I’m getting pretty good at this whole traveling thing, but I still haven’t quite nailed a food strategy for the long flights between Japan and the U.S. It’s a dilemma! We pay a small fortune for the flights, so I feel like I should get as much as possible out of the airline. And while I always end up feeling gross after eating the airline meals, I really hate to leave a meal that I paid for uneaten.
But for my upcoming trip to the States for my brother’s wedding, I decided that was a flawed way of thinking about it. Why should I eat gross, sodium-packed food just because it’s included in the price of my ticket? I’ll take the fruit cup and maybe the ice cream, but the flight attendants can take back the mystery meat with mushy vegetables.
(Post-flight update: This is what my breakfast looked like!! Gross! Soggy tater tots, eggs that probably were powdered, mystery mushy veggies. Made me so happy that I brought my own food!)
I usually bring a few snacks (some candy and pretzels) but I’m stepping it up a notch for this trip. I’m traveling for about 20 hours, with 14 of them on an airplane. So I’ll probably watch at LEAST two movies. Probably 3, depending on the selection! And what’s a movie without popcorn? I’m going to attempt to bring a bag, and hope it doesn’t get totally smashed in transit.
But for meals, what could I bring to supplement the edible parts of the airline meals? Instead of mushy veggies that have been sitting in a warmer for 8 hours, I’m bringing a salad of crisp, blanched broccoli, green beans and carrots. I’m adding a lovely dressing of nutty sesame oil and acidic lemon for a punch of flavor. I also roasted some sweet kabocha squash with spicy harissa oil. I think I’ll bring a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, but I’m not sure when to eat it!? Meals get really confusing between the long flight and the crazy time difference. My flight leaves Tokyo at 5:00 pm on Monday and arrives in Chicago at 5:40 pm on Monday. Huh?
For other snacks, I’m bringing raw red peppers, sweet carrots, juicy cherry tomatoes and cucumbers with an oregano/olive oil vinaigrette. Round it out with some pre-cooked edamame, and I’m actually EXCITED for my airline meals! And those cute containers for my dressings are just delightful. Hey, they have to fit in my liquids bag to get through security, right?
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 12 green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli and carrots for 2 minutes, or until just barely tender. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and shock in an ice bath.
- Add the green bean pieces to the boiling water. Blanch for about 90 seconds, or until just barely tender. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and shock in an ice bath.
- Whisk the sesame oil into the lemon juice. Toss with the veggies. Add sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- If packing for travel, add the sesame seeds and pepper flakes to the veggies. Toss them with half of the dressing and place the rest of the dressing in a small airtight container. Shake to combine, then add to the veggies just before serving.
- 1 cup of 1/2 inch cubes of squash (I used kabocha, but butternut or acorn would work as well)
- 2 tablespoons of harissa oil (or 1/2 tablespoon harissa paste whisked into 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
- 1 teaspoon salt and a few cracks of fresh pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the squash with the harissa oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Use a spatula to flip the squash every 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- This dish is delicious warm, but will taste great at room temperature as well. That's what makes it perfect for an airplane snack!