Healthy Snacking On-the-Go
by Marion Kelly
It’s no secret; it’s tough to eat healthy on the road. Time is always a factor, and more often than not, the bag of chips or candy bar on the display rack in the travel center is the easiest thing to grab when you’re running in for a quick break while refueling. The problem is you’re adding hundreds of calories each day with these unhealthy treats.
Snacking can be a healthy part of your daily meal plan, as long as you choose nutritious, low-calorie treats and keep the portions in check. Here are a few treats you can keep on hand for when the stomach starts to growl that will leave you satisfied until your next full meal.
Fruit: Fruits are a major source of essential nutrients (potassium, fiber, vitamin C, folic acid) and are naturally low in fat and calories. Fruits help regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and produce red blood cells for the body. Apples, bananas, oranges and grapefruit can be left at room temperature. Grapes, cherries, any type of berry and cut melon should be refrigerated. And don’t forget dried versions of your favorite fruit. They have a great shelf life, so you can stock up for those long trips.
Vegetables: What would a healthy snack list be without vegetables? A little less healthy, we think. A diet rich in vegetables is proven to prevent heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and protects against certain types of cancer. Brands now offer pre-cut, pre-portioned celery sticks, carrots and green beans. Store some in your truck fridge with a low-fat ranch dip for a quick pick-me-up.
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Dairy: Dairy products are a little more difficult to travel with if you don’t have a cooler or fridge to keep them at the proper temperature. But if you do have a place to keep dairy cold, yogurt and string cheese are good sources of calcium, while cottage cheese offers a healthy dose of protein. A high-protein snack can help with hunger pangs and enhance energy levels.
Dairy products are proven to improve bone health, reduce cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure. Just watch the fat content with some dairy products and always try to drink low-fat or skim milk.
Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, cashews … whatever your favorite is, grab a handful. Nuts are chock full of antioxidants and healthy fats, and are a good source of protein and minerals. In fact, a recent study by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests eating a handful of nuts each day will help you live longer and help keep the pounds off. Also check out the butter versions that can be used to dip fruit into.
Whole grains: Whole grains are rich in all those essential B vitamins, like thiamin and riboflavin, which help provide a healthy metabolism. They’re also rich in the mineral iron, which helps carry oxygen in the blood. Wheat crackers, pretzels and crisp breads all provide fiber and can give you the energy boost you need. Pair with a high-protein dip like almond butter for a satisfying snack. Just make sure that you see “100 percent whole wheat” on the label. If it simply says “whole wheat” or “whole grain,” it probably has processed flour that has been stripped of many of its nutrients.
The key to healthy snacking is planning ahead and avoiding the impulse buys that come with a hectic schedule. If you’re driving nearly every day, try to designate one day where you have some time to stock up on healthier snacks for the week. Taking a few minutes to plan ahead will not only save you money, but will get you on the road to healthier eating and living.