Make healthy choices when you're traveling by choosing these light snacks from the convenience store. By: Karen Ansel, RD
This summer, millions of Americans will take to the roads. If you're one of them you may think that means hours with nothing to nosh on but convenience store staples like chips and cookies. Not anymore. While convenience stores still have their fair share of less-than-optimal eats, many now stock a surprising selection of fresh and healthy choices. Next time you stop to refuel, test drive these light snacks.
1. Whole grain cereal cups
Why start your day with a donut when you can get wholesome whole grain cereal? You may need to dig through the cereal display to find it, but it's in there. Just be sure to read the label, as some varieties are more healthful than others. Look for brands that supply at least 4 grams of fiber and about 160 calories per cup (Cheerios are a safe bet that are almost always available). Mix with low-fat yogurt and a banana and you've got a wholesome breakfast you can take along for the drive.
2. Energy bars
Energy bars make a savvy snack to have on hand for times when you're stuck in traffic and your stomach starts to growl. Yet they're not all created equally. Many are low in fiber, high in calories and loaded with sugar. For maximum hunger control, aim for bars with a combo of at least 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein and fewer than 170 calories such as Kellogg's Special K Protein Meal Bar or Kashi Go Lean Protein & Fiber Bar.
3. Peanuts in the shell
Packed with vitamin E, monounsaturated fat and resveratrol (the compound responsible for the benefits of red wine), peanuts are a heart-healthy snack. But, if you're not careful it's easy to wolf down several servings before you know it. Enter in-shell peanuts. Shelling your own peanuts automatically slows you down, so you'll be less likely to eat too many. About ½ cup supplies 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 20% of your daily vitamin E for a respectable 160 calories.
4. Low-fat yogurt
When you crave something cool and creamy, head to the refrigerator case instead of the ice cream case. There you'll find low-fat yogurt (some stores even stock organic varieties). It will satisfy your taste buds while also delivering on the nutritional front. For about 140 calories or less, you'll get one-quarter of your daily calcium and as much protein as you'd get from a large egg. Look on the label and you'll see many brands are now fortified with vitamin D as well.
5. V8 100% Vegetable Juice
Squeezing in your 9 daily servings of produce when you're on the road can be a major challenge. While fresh is best, it isn't always possible. That's when 100% veggie juice can help. One 12-ounce bottle provides the equivalent of 3 servings of vegetables for just 70 calories. It's packed with vitamins A and C, heart-healthy potassium, and lycopene, a phytochemical cousin of beta-carotene. Each bottle also offers 3 grams of filling fiber.