Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks
Whenever I fly, I pay way too much for food. Ive stumbled jet-lagged into fancy wine booths and nearly bankrupted myself with cheese plates. Ive purchased granola bars that cost more than my plane ticket (okay, maybe it just felt that way). If youre like me, the best way to avoid tempting snack kiosks is to arrive at the airport prepared. These five travel-friendly recipes range from sweet to savory and are easy to pack in a carryon (or a car, if you prefer the open road).
Emily Young, Times correspondent
Cajun Trail Mix
Because this trail mix is chocolate-free, you wont have to worry about it melting in transit. Boasting three kinds of nuts, two kinds of seeds and an array of spices, its chock-full of protein. Even better, it only takes 20 minutes to prepare, so you can easily make it the day before your trip. Begin by heating the oven to 350 degrees. Place the following ingredients in a large bowl: ½ cup whole raw almonds, ½ cup each pecan and walnut halves; ¼ cup each unsalted shelled sunflower seeds and unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds; 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil; ¼ teaspoon each of these spices: salt, garlic powder, chili powder and ground cumin; and 2 pinches cayenne pepper. (If you like your trail mix more or less spicy, modify the amount of cayenne and chili you use.) Toss until the nuts and seeds are covered with the spices. Next, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet with raised edges. Bake for about 15 minutes. To prevent burning, shake the nuts and seeds every few minutes. When they look toasted and smell fragrant, remove them from the oven to cool. Store in an airtight container until the day of your trip, then pack them in zip-top bags. Makes 6 servings. Recipe adapted from George Stella, Food Network.
Coconut Energy Bars
Do energy bars beckon you at airport kiosks? Me too. Next time you travel, pack some of these coconut bars, drizzled with bittersweet chocolate. Theyll stave off hunger and temptation. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup chopped roasted unsalted cashews, 1?½ cups crispy brown-rice cereal, ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ? cup chopped pitted dates and ? cup sweetened flaked coconut. Set aside. Pour the following ingredients into a saucepan: ¾ cup cashew butter, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and ¼ cup honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring. When the butter melts and the mixture is smooth, combine it with the dry mixture. Scrape into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray and lined with parchment paper (also coated in the spray). Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Just before youre ready to remove it from the fridge, melt 1?½ ounces bittersweet chocolate. Drizzle the chocolate over the mixture. Let it refrigerate for another 5 minutes so the chocolate hardens, then cut it into bars. The energy bars will last for one week. If youre planning to take them in a very hot car, be aware that the chocolate may melt. Makes 12 bars. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living.
Crunchy Roasted Zaatar Chickpeas
Exotic seasoning makes these crunchy chickpeas a standout snack. Youll need to purchase zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice, or make it yourself. Prepare these savory chickpeas in advance of your trip and store them in an airtight container for up to a week. Drain and rinse 2 cups cooked, canned chickpeas. Pat them dry, then let them sit overnight to ensure they thoroughly finish drying. This will help them crisp when you bake them. The next day, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the dried chickpeas evenly on a heavy rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the center of the oven. It could take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes for them to roast. Make sure you stir and rotate the chickpeas every 10 minutes so they wont burn. To make zaatar, combine ¼ cup finely crumbled dried thyme, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon sumac (available in Middle Eastern markets) and a pinch of salt. In a bowl, toss the hot chickpeas with 1 to 2 tablespoons zaatar, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Recipe adapted from the New York Times.
Strawberry Fruit Leather Rollups
These fruit rollups are perfect for kids or kids at heart. You can make them with whatever fruit is in season. Weve selected strawberries, since they are so plentiful in Florida this time of year. Begin by heating the oven to 200 degrees. Chop and hull 4 cups of strawberries (you should have about 1?¼ pounds chopped fruit). In a blender, combine the strawberries and ¾ cup sugar, along with about 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Once smooth, pour it in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium-high until the pureed fruit simmers, then reduce to medium-low and stir, using a silicone spatula. When you see the liquid begin to evaporate, stir more frequently to prevent burning. After about 35 to 45 minutes, the mixture should be very thick (and prone to splattering). Spread the fruit mixture on a 12- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. (You can also line it with nonstick foil, but it will be easier to peel the fruit rollups off the silicone mat.) Make sure you spread the mixture in a thin, even layer, making the edges slightly thicker than the middle to prevent burning. It should take anywhere from 2 to 3?½ hours to bake. Check every half-hour to prevent burning. You can test it by touching the top; it will be ready when its barely tacky, not gooey. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a rack. When the fruit leather is completely cool, peel it off the mat or foil. Is it still moist on the underside? If so, bake for 20 more minutes, moist-side up, until dry. Otherwise, place it on a sheet of wax paper, smooth-side down, and cut it into strips. (Kitchen shears work well.) Now for the fun part: Roll up the strips. You can keep them in zip-top bags for up to one week. Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchen.
Next time you fly, be sure to pack some candied ginger, which can help quell queasiness. If youre lucky enough to have a cast-iron travel stomach, you can still enjoy this candy for its sweet-and-spicy flavor. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to make, but you can prepare it up to two weeks in advance. Just store it in an airtight container. To begin, coat a cooling rack in nonstick spray. Place the rack in a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (This will catch the sugar drippings that fall from your cooling ginger candy, so you can reuse them later as a sweetener for coffee.) Use 1 pound of fresh ginger root with a light, smooth skin, as nonfibrous as you can find. (Australian ginger is ideal.) Peel the root. With a mandoline, cut it into ?-inch-thick slices. Place the ginger in a 4-quart saucepan, pour in 5 cups of water and cover. Cook over medium-high heat. The ginger should be tender after about 35 minutes. Drain the ginger in a colander but keep ¼ cup of the liquid. Youll need it later for caramelizing the ginger. If possible, weigh the ginger so that you can use an equal amount of sugar. (It should be approximately 1 pound granulated sugar and 1 pound ginger.) In the same pot, bring the ginger, ¼ cup of water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for about 20 minutes, still stirring vigilantly. Youll know its ready when the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize. Immediately remove the ginger from the pan and spread each piece, individually, on the cooling rack. Makes 1 pound. Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.