I had a blast touring Kwik Trip today with Emily, field reporter for Twin Cities Live TV. Below you'll find the video clip from our tour and my top 10 picks for gas station eating (that are in line with balanced PFC (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate!). These provide you with the most energy and support your metabolism, waistline and cognitive function too!
But first, let's lay this on the table before we begin: if you're stopping at a gas station for a meal or snack, you're already compromising your nutrition. It's always the healthiest, best choice to prepare your meals and snacks ahead of time in your own home where YOU have control over all the ingredients being used. That being said, nobody's perfect and I try to meet people where they are at and realistically, there will occasionally be those times when we may not have a meal or snack and find ourselves at a convenience store or gas station. I'm guilty of it too, so don't call me out if you ever see me at the checkout line with a couple hard boiled eggs, bag of almonds and delicious apple. 😉
Dietitian Cassie's Top 10 Gas Station Eats in no particular order). (Following each, I've also labeled them with their appropriate category(ies): Protein, Fat or Carbohydrate):
1) Hard-boiled eggs (P). Unlikely pasture raised from a local farm, but with 6 grams of protein per egg, these are a good punch of highly bioavailable protein.
2) Raw carrots (C). Or broccoli. Or cauliflower. Or all of the above. These are a wonderful source of nutrient-dense carbohydrates.
3) Fresh Fruit (C). You should always be able to find fresh fruit at a gas station — at least bananas and probably apples and oranges too. These days, many are even offering fresh cut and washed options, like strawberries, pineapple and melon.
4) KIND Bars or LARABARS (F + C). Steer clear of candy and granola bars and grab one of these instead. The only bars I've seen at gas stations that pass my test. Mostly nuts and dried fruit with none or little added sugar. Not perfect, but a healthy source of carbs and fat when you're looking for something nutritious at a gas station.
5) Cheese (F). A tasty, healthy fat. The less processed, the better. (Hint: stay away from the big orange squares.)
6) Nuts (F). Always check the ingredients before purchasing all kinds of nuts. Your goal is for it to just list nuts, as pictured here. No damaged oils. It's common to find nuts cooked in cheap, damaged oils like sunflower oil, palm oil or safflower oil. Notice that in the packages of nuts I'm holding in the picture, they both appear to be healthy, but upon further investigation (i.e. reading the ingredient list) it becomes known that one is made with a bad fat, cottonseed oil, and the other is simply almonds. Always go for the shorter ingredient list!
7) Seeds (F). Just like with nuts, check the ingredient list to ensure they don't contain damaged oils. Your goal is just seeds. Nothing more, nothing less.
8) Dried fruit (C). Look for raisins, craisins (dried cranberries), or even prunes. The lower the sugar, the better.
9) Sparkling or regular water. Skip the soda, diet sodas and sugar waters marketed as healthy beverages. (I don't care how many vitamins or electrolytes are in them! Pop a multivitamin and drink water instead of sugar.) I've seen my favorite sparking waters at many gas stations lately, which are a refreshing, guilt-free beverage. So grab a sparkling or plain water and pat yourself on the back for making a healthy choice.
There you have it. Focus on planning ahead so that you don't find yourself in these situations often and do your best to make healthy choices when you do find yourself making a quick stop! And as always, contact my team if you need help developing meal plans that work with your schedule and health goals.