The best part of any summer road trip is the sense of freedom to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, and eat what you want to eat.
Wait. Scratch that last part. If you're killin' it in the gym and working hard toward your goals, it's important to keep your nutrition on track—even on a road trip. A little planning and prep is guaranteed to pay off by delivering healthy, protein-packed snacks you can eat on the road.
1. Roasted Chickpeas
When a craving for something salty and crunchy hits, you'll be glad you planned ahead. Instead of filling up the backseat with chips, cheese puffs, and pretzels, make up a big batch of roasted chickpeas for a low-sodium, protein-filled alternative. Just cook the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) in advance, pack them up in baggies, and chow down when you need a fix. No refrigeration required.
"Chickpeas are part of the pulse family—superfoods that are high in protein and low in calories," says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a dietitian and blogger based in New York City.
This recipe is pretty much perfect for summer cruising.
2. Peanut Butter and Banana "Sushi"
Anyone can make a sandwich, toss it in a baggie, and call it road food. But holding a sandwich and a steering wheel when you're navigating curvy highways and byways can be a challenge.
Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, the owner of Nutrition Starring You, has a quick-and-easy solution: Wrap peanut butter and banana in whole-wheat flat bread, then slice it into sushi-like pieces. The result is mess-free, bite-sized slices you can easily grab with one hand, without taking your eyes off the road.
And, since Harris-Pincus' recipe calls for powdered peanut butter, why not amp things up a little with a chocolate-infused variety? There are few flavor medleys better than chocolate, peanut butter, and banana.
3. Bacon and Apple Egg Muffins
If you haven't tried whipping up a batch of egg muffins yet, you're long overdue. These little treats consist of eggs whipped up with other ingredients, then baked in a muffin tin to create protein-filled, hand-held snacks.
This recipe for bacon and apple egg muffins from Cate Ritter, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and owner of Cate's Nutrition Kitchen, couldn't be tastier. You get all the best snack-time flavors (sweet, savory, and salty) all in a single package.
4. Protein Nutter Butter Balls
When what you're really craving is the sweet, chewy flavor of a protein bar, there's absolutely no reason to shell out $3 on a convenience store bar that's suspiciously close to its expiration date.
This recipe for protein nutter butter balls from Detric Smith, a strength coach, exercise physiologist, and the owner of Results Performance Training, tastes every bit as good, no baking required. Plus, it offers a balanced mix of proteins, carbs, and fats, which will help keep your energy levels stable.
5. Creamy Tuna Dip
Another one of Detric Smith's favorite protein snacks offers a twist to your typical tuna salad, and it's a whole lot more appealing than eating forkfuls of tuna straight out of a can.
"Rather than using traditional mayonnaise to make tuna salad, I use fat-free cream cheese. It adds a unique taste and packs in more protein without the fat," Smith says.
The trick, of course, is storage—this is one recipe you need to keep cold! Prep it and store it in your refrigerator until it's time to leave, then keep it packed in an ice-filled cooler on the road.
When you're ready to chow down, use it as a spread or dip for your favorite crackers. Of course, if you're driving let someone else do the dipping and spreading for you.
6. Prosciutto Chips
This is one of my favorite recipes for a quick snack that's part chip, part beef jerky, and all meaty goodness. Simply bake a couple batches in advance, throw them in a baggie, and hit the road.