It can be difficult to eat well or healthy when you travel, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. With some planning, you can totally do it. One of the hardest places to eat well is at the airport. There are tons of fast food restaurants, making it challenging to avoid eating a crappy hamburger and fries that cost three times as much as they do at home. You could pack your own snacks – which is not a terrible idea – but sometimes you just want to kick back and let someone else do the work for you.
Airports with the best foods
Boston Logan airport is where you go to find amazing fresh seafood. It's healthy and delicious and Legal Test Kitchen gives their own modern twist on all sorts of ocean dwellers, including crab & avocado salad, baked Boston scrod, and a tuna burger.
Chicago O'Hare mixes sandwiches with your favorite Mexican food that people clamor for at Tortas Frontera. Chef Rick Bayless has created "tortas" like garlic shrimp and the Chochinita Pibil with braised pork.
Denver International pulled in the city's famous restaurant Root Down to give flyers great farm-to-table meals as well. Look for delicious and healthy dishes like the baby beet salad, mushroom tart, and green chili and smoked lentil soup. That doesn't mean they only have vegetarian dishes, you can also indulge in steelhead trout, Korean short ribs, and lamb sliders.
Miami International has the taste of Cuba right in the terminal. Versailles is one of the most well-known Cuban restaurants and now you can eat there no matter where you are in the airport, as there are five Cafe Versailles locations throughout. Enjoy scrambled eggs & croquettes, plantain soup, and empanadas when you've got a hankering for a unique cuisine before you flight.
Minneapolis St. Paul International has a lovely and chic venue with a menu by Andrew Zimmern. You won't find the Minnibar menu packed with bizarre foods though. You order via iPad and can get your favorite classics with a twist, including a grilled cheese and a steak sandwich. Need a little fortification before your flight? Order the Bloody Mary that comes with a ton of additions that you may just want to claim you had a salad.
San Francisco International, unsurprisingly, has something for everyone, including vegetarians. The Plant Cafe is where to go for a healthy and flavorful meal on the go. In one place you can order an immune-boosting juice or smoothie, a colorful quinoa bowl and a mango lime chicken panini.
What to look for
Just because a restaurant has salads doesn't mean it's uber healthy. In fact, many salads have more fat and calories than a burger. Don't use all the dressing and avoid things with anything fried.
Look for veggies, even if you aren't a vegetarian or vegan. The extra vitamins will help your immune system deal with all the extra germs you're being exposed to on a travel day.
Avoid as many fried foods as possible and instead opt for something like grilled chicken or seared fish. It won't weigh you down and make jet lag more probable on long flights.
I love carbs, but eating too many when I'm traveling makes me tired and blah. It's the same as when I eat fried foods. I want to arrive at my destination feeling refreshed and ready to go. And if I get there at night time, I want to be able to sleep well.
What to pack
I always pack snacks in my bag, whether I plan to eat it on the plane, at the airport or while I'm off sightseeing. Some of the best things to bring are fresh and protein-packed.
- Nuts are easy to eat and don't make a mess, plus you don't need that many to squash the hunger pangs.
- granola bars, which you can buy, but are better if you make them yourself. They are super easy to make and customize for your tastes.
- Whole or cut up fruits. Do you love apples? Cut them in slices then soak them in a bowl of cool water with a tablespoon of lemon juice for 15 minutes, then you can toss them in a baggie without worrying about them browning.
- Carrot sticks, broccoli and celery are all great travelers. If you have some room in your 3-1-1 bag, include a packet or peanut butter for dipping and extra energy.
- Dark chocolate can give you a natural boost of energy, just don't stuff your whole bag with it, because a little goes a long way.
Where do you like to eat at the airport or what snacks do you like to bring along when you travel?