Finding healthy and convenient snacks for when you are traveling or on the go can be one of the more difficult parts of following a grain-free whole food diet.
Here are 6 healthy snack options that are not only convenient but also don’t stray from the diet principles like many of the more recent Paleo snack foods do:
- These organic nut butter packets on Amazon.com – Nut butter is a pretty healthy Paleo snack but jars need to be refrigerated after you open them – several companies have started offering these ketchup packet sized travel versions. This is the only brand I’ve found that use organic nuts and offer unique blends like pecans with a touch of cashews for sweetness.
- This brand of organic fair trade cashews on Amazon.com – Nuts are a great travel snack. After trying many brands of nuts, these organic cashews are one of the freshest, best tasting I’ve tried. I also love macadamia nuts as a healthy travel treat (after trying several brands over the years, I’ve settled on this brand as the freshest and best tasting)
- These organic freeze dried beet chips on Amazon.com – Freeze dried beet chips can be great but it makes a HUGE difference which brand you choose. These organic beet chips are cut much thinner than others, giving a much more potato-chip-like experience. They also have a much cleaner, sweeter and more pleasant flavor compared to other beet chips (which in some cased can have off flavors).
- Fresh fruit with durable peels like naval oranges, bananas, and even avocados are portable snacks on travel days.
- This brand of sardines on Amazon.com – Sardines can make a great healthy portable snack that can be eaten right out of the can but it does make a big difference which sub-species of sardines you choose. I have found the skinless, boneless Moroccan sardines to be the most delicious canned sardines by far after trying hundreds of sardines over the years. These ones which are in organic extra virgin olive oil are the best of the Moroccan sardines I’ve found.
- These snack bars on Amazon.com – Limited ingredient date/nut bars can be a nice option to have in a pinch. This specialty brand was created by someone following a grain free diet for autoimmune disease and so are designed for those of us eating these diets. It tends to have a nice crunch compared to bigger brands like Lara Bars.
Single Serving Nut Butters – Pecan & Walnut Butters
A great idea for a filling, quick snack on the go are single serving nut butters. A little bit goes a long way in terms of satisfying a hunger craving.
In general, carrying around a jar of nut butter isn’t the most reasonable thing, especially as they typically need to be refrigerated after they are opened.
So several of the nut butter companies came up with the ingenious idea of making single serving packets, similar to ketchup packets. I’ve tried several of the brands (there are a couple) but the ones I like the most are from Artisana. For one, they are the only one I’ve found that use organic nuts. Also, they have the most unique offerings in terms of the combination of nuts.
For example, Artisana offers on-the-go packets of pecan butter and walnut butter. For both of these, they add just a little bit of cashew butter to sweeten it. That little addition makes it feel like a nice treat.
I like standard almond butter but these unique nut butters take it to the next level. It’s always nice to have something that feels like a treat on the road when you don’t have ready access to a kitchen.
Favorite Brands of Nuts – Macadamia Nuts & Cashews
Another great option of a filling on-the-go snack are simply nuts. You just have to make sure to check the ingredients to make sure there is nothing added other than the nuts themselves and maybe salt if you are open to eating salted nuts.
I have tried a LOT of nut brands over the last 7+ years, so I thought I’d just briefly mention my favorite brands (I do believe there is a taste and freshness difference between different brands ):
I am a fan of Mavuno Harvest organic cashews which are available on Amazon. Not only does the company have a great backstory: the founder traveled to Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and realized the farms in the area they were working didn’t have a good outlet to sell their agricultural products. He founded the company to help create a market for the fruit there (selling dried fruit).
They are also the best tasting cashews I have tried. They are consistently fresh and have a more intense cashew flavor compared to any others I have tried. A huge plus that they are organic too.
They are a bit pricier than some other cashew brands, but I believe it is worth it if you want to truly splurge on yourself and make a travel day feel like an indulgence rather than feeling deprived
Along these same lines, I LOVE macadamia nuts. Having tried a bunch of the macadamia brands on the market, grown in different countries, the best I have tried are MacFarms Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts.
I like the Mavuno Harvest cashews, the MacFarms Macadamia nuts taste the freshest out of all the macadamia nut brands that I have tried (even when we’ve been in Hawaii). I also find that the nuts have just the right amount of salt and roasted flavor for me. I used to order Moana Loa, which are also very good nuts, and typically fresh if you purchase the vacuum sealed cans, but they tend to be slightly too heavily roasted for my taste and a bit on the salty side. I feel that MacFarms gets it just right.
Freeze Dried Vegetable Chips – Beet Chips
Although not everyone considers dried fruit to be a recommended food for Grain Free diets like Paleo, Whole30 & AIP – if you are able to eat freeze dried foods on your travel days, there is a brand of beet chips that I recommend to everyone.
I have tried several different variation of freeze dried fruit and vegetables. Although I can see the point that dried fruit can be a concentrated source of natural sugar, I do tend to think freeze dried vegetables might be a reasonable alternative for travel days.
I have settled on freeze-dried beet chips as my go-to travel chips. They are just one ingredient: organic beets. Given that they are chips, it’s pretty amazing that they have a great crunch without being cooked in oil, so a very healthy option in terms of avoiding unallowed ingredients.
But I should also mention that I found the brand you choose to be extremely important with freeze-dried beet chips. I have tried some brands that are pretty gross. I think the difference is how thin they are slicing the beets before dehydrating them, but it also may the actual beets used as some have a very dirt-like flavor while the ones I have settled on have a very sweet, fresh, delicious beet flavor.
The brand I highly recommend are Natierra Organic Freeze-Dried Beet Chips. I have found that even people who are not following any specialty diets typically are surprised how much they like them.
