Healthy snacks on the road
Pack up your trunk, put the kids into the car and hit the open road...there's no better way to see the sights and enjoy some quality family bonding time. Besides the usual books, games and videos to keep the kiddies occupied, you'll need some snacks on hand to curb those inevitable hunger pangs. It's easy to grab a bag of chips or stop off at the nearest highway fast food joint for some fries, but there are far healthier—and tastier—options that you can feel good about feeding your family. Just make sure you control portions; bring small quantities of a variety of food, and you'll feel more satisfied than if you snack on just one or two things.
It's crunchy and chewy, sweet and salty all at once—definitely a crowd-pleasing snack. Store-bought mixes can have unwanted sugar and fat, so it's better to make your own and control ingredient amounts. Not only can you customize the mix for each family member, but it's easy and fun. Try tossing together any of the following: dried fruits like cranberries, blueberries and cut-up apricots (make sure they don't have any added sugar); nuts like almonds and hazelnuts; shelled sunflower seeds; yogurt-covered raisins; pretzel sticks; granola or your favorite healthy cereal.
Sure, it's a no-brainer, but fresh fruit is one of your best snacking options. Bananas and oranges are easiest because they don't require additional packing or washing -- just grab them and go. Finger foods are also great on the road; try blueberries, grapes or cut-up peaches.
Touted as the most nutritional nut, almonds are chock-full of vitamin E, protein, fiber and a slew of other nutrients. They contain healthy unsaturated fat, which helps you feel full and is good for your heart.
Low- or non-fat yogurt
Individual yogurts are a cinch to take on the road, and they'll provide lots of calcium -- especially important for growing kids and women. Yogurt has also been credited with reducing the risk of colon cancer, lowering cholesterol and helping decrease yeast infections. Avoid ones with fruit already added; they often contain high amounts of sugar. Instead, buy plain or vanilla yogurt and stir in your own fresh berries, chopped fruit, raisins or sliced almonds. Let kids come up with their own flavor combinations for a fun treat.
They've gotten a bad rap in the past, but eggs are an extremely healthy option as long as you don't overdo it. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to make and convenient to pack for a trip. Less than 80 calories per egg, they're full of great protein and low in saturated fat.
Those blueberry monsters you get at the local bakery are loaded with sugar and calories, but muffins can be a nutritious option that will satisfy your sweet cravings on the road. Make them healthier by substituting unsweetened applesauce for part of the oil or butter the recipe calls for. Experiment a bit with your recipe to make sure you get the ingredient proportions right. You can also scatter chopped nuts and fruits on top of your muffins to boost the fiber, protein and vitamin content.
Don't deny yourself while you're traveling—a little bit of chocolate is good for you and can satisfy your sweet tooth. Peanuts have a fair amount of fat, so don't overindulge, but they're also full of protein and other vitamins (unlike that Kit-Kat you were about to inhale).
Naturally, bottles of water are always your best option for staying hydrated while traveling. But instead of loading up on sugary sodas and fruit juices, try a V8. It has fewer calories than fruit juice and is rich in essential vitamins.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.