Economical day trips to area attractions or longer road trips across state lines are fun ways to see the world, but they also mean having to sit for some periods of time. To keep your waistline from expanding in the process, plan ahead with some healthy road trip snacks. They may involve some preparation, but you’ll reach your destination feeling energetic and adventurous rather than lethargic and bloated.
1. The Essentials: Be sure to take a cooler for food and drinks that need to be kept cool then pack another bag for your non-refrigerated snacks. Also, carry some wet wipes, napkins, paper towels for possible spills, a couple bags for trash, and a few utensils.
2. “Omega Muffins”: If you plan on dining on the road come breakfast time, prepare some muffins ahead. Make it easy on yourself and bake them a few weeks before your trip and keep them frozen until you’re ready to go. These muffins will help balance out your diet with more omega-3′s and are not sugary ‘breakfast cupcakes’. They’re moist, naturally sweet from the ripe bananas and the touch of honey. Here’s the recipe.
3. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables: Chips, candy, sodas, and pastries may be the easy go-to snack at road stops, but they’re loaded with sugar, fat and preservatives — not to mention calories. The fat as well as the sugar spike and the crash that follows will also make you drowsy. Instead, opt for wholesome baby carrots, celery sticks, edamame, grape tomatoes, and snap peas.
Kids love dips for dunking their crunchy veggies, so a little guacamole, salsa, hummus or ranch are great options to take along. Also, a chilled fruit salad is always refreshing, thirst-quenching and a welcome treat when you’re on the road. It’s well-worth the time that’s needed to prepare ahead.
4. Peanut, Almond or Sunflower Butter: Nut and seed butters are a nice staple for filling those troughs running through the celery. And they’re not just for the kids — adults like them too! Sprinkle some organic raisins on top for your traditional “Ants on a Log” snack. Peanut/almond/sunflower butters pair well with bananas and apple slices too.
5. Whole apples: Long stretches of highway may sometimes be a bit monotonous and boring and you may find yourself fighting to stay awake. To revive your body and mind, eat a whole apple. Not only are apples a good source of nutrition, but eating one can boost your level of alertness. The theory is that the actual process of eating the apple (i.e., biting into it and navigating around the core) requires dexterity and concentration which helps get you out of your drowsy state.
6. Pita and Hummus: The new peanut butter and jelly. Slice some whole-grain pita bread and spread some hummus between them. These ready-to-eat snacks are ideal if you’re feeling tired and need some fuel to keep you going until you reach your destination. High-fiber carbs provide long-lasting energy. The fiber from the beans and pita burns slower than simple sugars and the protein in the hummus keeps you satisfied longer.
7. Trail Mix: Pair some nuts and fruits together for healthy handfuls of antioxidants and good fats. Raw walnuts* are super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Add some whole raw almonds, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds and some of nature’s candies, such as organic raisins, dried cherries, pears, apricots, and blueberries (be sure there’s no added sugar). For those who need their chocolate fix or an extra kick of energy (and if you’re not traveling in the heat), toss in some dark chocolate bits to your mix.
*Eleven walnut halves (2.1 gm) contain as many omega-3 fats as a 4-oz. serving of salmon!
8. Pretzels, Popcorn & Cheese: Make your own air-popped popcorn and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese. Toss it with some roasted soy nuts for some added nutrition and crunch. Also, high-fiber spelt pretzels make a satisfying on-the-road snack and are baked, not fried. Spelt is related to wheat and has a somewhat nuttier and slightly sweeter flavor than whole-wheat flour.
High acid food and drinks include most fruits and juices. But while you’re traveling, it may be hard to brush your teeth after eating. To neutralize acids that can cause erosion of tooth enamel, snack on some organic low-fat cheese. String cheese is especially convenient for traveling and fun to eat.
9. Rice Balls: In the Hawaiian/Japanese culture, no road trip would be complete without the traditional rice ball, known as “onigiri”. They’re made from Japanese white rice, hand-formed into a lightly salted triangular shape and often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Onigiri makes rice portable and easy to eat. An onigiri is often filled with various fillings (from salted salmon, chicken to pickled vegetables). Since the Tsunami, the Japanese have made thousands of onigiri for the survivors and evacuees living in shelters and for the rescue workers.
10. Water: There’s nothing more refreshing and better for staying hydrated than water. If you plan on packing bottled water, be sure to keep them away from the heat and sun. The heat can cause the chemicals in the plastic to leach into your water, so it’s best to keep the bottles in your cooler. Also, a quick swish of water after snacking can help neutralize acids and remove particles stuck on teeth.