For many people, a demanding work schedule and family commitments means that they are constantly on-the-go. One consequence is that food tends to be consumed in a hurry. Typically with one hand, as the other is used to: steer the car, operate the mobile devise whist commuting, or type on a computer because they are eating lunch at their desk, etc.!
Finding portable, healthy snacks to eat on-the-go can be difficult because many pre-packaged items, such as crisps, biscuits, sweets, and take away meals are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. In an ideal world, everyone would be totally prepared by planning ahead and making their own, cooked from scratch, healthy food to eat on-the-go. That way individuals could ensure that what they ate on-the-go contained only the best fresh ingredients, was nutritionally balanced, and low in calories.
However, the reality is that the same busy lifestyles, which necessitate having to eat on-the-go, mean that the vast majority of people just don’t have the time to prepare ahead.
One of the consequences of this is that meals instead become primarily snacks. Whilst it is now considered desirable to snack between meals, to avoid eating too many calories each day, a good rule of thumb is to limit each snack to about 200 calories. Foods that are high in protein are ideal.
Whether it’s fuelling up before a workout or grabbing a healthy snack because there isn’t time for a proper meal, protein keeps you feeling satisfied for longer. Protein is digested much slower than carbohydrates and keeps blood sugar steady. Research shows that protein helps keep cravings at bay, thereby reducing the temptation to over-eat and making much it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
So what are the best things to satisfy hunger, convenience and good nutrition? Below is a list of foods that you can either buy ready-made or prepare in advance to eat on-the-go.
Protein rich foods to grab and go
Protein: 6 grams per egg
Eggs really are one of nature's most perfect portable foods. A boiled egg is easy to prepare and convenient to transport - they even come with their own packaging! (Although peeling them in advance makes it easier to eat them on-the-go!) These edible orbs keep for days in the fridge so you can boil enough for a few days at the same time.
Today, most nutritionists agree that eggs are a good choice for breakfast or a snack when enjoyed in moderation, despite past concerns about their levels of cholesterol. In addition to protein, eggs also provide vitamin D and vitamin B-12 and contain between 80-90 calories apiece. Nowadays, many high street take away food outlets and also supermarkets sell hardboiled eggs in packages of two, (sometimes packed with spinach or edamame) so they're perfect to grab when commuting.
Protein: 17 grams per cup
Edamame are under-ripe green soya beans in their pods. You can either buy them fresh and steam for about 6 minutes, or use the pre-cooked frozen variety (they take about 2 minutes to defrost in the microwave.) You can pop them out of their pods straight into your mouth, so they are easy to eat with one or two hands.
In addition to being high in protein, edamame is also high in fibre. If you fancy something crunchy you can opt for dry roasted edamame, which has even more protein per gram; for a little extra heat, try the wasabi flavoured. If you're concerned about genetically modified soya beans, look for edamame that's certified organic.
Nuts are high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats, and their small size makes them convenient to carry, either in resealable bags or a small air-tight container. A word of warning: although small, nuts are calorie-dense and it is very easy to over eat them (you can consume large amounts of calories without realising it). Consequently, it is advisable to limit your snack portion to about 1 ounce of nuts, particularly if you are looking to lose weight.
The best nuts to eat in terms of protein content are almonds and pistachios. 14 almonds provide around 100 calories. An ounce of shelled pistachios contains about 160 calories. Therefore, to avoid over consumption, choose in-shell pistachios, as the extra work of shelling the nuts can discourage mindless overeating. Moreover, scientists at Eastern Illinois University discovered that the extra work of shelling pistachios caused people to consume an average of 41 per cent fewer calories when compared to people snacking on pre-shelled nuts.
Beef or Turkey Jerky
Protein 9 grams per average pack
Jerky (beef or turkey) makes a great on-the-go food because it's low in fat, lean and savoury. Plus it’s also high in the chewiness factor, which means it takes longer to eat; a great way to keep your mouth occupied if you’ve a tendency to over-snack!
A one-ounce serving (the size of most single-serve packs) contains about 9 grams of protein. Choose brands that are low in sodium, natural or lightly flavour.
Protein: 9 grams
Often thought of as a kid’s lunch box snack, string cheese and other portioned cheeses such as The Laughing Cow Wedges or Mini Babybels are also great on-the-go snacks for grown ups too! They also make the perfect accompaniment to fruit snacks (see below).
Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to Mother Nature’s stock of ready-made foods to eat on-the-go, fruits and vegetables ought to get a design award. Low-calorie and high-fibre, these snack options require little or no preparation. If you feel your selection is limited to the obvious apples, pears, bananas and grapes to avoid messy hands and peeling, you can opt for dehydrated fruits, bags of mangos, pineapples and guava to name just a few. What’s more many convenience stores and food outlets now sell small servings of cut fruit pre-packed with a spoon or fork.
Pre-cut vegetables such as baby carrots and celery sticks are easy to carry in a plastic bag or container (these too are now sold in handy packs). Fruit and vegetables can be paired with a high protein option like cheese or nut butter to make them a more substantial snack.
Whole food energy bars
Energy bars are convenient, on-the-go snacks to grab. High in protein they are good at satisfying hunger and providing energy. Unfortunately, many of the pre-made ones on sale can be full of added sugar and/or other ingredients that are not so beneficial for a healthy lifestyle; they can also be quite costly! Check labels for ingredients to ensure that you are making healthy choices when selecting an energy bar.
Alternatively you can make them yourself as many recipes are quick, require no baking, and can be prepared in bulk and kept frozen for a later date. If you’d like to give it a try, below is a recipe for a no-cook Quinoa Coconut-Cacao Bar.
Quinoa Coconut-Cacao Bar
6 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp coconut butter
4 heaping Tbsp of raw cacao* powder/regular unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp of maple syrup
A pinch of salt
1 cup Puffed Quinoa Cereal
¼ cup Cranberries
¼ cup pistachios
Melt together the coconut oil, coconut butter, raw cacao and maple syrup.
Add the pinch of salt and stir in the quinoa, cranberries and pistachios.
Pour into a lined loaf pan and chill until set.
Cut into squares/rectangles when set.
*Raw Cacao Powder-is high in antioxidants and magnesium.