They are on the pricier side, but they are also one of the few brands that use organic beets, so that may be one of the reasons. They also use imported french beets, I’m not sure if that is one of the reasons the flavor is so good. Maybe the french grow sweeter, more delicious beets?
I personally think it’s worth the splurge. I typically reserve them for when I am traveling, hiking, on a day trip, which can be a tougher time on a grain free diet. I also think they do a great job making you feel like you have an option for surprisingly chip-like snack food, which can be very helpful when you are at a rest stop or airport and all your travel companions are eating chips or junk food.
Portable Fruit Options
Although it may be self explanatory, I wanted to mention that another portable snack food I always am sure to pack for a day of travel are fruits with peels.
My go-to fruit is definitely oranges. They are very portable, fairly durable (at least they rarely spoil in one day, even if bounced around a whole lot). I also happen to love oranges.
Another great portable travel fruit with skins are avocados. You do have to be a bit more careful with a ripe avocado in terms of it getting smooshed in your bag – I often try to pick fairly firm avocados with just a slight give for travel days if possible (in order to do this you typically have to buy them green/hard and let them ripen yourself then put them in the refrigerator when it’s at the perfect ripeness).
I’ll often just bring a lime with me go to with the avocado (also very portable) and squeeze juice from a slice of the lime over the avocado (ideally with a little salt too) as my on-the-go snack recipe. They are very filling – almost feeling like a little meal.
Bananas can another good option, although they can definitely get mushed in your bag and can be a bit smelly (especially if you don’t have access to a garbage and have to carry the peels with you), so I often reserve bananas for a longer trip where I really need a variety of different fruits to feel like I’m not eating the same thing over and over.
Sustainably Caught Sardines
One of my staples, both at home and on the road is canned fish. However, there many types of canned fish that I would not recommend, either for health reasons like high mercury levels or simply because they don’t taste good (before making up your mind about sardines, I challenge you to try out the ones recommended here).
I recommend sardines to anyone to who is considering a grain free diet, especially if they eat/like fish – however, I don’t like 99% of the canned sardines on the market that I have tried. I’m quite picky about my sardines, but there are some out there that are delicious (if you have tried canned sardines before and think you don’t like them, I’d urge you to keep an open mind).
The type, species actually, of “sardines” that I recommend to everyone are the canned sardines from the Morocco (sardina pilchardus) served skinless. These sardines tend to be firm fillets with a mild flavor compared to other sardines. I personally like getting the sardines in olive oil as they are both more filling to eat on the go and also feel more like a snack/meal rather than a condiment.
Although I know of at least 3 brands that offer almost identical Moroccan skinless and boneless canned sardines in olive oil, I highly recommend choosing the Wild Planet sardines packed with organic extra virgin olive oil. I typically buy 12 packs online as they are a significantly better deal than in local stores in my area.
You can definitely taste the difference between the organic extra virgin olive oil used in the Wild Planet brand sardines and the non-extra version olive oil used in similar products from Seasons, Trader Joe’s and King Oscar. I believe it is worth the extra money (typically not a big difference per can) to know you are eating much higher quality (non-chemically extracted), organic and more pleasantly flavored olive oil.
These sardines can be a great on the road snack as well. I would recommend using some portable cutlery and ideally finding a table or flat surface to open the can, as they tend to be full with the olive oil.
However, I find them to be delicious eaten straight out of the can. They tend to a pretty filling mid-day snack or part of a light on-the-go meal, especially when combined with avocado or fruit or other snacks covered in this article.
In addition, sardines are a great source of healthy protein, something that can be a little difficult on the road when trying to stick to a strict Paleo style diet.
One other great aspect of this brand that also shouldn’t be neglected is their commitment to sustainable fishing. As the population of all types of wild fish are declining due to overfishing and stress on the oceans, sardines can be a good choice as they are the bottom of the food chain.
However, many fisheries tend to still overfish sardines by using indiscriminate fishing practices. By choosing a company like Wild Planet with an emphasis on sustainable fisheries you are ensuring both your own health but also the health of these fisheries so they can be enjoyed into the future.
Limited Ingredient Snack Bars
Although the concept of the to-go snack bar is a bit counter to the spirit of diets like Paleo and Whole30, I would say travel days are the time where these products likely have a place in your repertoire.
For example, let’s say you are traveling with friends and everyone decides to stop for ice cream or a big desert (as has happened for me many times). If your choice is between feeling left out and potentially a bit irritable eating your fruit while others are downing ice cream cones or falling off the wagon and stuffing your face with ice cream – I would say that certain snack bars are a good middle road option.
Technically, these bars (if you choose carefully) are allowed as all the ingredients are allowed – even though a bar full of dried dates can be quite sweet. There are snack bars out there which contain only dried fruit and nuts, such as specific flavors of Lara bars.
Some of these bars have as little as 2 ingredients, simply dates and a single type of nut (for example dates and cashews in the Lara bar cashew cookie bars).
In addition to Lara bars, there is a smaller, lesser-known startup called Freedom bars that I tend to be partial to. The concept is quite similar to Lara bars (dates and dried fruit) however I found Freedom bars to have a better texture. I also like that unlike Lara bars, a portion of the ingredients in Freedom Bars are organic.
I also like that the company was founded by someone who was eating a grain-free diet to help them heal from autoimmune health issues, so I tend to trust them a bit more in terms of ingredient sourcing than Lara bars, which also sells more traditional granola bars. I put together an in-depth review and comparison of Freedom Bars versus fruit/nut Lara bars previously.
In terms of convenience, you cannot get much more convenient than slipping open a wrapper and eating one of these bars – something that is easy to do just about anywhere. For example, there are only so many foods you can eat bouncing around in the back seat of a car, on a crowded bus or while in the middle of hiking up a mountain trail without falling too far behind.