As I type this, I’m 30,000 feet up in the air (which seems to be the only time I find to write recipes + share things with you here. Yipes.) I’m headed to California to ride 300 miles in 3 days w/250 amazing culinary professionals all to help put healthy, delicious food on the tables and in the mouths of American children everywhere on ChefsCycle for NoKidHungry. I’m so excited to get there; it’s been a big year of fundraising since we were all together last. And, I’m so excited to use my cycling legs for this purpose. And I know that my fellow ChefsCycler’s are excited too (I’ve been watching them pack on Instagram.)
What’s amazing to me is that I haven’t seen more snacks. (We’re going to ride 300 miles! We’re gonna be HUNGRY! And we all already love food!) Lots of helmets, spare kits, rain jackets, special new socks and fancy cycling team jerseys and stretching tools that look like medieval torture devices are all evidently making their way into suitcases bound for Santa Rosa. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time packing to cook/ride and play on bikes that I don’t think much about “the kit” anymore. (It’s true that the kit is important! SO important – I’d be amiss not to say that I certainly picked up this and these for the trip.) But, when I formulate my packing list, I’m much more focused on creature comforts these days. My favorite lotion to slather on after long rides to soothe muscles. A Turkish towel to wrap up for the pool. Headphones and a book to decompress after a long day of riding/socializing. A box of this to recover from lots of miles and potentially lots of wine. And, snacks. Lots of favorite snacks and staples to make early mornings, late nights, hectic weeks on the road a bit more bearable.
I don’t remember when my gourmet oatmeal packs started making their way into my carry-on, but it’s basically become one of my survival kit items and one of the best “recipe hacks” I have and love to share. Having the packets always packed and on hand means I never have to suffer over a mediocre plate of airport eggs + toast before an early morning flight or cry tears of mediocrity over a piece of Sbarro pizza late night. And, even when the timing isn’t brutal, I have a little ritual snack that is satisfying, grounding and makes me feel like I have my sh*t together when I’m bouncing from place to place (which is just the inspiration I need to ACTUALLY GET MY SH*T together when I’m on the road. Fake it till you make it, they say.)
My Almond Butter + Chia Airport Oatmeal ritual is easy but specific. It doesn’t actually require a recipe, but it does require a little resourcefulness and a few minutes of forethought.
Here’s what you do. Before you leave the house, pull together:
- a couple snack or quart size Ziploc baggies (I usually have 3 gourmet oatmeal packs ready at all times.)
- quick-cooking rolled oats
- chia seeds
- your favorite crunchy accouterments. I like cacao nibs, hemp seeds, whole almonds etc.
- flaky sea salt (just a few pinches – better yet, carry a little tin of Jacobsen’s Sea Salt.)
- a couple of packets of almond butter (I love Justin’s.)
- a couple of packets of Untapped Maple Syrup OR Bee Local Honey Sticks
- a banana (or, you can buy one at any airport kiosk)
In each of the Ziploc baggies, combine about 1/2 cup oats, a few tablespoons of chia seeds, and a couple of tablespoons of your favorite crunchy toppings. Add a pinch of sea salt, and close the baggie tight. Pack in your carry-on in a place where you can find it, along with the almond butter and maple packets and the banana if you’re packing one from home.
When you get to the airport, find a coffee shop, restaurant or even a First-Class lounge. Then:
- Ask your kind server for two hot cups – one empty, and one filled with hot water. Also, ask for a spoon. And, a banana if you didn’t bring one and are still hankering. On your way out, grab one lid and a couple of napkins too.
- Find yourself a reasonable place to sit and assemble your oatmeal. Pour the contents of one of the oatmeal baggies into the cup, and add water just until the oats are plumping. Add maple syrup and almond butter to your liking, then top with the lid. You can also add the banana here if you like.
- Discard the cup of water (along with any water you didn’t use, any maple or almond butter you didn’t use.) Let your oatmeal sit, covered with the lid, for the amount of time it takes you to walk to your gate, check Instagram, whatever, and when you remove the lid, your way-better-than-airport-kiosk-oatmeal will be ready to enjoy.
- Don’t neglect to realize that, if you ask for a cup tray for your water (and probably coffee) from the coffee shop, you can carry your oatmeal fixings all the way to your gate and enjoy making a gawk-worthy bowl of oatmeal right in your seat. Trust me, someone will look at you and know you’re smart as a whip.
PLUS, you’ll start to feel right at home, wherever you’re going. And, you’ll arrive full of yummy, whole foods that fuel whatever you’re up to when you get there. Enjoy!