Taking a break from daily routines doesn’t mean you have to abandon your healthy eating habits.
It just takes a bit more planning to pull it off.
I recently went on an eight-day trip to New York, splitting the week between the city and upstate.
During that time, my body could definitely tell that I was eating foods outside of my routine.
As someone who is accustomed to cooking at home most days each month — and who hasn’t gone on an extended vacation in almost two years — it was hard initially to become accustomed to all the restaurant food (though I admit, I did enjoy it).
I indulged at an Italian bakery while in Manhattan — it was part of the New York experience, right? But then I remembered to choose some healthier options later.
It’s all part of keeping a good balance.
In New York City, it’s easy to get anything at any time, so a fresh banana or orange was practically available at every intersection.
My stay in upstate was with family who had a fridge full of healthy options.
But not all vacation destinations are as “healthy-friendly,” and extra planning may be required.
For example, when traveling on a road trip in the car or an RV, you can avoid taking snack breaks at a gas station or rest stop’s vending machine by having healthy snacks that are prepared and packed in the vehicle.
Besides avoiding weight gains, healthy snacks are easier on your vacation budget, too.
So, what can we pack for our travels that will be healthy and convenient?
To stave off hunger in between long bouts of driving, focus on foods with protein.
Protein takes longer to move through the stomach, so you feel fuller for longer.
Fat provides 9 calories per gram of food, while protein and carbohydrates provide 4.
Adding a healthy fat will make the snack more filling because of the extra calories.
But, be mindful if you’ve been snacking on other high-calorie foods. If you have, go easy on the fat to avoid excessive calories.
Here are some ideas to try.
Some require some meal prep in advance, others you simply throw in the bag.
Also, remember the cooler and ice — and be sure to bring a thermometer, too, so you can check that the cooler has stayed below 40 degrees.
Here are some healthy snack options:
- Popcorn trail mix: mix in popcorn with pretzels, peanuts, cereal, raisins and so on
- Hummus to serve with celery sticks, carrots, bell peppers and other vegetables
- Dried fruits
- Mixed nuts
- Peanut butter or other nut butter, to enjoy with whole-wheat crackers or vegetables. (Many peanut butter brands come in easy to-go snack-sized packaging.)
- Jerky (beef, turkey or salmon with seasoning). There’s also plant-based jerky, such as mushroom jerky.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Yogurt, mixed with fresh fruit
- Granola bars (Be sure to choose one with the least amount of sugar)
- Canned tuna on whole-wheat crackers (Get the pull-tab cans so you don’t need a can opener).
Grapes, which can be pre-washed and placed in a container, make a good snack to take along while traveling.
But avoid fruits that can easily bruise, and use care when eating fruit or drinking juice because the fruit can become a sticky mess, and juice can leave stains on your car.
Also, be sure to bring along hand sanitizer, wet wipes, napkins, utensils, cups (if needed) and a bag for trash.
Enjoy your vacation — and yes, enjoy the special and unusual foods you’ll encounter.
But remember, just because you’re away from your kitchen, doesn’t mean all healthy eating has to go out the window.
You put the right type of fuel in your car so it drives well, so use that same mindfulness when fueling your body.
After all, that will help keep you in tip-top shape, for many road trips to come.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County.
(Hummus offers a healthy choice for on-the-road snacking. Remember: Keep it in a cooler until you’re ready to eat it.)
1 clove garlic
1 large lemon
1 (15½-ounce) can garbanzo beans
½ cup warm water
2 Tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 fresh red pepper, or 3 roasted red peppers from a jar
Pinch of ground cumin, ground cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes
- Peel and chop garlic. If using fresh red pepper, rinse, remove core and seeds, and mince now. Or, mince jarred roasted peppers.
- Rinse lemon and cut in half. In a small bowl, squeeze juice. Discard seeds.
- In a colander, drain and rinse beans.
- Add garlic, lemon juice, beans and remaining ingredients to blender. If using optional spices, add now. Blend until creamy and well-mixed.
- If using, top hummus with minced red pepper.
Published July 28, 2021