Photo courtesy of Katy Wilkens
Delicious mango lassi.

You Are What You Eat: Food for the road - Part three

By Katy Wilkens, MS, RD
Nutrition and fitness manager, Northwest Kidney Centers

If you’re planning a family road trip, you can save a lot of time and money by having a cooler full of ready-to-eat, flavorful and healthy food for you and your hungry travelers.

Make a list of your family’s favorite foods and plan to prep them ahead. It may seem like extra work, but you’ll be able to enjoy your trip without worrying if everyone is well fed enough to have a good time. Besides, what kind of vacation is driving up and down a strip mall looking for everyone’s favorite expensive fast food?

What to drink?
Instead of soda, think flavored waters (sour flavors quench thirst better), or UHT packaged milk. For a treat, make up a thermos of strawberry or rhubarb lemonade. For something even more special, try an Indian fruit yogurt drink called a lassi. The recipe below is made in a blender and keeps chilled in a thermos.

Nuts are a satisfying and healthy crunchy snack. Stay away from salt-encrusted nuts, which harm your heart and kidneys. Make your own trail mix by adding unsalted nuts to oatmeal, chocolate chips, dried cranberries or dried bananas. Try the “no-bake peanut butter balls” recipe below.

Other easy treats
Pack individual cartons of yogurt and small bags of your favorite granola for a nutritious, healthy and satisfying treat. String cheese carries well. You can bake homemade muffins ahead and freeze them; they’ll keep fresh for two or more days.

Rhubarb lemonade

2 pounds fresh rhubarb
3 cups water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Wash rhubarb and cut into small pieces. Place in large saucepan. Add 3 cups water and cook on low for 20 minutes. Pour through fine-mesh sieve, pushing down fruit with spoon to release juices. Add lemon juice, sugar and 1/2 cup water. Heat to dissolve sugar, refrigerate until very cold, then put in chilled thermos.

Nutritional information (per 8 ounces):
Calories: 56, Carbohydrates: 4 grams, Protein: 1 gram, Sodium: 9 milligrams

Fresh fruit lassi

This recipe calls for mango juice or puree. You can make your own from 2-3 fresh mangos, but you might want to strain the pulp, which may be a little stringy.

1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup milk
½ cup mango juice (or peach or apricot nectar, or pureed kiwi or berries)
1-3 tablespoons sugar, to taste

Optional flavorings:
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon rose water
¼ cup lime juice

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend for 2 minutes. Keep refrigerated. Pour into chilled thermos half an hour to an hour before you leave. This will stay cold about 12-16 hours, depending on your thermos. Lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Nutritional information (for two servings):
Calories: 166, Carbohydrates: 29 grams, Protein: 7 grams, Sodium 109 milligrams

No-bake peanut butter balls

½ cup unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
8-ounce package reduced fat cream cheese
1¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup shredded coconut

Mix together all ingredients except coconut, using an electric mixer until well blended. Roll dough into one-inch balls. Spread coconut evenly on a large plate. Roll cookies in the coconut to lightly coat the outside. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until cookies become firm.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. These cookies may also be frozen and thawed out later to enjoy. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information: (per serving, 3 balls):
Calories: 150, Carbohydrates: 13 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 120 milligrams

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The 2014 recipient of National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition’s Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at]

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