Hitting the road this summer? Whether a day trip to the beach or an extended road trip to a far flung relative, when your vacay crams in the car, it’s even more challenging to eat something you can feel really good about. But with new research this month finding that Americans consume 25% of their calories from “snacks” (which weigh in at a whopping 580 calories total) summer dashboard dining habits matter, especially if a bathing suit is in your future. Here are 6 super convenient, tasty lean and green Sustainable Snacks that kids and parents alike will love-that will also have you SAVING Green when as well. My criteria? They had to be eco-friendly, healthy, tasty and fun. And “car picks” must withstand searing hot car temps for a day or two- and couldn’t require fussy utensils or other tricky setup that seems impossibly difficult at 70 miles an hour.
1) Justin's Nut Butter Packs. These high protein, high satiety and uber flavorful nut butter packs are portable beyond compare. And because Justin created his own unique method of grinding his masterpieces,these healthy summer snacks taste richer, and, well, nuttier than any other nut butters on the market (The almond maple butter and honey peanut butter are my kids faves). Most are USDA certified organic. Best of all, they can stand up to searing summer heat (at least, for a few weeks), making them a bit more durable.
2) Baba Ganoush. Last year I blogged about these wonderful falafel balls with Greek yogurt and pita - I'm still on a Mediterranean kick with this fantastically portable Baba Ghanoush by Blue Moose of Boulder (available at Whole Foods, but look for any brand in the chilled fancy food area of your grocery store). Tote along some whole wheat pita (I cut mine up with a pizza cutter into wedges and then put back into the plastic bag for the trip, so kids and grownups can just help themselves). Add some bagged carrots and you've got 2 veggies and a whole grain for snacking! Or you can always make your own, with a delicious recipe like this one.
3) Earthbound Farm Organic Snack Packs. For the perfect lean and green overlap, swing by your local farmers’ market before you go and fill a small cooler with amazing edible eats like seasonal peaches, plums and hydrating cantaloupe. But if you’re on the road already, many supermarkets now carry Earthbound Farm Organic Snack Packs. These snack packs come in a variety of fruit and veggie options, and are not only organic, but are fantastically convenient for car eating as well. Coming in varieties ranging from apple slices to carrot snack packs, these are the perfect way to keep fruits and veggies in the mix while on the road. For a double bonus you can even try dipping the apple slice snackers in a pack of Justin’s Nut Butter, or bring along a small container of hummus for the carrots (I love reusing a container from my kids’ Laptop Lunch for this purpose).
4) A Liberty Bottleworks Water Bottle. I LOVE these bottles! Liberty Bottleworks’ water bottles are the ONLY Made in the USA 100% recycled bottle, totally BPA free and with a recycled lid to boot. Fill them with water and stay cool for hours while you sip sustainably- after recently meeting the company founder on a fieldtrip to Rodale, I am a convert. Their full circle commitment to job creation and keeping iconic brands made America (many of the other top reusable water bottles are made in Europe or China), had me feeling good at the deepest level that this company embodies the way forward to a more sustainable future. And the best part? Not only will the generous size (and splash proof design) remind you that ZERO CALORIE drinking is key (that new snack study found Americans spend 85 minutes a day drinking liquid calories, a 90% increase from 2006) , the artwork is to die for gorgeous and innovative.
5) Cucumber. Cucumbers are one of the most refreshing, hydrating and economical summer fruits around. They are loaded with water, to help keep you cool, but their skin also contains silica, a mineral that keeps your own summer skin plump and glowing.
Because we all have enough to pack and prep when hitting the road (or because I’m just lazy), I will either pack 1 giant hothouse cucumber (that I’ve washed well), hacked into 4 big pieces...or else a bunch of individual smaller cucumbers (those cute pickling ones are the best) from the farmer’s market. Kids and adults love nibbling directly from it, and it’s one less container I need to wash!
6) Sunflower Seeds. We have several “salty/crunchy” types in my family, but rather than digging into a bag of chips large enough to drown my firstborn, I tote a mix of roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds instead, which are packed with important minerals like zinc and magnesium, their combo of heart healthy fat, fiber and protein is the winning trifecta to keep hunger at bay all the way “until we get there”. On the run? These powerhouse seeds are easy to find at most convenience stores and gas stations as well, making your healthy on the road snacking a breeze.
What are your favorite sustainable summer snacks? I would love to hear about them!
(In full disclosure, I received free samples from Justin’s Nut Butter and Liberty Bottle Works when I asked them for info about their products).
Written with assistance from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD