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How do you say, “Gluten-free, dairy-free” in another language? That’s one question to avoid when traveling abroad! Fortunately, there are ways to master the travel snack pack to always ensure adequate sustenance. Recently traveling to Portugal with my like-minded (and like–dieted) sister and friends, we found creative, fun, simple solutions to avoid any potential food faux-pas. CitySlim proudly presents the following tips...
- Survival Snacks – in advance
- Selecting your survival snacks in advance is key. Great staple snacks will contain more healthy fats and protein and less sugars. Although “bars” seem like a good idea for a quick fix, the high concentration of fruits and added sugars will often push your desired glycemic index over the edge. Personal favorites include:
- Trail mix: Whole Foods sells great mini-packs of nuts and raisins. Almonds and walnuts, especially, contain healthy omega-3 fat to induce “fullness” and protein for energy. Select a brand of trail mix without candies, chocolate, candied or sugared fruits/nuts, or sulfur preservatives (if possible). The more natural the better. Added sugar will give you a spike and then plunge in your blood sugar (bad for touring stamina), while added sodium may cause or enhance post-travel bloating.
- Chop up fresh fruit and vegetables pre-flight. Chopped apples and pears are always refreshing, while tangerines or mandarin oranges are easy to pack with their protective peels. Carrots and celery will add a low-calorie crunch.
- Almond butter packets come in very handy! Spread over the chopped fruits, rice cakes, or eat raw. Same idea with hummus, if you can find travel-size packs.
- Bars: choose a brand with the least amount of ingredients as possible! Products now exist with only 3-5 ingredients, for example, purely nuts and fruits.
- Crunchy carbs: although gluten-free crackers and carbohydrate-laden products can be found, these should be packed sparingly, if at all. A good alternative would be unsalted rice-cakes (good with almond butter), although fresh nuts, vegetables, and fruits provide more healthful nutrients.
- Before you arrive, look at menus online… when you can translate them to English! A simple online search for “gluten-free, dairy-free restaurants” in your desired destination might lead to helpful suggestions. Reading online reviews was also very helpful for us on this trip. Many websites and blogs will provide lists of food-intolerant friendly places for eating. Try to make your reservations in advance!
- Also, research the cuisine and specialty dishes of your destination. Understand what is usually in the main meals you will encounter on your travels and if those ingredients are in accordance with your own personal dietary habits. For example, “caldo verde” soup in Portugal seemed to appear on almost every menu and much to my surprise, happened to be made of puréed potatoes, kale (or collard greens), olive oil, and salt (plus/minus garlic and onions) … literally, it means “green broth.”
- Translations: write out the foods to which you are allergic or intolerant in the native language to show waiters to ensure you order properly. Take a screenshot of these translations and keep them on your phone, if you fear losing pieces of paper. Ask a native speaker, if you happen to have one as a friend! Having a food orientation from a Portuguese colleague personally came in very handy.
- When you arrive:
- Restock fruits (fresh and dried), vegetables, and nuts (preservative-free, if possible). Sliced avocado in the morning with salt and pepper is a great eat-and-run breakfast that will provide satiating nutrients for your active morning.
- If you pack chia seeds with you, you can buy preferred variation of milk (almond, soy, coconut) for chia seed pudding, which came in very handy on our trip!
- Eggs and olive oil are wonderful if you have a stove top. Hard boil eggs the night before and keep in the fridge for a quick breakfast the following morning or scramble them with olive oil prior to exploring.
- Pack extra plastic bags or small containers for your snacks to preserve them for the duration of your trip and traveling back home!
- Get creative with staple products from home and local products you can purchase abroad.
At the end of the weekend, odds are you may wake up feeling groggy, dehydrated, and in need of something sweet and fresh to perk you back up. Well, if that's the case, or you find yourself craving a refreshing, healthful breakfast, look no further. I present to you easy-to-make, 6-ingredient-only Chia Seed Pudding.
Chia seeds are a whole grain "superfood," usually grown organically, non-GMO, and naturally free of gluten. Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are packed with nutrients. Each seed is loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids*, and various micronutrients. The word "chia" even means "strength" in the Mayan language, and the Aztec warriors would feed them to runners for fuel and endurance in battle.
Recently, a recent double-blind, randomized control study (a research gold standard!) studied chia seed effects on seventy-seven overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes. After 6-months on a calorie-restricted diet with either chia seeds or an oat bran-control, the chia seed diet group lost more weight than the control, had a greater waist size reduction, reduced inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein), and increase in adiponectin, the satiety (or fullness) hormone .
To get the most benefit of the seeds, they should be ground or soaked. Luckily (or not!), this recipe calls for soaking the chia seeds in coconut milk for 30 minutes.
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2 cups coconut milk, vanilla-flavored (or if regular coconut milk, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup diced strawberries (or blueberries, blackberries, or combination).
- Place chia seeds in a bowl.
- Whisk together coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour over chia seeds and stir well. Allow coconut milk-chia seed mixture to soak until thickened, at least 20 minutes (or cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight).
- Stir pudding and top with strawberries (or berry selection of your choice)!
*Chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted to omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body.
1. Vuksan V, et al. Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017 Feb;27(2):138-146. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2016.11.124. Epub 2016 Dec 9.
I never thought it would be possible, but ready-to-bake (and eat raw) gluten-free vegan cookie dough exists! Whole Foods happened to carry this delightful treasure and I knew upon first glance it was something I had to try.
First, what's in it? Ingredients include:
- Gluten Free Flour Blend (Brown Rice, Garbanzo),
- Earth Balance® (Oil Blend [Palm Fruit, Canola and Olive Oils],
- Water, Salt,
- Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Sunflower Lecithin, Lactic Acid [Non-Dairy], Annatto Extract [Color]), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Organic Cane Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin [an emulsifier], Vanilla Bean Seeds), Brown Cane Sugar, Apple Sauce (Apples, Water, Ascorbic Acid), Pure Vanilla Extract, Baking Soda, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch [made from nongenetically modified corn]), Sea Salt.
Overall, not too bad! Since there are no eggs, it is even possible to eat the dough raw, which is an added bonus.
However, the dough happens to lack the extra "umph" of regular cookie dough... that moment of transgression when you risk suffering from salmonella just to savor a satiating bite of raw decadence.
Once baked, though, the cookies come out tasty, just not super sweet or gooey (probably due to lack of glue-y gluten), and perhaps, in comparison to the old Toll House days of childhood, a tad bland.
Overall, for the convenience of a ready-to-bake product, safe for vegans and the gluten-free, I found the final product to be satisfactory and worthy of the sporadic indulgence.
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Patients and friends, alike, ask all the time, “What’s your favorite healthy snack? What do I eat when I want something sweet and savory?” Well, now you have it: Stuffed Dates!
With only 3 ingredients, this recipe is quick and easy to make with all whole-food ingredients. The sweetness of the dates will satisfy any sugar cravings, while the healthy fats from the almond butter and chopped pecans will quench your hunger and keep you feeling full longer.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get to it…
- 5-10 Medjool dates (organic, if possible)
- Almond butter: crunchy, unsalted
- Handfull of chopped nuts*
*Your choice: pecans (my favorite), macadamia, almonds, or walnut
1. Slice dates down the middle with a knife. Remove pit.
2. Add small spoonful of almond butter to perfectly fill the date.
3. Sprinkle with your choice of chopped nuts: *pecans, walnuts, almonds, macadamia (and add to the plate, too, for garnish!)
See, there you have it. Healthy, savory, sweet, soft, and crunchy. Bam.
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