This week we are traveling, visiting family and enjoying the beautiful Pacific NW. With travel, there can come some trepidation about what to eat, particularly en route. But, with a little planning, it can make the whole experience a lot easier. I have certainly done my fair share of flight time with kids (often solo) and over time have figured out a system to keep their tummies happy and avoid meltdowns as much as humanly possible (adult-versions too!)

1. Include Protein.

When thinking about food for the day, I find it is super-easy to find ample sugar-laden carbs en-route, but good quality protein sources? Not so much. Protein is key for stabilizing blood sugar and therefore, avoiding meltdowns. Ensuring we have at least one option packed, and often several depending on how far we are going is key. We take hard-boiled eggs, or deli-meats frequently but this week we packed some salmon salad, a staple in our house this year.

Salmon Salad*

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2 cans canned salmon

½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes

½ chopped cucumber

2 carrots, shredded

1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 Lemon, Juiced

2-3 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

*Similar to one from the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook

2. Take Fruit

Fruit is easy to pack and having something fresh on an airplane feels like such a luxury. We avoid bananas because they just get smashed, but we like stone fruits, apples or a small container of berries.

3. Take a Surprise ‘Treat’.

I find when we take at least one item that isn’t part of the ‘usual routine’ so to speak, the kids get super-excited about it and it motivates them to eat the food we brought and not ask for alternatives. This week, I made granola bars with chocolate chips (a very rare treat!). I totally messed up the original recipe and then had to improvise significantly and came up with these. They were beyond thrilled.

Granola Bars

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3 cups nuts and seeds

(we used a combination of pecans, walnuts, cashews and sunflower seeds)

5 dates soaked in hot water for 10 minutes

2 T coconut oil, melted

1-2 t vanilla extract

½ cup coconut flakes

1/3 – ½ cup sunflower seed butter (or alternative nut or seed butter)

¼-1/3 cup honey

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

  1. In a food processor, place nuts, seeds, coconut oil, vanilla and dates in and blend until they start to make a course meal.
  2. Add in sunflower seed butter and honey and blend until it comes together. Taste and add in more nut butter or honey if needed.
  3. Add in coconut flakes and chocolate chips and pulse a few times.
  4. Pour into a parchment paper-lined 13x9 pan. Layer another piece of parchment paper on top and flatten out.
  5. Place in freezer for 2 hours to set, then take out and cut into bars.  Makes 10-12 bars.
  6. Store in refrigerator.

4. Take More than Enough Food.

There is nothing like being trapped on a long flight (or car ride) and not having enough food. Take more than you think you and the kids will eat. But, make this as easy as possible.  What is already in your cupboard that needs to be eaten? This week I threw in some homemade granola leftover from a camping trip as well as some pumpkin seeds. We also like to take trail mix, seaweed and popcorn to keep little mouths happy.

Where do your summer adventures take you this year?  Do you have any favorite travel foods/recipes?  Share in the comments below!