Summer is just about here… we in Seattle can feel it. It’s been a long winter. Finally the days are longer and we are getting outside. More importantly, many of us are planning trips, outings, picnics, etc. What do these things always involve? FOOD of course!
With all this movement out and about, eating healthfully can be tricky. Many of us end up snacking more than normal as we end up in different environments with less access to our typical go-to foods. The temptation to swing into a gas station mini-mart or fast food becomes all the more tempting. Unfortunately, these places rarely have healthy options, and even when they do, who actually buys them? Be honest here.
The key to solve this problem? Planning! Plan, plan, plan. Did I say plan already? You HAVE to plan ahead. Yeah, maybe it takes the spontaneity out of things, but there are plenty of other opportunities for exciting food adventures besides those you might encounter driving down I-90 or on a 5-hour plane ride. Plan some snacks, pack them with you, and stay healthy and energetic throughout your trip.
What to pack on the road? I’m glad you asked. Here are some simple, car-friendly and flight-friendly options to get you through until your next exciting meal can be enjoyed. These can also make great meal replacements in a pinch when no healthy meal options exist.
Nuts are your friend. They pack a good deal of calories, so portion accordingly, but they also have healthy fats, fiber and protein. Pick your favorite and parcel into plastic baggies or just tote the whole darn bag and share with your travel mates.
Yeah, I know dried fruit has carbs. They have a lot of carbs. But they also have vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. If you portion them correctly you do not have to be afraid of dried fruit. It too is your friend and makes a great travel companion. They pair fantastically with nuts or other protein options.
Dried vegetables? Indeed, I have been seeing more dried veggie options in the stores these days. From kale chips to crispy beets to baked chickpeas, there are more savory dried options that are travel friendly. While some may contain oils and flavorings that might be less than ideal, we are still doing better than chips, candy and fast food, right?
Bars can be risky. I always hesitate and clarify when I recommend bars. Many are loaded with sugar and beefed up with cheap protein fillers and poor quality vitamins. That being said, there are actually some decent options out there with high quality ingredients and actual nutrition. What do I look for? First off, I check the ingredients. Does the list run 4 lines long and contain many unpronounceable words? Put it back. For me, the less ingredients the better.
Also check the nutrient label. How’s the calorie count? Protein content? Fat? In a perfect world I’m looking for 200kcal or less (could be more if substituting for a meal), 8g of protein or more, and a fat content that does not seem obscene (less than 15g, perhaps?). Then I’m looking for simple, whole foods ingredients that I know are providing my body with nutrients and don’t require the manufacturer to add in a host of artificial vitamins to make sure it’s well balanced. I like to see nuts, seeds, grains, fruit, etc. Some might add whey or plant-based protein to pump up the total protein content, which I am fine with. Avoid soy protein isolate.
Now, there are a bazillion bar options out there and I am no expert on them all. I will list a few options I like here, but do realize this list is by no means exhaustive. If you find a bar that meets your personal criteria and you like it, go for it! Here are a few I’ve found that I will travel with in a pinch. I believe most of these avoid the common allergens as well so great options for those with food restrictions.
And if you have the time, make some bars yourself! On my last trip overseas I planned ahead by making a batch of protein balls and packed them in my carry on. They made a great treat when the food cart came around and there were very few options I deemed acceptable to eat. Homemade gourmet for the win!
Hope these ideas help you plan more effectively for fun and sun this summer!