Sure, you could pretend you’re the kind of person who always remembers to pack a goji berry smoothie with avocados and chia seeds or a homemade vegan protein bar before you hop in the car. But let’s be real: Half the time, you pretty much almost forget your keys, let alone a healthy snack.
But when hunger strikes and you’re on the road, it turns out, that’s not an invitation to run to the drive thru for a calorie-bomb snack wrap or sweep your way though the chips aisle at the gas station. Instead, reach for these super healthy picks that most gas stations carry.
Loaded with healthy unsaturated fats (the kind that help shield you from heart disease), these small but mighty nuts also pack a protein punch. They’ve also got vitamins (hey vitamin E!), minerals, and fiber that will help stave off hunger and keep you fuller until your next meal. Look for the unsalted variety, but if you can’t find them, give a quick rinse under a splash of water to rub off some of the added sodium.
You say apples; we say bananas. While apples are also a super healthy gas store gem, don’t overlook bananas as your next healthy grab when you’re in a bind and hunger strikes. Consider the potassium in bananas, a super good-for-you nutrient you’ll want to slip into your body — stat. High potassium levels may help slash your stroke risk, prevent you from losing muscle mass, and even lower your risk of heart disease when accompanied by reducing the sodium in your diet. They’ve also got fiber and healthy nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and folate. And at only around $1, your wallet will probably be pretty happy.
When your stomach grumbles and you’re craving something crunchy, it’s normal to beeline to the chips section and pick up a bag (or two). Instead, head to the refrigerated area, where you can normally find portions of carrots and celery to help curb your hunger and hold you over until your next meal. It might not be the most exciting snack, but the antioxidants, fiber content, and low-calorie profile makes it a waistline-friendly option that ranks among the highest in healthy gas station finds. If the snack comes with ranch dressing, you’ll probably want to forgo this calorie bomb, and if you’re extra hungry, pair it with a handful of satiating almonds instead.
4. String cheese
Portable? Check. Calcium? Check. Energizing carbs? Check. This handy snack (which also pairs great with whole grain crackers for an added fiber boost, if you can find ‘em) is a great gas station go-to. You may think low-fat dairy is the better option for you, but try to buy the full-fat version, since the whole product is likely the better choice. And don’t worry about the extra calories in the whole-fat version, research shows it might even be linked to a healthier number on the scale.
5. Dark chocolate
You’re going to want to steer clear of the milk chocolate varieties, often loaded with excess sugar and artificial flavoring, but if you can track down a dark chocolate bar with a clean ingredient list (look for labels with only a handful of ingredients, familiar words, and no or as little added sugar as possible), the gas station Gods may just be shining down upon you. Brimming with antioxidants, dark chocolate has also been found in studies to help keep your weight in check. If you’re craving something sweet, dried fruit (often coupled with nuts) may also be a good bet. Just make sure it’s the unsweetened variety, which can add a serious sugar landmine to your snack.