Good to Go: Healthy Eating on the Road

During the summer months, we hit the road and spend lots of time in the car – camping, heading to the mountains, Banff or Jasper for an overnight stay or hike, or to the west coast through BC to Tofino. Road food can be fun, but it’s easy to fall back on drive-thrus, and on some stretches there aren’t many options. Often we’re not in the mood to stop for a proper meal – and it can get pricey, eating out three times a day. We’ve become pretty good at coming up with healthy portable snacks that are easy to transport and eat in the car (and hotel rooms), and a few good ideas for healthy stops. Here are some fresh ideas – especially if you’re traveling with kids!

Homemade Granola: a perfect balance of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats, good granola is perfect to pack along in case of hunger emergencies. It travels well without getting soggy or crushed, lasts for weeks and takes up little space. For a more substantial meal replacement, pull over and pick up a carton of milk or container of yogurt, and keep a few spoons in the glove compartment. Here’s a recipe for my current favorite: crunchy peanut butter granola, totally customizable.

Fresh Produce: on summertime road trips we often pass by farm stands and open-air markets, overflowing with the best produce of the season. What better place to pull over and stretch your legs, and pick up a bin of just-picked apples or peaches, or better get, take a longer break at a U-pick farm. Bend and stretch gathering fresh berries, cherries, apricots – whatever is growing where you’re traveling. Every summer we head through the Okanagan – one of the best places in the world for produce and farmers’ markets! If you bring along a few spare Hefty Slider Bags, you can transfer your delicate produce to them – add a piece of paper towel to absorb any excess moisture, which will ensure berries stay fresh longer.

Pie: OK, pie isn’t the healthiest option, but made from scratch and filled with fruit, I think it’s far better than packaged candy or fast food, and it sure is summery. Even when we don’t come across farm stands selling pie (is it possible to resist?) I like to pull into small towns and seek out old-school bakeries – they all have them – and pick up a pie. They’re almost always inexpensive. I pack a few forks in the glove compartment (or pick up some plastic ones when you stop for coffee) and we find a creek or sunny hillside, sit down and have a sunny pie picnic, eating it straight from the tin plate. Summer bliss! If you don’t finish the whole thing, slide the leftovers into a Hefty Slider Bag and it will keep just fine until your next stop.

Trail Mix: Yes, it’s totally retro, and very obvious, but you can get ultra creative with trail mix. Peruse the bulk section of the grocery store (you can stop in any town and find one) and try adding dry grainy cereals your kids love at breakfast time. When combining your trail mix ingredients, go heavy on the dried fruits, nuts and seeds, with less starches and less sweet (such as chocolate chips, sweet cereal or mini marshmallows) to keep the mix more nutritionally balanced. Add it all to a sturdy Hefty Slider Bag, seal and shake; its easy access allows a handful at a time, whenever you need to fill the gap. Here are more trail mix ideas.

Personal Snack Pack: On a recent trip across Ontario, when we left my aunt’s house, she packed our six-year-old a snack pack; a large Hefty Slider Bag he could open and close all day, filled with whatever she scrounged from her cupboards: juice boxes, a peach, a banana, fruit snacks, boxes of raisins, granola bars. He loved having his very own stash of snacks he could access anytime, and we loved that the Hefty bag kept them contained. (Another was relegated to garbage – why didn’t I think of this earlier?)

It kept him happy and occupied the whole way from Windsor to Marineland, with a longer than expected detour into Rondeau Park. It occurred to me what a great idea this would be when traveling with more kids – each one could have their own snack bag to nibble from when they felt like it, and it would be perfectly fair – no wanting a snack because a sibling is having one!

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