10 Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Get You Through Even the Longest of Drives
Don't let gas station food be your only option. Avoid a stomachache and stay alert with these healthy road trip snacks to fuel your drive.
This article originally appeared on Shape.com.
These healthy road trip snacks are a mixed bag of make-ahead treats, travel meal-prep ideas, and buy-and-go portable munchies. Plus, each has been given the stamp of approval from a dietitian. Complete your travel snack kit by stocking up on resealable plastic storage bags, napkins, biodegradable utensils, and a packable soft cooler like the 18-Liter Tote from Hydro Flask (Nordstrom, $225).
For longer road trips, you're going to want something that will keep you full on the long drive. The mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fat is why Natalie Rizzo, R.D., says she loves a solid energy ball recipe. If you're looking for inspiration, check out these deliciously satisfying energy balls that will keep you full for hours.
It's difficult to find shelf-stable, fresh road trip food. But then you think, duh, apples. "I always pack a few apples per person on road trips because they don't get smashed or ripen quickly like many other fruits," says Christy Brissette, R.D. "Apples contain lots of fiber including pectin, a type of soluble fiber which can help promote digestive health, something that often gets neglected when you're on the road." Buying a bag of dehydrated apple chips is another way to get your apple fix, says Brissette. Just grab the no-sugar-added variety, if possible.
"Road trips always have me craving carbs and sugar, especially because I'm constantly stopping at coffee drive-throughs and gas stations where muffins and other baked goods call to me," admits Brissette. "So, I've started baking my own batch of muffins before I hit the road, so I can control what's in them"—not to mention how big they are. Brissette makes hers with a base of whole-grain or almond flour. If you need more muffin recipe ideas, try these low-calorie flourless banana muffins that make the perfect portable snack.
If you're going for a shorter road trip (say, two hours or less), microwave up some frozen edamame ahead of time to bring with you in a plastic bag, suggests Rizzo—otherwise, they'll need to be refrigerated. "I'm a huge fan of edamame because it has 18 grams of protein in 1 cup, and that protein helps keep you full and prevent mindless snacking," she says.
Luna Protein Bars
You ~must~ know by now that not all protein bars are created equal. Luna bars get Brissette's stamp of approval thanks to 12 grams of protein, only 180 calories for the whole bar, and a low glycemic index rating, meaning they'll provide you with slow, sustained energy on the road. "They're also gluten-free and made with whole-food ingredients and natural flavors,” she says.
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String Cheese or Dehydrated Cheese/Moon Cheese
This is where a small cooler is going to come in handy (and be well worth the minor added space it takes up in the car). For a quick protein source that also contains filling fat, cheese—such as part-skim mozzarella—is a great choice, says Brissette.
If you want to go sans refrigeration, "Moon Cheese or other dehydrated cheese crisps can be good options to get in some filling protein and fat," she adds. Just make sure you check out the nutrition facts label, as serving sizes for these dried cheese snacks are smaller than you think. Plus, fun fact: "Dehydrated versions of cheese can make you more dehydrated thanks to all the salt and the lack of water," she says.
Kind Bar fans rejoiced when these snack-size versions of their beloved granola bar came on to the market. KIND minis provide good-for-you ingredients, like nuts and fruit (with little else), says Brissette. Grab a full-size bar if you have many miles ahead.
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Need something crunchy and salty but scared yourself off of greasy potato chips (especially after recently learning just how bad ultra-processed foods like chips really are for you)? Opt for a veggie chip instead, says Jessica Cording, R.D. "I love vegetable chips like Trader Joe's Beet Chips and Broccoli Crisps because you're mainly just getting veggies, a little salt, and maybe some oil," says Cording.
It doesn't get much more travel-friendly than a stick or slice of cured, dried protein. You can even find vegan, faux-meat jerky these days. Cording recommends EPIC Provisions turkey jerky sticks and the organic, grass-fed options at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. "I wouldn't recommend jerky as an everyday thing because it's pretty high in sodium, but when you're starting to get hangry, it's an easy way to get some stabilizing protein in," she says.
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Whether you're a plain Greek yogurt gal or more of a berries-on-the-bottom person, yogurt is a basically universally appealing road trip snack, and one that dietitians will point to again and again for a healthy option. Cording likes Siggi's Icelandic-style yogurt because it's much lower in sugar than other sweetened yogurts, plus it offers a ton of protein—usually about 15 or 16 grams.
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