Not so plain plane food

I’m writing this post about being prepared for plane journeys whilst I’m sat at the airport, delayed. No I don’t have much food to eat just some fruit, nuts and a Rawbite bar, so there’ll be a desperate stop off in M&S when we eventually touch down in England. Don’t follow my lead folks! 

Croatia has been the destination for my jollys this summer, somewhere a bit different and new to explore.

I was meant to be here relaxing, but that didn’t happen, instead it was spent learning my driving theory (pray to the road gods), but when I’m back on home turf expect plenty of nattering about noshing. Not gonna lie, the reason I like to go on holiday is for trying new cuisines and searching for some local gems, I prefer it more than the lounging around all day, that makes my legs ache. Until then I want to write a post about travelling whilst still remaining healthy and not succumbing to the dreaded plane food, or popping open the Pringles at 5 o’clock in the morning.

It’s a post that’s commonly found on lifestyle and wellbeing blogs around this time of year. Like me you probably read them to get lots of ideas, for snacks, how to avoid ‘little miss hangry’, things to pack for when you get there, the necessities that most definitely won’t be provided but make life a hell of a lot easier. It also means more time sunbathing less time shopping in supermarkets.

(Anyone else LOVE foreign supermarkets or is it just me? Maybe it is, it can be bloody hard to know what you’re buying half the time, you can never find organic produce, and no one speaks a word of English, but hey that’s the whole fun of it!)

I know, you’re sick of hearing it, but the only way to avoid the microwave mush is preparation. Just a quick little plan and food prep in some tupperwares to stick in your carry on for when that grumble arrives, and when it comes boy does it moan loudly.

Maybe your flight is only a quick two hours up and down, or you’ve flown half way around the earth and lost an entire day. No matter how long the flight, you will have been up probably 3 or 4 hours before you even perch your bum on that airplane seat, it’s time for a nibble. QUICK

I’ve been recently to Manchester airport, so I know what shops are there and what options there are for that early morning breakfast. If you are ever in the UK you will probably be able to rely on Pret a Manger whether you’re gluten, dairy, sugar free or vegan, vegetarian or don’t care and want a bacon butty, they’ve got something for you. With two types of porridge on offer, one traditional and cooked with milk-SUPER creamy I can guarantee-the other a five grain which is both gluten and dairy free made from pinhead oats, amaranth, quinoa, brown and light flaxseeds all cooked in coconut water. There’s honey, a dried fruit and seed mix or berry compote to jazz it all up, and that’s a pretty good filling breakfast right there. There’s also breakfast sandwiches, pastries, yogurts and granola, fruit pots and aΓ§ai bowls (which I am yet to try), the tea is lovely and I’ve heard the coffee is pretty darn good too. You won’t be spending a lot of money and will get something fresh and the majority is British and organic. That floats my boat. 

I believe if you know there’s a better option at the airport grab it whilst you can, maybe pick up a salad or grain bowl, some fruit or nuts. No you won’t want it then but you’ll wish you did a few hours later, or even plan further ahead for something to eat when you arrive at your hotel or apartment, you won’t know where anything will be and what shops or restaurants will have to offer, so something healthy and fulfilling to look forward to means one less thing to worry about. And for me flying is way too stressful as it is.

So, you’re flying from an airport where you know there are no decent cafes or restaurants, and you don’t want a plate of chips? Then meal prep away people!

If it’s breakfast I need to take then I usually go along the overnight chia oats route, but make it seriously thick. I’m terrified that one day they’ll take it from me so I’ll just have to gobble it all down at security. On my last flight abroad I discovered a new idea from Hemsley and Hemsley. It’s basically a Quaker Oats mug porridge but super charged and will give your body some lovin’. 

It’s so simple, just stick in a coffee cup and ask them to cover with boiling water, pop the lid on and wait for the magic to happen. Alright, it’s not going to be the prettiest looking thing, but is an English breakfast from Ryan Air going to be either? If you can top it with some fruit like berries, apple or banana and you have a balanced meal that will keep you satisfied much longer than any hash brown from Maccy D’s.

Quinoa Kettle porridge

This is a recipe from Hemsley and Hemsley’s book, Good and Simple. I made a batch to take away to Greece with me for quick and easy breakfasts but also took some for my breakfast on the plane. The original recipe calls for quinoa flakes however I didn’t have any of these at home, so for a purse friendly version opt for some simple rolled oats, or route through your cupboards and use a mixture of other flaked grains if you have them, such as brown rice flakes, buckwheat flakes, millet flakes, all will be good here. When I made the recipe I used a scant tbsp of maple syrup which hardly added any sweetness at all so I probably would add 2 next time. For a sweeter tooth add up to four, if you’re eating healthier wholesome foods they’ve got to be enjoyable, it shouldn’t be torture!
If you fancy a cold breakfast, I’ve also tried soaking this overnight in the fridge. Add 1/2 cup (or more if it seems too thick) of milk of your choice or water, stir and cover and leave overnight. In the morning mix it up adjust the thickness to your liking by adding more liquid and top with fruit.

