Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Honest Dietitian's 2016 Commuter Food Favorites

Featuring My Favorite Commuter Foods

I drive a lot. I made the choice to go for my PhD and since I am a parent and had no intentions of moving my kids away from their friends and schools, this means I have a 3 hour round-trip commute to school between 1-4 days per week (depending on the semester). Couple that in with a full-time job as a clinical nutrition manager for three of those years...I have been busy. There is no doubt that a crazy schedule like this can sure make a person Hangry if they are not careful. And, since a lot of my commute is on the beautiful I-40, there have been many a times when I have been stuck in traffic for hours due to car accidents, fires, and so on. The worst was when I was leaving campus in time to make it home for my husband's delicious Fodmap friendly taco dip when I hit a standstill on I-40 with no possible way to exit to an alternative route. It was over 90 degrees outside and I had no water (I always carry a refillable bottle but it was empty), no food...and almost two hours later when we started to move, I had a raging migraine. That was the last time I have ever traveled without an emergency snack. Sometimes my schedule has been so packed that the only real "free" time I have had in a day has been the time I am in my car driving to the next scheduled event. I have found that I need to have 3 different types of foods to make my days and commutes the best they can be. I am also making this list with the very true assumption (for me) that there is not going to be appropriate access to a microwave to heat up any food. Here they are:


  • Commuter Food Number One: Foods that will get me through my scheduled meal times when I do not have a lunchbox with an ice pack. This is the good 'ole "I'm running so behind that I am going to throw a bunch of food into a plastic bag" situation. Even as a mostly Type A personality, I can't plan for everything to go smoothly so this does happen more often than I like.


GoMacro Thrive Bars & Protein Bars.
I love these bars. My favorite flavors are the Caramel Coconut Thrive Bar & the Protein Pleasure Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar. GoMacro makes really great products. I just noticed they have a sampler pack, so if you haven' tried these before- I highly recommend them. 


Barney Butters Almond Butter Snack Packs.
These butters are perfect to have on hand and with the large variety of choices, you are definitely going to find a flavor that you love. My favorite flavors are the Vanilla Espresso, Honey Flax, Cocoa Coconut, and the Bare Smooth Almond Butter. I literally have one of these snack packs in my purse at all time. Buy them here.

You will love these almond butters!


Artisans Organics Single Serving Squeeze Packs.
To be honest, I might be in love with the cashew nut butter. It is so incredibly creamy and delicious, I just love it so much. They also make squeeze packs for pecan butter, walnut butter, coconut butter, and so on. You will see me using their coconut butter & unbelievable cocoa spreads in some future recipes. Get your squeeze packs here.

Glutino Crackers.
You have to have something to put all of those delicious butters on! I like the original, cheddar, and sea salt crackers by Glutino. They are gluten-free but have a great consistency and are strong crackers to take on the road. The original crackers with the cashew nut butter and an orange, washed down with some chocolate coconut water is my pre-workout snack on my busy driving days. Give Glutino crackers a try!




Zico Chocolate Coconut Water.
I am often tracking my micronutrients, especially since I have been watching how much magnesium I have been getting in hopes of better controlling my migraines. With that monitoring, I find on days of heavy driving, I am not getting a lot of foods that have potassium and the 8.45oz. box has 500mg of potassium! These coconut waters are in travel appropriate boxes & in my opinion taste fine at room temperature. I get mine from Amazon because they have the smaller sizes than what my local grocery stores offer and they often offer coupons on the site- see here.

Bananas & Oranges.
Fruit that has a peel is the easiest for commuters because it can travel in a bunch of different bags, containers, areas and when you are ready to eat it, you just peel it (do this before you drive, of course). Oranges are great for Vitamin C, Thiamine, and Folate. Bananas are great for Potassium and B-6. Helpful hint is to always have a stash of paper towel or napkins around for the peeling process.


  • Commuter Food Number Two: Foods that I prefer to eat when I have a lunchbox with an ice pack. Food safety is important. And since my access to a microwave is limited, I do have a few favorites to keep me satisfied.


Siggi's Yogurt & 88 Acres Chocolate & Sea Salt Seednola
I love the Siggi's vanilla yogurt because you can actually see the vanilla specks in the yogurt. Then, put some of the amazing 88 Acres Chocolate & Sea Salt Seednola in it and you have a perfect carb and protein mixture of happiness. Check out Siggi's & 88 Acres for more info on their products.

Put some 88 Acres Seednola to make a delicious parfait!
Banza Tuna Pasta Salad
Banza pasta is so good and it is made from chickpeas! High protein, high fiber, low GI, and Gluten-Free. I cooked up half of the box (4oz) and added .75 cup of frozen peas & carrots, 1 can of Starkist chunk white tuna in water (drained), 4 Tbsp of Frank's Red Hot Stinging Honey Garlic Sauce to make the Banza Tuna Pasta Salad (2 servings with this recipe). One serving is: 305 calories, 25.6 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams of fiber, 4 grams fat, and 36% of your DV for Iron. Get your Banza pasta here!
Banza Tuna Pasta Salad


Avocado Chicken Salad
My husband makes the best chicken salad with avocado, chicken, grapes, and walnuts. I'll watch him next time he makes it to share the recipe. I enjoy eating this by itself or with crackers.

PB & Banana English Muffins
or
Cottage Cheese & Pineapple
These are always two good examples of a carb and protein combination to keep my brain and body fed for busy moments.


  • Commuter Food Number Three: The Emergency Car Snack


88 Acres Triple Berry Bar
2 bottles of water
Zico Chocolate Coconut Water
Unsalted Mixed Nuts & Raisins 
I'd say add chocolate, but chances are it will melt. Unsalted nuts are a better choice for when you have a limited amount of fluids.

If you're a commuter like me and have some food tips to share or ideas for the emergency car snacks, please comment below!

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