these examples of my other favorite snacks below. Being prepared is a daily to-do, which hopefully simply turns into your daily routine. Whether it’s preparing meals ahead of time on your batch cooking day for the week ahead or simply packing lunch for yourself and the family the day of, it all requires a level or preparedness.

There are a couple of key things I look for when packing my Travel Food Survival Kit/bag including foods that are going to keep me hydrated with ease, keep digestion going smooth, foods that are portable and require no refrigeration, and loaded with antioxidants. When we travel, many of our digestive systems take a hit, whether it be suffering from diarrhea or constipation, the pendulum can swing both ways. To ensure you’re staying on track and feeling great, hydration is key along with good quality fiber. Also, antioxidants to fight any free radical damage that goes along with being in closed quarters with others on a plan or in a car. I’ll leave the in depth tips and tricks in my tip sheets for now, those are great resources to download when you’re about to travel to supplement this post- today I want to focus on a glimpse of my travel bag.

Healthy snacks you’ll always find in my bag

  • Fresh fruit // it’s convenient, it travels well, it’s in it’s own package (i.e. skin), and can be found in many places
  • Sweet Sprouted Millet Granola // make a large batch ahead of time to last you for snacks, a breakfast, or even dessert on the fly
  • Avocados // I’ll pack these in my carry-on/travel tote for a filling snack that’s loaded with fiber and nutrition. I literally eat this with a spoon!
  • Lemons // to flavor any water you’re drinking, to add to hot tea or water, and of course to add a bit of vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy while traveling
  • Raw cacao nibs // loaded with magnesium and a great crunchy snack for when I have a sweet tooth… because we all know that’s bound to happen
  • Tigernuts // my new obsession. Tigernuts are amazing sources of healthy fats, carbs, fiber, prebiotics, and protein all in one- more on these powerful nuts later
  • Bubble Water (a.k.a. my Chia Fresca) // chia seeds mixed with water to create a satisfying drink that’s loaded with fiber and will keep you hydrated with ease
  • Pumpkin seeds // loaded with zinc, which is important in healthy immune function
  • Lunch box // with a mixture of raw veggies that will keep fine out of the fridge for a day, Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread, dried fruit (I love figs for their fiber content)
  • Brazil nuts // great for healthy fats, protein, and loaded with selenium
  • Massaged Kale Salad // in a jar! No excuse to not get in your greens.
    • BONUS RECIPE: add a squeeze of the lemon you have packed with you + a bit of the avocado and smash the avocado with a fork until you form a thick “dressing”, top with your sliced veggies, nuts, and there you have a salad on the go!
  • Utensils // I never leave the house without my bamboo utensil packs, they’re incredibly lightweight and perfect for traveling. Lunch boxes are perfect for keeping things cold and also separated. Mini-dip containers, I use these for holding nuts, seeds, and random things! Salad jar to use for anything from granola, veggie sticks, to salads. Also, I love bringing granola in large ziploc bags or linen bags to keep it fresh for the day, if you’re storing your granola or Nourishing Muesli for longer than I day I would store it in an airtight bag versus the linen. Check out my Kitchen Tools page too for all of these mentioned and my favorite travel containers!


For more tips on traveling healthy, download my Healthy Travel Tip sheet and the Travel Food Survival Kit with detailed brands and products I never leave the house without in addition to these snack ideas and recipes. Also included in both of those downloads are tips on reducing jet lag and products I love taking with me to keep me feeling my best to enjoy the vacation/travel time.

I hope this post was helpful, I’ve been taking many of your requests for the “how to” series and you all are brilliant and have such great ideas- keep them coming! Comment below with more “how to” posts you’d like to see covered. What are some of your destination travel “to-do’s” on your list?!

Bon voyage!

xx McKel

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  • Nik

    I was curious as to what type of bread you eat?
    Also, great post! You have the most gorgeous photography!

    Can’t wait to read about tigernuts!

    • Hi Nik,
      The bread recipe in this post is the Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread- check the link for it within the post!

  • When travelling by car and/or on camping trips, I’m pretty good at packing healthy food. My challenge, however, is travelling by plane what with the restrictions on liquids in carry on luggage, baggage weight restrictions and lack of vegetarian choices in airport eateries on layovers. Thank goodness for bagel and peanut butter from Tim Hortons!

    • Yes I totally agree, traveling with liquids can be tricky- that’s why these are so great because they aren’t liquid. And yeah, thank goodness for nut butters!

  • Jillian McGuinness

    I love your recipes and website. I would love to know where you get those metal boxes shown above? Do they come with a lid? Thanks!

  • I love this post! I always take healthy snacks to work (a lunch box filled with fresh raw fruits and veggies), nuts, carrots with hummus dip, quinoa salads, and sometimes oatmeal 🙂 What are your thoughts on Microwaves?? I’m moving to a new house soon and was thinking of how I hate Microwaves because they seem to kill the nutritions, but then again, they’re convenient right? If using oven instead to reheat a meal, that would need consume more energy… So I don’t know if I should buy one 🙂

    • Thank you Diana, I’m glad you found this helpful! Truthfully I don’t own a microwave- all the reheating I do is in a toaster oven or in a cast iron/non-stick skillet. It’s quick and I enjoy the process of “cooking” rather than putting it in the microwave 😉 personal preference I suppose. There’s conflicting research out there about microwaves and it’s impact on food/nutrient loss.

  • I love this post! I’ve just moved to the UK from New Zealand purely to travel around Europe (particularly Scandinavia – desperate to visit Lapland!) but the weekend travels makes me so nervous when it comes to food and finding healthy food that won’t upset my stomach too much. This is a really great guide to work on, so thank you!! Absolutely love you blog 🙂

  • I love this post! I travel to Houston for cancer scans and treatment every three months, and I always pack a big bag of my healthy staples. It’s a great way to feel your best no matter the situation. I love your ideas, and now I think I gotta get a tiffin to carry it around!

  • Erin Cruz

    Hello, I’m new to your blog and I was just reading this post about travelling. I tried to download the tip sheets you had listed, but they apparently are no longer available. Is there any way to get these? I would love to look these over as we are getting ready to take a trip. Thank you so much!

    • McKel Hill

      Hi Erin! You can download the Healthy Travels Bundle here. Safe travels and happy to have you here on NS 😉

  • Hanna Abreu

    Thank you so much for this amazing post. I struggle with healthy eating everytime i travel, specially when travel with family. Now i have a clear plan for my next travel next month thanks to this very well explained post. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • McKel Hill

      So glad you enjoyed this one Hanna- safe and healthy travels! xxM

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