(Written by Alyssa Ennis) Let’s face it: eating healthily on the road is difficult enough as it is, let alone when you’ve got a brood of kids in tow. Not only are there time and convenience issues to consider, but sometimes it’s just hard to resist a candy and chip bribe to stave off car-induced boredom, bickering, and temper tantrums.
Eating healthy snacks on the road is possible, but it takes a little creativity to get there.
- Look for no-mess portability
This is a key criterion for travel snacks. Sure, you could bring a thermos of piping hot, hearty stew, but good luck sponging the remains off of a screaming child post-pothole. Portable snacks will be low on crumbs (though they’re impossible to avoid entirely), won’t need a whole lot of extras like silverware or condiments, and will be low on the stickiness scale (looking at you, cupcakes).
A few particularly portable goodies include:
- Granola bars, either made at home or bought in bulk at the store
- Whole grain crackers or pretzels
- Low-juice fruit, like apples and pears
- Yogurt and smoothies. Grab them at the store and pack a variety in the cooler
- String cheese. Kids love the novelty, and they’re easy to slip into a purse
- Create balanced nutrition
Just because you’re on the road, doesn’t mean you can’t still go for real ingredients rather than chemicals and sneak in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Keeping nutrition in balance will help prevent sugar-induced hyperactivity, and will also keep those bellies satiated for longer.
- Trail mix – Dried fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth, but even natural sugar can cause unwanted insulin-spikes. Balance it out with trail mix, which provides a healthy dose of protein (nuts) to calm things down.
- Whole grain bread and cereal – Whole grains, unlike processed flour, are digested slowly and provide a nice dollop of fiber. Slather bread with pumpkin butter for an unexpected treat.
- Veggies – If you’ve got a child that loves their fruits and veggies (lucky you!) pick them up one of those mini stir fry or salad packs at the grocery store. Bring along a Tupperware container of low-fat, yogurt-based salad dressing for a good dip.
- Make intelligent concessions
Alright, so sometimes there’s little a parent can do when the members of that back seat unite into a powerful treat lobby. But giving into cravings doesn’t have to mean sacrificing all health, just as long as you make some intelligent substitutions.
- Baked, popped or vegetable chips – While these will still offer more in the way of salt than nutrition, going for alternative chips will steer your child away from consuming hydrogenated oils and a whole lot of unneeded fat. Plus, with non-white potato vegetable chips, you might also sneak in some vitamins, too.
- Wholesome cookies - Simply substituting whole wheat flour for white and palm sugar or agave nectar for white sugar will significantly lower cookie treats on the bad scale. Oatmeal and raisins are also a safe bet.
- Limited calorie packs – If the kids insist on a full-out treat (no sneaky substitutions!), at least limit their intake with a 100-calorie pack. You’ll find plenty of options in your grocery’s snack food aisle.
See? That’s wasn’t so bad. Packing healthy snacks for kids is very doable, just as long as you get strategic. Happy traveling, and happy munching!
* Photo Courtesy of Pinterest
About the author: Alyssa is a blogger in the Seattle area. A part-time professional family/children’s photographer, when she’s not busy taking pictures, you can typically find Alyssa exploring thrift shops or drinking a venti Starbucks latte. You can follow Alyssa’s PNW adventures on Twitter.