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There is just something about rolling down the open highway on a family vacation that makes a traveler want to snack. It's easy to stop at the store and load up on junk food, and isn't it funny how the "junkier" the food is, the better is seems to taste? That's because it's loaded with the three flavor makers: salt, sugar and fat. Things like potato chips, candy bars and donuts are the normal snacks for the road for many folks, but that can be a real physical downer. With just a little preparation you can prepare your snacks in advance, and in doing so you can create healthy foods that actually taste great! Creating these healthy alternatives takes away some of the guilt associated with eating while traveling. And one of the great things about your Cruise America rental RV is that you have a refrigerator to keep some of these great goodies in that may require refrigeration, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here are a few ideas for healthy travel snacks that are easy to prepare and handy to store:

Kale Chips: Potato chips are always tasty, but they are packed with calories, sodium and cholesterol. How about something crispy and tasty that won't blow your diet out of the window? Kale chips are similar to potato chips, but certainly healthier. There is some advanced preparation that must go into these crunchy little gems, but it's worth it!

How to Make: Start with about a pound of fresh kale. Remove the leaves from the stems and cut them up into "chip-size" pieces. Spread them evenly over a baking sheet and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over them. You can add your favorite seasonings, such as Parmesan, onion powder, garlic powder, Asiago, salt, pepper, cumin—or whatever else strikes your fancy. Bake the chips for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Once the chips cool down, you're ready to munch into what looks like very thin potato chips. These are pretty tasty, so you may want to make a double batch!

Trail Mix: There are a million varieties of trail mix you can purchase pre-made, but there is usually one or two items, such as raisins, or coconut, that someone in the traveling party doesn't care for. For this reason, it's a great idea to create your own. If you mix the ingredients yourself, you can create the perfect combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, oats, chocolate bits, etc. If you go to one of the many farmers market-style stores that specialize in natural foods, they usually sell all kinds of healthy nuts and dried fruits in bulk, allowing you to pick all of the ingredients you want in your custom trail mix.

How to Make: For maximum healthiness, be sure that the nuts you purchase are raw and unsalted. It's best to stick with the unsweetened form of dried fruit, and if you include chocolate it's a good idea to use dark chocolate, as it's a great antioxidant-laden goodie that will add just a little sugar to the mix.

Fresh Vegetables and Fruit: These items are wonderful to have on board. They require no preparation, and the payoff is tremendous. You can be creative if you like, making little additions to the produce to make it more appealing and even tastier than it is, plain.

Preparation Ideas: Baby carrots are ideal for snacking. They are convenient, and they are ready to pop into your mouth. However, you can dip them into peanut butter for an extra protein boost, or non-fat yogurt for a flavorful addition. Celery, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are also good for dipping into your favorite flavor infusion, such as hummus or Tzatziki dip.

Popcorn: This is an easy, healthy snack that is packed full of whole grains, fiber and antioxidants. You can buy it prepackaged, or you can make your own.

Be Aware: Remember that not all popcorn is created equal. If you are preparing it yourself, the healthiest alternative is air popped or popped with a small amount of oil. While plain, natural popcorn is very healthy, it's like anything else—it can be robbed of those health benefits if it's smothered in butter or artificial flavorings. If you have to have some additional flavor, a sprinkle of sea salt and a little bit of butter will make it irresistible.

If you are traveling in a Cruise America rental RV, you have found the greatest way to spend time with your friends and family. You are giving your body a relaxing treat by just getting away in comfort and style. Why not treat your body with healthy snacks while you're at it?

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