It’s that time of the year. Time to grit your teeth, pack those bags to the gills, take a deep breath and hit the road with the whole fam-bam – that’s kids, the pups and maybe even grandma. Summer means road trips and while you can’t control the weather or the traffic, you can control the mood in your car, to an extent.
Letting the passengers graze freely on sugary and empty carb foods can mean quick highs and frayed tempers. So don’t just give it up for the fast food joints that line the highways, embrace the opportunity to manage the highs and lows of a big family in a small space.
Below are 10 easy road trip snacks that deliver the nutritional goods and keep your road trip on the rails.
THE HEALTHIER OPTION
1. DIY Popcorn
The key to kid-friendly popcorn is to cook it in a sealed brown paper bag so it stays fresh. Mix half a cup of popcorn kernels, half teaspoon of vegetable oil, a sprinkle of salt and any other flavouring you feel (e.g, cinnamon) and pour the mix into a tall brown lunch bag. Secure the bag so no popping kernals can escape and microwave for about two minutes (keep an eye on the bag because every microwave is different). Voila! Sealed, popped and travel-ready.
If each passenger has their own stash there’s less chance the nuts will end up in the seat seams. Sick of raw? Try roasting almonds or cashews in olive oil, tomoato sauce, basil and garlic.
3. Apple slices with cinnamon
Fresh is delicious but soft-baked is extra-special! Pink Ladys and Fujis are great sliced fresh and rolled in cinnamon. They also work well cored, sliced, rolled in ginger, ground cloves and cardamom and baked for 60-90 minutes until shriveled but soft.
4. Almond milk/oat/banana or choc smoothie
Blend almond milk, oats and cocoa powder or a banana plus some agave into a delicious, energy-packed drink that doesn’t need to stay chilled.
A little goes a long way. But kids can be put off by the shriveled appearance.
6. Vegetables and Dip
Baby carrots, celery, humus, peanut butter, or Nutella for an extra treat. If you save your yoghurt containers you can pack a neat little snack pack for each traveler – throw the dip in the middle and around the cut goodness around the edges.
7. DIY trail mix
Combine granola, seeds, nuts and small pieces of dried fruit. To keep it super healthy, and less damaging to the car, avoid chocolate.
The classic vegemite scroll (with or without cheese) can also be baked using puff pastry. Just spread vegemite on the flat sheet, sprinkle with mozzarella, roll, slice and bake for 10 minutes. YUM!
9. Pancake Muffins
A classic American trick that avoids the crumbs of a conventional muffin. Use pancake mix to create denser, delicious muffins.
10. Roasted Chickpeas
Drain a tin of chickpeas and thoroughly dry them. Sprinkle with olive oil, cumin or paprika or rosemary plus salt, and roast on high for around 30 minutes.
DRAMA IN THE BACKSEAT: AVOID THESE
Did you know furniture dealers schmear yoghurt on wooden pieces to make them look older because it helps the mold grow? The same thing happens in your car. Save yoghurt for the picnic stop.
2. Chocolate chips
Great in a trail mix, except in a car. It’s impossible to find them until they melt down into the upholstery. Substitute with tiny pieces of dried pineapple and save chocolate for the out of car experience.
Gum is disgusting at the best of times, but it’s even worse when kids think it’s ok to leave it in the door pockets.
4. Containers without lids
Just. Don’t. Do. It. Stick to the disposable or reusable cups with a lid and straw opening. It’s happened to all of us at some point when you’ve been driving along and your car hids a bump. If you don’t have access to the ready-made option, then a handy hint is to use plastic wrap over a regular cup and pierce a straw through it.
Sure, it’s a delicious and nutritious snack for your kids, but not so great for the upholstery of your car. Plus, it only takes about an hour for the skins to start getting stinky. They’re good for smoothies but probably best left in the fruit bowl at home.