This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Atkins. The opinions and text are all mine. Today’s post includes easy low carb snacks & fast meal ideas to help you stay on track, even when life gets busy!
From low carb snacks on the go, to healthy meals on the road, consistently staying on track has been the key to my weight loss success over the last eight years, and of course to maintaining my weight loss and improved health.
Atkins has been amazingly supportive of my low carb lifestyle and also of my work here. When I first started the Low Carb Challenge seven years ago, they shared it with their audience, which really helped our awesome community get off the ground.
I frequently send people to their website for low carb food lists and scientific research articles, as they provide an amazing resource on topics like cardiovascular health and diabetes as just two examples of things I get asked about a lot.
I’ve worked with them quite a few times to develop content or create recipes for both their audience and mine, like these helpful low carb travel tips and this delicious Cinnamon Crunch Coffee Cake for example – which was a BIG hit!
They recently asked my opinion on their new line of Atkins Bars, which I hadn’t tried yet, and also how I incorporate Atkins products and other on-the-go foods into my busy low carb lifestyle this time of year.
I’ve mentioned that Aaron and I have somewhat different food preferences, but interestingly (surprisingly, actually) Atkins bars and frozen meals are one thing we both agree on as both convenient & delicious with our busy lifestyles.
He’s a BIG help when I’m reviewing new products or creating new low carb recipes, by the way. The difference in our palates and preferences gives me more objective feedback to share with you all. 😉
He doesn’t eat beef or pork, I don’t eat carrots, he has a sweet tooth and I prefer all natural flavors, he likes stevia and I can’t stand it. But when Atkins sent me some of their newer low carb bars to review – those didn’t last at all between the two of us!
They sponsored this post, which gives me an opportunity to tell you a bit about our story and our busy lifestyles, and also share with you how I stay on track when I’m on the go so much during the spring and summer months.
This time of year, Aaron and I stay super busy. We’re both business owners and either on the road or working from our laptops, and usually rushing through tasks so we can create free time to get unplugged and go for a hike once or twice a week.
He owns a luxury tour company in the city, and I’m an international speaker and small business consultant. We’re both very driven entrepreneurs!
We met via a mutual love of the outdoors through a local hiking group in November 2016. While we both work hard, and often long weekends and odd hours, we also both love to play hard – and to totally unplug from business and enjoy nature.
Just last week we blazed a trail through a creek and over a small waterfall to find a quiet rock “off the grid” overlooking an amazing gorge with a double waterfall view.
Eating low carb is what keeps us both so active, even in our downtime.
When you’re eating low carb you’ll find that you have more energy, and more stable energy, and also a sharper focus – or more mental clarity.
Many foods that people might consider healthy will actually spike your blood sugar. A banana for example is equivalent to 5 teaspoons of sugar, based on the glycemic load calculation, and a cup of raisins: nine teaspoons of sugar!
This is what Atkins calls the “hidden sugar effect” — when carbohydrates convert to sugar when digested. You don’t see the sugar, but your body does.
Aaron and I have both experienced this firsthand.
It completely tanks our energy and makes us both feel lethargic and unfocused, which is NOT ideal for our fast-paced lifestyles and adventurous natures. 😉
Definitely something we both make it a point to avoid!
* * *
Between running our businesses and making time for each other and also for outdoor adventures, there isn’t much room for elaborate recipes or meal prepping.
Even our hikes are usually spontaneous because we often have to take off and go enjoy an afternoon when we get the opportunity between each of our business obligations. And we never known when that might be!
When we head out for a hike on a whim, I just grab a variety of snacks to bring along and we make a quick meal on the trail. That might be as simple as pecans and string cheese as a light lunch for example.
He’s just as content as I am with simple foods, especially when it means we get to spend less time planning or in the kitchen, and more time enjoying the outdoors!
Our busy lifestyles don’t leave a lot of room for cooking so we each make simple meals at home, make smart choices and healthy swaps when dining out or on the road, and pick up easy low carb convenience foods we can grab and take on the go.
We both keep a variety of nuts, cheeses, bars, berries, eggs, and other simple foods on hand. Then when we get the opportunity to meet for lunch or have a dinner date, we enjoy a wide variety of delicious low carb foods.
