Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


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A Make-Your-Own, Take-Your-Own Healthy Snack For Your Next Trip

Savory Rosemary Almond CrackersFrequent travelers often ask me for good snack ideas.  I’m always happy to share: ditch the dreadful protein bars and pack bags of almonds and goji berries instead, for example.  But imagine… what if… what if there was a yummy healthy snack you could make yourself in no time.  So today we are going to get radical and in half an hour or so while you’re home, returning calls and dealing with the laundry mountain, you can make your own Scooby Snacks to take with you on your next trip.

No way.  I’m far too busy.  I barely have time to unpack and repack while I’m home.”  Well, one of the reasons you work so hard is to enjoy your home.  I have to assume that said home has a kitchen, quite probably a very nice one.  I’m not asking you to make profiteroles.  These crackers are really simple to make and I was even more impressed by the lack of residual mess.  Throwing all the ingredients in a food processor and the use of parchment paper to roll the dough keeps everything really clean.

As for the time factor, it took me 20 minutes to prep these, including going to the garden to get the rosemary and pouring a glass of wine to help the process.

Ta-da!  Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you Savory Almond Rosemary Crackers, a lovely combination of protein and carbohydrate to keep you energetic.  I wish I could claim the recipe as my own, but it comes from my dear friend and fellow health coach, the lovely Gina Knepell (www.NourishMethod.com).

Savory Almond Rosemary Crackers

Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 16 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond meal / almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 green onion (spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients. Process until smooth and dough forms a ball.  Scrape sides of bowl and process again if necessary.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out as thin as possible – especially in the center.  Shape to fit baking sheet.  Remove top piece of parchment paper.  Transfer the bottom piece, with rolled dough, onto a baking sheet.  Cut dough into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife and bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Let crackers cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes before serving.

Avocado puree and homemade crackersHere are the crackers with my delicious avocado puree.  You can check that out in my previous post.


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A Change From Guacamole (And An Interesting Tuna Salad)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a yearning for guacamole today, as one does. Despite there being three avocados in the fridge, no grocery shopping in a few days and a subsequent dearth of tomatoes nixed Plan A.  However – and I do love howevers – in the recesses of my brain, I recalled a Middle Eastern alternative.  God bless Claudia Roden.  “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was first published in 1968.  I bought my copy in 1981, the year I began studying Arabic.  Paperback, dog-eared and yellowed, it has traveled with me across the Middle East and into Sudan, where I lived for a year and regularly experimented with recipes from it.  Most vivid are my memories of okra (“ba’amia”) cooked on a charcoal “stove” about the size of a small stool, made from beaten metal.  When the new edition of “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was published in 2001, it jumped to the top of my Dear Santa list.  The new edition is beautiful but, some of my old favorites are missing from it, not least the recipe for avocado puree that I’m sharing with you today.

As a bonus, I have long been searching for a healthier alternative to mayonnaise-ridden tuna salad, which my husband loves.  Sometimes that which you seek has been sitting on your bookshelf for over 30 years.  See below for Ms Roden’s variation on this dish with tuna.

Some people are terrified of avocados because they’re perceived to be high in calories and fats.  That’s not the subject of today’s blog, so let me give you the quick version.  Avocados are a wonderful food, full of the best kinds of fats.  Add a little to a meal and you’ll feel full for longer and you’ll function better.  I eat at least half an avocado a day, usually more.  Often the people who are afraid of them are eating fried foods and a lot of animal products with saturated fat and cholesterol.  Avocados are full of good fat and have no cholesterol. They help your brain function.  They are your friend.  Please enjoy them.

Avocado Puree by Claudia Roden

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • Salt
  • 1/2 large mild onion, grated (or zapped in food processor – see below*)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Cut open and stone the avocados.  Scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork in a bowl.  (Ms Roden calls for it to be mashed with a silver fork).  Stir in the remaining ingredients and beat to a smooth, creamy paste.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.  (An electric blender will give you a smoother puree in no time).

This cream is very rich.  Serve it heaped on small crackers or thin toast.

* The recipe calls for the onion to be grated. That part was not fun.  I know that famed chef Mario Batali always says “there’s rustic and there’s lazy.”  Well, I must fall into the latter category.  Grating that onion was ruining the enjoyment of making this delicious dish.  So, I pulled out my mini processor and zapped the onion until it was the same mushy texture as that which I grated.  And – it didn’t make me cry.

Avocado Puree With Tuna

Mash the flesh of 2 ripe avocados to a puree with a *silver* fork.  Drain a 6 3/4 ounce tin of tuna and combine the flaked fish with the avocado puree.  Stir in a *little* mayonnaise, season and serve on small crackers or thin toast.


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How To Fit Exercise Into A Trip When You Really Don’t Have Time!

