I’m a flight attendant now. That much you all know. There are a few questions that seem to arise every time I tell someone new what I do for a living. Where’s your favorite destination so far? Do you get to fly around wherever you like? But sure enough, people seem fascinated by the fly girl’s diet. So, what’s it like eating out all the time?
If you think about it, life in the aviation industry is inherently transient. It is my job, after all, to travel. And it seems that as a general rule, our eating habits are always the worst when we travel, right? We don’t have access to our usual grocers, we tend to lax up on our diets (we’re on vacation!), we often skip out on our typical exercise routines. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you travel for the sake of food. I mean, there’s just so much to learn about another culture and environment through their cuisine. That, and I just love food, plain and simple. Needless to say, many of us gain a few pounds because when we’re on vacation we let loose and enjoy ourselves, and it’s all okay because we’ll get back into the swing of things as soon as we return home.
But what happens when your return home is to be followed shortly by yet another voyage? How can you ever get back into the swing of it if you’re always on the move? With all these factors against me, it seems only natural that the travel diet would become my new lifestyle. But that’s not the case.
I quickly mastered the art of lunchbox tetris wizardry, out of
poverty necessity. Hey, we never said we do this job for the money, people!
I enjoy clean eating. If I don’t consume some sort of fresh greens and fruits in my day, it’s a day gone wrong, and I’m left feeling wanting and unfulfilled. While eating out is fun sometimes, knowing what I’m putting in my body is ultimately more important. And I knew this would prove especially true in a tiny flying germ capsule, or else I’d suffer the consequences–weakness, fatigue, and that nasty cough and vulgar runny nose the lady sitting in 16D grossed everyone out with. So I had to figure out a way to get my daily dose of whole foods when I’m working 30,000 feet in the air or laid over in a hotel in a strange city.
So I’m going to share with you some tricks and recipes I’ve learned in practice.
When packing food for travel, you have to keep a few things in mind. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to reheat food, let alone cook it in its raw form. My aircraft don’t have microwaves or ovens, so I need to get a little crafty. Some of our coffee machines have a hot plate, which you can (slowly) warm foil-wrapped food on. I’ve also heated soup right from the can this way. It takes a while, but you have the time to plan it out once you’re in the air. Some of my aircraft, however, don’t even have hot plates. In this case, I heat my food, sealed in plastic, in a bin of hot water.
Another thing you need to keep in mind when packing for a trip is that your food needs to be hardy. This can be tough when you’re trying to get fresh foods because they often wilt, get smashed, or rot. Go for hefty produce, like kale and broccoli. Apparently I’m Trader Joe’s’ unofficial spokesperson, as typically everything I eat originates there, but their Broccoli and Kale Slaw is the best. It stands up to tossing and turning, and it doesn’t get soggy after it’s been dressed. Carrots are super easy. And I also like to have Persian cucumbers because I think it’s nice that you don’t have to cut them up to fit in your bag, so they keep longer. Well, I could go on about every item I manage to cram in my life-saving lunchbox, but that’ll be the next post. Keep your eyes peeled for a video coming up.
For now, I leave you with one of my favorite healthy recipes that’s good on the go:
Caulifried rice is actually not rice at all. Made from riced cauliflower, this dish is light, clean, and healthy. And as a carb fiend, you can trust me when I tell you, you won’t feel like you’re being gypped as you do so often with healthy substitutions. Plus, it’s easy to customize the recipe by throwing in any veggies or proteins you have on hand. As easy, healthy, and delicious as this is to make, you may find you have a new staple to add to your busy work week menu.
- 2-3 TBSP sesame oil (or olive oil)
- 16 oz riced cauliflower, raw
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced/grated
- 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup firm tofu, diced (I like to marinate my tofu in soy sauce ahead of time to give it more flavor. Also, you can use chicken or pork or whatever protein you prefer.)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4-5 TBSP soy sauce/tamari
- 2-3 TBSP scallions, fresh, chopped
- sesame seeds
- pepper to taste
- large wok (If you don’t have a very large pan, like a wok, cut the recipe in half, so as not to overfill your pan. You want a lot of room for the fry to occur.)
- In a large wok, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in oil on medium/low heat until onions become soft and translucent (about 2-3 minutes).
- Raise heat to medium/high. Add peas, corn, carrots, and diced tofu. Cook and stir until veggies are heated through, but still firm (about 3-4 min if frozen, 2-3 min if fresh).
- Make a well in the center of the wok. Pour in the beaten eggs, and stir until scrambled.
- Raise heat to high. Add cauliflower and soy sauce. Cook stirring frequently or about 5-7 more minutes.
- Garnish with fresh chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
Enjoy whatever add-ins you choose. Broccoli, baby corn, cabbage, bok choy, shrimp, water chestnuts, steak–the possibilities are endless.
Now, please excuse me while I go pack my lunch for the next trip!