In a way, I’m the least qualified person to write a post on healthy eating on the road.
During my 2004 cross-country road trip, I lost count of how many Denny’s at which my bestie and I stopped. Stashes of gummy worms and Sour Patch Kids littered the RAV 4. When we caught a glimpse of our first Dunkin Donuts in at least a dozen states, we bee-lined for it. We’d tried stocking up a cooler of lunch meat, bread and fruit to save money and eat at least somewhat healthy. We dumped most of its spoiled contents somewhere near the Nevada border, likely where the remains of Jimmy Hoffa will someday pop up (really though, the looks you get when dumping a cooler off the side of the road are pretty amusing).
But, as happens in life, times have changed. One, I’m older. Two, I have more disposable income than I did 12 years ago as a 22-year-old who’s idea of “going big” was the Moons Over My Hammy®. Three, I take care of my body much better than I did back then—mostly because my metabolism is now about as fast as a penguin stuck in quicksand.
It is true that now, as a mid-30s married chick who mostly travels with a somewhat picky, almost two-year-old that I have a lot of healthy junk in my trunk. Yes, I thank wee Finn for forcing me to really think through the types of snacks on disposal when we go anywhere far by car, train or plane. Some of our quick, go-to snack ideas include:
– Organic, non-GMO, vegan fig bars. This is all completely by default. They have these tasty snacks at my work and my son caught on and, surprise, surprise, they just happen to be somewhat well-made. But I’m really not that crunchy that I’d seek these out had they not, literally, fallen into my lap at work.
– String cheese. I’m off the cheese due to high cholesterol (be still, my quarter-Italian heart), but these part-skim snacks are a perfect pack of protein for my little who doesn’t like much meat.
– “Baby” trail mix—mostly plain Cheerios with raisins or craisins. I don’t trust Finn to eat whole nuts yet, but I love almonds in the grown-up version of this, in addition to some granola clusters and dark chocolate pieces.
– Squeeze pouches. Some moms scrutinize the real health factor of this mush, but if the horizon before you is full of French fries, pizza and chicken nuggets, I see nothing wrong with using these to make sure a kid gets some fruits and veggies down. But these aren’t just for tots! In Sydney, Brendan used to down these after a CrossFit workout to replenish. The pouches can definitely be a quick way to make sure you’re getting enough fiber when fresh fruit and veg might not be as accessible.
– Cut-up fruit. This can get messy, especially in a car, but cut-up apple slices, oranges or melon are go-tos. The whole family likes peanut butter (and I’ve even gotten them over to the natural kind) so if there is any way to bring a small pouch or container, I’m in.
– Raw or steamed veggies with hummus. Hummus is sometimes the only way I can get Finn to eat vegetables at dinner (or, on days like today where I have a leftover plate of his last night’s dinner, I throw them in a smoothie with fruit, chia seeds and the infamous peanut butter). But I love raw carrots, broccoli or celery with hummus. Confession: I also sometimes dip hard pretzels in hummus for a low-calorie, after-dinner snack. The good thing is, many convenience stores and airports now carry small containers of veg and hummus to grab and go (the same with the fruit above).
– In a car with a cooler I love me some hard-boiled eggs. My kid disappointingly is not feeling eggs in any form yet, so he gets to have all the string cheese while I am chomp on these bad boys.
Our next adventure will be to Austin, Texas in two weekends (and we inadvertently booked during SXSW), and I definitely want to try some not-so-healthy Texan staples. But I’ll be taking a bunch of the above to stay in check on the plane. In addition to the above, here are some ideas on how to snack healthily on your next trip.
Image courtesy Tonya Staab