Up In the Air (The Not-So-Friendly Skies)
To make your next flight a breeze, bring your own healthy snacks and get out of the airport to sample the local fare whenever possible.
I love to travel, but only for adventure and vacation. If you give me an airplane ticket to some exotic locale, my face lights up like a Christmas tree. Business travel, however, is another story. There is the middle seat (can't they all be windows or aisles?). Even worse, there are the usual suspects of seat neighbors: the ones who want to talk the whole flight (and who could use a mint), the ones who keep getting up to open and close the luggage compartment, the loud talkers positioned a few rows over and, worst of all, my inevitable seatmate—the guy with terrible hygiene. Flying on airplanes has turned me into a bit of a germaphobe. If I had a wand to wave, there would be hand wipes for all—and let's not forget, plenty of mints!
Another problem with airlines is the food—or should I say, the complete lack thereof. When, exactly, did airlines stop serving anything more than a bag of three pretzels? There is always the airport food court, though it usually offers little more than unhealthy fast food. Not only are these foods high in fat (a bad idea when you will be stuck in a seat for hours, unable to walk off the calories), but their addictive greasy aroma circulates through the plane.
My advice is to be proactive and pack your own healthy options—and don't let the TSA take them! This month, I'm suggesting granola bars and have included an easy recipe is below. For extended layovers, I follow the advice of one of my favorite foodies, Anthony Bourdain. On his show “The Layover,” Bourdain makes a point of leaving the airport to explore the city and eat healthy in a non—food court environment. So check your bag, get out of the cramped terminal, and enjoy some local delicacies. Your body will thank you later.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups quick-cooking/instant oats, such as Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats (do not use regular old-fashioned oats)
- 1¾ cups crispy rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup flax meal or wheat germ
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or dried fruit (or to taste)
- Line a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large pot, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Add the oats, rice cereal, almonds, and flax meal (or wheat germ) to the pan and fold with a rubber spatula until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down lightly with a rubber spatula to even out. Sprinkle the miniature chocolate chips over top, adding more or less to suit your taste, and press down firmly with the spatula so the chips stick. The mixture should be tightly compacted in the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 1½ to 2 hours to cool.
- Use the foil overhang to transfer the uncut bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into rectangles. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have to stack them, be sure to use parchment paper or foil in between the layers, otherwise they'll stick together and fall apart.
Note: If you are substituting dried fruit for the chocolate chips, mix it in along with the other ingredients as opposed to sprinkling over top.