Mexican restaurants are a favorite place for us to meet up for lunch because we both love fresh avocado with grilled chicken and shrimp.
We have a handful of favorite restaurants that have outdoor patios, which makes for a perfect date this time of year!
Neither of us have a typical schedule or lifestyle with our business models. He has an office in the city where all he has is a microwave and refrigerator, and otherwise eats on the road several days a week.
I recently turned him on to the Atkins frozen meals because like me, he prefers a hot meal of meat & vegetables – but doesn’t always have time to cook, and often has to eat while working.
Our favorite Atkins meal is the Atkins Crustless Chicken Pot Pie. They’re good straight out of the box, but sometimes I’ll top mine with cheese & sour cream for a little extra deliciousness. 🙂
The Atkins frozen meals are perfect for both hotel rooms and office kitchens. They’re also great to keep in the freezer for those nights you come in tired and don’t feel like cooking. 😉
I’ve even been known to eat the Atkins Crustless Chicken Pot Pie for breakfast. It’s absolutely delicious with two fried eggs on top, and couldn’t be an easier meal!
I love that Aaron and I are “food compatible.” ❤🥑
We’re both very health conscious, and he eats low carb and SIMPLE like I do.
Often we’ll throw together a fast dinner of grilled chicken over fresh baby spinach or cauliflower rice when we get a chance to make a meal together.
Easy meals are great! It leaves us more time to do the things we love. 😉
While he works in the city, I have a home office about 90 minutes away at the foot of the mountains where we both love to hike. I’ve been in business and working from home and on the go for just over 23 years now.
Aaron comes down and works from my home office alongside me some days, which gives us a chance to cook together – or get our work done quicker and sneak off for a fun hike!
I really enjoy the company, even when we’re both focused on work at opposite desks. And I know he really enjoys all the low carb snacks I always have on hand to review. 😉
Last week was a particularly busy week for us both, and it also happened to be when the Atkins Bars arrived for me to review.
So instead of flipping a coin over who had to make the eggs (lol) I set out one of each bar by his laptop and by mine as an easy breakfast on those mornings we had to hit the ground running.
Neither of us snack, by the way. We both use low carb bars or snacks as a meal replacement, or as a bridge between two healthy meals on longer work days.
Aaron is less picky about bars usually, while I’m VERY picky about them. I would definitely rather have a handful of pecans than a BAD bar, but a meal replacement bar is SO convenient so I’m always on the hunt for a GOOD one.
I thought for sure we’d have opposite favorites (as usual) on these two Atkins bar flavors, and I also thought they’d be too sweet for me and just right for him.
We were trying the Chocolate Almond Caramel (2 net carbs) and Vanilla Pecan Crisp (3 net carbs) Atkins Bars:
I was pleasantly surprised to discover they weren’t overly sweet at all. Sweet yes, but more like just right with very rich but mild flavors. Right up my alley! I was even more surprised when Aaron raised his eyebrows and said, “These are really good.”
Both flavors are great, with a nice crunchy texture, but we both liked the Chocolate Almond Caramel Atkins Bar best. That’s rare that we end up agreeing on a favorite flavor! 😀
At only 5 net carbs for both bars, and very satisfying, they made for a great breakfast at our desks on an exceptionally busy week for both of us.
Keeping It Simple: Easy Low Carb Meals
I don’t personally feel like every meal has to be a masterpiece, or even cooked for that matter. There are entirely too many other things I’d rather be doing, and other places I’d rather be than in the kitchen all day every day. 😉
That’s another thing Aaron and I have in common. We’re both happy with a snack plate of pecans, cream cheese & berries as a quick lunch while we’re working.
We enjoy almost any combination of low carb foods, and I often just make one big snack plate if we have time to take a lunch break together.
Sometimes it’s berries, nuts and cheeses and other times it’s chicken roll-ups and string cheese. Low carb snack plates are fast and simple, and a fun way to share a meal together. I usually just toss a variety of things on one big plate.
Fortunately Aaron loves the way I “cook” (lol).
