It’s that time of year -– time for day trips, camping trips and full-blown road trips. But what will you take to eat in the car, at the campsite, or on the beach?
Candy? Chips? Sweet drinks? Blah! Feeling bloated and jittery is no way to spend a vacation. Snacks and sweet drinks are easy to grab at a gas station, but with a little planning, you can take your family’s health-conscious habits on the road and spend your summer vacation days feeling fit and energized.
Keep ‘Em Simple
Sugary and salty snacks might taste good, but they’ll also leave you feeling thirsty and wanting more. (Ooh, and don’t forget the grumpy kids they leave in the back seat!). Forget these nutrition-less snacks and instead, pack snacks with protein, fiber, and healthy carbs to curb your appetite. Rule of thumb: keep the snacks simple, and as fresh as you can. Here are a few ideas:
- Fresh and dried fruit like, apples, grapes, berries, bananas and raisins
- Pre-cut raw veggies such as, pepper slices, baby carrot sticks, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes
- Whole grain crackers or pretzels
- Whole wheat pita chips
- Plain popcorn
To keep messes at a minimum, and to prevent snacking by the bag, pre-portion snacks into single-serving bags or containers.
Keep ‘Em in the Cooler
Taking a cooler with you might take up a little extra space, but it’s worth it. You can pack a greater variety, include a picnic lunch, and save money on food you would otherwise purchase on the road.
Great options for the cooler:
- Cheese sticks or slices
- Frozen yogurt sticks or individual containers of yogurt
- Turkey or tuna wraps
- Hummus or guacamole to eat with veggies or whole-grain crackers.
Be certain to start with refrigerated or frozen items, and use plenty of ice packs to keep your cooler cool.
Drink Up (But Not Coffee or Cola)
A sure-fire way to prevent a good night sleep while you’re on the road is to keep the refills coming of caffeinated cola and coffee. Instead, keep it clean with a bottle of fizzy seltzer water, or a container of refreshing ice water with a few sprigs of mint, slices of cucumber or lemon.
Eat Well (at the Camp Site)
If your family enjoys camping, they may also enjoy hot dogs, ramen noodles and marshmallows — traditional American camping foods. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take a family camping trip, eat a variety of healthy foods, and still include eating as one of the highlights of the experience. This is the year to mix it up!
Here are some great camp snacks and campfire foods to get you started…
Leave the tortilla chips at home, bring the kale chips instead. Drizzle olive oil on fresh kale, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake at 375 degrees for 10–15 minutes for a crispy and healthy snack. Just don’t forget to brush your teeth.
These make for great snacks or meal replacements while hiking. Lara bars and Z-bars for kids are good options.
Make your own! Hit the bulk foods aisle before your trip for unsalted nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and carob or chocolate chips.
WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES
Purchase a package or make-your-own mix. All you’ll need at the campsite is a little H2O.
A camp staple that never goes wrong. Baked beans are tiny packages of fiber, protein and good carbs all rolled up into one.
Marry tuna from a pouch and a slice of cheese on toasted bread. Can’t you taste it already?
With cheese or roasted veggies. Press it, wrap it in foil, and cook it over a fire.
VEGGIE OR TURKEY DOGS
Keep the love but lose the other stuff. If you must have a hot dog, choose a healthier dog.
Be it fruit, veggies, chicken, beef or tofu, you can pretty much put anything on a stick, brush it with marinade, and hold it over a fire. Just make sure you can eat it.
Prepare according to the directions and add-in fresh veggies, dried fruit, or nuts. So sophisticated!
Core apples, fill with brown sugar and raisins. Wrap in foil and bake over hot coals for 15–20 minutes.
DARK CHOCOLATE S’MORES
What’s a camping trip without s’mores? This time around, increase the health quotient by using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Mmm, mmm, good.
It’s easy to get caught in a junk food rut on summer vacations, but you don’t have to. Spend just an extra few minutes planning for some healthy options, and your family will hit the road, the beach or the trails at the top of your game — and come home feeling that way too. Have a great trip!
Anne Marie Kuchera, our Kids Plus Nutrition Consultant, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian.