Road Trip

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence

The quintessential summer road trip is one of life’s great adventures.  The freedom and anticipation of the trip ahead is almost enough fuel to propel me to my destination. But in reality, the long miles, come with hunger pains and cravings for my favorite road trippin’ foods.  For me, the first convenience store means a bag of dill pickle potato chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and a bottle of black iced tea.  This certainly falls in line with the “sometimes” foods, or the 20% of the 80-20 rule of healthy eating, but it wouldn’t be a road trip without it!  As the miles build in the sea of gas stations, fast food, and sitting on my behind, I start to feel like a slug.  Ultimately I want to feel “goodish” when I arrive, so as a dietitian I’ve developed some healthy strategies to fuel a fun journey, without foregoing the dill pickle chips!  

Start Smart
Most people’s willpower is at their highest in the morning, so why not optimize that motivation by starting the journey with a power-packed breakfast.  Regardless of when you are beginning the adventure (sometimes that 3 am wake-up call feels more like late night happy hour vs. breakfast), have your breakfast prepped and ready for a grab-n-go. Figuring out what to eat right away is typically the last thing you want to be working on.

Honestly, you can mix-n-match any of these combos below, but I tend to take quart size or gallon zip bags and pre-set these groupings below (some require cold temps for food safety, so put in a cooler with ice/ice packs):

  1. Kind Protein bars, washed berries, greek yogurt tubes (Siggi’s is a good choice for lower sugar)
  2. Peeled hard boiled eggs (you can buy them already done for you if you don’t want prep and mess), clementines, pistachios
  3. Beef jerky or meat sticks (I like Lorrisa’s Kitchen), dried fruit of choice, walnuts
  4. Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal cups (can just add hot water from any convenience store coffee maker on the way, or bring hot water thermos of your own), sliced almonds, dried fruit.
  5. If you drink coffee (and yes this dietitian does) pack a Cold Brew coffee of choice (I like Stumptown), WholeMe Clusters, nut butter packet, small fresh apple.

Packing in some protein and fiber-rich fruit first thing helps me to feel fuller longer, and less likely to completely “junk out” before hitting the state line.  I love this smoothie recipe below.  The night before the trip I load up the blender put it in the fridge, and then in the morning, it’s ready to blend and go into the travel mug!  You could even double/triple the recipe and stash extra smoothies in the cooler for later on the trip.

Here is your perfect Tropical Sunrise Smoothie

Snack Prep to Go the Distance

When you go deep country camping, the health driven and perishable food typically goes the first 1-2 days.  But with a road trip, it’s all about getting a good cooler to keep your healthy perishable food fresh. Just keep adding ice.  Fresh foods are packed with fiber and micronutrients and typically not full of processed ingredients you don’t need.  So load up the cooler with these ideas and my favorite Mason jar salad concept below. Once you get to your destination, you can use the Mason jars for your favorite bevies and cocktails (no plastic cups…yeah for planet earth!) and then restock with fresh produce for the trip back.

Cooler Collection:

  1. String cheese and/or baby bells 
  2. Cut veggies (cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, jicama, radishes, green beans) and hummus.  Quick tip: layer bottom of Mason jar with hummus, stack cut veggies lengthwise for an individual, portable dip
  3. Cottage cheese. I like to use individual containers and for various ones with a mix of ingredients I like Dairy Pure that includes fruit and nuts. 
  4. Mason Jar Salads.  The sky is the limit on these, but here is a mix and match method to add variety to the salads:

Here is a favorite Mason Jar Mix-Up Salad with Homemade Honey Balsamic Dressing

So Drive on while snacking on things that keep your taste buds happy and your body healthy.