Last year, I decided that I was going to make significant changes in my life, mostly incorporating more outdoors, travel and an overall healthier lifestyle into my day-to-day life. I spearheaded this by forcing a four month sabbatical and cross country road trip. I spent a good deal of this time on the road in my car and with limited access to most things, including healthy food options. Knowing that this was going to be a challenge, I stacked up my car with a variety of options for real, whole and healthy foods to eat on the road.
Fast forwarding back to "real life"—whether I’m out adventuring or just commuting in my daily routines, finding the best quality, freshest and most nutrition dense foods is always top of mind. Some days there's time home cooked meals compiled of fresh ingredients and a lot of tender, loving care in preparation. On other days, I resort to reaching for a handheld that will give me the most bang for the buck while providing readable ingredients and all the feel goods to fuel the day’s needs.
My go-to quick food option is a bar because it’s compact but jam packed with nutrients strategically crafted with care and able to be scarfed down quickly, allowing me to fuel up and get back to my everyday needs. Here are 5 bars that I’ve tried and love for different occasions plus a bonus DIY recipe for those of you who believe the best foods are formed by your own hands.
Go to Grab: On the Trail
For me, the Nii Bar is a perfect balance of sweet and satisfying in just the right size to revive me from a mid-hike slump. They’re light enough that I can eat the full bar without feeling weighed down but satisfying enough that I’m not scrapping through my pack for more sustenance. They’re durable enough to take the beating of being in your bag no matter if you’re setting out for a short stroll or an all day excursion.
Bobo’s Oat Bar
Go to Grab: On the Road
Bobo’s are my favorite for a quick meal behind the wheel. Top off your reusable thermos full of joe or hot tea and pair it with this hearty bar. They’re simple, super dense and filling. A smart grab to replace that donut, muffin or buttery croissant. On the road, I often wake up ready to put the pedal to the metal and having a couple Bobo’s on hand keeps me in budget and able to steer clear from impulsive mid-morning buys made out of hangry desperation.
Go to Grab: Campfire Meal-Prep Crowd Pleaser
There’s that short time frame that my hunger seems to run rampant and I’m on the verge of blacking out midway through a bag of tortilla chips and hummus while I wait for my real dinner to be cooked. Nola Bars are the perfect supplement for chip and dip binge to fill the time and hunger hole in my stomach. They’re also free of the most common food allergies so they’ll be easy to share with all your friends without hesitation.
Go to Grab: Pre-Trail Run
Moving to San Diego, I’ve adopted a favorite way to start the day: hitting the trail. I’ve always been an on and off runner, but discovering trails and the challenges that they provide while being easy on my knees, it’s been fairly easy to find motivation to get up and out the door most mornings. Rising with the sun, I need something to give me immediate energy but not weigh me down or take a lot of energy to digest. The Perfect Bar is best for just this occasion. Since it’s best right out of the fridge, I like to grab a bar, break it in half and fuel up on half pre-run, saving the other half for my immediate post workout reboot before making the real deal breakfast decisions.
Carve Bites Protein Cake
Go to Grab: Post-Surf, Pre-Burrito Game
Anyone that’s spent a full half morning or evening sunset session out in the water knows the ravenous beast that you can create out there in the ocean. Being a fresh fish in the water and still perfecting my surf skills takes a lot of energy and leaves me ready to chomp my arm off. Carve Nutrition’s Protein Cakes are delicious, packed with dairy and soy free protein and the perfect pre-game to that well deserved post-surf burrito.
Pumpkin Protein Bars
Go to Grab: Anytime, anywhere
I love whipping stuff up in the kitchen knowing every ingredient that I put into my body and crafting it with TLC. My friend, health & fitness coach Tristan Aquilina whipped up these protein packed pumpkin bars that are perfect for fall and great to eat anywhere, anytime. They only take 3 minutes to create and about an hour to set. Once firm, you can cut them into bars and pack them for an on the go grab or guilt free late night sweet. Original recipe can be found on Chocolate Covered Katie, but here’s the recipe modified by Tristan with a little personal touch and just in time to tame your seasonal pumpkin cravings.
1 ⅓ cup rolled oats
¼ tsp salt
½ cup almond butter (or your favorite nut butter)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup pumpkin butter
⅓ cup coconut almond milk
1 cup unsalted trail mix
Stir all ingredients together until well-mixed. Transfer the mixture to a 9×14 pan lined with parchment or wax paper. (For thicker bars than the ones shown, you can use an 8×8 pan.) Place another sheet of parchment or wax over the top and continue to smush down and spread until it fills the bottom of the pan. Freeze until hard, then cut into bars. For optimum freshness, store leftover bars in the freezer for up to a month.