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Dashboard Dining | Healthy On the Go Meals for Summer Travel

As seen on Fox16 Good Day. Click HERE to watch the complete interview. 

With summer travel just around the corner, many of us will inevitably fall victim to the unhealthy habit of car snacking. While it’s easy to grab a bag of chips, a pack of cookies or an extra-large soda, oftentimes people don’t realize that these seemingly small snack choices may actually lead them to take in more calories than what’s recommended for their entire day’s meals. Additionally, many of these processed foods can actually increase your risk of cancer.

In order to keep you well-nourished while on the go, here are some tips for creating dashboard dining options that are healthy and portable.

As you begin to prepare your road trip foods, it’s best to include those that have naturally occurring phytochemicals; the chemicals which provide plants with their color, odor and flavor. These chemicals work within our bodies in helpful ways, including stimulating the immune system, blocking substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens, and reducing the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely.

Dashboard Dining Tips:

  • Preparation is Key:
    • Focus on single serve items or pre-portion them into tupperware or Ziploc bags
    • Bring a cooler with ice packs
    • Be sure to pack hand sanitizer, utensils, napkins, plates and a trash bag
  • Foods to Avoid:
    • Those that are high in calories and sugar
    • Red Meat: Just 3.5 ounces of red meat per day can increase your risk of cancer by 17%.
    • Processed Meat: Just 1.76 ounces of processed meat per day can increase your risk of cancer by 18%.
  • Foods to Include:
    • Whole grain cereal and crackers
      • Nuts
      • Vegetables with hummus or greek yogurt dressing
        • Baby carrots
        • Broccoli
        • Cauliflower
        • Celery
        • Peppers
        • Olives
      • Bottled water
      • Fruit
        • Single serve fruit in their own juice
        • Fresh fruits such as berries, pears, apples, mangos, watermelon, cherries and cantaloupe
      • To add protein:
        • String cheese
        • Milk cartons
        • Hard boiled eggs
        • Drinkable yogurt or yogurt tubes
      • Consider making tuna, chicken or egg salad that can be placed in a whole wheat pita, on whole wheat bread or in a whole wheat tortilla
        • Add vegetables with spinach, tomato, etc.

With all of these recommendations, you’ll meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) portion plate recommendation for food groups and portion sizes.

Enjoy the many adventures the summer months bring. And remember, it’s easy to stay healthy while on the go.

AUTHOR: Patricia Champion, CARTI’s Registered Dietician, MS, RD, LD