Push upsHere’s the scenario: you leave the house at 6 AM to get an early flight.  Once at your destination, you go right into meetings.  After work, you stop off at your hotel to dump your luggage, then you go out for dinner with clients or colleagues.  After dinner, you return to the hotel and crash.  The next day you do it all over again.

Wait!  Something’s missing.  You didn’t take time to work out.  And let’s face it, you probably stayed in a hotel that had a work out room; you packed your sneakers so you could go for a run; you have Pilates and yoga workouts on your iPod; and you requested a room on the tenth floor so you could take the stairs at least once a day.

My point is that we all know that there are opportunities to work out while we’re traveling.  In most cases we come prepared, but circumstances have a habit of getting in the way.  What can we do when we struggle to gain control of our routine and prevent the inevitable spread of the waist and derriere that accompany sedentary days and frequent restaurant dining?

On the practical side, you can make up for it when you have the time.  If you’re having a week where you can’t workout every day, don’t throw in the towel. An “all or nothing” attitude can ruin your chances of staying trim on the road.  At some point in your week a 30 minute slot WILL open up and you can fit in a workout.  Maybe you’ll only work out a couple of times that week, but it’s okay.  Twice is better than not at all.

You can also break down your workout into smaller increments.  Let’s say you have ten minutes to spare or, better yet, you factor in ten minutes to your morning routine, you can do a lot in ten minutes!  Push-ups are the first exercise to come to mind because you use your own body weight, recruit a host of muscle groups, and they’re good for bone density.  You’ll get your heart rate up too and start your day feeling like you’ve done SOMETHING.

In ten minutes, you can do three variations of push-ups: elbows to ribs, elbows wide, reverse push-ups (hands by your hips, fingers forward, lift the hips, bend and straighten the elbows ten times).  Start with sets of ten and work up to 30.   Actually, that’ll take less than five minutes so you can throw in some ab work too.

By chunking down your workout, you might find that you can do another ten minutes later in the day.  A little something here and there will make a huge difference, and you’ll keep your morale up too.

Would it be helpful for you if I post some ten-minute workouts that you can do in your hotel room?  Please let me know.


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How I Plan on Changing the World One Meal at a Time – Podcast

As Heard On 300 x 300

I had the good fortune to be interviewed by the Networker for Business Women about my work with business travelers: keeping you fit, healthy and happy on the road!

Tune in and chill out.

http://networkerforbusinesswomen.com/podcast-episode-7-changing-the-world-one-meal-at-a-time-with-jayne-mcallister/


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New Social Network Links Solo Business Travelers

nowlandinglogoThere is so much more to staying healthy on the road than watching calories in and out, and keeping up an exercise routine.  There’s so much more to eating than food, as I like to say, such as boredom, loneliness and stress, all of which can rear their ugly heads on a business trip.  Over-ordering from room service, hitting the minibar, hitting the bar before the minibar, mindlessly scarfing chocolate while working late and watching TV at the same time.  Okay, I’m writing from my own experience with a big yes to all of the above but I’ll venture to say that I’m not the only female traveler who might have found themselves wishing for an escape from the hotel, a little reliable company and the chance to see more than the hotel restaurant or bar when in a new and strange place.

This is why a new social network for frequent travelers caught my eye.  Now Landing was founded to link solo travelers all over the world to encourage them to network and maximize their down time on business trips.  I had the pleasure of catching up with Now Landing’s founder, Stewart Stone.

A three-week business trip to Hong Kong and Shanghai got Stewart thinking.  Despite the inevitable (and enjoyable) corporate hospitality, he found himself alone for weekends and many evenings, during which he explored the cities on his own, usually without meeting up with or talking to others in the process. While an independent traveler, Stewart did sign up for a couple of half day tours in Shanghai but found he had little in common with the other tourists.

(This comment reminded me of years of solo travel in the Caribbean. I’d go to breakfast in my business attire and be lost among a sea of honeymooners and scantily clad beachgoers.  Talk about feeling like a fish out of water).

The experience was compounded for Stewart when he found out that one of his friends who worked for The Financial Times was in China at the same time but in a different location. Traveling alone, she resorted to having room service all the time and didn’t get to explore the city she was in.  It occurred to Stewart that there would be a benefit in having women on business meet up together.

As for his own experience, he says, ”On returning to my hotel after going out alone, I would often sit in a plush bar with others who were evenly spaced and intent on staring into their laptops.
I thought this was a real waste, as the person opposite you could be a potential business contact or share similar leisure interests and be happy to explore the city too!”

Stewart has similar observations about his domestic travel within the UK.  The culmination of these experiences led to his establishing Now Landing in 2012. The site already has several hundred members and is slated for considerable growth in 2013.

