It seems appropriate to talk about snacks today since I just returned from a 12 hour road trip. Whether you’re traveling, working, or out on an adventure, sometimes you don’t have access to a full kitchen to prepare a hearty meal. Since chips, candy bars, and other items sold in vending machines don’t qualify as “real food,” we have to plan ahead and turn to other options! Here are a few of my favorite snacks that tide me over until I can get home to a delicious real food meal.
I used to buy a case of granola bars and depend on them to get me through the day. After finally looking at the ingredients, I realized that I was basically eating multiple candy bars a day–for breakfast, snacks, and dessert! I would guess that most people, like me, don’t realize just how bad these bars are, especially since most of them have the word “nature” in the name. Follow the real food label-reading rules when picking bars and you’ll realize that your options are quite limited. Some of these are better than others, and a couple of my favorites are the Larabar Snack Bar and the KIND Fruit & Nut Bar. Although these snacks are convenient and prepackaged, they are expensive and have a high (natural) sugar content, so it’s best to consume them sparingly.
My husband refers to bananas as nature’s granola bar, because it’s filling, quick, and comes in it’s own “package.” Fruit makes a great, healthy snack, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Grab an apple, banana or orange if you’re in a hurry. If you need more protein, top with your favorite nut butter. Dried fruit also makes a great snack, but you have to be careful with portion control! Most store bought dried fruit contains unnecessary added sugar, but it’s easy to make at home in the oven or dehydrator. My favorite fruits to dehydrate are bananas, plantains, apple rings, and mangos.
Much like fruit, vegetables make a great nutritious snack, although they can sometimes require more prep work. We like to cut up carrots and package them into pre-portioned baggies for a quick snack we can grab on the go. If you’re at home you can eat veggies with hummus or another dip of your choosing.
Nuts & Seeds
I remember the first time I heard a “handful of nuts” described as a perfect snack. This was back in my junk food days so I was in the habit of eating a whole bag of chips or crackers as a snack, and thought there was no way a handful of nuts could fill me up. Turns out the insatiable hunger I had with the chips was due to the lack of nutrients; something that doesn’t come with the healthy fats and nutrient density found in nuts. (Although I still do best if I keep the nuts in individually portioned baggies, due to self-control issues).
I was very surprised to discover that my favorite brand of trail mix was coated in hydrogenated oils. Ever since, I have been making my own mix with a combination of raw nuts, raw pumpkin seeds, “deluxe” raisins (a.k.a. raisins with no added ingredients), and sometimes coconut flakes and/or chocolate chips. Sometimes we will also bag up our homemade granola and eat that as a sort of trail mix.
What’s your go-to healthy snack? I’d love some fresh ideas!
Important disclaimer: I have no medical training. Just lots of passion for real food! Please consult your own doctor and do your own research in support of my suggestions. It’s an important part of taking control of your health!