Airplane meals provide a welcome break from the mundane activity known as flying. But the food’s quality leaves a lot to be desired. At the same time, many of us passengers long for fresh food that satisfies and nourishes, especially on a long uncomfortable journey.
If you wish to eat healthfully on a plane, you have three options:
2. Eat what’s in front of you and be sorry
3. Bring your food along with you.
If you choose the third option, here are some guidelines, ideas, and recipes. And then apply them to any means of transportation – train, bus, or boat.
When packing food for a long ride there are a few parameters to consider:
- It should be hydrating
– It should be neighbor-friendly (not noisy or smelly or messy)
– It should be light, but filling and not skimpy.
– It should be delicious and comforting, especially if you’re terrified of flying (like me).
– It should be wholesome
– It should fit in one of those compartmentalized lunch boxes
Some of the above parameters are self-explanatory, but some need explanation. So here goes:
Get food you can cut into small pieces and pack in the compartments of your lunchbox. Tuck some ice packs into your lunchbox, so the food stays fresh.
Gone are the days when you could bring water to a flight. If you’re thirsty on an airplane, you’re at the mercy of the staff.
So pack some fruits that will help you stay hydrated. Cut them and arrange neatly in your lunchbox: Strawberries, melons of all kinds, citrus fruits, tropical fruits such as star fruit, kiwi, pineapple, and mango.
Pack food that won’t offend the stranger sitting so close to you. Nothing smelly or crunchy or messy. If you take nuts, get softer nuts like cashews or walnuts. So you can chew discretely. If you get cheese, get one that doesn’t smell. No garlicky or heavily seasoned food. You might like them, but your neighbor might not.
Here are some food ideas and 2 recipes:
1. Fruits, cheeses, and nuts combined make light meals. They include everything you need to feel satisfied (sweet, salty, protein, and fat). If you’re dairy-free, skip the cheese and maybe add more nuts and some herbs.
2. One of my favorite combination is sweet cantaloupe with some creamy feta and walnuts. Add a sprinkle of fresh mint leaves for a refreshing delight.
3. An even more luxurious combo is fresh goat cheese, dates and baby leave of wild arugula. Fill each fruit with a bit of cheese and tuck an arugula leaf. Grab a glass of dry white wine from the drinks carts and you’re good.
4. Chickpeas or lentils salad mixed with some chopped hardy vegetables get better as they sit. So they make a pleasing mid-flight meal. These particular legumes are easier on the digestive system than others. Pack some hardy blanched vegetables mixed with cooked chickpeas and an excellent vinaigrette (see recipe).
5. If you crave to comfort of noodles, cook some Asian soba or brown rice noodles. Let them cool and mix with some chopped blanched vegetables, cashews, and miso sauce (see recipe).
6. For dessert, get small pieces of our brain power bar. It has a low GI, so you won’t get a sugar rush. And perhaps the brain-friendly ingredients will calm you down and make you forget that you’re suspended a million miles up in the air.
- • 1/2-pound asparagus, broccoli, or green beans
- • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or lentils, drained.
- • Chopped fresh herbs
- • Juice of 1 blood orange
- • One teaspoon red wine vinegar
- • One tablespoon Dijon mustard
- • Freshly ground black pepper
- • Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Blanch the veggies. Slice into 1-to-1 1/2-inch lengths. Combine with beans in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the orange juice, vinegar and mustard, and a little salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil until the vinaigrette is thick and emulsified. Season to taste, dress the beans and vegetables and toss to coat. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- • 3 tablespoons neutral oil (such as peanut, canola, vegetable, etc).
- • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- • Two teaspoons miso
- • 1/4 teaspoon (a drop) sesame oil
- • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth, adding a dash more vinegar or sugar to taste. Feel free to spice it up with some Sriracha, a hit of hot pepper flakes, some grated fresh ginger or even a teaspoon of peanut butter.