The greater vision is to bring together people from different countries to network and socialize.  In Stewart’s words: “When the business really kicks off I can see people entertaining others as hosts in their own countries too. The spin offs and benefits from this ability to communicate with fellow travelers are vast!”

Well, I signed up and I’ll be reaching out to other travelers on future trips. And if they happen to come to my little piece of Florida, you bet I’ll jump at the opportunity to play host.  No room service or minibar fests on my watch!

For more information or to join Now Landing, please visit www.nowlanding.com. I’ll be interviewing Stewart Stone as part of my Guest Expert Interview Audio Series this summer.  Watch out for that!


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Eating for Energy When Traveling, Tip #3

Fresh salmon steak, isolated on whiteCOMBINE THE RIGHT FOODS

Let’s consider what actually happens in the inner sanctum of your digestive system and how that affects your energy level.  There’s no doubt that after a large meal of meat, potatoes, bread, and dessert that you can feel the effects, usually in the form of a need for a nap.  That’s when the caffeine and energy drinks are added to the wonderful concoction that’s percolating away in our intestines.

The body uses between 5 and 15% of calories/energy ingested to digest food.  Digestion is the most energy consuming function of the body. It takes more energy than running, swimming or bike riding.

The easiest way to keep that energy for your performance and to avoid mid-afternoon crashes is to pay attention to the combinations of food you eat.  This is relatively easy to do and it’s one of MY main secrets for staying trim while I’m traveling.

Here’s how it works: Basically, the simpler our meals are, the better the digestion will be so the principles of food combining primarily involve not mixing proteins and starches.  So, meat or fish wouldn’t combine with rice, starchy veggies such as potatoes, or breads. These are the combinations that stay in the digestive system for hours as it works to push the food out of the stomach and then down about 30 feet of intestinal tract.  A badly combined meal will take up to 40 hours to take that little journey.  A typical Christmas dinner takes about 72 hours to digest.  Plus, the longer food stays in your body, the more it putrefies because it’s gurgling away at 98.6 degrees and that results in toxic residue.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to deal with all that digestion and elimination.

By contrast, having your meat or fish with vegetables or salad, or your pasta with vegetables or a marinara sauce means that the meal is digested more easily, you expend less energy on digesting and save it for activity or brain power, and you won’t want to take a nap after each meal. The faster a food passes through our system, providing us with adequate nutrition and then exiting, the healthier it is.

Quick guidelines.

Proteins and starches do not mix.

So no, meat sandwiches; pasta and meat balls, California rolls, burger and fries, or bagels and cream cheese.

Proteins do mix with vegetables.

So have a salad to start your meal, then meat or fish with veggies.  Grilled fish on a bed of greens.  Steak sautéed with spinach.

Starches do mix with vegetables.

That’s vegetable risottos, pasta primavera, baked sweet potato and salad.

Different starches do mix.

That’s rice and beans; black bean taco; bean burrito.

Different proteins do not mix.

Proteins are the hardest foods to digest so the simpler you can keep it, the better. That means digesting them one at a time. Fish appetizer followed by meat main course won’t work.  Fish followed by fish or poultry followed by poultry will work.

Fats do not mix well with protein; pair moderately.

A little salad dressing is fine. Cheese on your burger isn’t.

Fats do mix with starches.

That’s license for pasta with oil and garlic, even pumpkin ravioli with sage butter sauce, a little butter on a baked potato.  Guacamole or hummus with chips or veggies.  Avocado sushi rolls. Bagel with butter.

Fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach.

There’s a reason for this.  Fruit has to be allowed to digest first or it ferments on top of previously digested food, leading to indigestion.  Fruit at the end of a meal is not a good idea for this very reason.  You really need to have a couple of hours before eating it after other foods.  Best to eat it first.  Eat your fruit and then wait 20 minutes before eating anything else.

Melon should always be eaten on its own, not even with other fruit.  That’s the only way it digests.

Fruit does mix with raw greens (except melons)

So, a salad with grilled peaches, or berries in salad are fine.  Green smoothies are a great combination.  Different fruits with a bit of kale or spinach thrown in are a great way to start your day and you don’t taste the greens.

You might think this sounds draconian but it’s not.  These are guidelines.  Play with them and experiment with your diet.  See how you feel afterwards.  Maybe you only do this at breakfast and lunch so you can have more energy during the day.  Maybe you do it at night so you can sleep better.  The liver is the body’s janitor and it works from around 10 PM until 2 PM onwards.  The more help you can give it the better.

What about coffee? If you follow these tips, you won’t need a ton of coffee to keep you going.  Introduce one of these tips at a time and ask yourself if you really need a cup mid-afternoon or is it just force of habit?  Please don’t drink it before bed.  A cup of hot water with juice of a lemon will help your liver start its night time routine.


