I have been on the hunt for solid, stable snack recipes for months now. After returning to the gym and dealing with long days of classes and internships, I needed healthy and filling snacks to save my pocketbook from weeping every month. It has been hard to trade in bought lunches for home made ones, but the trade off has been worth it.
With NYCC coming up I have started to plan out what snacks I’ll need to make and which ones will last all day. Since I’m doing it, I thought I would share my adventure with you to help you plan for NYCC or any other convention you might be attending.
Snacks at conventions over the past few years have been a trial-by-error situation for me. It is easier now that I live in New York City and have the space and time to prepare and store homemade goodies. However, if you’re bringing a carry-on bag a lot of these treats should make it through your flight if you want to make them in advance.
These have saved my life the past month since I have started making huge batches in advance. They do require about 12hrs of refrigeration time to get them to come together (otherwise they’re a bit soft), but they require no baking and pack a punch. They’re also super easy to customize and it is hard to go wrong. Substitute different seeds for flax or chia, add in different nuts like sliced almonds, or swap the honey for something like agave.
I leave out the chia seeds and chocolate chips and usually substitute in sliced almonds for mine. I’ll also toss in some pumpkin pie spice for fall-themed protein balls when I get tired of cinnamon. Don’t have a food processor? Don’t worry. Everything that can be blended with a processor can be blending by hand if need-be!
For the protein powder I use Integrated Supplement’s Whey Isolate Protein which is available at Target. I use vanilla to minimize taste, but you could easily toss chocolate in for another winning twist on the recipe.
The protein ball’s close cousin, the protein cookie, is another staple of on-the-go life. I have not personally tried any of these yet, but since they’re related to protein balls I thought they were worth a mention. These recipes should also be relatively shelf stable so you can toss them in your carry-on and then into your backpack on the day of the convention.
Again, I would encourage everyone to customize them to taste. It is really hard to mess up a protein cookie, but definitely don’t lose sight of what the cookie is supposed to do for you: provide a quick kick of protein to sustain you through panels, lines, and a lot of general waiting. You’ll want to minimize sugar, which is more likely to give you a quick energy burst followed by a hard fall.
Cheese, Nuts, and Trail Mixes
I’m going to group these together because I generally eat them together. Trail mix is a convention staple and when you pack it full of things like dried cranberries, walnuts, almonds, or other dried fruit you will set yourself up for foodie success during the day.
Toss a cheese stick in to munch on for some added taste and nutrients. Stay away from mixes packed with sugar and things like chocolate and raw nuts will always be better than roasted (but I also want you to enjoy eating your snack so roasted nuts are better than no nuts).
I won’t bother with a recipe for this one, but I’ll share my usual snack. I stick a sharp cheddar cheese stick in with some crackers of choice and a nut mix (usually cashews, almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, but I buy it pre-mixed).
Go beyond the sandwich and consider some of these extra options for your on-the-go convention lunch. When you don’t have to worry about leaving the convention to get lunch the whole con can seem a little brighter.
Of course, if you’re wanting something hot and fresh then you cannot go wrong with the food court options at Javits during NYCC. They pull out all the stops to bring wonderfully delicious food trucks so that you won’t go hungry.
If you want to try something a little different, though, here are my suggestions.
Taking healthy eating to the next level, you could try out this rice patty recipe. Nutrient-wise it is relatively well rounded, especially compared to other snacks you might be tempted to bring with you. Eye balling it I would say they’re pretty shelf stable, especially if you can keep them in the fridge at your hotel and polish them off at least halfway through the day. They might not last until 5pm, but eat them for lunch and you won’t have to worry about that.
Fruit, for lunch? Yeah, fruit for lunch! One of the best meals you can have on the go that will last you longer than you might think is going to be a banana. Packed with potassium and a bunch of other good stuff, bananas are really the ultimate super food. If you don’t like bananas, bring along and apple and a packet of peanut butter for a stable lunch on the go.
If you prefer sliced apples then you may want to look into the various ways to keep them from browning throughout their time in your bag. My personal favorite is soaking them in a little bit of lemon juice because it has the double punch of added tang.
I have not personally tried this yet but saw it on a convention forum and was absolutely enchanted. If you are worried about some of your lunch items getting too warm then I have the ultimate solution: pop a container of yogurt into the freezer overnight and keep it with whatever you want kept cold. The yogurt will act like an ice pack through the first part of the day and by the time it has started to defrost, it will be a lovely snack.
Throw some berries or granola into it to round out the protein and you’ll be ready and rearing to get through the long days at the convention.
Planning for food is nearly as important to me at the convention schedule itself. I live in Queens and hopping on the train to go thirty minutes back to my apartment to eat a good lunch is not feasible. Even when I stayed in a hotel before I lived here there were times I loathed having to hike out of the immediate area around Javits to try and find some food that would not break the bank.
I have compiled the above suggestions to start, but if you really want to delve into the world of smart snack ideas then you should check out Pinterest. It is not a site I have had a lot of luck with for anything except finding recipes, but it has definitely revolutionized the way I eat.
Whatever you decide, try to think ahead so you do not end up being the hangry person in a line ready to bite someone’s head off. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do to make your con experience a great one.