By Carmen Staicer - Chief Mom at DietsInReview.com
It's that time of year - the kids are out of school, and for many families, that means one thing - Road trip! There's something deeply American about loading the family into the car and striking out for the great unknown. Exploring the country by car is exciting and fulfilling, but it also takes time. Spend a lot of time in the car, and pretty soon, you'll get the munchies. Fail to pack snacks and you'll end up stopping in drive-thrus and convenience stores snacking on French fries, potato chips, and candy. Take time to plan for your foods for your trip and you won't arrive at your destination bloated and five pounds heavier.
Here are ten of my top choices for healthy, easy to pack travel foods that kid- and parent-friendly! These are easily transported and filling enough to help fuel an all day trip. Freeze water bottles, insert them into a cooler with ice, and add your snacks. The water bottles will stay cool and the snacks will remain fresh.
1. Cheese sticks. High in protein and low in fat, these finger sized sticks come in assorted flavors. They are easy to eat, require no preparation and take virtually no space in a cooler. Paired with an apple or pear, this snack will last a good chunk of the afternoon.
2. Wholly Guacamole! Not just a catchy name, this guacamole is a delicious, healthy snack choice. It can be a little messy, but the 100 calorie packs are perfect for a snack - snip off a corner and squeeze into your mouth! Avocados are high in fiber, monounsaturated fat and potassium.
3. Fruit. Always a great choice, fruit is filling and thirst quenching, which makes it a good choice for travel. Pack baggies of grapes, blueberries (freeze them before you leave for your trip), watermelon, apples, sectioned oranges, or even raisins are easy to eat on the road and don't create much mess. Avoid easily bruised fruits like bananas, pears, or strawberries.
4. Dry cereal. Not just for breakfast, dry cereal is a great alternative to chips. It satisfies an urge to crunch and delivers a boost of fiber and vitamins. Avoid those cereals with marshmallows, fluorescent colors and lots of sugar. Choose a cereal low in sugar and high in fiber - we love the Chex cereals. Pack baggies to avoid the "eat the entire box" syndrome.
5. Veggies. When you hear the word veggies, you may think peas and broccoli, but there are many great veggies choices that are not messy and travel beautifully. Think carrot sticks, fresh broccoli trees, grape tomatoes, zucchini and squash strips, and edamame pods. (Psst... you can dip these in the guac!)
6. Granola bars. Not all granola bars are created equal, so it pays to read the label. Look for a choice that isn't candy filled or chocolate coated, high in fiber. Cascadian Farms offers peanut butter, chocolate chip and vanilla options; Kashi has honey almond flax, cherry dark chocolate, and trail mix. Or, try these Homemade Granola Bars.
7. Trail mix - Commercially prepared mixes can have way too much sugar, sodium, and other additives. Don't be shocked but you can create a healthy trail mix full of only the things that you like. Choose a few cereals, add dried fruits and nuts, and maybe a few (just a few!) dark chocolate chips. Try this Sweet and Nutty Trail Mix recipe.
8. Popchips! I'm not a big fan of chips in general, especially eaten while traveling. They are messy, fattening, and leave grease spots. Admittedly, they are yummy for the minute you eat them, but they leave you feeling bloated and lethargic. But if chips are your thing, there's a better choice, and it's popchips! Air popped potatoes, seasoned with flavorings like sour cream and onion, cheddar, salt and vinegar, barbecue, or garlic, these tasty disks will satisfy your craving for a boldly flavored crunchy snack. As with regular chips, portion is king, so divide a bag into single serving baggies.
9. Nuts - Almonds, walnuts, cashews, or even a nut mix make a terrific source of protein and make a great snack to eat while driving. They are portable, require no chilling, and a small one-ounce portion can fill you for hours (that's about 23 almonds or 49 pistachios). If you are looking for a sweet snack, try Emerald's dark chocolate dusted almonds. One caveat - nuts can be high in fat, so as with most snack choices, portion control is really important.
10. Don't forget your drink. Instead of stopping for a 32 ounce (or larger) soda, freeze water bottles and toss them into your cooler. As they defrost, they will keep your foods cool. Bored by plain water? Add a drink packet, such as Propel or Crystal Light. Alternatively, pack a container with citrus wedges or cucumber sticks and insert them into the top of the water bottle for a delicious, low-calorie beverage choice that has no added sugar.
More Tips to Enjoy a Fitter Summer Road Trip:
How to Stay Healthy and Fit on the Road
Healthy Family-Friendly Vacation Spots
The Healthiest Fast Food Menu Options We Could Find
By Carmen Staicer - Chief Mom at DietsInReview.com