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Pack & Prep

The one snack a nutritionist swears by when she travels

So much better than airplane food.

by Rebecca Willa Davis | 12.11.2018

If you’ve ever doubted the importance of BYO airplane snacks, try sitting on a direct flight from New York to Tokyo…in the window seat…with two sleeping men barricading you in…and a headache that comes out of nowhere…and a crew of flight attendants who are sleeping in the back part of the plane they’ve curtained off…and zero snacks in your carry-on (because you never a) get that hungry on a flight, b) get terrible altitude headaches, c) have trouble subtly shaking someone awake so you can get out of the row).

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything here, but if that were to have happened to me, it would have instantly had me re-assessing my airplane snack game.

So, while chatting with Kelly Maia Agnew (a certified nutritional practitioner) about her travel eating habits, I threw out this softball: What’s the best food to bring for on-the-go snacking?

Of course, she sees plenty of value in the humble snack bar. “I always have protein bars,” she says. “That’ll tide me over between meals or if, say, I’m boarding and wasn’t able to get a full meal in me.”

But they’re often loaded up with sugar (her do-not-pass-go upper limit is 10 grams) and sometimes just aren’t all that satisfying.

“If you’re having a blood-sugar crash, it’s perfect to get you through that.”

And that’s where her wildcard snack option comes in: granola. Yup, the stuff that you’re always a bit like, “Wait this is too tasty to be good for me,” is actually a really brilliant option if you’re not at home.

For one thing, you get protein, fiber, and healthy fats from the nuts and seeds (crucial if you’ve ever gone on vacation and haven’t actually gone to the bathroom the whole time–also not speaking from experience or anything

There’s also the fact that granola’s highly versatile. “If you’re having a blood-sugar crash, it’s perfect to get you through that,” Agnew explains. “If you’re traveling and you missed breakfast, you can get almond milk or Greek yogurt and they’re great to mix with granola. If you get a smoothie, you can add the granola on top and boost it a little bit—it’ll help reduce that blood-sugar spike from the smoothie.”

Her MO is to bring a batch of her granola and a banana or apple for an anywhere snack—although munching on the granola solo is fine, too: “If, say, I’m at the airport and I don’t have any other options, I’ll snack on it alone because it can tide you over between meals.”

“If, say, I’m at the airport and I don’t have any other options, I’ll snack on it alone because it can tide you over between meals.”

“If, say, I’m at the airport and I don’t have any other options, I’ll snack on it alone because it can tide you over between meals.”

There is, however, a catch (ugh, always). Not just any granola will do. “I prepare a granola recipe [before my trip], so I can control what’s in it.” That usually includes gluten-free rolled oats, shredded coconut, walnuts, cashews, hemp seeds and chia seeds (“so you’re getting those great omega-3 fatty acids and fiber”). If you like your granola just a touch sweet, she recs maple syrup or honey.

You really can’t go wrong with the ratios (unless you dump, like, an entire bottle of maple syrup out), but if you need some guidance, here’s the recipe she swears by.

Best healthy travel snacks granola recipe
Photo courtesy of Kelly Maia Agnew

Kelly Maia Agnew’s Homemade Cinnamon Maple Granola

Prep time: 10 mins
Bake time: 30-50 mins
Total time: 40-60 mins

Makes ~3 cups of granola


1 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup coconut oil
3 tbsp maple syrup (add more if you like it sweeter)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract


Get the full recipe here.

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