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Prairie Fare: Pack Some Healthful Fuel for Summer Road Trips

Bring some healthful snacks and an ice chest to keep perishable foods cold.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“Are we there yet?”

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

When our children were very young, we used to load our van and head out to distant states on adventures. Kids require a lot of equipment when they are young, so we had strollers, playpens, toys and lots of assorted baby accessories. We had to remove a seat from the van to be able to fit in all the “kid equipment.”

Our kids were not all that interested in the typical road trip games. We bought a portable DVD player to keep our kids entertained because built-in DVD players were not routinely installed in vans in those days.

However, trying to get three kids with an eight-year age span to agree on a particular movie was not an easy feat.

Road trips are a little easier now with less equipment, but the kids are not as enthusiastic about long van rides anymore. Nowadays, they even could help drive the long distances. I think quite soon, our trips will consist of two parents on the loose with kids tending our home.

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.

Have you taken advantage of the adventures in North Dakota? We have explored the state several times and had many memorable adventures along the way. Check out http://www.ndtourism.com/ to explore some North Dakota adventures, including places to stay, things to do, and maps and guides.

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 and maybe a roll of paper towels 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.

Cut into 28 pieces and wrap individually in plastic wrap if desired. Each serving has 225 calories, 11 grams (g) fat, 6 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 133 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication - June 16, 2016

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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