What are the best snacks for the travelling Belly Dancer or basically any gluten challenged traveller?
With our strict ‘no fruit and vege’ policy for interstate travel in Australia, having an appropriate snack with you on your way to events is pretty handy. On my trip to Perth last month I bought several pre-packaged gluten free snacks to get me through awkward travel times and not knowing what food was available and where. I thought I would share my findings with you because I am sure I am not the only one that is not a habitual eater of packaged foods that finds themselves forlornly staring at the so called ‘healthy snacks’ section of the supermarket and wondering what is truly edible and what is so sweet that you can feel your teeth rotting as you chew. I bought most of these at Woolworths (one of Australia’s biggest supermarkets) so they should be relatively easy to find or order in most places in Australia. I will include website addresses for international readers. Chick nuts were the best find by far! I am pretty positive about most of the products but for the record I hardly ever eat this kind of stuff. I prefer fresh food when available – but when it’s not….
Chick Nuts, Roasted Chickpeas lightly salted by partner foods
This 100% Australian made product is manufactured up in Maleny QLD. I bought a 200g pack and was impressed. They are really tasty, I offered them around to other dancers and everyone seemed to like them and want more. Gluten Free, 21% protein, with iron, prebiotic, 16% fibre and Low GI, if they were organic too then they would be perfect!!
Consuming protein after exercise helps stimulate muscle building and repair. A review found that consumption of 20–25 g of a rapidly absorbed protein, helps to maximise the effect. I believe whey protein had the best results but any decent protein is a good thing. A 50g serve of chick nuts delivers 10.5g of protein (and only 1.3g sugar). About a quarter of a pack is the most you could probably handle eating in a sitting. They are super tasty but you get quite full and loose the desire to eat them after that. A 200 gram pack is great for sharing or if you have a long day of dance ahead and need to snack. They also come in smaller individual packs that may be more convenient if you don’t have anyone to share with or if you live in a humid climate. I have recently also tried their “Fav-va” nuts (roasted broad beans) and found them just as delicious. One note of warning – make sure you have plenty of fresh water with you when consuming these. You need to re hydrate any way after dance and when travelling but a little extra is needed to wash these down.
I now regularly purchase this product. An excellent emergency snack food!
Frugo’s Clusters by Go Natural
“Crunchy creamy clusters of rice crisps and fruit flakes”. 150g
These are yoghurt covered little lumps with berry bits in them with no artificial colours or flavours. They are not wheat free however as they use gluten free wheat fibre in them.
One small cluster tasted nice but by the second, the amount of sugar in them was making me feel ill. 45.3g of sugar per 100 grams! That’s nearly half sugar, I wish I had read the fine print before I purchased. What’s wrong with sugar? Well yes, sugar can give you a quick energy boost but it messes with your system. A lot of sugar is not a good idea for anyone serious about their health and it annoys me that so called “health” brands misleadingly market confectionery as good for you. This product is for hard core sugar-aholics only. Even my children refused to have more than a couple. I didn’t photograph the packet because after one try I decided not to bring them with me. I knew I wouldn’t eat them.
Pumpkin Crunch by Mrs May’s naturals
This is an American product made in China; the version sold in Australia is a 142g pack. It’s cholesterol, wheat, preservative, gluten and dairy free and its vegan … so I would have to say most people could eat these. They are so yummy! Again I was impressed. They are sweeter than the chick nuts and for that reason I wouldn’t eat too many of them too often but gee it is tempting! Really tasty with 32g of protein /100grams, you probably couldn’t eat more than half that in a sitting but that’s still a respectable amount of protein. In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else. This has 14g /100g sugar, or 4g per serve. I would definitely buy this again.
Walaby bites – dark choc 150g
Mmmm, very nice! Cold pressed, gluten, wheat and corn syrup free, this Byron Bay product is worth a try. Predominantly dark chocolate, cranberries and cashews nuts, they contain 41.8grams of sugar/ 100grams. Ouch! For this reason, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “the perfect little snack’ as it claims on the pack but they are delicious. Definitely only a ‘sometimes’ food but I didn’t feel as sickly after eating these as I did with the frugos. Best open only in the company of friends so you don’t eat the lot yourself. With protein levels at 4.4g/100g I can’t really recommend this as a recovery food. I am going to try not to buy these again because I just can’t control myself around them! Test your resolve with a pack and see if you agree!
Gluten Free macadamia shortbread by butterfingers
OK, I don’t think anyone would consider short bread a health food. It does have a high fat content due to butter but shortbread is such a comfort food. I have occasionally bought this product over the years but this is the first time I checked out the nutrition information. It has negligible protein at 2.2g/100g but only 16g/100g of sugar. This is a remarkably good result for a sweet biscuit (cookie). It’s still not something you should eat a lot of but as I am someone that is not overly fond of super sweet foods, it is probably why I have always liked them when I have decided to indulge. Again, this is not a recovery food but the packet is super compact making it easy to include with your luggage when travelling. It is nice to have something familiar to dip in your tea when away from home. I took a pack with me to Egypt and really liked having a safe (gf) treat waiting for me in my room since I couldn’t eat the traditional desserts available. I also find them settling on the stomach. (you can also get this product without the macadamia nuts but I like the one with them best as I can convince myself they are a bit healthy!)
‘The Old Colonial Cookie Company’ aka butterfingers, doesn’t have a website address listed.
Nut Free Ancient Grains Muesli Bars by Freedom foods
I will be to the point – I didn’t like them. Too sweet. They are gluten free (gf) and nut and wheat free and include some good ingredients but you couldn’t taste them through the all the sweetness. If I wanted to eat something sweet I would find something better than a muesli bar to chomp on! 5.4/100g protein or 1.7g per bar means it doesn’t really have any saving graces. 9.7g of sugar per 32g bar. Try something else.
Brookfarm Bar by brookfarm
A gluten free 35g muesli bar with cranberries and macadamias. I am not a huge muesli bar fan but they are handy if for an emergency breakfast when you can’t find more appropriate food. This bar is the nicest one I have tried yet. No additives, preservatives, wheat or gluten and Australian made. It is still sweet (as all muesli bars seem to be) but less so than the freedom foods offering above (8.2/35g serve). With 9grams per 100grams of protein, it makes it the superior muesli bar choice.
Traditional Dolmades – Woolworths select
While nothing can match the taste of freshly made dolmades, a tin of dolmades in your luggage can stave off hunger. This tin was 280grams and thus a bit heavier than some options. It is the only easily eaten, moist product in this list and if you have other suggestions I would love to hear them. I ended up eating these in Perth when the cafe that was supposed to be open at the dance studios, was not open. Again, a bit hard to eat a whole tin on your own but a nice and filling travel food or offering in a shared food situation. Greens and non sugar based carbohydrates help make it a relatively healthy emergency choice (only 1.8g sugar per 100g). There are plenty of brands available and as these were made in Greece, I am sure something similar is available in Europe and North America.
I know, of course you can just take a bag of nuts or sealed dried fruits with you but now you have some other options too. Do you agree with my comments? What do you take with you to snack on between workshops? Feel free to comment below.