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Eating for Energy When Traveling, Tip #2

 Wooden scoops with different rice types scattered from themEAT SLOW RELEASING CARBS

I touched on this when talking about breakfast in Tip #1:  The idea of eating a lot of sugar, getting a surge of energy, only to start yawning and reaching for caffeine within a couple of hours. I’m sure many of you have heard about the glycemic index whereby foods, mainly carbohydrates are given a score depending on how slowly their sugars are released into the bloodstream. It’s not always the best marker however.  It doesn’t rank foods by how healthy they are so a lot of processed foods have a low glycemic index, such as Peanut M&M’s and Snickers bars.  Potato chips and ice cream rank better than a baked potato.

The best gauge is to look at how close a food is to its natural state.  Let’s take freshly harvested wheat which still has its bran coating, or rice kernels that also have their bran intact.  These natural foods still contain the nutrients in their outer layers.  This is important.  It’s the difference between eating a whole food that is full of nutrients and a ball of starch that has been stripped of anything worth eating.  That’s basically the difference between brown rice and white rice; and whole wheat and refined flour.  Nutrients or sugar.  One kernel of brown rice has over 100 nutrients and anti-oxidants.  It’s considered to be a perfect food.  White rice, by contrast, brings little more than starch to the game.

So how does this affect you?  Well, if you’re loading up on white pasta and white rice in the middle of the day thinking that the carbs will give you the energy to get through the afternoon, you’re very wrong.  You’re going to be crashing and burning by 4 PM, then reaching for caffeine and cookies to get you through the last few hours.

If you order a sandwich at lunch, most places will offer you whole wheat bread.  As long as it’s really whole wheat and not just white bread that has been dyed brown, it’s okay.  If you really want to get through the afternoon, order a salad and an olive oil based dressing, and a piece of fish or lean meat.  Be sure to eat the salad dressing so you’ll feel sated and have had a serving of good fat to help your brain function more efficiently.  Skip the bread basket.

The same applies to pasta, unless you like whole wheat and it’s available.   A bowl of white pasta is going to send your blood sugar soaring, then crashing.  Brown rice is a little easier to find, especially at Asian restaurants.  If I get to pick where I’m taking a client, I’ll often pick a Thai or sushi restaurant because I can get brown rice with a Thai curry, or with sashimi, or I can get brown rice sushi rolls most of the time.  Not all sushi lends itself to that however, but tuna rolls, salmon rolls and veggie rolls work great.

If you have no option but white rice, having it with some form of legume will help counter the effects of the sugar.  Rice and beans are a great way to go.  They’re high fiber and the beans have a host of nutrients.

The effect of the protein is to contain the blood sugar and keep you off the roller coaster for the afternoon.

Let’s look at snacking.  Full disclosure:  I hate energy bars and sports drinks.  For all their nutrition claims, be it high protein or low sugar, energy bars are a fabrication that’s made in a lab, not a kitchen, and replicates a candy bar.  In my book, that’s not food.  To give you way too much information, I have to confess that I haven’t eaten one since my husband said they look like dog turds.  That did it for me and hopefully it’ll have the same effect on you too.

Most energy drinks are nothing but sugar.  If you want electrolytes, drink coconut water.  It’s natural and you can buy it readily in supermarkets now.  Watch out for some of the weird artificial flavors.

So what are good snacks for taking on the road?  My absolute favorites are seaweed snacks.  They are small sheets of roasted nori, have very few calories but are the best food for balancing blood sugar.  At over 60% protein, they contain more than any other food.  That’s right, more than meat or fish. You can easily fit a package in your handbag or suitcase for emergencies.

I was craving sugar the other day and did a quick inventory of what I’d eaten.  I realized that I’d hardly had any protein so I had a packet of seaweed snacks and the craving went away.

Natural popcorn is another good choice. The less on it the better. Watch out for microwave brands that contain trans fat (you’ll see it in the ingredients as hydrogenated oil).  The fewer ingredients, the better.  Some of the popcorn snacks out there are really not too bad.  Read the ingredient list.  Hummus and veggies work great.  I’ve even seen them in airport shops lately.

A baggie with almonds should be in everyone’s purse or briefcase.  Portion them out though in case you find yourself mindlessly consuming an entire bag of nuts.  Trail mix that isn’t full of candy is good.

Good quality chocolate is great.  Yes, I just said that.  If you are not looking to lose weight, you can eat a credit card sized piece of good quality chocolate every day.  By good quality, I mean 80% cacao or higher.  Chocolate is a sacred food.  It’s full of antioxidants, it tastes good and it makes you feel good.  Go for it!  Again, watch for portion control.  The size of a credit card and no more.