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You spend a good amount of time and care ensuring you and your family are living a healthy lifestyle on the regular, so why should everything go out the car door when traveling?
From protein-packed butters and dips to fiber-chocked shakes and bars to flavor-bursting popcorns and chip alternatives (you won’t be able to tell the difference!), we had dietitians round up some of their favorite packaged snacks for staying satiated and without compromising your fitness goals on road trips, long flights and beyond.
Why it's great: As far as Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition, is concerned, a breakfast bar should have at least as much protein as an egg in order to be minimally filling, along with enough fiber and fat for the brain to recognize it’s full. “RSP’s Whole Bar provides 10 grams of protein (3 more than an egg!), 10 grams of fiber and 7 grams of fat (the same amount as an egg) for optimal satiety and is made from the gold standard of muscle building fuel — grass-fed whey — as well as almonds and cocoa butter for a nutty finish. In addition, it only contains 2 grams of sugar (some bars can have up to 20!), and not from those pesky, stomach-upsetting sugar alcohols that can be found in so many bars,” Moreno explained. She also recommends crumbling the bar over some yogurt as an alternative to sugar-laden granola.
Why it's great: Moreno likes traveling with this "virtually smush-proof, TSA-friendly almond butter pouch" when bringing a full jar just isn’t an option. “It doesn't have any added oils or salts like many other nut butters on the market, and one pouch provides 7 grams of protein, healthy fats, and a nice dose of vitamin E,” she said. “Squeeze and smear it onto a banana or apple, or just straight into your mouth on a plane — nobody will judge.”
Why it's great: If you’re trying to avoid white flour, Moreno suggests you BYOT (as in, bring your own tortilla). “Siete’s almond flour and cassava wraps are grain-free, gluten-free, and have 3 grams of fiber per portion. If you stash them in your bag, you can order any salad on the go and stuff it into one of the satisfying tortillas — a far healthier option than most things you'd find in transit and the flavor is just divine,” she said.
Why it's great: “Almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds provide a protein-packed snack that is complemented with dried cherries and raisins,” said Gabby Geerts, RD at Green Chef. “It's also easy to pack, and you only need a few handfuls to curb your hunger.” She suggests mixing things up with other varieties, such as the Antioxidant and Mega Omega blends.
Why it's great: Geerts loves popcorn because it satisfies salt cravings in a low-calorie, high-fiber solution. “This one in particular is gluten-free and doesn't have any added sugar so everyone can indulge! It’s also great in the heat or the cold, as popcorn isn't altered by varying car temperatures,” she pointed out.
Why it's great: With 11 grams of protein, Geerts noted Epic cured meat bars will keep you satiated for longer than a carbohydrate-rich snack. “No refrigeration is required so these can be packed in the car and be ready for any adventures you encounter along the way,” she added.
Why it's great: When those sweet and salty cravings kick in, Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN of Nomadista Nutrition, reaches for a bag of LesserEvil. “Whether you dive into the family-size bag of popcorn or munch on a single-serving bag for yourself (hello, portion control!), you won't feel the guilt of countless empty calories – just the benefits of healthy fats and a boost of fiber,” she explained. She also said her favorite flavor right now is the Himalayan Pink Salt.
Why it's great: When we lose sweat, we’re not just losing water, but also electrolytes, namely sodium, Molly Kimball, RD, pointed out. “For this reason, I love ready-to-drink protein drinks like this one from Iconic, which is rich in electrolytes: 220 mg of sodium, 380 mg of potassium (as much a banana) and 250 mg of calcium (not found in most sports drinks),” she explained.
Why it's great: “One serving of nut butter is an excellent source of healthy fat which is essential for building every cellular wall in the body, is the building block for hormones and helps to satiate you in a meal,” said Jennifer Zerling, MS, CES, CPT. She suggests pairing the butter with a whole fruit, such as an apple. “An apple has thousands of micronutrients that we know of and has a great fiber profile to contribute to one's daily fiber intake.”
Why it's great: Dates are an excellent source of antioxidants and fiber, said Zerling. “These dates are grown in the U.S. which guarantees freshness and that they are organically grown,” who suggested wrapping two to three up in a coconut wrap with 1 tablespoon of Wild Friends Nut Butter to create the perfect mini travel sandwich.
Why it's great: Ensure you still get your daily dose of veggies, without having to worry about prepping and chopping while in transit, thanks to this veggie smoothie from Medlie. “It contains organic vegetables, along with a great balance of carbs, fats and proteins all in one drink — perfect for staying satiated in between meals. It also contains less sugar (I suggest trying to stay below 15 grams), and the avocado helps stave off the high insulin spike,” explained Zerling. She likes to pair it with a can of wild tuna or salmon for an extra boost of essential fatty acids (and more fulfillment).
12. Perfect Bar
Why it's great: If you’re a bar lover, Zerling suggested this option to get your fill without falling for the sugar trap. “Many of the options out there are just glorified candy bars. This one is low in sodium, contains all organic ingredients, and is a perfect balance of fats to protein to carbs. It is considered a low glycemic food which is what keeps the blood sugars in check throughout the day," Zerling explained. She also noted you should always avoid hydrogenated ingredients in bars and anything else you consume "because it can raise LDL cholesterol and compromise your HDL or 'good' cholesterol."
Why it's great: This jerky has become a staple for Kevin Curry, creator of Fit Men Cook, when he doesn’t have time to whip anything up before hitting the road. “Jerky can be low in sugar and relatively high in protein, and chewing on jerky is a great way to stave off hunger in between stops. I love this brand in particular because it’s gluten-free and relatively low in sodium compared to other jerkies," he said.
