When you read this post, my husband and I would have already started our trip to Mecca for Hajj (Pilgrimage). Muslims are required to perform this highly valued spiritual worship at least once in their lifetime. Every year, from the 8th to the 12th day of the 12th and last month of the Muslim calendar year, millions of Muslims from all around the world gather in one place to perform hajj.
The group we’re traveling with organized a 17-day trip and is providing daily breakfast and lunch buffets. While appreciating the food, I’ve learned from experience that healthy options aren’t offered everywhere I go. Plus we have one meal and snacks to take care of on our own. Trying to stick to my beliefs in health and wellbeing as I embark on a different journey, I was looking for healthy snacks to pack that would last days without refrigeration.
Here is my selection of snacks and why I chose them.
Trail mix is the first on-the-go snack I think of. I like to make my own mixes because I can control the proportions of nuts to dried fruits, choose nuts without salt or added oils during roasting, and I can add my own spices if I want to. This mix has raw cashews, raw almonds, raw peanuts, and raisins (without sugar), seasoned with cayenne pepper for a little kick.
Dates are a nutrition power house (magnesium? Fiber). They could have too much sugar and up to 70 calories a date if you get the Medjool type, which tends to be the most delicious. Limit the portion to 2-3 at a time. Remove the pits if you have time so you don’t to worry about where to toss them. You can stuff the dates with whole raw almonds if you have an extra minute or two!
Raisins in a box are no brainer. Keep in mind that raisins (or even dates) won’t keep you full for long because they don’t have fat or protein, which are what make people stay full. Enjoy in moderate portions. A box is more convenient but also more expensive than buying in bulk and portioning into bags. Choose whatever matters more for you; price or convenience.
Individual packs of nut butters are excellent to combine with fruit. This is my favorite brand because other individual-size nut butters tend to have added salt, oil, hydrogenated fats, sugar, or other undesirable ingredients. I could spread it over fresh fruit if I can keep an apple from the breakfast buffet, spread it over rice crackers that I packed with me, eat it as is (who doesn’t like how smooth almond butter melts in the mouth), or drizzle over crunchy freeze-dried apples (see below). You may not be able to find this product in every grocery store. Check Justin’s website to see where it’s sold near you.
We buy those from Costco but you kind find similar products in Target or other stores. I like those because they have no sugar or other ingredients. Just fruits. They’re crunchy, healthy, and delicious. Perfect to pair with Justin’s almond butter.
Lara Bars are one of the cleanest snacks bars I could find in the market. They’re really made with real ingredients that you can recognize. My favorite—health and taste—is the apple pie flavor. Health wise, it’s the only one I could find in my store that didn’t have rice syrup (which is still sugar). Taste wise, its sweetness is just right. The nuts in the other varieties are large in size, and they’re glued together with the rice syrup. I find them to be overly sweet and syrupy.
Granola can be a healthy snack or meal option when refrigeration is not available. This one has pumpkin, figs, chia, quinoa, and amaranth. Yum! When choosing granola, look for one that isn’t too high in sugar. To determine that, make sure sugar (any type) isn’t one of the first three ingredients. Or, make sure there aren’t multiple types of sugars or syrups used. Also read ingredients list and make sure you can recognize what’s in your granola. Yum! While granola can be high in fat too, that doesn’t concern me too much. A handful of granola will keep me satisfied, so as long as you can keep the portion in check, granola is a great option.
Many stores like Trader Joes and Mom’s Organic Market has their own snack foods. I’ve tried products that are a mix between granola and date bars, and can be made with flax, chia, dates, oats, non-gluten grains, and other nuts, seeds, and fruits. Read the ingredients and make sure they’re foods you can recognize. Read the label and make sure they’re not too high in sugars (less than 8 grams a serving).