Is it really summer if you don't take a trip to the beach? The only downside about beaches is that some of them are tourist traps, filled with food trucks and seaside stands that serve nothing but sugary and greasy foods. You've spent months getting your bikini body ready for those sweet summer days, but that shouldn't mean that you have to throw all of your hard work away over one snack. You can still stick to your well-balanced diet while you spend a day on the sand with a little help from these on-the-go, healthy beach snacks!
1. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is great for a day at the beach because it doesn't spoil as quickly as some fresh fruits. Can you imagine trying to eat an apple or banana that has been sitting in a hot bag all day? Yuck. Not to mention that some fruits are already naturally sweet. Dried fruits such as cranberries (185 calories per serving) contain phytonutrients that help prevent diseases. Another good choice is dried apricot (156 calories per serving) since it contains a hefty amount of vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium. Whatever you choose, check the product labels to make sure that you're not buying any fruits with added sugars!
2. Frozen cherries
Living Swell creator and health expert, Peggy Hall, suggests bringing a plastic baggie full of frozen cherries with you, as an alternative to ice pops and other not-so-healthy frozen treats. "They're like little popsicles, full of antioxidants," she says. "And they don't drip or melt like real popsicles do." Frozen cherries also protect you from the sun. "Cherries are great for your skin," Hall says. "They act like sunscreen from the inside out to protect your skin from sun damage." To make them, take pitless, fresh cherries and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put them in the freezer for a few hours until they're hard. Then pop a few in a plastic baggie and keep them in an ice cooler while you hit the beach!
3. Trail mix
Trail mix is perfect when performing any sort of physical activity because it's full of so many energy-dense ingredients such as nuts and raisins. The great thing about trail mix is that it can go so far beyond the nuts, raisins and chocolate that we're all so used to. Try adding sunflower seeds to your mix for an added dose of nutrients like vitamin E and copper, or banana chips that act as natural sweeteners. Just be sure to stick to a serving size of less than a cup, because mindlessly munching on salted peanuts and chocolate can cost us extra calories. A simple mixture that's great for a beach day is a combination of macadamia nuts, dried pineapple, white chocolate chips and coconut flakes. But there are a ton of other trail mix combinations too! Check out this recipe guide from Greatist.
4. Kale chips
Kale has grown in popularity recently, which lead a lot of us to discover the countless ways to incorporate it into our diets. One way to eat kale is to turn it into chips. According to Hall, kale chips can provide you with essential nutrients, plus they're extremely easy to make! "Two cups of kale can give you 200% of your required Vitamin A," Hall says. "[It's] considered the 'beauty' vitamin for skin." To make your own, toss four cups of kale in one tablespoon of olive oil and season it with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Then roast it on a cookie sheet in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes or until crispy. Then, toss them in a plastic bag to enjoy them as an alternative to potato chips.
5. Raw vegetables
Raw veggies have the reputation of being unexciting to eat, but the great thing about them is that they require no preparation, and they're packed with nutrients and antioxidants, like fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, that help boost our immunity. Some vegetables, like cucumbers and celery, are packed with water which means that they can help keep you hydrated. To add some flavor to your raw veggies, pack some low-fat dressing or hummus in a cooler for the day.
6. Homemade minty lime-ade
This drink, which was provided to us courtesy of Hall, is pretty much a mojito without the added calories that come from alcohol. Luckily, we still get health benefits from the limes and mint. "Limes are high in vitamin C and mint is a natural diuretic for a flatter tummy," she says. "Stay away from artificial sweeteners in soft drinks and water enhancers, as these chemicals can cause your tummy to bloat, not a good look for a day at the beach!" To make this tasty substitute for unhealthy soft drinks, squeeze a few limes and mix the juice with an equal amount of water to make your own ice cubes. Then, put the lime ice cubes in a mason jar or bottle, fill with water and add a few crushed mint leaves. Hall suggests adding Stevia or maple syrup if you want to sweeten it a bit.
7. Citrus fruits
Fruits like oranges, grapefruits and tangerines contain phytochemicals that help you stay safe in the sun. We're not saying that you should skip putting on the sunscreen, but the phytochemicals, which are just nutrients found in most plants, can help to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. As a bonus, heat can help these fruits sweeten naturally.
Summer can make it so easy for us to break out of our healthy eating habits and indulge whenever we feel like it. As long as you take note of the list above, you'll be taking a guilt-free trip to the beach in no time!