By David Grotto, RD
Whether you’re haulin’ an 18 wheeler cross country or just the fam on a three-hour weekend getaway, having the right fuel is essential to keep your mind sharp and your vehicle on the road where it belongs. But you also don’t want to overdo the calories, especially when you aren’t burning many by watching the speedometer, gas gauge, mile markers and the kids arguing in your rearview mirror. So, what are the best foods to bring with you when you’re traveling? For this assignment, I enlisted none other than Wendy Jo Petersen, MS, RD, otherwise known as the “Fuelin Roadie” for her expert advice on the best travel grub to have on hand.
“Long nights on the road are an understatement for my clients, for musicians the van or bus rolls out around 3 a.m. and they are off to their next gig,” says Petersen. “The biggest challenge I have seen is that very little is open in the wee hours of the morning, except fast food and gas stations. Fueling up on greasy foods will leave you feeling heavy and tired during your journey. For anyone who ventures out on the road it’s essential to pack your car with the right fuel to help you get to your destination safely!”
So to help send you packing, Wendy Jo came up with a list of foods that are tasty, easy, and convenient for your traveling pleasure.
1. Nut & fruit bars make the top of the list! Before you grab any ol’bar take a peak at the ingredient list and choose ones with less than 7 ingredients. Keep the bar as simple as possible. Nuts add a little fat and protein to help tide you over and keep you satiated as you journey across the great wide open. Honey or a sweetener holds the bar together and adds just enough sweet to keep your taste buds happy. Bars also help keep your portions under control, whereas a bag of nuts and dried fruit can tempt you to keep reaching for more out of boredom, not hunger.
2. Cherries, berries, and grapes are the best finger food for the road. These bold-colored fruits curb the sweet tooth, fill you up, and are packed with antioxidants. Most foods people pack are loaded with salt and are often dried, so the freshness of fruit will make your mouth smile. Pick up what’s in season and start munching. Just be aware of how many you eat, because the fiber can send you running to nearest rest stop! Spitting cherry seeds can really add to the entertainment on the road!
3. Nut butters can be transported squeeze packets or in small containers for personal dipping. A little crunch from carrots, celery, and apple slices act as a great delivery system for nut butters or you can simply eat them on their own. The omega-3 content in nuts will keep your mind sharp and focused on getting you where you need to go.
4. Edamame (boiled soybeans) are easy to pop open and enjoy on the road. Nutritionally loaded with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, soybeans will keep you alert and filled up.
5. Boiled eggs are not only packed with protein, but are also a great source of Vitamin D to help keep your immune system strong! Crack and peel before you set out to keep your hands free and your eyes on the road!
6. Coffee or tea will help keep your eyes clear and mind alert with a slight boost of caffeine. No need to pick up a $4 coffee, just brew your favorite at home. A good thermos will keep your beverage hot or opt for an iced variety. These caffeinated beverages get a bad rap, but are truly much better for you than a bottled boost of energy. Before you sip too much be sure you are not too far from a rest area.
7. Kefir or yogurt drinks give you a double shot of probiotics to keep your gut happy and healthy. Many folks find themselves sick or lacking “regularity” during their travels, and a little boost of healthy bacteria delivered in a delicious lactose-free drink can be just what is needed.
Wendy also suggests stocking these essential “must haves” before you even put the car into drive:
-Thermos to keep your hot beverages smoldering
-Compact coolers that can be plugged into your adapter and keep things chill even when road rage spikes your internal temps
-Excellent tunes to keep your fingers tapping and your mind sharp
Sounds like the makings of a great trip. How do you like to fuel for the road? Any foods or beverages that you like to eat to keep you sharp on the road? Please share in the comments below.