By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Better-for-you snacks to fuel your summer

Warmer weather and outdoor outings are in full swing, yet this season of adventure may come with some food challenges. What exactly are the best bites to take to the pool, to a day at the amusement park, or on a long hike that ends with lunch in the grass?

To keep energy levels high, let’s learn what to pack for a sunny day out:

Packing snacks for a pool day

Watermelon: A day at the pool is a synonym for summer, yet we must be diligent about drinking, or eating, enough water during the heat of the day. Try packing a cooler of both water and hydrating foods like watermelon before hitting the wave pool. Watermelon is made up of over 90% water, keeping you filled up and hydrated.


Nuts: Many of the popular candy bars at the concession stand may contain nuts, but let’s lighten the sugar load and go raw. Whether you enjoy them in a homemade trail mix or on their own, nuts are rich in healthy fats and protein, keeping you satisfied while you swim.

PB & J: When making a sandwich, forgo the salty cold cuts and enjoy a sammie filled with nut butter. Plus, this sticky pick paired with whole-wheat bread keeps us feeling fuller longer, letting you enjoy the pool without the hunger pangs.

RELATED: Stay hydrated and try these drinks

Afternoon at the amusement park

Nutrition bars: If a day full of rides is in your future, don’t go empty-handed. If the price point of food stands don’t get to you, the sugar content just might. Reach for a bar with more than 10 grams of protein and less than 5 grams of sugar. Yet, beware of chocolate varieties, as hot days lead to melty messes.

Beef jerky: Waiting for the rides may make you angry, but don’t be hangry. Keep a portable package of beef jerky in your backpack so you can chomp while you creep closer to the front of the line. Perfectly portioned and easy to eat, jerky can come in clutch.

Dried Fruit: This offers all the sweetness we enjoy from fruit, yet is more compact. Dried fruit transports nicely and won’t get bruised no matter how rocky the rides are. Look for the unsweetened varieties and feel proud of eating produce at the park.   

RELATED: Fuel your summer fun with water

Take a hike without getting hungry

Nut butter packs: Nuttin’ says a hike like nut butters. Rather than bringing the whole jar, choose the individually sold packets, or simply dollop a spoonful into a small container. There’s no better duo than peanut butter and bananas, so pack this high-potassium pick to enjoy alongside this smooth spread. 

Energy Bites: These textured balls of deliciousness are sure to satisfy as you hike up a sweat. Creamy, crunchy and chewy, make homemade versions with the ingredients you enjoy the most. Try this recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Bites.

Smoothie pouches: Move over, squeezable applesauce pouches – portable smoothies are here. That’s right: No blender or cup required. Found in the HealthMarket of your Hy-Vee stores, you’ll find these portioned pouches in a variety of flavors. Slurp while you step.

RELATED: Practice healthy habits with 5-2-1-0

As you can see, a day out doesn’t need to be hard on the wallet or the waistline with these pre-packaged and minimally prepped picks. Most of these are shelf-stable items that can be purchased and used for any last-minute summer outing.

paigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Ames Hy-Vee on Lincoln Way.