Do you often find that you need something that you can grab as you rush out the door, and can eat on the run or at your destination? Does a commute to work replace a leisurely time at the breakfast table. Do you attend school but find your best time to eat something nourishing is after you arrive, for example in a morning break? Is your drive home a time when you are ravenous?
Here are some healthy possibilities to keep you nourished:
*Stock up on fresh fruit; bananas, apples, pears, and other hand-held fruits are easiest. Keep a container or small plastic bag handy in your car (or backpack) for peels or cores.
*Quickly slap together a sandwich using whole grain bread and nut butter. If you’d like to venture beyond peanut butter, try some almond, hazelnut, cashew, or sunflower seed butter, or sesame tahini. If you prefer, include a sliced banana.
*Check out the varieties of trail mix in local supermarkets. Better still, create your own version by adding to a basic mix or combine your favourite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Consider almonds (for calcium), walnuts (for omega-3 fatty acids), cashews (for zinc), and pecans and hazelnuts (for vitamin E). Add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds; these provide plenty of trace minerals, vitamins, and protein. Dried apricots, currants, and raisins add iron to your mix. Dried mango contains vitamin C, even after drying.
*Take a single portion of instant oatmeal for when you arrive at work. Look for those in the container that doubles as a bowl. If you like, add dried fruit or nuts. Cereals are good with apple juice; you could keep shelf stable portion packs of apple juice, Rice Dream, or fortified soymilk handy.
*Take fruited soy yogurt. If you prefer, include a little plastic bag of granola for a fibre-rich topping.
* When you have a few minutes, slice some carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc. and place them in tote-able food containers or plastic baggies and for protein, buy the small tubs (about 1 cup or 227 g) of hummus, available in so many flavors.
*For a high protein, low fat, item when you need your destination, and have access to a kettle, stock up on instant (just-add-hot-water) bean, pea or lentil soups in the tub-shaped single serving cardboard containers. This is a satisfying snack; you’ll discover quite a variety in supermarkets.
*Pack up leftovers from supper into a small container so that they will be ready to take with you.
Tip: Keep napkins and clean plastic reusable plates, cups, forks, spoons, and knives in the car, your backpack, or a desk drawer so you can feast on things from the market when you’re on the go or at work. You’ll find space-saving items in outdoor equipment stores.
You may be surprised how easy it is to find healthful, vegetarian items in ordinary stores and other locations. Here are some possibilities:
Traditional Supermarkets: Bananas, other fruit (if you have access to a sink to wash it), trail mix, pre-packaged baby carrots and hummus, prepared platters of bite sized veggies, whole grain cereals, salad bars, deli items, nuts, seeds, dried fruits.
Health Oriented Bakeries, Delis, and Natural Foods Stores: If you are near a good bakery, deli, or a health foods store that actually sells food, check out their freshly baked whole grain rolls, breads and muffins. Other convenient foods include smoothies, juices, deli items, salads and salad bars, ready-made soups, fresh fruit and vegetables, soy yogurt, fortified soy and rice beverages, and fruit-nut bars.
For those who travel farther: At airports you can find bananas, washed fruit, bagels with peanut butter, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereal, fruit juice, vegetarian nori rolls, and bean tortillas. Our local YVR has a juice bar among its fast food outlets. You can find a listing and review of veggie items at American airports at http://www.pcrm.org/health/reports/Airport_Food_Review_06.html
Vesanto Melina is a local dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics including “The New Becoming Vegetarian”, “Becoming Vegetarian”, Becoming Vegan”; the “Food Allergy Survival Guide” and the new “Raw Food Revolution Diet” Her website is: www.nutrispeak.com