In all seriousness, it’s nice to have someone to spend time with and share meals with even when we’re both entirely too busy to cook.
Our schedules can be crazy, and change without much notice, so we just make it work with a lot of super simple food options.
Plus in the summer heat, a light meal is both satisfying and refreshing. 🙂
Aaron and I have a lot in common with our busy careers, fluid schedules, traveling on a whim – and of course, with the way we eat as well.
That’s SO nice, and definitely something I don’t take for granted. We’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together lately, even if we ARE working some of that time. Otherwise I’m often eating and traveling alone, and he is as well.
When our schedules allow, we travel together. He joined me on a nine hour road trip to Raleigh, NC and back where I attended an industry conference for example – and we stopped for fun hikes in the Smoky Mountains both ways. 🙂
Of course we also stop for great meals when we’re traveling!
These delicious cobb salads were at a Hilton Garden Inn on one of our trips – his without bacon, mine without carrots:
My absolute favorite memory with him though was a road trip back from Florida. I drove down for a business event, and he got a one-way flight down later to join me at the resort.
He was able to work and run his business mobile while I was at the event during the day, then we enjoyed fabulous meals together in the evenings.
On the way back we took a 3-hour detour and hit the beach for the afternoon. 🙂
We drove back to Tennessee together and our little beach detour had us driving overnight. That was totally worth it, of course!
We ended up stopping at a 24-hour grocery store a little more than halfway home to pick up some low carb snacks so we could stay on the road.
There weren’t many restaurants open, and neither of us wanted to spend an hour or more off the road at that point.
A lot of people think eating low carb is hard for some reason, or especially challenging when you’re traveling. That perplexes me. I mean, you have to eat, so its just a matter of picking one type of food over another. Right? 😉
When we made that stop I was a little surprised to see Aaron select Atkins bars over the other bar & snack options on the shelf. I suppose because it was the first time, and up to that point I’d only ever seen him eat super simple whole foods.
But Atkins bars are way lower in carbs and sugar than most bars you find in stores – and definitely delicious!
For the most part Aaron is VERY “ingredient conscious” but I rather like that he’s not a total food snob, and will also enjoy something just because he likes it!
As for me, the Atkins Peanut Butter Granola Bar is my old standby. It’s my go-to on the road because I can find it practically anywhere, and always at one of three 24-hour stores – which is super convenient on long road trips at odd hours.
I originally fell in love with that one when I first went low carb because it was a great replacement for the high carb granola bars I used to eat, and because eight years ago… it was one of the few GOOD options you could even find in stores. 😉
Finding Balance For Long Term Sustainability
For me personally, being too strict with my foods or completely eliminating any convenience options makes it hard to sustain a low carb lifestyle long-term, especially with my crazy schedule and being on the go so much.
While Aaron and I mostly eat super simple meals of whole foods, having low carb options for quick hot meals and grab & go snacks just makes life easier.
It’s about balance, though.
Before I started eating low carb I ate entirely too much “convenience food” – and not the healthy kind! Finding low carb replacements, like Atkins bars instead of high-carb granola bars, was what helped me transition into a low carb lifestyle easily.
Over time I started exploring more and more of the Atkins Low Carb Food List and started eating a wide variety of healthy whole foods that they recommend.
I never became a total food snob though. 😉
And I do love that there are TONS of options practically anywhere you go – from fast foods to restaurants to convenience stores. There’s never really any excuse NOT to stick to your low carb lifestyle on the go.
I never have to worry about any major planning to eat low carb, even when I hop in the car for a road trip without much notice even.
Because I know I can always stop at a Walgreens store between here and anywhere and pick up plenty of low carb staples!
They have a variety of meats, cheeses, nuts, plenty of sugar free candy if you have a sweet tooth, and they even carry Atkins shakes and bars there too.
You have lots of low carb options, no matter what your food preferences, and no matter where you are.
I like to keep it really simple, so for a summer hike: cucumber slices in a baggie with salt & pepper, salami slices, almonds & cheese sticks.
Cucumbers are high in water content, and very refreshing when hiking on a hot day!
I love cucumbers at home too. A good crisp cucumber serves as a great cracker replacement for tuna salad, chicken salad, pimento cheese, crab dip, garlic herb cheese dips – and even nut butters.