Ingredients
120 g quinoa flakes or oats, millet, buckwheat, brown rice flakes
120g coconut oil

100 g ground almonds

50 g goji berries, raisins or dried cranberries are good here too

50 g desiccated coconut or flaked coconut for chunkier bits

2 tbsp cinnamon, I also added 2 tbsp maca for some extra sweet maltiness

3 heaped tbsp chia seeds

3 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (mine is a combination of goji berries, sunflower, pumpkin and linseeds)

2-4 tbsp maple syrup (optional) or try date syrup or rice malt syrup

A handful of cacao nibs (optional) I added these because I LOVE THEM, it’s not completely necessary though and up to you

  1. Spread the flakes in a large roasting tin or baking tray, no more than Β½ cm thick, and pop in the oven to bake at 180ΒΊC fan for around 10 minutes, or until smelling toasty and they are golden brown. 
  2. Take out the oven and tip in a bowl along with the coconut oil, the heat from the flakes will melt the oil.
  3. Mix in all the other ingredients and stir really well, taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Leave to cool in the bowl
  4. Store in an airtight container, or divvy up into 4 or 5 portions in sandwich bags ready to be grabbed for those rushed mornings.
  5. When you’re ready to eat spoon out 4 to 6 heaped tbsp or pour your measured portion from the bag into a bowl. Add half a cup of boiling water, cover with a plate for 5 minutes and wait for the magic to happen.
  6. After the times up, give it a good stir, add more water if you like it thinner.
  7. Top with yogurt (Greek, coconut, goats, sheep) add some fruit and enjoy.
  8. If you are travelling, put the porridge mix in a coffee cup from a coffee shop, ask them to cover the porridge with boiling water. Pop on the lid to wait for it to thicken and there you have a quick, tasty transportable breakfast.

So you’ve eaten your breakfast, had a snack whilst watching Jurassic park for the 100th time in your life (btw my last post is all about snacks with a recipe involving peanut butter, YES PLEASE). Next follows lunch or dinner. The liquid ban throws a bit of a spanner in the works for this one. Meaning no dressings. A salad without a dressing is just sad and wrong. So the best route around this is packing something that won’t wilt and can stand being chugged around in your bag all day. Maybe a grain or lentil salad?

Don’t groan, trust me with this, if done right they can be seriously good. To make it interesting roast up some veggies with paprika or fennel seeds, chuck in a load of chopped herbs like parsley, coriander, mint, basil, dill, anything you have lurking really, mix it all up with your chosen grain, quinoa or buckwheat is fab. Maybe with some cheese like feta or goats cheese, some beans like chickpeas. Add in something fresh such as tomatoes, chopped cucumber or pepper, top it with something crunchy like seeds or nuts maybe some dried fruit too. Mix everything up in a bowl then you could stir some hummus (LIFE), chilli flakes or tahini through or pesto or tapenade to bring the pizzazz, AND don’t forget s+p. Chuck in your Tupperware with a hunk of lemon to squeeze on when you eat it and you’ll have a dinner that everyone else will be jealous of. 

Sorry was that a bit confusing? Let me break it down for you:

Base (use one or as many as you wish, these are only examples if you have any other ideas I’m sure it will be great)

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Farro
  • Brown rice
  • Amaranth
  • Puy lentils
  • Green lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans

Roasted veggies
I always like to roast my veg in ghee, coconut oil or rapeseed oil in a preheated oven on about 180, until caramelised.

  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Courgette
  • Aubergine
  • Fennel
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Beetroot
  • Celeriac
  • Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Sprouts

Adding spices to the veg as it roasts is a seriously good plan, get experimenting to find different spice combinations you like. Try any of these and get mixing and matching.

  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Chilli flakes
  • Fennel seeds
  • Caraway seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Dried oregano
  • Ras el hanout
  • Garam masala
  • Turmeric
  • Sesame seeds
  • Za’atar
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Don’t forget good old salt and pepper

Fresh veggies

Adding some fresh veg gives your salad more texture and colour, think variety and remember that 5 a day!

  • Defrosted frozen peas
  • Chopped up pepper
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Raw fennel
  • Grated carrot
  • Grated beetroot
  • Avocado (beware it will go brown)
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Cooked green beans
  • Sweet corn 
  • Spring onion
  • Red onion

Flavour hits
Now comes the exciting parts. This is your substitute for a salad dressing, something thick enough to avoid that dreaded confiscation but makes your tastebuds happy. Try stirring one or more, if you’re feeling adventurous, of these through your salad:

  • Hummus
  • Tapenade
  • Pesto
  • Tahini
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Chilli flakes/hot sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Mustard
  • Any other dip you have on the go

And finally…Crunchy munchy extras, you should add just ‘cos

  • Raw or roasted nuts (anything from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamias you cannot go wrong)
  • Raw or toasted seeds ( eg. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp seeds)
  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, chopped dates, chopped figs, sultanas, chopped apricots)
  • Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, mint, dill, chives, basil)
  • CHEEESEEEEEEE (feta, cheddar, goats cheese, sheeps cheese, grilled halloumi). I’m going to stop there because it’s cheese and doesn’t need an explanation.
  • Roasted chickpeas, think of them like croutons
  • Hard boiled egg (consider your fellow passengers, or don’t if they’re tilting their chair back into your face)

So there you have it. A salad that can be taken anywhere, plane journeys, car journeys, picnics, work packed lunch, or just for lunch in your own home. Don’t let the fact that I’ve written it as plane food stop you!

Perhaps make it an extra large one, something to pick at later or if you’re on a long haul flight have the leftovers for dinner.

So relax, enjoy your flight and your holiday wherever you end up this summer.

One last thing from me, HYDRATE! 

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