I know a lot about snacking. I like it a lot. And while I enjoy snacks and eating, I am real selective about what I fuel my body with. I like snacks to be nutritious, low in sugar, made with real food and ideally snacks contain fiber. But I know sometimes that’s a lot to ask for. So I usually am cool with my snacks having three out of four of those qualities. The one thing I won’t bend on is made with real food. I believe you are what you eat and at some point, eating junky food will catch up with you- zero exceptions. And as someone who used to weigh over 300lbs because of my eating habits, I can tell you the number one thing that assisted me in my weight loss (over 160lbs) and massive increase in health was changing my diet from processed food with weird ingredients, to real food. Of course other factors come in to play here, but I promise you, by choosing simple, real and ideally whole foods you’ll feel better overall. Even if you think gummy worms make you feel fucking fantastic.
“What does this micro-rant have to do with snacking and outdoor play?!” you might ask.
Let me tell you. When you fuel your body properly and put effort into food choices, your body responds better. You have more energy, stamina and strength. You react quicker both physically and mentally. Your memory works better, your joints feel better, you typically look better. And looks don’t matter that much, but looking good leads to feeling good, which leads to feeling confident. And feeling confident makes a big difference when it comes to making choices, speaking up and feeling empowered. So, choose foods that are real whenever possible. They do good things.
So let’s proceed! Here are the snacks I regularly go to, whether it be a road trip, a long hike, camping or backpacking. Or just at home when I’m feeling particularly lazy :)
- Epic Bars- Epic bars, strips and bites are all sustainably/humanely raised and killed jerky. The beef and bison are guaranteed to be grass fed. The bars have some type of dried fruit in them to stay moist. I don’t think I’d ever turn down one of these.
- Quest Bars- These bars are made with pretty clean ingredients, have a lot of protein, a lot of fiber and not many carbs. They do have sugar alcohols, which some have an issue with. The best flavors are Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, S’mores and Blueberry Muffin. All the others are “meh”.
- Kind Bars- Mostly nuts, these are a pretty basic treat. Some have chocolate, some have dried fruit. These also come in savory flavors that are delicious. The honey mustard is awesome.
- Fit Crunch Bars- If you want a treat, or dessert bar, this is is. It’s a protein bar with a creamy center. It has “okay” ingredients. I feel like for the taste, texture, protein and ease of availability, these are great. Flavors are Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Crunch and Peanut Butter Caramel.
- Complete Cookies- These are a bit of a joke. They are not super healthy cookies like you’d think. But they are tasty! And they have protein and some fiber and are filling. They’re vegan, GMO free, soy free and contain no sugar alcohols. My favorite flavors are Snickerdoodle (what a dumb name), Peanut Butter and Lemon. The lemon is outta control.
- Homemade Trailmix- To keep sugar and salt down, make your own trailmix. This also can help keep the cost down. I strongly recommend going to Trader Joe’s for this. They have the best, most cost effective pre-packaged nuts, dried fruits and little treats. My favorite mix is coconut cashews, dried ginger and dark chocolate covered espresso beans. SCHWIIIIING.
- Prunes- IDGAF what anyone says, prunes are delicious. They also have a bunch of fiber and are easy to find with no added ingredients. Eat them. Especially if you have an extended trip.
- Dried Mango- This is a total sugar bomb, but sometimes that’s what you need. Dried mango is easy, right? You don’t need my explanation here, right? Try to find it with no added sugar.
- Rice Cakes- These come in all the flavors. They satisfy the need to crunch food. You can find them most places. Lundberg Family Farms is my favorite brand for rice cakes. They’re organic, non-GMO and have minimal ingredients. Even though two of those ingredients are sugars... throw peanut butter on em and have a rice cake party.
- Whole Fruits- DUH. Gas stations always have apples and bananas. Sometimes more options too. And every other place has these choices. Get them. Be “boring”. Get the fruit. Get the over-ripe banana and red delicious.
- Raw Veggies- Typically things like carrots are very easy to find. Gas stations have baby carrots. A lot of places have little cups with carrots, celery and a dip. Trash the dip and eat the veggies. Whenever possible, get veggies.
- Local Meats & Cheeses- Many gas stations or small shops carry local meats and cheeses. Or a little package with a meat stick and cheese stick. Check out the ingredients, because a lot of times the list is not bad. Much better than the ingredients in most other pre-packaged meats.
- Nuts- Super simple. And peanuts are not nuts, they’re legumes. So I’m talking almonds, pistachios and cashews. But let’s throw seeds up in here too; pumpkin, sunflower, etc. Go for raw whenever possible. And remember to take it easy on them- nothing will upset your digestion more than a tummy full of...nuts.
- Freeze Dried Peas/Edamame- Both of these freeze dried snacks are most readily found in two flavors; sea salt and wasabi. I have not found them in other flavors- although I’ve heard they exist.
- Seaweed Snacks- Get over it. It’s seaweed and it’s tasty. And just about as healthy as a snack can get. Minerals galore! I like the sea salt variety, but often you’ll find wasabi is an option as well.
- Beef Jerky- Any jerky. It’s almost always a smart option. I’m not talking Slim Jims. I am talkin’ regular jerky. It’s full of protein and is satiating. Just be careful of the sodium!
- Hard Boiled Eggs- Controversial? Some people hate hard boiled eggs. I am a fan. An egg is a perfect food- protein, fat, carbs. No other ingredients. Pack some in a small cooler or... this makes even me feel sick to recommend... buy them at a gas station. Yes, they’ll taste weird. Yes, the texture is fucked. But they’re still healthier than a lot of other food options.
- Protein Powder- Protein powder and water. Hydrate and get a boost. This is a good option for a super easy and fast snack. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier.
- Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews- When I need just straight up energy and an immediate boost, I reach for these. They are tasty AF and even if you feel nauseous, they’re palatable. It’s a good idea to always have these packed in a daypack too.
- Cliff Bars- Not healthy. Not super amazing. But easy to find, always cheap and many flavors make this bar a standard. Because it’s still a lot healthier than many snack options. My favorites are the Nuts & Seeds, Apricot, Carrot Cake and Sierra Trailmix. Do I need to further explain Cliff Bars? Everyone eats these, right?
What are your go-to snacks for adventure and in the car? It can be a challenge to keep things on the healthy side, and I am always looking for new ideas or suggestions.