What are some low fat snacks I can keep in my suitcase while travelling?
December 17, 2007 10:31 PM   Subscribe

What are some low fat snacks I can take with me travelling and keep in my suitcase to eat when dinner or other meals weren't suitable? Little to no preparation at time of eating is preferred but I can make or buy stuff before I go.

I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gastric Reflux (with high stomach acid and fairly often gastritis). I manage both really well by diet alone these days and don't take medication but still live mostly symptom free. However, when I'm staying with people I often lose some control over my diet and there are certain places I go where the food just isn't suitable and I end up either sick or hungry (or both) pretty much all the time. This is totally my problem, I'm thrilled that these people put me up for free and feed me and look after me, I don't want to change their whole life around because I'm fussy. I'm genuinely grateful for the effort they put into cooking for me and all that they do to make me welcome. But I still need to eat correctly, particularly as being hungry is physically painful, so this involves taking along my own food.

I have one of these trips coming up very soon (i.e. over Christmas). I already take my own breakfast cereal, take muesli bars to snack on during the afternoon, and happily have sandwiches for lunch, but eating all that again for dinner isn't much fun. There must be something else I'm not thinking of! So I'm looking for food I can sneak when I'm hungry, generally after a fat-filled dinner of which I could only eat a few bites, that will fill me up and make me happy.

A few things to keep in mind: fat makes me ill, particularly animal fat, so no fried snacks or instant noodles (ramen) or the like. Nuts also make me sick, probably because of the fat. Overly salty food gives me high blood pressure and tastes bad. I need to avoid acidic food like tomatoes and oranges. While fresh fruit is plentiful at this time of year (note: is summer here) and is great, eating too much of it will make me ill and it's not very satisfying anyway. That's all though, everything else is fair game (I think).

Whatever I take needs to be stored in my room, so no refrigeration, and needs to last up to a week. While I can use the kitchen where I am to some extent I'm trying to be discrete as family politics are generally involved. However, I do have my own fully stocked and set up kitchen here at home so something I prepare and cook before I go is fine. I can make a supermarket run for ingredients but exotic stuff is probably too much hassle at this time of year.

Lastly, I'm really only looking for food suggestions here, I've got the people side covered as well as I can and am not looking for relationship or how-to-be-a-guest advice. Thanks!
posted by shelleycat to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Dried cranberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, etc. Keep an eye on how many you eat, given your IBS.
Fruit cups, if you have some plastic spoons or can wash a spoon.
High fibre crispbreads (low salt)
Unsalted soy nuts
posted by acoutu at 10:51 PM on December 17, 2007

If you can get ahold of rice and sushi seaweed wraps, you can make onigiri.

Granola without nuts would probably be good.

I personally like to eat tuna fish out of the can using chopsticks (easier to eat), requires being near a sink or outdoors, however.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 10:56 PM on December 17, 2007

Bananas (yes they're fruit but they're starchy). Kumara (for non-New Zealanders, sweet potatoes) can be microwaved to perfection inside five minutes if pricked with a fork and wrapped in a paper towel. Likewise potatoes. Rice cakes (you know, those puffed rice jobs). Are plain eggs too much fat? If not, boiled eggs. Popcorn (plain, but you can add dried herbs and salt). Low alcohol beer. Lowfat crackers with marmite. Low-fat yoghurt?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:58 PM on December 17, 2007

Can I keep boiled eggs out of the fridge? Same goes for sushi stuff, doesn't rice need to be refrigerated? Because they'd be good otherwise. And fish out of a can is a good option (chopsticks = great idea!) but plain it's a bit icky, can I do something to it to make it tastier?

Stupidly I didn't think of marmite and crackers (including rice crackers), but I love the stuff and that's a great idea. The strong taste makes it more satisfying too. More ideas like this are very welcome.

