09/23/2013 09:37 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

Road Trip Recovery: Healthy Eats for the Road

First appeared on Food Riot, by Amanda Feifer

A while back, I admitted to some pretty disgusting and shameful food behaviors on the road. This week, I'm going to share the way we eat on the road when we have time and plan ahead. You see, I used to work in big food, and even then my colleagues knew me as the type to make my own yogurt and forgo store-bought ice cream in favor of banana whip. So, in my case, these road trip diversions from real food represent a serious breach in my dietary philosophy. I am not given to dogma, so if it wasn't a question of seriously thinking those food-like substances were gross (under normal circumstances), I would probably be more ok with the choices that come from the weird mind-warp that happens after eight hours on the same highway.

In any case, if you were repulsed by me and have vowed to put some time into packing the car with good foods for an upcoming holiday weekend, here are some of my ultimate favorites to make for the road:

1. Nikki's Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson's wonderful and renowned blog has delivered many gems into my kitchen over the years. It was the first food blog I ever read, and to this day, it's probably the one that I connect with the most. These cookies are so simple and quick to make and have only ingredients that I'm happy to eat. I've been making them for five years, and I've never made a batch that didn't get devoured by eaters of all kinds. They are gluten-free, vegan, and if you skip the chocolate chips (or substitute them with dried fruit), they have no added sugar. To satisfy my crunch-loving husband, I substitute steel cut oats for rolled. There are no complaints in the car when those sweet-cravings kick in.

2. Watermelon Gazpacho in a Klean Kanteen from Eating Well. Does this seem crazy as a road trip food? Well, it is; crazy awesome! I try to make this for dinner the night before we leave for a summer road trip, then I throw the leftovers into a thermos or water bottle that we sip as we drive. Loaded with veggies and flavor, this is fiber-packed and unforgettably tasty.

3. Genius Hummus from Food52 and Chopped Veggies. Maybe this isn't the most intuitive choice for a road trip food, but my husband and I are both ok with being fed behind the wheel when this is what goes in to the old airplane-hangar. I've made my own hummus since high school and I thought I knew how to do it. My first inkling that I was wrong about that came during my first dinner at the wonderful Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav. (For the record, I grew up in metro Detroit. I've had my share of excellent, authentic hummus. This stuff is on another level). My second inkling was when I first tried this hummus recipe and realized that my whole hummus life had been a sham. It is smooth and rich (but paradoxically light) and packs protein, obviously, but doesn't feel like a heavy meal in your stomach. I pack mine in a flat container with chopped carrots and cucumbers, but I would bring it in a BNTO if I had one.

4. Carrot, Zucchini and Cheese Cupcakes from Food Riot. These guys are probably the perfect road trip (or picnic) meal. So compact, simple to make and loaded with protein and fiber that you'll end up keeping your rest stop breaks to the absolute minimum. A meal in your hand that is gluten-free, low-carb, paleo-friendly and vegetarian. What more could you ask for?

5. Sauerkraut or Lactopickles from (my blog) To microbe-typical Americans, this probably sounds crazy, but for we, the fermented, it's an absolute must. Unless I'm going somewhere I know there'll be raw probiotics waiting, I get my dose in the car. I pack them in small jars, knowing that we'll be able to toss them back, add them blander car treats (or in the case of pickles, dip them in hummus).

What are your favorite healthy treats to pack for the car?

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