We started our Great Minds Eat Alike series in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions by cooks and eaters whose mentality towards cooking and eating meshes with ours. Today we are excited to bring you a great travel eating tips from someone who knows what it’s like to try to eat well when you’re far, far away from your kitchen. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure this summer, Dasha’s tips will serve you well in making the most of your time away. Don’t forget to send your stove a postcard!
Dasha Barannik is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who works as a management consultant in New York City. She collects balsamic vinegars from around the world, swears by gooey chocolate and peanut butter desserts, has a major crush on the color purple, and is never without her sarcasm. Her job takes her on travels far and wide, and she’s here today to share her great ideas on eating well and nutritiously while away from home.
–Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
For those who love food, traveling can be both thrilling and anxiety-inducing. Regardless of whether we’re away from home for business or for pleasure, we can’t wait to eat our way through a new city, book reservations at the hottest restaurants and forage for local delicacies not available at home. But after a few days of subsisting on eggs Benedict, duck confit, and salted caramel ice cream, reality hits: we feel sluggish, a bit gluttonous, and not at all like our normal quinoa-and-kale-loving selves. With a bit of forethought, however, it’s possible to enjoy a delicious trip without sacrificing health or sanity.
**Tips & Tricks**
Plan ahead. Before you leave, think about the meals you’ll need to account for during your travel, and check out food options online. CIBO Gourmet Markets have a vast, albeit expensive, selection of Greek yogurt, vegan lunches, fruit and energy bars, and you can always find a banana and a KIND bar at Starbucks. Make the effort to survey your options when arriving in a new airport or city — it’s worth it to walk a few extra minutes for healthy and delicious food. If there’s a grocery store near your hotel, stock up on simple foods to prepare yourself, such as salads, sandwiches and oatmeal.
BYO. Instead of shelling out $20 for subpar airport cuisine, pack your own meals and snacks. Aim for a combination of protein, fat and carbs. Bring banana-peanut butter oatmeal chilled overnight, fruit, protein powder, or granola along for breakfast. Since meal times become blurred across time zones, a few snacks can morph into lunch or dinner. Carrots, celery, hard boiled eggs, Justin’s almond butter packets, bananas, apples, grapes, grain-based salads, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, Amazing Grass bars and greens packets, nut butter and jam or hummus and veggie sandwiches, and whole grain crackers will all survive the journey in your carry-on, with TSA’s blessing.
Focus on fresh. Though the siren song of peanut M&Ms and fast food is especially tantalizing when traveling, it’s also hard to deny that meals rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods make us more energetic and happier. Avoid salty foods (check the label for high sodium), long ingredient lists, anything fried, fat free “diet” foods and sugary stuff high in refined carbs. Consume real, whole foods as much as possible, and your body will thank you!
Stick to your “normal.” Dining out every night on a business trip may seem glamorous, but can quickly lead to daily overindulging. Keep things balanced by prioritizing which meals to splurge on and which to enjoy as you would at home — with reasonable portions and simple ingredients. To make things easier, most hotels and restaurants will gladly accommodate requests to pack up half of an entree or omit heavy ingredients. I like to start each day with a stabilizing and comforting bowl of banana oatmeal and make veggies a priority at lunch.
Hydrate often. Drinking plenty of water is always important, but so much more valuable in the desert-like environment of a plane. Buy the largest bottle of water you can find and drink up. Your skin will stay fresh, you’ll feel energized, and your stomach won’t mistake dehydration for hunger.
Be prepared. Eating mindfully when away from home can be a challenge, complicated by a lack of healthy or appealing options when you need them most. Having snacks ready to go lets you eat when you’re truly hungry and prevents the all-consuming, ravenous hunger that leads to overeating later in the day. Make it a point to hoard healthy snacks from hotel buffets and airport lounges. Fruit is a no-brainer, but protein is easier to forget. Grab a few raw almonds, a skim latte, or a Greek yogurt.
Save room for special treats. Nearly every destination has at least one amazing specialty that most people don’t eat on a regular basis. When I’m flying through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, I always make it a point to stop by the Vosges shop for some black salt caramel chocolate. No trip to LA is complete without street-style tacos. And who can leave Paris without sampling an array of gloriously stinky cheeses and Pierre Hermé macarons? Indulge mindfully and savor these moments — you have an entire lifetime to be healthy!
Find local gems. Before I visit a new city, I search online for the “can’t miss” food destinations: blogs, Yelp, and food magazines are all great resources. From food trucks in Portland to night markets in Chiang Mai to la Boqueria in Barcelona, each place has a unique and lively scene waiting to be uncovered. Places like this have yielded some of my most authentic and memorable food memories, unrivaled by anything experienced at a fast food chain.
Write it down. Keep a journal to jot down notes on incredible dishes, interesting ingredients, restaurant recommendations, or just daily eats. You’ll have a wealth of inspiration for later, and recording a few meals will keep you honest about what you’re putting into your body while away from home.
–Dasha Barannik, BGSK Contributor