Healthy Snacking on the Road

by Joanne Callahan

Planning a vacation involves more than just picking a destination and packing your bags, especially when one is traveling with children. If your plans take you on the road for an extended period of time (and for some children this can be a mere half hour), you should consider taking along some nutritious snacks. Doing so will not only prevent mid-day drops in blood sugar (hazardous when you are the driver), but will also serve to quell the "Are we there yet?" cries from the back seat.

If your group likes fruit, the canned variety packed in light syrup or water (with a pull tab lid) is refreshing and light. Also gelatin combined with fresh or canned fruit makes a great snack. Fruit kabobs made with any combination of cheese and fruit will keep everyone busy munching (and therefore not complaining). You can use toothpicks as skewers and use such combinations as pineapple chunks, strawberries and wedges of mozzarella, or grapes, apple chunks and cheddar cheese. The choices are only imited by your imagination (and your child's likes/dislikes).

On-the-go dips are becoming very popular, and it is quite easy to prepare your own. Mix some plain, non-fat yogurt with applesauce or a favorite pureed fruit. Pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, cheese cubes or bananas make great dippers. You can also purchase some low-fat creamy dressing and try dipping cherry tomatoes, carrots or celery. (Dips might not be an option with very young children, unless you like cleaning it off of the seats, carpeting, windows and the back of your head).

If you have some time the day before you leave, pack a small cooler with some of the following: cheese and crackers; graham crackers with peanut butter sandwiched between; celery stuffed with peanut butter, then sprinkled with raisins; apple wedges with peanut butter or cheese; a variety of fresh fruit.

If the tastes in your entourage tend to lean more towards chips and cookies, try some of these healthy alternatives: low fat granola bars; whole grain crackers; cookies such as vanilla wafers, gingersnaps or fig newtons; crunchy breadsticks; bagels with peanut butter. Quick breads and muffins made with zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, or any fruit or vegetable will help to satisfy sweet tooths, as well as providing a serving of fruits or veggies without anyone being aware of it.

Another clever way to get those you love to eat healthy is to serve unsalted soy nuts. Combined with dried fruit and another nut of your choice, your family will never know they are eating something good for them. Try soy nuts, raisins, dried apples and unsalted peanuts; or soy nuts, dried apricots, and slivered almonds. You could also add some spices to this mix, such as pumpkin pie or Cajun, to provide a little zest. (You might want to save the Cajun for the driver who might be getting a little cranky at this point).

If Trail Mix is more to your liking, the following recipe makes 5 pounds of the stuff, enough to keep most everyone quiet for at least twenty miles:

  • 1 pound raisins
  • 1 pound sunflower seeds (shelled)
  • 1 pound pumpkin seeds (shelled)
  • 1 pound roasted almonds
  • 1/2 pound sesame sticks
  • 1/2 pound roasted peanuts

So, pack a cooler with some of the snacks mentioned above, put your luggage and your maps into the car, pile the kids in and have a great vacation! Go out and explore this great country in which we live. There is so much to see and do, and a lot of snacking to be done along the way!