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Healthy Padkos for the Holidays

Need some quick-energy mobile snacks? Don’t resort to junk food this festive season. With a little planning, you can enjoy tasty, nutrient-rich alternatives to keep your stomach satisfied and your mind alert on the roads.

Ever noticed how a lunchbox that’s perfectly ordinary when packed for school or work takes on an exotic quality when it’s padkos for a road trip or day out? Suddenly, everyone is twice as hungry with the anticipation of a fun destination ahead. But if you don’t have any or enough food packed, you’ll be far more tempted to pig out at a roadside restaurant or fuel stop.

“Junk and fast food is ultra-processed, kilojoule-dense and nutrient-poor,” cautions Terry Harris, a dietitian at Discovery Vitality. “This season, save money and safeguard your health by preparing nutritious snacks for your journey before you set out.” Here are some ideas for tasty, easily-accessible treats to get you going.

Bake beforehand

A quick round of baking before your trip is a cost-effective and filling way to pack nutrients into your padkos. Look up recipes from trusted, health-conscious sources for foods like:

  • Homemade snack bars – ones with ingredients like oats, crushed nuts, dates, and dried fruit are high in fibre and can keep you fuller for longer.
  • Healthier versions of muffins – find recipes for ones made with seed mixes, grated carrot, mashed banana or blueberries. Check out this recipe for fruity bran muffins from the Discovery Vitality HealthyFood Studio.
  • Savoury mini-quiches – try ones with combinations of egg, milk, low-fat cheese, mushrooms and finely-chopped spinach, broccoli or kale. Make these in muffin trays for convenient single-serving portions.

If you’re worried you’ll be too busy to bake right before your trip, make them anytime in advance, freeze and then simply remove to thaw the night before you leave.

Make sarmies with sass

A well-made sarmie is always a treat. Here are some healthy swaps to get more goodness into each bite:

  • Always try to choose a high-fibre, whole-wheat option for bread. Whole grains provide more vitamins and minerals, and the extra fibre means that energy is released more slowly.
  • Switch from polony, salami and other processed cold meats that are high in saturated fat and salt to healthier options such as tuna, lean turkey, or shredded chicken breast
  • Use sugar- and salt-free peanut or nut-butters on a sandwich. If you usually add jam to a sandwich, try replacing it with banana slices.   
  • Replace mayonnaise with mild mustard, which is tasty and has far fewer kilojoules.
  • Eggs are a source of good-quality protein and can be included in a sandwich in many ways.

“If you’re shopping for ingredients at Pick n Pay or Woolworths and want to spot healthy alternatives fast, just look out for the Vitality HealthyFood sticker on selected food items,” Harris suggests. “This is a convenient and sure way to fill your basket with foods that promote good health.”

Prepare for a snack attack

Heavy meals can make you sleepy on the roads. If you’re just restless for a nibble, swap fried chips, crisps and other commercially prepared snacks for air-popped popcorn, trail mix or a small handful of dried fruit without added sugar. Here are some other fail-safe ideas:

  • Fresh fruits – protect your car seats by choosing fruits that aren’t overly juicy or messy; bananas, pears, apples, grapes and berries work well. Fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and will keep your energy levels from dipping as you drive. They’re also easy to transport and need no preparation.
  • Raw veggies – carrot, celery and cucumber sticks are easy to eat and fun to munch on. Try them and baby tomatoes with guacamole, cottage cheese or hummus dips for crunchy snacks with added fibre.
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds – these make for a high-protein snack with a good dose of essential fatty acids. Nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein and minerals.
  • Yoghurt – pack plain yoghurt cups and add chopped fresh fruit and seeds for texture. Look for yoghurts that contain probiotics; these are great for gut health. 

With a cooler box of any of these in arm’s reach, you’ll be well-stocked for the trip ahead, and more likely to arrive feeling energised. Remember to also pack hand sanitiser, reusable or disposable cutlery, a plastic bag for rubbish, wet wipes, and plenty of water for drinking.

So spare yourself the inevitable gasp at the markup on snacks sold at service stations, or a wrinkling of the nose at a dubious pie filling or burger-patty. Take a little time and effort this holiday season to prepare healthy padkos for your trip, and your body will thank you for it!

Vitality incentivises healthier food choices – and gets results!

Changing what we buy when grocery shopping can be encouraged through incentives. The Vitality HealthyFood benefit shows that when members received a discount and earned Vitality points for buying healthy items, they purchased over 9% more healthy foods, 8.5% more fruits and vegetables, and just over 7% less unhealthy foods. Read the full report in the 2017 Vitality ObeCity Index and activate the HealthyFood benefit to start being rewarded for healthy food choices!

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