These Are My Top 4 Healthy Travel Foods—And They're Gluten-Free Vegan

July 5, 2022

Though I consider myself somewhat of a clean eater now, I wasn’t always. When younger I gave far less thought to my eating choices. I once asked my parents if I could fill my closet with Skittles, so that I  could jump into it as if it were a jacuzzi when feeling stressed out (they suggested the less messy alternative of taking advantage of their swim club membership).

In college, a croissant with my coffee followed by a slice of marble cake from the campus coffeehouse was a common breakfast. So were bagels drowning with sun-dried tomato cream cheese.

It wasn’t until my mid to late 20s that I became more aware of the intimate connection between food and well-being. The mind and the body are connected. Certain foods can leave us feeling more energized and content, while others have the opposite effect. Being a person with Celiac means I have to be even more careful about my dietary choices.

Here are four vegan options that taste amazing and also leave you feeling pretty amazing afterwards. They’re tasty, satiating, and transportable—perfect for any trips you may take this summer.

1. Aloha bars

My favorites are the peanut butter chocolate chip flavor and the chocolate coconut flavor. Their other flavors include Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Each bar packs 14 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber, with only five grams of sugar (they use monk fruit sweetener instead).

Sugar sneaks its way into countless foods, some you wouldn’t have ever imagined. I’m sensitive to high sugar content, so I always look for products that keep their sugar content to below the daily limit (I’ve found that under fifteen grams is ideal for me personally).

I also appreciate that they don’t use sketchy ingredients or sugar substitutes like Sucralose (which I’ve found leads to digestive upset for me, and studies have linked it with increasing inflammation within the body).

I eat Aloha Bars at the office as a medical interpreter. I eat them at the gym after I work out. I take them with me on hikes. They’re so tasty and hearty that I sometimes even have them for breakfast at home, next to my morning coffee.

 Smooth and clean. They’ll fill you up, while also satisfying your sweet fix.

2. Skinny Pop

 I go through a couple giant bags of these every month!

As a kid, sitting through a movie without a tub of popcorn in my lap was unthinkable. I also heated up microwave popcorn—Orville Redenbacher or Pop Secret or the Safeway select brand—to crunch on each time my dad, sister and I watched nature shows. 

Popcorn loving runs in my family. My grandpa on my mom’s side of the family was an aficionado too, popping kernels on the stove almost nightly.

There were many foods I had to cut out following my celiac diagnosis, but I was delighted to discover that popcorn wouldn’t have to be one of them.

I love how Skinny Pop uses good clean ingredients. It tastes so delicious that it feels like a guilty pleasure, but there’s really nothing to feel guilty about at all. Popcorn as a snack in general (granted that you don’t pile a lot of butter or artificial flavorings onto it) is considered a healthy, satiating, and high fiber snack. Perfect to take along with you while traveling.

3. Explore Cuisine Edamame Spaghetti

Gluten-free pasta can be hit or miss. Sometimes the texture can be grainy or chalky. Other times, it lacks flavor. I love the texture of this one; it’s tender and absorbs sauce well. The pasta packs tons of protein and fiber as well, leaving you satiated long after consuming it.

Once the water has boiled, it takes only four to six minutes to cook. Though it carries enough flavor on its own, if you do want to add some sauce, try just olive oil and a sprinkling of vegan cheese on top, or Trader Joe’s soy-rizo.

4. Oli Pop Root Beer

Root beer was my go-to soft drink as a kid. I always thought it had such a distinct (and superior) taste from other sodas. When coolers were presented after soccer games, or at parties or school events, I’d always reach for Dad’s Root Beer or Barq’s.

Though I stopped drinking soda many years ago, I spotted this Oli can when stopping into a 100% gluten-free cafe on a recent trip to Mammoth Lakes. My immediate thought was, “oh, soda”— and to dismiss it. But then the “only 2 grams of sugar,” and “digestive health approved” labels jumped out at me, prompting me to take a closer look. 

I noticed that in place of sugar, this Oakland-based company uses monk fruit sweetener. When I popped the can open I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that it tasted exactly like “standard” root beer (but without all the chemicals and harmful ingredients)!

In addition to the root beer flavor, the Cherry Vanilla is also a delightful mouth burst: it literally tastes like chilled liquefied cherry pie. If that sounds amazing to you, definitely try it. If that sounds weird to you, I recommend you try it anyways 😉  Their other flavors include Vintage Cola, Classic Grape, Ginger Lemon, Strawberry Vanilla, and Orange Squeeze.

Also by Eleni: Life Lessons I Learned From Being A Lyft Driver

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Photo: Alex Azabache via Unsplash; Eleni Stephanides

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An LGBTQ bilingual writer, Eleni was born and raised in the California Bay Area. Her work has been published in Tiny Buddha, The Mighty, Elephant Journal, and Introvert Dear among others. She currently writes the column "Queer Girl Q&A" for Out Front Magazine. You can follow her on IG @eleni_steph_writer and read stories from her time as a rideshare driver at lyfttales.com.

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