Photos by Pornchai Mittongtare

Frozen yogurt, candied popcorn, soft pretzels, and really bad coffee—no, I'm not at the circus or the mall, I'm wandering the Denver airport in search of breakfast. I could wait and purchase one of the snack boxes available on the flight, but those bland and overpriced meals easily can contain more than half the fat and calories you need in a day.

The solution to purchasing travel food? Make and carry your own instead. For shorter flights—or for road trips, backpacking, and other on-the-go activities—pack one of the options here. Add fruit, veggies, and a drink, and you'll arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and energized.

Great grab-and-go options
  • Apples and string cheese
  • Trail mix: raw almonds, walnuts, dried blueberries and cranberries, pumpkin seeds, roasted soy nuts, and chocolate chips
  • Food and energy bars: look for whole-food ingredients,such as nut butters, fruit, and seeds
  • Baked, flavored chips; or dried fruit or fruit leather

—M.B.W.

Hummus and Veggie Wrap
Serves 2 / Pack with: whole-wheat pretzels and an orange. Drink: a smoothie-style juice or kefir. Storage tips: This recipe makes more hummus than you'll need, so freeze the rest for when you return from your journey. Or save time by using store-bought hummus, available in a variety of flavors. When at home, try this wrap with deli turkey and a tablespoon of store-bought pesto.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can no-salt chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons tahini
2 10- to 12-inch whole-grain wraps or tortillas
2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted
2 carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
1 zucchini, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 cup baby spinach leaves

1. In a food processor, chop garlic. Add chickpeas, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and tahini; process, adding more lemon juice if necessary to make a smooth (but not wet) hummus. Season with salt and pepper and thoroughly combine.

2. Spread 2–3 tablespoons hummus in the center of each wrap, leaving a 1-inch margin. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Layer carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, and spinach on each wrap, leaving edges clear. Fold in one end of wrap, then roll slowly into a burrito shape. Wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 289 calories
% fat calories: 29
Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 10g
Carbohydrate: 42g
Fiber: 8g
Sodium: 233mg

Spinach, Basil, and Tomato Frittatas
Serves 4–8 / Pack with: frozen grapes (to keep the frittata cool). Drink: a bottle of cranberry, pomegranate, or açai juice. Prep tip: If you're making these for picky eaters, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper separately; add vegetables or cheese individually to each ramekin or muffin cup, then pour egg mixture over the top.

4 eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups (1 ounce) baby spinach leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Coat four 1-cup ramekins or eight 1/2-cup muffin cups with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Add milk, pepper, salt, basil, tomatoes, and cheese.

3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil; sauté garlic over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add spinach and sauté 1–2 minutes, until spinach is wilted but still a vibrant green. Add spinach mixture to egg mixture. Ladle into prepared ramekins or cups. Bake for 18–20 minutes, until eggs are cooked thoroughly. (They will expand while cooking and will collapse while cooling.) When cool, remove from cups. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/2 cup):
Calories: 70 calories
% fat calories: 55
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 100mg
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 2g
Fiber: 0g
Sodium: 193mg

Carrot Breakfast Muffins
Serves 12 / Pack with: a small tub of yogurt. Drink: orange juice. Storage tip: These keep well in the freezer.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat (1 percent) milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated peeled carrots (about 2 large)
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray. In a large bowl, sift together first nine ingredients (flour through salt). Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine milk, juice, syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir in carrots and raisins. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on rack.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 200 calories
% fat calories: 20
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 41mg
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 36g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 140mg

Better PB&J with Banana
Serves 4 / Pack with: carrot and celery sticks. Drink: a carton of milk. Prep tip: If you prefer, skip the jelly.

3 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons peanut or other nut butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 slices whole-wheat bread
1 banana, sliced
2 tablespoons fruit-only jelly

1. In a food processor, blend ricotta cheese, nut butter, honey, and cinnamon. Divide mixture on two slices of bread. Top with banana and jelly. Top with remaining bread slices.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/2 sandwich):
Calories: 213 calories
% fat calories: 27
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 4mg
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 34g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 170mg

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Serves 6–8 / Pack with: an apple. Drink: bottled iced tea. Prep tip: To speed prep, use store-bought dressing (we like Newman's Own Lighten Up Italian Dressing); simply add 3 tablespoons to the pasta mixture and refrigerate.

4 ounces whole-grain fusilli (spiral pasta)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk broccoli with florets, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped scallions or green onions
1 cup quartered artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained
1/4 cup whole pitted kalamata olives
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.

2. Set a large bowl of ice water nearby. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add carrots and broccoli and cook for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and continue to cook for another minute, until vegetables are tender but not soft. Drain, then transfer vegetables to ice water to stop cooking. When cold, drain thoroughly.

3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, oregano, and scallions or green onions. Whisk until blended.

4. Combine pasta and vegetables in a medium bowl. Add dressing, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled. Remove from refrigerator and stir in tomato, cheese, and pine nuts.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 198 calories
% fat calories: 42
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 4mg
Protein: 7g
Carbohydrate: 24g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 128mg

Black Bean, Corn, and Quinoa Salad
Serves 8 / Pack with: whole-grain crackers or breadsticks. Drink: flavored sparkling water. Prep tip: Easy to modify; just add any crisp vegetables you have on hand (zucchini and fresh chilies are good). Serving tip: This is also nice for a light dinner, mounded on a bed of mixed greens.

1 cup water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced scallions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 15-ounce can no-salt black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ear fresh corn, cooked, kernels removed (about 1 cup kernels)
1 small tomato, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or a mix)
2 tablespoons canned diced green chilies
1 cup chopped fresh mango or peach
Lime wedges

1. In a saucepan, bring water or broth to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat until water is absorbed, 10–15 minutes. Cool.

2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, scallions, and cilantro. In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, green onions, beans, corn kernels, tomato, bell pepper, green chilies, and mango or peach. Add olive oil mixture and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cool. Serve with lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 125 calories
% fat calories: 11
Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 24g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 40mg


World traveler Melissa B. Williams is the editor of Healing Lifestyles & Spas magazine.