Healthy Snacks for a Summer Road Trip

Even if you've planned your road trip around food, you will undoubtedly get hungry between stops. On the highway, you'll see many rest stops with fast food outlets. These might seem like an easy way to stop and get a quick lunch.

But, if you pack your own food, you can keep up a healthy lifestyle even when you're on a long road trip.  By bringing planned snacks, you will be able to stay on the road, stay away from unhealthy food at rest stops, and still enjoy yourself! Check out these ideas for healthy road trip snacks.

Fruits - Fruits like grapes, apples, bananas, and cherries are tasty snacks that will fill you up and minimize a mess in the car. Make sure you wash everything before you start your drive and consider cutting up larger things like apples before heading out.

Vegetables ¬- Like the fruits, bring vegetables that you can snack on easily and that will have little clean up. Cut up carrots into sticks or bring cherry tomatoes. Both snacks are things that you can pop in your mouth while keeping your eyes on the road.

Bread and spreads - For something a bit heartier, bring a healthy dip and whole-grain bread or pitas.  White Bean, Sage, and Roasted Garlic Spread and Chickpea-Eggplant Dip are both great choices.  For a sweeter spread, mix maple syrup, honey, or cinnamon into yogurt.  Packed ahead in reusable storage containers, you will be able to portion individual dips for easy eating while keeping your eyes on the road.  (And no worries about double dipping!)

Nuts - For a quick energy boost on the long drive, grab a handful of peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, or a mix.  For portion control, pack the nuts into separate containers and pair them with a piece of fruit or a few of those carrot sticks.

Water - On a long trip of any sort, it's very important to stay hydrated. Make sure you bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill along the trip, without creating excess waste.

What do you bring on your roadtrips?

Photo: alanflai on flickr

Good Things Come in Small Packages - Garlic Parsley Dip Recipe - Food Thoughts with Sheryl Estrada

Canned sardines often get a bum wrap. Think of how many times you've purchased a can of sardines, but never ate them. The can sits in the back of one of your kitchen cabinets. And how many times have you opened that cabinet looking for something to eat, and closed it, without giving the sardine a second thought?

When you stock up on hurricane supplies, including non-perishable food, you might throw a few cans in your shopping cart, just in case. Or, sardines might only come to mind when you're describing an overcrowded subway car, "We were packed like sardines!"

Actually, I'm guilty of all the above. It took me some time to embrace the sardine. I eventually learned the modest, sustainable sardine, a tiny fish of the sea, is tasty and  packs a humongous nutrition punch.

My earliest memories of the fish where watching my grandparents eat them in the morning, with a side of hominy grits. The Southern roots of my mom's parents were always alive in their New York City kitchen. They would offer me some sardines, half teasing. I'd scrunch up my nose, politely decline and shovel another spoonful of cornflakes in my mouth. Little did I know they were eating brain food for breakfast that way surpassed anything in a cereal box.

Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a good source of vitamin D, calcium, B12, and protein. Though the body can not produce them, Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, which means you must get them through food. They are vital in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Omega-3 fatty acids might also reduce the risk of heart disease.

By eating sardines, you get all of this for a relatively low cost. I can think of other proteins, which are 10 times the price, yet do not contain as many health benefits.

A few years ago I tried canned sardines in soybean oil with jalapeao peppers, and really enjoyed it. Since then I've eaten almost every canned variety, sardines in tomato sauce, mustard sauce, olive oil and sunflower oil, to name a few.

If you've got cans of sardines in your cabinet, get them out and whip up something delicious. Try Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Garlic-Parsely Dip recipe found in "New American Table." So good.

Garlic-Parsley Dip

Makes 1 1/4 cup

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 1/2 cup olive oil 3 garlic cloves chopped, plus 3 garlic cloves whole 2 poblano chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chopped 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 2 teaspoons tahini 1 cup canned chickpeas 2 canned sardine fillets Juice of 1 lemon 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1) Heat the sesame oil and olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, chiles, coriander seeds, and tahini and saute until the garlic is golden, about 4 minutes.

2) Transfer to a blender with the whole garlic cloves, the chickpeas, sardines, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until smooth. Fold in the parsley.