Hit the Highway to a Healthy Summer Road Trip
by Tracey Pollack
Load up the car, gather the gang, crank up the tunes and get out on the open highway… it’s time for a summer road trip! While this glorious rite of summer is carefree and exciting, it can make your healthy habits hit some road bumps along the way.
By spending long hours in a hot, cramped car, it’s tempting to beat the boredom by mindlessly snacking on anything in reach. And when real hunger hits, the freedom of the open road leaves you feeling free to give in to those greasy fast-food joints and sugary gas station snacks. But filling up on all that junk food will only make you crash and wreck your healthy progress. Take a smarter route to eating on your summer road trip with these healthy, road-ready snacks and tips that will keep you fueled and full.
Be Ready to Handle Crunch Time
There’s something soothing about crunching on crispy snacks — especially when you’re stressed from being stuck in a hot car for hours and days on end. When the tension makes you reach for fatty chips and salty puffs, have a healthier crunch on hand with some crispy baked chickpeas. Along with plenty of fiber and protein, this tasty chip substitute is packed with vitamin B6, which makes your brain produce feel-good chemicals that ease your nerves and boost your mood. Bake up a batch before hitting the road by tossing a can of well-drained chickpeas with olive oil and seasonings, and then baking until they’re crispy. Don’t get a break to bake? You can find bags of baked chickpeas in grocery stores, health food markets and yes… even those roadside gas stations.
Go for a Stick Shift
Need a clutch when your stomach is running on empty? Hit the brakes before reaching for fatty finger foods by choosing a low-fat string cheese stick. These portion-controlled sticks are packed with protein, calcium and flavor to satisfy your appetite. And the fun of pulling those sticks into silly strings will toss your boredom out the window. Today, these sticks come in a choice of cheeses to satisfy any craving and take up very little room in your cooler. Pair a stick of string cheese with a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, some sliced veggies or a few whole-grain crackers to make your hunger hit the road.
Proceed with Caution in the Fast Food Lane
Sometimes, the only meals for miles will seem to come from fast food places. Luckily, there are several smart secrets to navigating fast food menus that make it easy to grab a bite on the road and on the run. Start by scanning the menu board for any fresh fruits or veggies, such as veggie burgers, fruit and yogurt parfaits, and fresh salads with dressing on the side. When choosing chicken, go for grilled over breaded, fried and crispy. If you really want a burger, order the smallest size and avoid the call of the combo meal with its fatty side of fries and sugary, super-sized soft drink.
Don’t Get Sidetracked at Roadside Restaurants
Good gravy! Those roadside eateries may be known for hefty helpings and hearty cooking, but many have starting adding healthier options to their menus. With some savvy ordering tips, you can pull over for a roadside meal without veering too far from your healthy habits. Try having a salad or broth-based soup instead of a large main course. Split a meal with a fellow diner since roadside portions are typically meant for sharing. Look for baked, broiled, grilled or steamed menu items rather than fried, breaded, saucy or sautéed selections. And instead of those mile-high pies for dessert, satisfy your sweet tooth with a small cup of fruit or single scoop of ice cream.
Rev Up with Better-for-You Bars
Don’t be fooled by those over-processed, packaged nutrition bars lining the shelves of every convenience store. Their labels may be splashed with heathy buzzwords but most are just glorified candy bars full of sugar, fat and questionable ingredients. But since bars make convenient car snacks, raise the bar on your snacking by choosing better-for-you bars made with organic, vegan, raw, clean or superfood ingredients. Rather not buy your bars? Make your own at home! You’ll find plenty of online recipes for energy bars, balls and bites using real, natural ingredients and some with the addition of protein powders. Whether you go for grab-and-go or choose to make-your-own, you’ll have healthy snacks in reach to keep you going that extra mile.
Use these smarter, tasty eating tips to steer your summer road trip in a healthier direction.