Today, we have a special guest post from Jaelithe!
How to Create Packable Snacks for the Whole Family
It’s easier to eat healthy if you stay home. There’s the refrigerator and pantry, stocked from a recent organic produce delivery. The stove or microwave’s nearby. Spices and herbs are at the ready. Cookware, utensils and plates are all within easy reach. A sink or dishwasher is there for cleanup. It all limits your excuses for not preparing something tasty and nutritious, even if it’s just a quick bite or snack.
Ah, but when we’re away from home, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of eating poorly. There’s a reason 7-11s and AM/PM mini marts stack their shelves with chips and candy. They know you’re an easy mark.
The temptation comes in part because snacks such as chips and candy are so easy to carry and eat. (And, admittedly, they taste good.)
The key is to snack in a way that provides genuine nutrition without packing on empty calories.
There’s nothing wrong with snacking. A modest, nutritious bite between main meals keeps us on an even keel, appetite and energy-wise. Snacks can help us avoid the problem of being so hungry when we sit down for lunch or dinner that we overeat, and also help those sensitive to varying blood sugar levels to maintain their energy and mood.
The key is to snack in a way that provides genuine nutrition without packing on empty calories. And with just a little planning and effort, you can snack on the road guilt-free and flavor filled.
Candy may come in colorful, easy-to-tote packages, but so do many healthy foods. Organic fruit such as bananas, grapes, pears, oranges and apples, for example, can be tucked in a coat pocket.
Fresh, raw organic vegetables are nearly as easy to carry, in a zip lock bag or sealable plastic container, for example. It takes just a moment to cut up carrots, celery, peppers at home to take on the road or to the office. Sugar snap peas, edamame and radishes can be packed whole. Consider tossing in a small container of vegetable dip to liven things up.
Feeding kids away from home can present challenges. It can be tough to convince them to eat their veggies. Viable alternatives that give parents a fighting chance against the call of fast food include fruit leather, dried fruit, mozzarella sticks, yogurt and a homemade trail mix of nuts, dried fruit and sunflower seeds or oats.
Kids “eat with their eyes” as much as adults, so instead of simply passing them a banana, consider pre-making fun and appealing fruit kebabs. Just load fruit chunks, cubed cheese, strawberries or grapes on to a skewer or sturdy drinking straw.
If you have a bit more time to prepare, consider throwing together some variation of the increasingly popular energy balls. Here’s just one version:
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ½ cup oatmeal
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup sesame seeds or finely chopped nuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl and refrigerate for a couple hours. Using a serving spoon, scoop bite-sized portions of the mixture and, using your hands, roll them into balls. Can be chilled, if desired.
Adults tend to crave savory as well as sweet, and it’s easy to pack thinly sliced salami, gourmet crackers and some artisan cheese for a delightful break.
Of course, no article on quick and easy healthy packable snacks would be complete without reference to “old reliables” such as peanut butter sandwiches (with banana or strawberry slices anyone?), whole wheat pretzels, graham crackers, and the plain but protein-packed hard-boiled egg.
Being away from home doesn’t have to mean being away from good eating habits. These healthy alternatives are easy and quick to prepare, pack and enjoy anywhere.
*Jaelithe is a health food enthusiast who can be found standing in front of her refrigerator full of organic produce, running in the rain or shine or writing about the art of living well.*