Why it's great: In addition to jerky, Curry typically travels with flavored nuts — ideally salty or spicy — in tow. “Since nuts are more calorie dense, they keep hunger pangs at bay, while the spiciness helps curb sweet cravings,” he said. “I also recommend opting for the 100-calorie packs, and avoiding sweet flavors, to prevent mindless munching and sugar overload.”
Why it's great: “The ingredients in these puffs are simple (there are only 4, including salt) and the major ingredient is peanut butter so you get a boost of satiating protein and fat in addition to the rich peanut flavor,” said Willow Jarosh, RD, co-author of the Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook and founder of Willow Jarosh Nutrition. “It’s like eating a puffy and crunchy version of peanut butter with low mess potential — if they spill, they’re easy to pick up!”
Why it's great: Jarosh recommended Health-Ade’s Kombucha as a healthier alternative to the standard soda. “The fizzy drink is flavored with organic pomegranate juice and contains much less sugar (7 grams of sugar per 8 ounces versus 27 grams of sugar per 8 ounces in the average soda), while providing lots of flavor and satisfying bubbles,” she explained, noting the antioxidant boost that comes with the pure pomegranate juice. "Because it is fermented, the kombucha also contains bacteria that may hold gut health benefits, although the clinical data on fermented foods in general is still slim."
Why it's great: This bean-based snack from Hippeas is another one of Jarosh's go-tos for a boost of energy that lasts. "Chickpeas naturally contain protein and fiber, one of the most satiating combinations. These snacks are dairy and gluten-free, so if anyone in the car has allergies to these nutrients, they can still partake," she said.
Why it's great: Satisfy your chip craving, while cashing in on additional health benefits, thanks to Bare’s fruit and veggie chip offerings. “These Cinnamon Banana Chips pack tons of flavor with no added sugar, while these Baked Crunchy Veggie Chips provide fiber, vitamins and minerals,” says Jarosh. Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist based in San Diego, is also a huge fan of the brand’s new fruit chip medleys, which come in convenient resealable bags.
Why it's great: Coleman likes to recommend this beef stick from Country Archer for its high protein content and clean ingredients. “Each stick packs 9 grams of protein, is made with 100 percent grass-fed beef, and is free of sugar, MSGs and nitrates. They are also certified paleo, keto and gluten-free!,” she explained.
Why it's great: According to Coleman, this snack from The Good Bean boasts as much protein as almonds and as much fiber as 2 cups of broccoli. “It’s gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free and vegan, making it a great option for air travel or school trips where food allergies can be a concern,” she said. “But don’t worry — with the crunchy texture and savory flavor, you would hardly know they are healthy!”
Why it's great: “I love these individual-sized packets because they are convenient and made with simple, natural ingredients. In addition, Justin’s Nut Butter is sustainably sourced, so you know the company cares about both you and the environment,” said Coleman, who recommends combining the nut butter with a fresh piece of fruit “for a healthy and balanced snack.”
Why it's great: At only 55 calories per pack, Coleman recommended this dip from EOS as a great low-calorie option. “Still they managed to squeeze in 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber so you are getting a lot of nutritional bang for your buck,” she explained. Fresh veggies (such as peppers, celery or carrots) prove the perfect travel companion.
Why it's great: Emily Marr, MS, RDN, loves this organic milkshake from Sneakz as a healthier swap for traditional chocolate or strawberry milk. “It has similar nutrient and sugar content to regular milk, but is packed with plant-based proteins derived from a blend of whole vegetables combined with organic sugar cane, which is healthier because it also provides a half serving of daily vegetables per serving. Sneakz also packs in higher levels of zinc, selenium, iodine, magnesium, and vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, making it a delicious, organic, nutrient dense ‘superfood’ milk that both mommas and kids will love,” she explained.
Why it's great: According to Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian, this trail mix from Sahale provides the perfect balance of protein, fiber and healthy fats. “It’s based on whole plant foods with minimal sugar and additives. Plus, the individual packets mean you don’t have to worry about portioning anything out or keeping track of servings and they're pretty durable,” she said.
Why it's great: These puffs are based on whole veggies and grains, yet are easy and lightweight to pack, said Palmer. "You get 4 grams of whole grains — the first ingredient is whole grain — they are gluten-free, organic, made with whole fruit and made without added sugars or preservatives. Plus, they provide 10% of the recommended daily value for calcium, making them a healthful snack and perfect for kids!," she explained.
26. Kind Bar Minis
Why it's great: These mini bars from Kind contain nutritious ingredients, while keeping calories at a minimum, said Palmer. "The peanut butter dark chocolate minis provide 4 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and have only 100 calories, the first ingredient being nuts. Some other bars have sugar as the first ingredient and can pack upwards of 300 calories, which is more than many people need for a snack," she explained, recommending the "rugged, non-perishable" bars for when you have a pang of hunger or miss a meal.
Why it's great: This healthier lollipop alternative is a must for Mary Catherine Neumaier, RD at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan when going away with her family. “They are sugar-free, made with natural coloring and flavoring, and full of antioxidants — just what the dietitian orders when you want a sweet treat!,” she exclaimed. Zolli also offers a Zaffi Taffy for anyone with a penchant for chewier snacks.
For more snack recommendations, check out:
- 8 hottest and healthiest sweets and snacks
- The 17 best keto snacks to buy on Amazon or Walmart
- 8 healthy snacks kids and parents will both love