Dining out? That can be simple too. 🙂
Logan’s Roadhouse is a favorite stop on the road for grilled salmon, sautéed mushrooms and steamed broccoli. I like to get butter & sour cream to top my broccoli. You can even get it “loaded” with cheese & bacon!
Aaron and I eat different as I mentioned, but we have a lot in common too. And we both ENJOY food, and enjoy eating it together. 🙂
One of our last dates was at a favorite local place where I got a half pound hamburger steak topped with cheese & bacon, and he got the grilled salmon.
I jokingly asked him if he wanted to swap a bite, lol.
He does NOT eat beef or pork. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look into our relationship, and how we manage to “wing it” and maintain a low carb lifestyle with such busy schedules.
I’m typically very private about my personal life, and Aaron is even more of a private person. Fortunately he doesn’t read my blog! 😛 haha
He’s the one that introduced me to this amazing spinach & feta chicken sausage at Publix and Aldi stores, by the way. 😉
As for the Atkins bars we tried last week, definitely a thumbs up from us both!
They’re crispy/crunchy, very satisfying, super low carb, not overly sweet but just sweet enough to ENJOY – and they didn’t spike my blood sugar or affect my ketone levels at all. 👍
This is key for me because I stay in nutritional ketosis to stay out of chronic pain. And as I mentioned earlier, that “hidden sugar effect” can really tank your energy and focus!
You might think one little cookie, or one banana even, couldn’t possibly hurt anything.
I thought that too once. 😉 Then I got laughed off the trail by a hiking buddy when I couldn’t make it back up the bluff and had to sit it out for awhile. Especially when I’m usually the one racing up inclines and doing the teasing!
Sugar is no joke, especially when it’s your blood sugar that spikes on you. 😛
Some people prefer not to eat bars or snacks, or any processed foods at all, and that’s totally okay. But given the choice between a banana, or any other food that triggers the “hidden sugar effect,” and an Atkins bar that does not affect my blood sugar or my energy levels… you can hand me an Atkins bar any day of the week!
These were exceptionally good, and they’re kinda pretty too! 🙂
Aaron and I are both in the thick of a crazy work week full of deadlines and going in different directions, but we’re plotting our next escape off into the woods – and hopefully into a nice cool swimming hole beneath a waterfall.
When we get that opportunity it’s often unplanned and without much notice. And if we don’t unplug and take off, it just may not happen.
It’s those moments that we’re most likely to “grab a bar and go!” without having to worry about anything – except enjoying life. 😉
Find this post helpful?
Check Out More Of My Low Carb Travel Tips…
While I was writing this post, I noticed that you can get Atkins coupons on their website to save $5 if you’d like to try some of their products – or already have favorites and want to save on your next purchase.
I also noticed that they have new Protein Wafer Crisps.
Those look delicious!
Have you tried them yet?
I love chocolate mint!! Something light, crisp & minty sounds SO good. 😍
I hope this note finds you having a great week, and that this post gave you at least a few ideas for staying on track on the go this summer.
I’m all for whatever it takes to make the low carb lifestyle easy, no matter where you are and no matter what comes up.
I find if I’m too strict on myself, or try to be too restrictive with my food choices, it’s much harder for me to stay on track long term.
Having a little flexibility and enjoying a delicious low carb bar (without guilt!) every now and then is a great choice compared to grabbing something full of sugar.
That’s what has worked well for me of course…
What about you?
P.S. I often refer people to the Atkins site for the Acceptable Foods List. The phase one list is exactly what I used to get started eating low carb, and the food list I still use and eat from.
You can also check out their site to learn more about the “hidden sugar effect” – when carbohydrates convert to sugar when digested. You don’t see the sugar, but your body does. Make sure you’re avoiding foods that you may think are healthy, but aren’t actually as healthy as you think.
On Atkins, you eat the right foods, not less – which I love! You never have to go hungry on a low carb lifestyle. 😉 They have a lifestyle book out by that title: “Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less” too that I recently reviewed.
You’ll get to read more about MY getting started story at that link too. 😉 *cheers*