Tips and Recipes for Healthy Meals on the Go
Healthy eating can prove tricky for travel nurses due to demanding work schedules that offer little time to relax and enjoy a meal eaten at your leisure. And while finding the time to squeeze in a nutritious breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack isn’t always easy – it’s essential. As a nurse, you know how important it is to stay alert, focused and energized during your shift. After all, the health of others depends on it.
The great news is that – with a little planning – eating healthy on the go is not only easy – it can save you money and help you from gaining unwanted pounds. Ordering from nearby restaurants, or even from fast food chains, can really add up, leaving you with less money in your bank account and more inches around your waist!
Ready to get started eating healthy on the job? Here are some tips – and recipes – to keep you performing at your best.
24/7 Power Breakfasts
Breakfast foods are a great way to stock up on the energy providing proteins and carbohydrates you need to help you stay sharp throughout your shift no matter if you’re working days or nights. Fruits, including antioxidant packed blueberries, protein packed eggs, and calcium rich Greek yogurt are some of the best ingredients to include in your breakfast to go.
Here are two make ahead recipes that you can grab on your way out the door to start your day (or night) on your travel nursing assignment.
Mini Frittatas with Cheese and Red Peppers
*We substituted red pepper for ham to make it extra healthy!
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped red pepper
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 large egg whites
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.
Add red pepper mixture, stirring with a whisk. Spoon mixture into 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until set.
Greek Yogurt Parfaits
2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt
2 cups blueberries
1 cup granola
Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt into each of 4 parfait glasses; top each serving with 1/4 cup blueberries. Top each serving with 1/4 cup granola, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, and 1/4 cup blueberries.
Healthy Lunchtime Sandwiches
Today, sandwiches go beyond slices of ham and cheese on white or wheat bread. In fact, with the right ingredients and a little creativity, sandwiches can be a travel nurse’s best friend when it comes to needing a quick and nutritious on-the-go meal.
When preparing a great sandwich, start with the bread. Choose only breads labeled “100% whole what” or “100% whole grain.” Also, make sure that the bread is low in cholesterol and fats, and contain up to 10% or 15% protein. For meats, choose low fat, low sodium proteins like salmon, additive-free turkey or tuna. If you’re a vegetarian, consider adding about 4 teaspoons of your favorite hummus.
Remember to load up on vegetables and steer clear of calorie and fat laden condiments like mayonnaise and butter.
We love this easy to make ahead sandwich that’s low fat and packed with protein and fiber.
Tuscan Tuna Salad Sandwiches
1/4 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna in water, drained
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped roasted red bell peppers, drained
8 (1-ounce) slices 100% whole grain bread
Combine chopped fennel, red onion, 1/4 cup basil, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, tuna, and bell peppers in a bowl, stirring well. Spoon 1/2 cup tuna mixture on each of 4 bread slices. Top each serving with 1 bread slice. Cut each sandwich in half diagonally.
Dinner on the Go? Think Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet is rich in the nutrients travel nurses need to stay energized through long shifts. This diet focuses on whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, legumes, lean proteins and fresh produce – all ingredients that help you ward off fatigue and the blues and keep you feeling energized for long periods of time.
Add olives, low fat proteins including fresh fish, canned tuna and salmon, fresh produce like tomatoes and green, leafy vegetables, as well as legumes such as chickpeas and cannellini beans to your grocery list. In addition, a handful of nuts – especially unsalted almonds and cashews – make excellent, filling snacks to fuel you through your long shift.
For a perfect, easy, make ahead Mediterranean dinner, try this healthy Mediterranean quinoa salad from Cookie and Kate.
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