Food Tips for Any Airport in the Country

In the dreams of food-lovers around the world, all airports would be a food oasis. I imagine a market hall like you might find in Manhattan or LA when I think perfect airport food. Multiple options, plenty of healthy choices if you want them, and all prepared by skilled chefs. End of that daydream…I just left Newark Airport as I write this and if you’re familiar with it then you know it’s the opposite of a fancy food market. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a travel expert, but my job sends me on the road enough for me to have developed survival skills for frequent travel. Am I perfect? No, this is the person who has dipped potato chips into buffalo sauce in an airport sandwich shop. I may be a dietitian, but I am a human, too. Is that something I do every time I’m in an airport? Not a chance. I frequent them way too often to make that a habit. The point is, if you’re regularly on the road, it’s a good idea to make airports fit as an extension of your everyday, healthy habits, not a place where you forget how you’ll feel if you chug beers and eat salty snacks before every flight.

Start with Hydration
Make it a habit to bring an empty water bottle with you (no liquids in security, don’t say I didn’t warn you) or be ready to purchase a water in the terminal. No excuses on this one. Hydrate well when flying because dehydration is almost inevitable unless you’re focused on avoiding it. This is especially true if you do decide you’re having a drink before your flight. Flying plus alcohol and no water equals feeling absolutely terrible when you land.

Pack a Snack
Sometimes it’s not always reasonable to pack your own snacks, but if you find yourself feeling really on top of things then don’t hold back. From experience, I know containers of fruits and vegetables are easy to store in a purse or bag and they make it through security without issue. Granola bars, packets of dry cereal, trail mix, and cheese sticks are all excellent choices that travel well and are much less expensive if purchased outside of the airport.

Get Creative
Packing snacks isn't always practical, I get it, but that doesn't mean eating well is out of the question. Consider these tips to get your through:

1.       Create your own parfait with plain yogurt, lower sugar granola, and fresh fruit. Use a cup from a coffee stand to mix it up. It works and will be much lower in sugar than the pre-made options in the cooler case.

2.       Snack boxes are a great option, but sometimes they’re too heavy on the cheese and have limited protein and fruit/vegetables. Build your own with improved portions: cheese stick, fruit cup, hard-boiled egg, and whole grain crackers. You’ll eat less cheese, more fruit, and likely add a whole grain where you didn’t have one before.

3.       Explore the “healthy snack” section of the food stand. This is almost sure to exist and there are a lot of great options available now that snack companies are realizing we want (and need!) healthier options. Just a few of my favorites include KIND Nuts & Spices bars, Made Good granola bites, Harvest Snaps pea crisps, and Sahale trail mixes. And fruit. You can't go wrong with an apple or banana. 

4.       Skip the bottles of “pressed” juice or other smoothie-like drinks. They sure look nutritious and have the claims on their labels to make you believe it’s true, but most are just glorified apple juice. If you’re worried about keeping up your immune system while traveling then choose a piece of actual fruit, eat some veggies, drink plenty of water, and keep your hands washed. Those three things will go a much longer way in preventing you from getting sick than an overpriced juice drink.

Happy travels!


5 Tips for Choosing a Healthy Snack Bar

Something as easy as a snack bar shouldn't be complicated, but the rows and varieties of options available tells a different story. Just take a look at this photo from my local grocery store: 

Overwhelmed yet? Yeah, me too. I've listed the top five tips for choosing a snack bar, so the next time you're in the store use this list to find your go-to options. 

Number 1: Narrow Your Category - Meal or Snack?
There're two categories of bars - meal bars and snack bars. Meal bars are those with 300 - 400+ calories. If you're looking for a meal bar then this list isn't for you. And if your meal consists of just a bar then let's chat (where are your veggies??). Also of note: this list is for the average person - not the professional athlete, body builder, or others requiring more calories than the average population. For the rest of us though, a bar of more than 300 - 400 calories is closer to a meal than it is a snack.  Looking for a snack bar? Proceed to number 2.

Number 2: Added Sugar
Bars coated in yogurt flavoring or chocolate are pretty standard on store shelves. It gets even more confusing when those same bars are boasting “protein plus!” or “antioxidant rich!” on the label. Ignore the front of the box and flip straight to the back where the good stuff is – the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list. You’ll use these two resources for the rest of your steps, so get familiar with them. First, check the grams of sugar. A good rule of thumb is 10g or less for the entire bar, not half, so check the serving size. Another important consideration is where that sugar is coming from. Is it added sugar in the form of brown rice syrup (a standard in snack bars) or is it sugar from fruit such as dates? There is a difference! Added sugars like brown rice syrup are unfortunately plentiful in the American diet. Women should have no more than 6 tsp of added sugar per day and men no more than 9 tsp. That’s 24g for women and 36g for men (1 tsp sugar = 4g). Until the updates to the Nutrition Facts Panel are put into play then determining the grams of added sugar will continue to require a closer look at the ingredients list. Consider where the sugar is coming from, even within that 10g limit.

