Be honest: What do you picture when you think of road trip snacks? Pringles? M&M’s? Those cereal and milk bars that can’t possibly be less than 97 percent high fructose corn syrup? On my last car-bound, cross-country jaunt, I had a Dairy Queen blizzard for dinner one night, something I would not even consider as an option in my off-road life. It’s just that road trip rest stops are such an easy excuse to eat wherever you happen to be driving past when you’re hungry.
It’s not really your fault. There are far more roadside signs for fast food restaurants than health-conscious choices. And gas station convenience stores lead you right into the rainbow-colored candy aisle and tuck whatever healthy snacks they do stock back by the car accessories.
Your body is already going to feel drained from sitting in the same position in your car for hours on end. The blood sugar spikes from a lot of America’s favorite snacks — most have some form of added sugar or syrup whether they taste sweet or not — will only make it worse.
One asset to staying healthy while traveling long distances in your car is having a trunk to store food in. Your best bet is always fresh fruits and veggies, but you also need options that aren’t likely to melt or go bad when left in the trunk while you’re off exploring the nation’s national parks.
In this case, it’s easier to buy and bring pre-packaged snacks. You can’t go wrong with nuts and dried fruits, but some other snacks with a healthy reputation aren’t exactly the best for sitting in a car all day — protein bars, for example. Any excess protein your body doesn’t use is converted to fatty acid and stored, so save those for the days you’re heading out on a hike or going to be actively moving for 30 minutes or more.
Below, we rounded up some really tasty low-calorie snacks that are made with real ingredients, minimally processed, and low on sugar. And bonus, they’re all gluten free.