NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Pack Some Healthful Fuel for Summer Road Trips

family vacation, summer road trips, Trail Mix Bars

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

"Are we there yet?"

If you were a kid or have a kid, you probably uttered or heard those words sometime in your life.

If you are planning a trip with family or friends, consider some food ideas to avoid the weight gain that often accompanies "dashboard dining" as you travel down the road. Try some strategies to help you stay in shape and manage your nutrition while on vacation.

Aim for trips that combine fitness with an adventure. Take plenty of breaks along the way to leave your vehicle, stretch and walk. Explore state parks with hiking trails, or rent bikes.

If you enjoy lakes or pools, try swimming as an excellent way to stay in shape and burn calories while having fun. Don't forget to apply sunscreen often when you are in the sun.

Check out the recreational options where you are staying. Do they have kayaks, canoes or tennis courts? Many hotels have fitness rooms with treadmills. Water parks and golf courses often provide fun for kids and parents.

Bring some healthful snacks for the road trip. Many convenience stores have tempting foods that are high in calories and sodium. Bring an ice chest and replenish your ice supply regularly to keep your snacks cold. Try string cheese or tubes of yogurt.

Bring some nonperishable items such as whole-grain crackers, dried fruit, nuts and cereal mixes. Peanut butter and crackers and single-serving fruit cups also keep travelers happy on the route.

Bring plenty of water to quench your thirst without calories.

If you bring food for a picnic, be sure to keep food safety in mind. Remember that perishable food, such as protein-rich meats, cut fruit and vegetables, and salads, that are set on a picnic table should spend no more than one hour at 90 degrees or higher.

When you reach your destination, try some of the unique local foods of the region. You can learn many things about culture through the recipes that are served. Try ordering more than one dish to set up a small buffet at your table so everyone gets to taste different foods.

Here's a tasty treat with 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber to keep you full and energized on a hike or family outing. Wrap the bars individually for some homemade convenience food that also packs lots of nutrition. Be sure to bring plenty of wet wipes to clean up any messes.

Trail Mix Bars

3 c. crispy rice cereal

3 c. toasted oat cereal    

1 1/2 c. raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 c. sunflower seeds

1 c. honey

3/4 c. sugar

1 (16-ounce) jar chunky or smooth peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Combine honey and sugar in pan and bring to a boil. Add peanut butter and vanilla; stir until peanut butter melts. Pour mixture over cereal and mix well. Press into a 13- by 9-inch pan and cool.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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