Healthy energy bars
Olga Dubravina/ShutterstockNot all energy bars are created equal. For the healthiest snack option for road trips, choose the ones rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats for a filling snack between meals—or make your own with these energy bar and bite recipes. This type of bar will help tide you over until you reach your destination. Top nutritionists' picks include Lara Bars, Zing Bars and KIND Bars. Dietitian Diane Norwood opts for the KIND bars with less sugar—Madagascar Vanilla Almond and Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt are her favorites.
Brent-Hofacker/ShutterstockChewy, savory turkey or beef jerky can satisfy a variety of appetites. And, it's readily available at nearly every mini-market or truck stop. Look for jerky with the lowest amounts of sodium and saturated fat you can find. The protein keeps you full for a long drive.
Peanut butter pretzels
Brent-Hofacker/ShutterstockCrunchy pretzels stuffed with rich peanut butter? Yes, please! These will satisfy your need for crunch and fill your tummy with protein and fat that sticks with you. Look for a single-serving to avoid overeating. (Trust me, it's easy to do with these!) Bonus points for the unsalted variety.
vm2002/ShutterstockSkip the high fat and salt-laden potato chips and reach for a healthier snack for your next trip. (Better yet, pack your own homemade chips beforehand.) Even a registered dietitian such as myself can fall in love with the Beanitos' snacks: They're lower in carbs, higher in protein, and made with beans. Another tasty option is the Good Health brand of potato and tortilla chips—organic, gluten-free and non-GMO ingredients. On a recent road trip, in a small gas station, dietitian Jenna Gorham in Montana picked up Harvest Snaps, which are snap pea crisps in a variety of flavors (she especially loves the black pepper version). Can't find those? Baked Lay's are a good option, and they're available in a variety of a flavors.
abc1234/ShutterstockIndividual bags of popcorn are fun to eat on the road—they're crunchy, a bit salty, yet high in fiber. Making your own healthy popcorn ahead of time is ideal, and super simple. Brands to look for in mini-marts include The Little Kernel and Skinny Pop—both featuring healthier fats and lower amounts of sodium.
Faith-Lohr/ShutterstockNew York City-based dietitian and fitness expert Lauren Manganiello heads to the refrigerator section of the mini-market to find cheese sticks, a perfect snack for road trips. Individually wrapped and high in protein and calcium, they are great snack choices. Pair them with some fresh fruit for fiber, and you'll be full for miles.
parasolia/ShutterstockNaturally rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein and minerals, nuts make for delicious road trip snacks. Dietitian Sarah Schlichter, owner of bucketlisttummy.com, chooses nuts and seeds because they're perfectly portable and satisfying. The healthiest nuts to pack? Almonds, cashews, and pistachios are the choice of dietitian Basheerah Enahora of nutritionbe.com for their higher protein content. If you have 10 minutes to make your own fancier nut snack, check out these delicious cinnamon roasted almonds from dietitian Natalie Rizzo.
Cereal with milk
Elena Veselova/ShutterstockClassic and simple, whole-grain cereal with milk is a nutrition home-run. Cereals are sold in bowl-shaped single-serving containers, so simply pour in your milk (found in the fridge section, naturally) and you've got it made. You get a complete protein—the combo delivers all essential amino acids. Choose a high-fiber cereal, such as shredded wheat or bran flakes to keep you content until the next pit stop.
Brent-Hofacker/ShutterstockPair those healthy and delicious nuts mentioned above with a sweet burst of flavor, and you've hit the mark. Single serving packages of trail mix containing nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants and filling for hours. Making your own ahead of time ensures that the sugar and salt content is in check. An example is this fun shake-a-sack-apple-snack that kids will love. Dixya Bhattarai, a dietitian in Dallas, provides a step-by-step guide to building your own healthy trail mix on her website.
Fortyforks/ShutterstockMany gas stations have well-stocked refrigerator sections, including a few choices of yogurt. Cool, refreshing, and rich in protein and calcium, yogurt cups make great choices for a healthy road trip snack break. Look for the highest protein and lowest sugar content on the food label. If you're able to sprinkle in some nuts, seeds or fresh fruit, you'll have a fiber-rich bonus that'll satisfy your hunger. Have some leftover? Check out these extraordinary uses for yogurt.