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How to road-trip the healthy way

July 02, 2015

Tips for making safe, nutritious choices on the road

Taking it easy is one of the best parts about a vacation. But while the rest and scenery may do your famiily some good, the same can't always be said of the food—especially when you're on the road. Think Cheetos, donuts, and Snickers bars.

Also, the risk of food poisoning—a would-be vacation spoiler—rises in summertime. So you'll also want to keep foods safe while you travel.

Five to remember

Before you hit the road, take these tips in tow:

1. Pack some healthy snacks. Nutritious, portable foods include whole-grain crackers, fresh fruit (washed ahead of time), peanut butter sandwiches, precut veggies, wasabi peas, dried mixed fruit, unsalted nuts or popcorn, and even canned or packaged tuna.

2. Cool it. If you bring a cooler, pack plenty of ice or a frozen pack. Try to keep the cooler out of the hot trunk. Put a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler to make sure the temperature inside stays below 40 degrees—the safe zone for foods.

3. Choose wisely. If you do stop for a bite, eye the menu for healthier options. Good choices include low-fat smoothies, grilled chicken breast sandwiches and salads, broth-based soups, and veggie-based dishes.

4. Wash up. Remember to make sure your hands—and all the little hands in your family—are scrubbed with soap and water before preparing and eating food. Don't forget to pack some sanitizer for when there isn't a sink in sight.

5. Know when to toss it. You might picnic at parks, grill at campgrounds or take restaurant food to-go. If you do, don't eat anything that's been sitting out for more than two hours—or one hour on a 90-degree or hotter day.

Source: American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics