Surprisingly healthy things you can buy at a petrol station for under R100
The first rule of taking long trips: don’t let yourself get hungry. When it’s time to stop at a petrol station, stock up on snacks.
Calories might not be the first thing on your mind when raiding the aisles at the service stations, but it’s well worth considering. With healthier snacks, you won’t find your energy levels flagging once the sugar rush inevitably wears off – that means less chance of falling asleep on your neighbour’s shoulder and drooling all over their nice new coat.
Of course, Quick Shops on the long road through the Karoo are not exactly known for their fresh, organically grown produce. So how do you find the nutrient-rich gems hiding out at your average service station?
The greener the better
Even the most nutritionally-challenged among us are pretty well attuned to the fact that fruit and veggies are the healthiest snacks of all. While not every petrol station will have them available, many do have grocers or Woolworths attached that will have in stock. Ask your driver if you’ll be stopping at one of these along the way.
If you are able to stop somewhere with carrots, celery sticks and cucumbers, pick up a dip like guacamole or hummus as well. This makes for a great flavour enhancer without taking away from the health benefits.
A juicy secret
Fruit juices are much better for you than fizzy drinks but be cautious of what you get. Many have ungodly amounts of sugar content, so pick one that’s 100% pure fruit juice or includes pulp.
The ultimate healthy drink are smoothies, which replace the sugar with immune-boosting ingredients like yoghurt, bananas and honey. Just drink them soon after you get them as you won’t have a fridge on hand.
Even the most remote, backwoods convenience shop is going to have a few road trip essentials sitting near the till: biltong. It’s a fantastic source of protein (and banting friendly if you’re into that kind of thing) though its high sodium content means you should watch your portions.
Also likely to be sitting at the till are packets of nuts. Almonds in particular are high in in protein, fibre, and healthy omega-3 fats. As with biltong, stick to the recommended serving size.
It’s oh so tempting to go for those giant packets of chips when you’re stopped at a petrol station, but we have a better option. Pick up some popcorn instead to fill that same craving without the unhealthy baggage.
Popcorn is richer in antioxidants than any other snack food, which makes that crunch when you bite into it all that more satisfying. The packaged stuff you get at service stations isn’t quite as healthy as the kind you’d make as home, so choose wisely. Pick up lightly salted or another kind that doesn’t quite have so many flavourants.
At some point, it’s likely you’re not going to have a choice but to eat unhealthily. If you’ve stopped for lunch at a Wimpy or Steers, there really aren’t any options that aren’t loaded with oil and carbs.
In that case, don’t just give up and up your order to extra-large. Rather go for small victories and go for the option that’s a little healthier than the alternative. Think brown bread for white and salad for chips.
One supposedly unhealthy food you can enjoy guilt-free is chocolate, as long as it’s dark. The higher the cocoa content, the better for your heart health it is. So hit those 70% bars with gusto.
What healthy snack foods do you love to eat on long trips?