Nutrition Rx: Portable Food for the Whole Family

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

vegetable-wrapsAs we fit in last-minute travel excursions and summer day trips, it’s easy to stray from the healthful choices we’ve made all summer. The good news is that eating healthfully – in the air, on the road, or at the beach – is now easier than ever. Here are five tips for packing portable food that provides stable energy and an abundance of nutrients. 1. Colorful Vegetable Wraps All you’ll need to make your favorite wraps is a handful of ingredients: whole wheat tortillas, low-fat hummus, and your favorite vegetables. Try grated carrots, fresh spinach leaves, and radishes or bean sprouts for an extra crunch. Wrap up and take on a family or poolside picnic, include with fresh fruit for a healthful lunch, or keep on hand for a grab-and-go meal. Lettuce Wraps2. Tofu Lettuce Wraps Looking for a new twist on fresh vegetable wraps? Serve brown rice, carrots, tofu strips, and your favorite vegetables, such as roasted red peppers or shitake mushrooms, over lettuce leaves. Bibb, bok choy, and chard work well. Add a splash of your favorite seasonings – soy sauce, red pepper flakes, or lemon juice – for extra flavor, without the extra fat or cholesterol. Photo by Foster Wiley.3. Minted Fruit Kebabs Thread your favorite fruit on kebab skewers and toss with lime juice for a sweet snack or nutritious dessert. Seasonal options might include grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon, blueberries, and honeydew. corn-salad 4. Corn Salad This summertime classic is easy to prepare. Mix one can of corn with a chopped cucumber, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, one medium diced red bell pepper, one diced tomato, and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro. Add a couple of tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar, cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice, and your favorite spices – garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper – to taste. For a versatile punch, add black beans and serve on top of a leafy green salad or a brown rice bowl. confetti-couscous5. Confetti Couscous Mix your favorite vegetables with your favorite grain, which may be couscous, pasta, or brown rice. Couscous cooks almost instantly and makes a beautiful and flavorful salad that’s popular among all age groups. Top with fresh herbs, spices, and if you like, add dried fruit – try potassium-packed raisins or apricots – for a sweet and spicy dish. With a healthful plant-based diet, you can make it your way. Just remember to stick to the healthy basics: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Visit for more nutrition tips, meal plans, and recipes. Photos (in order): courtesy of the Physicians Committee, Kathy Patalsky, Foster Wiley, Kathy Patalsky, Kathy Patalsky.