Published on August 07, 2017

Hit the road with healthy snacks


Contact: Jeri Hughes
Marketing & Community Relations
Essentia Health
(218) 828-7583

By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.

The summer travel season is upon us.  That means long car rides and eating on the road.  In today' culture of fast food and convenience stores, we put very little thought into what we eat on the road.  This sets us up to eat extra sugar, salt, fat and calories.  We gain weight and feel sluggish.  Our legs and feet can swell from eating lots of salt and sitting for hours in a car.

Planning and packing your own snacks -- and even meals , can bring some great benefits.  Snacks are easily accessible and often less expensive.  You can reduce tension and anxiety from trying to decide where to stop to eat that everyone will like.

Healthier choices are easy.  Having items with you helps you to avoid the temptation of the junk food at the gas station or convenience store.  A special stop for ice cream becomes a real treat. 

Packing a lunch that can be eaten at a highway wayside or a park is a good reason to get out and stretch your legs.  You may even fit in a short walk.  This helps stave off the boredom of a long drive.   You can find waysides on the websites of state transportation departments. Do some research before you leave and pick a special stop for a picnic lunch.

Before your next road trip, find your cooler and be sure to have plenty of ice packs frozen.  Pack a bag or bin for foods that don't need to be kept cool.  To keep it easy, look for single-serving packets of peanut butter, hummus or guacamole for making sandwiches or using as dips for vegetables and crackers.

Here are some ideas for healthy road trip snacks and picnics:

Dry goods


Bananas or dried fruits such as apricots or raisins.

Loaded with nutrients.

Whole-grain tortillas or thin buns

Travel better than bread. Make wraps or sandwiches. High in fiber and whole grains.

Whole-grain crackers Triscuit, Hint of Salt Wheat Thins, Crunchmaster crackers

Loaded with whole grains and packed with important minerals and antioxidants. Serve with hummus or peanut butter.

Whole-grain chips
Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips

High in whole grain, low in sodium and gluten-free.  Serve with hummus or guacamole.

Bean chips
Beanito chips or Tostitos Black Bean chips

High in fiber, low in sodium

Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt or Skinny Pop popcorn

Whole grain, high in fiber. Includes good fats and low in sodium.

Snack bars
Kashi bars, Kind bars, That' It fruit bars, Pressed bars, Pressed fruit bars, Nature Valley Thins

Convenient. These brands use whole grains and very little added sugars.

Nuts (undressed) Almonds, peanuts, mixed nuts

Choose lightly salted if available. High in good fats and have protein.

Peanut butter

High in good fats and protein

Trail mixes
Choose varieties with undressed nuts, seeds and dried fruits instead of candy.

High in good fats and protein.



Fresh fruit
Apples, pears, grapes, berries

Whole fruits have no added sugar and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Fresh vegetables     Baby carrots, snap peas, fresh bell peppers (cut up), cherry tomatoes

Whole vegetables have no added sugar and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Serve with hummus.

Light string cheese

Low in saturated fat, high in protein and calcium. Individually wrapped so travel well.

Fat-free or low-fat yogurts, or kefir

Greek yogurt is high in protein. Light or Greek yogurts have less added sugar. High in calcium.

Chicken salad or canned chicken

High in protein for sandwiches or with crackers.


Great with vegetables, chips, crackers or for a wrap.

Dark chocolate squares

Sweet treat in a small size. Buy at least 60 percent cacao/cocoa varieties.

Bottled water, mineral water, unsweetened iced tea

Low calorie and no added sugars. Water is best option for quenching your thirst.

To coordinate interviews, photos, and/or video, contact the media relations team.

Like most websites, we use cookies and other technologies to keep our website reliable, secure, and to better understand how our site is used. By using our site, you agree to our use of these tools. Learn more.