Heh, and there will be much normal alcohol beer as I'm lucky enough to not be too bothered by alcohol so no worries there .
posted by shelleycat at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2007

Low-fat turkey jerky? Or tofurky jerky?
posted by schroedinger at 11:32 PM on December 17, 2007

Can you have a little bit of acid? Canned tuna can be made to taste startlingly more delicious if you put some lemon juice on it, even that evil lemon juice in those squeeze bottles. You wouldn't need very much, but I don't know how much acid is too much for you.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:47 PM on December 17, 2007

Tuna is tasty mixed with wasabi too!
I'm afraid at the moment I can't think of any ideas for you, though, sorry!
posted by schmoo at 2:08 AM on December 18, 2007

If you can eat tuna, the easiest way when traveling are those little packages that have have a foil package of tuna, some crackers, and little things of mayo and relish, plus a spoon for mixing. I don't know what the fat percentage is, but it is certainly less greasy than fast food, stores well, and tastes ok. Easy to find in the US, don't know about the rest of the world.

Jerky is really salty, so that won't work so well for you. Dried fruit (especially the unsulfered stuff from the health food store) might be better.

Granola bars are really good for putting in your bag when you travel, to help bridge the gap between missed meals. You will need to shop carefully, though, as most have nuts. Similarly, I heard a radio piece about a new company (article here; company website) based on an indian reservation making and selling pemmican bars from traditional recipes, in part to address concerns about the modern Native diet. I haven't tried them, and who knows if you can get it where you live, but something similar might work for you.
posted by Forktine at 5:08 AM on December 18, 2007

I'm a big fan of Alton Brown's granola recipe (we make it without nuts), and he also has a granola bar recipe, which I have not tried.
posted by shinynewnick at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

You should try cultured vegetables like sauerkraut. They have to have live cultures, i.e. not be pasteurized like most stores sell. Some stores sell live, cultured vegetables but they're not that hard to make at home (won't be ready for the Christmas trip, though). They contain tons of probiotics and don't need refrigeration. Also, you might want to look into the Body Ecology Diet [1],[2], which talks about the role of probiotics.
posted by Durin's Bane at 5:37 AM on December 18, 2007

My friend keeps a box of instant rice in his office for when he doesn't have time to go out to eat. It's really ingenious. Same concept as instant cup o'noodles. Doesn't need to be refridgerated. You just add hot water, wait 5 minutes, then it's done. He has plain rice, rice and beans, etc. He gets them from a local Mexican grocery store, but the brand is Asian, so you should be able to find it at Asian markets as well. If you go to the Asian store, you can also buy rice seasoning to go with it if you don't want it plain--it usually comes with seaweed, dried bonito, salmon, etc.

Good luck!
posted by peachy at 5:57 AM on December 18, 2007

An immersion heater and a mug will allow you to make instant no-fat soups, instant oatmeal, and any other just-add-water low fat/salt options without venturing out of your room!
posted by taz at 6:21 AM on December 18, 2007

ooh, look: freeze dried roasted veggies!
posted by taz at 6:49 AM on December 18, 2007

Try a co-op or natural foods type grocery store. I'm not sure what these would be called in your area, but in the US a major chain is Whole Foods. They will have a good selection of low fat snacks. Suncakes would be a great product for what you want but are almost certainly not available there.

I'm looking for food I can sneak ...

Canned tuna has a strong smell, both when it is opened and from the empty can after eating. Don't open it in your room and expect to keep it a secret.
posted by yohko at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2007

"Can I keep boiled eggs out of the fridge?"

You probably can for about a day - after all they're sterile post boiling and in a protective shell.

Cooked rice unfortunately goes mouldy extremely fast.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2007

Tuna and salmon steaks are now sold in envelopes. Our whole family loves the lemon-pepper and ginger-soy tuna varieties, and they don't smell so tuna-y.

Can you tolerate soy butter? It keeps well. Vanilla soy milk in small/individual-serving-sized non-refrigerated containers is a staple for our family when traveling. It has a great shelf-life and complete proteins.
posted by Juggling Frogs at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2007

Also: Is it possible to invest in a refrigerated cooler? Something that would be small enough to plug in and carry as though it were a big purse? That would open up more options for you.
posted by Juggling Frogs at 11:27 AM on December 18, 2007

Hmmm interesting challenge! I'm wondering about canned beans and a good low-fat salad dressing, possibly also some veggies, that you could drain and chop and assemble into a good salad at the last minute. White beans or garbanzos, bell pepper, onion, garlic, whatever rang your bells. You could also just toss with some balsamic or other yummy vinegar and forget the salad dressing completely.

Farm eggs, that haven't been washed before sale, will keep safely raw at room temp for quite a while-if you could bring a little hot pot to boil them in, that'd be easy. Make sure to bring salt and pepper.

Mash white beans and lemon juice and dried sage and garlic and spread on rice cakes or whatever lowfat breadlike thing you want to use. I think a little olive oil, if you can tolerate it, would be excellent too.

Instant miso soup, if you can get hot water. You can add all sorts of yummy things to this (noodles, veggies)
posted by purenitrous at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2007

So many great ideas! I'm going to go shopping tomorrow and put together a bunch of stuff from the list, let you all know what I have and mark best answers. I was really blocked on this, just couldn't think of a single thing, so this is incredibly helpful. Thanks!

Oh and this, this sounds totally awesome: Mash white beans and lemon juice and dried sage and garlic and spread on rice cakes or whatever lowfat breadlike thing you want to use.
posted by shelleycat at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2007

Do they have edamame down under? (It's fresh soybeans.)
posted by stonefruit at 1:27 PM on December 18, 2007

Celery and fat-free peanut butter?
posted by Muffpub at 2:18 PM on December 18, 2007

Consider bentos. You can make them with anything you want, including non-perishables. Make yourself a snack bento filled with fruit, crackers, cookies, etc. They travel well. Lots of people don't heat them at lunchtime and do fine.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:37 PM on December 18, 2007

Rice doesn't need to be refrigerated, a lot of Japanese food is designed to be left out for a few hours without going bad; check out bento.

Lots of great bento/designed to be left out for a few hours food recipes at Cooking Cute. Lots of GF and vegetarian recipes too.

I guess it is a bit weird that I like tuna straight out of the can, but oftentimes I top it with a ginger salad dressing.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 6:45 PM on December 18, 2007

Do you have Nile soups in New Zealand? I lived on those when I was on my stupid low fat diet. They're the kind of thing you add water to (so they're lightweight), and they're not as fat as noodles, but they're mildly spicy.
They're more filling than Cup-a-soup type soup.
posted by easternblot at 9:26 AM on December 20, 2007

Nile soups look awesome but sadly all I could find here were cup-a-soup types which all taste like crap. I went shopping anyway and this is what I have:

cruskits (low fat crispbread thingies)
plain rice cakes (the fat bubbly kind)
a tuna snack kit with chilli flavoured tuna and low fat rice crackers
a tin of tuna in springwater
lemon juice
a tin of butter beans (are in brine but hopefully draining and rinsing them will be OK)
some no-sugar-added dried apple (which I probably won't like but the boyfriend will eat so I figured I'd try it)

*I'm going to make the beans into spread as purenitrous suggested, but will probably wait til I've been there a couple of days as I don't know how long it will last. No point having all the good stuff at once!
*yohko has a very good point about the smell of tuna but I've decided I can probably get away with eating it less discreetly once, even if I have it for lunch rather than as a separate snack. Will use lemon juice on the fish a la thehmsbeagle, a small amount of acid will be fine.
*I'm going to boil eggs when we make breakfast and/or lunch and put them aside for later in the day, but don't need to buy those before hand (thanks i_am_joe's_spleen).
*I've filed away the Asian ideas for future use and will look into it more next time I travel. Driving around Auckland right before Christmas sucks so it was too hard this time.
* Lastly granola = meusli (more or less) so I have that covered already. Generally I live on the stuff when I travel so I'm looking forward to having something else to eat this time!
posted by shelleycat at 7:57 PM on December 21, 2007

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