Twice a month I stray from my superlatively healthy diet and eat anything, no holds barred. A week or two ago I ate a couple slices of deep dish Chicago pizza with bacon and all sorts of nonsense on it. The idea behind this is that once in a while, usually while travelling, I find myself in a situation where eating healthy just isn't an option. Morocco was a place like that. Everything had butter in it. If I never voluntarily ate "dirty", I might feel sick when left with no other options. Also, the harm in eating normal food for two out of my 90 or so meals per month is negligible.
I try to use these cheat meals to try interesting foods or highly rated non-vegan restaurants, but the reality is that they often end up being meals at airports. I'll find myself on a three hour layover, starving, saying to my self, "Well... I guess I can have my cheat day now." One turkey sandwich later and I'm thinking, "There must be some solution to this problem."
After a bit of experimentation, I have found some pretty cool methods to have really healthy and delicious food anywhere I go.
First up is an amazing company that makes custom food bars, called Youbar. I used to eat things like Larabars, which are okay, but not ideal. Too much (natural) sugar, not enough real substance. The problem is that the kind of bar I want to eat may not be particularly commercially successful -- it would be packed full superfoods, nuts, and seeds, and have no sweeteners in it. Luckily, thanks to Youbar, I can finally get these.
They're a bit on the expensive side ($3.19 for a large bar, which is around 50% bigger than a Larabar), but the ingredients are high quality and the bars are made to your exact specifications. Beyond choosing every single ingredient, you also control the portion of each one. You can make the bars a bit cheaper by using coupon code TYNAN (11% off) and by ordering with friends or in quantity to minimize shipping, which is expensive for one box, but reasonable for multiple boxes.
I was apprehensive about ordering bars without sweetener at first, but the flavor is excellent. For the base I use half almond butter, half YouBar base (which is half almond butter and half dates). That puts enough dates in to have the bar slightly sweet, but not enough to add too much sugar. To see exactly how I make my bars, put in reorder code "7f8um" and to see how Todd makes them, use reorder code "w6ucr". Mine taste better, if you want my expert opinion.
The way I make the bars they have a perfect carb/fat/protein ratio and nearly 300 calories. Two of them make a decent meal in a pinch.
Cooking in the Airport
This is a convoluted plan method I've been thinking about for around a year, but haven't actually put into practice until recently. The results are awesome, though... it's a great way to cook healthy meals anywhere you can get water and electricity.
The first thing you need is a Zojirushi Ms. Bento lunch jar. I'm not thrilled that it's powder blue and the feminine Ms. Bento rather than Mr. Bento, but it's the perfect size and configuration. In case you aren't familiar with these things, it's a vacuum insulated container intended to keep food warm for hours. You're supposed to make food in it in the morning and the jar will keep it warm until lunch.
Being highly insulating, it's also good for cooking in. To do so, you need an Immersion heater. These little things are tiny enough to stash in a corner of your bag, but can get a reasonable size vessel of water boiling in a short amount of time.
The Ms. Bento itself is made of steel, and has two compartments in it. I fill the top one full of dehydrated food. If you want awesome gourmet options, check out Packlite foods. I really like their stuff. It's vey healthy, has no weird ingredients, and rehydrates to a great consistency. Another option, which I do more often, is to check out the bulk section of Whole Foods. I like to mix quinoa, the dehydrated lentil soup, and the dehydrated vegetables. I also throw some spices in there to really make a great flavor.
Dehydrated foods, when combined with hot water, expand several times over. This means that filling the top with dehydrated foods allows you to store several meals in the Ms. Bento, instead of just the one it's intended for.
When you're ready to cook, take everything out of the Ms. Bento and pour water directly in the metal shell. Put the immersion heater in and wait for it to boil. While you're waiting, fill up the (now removed) bottom container about 1/3 of the way with your dehydrated mix. When the water is boiled, pour it on top of the food, stir it up, and quickly put the contraption back together for maximum insulation.
The cool thing about this is that you can make it as soon as you get into the airport, put the Ms. Bento back in your bag, and the food will still be steaming hot a couple hours into your flight. If you're traveling in the morning, you can use oatmeal and dehydrated fruit or raisins (protip: put one serving of oatmeal in the bottom container and keep the top container full of lentils and vegetables. Then you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Viola! The perfect way to have healthy and delicious meals wherever you go. It's also great for hotels, of course.
I have found that a good protein shake like http://fullstrength.com and blender bottle curbs my hunger when traveling. Thanks for sharing about the immersion heater.
a Flickr contact just told me about http://www.airportdining.net/
Looks like it could be useful.
I love the blog. I am just wondering where I can go to get more info on your diet. I'm very keen to do it, just hoping you can show me where I can find some good recipes etc
Should also check out http://www.packitgourmet.com/, they're an Austin company that makes mostly natural and organic dehydrated meals.
Tynan, I clicked the Amazon link for the immersion heater (I'd really like one!), but all of the reviews say it breaks after like 10 uses...have you used yours repeatedly? Just wondering if it's worth buying.
You really find a lot of awesome shit Tynan. I'm impressed. I thought I was the only Internet Sommelier around here.
In unrelated news, Berkshire Hathaway is way way up. I bet you're happy. :)
great recommendations. I also like the idea of allowing yourself to indulge a couple times a month. Definetly helps to avoid burnout
Hi Tynan, I'm now organizing my own website about traveling in a nomad way, and I'm planning to tart a world trip in August.
While searching for similar projects I found you website lifenomadic.com, and from it, tynan.net! It's great, I'm enjoying your texts (there's so many to read!!!), I'm sure i will keep reading and learning something from your words.
I guess one day we will meet somewhere in this planet to share traveler's experiences...
Yesteday Todd and I were choosing a place to go to lunch. I normally go to Whole Foods because they have healthy delicious food, unlike almost everywhere else. However, we wanted to try somewhere new. How about Veggie Heaven?
I'd never been there before, despite living across the street from it for two years. I used to eat awful food on a daily basis, and considered vegetarian and vegan food to be for hippies. I still do, actually.
Anyway, we get to the restaurant and are handed three menus each. The main menu had almost fifty items in it. Many were marked as being vegan. Hey, this must be healthy, right?
As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is for those who leave home in search of adventure. A large chunk of the "adventure" category includes those who desire to escape the urban jungle for peace and quiet in the great outdoors.
I absolutely love to backpack. Give me a lightweight pack, throw in a warm sleeping bag, small tarp, and a few pounds of food, and I'm ready to test my metal against the unknown variables of Mother Nature. I've done weekend trips through Kentucky, a week long excursion in the Boundary Waters, and a week long trip through the Adirondacks. Every time I've "escaped", it's been difficult to come back.
But I digress. As much as I'd love to talk about all my adventures, it's much more practical to give some solid advice that YOU all can use immediately.
So without further ado, I present my Definitive Guide to Backpacking Nutrition: