Nutrition on the go

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

IS YOUR lifestyle such that you often find yourself grabbing something to eat as you rush out the door, eating it on the run or 

when you’ve reached your destination? Does a commute to work replace a leisurely time at the breakfast table? Do you attend school and find that your best time to eat something nourishing is after you arrive, perhaps on a morning break? Are you ravenous during your drive home? If you can relate to any of these scenarios, here are some healthy possibilities to keep you nourished:

• Stock up on fresh fruit: bananas, apples, pears and other handheld fruits are the most convenient choice. Keep a container or small plastic bag handy – in your car or backpack – for peels or cores.

• Slap together a sandwich using whole grain bread and nut butter. If you’d like to venture beyond peanut butter, try the following: almond, hazelnut, cashew, sunflower seed butter or sesame tahini. You can also include a sliced banana.

tomato• Check out the varieties of trail mix in local supermarkets. Better yet, create your own by adding to an existing mix or combining your favourite nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Consider almonds (for calcium), walnuts (for omega-3 fatty acids), cashews (for zinc) and pecans and hazelnuts (for vitamin E). Add pumpkin or sunflower seeds as they provide plenty of trace minerals, vitamins and protein. Dried apricots, currants and raisins add iron. Dried mango contains vitamin C, even after drying.

• Take along a single portion of instant oatmeal to eat when you arrive at work. Look for the kind that is sold in the container that doubles as a bowl. You can also add dried fruit or nuts. Cereals are good with apple juice; keep shelf stable portion packs of apple juice, Rice Dream, or fortified soymilk on-hand.

• Take along fruited soy yogurt. If you prefer, include a little plastic bag of granola for a fibre-rich topping.

• Slice some carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc., and place them in totable food containers or plastic baggies; for protein, buy the small tubs (about 1 cup or 227 g) of hummus, available in numerous flavours.

• For a high protein, low fat item to eat when you reach your destination and you have access to a kettle, stock up on instant (just-add-hot-water) bean, pea or lentil soups in the tub-shaped, single serving cardboard containers. This is a satisfying snack and you’ll discover that there’s quite a variety in the supermarkets.

• Pack leftovers from supper in a small container so they’ll be ready to transport.

Tip: Keep napkins and clean, plastic, reusable plates, cups, forks, spoons and knives in your car, backpack or desk drawer so you can feast on things from the market when you’re on the go or at work. You’ll find space-saving items in outdoor equipment stores. 

You may be surprised how easy it is to find healthful, vegetarian items in ordinary stores and other locations. Here are some possibilities: 

Traditional supermarkets: Bananas and other fruits (if you have access to a sink to wash them), trail mix, pre-packaged baby carrots and hummus, prepared platters of bite sized veggies, whole grain cereals, salad bars, deli items, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. 

Health oriented bakeries, delis, and natural foods stores: If you are close to a good bakery, deli or health food store, check out the whole grain rolls, breads and muffins. Other convenient foods include smoothies, juices, deli items, salads and salad bars, ready-made soups, fresh fruits and vegetables, soy yogurt, fortified soy and rice beverages and fruit-nut bars. 

For those travelling farther afield: At airports you can find bananas, washed fruit, bagels with peanut butter, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereal, fruit juice, vegetarian nori rolls and bean tortillas. Our local YVR even has a juice bar among its fast food outlets. You can find a listing and review of veggie items at American airports at

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics includingBecoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, the Food Allergy Survival Guide andthe new Raw Food Revolution Diet.

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