One of the greatest challenges to eating healthy, is access to nutritional options when you are on-the-go. Never are we more tempted to buy pre-packaged foods and snacks, loaded with carbohydrates and sodium than when traveling throughout the day, and outside the home. Snacks like potato chips, high-sugar sodas and high-fat hot beverages, donuts, cookies and other cheap convenience options.
Not only are convenience snacks unhealthy, but they are also more expensive than raw foods and other snack options. If you have a busy lifestyle (who doesn’t?) but you are committed to eating nutritiously and retraining healthy dietary habits, check out our 7 tasty and healthy snack ideas.
One of the best options for snacks on-the-go, is fresh cut vegetables. The best types of vegetables to pack for a healthy snack are cucumber slices, carrots, celery and bell peppers. To make this a time-friendly option, prepare a bin of sliced vegetables in your fridge that you can snack on at home, or pack up in a reusable container for convenient small meals. Choose vegetables that are firm, and types that can stay safely unrefrigerated while you travel; they are not only nutritious, but they also help reduce the urge to overeat as a filling, high-fiber alternative.
Apple Slices and Peanut Butter
Bypass the unhealthy versions sometimes found in fast food outlets, (check out the sugar content in the caramel apple slice dip at this popular burger franchise for a shocking revelation). Raw apple slices are a healthy, portable and low-cost snack that can easily be combined with a small amount of peanut butter, for an antioxidant and protein rich snack that will keep you going.
Hummus and High Fiber Crackers
Recently, certain food manufacturers have started to offer different flavors of hummus and high fiber crackers in pre-packaged convenience portions. The problem? As a regular snack, the store-bought versions can be expensive, particularly for bigger households.
The solution? Larger sized containers of hummus can be bought and portioned into your own reusable containers, and stored in the refrigerator. Good quality hummus is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, and the high-fiber combination staves off hunger. Try making your own homemade version with this recipe from kitchn.
Satisfy the need to crunch, and get essential fatty acids, vitamins, protein and more from a serving of almonds. Read the label carefully on prepackaged almonds and avoid salted or flavored varieties, which can contribute to hidden calories, and dehydration (particularly in the summer). Portion out your snack sized containers and store in a dry place, for a homemade convenience snack that is ‘ready to go’.
Consider beef jerky to be a hidden health food and fantastic snack option, that you may not have thought of before. American’s actually consume more than double the required daily amount of protein, according to Marta Zaraska, author of “Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5 -Million-Year Obsession With Meat.” But as an occasional snack, it is portable, healthy and satisfying. Avoid flavored jerky like teriyaki, to avoid hidden carbs.
What types of berries travel well, as a pre-packed snack? Choose strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as antioxidant rich power snacks. They do not have to be refrigerated, and are also nutritionally valuable, with vitamin K, manganese, copper, resveratrol (also found in red wine), and phenol antioxidants.
If you are feeling hungry, dietary experts agree that the first resort should be water. Dehydration occurs long before we feel thirsty, or experience dry-mouth symptoms; by the time we notice the signs, the body is already dehydrated. To make matters worse, many convenience beverages from soda, to café style coffees are saturated in sodium, and provide little value in terms of hydration.
The sensation of hunger is a clever mechanism perpetuated by the brain, when it registers low internal hydration. The concept is simple; since many food choices have high levels of water in them, by stimulating hunger, the body hopes to derive the hydration it needs through digestion of food. So, when you ‘think’ you are hungry, your body may be ‘pulling a fast one’, and hoping instead that you’ll have a glass (or two) of plain water to rehydrate.
Make it a personal goal to make healthy snack foods that provide nutritional benefit, part of your daily routine. With minimum pre-preparation, healthy food can become more convenient than fast-food or packaged retail snacks, and will help you nourish your body, and save money.