Number 3: Keep an Eye on Saturated Fat
Can of worms – officially opened. Is saturated fat as detrimental to your health as once thought? No. Is it something you should eat in excess? Nope. However, what's more important is that saturated fat isn't replaced with refined carbohydrates (read: added sugars), so see number 2. There is still a limit to how much saturated fat is considered healthy for the average person and making sure you’re not going overboard in your post-workout bar or snack is an important consideration. Limit saturated fat in a snack bar to 5g or less. I’m not saying less is better here either. Fat is known to aid in satiety and most likely, a bar with some fat probably tastes better. Don’t let the total fat category freak you out either. Total fat is encompassing of all fats in the food, so not just saturated fat. It includes mono- and polyunsaturated fats as well which are considered heart-healthy fats. Some sources, like nuts and seeds, are a standard in bars which is why the total fat can sometimes be 10g or more. Just keep that saturated fat in check. Read more here.

Number 4: Know Your Ingredients
There really is no number you can put on an ingredient list to call a bar better-for-you. As with any packaged food, ingredients vary and one brand may have 25 ingredients that are all wholesome, familiar, whole foods while another may have 5 ingredients all consisting of things you’d rather not eat. I encourage you to check the ingredient list and make sure you know what you’re eating. Does the bar have additives to modify the color? What about added sugar as we talked about earlier? Are there partially hydrogenated oils in the bar (trans fat)? Take a closer look and know what you’re eating.

Number 5: Love the Taste!
Bars are convenient snacks for the car, gym bar, purse, desk drawer, etc., making them ideal for preventing ravenous hunger, but what’s the point in choking down a bar just because it has your 20g of post-workout protein if you hate the taste? Eat a turkey sandwich or a greek yogurt if that’s the case. Choose a bar that you enjoy eating and one that makes you feel great after you eat it. Realize that some days you may need a bar that’s higher in calories because you’re hungry after a workout or you know you’ll have a later lunch and need a substantial snack in the morning. Other days you may want something lighter or sometimes you’ll only want half of the bar. There are no hard and fast rules here, but the truth is you have to enjoy what you’re eating.

ANEWtrition Favorites

Curate Salted Decadence Bars – the taste is incredible (as in I would eat these all day if I could) and they’re still only 10g sugar
Thrive GoMacro Bars – yum, yum, yum! And all are under 10g sugar
KIND Nuts & Spices – delicious flavor combinations and all around 5g sugar

Cranberry, Blueberry Granola with Coconut

In recognition of this little event called Election Day, I've created a red, white, and blue granola featuring cranberries, coconut, and blueberries. This is the order of your day - vote first, make this granola second. Got it? 

Cranberries are bitter, so they're usually prepared with loads of added sugar (cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table, for example). In an effort to limit added sugar, I've combined cranberries with a sweeter blueberry and added banana over sugar for a lightly sweet granola which makes for a great topping to smoothies or yogurt.

Cranberries are in season, so purchasing fresh this time of year makes sense. However, I used frozen wild blueberries since berry season is long gone and frozen berries are picked at their peak of freshness before freezing which preserves the nutrients.  

Cranberries and blueberries are both rich in antioxidants, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanin, the phytochemical that gives cranberries and blueberries their bright color, has been linked to cardiovascular protection and also has potential anti-carcinogenic properties. Plus, they taste great, so eat up! 


1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries)
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 ripe banana
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor, blend banana, cranberries, and blueberries. Add coconut and vanilla and pulse until combined. Remove blade and add oats. Stir with a spoon. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes. Important: stir mixture every 10 minutes to prevent from burning. 

5-Ingredient Coconut, Walnut Crunch Bites

Confession. I've never owned a food processor. I've always used a blender which worked well, but that meant hand-grating things like carrots and actually using a cutting board and knife for cucumbers and the like. Oh the horror. 

But, here we are with a food processor and what better way to break her in than to make these simple, 5-ingredient coconut, walnut crunch bites. These are great for on-the-go snacking and are delicious enough to masquerade as a dessert. 

5 ingredients:

pitted dates
almond flour
unsweetened shredded coconut. 

Put all ingredients, except shredded coconut, in the food processor. Process until you reach a mealy consistency.

Shape into quarter-size balls and roll in shredded coconut to cover. Store in an airtight container to maintain freshness. 

Coconut, Walnut Crunch Bites

1 c      pitted dates
1/2 c  chopped walnuts
1/4 c  almond flour
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 c shredded coconut                      

Process first four ingredients in the food processor until a mealy texture is achieved.
Form into quarter-size balls. Fill a shallow bowl with shredded coconut and roll bites in the coconut until covered. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 11-12 bites.