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Monday, July 15, 2013

Snacks on a Plane!

Alisha McDarris
Yummy choco date bars!
There’s nothing that gives me the munchies like traveling. Maybe it’s the boredom, maybe it’s the teeny bags of pretzels that do nothing but increase my appetite. I don’t know, but it makes me want to eat. Unfortunately, airport and airplane food is both over-priced and unhealthy (I don’t know which is worse) and I simply refuse to fork over the cash.

Now, I should be able to make the four-hour plane trek from Florida to Ohio without a whole meal, but to go that long without some sort of nutrient-rich between-meal snack? There’s no way. I need me my between-meal snack.

But when it comes to traveling with food, not all snacks are created equal. Sandwiches get smooshed in carry-ons, cookies get obliterated in personal items, and fruit, while one of my favorite food groups, is heavy, takes up a lot of space, and can be sensitive to bruising.
So what’s a hungry wanderer to do? Pack a snack that is lightweight, resilient and nutritious to get you from check-in to baggage claim without a grumbly tummy.

Snack bars, trail mix and granola are great snacks when you’re on the go. Now, you could go out and buy those items at the grocery store, but I never do. They’re usually loaded with added sugar and preservatives and even the “all natural” ones aren’t that healthy. So we like to make our own.

One of our most recent faves are Choco Date Bars (or balls). They have fruit, protein, natural sweetness, all a girl could ever want in a snack. Plus, they provide options. Ingredients are easily substitutable if you don’t like or don’t have an ingredient. They’re even vegan if you use agave instead of honey. Also, they’re addicting.


CHOCO DATE BARS

1/2 CUP NUTS (almons, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, they’ll all do!)

18 PITTED DATES (we like to add some raisins into the mix, too.)

1/2 CUP UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER

PINCH OF SALT (Sea salt, naturally.)

3 TBS AGAVE NECTAR (or your favorite syrupy sweetened)

SCOOP OF VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER (not necessary, but beneficial if you want an extra boost)

TO MAKE: Process nuts, dried fruit, cocoa and salt in a food processor until ground. Add your liquid seetener bit by bit until everything comes together. Line a loaf pan or similar sized pan with parchment paper or grease with non-stick spray and press mixture into it or roll into balls. Pop it in the freezer for an hour or so and ta-dah! Delectable airport snack! Other options include adding shredded and unsweetened coconut, puffed cereal, you name it. Get creative. (Adapted from a recipe found in “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.”)

Not your cup of tea? How about some trail mix? You hardly need a recipe for this because you can customize it completely to fit your tastes when you make it at home. Just grab your favorite nuts (we like almonds, pecans and peanuts), dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries and pineapple are my faves), sweetness (I could do without this added sugar, but I don’t mind a small sprinkling of mini chips or M&M’s), even your favorite cereal (some kind of granola or fiber cereal is good for extra crunch). Mix it up, toss it in a bag and you’re good to go.



Making granola is probably the most difficult thing to make at home, at least at first. At least for me. Here’s what you’ll need:

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

2 CUPS ROLLED OATS

APPLE JUICE OR WATER

1 SMALL APPLE

1/2 CUP UNSWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT

AGAVE OR HONEY

PINCH OF SALT

TSP CINNAMON

PINCH NUTMEG

ALMONDS

RAISINS

TO MAKE: Place your oats in a bowl and drizzle apple juice or water over them until they are moist, but not soaked. no liquid should be sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Core and dice an apple and toss in the bits. Add your salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and sweetener. More can be added later to taste if needed. Mix together then spread out on a lined or greased baking sheet and pop in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, checking and mixing every 10 minutes. I’ve found that this isn’t an exact science, so more or less time may be required depending on your oven and how moist your ingredients are. Just keep an eye on it! When it starts to get golden brown, taste some, add more spices or sweetener if required, and toss the coconut on top and let it toast for the remainder of the cook time, no more than 10 minutes. When the oats are crunchy, but not burnt, they’re done. Let cool completely before stashing in an air-tight container (or it will get stale), and add almonds and raisins or other nuts and dried fruit and you’re good to go. It’s great on yogurt, as cereal, added to trail mix, or eaten by the handful. Yum.

Another easy and nutritious snack are roasted chickpeas. They have plenty of protein and fiber, are nice and crunchy (so they’re a good replacement for unhealthy fried chips), and they’re light and tough so they’re great for tossing in your daypack without causing worry that they might get smooshed.


ROASTED CHICKPEAS (GARBANZO BEANS)

ONE BAG/POUND OF DRIED CHICKPEAS (you can use canned but as they are so mist they will have to cook for much longer)

2 TBS OLIVE OIL

1 TSP DIJON MUSTARD

1 TSP SALT

1 TSP CUMIN

1 TSP CURRY POWDER

1/2 TSP CAYENNE PEPPER (optional if you like spicy snacks)

TO MAKE: Soak chickpeas in a full bowl or pot of water overnight. Once soaked, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, drain the chickpeas and coat with all ingredients. Feel free to change the spices to your tastes. Use cajun seasoning or chili powder or just vinegar, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 45 minutes. When time is up, test the chickpeas to see if they’re crunchy. If they’re still a bit soft in the middle, put them back in and check every ten minutes or so until they’re crispy. Then remove them from the oven, add more oil and salt or spices if necessary and allow to cool completely before stashing in a storage container. For a sweeter snack, instead of spices, add honey, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a pinch of salt 10 minutes before the chickpeas are finished roasting. It’s a great on the go snack! Yum.

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha has been a writer and photographer forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least for more of her 20-something years than she hasn’t been those things... [Read More]

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